Sunday, 7 March 2021


The Australian song premiered on March 4th, with its first play on Australian radio station Triple J. The next day it was available to find on all online platforms and on the 6th it had its first live performance at Syndey Mardi Gras. The singer Montaigne, who won Australia Decides in 2020, was reselected again for the 2021 edition however this song was internally selected. She will sing the song "Technicolour"

During her performance at the Mardi Gras Montaigne was joined on stage by 2 female dancers. All three of them are dressed in different white outfits although the dancers start with black coats and shed them at the command 'take off your cloaks'. Montaigne was singing live, which in itself was pretty impressive, does some dancing although most of it is on the spot with some armography, foot swivelling and kneeling. It felt rather simplistic and could easily be beefed up with more dancers as well as benefiting from a proper backdrop and props.

The song structure is rather straightforward compared to many of the songs we've reviewed up to now. The verses show off Montaigne's lower register as well as her yodelling technique. Here her voice sounds Celtic, almost Sinead O'Connor like. The yodelling continues in the pre-chorus but her voice seems a little more agitated as the lyrics become more emotional but suddenly breaks off into a more shouty call to arms part and goes straight into the repetitive chorus. We then repeat the verse/pre-chorus/chorus medley before a brief respite with some more vocal runs and some rather high notes before the final chorus which also initiates a rather unexpected key change. 

Montaigne's breakthrough came in 2014 when her song "I am not an end" got good radio play in Australia and was followed up by the release of her EP called "Life of Montaigne". In 2016 she released her album "Glorious Heights" which helped Montaigne win the ARIA for "Breakthrough Artist" which is no mean feat. Her second album came out in 2019 and the next year won "Australian Decides" with Don't Break Me. Her music is very singer-songwriter led however her music is also seen as 'art pop' because of her production style and visual presentations.

Compared to her 2020 entry this is more pop influenced. There are many changes in the song which show off the different facets of her voice but the transitions of the song need a lot of work. The song is much more level in terms of production in the studio version and I feel the backing track needs more rise and fall to make the parts stand out more. In particular, the change from pre-chorus to the technicolour chant needs more of a pow moment between them. I also hope that this staging is not what we are getting at Eurovision. Obviously she'll have more of a backdrop but I also wonder if she'll have more dancers to make the stage come alive more. I also think Montaigne's choreo doesn't fit with the song. perhaps if she has more dancers she might be able to get away with doing less. This all said, her live vocal performance is really outstanding and if she can pull something like this in May she will do herself justice. 

ARTIST - Montaigne
SONG - Technicolour
Jessica Cerro, Dave Hammer

Saturday, 6 March 2021


The Moldovan song was released on March 4th, with the release of the official music video on youtube. Natalia Gordienko who had won the Moldovan national final in 2020 was selected to try again in 2021, however this time round her song was also selected internally. Her song is called "Sugar". 

The video is set in a pink studio with a 'sweets' theme. Natalia is dressed in a light blue bodice with a lacy top, blue ankle socks and rather large platform shoes. During the song she is joined my male dancers in pink and female dancers who are dressed as ice cream cones. There is also a shot of a man who she is singing to the song to/about. At the end of the song Natalia rips of the man's face to reveal that his head is made of rainbow cake and starts to eat it.

The song is full of short sharp shifts of rhythm which keeps you on your toes but also makes it lacks flow, build and definition. It starts with a short verse supported by a simple beat and during the pre-chorus the beats become more syncopated. Next is an instrumental brass earworm incorporating a simple dance routine (if not a slight rip off of On Fire from last year) We then have the chorus which is sung using her full voice before another go at the brassy earworm. The next verse is even shorter than the last one (and barely registers) before going straight into the pre-chorus, chorus and brass refrain. The comes a rather oddly placed bridge which really halts the flow before a final brass part to the end.

Natalia Gordienko is a seasoned performer and has been singing and taking part in competitions since she was 15. Back in 2006 she took part in the Eurovision Song Contest taking the stage with Arsenium and Connect-R with the song "Loca" only coming 20th out of 24 songs in the final. Although this was not the best result she came back the next year to place 1st in the prestigious "New Wave" contest which has been the springboard for many Eastern European artists. She has  released many different songs, in English, Russian and Romanian but not with much chart success.

This song has been masterminded by Phillip Kirkorov and Dimitris Kontopoulos who have had a major hand in a number of significant Eurovision entries over the past two decades. and have a definite style of song and visual production. However this really not my style and I find the production of this video really off-putting. I wish Natalia actually sang most of the song rather than the croaky 'ickle gurl' voice she seems to out on for the most part. I also find her styling really far too provocative, not to mention female backing dancers just being a pair of legs while the men get normal costumes. I feel like people will like this song because of the production and the stable it comes from rather than the singing and performing prowess of Natalia herself. As for the song itself, its structure is all over the place and feel like it is several parts put together with no focal point. I wonder if this song is a little too soulless or lacking character and oooomph. Compared to her 2020 song this feels a little tacky and Natalia has turned into a  "Poupée de cire, poupée de son"

ARTIST - Natalia Gordienko
SONG - Sugar
Mikhail Gutseriev, Philipp Kirkorov, Dimitris Kontopoulos, Sharon Vaughn


The Dutch song was released on March 4th, with a live performance on youtube followed by a press conference and Q&A session. Jeangu Macrooy who had been internally selected to represent The Netherlands last year was reselected again for 2021 edition. The song he will sing is "Birth of a new age".

Although the reveal was done using a live band and choir, I will also use the video performance to judge the song's potential. In the live show Jeangu is front and centre wearing uniquely cut white and silver suit and his hair tried back. Behind him are a band, and behind them a line of backing singers. Behind them is a video screen which comes up with some of the lyrics they are singing. The staging is generally dark and blueish in tone but as the song nears the end the backdrop and light show is injected with all colours of the spectrum. The video version takes place in what looks like a marble palace and is really a celebration of his home culture, with symbols of water, fire and some great dancing. It also uses an injection of colour during the final part of the song to mirror the change in backing track.

The verses are rather meaty and create a steady build up to the euphoric chorus. The verse is uniquely crafted with Jeangu singing s line then the "your rhythm is rebellion" chant as a kind of call and response. This then ends with Jeangu putting a full stop at the end of the part with the name of the song. The backing track softens to just a single repetitive piano note while the choir and Jeangu sing the chorus which is in Sranantongo - an English based creole language from Suriname. The beat comes back in and the rhythm of the verses begins again but instead of going into another chorus a carnival type percussion starts up as Jeangu sings the bridge. In the final rendition of the chorus the beat stays in and is much more full and optimistic than the first time round.

