11 May 2022
For those of us in Australia not quite awake at 5:10am, we certainly were at 5:13am after Albania bounced out a highly energetic performance with plenty of groin gyrations. Then followed the similarly energetic Latvia, and the first semi final of the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest in Turin was really off and running. Then the reality hit that this was a weak year for songs, and the first semi final much weaker than the second, and a succession of low energy and often dull songs began to induce sleepiness. It wasn’t really until Moldova performing in ninth that things got bouncy again.
The show then finished with the most perplexing reality when the excitement machines of Albania and Latvia missed a spot in the grand final, along with Austria, which performed thirteenth. Instead we got the snoozy Switzerland, Lithuania, Netherlands, Portugal, Iceland and Greece. Perhaps it was simply the better songs that got through. I personally would have taken them all except Lithuania, and even with them, I recognise it was a quality entry. Likely the real issue in play here was that this being such an even semi final that any small interesting point of distinction could push a song through. You certainly got that with several of these songs and it’s difficult to argue with the eventual 10 qualifiers.
01 Albania – Ronela Hajati – Sekret
On viewing again, this looked an incongruous mess. Most of it was wild half-naked dancing when it should have been more like Azerbaijan’s Mata Hari by Efendi last year. It was an ethnic song so need a homage to its origins. While I enjoyed it and it was easy qualifier for me, I can understand why the audience, and likely the jury, were numb to it. 7/10
02 Latvia – Citi Zeni – Eat Your Salad
This was bonkers – in a good way. Fun, appealing and full of energy. Perhaps being green isn’t cool anymore, or they needed to keep the swear words. 7/10
03 Lithuania – Monika Lui – Sentimental
Styling was epic, especially the lighting and Monika’s dress. Vocals were excellent. It’s just the song. While it has appeal with its groovy beat, it lacks anything beyond that. No big notes; just monotony. 6/10
04 Switzerland – Marius Bear – Boys Do Cry
One of my preferred songs that didn’t meet expectations. Good voice and the simplicity of it was probably the key reason it qualified. 6/10
05 Slovenia – LPS – Disko
This just emphasised the flat period we were in. Pleasant enough is the best you can say about it. 5/10
06 Ukraine – Kalush Orchestra – Stefania
Any sympathy to vote for Ukraine should have been be sapped after this performance. A really average song with the last part a complete nonsense with some guy in a ridiculous outfit doing break-dancing. Give me a break. 4/10
07 Bulgaria – Intelligent Music Project – Intentions
Not sure Bulgaria could get the Thursday night gig at the Colac pub with this. Zero energy beyond the first 15 seconds. 2/10
08 Netherlands – S10 – De Diepte
S10 looked nervous at the start and quite disengaged. She rescued it by the end and it was enormous relief to see her qualify. Netherlands along Croatia and Austria were three of my favourites before Eurovision and none had been called come the final announcement so I was dreading an ultra disappointment. Thankfully Stien got it. I’m not sure why Stien uses S10 as a stage name as her real name Stien den Hollander seems a perfect one. 7/10
09 Moldova – Zdob si Zdub & Advahov Brothers – Trenuletul
This proved much more enjoyable than expected, and in a direct comparison with Ukraine, was far superior. 6/10
10 Portugal – Maro – Saudade Saudade
Beautiful in very way possible. Especially Maro’s voice, and the song progresses nicely. Wasn’t convinced about all the singers in a circle, until the song finished full circle at the end. 7/10
11 Croatia – Mia Dimsic – Guilty Pleasure
Croatia was robbed for the second year in a row! Perhaps not so harshly as Albina in 2021, this still was a perplexing omission for my favourite performance of the night. Mia perhaps tried too hard, especially with three dancers, and this sort of abstract representation of a song, or even part of a song, can confuse viewers to the point they become disengaged. For songs like this, you need that connection between viewers and the artist, and that likely didn’t happen. Because I was already a fan, I managed to stay focused on the artist and the song, and found something rich, meaningful and memorable, and I loved the switch to Croatian for the final section. I would definitely run away with you, Mia! 8/10
12 Denmark – Reddi – The Show
A reprisal from Melodi Grand Prix. A nice, catchy song that probably lacked any one specific key reason or point of distinction to vote for it. 6/10
13 Austria – LUM!X feat. Pia Maria – Halo
Needed a much stronger voice and it would have really blown up the stage. I feared an elimination in my preview would be the case as these style of songs can be hit or miss. While the song was hit, the performance was a miss. 7/10
14 Iceland – Systur – Med Haekkandi Sol
Never seen a drummer do less on a Eurovision stage. Iceland were serviceable, and added a nice touch of choreography when glancing to the camera on a couple of key notes. Did the frigid Icelandic air chisel the sisters’ hard facial features? 6/10
15 Greece / Amanda Georgiadi Tenfjord – Die Together
This was always a song that left its best moment until the end, and Amanda delivered, especially with that big note. It might have been the only big note of the entire night. As usual, Greece staged it really well. 7/10
16 Norway – Subwoolfer – Give That Wolf A Banana
They did their thing, if that’s your thing. Mostly the same performance from NRK Melodi Grand Prix. Just one more show until they return to Uranus. 4/10
17 Armenia – Rosa Linn – Snap
This was so sweet with excellent staging. I’d have stayed seated until the second verse rather than lose the guitar and get too choreographed. Were all the toilet paper sheets a memorial to one of the most bizarre aspects of COVID-19? 7/10
My Top 10
This top 10 doesn’t change from my preview, while only 5 of my favourites (those in bold) could actually progress. Of the actual predictions, I did select Norway and Ukraine would qualify and that would be at the expense of Portugal and Greece. Only 5 right there. Oh dear!
Moldova and Iceland were close to my top 10, and I could easily include Moldova at the expense of Denmark, as the appeal of Denmark has sort of reached its limit. Completing the ranking would be Lithuania, Slovenia, Norway, Ukraine and Bulgaria. Average score is 6, so this semi final is in the “good” category. The better shows score around 7.
Let’s not ignore the main highlight of this semi final, and that was Italy’s Diodato finally getting his chance to perform on the Eurovision stage after the 2020 event was cancelled due to COVID-19. Fai Rumore was my favourite song of 2020 and we got a wonderful insight into its potential. No social distancing in that act, and his reprisal brought tears to many of us. It really is time to put wretched COVID-19 behind us.