Nikolaj Koppel

Eurovision Song Contest 2014 – Semi-Final 2

In what turned out to be a bit of a hot mess, the the production of this second semifinal was mirrored with awkwardness and seemingly technical difficulties. However, it actually was a very strong selection of songs… Here we go.

Malta – Firelight
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite

Malta comes firing out the gates, quite literally with their song “Coming Home” which represents a new step forward for Malta. It’s mainstream, it’s catchy, and it’s actually performed pretty well. This folk inspired song has ethnic connections that allows it to be “legit” but also the chorus is really quite good. Lead singer is charismatic and attractive, and it just adds to the whole “value” of this piece with a country-pop crossover. Thank you so much backing vocals for actually being decent. Good luck to Malta – I actually like it!

Israel – Mei Finegold
❗ Personal Favourite

Poor Israel – they have been having a rough few years. And interestingly with this song, which is super power alto inspired, I truly believe that this is one of the better ones of the night that didn’t make it out. Diva on stage, with catchy verses, a chorus, and two backing dances that know how to shake their hips and strut. I think that what made the song a disconnect with a lot of viewers is that halfway through it transitions to Hebrew. It doesn’t bother me and I’m used to it, but the drama of not Beating from the Same Heart, and having a bitchin’ key change and strong ending, I can’t help but imagine that an all English version will be released and played in da clubs.

Norway – Carl Espen
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite

Well this was unexpected to say the least. When I saw him I wasn’t thinking that this song was going to come out of him, but I can’t help but think that with my eyes closed it would be better. But then I realized that halfway through the song, they decided to play with lights, which is extremely effective. He doesn’t have to move, he doesn’t have to have dancers, he doesn’t have to have anything other than the simple song that speaks to the depths of our hearts. I just can’t help but feel it when he sings “And sometime I’ll become…” and feel it. Not the most visually appealing singer, but his voice is very raw and speaks to the strings of our hearts. Top-10 for sure, at least I can hope. Good job Norway!

Georgia – The Shin and Mariko

What the fuck is this? I can’t help but wonder if this is actually English, but really what the hell has Georgia done here? I want to see the sheet-music, because really I can’t figure out how it’s written as the syncopation and the changes in tempo and rhythms and time signatures is enough to confuse a person. While our lovely female singer starts to sing I can’t help that the tone of her voice is just “typical” from that region. They all sound the same. It makes me think of some real flops in the English language in the past – this is up there with the awkward performances in recent years.

Poland – Donatan & Cleo
=> Qualified

I’m biased, I really am. If you’ve read my blogs over the last decade about my reviews of Poland, I’m always, frankly, harsh. But seriously I feel like I have reason to be. What the fuck are you doing Poland? Every time that you come to Eurovision (with few exceptions) you bring something slutty. Skanky, slutty, dirty, just ugh. Was it necessary to have boobs all over the place, and have “sexy” churning butter, and then more boobs popping out while washing clothing on stage? I don’t get it – really don’t get it. Why can’t you keep it classy? It’s ethnically charged, and English is horrible, and despite Cleo being pretty, it’s just wrong. GO HOME POLAND! By the way, who and where was Donatan?

Austria – Conchita Wurst
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite

Arguably the most controversial entry this year, I was a bit perplexed. It started with a voice, which I felt sounded male, and then the figure in the shadows looked to be wearing a dress, and then the lights turned on and it was a transvestite female with a full beard. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it, but then it made sense. I thought, Austria… really? Maybe from somewhere more progressive, but Austria has always made me feel like they have something shoved up their bums. Then I listened and I was incredibly impressed by the strong song, the strong performance, which frankly just knocks you off your feet. Keeping your eyes closed you wouldn’t care, and because it’s such a disconnect from the visual it makes it difficult to judge. The LGBTAQ* community is behind this entry 100% so I wouldn’t be surprised if it won. It’s a dark horse, but a strong possibility. I just wish that she would stop saying “fabulous” and sounding like a drag queen diva. I mean that in the nicest way.

Lithuania – Vilija Matačiūnaitė

This one is a weird one. Lithuania does seem to have an interesting interpretation when it comes to music, but this black and neon green production just leaves me thinking “uhmm okay.” If we yelled a little bit more into the microphone it would be a little bit more unattractive, but really at the end of the day she has a decent voice. Seems like a bit of a try hard scat version of Rihanna. But then it just gets annoying whenever she says “Attention” and I frankly lose attention. This one might be one of the votes for worst dressed of the year – I feel bad.

Finland – Softengine
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite

So Finland sends some teenagers from Seinäjoki with a teen band that sounds, well teen-bandish. And the odd part about the whole thing is that I’m oddly intrigued by it, and actually is a decent radio song. It won’t win, for sure, but it’s a strong entry that would appeal the straight male population that watches Eurovision (where are they?!). The song really picks up then the beat comes in, and then mixed in with a strange accent in English and a fabulous light show, it’s one of the more manly entries of the year. Only high school students have a good career ahead of them if they chose to pursue it. I was a little put off by the fact that the lead singer was having difficulties making eye contact with the camera, but it seems typically Finnish to me. And that’s why I find that culture so unfathomably hot. This song is a bit of what I would call “an anthem” that makes me close my eyes and just flail around dancing and bopping all over the place.

Ireland – Can-Linn feat. Kasey Smith
❗ Personal Favoruite

This one is a strange one for me. I like the song, it’s decent, but the visual representation of it really was the disconnect for me. It’s not a winning song by any means, but Ireland tried something different. They just can’t seem to break away from being typically Irish. I will explain: there are Irish images all over, men in strange outfits Irish Dancing and mixing it with modern hip hop dance moves, and then all of a sudden we have a singer that looks like she’s playing a tribute to ABBA and the 60s and 70s with a modern song. It took me awhile to figure out that the main singer is Kasey Smith, so who the heck is Can-Linn? I can only assume it’s the band. Men in skirts Irish dancing is always a risky move. This song would make a good acoustic ballad version, I think. Next time be… less Irish?

Belarus – Teo
=> Qualified

Go home Belarus. You send cheesy entries and ones that make me roll my eyes. Really tho, crusty goatees and trying to look like the rest of Europe and a modern country really doesn’t sell well especially when we know what goes on there. I hate this song, and I hate that it’s in the Final because it takes the spot of other decent songs that deserve it better. Boo, go home Belarus!

F.Y.R. Macedonia – Teo
❗ Personal Favourite

I’m in a fleeting relationship with F.Y.R. Macedonia and it’s entries in the past years. I sometimes like them and I sometimes don’t, and unlike Romania, it’s not always in the top choices for me. This one was really good, and it didn’t qualify. I’m gutted. It’s so simple – I mean she’s dressed in black and white with gorgeous blue earrings and nails. It’s the perfect accessories. This is the radio favourite of the year, I think. It’a true club summer mix – and I hope that I will hear it on the radio going forward because it totally deserves it. It was simple presentation and not too over the top, which is what I can some times like, and the backing vocals didn’t screw her over and actually contributed to the overall goodness of the production.

Switzerland – Sebalter
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite

Lots of hate for this one, but I actually am quite impressed by the whistling. They are clearly francophone Swiss people, but really that doesn’t bother me. I think the lead singer is somewhat indulgent in himself and probably would do himself if he had the chance, and it comes through the camera. This folk-inspired pop song with a banjo makes us think of a springtime love song that doesn’t end very well. I’m a bit surprised that it qualified, but having said that this year there are a few surprises. It’s better than some of the other qualifiers, but alas I never win!

Greece – Freaky Fortune feat. RiskyKidd
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite

What a hot mess on screen. It’s all over the place and I never really understood where it was going. They looked nervous, they sang decently, but the song is the stronger aspect of this (minus the rap). It’s a disconnect from the typical Greek beach time song, but really gets us to “Rise Up” and get dancing. Fusion of rap and club-mix turns out to be the Mandinga summer hit of the year. Greece seemingly can never fail to qualify (don’t understand that), but this song is a good one. It’s got catchy modern twist and decent vocals – just watching it is a bit of a struggle. Top-10 for sur, maybe even in Top-5 because Europe is just confused half the time. I mean they even have trampolines!?

