A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
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Sunday, April 28, 2019

Tobson's Big ESC 2019 review, part 6

A few years into the new system of semi finals, the fandom established a number of "truths" - one of these being that there are a number of countries that can't possibly fail in a semi final.

In some cases because they have a large cultural sphere with neighbours voting for them, in some cases because they have a large and active diaspora voting for them, in some cases because they have loads of money and no morals and gladly pay their way into a better result. In some cases, all three of the above combined.

The first major blow to this theory came in 2011 as both Armenia and Turkey bombed in the same semi in Düsseldorf and last year in Lisbon was a major event as three of the "eternal qualifiers" - Azerbaijan, Romania and Russia - all missed the grand final.

The only countries never to have lost out in a semi final are Ukraine (not participating this year) and Australia. Nobody's safe anymore.

This blog post includes the final six semi finalists of 2019. If you want to read about the other songs competing in the 2019 semi finals you will find them here in part one, two, three, four and five.

Sergey Lazarev / Scream

I was both surprised and a bit puzzled when I heard Sergey's comeback entry for the first time. Far from the kitsch fest I had feared and expected, this is a mature if somewhat overly bombastic entry that suits his voice well. Good but in no way a potential winner, not even for Russia. Only now all reports suggests that the big wallet has been hoisted up and that the stage show could be even more over the top than the last time around and suddenly I just feel exhausted and slightly nauseated. All that high-tech hocus pocus wrecks more than it adds and I wonder when people will learn?

Yes, of course. Russia is back in the game and when they are motivated, nothing can stop them in the semi.

My grade: 3/5

Jonida Maliqi / Ktheju tokës

Writing songs about topical themes is a difficult path to tread. There is always a serious risk that you will end up giving the impression you are trying to profit from the misfortune of others rather than being a voice of empathy and reason. Albania manages this balance act rather brilliantly and by singing about refugees of their own - people who left their country during the Kosovo war - they also manage to make their package inclusive and relevant to everyone.

Yes, I think and hope so. It has a sound that is different enough to set it apart from other songs in the lineup and Jonida is an excellent performer too.

My grade: 3/5

KEiiNO / Spirit In The Sky

This happy trio is blending almost every ingredient in the kitchen into a big bowl and the ESC fans love it. There is a bit of joik and a bit of drumming and a chorus we've heard before somewhere (not sure this is the song Saara Aalto will televote for), all of which delivered with far bigger smiles than the lyrics call for. Right out of Melodifestivalen 2005 or so. Add a performance like the one in the national final which was frankly all over the place and you'll see why I'm having doubts.

I'm not so sure. I personally like it - at least in its studio version - but is "Vrag naj vzame" meets "Sámiid ædnan" really what will get the masses going? I'm leaning towards a no here.

My grade: 3/5

Duncan Laurence / Arcade

The Netherlands scored four victories in the first twenty years of the ESC and then their well ran dry. Now the big question is whether this is the time when their fortunes get reversed? It could very well be. Suddenly they find themselves with a shining little pop pearl with a big emotional chorus and a very sensitive and attractive performer. Something that could very well ride high in the charts. The only thing that stops me from thinking this is an outright winner is that it doesn't feel like the sort of song that would win the Eurovision Song Contest. Does it?

Yes, absolutely. One of perhaps four or five potential winners. Sometimes I'm wrong too.

My grade: 4/5

Tamara / Proud

Ten years after the juries let her down in Belgrade, Tamara is back to clear her name. It is not entirely out of the question. Through the years, North Macedonia has emerged as one of the countries - perhaps the country - most likely to ruin their own chance by awful choice regarding styling, outfits, staging and so on. This very stripped-down song doesn't really allow any outrageous behaviour on stage and puts full focus on the singing.

Borderline. The song is a brave attempt but possibly not interesting enough in its own right. If Tamara sings her heart out while hitting the right notes, it could go all the way but I suspect North Macedonia will be out. For the seventh consecutive year.

My grade: 2/5

Chingiz / Truth

My first reaction to the Azerbaijani entry was that it didn't have a single drop of personality. Nicely produced, well sung, sounded right but totally anonymous. I have warmed to it since, mainly thanks to the enchanting Chingiz who manages to fill it up with presence and, I suppose, sex appeal. He is the asset carrying this entry on his broad shoulders but lately personalities have not done Azerbaijan a lot of good.

