With one sad exception, all the songs I was quite certain of came through and made the finals. I am told that the great performance of Greta for Iceland didn’t really come across on television, with her backdrop projections making the whole stage show look too dark on screen. She didn’t proceed to the finals, with most of the fans and journalists agreeing that Iceland was far more worthy than a few of the countries that made it through.
From best to worst, here are the top ten qualifiers in the order I would rank them:
1.Armenia — looks and sounds great! Top contender on Saturday
2.Malta — excellent song, nicely performed
3. The Netherlands — cool, fun countryish pop with a comfortable, relaxed stage presence
4. Russia — the overwhelming odds-on favorite, though I find it artificial and cold.
5. Czech Republic –nice song, fantastic singer. Glad they qualified for the first time!
6. Cyprus — best of the rock numbers this year.
7. Croatia — haunting melody and strange but cool visuals
8. Austria — sweet French pop, delivered with more confidence than I expected
9. Azerbaijan — fine radiopop teen-level song, with a less-than perfect singer
10. Hungary — ok song, good-looking but not charismatic singer
(Click the photo below to see a full album of the semifinal’s photos on flickr.)