Jeangu is originally from Suriname, came to live in the Netherlands in 2014 and has had a recording career since 2016. Although not the most high profile singer in terms of sales, he regularly played the club scene in The Netherlands and was a supporting artist to singers on tours abroad, However he was probably more famous in his adopted lasnd as a regular contributor to the recently wound-up Dutch show "De Wereld Draait Door" which saw him showcasing his own music along with covers. Also, his twin bother, is in his backing band!

First of all this song shows off a different part of Jeangu's style compared to "Grow" from last year although I must admit his 2020 entry was a much 'easier' listen than this. The song is obviously inspired by Jeangu's home country and culture as well as touching on themes of colonialism and the Black Lives Matter movement. Eurovision fans always embrace a brand new language to the contest! I have to be honest and say I was slightly bewildered if not taken aback by the the live performance. There was A LOT going on and felt like a lot to take in. Afterwards I did not feel at all positive about how this would be perceived. However the studio version is much more polished and sonically full. Putting both parts of these two performance - the live vocals and the studio based backing track - there is no doubt this is going to be a moment of the night. That said, I think this song may churn up quite the debate (before and during the contest) about how political a song it is. This is going to be a strong performance on the night and the host country will be pulling out all the available stops to sell this. Not sure if this is a winner but it is a solid and individual host entry. 

ARTIST - Jeangu Macrooy
SONG -Birth of a new age
Jeangu Macrooy, Pieter Perquin 

Friday, 5 March 2021


The Romanian song was released on March 4th, via the Eurovision youtube channel. Roxen, who had been internally selected to represent Romania last year was reselected after the cancellation of Eurovision 2020. Unlike last year, where her song was chosen in a national final, this year's entry was internally selected. Her song is called "Amnesia"

The video takes place in a theatre although I don't think this particularly adds anything to the song or performance but does feel quite apt at a time where performances like this just aren't allowed. Roxen has long back hair and is wearing a dark green hoodie and black & grey trousers. Later in in the performance she changes into a slightly more intricate black jacket and trousers but if you are not paying attention you can easily miss the change! She is on stage with a number of dancers in a kind of grey/beige colour who really accentuate the rhythm and meaning of the song.

After a very minimal intro, Roxen joins in. After a very brief verse the build up to chorus begins. There is then a pre-chorus before the chorus. Unfortunately this part is highly processed with very obvious auto tuning which doesn't fill you with utmost confidence in either her or the song. We then have another cycle of verse/pre-chorus/chorus before a bridge focussing on the 'self love' part of the song before a final rendition of the chorus. The backing track is rather atmospheric and ethereal and only really the beat changes in the different parts of the song. Also, from looking at the lyrics sheet, it starts to feel like the verses are a little bit of an after thought as they take up so little of the running time and the chorus build up and finish lasts 45 seconds on it's own - and takes up almost 2 minutes of the song on its own.

Roxen is a relative newcomer to the music business but has already had three top 3 songs in her homeland, with two of those being in Romanian rather than English. Most of her songs have been in the genre of deep house although she has sung a range of different tempos. Possibly due to her age, she has also been compared to Billie Eilish, and her 2020 entry definitely backed that ideal up. However last last year she duetted with Alexander Rybak on the song "Wonderland".

As much as Roxen's 2020 entry was lyrically poor it did at least have flow, rise & fall and character ,this to me feels very one note. The use of autotune makes no sense whatsoever as it won't be used when live plus the production style and quick lyrics in the chorus almost make it unintelligible. As much as the song is about mental health and self worth, it starts to com across as moody and wallowing in the feelings rather than having any optimism or hope. That said I do enjoy the video and as much as I would adore Roxen to do something like this at Eurovision I don't think her voice would stand such a physical pounding. For a song called "Amnesia", it certainly leaves your head rather quickly....

ARTIST - Roxen
SONG - Amnesia
Victor Bourosu, Adelina Stinga

Thursday, 4 March 2021


The Belgian song was released on March 4th, with its first play on MNM a Belgian radio station, followed by releases on online sites. Hooverphonic, who had been internally selected to represent Belgium last year were confirmed to be the representatives in 2021 just after the cancellation of the 2020 edition. Their new song is called "The Wrong Place"

The video is rather dramatic if not quite scary. We see Geike, the lead singer, out with her lover but then seemingly unhappy and showing contrition for her actions andthe man involved. Suddenly the view of her turns into something like a Miss Havisham character in a rather spooky candlelit house and dressed as a bride. She is later seen waving guns around then next thing his decapitated head is seen singing along with the song.

It starts with a steady beat and doesnt take long for the lyrics to come in. The tune is very repetitive and slightly monotonous which works as a short part of the whole song. Geike's vocals are low, almost spoken, and feels a little bit angry. The bridge leading up to the chorus is much lighter in tone and really helps bring the verses and chorus together. The chorus is also repetitive and monotone but seems a little more upbeat until the last line about the 'Johnny Cash t-shirt'. The title of the song is then repeated a few times before reverting back to the verse. After another slightly different pre-chorus, we end with a final chorus but this time the name of the song is repeated several times before suddenly ending on the Johnny Cash line again.

Hooverphonic have been stalwarts of the Flemish music scene since the mid nineties with songs ranging from trip hop, electronica and indie pop. When they came to Eurovision last year, it was with their new lead singer Luka, however they rubbed a few fans the wrong way when they seemingly refused to take part in any of the "Europe shine a light" programming. Then a few months later, it was revealed that Luka had been re placed as lead singer by previous frontwoman Geike Arnaert which also took many fans by surprise.

Compared with their 2020 song this has a little more character. Although the song has a lot of repetition and maybe lacks the tunefulness of other entries, it is very memorable. The song on paper reminds me of  the mundane lyrics of Brit pop era songs and I also think the tune could easily hark back to that era or even remixed to reflect this. The main sticking point I have with the song is whether it is a song people will actively go and vote for. I don't have that call to arms or sense of  'support me!' that other entries have. Personally I was hoping for something a little bit more individual and upbeat - which they can do. I feel this will be a relatively easy song to perform live and am intrigued to see what ideas they have up their sleeves when it comes to stagecraft.

