It’s that time of the year again when all of our hearts beat as one, and the fire is lit from within. Quite literally in the land of fire, Azerbaijan this year, which should you have no idea where it is, is indeed in Asia and over there at the Caspian Sea. The port city of Baku is the host of this year’s European gala and despite the oddly timed show, it’s actually a good year of music. Below you will find my thoughts on the songs, and the performances in the first semi-final.

Montenegro – Rambo Amadeus
SF1.01.Montenegro - Rambo Amadeus

Eurosceptic indeed… Montenegro has been absent from the competition for some time, and judging by what they send this year they should have stayed where they were. I suppose this is supposed to be a parody song or a political commentary on the struggles of Europe and it’s monetary system, but the fact that the song is followed by Iceland and Greece, who in the past and present have faced catastrophic financial woes, it’s incredibly tactless. Also given that this is a song competition, I find it difficult to classify this as a song. This guy can go home to Macedonia, and is thus welcomed as my first “go home” act of the year… seriously

Iceland – Gréta Salóme & Jónsi
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite
SF1.02.Iceland - Gréta Salóme & Jónsi

Jónsi makes another appearance in Eurovision from a few years ago, and unsurprisingly looks a few years older. This time paired with Gréta and featured on stage with a very dark and strong pop-rocking song, in darkened blue and white mountains, the song kind of gives you a little chill down your spine. Is it the cold, the aurora borealis, or the combination of a sweet and innocent voice matched with a strong male voice that creates the drama? Never Forget is an anthem for the Nightwish-esque type of music that speaks to us on a strangely emotional level. I didn’t expect it to qualify, but I really do like it and I’m very happy that they received voting results from the rest of Europe. Sometimes Europe forgets that the far off island is still part of the continent!

Greece – Eleftheria Eleftheriou
❗ Personal Favourite
SF1.03.Greece - Eleftheria Elftheriou

Despite the financial woes of a clearly sinking ship, Greece was able to put something haphazardly together to compete in this year’s competition. Good for them. Now that the congratulations are presented, we can get into the real critique. It’s exotic enough to be entertaining for most of Europea, and sexual enough with the hot Eleftheria with sexier dancers thrusting across the floor. The song isn’t that strong, but it’s catchy enough to make you just sort of start to wiggle in your chair but stops short of making you jump up and shake your booty. Oddly though that I like it, I find that the lyrics are very cheesy and nonsensical. The choice of having Aphrodite’s shell on the screen is really tragic. Voice and singing is mediocre but the beat carries it through and allows you to forgive the small mistakes. Given the circumstances they did really well, but this is by no means a winner. I mean, that’s like throwing salt on the wound of Europe by having Greece win and then unable to host the competition because they are bankrupt…

Latvia – Anmary
❗ Personal Favourite
SF1.04.Latvia - Anmary

I want to be optimistic, I really and truly do but there is so much to be negative about this song. I’ve noted it as “Personal Favourite” for the soul reason that I like the music, and not at all the lyrics. The song could be re-written by another lyricist and do heaps better (possibly part of the reason for it’s lack of qualification), but also the singing is flawed and is quite obviously such. The lyrics just really don’t make any sense in English at all. When the chorus comes around I just start bobbing my head and rocking along. Presentation wise, having a bunch of “Desperate Housewives” type woman walking around the stage doesn’t really do much for anything. It might have been better if the just stood there and sang. It reaches a whole new level of cheesy with references of Mick Jagger making a telephone call; I mean really?! It could be a beautiful song, if it was rewritten and represented. The song however does sound much better after the bridge with a nice variation. Just rock it out and try again next time!

Albania – Rona Nishliu
=> Qualified
SF1.05.Albania - Rona Nishliu

Albania has a reputation of sending very single and uncomplicated songs to the competition, and this one is no different. The thing that I don’t get is what makes the song so popular? Sure it’s in Albanian, but there can’t be that much Albanian disapora in Europe! It doesn’t help that the undo is formerly dated and the singer can’t seem to keep her eyes open. It makes a very large disconnected feeling of the song, and doesn’t allow the crowd or spectators to get connected in any way to it. Intense as it, with a good voice, I just really don’t get into it at all and a power ballad type Balkanesque song just seems a lot more like screaming the whole time. Female falsetto is very underused and every time I hear it, I think of Mariah Carey and cringe inside. There are many more ballads that are much better, and so I’m so confused as to why this was voted to the Final.

