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Eurovision 2016: Semi-final 2 May 12

In the distance, the Globe, home of Eurovision 2016

If you thought semi-final 1 had a lot of male soloists, just wait. Is it an unimaginative response to Måns? I realise there are always lots of female solo artists… and I might be imagining the whole thing.

Anyway… the second final of 2016’s Eurovision Song Contest is wide open. There are plenty of worthy entries but no clear leaders – nothing I absolutely love and nothing I hate.

Latvia
And here’s our first solo man: Justs. A gentle start segues into a strong chorus.

Poland
Micheł has a proper pair of lungs. There’s a lovely contrast between the verses and chorus. One of the best songs Poland have sent. Obviously I’m ignoring the American spelling of “color” which the staging rather runs in.

Switzerland
A few nice moments but bland overall with a weak middle eight and a deadening key change.

Israel
Solo man number 3 is the Penguin from Gotham with the forgettable ballad Made of Stars. Longtime readers will know my annual frustration with Eurovision entries that take two of their three minutes to come alive. This is one of those.

Belarus
Solo man 4. With wolves and nudity. It’s amazing what one can do with video effects these days. Hiding beneath these is an OK song with a traditional Eurovision Eastern European rock touch to it.

Serbia
This has a good chorus. It also pulls off the schlager key change that Switzerland stood on.

Ireland
Nicky Byrne from Westlife’s first solo single represents Eurovision’s most successful country. It’s *fine*, especially if you’re a fan of the rhyming dictionary. The energy drop between “sun” and “light” offends me somehow. Another song that could live or die in the performance.

FYR Macedonia
Kaliopi represented her country in the pre-qualifying round in 1996, when Macedonia failed to make its first appearance on the contest. She reached the final in 2012 and is back with a song called Dona that will prompt predictable kebab jokes. It’s pleasant and she’s a stronger performer – but you’ll be sick of the title by the end.

Lithuania
Donny Love Is Blind Montell is back without a blindfold and with worse hair and complete the clean sweep of solo male artists for the Baltic countries. It’s not a million miles from Latvia’s entry – which I marginally prefer. Will there be room for both?

Australia
They’re here again – but this time they have to make it through the semis like everyone else. I get the impression Dami Im’s staging may be simple and relatively static, which could actually help her stand out. It’s a less fun song than last year’s but it’s a big stompy ballad that should serve them well.

Slovenia
I don’t know is Blue and Red is political or about interior design but it’s up tempo and deserves to take Slovenia to their third final in a row. And I don’t care if key changes are supposed to be death – if Russia can have one, everyone can.

Bulgaria
Poli Genova is yet another returning artist: she didn’t get past the semis in 2011. If Love Was A Crime is another upbeat number that’s worthy of a place.

Denmark
It pains me to say it but this boy band effort from Denmark is naff. It’s glassily done and the lads are doing a perfectly cromulent job but it’s factory line pop. It’ll go through but it shouldn’t.

Ukraine
This one is political. Sorry, historical. The lyrics recount Crimeans being murdered in 1944 and the music dovetails well with the words.

Norway
Is there a name for that syncopated synthy rhythm that screams European dance music? Because we need a shorthand. It was there for Iceland (RIP) and it’s back to support Norway. There’s some messing with time signatures but otherwise this is sub-Euphoria stuff.

Georgia
I saw these guys do a short set at the Eurovision Village on Tuesday and was suitably impressed. They’re very 90s indie band – very much my oeuvre – and this song is no different. It’s got a nice Chemical Brothers style mid section too. One for fans of alt rock guitar music – so not much hope at Eurovision, sadly.

Albania
Plodding. I’m 17 songs in and I don’t
have much more to say. Sorry, Albania.

Belgium
What’s The Pressure is, like a few of the songs in this semi-final, a Reasonable Pop Song. That has it competing with Slovenia, Bulgaria and Serbia for me.

The songs I’d like to see qualify:
Poland
Georgia
Slovenia
Latvia
Australia
FYR Macedonia
Lithuania
Belarus
Ukraine
Bulgaria
…and I wouldn’t be surprised if half of them don’t.

Close:
Serbia
Switzerland
Norway
Ireland
Belgium

Nope:
Israel
Denmark
Albania
…and they’re all fairly close too. I’m clearly in a positive mood.

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