Final-ly! My pre-final verdict on the Malmö semis

Hello again! I’m back, at least for this brief window of time during which I’ve seen both semi finals of Eurovision 2013 but the final hasn’t happened yet. Tomorrow I’ll be avoiding even the slightest whiff of a news report from anywhere, until Monday when I can make another comeback to complain about the winner. I bet you’re looking forward to that already.

……

Anyway, I had a lot of stuff to get out of my head and onto le blog in the wake of semis 1 and 2. At last, here it is.

 

 mnzz

SEMI 1

Watching this first installment on Friday night, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was watching Melodifestivalen. That may have had something to do with the location, and the fact that the children vs. Loreen reprisal of Euphoria we saw back in March kicked off the proceedings. But the intimate feel of the stage also gave me that impression. Then Austria opened the show and I started to feel Eurovision-esque again (yay!). Here’s a quick review of Austria and the fifteen countries that followed, as well as some thoughts on the other entertainment, and the results.

 

The performances

Austria: A good opener. Natália sounded great, and that white shirt/jeans combo wasn’t nearly as dull as I was expecting. She looked radiant, which is appropriate. You know, ‘cause of her song. Shine? Oh, never mind. 

Estonia: Birgit was radiant too, but for a different reason (why can’t my mother have participated in Eurovision when she was pregnant with me, dammit? That is too cool). Again, she looked and sounded luverly.

Slovenia: This was the ‘wow’ act of the evening for me. Straight Into Love came off amazing in the arena, and Hannah belted it out like there was no tomorrow (which there wasn’t, if ‘tomorrow’ is a metaphor for ‘chance of qualifying’). Fierce costuming, too.

'Ta-daaaah! I got into my leather pants without any assistance!'

‘Ta-daaaah! I got into my leather pants without any assistance!’

Croatia: Sigh. This was so beautiful I almost wept. And it’s going direct to my list of songs that should have qualified.

Denmark: It was decent, but I felt nothing. Oh, except a tinge of horror when the pyro curtain went off and I had a flashback to Running Scared.

Russia: Dina really is ‘The Voice’ of Russia, isn’t she? Stunning vocal. But everything else, especially the part when the backing singers “spontaneously” joined hands, was as contrived as the song.

Ukraine: Apart from the cringe-worthy camera shake at the beginning (I can’t help being offended on Igor’s behalf) this was another top-notch performance from Ukraine. Zlata made that papier-maché boulder look so glamorous.

Netherlands: Good use of the satellite stage by Anouk, and a lovely background on the main stage too. Her voice was haunting. *Insert scary ghostly noises here*

Montenegro: Sexy cyborg Nina made this performance. She sounded so studio-perfect I had to wonder if Montenegro had found a way to sidestep the live vocal rule. BTW, does anyone see the correlation between astronauts and cyborgs? What kind of party was this?

Lithuania: Eyebrows. That is all.

Belarus: I’m trying to figure out whether this was more Eurovision 2005, 2006 or 2007. Any way you look at it, it’s dated. Alyona also forgot to wear pants, but I’ll forgive her because her stilettos were totally fabulous.

Solayoh? Aphrodisiac? My Number One? It’s all Belarusian to me.

Few people are aware that the Chicken Dance originated in Belarus.

Moldova: Actually, there was another ‘wow’ act, and here it is! That dress, that hair, that voice, that random dude at the piano who definitely didn’t represent Moldova last year…epic.

Ireland: Ryan Dolan obviously made a pilgrimage to Georgia sometime in the last few months and stocked up on their magical singing potion. That’s the only explanation for his almost flawless rendition of Only Love Survives.

Cyprus: Nice dress. How does the song go again?

Belgium: That’s my boy! Thank the Eurovision gods that Roberto and his lady friends put on a good show. And thanks to whoever decided to have the lyrics scrolling in the background to compensate for his off-kilter English pronunciation.

