The Second Semi-Finals of the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest began with a weird sort of hip hop Mummers thing without the feathers, past hits of the Contest on accordion and banjo, if you can believe it, or at least that’s what it felt like to me. And the polar bears were scary.
The same hosts, Natalya Vodyanova and Andrey Malakhov, were back, annoying as ever. Where’s Terry Wogan when you need him? And the same corny inserts and intros as Tuesday as well, I guess they come with the hosts. Either way, we’re off to find who are ten (nine plus a wildcard) finalists are for this round.
01 Croatia - Igor Cukrov featuring Andrea’s “Lijepa Tena”
Igor is sexy, but someone ought to tell him there’s such a thing as trying too hard. The charm is on overload, and the wind machine wasn’t helping. The wind made the women look like they were witches cavorting on a “Dark Shadows” cliff top. It’s a beautiful song, as is his companion Andrea, but I have to wonder why she didn’t sing the whole song. I liked her voice more.
02 Ireland - Sinéad Mulvey & Black Daisy’s “Et Cetera”
I like this one, always have. Very frenetic, very 1980s, very rockergirl – but it just might be too mainstream for Eurovision. I hope not. As much as I want it to go through, it probably won’t.
03 Latvia - Intars Busulis’ “Probka”
This guy looks scared. Maybe that’s his natural expression? Or an affectation like Fred Schneider or Danny Elfman? The vocals are stronger than the original recording, and their energy is apparent. Strong finish, I just wish I knew what he was so scared of.
04 Serbia - Marko Kon & Milaan’s “Cipela”
The ‘shoe’ song, or at least what it’s translated as. Wow, that’s some ‘fro, dude. But on second look, it appears that everyone on stage spent the afternoon with a demented hairstylist. Nice computer image effects, I gotta admit it’s different. It’s catchy, and could very well make it through.
05 Poland - Lidia Kopania’s “I Don't Wanna Leave”
Not my cup of tea, but this is the kind of song that always gets through, and sometimes wins. I’ll be honest though, I would rather have taken a nap. She’s no Celine Dion – you can take that any way you want to.
The crowd certainly seems more energetic tonight. Maybe the soldiers with guns aren’t marching through the audience as often as they did on Tuesday. And the flag and banner wavers don’t seem to be restricted to only one section either. Or maybe someone explained to the audience that this was Eurovision…
06 Norway - Alexander Rybak’s “Fairytale”
This was an early favorite, and this performance did not disappoint. Alexander’s got talent and charisma, and his dancers were a hoot. Final-bound.
07 Cyprus - Christina Metaxas’ “Firefly”
Unlike Ireland or Norway, this was not one of my favorites before this, but I have to say that the unique presentation kept my attention, or at least more than Poland. It’s amazing what giant glowing icecubes can do. But then again, on a Eurovision bizarreness scale, giant glowing icecubes are amateur hour.
08 Slovakia - Kamil Mikulčík & Nela Pocisková’s “Leť Tmou”
Zzzzzzz…. Sorry, dozed off. Just watch, now this one will win.
09 Denmark – Brinck’s “Believe Again”
This Lionel Ritchie soundalike was an early frontrunner, and while he’s almost as good looking as Ritchie (again, take that any way you want to), the stage presentation of this song is much better than the audio version suggests. Better than expected, good chance to get through.
10 Slovenia - Quartissimo featuring Martina’s “Love Symphony”
I’ve always liked this entry but wondered how audiences would react to a mostly instrumental performance. I guess I had nothing to worry about. Except that they would hide the woman behind the only vocals in the song – she’s behind that curtain much too long. It’s not like she’s Martha Washington or anything, let us see her! I think this will hurt their chances.
11 Hungary - Zoli Ádok’s “Dance With Me”
Another frontrunner that conjures the ghosts of disco. I thought it interesting that he started the song lying on the floor, a stunt that helped Russia win last year. Perhaps he should have also taken off his shoes. Despite all that, Zoli is very hot and moves with confidence and sex that should have girls, and boys, all over Europe voting for Hungary.
12 Azerbaijan - AySel & Arash’s “Always”
This one is another entry that is a favorite of friends that does nothing for me. The stage show is better than the song despite the weird torn costumes of the back-up dancers. The charisma of the singers more than made up for what I think is a weak entry.
13 Greece - Sakis Rouvas’ “This Is Our Night”
Greece is always a strong competitor in Eurovision, and 2009 is no exception. The song is great dynamic dance music, but I have to wonder if Sakis attended the same dance rehearsals as his back-up dancers. He seems out of sync more often than not. Still a hot performance.
14 Lithuania - Sasha Son’s “Love”
Powerful song with a very simple performance. I would have rather had Sasha Son stay behind the piano, he’s not a dancer, not even a subtle one. I also thought the “Hope” sign and the flame in the hand was a bit much. It’s like he’s playing the Serbia card. Still this just might win.
15 Moldova - Nelly Ciobanu’s “Hora Din Moldova”
As much as this song and stage performance begs to be in a Dumpsta Players production, I don’t think it has the stuff to make it to the Finals, despite all the jumping around and the guy yelling with the big stick.
16 Albania - Kejsi Tola’s “Carry Me In Your Dreams”
Albania’s teen idol pop princess, her teenybopper back-up singers, mimes and … is that Disco Gumby? Wow. Did someone slip something into my drink?
Um, a toaster? Yeah, I’ve definitely been dosed…
17 Ukraine - Svetlana Loboda’s “Be My Valentine! (Anti-Crisis Girl)”
I love this song and Svetlana, so much that I bought the album (not an easy task for an American), and I guess there’s no hiding this is my pick to win it – whether that will actually happen is a whole ‘nother thing. A lot of money was certainly spent on the sets and costumes. She is certainly a stage visionary on the scale of Kate Bush or Madonna, but I don’t know how this will affect Eurovision audiences. And I don’t know about her playing drums or the half-naked gladiators, but I have my fingers crossed.
18 Estonia - Urban Symphony’s “Rändajad”
Beautiful woman and a beautiful song, and a sobering moment after Svetlana Loboda. I think this has a good chance.
19 The Netherlands - The Toppers’ “Shine”
Their wardrobe people are mad at them, aren’t they? Catchy uplifting song that in my opinion was stronger in the studio. If they were wilder than just the costumes they might have had a shot.
Wow, this is a hard one. Tough competition tonight. My picks to go through to the Finals: Estonia, Ukraine, Serbia, Poland, Norway, Denmark, Slovakia, Hungary, Greece and Lithuania. We’ll see, shortly.
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