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Line-up check 2017: First half of semi-final 2

by | Apr 25, 2017

Line-up check 2017: First half of semi-final 2

by | Apr 25, 2017 | 2017 reviews, Eurovision, Featured

images: Dimitar Petrovski & Andrijana Kostova Petrovska, Boglárka Bodnár, DR

The annual escgo! line-up check for 2017 has reached the second semi-final, to be held in Kyiv on Thursday 11 May. And while Russia’s withdrawal was an unnecessarily long, drawn-out and uncomfortable process for all concerned, at least it means the remaining 18 songs can now be neatly split between two blog posts. Which is very thoughtful of them. Anyway, it’s time to join our editors Felix, Martin and Shi as they turn their attention (and their emoji rayguns) to the next contenders for the Eurovision crown…

1. Serbia
Shi: Much like a few other songs I’ve already reviewed, I can never remember how this one goes. I just tried to use the fact I know it sounds like “Firework” as a hint, but to no avail – still nothing. However, the times when I listen to it and know what it is, I find that it has the same problem – it doesn’t really stand out enough to be remembered. It’s just there, sounding like a pleasant background radio song. I assume the performance will be decent vocally and visually, but they will need much more than that to leave a mark.


Martin: I suppose it could qualify if it’s performed in a nice friendly kind of way, but I don’t fully understand why it has to exist.

Felix: I thought “oh, I always remember how it goes”, until I caught myself at having the same problem as Shi after all. Pleasant, but not necessary for the Saturday.


AUSTRIA: From now on only you and I, we’re going up

2. Austria
Martin: Felix’s issue with Moldova is my issue with Austria – I really don’t have much to say about it. Nathan seems like a lovely chap and I’m glad he’s been having such a good time at the preview concerts. Trouble is, “Running On Air” is an insubstantial and repetitive ditty that needs the lightest of touches and a whole lot of charm to make it work on stage, whereas Nathan performs it like a primary school teacher gamely trying to get his class to join in with a song about how Noah saved the animals. Qualification is still possible, but tough.


Felix: Wait, what animals can be saved with THIS song? Maybe it will be enough for the blobfish. Did Noah know blobfish? I like blobfish.

Shi: For what it’s worth I think that if he was in the second half and there were no other guy songs here, he would have qualified. Not my thing, though.

3. Macedonia
Felix: Well. Easy to rate, difficult to write about. Phew, right… ok. I am not a fan of the concept of a country’s entry being (majorly) written by someone who neither has the nationality nor lives in that country. Especially not when the (main) composer is Swedish. I also know that I don’t make many new fans by publishing this opinion. But it is that: My opinion. That much about the theory. My opinion on the song however.. fuck it, this is my favourite Macedonian song ever (though it’s Swedish), period. Sometimes a song is just stronger than my principles.


Shi: It’s a great song. She’s lovely and looks like she can sing it. Now, can they stage this? Only Mr. God knows.

Martin: It’s a finalist if they don’t fuck up the performance. It’s Macedonia. Draw your own conclusions.

4. Malta
Felix: Rewind a few weeks, I’m watching most of the songs for the first time, without looking at countries. This one is on, and I instantly fall… no, not asleep… in love. I know many of you guys call it kitsch, but for me this is full of honest and vibrant emotions. Malta is touching my soul, makes me cry. I don’t care if that means that I’m old and gay. This should do better than people would want to believe, especially since its closest competitors are less mass compatible (Croatia) and at the other end of the running order (Estonia).


Martin: This is basically a Reba McEntire album track, so how could I not love it at least a little bit? I won’t even mind if it qualifies by the usual dubious means.

Shi: Next, please.


ROMANIA: On top of the world, I sing out loud

5. Romania
Shi: This is one of those tracks that in theory I want to like and in practice I want to find the fastest way to mute it. Not because I have anything against yodeling – I think that, if anything, she’s the highlight of this, wonderfully talented and charming – but I find the composition, as is, absolutely annoying. However, for the messy 3 minutes that those are, it probably can still come across as modern and fun to enough the audience (and jurors) to do rather well, and while I’ll still mute it, I’ll be pleased for them because they are lovely.