Romania – Mandinga
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite
SF1.06.Romania - Mandinga

There are so many things right with this song and performance. First of all it’s important to note that according to my statistics, Romania has been the most consistent favourite of mine since the beginning of the 21st century. They always seem to send an appealing song to the competition, and they deserve the applause. What makes this one so good? Well for one it’s in Spanish and she’s not Spanish; second it’s a dance song with an accordion and bagpipes (sooo cool!). It’s the perfect song to welcome summer and get your booty shaking. I want to hear a song like this when I’m out clubbing and having a great time. A beautiful singer with a great performing voice and feel for the beat featuring a cute little cute white cladded band, it’s just so simple and complex and awesome at the same time. Really I can’t stress the awesomeness of the accordion more; cause every time I hear it I just start jumping around! It reminds me of a summer fling… but with more fiah! (meant to sound like fire but more sexy and intense)

Switzerland – Sinplus
SF1.07.Switzerland - Sinplus

Switzerland is trying something new since they worked with another rock group that actually qualified; but this time a male version of it. A punk-rock song with an attractive singer with ridiculous amounts of makeup on sings to the hearts of the all the groupies out there. It’s kind of one those “nearly a favourite” because the chorus is really attractive and I totally bought into it. Just the whole thing as a package didn’t do it for me because cute boys with lots of gel in their hair and wristbands really do nothing for me. I embrace the voice of the lead singer, and the sick guitar skills from the female guitarist but not surprising that Switerland hasn’t made a splash. The Swiss glory days are well past, methinks.

Belgium – Iris
SF1.08.Belgium - Iris

Belgian Eurovision people and I have a very hot-cold entrenched relationship. Sometimes they are like “wow yeah” and most often they are “wow no” and this is a big fat “wow no” like “no” a thousand times. It’s boring, and the voice sounds like like nails on a chalkboard to me. People may say that I can be really critical, but she made a lot of vocal mistakes and sounds like she’s screaming a bit. Some think it’s built for a Disney movie, but to be completely honest; the composers of Disney music are heaps better than this song. Would you ? – No thank you!

Finland – Pernilla Karlsson
❗ Personal Favourite
SF1.09.Finland - Pernilla Karlsson

Yes yes yes, a thousand times yes. When I heard this for the first time I though “Oh wow – Swedish this time”! Historically that hasn’t gone very well for Finland, on many fronts but especially this evening. Honestly I think that this was the hugest disappointment of the competition as it’s my most favourite and most preferred. I was saying to my Finnish friend that as she sings I imagine a white and blue witch in a forest singing, raising her arms in the wind and then a giant eagle coming and flying her around the forest. It’s magical feeling, it’s mystical feeling, it’s like an enigma wrapped in a riddle, and it’s pure and innocent. Simple and pure ballad, which is why it didn’t qualify, but I’d vote for it till infinity. Kiitos Suomi! I’ll also take the cellist for a date, please!

Israel – Izabo
SF1.10.Israel - Izabo

You have got to be kidding me! Israel really fell off the continent this time. So far off that they are sitting in Africa and aren’t allowed to pass immigration. Straight out of another time period with a disgustingly ugly act, it’s not a surprise in the world as to why this didn’t qualify. Nobody fucking cares! Sorry that it’s blunt, but that’s how I feel. Go home Israel! (That’s the second one this year!)… Plus the pianist woman looks drunk!

San Marino – Valentina Monetta
SF1.11.San Marino - Valentina Monetta

What a fiasco San Marino has faced over the last few months. Controversy surrounding her song and everything, and judging by the comments I had from the dress rehearsals, it was just a walking disaster. The song, famously written by Ralph Siegel (wtf?), is a San Marinese woman singing off key about Facebook. They even have the little chat bubbles on the big screen. The only thing it was missing is the little “uh oh” sound that ICQ used to make. I’m not convinced that she can speak decent English either; sometimes that doesn’t matter but it got on my nerves this time. I can’t help but wonder if Valentina Monetta realizes that she was making a fool of herself on stage… oh well! Very unclassy lyrics too; clicking and chatting about cybersex.. really?

Cyprus – Ivi Adamou
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite
SF1.12.Cyprus - Ivi Adamou

The first time I heard this song I was a little confused, and slightly intrigued. Then I started listening to it more and more and then the thought “We might just be in Nicosia next year…” came to my mind. This song has a lot of appeal and is executed beautifully. Great recording, odd music video, and stellar performance. It’s just so… Swedish (obviously)! I don’t think a Cypriot could write this song! When I go clubbing I want to be hearing and dancing this song; if I could figure out how to dance to it without looking like a fool I’d have more time. Great use of the stage, props, and dancers. Simply a great song to embrace awesome dance music. My only criticism is that; doesn’t she look a little pasty white for a Cypriot?! Cyprus douze points!

Denmark – Soluna Samay
=> Qualified
SF1.13.Denmark - Soluna Samay

I quaver on this one because it’s Denmark and because visually it’s a bit rough to watch. I think the costumes are really out of place and distract from the whole performance; very cliché to say but – Denmark you should have known better! Audio-wise it’s pretty simple and well executed, but it’s not really my type of favourite song. I truly believe and hope that this song will crash and burn in the final because to my eyes and ears it doesn’t belong.

Russia – Buranovskiye Babushki
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite
SF1.14.Russia - Buranovskiye Babushki

When I heard that a bunch of grandmothers from the Uralic Mountain region of Udmurtia singing in Udmurt language were going to represent Russia I thought it was a joke; no really I did. And then I heard the song, and although they can’t really sing, nor can they dance, it’s incredibly entertaining! Udmurt language of course is Uralic and part of the same general family as Finnish, Estonian, and Hungarian (who knew!?) and is of course Cyrillicised for writing. As soon as the lights start to flash my hart picks up and I absolutely love it because it’s a parody, but it’s not a parody but it is! Clearly not a single one of them can speak English and is under the age of 60 but really who cares? It’s got everything for Eurovision; lights, colours, oddness, key changes up the ying-yang, foreign languages, tacky ethnic costumes. It’s just brilliant, and I can’t even explain beyond this why; I wouldn’t be surprised if we find ourselves in Moscow again next year… seriously.

Hungary – Compact Disco
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite
SF1.15.Hungary - Compact Disco

Their English is atrocious but it’s a fairly well rounded song. Intense as they may be, and as simple and un-acted as the performance is, it’s totally buyable and incredibly mainstream. For that reason, I don’t think it will win because it’s a little too mainstream, but a good addition to the mix in the final. We could use a with a little less bouncing around on the stage, and less piano falling off the stand, but overall it’s a very professional act. Unfortunately it gets a little bit forgotten in the mix.

Austria – Trackshittaz
SF1.16.Austria - Trackshittaz

What the fuck is going on here? Austria you get all upset that nobody votes for you, so you send rappers talking about ass, stripper poles and stripper pole dancers, and continue to rap about getting booty. The performance and song is epic to say the least, but not the kind of epic that wins votes. Entertaining to watch a little bit, but really given the situation I was waiting to see a little boob or ass. It’s really sad to say, but can we really take this seriously as a winner, or are they just sending us parody songs because they hate the competition so much? It’s like a pornography or strip show on stage, and as epically fabulous as it is I’m glad it didn’t make it! They aren’t even hot rappers.. 🙁

Moldova – Pasha Parfeny
❗ Personal Favourite
=> Qualified
SF1.17.Moldova - Pasha Parfeny

Sufficiently ethnic, and adorably cute with cute dresses and a cute singer, the fantastically named Pasha (I’ve always wanted to meet someone with this name) sings a little happy song for us on stage with lots of colours. Fantastic execution for a singer, and decent English from Moldova for once! It’s got this really catchy chorus that makes you stomp around and then throws you into an Italian-esque dated feeling bridge back to the verse. So happy that Moldova sends something good this year and that other people support it! Top 5 song for sure, but sorry for you ghayz, I don’t think he’s a homo, he appears very nomo!

Ireland – Jedward
=> Qualified
SF1.18.Ireland - Jedward

What the fuck are these annoying twins doing back in Eurovision? Ireland must have skipped a beat and didn’t bother to do anything because seriously I was sick of seeing them last year and I certainly don’t want to see them this year. They are on some crazy Red Bull drink and bopping around all over the place that makes me get dizzy, but then in all seriousness that’s what he appeal is. Leave out the crack next time, and sing about something that makes sense! Waterline… what the hell is a waterline anyways?

So that wraps up the fist semi-final. As you can see I had a lot of favourites, and as usual my favourites don’t really go anywhere. No matter; there is always the second semi final to do things right. Overall I think only Finland was robbed (by either Ireland, Denmark or Albania), and the songs that should have advanced to the final advanced! Thanks Baku for a nice night/morning/afternoon wherever you were in the world (I was at work.. heheh).