On thursday night, Europe chose another ten finalists for the Eurovision Song Contest of 2015 that takes place in Vienna, after Conchita’s victory last year. Luckily, the quality of most songs and performances was slightly better in this round which made for an enjoyable show. No big surprises in terms of results: I even predicted all ten finalists right. But enough about me, let’s talk about the performances.
01. Lithuania: Monika & Vaidas – This Time
The evening started with a sweet and sugary performance by Monika and Vaidas from Lithuania. The uptempo love song is catchy as hell and the chemistry between the two took it to a higher level. The visuals were on point with lots of colours to underline the happy vibe of ‘This Time’. Vocally the two delivered a nice enough performance and I think they deserved qualification. I don’t think they will be able to make big waves in the final, though.
02. Ireland: Molly Sterling – Playing With Numbers
When I first listened to this year’s songs, Ireland’s ‘Playing With Numbers’ disappeared under the radar, but after that performance, I fell in love with it. While Molly is only 17 years old, her voice sounds mature and she gave a convincing performance of her little singer-songwriter style ballad. Visually the performance was simple, but it worked for me. The second place in the running order didn’t help her and the performance probably didn’t stand out enough with a lot of ballads this year. Too bad, I would have loved to hear this again in the final.
03. San Marino: Michele Perniola & Anita Simoncini – Chain of Lights
What can I say about San Marino this year? They didn’t ask Valentina Monetta for the fourth time in a row, but things would have been better if they did. These two youngsters didn’t have enough confidence, stage presence or vocal power to impress in any way. And then the song: composer Ralph Siegel once again came up with a horribly outdated piece that even would have been rejected in the 80s for not being modern enough. The staging was a mess as well. I would be surprised if this didn’t end up at position 17.
04. Montenegro: Knez – Adio
Eurovision wouldn’t be complete without a big balkan ballad composed by Željko Joksimović, right? Well, Montenegro represents this genre, just like they did last year. Knez is a charismatic and experienced performer with a strong voice. My only problem with this entry is that we have heard this kind of song a million times before and a lot better as well. Still a deserved spot in the final I would say.
05. Malta: Amber – Warrior
Georgia is not the only country with a song called ‘Warrior’ in this year’s contest, but they will be the only in the final. Purely based on the songs, I have to admit I prefer Malta’s ‘Warrior’, but at the same time I know this performance was not as convincing as the Georgian one was. Vocally it wasn’t faultless at the start, but she showed off her power towards the end. When watching the semi final I realized this song and performance didn’t stand out enough, but this was an entry Malta certainly does not have to be ashamed of.
06. Norway: Mørland & Debrah Scarlett – A Monster Like Me
Norway is one of the favourites in this year’s contest and I can totally understand why. ‘A Monster Like Me’ is one intriguing and mesmerizing song! Their performance enhanced the moody and mysterious vibe of the song perfectly. Vocally, Mørland was outstanding as always and Debrah did a great job as well, although she was a bit shaky at one point, however this somehow adds to the vulnerability of the lyrics. The staging is sober, but the camera shots of the two are glorious. Oh, and can I just take a minute to applaud the styling, as Debrah looked absolutely stunning. I have good hope this will reach top 10 on saturday.
07. Portugal: Leonor Andrade – Há Um Mar Que Nos Separa
Portugal’s song this year stood absolutely no chance to begin with. Leonor Andrade has a good voice and I like the fact that she performed her song in Portuguese, but it was all so beige. The whole performance was very middle of the road and it feels like something you have already forgotten before it even ended. Portugal really needs to come back with something more memorable next year.
08. Czech Republic: Marta Jandová & Václav Noid Bárta – Hope Never Dies
I have to say I feel sorry for the Czech Republic. After years of bad results they decided to quit and found the courage to come back with a decent ballad and two outstanding vocalists. The thing is, they did this in a year full of ballads and duets. If you compare this to the Norwegian entry, ‘Hope Never Dies’ just lacks that special something that will trigger people to vote. Marta and Václav gave it their everything, but it wasn’t enough to compete with some more unique and distinctive entries. Let’s hope Czech Republic does not give up again.
