Eurovision 2011 – Semi Final Two

Barely two days after the rigours of Semi Final One we return fresh-faced and expectant at the Fortuna arena for more delights. Let’s go through them again one by one in order, together with the largely pointless range of betting possibilities, brought to you by correct as at 31 March.

Bosnia Herzegovina – Dino Merlin – Love in Rewind

BosniaDino’s a big star in downtown Sarajevo, and has an excellent Eurovision record as being writer of Sva Bol Svjeta and singing half of Putnici (not sure if he was Put or Nici though). Is this another notch on his bedpost or a blotch on his escutcheon? A notch I think. He looks like he could be a contemporary of the original Merlin, and their performance appears to have been choreographed for a completely different song. I feel it lacks something somewhere – I wonder if in a few months he’ll discover a few missing odd notes that fell down the back of the sofa. 8-1 to 14-1

Austria – Nadine Beiler – The Secret is Love

AustriaThe first few notes make you think you’re in Whitney Houston I Will Always Love You mode, but actually it’s not quite as disastrous as that. When the song can be finally arsed to get going, it’s not a bad tune, but it’s very heavy going, more posing than imposing, and it does get on my nerves by the end. She’s had a couple of top ten hits in Austria and is a TV talent show star. Her hairstylist is obviously a fan of Aneka’s “Japanese Boy”. 33-1 to 50-1

Netherlands – 3J’s – Never Alone

NetherlandsIt’s a middle of the road, guitarry, plaintive, serious-ish song which is pleasant in parts. It’s the kind of song you know you ought to appreciate because they doubtless put a lot of hard work into it. However, it’s got none of the attack of the Lovebugs and their Highest Heights of a couple of years ago, and we know what happened to them. I find it very difficult to take seriously a song with the lyrics “there are golden gardens at the sweet end of your trail”. 66-1 to 200-1

Belgium – Witloof Bay – With Love Baby

BelgiuamNo, it’s not the return of the Flying Pickets – no such luck. When does acapella become simple showing-off? At about 1:40 on the accompanying youtube, when the admittedly skilful but tiresome singing is interrupted by a jerk with oral explosions. It’s the kind of noise a six year old makes when playing with guns. If you have to listen all the way through, (not recommended) you can enjoy mild diversion by pretending they’re singing “White Loaf” instead. 50-1 to 300-1

Slovakia – Twiins – I’m Still Alive

SlovakiaAnother song that fails to live up to the promise of its first fifteen seconds. And what’s with the “ii” in “Twiins”? Are they specifically targeting the Finnish market? It’s vacuous lowest-common-denominator Atomic Kitten/ All Saints/ Girls Aloud soundalike stuff, that goes nowhere and takes ages not getting there. The Twiins were backing singers for Tereza Kerndlová when she had some fun in 2008. Didn’t like that much either. 40-1 to 100-1

Ukraine – Mika Newton – Angel

UkraineFresh from a selection process that Mugabe would have been proud of, the upshot isn’t a bad song from Mika Newton. She’s got quite a nice voice, quite a pretty face, and it’s quite an enjoyable tune, even if it doesn’t linger in the brain too long afterwards. She’s an Avril Lavigne-type rock chick who came to prominence during the Orange Revolution and I expect we’ll see her in Düsseldorf on Saturday night. 25-1 to 100-1

Moldova – Zdob si Zdub – So Lucky

MoldovaI was quite pleased when I realised the Zdobs were back in town, as Boonika had a certain charm about her – for me it succeeded where the Babushki of last year’s Russian National Final totally failed. However, then they presented us with “So Lucky”. Three different tunes with no apparent dovetailing to unify them into one song. None of the three tunes makes for enjoyable listening. It’s all very raucous for raucous’ sake. I guess it has an element of anarchy but that dream in our hearts that one day we will all meet in Chisinau seems even further away. 40-1 to 125-1

Sweden – Eric Saade – Popular

SwedenA slick act and a creative musical arrangement make this a memorable performance, but I do have problems with it. Much has been made of the apparent rip-off of the drum opening to “Rasputin” and frankly they’re guilty as charged. The rhyme of possible with impossible is unforgivable – yes it rhymes, but you might as well have “I’m not going to Kings Cross Station, I’m going to Euston Station”. (It just about scans). The man likes a gimmick and I understand he is single-handedly responsible for rescuing the glaziers of Stockholm from recession. I predict Sweden’s best result for years. (Bold, aren’t I?) 8-1 to 12-1

Cyprus – Christos Mylordos – San Aggelos S’Asapisa

CyprusWords fail me, it’s so boring. It’s so boring it makes me angry. With any luck you might drift off before he starts singing. If you don’t, you might care to notice that the chorus appears to have no lyrics. But who cares. 40-1 to 300-1

