For various reasons that you don’t need to know about, gentle reader, I haven’t done a run down of how we viewed the semis since 2014. Time to put this right methinks. For Semi Final One it was just Mrs Chrisparkle and me on the couch with some nuts and a 2008 Veuve Cliquot. Metropolitan elite? Youbetcha. We decided to assess the ten songs that we would put through to the final on the basis that they were the ones we enjoyed the most, not the ten that we thought would go through. I say that now, because we didn’t do very well…
Sweden – I’ve been steadily going off this song ever since I saw Robin perform at the London Party. He did his trademark false start at the beginning when someone off camera takes his microphone so that he can adjust his… well I’m not sure what he adjusted because the camera didn’t show it, so that was a waste of time. One of many guys whom we despairingly noted were wearing trousers too short and no socks. You would have thought someone like that would be able to afford a proper tailor. They stole Kurt Calleja’s pointy toe dance. In the end we both put it through as qualifying, but somewhat begrudgingly.
Georgia – By the same token, I’ve been steadily warming to this song over the past few weeks, with its James Bondesque quality. She looks really scary… and I wondered if Mel Giedroyc’s comments about her being so nice were somewhat ironic… The main thing is that she sure delivered that ballad with some power and we both really enjoyed it, both putting her through to the final.
Australia – As Isaiah plodded through his ploddy number I felt my eyes beginning to droop… No socks, but I really coveted his frock coat. Would it look out of place down the local pub? Isaiah did some emoty bits that were really quite painful on the tympanic membrane. Just came across as dull I’m afraid, and neither of us put it through.
Albania – First true shocker of the night. Lindita started all wobbly – hardly surprising in those shoes. Mrs C said she was wearing a net curtain, and it’s true that her rather otherworldly appearance really put us off appreciating what little song there was. It ended up being my 18th favourite of the night – and neither of us put her through.
Belgium – Here was the first test of true Eurovision performance. A song that’s great on video, but Blanche channels her inner Edvard Munch as she’s welded, terrified, into position in front of the camera. Bizarrely she occasionally gave us a flash of her slightly happier mode, but her performance was truly drab. To a native English speaker her accent is very disturbing, almost maniacal. I really hated it. As a result, I chose not to put her through. Mrs C, on the other hand, remembered how good the video was and just gave her the benefit of the doubt.
Montenegro – At last something to enjoy wholeheartedly. Slavko is a real Mr Showman and decided to go for it in the fullest camp mode, which is really what the song deserves. With his flying ponytail and one denier blouse, no one was going to sleep whilst he was on. I quite like the song; I think it has an old-fashioned disco sound to it that could easily be an album track on Saturday Night Fever. His trousers would go well with Isaiah’s frock coat – just saying. We both had it sailing through to the final.
Finland – Good idea to have the piano just gently smoking, unlike the full inferno of The Makemakes a couple of years ago. Leena absolutely nailed the vocal with its thrilling simplicity. This was the first time that Mrs C had got this song, and she really loved it too. Pure class, raw, tough emotion, this performance was out of this world. It was my favourite of the night and we both had it qualifying with ease.
Azerbaijan – In comparison, this is utter rubbish. She performs the song in front of a blackboard with most of the lyrics written on it, because otherwise it’s even more impossible to understand. A man with a horse’s head sits atop a stepladder. Get off your high horse, I shouted. He didn’t answer. Maybe he’s a chesspiece; maybe it’s a fanwank. Absolutely dreadful and neither of us put it through.
Portugal – This was always going to be the biggy of the night, whether it would crash and burn or soar into the sky. For me, it really soared. There’s no question that Salvador has a comparatively eccentric delivery but it gives you an extra insight into the personality behind the voice, so that you’re appreciating this rather awkward, maybe emotionally clumsy guy finally bursting forth with a quiet love song. Vocally, he was absolutely spot on, and the concentration from the audience meant you could hear a pin drop. Mrs C’s always had her doubts about this one, but I could easily see it winning on Saturday night. I put it through without hesitation, she put it through with hesitation.
Greece – This song is definitely derivative of something, but I can’t bring it to mind; the chorus, of course, is pure Cascada. Personally I think this is three minutes of sound and fury signifying nothing. Is it shallow of me to say “nice legs”? The dancing lads have obviously been inspired by Jedward’s Waterline performance. It’s good enough to qualify but not good enough to ever become anyone’s favourite. We both put it through.
Poland – Another net curtain, noted Mrs C, who then went on to deconstruct its fire, desire, higher, wire lyric, and found it extremely wanting. It’s an immensely tedious song and Kasia tried to oversell it, which was painful when there was precious little there to start with. Definitely a no from both of us.
Moldova – After the bland void of Poland, this was a much-needed kick up the brass. Epic Sax Guy and his mates are back, with a brand new sax motif that will disrupt your sleep patterns. They present it so slickly, and, although the repetitive lyrics aren’t up to much, its sheer cheerfulness makes you love it. We both had it qualifying, no question.
Iceland – My notes read “tits and shoes”. Will that do? OK, I’ll develop that argument a bit. The song is another of these immensely tedious numbers but Svala has put enough thought into her appearance to take our mind off it. To be fair, it was a very good performance, but for me it can’t mask a paper-thin song (geddit?) It’s a no from both of us.
Czech Republic – I’ve always had a soft spot for this song, it has a warmth about it that I can’t quite put my finger on. Sadly Marta’s bacofoil look is totally at odds with it, and the background image of clips from the video, featuring semi naked people doing what looks like clumsy contemporary dance, just comes across as a little bizarre. Killed by its poor staging, we didn’t put it through.
Cyprus – I quite like this song too but it’s beginning to wane, and Hovig’s performance didn’t help it for me. I thought his vocals were a bit off at times and it was just a bit soulless; not to mention sockless. Good enough to get through though.
Armenia – It’s atmospheric, but is it art? I don’t get this song, and I don’t get the appeal of the performers. Attitude is all very well but here it triumphs over substance; and for me entertainment and enjoyment levels were fairly low. We didn’t put it through.
Slovenia – Is it true, what they said, that Omar is a busker on the London Underground? That’s ridiculous! As soon as it started, we both looked at each other and said “what is that tune, I really have heard it before” – and I’ve been trying to identify it for weeks now – then it came to me: Any Other World by Mika. Omar gave a great performance of a ballad that owes a little too much to musical theatre, but for us it was good enough to qualify.
Latvia – I think I laughed for at least the first twenty seconds at Agnese’s hairdo and dress sense. Whatever that is on her head, I reckon she can get 6 Music on it. Who said the influence of Bjork is dead? It’s not a bad song but the performance was a bit lightweight and overall I don’t think it worked properly. However, I had it scraping through into the final, whereas Mrs C did not.
On the basis that we voted for the songs and performances we liked, Mrs C got 6/10 right, I only got 5/10. However, taking the songs that I thought would go through from my preview blog of a couple of weeks ago, I did a little better with 7/10. These Eurovision semis are hard to call! Anyway, we’ll be having another go on Thursday night, and with a few more people around for extra input. Enjoy Eurovision week!