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Eurovision 2016: Semi-final 1

Hello, this is Sweden calling!

Yesterday I arrived in Stockholm in time for Semi-final 1 of Eurovision 2016. It was the Jury Show, where the judges score each of the contestants ahead of the live show tonight.

I have a lot to say about this, however, one must be sensitive to the time. I am typing this up from a park bench in Eurovision Village just before I watch the televised semi-final, so douze points to me for effort!

So here’s the lowdown about the contestants you will see on the live broadcast tonight of Semi-final 1, in order:

01 Finland: Sandhja – Sing it away
I thought she did a great job kicking off the event. And it’s a different vibe for Finland, who usually send us songs that rock a little harder. Great styling, and I hope she gets through.

02 Greece: Argo – Utopian Land
I really appreciate that Greece will always send a Greek sounding entrant. For me, that’s what Eurovision is all about. And this year, they do not disappoint with the Greek vibe (opa!). Watch for the shirt off!

03 Moldova: Lidia Isac – Falling Stars
Now, I always seem to live whatever Moldova sends, and it holds true this year. She’s got a good voice, and it’s a good song. But the performance was a little bland.

04 Hungary: Freddie – Pioneer
He impressed me more in the performance than just with the song. Still has the sombre, mournful vibe we come to expect from Hungary, though this year with added beat.

05 Croatia: Nina Kraljić – Lighthouse
This song didn’t grab me on the album, but in the flesh, it’s another story. Her costume is pure Eurovision, and she had to have two minders helping her walk back to the Green Room. I liked her.

06 The Netherlands: Douwe Bob – Slow down
I like this song, but it sounds like something you’d hear on American radio. The Dutch Johnny Cash. They seem to have a real affinity for American Pop-Country, especially after the Common Linnets came second in 2014 behind the marvellous Conchita Wurst. I think this is a shoo-in for a place in the final. The crowd loved them.

07 Armenia: Iveta Mukuchyan – LoveWave
Hello Beyonce! But she can sing, so…
Last night, she sang well and gave a commanding performance, enough to overlook the fact that she’d purchased one of Bey’s costumes. It’s a catchy song with wonderful (and very Eurovision) lyrics:
“You (oh like a lovewave)
Spread a lovewave ´n my heart goes ba-ba-da-bu-who-oh-oh.”

08 San Marino: Serhat – I didn’t know
Bless — I was sitting right near the three San Marino fans who were going crazy for Serhat (and someone made a comment that’s 20% of the country right there) so it was hard to get a reading on it. Felt a little 70s funk with sparkly backup dancers. That voice was something different, though. I hope little ol’ San Marino gets through. Love cheering for the little guys.

09 Russia: Sergey Lazarev – You are the only one
Ok. Russia always sends great and memorable entrants, though I have a very hard time voting for them in much the same way the Europeans refuse to vote for the UK. Nevertheless, Sergey blew my mind away last night! This is a stellar performance and he sounded in command of his voice, too. From what I’ve seen, he’s by far and away the favourite.

10 Czech Republic: Gabriela Gunčíková – I Stand
I don’t hugely like this song, and I don’t think the staging of it is enough to get her through into the final. But she sang okay.

11 Cyprus: Minus One – Alter ego
These hard rockers performed quite well last night, and they seem to be well received. The best of the hard rock entrants. I hope they make it through.

12 Austria: ZOË – Loin d’ici
She’s totally cute and has a cute song. IN FRENCH. I’m sold. It’s that marvellous saccharine pop that Eurovision is famous for, but she leaves the fancy stuff to the staging. I hope she gets through.

13 Estonia: Jüri Pootsmann – Play
He’s gone for the Rat Pack vibe with snazzy graphics, but poor ol’ Jüri just feels… a little insecure? He was a little wobbly to start last night, but I still like it.

14 Azerbaijan: Samra – Miracle
She was probably the weakest performer last night, but she wasn’t bad. It just doesn’t work for me. “Mira-, Mira-, Miracle” is super catchy. She does, however, get ten points from me for adding the real Swedish-looking backup dancer. Playing to the local crowd.

15 Montenegro: Highway – The real thing
The weaker of the two heavier acts in this semi-final. I didn’t hugely like it, and spent most of it erasing images on my phone so I could keep filming!

16 Iceland: Greta Salóme –Hear them callingI loved her performance of this song last night. After hearing it on the album, I was not sold on it, but she performs well and she’s in my final for sure. Really brings that dark Nordic feel to life.

17 Bosnia & Herzegovina: Dalal & Deen feat. Ana Rucner & Jala – Ljubav je
I don’t love this song, and the performance left a lot to be desired. But it’s notable for a rather innovative cello performance in it. The rap, we could have done without. It’s as though they have thrown everything at it and hope that someone likes at least one part of it.

18 Malta: Ira Losco – Walk on water
I was sad because this was the final song, but it wasn’t my favourite. But she sang well enough. It’s in a similar vein to Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Rebecca’s picks for the final (in no particular order):

  1. Finland
  2. Hungary
  3. The Netherlands
  4. Croatia
  5. Armenia
  6. Russia
  7. Cyprus
  8. Austria
  9. Azerbaijan
  10. Iceland

I hope I’m right! Now off to find my new Aussie mates I met last night.


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