Eurovision 2016: Semi Finals Part 1

The original song contest of cheese has returned for their 61st year. Held this year in Sweden (since they were last year’s winners) eighteen of the competing countries from San Marino to Iceland battled it out in the first round for the ten slots to go to Saturday’s final.

Sweden’s winner from last year, Måns Zelmerlöw, did a reimagining of his winning performance last year–more unplugged and slightly slowed down. Along with the more acoustic vibe, he also changed up the staging. Last year, it was all digital background and characters for Zelmerlöw to interact with. Here, they hired actual children and had them do a children’s choir version by the end.

Since Sweden won in 2015, they are one of the shoo ins for the finale on Saturday, along with the “Big Five”: UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy. (As the BBC reminds us constantly, they get to go in directly because they pay for the contest.) So who of the 18 performances tonight, who will be joining them? Find out below!


A few observations: this year seemed a bit more low-key and struggle performances than last year–I noted at least two performances where the vocalist was not really able to keep up. Also, none of the performances really jumped out an grabbed me–with the sole exception of one, and that was due to it being strikingly similar to last year’s winner.

Through to Final

Hungary: Freddie “Pioneer”

Eurovision votes for vocal fry if it has nice muscles.

Croatia: Nina Kraljić  “Lighthouse”

Winner and Fist Runner Up for Best Costume

The Netherlands: Douwe Bob “Slow Down”

American Country on a Steampunk Clock

Armenia: Iveta Mukuchyan “LoveWave”

Good use of digital replication . Also, someone is keeping their women’s superhero costumes old school.

Russia: Sergey Lazarev “You Are The Only One”

This was amazeballs and might be a shoo in to win…if it wasn’t so blatently mimicking everything Sweden did in their winning entry last year and attempting to turn it up to 11.

Czech Republic: Gabriela Gunčíková “I Stand”

It’s a snooze of a performance, but it’s also the first time the Czech Republic has ever made the finals.

Cyprus: Minus One “Alter Ego”

Cyprus performed in cages. Insert your joke about it being a metaphor for how they feel about the way the EU has treated them here.

Austria: ZOË “Loin d’ici”

Always the bridesmaid….

Azerbaijan: Samra “Miracle”

Britney has a profitable side job renting out her 90s era outfits to Eurovision! Those gold football pads are something else.

Malta: Ira Losco “Walk on Water”

One of two entries where a woman stood and sang while a man did interpretive dance all around her, winning version.

Failed to Qualify

Finland:  Sandhja “Sing It Away”

Everything about this was unfortunate. The white girl braid look. The jumpsuit. The failure to stay on key.

Greece: Argo “Utopian Land”

When the best part about your performance is when you stop singing off-key and do your interpretive dance, that’s a bad sign.

Moldova: Lidia Isac “Falling Stars”

Guest starring The Impossible Astronaut from Doctor Who. The other of two entries where a woman stood and sang while a man did interpretive dance all around her, losing version.

San Marnio: Serhat “I Didn’t Know”

If Leonard Cohen found himself at Eurovision, the results would not be any better than our biggest trainwreck of the night.

Estonia: Jüri Pootsmann “Play”

I’m sorry the Faceless Man from Game of Thrones who wore David Bowie’s face didn’t make it to the finals.

Montenegro: Highway “The Real Thing”

If Boybands did heavy metal….

Iceland: Greta Salóme “Hear Them Calling”

Winter is coming, and the White Walkers with it….

Bosnia&Herzegovnia: Dalal & Deen w/ Ana Rucner&Jala “Ljubav Je”

Too many names, too many competing costumes, all of it was just too much.


2 thoughts

  1. I didn’t think Sweden deserved to win last year, burying a mediocre tune and performance under a CGI fest, so I really hope that Russia doesn’t win this year for more of the same. “You Are the Only One” is catchy enough for disposable pop, but just like “Heroes” it’s a completely forgettable nothing of a cookie-cutter song.

    I found myself most struck by Austria’s “Loin D’ici”. It has a lot of good stuff going on using the seasonal cycle, and a wistful/aspirational love song in French is always apropos. Unlike the Russian entry, I find that it grows and expands on repeated viewings, and I like its original video more, as well.


    1. Speaking of Montenegro’s boyband metal, for a good execution of a similar idea, you should check out Japan’s Babymetal: corporate-manufacture barely-teen cute-idol-girls J-Poping in front of really good metal instrumentalists (the “kami band”, natch).

      My favorite Babymetal song is “Megitsune” (roughly “female fox spirit”), but their songs “Karate” and “Dori Dori Morning” are right up there.


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