Reviews: Semi Final 2, who will qualify?

Welcome back to my Eurovision reviews.  This time I will look at the 18 entries in the second semi-final and predict which songs will make the Grand Final.

 

Austria

Nathan Trent- “Running on Air”

A previous X Factor contestant, albeit a piece of history the artist would rather not remember, Nathan Trent was internally selected by ORF as the Austrian representative for 2017.  After having originally bid tom represent Germany and being shortlisted to the final 33, he then withdrew as he had been chosen for Austria.  “Running on Air” is a happy feel good song in the vein of Jason Mraz and Bruno Mars.  He can sing live and sells this song so well.  It is a radio/chart friendly song and could surprise many at the contest, but this will ultimately be down to the staging.  I enjoy the song, and hope he does well.

My Score: 7.5

Prediction: BQ

 

Denmark

Anja Nissen- “Where I Am”

Pre-National Final Review:

Anja is back after her second placing in last year’s Dansk MGP with “Never Alone”.  This starts off as if we are going to get a gospel banger, but then turns into an early 00’s R’n’B ballad.  Anja is a great singer we all know that from last year, and she did win The Voice of Australia.  Yet I think she deserves a better song than this, it is decent, but the lyrics are a bit cheesy.  It’s a nice song, but not a contest winner.

                                                                                                               

If there is one song that has won me over more than any other from the National Final season it is this one.  Anja came back to DMGP after coming in as runner up in 2016.  As a fan of Never Alone, I was expecting this entry to follow suit.  Ultimately this is the problem with having expectations most the time, it is not what you wanted.  Now though, I have realized that this is a fabulous song sung incredibly.  Anja sells this song and I could see this as a surprise qualifier, if it was me it would qualify with ease, although I must be realistic as I know this is not the most popular entry.

My Score: 9

Prediction: BQ

 

Hungary

Joci Papai- “Origo”

Pre-National Final Review:

What starts off with what can only be described as chanting, Joci Papai reels us in.  Then his voice is great and his styling and staging is very tasteful, with some traditional dancing thrown in for good measure.  Then it starts to lose its cohesiveness with a rap break, but it is not as harsh against the traditional music as Bosnia & Herzegovina illustrated last year.  I don’t think this will win, but I would download this.

                                                                                                               

 

After the National Final, it was clear that Hungary chose the right entry.  Joci is a man with very strong Romani roots and is proud to show them off with this ethnic flavoured entry.  I must say that I have enjoyed this more since it won, and while I feel this is Borderline, as with many of this year’s songs I wouldn’t count it out just yet.

My score: 6.5

Prediction: BQ

 

Ireland

Brendan Murray- “Dying to Try”

Louis Walsh as manager, a boyband heartthrob and a gooey ballad.  That has winner written all over it, right?  No!  Now I must say that I do enjoy Brendan’s sweet angelic vocals and there is no denying the boy can sing, but this is a Eurovision by numbers entry and it doesn’t pay off for me.  There were rumours of Johnny Logan penning the song, but I think that would have had the same effect as Ralph Siegel has had with San Marino.  They were of their time, and great, yet music has evolved and I haven’t been given any evidence to suggest that either of those men write contemporary music.  Strange things can happen at Eurovision, but it would be very strange if this qualified in such a strong semi-final.

My score: 6

Prediction: NQ

 

FYR Macedonia

Jana Burceska- “Dance Alone”

WHAT, this is FYR Macedonia??  That was my reaction when I first heard this song.  Jana is a relative new-comer, even in her home country.  She is mostly known for singing Big Band music, therefore I didn’t have much expectation of a good entry from the Balkan state.  This is probably Macedonia’s most contemporary Eurovision entry; the song reminds me of one of my favourite electronic dance bands “MS MR”.  If Jana can pull this off live I could see this doing as well as Bulgaria in 2016.  It isn’t a winner, but heck its FAB!

My score: 8

Prediction: BQ

 

Malta

Claudia Faniello- “Breathlessly”

Pre-National Final Review:

Just like many artists in Malta, Claudia is back to take another chance at the MESC crown.  I feel that someday she will get there, but it won’t be with this song.  The song is a solid pop-rock ballad with hints of Kelly Clarkson and Vanessa Williams, I just feel it would be swallowed up on the massive Eurovision stage.