ARTIST - Hooverphonic
SONG - the Wrong Place
Alex Callier, Charlotte Foret

Tuesday, 2 March 2021


The Slovenian song was released on February 27th, hosted by Lea Sirk and Nejc Šmit via a special edition of EMA. The act selected to represent Slovenia in 2020, Ana Soklič, was reselected way back in May and preparations were made to internally select a song for her. The song she will sing is "Amen" 

Ana sings the song in a studio. The stage is dark apart from horizonal lines of changing colour that accentuates the space of the room, Ana is stood alone in a creamy white outfit with a kind of side-shoulder cape going on. Her eye make up is quite dark and her hair is down with a sort of slicked back wet look going on. Near the end of the song flames appear from the floor and the stage turns from a dark blue of a red glow. The camera is doing most of the movement as Ana stays pretty much rooted to the spot.

The song starts off with Ana singing low and gently over a piano backing Her voice is quite different and much sassier than her ballad from last year. There is then a brief pause at the backing gathers together into a kind of atmospheric white noise which some backing singers in the background. we then go back to the verses but this time with piano and a very unusual beat. The backing singers also join in the end of here which leads a little more seamlessly into another chorus where the choir continues to sing. The bridge starts off small but the choir helps build up the song into another final chorus with a rather awkward key change. In this last chorus the choir is very prominent as is the drum beat which gives it quite the gospel feel which given some of the religious lyrics is not incongruitous. The backing then kind of gets sucked away so only the piano is left and we have a reprise of the opening line to end.

Ana began her musical career as part of the outfit Diona Dimm and had a number of unsuccessful attempt to enter Eurovision. There was some hope that she may be able to make her career lift of with a move to Sweden but it did not work out. She made a bit of a comeback in 2012 by entering Slovenian X Factor. After Eurovision was cancelled in 2021 RTV Slovenija quickly re-installed her as their representative in 2021.

For me the verses are the star of this song. I quite like the slightly lower register tone of Ana's voice which with the piano backing gives the song a more jazzy feel. The chorus feels too much of a contrast, I almost want the song to get bigger through each step rather than alternating between styles. In particular I find the key change from the bridge into  final chorus a bit of an assault on the senses and is almost too much . Also the title of the song is hidden right at the end of the verses in her lower register and is easily missed. In Eurovision terms there is a reason why the title 'Hallelujah' might be slightly frowned upon but here are several other potential titles they could have had, such as "Hey Child" Personally I much preferred her song from last year to this. I loved the Slovenian language in that song and I like the understated way she sang it. "Voda" grew on you whilst "Amen" wanes very quickly. It starts to come across as a bit affected as I she's trying to put too much into a song that really isn't that good.

ARTIST - Ana Soklič
SONG - Amen
WRITING CREDITS - Charlie Mason, Žiga Pirnat, Ana Soklič, Bojan Simončič

Monday, 1 March 2021


The Irish song was revealed on February 26h, via its premier play on the radio channel 2FM and then its first performance on The Late Late Show later that evening. Back in December RTE revealed that their 2020 representative, Lesley Roy, had been selected again for 2021. Her song is called "Maps" 

Lesley's video is all filmed outside. Through different parts of the song she is running through forests and scrubland and singing in clearings. There are plenty of action shots but also lots of views, especially from the air. Being the Irish countryside, it's not all bright cloudless skies, sunlit shadows and long shots of the horizon - this is much more gritty. Although the colour palette is muted, it still shows a charm and strength which kind of goes arm in arm with the heart of the song. It ends with Lesley looking out onto a windswept beach. 

This song follows a much more conventional song structure compared to some of the songs I have already reviewed this Eurovision. There is a short string led intro which sets up up for the really full backing track about to hit us. We have a verse/prechorus/chorus repeated twice which takes us easily to just before the 2 minute mark. The verses have a steady beat accentuated by the odd sprinkling of strings, as the prechorus comes in the galloping drum beat gathers pace and volume and song starts to fill out. During the chorus the backing track feels like a wall of noise and accentuates the optimistic and positive outlook of the song. At the end of the song we have a bridge which helps lower the pace, change the rhythm before one last chorus.

Lesley has been in the business since 2008 when she released her solo album "Unbeautiful" with some success in America. However from here she changed tack and focused more on song writing for other artists, including a song on Adam Lambert's "Trespassing" album. Lesley's song for Eurovision 2020 had many fans, having had a Katy Perry-esque vibe to it. After the contest was cancelled she kept up her online profile with the Eurovision community and many were relieved to see that she had been reselected again.

I am pleased to see that Lesley has gone in a slightly different direction from last year and this song seems a lot more emotional and positive in a kinder but unconventional way. "Story of my life" was not one of my personal favourites and so the bar was low in order to better it this time round. The galloping drum beats during the chorus is a really simple and effective way to make the song stand out as well as giving it a real primal urge. I also hope that the sights of Ireland from the video are used somehow in the backdrop as it ties in really well with the song. Obviously we have not seen her sing the song live yet - and her first public performance of her 2020 did not go very well - but I think she will be less nervous this time around and she will know that a lot of people around the world are supporting her this time round.

ARTIST - Lesley Roy
SONG - Maps
WRITING CREDITS - Emelie Eriksson, Lukas Hällgren, Lesley Roy, Philip Strand

Sunday, 28 February 2021


The German song was revealed on February 25h, via is premier play on the main channel Das Erste. Earlier this month it was revealed that Jendrik Sigwart had been internally selected to be their representative. The song he will be singing is called "I don't feel hate"

The video centres around Jendrik and his friends in different situations and the reactions to the different predicaments. The clip is very colourful and full of jumpily edited clips, slo-mo or sped up sequences and zooming in & out. Jendrik and his pals are in a launderette and the clip recreates their friends' past situations. Even though they may be in a caravan or night club or café, the washing machines are a clear reminder that they are all really still in the laundrette.

The song begins with the chorus aided only by the ukulele and a slight beat. After such a quiet starts in comes the big brassy postchorus instrumental which is very brash and in your face. We then have another chorus, this time with slightly more instruments in the backing track and smashes right into the brassy instrumental. This is followed by verse 2 which is slightly longer than the first but keeps the same happy carefree vibe. Then follows a rather lengthy instrumental break including a lull in the backing track so you can hear his tap dancing (but will that be in the actual performance though...?) This leads up to a longer version of the chorus with a little bit of Jendrik free styling and being a bit more free with the tune and lyrics. This then leads into one last brassy instrumental to a truncated brassy part to finish.

Although Jendrik has studied and performed music since he was young, this song is his first major foray in the music business. He studied musicals at university and performed in many musicals during this time. However it was his foray into youtube that got him a following and the opportunity to write and publish his own work there. This experience has also help him gain a following and hone his craft.

This song is VERY divisive - but this is no bad thing. It is hellishly memorable and gets in your ear whether you love it or hate it. The whole production is rather non-stop. You can tell he has had experience in making internet clips as the constantly changing sound and visuals keep you on your toes and is definitely geared to a younger demographic. I find this song VERY hard to call and my opinion of it changes on a daily basis. Just as I get used to one part of the song I find that the shift to the next part too jarring. I also worry that his stage show is going to be so active and OTT that his vocals - which are already very fast - will suffer. This all said and done his interaction and video content throughout this process has been really enjoyable and his participation in this year's contest will inject some much needed light relief.

ARTIST - Jendrik Sigwart
SONG - I don't feel hate
WRITING CREDITS - Christoph Oswald, Jendrik Sigwart

Saturday, 27 February 2021


The Cypriot song was revealed on February 24h, via is premier play on CyBC’s show “Happy Hour”. Back in November, CyBC announced that they would not be reselecting their 2020 artist and Elena Tsagrinou would be representing Cyprus. Her song is called "El diablo" (The Devil)

During the video clip Eleni is  in a very simple black room which is very dimly lit. There is a fair bit of strobing and spotlights but nothing too obvious. She is wearing a long-sleeved silver top and a kind of spangly loin cloth. She sings along with the track while doing a very full on and intense dance routine. During the last minute she is joined by some body painted men who join in their Elena's routine as well as lifting her up at the end. There are also some shots of her in a flesh coloured outfit but appears to be trapped inside some cling film as well as some crudely inserted advertising spots.

The song starts very serene and flat with a very subdued shortened chorus. The backing track starts pulsating and becomes more electronic through the verse. The tune here is very monotone, almost spoken apart from one line in the middle. The prechorus is almost acappella and has melodic and quiet feel before the track bursts in with the power of the chorus where the tune is very simple and repetitive. This pattern is then repeated which gets to 3/4 of the way through the song. Next we have a short bridge which is a choir of children singing "I love el diablo" which turns the mood of the song a little bit sinister and then we have one more turn of the chorus before the name of the song is whispered at the very end.

Elena first came into the public eye as a contestant on the Greek "Got Talent" show as a teenager. She started her music career as the singer with the group OtherView before she went solo in 2016.  Most of her back catalogue is Greek language music however she has had some English material. She has also balanced her music career with TV presenting and coaching with "The two of us" and "The Voice Greece".

It is very obvious that Cyprus has found a bit of a groove concerning Greek female performers singing Latino inspired bangers. But sometimes that groove can feel more like a trench and at some point you are not going to get out of it. Although the song is not as identical as the Fuego/Replay comparison you certainly feel some kind of similarity - possibly to Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance". On a positive note the fact that this has become a bit of the "Cyprus at Eurovision" identity now, this might make it more memorable- not to mention standing out compared to some of the more synthy songs out there. What concerns me is that the song sounds highly processed and that a live version may sound rather weak. That said I am sure they will be using the pre-recorded vocals to their advantage and balancing the dance routine a little more. Personally I am not quite sure what this brings to the table as I think I am ready for Cyprus to do something different. I need them to surprise me now.

ARTIST - Elena Tsagrinou
SONG - El Diablo (The devel)
WRITING CREDITS - Laurell Barker, OXA, Thomas Stengaard, Jimmy "Joker" Thornfeldt

Friday, 26 February 2021

SPAIN 2021

The Spanish Final (Destino Eurovisión 2021) was held on February 20th, hosted by Tony Aguilar & Julia Varela. The act selected to represent Spain in 2020, Blas Cantó, sang both songs and the winner was chosen by televoting & online voting which started on February 10th. The winning song was "Voy a quedarme" (I am going to stay)

Blas is alone on stage, dressed in black with his famous quiff. The stage starts off dark and smoke filled. An eclipse is captured on the video screen and as the song progresses we see the moon  which then becomes very bright. Below him lights come through this video floor possible mirroring the eclipse feature or maybe even to replicate the starry sky surrounding the moon. If anything a little bit more light on his face would be good and/or more longer close-ups.

The song unusually starts off acapella. This is an audacious way to start off the song as it could easily go awry with nerves or maybe even ear piece issues. However Blas shows great control and confidence and paves the way for the rest of the song. The backing track comes as the pre chorus commences although the backing in the chorus is still rather minimal and string led. At the end of the first chorus there is a shuddering moment where the beat, although slow, comes in under the song During the second prechorus/chorus backing vocalist become more prominent - and also rather annoying. Their constant ba-ba-ba-ing continues through the bridge and the last rendition of the chorus. The songs culmination ends just before the end of the chorus and concludes with Blas singing the last line in a similar way to how he began.

He has had a varied and successful career in his homeland. In his early days he even auditioned for Junior Eurovision, losing out to the eventual winner of the contest, Maria Isobel. He then had hits as part of the boyband Auryn and then has had a pretty successful solo career since they disbanded. His solo career has included some notable duets and collaborations as well as music in English as well as Spanish. He has appeared on my TV shows as a guest or as a participant and seems to be well thought of by those in the industry.

This is a really sweet ballad and Blas sings this sweetly and with real belief - even for those not able to understand a word of Spanish. The simplistic set up of the show suits the song although as we know the Spanish delegation have a bad habit of ruining perfectly good staging ideas. This is one they need to leave well well alone! In terms of the song, I would personally lose or quieten the backing singers as their monotonous ba-ba-ba-ing is extremely annoying and doesn't fit with the tone of the song, I might even be tempted to make a version even more string led and possibly hush the beat a little until the bridge. Compared to his 2020 entry this is a total step up. It has a great melody that you remember and recall straight away and suits Blas' voice to a tee without being too yodel-tastic. The song feels much more authentic and less faux-dramatic that "Universo" and I actually think this could cut through the chaos and busy-ness and be a nice oasis of calm in the final. 

ARTIST - Blas Cantó
SONG - Voy a quedarme (I am going to stay)
WRITING CREDITS - Blas Cantó, Dan Hammond, Dangelo Ortega, Leroy Sanchez

Wednesday, 24 February 2021


The Norwegian Final (Melodi Grand Prix) was held on February 20th at the H3 Arena in Fornebu, Bærum, hosted by Silje Nordnes, Ronny Brede Aase & Kåre Magnus Bergh. 12 songs contested the final - the 5 semi final winners, 1 wild card and 6 preselected finalists, The winner, chosen by online and app in a number of different rounds, was TIX with the song "Fallen Angel" .

TIX is centre stage on a small circular plinth. He is dressed in gold urban clothing, gold jewellery, sunglasses, his customary TIX headband and a pair of wings (hence the title). He is joined on stage by 6 dancers who are also wearing wings but with horn type headdresses.  The dancers and TIX are connected by gold chains which are used in the choreography. The stage is mainly dark with a changing blue sky on the video screens and has the addition of some pryos near the end.

After a short intro, TIX starts with verse one which is very short and simplistic. Unusually the beat kicks in half way through the verse which makes your ears prick up a little. The beat then stops again for the build up to the chorus. This stop/start/stop motif continues on through the song, although annoying, does maintain your interest as you are never quite sure what is going to happen next. We then have verse two followed by an extended version of the chorus. We are then treated to a bridge, which repeats the name of the song and then we have another longer chorus preceded by a key change! The song then fades out just the way it faded in with the intro.

TIX is the alter ego of  Andreas Haukeland, and has been rather big in his homeland for the past 5 years. He has had numerous hits in Norway including two number one songs in 2020, however the majority of this success has been in the Norwegian language. In fact, in his premier performance of the song during the competition he sang this song in it's Norwegian form but changed it to the English version for the final. Internationally, he has also had a hand in writing prominent songs for Flo Rida and Ava Max. His styling is rather OTT and harks back to a kind of boyband over-confidence of the late 90s/early 2000s and seem very lavish and slightly up himself. This is is direct contrast to Andreas who has himself been open about his Tourettes and his mental heath.

The thing about this whole entry is, that on the face of it, it quite a tired - almost clichéd - type of song and singing style... and I'm not even talking about in Eurovision terms either! The whole visual production of the song makes it feel like it is a pastiche or a mickey take of this genre of  song. Taking it a step further it then also feels like it is parodying the contest itself. This all said and done, the song is not bad and is actually quite easy to get in your head. To that matter I feel that if this was a radio contest this would do very well. Once again I feel like this is very over produced and most of the time I couldn't tell where his voice was in the mix as the level of backing vocals was so high. As much as I would implore the team on this entry to rethink the staging and just tone it down a touch, I have a feeling this won't be happening. 

SONG - Fallen Angel
WRITING CREDITS - Andreas Haukeland, Mathias Haukeland, Emelie Hollow

Tuesday, 23 February 2021


The Finnish Final (Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu) was held on February 20th at Mediapolis in Tampere, hosted by Antti Tuisku. The winner was chosen by telephone/app voting (75%) & an international jury (25%). The overwhelming victor was "Dark side" sung by the alternative rock band Blind Channel.

The staging for this is dark, shadowy and full of flashing lights. The band are dispersed about the stage - the drummer and keyboard player at the back, two guitarists at the sides and the main vocalists moving about the the front. They are all wearing different sorts of black outfits  and sporting a range of different hair styles and lengths. Behind on the video screen are close ups of the band members but they are all upside down (and it is PROPERLY upside down, not just the film being turned 180 - you can tell by their hair!) This is a very simple but effective of keeping the mind bending and unsettling feeling of the song through to the viewer.

The song starts off with a sinister pulsing beat and then bursts in with a strong guitar-led wall of sound with what is a shortened version of the chorus/post-chorus. The verse is more akin to a kind of Linkin Park-esque rap with a strong rock background with a lot of rise and fall in the background music. We return rather quickly to the chorus but this time a slightly longer version which doesn't seem quite as punchy as before. There is then another verse and another chorus in prety much similar style as before. At about 2 mins in we have a brief lull in proceedings with a sort of bridge which is delivered quite low and whispery and leads into a final full chorus and ends with a long screamy note to finish.

The band Blind Channel has been going for over 7 years having released several singles and albums, but it is only this song that has gained them any chart success in their homeland. As we all know, rock songs are something we have come to expect from Finland, being the basis of several of their entries this millennium. So, although this style of music is rarely heard at Eurovision, the fact it comes from Finland may make it slightly more palatable to the once a year viewer. Also, this song may also being going against the grain of the polished, overchoreographed 80's numbers and actually convey something a bit more 'real' or emotional. That said the lyrics are rather negative and somewhat violent and may not go down well with the public at large.

No matter if this you're style of music or not , this song makes an impact. There's probably not going to be anything else like this in the contest and so any rock fans will support this entry - see also Lordi and AWS. I also feel this will get support from other Nordic countries and Central European countries that also appreciate this genre of music. For many listeners, this will be a bit of a wake up call - wanted or unwanted - and could either signify an renewed interest OR a toilet break. On a different point this seemed a bit too polished. I am not convinced that some of the live vocals were as high up in the mix as they should have been. I personally feel that having a more gruff and less polished feel so a song like this gives it more life and emotion and this didn't give me that. So maybe if they can turn down the pre-recorded vocals(without making it too shouty and incomprehensible) and focus on the connection between the singers and the audience at home, this could do better than you think...

ARTIST - Blind Channel
SONG - Dark Side
WRITING CREDITS - Joel Hokka, Aleksi Kaunisvesi, Olli Matela, Niko Moilanen, Joonas Porko

Friday, 19 February 2021


The Czech song was revealed on February 16h, via a video premiere on youtube. The song had been chosen internally by the artist. Benny Christo, who was to be the Czech representative in 2020, will sing the song "Omaga"

The song was premiered as a video clip rather than a live performance so this is what I will have to base by opinions upon. Benny is seen singing the song to a girl, however he is actually inside the telly and she is a viewer! In a slightly "Take on Me" style, his hand comes through the TV and drags her in to join him. From then on Benny is seen singing the song in a number of different situations, all influenced by classic TV and film clips such as Forrest Gump, The Shining and The Simpsons to name just three. These are also interspersed with views of Benny in a vividly lit room, almost psychedelic, whilst he dances around.

The song starts with what turns out to be part of the chorus but has a slightly softer timbre. As verse one starts of the beat is pronounced, the lyrics are much more staccato and sounds like a half sung rap. This leads into the pre-chorus which has a very repetitive staccato rhythm and offers a moment of slight rest before going into the chorus that is really infectious and happy. Verse two merges with the pre chorus - but does contain one line of Czech! This then leads into another chorus but this time a slightly longer version. This ends with the over emphasised "Omaga" sequence. We then have a short respite with another longer pre-chorus before ending with long chorus. The beat fades out by the end and the whole thing unexpectedly finishes a word too early.

