Eurovision 2020: Semi Final 1, Second Half Thoughts

We’re well in to the swing to Eurovision season so it’s time to look around and have a couple of hot takes on every countries songs.

This year instead of individual entries for each song I’ve split the songs into half of the semi finals so there will be first posts all together and instead of getting too in depth I’ll just jot down some thoughts on my first(ish) impressions. I might do a ranking and/or prediction post later on but this is just a barrel of thoughts for now. Since allocation hasn’t happened all the entries are in alphabetical order for fairness.

Azerbaijan : Efendi “Cleopatra”

I don’t know what to do with this song. Do I like this? Do I hate this? Is it literally all of the above? Yeah, kind of. There are some really cool ideas in this song but it’s just doing too much that I cannot seem to be able to enjoy it with all my heart and I’m convinced this is going to be the same level of mess that Macedonia was last year. That’s okay, someone has to be a flaming car wreck and I guess Azerbaijan has decided to fill that hole. However, I am absolutely obsessed with how Efendi says the word “Cleopatra” so maybe the live performance will have some hidden charm that will win me over.

Belgium: Hooverphonic”Release Me

This is a pretty good song…for 90 seconds and then it’s the same pretty song repeated again and it has some diminishing returns. I like the James Bond vibe and the almost country twang in the singers voice but it does very little to sustain a slow plod that never builds to anything. I’m pretty sure this will be even more boring when its live because there’s not a lot of ways to build interest or energy in the song which is a shame, I feel like with some more lyrics this might have been something I really enjoyed.

Croatia: Damir Kedžo “Divlji vjetre”

This is less Balkan ballad and more like a ballad that exists in the Balkans, somehow its stripped out what I would consider the “flavor” part of what I am traditionally looking for in a ballad. I haven’t looked up the lyrics (always a bad sign) but it feels very stale as a piece and Damir’s voice is not fantastic, he’s got a lot of bum notes for a song that basically rests all of its weight on him for the fireworks. A really tepid showing this year.

Cyprus: Sandro “Running

There’s something about this song that appeals to me but I’m concerned because it doesn’t really have a “wow” moment. I don’t have a lot of ideas for what the staging is going to look like, especially during the several second breaks where there isn’t any vocal going on (which is often the make or break moment at Eurovision). It’s a pleasant enough song and assuming it can be preformed to this vocal standard live then I think it’s a safe qualifier but it’s a little boring?

Israel: Eden Alene “Feker Libi

I didn’t even want this song to win because I think it’s a little messier than “Rakata” but man, this live is great. Eden has a beautiful voice and the colors and energy surrounding this are really selling me something I was convinced I wouldn’t come around on. This feels like a throwback to 1992 in some ways and it’s got a that “our country is so diverse” language drop. Is it cheesy? Yes. Is it a winner? No. Do I find myself singing it during the day? Oh, you better believe it and I think it’s easily qualifying and then drowning in the final.

Malta: Destiny “All of My Love

I love this. I love the mix of influences in the music, I love Destiny’s voice, I love how they’re stylizing, and most of all I love how they gave her a real song instead of trying to give her something kiddie or cutesy just because she was in Junior Eurovision. The gospel elements in this are more modern and they read as driving instead of dated. I think this has a real chance at the crown assuming that Malta doesn’t completely drop the ball with staging. I know this went on my real playlist right (not just the state mandated Eurovision playlist) away and I can’t imagine it not delivering at ESC.

Norway: Ulrikke “Attention

I hate that I know all the words to this song. I mean there must be some reason I know all the words to this song despite the fact that I find the topic and lyrics as cloying as I find Ulrikke. This is a song I do not like performed perfectly, I don’t see any world in which the jury doesn’t love this song and Ulrikke. This song desperately reminds me of Sweden’s “Undo” and like that song it is strangely safe to the point of being bland. I know it’s not fair to criticize something for being done well but somehow it feels like anything human and connecting about this song got left on the cutting room floor and it feels ice cold to me.

Romania: Roxen “Alcohol You

I know they’ve revamped this song is have a more interesting structure and a clearly mix of instruments and vocal exercise but it’s too late, I already saw Roxen preform live and it was a mess. I’ll be up front that I don’t like Roxen’s voice and she’s shockingly weak vocally for someone who was touted for vocal prowess. Adding a section of the song where she shows them all feels like a gamble that isn’t going to pay off for Romania but beyond that, I absolutely hate this song from it’s plonking piano to its “fake news” and weird alcohol pun. Nothing is working here for me.

Ukraine: Go_A “Solovey

I think this is going to be fairly polarizing and since audiences didn’t see like “get” Poland last year I could see a surprise non qualification for Ukraine but I love everything about this. I love her sour expression, I love her chanting, I love how weird and beautiful this is, I love the costumes and the weird shoulder dance. I love the blend of modern and traditional in such a captivating way. I’ve already a lot of criticism for this entry but I do hope it qualifies because it’s so special and I’m sure plenty of people will find this is their trash hill to die on alongside me.

Stay tuned for the first half of semi final two coming up tomorrow!

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