ESC 2013: 1st Semi-Final – The Songs



Less than a month, the Eurovision Song Contest 2013 (which will be held this year in Malmö, Sweden) is going to start with the 1st Semi-Final on Tuesday, 14th May 2013. Before that, though, I’ll give my opinion about each and every song of this year’s ESC, starting with the songs from the 1st Semi-Final


The first country to perform is sending for this edition a mid-tempo pop-rock entry titled “Shine” and it will be sung by Natália Kelly, a singer whose past went from being in a children group to a contestant in the austrian version of “The Voice“. A powerful piece of song with a set of inspirational lyrics. Will this shine in Malmö? I wonder, but with a powerful performance, anything is possible


Here’s the first ballad of the semi sung by Birgit Õigemeel, who had tried to go to ESC the previous year (2012). The title of the entry is “Et uus saaks alguse” (translated as “So there can be a new beginning”) and the lyrics deal with the end of something but looking towards a new beginning. I liked it already, but it has since then grown so much for me: there’s some kind of retro sound I usually like in a recent song, giving me a nostalgic reminiscence. It’s no “Kuula” (Ott Lepland, 2012), but it’s quite enchanting anyway. It’ll be more difficult for Estonia to qualify this year with it


From a ballad to a dance music track: “Straight into love” is sung by american born singer living in Slovenia, Hannah Mancini (who tried to go to ESC back in 2011 with “Ti si tisti”). Written by herself, the song puts in evidence a love relationship that is rocketing into higher grounds. A good catchy dance track, but I wonder if it’ll do the trick for the country this year in order to qualify for the final


Something quite odd is what the vocal ensemble known as Klapa s Mora (formed out of several Klapa (traditional dalmatian accapella) ensembles especially for ESC 2013) with “Mižerja” (translated as “Misery”) is giving us this year. A nostalgic sounding ballad (that, in a way, makes me remember of Croatia‘s ESC 1995 entry, “Nostalgija”, performed by Magazin & Lidija) with its dalmatian touches that blends very well with the group’s voices. It either can suprise or flop in ESC 2013 as it’s quite a daring choice for its own kind of music


The song that many betting odds and polls are predicting as the favourite to win ESC 2013 is a highly spiritual mid-to-uptempo folk-pop entry called “Only teardrops(one of the writers is Lise Cabble (who also wrote the danish entries of 1995 (“Fra Mols til Skagen”, Aud Wilken, 6th) and 2011 (“New tomorrow”, A Friend in London, 5th) and it’s sung by Emmelie de Forest, a newcomer in the music world. Eventhough I think there are a couple of songs better than this one, there’s not many doubts why it’s a favourite to win: it’s quite memorable, it’s well-produced and (in the NF, at least), it has been performed very well. Denmark can really be a lock to qualify for the final, but will it actually win?


The winner of the russian version of “The Voice” in 2012, Dina Garipova, has been internally chosen to represent the country this year with “What if?”, a powerful anthemic ballad about peace. Nothing too extraordinary (there has been much better ballads of that type in the past), but it still is strong. Unless there’s a suprise in the voting in either the semi and/or in the final, this could be the other song that can sail easily to the final and maybe fight for a very good placing. It will all, of course, depend on her performance


It started off as a ballad during the NF, but the official studio has brought it to a more catchy level halfway. “Gravity” is the title of the song and the singer in question had tried to go to ESC in the last few years (except 2012): Zlata Ognevich. Without a doubt a stronger song than the previous one:  the power of the song comes from its catchy parts and Zlata’s voice. Like Russia, it’s also a song that can easily go to the final and do well… unless a suprise comes out of the blue


The alternative genre makes also its appearance in this year’s ESC edition with “Birds”, sung by established singer Anouk (famous european wide for her 1997 hit “Nobody’s wife” and her 2005 modest hit “Lost”). Simply my cup of tea: dark, mystical, retro and profund on both music and lyrics (on the latter, there’s a sense of surrealism in the air). In a way, something different for this year and eventhough it’s an ESC fans favourite and a betting odds favourite to do well, there’s two problems: we still don’t know how this will be performed and there’s the fact that The Netherlands hasn’t qualified for the Final since 2004 (when they sent Re-Union and the acoustic ballad “Without you”). I’m, therefore, afraid some unpleasant suprise is going to happen


Also different is “Igranka” (translated as “Party”), performed by hugely famous hip-hop/rap duo Who See in collaboration with Nina Žižić. Unlike many of the former artists’ songs, what we have here it’s a dubstep rap entry with a bit of dance music influences in tiny parts that can usually be heard on music channeles and nowadays normal to dance music radios. And also, unlike The Netherlands, it’s not really my cup of tea: what saves it for me is Nina‘s part and the lyrics (I don’t really like the male duo’s parts, eventhough they did produce the song well and musical parts of it (well, the “Vodim te na igranku” part) quite annoy me to death). Many ESC fans think it can be the first time Montenegro is in a ESC final, but I’m doubting that, especially because we still don’t know how this will be performed by the time the 1st Semi-Final is in full gear


It’s rare to hear a indie electro-pop entry in ESC and this year, Lithuania gives us “Something”, sung by its author and composer, Andrius Pojavis. Perhaps very much influenced by The Killers and despite its quite strange lyrics (the chorus is quite strange, really), its music production really ticks all my buttons. I’d love to see it qualify, but he has to work hard on his performance if wants to do well


Like in 2011, Belarus seems to come too late in terms of tailored ethnic-pop entries made quite especially for ESC. Alyona Lanskaya, who had won the NF the previous year but was later disqualified due to voting irregularities, finally gets her chance to represent her country in ESC by singing “Solayoh” (composed by the same man who wrote the belgian entries for 2002 (“Sister”Sergio & The Ladies, =13rd placeand 2004 (“1 life”Xandee, =22nd place) and also the maltese entry for 2009 (“What if we?”Chiara22nd place) , Marc Paelinck), a imaginary word (or place) that gives a meaning to party. Not bad, but certainly there’s much better songs this year. Chances in qualifiying for the final? Perhaps some… I’d watch out for this one


After being a chorist for Pasha Parfeny (who’s, by the way, one of the authors and composers of Moldova‘s entry this year as well) last year, Aliona Moon goes solo with “O mie” (translated as “A thousand”), a smooth ballad about a love relationship that has fallen apart. A bit musical-ish, but a very good ballad nevertheless. The performance will be crucial for this one to do well in both the semi the song is in and, if she qualifes, to the final


Jedward‘s ventures at ESC might be highly tough to follow, but RTE is putting all their hopes on a newcomer born in Northern Ireland, Ryan Dolan, with a song of his own (written together with Wez Devine): “Only love survives”, a uptempo dance track that deals with a relationship that is willing to survive from the world’s collapse. The lyrics somehow compensate the song’s radio-driven sounds. Will it give another qualification to Ireland for the final? We just have to wait and see…


One of the most current singers in her country (she started her music carrer in the 90’s, but got her shot to fame in the 2000’s), Despina Olimpiou is finally representing Cyprus with the ballad “An me thimase” (translated as “If you remember me” and made by the same composer as CyprusESC 1996 entry (“Mono gia mas”, Constantinos Christoforou) and the same lyricist as CyprusESC 1998 entry (“Genesis”, Michalis Hatzigiannis). A simple, fragile and yet cute ballad with a few modern touches to it (the beats, for example) about the end of a relationship. Things are not looking good for her in terms of polls and betting odds, but don’t write this one off yet


A year after winning the belgian french version of “The Voice”, Roberto Bellarosa was chosen by RTBF (last year, VRT was in charge of selecting Belgium’s entry). This time, all the cards are in a uptempo dance song titled “Love kills”, to which one of the authors already has some case of sucess in ESC terms (Iain Farquharson, co-writer of “Running scared”, ESC 2011 winner for Azerbaijan, sung by Ell & Nikki). Not really a favourite in both polls and betting odds either, but maybe it could do a suprise qualification to the final, if his performance is powerful enough to cativate the televoting and the jury alike


Moje 3 (aka. the top-3 of “Prvi glas Srbije”Mirna Radulović, Nevena Božović (making history as the first former jESC participant (this happened back in 2007 when she sung “Piši mi” and reached a honourable 3rd place) to go to ESC), and Sara Jovanović) have the honours of closing the semi with an uptempo track (music made by Saša Milošević Mare, the same person who wrote “Molitva”, ESC 2007‘s winner for Serbia, sung by Marija Šerifović), “Ljubav je svuda” (translated as “Love is everywhere”), that has an interesting plot (lyrics made by Marina Tucaković, the same person who wrote the serbian entries for 2010 (“Ovo je Balkan”, Milan Stanković, 13rd place) and 2012 (“Nije ljubav stvar”Željko Joksimović, 3rd place): a confused and divided girl (Nevena) who is suggested either by the devil (Sara) to leave her lover and either by the angel (Mirna) to stay with him a while longer. Totally effective and memorable, there’s definitively harmony and sassyness in how this song was done. Normally, this should be a lock to qualify for the final… if we don’t notice that Serbia has done worse with catchy songs than with ballads. Will this be Serbia‘s first catchy song to do well or will it recieve the same fate as the other catchy songs from this country?

And that’s all for now. Next post will be about the 2nd Semi-Final songs… so, watch out for it

Thank you,

LAboy 456
(Rui Craveiro)


Posted on 21 de April de 2013, in Eurovision Song Contest. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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