The lineup for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest has been decided with the last 10 songs chosen from 17 candidates in the second semi-final.
Finland’s lesbian kiss-boosted “Marry me” has made it, and it will do battle in Malmo on Saturday with a Vampire-themed entry from Romania, a 2.34 metre-high Ukrainian and Bonnie Tyler, among others.
Leading in the polls is Denmark which is entering that tried-and-tested competition favourite, a ballad. “Only Teardrops” is delivered by 20 year-old Emmelie de Forest, the youngest competitor.
From Azerbaijan to Iceland, Europe’s television audience will be rooting for their champions. Nowhere more so than Greece, whose entry has some wry comments to make about the economic crisis there.
Some of Thursday night’s hopefuls failed to make it. 21-year-old Moran Mazor from Israel failed to impress, as did Macedonia’s veteran Gypsy Queen herself Esma, whose experience counted for little when the votes came in.
From Thursday night’s second semi-final, here is the full list of 10 acts that made it through to the final:
- Armenia: Dorians – Lonely Planet
- Azerbaijan: Farid Mammadov - Hold Me
- Finland: Krista Siegfrids - Marry Me
- Georgia: Nodi Tatishvili & Sophie Gelovani - Waterfall
- Greece: Koza Mostra feat. Agathon Iakovidis - Alcohol Is Free
- Hungary: ByeAlex - Kedvesem (Zoohacker Remix)
- Iceland: Eythor Ingi - Ég Á Líf
- Malta: Gianluca - Tomorrow
- Norway: Margaret Berger - I Feed You My Love
- Romania: Cezar - It's My Life
Acts representing Albania, Bulgaria, Israel, F.Y.R. Macedonia, Latvia, San Marino, and Switzerland were knocked out of the competition.
Here is the euronews verdict on all of the songs from the second semi-final:
Who the hell are we to judge?
The euronews jury is made up of three music-loving but unfortunately not music-playing journalists, who reserve the right to be honest while trying to remain respectful to the performers: Mark Davis (normally found listening to Pearl Jam, Jake Bugg, the Stone Roses), Thomas Seymat (Alt-J, Franck Ocean, Daft Punk) and Marie Jamet (Marvin Gaye, Pulp, Clinic).
Dorians - Lonely Planet
TS: Dorians deliver an effective classic rock ballad, which is not a song about a travel guide. Too bad the cheesy utopian nonsensical lyrics delivered by a bouncy singer sound oh-so-very 90’s. 6 points, 80-1 to win.
Farid Mammadov – Hold Me
MJ: A pretty boy singing a sad song, trying his best to look sad: the furrowed brow, the clenched fists, a voice that is trying so hard to contain the pain, with a metallophone giving off the sound of sadness behind him. Sad, sad, sad. And all you can do is to try not to cry with boredom.
MD: “If love was a mountain I’d climb up to the highest of them all, I’d swim across the ocean if you’d call, I’m lost in your smile. Freefalling for miles”. Farid Mammadov gives 110% in an attempt to break the record for clichés in a verse. Drivel. Nul points, 150-1 to win.
Krista Siegfrids – Marry me
MJ: Pure pop-juice: large-breasted and perfectly manicured blonde caked in make-up, wearing studded leather and perched on high heels, declaring her love for a guy. But in a post-feminist oh-so-modern way. Except for the white wedding dress and the knight in shining armour. Nul points, 150-1 to win.
MD: Finland is a beautiful country full of adorable people. I have never had anything bad to say about Finland. Now, thanks to this song, I do. Nul points, 150-1 to win.
Nodi Tatishvili and Sophie Gelovani – Waterfall
MD: Two singers who actually complement each other quite well, singing a song that could make it onto a low-budget Disney soundtrack. It’s just a tad generic and I can’t imagine anyone remembering this song once Nodi and Sophie have fulfilled their part of the bargain by singing it very nicely indeed and cracking into the champagne backstage. 2 points, 66-1 to win.
MJ: A typical commercial song. Two strong commercial voices, a boy and a girl. Very Disney-like indeed and just as forgettable. 2 points for singing so accurately and 80-1 to win.
Koza Mostra & Agathon Iakovidis - Alcohol Is Free
TS: Balkan music band Koza Mostra teams up with folk music veteran Agathon Iakovidis for a punchy old-meets-the-new song. If all else fails, the catchy Hellenic ska of Alcohol is Free could still be the anthem of the next batch of Erasmus students heading to Greece in September. 9 points, 33-1 to win.
