Berger Starts To Sizzle

May 11, 2013 by

Berger Starts To Sizzle

Time to see them all again in semi 2. What’s not to love about PeR? Arturas and Ralfs are giving it their all up there and Ralfs does a magnificent backwards stage dive, and is caught by SVT production staff. Would love to see this get through, much like Montenegro. Going to really stick my neck out here in saying Latvia isn’t qualifying.

There, I said it, which is more than some do around here… Just spotted a large fence in the press centre. There appears to be a chap in glasses sitting on top of it. Can’t quite make him out from this distance but he doesn’t look like coming down off it in the foreseeable future.

Valentina is crying out for vocal assistance here but strangely doesn’t have any. It would give the song far more oomph. Instead, all she has are the 2 backing dancers. The staging of this is powerfully red and black. Anyone remember X Factor’s Craig Colton?

Esma strolls out onto stage looking like an enormous red whirling dervish. She’s a bundle of ethno joy. Her vocal gymnastics are like the sound of someone trying to sing while gargling a mouthful of Listerine. It’s certainly an acquired taste. Lozano is singing in his native tongue today. Think Bulgaria trumps this on all fronts – just got in my DeLorean again.

FYR Macedonia and Switzerland should have teamed up this year: Esma joined by 95-year-old Emil on double bass could have been tv gold.

Farid has impressed me on this 2nd run through. That was the 5th, 6th and 7th time I’ve seen it, of course, in its staged glory and it probably takes a few watches to fathom. Most importantly, he sells it very well. He is active on the stage and gives great camera. As regulars will know, usually the expression is ‘good camera’ but Farid deserves a rare ‘great’. Movements mirrored perfectly by the guy in the glass box. Vocal absolutely fine.

Krista has all the Vegas wedding-themed backdrop in play here and it works very well in a Jedward ‘Lipstick’ sort of way. Pink knee support, pink skirt under white wedding dress, pink high heels, pink lipstick, pink nail varnish, pink glove on left hand. Got a funny feeling Krista is a fan of Pink. This is a visual feast. As much as this song hurts my ears, the Finns have nailed the staging. We have just had 2 powerful presentations back to back.

Malta’s Gianluca lost timing with the song, as happened at 1st rehearsal, and had some problems with a couple of notes on first run through. But he improved on later run throughs and this song has a charm all of its own.

Elitsa hits the ground running today, instead of hitting the ground as she literally did during 1st rehearsals. Lots happening during the Bulgarian stage show and it works really well. It’s not just the kitchen sink – they’ve thrown a fully fitted ethno kitchen at this. Expressive drum playing from Stoyan, great stick work, and an endearing bare-footed Shamanic jig by Elitsa at the end. One of Elitsa’s sticks makes a break for freedom at one point. As stated before, risk of drumstick loss during this: HIGH. She also has a great bit down on her knees belting out her trademark squeal.

A blinged up Eythor today, who also bears an uncanny resemblance to Dougal from The Magic Roundabout. Does this guy have heart-throb appeal? Perhaps more importantly, black jacket or white jacket? The debate appears to rage on. Always bet on black. Regardless, he is the Birgit of semi 2, only male, and from Iceland, and not pregnant (as Tweeted previously @ferrisdayoff).

Black and white Converse and kilts for Koza Mostra today. The guys really look the part. I have become a big fan of this brand of Greek ska. This knocks spots off Madness, especially when the guys appear front and centre at the end of the song and perform a zorba-style dance.

Moran is all set for the big nights ahead. She just falls off the very last note after powering Rak Bishvilo out with great passion but this looks and sounds a dramatic and powerful ballad package – on 3rd run through she nails the last note.

Lonely Planet really is rock-lite. Gor is trying his best. Credit to him, he is an excellent lead vocalist, but is he flogging a dead horse here? A bit of pyro mid-song and at the climax. Maybe there’s an ESC market for this but to these UK ears and eyes it remains very tame.

Some very cruel folk shortened Hungary’s chances this year to a succinct ‘ByeAlex’ on Twitter following 1st rehearsal. My view is, it’s an under-stated, dreamy delight. I also reckon there could be something subliminal going on with those spooky whistles combined with the swirly graffiti images in the backdrop. Will this hypnotise vast swathes of Europe into voting for it? You never know.

We are suffering a little here in the press centre with a big screen but a feeble speaker. Norway lacks the amazing sound quality heard inside the cinema at the EuroClub. Margaret looks the part and is vocally ‘on point’. To be fully appreciated this needs a decent tv with surround sound but the quality of the song is coming through loud and clear as Margaret powers through it. This is good to go now for next Thursday.

A guitarist on a podium is an addition to Albania. He looks like Roy Wood adding to the sense they are a bunch of rock dinosaurs. This is less maNga, more manky. When Adrian is one of the more telegenic ones you know you are treading a fine line. It could coalesce authentic rock fans and it certainly has stand-out appeal in this strong middle section of the 2nd half of semi 2, especially Bledar’s pyro-spouting guitar solo. Love it!

