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The View from San Francisco: What For?

by | May 10, 2022 | 2022 Home Blog, Eurovision, Featured

The View from San Francisco: What For?

by | May 10, 2022 | 2022 Home Blog, Eurovision, Featured | 0 comments

It feels like magic, but apparently this is how the calendar works: it’s already time for the first semi-final! And there are a few questions I have to ask before we find out who the first 10 qualifiers are.

What colour is your life?

“Yes.”

That would probably be the answer if you asked either Latvia or Moldova, who are really doing their very best to not discriminate any color in their performances. But will the color explosions survive the semi and make it to the final? They are both are likely to get decent viewer support despite the sensory overload, but I suspect the juries prefer their lives somewhat less colorful.

Is it true? Is it over?

Will I never hear Bulgaria and Denmark again?

Denmark in rehearsal

Say yes, say yes
(EBU / Nathan Reinds)

What’s the pressure?

Every year we have at least one delegation that manages to make the Eurovision experience as stressful as possible. It’s usually Malta – and to be fair, it might still be true to Malta, but they’re not in this semi and I also generally tried to stay away from social media as much as possible this season so I’m blissfully unaware. However, this year another country that somehow made everything to do with its entry anxiety-inducing was Albania. I’m not even going to get into the details of what the drama was about, because seriously, people, just take a breath. Ask Portugal to show you how.

Did they have a good reason to freak out? Who knows. We might have a better idea after tonight’s performance.

Hey, how you’ve been? I wonder, do you ever think of me?

There are always those entries that I struggle to remember. I struggle to remember how they sound like, I struggle to remember what semi they are in, and about a week after Eurovision I know I will struggle to remember what they were. There are a few of those in this semi, and they are all performing in a row, just to create a 12-minute black hole in my recollection of this show. Yes, Lithuania, Switzerland and Slovenia, I’m looking at you. The only one of those I do at least feel actively bad about is Lithuania, because Monika is absolutely lovely. They all have one last chance to make me change my mind tonight, at least to the point of being able to recall what they were this time next year.

Slovenia in rehearsal

I don’t feel hate, I just feel sorry

Can you hear a million voices?

To the shock and surprise of absolutely no one, the one-year-only temporary solution of recorded backing vocals is back this year, and some delegations are definitely making use of it – with or without additional live backings. The country that benefits from it in this semi is Austria. It manages to both give the track the vocal depth it needs and hide some of the flaws of Pia Maria’s vocal performance while also managing to expose her live vocal enough to not be penalized by juries (who can be forgiving when it comes to live singing quality of uptempo tracks, but less so when it’s blatantly not live). If they manage to qualify, LUM!X should send flowers to himself and Turin’s own Gabry Ponte (of Eiffel 65) as a thank you for their stellar production work on this.

What about how I feel?

One of the most circular questions I always ask myself about Eurovision is whether people really listen to the lyrics or need them. I suppose the answer to this is “it depends”, and it depends on so many things that there isn’t really one good answer, hence the neverending circle.

There are two songs in this semi that have lyrics which make me wonder about this again, for slightly different but also somewhat similar contexts. Both Greece and Croatia have a female singer/songwriter performing a song about a messed-up relationship. The Greek one isn’t at all subtle about it – which is depressing as all hell – but they own it, at least. Take it or leave it.

Greece in rehearsal

I would die for you,
look into my eyes and see it’s true
(EBU / Nathan Reinds)

The Croatian one? It sounds like yet another light and sweet love song until you realize it’s, well, really not. Being married to one person while longing to be with another? Yes, not at all complicated.

To balance Croatia and Greece out, we have two more sensible breakup songs, and two more female singer-songwriters who actually make sure that we know they are writing a song about a breakup (it’s even in the lyrics). Out of those two, Portugal gets to be the straightforward one, where the sense of longing for something that was once and now gone is – literally – front and center. Armenia, however, went down the same route as Croatia, with a melody and production that sounds more cheerful and upbeat until you listen to the lyrics and realize it’s actually bit intense.

Armenia in rehearsals

Sweet song, love song
(EBU / Nathan Reinds)

Then we have two more songs meant to evoke emotion from – you guessed it – female singer/songwriters, but this time around they’re sung in Icelandic and Dutch, and rely entirely on the melody, singing and staging to transmit their feelings to us at home.

Each of those songs hits in a different way and tells a different story, but the success or failure of each and every one of them will come down to this: what did they make us feel?

Do you know our Earth is a mess?

On the topic of feelings, I doubt there will be a moment that will eclipse the feeling of witnessing the standing ovation for the Ukrainian delegation, before and after the song. Yes, I know it hasn’t happened yet, but we all know it will. And you know what: whatever the result of this will be (and I actually don’t think it will win, but more on this in Saturday morning’s post), it doesn’t even matter. Some things are bigger than music, some things are more important than competitions, and if we can’t feel and show empathy – in whatever way or form – what are we even doing here.

Was it you?

Allow me to end up on more positive – albeit confused – note, but the question I really want to get an answer for is: will I ever figure out which one is Jim and which one is Keith?

Norway in rehearsal

I don’t know, all I need is love
(EBU / Nathan Reinds)

Have a great semi, everyone. I will be back with the post-mortem.
It’s a promise, not a threat, I swear. Maybe?

(Valentina, step away from the keyboard and no one will get hurt.)

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