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15 May 2016 @ 12:06 am
Eurovision 2016 Semi Final 2  
And we're back! Brilliant opening with beautiful imagery (Sweden, you do this so well!) And a nice host banter intro complete with brief Petra pub chant. The hosts tell us that it's the first time China and the US have carried the telecast live, and all of us are left wondering just how people in small towns of both those countries are dealing with that, with the conclusion being that some will be stting there saying 'That Europe is a magical place of whimsy' and the rest saying, 'Kids, you are NEVER leaving home.'

And now it's time for a song from the hosts! Wherein they try to explain Eurovision 'We make music and friends with every nation, and bankrupt the hosting TV station!' It's classic Broadway, with more than a few stolen riffs (Mary Poppins, Sound of Music and Mame foremost) and a lot of comedy – 'And the interval act is their one big chance/ to fail to live up to Riverdance!' Well played, Sweden! Well remembered lyrics Petra and Mons!

Conchita is in the audience!

Latvia to kick of the night. Heartbeat sung by Justs, and thank you Baltic states for your hot young men, we appreciate it. It is a teeny bit 'I am young, watch me emote' at the start, but look at those sweet blue eyes, you can emote a little more, babe, that's fine. Nice voice, accompaniment is very pulled back and a little unbalanced in the sound, but he's really taking ownership of the song as he goes on. Again, it's lyrically very spare, and nothing we haven't heard before, we're feeling his heartbeat, feeling your heartbeat, blah blah, but a good performance.

Poland, Michal Szpak, Colour of Your Life, and I WANT HIS COAT IT IS GORGEOUS. Maybe with a little less epaulette fringing. One line in and we are hitting the Whoa-oh-oh-ohs – it's classic Eurovision meets hero rock, but I am distracted by his hair which is hip-length and astonishing. I have had hip-length hair and it is hard work keeping it that lovely! There's a backing string section, which gives the whole song a lovely lush sound. Again, the lyrics are frankly stupid, but that's pop tunes for you, and I am often banal in my first language, so you lot are allowed to be a little cliched in your third and sixth. Unless you're getting someone in Ireland to write all these, in which case, you've been played.

Switzerland time. Rykka singing Last of Our Kind and she is performing barefoot, which will at least be comfortable. SMOKE EFFECT! Drink for all you traditionalists out there. Nice pastel silver blue hair and she's wearing another sparkly leotard, this time with organdie skirt. Note to writers here, going for the minor mid phrase can sound a bit flat. I don't think she actually missed any notes, but it was hard to hear the clarity of the pitch in that song, without any gain in atmosphere to make up for it. But I like her hair a lot. And that's a classic Euro key change for the last verse, bless.

Time for Israel, Hovi Star with Made of Stars. More good hair, the sort Phil Oakley would have dreamed of in the 80s. And spangly fingerless Madonna gloves! He is seriously fine in the voice department, but this song is not breaking out of this year's unfortunate run of cautious cliched mehness, so all that is happening is that we are hearing a mediocre song given the best life it can hope for. But at least he's really bringing the performance and deserves a finals berth on that alone. And now pyro, which LOOKS LIKE FALLING STARS! Amazing, who would have thunk it? (And if it was Hovi's four-year-old brother, that's cool kid, it looked very nice.) Good acrobats in a spinning thing, which we liked a lot.

AND NOW BELARUS! I've been promised naked wolf dancing, and it's moments like these when it's probably best I can't be bothered drinking, because that's at least four shots. Alas, the Eurovision crew have said Ivan, no wolves, and some clothes. So here he is with Help You Fly and I am a little disappointed before he begins, but we have a moment of holographic video of him starkers avec wolf before it sods off to reveal a man whose styling begins and ends with Legolas in Topshop, though the white lines down the face are new and I don't mind them. Song itself is tragically dull, let's go back to Ivan who looks as though he is missing a contingent of forest fairies, wild animals and possibly an Ent to feel truly at home here, just a teeny bit wild in the eyes. But he is filling the stage and that's all a song like this can hope for. We end with video of a random toddler, because ... oh who knows?

