by Catriona Mills

Live-blogging Eurovision: Semi-Final 1, 2011

Posted 13 May 2011 in by Catriona

And here we are for the first of the Eurovision semi-finals! Well, here I am. I don’t actually know where you are. But I’m just going to assume you’re here; otherwise, I’d just be talking to myself.

In the interests of full disclosure, I’ve forgotten to write out the song titles in advance. Again. For the third year running. So there are bound to be a few songs called “Damn, I can’t type that fast.”

(Nick will be moderating comments while I’m typing, as per usual.)

I rather regret not watching this entire Eurovision doco now. The bits I’m seeing here are actually quite interesting—and disturbing, given the bit about the Russian police attacking that gay rights march.

Encouraging Nick to go and get a beer. He can’t abide watching Eurovision sober.

Ooh, I think we’re actually starting! Yep, this looks German all right.

I know this is probably unAustralian, but I miss Terry Wogan. Come back, Terry! All is forgiven!

As usual, Eurovision is being hosted by a staggeringly tall woman and a man with what looks like a handlebar moustache. Actually, that last one might be a bit new. I do like the swirly stage.

Ooh, look! The traditional Eurovision misogyny!

NICK: The banter is even more forced than usual.

I was really, really hoping someone would punch that host; I only hope someone punches him properly in a minute.

This misogyny schtick is wearing thin for me already. Punch him! Punch him!

(Wendy, Nick was trying not to make a German comedy joke. Thank you for taking the responsibility out of his hands!)

Punch him!

Punch him now!

Reverse sexism doesn’t make the misogyny funny!

Oooh, it’s all tilt-shifty! How lovely!

POLAND: “Jeslem”, Magadelena Tul.
Quoth Nick, “I’ve got to say; the new TARDIS control room is looking good.”
Oh, I see Poland just decided not to bother with pants. I suppose it saves them from the costume change.
Oh, wait: two are wearing pants.
NICK: Okay. Those two in the back better be taking their gear off.
This song is deeply, deeply boring, but the legs are exceptional.
Are we even getting a key change here?
And no, I don’t count those weird puffs of steam as proper fireworks.

NORWAY: “Haba Haba”, Stella Mwangi.
The Norwegians are singing in Swahili? Is that a Eurovision first?
The stage, despite those nice swirly bits, is really quite dull, don’t you think?
The song’s not grabbing me so far, but that dress is a bit wacky.
Oh my god: it’s not a dress. It’s formal shorts with a bustle.
Who said Eurovision wasn’t wacky this year?
Still, at least the front row can’t see up her skirt.
But it’s like her bottom is wearing a cape. It’s distracting, and not in the way a bottom is supposed to be distracting.

ALBANIA: “Feel the Passion”, Aurela Gace
Isn’t it strange how much Germany looks like Brighton?
Well, Albania seem to be doing something a bit more interesting with the staging than the last two acts tried to do.
Flamethrowers! That’s more like it.
NICK: Dry ice and flame? I mean, seriously. It’s got everything.
We don’t care so much about the actual music. You might have noticed that.
This sounds a bit like an’ 80s European metal band decided to do an album of covers of ’50s pop songs. But I like it more than the last two.

ARMENIA: “Boom Boom”, Emmy
I need a chair that looks like a boxing glove.
NICK: Lady Santa in a giant glove. I can think of at least three fetishes right now.
This is staggeringly awful.
I hope it gets through!
Believe it or not, the male back-up dancers are showing even more cleavage than the singer.
Nick hasn’t been commenting because he can’t stop laughing.
Where did that boxing ring come from? I only looked away for a second!
Oh, she didn’t hit that note. Not by a long shot.

Wow, the commentators are trying really, really hard not to be bitchy about that one.

I’m loving the tilt shift.

TURKEY: “Live it Up”, Yuksek Sadakat
I don’t mind the back drop and I love his gold fringy shirt and their whole-hearted commitment to flamethrowers.
Nick thinks it sounds like the opening to the Beverley Hills 90210 theme song.
They have a female contortionist in a sphere. That’s definitely something new.
This is not staggeringly awful, but to be honest, it’s a bit dull.
More than a bit dull.
And that contortionist in a sphere is worrying me a bit. What’s the purpose of that, do you suppose?
No, the wings don’t actually answer my question.

Oh, I cannot wait for Portugal!

They really didn’t get that Les Murray joke.

