12 May 2023
It was a more exciting second semi final of the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest compared to the first one two days ago. Those at the arena in Liverpool, United Kingdom, and viewers at home, saw that diversity in songs was up, and there were more high quality performances overall. Results were also less predictable, with all songs except one (Romania) seemingly in with a chance to qualify for the grand final. We got doses of rock and pop, some ballads, and whatever you call Albania (melodramatic, family, ethnic pop, I guess) to make the grand final on Saturday night an interesting mix.
Disappointingly, the sound quality was still bad for this show. The volume was too low, and there’s a general lack of resonance even once pumping up the volume of your TV or sound device. In my case, it’s a quality soundbar, and a song like Promise from Australia’s Voyager would blow off my roof when watching the music video. At Eurovision, it felt like they were only firing on 3 cylinders. On my computer setup, which includes a subwoofer, Youtube videos suffer similarly, meaning the problem is definitely with the source. Norway is a good comparison to check, which I posted in my review of semi final 1. Whether other broadcasters are compensating for this, who knows. At least I was aware of it this time and immediately cranked up the soundbar volume to 80 (out of 99) before the first song.
Semi Final 2 – Review
Remember, results in the semi finals are decided solely by the public. The grand final will use the usual combination of juries and public vote. Julia Sanina and Hannah Waddingham, those hosts to the right in the video thumbnail above, look splendid in the blue and yellow dresses that match the Ukrainian flag.
01 Denmark – Reiley – Breaking My Heart
A bit of a lacklustre opening, and no surprise Denmark didn’t quality. The song was nothing special, particularly being quite repetitive, and Reiley’s vocals aren’t the best. 4/10
02 Armenia – Brunette – Future Lover
Impressed with stunning lighting effects and excellent vocals. It was an innovative routine and they kept it focused to a specific area of the stage. A worthy finalist. 7/10
03 Romania – Theodor Andrei – D.G.T. (Off and On)
Just horrible. A mess. Keep it off. 1/10
04 Estonia – Alika – Bridges
I was expecting more from Alika! She fell into the same trap that some previous Estonian artists do at Eurovision, and that’s to get overly active or dramatic on stage. It’s a ballad, dear. Your voice is stunning. Let it speak. No need for so much wandering about or excessive hand gestures. It breaks the intimacy. I felt sorry for the piano to travel all that way from Estonia to Liverpool and be barely tickled. A total tease! 7/10
05 Belgium – Gustaph – Because Of You
Belgian Boy George? A fun song and performed well, and Gustaph is easy to like. This was the only qualifier I didn’t include in my top 10 favourites, and I was happy he made it anyway. 5/10
06 Cyprus – Andrew Lambrou – Break A Broken Heart
A complete transformation of what seemed an ordinary song coming into the contest. While it sounded like a Melodifestivalen reject (it was a song written by well known Swedes), Andrew really lifted it with a powerful performance that included strong vocals and excellent stage graphics. I guess we can now remind Europe that he really is Australian. If he was eliminated, he’d have been an Australian-based Cypriot. 7/10
07 Iceland – Dilja – Power
Dilja powered through and offered a great energy to a song that always seemed limited due to its repetitive nature. Barely halfway through the results phase she looked resigned to not qualifying. I like realistic people! 6/10
08 Greece – Victor Vernicos – What They Say
This sounded like a Dansk Melodi Grand Prix reject (Victor is part Danish). Very beige. Victor was trying way too hard, bouncing around the stage so much, like he knew his entry was drowning and was trying to convince us otherwise. At least he was rocking the eyebrows. 3/10
09 Poland – Blanka – Solo
Bejba! That’s new. A dance solo was added, and that certainly helped. It also adds to Israel and Armenia channelling Spain’s, Chanel, from last year, with solo dance sections. Poland gave us a very colourful display. Vocals were sound (despite Blanka’s limitations), the song was catchy, and Blanka is hot. Will Poland now be happy about Blanka? (There was controversy that the jury bumped her ahead of the public’s favourite in the Polish national final.) 7/10
10 Slovenia – Joker Out – Carpe Diem
More like Joker In. Slovenia really brought it, and were my favourite at this stage of the show. They got the stage and the audience rocking, vocals were excellent, and the whole performance was well choreographed without going over the top. That’s all you need sometimes. 8/10
11 Georgia – Iru – Echo
Ira definitely elevated this song with a powerful display, and it was sad not to see Georgia qualify. The last time weas 2016. They were in my top 10. A great mix of vocals and staging, and they kept it compact. Some acts, especially solo ones, believe just because there’s a big stage that you need to use it all. No. 7/10
12 San Marino – Piqued Jacks – Like An Animal
Did well for a repetitive song, especially imparting a decent rock vibe in the vocals. They’re definitely worthy of a Thursday night slot at the Colac pub. Not sure about Fridays. If not for the rock songs by Slovenia and Australia in this semi, they might have qualified. Mostly, the song just need more to it. 5/10