I love Cookie Monster in the new Apple ad, at the same time as being tremendously saddened that the Muppets have had to turn to Apple ads in a bid to pay for their old age.

Toby is back scmoozing backstage, and he is sweeter tonight. I've come round, I like him and dont mind these filler pieces.

Now for Serbia, Zaa Sanja Vucic (I'm writing on my iPad, so I am afraid that all diacritics are off the table) with Goodbye Shelter. And we open with another Xena dress, which means I am on side from the first notes. Great belting voice and song, where something is actually happening with the lyrics and music! BLESS YOU SERBIA! A man comes in from offstage and acts like a sex pest, but Sanja is having one of it, she needs no man, she is strong and perfectly in pitch and tempo. She is the Adele of Eurovision, with less smoking and with more of an Amazonian backing group. That is a lot of pleather on that stage, but ladies, you are rocking that dark lipstick. I am a big fan of that one! Everything about it was damn fine!

IT'S IRELAND! Nicky Byrne from Westlife performing Sunlight. Is there anything more simultaneously charming and sad than an ageing boy band member? Still with that lovely flexible light voice and lithe figure, just with a bit less hair. It's very well arranged and a slick, professional pop tune, but suffers from coming after Serbia, who had a spot of actual substance. Still, it deserves to get through to the final, and they are working that room. Bonus points for ending on a hero note!

FYR Macedonia, Kaliope siging Dona in her native tongue, and already extra points. Lyrics that actually tell a story, it's like it's the 60s again! Oh, she has a big, bold, beautiful voice and I am enjoying the hell out of this one. Her costume designer has gone one layer too far: long vampire coat over split white organdy ruffles over tight leather trousers. There's too much going on there. But exactly the right amount going on in this song. Give yourselves a hand FYR Macedonia, even with the waily last note.

Yet another hot Baltic man: Lithuania have sent Donny Montell with I've Been Waiting For Ths Night. More blue-eyed pain in a slightly horrid jacket. Something happened to men's fashion in the Baltic states in the middle of the 20th century: before then, briliant, after very patchy. It was probably the Russians. Smooth little dance moves and a lovely mellifluous voice, but it's another pre-packaged pop tune and this could be the time for me to go and scope out the fridge's leftover selection. But he has taken the jacket off and done a flip on stage, so my attention is recaptured and I am willing to pay that as a good wake-up, sir! Now just spend the time between this and your next appearance listening to music out of Iceland for an idea of how to do pop interestingly.

AUSTRALIA! Dami Im singing Sound of Silence, she's quite lovely and I do like her voice. Big cheers for her from the audience, which may be for the koalas in the country promo, they are hell cute wazzing machines. Begins singing on a plinth, which is always a winner. Super sparkly frock, which means points in my book. And hero notes straight off. She is owning this. Lots of blokes' faces in the holovideo: is this song about her Tinder history? SHE IS STILL ON THE PLINTH. Is she going to do this whole song sitting down? No, she's up at last, with a hell of a hero-note-filled finish, she has brought her A game, bless her.

Slovenia have Blue and Red sung by Manuella and there are ponies in the country promo so I am already on side. Opens with a nice traditional yodelly bit and a banjo, which I don't mind in the slightest. Her dress is cool, though the breast bondage bit is a little kooky, but sure. 'Blue is blue and red is red' -- clearly a song about the Australian or American elections. And now a hot shirtless man doing pole-based trapeze. THANK YOU, SLOVENIA! THAT IS THE PROPER SPIRIT! Catchy tune, well performed, with random pyro and semi-nudity. It's splendid.

Bulgaria, If Love Was a Crime sung by Poli Genova, who has perfect eyeliner and earrings half as big as her head. It's ... it's all OK, but it's also like the last 15 years of winning songs were fed into a computer and averaged. She's doing a good job with it, though. Not so good that I am going to keep typing rather than finish scoffing my dinner.

