Let’s take a look back at Semifinal Two and the three Big 6 countries that voted in it and picture a show without robots, neon stage props, quirky graphics, Norsemen and heavy f-in’ metal.
Russia: Internal selection. Not applicable.
Serbia: Saška Janks – “Pesma za tebe”
“Pesma za tebe” is not the most ground-breaking ballad you will ever hear, but it takes the best parts of Irish folk, Balkan-style Eurovision staging, and “Unsubstantial Blues” to create an enjoyable little ballad.
Denmark: Anna Ritsmar – “Starlight”
Anna Ritsmar is an adorable 17-year-old former X Factor contestant with an adorably twee Radio Disney-friendly pop song. But sadly she is not a goddamned Viking.
Romania: Alexia & Matei – “Walking on Water”
“Walking on Water” sounds like Eye Cue’s “Lost and Found” if Eye Cue had settled on one song instead of several.
Australia: Internal selection. Not applicable.
Norway: Rebecca – “Who We Are”
We admit that we were Team Rebecca all the way (at least once Ida Maria was knocked out of contention). We knew Alexander Rybak was going to win, but rooting for him is like rooting for Barcelona in a Copa del Ray final.
Moldova: Vera Țurcanu – “Black Heart”
If 1990s-era made-for-pay-channel erotic thrillers starring Nick Cassavettes and Shannon Whirry were still a thing, Vera Țurcanu would have the perfect theme song for one.
San Marino: Sara de Blue – “Out of the Twilight”
We’re kind of disappointed Sara de Blue did not get the nod for San Marino. She could have taken inspiration from DJ Bobo and “Hope Never Dies” and gothed the hell out of her staging. It could have been awesome.
Netherlands: Internal selection. Not applicable.
Montenegro: Katarina Bogićević – “Neželjena”
Katarina’s postcard for Montevizija shows her playing beer pong. As with eventual Montenegrin representative Vanja Radovanović, Katarina seems more fun than her song would indicate.
Sweden: Felix Sandman – “Every Single Day”
Felix finished runner up to Benjamin Ingrosso in both the jury and the public votes. He was good but he wasn’t given the Melodifestivalen staging that Benjamin got. We figure Felix’ result in 2018 will set him up nicely for the producer’s bump in 2019. (We’re not saying that this is what’s going on at Melodifestivalen, but we’re not not saying that this is what’s going on at Melodifestivalen.)
Hungary: Gergely Dánielfy – “Azt mondtad”
As usual, A Dal did not reveal the runner up totals, but the top vote-getter from the judging panel was “Azt mondtad.” We can see why: Dánielfy brought a lot of smoldering intensity to his performance.
Malta: Richard & Joe Micallef – “Song for Dad”
Richard Edwards Micallef of Firelight’s “Coming Home” fame and his dad Joe Micallef sing a song Richard and Cyprian Cassar wrote for Joe. That is both a factual statement and a review of the song.
Latvia: Sudden Lights – “Just Fine”
“Just Fine” is an interesting, atmospheric song that meanders full circle without ever going anywhere. It’s, you know…
Georgia: Internal selection. Not applicable.
Poland: Happy Prince – “Don’t Let Go”
“Don’t Let Go” was the jury favorite at Krajowe Eliminacje 2018, but it didn’t capture the public’s imagination. We’re with the public on this one.
Slovenia: BQL – “Promise”
BQL returned to EMA with another Maraaya joint, this time sporting lyrics by Charlie Mason. They dominated the public vote, but got royally hosed by the jury. We won’t complain too much because we love “Hvala, ne!” Still, we hope BQL, Marjetka, Raay, and Charlie all want to work together again next year.
Ukraine: Tayanna – “Lelya”
There is a fine line between good energy and manic energy and Tayanna has no idea that line exists.
France: Lisandro Cuxi – “Eva”
Lisandro won France’s version of X Factor and he is an absolute star. We liked “Mercy” more than “Eva,” but we would not have been surprised if he had won Destination Eurovision. We expect him to be France’s Eurovision representative sooner rather than later.
Italy: Lo Stato Sociale – “Una vita in vacanza”
Imagine a drunk Josh Widdicombe singing karaoke at a bar in Rome.
Germany: Xavier Darcy – “Jonah”
What can we say about Xavier Darcy? He’s a pretty good singer and “Jonah” is a pretty good song. But his performance style is a bit affected. We were annoyed with him at first, but once we settled into his rhythm, we were along for the ride.