Eurovision 2020: Semi Final 2, First 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.

Austria : Vincent Bueno “Alive”

I actually really like this song and might listen to it outside of Eurovision but the more I watch the video and listen to it, I’m a little concerned about how this is going to play out on the stage. I think this is a fairly successful version of Sweden’s 2017 entry “I Can’t Go On”. It’s got a really cool vibe but there’s just something about that makes me worry it won’t have any impact on stage so I’m holding my judgement until we see some rehearsal footage. Bonus: His vocals somehow sound strained in this recorded version and that isn’t giving me super confidence either.

Czech Republic: Benny Cristo “Kemama

This is a mess. No matter if he goes with this noisy remix (with overmixed background music????) or original flavor this is just not working for me at all. Benny was at Ukraine’s national final and the live version of this was even more of a wipe out than I assumed it would be. Benny can’t carry the song with his voice and wasn’t doing anything particularly good on stage either. I know a lot of people love this song but it’s just a mash up of musical ideas that I don’t think really come together and I don’t have a lot of faith for it in this, the harder of the two semis.

Estonia : Uku Suviste “What Love Is”

I’m very biased because I’ve been on the Uku train for a few years now. Is this the best song? No. Is it 1999 in this song? Yes. But honestly I kind of like it. Uku’s best assets are his beautifully controlled and smooth voice and his blindingly blue eyes but unfortunately this song doesn’t take enough advantage of either of those things. I think it’s probably a non qualifier just on the fact that it’s so dated but I can’t begrudge a little power love ballad and it’ll keep the line up varied so it’s not all a loss.

Greece: Stefania “Supergirl

This song is basically like a mix of Disney Radio and Junior Eurovision and that doesn’t really work for me. Greece is smart to lean into the traditional sounds but this comes off as very plastic and off-putting to me. The song has the same “girl, you so great” theme that I find is very difficult to reconcile in most songs (especially when they’re largely or solely written by men) and this one stays with a young tone that is appropriate to Stefania, who I believe is the youngest this year, but unfortunately it’s a total miss for me. I’m sure it’ll look great on stage though because there’s plenty to play with in the song.

Iceland: Daði og Gagnamagnið “Think About Things

*chef kiss*

Look, I think this is my favorite for the whole year and there’s almost nothing in the world that can convince me that this song isn’t wonderful. I know I’ll be seeing “overhyped” and “garbage” and “joke act” used to describe this surprisingly fun song but I think that’s a huge disservice to this song. The song is about a father wanting to know what his young child is thinking about. It’s not a joke song, and like Lithuania, the meaning becomes apparent and the conviction of the song is obvious but for people who just look at the fake instruments and the cute dance moves they’ll completely miss the soft and adorable heart and earnestness of this piece. For a contest often filled with “plastic pop” and “manufactured talent” and even some staging designed to get people talking, it’s simple and heartfelt pieces like this that make it worth tuning in.

Moldova: Natalia Gordienko “Prison

Instant non-qualifier. I could probably listen to this song 20 times and not remember what it sounds like and she’s not particularly gifted vocally either so you end up with this weird mash up of outdated cliche filled song, grating lyrics, and middling vocals which spell absolute forgettable. Moldova had a few interesting things at their national final so it’s such a shame to see whatever this is being sent instead. Maybe next year Moldova.

Poland: Alicja “Empires

Certainly a unique voice, Alicja does her best to make a middling song a little bit better but there’s just something about this that is not quite hitting the mark for me. Alicja just doesn’t seem to quite connect with the song and the entire time I’m watching her work through the notes (which she mostly does an admirable job on) but she’s going to need to be much more comfortable with this song at Eurovision or the outcome might be a surprise NQ for Poland. The song is desperately trying to be “Rise Like a Phoenix” which isn’t a bad thing but for some reason it is not working for me :/

San Marino: Senhit “Freaky!

Truly, the greatest micro nation on Earth has delivered us this messy and wonderful thing. I want to see this preformed live. There are some parts of this song that I really but then it’ll switch up and then I’ll be shaking my head. I really wanted this song to push the “freaky freaky freaky” part harder but it stays pretty safely contained and never gets to the part where I have a “wow” moment which is unfortunate, instead we get this chanting breakdown (my least favorite thing that people seem to like to do on the Eurovision stage). Depending how this is staged it could be a surprise qualifier but I wouldn’t put any money on it based on San Marino in the past.

Serbia: Hurricane “Hasta la vista

Speaking of messy…I don’t even know what Serbia was going for with this song. This is the kitchen sink of songs. What I love about this: the attitude, the feeling of late 90s/early 00s “girl power!” and all three of these women are actually good singers. What I hate about this song: pretty much everything else. This is basically three minutes of fireworks, noisy, and blinking lights. If you’re always at 11 there’s no way to actually create contrast and I start to tune out pretty early which is such a shame because it’s a cute little song about kicking trash men to the curb. But we’ve got sparkle costumes, fire, fireworks, extra dancers, flashing lights, and a beat that actually never stops going 110%. I think this is the only song that could really benefit from losing a few elements. If it qualifies it’ll be because it’s not like anything else and it stands out…and not much more.

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

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