In one way, I’m pleased I got seven out of 10 correct for this round, and my two “Bubbling Under” choices made it, making a total of nine. But I’m less than pleased that my fear that the GSA Axis and the Ex-Polish Empire blocs were activated came true, at the expense of the exclusion of some quality entries, two of which I thought would actually make the Top 10 overall in the finals. I notice that it seems to be a pattern that shockers now happen during the 2nd semi-finals. But then again, I could understand why they missed the cut–as Harry Connick, Jr. would put it in American Idol, there were issues with intonation.
Many fans are probably upset with Israel’s fourth consecutive shut-out in a row. It is frustrating as they fielded quality entries (with the exception of 2012) yet missed the cut. Sure, Mei Feingold delivered fierceness, but I noticed that there were moments where she was a bit off from the music and she sounded a bit winded–her husky alto didn’t translate that well live.
In the battle of the husky altos, FYR Macedonia actually got the edge here as Tijana actually stayed on pitch and I liked her suit. But I think the main issue with her presentation was the hoodie-clad backup dancer–he didn’t really serve any real purpose so he was an unwanted distraction that probably was a key factor for their elimination.
I actually was more upset with Ireland‘s exclusion until I got to hear the performance after the contest (because I was at work at the time). Kasey Smith unfortunately hit a lot of flat notes in her live presentation that not even the presence of those hunky kilt-clad male dancers could distract from that issue. Should those guys take off their shirts, like last year? It’s sad as this had the potential to go far.
I still think Belarus’s entry is just too cheesy for my liking, but then, well, I suppose Europe does love its cheese, even if the singer professes he’s sick and tired of “cheesecake” in the song. Well, the boy-band-ish backup singers/dancers do have their cheesy appeal and factor in the Ex-Polish Empire bloc vote, this is why this entry advanced. I love cheese (and fruit-layered cheesecake), though this sort of cheese is not what I’m into.
I did wish the singer did the “Carlton” like he did in the video, but well, Switzerland made up for it with Sebalter dancing a jig while playing a fiddle then banging a drum. Moreover, his whistling was flawless. There are also inappropriate flashy fireworks and sparklers to jazz up the presentation. But I think the key reason this advanced was because Germany, Italy, and Austria were in the same bracket to vote and grant it points.
As expected, Poland delivered heaping amounts of heaving cleavage with two babelicious blonde girls performing traditional chores like clothes washing and churning butter. The shift to singing the first parts of the song in Polish also worked as Cleo sounded more passionate and it’s appropriate considering the song’s Slavic pride theme. This trashy ditty may turn out to be the “trashy hit” that might go far in the contest.
Malta delivered a performance worthy of advancing, as expected, and this included Michelle Mifsud’s terrific solo part on the song’s bridge. But I started noticing that the male lead singer, Richard Edward Micallet, has a resemblance to actor Keanu Reeves.
The three best performances in this round featured terrific singing. Slovenia may have a couple of moments where the intonation was slightly off, but only keen ears would notice that. Otherwise, the presentation was impressive especially with Tinkara’s flute playing. I’m just a bit baffled why some of my Eurovision-loving friends disagree with me on this.
The live audience obviously went crazy for Austria as Conchita Wurst sang her ballad wonderfully. I bet the audience at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen reacted like Filipino pageant fans rooting for their hometown queen when Austria was announced as the last finals qualifier.
In my opinion, they did save the best number for last with Romania. Paula Seling and Ovi are already tried-and-tested live performers, but the coolest thing about their presentation was a TV-only effect: Paula was shown on the screen singing from stage right and then suddenly vanished–turns out she was actually coming from stage left. Their singing, as expected, was terrific. Now that Israel and Ireland are gone, I’m now confident that this entry will be a shoo-in for the Top 10, and probably even equal (or exceed) their nation’s best finish in this contest.
With Ireland and Israel eliminated I have to adjust my “fearful” forecast for the finals, as follows:
TOP 10: AZERBAIJAN, ROMANIA, ARMENIA, GREECE, AUSTRIA, SWEDEN, ITALY, SPAIN, HUNGARY, UNITED KINGDOM
BUBBLING UNDER: UKRAINE, SLOVENIA, MALTA, DENMARK, NETHERLANDS, SAN MARINO
I know there seems to be an absence of “trashy” entries in my list, but more often than not, a “trashy” song makes it through, so I’ll add a couple of what I’ll label as trashy usurpers:
TRASHY USURPERS: ICELAND, POLAND
I’m of course excited and pumped up to watch the finals on May 10 (3 AM May 11 Manila time). Will Sweden retain its status as favorite and win it all, or will Hungary, the UK, or even Romania , Spain or Austria overtake it?