by Catriona Mills

Live-blogging Eurovision: Semi-Final 1, 2010

Posted 28 May 2010 in by Catriona

Well, let’s set up the live-blogging nice and early, shall we? And I say “nice and early,” but I’m actually less prepared than I intended to be: I was all set to have the song titles written out, so there wouldn’t be any of that embarrassing “And I didn’t quite catch the title on that, so just make it up” stuff, but I never got to it.

So if I miss any of the titles, just make them up, okay?

Or head over to The Memes of Production, where John has taken the trouble to type them all out for you.

Now, bring on the flying space dolphins!

I’m just going to get my biggest complaint out of the way right now: I miss Terry Wogan. It just doesn’t feel like Eurovision without Terry.

And on a similar note, I understand (from The Memes of Prodution), that this years’ competition has dulled down the frequently insane acts we usually get in Eurovision.

I disapprove of this. I disapprove strongly.

I want to see men in primary-coloured suits squatting over giant beetroots. I want to see brides from Bosnia and Herzegovina knitting for no apparent reason. I want to see Azerbaijani singers pouring goblets of fake wine on each other. I want fireworks and flamethrowers. I want wind machines. And above all, I want to see people get their kits off.

If there are no such things, why am I watching Eurovision and risking the sudden horror of a flying space dolphin?

Nick has charged his iPhone up in preparation for your commenting.

I hope Eurovision starts soon, because I’m tiring myself out shouting at these health-reform advertisements. Righteous anger: so tiring.

Hooray! Eurovision!

Nick just took a picture of his beer. That should sum it all up for you.

This one’s Norway—I loved the Russian staging last year. So, so beautiful. I hope Norway does us proud, as well. (I say “us,” but I“m not actually Norwegian.)

Oh, small children with pink balloons? Bad start, Norway. Bad start.

NICK: Oh, look! They’re sharing ear infections.

Seriously, what is with all these balloons?

Apparently, Norway’s holding their semi-final in a completely CGI concert hall. That’s certainly an innovation.

Oooh, lovely frocks. A big improvement on the Russian woman in lacy bicycle pants. Or was that 2008? (I’m with Sam Pang: I’m going to continue pronouncing it “Oss-lo.”)

John, is this new voting system an innovation? What does it mean for the show? Explain it to me!

NICK: Such emphatic hosts.

It seems the catchphrase is “Norway, are you ready to start the competition”. Not very catchy, is it?

And we’re straight into the songs, it seems.

Sweet! Fireworks!
NICK: Violinist on a lazy Susan!
Oh, poor girl: someone spray-painted her.
I haven’t seen saxophone playing like that since The Lost Boys.
She’s not going to be taking that outfit off, is she? There’s not really enough of it.
NICK: Man, this better [redacted] have a key change.
Uh-oh, the saxophonist’s back.
This is unbelievably boring. And I had such high hopes from the violinist on the lazy Susan. Actually, where did he go?
ACK! There he is.

RUSSIA: Lost and Forgotten
I like that this is Peter Nolich “and Friends”. It feels like watching Blue Peter.
Oh, I’m bored already.
And it’s in English, too.
I like the fake snow, though.
NICK: That’s why he’s wearing a scarf.
So far, Norway’s staging isn’t a patch on the lovely sets from Russia last year.
Peter Norich has expressive eyebrows, though—wait, is he singing to a sketch he just drew before he went on stage?
Never seen that at Eurovision before.
Okay, I need either a key change or someone to take their kit off.
No, that high note does not count as a key change, frightening though it was.
NICK: I think the wind machine’s scared of him.

I’m impressed already, just on the strength of that man’s purple and gold tie.
These guys are an indie act? Hmm.
NICK: Man, I think he glitters in sunlight. Fabulous jacket, though.
The back-up singers are preparing for a penalty.
Not seeing much indie here—it’s like an early Blur song.
It’s not that I’m not liking it, but I’m not much liking his wacky dancing.
Of course, I have run out of alcohol. That might be it.
I don’t really know what to say about this one, except that the camera work is making me seasick.

SLOVAKIA: Horehronie
Oh, no!
NICK: Wood elves!
There appears to be a jellyfish hovering above them.
NICK: They’ve got an Ent trapped in there.
Is that Gandalf the White over in the corner?
At least this one’s not in English. And I’m a sucker for enthusiastic back-up dancers.
NICK: What’s the Slovakian version of “Hey nonny nonny”?
I don’t think those boots are very Elvish. And her performance is a bit static and boring—I suspect she wore the boots for their looks, and can’t actually walk in them.
NICK: It’s actually sounding like the end-credit music for an anime.

