Hometown Glory

Apr 10, 2019 by

Hometown Glory

Israel’s Kobi kicked things off with the host country’s Eurovision-y ballad ‘Home’. It may not be up to much as a song, but Kobi is an incredible live singer who emoted well and will be looking to use his voice to get enough jury points to avoid last place.

There are two other similarly dated songs this year from Montenegro and Croatia.  You would assume that excellent vocals will not be enough for either of them to qualify, but we will have to wait and see.

Iceland’s Hatari are about as far removed from that sort of music as you can possibly get. The singer’s screamy vocals were not strong enough here but they still went down well enough with the party crowd. This is a song that drifted in the markets after the performance.

Greece was another significant market drifter after Katerine’s underwhelming live performance of ‘Better Love’. The winner of semi-final 1 seems very open all of a sudden, but maybe she can redeem herself with future performances.

Luca from Switzerland was another of the night’s most hotly anticipated acts who disappointed. ‘She Got Me’ clearly doesn’t have enough going for it without a dance routine, but you have to think he will turn up to Tel Aviv with one ready to go.

The winner of semi-final 1 seems very open all of a sudden, but maybe Katerine can redeem herself with future performances

It was also odd seeing Australia’s Kate Miller-Heidke standing alone on stage with just her voice for company. She was barely recognisable in a regular dress but gave a typically flawless vocal performance of ‘Zero Gravity’. I just hope we see a return to some of the madness for the stage show in Israel.

Poland’s Tulia are also in novelty territory this year with their ethnic ‘Fire of Love’ (Pali Się). I would be very surprised if the juries end up liking this, so it might well be down to the diaspora to take Poland back to the final. The girls had the crowd clapping along and it went down well enough with the party crowd.

Michael Rice was performing to a lot of Brits who had made the journey over to Amsterdam. He’s clearly been rehearsing ‘Bigger Than Us’ a lot and now sings it a bit differently to the UK national final. I’ve been saying all along that I expect the Eurovision juries to like this as much as they did Lucie Jones.

A Saturday party crowd probably isn’t the best place for Lithuania’s Jurijus to be performing the radio-friendly ‘Run With The Lions’. A lot of people were ignoring this one as they talked their way through it, but I am hopeful for Lithuania’s chances of scoring a decent result next month. The real lions on the video backdrop were probably a bit distracting here, if anything.

Armenia’s Srbuk has one of the best female songs of the year in ‘Walking Out’, in my opinion. Judging by this performance, the Armenian delegation will have to find a way to keep viewers interested in the first minute, which is a bit slow. Lyrics on the backdrop, as seen here, are often a good idea and performances featuring them have done very well in this Eurovision decade.

Miki from Spain was always going to go down well with this crowd, even if I don’t think the composition itself is very interesting. Some of the vocals here were a bit off but it’s definitely one which requires a big crowd to lift it in a live setting.

Judging by this performance, the Armenian delegation will have to find a way to keep viewers interested in the first minute, which is a bit slow

Albania’s Jonida Maliqi has the same problem as Armenia in that the song doesn’t get going for a while. She was wise enough to stand still here to focus on the singing, but it didn’t sound like she was at her best and qualification looks potentially difficult overall.

‘Kruna’ from Serbia for me remains the most borderline qualifier of the year. It’s another one that doesn’t really work in a party atmosphere, but Nevena Bozovic nailed the live vocals and is doing everything to put herself in contention.

Ireland, on the other hand, has a massive uphill struggle to do anything on the scoreboard. Sarah McTernan’s voice doesn’t seem strong enough to carry this song, especially in the chorus. But this is something that could be fixed when backing singers are added.

Norway’s Keiino were always going to be a big fan favourite due to the slightly dated schlager sound. They did a good enough job here, apart from the middle eight which really doesn’t work live like it does in the studio version. Competition in semi-final 2 looks insanely fierce, especially on the jury side. For some reason pyros were added here for the climax.

Denmark’s Leonora might have a chance of doing well. ‘Love Is Forever’ is a simple and sweet song which could appeal to televoters. The crowd were noticeably singing the lyrics to this one more than a lot of the others.

Darude’s song for Finland has gained surprisingly little traction with the Eurovision fans. Sebastian Rejman’s voice is less strong in the lower register. The chorus is also weak for a dance tune and Finland now has the difficult task of attempting to qualify from third in the running order.

I almost forgot to write about Romania, which doesn’t bode well for its chances. It’s one of those slow ballads that the show producers decided to add a bubble machine to, to make it look more interesting to a Saturday night party crowd. Romania could have problems on the televote with this slow, plodding tune. However, the vocals for ‘On A Sunday’ were some of the best of the evening.

The chorus is weak for a dance tune and Finland now has the difficult task of attempting to qualify from third in the running order

Czech Republic is a personal favourite of mine this year, which usually means it’s going to do well with the juries. The singer of Lake Malawi was wearing his trademark yellow jumper and blessed us with his strong charisma. He was bouncing around the stage whilst not singing, as usual.

Belgium had backers worried earlier this week after a clip emerged of Eliot singing ‘Wake Up’ in a strange childlike voice at a Belgian radio show. It made me realise that his voice will not be everyone’s cup of tea. He sang the song much better here, even if it was one of the more unexciting performances.

Zena from Belarus has a dated uptempo tune that sounds a bit naff, like it could have appeared at Eurovision in the 2000s. She didn’t sing all of the chorus herself here and so will be requiring backing singers in Tel Aviv to make it work better in a live setting.

Moldova’s song also sounds like it could’ve come from the noughties. It is a shame because it would have had the chance to do well in semi 2 with the right song, with lots of its friends voting there.

Georgia’s entry is the most appalling of the lot, at least to my ears. ‘Keep On Going’ is a horrible, unpleasant mess and was painful to have to sit through here.

Joci Papai is back for Hungary with a song less good than his 2017 entry. Whereas that one was anthemic and catchy, this one is more stripped back and classy. There is some potential for it to do well, especially if Portugal continues to put in some strange, avant-garde live performances.

There is some potential for Hungary to do well, especially if Portugal continues to put in some strange, avant-garde live performances

I’m not a fan of Austria’s song this year, which is odd because it sounds like something I would potentially enjoy. Obviously the crowd were bored enough to talk all the way through this one.

Serhat for San Marino is a bit like Valentina Monetta in that his return to the contest has been treated as if he didn’t spectacularly fail to qualify last time around. He gave the weakest vocal performance of the night and could well be failing in Tel Aviv if it’s anything like this by the time we get there. It needs a really over the top staging concept that televoters can get behind, because ‘Say Na Na Na’ really deserves to be bottom three with the juries.

The concert hosts told us that The Netherlands was the bookies’ favourite and that they hope it wins. Duncan Laurence received a hero’s welcome here and predictably enough scored the biggest reaction.

We also got our first hint at what it might look like in Tel Aviv, as he stood in front of a watery backdrop with effective spotlights. Duncan encouraged the crowd to sing along, and they happily obliged.

He really nailed this performance and subsequently shortened in the Outright market. In the post-song host chatter, Duncan said that staging plans are still a secret (hopefully not to him) but hinted that they will be keeping it simple by letting the music do the talking.

Some of this year’s biggest hitters, like John Lundvik from Sweden and Mahmood for Italy were absent in Amsterdam but will be greeting the London crowd there this coming Sunday.

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