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Eurovision Semi-Final #2 2015

There were fewer pieces I felt strongly about in the second semi-final, even if one more country was competing for the same number of places as on Tuesday.

The BBC's online coverage this morning is predominantly "Ireland didn't make the semi-finals", not all the interesting acts which did.

Azerbaijian - In the video, the imagery was banal but the song was decent; not better than that. On stage, it was clearly very expensively-produced (Azerbaijian's entries always are....) but it was also ridiculously silly. Two dancers playing wolves, and a song whose only relationship to wolves is in the title ("Hour of the wolf").

Cyprus - I hadn't seen the video in advance. Grouting was crashing. The background imagery was pretty, but the song failed to engage under the circumstances. The BBC hosts were clearly excited by the entry though, and the artist is about to move to London, says his profile.

Czech Republic - A country that had taken five years off from Eurovision and has still never made it out of the semi-finals. The female singer seemed like a powerhouse struggling to work with a limiting song which wasn't really her style. (In other words, I'm interested in seeing what else she's done, but unimpressed by this particular instance.) The guy was fine. The song felt like it needed more editing - not necessarily to make it shorter, just more focused and consistent.

Iceland - The team clearly has excellent visual producers, but needed a stronger choreographer for the stage show. A rather repetitious song that I still find really charming and had higher hopes for. The stage was used gloriously by the light show and inadequately by the singer. Left languishing in the semis.

Ireland - The refrain's decent, the rest of the song slightly dull, and I never figured out why the refrain's lyrics actually make sense in the greater context of the song. It didn't go through. This morning's BBC Eurovision headline mostly focuses on this, just in case we had any delusions of regional interest not playing a major role in the contest.

Israel - The downbeat party song. Worked even less effectively for me on stage than in the video. Clearly appealed to other people since it's in the final.

Latvia - This was spectacular and strange and wonderful and compelling. I hadn't seen the video. The female soloist also wrote the song. Amazing work with light and costuming, and all of that as support, not overwhelming, the strikingness of the song.

Lithuania - Yay! Apparently I'm a Baltics fan this year, since I'm fond of the entries from all of them. This one is so sweet and happy and conversational, and they added the bonus to the kiss moment of having same-sex backing dancer kisses.

Malta - This other Warrior song, in addition to Georgia's, would have benefitted from having lighting and stage presentation more radically different from the other one. It seemed even more derivative of last year's winner's phoenix-like light-wings. A slightly piecemeal song which didn't go through to the finals.

Montenegro - So much better than the video. Dancers. No snakeskin jacket. A brief moment of stompy circle-dancing. Glowing ambient darkness. I'm pleased it's in the final.

Norway - Yet another one whose video I hadn't watched in advance, and one I'm particularly interested in seeing now. A bare duet of two people grappling with the potential conflicts between (unspecified) dark pasts and how that will affect their new relationship. The one C. thought most worth voting for of the available options.

Poland - Good: sexy wheelchair user. Less good: forgettable song (at least on first hearing; some of these end up growing up me when I hear them enough, so no idea about long-term qualities yet), insipid background visuals. It went last, so would have been surprising if it *didn't* go through. (The ones which have the last few slots are inevitably more memorable to viewers than ones seen an hour earlier, even with recaps....)

Portugal - I liked it! It's in the minority of this year's songs being sung in the region's native language. The out-at-night-in-a-city background could have been stronger. Not surprised it failed to make the final though.

San Marino - A mish-mash of song and background. The talking bit especially seemed insufficiently well rehearsed. Full of good intentions and ideas. Didn't get through.

Slovenia - Much as the same as the video, if perhaps slightly weaker. I love her distinctive voice and am moderately fond of the song, so am glad to see it make the final.

Sweden - I keep feeling really ambivalent about this song, which is one of the ones thought to have a decent chance of winning the overall contest. The lyrics don't quite gel, even though usually second-language English lyric choices really appeal to me. There are too many other superhero riffs going on in the contest. Inevitably, it's in the final.

Switzerland - I have vaguely positive feelings about this song, but admit, I barely remember it. I would have refreshed my memory if Grouting were not napping nearby. Other people may have felt the same way since it's not in the final.

Voting: You'll be glad to know the BBC saved money by re-using the existing recordings of Graham Norton saying the names of all the countries. Even though he's not hosting this year. (Or at least hasn't been co-hosting the semis.)

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Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
valydiarosada
May. 22nd, 2015 01:43 pm (UTC)
I liked the Cyprus entry. I thought it a gentle, old-fashioned (1970s?), melodic ballad that worked. I agree with you over Lithuania, plus the bloke had plenty of presence. Both Portugal and Montenegro gained extra points from me for being in their respective national languages and not in English. But in the bubble that is Eurovision, both Sweden and Israel have that something that shouts "contender". Neither were my favourites, but I think either could win. I'll be supporting the no-hoper that is the UK's entry.
owlfish
May. 23rd, 2015 02:09 pm (UTC)
But what will you be *voting* for?
valydiarosada
May. 27th, 2015 04:38 pm (UTC)
I ended up voting for Cyprus. :)
gillpolack
May. 23rd, 2015 08:11 am (UTC)
I'm just about to see the semi (I couldn't face getting up for live TV for anything except the final, not given we have negative temperatures overnight) but the thing that struck me about the various hero songs (but especially the Swedish) was that I enjoyed them the first time I saw them on the video, but much less so on stage with the first semi-final. The only song that showed up much better on stage was the Beauty and the Beast one (I forget countries!) because the singer just has a major stage presence and a big enough voice to match it. I'm hoping for more from this semi, but from your report maybe it's a bit of wishful thinking.

Anyhow, we'll be watching at the same time tomorrow, except for me it will be 5 am... This is a once-off special magic.
owlfish
May. 23rd, 2015 02:10 pm (UTC)
I hope it's good special magic for you!
gillpolack
May. 23rd, 2015 02:28 pm (UTC)
I just have to wake up in 4 hours...
owlfish
May. 23rd, 2015 03:01 pm (UTC)
It's worth it!
gillpolack
May. 23rd, 2015 06:30 pm (UTC)
I'm awake! I only got about 2 hours sleep because it's -4 outside (and stli getting colder) and the temperature drop kept me awake. Just this once, that's fine. Eurovision!
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )