The fascinating aspect of the Eurovision Song Contest, one of the world’s biggest music events, is not only the highly competitive and enthralling nature of competitions like that, but also the somehow inexplicable joy of being tortured by an immensely huge amount of so-called artists whose unbelievable lack of talent is unsurpassable. Needless to say that talent is not always a guarantee to win this hugely popular event, but politics usually play a vital role here as well. That’s the only reason why the Ukraine was able to win last year with the “singer” Jamala and her politically correct “1944”. She proved once again in last night’s first semi-finale that she has absolutely no timing, a surprisingly flat voice and a strange way of constantly belting out the wrong notes.
There were a few very sweet and memorable ballads among the 18 songs last night – 10 of which were voted for the grand finale on Saturday. Unfortunately, two of those ballads were not voted in: Finland was represented by a duo called Norma John. The vocal/piano duet called “Blackbird” is a beautiful example of trimmed-down beauty and the importance of simplicity and the strength of a beautiful melody. Also, Martina Bárta, the Czech singer who is studying vocal jazz in Berlin, offered another sweet little beauty: the simple but effective “My Turn” has not made it for the grand finale. Other helplessly frivolous pop fodder, like the blatantly thin and unattractive “This Is Love” from Greek participant Demy has made the final mix.
But there is hope: my favorite tune of the first semi-finale was the Portuguese entry “Amor Pelos Dois” by the young singer Salvador Sobral, reminding me of a young Joao Gilberto with his hauntingly fragile voice, flawless performance and, of course, the sheer beauty of the Portuguese language which is worth the ticket alone. Strangely enough, Salvador himself seems to be a bit spooky. His odd demeanor on stage was not really suitable, but Portugal was by far the most promising entry and voted into the finale on Saturday. Other odd participants, like the shocking performance of the trash/camp act Slavko Kalezic from Montenegro, thankfully went down the gutter.
But in total, mediocrity was the theme of the evening, with acts like the lame Polish “singer” Kasia Mos and her totally forgettable “Flashlight”, including her disastrous dress, the slick and polished Swedish act Robin Bengtsson, or the pseudo-Adele singer Blanche from Belgium with her depressing, suicidal “City Lights”.