Are you all ready? Take a deep breath and we will dig into the second semi final. Here is the first bite!
Dino Merlin - Love In Rewind (Bosnia-Herzegovina 2011)
The rhythm of this song reminds me of the Bosnian eurosong from exactly thirty years ago (representing Yugoslavia in Dublin 1981), just proving that the musical tradition goes like a red thread through most of the Bosnian contributions. Many things have changed with time, and these days Bosnia-Herzegovina are often considered top contenders with their quirky but catchy entries.
It would surprise me if this would turn out to be their first winner, though. It is probably a bit too demanding for the average voter, but what a fantastic entry it is. Artistic, ambitious, surprising. This one has everything you could ask for, in addition to a very appealing melody line. A firm favourite of mine.
Yes. Dino Merlin is a superstar in the Balkans, but this is also a super song.
My grade: 4/5
Nadine Beiler - The Secret Is Love (Austria 2011)
I have really missed Austria in Eurovision and would really love to love this one. This girl is so sweet and is so talented, she sings so well, and the gospel chorus really provides a lift towards the end.
And yet, the whole thing is just so predictable and nice. Nice in a bad way. Nice in a dull way. Nice as in elevator music. Thinking how much Trackshittaz or Klimmstein would have stood out in this semi, it is a shame how Austria threw away a great chance. Then again, many people are fond of this genre and not all hope is lost.
Probably not. Coming on as song number two, not including more memorable moves than this one does, even the people who liked it will remember it well enough when it is time to cast the decisive votes.
My grade: 2/5
3JS - Never Alone (Netherlands 2011)
Not only is this one just as nice as Austria, it also begins with the worst lyrical faux pas I know. Anyone who rhymes "heart" with "start" gets about one hundred points deducted at once in my book, but after that the song actually takes quite a nice turn.
Indeed, it is a pleasant little pop number, tailormade for the softer radio stations, well performed by this Duth Jan Johansen and his clones. Yet, it faces the same problem as the Austrian entry. Who will remember this one long enough to vote for it?
Possibly, if the Dutch would have the kind of luck they have not had since 2004. But I seriously doubt it.
My grade: 2/5
Witloof Bay - With Love Baby (Belgium 2011)
A capella doesn't have to be a bad idea. Latvia did it quite nicely in 2006, and the entry by Ba'Six in the 2001 Danish final is really sweet. What they both had was a good tune to begin with. This is just an unsufferable display of what fantastic sounds (according to themselves) a group of singers can make using no instruments.
Great. We know. But why didn't you bother writing a song? Now all we get is a very smug performance without a trace of charm anywhere.
Probably not. But it does have one advantage compared to Austria and the Netherlands: you will not forget this one. It moves into your head and stays there, even though you just want it to leave.
My grade: 1/5
TWiiNS - I'm Still Alive (Slovakia 2011)
Same case as Austria - I would really want to like this one more than I do. It reminds me quite a lot of Azerbaijan's entry, but unlike that one this never really takes off. It keeps going, wagging along, without any major surprises or climaxes. The twin sisters really do their best, and maybe they can make this one light up the sky on stage, but they had really bad luck getting drawn so tightly together with a whole bunch of other midtempo songs.
No. I'm afraid not. I would really want Slovakia to have some success in order for them to want to stay in competition, but this is pretty unlikely to happen.
My grade: 2/5