For what it’s worth…..the first semi-final, part 1
Posted by Caroline on May 2, 2013
…..OK, so I know we haven’t actually updated a lot this year – one of the side-effects, unfortunately, of real life getting in the way (work, specifically on this occasion). The upside of all this is that I will be making up for this on the esteemed website of Metro newspaper in the coming weeks (rest assured links will be posted here). But that doesn’t mean this year’s contest has escaped our notice completely, and in an unprecedented burst of activity – otherwise known as ‘having a spare 20 minutes’ – here, in lieu of actual reviews, is what we make of the first batch of runners and riders this year:
SEMI-FINAL 1 – Part 1
1 AUSTRIA: Natalia Kelly – Shine
A muted start to the contest this one, courtesy of the lovely Natalia, this is a solid but potentially forgettable little number that, we fear, will pretty much seal its fate on the strength of its performance (since it doesn’t boast a whole lot of distinguishing marks). Pleasant enough, but she’s going to have to work for her semi-final place (although to be fair, she may not invoke quite the same level of reaching for the off-switch as Rambo Amadeus in 2012)
2 ESTONIA: Birgit Oigemeel – Et uus saaks alguse
Estonia missed a trick here, given they had the opportunity to send hardcore punksters Winny Puuh – who let’s face it wouldn’t have won the contest either but at least would have garnered a fair bit of attention (as only people who dress up as giant condoms on stage normally do). Instead, they’ve gone for this sweet but overly safe female-led ballad which does little to distinguish itself from the vast number of similar, Disney princess-esque numbers on offer. The likes of Russia, Ukraine et al are all doing similar this year. And given their efforts are both better and later in the running order we fear this one may sink without trace.
3 SLOVENIA: Hannah Mancini – Straight into love
Aka the pound shop Euphoria, there was a crushing inevitability that Loreen’s victory would spawn a few soundalikes 12 months down the line and sure enough here are Slovenia getting in on the act with their own rave-esque anthem. There’s nothing wrong with it, to be honest, but as is the case with so many of these identikit songs there’s nothing particularly remarkable about it either. Sorry Slovenia, we love you, but we may have to place this one in the pile marked ‘not a hope in hell’. Then again we’ve been wrong about these things before….
4 CROATIA: Klapa s Mora – Mizerija
The Croatians are pinning their hopes this year on a traditional klapa-style number to see them back in the final after a few disastrous years – and the result, while putting us a tad in mind of Latvia’s 2007 operatic shenanigans, or possibly one of those ‘poperatic’ bands you see on Britain’s Got Talent, is really rather charming. Given some of their more bombastic rivals, this one’s slipped under the radar a bit but its prettiness has certainly not been lost on us. A place in the final would be far from surprising.
5 DENMARK: Emmelie de Forest – Only Teardrops
Unless you’ve been hiding under a very large rock for the past couple of months, the average Eurovision fan will already be familiar with this hot favourite, and no doubt heard it over and over and over and over (and over and over) again. Since its place in the final is just a formality and it will almost certainly be at the top end of the scoreboard come May 18th, perhaps the question we should ask is: would it be a worthy winner. Well, it ticks all the boxes – flutey whistles, earnest lyrics, barefoot winsome singer, not to mention the inevitable anthemic chorus (and not to mention the fact that last time the contest was held in Sweden, Denmark won it), and at the end of the day yes, it’s a good tune.
And there’s nothing wrong with being the favourite either, someone’s got to be, and there are certainly worse candidates than this. It’s just that we can’t help feeling a pervading attitude that this one’s won already, and surely that defeats the whole object of having a contest to choose the winner, not to mention doing a great disservice to the other songs? Remember, a lot can happen between now and contest night, and who’s to say Denmark’s very own answer to Florence Welch won’t squeal like a frightened meerkat before falling off the stage altogether?
6 RUSSIA: Dina Garipova – What If?
From one earnest lady to another, as Russia swaps grannies for former Voice champion Dina Garipova. Now we all know Russia could send a flatulent donkey singing the Irkutsk telephone book and still make the final, but to be fair they very rarely submit a dud, and this one – all soaring vocals, thoughtful lyrics and predictable key changes – is no exception. Like Estonia it’s all a bit Disney princess at times but in a contest dominated by lady ballads this is one of the ones that stands out. And of course it will make the final.
7 UKRAINE: Zlata Ognevich – Gravity
Having opted for football anthem lunacy in 2012 Ukraine have slowed the tempo down a bit this year, with Zlata slap bang in the middle of a trio of strongly fancied ballads. This one (not to be confused with Defying Gravity from Wicked) is a bit more anthemic than its surrounding contenders, and throws everything bar the kitchen sink – opera, big choruses etc – into the mix in a bid to succeed. And the video is even more OTT (we had to turn off at the point when the unicorns appeared). A crushingly inevitable qualifier, an even more crushingly inevitable top ten finisher. If we’re not mistaken.
8 NETHERLANDS: Anouk – Birds
There’s a lot riding on this one, given the singular failure of the Netherlands to qualify for the final on about 47 separate occasions, and in a decision that really smacks of ‘what do we have to do to get through, exactly?’ they’ve sent one of their most famous singers to try and raise their fortunes a bit. And it’s a decision which seems to be paying off since Anouk is faring well in fan polls, is soaring in the betting and is generally putting the Dutch on course to secure their best result in years – deservedly so, given that it’s a lush and generally rather lovely ballad. Coming right after songs from Russia and Ukraine could potentially put it at a slight disadvantage, but we doubt it.