Slovenia – Tinkara Kovač
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite

Dat flute yo. As a flautist myself, I’m impressed when a singer can do both like me. I can sing and play, but that’s enough of tooting my own horn. Tinkara really rocks this one out. I have no idea what she’s saying half the time but I’m going round and round with her. This one is modern and it’s a mixture of strong and light, as the bass only poppa in here and there. Is it love or is it hate, as she says. The only problem is that songs that “what are we doing?” in the lyrics tend to get mocked by the viewers. I’m glad to see that this one made it through and we can see it again.

Romania – Paula Seling & Ovi
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite

Returning this year from a few years back with a less inspiring song that is still interesting. A circular piano, female falsetto, and graphics that make Paula seem like she’s turning to dust and popping up somewhere else. It’s a club hit, for sur, and it will it end up somewhere in the middle, I just think it lacked something and just was a bunch of arms moving around. Flail is a good way to say, which is pretty sad considering the last time they did fairly well. They can sing, it’s true, but at least at the end of the day they will allow us to sing and dance along.


So after the evening is through, as you can see I had a lot of favourites but the best songs did get through for the most part. Congratulations for Australia’s début (unofficially) in the contest. Now all I have to do is make sure that I can find an internet connection good enough to stream on Saturday for the final!

Eurovision Song Contest 2014 – Semi-Final 1

Off to the races again this year at the Eurovision Song Contest, this time we are in Copenhagen after Emmelie de Forest’s win last year in Malmö. With our very simple and charming hosts Lise Rønne, Pilou Asbæk, and Nikolaj Koppel the show got started with a very crystal inspired box theme. So, what did I think?

Armenia – Aram MP3
=> Qualified

A decent song to start, but really lacking the energy that I feel is necessary to start the show. Vocals were already but nothing to write home about, and the English pronunciation was decent. With a strange transition from sweet ballad to angry rock, I’m left wondering what was so appealing about this song that allowed it to qualify to the final.

Latvia – Arazemnieki
❗ Personal Favourite

Cheesy as it may be, I actually do like this song because it’s just so innocent. While the lyrics leave a lot to be desired, it is more of a song that I would imagine coming from Ireland or Malta than Latvia. Having said, that having an Eastern European accent while singing made a funny little twist that added to the whole image of the song. Simple, sweet, and made me smile. A good combo in my books.

Estonia – Tanja
❗ Personal Favourite

Our first club hit of the competition, Tanja takes an ambitious dance take on Loreen’s Euphoria to present Estonia’s entry. While I really like the song, I don’t really like the visual presentation of this as it just feels like a desperate attempt to be the same as past winners. Creative dance interpretation, iffy English, but really on screen doesn’t really do much for anything. Love the song, can be presented better… better luck next time!

Sweden – Sanna Nielsen
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite

What words can be said about Sanna? She’s fabulous and after what feels like a lifetime of her trying to qualify for Eurovision she comes with a freaking power ballad that is just an anthem. Classy black dress, not much skin, a great voice, great visuals, great lights, just great all around. A true contender to win – lets cross our fingers for Sweden because it would be great to head back to Sweden!

Iceland – Pollapönk
=> Qualified

At first I thought this was the Eurovision parody of the year, and to be completely frank it wouldn’t have been the first time it took the form of an Icelandic entry. But really when I started to listen to the lyrics, I realized that this was a lot more mainstream and had a deeper message and meaning that the superficial image of a bunch of men dressed in bright various colours (which by the way was awesome). I particularly find the funky pre-bridge to be a big thumps up.

Albania – Hersi

A sweet little song at the beginning that, like Albania normally does, gets harder and harder. As kinky as that sounds, it’s really not all that good. What is she saying? English is iffy, and the way that that song is written doesn’t allow for the text to be very audible. While she has a good voice and has a good image, and despite the odd rocker that comes in half way, I think it’s a decent song but not good enough to progress. Europe agreed.

Russia – Tolmachevy Sisters
=> Qualified

As expected they got booed. With recent developments of Russian foreign politics and the annexing of regions of Ukraine I’m hardly surprised that the EU went ape shit on this act. I find it a bit ironic that as a result of what’s going on, Russia sends two cute and innocent sisters to represent them and show a “softer” side of Russia with lyrics that speak of love and sending messages above. I don’t buy it, and I while I don’t agree with the crowd booing them, I say “go home.”