FINLAND: Tyolki ellaa (I skipped the accents)
The band is called “Moon Whispers”?
Oooh, piano accordion! Piano accordion played by a puppeteer!
NICK: She seems to be standing on a stuffed, bleached Tribble, as well. It’s glowing!
Well, this is livelier than anything that’s gone before.
And you’ve got to respect the back-up dancers who are just there to make up the numbers.
NICK: She has a completely unironic relationship with her accordion.
Oh, the jellyfish is still there! Has it been there all along, and I’ve just not noticed it?
I have no idea what’s happening in this song, but I haven’t noticed a key change yet.
I suspect that if I want a key change, I’m going to have to put on some Bon Jovi.

LATVIA: What For?
So she’s just hanging around on the stage waiting, then?
No jellyfish for Latvia—just lots and lots of curtains.
NICK: That’s a Vulcan priestess’s dressing gown.
And it doesn’t go with those shoes.
NICK: She appears to be wearing weasel cages around her feet.
You weren’t reading this for a commentary on the actual songs, were you?
All I’ve learned from this song is that apparently her Uncle Joe is a mute, which seems tragic.
Is she singing about “Mr Guy” or “Mr God”? Neither makes much sense to me.
This seems oddly leaden for a song with such a jaunty beat.
And she didn’t hit either of those notes.
I think it is “Mr God.” That’s my final word on the matter.

Wow, these commentators are bitchy tonight.

SERBIA: Ovo je Balkan
Oh, what is that coat? What?
ACK! Shadow puppets.
NICK: Pull your belt up, lad!
He’s jaunty, but I’m hypnotised by his hair.
NICK: He may be the most bishonen performer in Eurovision history.
ACK! Robot dancing!
I’m so distracted by the belt and the hair and the back-up singers robot-dancing in their see-through tulle and sequin dresses that I can’t even judge the song. Not that I ever do.
Okay, I was fairly sure that back-up dancer was going to shimmy right out of her bodice just then.
And why haven’t we had a costume change yet?

BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA: Thunder and Lightning.
Very very frightening?
Oooh, smoke machine. Good start.
Shame it’s in English.
Well, this is less boring than the preceding songs.
I suspect the people in the front row are particularly enjoying the back-up dancers.
Oooh, fake guitar! And fake guitar solo!
(It might be a real guitar. It’s fake in an ontological sense.)
He’s smirking at me! I don’t like it when they smirk at me.
ACK! Squatting!
ME: What is he doing to that microphone stand?
NICK: I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure it’s illegal in Brisbane.

POLAND: Legenda
I have no idea what the commentators said about this one.
But I’m liking it already. Gotta love some national costuming.
A combination of ordinary fruit and high camera angles leads Nick to ask, “How about them apples?”
Hmm, it suddenly got a bit boring. Shame that.
The swirling skirts on the overhead camera shot are lovely.
This is such an odd mix of strong, aggressive choruses, and rather dull Michael Bublesque verses.
Woo hoo! Costume change!
Albeit a slightly creepy one!
And a key change!
And then, as the commentators point out, it just ends.

That’s the green room? That’s a horrible green room.
NICK: It looks like the bridge of the Liberator.

And is the host knitting a Polish flag?

BELGIUM: Me and My Guitar
I have no high hopes for this at all, just based on that title.
But, as Nick points out, it’s a terribly nice guitar.
Oh, dear: it’s in English.
I’m sure I heard this song on Triple M in about 1996.
Hang on, where are his back-up dancers? How is he allowed to be on stage on his own? Or are they just being obscured by the camera angles?
Am I misremembering the rules, or do you not have to have a minimum number of people on stage?
I would comment on the song itself, but I’m afraid of slipping into a coma if I pay too much attention to it.

Ah, so I am wrong on the rules. I don’t think I’ve ever seen just the one person on stage at Eurovision before, though.

MALTA: My Dream
More smoke machine!
Hang on, Nick seems to have accidentally flipped the channel to a Disney musical.
No? This is actually the song?
NICK: Unfortunately, it looks like the smoke is coming out of her backside.
This is a kind of music with which I have no patience whatsoever.
NICK: Use some more concrete imagery, girl!
ACK! She’s being attacked by a seagull!
NICK: She’s got wings coming out of her arse! And they’re not anchored to her spinal column!
ACK! She’s cloned herself!
NICK: Is she about to sing “I’m the goddamned Batman”? ‘Cause that would be awesome.

