The first of two Semi-Finals for the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest took place tonight at Olimpiysky Arena in Moscow. Hosted by Natalya Vodyanova and Andrey Malakhov (very loud and annoying, and surprisingly sexistbut sooo Eurovision), this Semi-Final of eighteen competitors will decide what ten countries move forward to the Final on May 16th.
The program opened with planets, dragons and other magical and celestial objects hovering over the audience and the telling of an odd fairy tale. Kinda like Cirque de Soleil on acid, but pretty, exciting and sooo Eurovision.
01 Montenegro - Andrea Demirovic’s “Just Get Out of My Life”
Her male dancing companion tried very hard to conjure John Travolta’s ghost from “Saturday Night Fever,” perhaps too much. For me, he distracted from Andrea’s performance.
02 Czech Republic - Gipsy.cz’s “Aven Romale”
This was one of my faves. Very colorful and energetic, but a disco superhero costume? And a bad one at that, should have had more sparkles. This was a bit scary, even for me.
03 Belgium – Copycat’s “Copycat”
Peter Ouchene and company do a more than adequate Stray Cats imitation, giving this entry more of a boost than I thought it initially had. The bright lights of varying color were an interesting effect.
04 Belarus - Petr Elfimov’s “Eyes That Never Lie”
Pseudo 1980s metal accompanied by a woman in shimmering spandex and draped in a long and gigantic see-through scarf. Other than that, it’s just typical metal posturing and effects. Petr’s pretty boy blonde looks might push this over though.
05 Sweden - Malena Ernman’s “La Voix”
Her black clad backup singers and dancers strike an interesting contrast to Malena’s white gown. Little else than that and her heavenly voice separate this from any random Ultravox song from the 1980s.
Not sure what to think of host nation Russia’s introduction and interlude segments so far. Other than a few vocabulary lessons and some pretty girls, there are really not much to them. They look like cheap reality show opening sequences.
06 Armenia - Inga & Anush’s “Jan Jan”
Much more impressive visually on stage than just listening to the tune. Memorable with excellent choreography.
07 Andorra - Susanne Georgi’s “La Teva Decisió (Get A Life)”
Weird retro Bangles/ABBA vibe from Susanne and company with this performance, and I like it. The all-white outfits and limited choreography really seems to work for this song. Certainly more charisma here than previous acts.
08 Switzerland – The Lovebugs’ “The Highest Heights”
I got a new wave vibe, sorta Psychedelic Furs feel from these guys when I first heard them, but seeing them here onstage, they are solidly in the 21st century, but possibly too mainstream for Eurovision. I’m still rooting for them.
09 Turkey – Hadise’s “Düm Tek Tek”
The first I heard this year and still a favorite. Love the dancing and the red outfits, although the guy in brown throws it off. Energetic, sexy and talented. They are Final-bound.
10 Israel - Noa & Mira Awad’s “There Must Be Another Way”
Beautiful striking women, but the song is a snoozer.
11 Bulgaria - Krassimir Avramov’s “Illusion”
Very colorful, but the costumes look like throwaways from a 1970s Sinbad movie. The folks on stilts are a bit creepy, but keeping with the bizarreness of Eurovision. Fire is never a good effect when viewers’ first reaction is that the stage is on fire. And what was up with that one woman’s caveman hair?
12 Iceland – Yohanna’s “Is It True?”
Again, Yohanna is a very pretty woman, but zzzzzzzzzz…
13 F.Y.R. Macedonia - Next Time’s “Neshto Shto Ke Ostane”
Rockers Next Time tried very hard to be Bon Jovi, but that’s not really Eurovision’s style. Lest we forget Lordi’s win a few years back, that doesn’t count them out. I think they have a shot, although lying on the stage was probably a bad move. But then again, it worked last year.
I’m noticing that shots of the audience look rather sedate. Are people afraid to get really excited? This is Russia, after all… The backstage audience of dozens has more energy than the stadium audience of thousands.
14 Romania – Elena’s “The Balkan Girls”
I thought this tune was a frontrunner but the version of the song used is almost as tame as the Moscow audience. All beautiful women, a few of the dancers appeared to be out of step, and probably might have been more at home with the more aggressive version of the tune. Elena doesn’t seem phased by any of it however.
15 Finland - Waldo's People’s “Lose Control”
These guys are fun, lots of energy (maybe they stole Romania’s energy?) and lots of fire. The fire juggling makes up for the bad Fred Durst impression. Final-bound.
16 Portugal - Flor-de-lis’ “Todas As Ruas Do Amor”
Quiet and colorful, and far more charismatic live than just hearing the song. This could have a serious chance after this performance.
17 Malta - Chiara’s “What If We”
Eurovision veteran Chiara always owns the stage when she’s on it, and this was no exception. Although I’m not sure this was her best performance. At least there was no dry ice screw-up like in the rehersals.
18 Bosnia & Herzegovina – Regina’s “Bistra Voda”
At first glance, this seems like a scrubbed clean version of a My Chemical Romance music video – sounding nothing like it however. What it does sound like is a few other songs, but apparently that’s been cleared up. No chance for this one in my opinion.
My ten choices to move on? Armenia, Belarus, Andorra, Switzerland, Finland, Turkey, Portugal, Malta, Romania and Bulgaria. The next Semi-Final will have a decidedly more difficult time with voting I think. We’ll see.
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