SERBIA: “Caraban”, Nina
Well, they’ve already won me over with the funky pink background and the funky dresses.
The orange back-up singer’s dress is a bit short, isn’t it?
NICK: That orange singer’s trying to hypnotise the audience! It’s … working.
I wouldn’t listen to this voluntarily, and the white tights are as wrong now as they were in the ’60s (and again in the ’80s). But the song’s cute. We haven’t had much cute yet.
This is definitely the liveliest thing we’ve seen all night.
Nick and I both liked that one. We want Serbia to go through.

RUSSIA: “Get You”, Alexej Vorobjov”
Okay, if I had to visualise a Russian stunt man, this is what I would have visualised.
NICK: Back to The Outsiders, Pony Boy.
Nick is fascinated by this one.
NICK: He has two George Michael impersonators and a Zac Efron impersonator!
That line “I lost my mind somewhere between your …” is a bit too risque for Eurovision, isn’t it?
I don’t know what’s happening here, but I wouldn’t mind watching it again on Sunday night.
There was a back flip? I missed the back flip!

SWITZERLAND: “In Love For A While”, Anna Rossinelli
Oh, dear: I hate this already.
In fact, I might hate the entirety of Switzerland for somehow managing to make a ukelele horribly twee.
This is like the musical version of blank verse: nothing seems to scan or fit the rhythm.
The back drop is gorgeous, though. I’m warming to this staging, after the boring first couple.
Don’t these songs go for about three minutes? They couldn’t stretch to writing the full complement of verses?
NICK: We’re getting short-changed on lyrics here!
I know, I know: I sound bitter. I just have a really low tolerance for things that are hatefully twee.

GEORGIA: “One More Day”, Eldrine
I really don’t want to think of Offspring and rappers at the same time, thanks.
They’ve got an interesting stage, too.
Nick’s fascinated by the dress.
NICK: Is she holding out for a hero?
We’re more impressed by the guitarist’s awesome jacket than we are by the song, which we’ve decided is like an Evanescence tribute band.
Okay, I’m rooting for them to go through.
The singer is single-handedly filling Eurovision’s hair quotient.

FINLAND: “Da Da Dam”, Paradise Oskar.
Moomins! Moomins!
Nick thinks the lead singer looks like Michael Cera.
I’m going to change my name to Paradise Catriona.

No, I’m not. Not now I see it in print.
Can’t type. Laughing too hard.
Oh, he’s so sincere, and he’s got such a cute accent, and it’s so bad.
I wish it were in Finnish. That would be better.
I hope he gets through. He’s so sincere and the back-drop is pretty.

MALTA: “One Life”, Glen Vella
I would like Malta to win. But only because they’ve never won before. This song itself is not grabbing me.
Why are the back-up singers wearing fetish gear and the singer’s wearing jeans?
NICK: More traditional national costumes should be in rubber.
I had no idea that the ’80s were back so … so … unironically.
Key change!
I’m a bit besotted with those two male back-up dancers. No, not for that reason. They’re just so cheerful!
They do look like Cate Blanchett in Indiana Jones!

SAN MARINO: “Stand By”, Senit
More dry ice. They’re really loving the dry ice this year.
Well, I hope there’s not a zombie attack. She’ll never be able to flee for her life in that dress and retain her dignity.
As Nick pointed out, there’s not much energy in this. Which is why I’m visualising zombie attack instead of blogging.
Also, fraught love ballads should never include the lyrics “if you don’t mind”.
Except for Canadian ballads, natch.
Oh my: that was dull.

CROATIA: “Celebrate”, Daria
NICK: Oh, they’ve got a prat in a hat!
ME: Nick, you have a hat just like that.
NICK: No, I want a hat just like that. There’s a difference.
The quality of legs in this year’s Eurovision is excellent.
The DJ looks like he’s from The Mighty Boosh. He also approves the legs.
Magic costume change!
The DJ is also a magician!
NICK: But the dress is longer! It doesn’t work that way round!
The song has made no impression on me at all, but they have a DJ-magician. I want them to go through.
And another magic costume change!
I vote for Croatia.

ICELAND: “Coming Home”, Sjonni’s Friends
I probably shouldn’t be bitchy about this one, should I?
I do wish it wasn’t in English, though.
I like the steampunky background.
This is cute and boppy. I could say some acerbic things about it, but then I’d feel bad.
I do like the way they slow it down at the end. Is there a word for that?

At last, a little breather for the fingers.

A very little breather for the fingers.

Oh, this Russian chap is fairly confident in himself, isn’t he?

Oh, no! Not more Finnish song! Please!

