It is that time of the year again! The Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna took off with the first semi final. The show was opened by the current queen of Eurovision Conchita Wurst. Sixteen countries competed for ten spots in the final. The quality of the songs and performances was not very high, but there were definitely a few gems to be found. Read a review on the performances and an analysis of the results.
01. Moldova: Eduard Romanyuta – I Want Your Love
Now this is very cool… if it was 15 years ago. This song could have worked if it was the year 2000 and Liberty X were on top of the charts with their single ‘Just A Little’, but in 2015 not so much. Eduard gives it his all, but even his toned body or the kinky police dancers can’t make the difference for him. As this semi final was hard to predict I thought he stood a chance as there weren’t many uptempo songs in this semi, but it turned out Europe didn’t fall for it.
02. Armenia: Genealogy – Face The Shadow
It is not easy to judge this performance as it was quite a lot to take in within three minutes. The group of six solo artists all sounded quite good in the verses, but in the last chorus this turned into a hot mess. Visually it was quite good though. I think the issue here is that the composers as well as the performers tried to put too much ideas within the boundaries of a Eurovision song. I expected them to qualify though, which was not completely undeserved.
03. Belgium: Loïc Nottet – Rhythm Inside
Loïc Nottet from Belgium was the star of the evening for me. His ‘Rhythm Inside’ is one of the most contemporary entries in the contest of this year, with a style that is slightly similar to Lorde’s worldwide hit ‘Royals’. Nottet’s distinctive vocals were on point throughout the whole performance and visually it was convincing as well. They succeeded in creating a performance that really suits the quirkyness of the song. For the final on saturday, some camera shots have to be perfected and then Belgium could be onto a very good position on the scoreboard.
04. The Netherlands: Trijntje Oosterhuis – Walk Along
It pains me to say, but after I saw the performance of my own little country I knew our chances to qualify weren’t that high. ‘Walk Along’ is a nice pop song that most of the viewers might have enjoyed, but in order to have that wow factor that people need to pick up the phone and vote, it needed a more memorable performance. Trijntje’s vocals were great as always, but visually it was just lacking. The first 30 seconds, where the camera zoomed in on her eyes behind a veil, looked great, but after that everything was basic and Trijntje didn’t really look enthusiastic or endearing. Still, based on the songs, this should have made top 10 easily.
05. Finland: Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät – Aina Mun Pitää
I find it really hard to judge the Finnish act for this year. Musically, I think it is awful. Even 1 minute and 30 seconds seems long to endure this. When it comes to the fact they sent mentally disabled people on stage, I would say as long as they had a great time in Vienna it is all good, but for the sake of the always challenged credibility of Eurovision, I am glad they did not make it through.
06.Greece: Maria Elena Kyriakou – One Last Breath
This was definitely one of the best performances of the night. Maria Elena is an outstanding vocalist and she performed her ballad with passion. The staging was simple but effective. ‘One Last Breath’ might not be one of the more contemporary entries, but the dramatic ballad will probably do well with the juries in the final as well. I think Greece might be onto a great result, but they will have a lot more competition from other strong ballads that will qualify from the second semi final.
07. Estonia: Elina Born & Stig Rästa – Goodbye To Yesterday
Estonia is one of the favourites in this year’s contest and I would say rightfully so, as they have one of the best songs. ‘Goodbye To Yesterday’ is a beautiful retro duet with a strong and catchy chorus. Vocally, the performance isn’t perfect, but servicable enough to carry the song. Elina’s voice sounds gorgeous in the higher parts and their performance on camera really tells the story of the song. The two singers are shown as having a conversation and this works really well so props to the director! To have a chance at top 5 on saturday, especially Stig’s vocals need to be better.
08. FYR Macedonia: Daniel Kajmakoski – Autumn Leaves
After the classy performance of Estonia, FYR Macedonia failed to make any impression at all. The song certainly is not bad, but it needed an outstanding performance to stick out from the rest of the participating countries and that didn’t happen. The act with the backing singers looked silly and Daniel didn’t sound convincing most of the time. One of the first tracks that I knew we would not see again on saturday.
09. Serbia: Bojana Stamenov – Beauty Never Lies
Serbia is a clear fan favourite in this year’s Eurovision. It seems I missed the memo on this one, as I can’t seem to get into ‘Beauty Never lies’. It’s typical Eurovision, but this has all been done before and so much better in the past few years. Bojana has a great voice though, but she needs to watch herself as there is a fine line between singing and screaming and she crossed it a few times. Bojana’s stage presence aside, I don’t think this will do much in the final.
10. Hungary: Boggie – Wars For Nothing
For me, this sailing through to the final was the biggest WTF-moment of the evening, something most of us experience at least once watching Eurovision. I just don’t see what the appeal of this performance was. The song goes nowhere at all and her voice is not that strong either. The message is done many times before and better as well. I have my toilet break for the final already.
11. Belarus: Uzari & Maimuna – Time
Belarus was represented by a singer and a violinst with the song ‘Time’. It is not a bad track, but not really memorable and the performance was somewhat boring. There wasn’t that much going on and the chemistry between Uzari and the beautiful Maimuna wasn’t really there. With a great performance this song could have just made it through, but after seeing this, I knew qualification would be far away.
12. Russia: Polina Gagarina – A Million Voices
If you try to look past the fact that it is quite hypocritical that Russia sends peace anthems for three years in a row, you actually hear a strong song and a great voice. Polina Gagarina sounds gorgeous and looks endearing on stage. ‘A Million Voice’ has a killer chorus that will definitely bring Russia to the highest regions of the scoreboard on Saturday. By the way, I am glad that the audience in Vienna chose flying rainbow flags over booing Polina!
13. Denmark: Anti Social Media – The Way You Are
I guess this is what happens when you put young and slightly unexperienced performers on the big Eurovision stage. The Danish band Anti Social Media didn’t manage to impress with their ‘The Way You Are’. The catchy and uplifting track would sound great on radio, but live the vocals were weak and visually the performance didn’t really do anything for me. It is the first time in forever that we won’t see Denmark in the final of Eurovision, but I can’t say this is undeserved. Well, ok, if you compare it to Hungary, they should have made it through.
14. Albania: Elhaida Dani – I’m Alive
I have mixed feelings about this song going through to the final. First of all, I love ‘I’m Alive’. I like the midtempo sound, the unusual build up and the big ad lips in the studio version. The thing is, this kind of song needs a faultless live performance in order to convince. What Elhaida gave us, was far from perfect vocally and I was quite surprised to see her go through. The song deserves it though, so I hope she does it justice on Saturday and surprises us all with all the right notes. She will need it in order to not finish on the 27th spot.
Romania: Voltaj – De La Capat
Romania decided to send one of their biggest bands with one of the greatest hits over the past few months. This success now goes international with a deserved spot in the final for the band Voltaj. The majority of the song is performed in Romanian but through their visual performance they get the message through about children who have to live without their fathers. I didn’t care so much for this song before this semi final, but they gave a decent performance that deserved qualification.
16. Georgia: Nina Sublatti – Warrior
For me, this was the surprise of the evening. The song did not really strike a chord with me before her performance, but after hearing and seeing this live on screen, I was convinced. That voice is impressive and she breathes confidence on stage. The visual backdrop with the eyes and wings worked really well on camera. For a minute I feared that Europe would be put off by her fierce attitude as people usually don’t vote for ‘angry women’ but Nina changed this.
On thursday another ten songs will be chosen for the grand final on Saturday. Check A Bit Of Pop Music for reviews around Eurovision.