Baku 2012: My semi final 1 wrap-up

So last night, approximately a hundred years after the rest of the world, Australia got to witness the first semi final from Baku. It took me at least ten minutes to stop hyperventilating (because I was overexcited, not because I was terrified of Montenegro being first up) and start enjoying it all. Despite the fact that the stronger semi and the one with most of my favourites in it is number two, which I’ll see tonight, I did have a good time watching and flag-waving at my party for one (as usual, nobody else in my household showed the least flicker of interest – there is definitely something wrong with them) and I thought that, generally, the performances were strong. Here’s my more detailed take on the first 2012 installment, direct from the land Down Under…

 

LE HIGHLIGHTS

–  Montenegro being act 1 turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because the song (I mean, the “song”) was over in a flash and made way for Iceland, who I feel were the real competition beginners since Rambo never had a chance of qualifying anyway.

–  Speaking of Iceland, their dramatic three minutes was a definite highlight, mainly because there were many close-up shots of Jónsi over which I could freely drool because I was by myself.

–  Rona Nishliu’s performance for Albania was my favourite of the night. As you may or may not know, I initially hated Suus, but made a swift and unexplained turnaround after I saw the preview video. The live staging did not disappoint, as it was minimal enough to keep the focus on Rona and her insanely amazing voice (seriously, someone needs to put a straight jacket on that thing. It is CRAZY). Her intensity and emotion was all there, and her costume was just as weird and wonderful as I’d been hoping for…although that stray dreadlock did gross me out a little.

–  I’ve never seen a moonwalking bagpiper before, so thanks for that, Romania. I wonder if he’ll go on to enjoy the same fame and hilarious Youtube remixes of the epic Moldovan sax guy of Year Oslo?

–  Cyprus put on a great show. I loved their outfits, I loved their choreography, and I loved the book-stack prop (once the commentator had informed me that’s what it was. I thought it was a pile of brick pavers at first). I can’t say I loved Ivi’s vocal, but she was far from dreadful. She pulled it off.

–  Ireland’s water fountain – the second most literal prop being used this year after Donny Montell’s blindfold – was put to very good use. It was certainly a more fluid mover than either of the Jeds.

 

LE LOWLIGHTS

–  I don’t actually have many of these to talk about. I will say that I wish Austria had incorporated more popo into their act. There was too much pole dancing in my opinion, and not enough shaking of bottoms. Yes, I am a twenty-year-old female who advocates sexist lyrics and accompanying dance moves. You got a problem with that?

–  I also feel that the whole show went by very quickly. Eurovision often does, because time does fly when you’re having fun as people who like to talk in clichés say, but I think there was a genuine rushed feeling about it all. The transitions between acts were blink-and-you’ll-miss-it rapid, and the digital enveloped were opened so fast that, has they been real, they would have caused more than a few paper cuts.

–   There was no interval act during my broadcast, and I was curious as to whether that was the case in Baku, or if the Australian broadcaster SBS had cut it out. Either way, I was disappointed.

 

LE SHOCKS AND SURPRISES

–  For some reason I expected Anke Engelke to welcome us to Azerbaijan. Last year she made the steadfast hosting script genuinely entertaining, which Leyla, Nargiz and Ell couldn’t quite manage. They looked pretty, though.

–  I was pleasantly surprised by the Crystal Hall’s involvement in introducing each country. Whoever came up with the idea to light it up to resemble all 18 national flags deserves a high five.

–  Greece’s Aphrodisiac worked very well in the arena – better than it worked in the shopping centre that housed their national final, anyway. I always forget what an impact the traditional music, and the traditional dancing, and the slightly less traditional skimpy dress of the quintessential Greek frontwoman has when you stick it all on a stage in front of thousands of excitable and/or drunk fans.

–  Two performances I didn’t expect to enjoy/am ashamed to admit I did came from San Marino and Russia. I don’t know why I liked San Marino’s. Valentina can sure sing, but the costumes were frightening and made no sense, and we all know the song is as high-quality as something a dog would do on the lawn – but I liked it. Go figure. Russia, on the other hand, I suppose is easier to justify. As I predicted, the Babushki received the biggest round of applause of the night, probably because they managed to sing, dance and bake at the same time (and they’re so cute!) Plus, now we know where they found the time to cook those pies for everyone in the press room: during their first rehearsal.

 

LE RESULTS

In order of callout, the lucky ten qualifiers were Romania, Moldova, Iceland, Hungary, Denmark, Albania, Cyprus, Greece, Russia and Ireland. This was an easier semi to predict, so I can’t really gloat about getting 8/10 correct. I didn’t think Hungary or Albania would make it, but I’m glad they did – especially in Albania’s case.