09. Israel: Nadav Guedj – Golden Boy
In more ways than one, the position of Israel in this semi final could be compared to Serbia in tuesday’s show. Both bring one of the few uptempo tracks to the contest and are heavily backed by the Eurovision fans. If you are able to look past the juvenile and somewhat ridiculous lyrics of ‘Golden Boy’ you might quite enjoy this number that transforms from a Justin Timberlake 2003 uptempo track in an ethnic Eurovision banger. Although you don’t really want to like it, you can’t help yourself but bop along. Great to see Israel back in the final this year.
10. Latvia: Aminata – Love Injected
Latvia didn’t make it to the final of Eurovision for six years in a row and Aminata was determined to change this. The singer who composed that awesome, captivating track ‘Love Injected’ herself stole the show with a vocally outstanding performance. She reached all of the big notes while looking absolutely stunning in a red mermaid dress. If that wasn’t enough, the staging was brilliant with a lot of red movement in the backdrop and every camera shot was on point. ‘Love Injected’ is a daring, quirky and contemporary entry that absolutely deserves a great result on saturday.
11. Azerbaijan: Elnur Huseynov – Hour of the Wolf
Azerbaijan is one of the favourites this year, like they are almost every Eurovision. They once again have a great song with a big and dramatic chorus that immediately pulls you in. Performance wise things could have been a lot better though. I don’t really get the staging with the dancers that don’t fit the song. Vocally Elnur had a few small errors, but reached most of the big notes. Still ‘Hour of the Wolf’ did not really convince me yet in this semi final.
12. Iceland: Maria Olafs – Unbroken
Let me start off by saying Maria looked adorable on stage in that pink dress. ‘Unbroken’ wasn’t one of my instant favourites this year but the song grew hugely on me over the past few weeks. I like the fact that it could have been on the Frozen soundtrack as well. The floor of the stage looked gorgeous throughout the performance, but the camera shots could have been a lot better, more than once missing the essence of what was going on on stage. Vocally, Maria did not really impress as the nerves were hearable throughout most of the performance. Still a pity we won’t hear this poppy chorus again in te final.
13. Sweden: Måns Zelmerlöw – Heroes
Not Sweden showing us how to do Eurovision properly, AGAIN! The Swedes love Eurovision and put a lot of effort in their preselection and this hard work keeps paying off in outstanding performances on the international stage. Remember Loreen in 2012, who was in a whole other league than any of her competition? Visually, the same goes for Måns Zelmerlöw this year. The act with the little dude on the visuals of the backdrop is no less than brilliant and the performance looks like a music video. Zelmerlöw has a strong voice and he carries the modern and hit worthy ‘Heroes’ with ease. Could well be the winning performance of the contest this year.
14. Switzerland: Melanie René – Time To Shine
Poor Melanie Réne had to perform after the Swedish whirlwind. Well, to be honest, I don’t think this would have qualified if it had another starting position. Melanie showed she is a great singer and she looked beautiful on camera, but this was not enough to make up for the fact that her song didn’t ‘shine’ as much as it should have. Just like Malta’s ‘Warrior’, this song just got overlooked because of stronger competitors in this semi final.
15. Cyprus: John Karayiannis – One Thing I Should Have Done
In terms of singer-songwriter ballads I definitely preferred ‘Playing With Numbers’ by Molly Sterling, but Europe obviously disagreed and I can see why. Although the song from Cyprus doesn’t really touch me in anyway, I can see John sold it well and the completely stripped back performance suits the track. I don’t think this will make a big impression on saturday but good for Cyprus for reaching the final on their comeback.
16. Slovenia: Maraaya – Here For You
Slovenia is doing well with the bookmakers this year and people expect great things from their song ‘Here For You’. I can see why because the song is catchy as hell and the quirky vocals of Marjetka make the track stand out even more. The only thing that worries me slightly is that the performance might come across as a little too gimmicky with the headphones that don’t really match the dress and the violonist who forgot the violin and was turned into a dancer. Still, the song is good enough for a spot in the top 10 if you ask me.
17. Poland: Monika Kuszyńska – In The Name of Love
Last but not least it was Poland’s moment. The country is represented by Monika Kuszyńska who is in a wheelchair after a car accident some years ago. The singer found the courage to go back on stage again and sings the song ‘In The Name Of Love’ that is about hope and the strength to overcome problems. I have a lot of respect for this strong lady and her song is touching and elegant. Great to hear she made it to the finals!
See also my review for the first semi final!