Yes. Last year was a hiccup. Chingiz will sail into the final on charm alone and will end up somewhere around 14th place there.

My grade: 3/5

If you want to agree or disagree with me, please leave a comment or send me a tweet. All the preview clips can be seen here.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Tobson's Big ESC 2019 review, part 5

What is the only thing that could be better than a semi final? Two semi finals, of course. The new semi proved a success in many ways but it soon became crowded and making your way through to the final became almost impossible.

The 2007 semi final in Helsinki stands out as a real televisual nightmare, a show that never ends and when it finally does it is with a result unlikely to make anyone happy. Meanwhile ten countries were pre-qualified with no sort of quality control what-so-ever. Had the two semi finals system been introduced already in 2007, the EBU would have saved themselves a fair share of viewer outrage and Andorra would have made it to the final.

Apart from Andorra's injustice, it seems the semi final system finally landed with the viewers once the semi was split in two. Suddenly the viewers started engaging with the new formula and the semi final results  seem to have become less arbitrary since 2008.

If you want more of my reviews you will find them in part one, two, three and four.

Leonora / Love Is Forever

Songwriter Lise Cabble represented Denmark three times before. Not only has she got a victory under her belt, she never placed lower than 5th. This time she has brought along Anna Rossinelli's formerly unknown Danish cousin, a former figure skater, equipped with a pleasant and happy little ditty. In our troubled times, few lines will sit worse than "Don't get too political" but possibly Europe will be in a good enough mood to overlook that.

You never know for sure, but Denmark is good at charming its way into the final. My bet is that the trick will work again but you can not be too sure. Anyway Lise Cabble is most probably set for landing outside the top five for the first time.

My grade: 3/5

John Lundvik / Too Late For Love

Once Melodifestivalen was over, I was ready to bet everything I own that Sweden would win in Tel Aviv, secure a seventh win and bumble their way onto the top of the winner table alongside Ireland. Maybe I am not as sure anymore but this is a compelling piece of gospel flavoured pop - a better performed version of Austria 2018 if you so wish - with a chorus you can easily hold on to on a first listening. This is the song most people can like at least a bit and that can carry very far, not least with the jurors.

Yes, beyond the shadow of a doubt. Perhaps not as obvious a winner as I thought at first but clearly one of perhaps four really strong contenders for victory.

My grade: 5/5

Paenda / Limits

In general, Austria have done most things right ever since selecting Conchita - what's an embarrassing nul pointer on home ground between friends? - and has provided an interesting range of entries lately. Last year they won the jury voting in the grand final. I wish I could say that success will stay with the Austrians as I really like Paenda and her low-intense presence and personable sound. Unfortunately her entry takes forever to develop into anything and when it finally does it is most probably too little and too late for most.

No. It would be a big surprise (positive, but still) if Austria would hop out of an envelope this time around.

My grade: 2/5

Roko / The Dream

Jacques Houdek is back in town after his low-key, toned-down and quietly tasteful entry of 2017 where he sang a duet with *checks notes* himself. As you do. Now he is the songwriter as well as the artistic coach for young Roko. The boy can certainly sing but is he too polite and unremarkable to fill this bombastic belter with the drama needed?

Borderline. I doubt this Jacques Houdek tribute act will stand out enough to make a mark, unless the same rainbows and unicorns used in Kyiv are unleashed again.

My grade: 1/5

Michela / Chameleon

Another one of those nifty and updated pop songs that clearly picked up a thing or two from Eleni Foureira last year. After Cyprus and Switzerland, Malta remains a bit of a question mark. This clearly is a good number - catchy and personable and not too obvious. But will it gel with young Michela? Will they be able to pull this off on stage? And the more I hear it, the more I realise that this is a pile of bits and pieces that don't really fall into any sort of coherent song in the end.

Yes, I think it is. Hardly a contender for a top ten placing, but Malta will be happy just to qualify. It's been too long.

My grade: 3/5

Jurijus / Run With The Lions

Lithuania is always a tricky one to predict. My rule of thumb has often been that if I like their entry, they will fail. And when it is dull or bad, it will qualify with ease. That should be very good news to Jurijus, who was one of the kissing backing singers in Vienna 2015, who isn't really doing anything wrong. Unfortunately the song he's been set up with is a really lean effort, another of these songs that could be washed ashore at almost any national final after being rejected elsewhere. Pleasant for as long as it goes on, then instantly forgotten.

No. How snoozy can you get before Europe votes you out? Jurijus is about to find out.

My grade: 1/5

If you want to agree or disagree with me, please leave a comment or send me a tweet. All the preview clips can be seen here.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Tobson's Big ESC 2019 review, part 4

The invention of the semi-final in 2004 was long overdue and almost like a re-birth of the contest in many ways. All through the 1990's countries had been pushed out and forced to miss editions whenever they scored poorly.

Soon enough the ratings started to drop also in the most ESC-loving territories. Finland - always keen on a song contest throughout history - lost interest in a spectacular and dramatic way and the old interest has perhaps never really fully recovered.

Giving all the countries the chance to take part every year they wish to do so has been a very important step forward for the ESC. One of many radical decisions taken between 1997 and 2008.

If you want to read about the entries taking part in the first semi final you can do so in part one, part two and part three. This is the first bunch of songs from semi two.

Srbuk / Walking Out

Although this is just a little contest for mere pop songs, sometimes you want to write A Very Meaningful Lyric about A Very Important Subject. Sometimes it works out nicely, sometimes it will just turn out to be flat, superficial and not very good at all. Female empowerment and toxic relationships are two subjects well worthy of exposure but these songwriters think the answers are simple. In Armenia, however, family is seen as most important and most cases of domestic abuse are swept under the rug. Not so easy to just walk out after all. Superficial lyrics aside, there is quite a good chorus in here and Srbuk turns out to be a vocal powerhouse towards the end.

Yes. Armenia seldom loses out and vocalists as competent as this usually go down a storm with jurors and viewers alike.

My grade: 3/5

Sarah McTernan / 22

Ireland did so well last year and maybe that has inspired them to make braver choices when the RTÉ internal jury sits down to have their say. This is a breezy and radio-friendly little number and despite the aching heart there are few clouds in the sky here. Pleasant, likeable and competently performed. And yet we are light years away from the unbeatable Ireland of the 1990's.

No. Unless this one turns out to be a real explosion on stage, this will be stranded on 12th place in the semi and remain the best non-qualifier of the year.

My grade: 3/5

Anna Odobescu / Stay

When Moldova is at their best, they send in hysterically catchy, amusing, energetic entries that leave nobody indifferent. Last year's master class of comedy performance and by far the most feelgood entry of the year is just one out of many examples. When Moldova is at their worst, they make use of some lukewarm dull-as-dishwater standard song written by international songwriters that got rejected everywhere else. Like this year.

No. This is not disastrously bad in a way that would add some undeliberate entertainment. It is just mind-numbingly anonymous and square, desperately lacking any sort of personality or purpose.

My grade: 1/5

Luca Hänni / She Got Me

If you look around the internet you will find a fair share of people willing to bet on Switzerland winning the whole shebang in Tel Aviv. Now wouldn't that be great? Switzerland last made it into the top three back in 1993 and has made it into the top ten only once since then. They surely would deserve a break. I'd let them win at once. Unfortunately I can't fully share the enthusiasm. A good song, but the likes of Malta and Cyprus are doing very much the same thing. And what about Luca himself, will he deliver on the scale that this song needs? Maybe he has it deep down inside but I'm not convinced just yet.

Yes, absolutely. Even if a few other countries are stealing the Swiss thunder, this is fun and easy-going enough and truly deserves a spot in the final.

My grade: 3/5

Carousel / That Night

I can't help but wonder what Aminata is up to these days. Keeping herself busy, I suppose, leaving Latvia to fend for itself. It's not going very well. Even if the new Supernova national final format has resulted in better songs - more focused, more professional and with better performances - they are still not enough to convince the larger audiences. Just like last year, this is really pleasant and a gem designed to be enjoyed in your headphones during a walk but it will be anything but a points magnet.

No. It will get a few polite points from here and there and remain the second best non-qualifier of the year.

My grade: 3/5

Ester Peony / On A Sunday

Shock and horror ensued last year as Romania crashed out in the semi finals for the first time ever. Apparently this lead to a shake-up back home at the TVR offices and some major changes in ESC management. This year they took a real risk as they reduced viewer influence to a minimum and let an international panel bulldozer the favourite of the people. The eventual winner has a certain something and is not a bad song and yet... it doesn't feel like the sure fire success Team Romania would want at this point.

Borderline. I lean towards a yes but only because this is Romania and they have a very strong record. Had this been Latvia it would have had 15th place written all over it.

