Friday, 13 May 2016

Eurovision 2016: The fabulous first semi-final


 As my readers know, I am a massive fan of Eurovision. I've been particularly looking forward to the 2016 contest, partly because I've had a super-busy year and Eurovision is a great chance to relax and celebrate, and partly as it is in Sweden again (after they hosted in 2013) and we know how well they do Eurovision

 As the first semi-final kicked off on Tuesday, I felt we were in safe hands. Sweden as hosts aren't glitzy or over-the-top, they're just... really good.

 Instead of having, as many countries do, three young presenters that seem slightly nervous and take things very seriously, Sweden gives us the wonderful Petra Mede whose attitude towards the show is just perfect.

 She is joined this year by last year's winning performer, Måns Zelmerlöw, who I feel has been okay at presenting so far, though he is often overshadowed by Petra. But then, it's hard not to be!

 I loved the segment where Måns and Petra pretended to be taxi drivers - it's the kind of low-budget, down-to-earth thing that other countries might shy away from but which the Swedes recognise as being genuinely entertaining. The moment when the two guys realised they were in a cab with Petra was brilliant and I had to re-watch it.

 Måns's performance and the part with the Pippi dancers were okay. They are clearly gifted dancers and I think they could have been used better to show off their potential. Plus, though I do love her, Pippi was referenced in the 2013 contest, and they could have had something new this time.

I like this year's dandelion clock theme, but some of the dandelion graphics are rather psychedelic. I like how they use jazzy fonts for the names of the countries. The postcards, like many elements of this year's show, feel simple and serviceable, which I like.

 Okay, on to the music! I've given each song a mark out of 20. I'll comment on the voice, performance, staging, etc, but the mark is mainly for the song itself.

 1) Finland - Parts of this sounded like a recent-ish pop song, I think possibly by the Swedish House Mafia. I found it pretty average, and the constant "Bruh, bruh"-ing a bit annoying. Not a great start to the show, although at least it was energetic. 7/20

 2) Greece - I wasn't sure whether this was supposed to have some political connotations or not, and as a result feel slightly uncomfortable commenting on it lyrically. Musically, I found it quite ordinary and very typical of Greek Eurovision entries. 10/20

 3) Moldova - I liked her dress! The song felt clichéd but I felt she had a strong stage presence. I liked the silver and blue-themed staging.  8/20

 4) Hungary - Ah, the drums, the drums! We couldn't possibly yet a Eurovision year go by without them. I felt this song had lots of good ingredients but they never really came together. 8/20

 5) Croatia - I liked the staging and the way it built up to the end, with the falling sparks. Her first dress just didn't work even as a decoy for the second, proper one - her hair was too short for it and it swamped her. Had her hair been longer it may have worked. The song was on the good side of average and she sold it well. 12/20

 6) Netherlands - More country from them! I'm not complaining; it was a decent song, though it's hard to match the Common Linnets (whose success I imagine they're trying to emulate with this year's entry). One of the backing band reminded me of Mick Jagger. The staging seemed to swamp the lead singer at first but he settled into the performance. 14/20

 7) Armenia - Hmm! I don't know where to begin on this one. She looked like Nicole Scherzinger. Her voice and the song were both decent. But the over-dramatic camera work and cutting on this were awful and fitted a music video better than a Eurovision performance. It really was hard to watch. 13/20

 8) San Marino - The lyrics and the way he sang them came across as a bit odd. The horrible graphics in the background combined with his garish outfit were very hard on the eyes. 4/20

 9) Russia - Most clichéd lyrics yet - "Thunder and lightning, it's getting exciting." The staging was very reminiscent of both the Austrian and Swedish winning songs from the last couple of years, but it was quite good all the same. At the end it became hard to watch due to all the strobing. 10/20

 10) Czech Republic - The staging was nice but strobey. The lyrics were very repetitive but the song quite pleasant, and I liked her dress and the way she let her hair down at the end (quite literally!). 13/20

 11) Cyprus - As Scott Mills, commentating for the UK, declared, this really sounds like Somebody Told Me by the Killers. It was all just a little bit over-the-top, what with the flashing lights, moody glazes, blue smoke and howling. It was something different, however, and that is always welcome. 11/20

 12) Austria - She looked like a Disney Princess! She also reminded me of Amanda Seyfreid in Mamma Mia. It was all a bit too cutesy and high-pitched for me, and it seemed to go on for a long time. She didn't seem to be doing much and the background graphics got a bit annoying. 12/20

 13) Estonia - More chess in the postcard! Horses and chess were the recurring themes this semi-final! This guy reminded me of Nick Henderson from Big Brother. I personally don't like songs based heavily around a theme unless they're really good. The theme of playing cards totally dominated this performance and staging and it was too intense. I was relieved when it was over! But he is kind of endearing and I can understand why people seem to like him. 11/20

 14) Azerbaijan - I wasn't keen on the outfits here! However, it was a decent song and performance. Azerbaijan have been fairly consistent in recent years, sending songs that aren't amazing but are very solid. 14/20

 15) Montenegro - Scott Mills really didn't like this! I thought it was okay - it was certainly striking. It's a shame there were more silly jump cuts and angles; this time it felt like we were watching a festival set instead of a Eurovision performance and I feel the song itself, which was all right, was drowned out by the theatrics. 14/20

 16) Iceland - I liked what she did with the shadows staging-wise. The song was cheesy but good. 14/20

 17) Bosnia and Herzegovina - Scott and Mel Giedroyc joked about the tin foil outfits but I actually liked them! I wasn't keen on the "Ey, ey, ey," at the end. Overall it was very Eurovision. 10/20

 18) Malta - Another nice dress! She gave a very confident performance and I liked the background. The song is okay - a bit of an earworm. 13/20

 Overall, I enjoyed the show. I feel this was the weaker semi-final - the one on Thursday had more stand-out songs for me. However, this one was very watchable and Måns and Petra - especially Petra - did an excellent job.

 Watch this space for my thoughts on the second semi-final!

 Thanks for reading.

 Liz x

No comments:

Post a Comment