                                                                                                               

Well the live performance just showed us that Claudia never lost the talent for singing and that she can sell even the dullest of ballads.  This is still a generic Disney ballad, and while I enjoyed her National Final performance, and knew it would triumph after seeing it live, it still isn’t a winner.  It also isn’t a qualifier.  I feel this is not strong enough to stand up against almost any of the other entries this year.

My score: 5.5

Prediction: NQ

 

Netherlands

OG3NE- “Lights and Shadows”

Now when I heard that O’G3ne were representing I was very excited.  No strangers to a Eurovision stage, in 2007 they represented their country at the Junior edition of the contest.  They are now seasoned performers after winning The Voice of Holland in 2014.  “Lights and Shadows” is a great vocal ballad that echoes back to the great bands such as Wilson Phillips, who the sisters have been compared to on more than one occasion.  This is a fantastic song, with so much dynamism and a great clapping break for good measure.  This to me is a definite qualifier, and could even go top 5 if the “wind blows their way” on the night.  Well done O’G3ne 😃.

My score: 9.5

Prediction: DQ

 

Romania

Ilinica feat Alex Florea- “Yodel It!”

Pre-National Final Review:

This is Yodel in the Canyon of Love 2017 version.  It is different and that will of course stand out.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Romania picked this as they do go for entries that are very left field.  This would not be a Eurovision winner.

                                                                                                               

I still don’t get the mass appeal that seems to be waving its way around this song, yet I can understand the uniqueness of it.  You don’t have any other songs like this in the competition, which can only help to make this stand out.  It will probably qualify as Romania have never failed to do so, and this has that appeal, even if I don’t see it myself.

My score: 5.5

Prediction: DQ

 

Serbia

Tijana Bogicevic- “In Too Deep”

Tijana is another performer that knows how the whole Eurovision machine works.  In 2011 she was a backing sing for Serbia’s Nina on the song “Caroban”.  One noticeable difference between these two years is, Serbia’s “In Too Deep” entry is very much of this era.  The song is like many songs we have heard in the charts over the last 5 years, although Serbia have been able to insert a subtle hint of ethnic instrumentation into the song, which makes it somewhat more interesting.  If Tijana can pull this off live then she has a chance of qualifying, but it is far from a strong contender to win.

My score: 7

Prediction: BQ

 

Belarus

NAVI- “Historyja Majho Zyccia”

Pre-National Final Review:

Last Years 4th ‘placers’ are back for another go at the top spot.  This time they have come with a more upbeat song, if that is possible.  Their last effort was not too dissimilar, yet they have brought more energy.  This song does remind me of Dulcima’s from U.K’s 2016 National Final, but they have got some Belarussian feeling into the song.  A song that could go to Eurovision with a few little tweaks.

                                                                                                               

For being one of the first songs to be chosen this year, NAVI have stood the test of the Eurovision season and still holds my attention.  This is probably the best entry Belarus has ever sent, it would be a crime to see them left in the Semi Finals.  It is hard to predict whether it will qualify, but if there is any justice they will make it.

My Score: 7

Prediction: BQ

 

Bulgaria

Kristian Kostov- “Beautiful Mess”

17-year-old The Voice of Russia (Golos) Alum, Kristian Kostov was chosen to be Poli Genova’s successor at Eurovision.  I didn’t think anything could match or top Poli’s song.  What I should say is, at first the song did not grab me, and I had this almost at the bottom of my then Top 43.  Yet it is good that I heard this a few more times.  It would have been a travesty if I had kept it at #37 in my 43.  This is a modern R’N’B ballad and Kristian’s voice is beautiful.  This could well give Bulgaria a second year in the top 10, but it is definitely qualifying as one of the most polished songs in production as well as performance.

My Score: 8.5

Prediction: DQ

 

Croatia

Jacques Houdek- “My Friend”

Jacques is the male equivalent of Claudia from Malta.  He has appeared at so many National Finals, hoping to represent his country, this must have been a key factor when HRT decided to internally select him.  He is a fantastic vocalist, and to be honest you would need to be, to pull this off.  This is a song of 2 halves pop and opera, sung by the same person yet separate.  It is a bit clunky and all over the place, and from what I hear his stage outfit could give Croatia the second Barbara Dex award in a row.  I appreciate that Croatia is trying something different, but I don’t think it will pay off for them unfortunately.

My Score: 5.5

Prediction: NQ

 

Estonia

Koit Toome & Laura- “Verona”

Pre-National Final Review:

One word: EPIC!!  This song is possibly the best I have heard so far from any National final all season.  This is an atmospheric, mid-tempo ballad, it could be the soundtrack to a Dystopian film based in Italy.  They can both sing, and this has been proven as both have went to Eurovision for Estonia, 1998 & 2005 respectively.  Laura even came second in last year’s Eesti Laul with “Supersonic”.  This is better than either of their previous Eurovision songs, and this would be a big contender in Kyiv.

