Baku 2012: My overview of semi final 2
It’s Sunday afternoon, so in approximately nine hours I will know who won Eurovision 2012. The final finished at about 6am my time, which would have been a more respectable hour of the evening for many of you, I’m sure (I swear I’m only a little bit jealous). I did have a dream last night involving Can Bonomo and Pastora Soler, but I don’t think that signified a whole lot other than the fact that I have Baku on the brain right now.
Anyway, last night the second semi was screened here in Oz, and to be honest, it made the first one look like a rehearsal, it was that brilliant! For those of you still interested in my delayed verdicts, here’s a rundown of that very strong semi.
– The contrast between Serbia’s opening act and Montengro’s was massive. It was a big moment for me to see Željko back on the ESC stage. He set the standard, and brought a level of class and atmosphere to the line-up that Rambo Amadeus could only dream of as he snoozed on top of his giant donkey.
– Kaliopi’s performance for Macedonia was excellent, as was Eva Boto’s for Slovenia. Unfortunately only Kaliopi managed to qualify, but she really deserved it (from what I’ve seen, she’s a genuinely lovely lady, and she can sing like a champ). I’m very happy that FYROM managed to make the final for the first time since 2007, after years of just missing out.
– I can’t not mention the country everyone wanted to see in this semi –Belarus. JOKE! I’m talking about Sweden, of course. Loreen’s performance may have been exactly the same as it was at Melodifestivalen, but Eurovision has never seen anything like it before – especially where the intimacy of the camera angles in concerned. At this point, I’m pretty certain we’re heading to Stockholm next year.
– Some people make swans out of napkins; others make life-size ships out of bedsheets. Turkey apparently falls into the latter category, and to that I say ‘BRAVO, me hearties!’
– Estonia and Norway, my two favourites in this semi, lived up to my expectations and then some. I am still mourning the loss of the extended version of Kuula, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the pants off Hott – as I am now calling him – Lepland’s shorter rendition (Insert Joke About His Pants Coming Off Here). Tooji was amazing. I don’t think there was ever a time when a slot in the final didn’t have his name stamped on it in big glittery letters.
– My final highlight has to be the interval act, comprised of Dima Bilan, Marija Serifovic, Alexander Rybak, Lena and Ell/Nikki, all of whom looked a lot skinnier than they did when they won, for some reason. Together they more than made up for the lack of interval entertainment the night before, even though neither Ell nor Nikki could seem to recall the lyrics of Waterloo. Fail. I would have loved to see Lordi there too, though. How great would a traditionally Azerbaijani version of Hard Rock Hallelujah have been?
– Again, there weren’t many low points in my opinion. There were a few performances that just didn’t work for me on varying levels though – Belarus, for example, who I think may have cost themselves a place in the final by choosing to rework their song from its original pop-rock version into a messy pop-disco version (with a smidge of rock on the side).
– I was also let down by Ukraine’s performance, which was a bit chaotic and too colourful for my retinas to enjoy, no matter how many times Gaitana told them to. There’s no doubting her ability to give a cracking vocal performance, but everything else just didn’t mesh. I was hoping for an army (well, a group of five as the EBU rules allow) of backing singers who could belt out the nanananananana’s, but what I got was some tie-dyed trumpet players and Gaitana herself taking care of the nana’s, which didn’t do justice to the studio version. I’m also not sure how fringes and flower garlands fit in with the vibe of the song. If the woman was a bridesmaid at a cowboy wedding it would make more sense.
– Lastly, Max Jason Mai and his abs (which were on display, as hoped for by many) disappointed. I don’t know if it was just me, but he seemed to be off-key for most of his three minutes.
LE SHOCKS AND SURPRISES
– I was mildly surprised to see Portugal’s Filipa pulling an Angelina Jolie, with a leg on display. It was definitely the most exciting part of her performance.
– As much as I despise the Georgian song this year, I have to say that they put on a good show, so that was a pleasant surprise. I expected to spend the duration of I’m a Joker smothering myself with a cushion, but I found myself watching, and even tapping my foot to the beat a little. Don’t tell anyone, for God’s sake.
– With so many strong songs in this semi, there was going to be some gems left behind. For me, Slovenia’s failure to qualify was a shock, and I am going to miss it tonight! Similarly, Lithuania’s qualification straight off the bat shocked me. I do love me some Donny, but I figured he was destined for failure alongside his sparkly blindfold.
The lucky ten this time around were Lithuania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Ukraine, Sweden, Macedonia, Norway, Estonia, Malta and Turkey, which means I was 80% right in my predictions again. Not bad.
Waiting for Estonia to be announced nearly killed me. I knew Norway would go through, but Ott wasn’t a sure thing – I was just hoping against hope for him to advance. Luckily he did, or I might not have been alive to write this post.
Malta’s qualification surprised me, but it made me happy too, because the tiny island always want a place so badly and they’re always so grateful on the rare occasions they get one. I don’t expect them to get anywhere in the final, but I don’t think that will matter much.
Turkey is back in the final after a year of failure that shocked us all – although the dastardly EBU made sure to leave Can until last to make us wonder if it would happen again. As the final country to snatch up a place on Saturday, Turkey made sure the level of the final would be sky-high.
In the unofficial Australian vote over at www.sbs.com.au/eurovision, it was Sweden who topped the list, followed by Norway and Malta. Finishing our top five were Estonia and Slovakia. Apparently my fellow countrymen and women love their off-key rock and roll.
To those of you who Eurovision 2012 is over for, I hope you enjoyed it. There’s still a bit of a wait for me, and so far I’ve escaped finding out the winner by holing myself up in my bedroom and getting excited about seeing the Big 6, particularly Italy and Spain, on stage for the first time.
Just because the contest has come to an end doesn’t mean I’m going to stop posting hilarious (cough) Eurovision-themed posts. For me the party lasts 365 days a year – or 366, in this year’s case – and you’re all invited!
PS – What were your highs and lows from the second semi???
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