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Dublin: 7 °C Monday 24 February, 2020


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WELL, THE FIRST semi-final of the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest is already over.

But we were here to witness every performance, every ‘creative’ outfit and every mortifying segue from the presenters. (And they were mortifying.)

Here’s how it happened:

So, how does this semi-final thing work? Well, only people in the 16 countries who are actually competing can vote, plus three of the “Big Five” nations (ie the ones who pay the most money towards this celebration of, um, international culture and brotherhood). Tonight those lucky three are Denmark, Spain and France.

Voting is split 50/50 between the phone lines and juries. If you’re REALLY into it, you can download a scorecard here.

But enough technical stuff. Who wants to see an RTÉ journalist interviewing this year’s most talked-about contestant? That is, of course, Austrian drag act Conchita Wurst.

One sadly wrong-headed group in Belarus petitioned their government to edit Wurst’s performance out of their country’s TV broadcast, because it would turn the Eurovision “into a hotbed of sodomy”.

But she seems like a lovely sort to us.

Source: RTÉ - Ireland's National Television and Radio Broadcaster/YouTube

In case you were wondering (YOU WERE WONDERING. ADMIT IT) tonight’s running order is:

  1. Armenia: Not Alone sung by Aram MP3
  2. Latvia: Cake To Bake sung by Aarzemnieki
  3. Estonia: Amazing sung by Tanja
  4. Sweden: Undo sung by Sanna Nielsen
  5. Iceland: No Prejudice sung by Pollapönk
  6. Albania: One Night’s Anger sung by Hersi
  7. Russia: Shine sung by Tolmachevy Sisters
  8. Azerbaijan: Start A Fire sung by Dilara Kazimova
  9. Ukraine: Tick-Tock sung by Mariya Yaremchuk
  10. Belgium: Mother sung by Axel Hirsoux
  11. Moldova: Wild Soul sung by Cristina Scarlat
  12. San Marino: Maybe (Forse) sung by Valentina Monetta
  13. Portugal: Quero Ser Tua sung by Suzy
  14. Netherlands: Calm After The Storm sung by The Common Linnets
  15. Montenegro: Moj Svijet sung by Sergej Ćetković
  16. Hungary: Running sung by András Kállay-Saunders

So now. Chew on that while you watch the last minutes of facking Eastenders, innit.

AND WE ARE GO . We begin with a strange montage of a Danish lady (we guess) striding proudly through the streets and fields of her native country. STRIDING TO THE EUROVISION.

And before we get to the acts, we’re treated to a re-run of last year’s winner, Teardrops.

“Tonight Ireland is not taking part so there’s no panic,” says Marty Whelan. Everybody stop panicking. Yes, you there, hyperventilating on the sofa.

Tonight’s Danish hosts are very handsome, although the woman seems to have accidentally glued an enormous shower puff to her right shoulder.

And we are GO. Favourites Armenia are up first.

The singer looks like a member of the Addams Family. He’s distracting us from this with a blinding show of flashing nights, while yelling at us that it’s ONLY ONE KISS! ONLY ONE KISS!

That’s what they all say, my good man.

Now, Latvia. Their song is all about baking a cake.

“I’ve got a cake to bake! I’ve got a cake to bake!” the lead singer is shouting at us, while bouncing up and down in an intimidatingly jolly way. He’s actually terrifying.

What’s that? We’re disoriented. Must… bake… a cake…

Next, Estonia. They’re a man and a woman who’ve robbed some of Boyzone’s all-white costumes from the mid-90s. Surprised Ronan and co don’t keep a tighter lid on their wardrobes, frankly.

Sweden have gone for a rather classier approach than the last few entries. Their singer isn’t even wearing a stupid costume – she’s in a classy black dress like a normal lady.

I know this song has a lot of support, because it’s a bit actually good. But frankly, Sweden, I don’t think you’re really getting into the spirit of this.

That said, it’s hands down the most emotional performance of the night so far from Sanna Nielsen. She’s VERY passionate. I’m a bit worried she’s reaching out to tear my head off and eat it.

The host STILL has the giant shower-puff stuck to her shoulder. Why hasn’t she noticed? Why hasn’t anybody told her about it?

Someone’s getting fired from wardrobe tonight.

We’ve already lost one commenter to the mass baking psychosis induced by Latvia’s entry. A tragic story.

Albania’s entry, Hersi, has robbed Victoria Beckham’s haircut from the Spice Girls era.

Is every act just going to plunder the style of 1990s pop superpowers? Is nothing sacred?

Azerbaijan’s entry Start A Fire features one soulful lady in a red dress singing, while another swings from a trapeze. It’s all a bit Shakespeare’s Sister.

Wait, no. It’s like an Eastern European James Bond theme. That’s what it’s like.

Marty Whelan is really struggling to come up with the craic in between these entries. He’s just not being given enough to work with.

That, or he’s distracted baking a cake.

Well, Ukraine’s entry is a pop monstrosity. It’s like being stabbed in the ear with a thousand needles, each one individually engraved with Louis Walsh’s face.

The ONLY saving grace is that it features a guy running around in a giant wheel. Like the Eurovision hamster.

