Analysis of last night's Semi-Final 2 of Eurovision 2015
So we returned to Vienna last night for semi-final 2 of Eurovision 2015!
This time, 17 countries battled it out for 10 places in the grand final that takes place tomorrow.
The 10 qualifiers
Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland (qualifiers in bold) presented their tracks to the voting public with the juries having voted during the dress rehearsal.
Literal interpretation of title
Azerbaijan’s entry saw the return of Elnur Hüseynov with Hour Of The Wolf. The song began with a howl and the staging was dark with a solitary eclipsed moon on the backing screen with plenty of fog rolling across the stage. Whilst Elnur’s vocals were good and strong, the dancers presented a rather spasmodic routine that was intended to imitate the movement of wolves. If the wolves were epileptic, that may have been the case. This was by no means a surprise qualifier, but not a personal favourite on the night.
A new popular fan choice
John Karayiannis brought the black and white filter out for his entry, One Thing I Should Have Done. He burst into colour after finishing the first chorus but continued with a very stripped back vocal. It was largely ignored prior to last night, but there seems to be a surge of support on social media since. It was a surprise qualifier to those who didn’t see the semi-final but perceptions seem to have changed. Maybe counting him out so early was one thing we shouldn’t have done…
Powerful return, but not chosen to move on
The Czech Republic made a comeback this year with Hope Never Dies sung by Marta Janadová and Václav Noid Bárta. The Czechs really brought a powerful song this year, embodied by Marta removing her stilettos and throwing them to the floor! The vocals were great and worked well together with Václav channeling Nickelback for the most part. The staging for the song was very simple with no great effects, just blue lighting. This was a surprise non-qualifier for me and I hope the Czech Republic returns next year.
Popular, but weak vocals
Unbroken was Iceland’s entry this year, sung by Maria Olafs. This track was widely enjoyed before the contest began but her vocals were not great and she definitely struggled with the lower notes. The pink dress and the golden feet were interesting clothing choices and the staging was great with golden footsteps following her across the stage in the beginning and the typically Icelandic aurora borealis projected behind her. It was not a surprise when it didn’t qualify despite it’s prior popularity.
Appreciated, but too late
Seventeen-year-old Molly Sterling from Ireland represented the nation with her ballad, Playing With Numbers. Whilst originally being a song that I ignored, it had a hidden power last night. A haunting vocal and some woodland-style staging definitely brought out an Irish vibe in Vienna last night, although not quite as blatantly at their 2014 entry. Her diction could have been clearer but overall it was a surprise not to see this understated entry progress to the final tomorrow.
The golden boy
Nadav Guedj is representing Israel with Golden Boy this year and is only 16 years old! The song is an upbeat dance track with an eastern twist in the instrumental. Needless to say, there was a lot of gold going on during the performance with golden fireworks and golden shoes and the song itself was definitely catchy and got the audience going. It was a relief to see another uptempo song make it to the final in what has become ‘the year of the ballad.’
Huge improvement from last year
Love Injected is this year’s Latvian offering by Aminata. At first I really disliked this song as it came off screechy and shrill. After hearing Aminata slaying it live, I have definitely changed my mind – her vocals were flawless and incredibly powerful. Her clothing, a red dress and a headdress were beautiful and complimented with the patterns projected on the backdrop. This is a huge improvement on last year’s Latvian entry and it rightly got them through to the final.
A tone worth kissing
Lithuania was another country presenting a much needed upbeat song last night. This Time by Monika Linkytė and Vaidas Baumila had an average vocal but an interesting pause in the middle of the song where the duo shared a kiss on stage with two same-sex kisses happening on either side of them. Whether or not this was a factor in them getting a place in the final we can’t tell, but I would say it played a part. Overall I was surprised to see it qualify, but will be happy to see it tomorrow night with an improved vocal.
The second of our Warriors performed in semi-final 2, Amber from Malta! Amber had a very powerful vocal in the show but her performance didn’t really scream ‘warrior.’ She has a floor-length black dress with a leather-look belt in the middle which didn’t really compliment the theme. Overall it isn’t a surprise to see Malta miss the final but if it was based solely on the song rather than the full performance we might have been seeing her tomorrow night.
Knez sung Adio for Montenegro last night and is one of the few foreign language songs this year. It was refreshing to actually consider the other elements of the performance asides from the lyrics. The staging was particularly striking with an oceanic theme changing from blue to red and a complement of sirens to dance alongside. The vocals were good and the violin really brought a sense of Montenegrin flavour to the show. At the time it was a surprise qualifier but upon reflection it is worthy.
Consistent and expected
Norway have entered a devastatingly beautiful ballad this year in A Monster Like Me performed by Mørland and Debrah Scarlett. The vocals were solid for the most part, a few quakes here and there, and the staging was incredibly simple with no attention drawn anywhere other than on the performers themselves. The camerawork was good and ensured that the emotions of the song were accessible to the audience. I am, however, surprised they chose to dress in white. I would have bet on them dressing in black. No surprises to see Norway in the final!
Sweet and simple
In The Name Of Love is this year’s Polish entry by Monika Kuszyńska was a colour-by-numbers ballad this year compared to their upbeat raunchy effort for their return in 2014. Monica was dressed in a simple flowing white dress that draped across each side of her wheelchair and there were cherry blossoms projected on the backdrop behind her. The song was very sweet and vocally good but it got sort of drowned out among other ballads and stronger uptempo songs. I wish her the best for the final.
Portugal rested their hopes on the shoulders of Leonor Andrade and her song Há Um Mar Que Nos Separa. The song was unlikely to qualify with odds of 500/1 before the contest began but it was actually sung extremely well by Leonor but required a bit more power to see it through to the final. The instrumental had a great bass hook and slotted in well with the city style staging. Leonor wore a floor length black dress with flowing sleeves – it will be a shame not to see it again in the final.
True to theme
San Marino were represented this year by Anita Simoncini and Michele Perniola singing Chain of Lights. This was one of my early favourites because it is constructed in a really unusual way. Unfortunately last night the vocals were left wanting and weren’t strong enough. The staging was in keeping with the theme of building bridges, as were the lyrics of the song. I wonder if we will see the duo next year or will Valentina make a re-appearance? Sorry not to see you in the final, San Marino!
Unique and gimmicky
Another early favourite of mine was Slovenia who sent Maraaya with the track Here For You. Her voice is very unique with a distinct similarity to Welsh singer, Duffy. The air-violinist brought an element of fun to the staging and the headphones provided a gimmick to make the song stick in the public’s mind. The staging was simple otherwise and made sure there weren’t too many distractions for the audience. Another good song for the final and here’s hoping it does well there too!
The favorite to win
Onto the act hotly tipped to win: Sweden. Måns Zelmerlöw and his song Heroes was selected to represent Sweden this year and has been a favourite since the beginning. The song itself fits very well with Eurovision and the staging is very unique and slickly performed. Sanna was tipped to win last year until the show was stolen by Conchita; will someone else prise the prize from Måns hands tomorrow?
Switzerland’s entry, Time To Shine by Mélanie René, may have been my least favourite entry going into the contest this year but that didn’t stop Mélanie from giving a great vocal performance. On that basis alone I am surprised that she didn’t qualify but the message of the song would appear rather shallow. Better luck for next year, Switzerland!