Going through, or going home? Semi-final 1 and the ‘Napkin of Death’

Yes regular readers,  like waistcoats way back @ ESC2008 in Serbia, the “Napkin of death” is back, BACK, B-A-C-K !

For the last three years my euro chums and myself have tried to predict what is going to make it through to the final, and which ten songs will make it through from each of the semi-finals. We usually do this over dinner on the evening of the semis, and in the absence of paper back in Belgrade (Serbia) we used a napkin to eliminate the dross. As I type I’m watching German Big Brother (no, really) so I am tempted to evoke Davina McCall and say “who wins – you decide”, but for the purposes of the metaphorical napkin, it’s us!

ESC2011 is a good year for songs, but the first semi-final has a few howlers. Because of this I am actually struggling to find 10 songs to make it through. See what you think…

01. Poland

She’s got energy, and a good voice, but it all seems a bit busy on stage.

02. Norway

At the start of the ESC2011 season this was the favourite. Back when it was cold and snowy this little piece of sunshine seemed even more appealing.  Stella looked confident on stage today, and it really is a feel-good track.  She’s also the daughter of Eurovison royalty: Joelle Ursall represented France in 1990 – one of my all time faves, but can Stella do as well as her Mum?

03. Albania

She’s channeling American singer Pink, but it’s all a bit pitchy.

04. Armenia

Amongst some of the worst lyrics in the Contest, “Boom Boom” reminds me a bit of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Shakalaka Baby” from Bombay Dreams. Armenia have a good track record in recent years, so this should go through.

05. Turkey

Turkey have settled on a formula – and this is pretty much a re-boot of their entry last year, which finished in second place. This is a certainty to make it to the final, but the staging – as you will see – is an academic paper in itself!

06. Serbia

Great vibe, and visually the staging is stunning – it especially looks good on television.  What sometimes doesn’t translate on the Eurovision stage is a performance that is overwhelmingly styled to be retro – which this is. Great energy and a great voice, but I’m on the fence if it will go through.

07. Russia

Now my first dilemma of the Contest this year. Alex Sparrow and Swedish singer Eric Saade seem to be busting the same moves. The choreography of both is the same, so it they both make it to the final they might just cancel each other out.  Good performance today, and I met him yesterday so I might be a bit biased!

08. Switzerland

Fab performance of this today – although she does seem to be playing dress-up, as she looks like she’s wearing her mum’s old frock. Smooth vibe and great vocals – I really hope this gets through.  Best thing Switzerland have sent to ESC in years.

09. Georgia

The most rock-oriented song that Georgia have since their debut a few years back. Again, this track feels like it’s going to be cancelled out by Turkey.  That said, she did a great vocal today – but I’m just not sure we needed the MC-ing.

10. Finland

OMG – the staging of this is the best of the day. Simple song, well sung, great hook – you’ll all be able to sing along with you ‘da-da-dums’ by the end of the song. There are times when simplicity at Eurovision speaks volumes, and this is a fab example. If I was a betting man…

11. Malta

Taxi for Malta…

12. San Marino

Having over-indulged on the hospitality (free wine) of the San Marino delegation on Sunday night it was a slightly slow start to Monday morning! Senit played a blinder last night, but today she seemed a little jaded. I love the song, but I’ll be pleasantly surprised if Senit makes it through, because I think she’s on the knife edge.

13. Croatia

Well – it’s all going on here. Daria has: (i) Stephie Graff’s nose, (ii) Norah Batty’s tights, and (iii) it looks like Daria has been joined by the girls from the typing pool on backing vocals!  This song was originally supposed to be called “Break A Leg”, but the they had to change it. Will they be celebrating?

14. Iceland

Following the death of Sjonni Brink in January, his friends decided that they would form a group to perform his song, and they made it through the Icelandic selection to give us the most poignant story of the Contest.  As Karen said today at the dress rehearsal, the lyrics make it even more poignant. I was quite emotional as I watched his friends represent his memory. I hope you are equally entertained and moved by a lovely performance – it would be fitting for it to make it through in Sjonni’s memory.

15. Hungary

One of the hot faves – there’s just something not connecting on stage.  The track uses powerful backing vocals – a bit like on the Pet shop Boys “Go West” – but on stage, using only six performers, it’s hard to recreate that. She’s a fan favourite – but is that enough?

16. Portugal

Flight straight back to Lisbon, please…

17. Lithuania

Portugal did well to qualify for the final last year with a ballad like this song.  I quite like it – we don’t really have any other ‘diva ballads’ in this semi-fianl, so perhaps it’ll stand out. Not sure it’ll go through – I’m on the fence…

18. Azerbaijan

These two (Ell and Nikki) are working it like the rent is due tomorrow around the press centre. It’s a great song. Pity that Nikki can’t hold a note – although her looks will probably compensate?  He looks like he should be presenting Blue Peter, but has a cracking voice. If I was a betting man I’d but some Euro on this. Surely going through?

19. Greece

OMG – Greece have lost the Eurovision plot. This all too earnest, isn’t it?  I know my Euro-pal Rachel Rolfe will love it, but for the first time in years I think that Greece will not qualify for the final?

So, when you see the semi-final on BBC at 8.00pm on Tuesday, see what you think. Before then I’ll publish the napkin of death. And just note – the second semi final is the more competitive than this one.







3 replies on “Going through, or going home? Semi-final 1 and the ‘Napkin of Death’”

Oh Phil. Greece – my heart always wants them to win… but what’s the deal with the rapper – so wrong! Having said that there is something lovely about the greek entry, but it doesn’t score highly with me. I didn’t think it would be knocked out but it’s not Sakis is it! Although the singer is rather cute 😉

Not able to watch the vid’s (shared office) but your comments are hilarious! laughing out loud….

The Armenian entry is really good until you get to the chorus. Boom Boom Chakalaka Your kiss???? How do these 4 ‘words’ end up in sequence, or even the same song???

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.