I have good news and bad news. The good news: we now know which 26 countries will be competing in the Grand Final. The bad news: I’m here to review those that didn’t qualify once again. If you didn’t catch my review of the countries which didn’t progress from the first semi-final, check out Part 1 of my Eurovision trilogy. Now, onto the losers of Semi-Final 2.
Before I get started, I would like to address a little incident involving the second semi-final. Initially, there was supposed to be 19 countries competing, However, during the preparations and press tours Romania was disqualified from the competition. Romanian public broadcaster Televiziunea Romana failed to pay back the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) 16 million Swiss Francs before April 20 (blaze it), so the EBU went ahead and said Romania was ‘no longer entitled’ to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest and had other EBU member services taken away. If you’re like me and feel sorry for the artist for putting in so much work all for it to go to waste because of people in suits not getting their shit together, here is what you would have seen from Romania if they weren’t disqualified: this year’s obligatory power-ballad.
‘The Last of Our Kind’ by Rykka (Switzerland)
It definitely seemed as though Switzerland wanted to recreate their win from 1988. They had a Canadian performer and the song had an 80’s pop ballad vibe to it, but it really didn’t work in their favour. Rykka’s vocals were quite cringeworthy, particularly in the final minute when she could hardly hit the high notes and you could hear that she was out of breath. Rykka peaked too soon and couldn’t impress anyone. The performance itself was quite boring with Rykka just pacing around the stage. Considering the strong performers that proceeded her, she failed to keep the momentum of the night going, almost putting everyone to sleep.
‘Help You Fly’ by Ivan (Belarus)
There was a bit of controversy surrounding Belarus’s performance – Ivan wanted to perform onstage nude and accompanied by live wolves. Apparently nobody cared about the whole ‘man performing with no clothes on’ thing and just focused on the rule forbidding live animals on stage. Personally, I was scared to see what would happen with this performance. I didn’t want to have to deal with everything just hanging out while he sings and moves around the stage. However, we are only treated(?) to a 20 second clip of a naked Ivan crouching and singing to a wolf (and honestly, there’s nothing for anyone to lust over). After that it’s just him performing the song fully clothed, thank the Lord. Ivan’s vocals weren’t bad but they weren’t that great either. I wasn’t too sure about using wolves and baby as some of the projections shown throughout the song. If the song is to do with flying, shouldn’t you have a bird or at the very least something with wings? I don’t know, the song was alright, I guess.
‘Sunlight’ by Nicky Byrne (Ireland)
I imagine this is what would happen if Louis Tomlinson from One Direction started a solo music career. Nicky Byrne was a member of Westlife, Ireland’s biggest boy band, but he wasn’t Brian McFadden, so nobody really cared what he did. The song is upbeat, which is a plus, but it wasn’t something to blow you away. There was no point where Nicky impressed with his vocals, there was hardly a climax point of the song, there wasn’t even anything interesting on the stage to look at. It was cookie-cutter pop at its finest. While I am a lover of boy bands and upbeat songs, I found the song to be very basic. I think Ireland has still got a long way to go to find a way to relive their glory days of Eurovision.
‘Dona’ by Kaliopi (Macedonia)
Considering this woman has represented Macedonia twice before, she must be doing something right. This entry was another of the few entries that isn’t performed in English. I haven’t heard much of the Macedonian language, but from what I heard, it sounded pretty cool. Kaliopi’s vocals were quite impressive and the backing vocals were great at complementing and enhancing her vocal talents. With Kaliopi just standing at a microphone and singing her heart out, it was almost like I was watching an opera (not that I have ever been to one). Saying that, I wasn’t too sure about the attempted whistletone at the end. Let’s just say she is no Mariah Carey, though.
‘Blue and Red’ by ManuElla (Slovenia)
It seems Slovenia really loves Taylor Swift. So much so that they wanted to recreate her when she was still performing country. As someone who is in the minority of not loving Taylor Swift, I found it really hard to take this entry seriously. It was bad enough that ManuElla doesn’t know basic art skills by saying you can’t mix red and blue together because ‘blue is blue and red is red’. Actually you can, blue and red mix together to make purple. The aforementioned first line of the chorus is really cringeworthy as well. There is no hidden meaning behind it. We are just stating that blue is blue and red is red. That is the absolute worst way to define something. The performance itself didn’t even have anything blue or red which is strange considering there was plenty of that in her national final performance. We just see ManuElla singing on stage wearing white and some random dude hurling his body around a spinning pole. How this was even chosen to represent Slovenia is beyond me.
‘Soldiers of Love’ by Lighthouse X (Denmark)
You know what? I didn’t mind this performance. Sure it was basic as hell, but it was good to see a group working and performing well together. Their harmonies were appealing to the ear and it was nice to see them make an effort to make a connection with the cameras and the live audience. Saying that, the song itself was still basic and seemed like it was a filler performance during the second semi-final. You don’t want to be a filler performance.
‘Icebreaker’ by Agnete (Norway)
I was surprised Norway didn’t qualify for the final, but at the same time, I’m not surprised either. This performance was one of the more impressive ones out of the non-qualifiers, and Agnete’s vocals really shined in the song. While it takes the word ‘icebreaker’ in a literal context, the lyrics during the chorus are quite catchy. However, I was a little annoyed that you couldn’t really see the dancer. I know the performance is meant to be all about the singer but you can’t just put someone in the dark when they are meant to be on stage. I guess the main reason why this didn’t progress was because of the transitions between the verses and the choruses. There is a significant change in rhythm and tempo and just when you get used to one tempo, it changes again which is really jarring to the ear. You just can’t get into a song when the style keeps changing the whole time.
‘Fairytale’ by Eneda Tarifa (Albania)
I heard this song was originally going to be performed in Albanian and it sounded amazing (apparently), but then Albania decided to change it to be performed in English. Long story short, Albania fucked up. The song was honestly a snoozefest. Yes, Eneda’s vocals and the backing harmonies were good but that was the only impressive element of the performance. The song was putting me to sleep because it was just another love song that has probably been heard over and over and over again. Also, there is no direct reference to a fairytale in the lyrics despite the song being called ‘Fairytale’. I don’t like being lied to.
Congratulations to Latvia, Poland, Israel, Serbia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Georgia, Belgium, and Australia for progressing to the Grand Final. Can Dami Im conquer the Europeans? Stay tuned for part three of the Eurovision live reviews when I team up with Ilija Stajic to give reviews of each Grand Final performance as well as tell you the results.
I'm keeping you in the loop with the mainstream world of music and your guilty Spotify private-browsing pleasures.
Latest posts by Carly Laden (see all)
- Song Review: ‘Good Grief’ – Bastille - August 5, 2016
- Live Review: 2016 Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final - May 16, 2016
- Live Review: 2016 Eurovision Song Contest Semi-Final 2 Non-Qualifiers - May 13, 2016