Saturday, May 24, 2008

Eurovision: First Semi-Final

It seems to come around faster every year, but really people, could it ever come fast enough. I've said it before, but it's our Grand Final and some of the best fun you can have with a TV show.

Last night was the first semi-final; this year there are so many entries that there are two semi-finals, and the winners from the semis go into the grand final on Sunday night (Australian TV delayed time). Although I love the idea of three big Eurotastic nights, it does deflate the excitement of seeing a whole batch of unseen entries in the final, I'm not sure if there will be any new contestants in the final (like last year where about half were). If so, hopefully the organisers will pull something out to make sure that the opening and voting time entertainment is spectacular.

This year's Eurotainment is book-ended by Julia Zemiro who seems like a great choice for the task. I only hope her Eurovision character Brovna makes an appearance (SBS might be saving her up for the final).

So, on to the show...

- The brief, black and white swingle-singers-ish, opening was somewhat arresting in a comical/sixties way. This lead into the opening number that started off with a grand display of the amazing video backdrop and catwalks, but then lead into an unspectacular opening number with a slightly off-key brass band who provided strange versions of Congratulations, Waterloo and Volare. I found the blue and red people a bit unsettling.

- Hosts - where do they find them? Once again a male female combo resembling Will & Grace. Is it in a contract somewhere? Great accents and the usual level of delirious enthusiasm. All in all - great.

The songs:

  • Montengro - A bland start.
  • Israel - Emotive boy-bandy, best left alone.
  • Estonia - Comical, sorry "comical" with three guys in primary colour suits being ker-azy. A couple of barely clad beauties managed the oversized props and were no doubt there as some sort of distraction. Not terrible, but not good.
  • Moldova - Apologies to the good people of Moldova (and I know you'll be reading this), but I've found it hard to forgive you for the "Granny Plays The Drums" entry a few years back - until now. Their 2008 entry is a nice bossanova piece with smooth vocals - very pleasing and a nice change of pace. The only let-down was the poor staging - the sofa and the teddy bear didn't do anything for the song.
  • San Marino - Have they been in it before? I can't recall. A bit overblown.
  • Belgium - O Villisy, or something - apparently in a made-up language, so I don’t care if the title is wrong. It was cute and the back up singers looked like air hostesses.
  • Azerbaijan - Spectacularly bonkers, sort of a heaven vs hell/angels vs demons thing, and all up a bit like a Marilyn Manson tribute at a theatre restaurant. At one stage the (then) black-clad demon guy pours a glass of red liquid over a female dancer, all I could think was - who will have to clean that up?
  • Slovenia - I think they were showing a woman oppressed by the patriarchy, or possibly by her dress, but you'll be pleased to know she turns it all around and oppresses the patriarchy back in a lime green skirt, purple waistcoat and kicky heels. Very Italo-disco.
  • Norway - Female version of a boy-band, if that makes any sense at all (meaning, they were more Boyzone than Girls Aloud). An unexciting pop number though.
  • Poland - The singer, who I believe is American, looked like Dontella Versace with plastic looking super-white teeth. Awful diva anthem song, I went to brush my teeth at this stage.
  • Ireland. Oh god. Not enjoyable on any level with a rapping puppet turkey on lead vocals and a cast of crazy hams in boas. What were they thinking?
  • Andorra - Everything you expect Eurovision to be - glitzy outfits, pop music, mad headgear and a key change (if memory serves). Thanks ladies.
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina - Had a lot of elements that could have made it a shocker - it's wacky for a start (always bad), costumes like L'il Abner meets a Russian Wedding and all manner of face-pulling - but.. it's an interesting track, and my favourite of the night. If you close your eyes and ignore the Bob Downe-alike singer it was almost Brit-pop.
  • Armenia - Off-key in a fringey frock.
  • The Netherlands - Poptastic like Andorra, maybe it was they who had the key change?
  • Finland - Haven't we been here before? Finnish Heavy metal. Will probably win.
  • Romania - Awful, Renee and Renata type ballad, my most hated style off music, well, except for Football songs.
  • Russia - Dull,but creative use of the stage, overhead shots etc...). The sort of ballad they seem to love in Asia, hideous, but fun to see an ice skater on the Eurovision stage.
  • Greece - Clunky, sounded like it was written by a machine.

    I'll be back tomorrow with the second semi-final recap...

1 comment:

Jane W said...

Wayne, once again thankyou for inspiring me to watch the 2nd semi final. You may not approve but it was a great way to get stuck into the ironing!!!

I am a classical and jazz buff, I first became aware of the Eurovision Song Contest when I worked at the University of Melbourne between 2004 and mid 2006, with a very fiesty woman, who had been born in Yugoslavia. Whenever the Eurovision Song Contest was available on SBS the whole timetable of her household was turned upside down so that she, her husband and daughter could watch.

While I was there the University's Administration, in their wisdom, conducted an online surveys of extra curricular skills eg. what languages we spoke other than English, did we identify as Aboriginal, what country we were born in....etc.

This last question was so painful for my friend that she ended up in tears. Yugoslavia was not an option in the pull down menu, nor was Other. She certainly did not identify with the politically created entity of Bosnia/Herzegovina.

She and her husband fled Belgrade when her daughter was 2 years old, the family stayed about 3 years in several refugee camps before making their way to Australia. After a total of 14 years the family plan to visit Belegrade in June. This will be the first time back for this, now, Australian young woman.

I look forward to hearing about how the reality of the city matches the entries in this year's Eurovision Song Contest.