Recap of 2019 Semifinal One

Ooo, that was rough.

Not our predictions. We went 7 out of 10. Yay, us!

Jen:

  • Cyprus
  • Poland
  • Czech Republic
  • Hungary
  • Serbia
  • Belgium
  • Australia
  • Iceland
  • Estonia
  • Greece
Chris:

  • Cyprus
  • Poland
  • Czech Republic
  • Hungary
  • Serbia
  • Belgium
  • Australia
  • Iceland
  • Estonia
  • Greece
Europe:

  • Greece
  • Belarus
  • Serbia
  • Cyprus
  • Estonia
  • Czech Republic
  • Australia
  • Iceland
  • San Marino
  • Slovenia

But it didn’t seem like any of the acts performing last night really wanted to qualify. Low energy, pitchy vocals: it was tough to get through most of the songs. Six of the 10 acts that made it to the Final need to sing far better than they did on Tuesday, full stop.

Of the countries that didn’t qualify, we are the most sad about Poland, who we thought were fabulous. Unfortunately, it felt like there was only room for one strange act to make it out of the Semifinal, and Iceland pipped both them and Portugal for the spot.

Hatari are an absolute delight and even though Klemens Nikulásson’s vocal frayed towards the end, it really isn’t about the vocal with “Hatrið Mun Sigra.” The whole package is something to behold.

Speaking of things to gape at with wonder, let’s talk about Australia. Hatari super-fan Kate Miller-Heidke already had a breathtaking staging for “Zero Gravity” at the national final, and she and her team found a way to push it even further. It was beautiful.

Serbia may not have had the staging firepower that Australia had, but Nevena Božović provided plenty vocal quality and air-guitar-strumming personality. She made “Kruna” come alive and is well-deserving of a place in the Final.

We thought Greece would have been vying for the top of Tuesday’s table. Sadly, the fussy props and a slightly-off performance by Katerine Duska gave us the feeling that Greece may be looking at a middling finish on Saturday night. Same goes for Cyprus. The choreography was a bit busy, Tamta’s vocal was a bit weak, and the camera trick looked more like a glitch than an intentional effect.

Of course, Katerine and Tamta’s vocals were nothing compared to Serhat’s at the start of “Say Na Na Na.” He was singing in an entirely different key for the first third of the song! How on earth did San Marino make it to the Final? Is the #Serhat4Saturday contingent that powerful?

Executive producer Jon Ola Sand tweeted that 10th and 11th place were separated by just two points. If San Marino edged Hungary or Poland by two points, we will be quite annoyed. We thought “Az én apám” was a bit dull, but we thought Joci Pápai’s presentation was far more professional than whatever it was that Serhat did.

While we still have our grumpy pants on, can we tell you how much we have grown to detest “Storm?” We picked Estonia to go through, yet we were totally rooting against them. Victor Crone’s vocal was so constipated we were worried he was going to give himself hemorrhoids.

Obviously, we selected the wrong country beginning with B-E-L in our picks. We should have had more confidence in Belarus. (Wait, did we just say that?) “Like It” was fresh and fun. To be sure, ZENA relied on her back-up vocals to carry parts of the song while she executed the choreography. Still, we had a good feeling about her chances to get through to the Final, especially after Belgium landed with a thud.

Although we picked against them, we weren’t surprised Slovenia qualified. We are still not fans of “Sebi” or Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl’s almost uncomfortably intimate presentation. But they definitely stood out with a gentle song performed well in front of a simple and effective backdrop.

Finally, let’s give some love to Czech Republic. “Friend of a Friend” has become one of our family favorites, a song in heavy rotation when we’re listing to the official album in the car or making dinner. Lake Malawi took the Instagram-inspired concept of their official video and made it work in a concert setting. And they were utterly charming to boot.

As for the production itself, we watched it on replay so we didn’t encounter any of the technical glitches that many broadcasters reported. The show seemed to go smoothly, with four hosts who popped up unobtrusively throughout the night to fill gaps and occasionally embarrass Spanish Song Contest representatives. We loved Netta’s opening reprise of “Toy” framed around her journey to Eurovision and we really enjoyed the Song Contest history collage that KUTIMAN put together. We didn’t know we needed a Johnny Logan-Benjamin Ingrosso mash up in our lives!

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