Monday, 21 May 2012

Second Semi-Final: Live Rehearsals

1) Serbia - Well, I must say I am impressed. I was slightly too critical for such a big star when I gave the song it's review, and so I am sure this will make up for it. The fact is Željko Joksimović isn't just stood on stage singing, perhaps with a nice pianist...the guy is on stage with instrumentalists who get involved in the performance. It makes it so much more interesting, which is a good thing because the song, you can't deny, is a bit disappointing. I even got goosebumps at the first key change. That could've been because the heating isn't on, but nevertheless, a good start. I don't know how memorable this will be though towards the end...

2) FYR Macedonia - I really don't have anything against the Macedonians, but I still detest this song. Following on from Željko Joksimović, Kaliopi really needs to make her mark in order to be remembered. When it starts, I genuinely was already thinking, let's hurry this one up and get on to the next. It's another bloody ballad. When the rock music kicks in, I did get woken up and actually enjoyed the performance for a bit. Does Kaliopi know how to move though? Yeah she can throw her head back, but she didn't move her feet once I don't think...she could at least jump up and down during the bridge or something?!

3) Netherlands - THE HEADDRESS MADE IT TO EUROVISION! It's an odd performance though...I mean why is Joan Franka stood one side of the stage with a random tambourinist, while the other musicians are stood the otherside? Maybe they will actually do something when it comes around to Thursday night. I don't think this performance is that memorable, but the song will be nice relief from what we have just had, and the backdrop is pretty cool. I think what saves this is that headdress. It's a winner in it's own right.

4) Malta - FINALLY! Some true Eurovision here, with a bit of glam, some funky lights and an exciting performance which will get the crowds off their feet. Kurt Calleja actually does something, but so do the rest of people on stage, yet we still are mainly focussed on Kurt. His vocals seem to have improved drastically since the Maltese National Final and there is real life in this performance. It's cracking staging and this really took me by surprise. After a disastorous draw for Malta, they really are trying to make the most of it. However, it is still 4th...I can't say how memorable this will be in 10 songs time...

5) Belarus - Yesterday, I praised Switzerland for their brilliant use of putting on a performance or a rock song without stupid costumes and stupid gimmicks. Well Belarus do exactly the opposite. What on earth is the lead singer of Litesound wearing? Why on earth are their microphones made up of old material found in a garbage dump? It just makes it look silly. Like the background though. Didn't enjoy that, but I'm afraid for Malta, this will look really similar...don't know which one the European audience will prefer, but I stand a pretty good guess at Belarus (unfortunately).

6) Portugal - This really stands out, and Filipa is wearing a really memorable dress. It's all Portugal really need to get their mark down with this ballad as their are so many ballads in this semi final. Her vocals are incredible, and it's all in Portugese. Perfect draw coming straight after Belarus and before Ukraine. The only problem I can see from a European perspective is perhaps it goes on a bit too long? Portugal do exactly what they need to do though! It's really quite impressive.

7) Ukraine - Great entrance! Like a true diva! This is really good, loving the use of technology hear, and some great colours. Gaitana focuses on the vocal and not doing some silly dancing, which will score well with the juries because it's a brilliant vocal. I think Gaitana get's lost in the images of the crowds though...bit unfortunate. Still a solid performance that they have spiced up by doing something different with the staging.

8) Bulgaria - Sofi Marinova does NOTHING but sing. With a song like Love Unlimited, something needs to happen, but nope, it's jsut Sofi on stage. This is awful! Following Ukraine, Bulgaria really need to do something to show off too, and they need to do something to show that their catchy eurodance song is better than Ukraine's. All of it makes this even worse than it already is. Still, at least the vocals are a little more sharpened. One thing Sofi...lose those god awful hoops!

9) Slovenia - Slovenia have picked up on the fact that there are too many ballads in this semi final for all of them to even be remembered. They haven't done something stupid though, and have incorporated some dancers with a beautiful choreography into Eva Boto's performance. Slovenia should be very proud of this. The vocals are brilliant and really show off Eva's great voice. I can see this being a pretty firm qualifier at this rate.

10) Croatia - Seeing as there are so many ballads, Croatia successfully do something to spice up Nebo. The staging is pretty similar, but the performance is mixed up with some nice choreography. But the "nice" choreography isn't that much better than Slovenia's and the dancers take so much focus away from Nina herself that this performance feels a little lost. Still, I am completely comparing this to Slovenia and so without them going before this, Croatia would have been so much better. BUT, that is what the audience will do. and probably the juries too.

