INTRODUCTION – Welcome to Kyiv and the International Exhibition Center, from the press area of which, oikotimes.com’s Olivier and Fotis will report you upon the First Semi Final of the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest. The Ukrainian tradition opening video is followed by a modern dance act and the three hosts welcome everyone in Europe. The show is about to begin and the arena is almost full. Check the estimation by Europrediction online voters, invited juries and combined results here.
01. SWEDEN / ROBIN BENGTSSON “I CAN’T GO ON”
Fotis review: I think this is a great opening for Eurovision and the vocal performance stands out. Though somehow Robin seems stressed and it could have better camera work. I am sure this will qualify as it is the most well structured and produced song this year.
Olivier says: Robin is just perfect once again in delivering the Swedish entry. Contemporary beat (like a modern version of Schlager), mechanical but very effective choreography and a great vocal performance… “I Can’t Go On” is a very neat act that should please the audience and most juries (even if some professionals may find this one a bit too Eurovisionesque). This one is a certain qualifier and maybe a dark horse for the final trophy.
02. GEORGIA / TAMARA “KEEP THE FAITH”
Fotis says: you might find it an outdated song and you are right but Tako is giving an outstanding vocal performance and Georgians must be very proud tonight as their faith has been kept. It seems the audience loves this one in the arena and the fireworks boost the visualisation of the song in the very top.
Olivier says: The first diva of the evening, Tamara from Georgia, is giving a flawless and very powerful performance. Some will find “Keep The Faith” too dramatic and too loud, while other may call it classy and beautiful. Indeed, the staging is very nice on screen and even if she’s alone, the singer ain’t lost on stage. Anyhow I find the act a bit old fashioned and I cannot be 100% certain about her qualification.
03. AUSTRALIA / ISAIAH “DON’T COME EASY”
Fotis says: It’s not a song that stands out but in terms of production and sound once again the Aussies prove they know what international music is. Isaiah, a village boy, comes out of nowhere to storm Europe and his vocals can prove you that. He is simply outstanding and this guy deserves the very best. Absolutely perfect performance and stage presentation with great LED presentation in the back plus a wonderful pyro. In the end of the song he misses the high note but you already got an idea what a great star Isaiah is and will become. Congrats Australia and thank you for sharing your music with us, the Europeans.
Olivier says: This act could benefit from the split voting between the jury and the public. Isaiah is young but gives a very mature performance of his song “Don’t Come Easy”. The juries should vote for it, while the public, used to much more memorable performance from the Aussies, may be a bit disappointed. It’s just a very good pop song, but nothing spectacular for Eurovision viewers is happening on stage for viewers. Moreover, the singer’s voice tonight is sometimes not at its best… An almost certain qualifier though but…
04. ALBANIA / LINDITA “WORLD”
Fotis says: Lindita, Demy and Alma are the three most beautiful female performers in the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest. Lindita had a promising performance as all rehearsals were perfect vocally but as of last night, during the dress rehearsal, something is wrong. Lindita seems stressed (she shouldn’t be as we all love her here). Tonight she gives a decent vocal performance and personally I cannot stop staring her amazing eyes. Not in favour of the outfit chosen for the show but the graphics around her on stage and in LED screens create a fary tale sentiment. Not sure it will qualify though.
Olivier says: You were missing the Georgian diva? Don’t worry, her loud little sister is on stage now… Lindita is less powerful (and a bit less flawless) than yesterday but the performance of her power ballad remains a good one. Once again, some ears may found “World” too loud, but, it is much modern than Tamara’s act. Unfortunately, I cannot see this song impress neither the juries nor the audience. She may win the diva’s battle though, but does that mean qualification? Not sure.
05. BELGIQUE / BLANCHE “CITY LIGHTS”
Fotis says: the Belgians fans at the press area are so enthusiastic with this one. I have two objections. I don’t see Blanche sparkle on stage and I am not sure the vocal performance is as powerful as in the studio version of the song. Remember that this song is under attack as it is considered a copycat. Vocally Blanche is on the edge: either you will love her or hate her. I am not sure this one will make it although for some it was the favourite to even win Eurovision 2017. The arena goes frantic with it but I am not, sorry.
Olivier says: On the radio, the Belgian entry is one of the strongest this year, but many feared the performance of Blanche live, especially after such disappointing (and boring ) rehearsals. Well, the staging is modern and very nice, just like “City Lights”. Well, I’m happy to say that Blanche has given a very descent performance, turning from bored to classy, even though she’s still not very at ease on stage. And the audience’s reactions during this act made him stand out. Well done Belgium, see you on Saturday!
