Eurovision 2014 First Semi-Final Thoughts

Aarzemnieki (Photo: LTV)
Aarzemnieki (Photo: LTV)

We have completed our coverage of the individual entries for the Eurovision Song Contest. Have we changed our mind on any of the songs from the first semi-final?

Rehearsals are underway in Copenhagen for next week’s Eurovision Song Contest. Ben and I have reviewed all 37 entries for this year’s competition and we’re just about ready to make our predictions for the semi-finals. However, we thought it would be a good idea to go over the entries in each semi-final one more time, as a month has passed since we started our review process. Here we go:

Eurovision Song Contest 2014 First Semi-Final

CountryPositionArtistSongLanguageLast Win/Best
Albania6HersiOne Night's AngerEnglish5th (2012)
Belgium10Axel HirsouxMotherEnglish1986
Latvia2AarzemniekiCake to BakeEnglish2002
Moldova11Cristina ScarlatWild SoulEnglish6th (2005)
Portugal13SusyQuero Ser Tuo
(I Want to Be Yours)
Portuguese/English6th (1996)
Denmark, France, and Spain will vote in this semi-final, taking place May 6.

Armenia: Still the frontrunner. If by some odd happenstance this does not advance, there will be absolute chaos on the scoreboard in the Final. Not likely, but fun to think about.

Latvia: This song has grown on me, to the point that I suspect it may advance. However, rehearsal footage suggests a performance too much like a high school talent show and not something appropriate for an arena stage.

Estonia: I enjoy this song a little more with each listen. I think some of the audio and vocals have been tweaked enough to take it out of the “Euphoria” zone. If Tanja can sustain her breathing while dancing, this could sneak up the scoreboard.

Sweden: I’m still not a huge fan of this song, but I think my original prediction of this not advancing due to a shock vote probably won’t prove true. Unless it does, in which case I totes called it. I think I’m done hedging now.

Iceland: According to rehearsal footage, it looks like Pollapönk has adopted the rainbow tracksuit look. Also, it looks like a rather low energy performance. This does not bode well.

Albania: The studio and video version of this song are not doing the entry any favors. However, I forgot how impressive Hersi’s live vocals can be. I thought this might be dead in the water, but her rehearsal snippet has me thinking Albania could be a toss-up.

Russia: There’s a new video version of the song, demonstrating that the Tolmachevy sisters are not adept at faking guitar playing. They are like Jedward without the charisma. I’m curious to see how my final rankings measure up1—I think Russia may be a toss-up.

Azerbaijan: Advancing to the final shouldn’t be a problem, but I think Azerbaijan may be in danger of not finishing in the Top 10. This is not a reflection of a poor song from the powerhouse; rather it is an indication of how many quality entries there are this year.

Ukraine: Every stage of the entry process has seen a new improvement applied to this track. Rehearsal footage has revealed what I am calling a sexy hamster wheel. Get excited.

Belgium: The bookies still have this as a serious contender, most likely due to vocal prowess. What the bookies are not accounting for is how friggin’ uncomfortable everyone is going to be during this performance.

Moldova: It’s looking like there haven’t been any tweaks made to this track since the national final. Sorry, Moldova, you had a nice run.

San Marino: If Valentina returns to Eurovision for a fourth time, I would like to offer my services as a production designer for the stage performance. Although “Maybe” does not demand a bombastic performance, the oyster shell motif was not the way to go.

Portugal: This is another entry that has not transformed since its selection at a national final. I was underwhelmed then and that status has not changed.

Netherlands: Eeee, they figured it out! The staging looks like it will maintain the intimacy of the song while the vocals are strong enough to fill the arena. I have high hopes for this entry.

Montenegro: Remember in 2008 when Russia had ice skating in their Eurovision-winning entry? Montenegro is trying to do the same. Since the song doesn’t have a winter vibe about it, I don’t quite get that choice…

Hungary: The choreography looks more thorough than at the selection final. I think this entry has cooled a little bit, but performing at the end of the running order may turn up the heat again.

  1. there’s some math involved  

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Mike has been writing about TV online since 2008, when he started the blog WTF Little House on the Prairie? The blog was a project to practice writing about television analytically prior to getting an MA in Television-Radio-Film from Syracuse University, or as he likes to call it "TV Camp." After a lengthy stint at TVLatest, Mike wanted to launch a site that brought in classic TV, diamonds in the rough, and the shows everybody watches. E-mail:
  • My thoughts, based on watching the first rehearsal footage as it’s been shown this week:

    Armenia: I still don’t entirely understand how it’s the front-runner, but I think they’re staging the performance well.

    Latvia: I still refuse to believe this will make the final, and the staging of the performance (including their choice of clothing) solidifies that for me. I also refuse to believe the female member of Aarzemnieki isn’t Aidy Bryant of SNL doing a character.

    Estonia: there’s something about Tanja’s vocals that still irks me, but I can see it making the final.

    Sweden: Totally making the final.

    Iceland: I think this one’s sneaking into the final over less dynamic entries like Latvia/Montenegro. I also think the sweatsuits are just rehearsalwear (since facebook has shown they also have nordic sweaters and bathrobes in the same colors) and that we’ll (hopefully) be seeing Fancy Pollaponk come showtime.

    Albania: I think the jury vote could let this one sneak into the final.

    Russia: Russia is throwing as much money/props/etc. as they can to make the finals. That second video mostly seemed to restate “WE’RE SENDING TWO IDENTICAL PEOPLE! THEY LOOK THE SAME AND CANNOT FAKE PLAYING THE GUITAR”. That said, the girls seem like old pros at performing, so this one is (ugh) likely making the final despite how meh the song is.

    Azerbaijan: Has an _aerialist_ as part of their performance. They’re making the finals (although I agree that they might not make the top 10 this year due to overall entry quality.

    Ukraine: I’m stumped as to why they’re not using the styling from the official clip, but Ukraine always seems to do well with crazy props, so I’m not too concerned.

    Belgium: Underusing the stage tech. Kind of creepy if you listen too hard. Not going through.

    Moldova: They’ve cut half of the 20 or so ideas they had going on at once in the national final performance, which is good, but I think they’re still on the bubble.

    San Marino: Needs to fire their performance designer. Another performance that feels like it’s underutilizing the stage things available to them.

    Portugal: Agreed agreed agreed.

    Netherlands: So proud of this one. Hoping the European audience likes this one as much as we do.

    Montenegro: Another one underutilizing the stage effects. Also, an ice skater? WHY? Not seeing this one getting through.

    Hungary: This one’s another one I’ve had pegged as a lock for the finals and what I’ve seen so far hasn’t changed that.