HUNGARY: “What About My Dreams?”, Kati Wolf
What does she have on her hand?
NICK: It’s a hand fascinator.
I had a Barbie with that exact dress, except in pink. You could unwrap the sleeve bit and wind it round her knees to make a fetching evening dress. I hope that happens here.
I’ll give it this much: it’s lively.
Also, she seems to have a ninja.
I’m not convinced she’s hitting all the notes, though.
I don’t like that asymmetrical skirt. It looks like her dress is tucked in her knickers.
She’ll probably go through, though.

PORTUGAL: I missed all of that, because I was trying to work out the accent over the “e”
I have to admire them for their whole-heartedness.
But I’m having horrible sympathetic acid flashbacks to a year before I was even born.
I’m sure I saw Sarah-Jane Smith in that outfit with the red beret.
I have a feeling I might engage with this song better if I had the faintest idea about Portuguese history (or Portuguese, for that matter).
It seems so chirpy for a song with so many placards and fist salutes.

LITHUANIA: “C’est Ma Vie”, Evelina Sasenko
NICK: It’s always “my life”. It’s always “It’s my life” or “what about my life?” or “oh, I left my life over there”.
Full disclosure: I’m automatically going to hate anything described as an “operatic ballad”. This is no exception.
NICK: She’s definitely got the chest of an opera singer. There’s no need to put that on the blog.
The sign language has won us over a bit, but apparently it was only relevant for that one verse.
NICK: They’ll be like “where’s the chorus? You just boned us out of a chorus!”
I hope someone bursts out of that piano. That would be the only thing that would reclaim this.
Too late.

AZERBAIJAN: “Running Scared” Ell/Nikki
Sam is being really unpleasantly bitchy about the women in this competition. He might be bitching out the men as well, but I’m really noticing it with the women.
Oh, there goes the hair quotient, up again.
With those skirts, they want to be a bit careful with the wind machine.
Does this one sound like an inexpensive Kate Bush tribute band to anyone else?
Oh, good: flaming rain.
She better watch her hair extensions.
They’re the favourites? Wow, I’m out of touch on Eurovision trends.

GREECE: “Watch My Dance”, Lukas Yiorkas feat. Stereo Mike
Yes, but can you sing?
A rapper and breakdancing?
I am partial to breakdancing, it’s true.
Wait, why are they all just standing over in the corner during the serious ballady bit of the song?
I have to say, this isn’t really working well as a single unified song.
I’ve warmed very much to the set design, though. I thought the sets were boring, but really it was just the first couple of acts who were boring.
Nope, even the fireworks aren’t winning me over with this one.
And wow: it just ended. I mean, just … ended. With no warning.
Oh, I didn’t think the genres came together well at all.

Back soon for the results!

The automatic entries:

FRANCE: Nick thought it was Benedict Cumberbatch for a minute there.
SPAIN: Oh god! Clowns! Or something!
ITALY: I’ve forgotten it already.
UNITED KINGDOM: Awful. But did you expect anything else?
GERMANY: Is that Lena again? Or just a Lena clone?

Is there a company somewhere that specialises in just making these Eurovision green rooms? They all look the same.

And why does everyone only have one sleeve?


1. SERBIA. We liked them: they were boppy and adorable.
2. LITHUANIA. Oh, the opera singer … and her chest.
3. GREECE. Really? I didn’t care for that at all. Anthemic? Really?
4. AZERBAIJAN. No surprises, but I wasn’t a big fan. Kirsty’s right: it’s a bit Twilight.
5. GEORGIA. We liked them. Hooray!
6. SWITZERLAND. Oh, the horrifyingly twee one.
7. HUNGARY. With the hand fascinator. It’s is a perfectly Eurovision song.
8. FINLAND. Paradise Oskar. Oh, well there’ll be more laughs on Sunday night.
9. RUSSIA. Nice to see the ’80s are still popular.
10. ICELAND. I bet it was Iceland, and (for once in my life) I was right.

I’m sorry not to see the giant boxing glove back, but, let’s face it, it was terrible.

Well, that’s all for tonight. I’ll be back here tomorrow night for the second semi-final. Pop in if you’re passing!

Share your thoughts [73]


Wendy wrote at May 13, 10:24 am

I’m here….


Nick wrote at May 13, 10:32 am

Yep, no way I’m doing this without beer.


belegdel wrote at May 13, 10:34 am

Cheese, ciabatta, dukkah, kabana, chips, dip and a nice Brown Brothers Shiraz. we’re ready!


Wendy wrote at May 13, 10:36 am

That white dress would be quite tasteful without that weird spangly shoulder accessory


Nick wrote at May 13, 10:36 am

Mmm. Handlebar moustache.


