The Song Contest has received a lot of criticism over the years for the voting system as well as for having the “Big Five” countries automatically go to the final. Many of the countries award sympathy votes to their neighbours and form cliques by repeating their voting patterns. Analysing the awarding of highest points from 2001-2014, there is a very strong correlation of countries voting for other countries with which they have strong historical ties. Derek Gatherer dubbed the 3 main regional blocs as follows:
“Warsaw Pact” which includes Poland, Russia and Ukraine;
“Balkan Bloc” which is the largest with all the former Yugoslav countries;
“Viking Empire” which is comprised of all the Nordic states.
Even though the voting blocs can give the viewer a good idea of who is going to vote for who before the final, there are many countries that have never won, such as Poland, Hungary or Bulgaria, despite the political ties conspiracy. Furthermore, the other issue is related to money. Since 2000, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Spain, and then since 2010 also Italy have been called the “Big Five” due to them being the largest financial contributors to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). This caused Turkey to withdraw from the competition in 2013 and has created a somewhat unequal footing for the countries going through the qualifying stages versus the countries who have a blank cheque.
Conchita opened the second semi, by saying “Contestants the honour is mine, and the stage is yours” which felt very empowering, before the contestants walked on to the stage. The announcement of Australia being at the final surprisingly enough received the loudest cheering.
With their “This Time” song the man and the woman sang in symphony together. Very nice costumes and an upbeat tune. Their love song was accompanied by a kiss and by trying to get the audience involved in their ballad.
The short video prior to the performance which tries to make the artists seem more approachable and human was of beehives. This was somewhat confusing due to being followed by a classical tune of the girl playing on a piano. Ireland with the largest amount of wins (seven) definitely showed its worth, by putting on a timeless act.
It began with an attempt at being dark, whereas the stage was gradually being “illuminated by candles” with time. The song itself sounded more like a Comic Relief song, rather than a Eurovision winner. It had a bit too much pop in the tune, in order for me to feel comfortable with admiring it.
The song was not in English and sounded more like a lament at the beginning instead of the rather cheerful songs preferred by most contestants. It did become very traditional somewhere in the middle of it with twitchy arm gestures and leg hopping. Not enough of the more serious songs make it to the final, and for that reason I am in favour of Knez’s song.
A solo act by Amber singing “Warrior”. Very relatable lyrics, pleasant voice and a pretty face. “Never look back, the past is the past, I had no choice but to become a warrior”, oh how true those words are. This was the second warrior song after Georgia’s first semi-final performance, and I would say that Malta did better.
The man started singing about setting his beloved free, which was very touching by itself. Then she walked onto the stage and pulled a wonderful Adele. They are definitely a force to be reckoned with and someone to look out for! Magnificent performance!
The song was in Portuguese. It started out with the audience clapping to the song which started to discourage me from what was yet to come. The singer was trying to put on a show, instead of just keeping to her gentle nature. She had a pleasant voice and represented what’s left of her youth rather adequately whilst wearing latex.
The two singers were singing about the “hope and the future”. The highlight was when the lead female singer threw her heels onto the stage and stood at her natural height. They did a solid duet together, where most of the time their voices were complementing each other.
Singing about the panacea for a broken heart whilst wearing golden spiky trainers with a suit can go either way. The song started very calmly and sounded wonderful, until the second part of the song joined with Turkish vibes and a lot of pop music was introduced. The allegedly “Golden Boy of fun” who will “tell us how to do it” did not.
Her dress was drool-worthy. A mesmerising performance with red being the dominant colour and the song being about love. If she got rid of the computer sounds between the powerful outbursts, this song would go very far. She certainly has the voice, talent and the figure to do well.
Apart from the half-naked guy in an odd spine-like costume, the enchanted forest set was rather impressive, yet simple. The eclipse truly brought out the best in the song, along with the wonderful dancing. “No, I won’t sleep tonight”, because I’ll be too preoccupied by them going to the final.
The singer looked like a fairy from Neverland. A bold choice to offer up such a young musician. She has a powerful voice and a lot of potential. She probably does not need to “take one step at a time”.
The backdrop did amazingly well for him, with everything being synchronised to what he was doing. Fantastic lyrics and an even better performance. The graphic designs had me clenched in anticipation whilst the guy kept on singing in his honey-sweet voice. Even if this song about “heros of our time” doesn’t go far, it will be one that I’ll enjoy listening to in time to come.
A lot of smoke and darkness. The first full cape in this semi-final was worn. There were four drums accompanying her voice. I’m glad that she’s “living her dreams”, but I’m not sure whether I agree with her “it’s my time to shine” slogan. She was good, but was she good enough?
The dog on the surfboard had me rather excited to see what John was to do. The black and white, timeless song was enchanting and wouldn’t let me take my eyes or ears off him. We don’t see people wearing glasses often enough at such competitions, and I think he was the first one to do so in this Eurovision edition. One thing is for certain, he wore the hell out of his designer glasses and managed to sugar-coat the audience.
The oversized headphones on the singer’s head made her stand out. The imaginary violin being played was rather unnecessary. The song was quite upbeat and was rather like something you would hear on the radio, rather than the largest music competition in Europe.
I was curious what Poland would put on, and hoped beyond reasonable hope that it wasn’t as disgraceful as last year’s embarrassing Cleo performance. The singer was on a wheelchair which was unusual. She had a very classical voice and sang in a calm tone. The backdrop was of pink trees and flower petals. The entire performance had the colour pink written all over it. “In the name of love” was by far the nicest song that Poland has put on in years.
Right before the results were presented, there was a spoof of what went wrong in the past editions. It was hilarious to see the organisers make a joke out of it.
The countries that advanced to the grand final were: Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden, Norway, Montenegro, Cyprus, Azerbaijan, Latvia, and Israel.
The acts in the second semi-final were significantly better than the acts in the first one. It’s a shame that some of them didn’t make it to the final, but as long as we remember that this edition of Eurovision aims to “Build Bridges”, we will also remember that there is such a thing as a playback button, which allows us to watch our favourites over and over again.