Düsseldorf 2011: Livebog Semifinal 2

Tonight, nineteen countries compete for the ten remaining positions in the Grand Final of the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest. ESCDaily provides a live webcast from the Press Centre, available here. In addition, keep your eyes on this live blog for analysis of the show and the crucial results.

Please refresh this article for frequent updates.

Anke Engelke, Judith Rakers and Stefan Raab host again tonight and welcome to the Esprit Arena which is looking rather more full than for tuesday’s semifinal. Among the crowd are the qualified semifinalists from Tuesday and the representatives of the ‘Big Five’.

01 Bosnia-Herzegovina
Dino Merlin – Love in rewind

The crowd are immediately clapping along to this entry,  which is confidently growing into one of the most loved ‘traditional’ Balkan entries that is not a ballad. The song and its performance happily straddle confidence and class. The backdrop is effective and the pyro fountains give any dozy viewers a wake-up call in the final chorus. The vocals are nearly faultless.

02 Austria
Nadine Beiler – The secret is love

Nadine has one of the most impressive female vocals to take to the Eurovision stage in recent years. In the opening lines she seems very slightly nervous but soon lets her vocal chords relax into an assured performance. It is excellent, but not the faultless standard we have heard in some rehearsals this week. TV viewers get many close-ups are mixed with long shots of the dark blue staging. The song is received very well in the arena. Nadine is easily good enough to qualify, but is the song?

03 Netherlands
3JS – Never alone

The 3JS have had an up-and-down week in rehearsals, with some shaky and some decent performances. Tonight their vocals are well-tuned and the stage performance has a good amount of energy, but could have more. The roving backing singers do well at adding to the atmosphere. The selection of backing graphics and camera shots that are not too distracting focus our attention on the song. What will the public think?

04 Belgium
Witloof Bay – With love baby

Very impressive vocal skills are on display for Belgium, but the song has failed to garner any praise all week. The presentation and music are disjointed respectively, let alone together. The artists are confident and well-rehearsed on stage, but something just doesn’t feel quite right. This seems a concept that could have brought success, but this just isn’t the song to do it.

05 Slovakia
TWiiNS – I’m still alive

Slovakia’s song is perfectly respectable, but you’ve heard everything it has to offer within the first thirty seconds. Even if the music loses your attention, the TWiiNS are easy on the eye and they are gently blown by the Carola machine. They look comfortable on stage, but the tuning of both sisters and of their backing singers is pretty uneasy to listen to at times.

06 Ukraine
Mika Newton – Angel

The sand artist remains the most impressive part of this performance, narrowly followed by Mika’s feathery shoulders. This song would comfortably qualify with studio-quality vocals, but Mika doesn’t quite make it on stage, despite all the energy she puts into her performance. The cameras are torn between Mika and the sand artist, and so am I. The dry ice machine is really going for it this evening!

07 Moldova
Zdob si Zdub – So lucky

A complete change of mood here, which may count in the Moldovans’ favour; however the song has not been nearly as well received as their previous Eurovision effort. It feels like a song without a chorus. Nonetheless, you can’t help but smile at Zdob si Zdub’s craziness and enthusiasm, and who doesn’t enjoy a unicyclist on stage? Somehow I don’t feel that will be enough.

08  Sweden
Eric Saade – Popular

Everyone is looking forward to seeing this performance, whether they wish Eric well or ill! Eric is full of smiles and is moving well. His vocals are mostly in tune but not with much depth or quality. The same can be said for the backing vocals. The arena audience are happily waving their flags along to the rhythm of this up-tempo number.  The gimmick of the glass screens seems an odd choice, as you don’t really see it on television. There is no actual smashing of panels; just a visual and sound effect, before Eric reappears at the front of the stage having nipped round the back. The crowd goes pretty wild at the end. I wonder if the judges did last night?

09  Cyprus
Christos Mylordou – San aggelos s’agapisa

Another strong change of musical direction here, with a more traditional and staid performance from Cyprus. There is, however, a lot going on here, with the ‘leaning’ singers, female vocalist on the smaller stage and the dancer. The camera work marries the three elements together. However, I remain unsure if the foot-clamped leaning is a help or hindrance to this entry’s fate. One of the backing singers sounds a little flat throughout, which is a shame this is a contender for qualification.

10 Bulgaria
Poli Genova – Na inat

Here is a song that has quietly been gaining well-wishers during the Eurovision fortnight. There is plenty of high energy movement on stage and in the background with a theme of white and dark blues. Poli’s vocals are strong and fit well with the style of her song and the backing vocals. Na inat gains a lot of applause in the arena after a pyro-assisted final chorus.

