Analysis of last night's Semi-Final 1 of Eurovision 2015
Last night saw the kick-off of Eurovision week with the first semi-final.
Sixteen countries battled it out for 10 places in the grand final that takes place this Saturday.
The 10 qualifiers
Albania, Armenia, Belgium, Belarus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Serbia and The Netherlands (qualifiers in bold) presented their tracks to the voting public with the juries having voted during the dress rehearsal yesterday.
Relatively shaky vocal
Albania’s Elhaida Dani presented her song, I’m Alive, on stage with a relatively shaky vocal featuring a lot of trilling and unclear diction, yet bore a great similarity to Jessie J. Her outfit was interesting, a simple black ensemble sporting a sequinned cloak. The staging was simple and didn’t have any sort of gimmick which ensured focus was kept on the song itself, allowing for closer analysis and deeper critical evaluation. Personally, this was a surprise qualifier although it has been championed over social media in the weeks leading up to the semi-final.
A second Armenian qualification
Armenia’s six-piece, Genealogy, sang Face The Shadow and won a pass to the grand final. The artists all hail from different continents, but are of Armenian descent. This was echoed on the stage when a world map was projected onto the stage and they stood on top of their respective nations. The song saw the intertwining of different vocal styles with the operatic singer being slightly overcome by nerves. The staging would have been effective had the camera-work not been so focused on the individuals but the scene as a whole. I like the song and was glad to see it qualify, not a particular surprise considering Armenia has qualified all but once since its debut in 2006.
What would Freud say?!
Belgium was represented by Loïc Nottet this year with the song Rhythm Inside. The song itself is reminiscent of Lorde’s Royals, especially in the beginning. This diverges after the first verse and becomes more instrumental. The staging was largely unimpressive with a backing group dressed all in white and the backing screen patterened black and white with a lot of flashing lights. It didn’t seem to know what it was doing but the performance was strong and the vocal was spot on. Not at all a surprise qualifier and a definite improvement on the verging-on-creepy entry from Belgium last year. What would Freud say?!
Rumbled by the thunder
Belarus was represented by Uzari and Maimuna last night in Vienna with the track Time. The song along is a powerful pop song and was complemented with simple staging. Maimuna ‘played’ the violin in a simple flowing dress as they skirted around the stage. The song had a catchy hook that made sure you sang along throughout but unfortunately the duo were rumbled by the thunder and failed to qualify for the Grand Final on Saturday.
A negative aura
Denmark had been a non-entry for me in the run up to the beginning of this year’s Eurovision. My opinion on that has not changed. The band Anti Social Media have constructed a negative aura from the off with the name, despite being very active on social media before the contest began. The Way You Are was a throwback to the early 2000s and didn’t sound dissimilar to British bands Busted and McFly. The vocals for the entry were good, but the staging was relatively bland with no real gimmick to set them apart. It was sad not to see Denmark qualify after a couple of strong entries over the past few years.
The crowd on Estonia’s side
Open those doors and make room for Elina Born and Stig Rasta! This duet represent Estonia this year with the song Goodbye to Yesterday. The vocals were great for the most part and the simple staging showing them entering through doors projected onto the stage, long shadows cast before them, was very effective with this song. The crowd was definitely on side for this one and it was only right to see them qualify with this understated piece after Tanja’s frankly shock exit from last year’s semi+finals!
Finland, Finland, Finland. What can be said about this entry? Pertii Kurikan Nimapaivat presented 1 minute 40 seconds of……punk music? Aina mun pitaa is the shortest entry in Eurovision history! I can’t really distinguish it from growling myself with the occasional scream thrown in for extra darkness. The vocal itself did seem to be on key and controlled so that was a good point in favour of the Finns. Their staging was simple, the orange lights emanating from the back. Due to the nature of the entry I was very surprised that it didn’t qualify, but can’t say I will miss it in the final – sorry Finland!
Excellent in spite of voice issues
Nina Sublatti positively stormed the stage with her dark powerhouse track, Warrior. The feathered shoulders, thigh high leather boots, and metal headdress in addition to the abundance of stage fog really compounded the Warrior message and her vocals were excellent considering the reported voice issues yesterday. The only negative thing about this was having to wait until the 8th qualifier to hear that Georgia had made it to the final! This was my favourite of the night.