Bulgaria – Poli Genova – Na Inat

BulgariaDisappointed to discover that “na inat” doesn’t translate as “nah, innit” but as the more prosaic “for spite”, and having read the lyrics I now understand why she sounds as miffed as she does. I don’t mind this. It’s got a bit of attack, and the tune is ok. You’d be nervous if you bumped into her in a dark alley, mind. Ends very suddenly. I think they just ran out of minutes. 80-1 to 200-1

FYR Macedonia – Vlatko Ilievski – Rusinka

FYR MacedoniaOne of those rare occasions where Mrs Chrisparkle and I completely agree on a Eurovision song. We both think this is pretty ace. It’s fast moving, jolly, unpretentious Russkipop, the age-old story of “we don’t speak each other’s language” and with an amusing nod to Kalinka to boot. Check out the video to see the two least convincing Russian dancers within 50 miles of Skopje. I hope it gets through to Saturday night, but I fear it won’t. 100-1 to 300-1

Israel – Dana International – Ding Dong

IsraelAnd here’s a classic example of where we don’t agree – the return of Ms International. How well we remember her feathers flapping in Birmingham all those years ago – but that was then and this is now. Mrs Chrisparkle can’t get past the first “Ding Dong” without reaching for the mute. DI’s voice continues to be on the tentative side of weak; the English words of the song verge on the risible; and yet, you know, I really like this! The tune just carries me away. Wouldn’t it be fun if just once Dana International sang the “Ding Dong” bit in the style of Leslie Phillips? 25-1 to 100-1

Slovenia – Maja Keuc – No One

SloveniaWritten by the same creative team who wrote “Energy” and “Mr Nobody”, and one of the co-writers of “Stop”. You wouldn’t credit it, would you? I think it’s a lot of caterwauling over nothing. 33-1 to 50-1

Romania – Hotel FM – Change

RomaniaOne of the UK’s “satellite” entries as the boy David Bryan is originally from Newton Aycliffe. As soon as the plinky plonky pub piano starts up it’s instantly appealing, with its nice tune and singalong easy to follow lyrics. Romania have come close in recent years and I think this has got to be in with a good chance. Just don’t mention the webcam. 25-1 to 100-1

Estonia – Getter Jaani – Rockefeller Street

EstoniaAlready a fan favourite, here we go with another strong song, a punchy tune and performance with a memorable hook. But is there any significance to the “1273” or would any old number have done? A quick spot of research reveals there’s no such address. Pity. Still I like it. I kind of wish it didn’t have that quieter slower sequence in the middle. You’re going to be hanging around like a lemon at the Eurovision disco during that bit. Sure to qualify though. First mention of diamonds and pearls of the evening. 5-1 to 13-2

Belarus – Anastasiya Vinnikova – I Love Belarus

BelarusIf you can’t get quicker than a Kwik Fit Fitter, you can’t get camper than a Belarussian Eurovision song, which is another of life’s little ironies. I can’t help but think the lovely Anastasiya will belt out her paean of her nation on Thursday night and millions of people all round Europe will just roll their eyes and say “yeah, right”. The song couldn’t be Russkier, and there’s a lot of fun to be had with it, but I think at the end of the evening Anastasiya will be getting into her Trabbie and toodling off back to Minsk. 66-1 to 200-1

Latvia – Musiqq – Angel in Disguise

LatviaAnother example of where Mrs Chrisparkle and I seem to be completely out of kilter with the rest of Europe, in that we really like this one too. Sensually alliterative lyrics, a thoughtful arrangement, it’s kind of softly contemporary if you get my drift. These two guys have been together for a couple of years now and have had a few hits in the Latvian charts. I don’t mind the rap section but it does go on too long. Must remind them how to spell “Music” some time. 66-1 to 150-1

Denmark – A Friend in London – New Tomorrow

DenmarkA bit boring to watch, but very anthemic; could be the dark horse, if they put lots of 50p’s in the meter and they’ve still got a packet of the Olsen Brothers’ fireworks left. It’s a comfortably unchallenging feelgood song, the musical equivalent of a favourite warm old cardy. Andreas Johnson must be furious. Second mention of diamonds and pearls of the evening. 14-1 to 22-1

Ireland – Jedward – Lipstick

IrelandAnd finally, a subtle way to wind up the evening. Hair styled by Edvard Munch, John and Edward cavort and vocalise their way through the routine with all the musicality of Janet Street-Porter. The song is disgustingly catchy but I think it’s going be way off radar of everyone east of Ostend. Definite 12 points from the UK if it gets to the final. 20-1 to 40-1

So I’m going to have a lie down in a darkened room now and will be back soon with the five finalists plus the songs I think will join them on the Saturday night. Thanks for reading!