Perfunctory Semi Final 2, Roll On The Final

09 May 2014

Even though several of my top 10 picks didn’t progress out of semi final 2, it’s difficult to fault the 10 choices of the televote and jury. The ten were simply better than the likes of Ireland, Israel and FYRM – all of whom were swallowed up in the vacuum of the giant stage and tepid performances. Israel and FYRM, power pop songs, lacked energy. Ireland never had much to begin with and failed to increase it by other means. Greece, on the other hand, superb.

What is it with Greece? There must be something in their blood or the water that sees them bring original and vibrant presentations each year to showcase even average songs. They’ve yet to miss qualifying for the final since the format of semi finals was introduced. This year Rise Up was one of their weaker efforts, Frisky Kidd is barely a karaoke singer, and still they could rise up a whole level. The graphics and lighting were amazing, especially the sequence where Frisky Kidd seemed to be running out of square vortex. With the injection of a trampoline, I was laughing by the end. Whether that was out absurdity or disbelief of the on screen chaos, I’m still not sure.

Other than Greece, difficult to find any real highlights. Romania’s round piano thing was idiotic. Why would you reduce your piano playing credibility to gimmick status? Georgia’s entire entry was plain idiotic. It only served to make it a 14-nation semi final, not 15. As for the rest, in a word: perfunctory.


Scores and Summary

9 Slovenia – Beautiful song, well sung, stunning blue presentation theme
9 Greece – Average song transformed by brilliant graphics, energy and the finale
8 Romania – Paula’s voice amazing, Ovi complements well, the song has a winning feel
8 Finland – A good song performed right to its limits
7 Poland – Cheap and trashy can often be good!
7 Ireland – Lovely singer and voice. Song a tad underwhelming.
7 Israel – Strong song and energy that went flat in middle stages. Presentation a mess.
7 Austria – Good song and performed as well as expected. Horrible dress. Go black.
6 Malta – Much better seeing them as a band performing. Memorable start to show.
6 Norway – Nice tone and emotion. Only one other ballad, so stood out.

6 FYRM – Drum machine arrangement killed this otherwise good song and singer
5 Switzerland – A bit mundane and that whistling is still creepy
5 Belarus – Good for two minutes, then it’s repetitive.
5 Lithuania – Dull song gave strong performer and routine no chance. Vilija was my “matchmaker” at matchmaker.eurovision.tv
0 Georgia – Pretend in never existed

Total score is 95 for an average of 6.3. SF1 average was 7.2 – a record.

The best part of this semi was simply to finalise the finalists. As stated earlier, they almost revealed themselves. In fact, with 10 of 15 countries qualifying, that process could be speeded up by naming the 5 non-qualifiers, rather than go through 10 qualifiers. The non-qualifiers could be marched out of the stadium as each one is named, leaving the 10 finalists to celebrate all at once together. Too cruel?

Before this semi, I had Ireland, Israel, FYRM and Lithuania in my top 10. Lithuania was a tough choice over Belarus or Switzerland for that tenth spot. After watching the show, out dropped FYRM and Lithuania, in came Norway and Malta. Malta was a really big improver. It had been so whiny and annoying that I already deleted them off my phone.

Of my top ten from the show, 8 made the final. Ireland and Israel missed for Belarus and Switzerland. So you can see, since Belarus and Switzerland were on the cusp of my top 10 before the show, it’s acceptable to see both in the final.

Is Eurovision meant to be an iconic event among the gay community or not? The biggest cheers were for Poland and Austria. Either I’m not seeing something (unlikely), or the audience was very confused.


Jessica Mauboy and Australia

A superb performance by a quality performer, showcasing her new song, “Sea Of Flags”. In spite of fears and trepidation and the rampant publicity by SBS (the Australian broadcaster) about sequins, hairspray and wind machines, Mauboy was there to represent us, not embarrass us, and she did that well. She brought a really good song too, which she co-wrote in two days. Unfortunately, she’s about as good as it gets for those artists in Australia that would dare see themselves on the Eurovision stage. It helps being able to promote a new song and start a possible international career. Higher calibre artists simply won’t touch Eurovision, especially when it’s promoted by SBS as something to be derided and mocked.

Jessica Mauboy Eurovision Copenhagen

Jessica Mauboy wows the audience in Copenhagen. Source: HeraldSun/AFP

In contrast to Mauboy, the introduction sequence of all the cliche Australian icons was tacky at best, hideous at worst. It evoked similar ugly incidents of “cultural cringe” like inflatable kangaroos on BMX bikes at the closing ceremony of the Atlanta Olympics and, worst of all, the presentation video for the 2022 FIFA World Cup that featured a runaway cartoon kangaroo that stole the World Cup trophy.

