Eurovision 2018: Semi Final 1 (Hot Take Edition)

We’re well in to the swing to Eurovision season so I think it might be time to take a good look around and have a couple of hot first takes on every countries songs.

I’m breaking this in to three pieces so none of them get too long, this part will be semi final one only. I’m going to do this as “fairly” as possible so we’ll just go in order that they’re listed here from the allocation draw:

Belarus: Alekseev “Forever”

Hot Take: Trying to ignore the fact that this song violates EBU rules in a number of ways, is actively being sued, and the National Final in Belarus was clearly rigged – this song is not well made. The live vocals at the National Final were bad to the point I don’t think they can be fixed and this recording isn’t much better. Alekseev is very popular in Russia so it’s possible this can get enough points to pass through to the final but that doesn’t seem likely to me and even if it does, it’ll fall apart against the vocal powerhouses.

Bulgaria: EQUINOX “Bones

Hot Take: My gut doesn’t think this is a winner but it’s an easy qualifier and with the right staging and a little flourish this might be a winner. Steady, interested, and well crafted this will likely continue Bulgaria’s streak of making top 5.

Lithuania: Ieva Zasimauskaitė “When We’re Old”

Hot Take: The best of Lithuania’s national final but I think this will find it hard to qualify. She’s a little understated as a singer and nothing really exciting happens in the track. It’s a heart tugger of a song but her failure to connect with the audience will probably mean we have to leave this behind in the semis.

Albania: Eugent Bushpepa “Mall”

Hot Take: This song is fine. At least it’s not a woman singing a ballad? This might qualify in a less competitive final or from another country but Albania doesn’t have a strong voting bloc and this song is unlikely to turn heads.

Czech Republic: Mikolas Josef “Lie To Me”

Hot Take: I need someone to help me react to this. This is an easy qualifier if Mikolas has even half the charisma live that he does in the music video. The song is such a bizzare mash up of things that it almost works even with its unbelievable cringe-worthy lyrics. This might hit 2nd place in the final.

Belgium : Sennek “A Matter of Time”

Hot Take: This is Belgium with the sneak attack! A James Bond-alike modern ballad. I wasn’t expecting to be as wow’d as I was with this but it grew on me. There’s some problems with the cadence in parts but they could be easily smoothed out during a live performance. Straight sailing to the finals for Belgium.

Iceland: Ari Ólafsson “Our Choice”

Hot Take: A long line of mistakes. Sending a 19 year old to sing a song style that’s been out of date since before he was born? Easy NQ. No staging in the world can save this white noise disguised as a song.

Azerbaijan: Aisel “X My Heart”

Hot Take: This is a song I expect from the UK. That’s not a charitable read. Azerbaijan usually pulls out an amazing staging which will probably allow this to qualify but this song is a disaster, a rare miss for the fire nation.

Israel: Netta “Toy”

Hot Take: I don’t get the clucking but I can’t say it doesn’t work. This song is super catchy, fun, flashy, and probably has the “wow” factor to bring it squarely in to the top 5 even if it might miss first place by being too out there.

Estonia: Elina Nechayeva “La Forza”

Hot Take: Anyone who has spent any time listening to opera will recognize this as the world’s least interesting song. The voting public will confuse it for “classy” and the jury will give high marks for vocal prowess, an easy qualifier that will crash in the final.

Switzerland: Zibbz “Stones”

Hot Take: This is a big step up for Switzerland but a weak vocal performance in the national final and a metaphor heavy song spells “maybe” in qualification. If they improve their sound and polish their look they should at least be hanging out in the finals.

Finland: Saara Aalto “Monsters”

Hot Take: Picking Saara Aalto was a mistake that sets Finland’s image back. The song is middling but Aalto doesn’t preform it well and has trouble hitting all the major notes. A wild stage performance may have this one hanging in by its teeth but in the finals she’ll do much worse than second place (close to 2….0th).

Austria: Cesár Sampson “Nobody But You”

Hot Take: Woah. Austria is one of my personal favorites and I think this is an easy qualifier assuming Cesár can sing live. Good looks never hurt but a decent song and good looks didn’t get Austria far last year so it’s probably 15th at best for them in the final.

Ireland: Ryan O’Shaughnessy “Together”

Hot Take: A sweet little piece of fluff. This is pretty much exactly the same song they sent last year (which did poorly) except this guy is not as vocally impressive. We know you don’t want to win Ireland but you could try to hide it a little.

Armenia Sevak Khanagyan “Qami”

Hot Take: This is almost certainly going to see a remake with all/most of its lyrics changing to English. There’s a lot about this song that needs tweaking but its got good bones. A solid maybe for qualifying depending on the outcome of its revamp.

Cyprus: Eleni Foureira “Fuego”

Hot Take: There is almost no way this song sounds half-decent live as the recording is auto-tuned to within an inch of its life. This is probably an NQ year for Cyprus but at least it’s a bit wild and fun. Also thanks for not actually singing in A2 level Spanish like we all feared.

Croatia: Franka “Crazy”

Hot Take: This is boring version of Alicia Keys’ “Fallin'”. Probably going to sneak by on staging since Croatia has been pulling off great staging for two years now. The whole effect is a C+ for me though, too tepid to be actually good.

Greece: Yianna Terzi “Oneiro Mou”

Hot Take: It’s back to their roots for Greece. This is a huge pass for me but 12 points from Cyprus AND Macedonia in the semi means there is a good chance this passes on to the final regardless of how absolutely, completely forgettable this song is.

FYR Macedonia: Eye Cue “Lost and Found”

Hot Take: Macedonia is an overachiever. This is not just one song, it’s three! Or four! Maybe it’s all the songs ever? I don’t even know. It’s so hard to get a read on this song. On my third listen I almost felt like I could understand why someone made this. How is this song going to read on the Eurovision stage? I don’t know. With the right staging this could be an elaborate train wreck that is as “good” as Croatia 2017. Assuming the singer can blow this away live this could easily qualify and hit the low 20s which wouldn’t be a bad look for Macedonia.

Well, that’s it for the first semi. Stay tuned for the second semi final overview once Georgia gets their stuff together and finally releases their song!

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