Many fans were introduced to Benny through his 2020 entry which was slightly divisive as its Afrobeat feel - and the many remixes thereof - didn't quite hit the mark with everybody. Benny is very well known in his homeland having been a contestant on "Česko Slovenská Superstar" and later becoming a judge on it. Looking back on his discography, most of his back catalogue has this contemporary r'n'b/pop mix but is mostly in the Czech language. This song certainly feels very much like a song he would make full stop never mind a song for Eurovision.

I personally feel very conflicted about this song, or maybe that should be 'I feel conflicted about why I feel conflicted. 'The fact is - am I judging this against the other songs in the competition or am I judging this against this song last year? There is no doubt that this is a great up-tempo dance song with a hell of a lot of character. With the right kind of staging I could see this really getting the attention of the televoters at home and possibly getting the right kind of vibe with any audience that night be in the hall itself.. That said it took me a good few listens to get properly into is and get though some of the lyrical conundrums (such as apocalypse rhyming with lips and Omaga being a very bad pronunciation of oh my god) For me personally "Kemama" takes a lot of beating and I was - and still am - a little disappointed that the 2 artists that had songs with African elements in 2020 have not brought back the feels from last year. That said, this one is definitely up there at this early stage. Maybe when he wins he can do "Kemama" as the reprise....?

ARTIST - Benny Cristo
SONG - Omaga
WRITING CREDITS - Ben Cristovao,  Filip Vlček 

Tuesday, 16 February 2021


The Croatian Final was held on February 13th at the Marino Cvetkovic Sports Hall in Opatija, hosted by Daniela Trbovic, Barbara Kolar, Jelena Lešic & Doris Pincic. The winner was chosen by a 50-50 split of  televoting & 10 regional juries. The winning song was "Tick-tock" sing by Albina.

Albina spends most of the time centre stage wearing black boots, a black top and black strappy trousers. She is joined on stage by four similarly dressed male dancers who do some very energetic and armography-heavy dancing. Behind them, the stage has a lot of strobing/neon motifs which seems to be lending itself to the current 80s nostalgia feel however I actually feel more of a 90s leaning to parts of the production. She has long blonde hair, that does some great flicking, as well as a neon eyeline which fits in well with the background.

The song starts off with a very light intro with prominent glockenspiel type sounds. This then goes into a verse with the backing staying very much the same. As the verse builds up to the chorus, the backing track builds up too. Once into the chorus the beat drops again and the first part of the chorus is almost just a solitary beat under the singing, sort of underlying the name of the song. We are the treated to a rather awkwardly placed 'middle bit' which feels a bit like a verse but isn't and then another chorus. After a half a verse we go back to the chorus - once in Croatian then once in English to end. Under closer inspection it seems like more of the this song is based around the pre chorus/chorus/post chorus parts with random bits stuck around it.

On a continuing theme already, and to be a much repeated phrase this year, "Tick-tock" fits into the up-tempo electronic 80s retro feel that has been rather popular over the past 18 months. It is very radio friendly and repetitive the the prominence of the beat is very clever. The part in Croatian is a bit odd and stands out slightly as it pricks your ears up at the point where one's mind might wander off. It should also be added at this point that Albina is a very popular artist in Croatia having won "The Voice" and this familiarity of phoning up to vote for her would have been nothing different for her fans, followers and viewers.

On the face of it this is not a bad song, but it is also not a very good one either. Yes, it is really contemporary and radio friendly but nothing about how this song sounds stands out. Nothing screams 'vote for me' during the whole 3 minutes. This retro vibe is going to be big this year and there are already songs in the running that do this schtick better. Nothing about this song or performance is bad it just doesn't come across well. The lyrics are a little banal and simplistic and the backing track needs a point of pizazz for it to stand out from the crowd. In soon to be repeated phrase, the backing vocals are VERY high in the chorus to the point where you think 'is she singing or pretending to sing?' Yes I know that this is allowed this year but just because you can doesn't mean you should take advantage. I am also starting to wonder how many entries of this ilk it is going to take before I start wondering when they will start mushing together as one or cancelling each other out when it comes to voting...

ARTIST - Albina
SONG - Tick-tock
WRITING CREDITS - Tihana Buklijaš Bakić, Max Cinnamon, Branimir Mihaljević

Thursday, 11 February 2021


The Lithuanian Final was held on February 6th at the LRT TV Studios in Vilnius, hosted by Ieva Stasiuleviciute & Vytautas Rumšas. Before the final there two heats and a semi final. The winner was chosen by a 50/50 mix of televoting and jury. Going to Rotterdam are The Roop, who were to be the Lithuanian representatives last year, with their song "Discoteque".

The group are all wearing different outfits in a very lurid shade of yellow however the aesthetic is more memorable than off putting. The singer is front and centre with a dancer either side and then the two instrumentalists either side of them. There is a lot of movement going on but is all done is a very organised way which gives a sense or controlled chaos. The back ground uses three main colour pallets, White for the verse, purple for the chorus and a strobing chequerboard effect for the dance routine after the chorus.

We start in almost darkness with the main singer, Vaidotas, in silhouette doing a rather sinister whispery spoken intro. It is also here we hark back to their "On Fire" routine with a nod to the 'hand on the head' dance move from last years' entry. The lights then come on and we see the other two members of the Roop on either side of the stage. The first verse is quite unsteady as the camera sweeps round the stage causing confusion, which marries up with the lyrics, also Vaidotas's dancing is also very unbalanced. Just before the chorus they are joined by the male and female dancer. The chorus is highly choreographed and mirrors the staccato nature of the lyrics. the instrumental goes back to the chaotic and frenetic style before This then repeats with a longer instrumental part with what can only be described as 'fingerography' before the very last chorus.

Obviously the group were supposed to be the Lithuanian representatives last year and were one of the favourites. The song kind of fits in with the whole 80s nostalgia motif that has infiltrated music but I would also say this lends itself a fair bit more to the 70s - in particular the name of the track, the dance moves, the outfits and strobing brightly coloured background makes me think of the "Saturday Night Fever" OST. This song has enough different about it to make if different rom "On Fire" but structurally you can see and hear that it feel like one of their songs. The use of earwormy instrumentals, the ebb and flow of the backing track as well as the way the whole group seems to get their personality across.

