Perhaps I'm still too myopic, but it felt like the quality of this year's songs was surprisingly high. I'm also starting to get sad that there's a three minute limit on the individual songs. So many songs could be much better, have more depth, if they had another minute to spare.
This year's opening song, in the first semi-final, "Euro Neuro" by Rambo Amadeus from Montenegro was pretty bad. There was no chance they would make it through. Still, they performed better than Austria, which came last in the first semi. I liked their song, and had expected them to easily pass. Maybe the Trackshittaz' "Woki mit deim Popo" reminded people too much of anal sex.
Albania received a deserved pass, where Rona Nishliu, recently naturalized to Albanian, sang the most dramatic song at Eurovision.
Belgium also didn't make it, but 17 year old Iris, or Aires, was just too uninspiring.
I enjoyed Switzerland's "Unbreakable", which was very much Europop; very energetic and very easy to sing along with, if a bit too repetitive, and I did expect them to make it to the finals. Meanwhile, Cyprus seems to have been a shoe-in to pass through, scantily clad babes dancing around and on a table made from books. Not bad at all, I'm suspecting that hot babes stand a better chance in getting to the finals.
Denmark's Soluna Samay, hailing from Guatemala, sounding like an American singer-songwriter, in the style of Avril Lavigne, deservedly made it into the finals, although she sadly underperformed once there. The only Scandinavian country not making it to the finals, Finland, singing in Swedish (for the second time ever), sent in a dreamily, sad, but excellent, song which didn't make it to the finals at all. The song gets better every time I hear it and didn't get the appreciation it deserved.
Greece's song, very upbeat and with a babe, isn't bad at all. But, what, they have to leave the Euro if they would have won? Meanwhile, the somewhat generic "Sound of our hearts" from Hungary also made it through. Jedward squeezed through as well. Their show was good, though their singing wasn't. But I'm guessing their European following alone was enough to propel them into the final, where they eventually underperformed.
Israel wanted to go back to the 50s, which was as asynchronous as it was uninteresting. Iceland's "Never forget", reminiscent of Evanescence deservedly went through, though they, too, were not much appreciated in the finals. Latvia, in similar vain, commemorated previous Eurovision winners, which was somewhat cute, but too self referential and too slow.
Moldova continued it's somewhat quirky streak from last year, which paid off. Romania's poppy dance tune also made it, only partially deservedly so.
The crowd at the Crystal Hall tore the house down for the Russian babushkas coming on stage. And, it has to be said, the song is hilarious. My cat is happy, my dog is happy! You can not make this shit up. And only one is older than the Hump himself.
"The Social Network Song", from San Marino, was almost painful, in a good way. But still, deservedly, San Marino did not pass.
The intermission show with the first semi final was nice enough, but also very repetitive, showing off a mix of typical Azeri music and dance.
The second semi final sported a much higher number of good songs, though not all the better ones made it through. Serbia opened with a ballad, , which reminded me of the Israeli submission from two years ago, and made it through.
Belarus, coming up with something of a rock ballad, which was very palatable, and much better than last year's bombastic propaganda (I love Belarus), probably don't have enough credits to spend with European countries to make it to the finals, even though the song was decent enough. Perhaps this is political disapproval in action?
Bosnia's song, also a ballad, somewhat surprisingly did make it through. Bulgaria's, I thought, stood much more of a chance, with Sofi Marinova poppy dance track.
Estonia's song, something of a power ballad, starts of slow and becomes dramatic enough to make it to the finals, where they did fairly well. Meanwhile, Georgia's operatic start and too simple "I'm a joker" got a lot of support in the Crystal Hall, but deservedly didn't make it. Croatia could have, though the song didn't stand out enough. I'm guessing that English lyrics would have helped them just that little bit.
Lithuania's "Love is blind" is cheesy, and Donny Montell's dancing looks like he's on acid, but was good enough. As was Macedonia's "Crno i belo" (black and white).
A quarter of Malta's population showed Europe that "This is the night". Very catchy, but not appreciated much.
Joan Franka, the Dutch entry, toned down on her act's Indian-ness, which was good. But I fear there still was too much, resulting in her not being selected for the finals. The opinion on Twitter seemed to be positive, and the song is quite cute, if too similar to Lena's from two years ago. Also, listening to Franka at home, it was clear she didn't hit all the notes she should have.
Norway, energetic, but, obviously, no match for Sweden, made it through. Sweden was tipped as a strong contender and *is* very catchy, dancy and poppy, eventually winning by a sizable margin.
Portugal threw in a ballad as well, but with the language that virtually no one can make sense of, they never stood a chance. Slovenia's Eva Boto could have done better, the drama being more pronounced than with Portugal, but the song still being too slow to make it. Sadly, the hard rock of Slovakia, reminiscent of Hard Rock Helleluja, Lordi's 2006 winner for Finland, also didn't make it.
Turkey's song brought the house down in Baku and, with one position for the final left to be given away, the crowd chanted "Turkey" in unison. However, though very campy, and, indeed, almost gay, the song is only amusing, at best. Ukraine has fielded better songs, but this year's is very upbeat, though not good enough to win.
The intermission show at the second semi final was very cool, the last five years' Eurovision singers performing together on stage, ending up with a, somewhat distorted, version of Waterloo, where not everyone seemed to know all the lyrics.
Azerbaijan's number is one of the many ballads in this year's Eurovision. The song passing through Sabina Babayeva's pumped up lips is well song, if not my style, and performed very well in the finals, for a while appearing to have a chance at the top spot.
Roman, singing for Germany, has a spectacular voice, but the song, "Standing still", though pretty good, was just not good enough.
Spain's Pastora Soler certainly can sing, but her ballad was too slow to win. Perhaps a good thing, as the head of her national broadcasting organization allegedly 'jokingly' asked her not to win as Spain can't afford to host next year's show.
France's video clip accompanying the song looks good, her show in the Crystal Hall was excellent, and the song, by Anggun, of Indonesian decent and the first Indonesian to break into both European and American record charts, isn't bad at all, but it was too hard to compete with the dancy front runner Sweden.
The Hump's song for the UK, also a ballad, took long to get used to. It could easily have a lot of staying power, but the waltz is not a song you immediately see the value of.
Italy is back, again, returning last year for the first time in over a decade, and again puts forward a very strong song, though perhaps a bit too much like Amy Winehouse, both in look and feel.
At the Crystal Hall, the quality of the sound left to be desired at times. Perhaps it was that which obfuscated the quality of the individual singers which I found, when watching the finals from home, was lacking regularly.
Live tweeting the finals, it was interesting to see that so many individuals, roughly everyone, on Twitter make a sport out of ridiculing the event. Most don't seem to be able to accept the event for what it is; a campy, fun and, really, obscure leftover from post-world war 2 European integration efforts.
Several of those calling out the individual country's votes made veiled remarks to Azerbaijan's human rights record. Excellent.