Eurovision 2019 semi-final 1: diary

Hey all!

It’s that time of year again! Just got up at 4.30am to watch the first semi-final live from Adelaide, Australia and it’s been an eventful morning.

As usual, I wrote my thoughts as the songs were being performed, and I’m choosing to publish them without much editing. Let me know what you thought about the first semi and the results!

What I’ve known prior to the competition: Kate Miller-Heidke’s song, that Darude is performing for Finland. And Katerine Duska is another favourite for Greece to win. I have seen the film clip for this one.

Judges came on… “We’ve missed having you here, did you miss us?” AWKWARD. For me anyway. Political tensiiiion. And I don’t say this lightly – I’ve visited Israel, and really loved it. It’s an amazing part of the world.

Song 1: TAMTA for Cyprus! What a great choice, I have some of her songs on my iPod. Replay does have inklings of Fuego with its style of strong pop, but she brings a skin-coloured tasselly playsuit. I like it.

Daisy – the family dog – was actually sitting on my lap (this is very rare). She leaves… and has left me the residue of her poop on my robe. And I thought she liked me. Ew.

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Song 2: Montenegro. A choir. White count: 6 – excellent. The song? Nice, but nothing special.

Song 3: Darude… still around! New direction… dance for Finland. Look Away ft Sebastian Rajman. Looking great on piano. White count: 1. Fan on dancer: check. All the makings of a solid dance track, this could grow on me.

Song 4: Poland. Traditional music with rock. Fire of Love by Tulia. Very pop punk vibe, I feel like a Pussy Riot-style breakout in to frantic guitar smashing could happen here. But it doesn’t. Still VERY Eurovision.

Song 5: Slovenia. Duo met on Instagram! Cuuuuute. He can’t stop touching her haha, it was a date! White count: 2/2. Win. Song: To Myself (Sebi)… very hipster, Common Linnets-style production.

I can’t sit properly, I’m still uncomfortable from the Daisy incident.

Song 6: Czech Republic’s Friend of a Friend by Lake Malawi. Wiggles inspo with jumpers (actual). OMG SQUARE SPECIAL EFFECTS. THIS IS SO 80S AND I LOVE IT.

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Commercial: I manage to get most of the residue off my robe. I feel somewhat better.

Song 7: JOCI PAPAI! The Hungarian dude whose beard holds power apparently. But we know he’s barefoot again and has an awesome voice and vibe. He’s singing about his father. Now, I LOVED his 2017 entry and it’s hard to live up to that… he did alright.

Thanks Joel for the fun fact: the stage has a TV with six million pixels. Biggest ever.

Song 8: Eurovision Junior pro and host. Zena with Like It: White count: 1 – thigh-high boots… and she’s doing a routine. She’s a decent performer, and probably one of Belarus’ best chances they’ve ever had. No, the best. I can’t think of any other time Belarus could’ve been really in it.

Song 9: Serbia. I missed the name as my brother’s ridiculously loud alarm turned in to a radio clashing with the TV through the walls. But she’s loud enough to counteract it by about halfway through. Serbian epic Euro ballad with English thrown in there, bit of air guitar in there. Very Balkan.

Song 10: Belgium’s baby – 18yo with a message. Eliot wants young people to ‘Wake Up’. Oh, now I don’t know what this English-accented indie voice sound is called. But I’m not feeling this. Next.

Song 11: Georgia. Second man bun. ‘Current’ we’re told, with a GoT vibe. Name of the song is Keep On Going. All I could hear for a while was ‘da da da daa da de’. Then he’s raising the efforts of his choir. And then I’m hearing ‘da da da deeeeh’. And it was done. I didn’t want this to keep going, so thank goodness. Next.

I feel like the semi got off to a great start, and it’s just faltered in the last few songs. But Kate’s next. Finally, I need to see this.

