Eurovision 2011 – Semi Final One

So having whetted your appetite (hopefully) with some gems that didn’t make it, let’s take a look at the songs on offer in Semi Final One which will take place on May 10th. I’m going to take them in order of appearance. Range of odds courtesy of as at 30th March; some very wide ranges which just goes to show how difficult it can be to predict!

Poland – Jestem – Magdalena Tul

PolandLet’s start with a difficult one then. On the Yahoo group where I contribute and/or lurk, depending on my mood, when this song was announced there was much whooping and delight. And I think it’s perfectly all right. It’s one of those songs which is very hard to remember a few minutes after you’ve heard it, which is not an advantage when you’re performing first. It’s extremely nice, and not at all offensive. Possibly a bit repetitive. I can’t really sell it to you any more. 20-1 to 66-1

Norway – Haba Haba – Stella Mwangi

NorwayThe Lion King mixed with a little Coco-Dance gives us this first ever Swahili chorus in Eurovision. Stella’s hugely popular back home and for a while at least kept Lady Gaga off the Number one slot on the I-Tunes chart with this happy sound. The trouble with it, as Mrs Chrisparkle will testify, is whilst the chorus is an escapist chant of charming nonsense, the verse seems to be a bit uncomfortable in Stella’s range and she sounds a bit off-key and strained. I still like it lots. 6-1 to 14-1

Albania – Aurela Gace – Feel the Passion

Albania I’m not normally a fan of Albania’s songs, finding them a bit shouty and over dramatic. This is possibly one of their better efforts, being slightly less shouty and over dramatic than usual. But not much. To commend it, it’s quite a strong tune, but I could probably do with a little less of Aurela’s passion, if I’m honest. They choose the Albanian song at the Festival i Kenges, which always sounds to me like a convention for building site equipment fans. 50-1 to 150-1

Armenia – Emmy – Boom Boom

ArmeniaNot the Boom Boom of Basil Brush, nor of Mabel (Denmark 1978) but a pop-lite offering from Emmy who came second to Eva Rivas in Armenia’s national final last year. You think you’re going to like this at first, but then a couple of Boom Boom Chucka Chuckas later and you’re reaching for the eject button. Its contribution to the philosophic search for the understanding of true love is gossamer thin. Even the Armenians don’t like this. 25-1 to 150-1

Turkey -Yüksek Sadakat – Live It Up

TurkeyRegrettably not the “Live it up” from 1980s Aussie group Mental as Anything, but scoopings off the cutting floor of The Kinks’ “All Day and All of the Night”. It’s not bad, but it should be a bit more purposeful than it is. If they have a strong live act on the Düsseldorf stage and with complimentary lighting and staging it could do pretty well. 18-1 to 80-1

Serbia – Nina – Čaroban

SerbiaA full-on 60s pastiche presentation of this song at the Serbian national final certainly helped this otherwise slightly heavy-handed pop song. Disappointingly, Čaroban doesn’t seem to be about a trip by charabanc but some guy she thinks is “magical”. A good performance of this and I’m sure it will get through to the final. 40-1 to 100-1

Russia – Alex Sparrow – Get You

RussiaAlexey Vorobyov has been anglicised into the chirpier sounding Alex Sparrow to sing this undemanding piece of pop. Its writers include the team behind Lady Gaga’s Poker Face. It’s perfectly nice but terribly simple and shallow. I want it go somewhere else but it never gets there. By this stage of the evening we really need something earth-shattering to give the evening a boot up the backside. 10-1 to 22-1

Switzerland – Anna Rossinelli – In Love for a While

Switzerland And this isn’t it. If Russia’s song is perfectly nice, this is “incredibly pleasant”. It’s so laid back it almost falls over. Initially you think this is another song that will move onto a higher plane about one minute in, but I’m afraid it stays in the departure lounge. Given Switzerland’s lack of neighbourly voters, I don’t think we’ll be seeing it on Saturday night. 25-1 to 100-1

Georgia – Eldrine – One More Day

GeorgiaA more contemporary sound from Georgia and my favourite entry of theirs to date, although I realise not many people agree with me. I hope it gets through to Saturday night, but I think it’s borderline. 33-1 to 100-1