Although this is pretty much a ready-to-go performance and song there are some small issues which may need looking at. Usually I would pick up on the prominent use of backing vocals. This year, being slightly different, the rules on backing vocals have changed and pre-recorded vocals are allowed. However this doesn't mean that it's 'OK'. There are points where the backing vocals are too prominent and it would be nice to hear as much of the live voices as possible. I don't want this year's Eurovision ruined by songs or singers where they are basically drowned out or where acts are accused of hiding behind or effectively miming to parts of the song.

This is a great song, and even more great as a Eurovision song. This works well as a radio friendly number but also as a stage show. The band know what they are doing and understand the purpose of the song. The stage show looks immense but also well managed and also have that aspect of having lyrics to singalong to and a dance routine to join in with. Hey, they even have a colour scheme that you can fashion yourself with too! This is easily an early front runner and could well be up at the top of the scoreboard in May

ARTIST - The Roop
SONG - Discoteque
WRITING CREDITS - M. Banišauskas, R. Baranauskas, Laisvūnas Černovas, Kalle Lindroth, Vaidotas Valiukevičius, Ilkka Wirtanen

Sunday, 7 February 2021


The Ukrainian song was revealed on February 4th, via social media. Earlier in the process, it was announced that the song would be chosen by an internal jury from a final shortlist of  3 songs. GO_A,  the band who would have been the Ukrainian representative in 2020, will sing the song "SHUM". (Noise)

The song was released a few weeks earlier as a single by the band before it was revealed to be on the Eurovision shortlist. However as this was a jury led internal selection the video version is the only version we have, so this is the performance I will have to use to make my judgement. In the video the group and some extra dancers are on a hill overlooking a very misty and cold Kyiv. They are all dressed in white plastic protective outfits and transparent face visors. As well as close ups of the band singing and playing their instruments the other people can be seen joining in simplistic dance routines. It is a rather stark, if not memorable, visual.

The song starts with odd calling sounds almost like a squawking birdsong. As the song builds up the backing track slowly layers up too. The singer starts with what you might assume is a verse, but once through you realise the structure is a little more complicated than that. There are two main rhythms and tunes, which could be seen as verses or chorus) but almost work better as a single stand alone unit, or a 'stanza'. The song starts with two stanzas in quick succession, as the beat starts to penetrate the song, followed by a penny whistle led instrumental. There is then another stanza ending in a long high note which stops the beat but it comes back ever so slightly faster. After another 2 stanzas the beat exits again which leads in a long pulsing regrouping. The final 4 (yes - 4!!!) renditions of the stanza are done with a super quick and driving beat. The final stanza finishes with the long high note.

GO_A's style is one many Eurovision fans have become accustomed too. They marry folklore sensibilities with modern production values by using a range of traditional and electronic instruments. The song is based on Ukrainian folk songs and is interspersed with flute-led instrumentals over pulsating electronic beats. The short sharp stanzas have a repetitive structure which makes it really easy to stay in your head. The changes of tempo keep you wondering what is going to happen next and the slightly frantic ending implores you to join in and dance! Their style - vocally, musically and visually - is unique and this entry is no exception.

Once you hear the song, you realise changes will need to be made. The song, as published, is about a minute too long. However in a song where the 'stanzas' run at about 16 seconds each the repetitions at the end could be reduced as could some of the instrumental parts. There are also some questions about the lyrics. According to the band, they are based on folksongs and folklore and many wonder if they adhere to rule about lyrics being "100% original". I guess if the band are up for reviewing the set up of the song, they may also be up for adding new lyrics! I think the band know that this song has been looked at positively by their fans and Eurovision followers  and I honestly don't see why this would put a stop to Ukraine's 100% qualification run. On the plus side the links to their previous entry "Solovey" but this song pushes the envelope just a little bit further. Yes there is a lot of work to do but I feel like the finished article will be immense no matter the set up.

WRITING CREDITS - Ihor Didenchuk, Kateryna Pavlenko, Taras Shevchenko

Thursday, 4 February 2021


The French Final was held on January 30th in Paris (Eurovision France, c'est vous qui décidez!) hosted by Stéphane Bern & Laurence Boccolini. The winner was chosen in two rounds of voting. Eight of the twelve would qualify through to round two with the top 7 chosen by televoting and 1 song chosen by the jury. From there, the winner was chosen by a 50/50 mix of televoting and jury. The winning song was "Voila" (There it is) by Barbara Pravi.

This was, considering the current situation, a full blown production with a small but technologically forward set and well set back audience. Barbara is centre stage dressed in simple black bodice and trouser suit with a statement silver belt around the middle. All of the tension and drama is created not only by her physical performance but also from the unusual camera angles and the use of spotlights and smoke to create movement.

The first line is done without a backing track and then the piano comes in. The tune on the verses is quite staccato, almost spoken, and not particularly memorable. Many of the words, however, are highly recognisable to anybody with basic smattering of French, which in itself is very clever tactic. The verses are rather non-descript and slightly flat but in an odd way this helps the chorus fly and create several stand out moments in the song. The first chorus is shortened and almost temps us with what is to come. There is a slight pause before the third verse which slows the pace down but as the final chorus comes to a conclusion it slowly speeds up to a thrilling ending which, although sudden, is not unpleasant.

The song is sung in very stylised style; slightly jazzy, slightly cabaret and feels unapologetically French without feeling like a pastiche or an angry rant. The instrumental does have an "Amelie" type feel, something which Patricia Kaas' entry also tried to encompass. Her voice is exceptionally clear and the emotion of the song is abundant in every word and movement she makes. Many have already made comparisons with Portugal's winning song from 2017 but this emotion is much more raw, piqued and possibly more aligned to the present world mood.

For me, though, the staging of this song on the night was the real secret weapon. The positioning of spotlights from different angles, the use of the video floor and the slightly intrusive and jittery camera work created real mood and tension. Moreover, at a time when we do not know which scenario will be used to ensure Eurovision takes place, this particular setting is an evergreen. Wherever this performance takes place, this staging will work. It would work in a room full or half full of people or as a static recorded performance in an empty room. This is a very individual song and will work well on one listen. It is certainly a step up from last year's dirge.... Can Barbara make this a double - a French Junior AND Adult Eurovision win ...?