Song 12: Australia! An art piece… third favourite to win the whole thing. I have a LOT of respect for this woman. And OMG this is quite simply the BEST. PRODUCTION. FOR. A. EUROVISION. ARTIST. EVER. Not in terms of entertainment, but in how the artist shows off their skills. She’s singing freaking OPERA. ON. A. STICK.

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Commercial: caught up in Kate fever, absorbing what just happened.

Song 13: OMG ICELAND. We’ve just entered the underworld. Anti-establishment and anti-capitalist… but in Eurovision. One or the other guys.
Meanwhile, this actually represents a lot more of Europe than you would think. Or at least the Europe of the 1980s. I can’t look away. I caaaaan’t.

Song 14: Estonia… presenting a pretty good looking Swede. Victor Crone with Storm – ohh, it’s a pop-country track. Well, we (think we) needed this by this point. Somehow his guitar disappears. And so does the country. Oh, there’s the guitar.

I’m missing the white, his shirt doesn’t count.

Song 15: Portugal with Cell Phones. I love the ruffles on his costume. OMG this is like a flamenco dance as Eurovision as it could be made. And I know that’s Spanish, but it doesn’t matter. This is what Hungary’s song could’ve/should’ve been. I actually kinda love this.

Ahahaha ‘silky cricket’. Nice one, Myf.

Song 16: GREECE. YAAAAASSS. Greek Canadian Katerine Duska with Better Love. Feminista. I really like this track. It’s just when singers sing with such a strong indie sound I struggle to hear the words clearly. I don’t think that’ll hurt her though.

Song 17: San Marino. Wrote this song in five minutes. Good time, not a long time, as Joel says. Say Na Na Na by dentist/TV presenter Serhat. WHIIIIITE! And the square theme returns. Well, this is a fun way to end the semi-final isn’t it? Gotta love the San Marino attitude, they always genuinely do try, even past the Valentina Monetta era.

Voting tiiime! I’ve put mine in; Cyprus, Greece (duh), Czech Republic, Portugal.

And then you’ve gone and made me cry Eurovision. You had to bring out Dana International didn’t you? Love is love. The Junior Eurovision plug wasn’t as inspiring, but then that video!! The mashup of songs was extremely well done, I really dug that tribute.

Turns out Daisy wasn’t well. We’ve had some sickness come up. But she’ll be OK.

Results: well, I got 3/4. Really sad that Portugal, and Poland, missed out. Happy that San Marino got through actually, and Belarus too. And you had to have something as completely out-there as Iceland in the mix.

This was worth waking up for, I couldn’t have waited until the delayed broadcast! The major advantage of Australia’s inclusion in the contest is that SBS is willing to pay for live coverage… until the next semi-final!

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Eurovision 2019: a traditional final

*WARNING: SPOILERS*

It began with a Next Top Model-style entrance for contestants… as if any needed introducing though, for they are all stars who dare to dream.

And did they all. Australia was in good stead being second-last, remaining in the memory of some 185 million-plus viewers. Gosh, that worked in her favour. Spain had a hard act to follow.

The entire contest (brought to us from the beautiful Tel Aviv in Israel, was one of the best overall for a while. All entries were strong within their genre and within the overall Eurovision theme of diversity.

We had Malta as the opener, her track Chameleon really reflecting the white trend of Eurovision and blending in nicely.

Fashion-wise, a mix of traditional white and all-black dominated, while extreme thigh-high boots made an appearance from the Cypriot and Belarussian performers.

Albania’s power ballad was the real winner in that genre when considering Eurovision aesthetics – native language, wind machines, emotion… North Macedonia came a close second and Serbia rounding it out (both sung in English or hybrid).

Squares in the staging were a big thing for 2019, from one of the host’s glasses to performances of San Marino, Czech Republic and Spain. All fun tracks that brought lightness to the event.

Russia tried to repeat the history of Dima Bilan from a decade before and failed. Sergey, you’re great – but you can never be Dima. Sorry.