Felix: I don’t love it that much anymore, but it’s the last song before a horribly underwhelming sequence in the running order. Time for toilet supermarket break. I can go now.

Martin: Whenever I come to “Yodel It” fresh, I love it all over again. Repeated exposure does it no favours, but in a one-time (well, two-time) Eurovision context, it’s a televoting smash.

6. Netherlands
Felix: Three women sing. They sing well. They harmonise perfectly. Three women, three minutes. But there’s one major problem: There are also three songs making up this entry. And at no moment does it have any point, other than being an excuse for these women to sing. They could just as well pick an old telephone book of Amsterdam, make pick vaguely fitting fractions of Eurovision 1993 songs, and sing that. I wouldn’t notice a D’1FF3R3NC’3. See, for me, the composition is the most important aspect of a song. But it’s not needed to qualify.


Shi: If there was ever a song that is REALLY not my thing, it’s this. However, they are fantastic, and there will be a lot of viewers and jurors who will think that too.

Martin: Gorgeous harmonies and some strong melodic lines, masked by that ever-present sheen of Dutch blandness. I admire this somewhat, but I could never love it. The juries might, though.


HUNGARY: You can look him in the eye and hold out your hand

7. Hungary
Martin: I initially pigeonholed “Origo” as the kind of local flavour that just won’t translate to a wider European audience, but over the weeks it’s been finding its way into my head more and more. Add in the fact that Hungary really know how to qualify for the Eurovision final nowadays, and I start to think this could make it through to Saturday night. But then I remember the rather graceless national final performance and the potentially alienating rap section, and I’m back in two minds again. Lovely to have a bit of stylistic and linguistic variety in the line-up, anyway.


Shi: This, however, is entirely my thing. Not a fan of the NF performance, but he’s really good, and I think the arrangement helps to deliver it to a wider audience.

Felix: “Bulky”, “not accessible”, “repulsive”. These are my associations. I am sure lots of people will experience the opposite. Will do well. Just not on my personal list, where it’s last.

8. Denmark
Shi: Yay! Another one I can never remember the melody of! But I do remember that she’s charismatic and gorgeous and looks great on camera and while not the best singer in the world has that thing about her that in the three minutes she’s on she can make you believe it is a great song, that you love it and that she’s the most amazing singer ever. She’ll also steal whatever potential votes Serbia had. Song-wise, it’s a pile of nothingness, but no one will care and she’ll breeze into the final where she’ll still do rather well.


Martin: Yeah, I think I agree with Shi here – when your singer really commits to a song, it can hide a multitude of sins (or blandnesses, in this case).

Felix: I struck that one out of my memory. Also, I’m still in the supermarket.


IRELAND: She laughs, waves crash. What’s the use?

9. Ireland
Martin: My 100 words on Ireland would probably be very different if I’d been writing them before the preview concerts. “Dying To Try” is an interesting entry that manages to keep things atmospheric and subdued (I approve) before surrendering itself to a Westlife-stand-up-from-their-stools-and-the-crowd-goes-wild key change moment (I do not approve). Such clichés aside, it still felt quite competent and final-worthy – except Brendan has failed to put in a decent live performance yet. Maybe it’ll all come together on stage with the promised gospel choir. I’m dying to find out.


Felix: Somehow this leaves me completely uninterested. Background noise, it doesn’t hurt as much as the song that came before, but it’s also not a reason to return from the supermarket.

Shi: I love the atmospheric first half of this. I hate the Westlife second half of this. It doesn’t matter anyway because he can’t really sing it and there’s Bulgaria later.

If it’s the end of this article, that can only mean one thing – we’ve reached the midway point of the second semi-final. Come back in a day or two, when we’ll be turning our attention to Valentina Monetta yet again, not to mention both versions of Jacques Houdek. See you then!

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