Saturday, May 18, 2013

Eurovision 2013: Semi Final 1

It's hard to believe a whole year has passed since Eurovision 2012. It seems like only yesterday we were watching Sweden's Loreen beat the rest of the competition into submission with her monster track 'Euphoria'. Now, 12 months later it's time to say 'hej!' to Malmo, Sweden as we join the party at Malmo Arena for Semi Final 1 of the 2013 competition. Before we go any further, let's check out the opening sequence from our first night of qualifying.

Yeah, so Loreen was pretty good huh? Will we find another Loreen this year? Or a cutie patootie like Ott Lepland? Or a batshit insane nutjob like Rambo Amadeus? If we're going off the quality of Semi Final's unlikely. But join me below the cut and we'll check out what went down.

If Eurovision 2013 was planning on starting off with a bang, it could have chosen better than going with ballads from Austria and Estonia. Austria was largely uninspiring, and even though I've had a big soft spot for Estonia since they entered Ruffus in the 2003 competition, this year's entry didn't really do it for me. It was a lovely song, and she looked lovely and everything was lovely, but following on from last year's waistcoated dreamboat Ott Lepland and his beautiful Kuula it just seemed a bit lacking. In third place for the night was Slovenia, and never had I been so glad to see some gaudy Eurotrash. It wasn't until the fourth act started though that it really felt like Eurovision.

4. Croatia

Oh man, it's CROATIAN THUNDER! Forget the Irish boyband for grandmas, these guys are where it's at. The thing I found most interesting about these guys (apart from the Croatian Thunder thing, of course) is that their outfits are representative of those worn by traditional Croatian knights while jousting. They're wearing jousting uniforms. Badass. Even more badass is that each outfit cost 10 000 Euros, and were hand made in a monastery. You just can't make that stuff up.

5. Denmark

Denmark is the favourite for Eurovision 2013, and while I can't say I thought it was great, it did have an extremely catchy chorus, and I could definitely see this being sung amid glitter cannons after the announcement of the winner. First use of pyrotechnics for the night, which is important to note.

6. Russia

While as this was starting I was groaning over the fact we were getting yet another lady ballad, by the end it was my favourite of the night. I would normally question if songs that were actually good had any rightful place in a Eurovision competition, but after Loreen I just have to let it go. It's not 1997 any more, sometimes good songs get through. I have to deal with it. I do love a big voice and soaring chorus, and this delivers in a big way. Those big sweeping camera shots and glowing bracelets in the crowd go alright too.

7. Ukraine

Yes, sure it's a nice song, but I'm not putting this up for the song. There is an American man called Igor at the start of this song (yes, his name is Igor) and he is the most gigantic human I have ever seen. The female host on our Australian broadcast interviewed him afterwards and she came up to his elbow. That's just insane. I'd make a joke about Ukraine being full of Human Growth Hormone but I don't want to cause diplomatic unrest. I think the Australian telecast mentioned that Zlata Ognevich had been one of the singers on the Hunchback of Notre Dame soundtrack, but don't quote me on that.

9. Montenegro

FINALLY. Finally we have a song that throws convention to the wind and says 'THIS is Eurovision, bitches.' I never knew I wanted a dubstep song from a pair of rapping astronauts and a cyborg singer until  now. Sadly, they were a little too revolutionary for the voters and didn't get through, but man were they entertaining. This is the country that gave us Rambo Amadeus last year, so there's clearly something in the water in Montenegro.

10. Lithuania

Lithuania is about as close as I'm going to get to my replacement dreamboat in the absence of Ott Lepland, I suspect. Andrius Pojavis is really very good looking, it's just a shame that his song sucks in a huge way. And he's not a particularly good singer. But hey, at least he has a nice face. In a shock voting decision, this actually made it through to the final. Many many deaf people across Europe voted this year, it would seem.

12. Moldova

There is so much I like about Moldova's entry. My second favourite after Russia, and without question the best ballad performance of the night. If you're going to do a ballad, at least pep up the visuals a bit to keep the audience from going to sleep. The dry ice and the boy dancers were a pretty good start, but I was just looking at the dress going 'Something is going to happen to that dress. THE SUSPENSE IS KILLING ME'. Something happened to the dress. It was cool. Watch it.

15. Belgium

This song started off fairly horribly, but I've been humming the chorus for most of the afternoon, so it must have done something right. I suspect young Roberto could have really done without the backup dancers though. Nothing worse than a super awkward routine with only two people.

16. Serbia

Serbia's living dolls were super cute! I believe the girl wearing the pants was a human being influenced by an angel (curved shoulder-pads girl) and a devil (spiky shoulder-pads girl). No idea what the song is actually about, but that's half the fun of Eurovision, right?

So there we have the highlights from Semi Final 1. It's probably fairly important to note that in Australia we have the two semis and the final shown one after the other with Semi Final 1 on the Friday night, Semi Final 2 on Saturday night, and the Final on the Sunday night (just in case you were reading this in Europe and wondering why I'm three days behind). I could probably obtain it from somewhere to watch it earlier, but half the fun is participating in the country-wide snarky live-tweeting that occurs every year. There was a little segment on the telecast that actually featured Australia's love for Eurovision and that was super cool. It's a little bit of 'so dorky, it's cool' that so many people engage in every year, and it's great fun.

Out of 16 entries, only 10 could go through to the final and get their shot at basking in ultimate Euro glory. Estonia's floaty-dressed balladeer went through, as did the favourite from Denmark. My favourites from Russia and Moldova made it, as well as Ukraine, The Netherlands, Lithuania, Belarus, Ireland and Belgium. Overall I was a little disappointed with this semi. So many ballads, not enough crazy. Last year's competition was so great that this year was going to have a tough time matching up to it, and at the moment it's definitely falling short. It's almost making me miss Jedward. ALMOST.

Join me tomorrow to see if Semi Final 2 brings the goods or if it means 2013 will forever be labelled 'The Boring Ballad Year'.


  1. I actually really enjoyed the Lithuanian entry. Clearly, the man had no idea what to do with his hands, though.

    The Ukranian Shakira-looking gal was quite good, too.

    Serbia, never change.

    1. I think I just really struggled with the clunky metaphor in the Lithuanian song. I know that English is probably not the native language of whoever wrote the song, but c'mon!