A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
There is always some matter to discuss or just a song I want to share
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Monday, April 25, 2022

Tobson speaks up: ESC 2022, semi 1

It is the time of year when I shake some life into this old blog of mine - usually I blog my way through the Eurovision history in Swedish here - to focus on the upcoming contest in Turin.

In this first blog post I will write my personal opinion about the songs in the first semi and then predict the top ten qualifiers based on the preview versions alone.

It's not a bad year we have ahead of us: if it is one lesson people seem to have learned from last year, then it is how being personable and having a song that sounds like it means something to the people performing it is a clever trick.

Ronela Hajati / Sekret
A fine opener with ambitions to blend dance music and traditional lore together. Perhaps it ends up being more of a rhythm track than a functioning song and maybe people will find other songs they will like more before the semi final is over, but we will surely have a good time together with Ronela during these three minutes.
Grade: 2/5

Citi Zēni / Eat Your Salad
For a while it felt like Latvia really had a buzz going and would be the viral wonder of the year, but now the temperature has gone down considerably. A fun track that will have its fans, but ultimately the whole thing is probably too silly to stand a real chance.
Grade: 2/5

Monika Liu / Sentimentai
The first of my personal favourites to take the stage this year. France 2021 meets a very sensual and totally bonkers cabaret performer and magic happens. Not sure at all Europe will embrace this on a Tuesday night but I love it.
Grade: 4/5

Marius Bear / Boys Do Cry
A sweet song about comforting your inner child (I guess), sensitively performed by a likeable singer, but a most unfavourable spot in the running is likely to keep Switzerland in the semis after two strong showings. Unless Marius really works the cameras, then this could be a surprise in the making.
Grade: 3/5

LPS / Disko
If this was the talent night at the local high school, LPS would charm everyone and have us eating out of their hands. A charming little effort but the lack of experience becomes too evident in the end.
Grade: 2/5

Kalush Orchestra / Stefania
Of course the entry of Ukraine was bound to be brilliant. They often are and this year it actually means an awful lot for them to be represented in the best possible light. And they are, reaching musical and emotional heights few others can compete with. The most obvious qualifier in this semi and not at all an unlikely eventual winner.
Grade: 5/5

Intelligent Music Project / Intention
Not as bad as some people want to make out. An okay slice of a very beige version of rock that some people like a lot. Måneskin it is not and a qualifier it is not, but it is technically competent.
Grade: 2/5

S10 / De diepte
This one ticks a lot of boxes in my list: an emotional song that seems to mean a lot to its performer with the added bonus of being sung in the local language. There are other strong contenders with a similar approach in this semi, but S10 has the big advantage of being the first of them. 
Grade: 4/5

Zdob și Zdub feat Frații Advahov / Trenulețul
If one act really got so lucky with the running order, then it is this happy rock/folk mashup that balances skillfully on that thin line between adorable and ridiculous. The ESC version is arguably less effective than the original mix but little does that matter at this point. Moldova will choo choo their way straight into the final with ease.
Grade: 4/5

Maro / Saudade, saudade
Lucky break for the next female emotional ballad to have Moldova between herself and the Netherlands. This is full of harmony and is pretty much balm for the soul. A wonderful little oasis with its very radio friendly take on traditional music.
Grade: 4/5

Mia Dimšić / Guilty Pleasure
Another radio friendly song with a solid performance. Competent but I'm afraid Croatia could again find themselves south of the relegation line, only by a couple of millimeters. Competent but definitely running the risk of not being striking enough on a first listen.
Grade: 3/5

Reddi / The Show
I see what is happening here, Denmark think they are going out on a limb and doing something daring and unexpected. Not a bad song but the whole package feels so constructed and calculated and not a bit like the punk pop they themselves think it is. 
Grade: 2/5

Lumix feat Pia Maria / Halo
Bang! Suddenly Austria came out of nowhere and hit me over the head with their entry and made me feel nostalgia for a genre I never in a zillion years thought I'd feel nostalgia about. Very catchy indeed and unless they make a complete mess of this live, then this should be a very safe qualifier.
Grade: 4/5

Systur / Með hækkandi sól
Musically very appealing, very First Aid Kit and very easy to enjoy. Not really a visual feast, perhaps. Will have to fight it out with Armenia over the same points. Borderline qualifier.
Grade: 3/5

Amanda Tenfjord / Die Together
A very slick studio production and its biggest problem is exactly that - how super studio produced it is. What is this going to sound like live? I'm very fond of Greece sending entries that sound like real pop singles - I absolutely LOVED the studio version of "Better Love" - but it will be a challenge to make this one flow effortlessly on stage.
Grade: 3/5

Subwoolfer / Give That Wolf A Banana
Amusing, silly, catchy and the song that will end all hope Latvia ever had of qualifying. Almost as amusing as this song is watching all those eurofans hate is (mainly because it is amusing). 
Grade: 4/5

Rosa Linn / Snap
Contemporary country vibe by another likeable singer - there are many of them in this lineup - and this could very well be the song that causes Iceland to miss the final. 
Grade: 3/5

My prediction at this point is that Ukraine, Netherlands, Moldova, Portugal, Austria, Greece, Norway, Armenia, Lithuania and Iceland will make the cut and that Albania, Latvia, Switzerland, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Croatia and Denmark will leave us. But what do I know? And how many times will I change my mind before the semi actually takes place?

Semi 2 review coming up soon.

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