11) Sweden - So any chance of Croatia qualifying has gone. Sweden's Loreen's performance is incredible! I still am not as hyped up as everyone else over the song, but the performance of Euphoria is just amazing. Loreen really knows how to sing and dance at the same time, and the staging and choreography is so much better than it could have been. Yes, we already saw it during Melodifestivalen, but who needs to change it? It's so good! I mean, she dances like a witch in parts, and after studying commedia dell'arte, she definitely does dance like the witch character archetype...but it adds Euphoria a real natural and different element. At first, I was very much like, who is this random guy she dances with at the end...but the guy is needed to make sure we don't lose interest of Loreen dancing round like crazy for 3 minutes. Pure brilliance from the Swedes.

12) Georgia - Whatever Georgia do, they really have little chance of qualifying performing after Sweden...however Anri Jokhadze really does give it a good go. There are some pretty hot dancers, and Anri's start gets me pretty interested. He plays the drums and other instruments and I do actually enjoy it. BUT the song is absolutely bonkers so the performance needs to be absolutely bonkers too. However, it's not. The performance is too normal for the song and this really doesn't stand a chance of qualifying. Sorry Georgia! This will end Georgia'a 100% qualifying record.

13) Turkey - The dancers incorporate the theme of the song well, with their cool physicality of using their long cloaks to form a ship. The performance won't set the audience alight though and I really wasn't that fussed. I found the performance alright. Maybe its because after seeing Sweden, everything is now looking mediocre. Going after Georgia may not do Can Bonomo any favours either, comparisons could be made between the songs as they are both pretty Southern European. It's an alright performance. That's it, sadly.

14) Estonia - Beautiful. That is the only word to describe Ott Lepland's performance. Returning to the ballads is actually really really nice following Sweden, Georgia and Turkey. It's just Ott Lepland stood on stage singing, and not like Iris from Belgium in the first semi final. Ott has stage presence and his vocals are insanely good on this track. As I said, beautiful.

15) Slovakia - This is actually very, very good!! As a true hard rock song everything is in place to give a solid rock performance and that is what Max Jason Mai does so well. He seems to know exactly what to do, get out and rock it. Such a mix up from Estonia as well, which is brilliant for Slovakia, as this comes across really fresh and I really am starting to doubt if pre-polls will show for anything on Thursday as I think this could easily qualify. Rock is growing ever present and popular in Europe and Eurovision is starting to get more and more rock songs as the years go on. I think it'll defy the odds after such a strong performance, and Slovakia and MJM will qualify!

16) Norway - And again, another fresh sound...another different song and image! Starting with a back flip, you know straight away where Eric Saade is going with this. Damn! I mean Tooji. Sorry, I had to do that. Tooji has nothing on Eric Saade!! Still though, it's a well polished, slick and suave routine which will impress everywhere in Europe. Vocals seemed off key to me, but hey, maybe Tooji had a sore throat or something. I feel he needs to do something else to wow viewers though. Smash some glass perhaps? Ha ha. Very strong chance of qualifying.

17) Bosnia & Herzegovina - Beautiful! Again! It's just a piano and Maya Sar, and lucikly for Estonia, this is a ballad by a woman...Maya Sar brings so much elegance and wears a ridiculously glittery dress which is true diva and elegance at the same time. Stunning performance, thoroughly enjoyable. Beautiful!

I'm dreading this one already...

18) Lithuania - Okay, I take it all back! I hate the song, but Donny Montell pulls off a fab performance! The vocals are incredibly strong and he has fantastic stage presence. The staging is simple but effective. Not too sure why Lithuania have gone for the backdrop they have because it doesn't really fit but then again, I do like it. I actually really enjoyed that performance. Will Europe though? Soo soo glad it does go into upbeat, because this would have been awful as a ballad!

BEST performances: Sweden, Estonia, Slovenia
WORST peformances: FYR Macedonia, Belarus, Bulgaria
Most surprising: Lithuania
Least suprising: Norway (really enjoyed the performance, but just knew Tooji was going to do exactly this!)

Qualifiers: Serbia, Ukraine, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey, Estonia, Slovakia, Norway, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Lithuania

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