My grade: 2/5

If you want to agree or disagree with me, please leave a comment or send me a tweet. All the preview clips can be seen here.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Tobson's Big ESC 2019 review, part 3

Since 2013, the running order is no longer the result of a draw. Someone involved in the production instead sequences the songs in order to make a smooth presentation and - hopefully - "good tv".

In many ways it was a good decision. When there are 26 songs, the viewers need a good running order to make it through. When the seventh standard ballad invades the stage - this happened more than a few times when we had a proper draw - few viewers enjoy themselves and start reaching for the remote control. Sequencing is a good thing when done well.

However, since 2013 the same person - Sweden's Christer Björkman - has done the sequencing on at least five occasions and maybe that is beginning to shine through. Should there be a clause saying that the responsibility for the running order cannot be held by the same person too many times?

If you want to check out my opinions on the other songs of this semi, you find them in part one and part two.

Hatari - Hatrið mun sigra

One of the problems with the ESC is that it is a contest and most people taking part in it would like to be liked and appreciated and voted for. A lineup where everyone is constantly on their best behaviour can be a bit dull. Lucky break then that Iceland is back to form, ready to shake things up with this warning from the future where everything dear to us is broken down and hate will prevail. This contains more sharp edges than we've seen for years and this is likely to offend as many as it will please.

Yes, absolutely. It must be. Had the live singing been better in the chorus, this could even have been a potential winner.

My grade: 4/5

Victor Crone / Storm

Victor Crone was a delightful sidekick to Behrang Miri in Melodifestivalen 2015 and I have found myself wondering whatever happened to him after that. I never thought he would show up in Estonia, defending the worst kind of washed-up and bleak radio pop of the kind certain commercial radio stations can never get enough of. What a shame. And how terribly disappointing it is seeing Stig Rästa writing something like this when we all know what he is capable of.

You never know as a large section of the audience really enjoys stuff like this. Or why would they listen to those radio stations in question? Still, my gut feeling tells me this is just too forgettable to go anywhere. It's a no from me.

My grade: 1/5

Conan Osiris / Telemovéis

Portugal finally scored their first victory in 2017 and now an unusually large part of the fandom think they could be heading for a repeat run. Talk about getting your mojo working! This is a very experimental track with musical influences from here and there and everywhere, suggestively performed by Conan and his dancer. Maybe it is absolutely brilliant but this one keeps flying well over my head. I'd love to love Portugal but to me this is just three minutes of posing and an attempt to make yourself more interesting than you are. I hear the qualities but the final package is not my thing.

Yes. I bet all its fans out there are right in some way. It should be in the final and will be in the final. Then it is anyone's guess how well it will work there.

My grade: 2/5

Katerine Duska / Better Love

Iceland finally found their way back on track and so did Greece, apparently. After several years of half-hearted attempts - it must be hard to keep focus while your government first dismantles your public broadcaster, then revives it again - we finally get a focus and contemporary entry, radio friendly and with hit potential. The only problem here is perhaps that it is so much of a radio song that it won't shake audiences enough to get the highest points but this one should have some solid scoring ahead of itself anyway.

Yes. Clearly. One of the best songs in the running.

My grade: 4/5

Serhat / Say Na Na Na

Isn't the last place usually reserved for something really good and therefore we could be pretty sure that whoever gets that spot is a sure qualifier? Wrong. That's not how it works. Sometimes the last spot is also a way to keep something unappealing out of sight for as long as possible, to ensure viewers will stay tuned until the end and not zap to another channel. In San Marino's case, however, that can still work to their advantage. A man in his 50's with a message that everything will be good if you sing a happy tune is pretty ridiculous. But after many competitors taking themselves Very Seriously Indeed, this could come across as a very happy and unpretentious closing point. If you don't know what to vote for by now, maybe Serhat will feel like your man.

I am going to say yes. The happy and lightweight factor could very well be just enough for San Marino to conquer the tenth place. It would be sweet if they did.

My grade: 2/5

UKRAINE (Not participating)
Maruv / Siren Song

It's hard to keep this contest as unpolitical as the EBU would want it to be and even harder when some active participants find themselves at war. The winner of the long Ukranian national final found herself humiliated on live television and then blackmailed by the national broadcaster: if she didn't publicly severe ties with her (Russian) management and record label, she would be disqualified. She refused and the plan backfired spectacularly as all other NF participants refused to take Maruv's place. NTU pulled out of the contest altogether.

A really stupid move as this would have been this year's game changer and the entry that would have blown the likes of Cyprus, Switzerland and Iceland out of the water. Sexy and catchy, yet with a very dark undercurrent of menace, it would have troubled and enthused the masses. A great loss for the contest but if the NTU is going to keep bullying their own participants in this way there is no need for them to come back at all.

Why are so many of the songs pulled out of the competition like that brilliant? Broadcasters could pull out with their Piero Esteriore-entries instead.

My grade: 5/5

If you want to agree or disagree with me, please leave a comment or send me a tweet. All the preview clips can be seen here.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Tobson's Big ESC 2019 review, part 2

2001 is the horror year. The one where everything went wrong. Clearly the weakest edition of the ESC of modern times. Arguably the weakest edition of the ESC since the show switched into colour.

During this selection season I kept asking myself several times if this was the year when Europe would bring out their shovels and dig even deeper below the sad sub-standard of 2001. It really did not look promising there for a while.

To my big relief, 2019 turned out to be an OK year after all once all the entries came together. Not extraordinary in any way but at least not a complete musical dumping ground. Big relief.

To read about the first six entries of the first semi-final, click here.

Joci Pápai / Az én apám

This is where the hard part begins. Joci made it into the top ten two years ago with a slightly similar song. This new song is possibly better from a songwriting point of view but also slightly less direct and with less of a hook. Will the voters still be onboard for this? How keen are people really to vote for things they already voted for in the past?

Most probably yes. Joci is a very engaging performer and the melancholy vibe is likely to attract a number of fans. Plus Hungary has had a way lately of making it to the final - this will be their ninth consecutive qualifier.

My grade: 2/5

Zena / Like It

I listened to all the songs on Spotify and to my big surprise I found myself really enjoying this. Previously I had discarded it as a modern-sounding but tired filler and suddenly my feet was tapping along in an unexpected manner. Zena has a good voice and out of all the songs that wish they were "Fuego" in the lineup, this one actually has a few little quirks of its own.

Borderline. The ESC is still a televised event where people can see you perform and Belarus are surprisingly good at ruining their own chances with disaster staging choices. If they can keep this clean, sober and fun - and not shoot themselves in the hand like last year - they could be in with a chance.

My grade: 3/5

Nevena Božović / Kruna

Nevena was part of Serbias shoutfest non qualifier trio Moje 3 in 2013 and is now back to get her revenge. She has remained a very well-known name back home and now she is entering a big and emotional ballad, written by herself. At least it aims at being big and emotional. While nothing is really wrong with it - it is well put together and well sung - it feels like something we've seen and heard millions of times before. It doesn't trigger a single emotion in me and despite repeat listenings I have no idea what the chorus sounds like. In through one ear and out through the other one. At least "Ljubav je svuda" had a bit of action in it.

Borderline. When Serbia joined the party back in 2007, I expected them to be winner material almost every year. In reality they often stumble around the threshold for qualification. In or out? I think they will struggle this time.

My grade: 1/5

Eliot / Wake Up

Even the best laid plans can go wrong. It sounded like a safe bet to have the composer of "City Lights" handpick a talent from The Voice Belgique and craft a song especially for him or her. While "Wake Up" has an excellent intro and a haunting verse, the chorus is disappointing and falls pretty flat. There is also an acute lack of development during the song and the whole thing is ebbing away rather than building up. Then it doesn't help that the charming little Eliot himself is too inexperienced to carry this weight all by himself. Maybe he should have waited a year or two?

Borderline. There is still hope. Blanche finally delivered when she needed to and maybe the Belgian team know what they are doing. I just wouldn't bet my entire salary on it just yet.

My grade: 3/5

Oto Nemsadze / Keep On Going

Failing with a folksy offering in their own language did not discourage the Georgians, so here they go again with a powerful male singer and a song rich in local folklore. While I sort of like this, I learned a thing last year that Georgia seemingly failed to pick up on: Europe's appetite for locally flavoured belters seems pretty moderate.

No. This is the "Qami" of 2019. Oto can sing his heart out all he wants but not enough people will warm to his song in the end.

