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Semi-Final The First – our verdict!

Posted by DINRIL on May 21, 2008

So…..did you all enjoy the first semi-final? We certainly did (through a haze of wine and popcorn), and here’s what we thought.

Just one question though: do we really have to do this all over again on Thursday? We’re worn out already! But anyway, here goes……

OPENING DANCE – hmmmmm, what is this? Reminded us a bit of a school talent show crossed with a surreal village fete. Still, it suggested to us that a quirky contest would be on the cards (further confirmed by the cute little human flag postcards to introduce each country). We like that.

PRESENTERS – fine. Relatively unobtrusive. Not too annoying (give them time – Ed)

And so to the songs….

MONTENEGRO – an enthusiastic but entirely unremarkable opening to the show. Stefan gave it his all but entirely as we predicted his all was not enough.

ISRAEL – now this is more like it. A simple, powerful performance from Boaz who proved he has a superb voice. We got all goosebumpy when he did his falsetto bit at the beginning. That sound you hear is the collective sound of the entire Team Eurovision kicking itself for not putting this one in our final ten predictions. Could do very well indeed on Saturday.

ESTONIA – how the mighty have fallen. This was once the novelty song to beat now it just looks silly. No surprise that this didn’t make it through.

MOLDOVA – we still can’t think of anything to say about it. And that teddy bear didn’t help.

SAN MARINO – this wasn’t bad at all, a very competent performance from a competent band. Shame they didn’t make it but still pretty good for a first effort (and we wouldn’t be surprised to discover that this finished just outside the top ten. But then again we could be way off the mark).

BELGIUM – ohhhhhh, what has happened to our former favourite? This was just weird and screechy when it should have been cute and irresistible. And the lead singer’s skirt gave her a strange resemblance to Upsy Daisy from In The Night Garden. Actually, there’s a thought. Perhaps the UK could send Makka Pakka to next year’s contest (clear your desk NOW – Ed)

AZERBAIJAN – we are still baffled by the appeal of this noisy song but have to admit that it was well staged – theatrical and flamboyant, it worked far better than we thought it would. No surprise to see this one qualify.

SLOVENIA – another former favourite fallen from favour. We had this tapped as a potential winner at one time but the performance was disappointingly bland, putting us in mind of Belarus 2006. Humph.

NORWAY – no surprise that the Slovenians were quickly forgotten when this made its way on stage. A simple, classy performance from Maria, probably the best of the night so far. This could be a serious contender.

POLAND – as pleased as we are that Poland have finally made it out of the semis, we’re still a bit baffled as to how they did it since we really thought this was nowt special (and as we previously mentioned Hungary have a far stronger ballad in the second semi – can we expect the battle of the divas come Saturday night?) And was it just us or did Isis Gee look like a cross between Paris Hilton and Magda from There’s Something About Mary? Thought as much (forgive us, the wine was really kicking in by this point…..)

IRELAND – and so the most hyped up turkey in history made his way on to the stage, amid a mixed chorus of cheers and boos. And, entirely as we predicted, failed to make it through. OK, so the performance had some neat choreography attached but that still wasn’t enough to send this to the final. As we said previously, why should the rest of Europe vote for a song which pokes fun at them? Well, it appears they didn’t….

ANDORRA – yawn. Next.

BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA – now here is how you do a quirky, offbeat performance. Laka’s entry is gimmicky to be sure, but it couldn’t have been further removed from the Irish offering, with its knitting needle clacking brides and perma-grinning siblings – plus let’s not forget the fact that it’s really a rather good song. Beautifully done, and brilliantly mad rather than forcibly so, this was the performance of the night for us.

ARMENIA – a bit flat and disappointing, actually. But we still love the song and weren’t a bit surprised to see it in the final.

NETHERLANDS – the one big disappointment of the night was that this didn’t make it through – Hind was terrific, and in many ways better than Armenia’s Sirusho (plus it was a strong song) – yet clearly lost out to the very similar ethno-pop which preceeded it. Just what do the Netherlands have to do, exactly, to get out of the semis?

FINLAND – we were pleasantly surprised by this. An experienced metal act delivering a polished performance of a no-frills metal song – and given we weren’t convinced this would work well on a Eurovision stage it was rather nice to see it get through to the final. We did wonder, however, what had become of the guitarists’ shirts. Perhaps they have been impounded by Serbian customs?

ROMANIA – one of the favourites of the night, this was slick, shiny and performed exceptionally well by Nico and Vlad, two very good singers. No surprise to see this one do well.

RUSSIA – what was this all about, exactly? In 2006 ‘Vincent’ had a ballet dancer emerging from his piano, this time he had a roller skater running rings around him. No matter. This was very effective on stage and is a deserved finalist.

GREECE – and the final song of the night, absolutely no surprise to see it qualify but we’re still not that fond of it. Hey ho……and onwards to Thursday!



4 Responses to “Semi-Final The First – our verdict!”

  1. Yug said

    “In 2006 ‘Vincent’ had a ballet dancer emerging from his piano, this time he had a roller skater running rings around him.”

    Uhm, that is Evgeni Plushenko, figure skating gold medalist (and by far the best in the world two years ago).

    Other thoughts:

    Can’t ANYONE fill up an arena? This looked much worse than the semi-finals in recent years.

    I liked the Belgian song, but it just didn’t look (or sound) as good last night as it did in the national final.

    Ireland didn’t look as bad as I had feared, but still easy to find (at least) fifteen better songs.

    Gisella has to be an absolute lock for the Barbara Dex award (maybe even for the decade, if they give that one). No, the Belgian singer doesn’t even come close.

    Armenia no longer looks like a potential winner to me. What did they do to Sirusho? She looks about twice her true age.

    Netherlands looked great. I wanted to change my predictions after seeing them. She gave a great performance of a pretty reasonable song.That they didn’t make the final ranks as my biggest disappointment.

  2. Tinsie said

    I have to say, I was dead impressed to see Evgeni Plushenko on stage. The Russians are pulling all the stops. I wonder if it’ll work…

  3. Oh dear, we appear to be the only people in the world who have never heard of Evgeni Plushenko (this is probably why we do a Eurovision blog and not a sports blog…..:-) ) The Russians clearly want to win the contest badly but can’t help feeling they have overegged the pudding a bit – sorry to say I found all the skating etc a bit off-putting and detracted from the song!

    And agree with you about Armenia – what a let-down! Maybe they’ll actually miss out on a top ten finish this year on the strength of that performance! Mind you, Greece was a bit ropey on stage last year and that did OK……we shall see!

  4. Pervie said

    When did they change Dima Bilan into a goat?

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