For international viewers, the flag shown at the end of Mauboy’s performance was the aboriginal flag. That won’t cause much controversy in Australia simply because few people care about Eurovision to provide the publicity, or the perception is Eurovision is so small and tacky that it’s no reason to get upset. In truth, it is embarrassing that proud Australians like Mauboy need to fly an alternate flag because the actual national flag (which was on the obverse side of the aboriginal flag) doesn’t represent them. At the risk of creating a political storm like runner Cathy Freeman did at the 1994 Commonwealth Games, it’s best not to fly anything at all.

Jessica Mauboy Eurovision Copenhagen 2014

Jessica Mauboy with Aboriginal Flag at Eurovision. Source: HeraldSun

Melbourne’s Herald Sun reported that as Mauboy left the stage, she burst into tears as applause filled the arena: “It was absolutely thrilling. I could feel this electricity go through my body as I heard the roar of the crowd. It was an intensely beautiful and emotional moment. I succeeded, I felt it was a triumph. I am so very proud that I was responsible for representing our country.”

One great benefit of Mauboy was that SBS chose to show this semi final on a slight delay, at 7.30 in the morning. They had no choice given Mauboy would be in the newspapers and interviewed on radio that day. It’s time the entire contest was given such respect, not just when an Australian is involved. Semi Final 1 was only just shown Friday evening, meaning anyone that watched SF2, saw it before SF1. SBS will repeat SF2 in the traditional timeslot of 8.30 Saturday night – almost two days after the actual event.

This should be the last indulgence to Australia. Denmark’s had this “Join Us” theme and probably wanted to out-do the Swedes from last year with their video profile of Eurovision viewing Australia. Already, among social media, many Europeans are recoiling that Australia is afforded such publicity. We are not European, we don’t respect Eurovision, we don’t belong in Eurovision, and it’s impossible for us to be involved in Eurovision anyway.
Read more here

For the final time, to Julia Zemiro, one of Australia’s commentators, the 10 semi finalists revealed are in RANDOM sequence. Why she keeps believing it’s rigged so that a certain country (usually a favourite) is revealed last to tease the audience, is insane. Especially after said country is consistently revealed earlier!


Preview of Final

Seeing both semi finals has changed a few things for the final. Sweden now must be favourite to win. Friends and family rate it first. Jessica Mauboy nominated it as her favourite (of the first 5 songs she’d seen), citing the sheer brilliance and capacity of Sanna Nielsen’s vocal abilities. That won’t change even if seeing all songs in the contest.

While I believe Sweden will win, Hungary is the song I hope wins. It’s so brilliant in every way. It’s almost art. Every aspect of the song, whether that’s vocals, presentation or performance, it’s spot on. Hungary have yet to win Eurovision so just another reason to support them.

For an outsider to do well, it’s the Netherlands. This captivates the audience from the start, with the strong rhythm and presentation. Then it’s performed flawlessly. It’s a song the juries will like, recognising true artists, and it’s memorable enough to gain the often superficial televote. This time the televote is superficial for the right reasons, not for some silly gimmick, like a bunch of Russian grannies baking cookies, or a woman with a beard…

Of course, six new songs in the final, with Italy, Spain, UK and France all super quality efforts by quality artists. Italy especially, Emma Marrone, I can’t wait to see her rip it up.

Personal Top Five for the Final

Hungary
Sweden
Italy
Russia
Netherlands

Obviously Italy is based on potential, since I’ve not seen Emma perform yet. Spain and UK could also do well.

Predicted Top Three for the Final

Sweden
Hungary
Romania

Armenia, the pre-contest favourite, it’s overrated. It would be a shock if it won. No surprise would be Austria, the politically correct winner. It will be an amazing examination of Europe’s response to alternative lifestyles. Especially some of the eastern countries, rumours of going to ad breaks during Austria’s performance, a bearded woman might prove a fuss about nothing, and they’ll vote on whimsical reasons as they often do.

Original full preview of Eurovision here


Sunday evening is when Australia sees the final of the Eurovision Song Contest for 2014. It’ll be a total internet and TV blackout for the day. A review of the final will be done Monday afternoon Australian time, so very early European time. Bon song!

Mr Eurovision on Twitter

 

 

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