Serbia: I loved the theatrics of this, especially from Sara. But it was theatre that would have gone better with the old angel/devil outfits, not those candy-coloured crimes against fashion.

 

The in-betweeners

– Petra as the single lady (oh-oh-oh oh-oh-oh…) host came off a bit more scripted than I was hoping, but she did a good job. I did enjoy that joke about the potential 2013 slogans.

– For those of you who saw it, the skit to celebrate 30 years of Eurovision on Australian TV was naturally a highlight. I am slightly put out that I wasn’t invited to take part. Ha ha ha.

– I loved the journey through contest history, with Petra popping up in different decades by way of extremely well-executed computer graphics. ‘Merci’. ‘You’re welcome.’ ‘Merci’. ‘Yes…’ ‘Merci.’ ‘YOU’RE WELCOME!’ = hilarious.

– There wasn’t enough green room coverage for my liking, although I’m suspicious that a chunk was edited out of our broadcast. It happened last year, and I was not amused.

– The interval act was nice to look at, but I’ve got to admit, I’ve never been skilled at interpreting interpretive dance.

 

The results

Qualified: Moldova, Lithuania, Ireland, Estonia, Belarus, Denmark, Russia, Belgium, Ukraine and the Netherlands

I predicted: Croatia, Denmark, Russia, Ukraine, Netherlands, Moldova, Montenegro, Belarus, Ireland and Serbia

I feel: Pretty stupid. 7/10 is not my best-ever effort, but that isn’t the cause of the moron vibes emanating from me at this moment. For weeks, I’ve been thinking three things:

– that Estonia would sneak into the final, despite the similarities to Cyprus the Boring

– that Lithuania has a way of qualifying when it seems most unlikely, and;

– that it could well be curtains for Serbia after just one televised performance.

But last week, when it came time to actually predict, I threw all those thoughts out of the window and excluded Estonia and Lithuania from my selected ten, and left Serbia in. Face. Palm. But what is, is, so I may as well move on to the fact that I am ecstatic about Belgium getting through! I don’t even care that I thought Roberto would lose the semi, it’s so good to be wrong. Sure, he’ll probably be in the bottom 5 in the final, but just to have made it there should give him the confidence boost he needs to pull off an even better performance than he did on Tuesday.

Moldova, Ireland and Ukraine were also welcome qualifiers, and for the Netherlands to advance for the first time since 2004 was brilliant. Bravo, Anouk, a.k.a. Depressed Mary Poppins. I was not so thrilled to hear the word ‘Belarus’ come out of Petra’s mouth, and I can’t help feeling that they stole a precious final place from a worthier country (Slovenia or Croatia, for instance) but since Alyona probably didn’t come 10th, that’s probably not true.

I do wish Montenegro had made it, but since I never expected them to, I can deal. I will miss Moje 3, however. Nevena evidently had a better knack for Junior Eurovision.

 

SEMI 2

For once, it was hard to tell whether the first or second semi was the strongest. There was a lot about this one that I was excited for, with a bunch of my top-ranked entries AND one of my favourite artists of all time featuring in the lineup. Here’s round two of my review.

 

The performances

Latvia: Another good opener – I have to praise SVT for that. PeR were also generous enough to give us, as lead singer Ralfs said himself, the first stage dive in Eurovision history. Am I the only one that would’ve laughed if nobody had caught him?

San Marino: This Valentina Monetta was not the same one who took to the stage in Baku. This one was a glamorous, charismatic lady in red with an unusual attachment to an IKEA light fitting. I loved this.

Macedonia: Two words – train and wreck. This song is best reserved for studio audio.

Azerbaijan: Damn, the Azerbaijanis can stage an ESC entry! That’s if they actually were responsible for the staging, and didn’t import that from Sweden as well. Anyway, this was very good, and while Farid doesn’t normally light my fire, he was looking mighty fine.

This is the face of a man who know's he's destined for the top 10.