ALBANIA: It’s all About You
Albania are already more interesting than anyone else.
NICK: Oh hai, ’80s!
I was sure she was about to sing “It’s Raining Men” just then.
Those are crazy unflattering pants.
Violinist with epaulettes. Is he on a lazy Susan, though? No? Then I ain’t interested.
Those pants are honestly the most unflattering thing I’ve ever seen. I don’t know how they can fail to flatter so many parts of her lower body all at once.

Is that song title meant to be in caps? Oh, well: either works.
NICK: He’s just come from a rehearsal fro Reservoir Dogs, from the looks of him.
There seems to be a strong semiotic dissonance between the back-up dancers and the singer.
The back-up dancers, I think, are actually auditioning for So You Think You Can Dance, whereas the singer, Nick thinks, looks like a used-car dealer.
The song’s energetic enough.
ACK! Man with unidentifiable instrument! And drums! And a turntable!
Sorry: I’m easily startled by this point in Eurovision.
Oh, the song suddenly dropped into a ringtone. How odd.

PORTUGAL: Ha Dis Assim (Again, ignoring the accents)
Oops, the jellyfish is back.
NICK: Ironically, it’s actually a Portuguese man o’ war.
This is another . . . well, the commentators called it a “power ballad”: I’m sticking with “Disney musical.”
At least it’s not in English.
The singer does a head-flip on a high note, and Nick says, “She’s like ‘Oh, where did my vocal just go?’”
NICK: This is the song where the Lion King learns to be king of the jungle, or something.
It’s seriously boring, that’s what it is.
Oh my god! Where are those disembodied hands coming from?

I remember being really annoyed when SBS went commerical, but now I’m just pleased about the toilet breaks.

Why isn’t the host knitting another flag? That’s a bit lazy.

FYR MACEDONIA: Jas Ja Imam Silata
I like his sparkly brooch.
Well, that back-up dancer’s not going to be taking any clothes off. Not in a family-friendly show like Eurovision.
Oh, wait: the others managed to shed something fluffy and unnecessary. Somehow, the costume changes aren’t as exciting this year.
Nick thinks the back-up dancers are a bit listless, but luckily we’re distracted by a pointless rap performance.
NICK: That guitarist’s got no idea where he is.
Ah, another fake guitar solo. What, no wind machine? It’s coming to something when the fake guitarist has to flip his own hair around.

BELARUS: Butterflies
Okay, a woman better come out of that piano.
Especially since the song’s in English.
Nice harmonies, and lovely frocks. But still a bit boring.
This is like Boyz to Men, but with girls.
They haven’t co-ordinated their dramatic hand gestures.
ACK! Attack human-butterfly hybrids!
There was actual screaming in this living room at that point.
And why even have a piano if you’re not going to have a woman come out of it?

ICELAND: Je Ne Sais Quoi
Oh, a bit of electronica, is it?
Still in English, though. I’m a bit bored by the songs in English.
Oh, this is old-school Eurovision. Nick says this is what we’re here for, and it’s true—except I still need fireworks, flamethrowers, people getting their kit off, and key changes.
Not necessarily all in the same song.
I love her floaty skirts—nice and dramatic, without the sheer horror of, say, a human-butterfly hybrid.
This is the only song all night that I would have picked out of a line-up as actually being a Eurovision song.
Key change!
Nick has declared this his song of the night, just on the basis of the key change.

Why is that woman in the audience clutching a giraffe?

I have to say—no offence, Norway—that the actual staging has been a bit dull. Russia’s lovely staging last year has given me a false sense of expectations, perhaps.

They’re reminding us of the songs, which is handy, because I’ve forgotten them all already.

I hadn’t realised that one of Latvia’s back-up singers was Cher.

So, with about nine minutes left until the results are announced, I’m taking a quick break from the live-blogging. I’ll be back for the results, though.

Why didn’t I notice how horrifyingly tight the Belgian singer’s pants were the first time I saw that song?

You know, these repeats of the song are just reminding me how boring everything was. And I really don’t need to see that bit from F.Y.R. Macedonia again—it’s not as though they were leaving much to the imagination in the first place.