06. MONTENEGRO / SLAVKO KALEZIĆ “SPACE”
Fotis says: it’s the fans favourite and the favourite of all LGBT audience. OK besides that we all hear that Slavko is not giving a great vocal performance. The stage presentation with the long pony tale is amazing and artistic. Theatrical movements and passion on stage. But guys this song can easily be eliminated.
Olivier says: How can a performance ruin a fun and catchy entry? Let Slavko from Montenegro teach you! This is all too much in my opinion (outfit, sexy dance moves, approximate choreography) to conquer juries ‘votes, but the public may go for it since it’s fun and quite telegenic at some points, especially after the first 5 songs. This one could qualify thanks to the public.
07. FINLAND / NORMA JOHN “BLACKBIRD”
Fotis says: one of the best entries for me ever in the Eurovision Song Contest. A song with sentiments of pain and a progress to catharsis. Lena and Lasse are giving a great stage presentation and Lena is superb in the vocal performance. Finland can sing the Eurovision Song Contest this year for me. A perfect song the sound of which creates many emotions in me. One of the best choices from Finland.
Olivier says: From cheap to classy, Finland is on stage now. Pure poetry! Simple but beautiful staging, charming voice, sweet melody, moving piano sound and emotional lyrics… Finland is heading straight to the Grand Final since it’s close to perfection in my opinion. Not uch more to say, I’m already cursed by “Blackbird”.
08. AZERBAIJAN / DIHAJ “SKELETONS”
Fotis says: one of the best and artistic stage presentations ever made in Eurovision. It’s clear that Dihaj is one of the best performers in this year’s Eurovision Song COntest and gets a great applause from the arena and the press area. Definitely in the final.
Olivier says: One of the most contemporary and alternative entries this year. Dihaj reminds me a lot of Sia, and I really like “Skeletons” which is perfectly performed. Nevertheless, I’m still not convinced by the too complicated staging. With this horse, this ladder, this box, these blackboards… the Azerbaijani entry is not that easy to catch. Juries should love it, the public may be a bit more reluctant. But it will definitely qualify.
09. PORTUGAL / SALVADOR “AMOR PELOS DOIS”
Fotis says: The entire venue is silent and give a great respect to this wonderful guy from Portugal. Salvador I cannot comment your song. Everything is perfect. Thank you for sharing this song with us. Lisbon we are ready to fly there in 2018! The arena cannot stop applauding!!! amazing feeling.
Olivier says: I’m in love with Salvador, and I’m definitely not the only one tonight. For sure, party goers may not enjoy this retro song, but I bet the incredible charisma of this original artist and the very emotional performance is ready to conquer Europe and take Eurovision out of its standards. The Portuguese singer is a sure qualifier and now a serious contender for victory! The reactions in the venue (and press center) are veeery positive!
10. GREECE / DEMY “THIS IS LOVE”
Fotis says: OH MY GOD! Goddess Aphrodite on stage. Demy had a lot of problems in the rehearsals (and re-run in the dress rehearsal) but tonight vocally she and the backing vocals are simply outstanding. For years I was waiting for this moment and it’s coming true: THIS IS GREECE ladies and gentlemen. This is the ture Greece of music and dance spirit. Congrats!
Olivier says: Back to Eurovision standards now with Demy. The show is tailor-made for television and it’s very nice. Dancers, water, screen effects… The Greek goddess is perfect as usual and the performance is very effective. Nevertheless, there are too many gimmicks and effects for my taste. As far as the song is concerned, I’m still not convinced by this cheap Euro-dance chorus in the middle of such a melodic song. But after a disastrous 2016 edition, Greece will reach the Grand Final for sure.
11. POLAND / KASIA MOŚ “FLASHLIGHT”
Fotis says: The polish entry is not a song that could be a radio hit or remembered after Eurovision but we all know that Kasia is spreading the message about the animal abuse, a phenomenon rising worldwide despite international efforts to stop it. Despite the weakness of the song, Kasia is undoubtedly one of the best vocal performs in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Besides that she is an amazing woman with great humour and distinctive personality. Go girl! you deserve the ticket to the final!
Olivier says: The third diva of the night is on stage now and I’m afraid, despite the perfect performance, she’s the least memorable one in my opinion. The voice is loud but perfect, the staging is very nice, but this song ain’t strong enough to stand out in this semi-final’s line-up in my opinion. The outcome for Poland is hard to predict.
12. MOLDOVA / SUNSTROKE PROJECT “HEY MAMMA”
Fotis says: This is party time, get up, drop everything and start dancing. Hey mama boys this is the best Moldovan entry ever in the Eurovision Song Contest. I love this awesome guys and the sax man is the best hug-boy ever. Sorry have to stop writing, it’s time for me to dance. GO MOLDOVA!
