Stockholm 2016 – Semi Final 1 – Review

11 May 2016

After the Jury and Family shows, this was the third live show of this semi final, and it was the best. Seated almost dead straight on we got the full effects of the stage and a good TV screen in sight. Sound was probably better at the Family Show, where we had standing room at left of stage, so it wasn’t as thumping or piercing because it went past us.

sf1-finalists

Stockholm 2016 – Finalists from Eurovision Semi Final 1 (source: eurovision.tv)

The Finalists

Azerbaijan – Samra – Miracle (8)

Always a strong song and Samra had the vocals, choreography and effects to match.

Russia – Sergey Lazareve – You Are The Only One (8)

Wow, just wow. Russia took Sweden’s winning idea of 2015 and transformed it. I’m not convinced the song is as good as the hype. Russia will be helped by the spectacle and the familiar voting patterns of the region.

Netherlands – Douwe Bob – Slow Down (7)

Always a catchy song; the issue was stamina. It got repetitive by the end. Bob fixed that with the long pause during the bridge.

Hungary – Freddie – Pioneer (7)

Through on vocal power and probably looks. One moment he looked like he might tear off his shirt.

Croatia – Nina Kraljic – Lighthouse (9)

My favourite of the night. A triumph of artistry over gimmicks.

Austria – Zoe – Loin d’ici (5)

While this got the second biggest cheers of the night after Russia, this was the big drop for me. I never felt engaged with it. Zoe eventually listened to Conchita’s advice and dumped the treadmill.

Armenia – Iveta Mukuchyan – LoveWave (8)

Amazing vocals.

Czech Republic – Gabriela Guncikova – I Stand (8)

Thank you! There is justice. For all three shows, Gabriela suffered by following Russia. From crazy of Russia to basic of Czech Republic, there was a sense of being underwhelmed once she hit the stage. So many in the audience began to check their phones. It’s a nice song and sung well and Czech Republic thoroughly deserved their qualification. Once they were announced, I didn’t care about the rest. In fact, I spent most of the remaining time watching the delegation celebrate. They were ecstatic, especially Gabriela. She was last of her delegation to leave the green room area, soaking up and atmosphere, before finally giving a Rocky salute and leaving. These are the moments that make Eurovision special.

Gabriela from Czech Republic celebrates winning a place in the Eurovision final of 2016.

Gabriela from Czech Republic celebrates winning a place in the Eurovision final of 2016.

Cyprus – Minus One – Alter Ego (7)

They also suffered with the Russian sonic boom, performing after the Czech Repulic, so credit to them for qualifying. The presentation is awful; thankfully the song is not.

Malta – Ira Losco – Walk On Water (6)

It was good. Sung well; the guy hopping around made no sense.

 

Going Home…

Finland – Sandhja – Sing It Away (5)

Always an average song and produced a presentation to match. At least Finland tried.

Greece – Argo – Utopian Land (1)

Always a terrible song and produced a presentation to match. Greece didn’t even try.

Moldova – Lidia Isac – Falling Stars (6)

Even though I finally got into the song by the third show, the dancing spaceman was odd and appeared too much a gimmick. We saw the spaceman in Lidia’s official video, and it was odd there. Surely someone should have said something to her.

San Marino – Serhat – I Didn’t Know (3)

Sorry, no more silly novelty acts in Eurovision. Ironically, Serhat might have been better sticking to the original form of the song and wearing his monocle, rather than go disco. Thankfully the cult following he seemed to build meant nothing.

Estonia – Juri Poostman – Play (4)

After one minute, this was so played. To think Eesti Laul had at least 5 better options for me. Juri had won the most recent Estonian Idol so capitalised on that publicity and hype to win EL.

Montenegro – Highway – The Real Thing (4)

Presented it well – like a live video clip; the song didn’t have enough to it.

Iceland – Greta Salome – Hear Them Calling (6)

Maybe I was bored from seeing it at the Iceland finals, and then the official video, because I’ve come to accept the people’s decision to not select this. It copies Sweden from last year by heavy use of interactive graphics without doing anything extra special with it. That’s often not rewarded. Update: I saw Greta perform at the Eurovision Village the day after, and while obviously sad she missed out, she gave a great rendition of her song. Credit to her for showing up.

Iceland's Greta Salome performs Hear Me Calling at the Eurovision Village the day after failing to qualify for the Eurovision final.

Iceland’s Greta Salome performs Hear Me Calling at the Eurovision Village the day after failing to qualify for the Eurovision final.

 

Bosnia Herzegovina – Dalel & Deen – Ljubav Je (4)

This was never a strong song, and they made the best of it.

 

Summary

My top 10: Croatia, Russia, Armenia, Czech Republic, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Hungary, Netherlands, Iceland and Moldova.

Average score is 5.9, which puts it just out of the good range. The best shows average about 6.5. Remember, there’s always some bad songs dragging the numbers down, and this semi final had Greece. The highest score of 8 meant there was no clear stand-out.

The 10 finalists are a fair pick. Iceland was the big surprise to miss, probably in place of Netherlands or Czech Republic. If I were to be selfish, I’d want Moldova and Iceland in for Austria and Malta. Thankfully Greece failed to qualify for the semis for the first time, while those that missed out either lacked by way of an average song or poor presentation. After my unexpected meeting with Slovenia’s ManuElla earlier in the day, I learnt that money does talk at Eurovision. All the effects cost money, so some of these smaller nations will never compete in terms of spectacle. They really must rely on the song and individual brilliance to compete.

Of great interest being seated right behind the green room was seeing firsthand the emotions of the artists. I was closest to the Estonians, and Elina Born was especially consolatory with Juri. Stig Rasta seemed nonplussed. Elina and Stig were Estonia’s entry last year, so I suppose for Stig it’s a case of you win one, you lose one. On the way to the stage, Ira from Malta gave Juri a big hug.

Apologies for a shorter review than normal. Busy day creating the youtube video of the interview with ManuElla, then a bit more sightseeing before the Eurovision Village at 6pm and then the Jury show of semi final 2. I can only imagine how the artists feel!

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