This is the face of a man who know’s he’s destined for the top 10.

Finland: Loud, energetic, she kissed a girl and we liked it.

Malta: Paging Dr. Adorable…oh, there you are Gianluca. This was so cute, right down to the lyrics popping up in the background in all manner of fonts. I’m a font fan.

Bulgaria: I was transported straight back to Helsinki thanks to Elitsa and Stoyan, which isn’t a bad thing (2007 is one of my favourite contests). It’s a shame Bulgaria had to learn the hard way what we all knew early on – that bringing back this duo wasn’t the answer to their problems.

Iceland: I wonder what brand of conditioner he uses?

Greece: I’ve really come to love these guys. The costumes and choreography were epic, and I’m so grateful for Agathonas’ sneaky ‘stache stroke at the end.

Israel: The song might be a tad repetitive, but Moran’s voice is incredible, and it was in fine form for this performance. As were her lady lumps.

Armenia: I was wrong about Gor’s vocal. He was in tune the whole time, and even held back on the gymnastics. Consider my words eaten.

Hungary: This was three minutes of breathy hipster beauty, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t care if he looked disinterested – I am in love with Kedvesem and the performance was wonderful.

Norway: I know I shouldn’t have been thinking about this, but Margaret’s shoes were kind of hideous. Apart from that, she looked as ethereal/bad-ass as ever.

'And this is how we do the Macarena in Norway.'

‘And this is how we do the Macarena in Norway.’

Albania: Holy flaming guitars, Batman! Adrian and Bledar almost literally set the Malmö Arena on fire. A commendable show, boys. Though I must say, a little too much texturising spray was used on Adrian.

Georgia: Unlike Russia, this performance was more sickly sweet than the song. My mother, who happened to walk past while Sophie & Nodi were doing their thang, said she liked it. I’m not sure if that bodes well for them or not.

Switzerland: I have a soft spot for Takasa, but this was boring.

Romania: And now for something that you could never call ‘boring’. Cezar was like a camp warlord on helium out there, but his voice was on point.

 

The in-betweeners

– The opening act marked the first time I have every enjoyed watching people on BMX bikes.

– But enough bike talk. I’ve got to get on to the interval act that I vote to win Eurovision 2013. Yes, I’m referring to the Darin/Agnes extravaganza. I had been looking forward to this a ridiculous amount, what with Darin being my absolute favourite male artist on the planet and Agnes being one of my top females. My expectations were met, and then some. Both Swedish superstars rocked the arena, with Agnes kindly singing the two songs I would have chosen for her whilst surrounded by a year’s worth of material from a chiffon factory. Darin was just Darin. To see him on the ESC stage when it’s unlikely he’ll ever do so representing Sweden was a life highlight.

– In other news, Lys Assia made it to Sweden!! That woman is my hero. Approximately 147 years old and poorly, but still making the trek to be at the contest and get her mug on the telly.

 

The results

Qualified: Hungary, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Romania, Norway, Iceland, Armenia, Finland, Malta and Greece

I predicted: Azerbaijan, Finland, Malta, Greece, Israel, Armenia, Hungary, Norway, Georgia and Romania

I feel: less stupid than before. 9/10 ain’t bad. But even if I’d gotten 1/10 (not statistically possible, but I’m trying to make a point) I’d have been happy, because Hungary, the one country I was desperate to qualify, was the first to go through. I can’t even tell you how loudly I screamed when that happened.

The next four to be announced were pretty obvious ones, though part of me was hoping Romania would be left behind. Iceland and Armenia were a little surprising, despite my gut feeling that Armenia would make it. I was chuffed for Finland and Malta.

When it came down to the last butterfly, it was only going to be Greece or San Marino (and so I was wailing for the loss of Israel). As sad as I am that it turned out not to be SM, a final wouldn’t be a final without Greece.

