Eurovision Semi Finals are like buses in remote rural villages, aren’t they? You don’t get any for a year, then you get one on a Tuesday and then another comes round on Thursday. With Lady Duncansby and her butler William still on manoeuvres on Exmoor, we had the honour of welcoming a royal guest for the second semi, as HRH the Crown Prince of Bedford was in attendance. As our splendid bottle of Corbières slowly got quaffed, and he watered down countless cans of Coke with generous additions of Jack Daniels, we took our task of deciding which ten of the fifteen songs would go forward to Saturday night’s final immensely seriously. And as usual, our judgement was sometimes weighed in the balance and found wanting.
Malta – One of Mrs Chrisparkle’s big favourites this year. At first I thought Michelle’s voice was going to drown out Richard’s but then it all fell nicely into place. Great performance, we all liked the way it built and then got dead anthemic. Slightly hopeful for my 100/1 each way bet for Saturday. We all put it through.
Israel – Another really strong performance of a song that I liked from the moment I heard it. I thought Mei toned down the scariness that I had seen from her previously, and there was a fantastic money moment when she strode out purposefully from the back of the stage. I gave it my top marks of the night. Again, general approval from all present, and we all sent her through to Saturday.
Norway – It’s taken a long time for this song to grow on me – albeit ever so slightly, and I enjoyed Carl’s emotional delivery. Mrs C almost nodded off though, and His Majesty was stifling his yawns. Collectively the three of us are too shallow for this kind of intensity; we prefer throwing shapes in a disco rather than an introverted study in gloom. In the end we all concluded that it just didn’t do it for us, and we sent Carl’s silent storm back on the first ferry to Tromso.
Georgia – Is there a polite way of saying “utter rubbish”? Actually that probably is the polite way. From that opening sub-yodelling, through Mariko’s manic yoga moves to the inanely jolly parachutist, three minutes to earth became three minutes of nightmare. I did laugh at the parachute though. He should have bailed out ages ago. The Crown Prince had to gather his jaw off the floor where it had dropped in bizarre amazement. It was a no from us.
Poland – How would Warsaw’s Christmas hit transfer to the stage from its video of boundless cleavage? By having a generously proportioned young lady getting progressively wetter as she plunged herself over a washboard, that’s how. Oh, was there a song going on as well? You’d never know, as it’s another one of those paper-thin offerings that are beholden to the Gimmicks Department. It didn’t do anything for Mrs C; and HRH was never going to be in that subset of viewers hanging onto that washerwoman’s every droplet. Big fat zero from us all.
Austria – The much awaited arrival of La Conchita brought a wave of happiness to our TV screen. We recognised her dress as being the one that Mrs C had dropped off at the Heart Foundation shop a couple of weeks ago – nice to see it being put to good use. As usual a note-perfect performance, that looked and sounded stunning. I still think the song’s a bit dated, but who cares? Three people in awe all sent it through to Saturday with their blessing.
Lithuania – This came over as very repetitive and something of a let-down. I was convinced Vilija’s dancer was my friend John from New Zealand, but apparently he was busy so sent a stand-in. I think the song’s tedious. HRH thought it wasn’t bad. The performance was ok. Mrs C spent most of the three minutes googling for pictures of kittens doing management consultancy. Ho Hum. Negatory, rubber ducky.
Finland – Well, the light show was fantastic, and it looked a-ma-zing on the telly. For me, the song’s got good bits and bad bits, but the bad just outweigh the good. Mrs C was impressed with the overall cuteness of the guys, and the Prince was texting the drummer for a date. It was the first song that we disagreed on, as I didn’t put it through but the others did. It was, however, my favourite of my non-qualifiers, if that makes a difference?
Ireland – “Oh great I love this one” said Mrs C as it started up. We all listened with intensity to fathom out what it was she liked so much. Then it all started to fade away. Still, if the others could lust over Finnish boys, I could find a certain warmth in Kasey’s bosom. It’s an enjoyable song, but, sadly, the performance wasn’t really a match for it. Over the course of the three minutes Mrs C definitely fell out of love with it, as she didn’t vote for it, whereas the Prince and I did.
Belarus – Cheesecake, or “Ode to a Dessert”. I take this for what it is, a fun song with an upbeat tune and a cheeky rhythm, and I thought Teo did a good job with it. I am advised that this is a big hit with the Crown Prince’s chef, back at the Bedford Palace. It’s bright, it’s sunny…what’s not to like? Nothing, apparently, as we all put it through.
Macedonia – (as it appears that only the EBU are using the FYR bit now) – I’ve always found this an “officially” fab song, but Tijana seemed to hold back to the detriment of the performance. And, frankly, if I may be so bold, the hoodie dancer looked like a bit of a w***er. Mrs C described it the whole thing as “indifferent” and you can’t get more damning than that. HRH was wavering, not for the first time. In the end only Mrs C and I put it through.
Switzerland – Here’s a song that it’s just physically impossible to dislike. As a group I thought Seb and his boys were a little static, but the uplifting jollity of the whole thing overrides that. Princey had a right royal bop to this. Mrs C admires the song’s naiveté and charm. She’s not wrong. It was Si, Si, Si from us.
Greece – Oh no! RiskyVocalist! What are you doing! I was so stunned at how he messed up the beginning that I let out an expletive, for which I issue a retrospective apology to anyone offended. Fortunately the infectiousness of the song quickly took over and we were all singing away, loving it. Or was that just me? Very lively performance, although I’m not entirely sure about the trampoline. It’s only going to give Jedward ideas. Thumbs up from all.
Slovenia – His Majesty noted a melodic similarity between this song and the Greeks’, and I think he may be on to something. I’ve always liked this song and think it out-Irishes the Irish entry. I wasn’t much struck on the look of the whole thing though – I didn’t like Tinkara’s Victorian dress much, not that I would fit in it anyway. I also thought the light show clashed with, rather than enhanced, the visual impact of the performance. I know, get me. I put forward these theories during Tinkara’s three minutes and got “whatever” looks from the others. We all put it through.
Romania – Mrs C observed that Paula always has a very laid back style of performance – it’s Ovi who has the get-up-and-go. Nevertheless, she’s probably the most established star in the whole contest, with a vocal range as far as Everest. I found myself carried away by the overall happiness of this song and performance, and liked it more than I was expecting. It’s just huge fun. Meanwhile His Majesty was last seen scouring the Argos catalogue for circular pianos. Da da da.
So, with us largely all agreeing on which songs we liked and which we didn’t, two of us got 7/10 and one of us (me, naturally!) got 6/10 – if only I’d fallen for the ravishing charms of the Finnish lads. That’s it from the Northampton jury for this year – however you spend your Eurovision night on Saturday, make it memorable for all the right reasons. It’s going to be a really exciting contest, I haven’t a clue who will win. Thanks for reading!