Eurovision 2011 Semi-Final 2: Bland Billy-No-Mates & The Qualifier of Death

Jedward (aka John & Edward) performing live on...

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A brief rant before this shindig kicks off. ALBANIA was robbed! Finland and Iceland seriously lucked out.

Now, Julia & Sam warn us that if last night’s round was about songs, tonight is about singers and spruik Austria & Slovenia.

The Rhine Trio welcome us. Stefan is still loud, the women are pretty much indistinguishable apart from their hair colour. They spend FOREVER explaining the voting rules while Stefan makes sexist remarks. It’s just so awkward and dull.

BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA
Dino Merlin sings what sounds like a drinking song in English. I now understand why he didn’t sing in English back in 1999, his accent is thick as molasses. It’s not bad, and if I was in a Sarajevo pub, I’d totally vote for it. It’s still incomprehensible.

AUSTRIA
Julia tells us that this is an extraordinary performance (kiss of death: see Albania). Nadine has a very severe bob and an outfit left over from one of Robert Palmer’s 1980s videos. Nadine has the classical bland power ballad given to Idol winners around the world. Oh, she’s an amazing singer, but it’s a really crap song.

THE NETHERLANDS
Julia & Sam think the band’s name is very interesting. Well, lyrically this is no better than Austria, but it’s at least livelier even if you can barely hear anyone singing. Seriously Europe, if you are going to continue down this bland trail, you could at least have them not in English, otherwise they are even more dull.

BELGIUM
Julia really is impressed that it’s all acapella. She mentions Manhattan Transfer and I think she hit the nail on the head with that one. Pretty much it’s the Manhattan Transfer with a guy doing beatbox. Nothing terribly bad, dire lyrics, but yes, all you remember is acapella and beatbox.

SLOVAKIA
I think this is a serious contender, even though Julia & Sam don’t. It’s radio friendly, sung by 2 attractive young women who can hold a note and sing clearly in English. Bland lyrics, yes, but at least they aren’t as dusty as the previous ones.

Julia & Sam do their best to hide the fact that the vast majority of the previous songs were crap.

ADVERTS

Back from adverts, the Ukrainian girls sound stoned. Julia still thinks Dino Merlin was last at Eurovision in 1993, not 1999.

UKRAINE
Julia is really impressed with the sand artist. Really impressed. Well, Mika Newton sings a relatively incomprehensible ballad (honestly, Ukraine really should stop singing in English unless you’re Tina Karol and can SANG.) The sand art is the most remarkable component of the entire performance.

MOLDOVA
Julia & Sam can’t pronounce the band’s name and forget that they were the debut Moldovan entrants. ZsZ provide the most lively performance so far. It’s art-ska performed by people in cone hats and a backing singer riding a unicycle.

SWEDEN
Julia reckons Eric could be the 5th Swedish winner. Ok, strong improvement on the lyric front, but Eric & Co. don’t really do anything remarkable outside of choreography. It’s a lot of incomprehensible synth sung by a cute lad with a weak voice.

CYPRUS
Sam reads Christos bio as if it was a personals advert. It looks like we are back to the dramatic Cypriot entries. There’s some seriously impressive staging and I really have to say that the preview video gave no idea how kickarse this would be. Sam says that “it has everything.” Certainly does.

BULGARIA
Indeed, Sam, Poli does look like Ruby Rose. It’s a watered down version of last night’s Albanian & Georgian entries but in Bulgarian. Poli sings the living daylights out of it. Frankly, she’s earned Bulgaria a ticket to the final.

FYROM
Well now that Macedonia can’t count on automatic qualifying, they are really trying. Vlatko and his raspy voice are actually more distracting from the backing dancers. Macedonia also seems to remember that avant garde theatrics have always done them well. Not too shabby.

ISRAEL
Dana International is greeted by screams galore and now she’s got a bilingual version of Diva. It’s no winner, but Israel is definitely going to the final.

SLOVENIA
Julia calls Maja the Slovenian “Christina Aguileira.” Dark-themed glory noted midtempo songs do very well for Slovenian women at Eurovision. She pretty much shuts down Nadine in the belting stakes. She’d better get to the final.

ROMANIA
Sam calls the song very simple. Julia calls it catchy. It’s pretty much last night’s Icelandic entry without the sombre back story. The English lead singer is really selling the song, but I think they haven’t guaranteed their place.