 

 

Well, just like the semis, my wrap-up is now over. But as upsetting as both of those things are, just remember that the grand final is still to be held, and it’s a final that should conclude with a tense voting sequence. The way I see it, there are four or five countries that could score their way into the winners’ club (if there is such a thing). Because I’m head honcho here and I can, I’m going to re-predict who that winner will be right here, right now.

Azerbaijan – They’ve got everything it takes. I still don’t think the song is one of the best on offer, but since when has that stopped Azerbaijan from winning?

Denmark – Yes, the favourite. I may not be overly fond of Only Teardrops, but I’m not idiotic enough to give it no chance of topping the table.

Germany – This song was made for an arena, and I think that will come across strongly enough on TV for voters to respond. The juries could be Cascada’s downfall, but Natalie’s ability to command the stage should be rewarded at least.

Italy – If simplicity and beauty is going to win out over OTT and cheesiness, then Marco could come out on top.

Russia – Speaking of cheesiness…ugh. But after the reasonably cleverly-staged performance, and the reaction of the audience (and the fact that I found myself humming along) I couldn’t not go there. This could happen, people, so prepare yourselves.

Belgium – Just kidding.

 

I’m more than happy for a random country to take out the coveted prize. What about you? And what were your highlights and lowlights and travesties and triumphs from the semi finals? Let me know below.

I’ll be back once the Land Down Under has broadcast the final, to discuss it in detail. As for life after Eurovision 2013? Well, I have a feeling I’ll be chatting about Malmö for a long time to come. Maybe you’ll join me?

 EBJ Signature

 

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 19, 2013, in Eurovision 2013 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Hi Jaz! Ahhhhhh I won’t say anything because I’m afraid you read this before you watch the final and ruin it for you but but but ahhhh..

    Semi 1:
    I wasn’t very impressed with Austria at the beginning, but then it got good. It was one of my favorites and should have qualified imo. I was very impressed by Estonia and I totally see why she qualified. I thought Slovenia was awful live. Agree on Croatia. This was so underrated, I’m still crying. I thought Denmark was a bit weak in the semi, but I really liked the performance. Russia had flawless vocals..but song =cheese. I liked the bracelets, I want one of those. Ukraine was perfect. I don’t get the Birds love, but I was glad they qualified. I was very impressed by Montenegro to the point that I started to like the song xD I didn’t quite get the astronauts thing, but the performance was cool. Lithuania: HOW..how…That picture of Belarus totally made my night, I’m laughing so hard. Moldova was perfection. Ireland…meh….Cyprus: I hated the dress xD Belgium: ughhhhhhhh Serbia: sigh those costumes ruined everything. Sara is awesome, I agree with what you said. So proud of them though ❤
    I’m jealous of Australia, but hey Eurovision was trending on twitter here, so that’s a good start 😀
    I thought semi 1 was stronger, I liked more songs.
    Semi 2: Latvia: I was really enjoying the performance, but the dubstep ruined it for me. San Marino: shocked this didn’t make it (and I didn’t even like the song) but the start wasn’t that strong I thought…it was still good. Should have made it instead of Armenia. Ew. Macedonia: a big mess. Yes, I agree with you. I feel sorry for them though, I want to give Vlatko a hug. Azerbaijan: impressive staging for a meh song. So upset that this is so loved. Finland: I was expecting a better act, I wasn’t very impressed…it was better in the Finnish nf. Malta was cute. Bulgaria: her voice was a bit weak at some point, but I really liked the performance. Iceland: the background was so pretyyyyyyyyyy Greece: so awesome. And yes, the moustache bit was the best part xD Israel: zzzz also that dress was dreadful. Armenia: HOW DID THIS EVEN QUALIFY HOW I’LL NEVER GET OVER IT EW. Hungary: when this qualified I immediately thought of you and I knew you were going to be happy for this. I love this song so much and I’m so glad it did better than everyone was expecting. Norway: I thought her voice live is kind of annoying. The backing singers kind of ruined it. I thought it was better in the nf. Albania: this should have qualified instead of Armenia, it was a better rock song. and a more impressive performance. Not fair. Georgia: I was too busy hating on it to even remember it 😛 Switzerland: Agree, it was boring…Romania: horrific. I hate it 100000000x more now.
    I really enjoyed the interval act. And the history of eurovision segments.
    Oh and I absolutely loved, no wait, adored the postcards and the butterflies :3
    Also, your nails are awesome. I painted my top 10 on mine but again, I messed up the eagles big time and they look hilarious xD Can’t wait to read your post about the final..