Greece qualifies yet again
Now onto Greece. The nation pinned its hopes on Maria Elena Kyriakou‘s One Last Breath. This ballad was the least interesting of the night as it felt very much like a re-run of Rise Like a Phoenix except it didn’t so much rise as it did flutter. The vocal was on point but the song failed to really go anywhere. The staging was simple but elegant with a ring of lights surrounding Maria. I was surprised to see it qualify but it shouldn’t be that surprising considering Greece has never failed to qualify for the grand final. See you on Saturday, Maria!
Hungary had a very elegant song in Wars for Nothing by Boggie. The message is rather clichéd in as much as it’s about peace, a very typical Eurovision theme. The staging was beautiful going from complete darkness and slowly transforming into a roaming green field with a large leafy tree. The vocals worked well with all the members and I think this originally underrated song really struck a few chords last night and gained it a place in the grand final. How well can they do on Saturday?
Not particularly impressive
Macedonia brought a very simple song to Eurovision this year with Autumn Leaves sung by Daniel Kajmakoski. Unfortunately his vocals were off in quite a few places which was a shame because it was a beautiful song when it was recorded. The staging also lacked the gimmick of the drawings in the video and instead went for a stonework doorway with leaves blowing up in the autumn wind. It wasn’t a particularly impressive entry and I had much higher hopes. Not surprisingly, this meant that Macedonia did not qualify for the final again this year.
PVC from Moldova
Moldova brought PVC to Eurovision, somebody had to do it. It took the form of police uniforms on the dancers for Eduard Romanyuta who shocked the audience awake with I Want Your Love. The song, again, is a throwback to the early 2000s and could be paralleled with tracks by Liberty X. The staging was more interesting than some other entries, employing a scaffolding for gymnastic opportunities. It was a tough one to call; would it qualify or would it not? Unfortunately, Moldova is not going to see the final again this year.
100 % qualification record for Romania
Romania brought another emotive song to Eurovision this year in De La Capat sung by Voltaj. The song was written to reflect the children left at home in Romania as their parents have to work abroad. This sentiment was built on by dotting suitcases across the stage. The suitcases themselves were fine but the way they were presented was lacklustre and seemed as though they were a very last-minute decision because they weren’t highlighted particularly well and just sort of sat there. The vocals were, again, great and the chorus was strong and catchy. Romania, needless to say, have maintained their 100% qualification record and we will see them again on Saturday night!
Cheering for Russia
Russia – oooh controversy. Right, now that’s out of the way. A Million Voices by Polina Gagarina was a complete powerhouse ballad and the fact that I could now identify her tonsils in a lineup goes to show how dedicated she was. The staging was simple yet elegant with Polina wearing a flowing white dress with stars projected all over it. There was much cheering to be heard from the audience in the arena after the song and Russia qualified for the final, unsurprisingly given that they have only once not qualified in their 19 years of entries. (1999, due to not broadcasting in 1998)
Serbia was not particularly popular across social media prior to the contest, but there has been a large swing in support of Beauty Never Lies by Bojana Stamenov since the semi-final last night! The song starts of fairly slow and dreary with the usual beauty on the inside clichés but then morphs into a total dance track that got a solid positive reaction from the audience. The staging was initially dull but again evolved into a colourful flag show that brightened up the contest. We’ll see you on Saturday, Bojana!
No Trijntje in the final
Why-y-y-y is this song not in the final? Trijntje Oosterhuis and her sway-along-song Walk Along was an early favourite this Eurovision season but her clothing (a black floaty playsuit) and facial expressions lead us to believe she wasn’t exactly enjoying every moment. The staging was nice with a glittery patter around her feet but other than that it was fairly plain. Nonetheless it was a very surprising entry not to make the final given their recently successes in the competition and interest regarding the entry online.
If you want to know what I think of the entries from tomorrow night’s semi-final, tune back in to ESC Reporter on Friday!