And to wrap it up, here are the four last entries of the first semi, all viewed with my critical (but reasonable) eye.
Homens da Luta - Luta é alegria (Portugal 2011)
Of course you can get a bit confused as to what kind of competition this really is. Is this a forum for the eternal eurosongs? Should you send in material with chart potential? You never know these things for sure. But Portugal has been in it long enough to know it is not the place to send bottom-of-the-league sketches that would be rejected by the local village revue.
There is a possibility that every fragment of this entry is sheer brilliance if you are Portuguese, fluent in Portuguese and pretty aware of Portuguese culture and history. I can assure you that the vast majority of viewers and voters will not understand what goes on, and will not be bothered with these people in strange clothes.
In a cat fair, you enter a cat. In a baking competition, you enter a cake. In a song contest, you enter a song. Take notes, Portugal.
Nope. Estonian Kreisiraadio showed that humour with no humour will not work at the ESC. Possibly even a nul-pointer in the end.
My grade: 0/5
Evelina Sašenko - C'est ma vie (Lithuania 2011)
Just like Armenia's Emmy, poor Evelina has been robbed. She has an excellent voice and a good stage-presence, and radiates not only confidence but also intelligence. So whatever made her accept such a bleak, pompous non-entry is beyond me.
Entries like this one were in abundance during the mid-90's and were one of the main reasons why Eurovision started lacking in popularity and ratings. I can't see why Europe would have changed its mind since then. Lithuania could gladly send Evelina again, some other time, but with a decent song. She would deserve that.
No. Not even Disney wants ballads like this one anymore.
My grade: 1/5
Ell & Nikki - Running Scared (Azerbaijan 2011)
I do have a few strong words to say about Azerbaijan's policy of buying their way to success (and their way of ignoring their own composers and sounds) but after Portugal and Lithuania I won't argue anymore as this is one of the strongest songs of all 2011.
It is breezy, atmospheric and emotional and while this couple does not strike you as the most obvious love birds ever (so to speak) they come across as very likeable. My only slight reservation is that I want to hear what this sounds like live. This chorus contains some really difficult passages that are very hard to pull off, and worst case scenario is that this lovely chorus turns into the musical equivalent of a horror movie before three minutes are over.
I am keeping my fingers crossed for that not to happen.
Yes. If these two hit the notes properly, then they will sail all straight into the final and make a respectable showing there.
My grade: 4/5
Loucas Yiorkas Feat. Stereo Mike - Watch my dance (Greece 2011)
The Greeks have been dancing around merrily on the Eurovision stage almost every year since 2004, and of course that is bound to wear you out sooner or later. I have wished for a Greek change of direction for a long time already. Which reminds me, you should always be careful what you wish for.
Stereo Mike and his rap paired with Loucas and all his pathos could have been a good idea in theory, but the pieces of this song won't gel and the final result is surprisingly lacking in dynamics and melody. It is not bad as such, but I don't feel anything listening to this song. It starts, it goes on, it ends, it passes me by.
No. Greece has been a steady feature in the final every year since the semis were inagurated, but I think they will have a hard time keeping up with their own reputation this time.
My grade: 1/5