Does he live in the wheel? Is he TRAPPED in the wheel? We must know.


Couple of important responses to the hamster wheel:

And from the searing international politics of a guy running around in a giant hamster wheel, we go to a Belgian man singing about his mammy. THAT’S EUROVISION.

For the purposes of posterity, we hereby present the lyrics of Axel Hirsoux’s song:

And once again, Mother
You are right there, Mother [...]

Give me your strength, Mother
Give me your care, Mother [...]

And once again, Mother
And once again, Mother
Ooh Mother

Fine. Totally normal. I’d say Christmas dinners chez Hirsoux aren’t weird at all.

Moldova’s entry, meanwhile, is all a bit Game of Thrones.

It’s like if Game of Thrones was totally camp, with a lot of nudity in a frankly ridiculous setting… wait a minute…

And now to wee San Marino, whose contestant Valentina Monetta is (we’re told) attempting to qualify for the third time.

Frankly, her song is pretty dull though. Even the fact that she’s singing inside a giant monster seashell can’t rescue her from that.

One of the greatest things about the Eurovision Song Contest, undeniably, is the accents of the presenters.

“You can download our epp”, the Danish lady with the showerpuff keeps saying. To the Epp Store!

“We’ve heard some great songs tonight,” says the male presenter, lying.

Portugal’s entry, Suzy, wins the hotly contested award for Most Revealing Costume Of The Night.

Instead of wearing a top, she seems to have merely dribbled some glue down her front and dived into a bath of sequins.

There’s the key change lads. We agreed that was shots all round, right?

“It’s all I can do to keep from dancing around the room here,” insists Marty with a note of despair.

Appropriately enough following the excitement of Portugal, the Netherlands’ entry is called Calm After The Storm and features a lot of sedate men in sensible hats.

Not exactly douze points material though, is it? As the old proverb goes, “Sedate men in sensible hats winneth not Eurovision.”

Montenegro’s effort kicks off with a girl legging it around the place on rollerskates. Bold, but I like it. You don’t see enough rollerskates on musicians these days.

Tell you who I’d like to see on rollerskates. Planxty, that’s who.

“He’s made a Hungarian flag out of it, good man yourself” says Marty about the intro sequence to tonight’s final entry. Nobody does “quietly patronising” like Marty.

Last song of the night! And it’s a tune about… child abuse? Yes, this is definitely about child abuse.

“It’s a song of hope, we’re told,” says Marty afterwards. Understandably, he sounds sceptical.

We’re being asked to DOWNLOAD THEIR EPP again. It’s a very good epp, epperently.

It’s recap time! But as Marty keeps telling us, we CAN’T vote now. No voting. Hands by your sides. Go and make a cup of tea. Or better, bake a cake.

Conclusions so far: Latvia’s cake-baking song got the biggest response of the night. The Belgian guy with mother issues definitely the creepiest.

Sweden is probably the closest to what you’d call a Good Song. But it’s all relative, innit?

It has been pointed out to us that one of the hosts is, in fact, Kasper the troubled spin doctor from Danish political drama Borgen. (AKA Johan Philip Asbæk)

Source: Bvh

That’s basically the equivalent of, I dunno, Nidge hosting the Eurovision. Actually, can we make that happen?

#NIDGEFOREUROVISION2015. Let’s get it trending. (Also this interval act is really boring.)

How are you standing up to the second recap? Losing the will to live? That’s a good sign – it means your basic inner humanity remains somehow intact.

“Hosting the Eurovision Song Contest is a great great honour for Denmark” says the host. That flicker behind the eyes was his soul dying.

We’re now watching a frankly bizarre montage in which a young man takes some fake tourists on a trip round Copenhagen’s sights to impress them.

It seems to be some kind of commentary on Danish stereotypes and features Eurovision staffers frantically cleaning up poo. To be honest, we’re a bit lost.

Ah, now the trip to the “green room” for awkward conversation with the artists. The lady with the shower puff has fetched the Latvian cake-baker guy’s childhood stuffed toy for him.

Is this whole show just a giant commentary on mother issues? This changes everything.

This is the bit where the countries who qualify automatically get to rub it in our faces.

Oh come on, France, you’re not even trying. Even Marty has lost his usual sang-froid. “What’s going on here?” he pleads, in fear and bafflement.

It’s results time! This doesn’t matter to us, but let’s pretend it does to make it exciting.

That said, if Latvia’s cake song doesn’t make it through, my faith in the Eurovision is going to be badly shaken.

Six countries will be eliminated, ten will go through.

The first five finalists are:






And the last five:

San Marino



The Netherlands


The cake bakers are out. This is a travesty. This will not be forgotten.

Well, that’s it from the Eurovision for tonight. Can’t deny we feel a little deflated after the injustice of Latvia’s untimely exit. Does an incredible novelty song mean NOTHING in this day and age?

But we’ll pick ourselves up and carry on, because on Thursday Ireland will be attempting to qualify for the final. My colleague Valerie Loftus will be taking over the liveblog, and I may be released to tweet snarkily from the sofa.

Until then, I’ll leave you with this:


About the author:

Michael Freeman