Yesterday the first half of semi final 1 was given the once over so now it’s time to finish the job and pick up from Greece right through to Latvia with everyone else in between. As I covered yesterday this semi final has to be considered one of the most competitive of all time. The second half maintains this standard with yet more high quality entries. And one…not so good.
The Greeks have over the years sent many, many “Greek” sounding songs. ‘My Number One’, ‘Aphrodisiac’, ‘OPA!’ and the genius that was ‘Alcohol is Free’. However, with Argo’s ‘Utopian Land’ last year they seemed to go too far and it failed to appeal to the continent at large. With ‘This is Love’ from the gorgeous Demy they have gone for a more mainstream brand of pop. This is Love was easily the strongest out of the three song national selection and as much as I do like it, it still feels like something of a let down. When it was announced that Demy was to have the team behind ‘You Are The Only One’, ‘Hold Me’ & ‘Shine’ it was hoped to be more like the former than the latter. Sadly it’s not been the case, it’s still a fully proficient and polished piece of pop but Sergey & Farid she ain’t. Opening the second half of the semi should still help her seal a place on Saturday night but from there it could be easily forgotten.
One my personal highlights last year was seeing Poland surge from the bottom of the leaderboard up to the top ten after coming third in the public vote. So the country had all my support this year, hoping for something equally as marvellously dated as 2016. However, with Kasia Mos they have actually sent one of the more modern female ballads in this year’s Contest. This is a dark, dramatic song from Kasia who missed out to Michal Szpak in last year’s selection. It slowly builds right the way through the three minutes to a hugely imposing crescendo. The orchestra that comes in near the end helps add to the impact but she can’t be taking all of them onto the Kyiv stage so that may be something of an issue. This song has everything in it that should appeal to me but for some reason it just leaves me cold. I genuinely can’t put my finger on why but there’s something missing there. It’s not Kasia herself, she has a great voice and comes across incredibly well but the song does nothing for her and it may be a struggle for them to qualify.
‘Hey Mamma’ by Sunstroke Project is God awful novelty cack. It will qualify but it has no right to.
And here we have another song in semi final 1 to have more of a synth vibe. Whilst they don’t sound identical whenever I hear Svala’s ‘Paper’ it brings to mind Erasure’s ‘Always’ which for me is no bad thing at all. Either in English or in Icelandic this has me from the opening bars, her voice is utterly hypnotic in it’s power and whilst it definitely has an eighties feel it’s not in a naff kitsch way. Unlike her outfit in Söngvakeppnin which very much embodied full on eighties power dressing. I have to agree though with what’s been said elsewhere that her decidedly aggressive stage presence doesn’t match the feel of this song. Change the staging and Iceland should be making a welcome return to Saturday night. They deserve it after last year #JusticeForGreta
Czech Republic 🇨🇿
Czech Republic seemed to have followed the Ozzies lead on this one. Admittedly Czechia returned two years ago and didn’t actually debut but they’ve matched Australia with 2015 – absolute belter; 2016 – absolute belter; 2017 – just a bit average. Martina Barta’s ‘My Turn’ is instantly forgettable and in a year heavy on solo female ballads this will very easily get lost on the Tuesday night. I just cannot see why anyone would pick up their phones to vote for this or indeed why a jury member would rank it highly. The video is a little bizarre with people clad in beige underwear, never have semi clad people in a Eurovision video been so boring. Get Slavko on it, he’ll liven it up! And to be honest if the absolute hammer of a tune that is ‘Hope Never Dies’ didn’t deserve to get to the final in 2015 then this certainly doesn’t
Strangely there is only the one G:Son penned song this year having had two each in the previous two years. He’s decided that this year again he’ll lend his magic touch to Cyprus having co-written ‘Alter Ego’ with Minus One in 2016. This year we have Hovig and ‘Gravity’ and setting aside all issues with how they seem to think gravity works we have got a pretty good song. It has a good thumping beat right the way through which should hold the attention and be memorable in the recap. If that doesn’t do the trick then some innovative staging might be able to elevate the song further. Regardless of the gravitational pull Hovig should have a good prevailing wind behind him. Obviously having neighbours Greece in the semi and a decent late place in the running will help. As Hovig himself is of Armenian descent having Armenia there should help close the deal and deservedly get Cyprus to Saturday.
If you look beyond Sweden as the favourites to win this semi final then the next country you’d perhaps find would be Armenia. I’ll be honest, it took me a few listens to get on board with Artsvik and ‘Fly With Me’ but once I did there’s a beautiful Eastern sound throughout. I’ve not heard this sound as well done since Turkey abandoned the Contest and Azerbaijan switched to using mainly Swedish writers. The quiet subtle start is almost fairytale like and as the strings kick in it takes on an almost other worldly sound. If the video is anything to go by we should be in for some very striking, almost tribal visuals. Her live vocal seems to be as spot on as the studio version so it should likely gather a lot of jury scores on it’s way. But France voting in the other semi and Russia not voting at all isn’t helpful, it should still stroll through into the final and it’d be great to see Armenia recording a strong result with their best effort since Aram MP3. She has at least appealed to the Swedish televote by dressing up as an upside down Melfest logo.
Oh my, Omar. Omar Naber previously represented Slovenia the last time Kyiv hosted the Contest back in 2005, just failing to qualify in 12th place. So back he comes to Kyiv to…fail to qualify for the final. Again. Omar has a good voice, don’t get me wrong, but it’s most certainly not the best male vocal in the competition. It’s the song that really let’s him down though, the song is an absolute dirge. Now, I like an old fashioned number, I really do as I’ve already covered with Poland but ‘On My Way’ fails to even have a fraction of the impact ‘Colour of My Life’ did. It strikes me as vaguely similar to Didrik Solli-Tangen and ‘My Heart Is Yours’ but a diluted down Solli-Tangen. And if you dilute down a Solli-Tangen I’m not sure what you’ll be left with. On the Tuesday night Omar will be on his way to the airport direct from the International Exhibition Centre.
Glowsticks at the ready! As soon I saw this song was drawn in the second half of the semi it was a foregone conclusion that it would be closing the show. ‘Line’ from Triana Park brings a heavy, thumping beat and great vocal to properly close the show. The band had attempted to represent Latvia at Eurovision no less than five times before this year. It’s a great reward that not only are they making it to Eurovision but they’re going there with an incredible tune. I sincerely hope that they keep the same style of staging for Kyiv, the neon light show adds to the atmosphere of their performance and will be nostalgic for many viewers at home. In this semi this is the song for Non-Eurovision fans, it’s reminiscent for me of Georgia’s song from last year. It’s a departure from the more traditional style and will hopefully have people picking up their phones in droves. The Beaver should be proud.