Olivier says: This year’s Moldovan entry is very fun but professional (much more than the last time SunStroke Project took part). I must admit that even if I’m not a huge fan of the song (on radio), I quite like the performance tonight. The guys (and girls) are delivering positive energy to the venue in a very nice way, and are enjoying themselves o stage. “Hey,Mamma!” could be the unexpected qualifier of the night!
13. ICELAND / SVALA “PAPER”
Fotis says: Like father like… daughter. Svala’s father (1995 Icelandic representative) must be very proud of his girl. Svala is giving a storming vocal performance with the Paper song. Although I disagree with the LED graphics and the concept around the artist, Svala is surely making Iceland very proud tonight. I am almost sure it will easily qualify to the final. For me it’s one of the radio hits of the summer.
Olivier says: A bit like Montenegro, the Icelandic entry is way better on radio than on stage. Svala is doing her best with her great voice but the performance is a bit dull in my opinion. The stage is just empty, as if she was performing “Paper” right in the middle of a glacier… Every singer cannot be called Jamala I’m afraid… Can’t see it qualify.
14. CZECH REPUBLIC / MARTINA BÁRTA “MY TURN”
Fotis says: Martina is an excellent vocal performer. Her jazz style is amazing and the stage performance is perfect. I still remember her performing at the oikotimes.com party the James Bond song. The Eurovision entry is a very nice tune, a well structure and produced song but I am afraid the European audience will not sufficiently support it. I would love to see her in the final but unless the juries boost it, I cannot see it doing much in tele voting. I have to admit though that it’s one of the best entries this year and excellent executed on stage.
Olivier says: Out of Eurovision standards, the Czech Republic is sending a classy, lounge music entry I would say. OK, the performance has nothing memorable, but the song itself and Martina jazzy vibe voice could conquer juries tonight not sure about the public though.
15. CYPRUS / HOVIG “GRAVITY”
Fotis says: Unlike rehearsals Hovig is giving an excellent vocal performance and Cyprus should be proud of him tonight. Although didn’t consider him a qualifier for the final, now somehow I am sure he will do it. The only objection I have is that they clearly copied Sergey Lazarev’s stage presentation including the graphics which doesn’t look nice.
Olivier says: I’ve never been a big fan of the Cypriot entry this year. “Gravity” clearly lacks a melody and is a bit repetitive but we must say that Hovig has clearly improved and his flawless now, while the staging is very good (even though we’ve seen all that before with Belgium in 2015). I wouldn’t bet on a qualification though…
16. ARMENIA / ARTVIK “FLY WITH ME”
Fotis says: along with Hungary, this is the second best modern ethnic song. A good idea from Armenia for Eurovision with a good vocal performance. The camera work for this song is amazing and the stage presenation with the two female dancers is boosting the sentiment of the song. Artsvik should though have been more integrated to the dance act with the two females. No vocal problems this time and somehow the Armenian diaspora will definitely support this entry.
Olivier says: This ethno-electro entry could surprise us all. Modern and beautiful sound, perfect voice and very nice staging… Armenia couldn’t wish for more to reach the Grand Final. “Fly With Be” is definitely a dark horse now!
17. SLOVENIA / OMAR NABER “ON MY WAY”
Fotis says: I met Omar in my first Eurovision venture back in 2005 and 12 years after I ma here with him again in Kyiv. An old fashioned song with a great vocal performance. Omar is more mature and more professional. It’s his moment and he should be proud of his performance. Well done Omar!
Olivier says: This is, after Portugal, the nicest male voice of the evening. Simply powerful and beautiful. The staging is also very nice on screen with a wise use of the led screen. But the obstacle on Slovenia’s path to qualification could be the song itself and its philharmonic arrangements. It really sounds like a Disney soundtrack, that is to say a bit old fashioned and cheesy at some points. Can’t see this one go through unfortunately despite the perfect performance.
18. LATVIA / TRIANA PARK “LINE”
Fotis says: LOVE YA GIRL! Latvia is the best electro ambient song I have ever heard. I will not surprised if next Saturday we start booking tickets for Riga. Triana Park are theatrical, interactive, amazing, lovely and absolutely make you dance. Amazing performance and a perfect closing act for the first semi final. See ya guys in the final.
Olivier says: From Disneyland to Tomorrowland, here comes Latvia and their very electro entry. “Line” is very contemporary and out of Eurovision standards but I’m not convinced by the performance, as if Triana Park were struggling to set the venue on fire. Such a track should get the audience crazy, but this not obvious on TV…
and that’s it from the First Semi Final live report for the Eurovision Song Contest 2017. Stay tuned for the results and of course the qualifiers’ press conference.