    Ps: sorry for the VERY long comment 😦

    Like

    • I don’t mind loooooooooong comments at all! I personally am sorry for taking a million years to reply to this one. Fighting the PED and getting back to reality, you know =P

      Thanks for not spoiling, by the way. You are much more helpful than the internet and TV news.

      Estonia really did improve in the arena setting. The black-and-white thing was pretty clever, her dress was luverly and the big ‘VEEEEEEEEEEEEELLL’ was a moment. I’m still weirdly jealous of her unborn child for getting to go to Eurovision when I’m 21 and haven’t made it yet. So unfair.

      So Montenegro won you over?? Wow. I was actually worried about how the song would cope outside of studio, with the production on it, but yeah, they did awesome. I wish they’d qualified, but I think it was too divisive, which isn’t an asset under the new scoring system.

      I missed Moje 3 in the final =”'(. And you know what, I think the costumes actually are to blame. If they’d stuck with the original ones (or at least a classier version) the concept/story of the song would have been clear to all the non-Serbian speakers and the theatrics would have made more sense. They came 11th behind Estonia, there was SIX POINTS in it. I seriously reckon the original costumes could have pushed them into the final. Damn those monstrous pastel creations!!

      With your comments about Armenia I’m getting flashbacks to JESC last year and ‘Sweetie Baby’ XD I agree with you more this time, although ‘Lonely Planet’ has grown on me and Gor’s voice was way better than I’d seen before. All anyone could talk about on Twitter over here was the double denim!

      The Hungary happinness will keep me going for months. And douze points from Germany = major woohoos.

      Loved the postcards also. Can we bring the butterflies back every year?

      Painting your top 10 on your nails…aaagh that makes so much sense! Why didn’t I think of that? I have insteady hands though so I’d better make sure my top 10 in 2014 consists of, like, Ireland and Italy and Ukraine and so on. Did you blog a photo of yours??

      Like

  2. I really love the fact that you are so obsessed with Eurovision Song Contest!Well done! 😀

    Firstly,let me inform you that the man who was responsible for Azerbaijan’s staging was Greek and is called Fokas Evaggelinos.He also staged the performances of Greece in 2005 (1st place),Russia in 2008 (1st place),Ukraine in 2008 (2nd place) and Greece in 2009 (7th place).So, he is a big name in contemporary Eurovision!
    In addition,the Azerbaijani song was composed by a Greek, too.The composer is called Dimitris Kontopoulos and he has worked with the most famous Greek singers (Sakis Rouvas,Helena Paparizou etc).

    Note: You had better use the name that EBU adopts for FYR Macedonia (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia).For years now,there is a fight between Greece and FYR Macedonia about the name of the second one.FYR Macedonians deny their Slavic origin and support that they are ancestors of Alexander the Great, who however is worldwide known as Greek.Anyway,the Greeks are insulted by this distortion of history and till now there hasn’t been found a solution to all this.Big story!

    Sorry for so many details!Keep up with the good work! 😀

    Like

    • I love being obsessed with it too, believe me!

      Thanks for the info. You taught me something new, so don’t apologise for the details. 🙂

      Mr. Evaggelinos obviously knows what he’s doing. That is a list of awesome performances. I’m not even sure Russia would have won in ’08 if it wasn’t for the staging.

      Consider all my Macedonias FYR-ed from now on!

      Like

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