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EUROVISION 2014: SEMIFINAL 2 REVIEW by ALEX PANAYI

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK – One of Eurovision’s best loved veterans, Alex Panayi, will this year be reviewing the semi finalists for the 2014 contest, which will take place in Copehagen, Denmark on the 6th and 8th of May. Alex first competed in Eurovision as a backing vocalist for the Cypriot entry in 1989. He also provided backing vocals for Cyprus again in 1991. His first “solo” participation in the contest was in 1995 when he took Cyprus to a spectacular 9th place with the energetic “Sti Fotia”. He returned in 2000 as part of a duet with Christina Argyri to sing the song “Nomiza” -again for Cyprus. In 2005, Alex was a backing vocalist for Helena Paparizou who won the contest and gave Greece their first victory. He came back as a backing vocalist again for Greece in the 2009 contest and then again for Belarus in 2012. His achievements have been outstanding and he is a very true and honest representative to review the songs for this edition of Eurovision.

AUSTRIA: A highly stylized song, but nothing spectacular. Though there’s been a lot of hype about the lead singer’s ambiguous gender I don’t feel that Conchita will have the same impact as Dana International did back in 1998. The video is strong, but listening to a live version on the net, there are a lot of weaknesses and Conchita is out of tune almost all the time. Though not bad, completely over rated.

BELARUS: This video leaves a lot to be desired to say the least. Teo’s English is really shaky and the lyrics don’t quite work. But watch out: there is a new version around, and it is MUCH better. I know Teo has been working with a really strong international team, improving his English and preparing for a really powerful live performance. And he can pull it off with his strong singing and incredible charisma. Think about it… If you get past the at times embarrassing lyrics, is this your dark horse guys!

FYR MACEDONIA: Really not that bad: convincing performer that actually has character, contemporary sound and the video works. However, there is nothing memorable about the melody or lyrics of this and I’m afraid it may be lost in the multitude of mediocre songs of this year’s contest. Maybe an interesting stage presentation will change this.

FINLAND: Of the dime a dozen songs with a similar sound this year, this one seems to be “fresh” and with likeable faces. Young and hopeful, but not really memorable. The live performance will be the decisive factor of their success or failure.

GEORGIA: A traditional sound interwoven with “folkish” tones in the most unconventional song of this year’s drab contest. Having said this, this song is far from the “masterpiece” that could make a difference. It is most likely that it will end up at the bottom of the heap. Interesting, but uninspired.

GREECE: They did it again! Greece, though all it’s problems and misfortunes is very much alive and kicking. This is by far the liveliest and most memorable of the dance tracks this year. I know they will also give it their all on stage and create havoc in the arena, which should compensate for the lack of melodic structure in the song. Killer track!

IRELAND: In the “olden” days this would be considered a “dangerous” song, especially coming from Ireland. But in today’s reality this is just a mediocre, middle of the road, pleasant song. The arrangement really leaves a lot to be desired, although the Irish fiddles do give it some character.

ISRAEL: A powerful performer with an interesting look and real talent. A different kind of sound from Israel. Shame that half the countries this year decided to send similar songs. I think this will make the cut however, if the performance will be honest and convincing.

LITHUANIA: Quirky usually is my cup of tea, but this song really doesn’t do anything for me. A bit of whispering, then a lot of screaming, trying to cover for the lack of melody and identity. Pointless…

MALTA: The “Miss Congeniality” of the contest. A song that tries to hit all the “feel good” strings and to make us happy. Though the intention is there and the performers are very strong and charismatic, there is something that just doesn’t convince. Leaves a lot to be desired.

NORWAY: Melancholy and honest, with a haunting performance, at least at the beginning. However, as the song develops into the chorus, it unfortunately goes down the road of the expected and the cliché. Half way there.

POLAND: Yeay for effort! A quirky mix of hip-hop rhythms and Slavic colors. I really want to hate it, but I can’t. If performed well, it will definitely not be a pee break.

ROMANIA: A serious contender from Romania sung by two very strong vocalists. A little cliché but it all works out in the end. Hopefully the live version will be perfect, just like their previous entry.

SLOVENIA: A middle of the road Eurovision song. Not terrible, but surely tasteless, colorless and “overused”. Nothing else to say really, except do you recognize the melody in the bridge? (Hint: Lithuania).

SWITZERLAND: One of these songs that sound so much better with the aid of a great video. But take that away and you are left with nothing. Happy song that just makes me sad.

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