Monday, 29 May 2017

Eurovision 2017: The first semi-final


 I was studying in Spain during Eurovision this year, which allowed for a different and novel viewing experience. As I was super-busy preparing for exams I didn't have time to blog on the contest at the time, though I did live-tweet it.

 Now, back home in the UK, I have the luxury of watching the semi-finals in a more relaxed way and making notes of my thoughts on each song. I hope you enjoy them!

1) Sweden - I was never a fan of this song, but it is growing on me. They are a smooth outfit and seem very into what they're doing. It is an achievement to stay on the treadmills; I didn't notice them at first.

2) Georgia - A very standard Eurovision ballad, but a solid performance.

3) Australia - In Spain they were saying Isaiah looked like Rafa Nadal. I can see that, but he really reminds me of someone else too, and I can't think who. 

 Musically, he is like Tom Odell. I like his voice and style and the song is okay, but the staging could be better and showcase him more effectively.

4) Albania - A shaky start; they could have got into the song faster rather than leaving the singer to manage alone. When it gets going it is pretty good. Staging-wise, I like the clocks, but the flashing lights are unnecessary.

5) Belgium - I'm rather sick of hearing this song. I would probably have liked it otherwise, but it has been overplayed in the Eurovision world, and I think I might have heard it on the radio in Spain, too. 

 The staging is fine. Blanche's performance is good; she is clearly nervous but gets through it.

6) Montenegro - This was one of the more memorable performances when I first watched. I had been wondering if the braid was real until Scott Mills (commentating) declared that it is detachable.

 The song is okay; the singer lifted it to much more than it would have been. The whole thing felt quite Robbie Williams: a very confident number.

7) Finland - People in Spain and online were very surprised when this failed to get to the final. I like it: the staging and performance are understated, in a good way. 

 Funnily enough, just as I was listening to the song and she was singing "Blackbird, don't sing", I read someone on Facebook complaining about birds being noisy in their garden. Birds should sing when they want to! It's a good song.

8) Azerbaijan - At first I found this to be odd and shouty. Behind all the strangeness, however, it is a decent song and it is remarkable how she is able to keep singing, and singing very well, while doing all the actions, writing and climbing the ladder.

 It was undoubtably one of the most iconic performances this year.

9) Portugal - I never disliked this song, but I felt it was overrated. It is beginning to grow on me, though, and I will always welcome new styles, own languages and stripped-back performances on Eurovision.

10) Greece - This was a song that struck me as a solid one the first time around. I like the water theme; it makes a change from endless fire- and lightning-themed stagings.

 The singer is confident and looks like she is enjoying herself; my mother thinks she looks like Cobie Smulders.

11) Poland - The parade of sitcom stars continues with Penny from Big Bang representing Poland. This is one of the better ballads, though not amazing. Her voice is good and she is putting in a good performance. I like the constellation-y background.

12) Moldova - Is it just me or do the two non-sax guys look like Marcus Butler? The song is catchy and something a bit different. The set-up reminds me a lot of Bosnia and Herzegovina's legendary entry from 2008 by Laka.

13) Iceland - The singer's style, hair and the opening of the song made me think this would be an energetic, dance-y number. It turned out to be one of the best ballads of this year. She really owns the stage and is not overpowered by the song like many other ballad-singers; instead she controls it well.

14) Czech Republic - This stood out for me on my first viewing, and I was sad that it didn't get through. Her voice is not what I had expected to come out of her, and it is lovely.

 She reminds me a lot of the Venezuelan singer Georgina, who I mentioned in my "Songs from Salamanca" article.

 Overall, this was refreshingly different, and I liked it a lot.

15) Cyprus - This is actually a very good song musically and the staging is inventive, though all the white light can be a bit hard on the eyes. 

 I just can't completely connect to it personally, and as I tweeted at the time, I can't see why being someone's gravity would be a good thing.

16) Armenia - This had some great arm-ology, as Craig Revel Horwood would say. Overall, it was okay; not a stand-out number for me.

17) Slovenia - This is a real grower and has an epic, musical-theatre feel while also maintaining the time-tested Euro-ballad structure and spirit. The staging was nice and simple and I like his sparkly suit! 

 He handles the high parts well - it was an all-round solid song and performance.

18) Latvia - This isn't my style of music but they were certainly enthusiastic. I can't really bear all the trippy wannabe-trance stuff in the background - it is somewhat headache-inducing. My mother thinks this singer looks like Katy Perry.

 My top ten (just in performance order): Australia, Belgium, Finland, Azerbaijan, Portugal, Greece, Iceland, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Slovenia.

 My top five (starting with the best): Czech Republic, Iceland, Portugal, Slovenia, Greece.

 Overall, it was a decent semi-final and I did have trouble picking out my top ten. Keep an eye out for my write-up of the second one. I'll also be doing a post on the songs from the Big Five and Ukraine, so watch this space!

 I also blogged Eurovision last year, so check out my posts from then as well:

 First semi-final
 Second semi-final
 Big Five and Sweden

 Thanks for reading,

 Liz x

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