Recap of 2018 Semifinal One

Eurovision is, amongst other things, a family bonding experience. So it seems fitting that we all went 6 for 10 in our picks for tonight.

Jen:

  • Azerbaijan
  • Czech Republic
  • Israel
  • Estonia
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Greece
  • Finland
  • Armenia
  • Cyprus
Chris:

  • Azerbaijan
  • Czech Republic
  • Israel
  • Estonia
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Greece
  • Finland
  • Armenia
  • Cyprus
Kieran:

  • Azerbaijan
  • Czech Republic
  • Israel
  • Estonia
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Armenia
  • Switzerland
  • Ireland
  • Cyprus
Europe:

    • Albania
    • Czechia
    • Lithuania
    • Israel
    • Estonia
    • Bulgaria
    • Austria
    • Finland
    • Ireland
    • Cyprus
Photo by: Andres Putting (Eurovision.tv)

Jen and I made the same picks and we both agreed we’re getting worse at this. Then we comforted ourselves by re-reading last year’s Semifinal Two recap. For his part, Kieran lamented how bad he did, especially because he thought he was going to nail this. Welcome to the world of pretending you know anything about the Eurovision Song Contest!

We knew this Semifinal was going to be a bit of a bloodbath based on the sheer quality of the songs on offer. As we said in our preview, we could make the case for just about every act here tonight. Even so, we still found ourselves surprised by the results.

Azerbaijan’s perfect record since joining Eurovision in 2008 is now broken. Greece has missed the Final two out of the last three years. Armenia missed out on its first Final since 2011. Belgium missed out on its first Final in three years. All of the artists representing these countries were deserving finalists, but at the end of the night, nine acts needed to go home.

One of the ones that broke our hearts tonight was Croatia. We thought Franka sang well tonight, and we are sad to see that her performance didn’t land with the audience. It was a rough night for acts that just stood there and sang well. Armenia, Croatia, and Iceland were knocked out, and we wonder if voters are looking for something different than what won last year.

We could argue that Estonia did the same thing and succeeded, but the projection dress gimmick probably carried Estonia as much as Elina did.  She remains a bit iffy in her lower register, though.

We weren’t sure about Lithuania. Ieva sang well, but she also just sat there  for more than half the song. However, her emotional break as her husband approached her left us with a lovely, genuine closing image.

Kieran hit the nail on the head with Ireland. He thought the performance really came alive when the dancers appeared, and we agreed. He was less pleased about Albania, because apparently we’re not raising a rock and roll kid. No such complaints from us, as we think it’s about time Albanian rock was represented in the Final.

As usual, we jumped out of our chairs when Austria qualified. We were not confident “Nobody But You” was coming together, but we are more than happy to be wrong.

We thought Israel and Czech Republic were a bit rough, but we are hopeful that the Semifinal will have helped them get the kinks out. We really enjoyed Bulgaria’s performance, although we need to forgive a couple of bum notes here and there.

Finland’s Saara Aalto is one of those artists who is just made for Eurovision. She was fantastic and we’re thrilled that someone who has wanted this for so long gets to make the most out of her time here.

Cyprus took over as the odds leader after yesterday’s jury rehearsal, and we could see why. The staging for “Fuego” was brilliant, particularly as Eleni Foureira was always the center of the action (and lit slightly brighter than her backing dancers). Kieran thinks Cyprus could win and we can’t argue with him.

But tune in on Thursday when a specter of Eurovision past takes the stage. This ain’t over yet.