One of the cultural highlights of the year is less than a week away. On Saturday, May 14th, all of Europe is invited to Dusseldorf and the Eurovision Song Contest! This year, 43 European countries are competing. Five countries (Germany, France, United Kingdom, Spain and Italy) have a guaranteed spot in the Grand Finale, but for the other 38 countries a fierce semifinal stands between them and their chance to victory. Ten countries from each semifinal, who receives most points, will advance to Saturday. The amount of points are dependent on jury votes as well as public votes.
The first semifinal will take place on Tuesday and the second one on Thursday. Because of the sheer amount of countries and artists, I will not provide you with a detailed introduction to them all. I will however let you know which ones I'd like to see in the finale. I will not present my list in order, since I haven't quite made up my mind yet.
You can see all of the artists and their songs on: http://www.eurovision.tv/
Semifinal One (Country/ Song title/ Artist)
Azerbaijan/Running Scared/ Ell & Nikki
Finland/ Da Da Dam/ Paradise Oskar
Hungary/ What About My Dreams?/ Kati Wolf
Malta/ One Life/ Glen Vella
Norway/ Haba Haba/ Stella Mwangi
Poland/ Jestem/ Magdalena Tul
Russia/ Get You/ Alexej Vorobjov
San Marino/ Stand by/ Senit
Serbia/ Caroban/ Nina
Switzerland/ In Love for a While
Bulgaria/ Na Inat/ Poli Genova
Cyprus/ san Aggelos S'Agapisa/ Christos Mylordos
Denmark/ New Tomorrow/ A Friend in London
Estonia/ Rockefeller Street/ Getter Jaani
F.Y.R. Macedonia/ Rusinka/ Vlatko Ilievski
Ireland/ Lipstick/ Jedward
Israel/ Ding Dong/ Dana International
Moldova/ So Lucky/ Zdob si Zdub
Sweden/ Popular/ Eric Saade
The Netherlands/ Never Alone/ 3JS
Disclaimer: This is what I want, not necessarily what I believe will be the result. Also, a lot can change once I've seen their live performance. More often than not, there is a huge discrepancy between a produced music video and a live performance.
Even if I have listed 10 countries/ songs/ artists from each semifinal, it doesn't mean I think all of them are good. Actually I only have a handful of favorites. It's is important to me that Switzerland, Ireland, Hungary, Denmark, Finland and Norway make it to the finale. And Sweden of course, but that's all about patriotism and not necessarily about song quality.
Equally important as which song I want to see in the finale, are the song I never want to see again. This year's worst songs are Portugal, Belarus, Belgium and Romania.
There is nothing wrong about being political, but the Portugese song is feels like a joke, like they are mocking this wonderful song competition by not taking it seriously. The song from Belarus is political as well, and it's packaged in a nice Euro-Techno package, but it's so blatantly political that's it's difficult to see beyond it.
Belgium's problem is of a different kind. They can't sing, not individually or in harmony. They are not unique in that aspect, there are quite a few artists in the competition with questionable skills. However, it poses a bigger problem when you are singing a capella. If their studio produced version sounded as horrible as it did, I don't even want to imagine the live performance.
So, why is Romania on the "worst-songs-list"? The guys are pretty, they can sing and the melody is quite comfortable. But I can't get over the text! There is cheesy and then there is Bruno Mars cheesy. I know I might be the only person on this planet who can't stand "Just the way you are", but there is a thing as too much cheese (never in food, but definitely in music). And if I pick a song as one of the worst, in this specific competition, just because it has cheesy lyrics, it say a lot about how bad it is! Make sure to listen carefully! Yuks!
This is going to be a very exciting Saturday. I have some favorites in each of the semifinals, but there are also some top contenders among the songs already qualified for the grand finale. But more about that later. I hope you'll enjoy a week full of the good, the bad and the ugly that is Eurovision!