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Then there’s the plain wacky. Now, these were somewhat understated acts compared to previous years, but still fan favourites.

San Marino with Say Na Na Na was written in five minutes and brought back Serhat, a previous contestant for the country and a Eurodaddy for us all. Then up in northern Europe, we had anti-establishment punk metal band Hatari from Iceland and borderline yodelling in Saami language within the Norwegian banger Spirits in the Sky.

There were some golden lines of commentary from Australian hosts Myf Warhurst and Joel Creasey. The debate over Estonia singer Victor Crone’s pants (they’re dress trackpants – “there’s a drawstring Joel”), Warhurst claiming those who weren’t smiling after San Merino were “dead inside”, and from Creasey on seeing Madonna: “Maybe she has conjunctivitis.”.

Which brings us to the interval acts…

Let’s not talk much about Madonna. She’s barely visited Australia during her career anyway, which has spanned longer than I’ve been alive (and I’m in my very-late 20s).

Her distaste when it was pointed out Like A Prayer was released 30 years ago said it all.

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A standout of any contest to date was the decision to create Eurovision’s version of… Triple J’s Like A Version. This can’t be just coincidence with Madonna’s appearance…

Conchita singing Mans, Mans singing Elena, Elena singing Verka, Verka singing Netta… heartstrings were well tugged. Any excuse to have Mans Zelmerlow return to the Eurovision stage works… this continuation of Mans’ involvement in Eurovision must never die. He must never die.

Then the final curtain call: the voting spokespersons, and the vote.

Wow. From the amazing Electric Fields in Sydney straight to a classical pianist in Russia, a Greek electric guitarist at the old Olympic stadium, a couple of puffballs, and the Lithuanian with a t-shirt every Eurovision fan needs: 12 points goes to… the Dutch lady who came from a ’90s rave and was grateful for Madonna’s attitude.

Got to love when commentators choose to stay silent when politics come in to play… Montenegro gives Serbia 12 points, San Marino the same to Italy, Greece and Cyprus’ unspoken deal… a simple ‘OK’ does say it all.

Can’t trust the polls? Can’t trust the juries really!

Jury vote: Sweden, North Macedonia, Netherlands with Australia in sixth place.

And wasn’t Eurovision a NAILBITER through to the end this year? It could’ve gone any way between four big contenders, but the favourite came through to win and we now see Eurovision off to the Dam in 2020.

Public vote: 291 points to Norway – the world LOVED it! And zero points from Germany. Sisters are only doing it for themselves. North Macedonia wasn’t loved at all from the public, but at least she took it well.

In summary: a great contest in 2019, not marred by political tensions, but a showcase of diversity in line with Eurovision’s ethos. Any political discussion mainly lay in the jury voting, a clear dishonouring of their intent to judge musical talent.

Australia placing ninth was solid, but, after the hype, it was a disappointing result. Kate Miller-Heidke deserved better in what was a real tear-jerking performance. Opera on a stick… true Eurovision artistry at its finest.

We now say goodbye to the contest again, a tragedy for those of us tragics who rate this as their most important week of the year. Thankfully, we get the chance to do it all again in 12 months – which can’t be said for those unhappy with the weekend’s Australian federal election result.

It seems Eurovision and politics are inextricably linked wherever you are. So is the tradition that this song contest keeps.

Eurovision 2019 semi-final 2: diary

My immediate thoughts on the second semi-final…

Missed the first three songs… I walk in to a guy wearing a see-through mesh tank top dancing on a reddened stage for Switzerland. The crowd is pretty loud.

Hashtags for countries – WHAT is going on guys? Since when is Switzerland CHE? And Latvia LVE? Stick to official ones, stop confusing us.

Song 5: Latvia. Carousel’s singer is pretty, and basic staging for ethereal song That Night is nice.

Song 6: Romania. On A Sunday by Ester Peony – grew up in Montreal, so two Canadian-based entries this year with Greece. The song is a building vampirish number with hints of jazz… and it looked like the dancers were going to rip off her clothers, but it didn’t happen.