Denmark have sent Lighthouse X to perform Soldiers of Love and what I would like to know is why are none of these songs about the Brexit, Austerity or jailing bankers who crash the global economy. Fuck it, I'd settle for wind turbines and their ability to give reliable profit streams to farmers and irritate the Telegraph. I'm just saying, there is more than life than love, lyricists. But back to Denmark. Danish hotness this time, with lightsabre microphone poles. One suggestion; 'I don't know, I don't care' should never be an early lyric in a song like this, because it's all too easy to agree with the sentiment. Now I'm just playing the 'Are any of you actually shaggable or is that all just good hair?' game. It is VERY good hair, but a little too Zoolander for real shaggability, I expect a deliver or orange mocha frappucino any moment. The scruffiest one might pass the bar. As the Australian commentator says 'Where are the live wolves when you need them?' and while I rarely agree with Sam, I think he has hit the nail on the head there.

Toby is backstage with Denmark and yes, the scruffiest of them with the hawkish nose is definitely over the bar when it comes to bothering to pick up. Though I would want to be friends with the other two for skincare tips. Georgia's band are all quite funny.

Mons is out for a brief chat talking about love, and bless him, it's a blow for same-sex equality, and you two really are the best hosts ever. Petra in the Green Room, I think Dami migt already be drunk, good girl. She's tiny, so that was probably one glass of champers. She and Petra Spice Girls at each other, which is sweet as hell.

Ukraine have sent Jamala to sing 1944. Multi-language tune, so I am already in favour. Opens with strings and percussion and then a gripping song about the horrors of the final year of WWII and I don't think anyone needs to look too far to see the resonance here, Ukraine. Brave and briliantly performed. The backdrop is pared-back black and motifs of regrowth from destruction. Huge range and well displayed. If that doesn't make the final, there is no justice.

Time for Norway! YAY! Icebreaker performed by Agnete. And it's styling by Princess Elsa. She's brought a goth modern dancer, which instantly means at least 6 points in my book. Some kooky timing shifts that work reasonably, but overall there's not a huge amount going on in this song. It's another example of a good singer with a less than good song. There's just not a lot she can do with this. You might have got away with a whole fleet of banjos and mandolins for the backing and a grandmother on a drum, but the electronica doesn't really connect.

Georgia's lovely band, Nika Kocharove & Young Georgian Lolitaz with Midnight Gold and yes, I am in a much better place than yesterday because I made the effort to pause that one to get the name down. All the strobing! And the song is apparently about a murky morning after scoring well above your expectations down at the club the night before. Look, we've all been there, but few of us with smoke effects and Pink Floyd-esque lightshows. There is some very good guitar work driving this and clever use of mixing pedals that I quite like. Nice!

We are so nearly there, people!

Belgium's girl is a delight in the interviews. Hope she goes well!

Albania time, Eneda Tarifa with Fairytale. She looks like an Oscar statuette if it were girlier. She sounds as though she is singing the theme for the new Bond movie. Very strong voice, but the song is a world of meh and I am going to hold in my urge to mock it because she is a strong performer and it may play much better in her neck of the woods. In mine, it's a sure sign to leave the dance floor.

Belgium to finish, Laura Tresoro with What's the Pressure. She's pinched Another One Bites the Dust's opening and Kylie's 1992 wardrobe, but that's OK, it's a good high-energy dance number to wrap things up for the evening and she is on point as the kids say these days. I like her backing singers a lot, too, they seem genuinely cool and fun and I hope they take good care of her when they all go out clubbing after the final, because she looks 14. Again, there's not enough in this song to sustain itself over three minutes and that is a sad indictment but not at all uncommon in this sad age.

WE ARE DONE! START VOTING NOW! And the faffing is long enough for me to get my French homework done. Time for the mockumentary again! And we open with ABBA, which should always happen.
'ABBA was the Kim and Kanye of the 70s,' they say and I am already cackling. Operation Anne-frid was allegedly launched to find the next ABBA and it is GOLD GOLD GOLD! I love all you people behind this work of genius.

Yet another recap. Serbia, FYR Macedonia, Australia and Ukraine get my money. Apparently I am in hero note girly territory today.

I've just noticed Bulgaria had glowing leggings. Why, Bulgaria? Why?

Petra now tells us the story of Ivan wanting to perform naked surrounded by wolves. Mons appears naked with a stuffed wolf and whatever his workout routine, it is working and working very well indeed! The hosts are doing their taxi driver impersonations again and in one case a texting contestant confesses to Mons that last year's tune wasn't his thing, while another set get into the other cab and immediately say 'Hi Petra! Oh, sorry, weren't we supposed to recognise you?' And there is a Lordi guest appearance, so I like it.

Germany, Italy and the UK show up for their brief previews of pre-qualified songs. Germany's girl is chanelling Kyary Pamyu Pamyu in her look and I am all for that. Italy is classic, but looks as though she would rather be arguing postmodernism in a cafe, and the UK have once again sent some poor lads who have falen foul of Transport for London's busking police and had to find a way to pay off the ruinous fines. Bless em.

And now for the results! LATVIA! Well, he is a hottie. Georgia, because Europe has a sense of humour. Bulgaria. Really? Sure. AUSTRALIA! Well, fair enough, she was good. Ukraine! Excellent. SERBIA! WOO HOO! Poland. Really? Well, great hair. But probably why drinking games are a bad idea if you have to vote at the end. Israel. Go home, Europe, you are drunk. Lithuania, because you chaps like a good flip. Belgium takes out the last slot and at least she was fun. Sorry, FYR Macedonia. In theory I should now go to bed and wake up at 5 for the live final, but I strongly suspect you will be getting yet another late recap because I desperately need sleep ;-)

oceaxeoceaxe on May 14th, 2016 02:16 pm (UTC)
I adore how thorough you are with this! I'm using this post as an excuse to say hi after many years... how are you doing? Besides likely a bit hungover from the drinking game?

I'm back in fandom for a while, writing and even thinking of going to a convention in July. I want to take this moment to thank you for being a really good friend back in the day, when I was agonizing over my roommate - not sure if you remember, he reminded me of Draco and gave me a lot of mixed signals. There's a current update to that story, which I may well turn into a fic.

At any rate, I'm glad to see you on LJ and hopefully we can catch up, if you're interested!
Kareinakareina on May 14th, 2016 06:06 pm (UTC)
You know, I live in Sweden, but if not for your posts, I wouldn't have any clue that Eurovision existed at all, let alone that it is on now...
Catherine17catherines on May 15th, 2016 08:00 am (UTC)
Absolutely no spoilers, I promise
We got up early and I am here to tell you that if, in some fit of stupidity, SBS decides to skip the final interval number during the voting (Love love peace peace), you must be sure to look it up on YouTube. It is the best thing I have ever seen on a Eurovision screen.

I loved Ukraine's voice and song - her intensity was incredible.
Azure Jane Lunaticazurelunatic on May 15th, 2016 08:22 pm (UTC)
In the US it's being carried on Logo TV, which is a network which features RuPaul's Drag Race, and news stories titled things like "Anti-Gay Priest Caught On Grindr. Also, Water Still Wet" -- so if you watch it regularly, you may have already lost your ability to be shocked by the magical whimsy of it all. And that's "if" -- it's not in the basic cable lineup, so you'd either have to have paid for a cable package that includes it, or know enough about Eurovision to stream it off their website. Though I'm sure some people stumbled in either just channel surfing or via friends and were variously shocked!

We had two delightfully catty commentators, and they matched the tone in Andrew's living room nicely.
Eli/Ellie/ellie_nor: dawn attack!ellie_nor on May 15th, 2016 08:42 pm (UTC)
That was superb. I haven't watched Eurovision since before Terry Wogan stopped presenting (I think the last one I saw was when Ireland won with a young woman playing an acoustic guitar) but it's like I was actually there! Thank you for reminding me of the bizzarity of Eurovision. Now I want to watch Eurotrash -- of which I hear there will be a one-off edition for the British Euro In-Out referendum.