MD: I can picture these guys as the support act at a Goran Bregovic gig. They’re not quite in the same league as Brega but definitely in the same ilk. It could go either way for this unashamed drinking song: it’ll either be loved for its Balkan folk craziness or ignored for its rustic lack of sophistication. I hope it’s the former but I fear it’ll be the latter. Obviously it will get 12 points from Cyprus. 10 points, 33-1 to win.
ByeAlex – Kedvesem
MD: Cute animated video showing the lyrics in Hungarian so you can sing along. Or try to anyway. Interesting to see how this translates to a live performance. Song sounds something like Badly Drawn Boy and while it may not be dynamic enough to win, it’s a nice little tune. 10 points (out of a maximum 12), 66-1 to win.
MJ: A nice little indie song, with a jumpy rhythm backed by gentle hand-clapping. This kind of rhythm and voice remind me of one my favourite bands, the Papas Fritas, but without the nice female voice. But here the (male) singer’s slightly veiled voice is nice enough to work without a girlie backup. That’s my 12 points but I predict a 200-1 to win.
Eyþór Ingi Gunnlaugsson – Ég á Líf
MJ: A good old-fashioned viking blond, complete with beard and long-but-clean hair, sings what could have been a Celine Dion hit in Icelandic. It seems a song of tragedy but apparently, according to the child’s drawing used in the video it has a happy ending. 4 points, 40-1 to win.
MD: Everything’s very folkloric about Iceland’s entry. It’s simple, traditional, humble and, quite frankly, difficult to say anything bad about. Having said that, it’s also difficult to get excited about. If I was wistfully gazing out to sea from a mist-enshrouded cliff-top, and I spoke Icelandic, I would probably start belting out Ég á Líf at the top of my lungs. But as a non-Icelandic speaking philistine sitting on my sofa watching Eurovision, I would probably take this as an opportunity to put the kettle on. 6 points, 50-1 to win.
Gianluca Bezzina – Tomorrow
MJ: A happy indie ballad done by a ukelele-backed. It might not be ground-breaking but at least there’s sunshine and youthful exuberance! Quite refreshing when you’ve had to sit through dozens of Eurovision songs. 10 points (out of a maximum 12), 66-1 to win.
MD: They remind me of that group Fun that all the young folk are listening to at the moment, which means they might be fashionable (I wouldn’t really know to be honest). And I’m with Marie: more sunshine and happy faces please. Give Europe’s jobless youth something to smile about! 8 points, 20-1 to win.
Margaret Berger – I feed you my love
MJ: A beautiful, dreamy blonde, some reverb on top of a gimmicky boom-boom-fizz-fizz dance track and the odd lyrical explosion to get the crowd going. Will Norway do it this year? It just might… 10 points, 20-1 to win.
MD: This song would not be out of place as the theme tune to a James Bond film; the singer has a voice reminiscent of Shirley Manson of Garbage (The World is not Enough). It’s a little bit different to the other entries this year, it’s slightly darker and as such it stands out. I think Norway have a good chance of winning with this effort. 12 points, 10-1 to win.
Cesar - It's My Life
TS: Of course, it would be very easy to laugh off Cesar’s song, with his insanely high-pitched countertenor voice, the 90s dancey loop, interrupted only by a totally out-of-place dubstep break. But the vocal performance is no joke. A mix so mind-blowing it might very well win.
6 points, 16-1 to win.
MD: Good grief, Cesar certainly has one helluva voice! He could do Phantom of the Opera all by himself, singing all the parts. Musicals for the austerity era. Like Thomas, I have no idea who thought the little dubstep cameo would be a good idea. What is it with the 15-second dubstep sequences this year? That aside, this is Cesar’s show. The man was born to be on stage and this is a potential winner even if it is very weird indeed, and a little scary. 10 points, 8-1 to win.
And here’s our verdict on the song’s that didn't make it to Saturday's final:
PeR - Here We Go
TS: PeR are Latvians rapping in English. Onstage they wear the most glittery pants AND military jackets ever created and sometimes one of them even beat-boxes. There’s also a keytar player. The mind boggles. 1 point, 150-1 to win.
MD: Those sparkly suits are a statement that says “Do not take us seriously!” which is fair enough; this is Eurovision after all. There is nothing serious here, and I’m certain these guys would be an awesome booking for a wedding. The ‘fun factor’ will probably earn them points and I can see PeR making the final, but there’s nothing substantial enough about the song to take it all the way, I fear. 4 points (out of a maximum 12), 66-1 to win. , 80-1 to win.
