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Fandomentals Calling for Eurovision: Semi-Final One, First Half

It’s that time of year again! Eurovision Song Contest 2018 is only a week away, and for all of you Euro-faithful, Kori and Dan have put together a preview week to review every song! Today is covering the first have of semi-final one, so settle in, enjoy some music, and let us know what you think in the comments below! Spoilers: Kori and Dan have wildly differing opinions this year.

 

#1. Azerbaijan

 Kori: I love this song, even though I know others have said it’s bland fast food music. For a general viewing audience on the night of, this is a radio-friendly standout song that could definitely grab airplay through the summer. Sadly, this is also in semi-final one, which has the larger chunk of heavy hitter entries this year, and it drew the “first slot of doom” in the running order. Still, Azerbaijan has been on a run of making the Grand Final for several years, so this could squeak in.

Dan: I like this song a lot, even if it does feel a bit like a time warp. Aisel has a hell of a voice, but the whole thing sounds like Lady Gaga or Katy Perry circa 2010. It’s hitting that sweet spot that a lot of successful Eurovision songs do where it’s doing nothing new, but it’s doing that thing very well.

#2. Iceland

Kori: I don’t know what Iceland was thinking in voting for this, but here’s the first song of the semi-final I can confidently predict will not advance to the Grand Final. It’s a pleasant sentiment, and “Our Choice” has a callback to Paradise Oskar’s ESC 2011 “Da Da Dam”, but it’s up against too much competition to go anywhere but the snooze factory.

Dan: Sort of a bland bit of power ballad. Josh Groban as an Icelandic twink. I don’t know how many Eurovision voters and jury members are 50-year-old women, but if it’s a large plurality than Iceland just might have a chance.

#3. Albania

Kori: This is exactly the sort of song senior in high school Kori would have listened to. Way back in 2002. Yeah… I still dig it, and it’s a killer bit of nostalgia, but the song still feels dated for me and I can’t see it advancing among all the other heavy hitters in this semi-final. I will say, Eugent probably has the best vocals of any male singer this year, I just wish the song was a little more modern.

Dan: Early 2000’s Arena Rock is a largely dead genre, thank god. This is the sort of song that is the Oscar nomination for Best Song from one of the bad Disney movies. Impressive vocals and an interesting video, I doubt it’ll go too far.

#4. Belgium

Kori: Well not exactly my cup of tea, there’s no denying Belgium sent a moody, dark number that’s incredibly well done. Sennek’s vocals complement the atmospheric music to a “t”, and this will be my first “surprise” of the night if it doesn’t advance.

Dan: We already had an Amy Winehouse and we still have an Adele. I know that Eurovision tastes can sometimes be a bit behind but I swear most of the songs are throwbacks in some way. If Azerbaijan’s song was what I listened to as a freshman, this is senior year break-up material. Again, I can’t knock the quality of Sennek’s vocals but I just wish they were applied to something a little more interesting.

#5. Czech Republic

Kori: True facts. I hate everything about this “Blurred Lines” and “Talk Dirty to Me” bastard love child of a song, but it’s super modern and honestly the best entry the Czech Republic has ever sent to the Eurovision Song Contest. Barring a disaster of a live performance (and there shouldn’t be, Mikolas has been fine on the pre-Eurovision circuit performances), this should make the Grand Finals. Edit: Mikolas was injured during his rehearsal and seems to be in quite a bit of pain. He has stated that he will perform regardless, but we’re wishing him a speedy recovery.

Dan: If you’re going to do a musical throwback, at least do it to good music. Mikolas Josef’s character in “Lie to Me” seems like the kind of guy who asks if you’ve lost weight whenever he sees you, who sends unsolicited dick pics on Tinder, and considers Robin Thicke a personal hero. “Lie to Me” is the theme song for every frat party you pretended to be too busy for in college. If they let a song that includes the lyric “I know you ‘bop-whop-a-lu bop’ on his wood bamboo” past the first round, I think there’ll be a riot.