13 Austria – Teya & Salena – Who The Hell Is Edgar?
Superb performance of this quirky song, especially with the background graphics. Providing insight behind the Poe theme was a great addition, and added context. Poe Poe Poe. I’m addicted. Well done. Salena (the blonde) is a bit of a babe too. 8/10
14 Albania – Albina & Familja Kelmendi – Duje
I was hoping for more from Albania, and was fearful they may not qualify. It seemed to lack power, which, again, likely isn’t the entire fault of the artist. The song’s structure didn’t help matters, with a long intro and an abrupt finale. The second chorus repeats itself, which could be sacrificed to tidy the structure. Ultimately, its distinct nature and powerful vocals helped propel it through. 7/10
15 Lithuania – Monika Linkyte – Stay
Oh, Monika. Simply beautiful! I actually had a few small tears with this, and when Lithuania was announced as a finalist I got the most pumped. The song’s so catchy and engaging, it’s presented well, Monika sings it well, and she’s so cute. I love her. 8/10
16 Australia – Voyager – Promise
Alright! Australia rocked it, even with the crap sound. They didn’t fool around much on stage. The lead singer starting the performance in a car with his keytar as the passenger was a novel idea, and the band then just did their thing. Where the hell did they find a 1980’s Toyota MR2 in Liverpool anyway? I know this car because I raced it a lot in Gran Turismo! (It’s actually a car owned by lead singer, Danny Estrin, and was shipped over.) 7/10
My Top 10
San Marino 5
(in bold are the finalists)
The bottom half of that top 10 could be in any order. I’ve changed my mind enough times already and could probably keep changing it for hours more. Just accept there’s three clear favourites from this semi for me, two songs that I’ve liked all along, and then the five that are almost equally as good. In a curious year, the only song from my top 10 before Eurovision that didn’t qualify for the grand final was Azerbaijan. Normally quite a few miss out. Azerbaijan were my favourite this year, while I got Sweden (2), Finland (3), Estonia (4), Norway (5), Albania (6), Lithuania (7) and Poland (10) through. The other songs were Big 5 and Host entries, United Kingdom (8) and France (9).
Before Eurovision, the strong conjecture (including from myself) was that the first semi final was stronger. In terms of my favourites that progressed, it’s three from SF1 vs four from SF2, albeit my top 10 contained four from each semi. In terms of scores, both shows averaged 6.1. The best shows rate near 7 or above. If you remove the horrible entry from Romania, SF2 actually rates 6.4. Looking at the respective top 10 lists from each semi, both had three songs scoring 8. Where SF2 had the rest score 7, only three did in SF1, with remaining four scoring 6. Suffice to say, two SF2 songs, notably Cyprus and Georgia, did raise their game for Eurovision SF2, whereas SF1 performed to par. That’s the difference that made SF2 better than SF1.
Grand Final Preview
France – La Zarra – Evidemment
Germany – Lord of the Lost – Blood & Glitter
Spain – Blanca Paloma – Eaea
Italy – Marco Mengoni – Due Vite
Ukraine – Tvorchi – Heart Of Steel
United Kingdom – Mae Muller – I Wrote A Song
Performances are on the official Eurovision channel for the Big 5 and Hosts. Ukraine actually looks quite good, even if the song is nothing special. Surely we’ll get a song winning based on music, not sympathy. It’ll be a disaster and a complete mockery of the competition if Ukraine win again. I’ve never liked Spain at all, Germany and Italy perform as expected, and United Kingdom lacks energy. That leaves France, and it’s easily the best of the bunch. It’s a song that’s easy to like and the performance ends strongly.
The betting market has seen no change at the top, with Sweden and Finland clear ahead, then Ukraine, France and Spain next. Norway and Israel switch places for sixth and seventh. We’re actually into quite long odds here at $34 and, actually, those top two have increased their favouritism. Ukraine has drifted slightly, while fourth to seventh are all $34. By this stage of the event, with so much money bet, it’s difficult to affect odds much anyway.
Historically, the running order gives a strong guide, with favoured songs placed late as possible in their halves while not being placed as the very final song. Ukraine last year was in spot 12 (of 13), Italy at 24 in 2021, 2020 was cancelled, Netherlands at 12 in 2019, Israel at 22 in 2018, Portugal at 11 in 2017 and Ukraine at 21 in 2016 (second placed Australia was at 13). Who are in these plum positions in 2023? Finland at 13, Sweden at 10, Norway at 20 and Israel at 23. It’s not hard to draw your own conclusions. Slovenia at 24 could be the wildcard. There’s always something that achieves a higher place than expected, and they have the quality, differentiation and position to do so. There’s also Lithuania. Such a beautiful song, it’s performed well, Monika is adorable, and it’s nicely placed at 22.
I actually hope Finland wins. Käärijä is just so… Käärijä!
It’s crazy. It’s party.
Cha Cha Cha!
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