Belegdel wrote at May 13, 10:37 am

Belegdel and I are here with you.. red wine in hand


Wendy wrote at May 13, 10:38 am

They appear to be attempting a comedy routine…a German comedy routine…


Wendy wrote at May 13, 10:41 am

STefan has not endeared himself to me as of this point in proceedings


Wendy wrote at May 13, 10:43 am

Poland…the singer looks a little like Danni Minogue? Or I am wrong?


Wendy wrote at May 13, 10:45 am

I realise the singing is the least of our concerns but it seemed a bit out of tune at times…still lots of smoke puffs so…swings and roundabouts


Wendy wrote at May 13, 10:48 am

Is that a steel drum sound I hear Norway? apart from the dreadful dreadful lyrics of course…


Belegdel wrote at May 13, 10:49 am

The dress seems to be channeling Judy Jetson.


Wendy wrote at May 13, 10:53 am

Dear Albania you can all the synchronised flames you like but diction diction diction…I can’t understand a word


Kirsty wrote at May 13, 10:53 am

Albania got a bit carried away with the studs on that dress. They kept going with them to her finger tips.


Wendy wrote at May 13, 10:54 am

that big bird hologram background thing is impressive though


Wendy wrote at May 13, 10:56 am

Well a big prop is always promising Armenia..especially when matched with themed costuming…and the dancing background stars are…well…they are dancing background stars I guess…


John wrote at May 13, 10:57 am

“Boom boom chaka chaka.” What more is there to say, really? Welcome to Eurovision 2011!


Kirsty wrote at May 13, 11:01 am

John, I believe there was at least one other line: ‘I reeeallly loooovve you-ou-ou!’


Wendy wrote at May 13, 11:01 am

Oh goodness I just noticed that contortionist thing in the cage…it distracts from the leprechaun themed glittery costumes I suppose


Kirsty wrote at May 13, 11:02 am

This song from Turkey is like late-80s Australian rock: a cross between Dragon and Pseudo Echo. They must win!


Catriona wrote at May 13, 11:05 am

The contortionist is still freaking me out!


John wrote at May 13, 11:06 am

Kirsty @ 20: Hooray! Finally Australia makes it to Eurovision.


Wendy wrote at May 13, 11:10 am

This reminds me of a SErbian version of Hairspray…where is Zac Efron these days? Also, I want that green dress the backup singer is wearing…


Kirsty wrote at May 13, 11:11 am

Who’s that woman who sang all those Burt Bacharach numbers in the 60s? She’s alive and living in Serbia.


Wendy wrote at May 13, 11:11 am

Ooooo…perfect key change…:-)


Wendy wrote at May 13, 11:14 am

Alex Sparrow…New Kids on the Block, Rick Astley, Bros…very white shoes…that is all…


Kirsty wrote at May 13, 11:15 am

Are we sure this is Russia? It’s like A-ha has reformed.


Wendy wrote at May 13, 11:17 am

YES Kirsty…definitely A-ha…I expected more from a Russian stuntman, Dancing on Ice winner I have to say


Kirsty wrote at May 13, 11:17 am

Ukelele for Wendy!


Wendy wrote at May 13, 11:19 am

I am LOVING Switzerland….Loving it I tell you!


John wrote at May 13, 11:20 am

Ahh, what is the song that this rips off? I almost get it and then it slides away. You all must know the one I mean (Switzerland).


Kirsty wrote at May 13, 11:21 am

I think there’s a bit of Eurovision genre confusion from Switzerland tonight. They think they’re at a folk festival.


Wendy wrote at May 13, 11:24 am

I think there is a limit to how many genres you mix into a single song without it becoming just plain ridiculous…that screeching man is more disturbing than Turkey’s contortionist


Kirsty wrote at May 13, 11:24 am

Georgia: it’s Heart meets Alanis Morisette meets Vanilla Ice meets—? Help me out people?!


John wrote at May 13, 11:26 am

“If you liked Lordi… turn off now” I love Sam Pang.


Wendy wrote at May 13, 11:26 am

meets Korn-lite?…in other news Sam Pang made mad laugh out loud in his introduction to Finland then.


Wendy wrote at May 13, 11:27 am

Scratch that…Finland’s song is making me laugh out loud…a lot…I’m scaring the cat…


Kirsty wrote at May 13, 11:29 am

Mr Finland does look like Michael Cera. Or like Hans Christian Andersen, if he were Finnish and played guitar.


