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Line-up check 2017: Second half of semi-final 1

by | Apr 22, 2017

Line-up check 2017: Second half of semi-final 1

by | Apr 22, 2017 | 2017 reviews, Eurovision

images: Giannis Michelopoulos, Petra Hlebš/RTVSLO, Yelena Dunayeva

The escgo! line-up check for 2017 continues as we turn our attention to the remaining songs of the first semi-final. Like last time, each song has been assigned to one of our editors, who has 100 words to give their opinion – accompanied by some emojis illustrating their prediction and preference. Then the other two editors each get a 30-word “right of reply”. So without further ado, let’s proceed with…


GREECE: Les mots d’amour n’ont pas de dimanche

10. Greece
Martin: My stance towards Greek entries has softened since the days of soulless Sakis and ultra-fanatical fans, and “This Is Love” is no exception. Please don’t get me wrong: this is sensationally generic fare, but for some reason I find myself really enjoying the melodic progression and the hands-in-the-air instrumental parts, and Demy comes across as a very likeable performer. It probably won’t tear up any trees in the final, but there’s always room for an up-tempo banger or two on the left-hand side of the scoreboard, so why not this one? It makes me smile. Sometimes that’s enough.


Shi: Does little for me, but Demy is so marketable and the team behind her is very experienced in selling the type of kitsch the audience will buy.

Felix: Oh, so much disagreement here. Empty face, empty song. She’s not ugly, the song isn’t bad, but both are just “there”. Total lack of charisma, both singer and entry.

11. Poland
Martin: When this won the Polish final it seemed a decent choice – “punchy power-balladry with a dark edge and a capable singer” smells like a proven Eurovision formula – but it feels like it quickly lost its shine. Maybe it’s the fire/desire/higher/Derbyshire rhyme structure, maybe it’s the kind of song that lives on its initial impact, maybe it’s just me. Either way, I’m at the point where I’m even doubting its qualification chances, which seems crazy given Poland’s recent record, but it feels so ordinary it might just fall through the gaps. (Watch it get a Szpak result in the televoting now.)


Felix: This song makes me feel like walking through hip-deep mud with chains on my legs. The audience that would spend money for this probably isn’t watching Eurovision.

Shi: Every single time I see her I have no idea who she is. Every single time I hear the song I have no idea what it is.


MOLDOVA: Ella no es ella, ella es la otra

12. Moldova
Felix: Oh no, Moldova. I got Moldova. One of those entries that I have nothing, but absolutely nothing to say about. At least nothing good. I know I’m far away from 100 words, but… can I stop here?


Martin: Barrel-scraping, concept-microwaving, woman-demeaning, people-trafficking, lowest-common-denominator grubby trash. Probably qualifying.

Shi: Not much of the song, but the most slick performance I’ve seen a Moldovan entrant do in their National Final already. There’s little here but they are selling it.

13. Iceland
Martin: Previously so reliable at qualifying and finishing 18th (give or take), Iceland find themselves in a bit of a rut following two consecutive non-qualifications. Sometimes I think that’s the only reason “Paper” is being written off by many, because on paper it’s a good entry, with a contemporary sound and a crazy-strong chorus hook. And then I remember Svala’s resting (and performing) bitchface and her propensity for stupid fashion choices, and suddenly Iceland are back in the borderliner-to-NQ category again. I hope I’m wrong and Saturday’s viewers get to enjoy that meaty chorus, though.


Shi: Good song, great vocal, scary faces and a stylist that should have been fired but probably hasn’t been. They are making it as hard as possible to connect with this.

Felix: Hm. I think I absolutely agree. My only addition is that it took me a second listen to even “get” the chorus. But will Europe even get a second listen?


CZECH REPUBLIC: Sometimes it makes me feel naked like a tree in autumn

14. Czech Republic
Shi: I know I heard this song quite a few times. I remember that I liked her voice, and was impressed with her live vocals even more. I cannot, however, recall a single this about the actual song, no matter how much I try. The vocals might give her some jury support in a semi that has a lot for them to choose from, but I’ll be damned if any viewers will remember the existence of this by the end of the semi. This should safely land the Czechs back in the familiar territory of finishing last in a semi final.


Felix: I love this little gem, and it’s kind of my own, since nobody else seems to like it. Ugly duckling. For me, this is already a swan.

Martin: I don’t think it’ll come last – there should be some jury love for it – but crikey it’s boring. Sweet and adorable in its way, but still: yawn.

15. Cyprus
Felix: Looks like I won the lottery where you get to review exactly those entries that you have to say the least and/or the worst about. OK, I will try to write more than for Moldova. Though wait, I have to find the song first, because my brain didn’t think it was worth to save it on its internal memory. *Play*… oh yeah, I remember. Right, this isn’t necessarily bad. But it isn’t for me. Too negative, too cold, looks like Sweden (songwriter) and Cyprus (country) put their worst fruits into the blender instead of their best. Will qualify though.


Martin: I kind of… don’t mind it? Hovig seems a bit unsubstantial as a performer, but I can see a constellation where the overall package works, as plastic as it is.

Shi: I hate G:son songs. I couldn’t stand Hovig on the Greek X-Factor and still can’t, so it is to my great surprise that I find myself kind of enjoying this.


ARMENIA: I will help you learn how to fly

16. Armenia
Shi: Armenia’s new thing is songs with odd-to-non-existing structures, modern and unique arrangements and potential for visual spectacles. The composers are responsible for last year’s entry, and have turned it down a notch, making it more accessible in the process. Unlike “LoveWave” this feels ethnic all the way through, but in a way that never feels too localized. If the videoclip is anything to go by, it’ll be a visually interesting three minutes, and combining that with little competition in their niche and Artsvik’s great vocals, this should go where most Armenian entries have gone before – the top 10.


Martin: I guess this is going to look great and be a stunning performance. It had better be, because they’ve forgotten to write a song. Very careless.

Felix: Yeah, I can’t disagree with Shi, however it took me a few listens to appreciate the song, or rather, the whole package. Decent pick, no surprises.

17. Slovenia
Felix: Yay! Slovenia! The song that everyone else hates! See, I don’t get why you hate it and you don’t have to get why I love it, so I feel like selling an old car. This is a classic power ballad with a strong chorus and you would have loved it if this was 2001 and Swedish. The only bit that I dislike is the way he binds the two notes in “night”, which gives the song that overly kitschy flavour that probably bothers you, but for me that’s not a reason to dislike the whole. However, borderline qualifier, at best.


Shi: Can’t stand this, but audiences have loved some kitsch in the past when it’s done well for what it is and served up at the right time.

Martin: Best possible “draw” for this. It’s old-fashioned mush, but your mum will probably want to adopt and/or do nasty things to Omar. That spells televotes.


LATVIA: No strings attached, no drawing lines

18. Latvia
Shi: I had a week in which I woke up every day singing this. I’m not sure it says much except for my brain being stupid that way, but I suppose it does say that at least I find the song interesting. I do like it, really, and it’s one of those songs that you feel could be really cool on screen too, and then you see her – and more importantly, hear her – perform it, and realize some songs are better off as a studio track on your mp3 player.


Felix: Interesting? Yes. Enjoyable? Less so. I love how Latvia is creative and continues to deliver alternative electro pop, so far so good. Just this one doesn’t quite convince me.

Martin: Yeah, I love the recent Latvian turnaround too. It’s been subject to the law of diminishing returns since Aminata, though, and qualification might be a line too far.

And that completes our look at the first semi-final of ESC 2017! Stay tuned over the next few days as we cast our eye over the contenders in the second semi – who, it’s fair to say, are quite a varied bunch…

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