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Eurovision 2016: Semi-final 2

Hello, this is Sweden calling!

I spent last night at Semi-final 2 Jury Show. When I purchased my tickets, I did so for the opposite side of the stadium to get a rounded view (pardon the pun). I have to admit I was a little bummed — I’d had a much better experience on Monday on the long side (even though it felt like the short side?). Oh well. I wasn’t to know.

By attending both jury shows, I had a chance to see all of the contestants perform, even the Big 5 and Sweden. So that was a plus.

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So here’s my thoughts on Semi-final 2, in broadcast order:

01 Latvia: Justs – Heartbeat

To be honest, it was a little anti-climactic to kick off with this guy. He just doesn’t do it for me, and the song leaves a lot to be desired. It’s just one of those ones I constantly skip. He didn’t bring anything to the performance that made me change my mind. Sorry, Latvia!

02 Poland: Michał Szpak – Color of your life

I dig his style. And the song’s a little strange, so a good combination. He missed a few notes early on in his performance last night, but he found his way back at the chorus. I think he’s a dark horse for the final.

03 Switzerland: Rykka – The last of our kind

I thought she was okay, and just scraped into my top ten. I dig the lavender curls she has going (I haven’t tried that shade before!), but each chorus looked to me like she needed to use the bathroom. The song is a little catchy, though.

04 Israel: Hovi Star – Made of stars

Nice sentiment, Hovi, but I am just not feeling you. Israel’s entries can be really hit-or-miss, and for me, this is definitely a miss.

05 Belarus: IVAN – Help you fly

OK. As expected, all the talk of Ivan performing naked on stage with wolves proved false, but there was a hologram of him with wolves, so…
I thought the performance was pretty impressive, though the vocal performance needs a little work. He was a little wobbly tonight and . I think the boy just needs to believe in himself! If he is a little more confident and nails the interacting with the holograms as well as his vocals, he will pose a real challenge to Russia.

06 Serbia: ZAA Sanja Vučić – Goodbye (Shelter)

Her performance was okay, and she can certainly sing! But I am not loving the song choice. As usual for those in the Balkans, it was dark and dramatic. That’s one of the things I love about this competition — getting to know the national characters of the countries based on the songs. I think people will like her, though. Just not me.

07 Ireland: Nicky Byrne – Sunlight

Nicky was sunny, but… eh. Was he in Westlife?
The Irish entrants in recent years have left a lot to be desired. But Nicky tries hard. I just don’t buy it. It’s not memorable in the slightest.

08 FYR Macedonia: Kaliopi – Dona

Hello, Kaliopi! She is all woman as she belts out her dark (Balkan) tale that sounds totally unlike any of the other contestants. I have no idea what she is saying (and I love when countries sing in their native language), but she sings with total conviction. Sold!

09 Lithuania: Donny Montell – I’ve been waiting for this night

It was about this moment in the program when I thought, “we’re halfway through, and there’s perhaps one song I’d vote for, so far”. He sang and had lots of choreographed moves with special effects the crowd couldn’t always see, but I just don’t think the song is strong enough. But he tries hard, so I give him that.

10 Australia: Dami Im – Sound of silence

Full disclosure: I’m Australian and Dami was always going to be my choice for the final. However, she was a little wobbly last night, but she soldiered on and rose to the occasion. Quite literally. HA!

But she’s a crowd favourite and I’ve heard this song ALL OVER Stockholm. They pipe the music from the competition (via their partner Spotify) into locations all over the city. So you’ll turn a corner and hear, “Now my heart awakes to the sound of silence!”. She has a great voice, but I kinda just want her to stick to the tune-ish and not go all over. But I’m a contrarian like that.

11 Slovenia: ManuEllaBlue and red

ManuElla performed well, and even though I already liked the song, the performance added to it. That acrobat is amazing! She’s in my final.

12 Bulgaria: Poli Genova – If love was a crime

“If love was a crime/then we would be criminals” is another of my favourite Eurovision lyrics, and Poli didn’t disappoint last night. She brought a tonne of energy and really belted out the tune. It’s a super catchy song, and she’s a very strong contender.

13 Denmark: Lighthouse X – Soldiers of love

Bless! The Danes sent a boy band. But after such three strong female performances in a row, I fear they may be a little underwhelming. They’re pretty good, have a few tricks up their sleeves, and I’m still going to add them to my list of finalists for their efforts.

14 Ukraine: Jamala – 1944

Wow. What can you say? Jamala performs alone and wails in Ukranian (I think) — and does she wail! I imagine, judging by the title of the song, that it’s probably about death and war. But she received plenty of applause, and who knows? Maybe this is what Europe likes. Not on my list, however.

15 Norway: Agnete – Icebreaker

This song is … whoa! None of the pieces seem to fit together. I like the verses, and they have so much promise for the chorus, but alas. She goes in a completely different tangent to where I wanted her to take it. She was a little wobbly last night, but eventually found her feet towards the end of the song. The dancer on the raised podium is an interesting choice and I enjoy the graphics. But I don’t think it’s enough to get her through.

16 Georgia: Nika Kocharov & Young Georgian LolitazMidnight gold

No one seemed to like Georgia, a fact that was doubly obvious when due to a technical glitch, the EBU allowed them to perform again once all the contestants had finished. But I loved them! They sound like the love children of Oasis and Underworld. And the performance is pretty good, particularly in terms of the visuals.

17 Albania: Eneda Tarifa – Fairytale

It’s almost impossible for her to go anywhere in this dress, but it looks good, and that’s what counts in Eurovision. She sang well, but I just don’t think it’ll be enough to get her through.

18 Belgium: Laura Tesoro – What’s the pressure

After a slow and dramatic last few songs, the crowd really responded to Laura’s energy and enthusiasm with “What’s the Pressure”. She emerged in a sequinned outfit and ready to dance! It’s an energetic and super catchy song from Belgium and she really works the live crowd well. Big things are happening for Belgium this year!

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

  1. AUSTRALIA (aber natuerlich!)
  2. Poland
  3. Belarus
  4. FYR Macedonia
  5. Slovenia
  6. Bulgaria
  7. Denmark
  8. Georgia
  9. Belgium
  10. Switzerland

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I’m heading to visit the Eurovision Village again to watch the televised semi-final 2 with my Aussie friends. Go Dami!


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