#6. Lithuania

Kori: This is a lovely song, with a winter cozy feel and a warm message about a lifelong love. It would be perfect for fall or Christmas, but instead it’s going into an early summer/late spring show that’s higher energy. While far more engaging than Iceland’s snoozer of a ballad, this is probably going to be another song that lulls the audience to sleep.

Dan: This makes me want to call my grandma. Which isn’t…exactly what one expects from Eurovision music. It comes across more like the contractually obligated Christmas ballad a pop-star puts out or something for the aging star clinging to the charts. It would play super well on the Adult Contemporary radio near me, but I doubt it’ll do so well at Eurovision.

#7. Israel

Kori: Not gonna lie, if this song doesn’t sail through to the Grand Finals I will be utterly shocked. Currently number one by nearly every bookie’s rankings, Netta delivered a true “Eurovision” experience, combining her wacky personality with modern and ethnic sounds. Even better, she has the voice to legitimize every zany aspect of this song. This is a contender to win the entire contest this year, so every other song had better watch it.

Dan: I don’t really know how to take this song, and I don’t know if the judges will either. Surprisingly, this is tame for Netta, as she’s turned her more bizarre beatboxing down some notches in the interest of pop-friendliness. It’s really good to hear a truly distinctive sound coming out of Eurovision, though, and no doubt there’s gonna be some batshit staging to go along with this song. Even if it doesn’t win, it’ll fill that coveted “lol Europe is weird” slot every year seems to have.

#8. Belarus

Kori: I’m really sorry, but I just can’t stand this song. Alekseev’s voice has been better in the pre-Eurovision performances, but the lyrics are hackneyed and feel like they’ve been dartboard assembled. Worse, this sounds like every generic Slavic ballad you’ve ever heard from the early 2000’s.

Dan: I won’t pretend to be an expert on Slavic pop music like Kori, but even I think this is a tad generic. It’s set up like its for a performer with a helluva voice, a real barn burner, but Alekseev just isn’t very impressive. Plus, the presentation makes him come across like Mikolas Josef’s sad indie-boy counterpart.

#9. Estonia

Kori: And now for the technical performance of the year. It’s been a bit since we’ve had a true opera number at the Eurovision, so this is a welcome return for me. After some concern Estonia wouldn’t be able to afford Elina’s dress for her live performance, now we just have to wait and see if her technical skills let her squeak into the Grand Final over some of the more entertaining buzz performances.

Dan: OPERA. Man, one of my favorite parts of any Eurovision is the opera singer who stands like a statue with a big-ass dress and just goes ham on some high notes. And this FOR SURE checks those boxes for me. Elina’s technical skill is such that what feels a bit like a generic power ballad transcends the form and becomes the bardic magic of an elven goddess. Also those dress effects? This is gonna be a popular performance.

#10. Bulgaria

Kori: And here’s the other front-runner from the bookies to win the whole shebang. Bulgaria rebounded from a decade of poor performances in 2016 with Poli Genova’s “If Love Was a Crime” coming in fourth place. Last year they topped themselves with Kristian Kostov’s “Beautiful Mess” taking second place. This year is no exception with supergroup Equinox entering their ultra moody and modern track “Bones” with the expectation that next year, Eurovision will be calling Sofia.

Dan: I just see this as a disappointment. You look at Equinox and expect something really new and different. Instead, we get pretty generic electro-pop. It’s like if Marilyn Manson sounded like Nickelback. Appearances aside, this isn’t really too bad of a song. I don’t really understand why the tastemakers have this as a contender, as there’s a LOT more interesting stuff going on this year. I expect some interesting staging from Equinox, though, and that alone should carry them.


Image courtesy of the EBU

Author

  • Kori is an entertainment writer and Managing Editor at the Fandomentals. In her spare time, she is a fragrance and watch enthusiast, lover of Eurovision, and Yanni devotee.

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