Eurovision Reviews: Songs from Semi Final 2!

View tonight's semi final on BBC3 or check out www.eurovision.tv

View tonight’s semi final on BBC3 or check out www.eurovision.tv

Tuesday night came and went. Belgium, Portugal (my favourite!), Estonia, Albania, Latvia and Moldova were all sadly eliminated. My prediction from studio recordings sadly went a bit wrong, however I predicted 8/10 qualifiers on the night based on their performances. I still think Russia and Azerbaijan’s songs have gone through at the expense of other more deserving songs – namely Portugal and Latvia, but we digress. Tonight will see Eurovision fans across the globe tune into Copenhagen once again for the second semi final – and kept closely under wraps until now, here are my thoughts on tonight’s fifteen entries.

Also – quick plug that myself and Verity will once again be live blogging during tonight’s semi final – the page will be online from 7.30pm. So here goes – semi final 2…

Malta – Coming Home (Firelight)

Acoustic guitar background, this begins with a fast acoustic tempo that I almost want to don a cowboy hat and shout yee-hah too. It’s a pleasant song with a faster tempo than most of those in Semi 1 – but the song does nothing for me. Pleasant enough but doesn’t really seem to go anywhere. Middle of the road (6)

Israel – Same Heart (Mei Finegold)

‘You fill me up with poisoned love’ begins this track as it gives a dramatic dance tempo, building up to a crescendo that means it could probably be played in most clubs and people would never realise it was Eurovision – well until she starts singing in Hebrew. With a customary key change I suspect this will be one of the songs that is better live. (7)

Norway – Silent Storm (Carl Espen)

I have a lot of time for Carl Espen after he and his cousin did a superb version of Katie Perry’s ‘Roar’ at the London Eurovision Preview Party, however this song just doesn’t do it for me. It’s very slow and some may argue beautiful, but I find the melody depressing – I just want to skip this track every time I hear it. The ending is fairly abrupt to the ear which doesn’t endear me further to the track. Sorry, Norway. (3)

Georgia – Three Minutes to Earth (The Shin and Mariko)

Back to some country and western, but it feels like there’s two musicians arguing over the direction of this track as it seems to stop-start-stop the whole way through. The melody isn’t catchy in anyway, and the variations in tempo make it very, very difficult for my ears to get a handle on this track. Come back Norway, I forgive you! (2)

Poland – My Slowianie – We Are Slavic (Donatan & Cleo)

This is more like it. Clapping throughout, classic Eastern European rhythm – this has it’s catchy moments. However I am getting a bit of an Israel 2000 vibe whilst listening to the studio version – in other words what sounds reasonable in the studio could come across very easily as screechy on the night.  (6)

Austria – Rise Like A Phoenix (Conchita Wurst)

This is blatantly Eurovision 2014’s gay anthem – and deservedly so. Packed with melodrama, this mid tempo ballad sung by Austrian drag-act Conchita Wurst is a good entry from Austria and she sings better live than she does in the studio which is a very big plus point for Eurovision. Should qualify. (7)

Lithuania – Attention (Vilija Mataciunaite)

Euro-dance probably best sums this track up. It has that heavy thump to the bass-line that I personally dislike in many songs – I am certainly more of your pop-indie kind of guy. As with a couple of the songs in this semi-final, it just doesn’t seem to go anywhere. It’s different, but it just isn’t Eurovision. (4)

Finland – Something Better (Softengine)

Pleasant sound with a pop-rock vibe running throughout it – this is the type of tune I’d listen to whilst driving. It has a lovely upbeat, jump and down style to this. One of my favourites. (8)

Ireland – Heartbeat (Can-Linn feat Kasey Smith)

Upbeat with a Celtic instrument or two running throughout, this has a real Irish-pop feel. Catchy lyrics dominate the chorus and it shouldn’t have too much trouble qualifying especially given the UK are voting in this semi-final as well. Almost feels like it could do with a key change (I know, they’re so like past – but it works for Sweden). It certainly won’t win, but could do OK. (7)

Belarus – Cheesecake (Teo)

Distinct change in tempo as Belarus tries to appeal to my stomach – alas unlike Latvia this is not a song about cheesecake, but about being given a nickname. Pleasant enough, an R n’ B vibe runs throughout it – but the lyrics are particularly awful.  Watch out for a false ending, it still has another 50 seconds or so left beyond this which just highlights the repetitiveness at the end of the track. (6)

FYR Macedonia – To The Sky (Tijana)

Very similar to Finland, this is upbeat rock with a hint of dance. Unlike Lithuania which has a thumping dance beat with virtually no melody, this has a thumping beat with a melody that makes you want to get up and dance. One of Macedonia’s better entries – I’m not normally a fan. (8)

Switzerland – Hunter of Stars (Sebalter)

Nice enough entry, but the first 90 seconds is just a constant stream of music that leaves me a little flat – there’s no real variation to latch on to. Unfortunately this is one of the songs which is pleasant enough, but will probably be forgotten when people reach for the phone. (6)

Greece – Rise Up (Freaky Fortune feat. RiskyKidd)

Having seen these guys successfully work up a live crowd in London, I’m really looking forward to the live performance of this. I really hope it qualifies. It has a slow start, but blooms into a dance-rap track that appeals to a young audience. Catchy and the boys are incredibly likeable. A definite club track. (8)

Slovenia – Round and Round (Tinkara Kovac)

A distinct change of pace from the Greek entry, it’s the typical start of as a ballad trick that explodes into something else. In this case, it’s an anthemic rock-ballad. The only trouble is you don’t know whether to sway your arms, clap along or dance. Likeable, not really that catchy but it’s not the be all and end all. (7)

Romania – Miracle (Paula Seling & Ovi)

This has the kind of rock-ballad sound I really like. They know their audience, it’s upbeat – a chorus that bursts out at you. They came 3rd in 2010 with ‘Playing with Fire’, so it’s nice to see them having another try and Euro-crown again. I don’t think this track is as strong – but it certainly has all the ingredients, including a rather snazzy middle eight section two thirds of the way through. (9)

So in conclusion…

For me this is definitely the weakest semi-final of the two. That said, there isn’t the musical variety here that exists in Semi-final 1 and in some ways that makes the decision harder for who I think will qualify. However my top 10 are:

Romania, Austria, Finland, Macedonia, Greece, Israel, Ireland, Belarus, Slovenia and just because I think as part of the package of this semi-final it stands out, however much I dislike it…. Norway.

If I was to name a fan favourite that would be likely to be the ‘shock’ non-qualifer, I think Norway or Austria could be in danger this evening!

The second Eurovision Song Contest 2014 Semi Final is being broadcast live on BBC3 (UK) from 8pm (BST). If you cannot receive BBC3 then coverage can be found at www.eurovision.tv