The second wave in Baku…

Tonight it’s the second semi-final of ESC2012.  How the time flies!

As I said earlier this is a more eclectic mix of songs, and I’m not sure who will make it to the Grand Final. Here are today’s songs, which you can see at 8.00pm on BBC Three…

01 Serbia

Eurovision loves a returning competitor, and Zeljko Joksimovic represented Serbia in 2004.  Not only that, he composed Serbia’s entry when they hosted the Contest back in 2008 – the same year that he also co-hosted the show.  He’s a very talented musician, and is well loved by eurofans.  This is a certainty to get through – and will probably be top five in the final – indeed, challenging for the title.  Great song.


I don’t want to suggest that all songs in the Eurovision should be sung in English, but having said that I’ve been listening to the English language version of the Macedonian song since March, and it’s a surprise that they have not chosen to do that version tonight. Pop music can have more impact in an Anglophone form, and I hope that this gets through because I like the track and the vibe.

03 The Netherlands

Great song – catchy vibe.  She looks as mad as a box of frogs, so I hope that people don’t mistake what looks like quite goofy staging for a goofy sounding song.  Hope it goes through.

04 Malta

This is similar in sound to Hungary in the first semi-final – and that got through.  Malta are hit and miss in the Contest and other than their ‘old reliable’ performer, Chiara (who has represented them three times), they struggle to make the cut.  This might be on my napkin of death – it chugs along quite nicely – and he look a bit like Shane Ward (the X-Factor winner), which might help him!

05 Belarus

I will admit that I haven’t seen the rehearsal footage for this entry, so I wonder if they will still be wearing their mighty morphing power rangers consumes tonight…

06 Portugal

Aah, don’t you feel like a glass of sangria or something!? Nice vibe – will get votes from Spain if they are voting tonight. Portugal have upped their game recently in terms of qualifying (apart from the awful song they sent last year – an insult to any music lover, which didn’t qualify!) but I’m not sure how this will do.  It’ll come down to the staging tonight.

07 Ukraine

This is one of my pre-Contest favourites. It’s a bit of a disappointment to have to report that the early rehearsal footage that I saw was a rather sketchy.  Mind you, as eurofans will tell you, Ukraine seem to be able to polish the proverbial and turn it in euro-gold.  For me what’s most disappointing was that the lead singer is surrounded by dancers and she is not being supported by strong backing singer, as she is on the version above.  I thought this was a sure-fire qualifier, but let’s see how much they have tweaked the performance tonight.

08 Bulgaria

Aah yes – Eurovision does retro europop!  This song makes me smile – takes me back to the 1990s and the dance scene then!  The video even has shades of C&C Music Factory’s “Gonna Make You Sweat” – remember that?  Get your thermal t-shirts and day glow gloves out of the drawer! Good old school effort…

09 Slovenia

When I listen to this song I think it’s great – it’s anthemic and actually reminds me of the Serbian winning song “Molitva” from 2007.  What a shame that tonight you will see the first major frock horror of the Contest.  She looks like the bride of Frankenstein!  Hopefully the television viewers will see though the dress (you know what I mean – not like that!) and appreciate this strong song.

10 Croatia

Another solid entry from Croatia. It comes in the middle of the draw, which might not help, and coming off the back of Slovenia and ahead of the hot favourite might sink the song?

11 Sweden

You know I have a Swedish flag in my kitchen.  No, really!  My friends and my Media, Music and Sound students know how much I love schlager music (basically Scandinavian/Germanic pop music), and I watch the Swedish Melodifestivalen every year over the six weeks it is on (via t’interweb) to see what Sweden select (the footage above is of Loreen performing at the Melodifestivalen). I love, l-o-v-e, LOVE this song and I’ll burst with giddiness if it wins.  Early rehearsal footage has been a bit sketchy. But hopefully as the snow falls from the arena roof tonight you’ll see why it’s so good.  There is simplicity in the staging (a refreshing change in Eurovision) and the slightly (once again) retro vibe will hopefully be enough to grab the eye and the ear.  Go Loreen!

12 Georgia

It’s sometimes dangerous to name a Eurovision song in a particular way. Back in 2000 the UK entry, performed by Nikki French was called “Don’t Play That Song Again” and in response Europe responded by not voting for it, and it sank without trace (although not the nul points that followed for us in 2003). I think that “I’m A Joker” does exactly what it says on the tin.  Dr Eurovision thinks this is a certainty to go through.  I don’t!  Whose right – you decide!

13 Turkey

A return to the more ethnic flavourings in the Turkish entry this year.  There was surprise last year when they didn’t qualify for the final – but they had begun sending the same song every year, so it’s good that there’s a change of direction this year.  I hope the staging doesn’t sink it, but it should go through with the help of the Turkish diaspora.

14 Estonia

Dr Eurovision did his thesis on nation branding of Estonia and Ukraine at the Eurovision, and his adopted country (like mine is Sweden) is Estonia.  Naturally he loves this song.  I’m starting to get it – but it’s just not immediate enough for me.  That said, Albania got through on Tuesday so I might be inclined to say it’ll get through.  Ott Lepland has many fans, and not just for his song and you might see why tonight… (ask me via e-mail I can’t say it on the blog!)

15 Slovakia

This my guilty pleasure of the Contest.  It’s like a big hair rock-out! Good effort – although what’s all that screeching about.  Will it go through?

16 Norway

Back in March I said to Neill Cockwill that he should put bets on Ukraine, Romania and Norway. At the time they all had long odds (60-1 and over).  They have all since narrowed, and I think that after tonight Tooji will be in the final with small odds. Great song and well performed. Pretty boys have begun to do very well at Eurovision: Eric Saade for Sweden last year cam third, and Alexander Rybak was the winning singer for Norway in 2009.  There’s a female demographic for Eurovision these days, so it’s not only the gay fans who might appreciate Tooji this year.  Surely guaranteed to go through?

17 Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia have a good track record.  On the first few listens this doesn’t seem as strong as last year, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see this in the final.

18 Lithuania

A good position for this song, and with quite a memorable performance.  It’s a good song – and helped by the change of pace.  Perhaps it takes a little too long before the tempo changes, but overall it gets me singing along.


So that’s the field for tonight.  Later I will Skye with my chums in Baku to sort the napkin of death.  In the meantime, what will be your final 10?

More in a bit…



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