What can I say about Eurovision so far other than that it was, well, very Eurovision! On the one hand it was a little samey-samey in places, as you might expect, but on the other it had all the randomness and flamboyance we know and love. The naked fella from Belarus, for example, performing with a hologram of a wolf - what were they thinking in that planning meeting? Nul points!
The semis were really fun to watch and it was no surprise the Swedish producers put on a proper show. They seem to throw a lot of money at it nowadays and focus much more on the visual side of things and I think that can only be good for the Eurovision project. The whole production was great, from the set to the lighting and visuals.
With the contest now being broadcast in the US and in China, I think they were conscious they needed to do a bit of explaining. They wanted American and Chinese viewers to understand the concept and how it all works but they also wanted to get across how it's all quite tongue in cheek, so the presenters did a fun piece of musical theatre at the start and that kicked off the show in style. Maybe they should think about calling it Worldvision and spread peace and understanding around the planet!
Unfortunately for Ireland's Nicky Byrne, he's going to get a lot of stick for not making it through to the final. It was a good song compared to some of the ones that went through and I thought he did a good job but he was up against it.
In true Eurovision style, there were a good few songs that sounded similar - ballads in particular that almost blended into one another with big money vocal notes. You're always going to get that kind of thing and there haven't been too many winners in recent years that have sat outside that formula. I like something that stands out, so I was pleased the Belgian girl reached the final. I thought her heavy, driven funk tune was maybe too good for the competition in the sense that it could work well as a stand-alone hit - I can imagine it charting well across the continent but it's perhaps not the right thing for Eurovision.
I think the same thing applies to Joe and Jake. Theirs is a great track and I really hope the lads do well, as it would be a great lift for their careers, but I wouldn't put my house on it. That said, they could profit from performing second from last. Say you're having a Eurovision party with friends. Sitting through over two hours of music like this is fun but you can lose focus for a while. Perhaps people will switch back on towards the end and hopefully Joe and Jake can make a good impression.
The Ukrainian entry reminded me of Bjork. It was quirky with good visuals and a poppy RnB groove, but she came across as hysterical and a tad OTT. I thought the Australian girl gave easily the best vocal performance of the night and Israel impressed on the same score. Props to the Bulgarian lady too but I thought there were too many songs sung in English. I'd prefer it if they sang in their own native tongue as it gives you more of a flavour of their culture.
I'm looking forward to Saturday night's final and Graham Norton's take on things. I think they got it spot on picking him to replace Terry Wogan way back when, God rest his soul. I was very sad to hear of his passing - I spent quite a bit of time with him when I represented the UK and he was a lovely, lovely man.
A lot of people are talking up the Russians as favourites. The song itself did nothing for me but they've obviously gone all out on the effects and he did well interacting with the visuals. I think to win it these days you need to get it right on three levels - the tune, the visual effects and the politics. It's a shame about that last part but we've got to live with it, unfortunately, and maybe Russia has a good shot for that very reason.
The UK's 2008 Eurovision Finalist Andy Abraham will be live blogging throughout Saturday night's show @AndyAbraham.
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