Highlights of the Eurovision Semi-Finals
For those of you not following along at home, Eurovision is the reason I’m here on the other side of the world, and today are the semi-finals. Eurovision is a song contest that has been held in Europe for over five decades. Each nation submits an original song performed by an artist or group and in one night all of Europe votes by phone for their favorite. Past winners/nominees include Abba, Katrina and the Waves, Cliff Richard, WigWam and the aforementioned Lordi from last year. Top spots are guaranteed by last year’s votes but the remaining countries are voted on today.
At the train station while we waited to meet friends I watched –literally- hundreds of children and teenagers run for the Hartwall Areena carrying flags of their favorite nations with them. Yep, this is a big event.
The line to get in was like waiting on a Disney ride times ten. Not fun. There may be a cool wind most of the time in Finland but that doesn’t mean the sun isn’t hot. Security was like that of an airport, luckily they knew even without English that tapping my chest meant pacemaker. Once in, the festivities almost immediately began.
Bulgaria – “Water” by Stoyan Yankoulov and Elitza Todorova. Fantastic drums and percussion. Love the drums.
Israel – “Push the Button” by the Teapacks. Kinda heavy metal klezmer, as if Fishbone were Israeli. Catchy political romp that I liked a lot.
Cyprus – “Comme ci-Comme ca” by Evridiki. This has been one of my favorites since I first heard it. Has a kinda hard Erasure feel to it. Evridiki has been around for a while, released twelve solo albums and this is her third time representing Cyprus at Eurovision.
Belarus – “Work Your Magic” by Koldun. This was good, a big beat mid-eighties Gino Vannelli to my ears. There did seem to be a C&C Music Factory thing going on however with a full-figured back-up singer hidden in the shadows. It was obvious she had the pipes in the back-ups.
Iceland – “Valentine Lost” by Eirikur Hauksson. Eirikur is a scary dude who has been a metal session player in Europe for years. With Lordi’s win last year many has guessed that a lot of entrants would take the metal route. Close but not quite, this is the first of a few lame metal power ballads.
Georgia – “Visionary Dream” by Sopho. This is verrry Kate Bush, but a Kate that wants to rock badly. Loved the back-up dancers with the swords.
Montenegro – “Ajde Kroci” by Stevan Faddy. Catchy and cute, it’s hair metal sans hair. The female back-up singers added an original flavor to a played out sound.
Switzerland – “Vampires Are Alive” by DJ Bobo. This song has been going through my head for weeks, and it gets better the more you hear it. You may want to tear your hair out the first time you hear it, but trust me, it gets better. DJ Bobo, a former Michael Jackson opener, is a theme album genius and has been a European superstar for many years. He and his crew had great choreography, connected with the audience immediately and had creepy manikins on stage with them. So cool!
Moldova – “Flight” by Natalia Barbu. I may have slept through this one. Too soft and forgettable.
The Netherlands – “On Top of the World” by Edsilia Rombley. Typical disco. This must have been the intermission part of the show.
Albania – “Hear My Plea” by Frederik NDoci. This guy is supposed to be great, but I looked at this and just thought, “What a mess.”
Denmark – “Drama Queen” by DQ. Ah, the show has started again. This was a disco drag queen with fabulous choreography. Loved it!
Croatia – “Vjerujem u Ljubav” by DragonFly featuring Dado Topic. Two Croatian monsters of rock combine for this power ballad that has an interesting Southwestern American flair.
Poland – “Time to Party” by The Jet Set. I liked this one a lot. Any song that begins with a hot chick in a cage and firy chain graphics filling the stage has my vote. Hip hop rock with a swing sound to the refrain, very catchy.
Serbia – “Molitva” by Marija Serifovic. Great vocals and orchestration, but in hindsight it sounds as if the Moody Blues made an overproduced version of Duran Duran’s “The Chauffer.” I hope Simon and the boys aren’t feeling litigious today.
Czech Republic – “Mala Dama” by Kabat. Alternative metal with a great beat by the Czech metal superband.
Portugal – “Danca Comingo” by Sabrina. Typical Latin dance music, just not my flavor.
F.Y.R. Macedonia – “Mojat Svet” by Karolina. Dainty big beat disco that grows in power throughout the song. Singing since childhood, she has been called the Macedonian equivalent of Debbie Gibson.
Norway – “Ven a Bailar Conmigo” by Guri Schanke. What is this, “Dancing with the Stars” with some singing thrown in? There are some great quick wardrobe changes though, so it was entertaining.
Malta – “Vertigo” by Olivia Lewis. This is one of the catchier tunes that I had been loving since before coming here. You’ll be singing it later yourself, trust me. Olivia has also been to Eurovision a few times before, but as a back-up singer.
Andorra – “Salven el Mon (Let’s Save the World)” by Anonymous. Green Day lives! Very refreshing, old school, new new wave punk. I loved this one!
Hungary – “Unsubstantial Blues” by Magdi Ruzsa. Magdi is very hot and the song is like a bluesy rock cross between the pretenders and Janis Joplin. Great stuff.
Estonia – “Partners in Crime” by Gerli Padar. Gerli is a child prodigy from music, stage and television and has also been to Eurovision twice. Kinda new wave rock disco mix with just a pinch of Broadway thrown in. This is a guaranteed hit single.
Belgium – “Love Power” by The KMG’s. What if Leo Sayer and KC and the Sunshine Band had a child who grew up listening to retro disco and maybe just a little bit of Swing Out Sister? You’d get The KMG’s. Very happy, very pop, and the audience loved them, as did I.
Slovenia – “Cvet z Juga” by Alenka Gotar. Yuck. Really didn’t like this one.
Turkey – “Shake It Up Shekerim” by Kenan Dogulu. One of Turkey’s favorite artists, Kenan woke the audience up with this contagious Eastern pop and they loved it. Another one that will go far whether it wins or not.
Austria – “Get A Life – Get Alive” by Eric Papilaya. The interesting visual of a living AIDS ribbon makes this one stand out. Typical power pop but gets annoying after a while.
Latvia – “Questa Notte” by Bonaparti. Iv. This one was like Il Divo meets the Three Tenors. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…
When the acts had finished, the voting began. For fifteen minutes, callers from all over Europe narrowed the twenty-eight down to ten. Here are the finalists. That’s all for now.
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