Valentina Monetta – Crisalide
MJ: OK, so this song starts sad, à la Céline Dion before finishing with a dancier (but still quite melancholic) flourish. A funny combination but this has got its share of good points to seduce some of the judges and certain members of the public. But perhaps not entirely. It’s perhaps the kind of song that will do well but not win. A fourth-place finish maybe. 8 points, 33-1 to win.
MD: Here you get two minutes of piano and string-backed ballad, to which the Italian language lends itself very well, and then a minute of Eurodance (which very few languages lend themselves to). That (presumably deliberately) reflects the lyrics of the song, which is about ‘emerging from your chrysalis and becoming a butterfly’. So there’s some thought behind this, which is one of the plus points Marie was talking about. And there are others, such as the video (again, it is coherent and has a point) and Valentina Monetta’s voice. Unfortunately for San Marino, the tiny little microstate doesn’t have a very large diaspora so will miss out on the general public’s points but the fact that the song ‘tells a story’ might go down well with the ‘professional’ judges. 8 points, 40-1 to win.
Esma and Lozano – Pred Da Se Razdeni
MD: Two songs in one. The first is a West End musical done in Balkan style sing by Lozano. Then the formidable-looking Esma comes in and steals his limelight with a dancy Gitane number, while an unimpressed Lozano ignores her presence with him on stage. Not really sure the two different parts work that well together but this song could get a lot of votes from the Balkans. 4 points, 40-1 to win.
MJ: Agreed, it’s a little strange this song, which is cut into two parts. The stage set-up is also slightly curious, with Lozano singing on one side then switching to the other after dropping his mic (deliberately or not, it’s not clear) while Esma sings her first part. Then the two meet in the middle for a sad-sounding duo. Odd. 2 points, 80-1 to win.
Elitsa & Stoyan – Samo Shampioni
MJ: A rare eastern sound to the music, and an ever rarer outing for a gaïta (Balkan bagpipes), boosted by plenty of percussion and a wall of dance beats. It’s sung in Bulgarian but there’s plenty of repetition so you don’t miss much by not understanding the lyrics. If nothing else, it makes you want to tap your feet. 8 points, 80-1 to win
MD: It’s certainly quite different to anything else I’ve heard thus far in this year’s Eurovision list, which is certainly no a bad thing. I imagine his would be great to see live at a street carnival, what with all the drums and noise. And I’d love to have a go on a gaïta. I would be surprised though if this song won, as it doesn’t quite fit the Eurovision mould. I wouldn’t mind being wrong though. 9 points, 66-1 to win.
Moran Mazor – Rak bishvilo (Only For Him)
MD: Curvacious Moran Mazor’s powerful lungs belt the song out with energy in abundance. Sounds like about a million other songs, nothing really grabs the attention. Apart from Moran Mazor’s curves. 3 points, 100-1 to win.
Adrian Lulgjuraj & Bledar Sejko – Identitet
MJ: This is riff-rock from the Balkans backed by strings. There are some ‘hard-rock’ guitar solos and some good old heavy-metal hairdos. It’s what you might expect if you put college rock and hard rock in a mixer for a few seconds. No chance of winning though – Lordi this is not. 6 points, 100-1 to win.
MD: The first few bars sound like a Balkan U2 and then gradually it gets a little harder and heavier until it ends up with what AC/DC might sound like if they weren’t quite as good as they actually are. Don’t get me wrong, this Albanian song is decent, it’s just that we’ve all heard something like it somewhere before. 4 points, 150-1 to win.
Takasa – You and Me
MD: You start out by thinking this song is going nowhere, then it goes there. And that’s despite the road-trip video making you think that maybe, just maybe, the song will take you somewhere. On stage, without the video, this might struggle to make the final. 1 point, 150-1 to win.
MJ: You do think they’re driving to Malmö in the video because of a guide with Malmö written on it (uh, so obvious). You start thinking ‘oh they’re so happy (there are enough forced smiles and laughs to make you believe so) to go to Eurovision they made a video out of it’. But then (beware, 1st class spoiler), no. At the end of the video, they do go nowhere as Mark said. Literally in the middle of nowhere. So what about the song then? Well not much better than the video. Just an average pop-rock song, not disagreeable, sticky and repetitive enough to spoil your day but not enough to mark music history. 4 points, 200-1 to win.