After months of finals, gossip and rumours, the time fans had been waiting for had finally arrived. The first semifinal was held tonight hosted by Andrey Malakhov and Natalia Vodianova. Eighteen songs were competing for ten places in the final, one of which would be decided by juries around Europe.
The show started with a fairytale illustrated by a very colourful bird called Firebird. It landed on the stage and two ‘angelic’ children emerged from it. The presenters then came on to the stage. The flags of the countries competing are present in the form of balloons on a tree.
Montenegro – Andrea Demirovic – Just Get Out Of My Life – Andrea wore a black a gold striped glittery dress and delivered a confident performance. It was an early claim for a place in Saturday’s final.
Czech Rep – Gypsy.cz -Aven Romale – Supergypsy bounded around the stage. He gave a solid performance, as did his backing group. The Czech Republic has not qualified before so would this be third time lucky.
Belgium – Patrick Ouchene – Copycat – This was probably Belgium’s best chance of qualifying for the final since they started. This wonderfully un-PC song is about someone who believes Elvis wants to be like him. Patrick certainly looked and sounded the part.
Belarus – Petr Elfimov – Eyes That Never Lie – The wind machine was working overtime. White and green dominated the stage. The rock style didn’t quite work, having been changed to this style from the version that won the national final.
Sweden – Malena Ernman – La Voix – Swedish opinion is apparently divided about the chances of reaching the final. The presentation was unchanged from Melodifestivalen. Malena gave the predictable excellent performance. It would be a big surprise if this didn’t qualify for the final.
Armenia – Inga & Anush – Jan Jan – Sisters Inga and Anush were resplendent in traditional Armenian costume, as were their dancers. They remained on a platform and performed a sensibly restrained dance while the backing dancers were more physical.
Andorra – Susanna Georgi – La Teva Decision (Get a Life) – Andorra have never qualified for the final, probably due to the fact that they usually mess up the presentation. The number ‘7’ was prominent. Both Susanna and her all girl backing group were in white. It was a good performance, so presentation can’t be blamed for not qualifying this year.
Switzerland – Lovebugs – The Highest Heights – The first band of the night. An energetic and competent performance from the experienced quintet. The song sounded strong enough to go through, but….
Turkey – Hadise – Dum Tek Tek – A belly dance outfit and red dominating the stage, it had to be Turkey. A definite crowd pleaser in the arena and probably at home as well. A place in the final is surely reserved for Hadise.
Israel – Noa & Mira Awad – There Must Be Another Way – An Arab and an Israeli unite to sing a song of peace for Israel. The song incorporated the Hebrew, Arabic and English languages. The performance was faultless.
Bulgaria – Krassimir Avramov – Illusion – Enter the stilt walkers! The vocals didn’t sound quite right. The look resembled Krassimir as a warrior backed by his Princesses. The song needed a spectacular presentation to qualify, and this wasn’t it.
Iceland – Yohanna – Is It True – It was time to calm down as Yohanna to to the stage. Rightly, the staging was simple but was also effective. It hadn’t sounded like a qualifier until now.
Macedonia – Next Time – Neshto Shto Ke Ostane – The pace was stepped up again as the Macedonian brothers entered the stage to rock the house. Despite a decent performance, it was hard to see this making it into the top ten.
Romania – Elena – The Balkan Girls – The start of the song saw Elena sitting on a throne which looked more like a tree trunk. The whole thing lacked impact and as it was competing for the same voting market as Turkey, it looked like being one of the unlucky eight.
Finland – Waldo’s People – Lose Control – A lack of impact was not a problem for the Finns. A strong backing track, assured performances and fire jugglers meant this wouldn’t be far away from qualification.
Portugal – Flor de Lis – Todas as Ruas de Amor – It was time to calm down again for a bit of traditional Portuguese music. The direction made good use of the vast stage area.
Malta – Chiara – What if We – Fan favourite, Chiara, was next on stage with possibly the weakest of her three Eurovision entries. The backing rack was very much in the background, leaving Chiara’s voice to command the whole performance.
Bosnia – Regina – Bistra Voda – The Bosnians elected to wear white, military style outfits and the theme continued with the dance routine being in a marching style. A wobbly vocal didn’t help the chances of being one of the lucky ten. The song wasn’t strong enough to qualify, but being on last, who knows?
Our hosts opened the voting and a reprise of the songs followed. After a compilation of Russian successes over the past year, there was a bit of meaningless banter between he hosts. After another reprise and a visit to an excited Green Room, the phone lines were declared closed. While the votes were being counted, the crowd were entertained by tAtU. Finally, the ten songs who had qualified for the final were revealed in no particular order;
The remaining finalists will be decided on Thursday at the end of the second semifinal.