After the fairly uncontroversial results of the first semi-final, tonight’s second semi-final produced a number of surprises and talking points. Some songs considered sure-fire finalists were left behind, while those that should have been disposed of lived to sing another day.
Lithuania – InCulto – Eastern European Funk – The Lithuanian entry is, on the surface, a nonsense song. However, the words are very serious, being about breaking free from oppression. As if the mad dance and strange sounds weren’t enough, the chaps decided to rip off their trousers to reveal silver shiny shorts.
Armenia – Eva Rivas – Apricot Stone – Eva gave a strong performance of her song, which is for Armenians who have left their homeland. It was one of the favourites to qualify.
Israel – Harel Skaat – Milim – The song is a very personal one for Harel due to the death of his grandfather. He went through all the emotions but managed to remain note perfect throughout.
Denmark – Chanée & N’evergreen – In A Moment Like This – Despite rumours to the contrary, the Danish duo were harmonious enough. Their rock ballad made a big impression on the audience, especially the big key change towards the end.
Switzerland – Michael von der Heide – Il Pleut de L’Or – Not surprisingly, gold was the order of the day for Michael’s suit. The backing singers got more involved near the end of the performance while Michael gave a professional performance. This isn’t an obvious qualifier, but had the potential to surprise a few people.
Sweden – Anna Bergendahl – This Is My Life – Anna was one of the youngest singers of the evening. Sweden is known for high energy songs, but this year opted for a ballad which Anna says is about her own life. She started with guitar in hand, but this was soon dispensed with so she could move her arms around a lot to add a bit more to her performance.
Azerbaijan – Safura – Drip Drop – Next was the bookmaker’s favourite. She transcended stairs with each step lighting up as she moved on to it. The audience loved it and it came across well on screen.
Ukraine – Alyosha – Sweet People – All alone on stage, Alyosha was clearly serious about the message her song was conveying – the importance of all people being friends with everyone and protecting the planet from the damage she believes is being inflicted on it – and seemed to be singing to the whole world.
The Netherlands – Sieneke – Ik Ben Verliefd (Sha-La-Lie) – The Netherlands were next and gave a complete contrast to the previous song. Ik Ben Verliefd (Sha-La-Lie) is a happy, toe-tapping sing-along which is proud to be what it is. There is nothing to dislike about it, but would enough people be encouraged to vote for it?
Romania – Paula Seling & Ovi – Playing With Fire – The unique piano was designed by Paula’s husband. She had the opportunity to show her full vocal range, going all operatic for a moment. The song is a very lively, modern pop number.
Slovenia – Ansambel Žlindra & Kalamari – Narodnozabavni Rock – The Slovenian band were very enthusiastic. They needed to give it everything as this mix of rock and alpine music was the least likely finalist of all the songs heard so far.
Ireland – Niamh Kavanagh – It’s For You – You could have bet your house on Niamh giving a very good performance and thrown your car into the deal as well, without fear of losing either. Ballads are what the Irish do best, and this sounded good enough to see the Emerald Isle into the final.
Bulgaria – Miro – Angel Si Ti – The tempo was raised considerably for the Bulgarian song. One of the more irritating consequences of the free language rule is that some entries are sung half in the native language and half in English. Miro was the first to do that this year.
Cyprus – Jon Lilygreen & The Islanders – Cyprus were represented by a multi-national group. It is the strongest song Cyprus has sent for a few years. It is an acoustic guitar based MOR ballad which sounded as if it had a good chance of being heard on Saturday night.
Croatia – Feminnem – Lako Je Sve – Croatia’s trio had previously represented Bosnia in 2005 with a pop song. This time, they came equipped with a very classy ballad whose intensity built nicely before ending calmly with the girls bowing their heads behind a big heart.
Georgia – Sofia Nizharadze – Shine – Sofia engaged in an almost ballet like dance which really wasn’t necessary. Her simple but powerful ballad only needed a basic presentation.
Turkey – maNga – We Could Be the Same – Talk about going out with a bang! The Turkish group mixed rock with elements of classical and the result is memorable for all the right reasons. The strings at the start give way to heavy guitars but keep returning, giving the song motion and impact.
After a couple of reprises of the songs and a video of some of the less successful songs to compete in the contest over the years, plus some other videos to entertain the crowd while the votes were being counted, it was time for the all important results. The ten songs completing the line up for Saturdays final are:
So, some results that will cause a lot of arguments and conversations all over Europe. There were more surprises than in the first semi-final. . After the final of the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday, the full results of the semi-finals will be revealed. It should make interesting reading.