Is ‘Waterfall’ stronger or weaker than Georgia’s ‘Shine’ in 2010 which came 9th from the 13 slot, and how does 2013 compare to 2010 as a Contest quality-wise? It is perhaps an important question to ask in trying to figure out Georgia’s chance this year. Nodi & Sophie are like 2 Thoroughbred racehorses primed to peak on the big racedays upcoming. Highly professional package in every respect. Superb harmonising on this and pyro curtain climax.

Switzerland = still missing an open goal not utilising Emil enough who looks how I feel right now as it ticks towards 9pm and we’ve been on the go here since noon. Sarah does try for some cute interplay with him but it’s not enough.

Last but certainly not least, Cesar. Bonkers operatic high art at its finest, and strangest. Delicious Cesar dressing, you could say, in the form of that wizard’s garb. His dancers look trapped under their red tarpaulin at one point, fighting to get out, only adding to the lunacy of this production.

The Big 5 tomorrow plus Sweden on a mercifully shortened rehearsal day prior to the gruelling final week. Got your 10 qualifiers yet for each semi? Please do share your thoughts below.


  1. Tim B

    Posted on sofabet so I may as well see what you think to my lists, Rob.


    The Netherlands
    Belgium (least sure on this one)

    Semi Final 1 is tricky in the second half, and it wouldn’t surprise me too much to see Belarus or Belgium miss out from that list.


    Malta (starting to have doubts)
    Albania (more likely through than not)
    Romania (small stake only)

    If not Romania or Malta, then Iceland. However, I wouldn’t back Iceland now that it’s come below evens.

    Now that Finland’s been backed down to 1.49, it’s a good value lay as its televote and jury support is questionable in the context of this semi. It will look cheap as hell after the artistic and flawless performance from Azerbaijan. Both eurovicious and I think Finland is a safer NQ than San Marino as well.

    • Rob

      As you know Tim, I was very much against Finland leading into the rehearsals. It was definitely a value NQ proposition when initial odds were issued. But not, as much as it pains me, I’ve been totally won over by the staging of it. It’s like Jedward’s Lipstick, a visual feast, & it just works really well.

      My argument was its lack of natural allies in this semi but reckon Krista sells it so well it will likely pick up a wide range of points. Romania I have concerns for but that pimp slot stat nags away at me.

      Semi 1 has actually become the trickier one to solve in my view – jury rehearsal tomorrow night will hopefully clarify things. Belgium I was keen to back to Q anything over 2-1 but Roberto has not been ‘bringing it’ to the stage. Where’s your faith in Montenegro gone? 🙂

      • Tim B

        After trying to make a case for Montenegro a few weeks back, I’ve realised that I was probably wrong to have done so. My problem is, I struggle to see where it may pick up many points from at all. I think it’ll be almost bottom with the juries, the aggressive rapping having a great deal to do with that. So I don’t see it picking up any points from outside of Serbia and Croatia. Certainly not the UK anyway – yes it is ‘current’ but the kind of cool kids who might like the song are not the type to watch the Eurovision semis. UK televoters have a whole feast of entries that they are likely to go for; Denmark, Lithuania (diaspora), The Netherlands, Ireland, Belgium, Slovenia, maybe even Russia. The space suits are ridiculous and destroy any kind of credibility the song had in the first place.

        My reasoning behind the Finland NQ is kind of similar – I struggle to see where the points will come from. Even in the Western countries in this semi, I don’t see Finland featuring anywhere near the top of their televotes when you think they are likely to be going for Norway, Georgia, Greece, Iceland, Malta…I think it easily slips down the rankings in these nations. I envisage a jury placing of 13th for Finland. The staging reminds of quickie weddings in Las Vegas and emphasises tackiness. Apart from Krista’s blonde hair, it’s totally removed from any kind of national identity – a huge contrast to the likes of Iceland, Norway, Bulgaria and Georgia, all of which have excellent national identity which will undoubtedly boost them. If the lesbian kiss is kept in for the jury performance, which we can assume it will be, then this cheap gimmick highlights the song’s weaknesses. I also don’t think many of the televoting countries in this semi will be impressed by it either. (Boki, how will the Balkans take to it?) Fanboys are also likely to have San Marino (which I actually think has a chance of scoring points from a wider range of countries) on speed dial, so much so that Finland is unlikely to get a look in. Yes, the song is fun, well-performed and well-staged, but I can easily see it falling into the bottom 7 because of the reasons outlined above, plus the running order is poor, and it’s a very very high quality semi, in terms of quality and voting power etc. If it goes through, it certainly isn’t flying through and so 1.49 looks value as a lay to me.

        • Rob

          Some very fair reasoning there, Tim. I have a feeling Finland will find plenty of love across the board. As for Montenegro, it has a solid enough vote base to remain hopeful of it qualifying – I’ve not closed out that early back at 4.7 yet, & will likely let it run. Nina adds a very special ingredient to it.