Speaking of horrifyingly tight, the cameraman might want to rethink his angle on Malta, as long as the seagull-man’s in shot.

I don’t normally live-blog the adverts, but I must say I despise ads that says the Socceroos have the “true Aussie spirit” because it’s “not over until the last minute.” Because, of course, most football teams just sit down on the field at the 66th minute and wait for the whistle to blow.

These announcers have a tendency to make the most pedestrian statements seem portentous: “We have heard seventeen songs from seventeen countries.”

Okay, so far this exploration of human song sounds like nothing so much as an anti-smoking campaign. Filler, filler—all is filler!

Seriously, why am I watching ten minutes of people wandering around historic landmarks and coughing? This could have been so interesting, but instead it’s just a bit abject and revolting.

See? Totally unnecessary cowpat.

That was the interval act? Dude, Norway: pick up your act!

Ah, the automatic entries!

SPAIN: Something Tiny.
Dude. Clowns.
That’s just not right.

NORWAY: Sorry, missed the title!
I thought this one was the U.K, it was so boring.

U.K: That Sounds Good To Me
Boring as always.

FRANCE: Missed it again!
I only listened to this thirty seconds ago, and I’ve already forgotten it.

GERMANY: Satelitte
Boppy but forgettable.

And now, the results!

1. Bosnia and Herzegovina. Oh, the man in the red jacket.
2. Moldova. The woman who’d been spray-painted?
3. Russia. Fake snow and scarves.
4. Greece. I’m frankly stunned by that, but I shouldn’t be.
5. Portugal. Oh, the Disney princess? Dull and more dull.
6. Belarus. Seriously? The human-butterfly hybrids? I can’t watch that again.
7. Serbia. No real surprise there, despite the hypnotic hair. Perhaps because of it?

The Belgian man and his perfunctory flag waving is killing me.

8. Belgium. Oh, he was dull.
9. Albania. I can live with Albania, as long as she picks new pants.
10. Iceland. Well, thank goodness. I would have been deeply annoyed if she hadn’t gone through.

So that’s our first semi-final: half an hour of performance and two hours of voting/padding.

Thank you, delightful commentators.

Let’s do it all again tomorrow night, shall we? Maybe we’ll get another violinist on a lazy Susan.

Share your thoughts [42]


John wrote at May 28, 09:29 am

I’m pretty sure you’ll still get flame-throwers and wind-machines, as well as plenty of key changes. Just no knitting brides and transvestite nazis.


John wrote at May 28, 09:42 am

The jury voting is supposed to prevent bloc and diaspora voting. Fat chance!


John wrote at May 28, 09:48 am

Man, way to pound the piano, in a quiet bit. But: Boy Band!


John wrote at May 28, 10:00 am

Finland so far, for my money. That song was so silly it might make it. And I loved the entirely predictable clap clap in each chorus.


Wendy wrote at May 28, 10:02 am

I’ve just arrived home…so will be right with you….I hope I haven’t missed any flames or fireworks


John wrote at May 28, 10:07 am

“Only Mr God knows why.” WTF?


John wrote at May 28, 10:13 am

Costume changes. I expecting very few: this is going to be a very conservative Eurovision. See: (Sorry about the plug).


John wrote at May 28, 10:15 am

“Well, this is less boring than the preceding songs.” You’ve been listening to too much Bon Jovi, haven’t you.


Wendy wrote at May 28, 10:17 am

weird faux michael buble for poland? am I wrong?


Wendy wrote at May 28, 10:19 am

well there was a key change…and I see I’ve missed a piano accordion…darn


Wendy wrote at May 28, 10:21 am

a golden ticket…is this charlie and the chocolate factory. also feel privileged that I’ve broken out my very ancient iBook for this viewing. not battery life so am plugged in to the wall….am now expecting big things from Belgium and the wonderuflly named Tom Dice? he certainly has a guitar!


John wrote at May 28, 10:22 am

Lisa: I think I’ve heard this.
Sam: Yeah, it might be a Jonathan Coulton song.


Wendy wrote at May 28, 10:23 am

Belgium isn’t really Mr Excitement is he?


John wrote at May 28, 10:24 am

“do you not have to have a minimum number of people on stage?” No, only a maximum (six).