Julia & Sam send us to adverts promising that amongst Denmark, Latvia, and Ireland are some of the best of the contest (i.e. Ireland)

ADVERTS: If you put old French music on anything you can convince Australians to buy anything, even Adelaide.

Back from adverts, Sam harrases Nadine, Jedward harrases Julia. Sam perves on Twiins.

ESTONIA
Julia says the song has a feeling of a Young Talent Time performance. Well, the cheap looking sets and Getter’s permasmile gives that impression. The backing performers look like deranged high school actors on cocaine. It’s bizarre but cute, which works very well for Estonia.

BELARUS
Are Belarussians even allowed to travel? Well, pretty much all the previous Belarussian entries were leading up to this: a fiery nationalistic mish-mosh performed by a scantily clad woman shouting in unintelligible English.

LATVIA
Julia perves on the males of the group. This year’s Latvian entry is remarkably restrained and devoid of Latvian theatrics. I really like the orchestration, but neither of those two should attempt rap. Not too bad, but not guaranteed to the final.

DENMARK
Sam says someone should send a song about death and destruction to Eurovision. Well, Denmark certainly won’t be that country. It’s the classic Danish anthem sound (but fortunately devoid of Ronan Keating), but unless your Irish, Swedish, or a transsexual there’s no guaranteed tickets.

IRELAND
Julia says that Jedward has really turned Duesseldorf “on.” Sam calls them 2nd favourites to win. If the Pet Shop Boys did an Irish entry this would be the result. The lads can’t sing but they can perform and they really PERFORM. Seriously, can you believe this is an Irish entry?

The Rhine duo look really sedate post-Jedward.

Recap: BiH is elderly drinking nonsense, Austria is bland shouting, Netherlands was not remarkable but lively, Belgium had no instruments, Slovakia was amazing, Ukraine had pretty sand, Moldova had ska and cone hats, Sweden was supposedly remarkable, Cyprus was dramatic and acrobatic, Bulgaria performed well, Macedonia had theatrics now that they have really work, Israel was Dana International, Slovenia did the Austrian song but better, Romania was simple and catchy, Estonian Young Talent Time High, Belarus doesn’t even try to hide the propaganda, Latvia was very sedate…for Latvia, Ireland was Jedward International.

Jedward harrases the blonde of the Rhine Trio as we get a recap of all the postcards (minus the Italy, Germany, Spain, France, and the UK).

Who I want to get in: Slovakia, Moldova, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Israel, Slovenia, Estonia, and Ireland.
Of that lot, only Israel and Ireland are dead certs and Israel is looking a bit shaky after that performance.

Oh, the Rhine Duo were doing comedy. Hmmm. Ok.

Julia & Sam send us to adverts.

ADVERTS: SBS’s secret? It really is the bogan channel while also trying to edify them as well. Thus the Euro art/porn as well as Go Back To Where You Came From.

Back from adverts and we get the welcome from all the entrants, and only Jedward sounded sober.

The Rhine Duo again do dire borderline offensive humour as a way of introducing the breakdancing-to-Bach interval act. Apparently German television asked Black American pop culture to do the intervals. Unlike the “I refuse to believe they aren’t all American” drumline, this is definitely a German act, representative of the new “many colours, all German” Germany. The interval just kind of ends.

The Rhine Duo preview the Big 5: Spain is really bland, France is powerful, Italy is cool, the UK is a juggernaut, Germany is just weird.

Blonde Rhine Fraulein interviews Lena, who is very sedate while sitting next to Blue.

Non-blonde Fraulein is back doing the reveal. (Julia calls the scrutineer “grumpy bum.”)

Estonia is through! Julia & Sam are surprise.
Romania is through. Julia & Sam have a theory involving camera 4.
Moldova is through. Phew.
Ireland is through. Arena goes crazy.
BiH is through. That was random.
Denmark is through. Not too surprising.
Austria is through. Eh?
Ukraine is through. They’re really surprised.
Slovenia is through. Julia & Sam’s theory is proven.
Sweden is through. Eric & Co. go crazy.

Bulgaria, Israel & Slovakia are SHUT OUT. FTS*, I tell you.

I reckon it was a razor like difference between the qualifiers and non-qualifiers.

Tomorrow night: Jedward versus Blue versus Amaury. Yes, the Eurovision old guard has returned and they mean business. Also, has Lena’s schtick reached its sell-by date? And Italy returns like 1997 was last year.

*fuck that shit
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