My grade: 2/5

Kate Miller-Heidke / Zero Gravity

If there is any truth to the slightly nauseating narrative that Australia was taken into the competition in order to show the UK what they could be with a bit of effort, then that plan is failing more and more as Australia has kept slipping backwards in the results. The slippery slope continues as this - the first Australian entry chosen in a national final - is little more than one big ESC cliché. Doing that same old pop and opera mashup that has been done over and over while pretending you just invented the wheel is a pretty tired look. Especially as this song carries the promise of turning into something really good without ever delivering any of the goods.

Borderline. The juries have enjoyed voting for Australia while the viewers have been less keen. Will the juries keep supporting them now?

My grade: 1/5

If you want to agree or disagree with me, please leave a comment or send me a tweet. All the preview clips can be seen here.

Tobson's Big ESC 2019 review, part 1

It is a bit quiet around this blog most of the year but suddenly spring is in the air and 40-something new Eurovision entries call my name and demand to be reviewed. Who am I to say no? Here we go with this year's 41 entries spread over seven blog posts.

Bulgaria and Ukraine are taking a year off (a particularly stupid move in Ukraine's case but let's get back to that, perhaps). This is how the first semi will begin!

Tamta / Replay

Cyprus got closer to victory than ever before in 2018 and many words have been used by people wishing to declare how this year's Cypriot offering is nothing but a copy of last year's effort. Since they asked the same team for a new song it is pretty obvious they wanted to stay in the same area and in my book this is the better song of the two. Lively and updated but hardly alone in its genre this time.

Absolutely, beyond the shadow of a doubt. A bit unexpected to kick off the first semi with a song as strong as this but the final is all the matters anyway.

My grade: 4/5

D-Mol / Heaven

If there is any sort of consensus about anything this year, then it is how chanceless poor Montenegro is. So chanceless that it is, indeed, a bit cruel to underline this fact by giving them the real death slot in the running order. The six happy youngsters in D-Mol make me think of Aarzemnieki - Latvia's hopefuls in Copenhagen 2014 that made for pleasant company during three minutes but never really stood any chance of qualifying. I thoroughly enjoy this despite all its flaws - or perhaps even because of them - but if this one makes it to the final it would be a surprise big enough to stop time.

Nope. Never in a million years.

My grade: 2/5

Darude feat Sebastian Rejman / Look Away

Sending Darude to Eurovision seemed like quite a nifty idea at first. "Sandstorm" might be his only major hit but it is fondly remembered by many people around the globe. People who could possibly be overwhelmed by nostalgia and vote for him. Unfortunately this entry is more Sebastian Rejman feat Darude than the other way around and the old hit-DJ finds himself relegated to being a mere special effect in his own entry, dancing around in the background like an embarrassing parent at a school disco. The song starts out pretty well only to turn almost shockingly dull before the chorus.

Most unlikely. It really would be time for Finland to ditch the UMK concept that clearly isn't working and try to replace it with something more worthwhile.

My grade: 1/5

Tulia / Fire of Love (Pali się)

This is the point where many a western european viewer might splutter out the drink they allowed themselves on a Tuesday night. White voice - a very special vocal technique reminiscent of a controlled scream - is a common feature in eastern folklore but will sound very exotic and unexpected to many others. Add a song that is remarkably similar to "I Am The Walrus" and suddenly you find yourself with a package that works and the initial shock is likely to turn into something else before three minutes have passed.

Yes, I think so. This entry has the personality and originality that so many of the songs in the lineup desperately lack.

My grade: 3/5

Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl / Sebi

Every year there is a song that really shouldn't do well based on what viewers usually like and yet defies all logic and scores well. This year, that surprise song should be this soft little whisper in Slovenian. A lovely and endearing little entry and the musical equivalent of a long, warm hug on a chilly day. Introverted but inviting at the same time.

Yes. It must be or I will be terribly disappointed in everyone and everything.

My grade: 4/5

Lake Malawi / Friend Of A Friend

For the second year running, the Czech republic sends in a light, dance-friendly pop song performed by a cute guy who is potentially a bit of a douche, at least judging from the lyrics. This is far from universally acclaimed by the ESC fandom but what many of its detractors seem to forget is that this is one of few entries on offer this year that is light-hearted and effortless-sounding. Like a bunch of guys in a student band having the time of their lives. In a good way, not in a Manel Navarro sort of way.

Yes. No need to worry about that.

My grade: 4/5

Quite a good start to the first semi, n'est-ce pas? If you want to agree or disagree with me, please leave a comment or send me a tweet. All the preview clips can be seen here.