I’m very happy for Cyprus. They’re one of those countries that often try so hard but never get anywhere, so I’m thrilled they’ve booked a place for Saturday night.

It did give me great pleasure also to see the powers that be make Jedward sweat it out, and wonder if they were in fact as popular as they thought. I don’t think we would have seen quite as many cartwheels (an amount that puts Donny’s lone one-hander to shame) had they been announced earlier.

To finish off, I’ll just mention the results of the unofficial Australian vote, conducted at www.sbs.com.au/eurovision. Unsurprisingly, it was the grannies who took out the top spot, followed by Ireland and Denmark. Rounding out our top 5 were Iceland and Cyprus. We may well have agreed with Europe, although I can’t imagine that the Babushki scored highly enough with the juries to win the semi. Time will tell who triumphed, who just slipped in and who just missed out…

 

That’s about all I’ve got to say re: Semi #1, which I suppose was quite a lot. When it comes to Eurovision I can go on for days, so you should count yourself lucky this post wasn’t that excessive. I’ll be back tomorrow with a wrap-up of the second semi, so please don’t tell me who the winner is when I’m still getting over the fact that “Insert Country Name Here” didn’t qualify. In the meantime:

What were your highlights/lowlights of Semi 1???

 

About Jaz

I'm Jaz, I'm 26, and I'm 110% Eurovision-OBSESSED. The contest is one big party, and I like to keep it going 365 days a year - that's why I write about anything and everything ESC on my blog. Come join the fun, and I promise you'll never have a nul-point experience! www.eurovisionbyjaz.com/

Posted on May 26, 2012, in Eurovision 2012 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Oh so I was nit the inky one who thougt it went by so fast (I managed ti watch it after all, yay xD) I was in a restaurant and every time an “embarrassing” song came on stage I wondered if I woukd get kicked out of the restaurant, good thing they didn’t kick me out, althougt I missed a part of Hungary’s performance because some people wanted to watch a soccer match…but anyway, my main lowligth was obviously Switzerland not qualifying since I love the song and would have loved to see sinplus in the final. Albania still does’t work for me, I found the whole thing very horror/ science fiction -ish and I hate her hair…and the way she screams…so seeing her qualifying was anoter lowlight…Higlights, Cyprus!!! I just loved the performance so much…what else? Well, I liked the results overall, and well, I won’t elaborate on this because I don’t want to ruin semi 2 for you….but I have lots of favorites in the final : P I don’t even know yet who won the semis 😛

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    • Yay!! I was actually worrying about you because I couldn’t think of anything worse than not being able to watch. It’s a shame about the people who find people kicking a ball around and falling over more entertaining than Eurovision. I feel sorry for them…ahaha.
      Switzerland’s performance was better than I expected, and the crowd were loving it. I thought they would have squeezed in, but unfortunately that wasn’t the way it went.
      I love the horror/sci-fi of Albania! I’m thrilled to see her in the final. All through her performance though I kept wondering if she had a headache since her hair was pulled back so tightly. Plus, the dreadlock mountain must weigh a ton… I’m thinking it’s hair pain and not actual emotion that makes her tear up at the end!!
      Agreed on Cyprus, obviously.
      I have seen semi 2 now, so ruin away!! Although by the time you read this you’ll probably have seen the final and I won’t, so don’t tell me who won!! Even though I suspect I know who will…

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  2. Whoops sorry that’s supposed to be “only” not inky xD

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  3. Hey, to answer your question SBS did cut out the interval because I watched it streamed live and they did have one (despite me being half asleep when it was on). I prefer watching the live stream because I actually can’t handle the commentators, I like it quiet. The only part the commentators are good for was when Eldar, Nargiz and the other one were talking. Gosh they talked so much… :/ But Julia and Sam are cool, only thing that annoys me is when they start comparing the singer to someone else… they did that all night long in the second semi. Once they compared Eldar to Charlie Pickering :/ LOL or they are like “name” is a Slovenian version of “name” or the Georgian version of “name”.

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    • Thanks for letting me know. I guess it’ll be Youtube or waiting fot the DVD for me if I want to see it. Apparently it was pretty spectacular.
      I don’t mind the commentating, although I would love to hear Graham Norton’s for the BBC final one day…
      Ell did look more like Charlie Pickering than ever in his suit. Julia and Sam obviously couldn’t resist!

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  4. You loved the WORST SONG EVER TO TORTURE ESC? (aka Suus)
    Omg your taste now sucks 😦

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    • Yes. Yes I did. And I am not the only one because it made the top 5, remember??* Mwahahahaha!
      Same thing happened last year with Ukraine. In yo face!

      * I have to admit even I didn’t think it would get that far…

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