John wrote at May 13, 11:33 am

Loving the Cate-Blanchette-in Indiana-Jones-4 look on the backing singers (Malta)


Kirsty wrote at May 13, 11:33 am

There are whole parts of Europe that haven’t ever moved on from the 80s aren’t there?


Wendy wrote at May 13, 11:33 am

If that boy is an opera singer opera is in big big trouble…or did I get that wrong…good try Malta…at least you bothered with a key change


Wendy wrote at May 13, 11:36 am

Oh San Marino…wherever you are in EUrope….surely you could have found someone who could hit some of the notes


Kirsty wrote at May 13, 11:37 am

I’ve never heard of San Marino. Huh. SBS is fulfilling its public service remit with flying colours tonight: educating, informing AND entertaining the people.


Wendy wrote at May 13, 11:41 am

I do love choreography that so literally illustrates the lyrics Croatia…OOOH MAGIC COSTUME CHANGE…that makes up for the awful, boring song…and yet another singer who can’t hit a note in the centre…I know I’m focusing too much on the music


Kirsty wrote at May 13, 11:41 am

Remember the year they had that big, see-through pool above the stage? Dry ice and strobe lights don’t quite cut it, after that.


John wrote at May 13, 11:42 am

That was amazing! If this doesn’t make the final, I will scream. Oh god, she changed again, and I missed it because I was typing.


Wendy wrote at May 13, 11:44 am

Do Iceland sound like the Partridge Family…or is that just me?


Kirsty wrote at May 13, 11:45 am

Pretty patterns in the background. (Can’t be mean about this one.)


Wendy wrote at May 13, 11:46 am

that was just really really odd especially given the background to the song…honky tonky 60s polka pop?


Wendy wrote at May 13, 11:49 am

slowing down at the end… rallentando, ritardando, ritenuto, meno mosso,…you can take your pick really :-)


John wrote at May 13, 11:51 am

OK, I can no longer remember a single note of that Iceland song, and yet I find myself spontaneously whistling Barry Manilow’s “Can’t Smile Without You.” Just saying…


Kirsty wrote at May 13, 11:52 am

Sam is so right with the Bolton comment.


Wendy wrote at May 13, 11:53 am

I’ve decided on my international name…Wendy Wolf


Wendy wrote at May 13, 11:55 am

Yes it’s uncanny isn’t it…the Bolton resemblance…also “hand fascinator” got a LOL from me…perfect!


Kirsty wrote at May 13, 11:55 am

If Celine Dion has a European fan base, this song will win.


John wrote at May 13, 11:56 am

Bloody hell! I just googled images of Kati and Michael Bolton and put them side-by-side. The operation was a great success!


Kirsty wrote at May 13, 11:57 am

Who’re all these random people in the clips before the songs?


Wendy wrote at May 13, 11:58 am

I think I spy one of the Village people in this line up from Portugal?


Kirsty wrote at May 13, 12:00 pm

I think we all now know why Fidel Castro retired. He couldn’t put his life-long dream of a music career on hold any longer.


Wendy wrote at May 13, 12:01 pm

Someone has been listening to too much Andrew Lloyd Webber (Lithuania)


Kirsty wrote at May 13, 12:04 pm

@Nick Or ‘Where’s my life?’


John wrote at May 13, 12:04 pm


Wendy wrote at May 13, 12:05 pm

ripping off Coldplay in the opening melody? no? yellow?


Kirsty wrote at May 13, 12:08 pm

Was that song about running up stairs? (Azerbaijan) Also, it was all very Twilight, I thought.


Wendy wrote at May 13, 12:11 pm

marky mark plus one of the ten tenors (who might be a baritone) no no no no no…although impressive one arm on the floor dancing


Wendy wrote at May 13, 12:13 pm

I choo choo choose Serbia and Switzerland with sympathy votes for Finland and Portugal


Kirsty wrote at May 13, 12:18 pm

Julia, Julia, get the terminology right. Croatia didn’t so much reveal as conceal.


Catriona wrote at May 13, 12:25 pm

You guys are all so funny. I wish I could read the comments and blog at the same time!


John wrote at May 13, 12:38 pm

No, definitly the same Lena.


Wendy wrote at May 13, 12:42 pm

Serbia and Switzerland!! I can go to bed happy now….although wondering who on earth voted for Greece?


John wrote at May 13, 12:47 pm

Thank you to our host. See you all again tomorrow.


Kirsty wrote at May 13, 12:48 pm

What fun that was. Thanks for hosting, Catriona.


Catriona wrote at May 13, 12:57 pm

Thank you all for coming, bringing your own drinks, and not wrecking the place!

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