Azerbaijan – Dilar Kazimova
=> Qualified

Whoah bitch… back that train up sister. While this woman has a nice voice, her English is really not pleasing to the ear. Infusing ethnic sounds in a contemporary ballad is a good idea and very believable for the public and for myself, but there is something that really lacks here for me. She’s likely to place well because it’s, well, Azerbaijan, and they seem to be a strong contender every year, but I still can’t understand why.

Ukraine – Mariya Yaremchuk
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite

What a show, really. Great vocals, interesting song, and fantastic and creative way to represent it. I never thought I’d be intrigued by a man running in what appears to be a hamster-wheel. It really fits with the style and aesthetics of the piece – so good job Ukraine. Can’t wait to see this one again on Saturday.

Belgium – Axel Hirsoux

Ouch – just ouch. He’s got a good voice, but it needs to be toned down like… a lot. If I close my eyes it’s a good sound, but when I open them up I’m just left to say “meh” and “www.” The lyrics of this song are strange and sadly, as a Walloon, his English is poor while singing. If it were to be more delicate and not so harsh I think it would be more effective. Better luck next year, Belgium.

Moldova – Christina Scarlat

Hair extensions like never seen before – ripped off in a bridge and heat of passion. With a deep alto voice and iffy English this oddly appealing song doesn’t really do it for me but is a decent listen to after a few times. The thing about it though, being an alto and all, is that when she’s singing higher notes it sounds like she’s shouting them and just pushing them out. As a result the unattractive sound is just hard to get out of your head, and results in lack of interest.

San Marino – Valentina Monetta
=> Qualified

For the third year in a row, Valentina has represented San Marino in Eurovision and for the first time she’s come with a success. Last year’s song was an improvement from the parody song the first year, last year was a great transition song, and third time might be the charm. Simple, stationary, with a nice voice and good lyrics and feeling of the song this one is the best of the trio. Perhaps third time is the charm. I dare say, that this might be a >5 pointer – but congrats for making it through the Semis! One thing I don’t understand is the shell behind her – hmm?

Portugal – Suzy

At the risk of sounding somewhat culturally oblivious – Portugal’s entry is very ethnic and just quite frankly a hot mess on stage. Backing vocals were less than appropriate – and despite the fact that I don’t like the sound of Portuguese, the lyrics sound alright to the year. It’s a nice change of pace, but really it just feels too cheesy – and given how much support Portugal gets every year (don’t understand that yet…) this one is a flop. The far too Portugese colours on stage just made it feel more awkward and then “aww wa waaays” were just too… off. One goo thing? The key change – yeah baby!

The Netherlands – The Common Linnets
=> Qualified

Since when do Dutch people sing country? I was a bit perturbed to find out that the range of this song is very low and makes it near impossible for me to sing along to, but also that the feeling of the song bordered in country. Now having said that the performance was okay and simple, which I think the Dutch delegation has embraced in recent years. But really, after a really weak showing in the contest over the past decade, I’m happy that The Netherlands are trying something new and mixing it up to try to find what works for them. I think in the end it will pay off dividends.

Montenegro – Sergej Ćetković
=> Qualified

When I think about Montenegro, I think about this. A typical Balkan song. I think that really the roller skating female was a nice touch, but the oddness of this song is that the Balkan aspects are highlighted by Celtic feeling aspects. The dimples on Sergej can be seen from space, and while he’s a good singer and really “sold” the performance, I don’t really like it. It will garner the votes and probably end up being Top-15 but I don’t necessarily agree with it. It’s interestingly one of the few songs that aren’t in English this year – I think that bodes well for it, however.

Hungary – András Kállay-Saunders
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite

Hungary is running, running towards a win this year. With this entry it’s really quite possible, but I think that the topic of the song makes it borderline inappropriate, the performance is very simple. Hungary seems to be taking the competition seriously the last few years – sending entires that are “weird and good” but I can’t help but think, if they won would they be able to host Europe?

All in all a pretty good start to the competition as the majority of the good songs made it through. The smaller group of singers makes it a much more enjoyable show, and all of the cheesy ESC facts from the Record Book is a really good idea!