Wendy wrote at May 28, 10:27 am

Malta…hmmm very silvery and misty to start with. is that part of her dress on the floor or some weird cloudlike stage prop? And slightly out of tune…noice…that with the synth underscoring really is adding up to nightmarish kind of dream

OH…WINGS….forget snarky earlier comments…SHE WINS


Wendy wrote at May 28, 10:28 am

The wings are a person….that almost makes up for the foul final note


Wendy wrote at May 28, 10:31 am

i do really dislike an electric violin….rockin’ Albania….especially when you can’t even hear it…oh take that back…cue electric nigel kennedy punk solo…
surprisingly understated costume…i do like synchronised back up singers though


John wrote at May 28, 10:31 am

Meh. Britney clone.


John wrote at May 28, 10:33 am

Greece, Greece, Greece! Boy band!


Wendy wrote at May 28, 10:36 am

white white and more white for Greece….are they going to do something with those drum things on the stage? whatever instrument of hades is making that psycho noise needs to be put away.
aaaaah…nice traditional greek kind of instrument…now they pick up the drum thingos…play them for goodness sake…just a bit too much “HEY” for me…nice fire/flames to finish though


John wrote at May 28, 10:37 am

Greece, douze points!


Wendy wrote at May 28, 10:40 am

Portugal…the most interesting thing are the beads hanging from the ceiling…mariah carey really does have a lot to answer for doesn’t she? key change….and now heading for a big finish…whoops…fooled me…boring bridge first….is she in pain?


belegdel wrote at May 28, 10:43 am

The “goddamn batman” comment almost killed me, BTW


Wendy wrote at May 28, 10:48 am

Macedonia…scarification style makeup for the back up dancers…an interesting choice


Wendy wrote at May 28, 10:51 am

oh dear me…rapping macedonian style….and now a guitar appears from nowhere….did anyone say Slash?

Wow indeed Julia


Wendy wrote at May 28, 10:52 am

someone has spent a fair amount time with the hair straightener belarus young man


John wrote at May 28, 10:53 am

Now this one is the Disney ballad. Belarus, sigh.


Wendy wrote at May 28, 10:55 am

in keeping with the apparent disney theme perhaps bambi will jump out of the piano…oh my lord…I’m out to buy myself some fairy wings tomorrow asap

not a bit boring… a lot boring


Wendy wrote at May 28, 10:56 am

iceland…was this much awful synthesiser last year? anyone?


Wendy wrote at May 28, 10:58 am

OMG….now there was a key change


John wrote at May 28, 10:59 am

“Not necessarily all in the same song” What? Of course all in the same song!

And a key chance for Iceland!


Wendy wrote at May 28, 11:03 am

goodness Moldova were frightening…as were Estonia…. and that is a shiny white piano accordion for Finland….what is with that Serbian singer’s hair? It scares me as well!


John wrote at May 28, 11:10 am

Did you see that filler with the host showing the contestants around Oslo, and them playing up to the camera? That was better than most of the songs!


John wrote at May 28, 11:31 am

You kidding? The cowpat was hilarious! (If incomprehensible)


John wrote at May 28, 11:41 am

Desperately disappointed that the freaky seagull man (Malta) didn’t get through.


Catriona wrote at May 28, 11:42 am

I’m just thrilled that F.Y.R. Macedonia didn’t get through. I don’t need to see that again.

What lovely commenters you all are! I hope you laughed at my jokes.


Matthew Smith wrote at May 28, 11:53 am

I watched Master Chef and then While You Were Sleeping. But my vote is for the seagull one based on the description.


Wendy wrote at May 28, 12:04 pm

so Tom Dice made it but the cloud, floor, wing, bird man didn’t….that seems wrong. and those golden pixies sang the worst song of the evening…and that’s saying something…


Nick wrote at May 28, 12:11 pm

What a night that was. Started well, flagged in the middle, then rallied marvellously at the end. But enough about my jokes.

Thank you very much, I’ll be here all week. Enjoy the veal!


Catriona wrote at May 28, 12:19 pm

I’m trying to decide whether my vote for “Nick’s comment of the night” goes to the Portuguese man o’ war crack, or “She has a completely unironic relationship with her accordion.”


Catriona wrote at May 28, 12:22 pm

And I just noticed that I wrote, for Belarus’s performance, “And why even have a woman if you’re not going to have a woman come out of it?”

That would be something unusual indeed, even for Eurovision.

Everyone knows women come out of pianos.


Wendy wrote at May 28, 12:26 pm

Definitely the accordion comment….a degree of irony is essential

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