11 FYR Macedonia
Vlatko Ilievski – Rusinka

The intro and verse of this song are promising, but the chorus just falls flat. Vlatko seems to be loving the stage and his over-preened dancers give the song some energy. It will be rather intriguing to see how Europe interprets this entry; is it to be taken seriously or not? Vlatko’s vocals are earthy as ever but there are no tuning problems. I should say this appears to be the first entry tonight where the camera shots have felt a little messy.

12 Israel
Dana International – Ding Dong

Dana has persisted with the green wicker shredded duck dress. Unfortunately, she is also persisting with slightly weak vocals, backed by five seemingly cloned backing vocalists that seem themselves to be a little sharp at times. The song has an energetic beat but it doesn’t feel like the passion is there. Dana is quite passive throughout the song, but seems to burst into life when thanking the arena’s crowd at the end.

13 Slovenia
Maja Keuc – No One

Maja’s ‘One Glove’ Keuc has added a second glove. Her impressive vocals are accentuated by her positioning in the running order after Dana International. She and her backing singers move and sing with great confidence. The backing track seems slightly low in the TV feed mix. The Slovenian delegation are quietly confident of qualification this year; after this performance they certainly should be. In the jury rehearsal, Maja was slightly short of breath towards the final line, but there are no such minor issues today.

14 Romania
HotelFM – Change

Big smiles, a big chorus and plenty of colour in the stage presentation, but somewhere the song never quite takes off. This is perfectly pleasant, so could well qualify. All the vocals are without tuning problems and the band sell the song well. It certainly has one of this year’s least awkward key changes, if that is anything to judge by.

“Moldova” is the number one trending topic in the UK right now…

15 Estonia
Getter Jaani – Rockefeller Street

The Press Centre keenly awaits this song, as there have been both terrible and strong vocal performances during rehearsals. Tonight, Getter is not on key at all times but is doing a good job of selling her song and is taking a high-energy rather than polished approach to the performance. The staging and dancing is really apt for the song, but you feel you can’t quite relax due to Getter’s vocals. The crowd in the arena are certainly impressed. It is a pop track with good quality production, but recreating the studio sound on the live stage is proving a challenge.

16 Belarus
Anastasiya Vinnikova – I love Belarus

Well, what to say here, aside from ‘I love Belarus’. The song  is no work of genius, but is gaining a cult following. Some early rehearsals were pretty uncomfortable to listen to, but Anastasiya is maintaining a pretty good relationship with the actual notes this evening and it is possibly the best performance of the song we have seen. During the week the Belarussian delegation have clearly been getting the organisers to turn up the fire more each time; pyrotastic. This song was a sure non-qualifier, but now I’m not quite so sure.

17 Latvia
Musiqq – Angel in disguise

The boys have been creosoted since their last rehearsal, which doesn’t quite fit with the waistcoat and tattoo look. Vocally this is a strong performance but, like Slovakia’s song, there is little to keep your interest after you have first heard the verse and chorus. The rap is well-executed but still feels rather incongruous.

18 Denmark
A Friend in London – New tomorrow

The boys are testing a genre that has seen limited success on the Eurovision stage, but they could be set to be pioneers here. Vocally, this is good and the camera work and staging fit the song well. Tim completes the ‘Safura Sprint’ event quicker than any other entrant in 2011, but finds the final chorus less easy when sprinting back. Good song, good performance, but is it what Europe wants?

19 Ireland
Jedward – Lipstick

This has been the most hotly anticipated entry among followers of the ESCDaily webcast throughout this event. Ireland make the best use of graphics on the arena’s stage. The vocals (from Jedward and the backing singers) are uncomfortable at times, especially in the chorus, but the presentation of the song is very well planned and executed. High energy camera work matches the Jedwardian enthusiasm. For some, this is a very long three minutes. For others, it is a work of genius.

We are treated to a recap of the 19 contenders while the voting nations have ten minutes left to register their selections.

Worldwide trending topics refer to tonight’s entries from Ireland, Sweden, Israel and Belarus.

As the theatrical interval act concludes, Estonia and Denmark join the Eurovision takeover of worldwide trending topics. A summary of the Big Five is shown in advance of saturday’s final, plus a quick interview with Lena in the audience and some promotion of the Eurovision CD and DVD.

Following the collation of jury and public votes, the qualifying countries (in no particular order) are:
Estonia
Romania
Moldova
Ireland
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Denmark
Austria
Ukraine
Slovenia
Sweden