It may be hard to believe for those of us who still have the sound of last year’s Eurovision Song Contest-winning song “Teardrops” by Emmelie de Forest from Denmark still ringing in our glitter-filled ears but the time has arrived for the first semi-final in this year’s event with the second only two days away.
While you ask yourself where the time’s gone – better still, while you set it to song, hire some Ukrainian grandmothers to dance behind you, and set the pyrotechnics a-firin’! – and frantically re-watch the last six weeks of song reviews on this blog (Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6), I am going to go boldly ahead and predict with the prophetic insight of Nostradamus and the dress sense of Ruth Lorenzo of Spain who will make it through in both semi-finals (only 10 countries from each semi final progress to the final).
Now naturally, I am but one man, and not, you may noticed, all of Europe crammed into one tastefully-appointed consciousness – imagine if I was; I’d have psychiatrists lined up out the door to try and deal with my 300 million or so multiple personalities all determined to vote for a different country – so my Top 10 for each semi final is going to be an amalgam of my preferences and the way in which I think the good people of Europe and the juries (final tallies are a combination of the two sets of votes) will make their choices.
Thankfully my self-confidence does not rest on whether I get this right or not, and in fact, getting it somewhat wrong gives me the perfect excuse to spend a great deal of time post each semi final scratching my head ’til it bleeds in all the LED-enhanced colours of the rainbow, and wondering aloud why on earth x, y or z country made it through.
So without any further ado and the winning envelopes clutched tightly in my sweating palms, here are the 10 acts in each semi final that I will believe will make it through to the grand final on Saturday 10 May.
SEMI FINAL 1
Which of the Big 6 countries will vote: Spain, France and Denmark
My Top 10
Albania: A ballad yes but beautifully sung with enough quirks to make it out of bland MOR territory
Armenia: A story of love gone wrong with all the emotions you could want in the music and Aram MP3 plaintive vocals
Azerbaijan: A thousand different kinds of piano-driven emotions sung exquisitely well
Estonia: Starts a little slow but kicks into anthemic high gear in no time with a chorus to dance to into the bargain
Hungary: Gorgeous vocals, handsome man, heartfelt song that addresses a vital important issues; so many ticked boxes
Iceland: This could be seen a joke entry but it’s bright, energetic, and these guys have amazing stage presence
Portugal: It’s bright, happy with a kickass take-no-prisoners samba beat that will get everyone dancing
Russia: Frankly I prefer San Marino’s song but “Shine” is all sorts of retro, twin-singing fun (may be affected by a protest vote though)
Sweden: Not the strongest song or delivery but hey this is Sweden and I can’t see this not going through
Ukraine: This is fun, upbeat and brilliantly staged (plus it will likely attract a sympathy vote)
SEMI FINAL 2
Which of the Big 6 countries will vote: Germany, Italy and UK
My Top 10
Austria: A torch song ballad, a dame with presence – what is not to like?
Belarus: Teo is cute, the song is cute, the music is catchy: it’s like an internet cat video on stage and will be adored
Greece: Not the strongest song really but it’s a got a driving, danceable beat and hot guys
Ireland: A rather derivative song but a strong beat and Kasey Smith’s strong vocals carry it across the line
Israel: Husky vocals and a driving dance-influenced rock song make “Same Heart” a winner
Malta: Bright, personable folk rock that sits nicely between the dance songs and the ballads
Norway: This is an exquisitely beautiful, heartfelt performance that cuts me to the core every time
Romania: Paula Seling and OVI are Eurovision veterans and the song is as upbeat as you could ask for
Slovenia: A strong flute-influenced track and impassioned vocals make this hard to go past
Switzerland: If the whistling doesn’t get you, then Sebastiano Paù-Lessi’s megawatt smile definitely will
EUROVISION EXTRA EXTRA!
As you’d expect with an event of this magnitude, and trust Eurovision is big, very big, there is an opening ceremony with all the grandiosity and pomp and ceremony you would expect.
And the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 held its glamourous opening ceremony right in the centre of beautiful Copenhagen at City Hall, complete with requisite red carpet, Pollapönk (Iceland) in luminously bright dresses, tights and sneakers, and Austria’s Conchita Wurst glamming it up in a stunning red and white floor length dress.
You can read the full run report on the glamorous event, organised by Copenhagen, Danish state broadcaster DR and The European Broadcasting Union and attended by all 37 delegations, at Eurovision.tv
And in honour of the highest number of votes that can be awarded to any song at Eurovision, the much sought after 12 points or douze points, the three hosts of this year’s event Nikolaj Koppel (musician), Lise Rønne (TV presenter) and Pilou Asbæk (actor) have recorded a special song in honour of this “mindblowing number”.
Laced with more than a touch of self-deprecatory humour, the song documents why the number 12 is so important not just to Eurovision but to the world throughout history.
The song was presented at an event where the three hosts were able to talk about what their role will be on the three big nights they will be presenting the face of Eurovision to the world with Asbæk particularly in fine form, quipping that he is loving the hosting role because “I am now allowed to look in the camera”.
You can read the full report of the song’s release and more of what the hosts had to say at Eurovision.tv