  2. Boki

    Mine is almost the same, we agree to disagree only on Finland which I think is going through (but not betting on it at these odds). At the end couldn’t resist to lay San Marino for qualification, it was too big to let it pass by especially since I got significant top10 lay as a cover.

    • Rob

      Yes, Boki, would tend to agree with you re. Finland. SM has looked a value lay for quite a while now. Its odds have been distorted by the fan factor. It is very vulnerable while I would not be surprised to see it sneak through.

  3. Ah well, let me give it a try as well now Rob ;-). I love your site by the way.

    My qualifiers for semi final 1, in ranking order (Who dares?!):
    01) Ukraine
    02) Denmark
    03) Moldova
    04) Russia
    05) Netherlands
    06) Serbia
    07) Croatia
    08) Ireland
    09) Cyprus
    10) Belarus
    Narrowly missing out: Belgium and Estonia. With just a few points. Belgium misses out, because it has to compete with Ireland and the singer is a bit…empty-looking. Estonia is helped by the juries, but not enough, because of its awful draw. That helps Cyprus more than Estonia.

    My qualifiers for semi final 1, also in ranking order:
    01) Norway
    02) Azerbaijan
    03) Georgia
    04) Greece
    05) Finland
    06) Israël
    07) Bulgaria
    08) Albania
    09) Hungary
    10) Iceland
    narrowly missing out: Malta. I have a feeling Iceland, Israël and Hungary will make Malta forget a bit. Sadly the rehearsals weren’t as strong either.

    • Rob

      Hi Gert. Thanks for your kind words & thanks for taking the time to post your 10 qualifier lists.

      Interesting to see you put Cyprus in there in semi 1. Would certainly give this a sporting chance to qualify IF Despina is over her illness and can bring her a-game this evening in front of the juries, & tomorrow night during the televised semi. She has looked a little under-par in rehearsals.

      It would appear you, like a good few others, now has major doubts regarding Malta’s qualification prospects. Gianluca has noticeably struggled on some of the run throughs in rehearsal, losing timing and missing a few notes. Is it nerves? We will have to see, but the song has a distinctive charm.

      As, of course, does your Q pick Hungary. Always thought there is probably room for only 1 of these in the final. I like the Hungarian song a lot but I’m just not sure if it will end up passing people by…? Good luck 🙂

  4. Random


    I would like to share my thoughts with you all on Semi 2!

    Norway and Georgia are safe qualifiers… not top positions, but will still qualify anyway.

    Armenia is trash… definetely won’t qualify. besides, not many neighbours are with them here (Ruling out Azerbaijan here)

    Azerbaijan in my opinion is a contender for top place due to strong vocals and excellent staging. I can also see Malta doing quite well, its an extremely likeable song and easy to follow. Although Azerbaijan and Malta have dreadful singing positions, I think they will both make it (and exchange high points between them)

    Latvia, Hungary and Albania have no chance… terrible songs. Hungary’ s boring, Albania is just noise, and don’ t get me started on Latvia!!

    Romania can surprise us all, but I think that it will crash out like Bulgaria 2009. But, Cezar sings in the last position, which could boost his televote support.

    San Marino have a great song, but I’m not sure about them qualifying due to 0 voting power.

    Bulgaria and Macedonia are also Borderline qualifiers, but despite being disliked by the general public, they can pull it off, especially Bulgaria.

    I think that Finland will either qualify comfortably, or crash out.. Its just what happens to these songs in Eurovision… On a personal level, I would love to see it qualify. Israel is also in the same position, but I can see them qualifying rather than not.

    I personally can’ t stand Greece, its just too stupid and senseless…. Although they have a great qualifying record, I think juries will kick them out.

    Switzerland is too unpredictable, but as things stand, it may just squeak through at 10th place.. they perform well live.

    Iceland will be loved by the juries, so I think their qualifying chances are quite high…

    So, these are my thoughts… What do you all think? Thanks

    • Rob

      Hi Random. Thanks for posting. I would tread carefully opposing Armenia. It actually has a very decent base of voting friends in this semi & on its return to ESC after missing the Contest last year, its diaspora may be more motivated to vote.

      There is also a solid qualifying case to be made for Albania – USP as only authentic rock tune, decent position in r.o., a good few friends to support it…

      Had high hopes for Switzerland pre-rehearsals as a nation to do surprisingly well in this semi. This was based on the notion they would make the most of ‘selling’ Emil on stage as the ESC’s oldest ever performer. Sadly, they haven’t & the staging of the Swiss song isn’t what it should have been.

      • Random

        Thanks for your reply…

        I would just like to know the chances for Bulgaria, Malta and Iceland in Top 10.


        • Rob

          Will write semi 2 betting preview on Thursday, Random. Need to see jury performance on Wed night but atm favouring Malta & Bulgaria as qualifiers; Iceland just missing out but opinion could change.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *