Ahead of Tuesday’s first semi-final, I correctly predicted 7 out of the 10 qualifiers. I thought that Austria, Slovenia, and Serbia would qualify, but they came up short. Estonia, Lithuania, and Belgium qualified instead. I’m not having a WTF moment, but I am scratching my head a bit.
I’m not too surprised that Austria didn’t qualify. The performance was bland and forgettable, the song itself is flat and repetitive, and of course, Austria was first in the running order. I thought that the juries would pull it through, but apparently not. I’ve never been that big of a fan of Austria, so their early exit is fine by me. But Team Wiwi do love Natalia herself: She has given us tons of interviews!
Slovenia’s Hannah Mancini may have appeared on the cover of magazines back home, but that wasn’t enough to push her through. This was another surprising result for me, but I’m fine with it. I’ve always deemed the Slovenian song to be weak (as evidenced by my Wiwi Jury review). I thought it would go through because of its strong choreography and the fact that it’s an uptempo, modern song in a sea of ballads. That obviously wasn’t enough. Sorry Hannah, you’ll be missed by some on Saturday night…but not by me!
And finally, my prediction of Serbia qualifying was incorrect. I like “Ljubav Je Svuda” better than “Shine” or “Straight Into Love”, but the Serbian performance was terrible (I know the rest of Team Wiwi will disagree with me, but go ahead and bring your fire b*tches)! Moje 3’s dresses were atrocious in my opinion, and I don’t think the devil/angel conflict message was conveyed well enough for non-Serbian speaking people to understand. I find it hilarious that wiwibloggs prediction polls rank Serbia extremely high (probably due to Serbian votes). It’s impossible for Serbia to win at this point, as they’re not even going to be in the final!
And the three unexpected qualifiers that I didn’t predict were Estonia, Lithuania, and Belgium. Estonia’s performance was surprisingly great, and Birgit was really able to pull me in! I’ve always found the song a bit boring, but performing the first verse in black-and-white and then switching to color for the chorus was a powerful and effective trick!
I’ve always enjoyed the Lithuanian song, but I felt Andrius’s rehearsals in Malmo were disappointing. The energy and vocals just weren’t there. Thankfully, Andrius pulled through during the night and made it to the final! Congrats!
Belgium was definitely the dark horse of Semi-Final 1. Roberto was so dark we couldn’t even see him against that black backdrop! Eurovision fans all over were ranking Belgium in last place (including us), but Roberto Bellarosa was able to surprise everyone and make it through to the final. “Love Kills” is a decent song, but I feared that Roberto was too crappy of a singer. Thankfully, he proved me wrong on the night with a good performance. Congrats Belgium!
Also, congratulations to Denmark, Russia, Ukraine, The Netherlands, Moldova, and Belarus! I predicted all of you would make it, and y’all had great performances! The Russian performance in particular surprised me. I’ve always found “What If” to be generic and cheesy, but the performance with the balls and lights was spectacular! It definitely won me over and made me appreciate the song more.
My *personal* Top 10 list was similar to my prediction list, except that I personally wanted Montenegro and Croatia to qualify. Both entries are great in my opinion, but I knew that they were going to crash in the semi, as you can read here. On the one hand, I would have loved to see them in the final, but on the other, I saw their demise coming. Oh well.
Final Remarks: I was thoroughly impressed by the first Semi-Final. Not just by the performances, but by the excellent job that SVT has done as a host broadcaster. The host, Petra Mede, is MUCH, MUCH better than the fake, plastic Azeri hosts from last year and the lame German hosts from 2011. I’ll admit that I chuckled a little at the “Don’t complain, it’s more expensive in Norway” joke. The Eurovision history and Linda Woodruff segments were also nice.
Overall, congratulations to everybody for a wonderful show! And unlike the spokespeople who read out the points during the final, I actually mean it!
Photos: Thomas Hanses (EBU)