The Top 10 From the First Semi-Final (Probably!)

It’s that time of year again! The first semi-final of the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest is almost upon us and speculation is rife as to which ten songs will reach the final on Saturday. Never one to miss the opportunity to give my opinion, here are my thoughts.

Press Conferences – Day 5

Sinplus ©  eurovision.tv

Thursday was a very busy day in Baku, with fourteen countries from the first semi-final completing their solo rehearsal schedule and conducting their second press conferences.

Izabo - Time - 3D & 2D - Israel 2012 - Rehearsal

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In this video you can see Izabo's second rehearsal on stage in Baku. They will be representing Israel at the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest with the song titled Time

Izabo use their rehearsal time wisely at the Crystal Hall

Izabo (c) Elke Roels (EBU)

After the technical issues plaguing the first rehearsal on Monday, Izabo were hoping that things would run smoother today.  Would they get the wish?

Press Conferences – Day 2

Trackshittaz ©  eurovision.tv

After a successful first day of rehearsals and press conferences, day 2 saw the last nine songs competing in the first semi-final have the opportunity to perform on the stage and meet the media for the first time.

Israel makes good use of rehearsal time today

Izabo (c) eurovision.tv

Day two of rehearsals started with Israel taking to the stage.  How would the slightly retro-sounding Time go down in the Crystal Hall?

2012 - 1st Semi-Final

2012 logo {copyright EBU}
Basic information
22 May 2012
Contest type: 
Semi-Final 1
Crystal Hall, Baku, Azerbaijan
Nargiz, Eldar and Leyla
Other shows this year: 
About the contest: 

From the moment Azerbaijan triumphed in Dusseldorf in 2011, taking the contest further east than it had ever gone before, there were concerns about Azerbaijan’s suitability to host such a prestigious international event and controversy dominated the months and weeks leading up to the contest. A new venue, the Crystal Hall, was built for the event. The Azeri authorities insist that the plans for the building already existed before it was chosen to host the 2012 contest. They also stressed that those forced to leave their homes to make space for the construction were properly compensated, something denied by the locals whose homes were affected. Azerbaijan’s human rights record was also put under the spotlight. The BBC seemed particularly keen to bring the contest into disrepute, broadcasting what was effectively an anti-Azerbaijan documentary the day before the first semi-final. There is the not unreasonable argument that a song contest should not become a political event and it is worth noting that the Azeri population were delighted to have the opportunity to show their country to the world, something those giving themselves the grand label of ‘human rights campaigner’ would have denied them.    

While the presentation of the show was rightly apolitical, the President of Azerbaijan couldn’t resist influencing proceedings. His wife was put in charge of the organising committee and his daughter, Leyla, was one of the presenters and then there was the interval act. So, the question is; if you’re Azeri and want to show your talent to the world, how can you secure a gig in the Eurovision Song Contest? Hard work? Maybe. Talent? Possibly. Be married to the daughter of the president? Definitely! Ladies and Gentlemen, please be upstanding (or else!) for Emin. He was supported by a cast of thousands (well, that’s what it looked like) but still managed to seem inadequate.

Politics also played a part in the number of participants. Of the two countries withdrawing from the event, one was a significant withdrawal. Armenia has long had its differences with Azerbaijan, but initially said it would take part in the contest. However, after much umming and aahing, the Armenians decided that the organisers couldn’t guarantee the security of an Armenian delegation in Baku and so withdrew from the event. Poland withdrew due to the commitment of co-hosting the Euro 2012 football tournament. Montenegro returned after a two year absence, so a total of 42 countries headed east.

Political interference didn’t stop in the host country. In Belarus, Alena Lanskaya won the final with the ballad, All My Life. Discontent was expressed about the fairness of the result and the public had their way when the President intervened and declared that Litesound, who came second, would go to Baku instead.

As has become the norm, much was made of the alleged neighbourly voting. Of the Scandinavian countries, Sweden won easily while Norway languished at the bottom of the scoreboard. Work that one out!

Željko Joksimović was appearing for the second time as a singer, as was Jonsi from Iceland and the irrepressible Irish twins, Jedward. Kaliopi had been selected for the contest before, but that was in 1996 when all countries were put to a vote and Macedonia was one of six countries who missed out, so she had to stay at home.

The song from San Marino was originally called Facebook (Oh Oh – Uh - Oh Oh) but EBU rules don’t permit commercial messages so a change had to be made. A man of Ralph Siegel’s experience would/should have known this, so one is left with the feeling it was all a ruse to gain publicity.
About the songs: 
 MontengroMontengro Montenegro - Rambo Amadeus - Euro Neuro (English)
Music/Lyrics: Rambo Amadeus/Rambo Amadeus

Eurovision 2012 kicked off with one of its more unusual entries. Montenegrin broadcaster, RTCG, knew what they were getting when the asked Rambo to write their song. There is a message somewhere but it gets lost in the assault on the rhyming dictionary.

 IcelandIceland Iceland - Greta Salóme & Jónsi – Never Forget (English)
Music/Lyrics: Gréta Salóme/Gréta Salóme

Iceland continued its run of strong entries with Greta and Jónsi’s highly likeable ballad. Greta’s violin playing evoked memories of Alexander Rybak three years earlier, but nothing should be stopped just because it may have been done before. It would have been a shock of historical proportions had this not made the final.

 GreeceGreece Greece - Eleftheria Eleftheriou – Aphrodisiac (English)
Music/Lyrics: Dimitri Stassos, Mikaela Stenström, Dajana Lööf/Dimitri Stassos, Mikaela Stenström, Dajana Lööf

In what must have been a first, the Greek final was held in a shopping centre. Aphrodisiac is typical of recent Greek entries; catchy, high energy pop performed by a good-looking singer. 

 LatviaLatvia Latvia – Anmary – Beautiful Song (English)
Music/Lyrics: Ivars Makstnieks/Rolands Ūdris

Only the writers know what they were trying to create, but what they gave us can’t be taken seriously. To do so would be to miss the point. It would be seen as ridiculous lyrics wasting a decent tune. Enjoy it for what it is and it is funny and entertaining. 

 AlbaniaAlbania Albania - Rona Nishliu – Suus (Albanian)
Music/Lyrics: Florent Boshnjaku/Rona Nishliu

Rona gave us easily the classiest song of the entire contest, enhanced by the intense red background. There were reasons to doubt it would qualify for the final, never mind finish fifth overall. It’s great for the contest that a song like this can prove so popular. 

 RomaniaRomania Romania – Mandinga – Zaleilah (Spanish/English)
Music/Lyrics: Costi Ionita/Elena Ionescu, Dihigo Omar Secada, Costi Ionita

The Romanians added some colour and jollity to the evening with their ethnically flavoured, up-tempo ditty. The instruments looked like toys from some angles!

 SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland – Sinplus – Unbreakable (English)
Music/Lyrics: Gabriel Broggini, Ivan Broggini/Gabriel Broggini, Ivan Broggini

The brothers Swiss and their song were the first to be chosen for Baku. They said they didn’t mind this as it gave them plenty of time to make their rock song perfect. Not perfect enough it seems.  

 BelgiumBelgium Belgium – Iris - Would You? (English)
Music/Lyrics: Nina Sampermans, Jean Bosco Safari, Walter Mannaerts/Nina Sampermans, Jean Bosco Safari, Walter Mannaerts

Iris was chosen by Belgian broadcaster, VRT, to sing both songs in the national final. Predictably, the public chose the wrong one! Undaunted, Iris’ voice gave a suitably innocent feel to her song of doubt, Would You?   

 FinlandFinland Finland – Pernilla - När Jag Blundar (Swedish)
Music/Lyrics: Jonas Karlsson/Jonas Karlsson

For the second time in the history of their participation, the Finns chose a song sung in Swedish to represent them. Pernilla co-wrote and performed her melodic ballad. A shame there was no place in the final for her.   

 IsraelIsrael Israel – Izabo – Time (Hebrew/English)
Music/Lyrics: Ran Shem-Tov, Shiri Hadar/Ran Shem-Tov, Shiri Hadar

Breaking the mould of what could be considered a typical Israeli entry. Time is a throwback to 1970’s psychedelic rock and is off-beat without being crazy. Most people thought it would reach the final but……

 San MarinoSan Marino San Marino - Valentina Monetta - The Social Network Song (Oh Oh – Uh - Oh Oh) (English)
Music/Lyrics: Ralph Siegel/Timothy Touchton, José Santana Rodriguez

It really is time that Ralph retired! The fuss over the lyrics was probably intended and Valentina embarked on a massive Facebook campaign and a fairly extensive tour of competing countries. However, nothing was going to save her or the ‘song’.  

 CyprusCyprus Cyprus - Ivi Adamou – La La Love (English)
Music/Lyrics: Alex Papaconstantinou, Bjorn Djupström, Alexandra Zakka, Viktor Svensson/Alex Papaconstantinou, Bjorn Djupström, Alexandra Zakka, Viktor Svensson

Cypriot broadcaster, CyBC, chose Ivi to sing all three songs up for selection as the island’s entry. The song was chosen by national juries and the presence of a lot of fans on those juries was evident when the most stereotypical song of the three won.

 DenmarkDenmark Denmark - Soluna Samay - Should've Known Better (English)
Music/Lyrics: Chief 1, Remee/Chief 1, Remee, Isam B

The Danes seem to specialise in bland, AOR songs which do better than they deserve. It’s melodic enough but never quite moves off the starting blocks. It did finish low down in the final, but being in the final at all was over-achieving!

 RussiaRussia Russia - Buranovskiye Babushki - Party for Everybody (Udmurt/English)
Music/Lyrics: Viktor Drobysh, Timofei Leontiev/Olga Tuktareva, Marry S. Applegate

Just when Engelbert Humperdinck thought he had the title of ’Oldest Singer to Perform in the Contest’ in the bag, the Russians chose a group from the local OAP home. Simple sing-along is the order of the day. Had it won, the reputation of the contest would have taken one of its biggest knocks together with a huge dent in its credibility. 

 HungaryHungary Hungary - Compact Disco - Sound of Our Hearts (English)
Music/Lyrics: Behnam Lotfi, Gábor Pál, Attila Sándor, Csaba Walkó/Behnam Lotfi, Gábor Pál, Attila Sándor, Csaba Walkó

Not just the sound of our hearts, but the sound of the 1980’s, too. The lead singer looked nervous in the semi-final but, perhaps buoyed at being there, was a lot more assured in the final and he gave it everything. 

 AustriaAustria Austria – Trackshittaz - Woki Mit Deim Popo (German)
Music/Lyrics: Lukas Plöchl/Lukas Plöchl, Manuel Hoffelner

Perhaps afraid of causing unwarranted publicity, the EBU wrongly allowed the group name to stand and also let the lyrics pass as acceptable. While rap has been in the contest before, it was never like this! Woki Mit Deim Popo is ‘in your face’ in a way that certain sections of today’s youth seem to love, but it does have a sense of humour. 

 MoldovaMoldova Moldova - Pasha Parfeny – Lăutar (English)
Music/Lyrics: Pasha Parfeny, Alex Brashovean/Pasha Parfeny

Pasha’s song and performance may have been positive, but his chances weren’t, or at least, didn’t seem to be! However, a couple of favourable draws and a memorable presentation gave Pasha a much better showing than was merited.   

 IrelandIreland Ireland – Jedward – Waterline (English)
Music/Lyrics: Nick Jarl, Sharon Vaughn/Nick Jarl, Sharon Vaughn

Just when you thought it was safe to watch the contest again, Jedward were back, this time with a water feature! As happened a year earlier, their backing singers worked non-stop. Even when Jedward put down their mics for a quick shower, there was no noticeable change to the vocals.    


Valentina Monetta went to Israel for a 2 days promo tour

Valentina Monetta & Izhar Cohen ©  The Euphonicaproductions

Valentina Monetta, who will be representing San Marino at this year's Eurovision Song Contest, has just arrived home after a two days promotion tour in Israel. Here she met up with former winner Izhar Cohen, but also Izabo who she will compete against in Baku.

2012il Izabo - Time

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Izabo will be representing Israel at the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest with the song Time. The group will have to work harder to qualify as this country couldn't make it to the final.



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