ARTIST - Barbara Pravi
SONG - Voilà (Here)
WRITING CREDITS - Barbara Pravi, Igit, Lili Poe

Friday, 29 January 2021


The Israeli song was revealed on January 25th, via a special show (HaShir Shelanu L'Eurovizion) hosted by Lucy Ayoub. Before the final there was a semi-final where the long list of 9 was whittled down to a final of 3. The winner was chosen by online & app voting which started on January 19th. Eden Alene, who was to be the Israeli representative in 2020, will sing the song "Set me free".

The show, unfortunately was not a 'live' show and the winning song was only seen as a video clip so this is what I will be using to review. Eden Alene is dressed in white and has some very distinctive make up and hair styling. She certainly looks very dynamic and this is made more interesting by the dancers around her dressed mostly in back with picture frames of lights surrounding their head and shoulders. This framing is every eye catching and keeps Eden Alene firmly in the centre of attention

The song starts with a brief intro then straight into a shortened version of the chorus, albeit a rather low key version. This is always a clever tactic as it gets this key part of the song firmly locked in your hear within seconds. The backing track has a very strong beat and has a great use of sythy-strings to create moments between the singing. The verses are much more spiky and show Eden's personality much more than the chorus. Here, the pace slows ever so slightly although this change of style and tempo shows the diverse range she has to her voice. There is then a rather prolonged post-chorus which also contains lines in Hebrew. During the second verse the backing track changes slightly to a slightly more dancehall rhythm which really perks your ears up. After a third verse the very last chorus starts with a key change - jut in case you forgot it's a Eurovision song - then finishes with a final "Just set me free".

The song itself has a great contemporary feel and would not feel out of place on many radio stations around the world. In addition, most Eurovision fans are pretty confident that Eden Alene will perform the hell out of this physically and vocally although there are obviously numerous questions about potential staging ideas. After numerous listens, the song starts to feel more like a collection of bits that don't quite flow together. In particular I am puzzled at the prevalence of the 'Imma make it on my own" part which almost seems to overpower and overshadow the chorus, as well as take up a rather large part of the song's time limit. The ending also feels rather sudden.

On the face of it, this is a solid effort and something that very much fits into the modern scope of Eurovision. Instinctively one wants to compare this to "Feker Libi" and this new song really isn't at that level. Personally, I don't like the way it slows down for the chorus or how long the post-chorus goes on for. I feel like something with a a more constant pace would suit Eden's personality more as well as create more flow for the listener. There is time, however, to finalise the backing track as well as making the best possible stage show, although having seen how much effort has gone into the development fo the tracks and video, I don't think this will be the case.

ARTIST - Eden Alene
SONG - Set Me Free
Ron Carmi, Amit Mordechai,  Ido Netzer, Noam Zaltin

Saturday, 23 January 2021


The Albanian Final (Festivali i Këngës) was held on December 23rd at Sheshi Italia in Tirana, hosted by Blendi Salaj & Jonida Vokshi. Before the final there was a semi-final where the long list of 25 was reduced to 18. The winner was chosen solely by a jury. The winning song was "Karma" sung by Anxhela Peristeri.

Anxhela is centre stage for most of the performance wearing a sparkly beige/coral number consisting of long sleeves, pronounced shoulders and a shredded skirt. The top half looks good in close up but the bottom could be a little more imaginative. Her dancers are wearing gold and black catsuits with matching bandana and capes which seems rather incongruous with Anxhela's outfit AND the theme of the song. The stage colouring seems to mix red and blue with a number of different motifs but none are prominent.

The song starts with a rock-guitar led call to action with Anxela blasting loud and clear like a fog horn followed by a guitar riff but soon settles down into something much more mellow. The first verse is very sparse and punctuates the syllables and expression in Anxela's voice. It seamlessly goes into the chorus which has the warbly earworm from the introduction but uses a softer tone to her voice. This leads to a brief instrumental mirroring the tune of the chorus and four dancers crawl onto the stage next to her. From here the song gets a little less static and more powerful.
During the second verse/chorus combination the background music is more pronounced and more instruments join in. Anxhela is also engaging more with the camera; swaying and bending to the music. As the song enters its final minute there is another instrumental this one much more drum based and has the backing singers chanting away on top. During this part Anxhela is tossed and turned between the backing singers before being lifted above their heads. This gives Anxhela enough time to do one more rendition of the chorus before the song finishes rather abruptly.

Positively, there are very few occasions that a song with wins the Albanian national final is exactly the right length to go to Eurovision, so this means we don't have to worry about parts being cut out or awkwardly phrased. We also know that the song is being kept in Albanian, which I think is a good move. The ethnic instrumentation may have felt jarring with English lyrics on top so keeping it as it is will keep it feeling natural. Some tweaks will need to be made to the stage show depending on the different options of how Eurovision will be presented this year. I think work needs to be done on all of the outfits - especially the backing dancers!

This is quite expected Festivali i Këngës fayre and is not a bad bar to judge the rest of the Eurovision entries to come. Personally, although the tune (particularly the chorus) is memorable there is a lack of flow. The tempo is a little safe and predictable and I would almost be tempted to experiment with trying the song out a tad quicker or slower to see if it changes the emphasis of the song and maybe give more direction for the staging and dancers. That all said and done, knowing that they don't really need to do much to the song in essence, just wait for the devamp....

ARTIST - Anxhela Peristeri
SONG - Karma
WRITING CREDITS - Kledi Bahiti, Olti Curri

Monday, 11 May 2020


Once I realised that the Eurovision powers-that-be were actually going to release the foreseen semi final rosters, I knew I had to get my two penneth in first. The semi draw is always an important part of the Eurovision timeline and would have given us some idea as to the placings of the favourite and possibly some ideas of staging (sometimes countries needing vast staging change can be placed after a 'break' usually 1/3 or 2/3 of the way through each running order. As we din't fully know any of these details, that's something I'm just going to have to imagine!

After a short umming and ahhhh-ing session I decided upon these two running orders for the semis

Obviously we know what is in each semi AND who is in the bottom and top halves of each draw.
My personal taste sways the order a little bit but I have tried to keep similar songs apart and keep the genres switching. I have also tried hard to keep song not in english apart too, especially when they are few and far between.

There are some really hard decisions to be made:
top half of semi 1 has a lot of mid-tempo dance-y songs
bottom half of semi 1 has a glut of girls singing ballads
top half of semi 2 is quite uptempo
bottom half of semi 2 has a lot of tracks that are mid-tempo and slower.

The real running order won't be anything like this (it never is!) and I wait to see what they came up with!