Romania were expelled in 2016 for unpaid EBU debt… I do not remember this.

The judges keep talking about going to the beach and it makes me sad because we’re heading in to winter here in Australia and for years I’ve avoided this.

Song 7: Denmark’s Leonora is basically painted as an overachiever. Four languages, a ballet dancer and a skating champion at 20 years old. Fabulous. It takes about half the song (Love Is Forever) before she cracks a smile though. And then the other languages come out. It’s a cutesy track, but uninspiring.

Song 8: Sweden. John Lundvik’s Too Late For Love… a clear favourite for good reason. Great voice, smooth mover. Bit of soul, gospel. If this were to win, it’d be super different.

Co-wrote UK’s entry for this year too.

Song 9: Austria – Limits by Paenda. I didn’t type for the entire three minutes. The simplicity for that draws you in and I was a fan. Small builds, emotionally dramatic. I’m a fan.

Song 10: Special effects back in a big way for Croatia. White clothes, smoke effects too. HAHAHA FLYING ANGELS. He sings in Croatian for the second half and I kind of wish it’d been for the whole thing. Baaaack to Eurovision with that one.

Song 11. Malta – Touted as a Dua Lipa… Michela with Chameleon. Woah, this turns from simple pop in to a bit of reggaeton really quickly and I like it. But don’t pick white and clear plastic for a costume… no room to get down and twerk.

Song 12: Lithuania. Backing singer twice and now here for himself. Likes Guy Sebastian… I like this guy. And mostly because he has a fantastic set of pearly whites and is vibin’ Chris Pine a bit with the teeth/blue eyes combo. The song’s Eurovision standard.

Daisy is doing better this morning. She even fell asleep again as I’ve been sitting here, which is good.

Song 13: Mother Russia. OMG SERGEY IS BACK, HOW DID I NOT KNOW THIS? I still listen to his 2016 entry, it featured in my Eurovision DVD for Topdeck trips… Sergey Lazarev with Scream. I want to cry, that was an epic return.

My brother emerges after I’ve had the TV fighting his loud radio alarm the whole time. And then he gets angry at me because I didn’t think to wake him up… not my problemo.

Song 14: Albania. Jonida Maliqi is a presenter… and shoemaker. Only in Albania. Wind effects are nice. And native language. True Eurovision here…

Song 15: Norway’s Keiino sing Spirit In The Sky. Yasss, a well-needed bit of Europop. The Northern Lights are dancing, and there’s a traditional Scandi language sugn with a backdrop of totems and fire. Not bad at all.

Song 16: The Netherlands… the favourite apparently. I feel like about 10 songs are the ‘favourite’ this year. Duncan Laurence with Arcade. Cool song, would be surprised if it won though. Joel Creasey put it well by saying it’s just a radio-friendly track.

Song 17: North Macedonia. Proud by Tamara Todevska. Empowerment for everyone! Great voice, quite a strong song for them. Talk about a power ballad… this should get through.

Song 18: Azerbaijan! Last song! Chingiz with Truth – he doesn’t speak English but sings in the language… I know a lot of artists do this but I feel that would make it really hard to connect with a song if you don’t understand it as much. Indie disguised here as pop, not sure about it.

My picks: Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, Russia, Norway, North Macedonia

The interval act is amazing. Shalva is a band of performers who face disadvantages (eg blind singers), and their song A Million Dreams is lovely. There are tears.

I’m so confused… the next act was mentalist Lior Suchard who got artists to pick numbers. I’m not going to ruin the surprise, but how this happened no-one knows.

Meanwhile, I don’t think I missed out on much with the first few songs (Armenia, Ireland, Moldova).

I picked 5/6. Disappointed Austria missed out, but hey, that’s Eurovision.

Over and out until the final…

If you missed my thoughts on semi-final 1, check it out here.