                                                                                                               

Well, EPIC!, it still is.  Koit and Laura sing this fantastically, even with a few strained notes in the National Final, yet Laura was not well that night.  This for me is a great entry and could make the top 5.  I have predicted that ‘Verona’ will qualify Directly, yet I did say the same about Greta last year.  I also feel this has the same momentum as Greta, so if we are going to have one very shocking non-qualifier it could well be Estonia. For me though a potential winner.

My Score: 9

Prediction: DQ

 

Israel

IMRI- “I Feel Alive”

This really is the year of comebacks, both in National Finals and Eurovision competitors.  Imri was a backing singer for Israel over the last 2 years and now is the lead singer.  This year.  His singing has been a bit suspect during his time on Rising star, the contest that catapulted him to Eurovision, I still find his version of Beyonce’s “Halo” quite painful to listen to.  “I Feel Alive” has the potential to do very well, if the staging is fresh and current to stay with the song, then I see no reason why this can’t go top 10.  Now that we know that this will close semi-final 2, I think it is easy to say this will qualify.

My Score: 7.5

Prediction: DQ

 

Lithuania

Fusedmarc- “Rain of Revolution”

Pre-National Final Review:

A funky electronic song, Fusedmarc has a good voice and the song is decent. It reminds me somewhat of the theme tune to British Drama “Hustle”. It isn’t a stand out song for me and this would be completely lost on the Eurovision stage.

                                                                                                               

Nothing in my opinion has changed since the national final performance, the song is performed impeccably and the LED floor looks fab, yet the song is a non-starter for me and could well finish last in this Semi Final.

My Score: 4

Prediction: NQ

 

Norway

JOWST- “Grab the Moment”

Pre-National Final Review:

This is very electronic in sound, with hints of R’n’B.  It is trying to hard to be contemporary, the lyrics are a bit cheesy/irritating and I switch off.  This isn’t a winner.

                                                                                                               

I was so wrong about this song, live this is truly a great, modern, electronic chill out song.  JOWST feat Aleksander Walmann perform this fantastically and I just love singing along to this.  This is a borderline qualifier, but another great Norwegian entry.

My Score: 7

Prediction: BQ

 

San Marino

Valentina Monetta & Jimmie Wilson- “Spirit of the Night”

She is BACK!!!  Why?  You went out in a blaze of glory (for San Marino’s standards) by qualifying in 2014.  You should have walked away with you head held high.  “Spirit of the Night” that sees Valentina Monetta team up with American-European singer Jimmie Wilson is a dated 80’s disco song with literal references to “St. Elmo’s Fire”.  This is old Eurovision, and while I love old Eurovision songs, the contest moves with the times, and this will be left behind.  Not a qualifier.

My Score: 3.5

Prediction: NQ

 

Switzerland

Timebelle- “Apollo”

Pre-National Final Review:

Returning for a second bite of the apple is the band Timebelle.  After their second-place finish in Die Entscheidungsshow 2015, they have come back hoping to go one better, and I think they can do it. Miruna Manescu’s strong vocals coupled with the obvious RnB elements help to make it a more interesting song for the listener. It is not without its faults, one element that does need work is the harmonies as they are not sounding as strong as they need to be. I believe that once on stage and production is ramped up it will make more of an impact.

                                                                                                               

Well the most obvious choice Switzerland had in February, Timebelle are making their way to Kiev.  Apollo is not too dissimilar to ballads sent by the Swiss in the last couple of years, yet it feels just slightly fresher and better performed.  Miruna is a fantastic singer, and in the revamped version her voice seems to be elevated slightly.  This is a borderline qualifier, but if it does it is the most deserving of the last 5 Swiss entrants

My Score: 7.5

Prediction: BQ

 

My 10 Predicted Qualifiers:

Definite Qualifiers

Netherlands

Romania

Bulgaria

Estonia

Israel

Borderline Qualifiers

Austria

Denmark

Hungary

FYR Macedonia

Belarus

 

Who are your qualifiers?  Next Monday, May 8th.  I will Review the BIG 5 and Host country entries, before Eurovision 2017 kicks off on Tuesday the 9th and I fly off to Ukraine on Wednesday 10th 😃

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