Välkommen till Sveriges, or ‘oh god it’s Eurovision again’

Time’s flown by, and we’re less than a week away from the first semifinal of the Eurovision Song Contest. As regular readers know, I’ve worked my way up to being something of a superfan, so much so that I’ll actually be in Stockholm next week, in the audience for semifinal 2. Which is going to be så spännande. (Ja, jag har lärt mig några svenska.)

The only Swedish you’ll need. Maybe.

 

Round this time of year I like to bore the pants off everyone with my thoughts on the entries. Which are almost as exciting as this year’s contest dramas. Anyway, behold a roundup of the countries in the first semifinal, in lieu of writing chat. ENJOY.

Armenia: Iveta Mukuchyan – LoveWave. I’ve liked the last few songs Armenia have sent – and if it wasn’t for ill-advised slurs on Conchita, Aram MP3 would probably have done a bit better. The thing with LoveWave is I sort of expect it to go more upbeat than it does, but Iveta’s voice is strong and it’s got the ‘drink for national instruments’ thing going on. 6/10

Austria: Zoe – Loin d’ici. Boingy, bubblegum, most certainly not bof. Lots of fun. 8/10

Azerbaijan: Samra – Miracle. One of those songs that, from the first bar, is so polished-by-renowned-producers and mainstream UK radio-friendly. I really like this, but whether that translates to votes for a final place… not sure. 9/10

Bosnia & Herzegovina: Dalal & Deen feat. Ana Rucner and Jala – Ljubav Je. It’s always good to see a country bringing the traditional folksy-sounding entry – it’s a nice break from the ballads, schlager and dubstep breakdowns. I’m not overly fussed about this one, sadly. Probably not a qualifier. 5/10

Croatia: Nina Kraljic – Lighthouse. This is really growing on me. Suitably rousing, a little bit of a folksy sound, plausible radio material. Reckon this has a good chance. 8/10

Cyprus: Minus One – Alter Ego. I really like this. The video’s suitably gritty and Game of Thrones-y, and it’s one of the few rock-style entries this year. Better than the spare boyband member from 2015, anyway. 8/10

Czech Republic: Gabriela Guncikova – I Stand. Hmm, it’s alright as far as ballads go. Maybe with dramatic staging, it’ll win me over more. 6/10

Estonia: Jüri Pootsmann – Play. Estonia’s selection show, Eesti Laul, was strong this year- and I was so taken with one of the hopefuls I’m actually doing a Pi Zero wearable project based on Laura’s blinkenlight-covered dress. Oh yes. Jüri might charm the section of voters who like spare Bond villains, but it took a few listens for this to get its hooks in me. Might qualify, if the performance is spectacular. 7/10

Finland: Sandhja – Sing It Away. Good, solid quality Scandi entry (though the competition was strong, with an all-girl rock group and, er, whatever this is). Should likely qualify, barring major catastrophes, wardrobe malfunctions etc. 7/10

 

*INTERMISSION*

(And come on, 1984’s interval act is still better than Britain’s Got Talent, right?)

 

 

Greece: Argo – Utopian Land. Whoever decided to shove a rap in this belongs in the circle of Eurovision hell occupied by Who See. In fact, let’s have their performance again, because what they lacked in song they made up for with astronauts and a woman with Google Glass. So, yeah. Not that impressed with this one. 4/10

 

 

Hungary: Freddie – Pioneer. Freddie easily beat off previous entrant Andras Kallay-Saunders, who caused all manner of dramas by claiming his mic was broken and that’s why he was tuneless. Aye, right. Anyway, this has a catchy melody, there’s a nice grittiness to his voice and it has a good chance at finaldom, methinks. 9/10

Iceland: Greta Salóme – Hear Them Calling. The staging of this was fantastic, and I’ll overlook the fact that someone’s been pinching Avicii’s brass riffs because it’s a decent dance track in that Hey Brother kind of mould. Clearly has to qualify. 9/10

Malta: Ira Losco – Walk On Water. Malta seemed to hang back before they revealed their final song this year. I gather they’ve done this before, presumably to see what everyone else comes up with. Worth the wait? Well, it’s pretty decent, but those background whoops and wails are irritating. Probably not going to be this year’s winner, though. 7/10

Moldova: Lidia Isac – Falling Stars. Among the scandals this year was the rumour that Lidia was in cahoots with the jury. That aside, there’s nowt special about this song, and I don’t think it’ll bowl over the crowds on the night. 4/10

Montenegro: Highway – The Real Thing. Ugh. Where to start with this one? Actually, I’ll just review it in GIF form:

 

SEND THE DUBSTEP ASTRONAUTS INSTEAD

SEND THE DUBSTEP ASTRONAUTS INSTEAD

 

Russia: Sergey Lazarev – You Are The Only One. A hot favourite to win, with a swishy CGI video to boot. The lyrics are fairly generic: ‘Thunder and lightning/It’s getting exciting’ isn’t Ivor Novello material, but hey. Definitely final material, and likely left side of the scoreboard. 9/10

San Marino: Serhat – I Didn’t Know. When this was unveiled, nobody knew what to make of it. The video, his sultry Kojak ways, the… monocle? And then a fan campaign began, led by a Twitter friend, after a disco remix was discovered on the single. That campaign worked, and JUST LISTEN TO ITS MAGNIFICENCE. If this doesn’t qualify, I’ll cry. And who wouldn’t want to have 2017’s contest in everyone’s favourite microstate? 10/10

The Netherlands: Douwe Bob – Slow Down. I wasted a morning’s work waiting for the big reveal of this, and all for a Tesco Value Dire Straits/country mishmash. Nah. Bring back Common Linnets, they were ten times better than this. 3/10

 

 

And that’s it for this half. Coming next, the second semifinal, the Big Five, the host country and an honourable mention for a lost Eurovision entry…

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