Recap of 2014 Semifinal 2

First of all, what was up with the steel wool on Liise’s pantsuit? Fashion designers who create garments that make women look more hippy should be shot, or at least forced to listen to “Wild Soul” and “Nomads In the Night” for all eternity.

Anyway, here’s how our predictions panned out.

Jen:

  • Malta
  • Israel
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Austria
  • Finland
  • Belarus
  • Switzerland
  • Greece
  • Romania
Chris:

  • Malta
  • Israel
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Austria
  • Finland
  • Belarus
  • Switzerland
  • Greece
  • Romania
Europe:

  • Malta
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Austria
  • Finland
  • Belarus
  • Switzerland
  • Greece
  • Slovenia
  • Romania

9 of 10, baby! Woohoo!!! Before the Semi, we predetermined that our minimum threshold for happiness was Greece and Belarus, and, if we wanted to let ourselves reach, Austria. We got all of that, so we’re pleased mightily.

Richard and the Malta crew were full of smiles. It sounded a little rough at the start, but it came together afterward. A great opener, and how about Malta keeping their qualification streak going?

Israel seemingly suffered from nerves. Mei didn’t sing well, and Israel’s staging suffered from a general lack of interesting visual pictures. We were pretty disappointed with what we saw. We had a sneaking suspicion halfway through that we had at least one wrong pick.

Norway was at its best when the close up was on Carl, when we didn’t have to look at the overblinged staging. His vocal wasn’t flawless, but we were moved. Well done, Carl!

Georgia, because they are Georgian, made a flag out of wine for its postcard. We approve! Their performance was tight, in every possible way. Interestingly, because the visual concept was so strong, the song didn’t seem so nuts. It certainly filled us delight. We had a sneaking suspicion halfway through that Israel might be out and Georgia might be in. But it was not meant to be. Poor Georgia.

Poland was also a delightful number. Self-aware, cheeky, sexy, and a lot of fun. And very, very commercial. Also, good on Donatan to have the humility to let Cleo command the stage.

Conchita sold it. She looked and sounded terrific. Unfortunately, Austria‘s camerawork was choppy, and it distracted from the performance. That is, up until the big reveal of the phoenix lighting behind her. After that it was all good. As we expected, Austria’s qualification was called last so we all could enjoy her reaction shot.

Lithuania gave us a sneak peek of the dating scene in 2050. The vocal arrangement was a lot more effective than we heard in the national final, and the “attention” lyric was strong but not abrasive. Vilija was great on camera, but at the end it feel like the song didn’t have a strong enough melody to grab voters’ attentions. There’s always the Barbara Dex Award.

We think Finland benefited from being commercial, yet different. The concert lighting felt very tight, and the song suited the big stadium setting. Softengine sang well enough, but we’d like to see a little more by way of performance on Saturday. We figure they’ve got one performance under their belt, so they can relax and really tear it up in the Final.

So, did Kasey from Ireland hear that Molly was wearing a headband? Regardless, the vocal was dicey, and the backing vocals were off more than half the time. For a split second there we caught Kasey smiling! Like she was actually enjoying herself! For a second. Mostly, her eyes were as dead as Ireland’s chances of qualifying. We wonder if this signals the end of the mentor program that Ireland has used the past four years. We like the format, but what has it produced? Two years of Jedward, with diminishing returns, then a last place finish in the Final, then a non-qualification. RTE may need to follow BBC’s lead.

Unlike Kasey, Teo from Belarus has clearly been enjoying himself in Copenhagen, and his delight was evident in his performance. Teo is 2014’s answer to Donny Montell. And we mean that in the best possible way.

We didn’t get Macedonia‘s staging at all. There was a lot of movement, a lot of swirling shapes, and it all added up to an early flight home. And what was up with the dancer who looked like the albino from The Da Vinci Code?

We couldn’t understand a word Sebalter said, but who cares: My god look at him. The man brought charisma and a half to Denmark, and it was on full display when he performed. After Switzerland‘s national final back in December, we can’t believe that not only did we both pick Sebalter to make the Final, but we had no doubt he was going to make the final.

Greece‘s energy was through the roof. They interspersed a lot of crowd shots and a lot of camera tricks. Some of it was, admittedly, kind of cheesy, but why the hell not: it’s Greece and this is Eurovision.

In her postcard for Slovenia, Tinkara coordinated her books by color. She must be a law librarian. On stage, she sounded great and performed the hell out of “Round and Round.” She was giving us “sorceress in the middle of a maelstrom” realness. We had a sneaking suspicion halfway through that Israel and Georgia might be out and Slovenia might be in. A well deserved qualification. (Again, though: poor Georgia.)

Romania is currently our leading candidate for the year’s biggest misfire (provided it bombs on Saturday, of course). The hologram was cheesy, the round piano was pointless, and the hug was awkward. It reminded us a lot of Bulgaria last year, when Elitsa and Stoyan tried to return to Eurovision with a little something extra and all those extras did not work at all.

During the recap we were trying to figure out who was in and out. We definitely knew three acts were in: Malta, Switzerland, and Greece. And we definitely knew three acts were out: Israel, Macedonia, Ireland. After that it seemed like it could be nearly anyone’s game. It was so intensely close, we couldn’t enjoy any the interval entertainment. Not that we would have enjoyed the Australia number anyway.

STRAY OBSERVATIONS:

  • Thank you, Denmark. “Hold Me Now” is forever ruined for us. #lick
  • Hey, that was Glen Bartlett in the JoinUs dance segment! How you doin’ up there, Glen?
  • Teo’s qualification means that we are now officially on the hook to make that White Russian cheesecake.