A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
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Thursday, April 28, 2022

Tobson speaks up: ESC 2022, semi 2

After I published part one I realised I am doing it all wrong. In this review I should of course have listed the ten songs I myself would have wanted to make it to the final, not the ones I predict.

You see, these two things are not the same. When making predictions you should try to avoid wishful thinking as much as only possible, while some wishful thinking can be amusing to read too.

Hey ho, it doesn't matter all that much, it's just a blog after all and we have eighteen songs of the second semi to take a closer look at.

The Rasmus / Jezebel
One of the biggest names in this years line-up even if their biggest hit happened almost twenty years ago. It's no "In The Shadows" but an explosive opener all the same and very recognisable for the band's fans as well as for the people who had forgotten they were Rasmus fans as well.
Grade: 3/5

Michael Ben David / I.M
Being gay and proud in the public eye always took a certain amount of audacity, not least now the way things have turned out lately. I would love to fully support this but while the performance has a shameless over-the-top-quality to it, this is one of my least favourite songs of the year. Three minutes of nothing, basically.
Grade: 1/5

Konstrakta / In corpore sano
The sharpest teeth in the contest come in the shape of a woman constantly washing her hands in a subversive piece of satire that refuses to be cute or whimsical. Catchy and almost hypnotic but possibly a hard sell to a mainstream audience. I hope everyone will see the brilliance but I could be hoping for too much.
Grade: 4/5

Nadir Rustamli / Fade To Black
Azerbaijan does what always worked for them: they opened up their large wallet and bought an impeccably produced song with no connection what-so-ever to anything local. Maybe this time the strategy came back to bite their own behinds: in a year where so many acts try to do their own thing, this song is so polished it is hard to remember in the end. Surprise non-qualifyer? Not impossible.
Grade: 2/5

Circus Mircus / Lock Me In
Spaced out psychedelia not unlike the last song Georgia qualified with back in 2016. Just like that one, this will be saved or crushed by what the audience can see on their screens. Reports suggest this band isn't all that live on stage but maybe that could be sorted with nifty camera work. Let's hope so since the actual tune, while not as clever as it thinks it is, is a gem.
Grade: 4/5

Emma Muscat / I Am What I Am
Why do they keep doing this to their singers (and to their songwriters)? Is this the best song they could come up with? While technically not a melodifestivalen reject, it sure sounds like one and will score like one.
Grade: 1/5

Achille Lauro / Stripper
One of my biggest questions marks of the year. I have enjoyed Achille a great deal in Sanremo over the years and he has an intensity that can melt tv cameras from quite a distance, but the song he settled for here is way more album filler than hit single and the star himself comes across as a tad uncommitted to the whole thing. Will this light up when it needs to or are we looking at the shock NQ of the year?
Grade: 3/5

Sheldon Riley / Not The Same
Sheldon pours his heart out in front of us and while I'd like to respond to that, this entry does nothing for me. Just like last year, the theatrics get in the way and this just ends up being a lot of voice with no real chorus to work with. All things on display here are obviously the artist's own choices, but while I respect that I can only state that for me the package never comes together.
Grade: 1/5

Andromache / Ela
Let's ignore that fact that a ridiculous ten people are listed as having written this song and just listen on the actual song. Cyprus let go of the party vibe and settled for a song that sounds international and very Greek at the same time, impeccably performed by a good voice. I'm smitten and I'm sure more people will be come Eurovision week.
Grade: 4/5

Brooke / That's Rich
Ireland goes pop and usually when they do it does not bode well for a great result. I find myself thoroughly amused by both the song and the performance but predict this will go down a bit like "Et Cetera" did. Unless being the first uptempo pop stomper in a while makes it catch the audiences attention, that is.
Grade: 3/5

Andrea / Circles
They do nothing wrong. The singing is good and the songwriting is technically fine. But nothing happens and this entry stands still for a solid three minutes. Nobody can afford doing that at this point in this semi.
Grade: 1/5

Stefan / Hope
"The Good, The Bad And The Ugly" performed by The Handsome from Viljandi. It's a bit of an odd choice coming from Estonia but it is perfectly pleasant and lives very highly on Stefan's charm. A real borderline qualifier, like so many others in this semi. Maybe we are in for some big surprises?
Grade: 2/5

WRS / Llámame
I have really tried - I mean really really tried - to get into the vibe of this one. I like that little instrumental thingy, you see. But the rest of it is very basic and uninspired and amateurish and unworthy of anyone's attention. Romania used to be so good at this game, where did they go wrong? Fourth NQ in a row, for sure.
Grade: 1/5

Ochman / River
Clearly the best Polish entry in quite some time but I'm not quite as sold as many others. Ochman has a good voice but never really connected with the cameras in the national final. The song is also a patchwork of bits and pieces from songs that already exist, which is fine in itself until it becomes too obvious and takes your attention away from the actual performance.
Grade: 3/5

Vladana / Breathe
Montenegro making quite the comeback with a catchy midtempo ballad that is not without chances, an updated take on the big so-called Balkan Ballad that used to create havoc in this contest in the previous decades. The big question is if people have missed this style or find it a leftover from times gone by? If Vladana nails her vocals, my guess is the first alternative.
Grade: 3/5

Jérémie Makiese / Miss You
Every year there is at least one entry that you intellectually recognise as a quality entry that will go down well even when it doesn't really do much for you personally. For me, that is Belgium this year. Jérémie is clearly very talented and there are hooks aplenty in here. Not my cup of tea but I don't think that will constitute any major problem at this stage.
Grade: 2/5

Cornelia Jakobs / Hold Me Closer
After years of impeccably polished if not terribly exciting entries, Sweden finally got it right. Cornelia offers drama, intensity and a beating heart, showing how you can be both polished and engaging at the same time. Easily Sweden's best attempt since Loreen and a very possible winner in the end.
Grade: 5/5

We Are Domi / Lights Out
The second semi ends on a tricky note for me. This moody electro pop is just the kind of thing that makes my heart beat to its very BPM but I still suspect this style could prove to be a bit too unspectacular to hit home at this stage. Fingers crossed this isn't a disappointing 11th place in the making.
Grade: 4/5

In conclusion, this semi feels much more open and a lot less easy to predict. I think Finland, Serbia, Cyprus, Poland, Montenegro, Belgium and Sweden can sleep easy but the rest will have to do their best to impress. In the end I say Georgia, San Marino and Czech republic will steal the final tickets to the final which would leave Israel, Azerbaijan, Malta, Australia, Estonia, North Macedonia and Romania out.

Please check out my predictions for semi one here and feel free to leave a comment or two.

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