Wow, greatest semi final ever? Thoughts and Analysis of Malmo SF1

From the blazing intro, to the stage that was both awesome and humble, the amazing sound, to the excellent host and even finally learning how “Malmo” is pronounced, even if I don’t have the accent characters readily available on my Australian keyboard to write it correctly. Mel-merh, Mel-merh, Mel-merh. Three cheers for Mel-merh. Something like that.

Most of all, it was the songs and artists that made semi final 1 of this year’s Eurovision one to always remember. I can’t even believe I’m saying this because as each nation released their songs it seemed to be shaping up as the worst ESC ever. The change came when I watched the preview videos all at once – in alphabetical order – with family and the consensus immediately was that this was a strong year. That strength just kept growing and growing right to the show. To prove that strength, every show I rate songs out of 10 with 5 being average, 6 good, 7 very good, 8 excellent, 9 awesome and 10… well I save that for the very rare special songs. This year only one song was rated 5, most were 7, with two 8s and one 9. Average score was 6.9. In comparison, SF1 last year was 5.3, SF2 was 5.9 and the final was 5.7.

How’d my favourites go?

Before the show, this was my rank…

Estonia
Netherlands
Austria
Serbia
Croatia
Russia
Slovenia
Ukraine
Molova
Lithuania

Denmark
Belarus
Belgium
Montenegro
Cyprus
Ireland

My top 10 from the show with scores and displacement…

Estonia 9
Russia 8
Montengro 8+
Netherlands 7
Lithuania 7
Austria 7
Moldova 7
Belgium 7+
Slovenia 7
Croatia 7

Belarus 7
Ukraine 6-
Denmark 6
Serbia 6-
Cyprus 6
Ireland 5

Holy Spaceman!

The huge improver was Montenegro. I speculated that if they amazed with their performance they could do well. That prove right with me at least. They went from third last to third. Just a great performance. Belgium was always on the borderline. Again, a prediction proved right that the guy could sing and turned an average song into a good one. The slick choreography helped too. In contrast, Ukraine’s performance was drab for a song equally not that good. I was disappointed. I’d be surprise if they did anything more than just sneak into the top 10, and thanks to neighbourly votes, of course. Serbia was just ridiculous with those outfits. Any song so dramatised like that with costume, it simply must be in English. Even bigger the mistake is that the English version of the song, Love Is All Around Me, is really good.

Of the qualifiers, I was so ecstatic that Estonia made. OK, so it’s one of my favourites this year; it’s also a seriously nice song and performed well. There’s been responses that it’s so cliche and not as good as Kuula last year. Really, every ESC is a standalone event. Few people would really know or care about previous years and why would that bother them if they did? If you like the song, you like the song. The other factor supposedly against it was so many ballads by females. Wrong again. There’s no quote system in ESC that picks 3 ballads, 3 pop, 2 of this, 2 of that. If it’s good enough it will do well. I also believe – as predicted – the re-cap would help jog the memories. Because after Estonia, you can’t see the other ballads were far superior or anything. They weren’t ballads in the traditional sense anyway. Ukraine and Moldova were more pop/ballad, while Russia was power ballad.

Where the clash of similarity hurt was in the pop songs. Austria, Slovenia, Ireland, Belgium and Serbia. Four very similar songs, especially the first four. One was destined to emerge (Belgium) while Lithuania, an 80s style groovin’ song, had a unique tinge that made it prominent. Thankfully, Andrius subdued his crazy smirking and eyebrow twitching as seen on preview videos.

Actual top 10 compared to my top 10 (*)…

Estonia *
Russia *
Netherlands *
Lituania *
Moldova *
Belgium *
Belarus
Denmark
Ukraine
Ireland

Montenegro *
Austria *
Slovenia *
Croatia *
Serbia
Cyprus

The juries worked again!

I had four songs miss out, which is not unusual. I feel sorry especially for Austria. Natalia sung well was way superior to Ireland. If there’s one mystery of the qualifiers, it’s that song. I’m so thankful that Netherlands and Belgium made it. Again the addition of the juries to temper the bloc voting and give more styles of songs a chance has worked. We had three Balkan songs in this semi and none made the final. In the years of 100% televote, most likely all would have made it. Songs like the Dutch and Lithuania would have little chance, so too countries like Netherlands and Belgium. It’s the first final for the Dutch since the semi finals started in 2004, and only the third time for Belgium.

A word of warning for the Dutch. I thought it was the second year they might have messed up a great chance with good songs. Joan Franka made a huge mistake with the Indian headdress last year and should have provided a more intimate performance, while Anouk seemed in a void on the centre stage and unable to convey any physical emotion to help propel the song. She should have been like Cyprus, on the main stage, darker and secluded, and with a spotlight on her that would gradually expand and provide life to her as is the journey of the song. Sometimes, no matter if you believe so much in the song that you can just stand there and sing, this is not a pub show. It’s a major TV spectacle so needs that bit more. Maybe it’s just the song itself being so difficult to sing (you could see the immense concentration rather than feeling) that it did not lend itself to even coming from a stool to standing, as I’d have done.

Potential in the final

Looking forward to the final, I’m thinking Russia has a great shot. Dina is awesome, the song’s in English, it has a great, obvious message without being pretentious, and the presentation matches. As I said in earlier blogs, who knows with the Dutch. It could win, it could do nothing. At least it’s erased one option of finishing last in the semi. I’m sensing it performed well in the semi, especially with the jury. Denmark, one of the favourites, nothing I can say to endorse it’s chances of winning. Personally, it’s not that great, being a bit cliche and so repetitive by the end. All that I can in its favour is that it “feels” like a winning ESC song, and often these feelings prove correct.

Eurovision.tv saves Australia

Living in Australia, the telecaster stacks all ESC shows to late in the week, starting with SF1 on Friday night, SF2 Saturday and the final on Sunday.This wasn’t mentioned in the video presentation during the show. It means Australians are isolated more than ever. So… I would not wait 3 days to see the first semi final so I watched it on this site’s webtv. It’s brilliant. Most of all, no stupid, inane commentary that Australians are forced to suffer. Interesting that in that the promo, Julia mentioned all that is liked about ESC in Australia like costumes, glitz, glamour… everything except the music. This is where the Australian broadcast does more harm than good. ESC is watched out of mockery. It’s not pleasant, and I hope it improves. It needs to improve if ESC itself is to broaden its popularity in Australia and not seen as a joke.

Refer to this blog from last year for more: http://www.eurovisionfamily.tv/user/MrEurovision/blog/?id=171012

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