Finland – Paradise Oskar – Da Da Dam

FinlandWell now, here’s a thing. A little song with a guy on a guitar singing about a cute kid who gets angsted by his teacher talking about “the world’s going to end”. I can’t decide whether this is a charmingly innocent song with a valuable ecological message, or whether it’s nauseating drivel. “Peter is smart, he knows his European countries by heart” makes Mrs Chrisparkle want to puke. Paradise Oskar’s name comes from a children’s book, his real name is Axel Ehnström, and he wrote Da da dam himself. I have a sneaking suspicion that the chorus of “da da dam, da da dam, da da da da da da da da da” could be a bit lyrically challenged for the good burghers of Europe. 14-1 to 50-1

Malta – Glen Vella – One Life

Malta25 songs in Malta were whittled down over two nights and Glen Vella was the last man standing. I don’t think it’s the strongest song but he always puts in an infectious enthusiastic performance and if it gets through to Saturday night it will probably be due to his charisma (not to mention colour sense). 66-1 to 400-1

San Marino – Senit – Stand By

San MarinoSan Marino returns with Senit, whose voice reminds me of Sporty Spice Mel C. It’s a rather lovely heartfelt ballad and I admit I’m hooked on it. There probably aren’t many Eurovision artists of Eritrean heritage, so I expect that’s a first. Sadly I think it’s unlikely to trouble the televoters too much on Saturday if it gets there. 80-1 to 300-1

Croatia – Daria Kinzer – Celebrate

CroatiaFrom “Lahor” to “Break a Leg” and now “Celebrate”, this tune gets stronger (the composer wrote the theme to the Croatian version of “Big Brother”) but the lyrics get weaker. Daria Kinzer’s a great singer though and this stands out as being one of the better entries in this Semi. There’s something of the early Celine Dion to her looks, and I expect this to be there on Saturday. 50-1 to 250-1

Iceland – Sjonni’s Friends – Coming Home

IcelandSurely when the televoters of Europe hear the story of Sjonni Brink’s death shortly before he was due to perform this song in the Icelandic National Final, there’s going to be a wave of sympathetic phone calls heading for Reykjavik. We will of course never know if this song would have beaten other strong contenders if he hadn’t died. It is, in any event, an upbeat, happy singalong song, with a nice arrangement and confident vocals and I think it will do surprisingly well. 20-1 to 200-1

Hungary – Wolf Kati – What about my dreams

HungaryNot sure if she’s decided to be Wolf Kati or Kati Wolf, but this is Hungary’s strongest song since their debut entry. She’s a statuesque lady with a great voice and I’m sure it will do very well. Not much more to say really. 14-1 to 20-1

Portugal – Homens da luta – Luta e alegria

PortugalThe Portuguese protest song, much criticised for its rowdy style, rather rude performers and general all round thuggishness. Additionally it prevented some rather more genteel and entertaining songs from winning. But you know, in my heart of hearts, I like this. It has a very infectious tune, and the whole performance is reminiscent of a bunch of down-on-heels singing together to keep their spirits up, a kind of Portuguese Jarrow march. It hasn’t a hope in hell, especially if the EU bail Portugal out with cash some time before May 10th. 80-1 to 500-1

Lithuania – Evelina Saŝenko – C’est ma vie

LithuaniaA big ballad that sounds like it should be from a cheesy Disney production and is unfortunately the ultimate in snoozefest. 100-1 to 200-1

Azerbaijan – Ell and Nikki – Running Scared

AzerbaijanAnother contemporary song from the Drip Drop stable, and surely in contention for a high place in the final knockings. Simple but effective lyrics and a memorable musical hook. 9-1 to 16-1

Greece – Loukas Giorkas feat. Stereo Mike – Watch My Dance

GreeceA mixture of styles, dramatic Greek with rap, like Alex Panayi meets Eminem. For me it’s a total failure, but Mrs Chrisparkle likes it. There’s no accounting for taste. Remember Cyprus and Greece can’t vote for each other in the semis. 25-1 to 125-1

Comments on the Semi Final Two songs tomorrow, with any luck!