Eurovision 2016 – Semi Final 1 – First Half – A Closer Review from Lisa-Jayne

Semi 1 Title


We are now just weeks away from this year’s Eurovision Song Contest and it’s about this time that people who don’t follow Eurovision year round start to join us on social media, blogs and fan sites. So if we’ve not seen you since around this time last year, it’s great to have you with us.

Just to bring you up to speed, or remind you who’s who, I’m taking a closer look at all the songs and performers, We’ve already looked at the Big 5 and Sweden, the host nation, who all automatically qualify for the final. Here’s a closer look at the first half of Semi Final 1, with my thoughts on each song. You may have seen John’s statistical analysis of who’s likely to qualify based on placement and previous years, I’m going to look at the songs themselves

Stand by, it might be quite a trek! Ok, here goes…


So it will be Sandhja from Finland who will get proceedings going in Stockholm with her jazzed up little pop number ‘Sing It Away’. If I’m being honest, although this is a fun song and there’s nothing really wrong with it but there isn’t anything distinctive about it that makes me not hit the skip button when it comes on the CD. It’s pleasant enough but amidst the large number of strong female vocal numbers this year, I’m not sure that this has enough to stand up to them.
Lisa-Jayne’s Top 10? No
Lisa-Jayne’s Prediction to Qualify? No


I’ll be completely honest with you, when I first heard this I thought it was awful, but the more I’ve listened to it the more I like it, and would even go so far as to say love it. So much so that Greece has made it into my top 10 of the contest for this year. One thing I do love about Greek entries is they’re usually very recognisable as Greek, very often the trill of a guitar in the Greek style. This year performers Argo will bring ‘Utopian Land’, in a blend of Greek & English. It’s drum heavy, has some rap in it along with a gorgeous female vocal opening. I can’t wait to see it performed live.

Lisa-Jayne’s Top 10? Yes
Lisa-Jayne’s Prediction to Qualify? No


Mid-tempo with strong female vocal and an empowering message are a strong group this year. There are lots of them and each one is different and yet the same, only a few really stand out from the pack, and for me, unfortunately this is not one of them. Lidia is gorgeous on stage and I have to say when she performed ‘Falling Stars’ at the Romanian National final, I was really pleased to see how comfortable she seemed on stage with the song and performing it to an audience. A bit like Finland, it’s a pleasant enough song, but will it stand out?

Lisa-Jayne’s Top 10? No
Lisa-Jayne’s Prediction to Qualify? No


If there are a lot of female soloists in the mix this year, there are also a sizeable group of men, following in the style of last years winner Mans Zelmerlow. Not to suggest that they are carbon copies but I’d say there’s a similarity. Freddie from Hungary fits that group. He has a roughness to his voice which is not at all unpleasant. It adds a kind of rock slant on this song. At the Hungarian final Freddie had a huge drum on stage with a dude giving it some serious welly with light sticks – I hope they keep that for Eurovision. Good song, and I think/hope it will qualify.

Lisa-Jayne’s SF1 Top 10? Yes
Lisa-Jayne’s Prediction to Qualify? Yes


The song starts quite ethereal, you do get a sense of the sea and through the verse it’s gradually builds up to the chorus and then doesn’t really go anywhere, you have to wait until the second chorus for it to really get going. Lyrically it’s a bit confused too. However I do very much approve of the key change after 2 mins 20 – at which point I am expecting pyrotechnics, smoke and the wind machine on full pelt. It’s a cliché, but it’s a good one. I think this might get lower marks from the juries but will scrape through on the public vote.

Lisa-Jayne’s SF1 Top 10? No
Lisa-Jayne’s Prediction to Qualify? Yes


And now for something different and being different is the key this year. Netherlands have gone all country on us again, it worked for them two years ago with The Common Linnets and last year was a bit of a non-year for them, so this time they are back on track with up-coming country singer Douwe Bob. The song is called ‘Slow Down’, and it really does kind of do that, it’s a lovely song and I see no reason why we won’t see Douwe Bob in the final. Position-wise it’s good too, sandwiched between two of the female vocal numbers. Douwe Bob is also running a bar in Stockholm during Eurovision, I mean what’s not to love?

Lisa-Jayne’s SF1 Top 10? Yes
Lisa-Jayne’s Prediction to Qualify? Yes



I always get Iveta mixed up with Lidia from Moldova, they look quite similar and the songs are quite similar too, so in my defence it’s an easy mistake to make. Iveta is firmly in the large group of female power vocal, mid-tempo yardi yah and looking through the whole of the running order for SF1, they’ve kind of split them up into an every-other-song-is-one kind of pattern. There is a slight distinction in the lyrics, with the strong ‘ooooh’, and the violin rift that comes in towards the end of the song definitely takes it to the next lever, does it have enough to get through?

Lisa-Jayne’s SF1 Top 10? No
Lisa-Jayne’s Prediction to Qualify? No

San Marino

Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, San Marino went and brought out a disco remix of ‘I Didn’t Know’. Honestly I had to force myself to listen to the whole thing in order to write this, I usually get to about 20 seconds in on my CD and then hit the skip button. I would say just about everything is wrong with this song, the weird vocal style, the cheesy (and I don’t say that lightly in a Eurovision context) disco, the dancing girl backing singers. I really wanted to like this and the slow ballad version was growing on me and then this came along – there really are no words, on the flip side it does have it’s fans!

Lisa-Jayne’s SF1 Top 10? No
Lisa-Jayne’s Prediction to Qualify? No


Ah, Russia, well there is always a lot to say about Russia! Firstly Russia are playing the game absolutely perfectly, they’ve sent Sergey Lazarev who is a big star and is sure to garner many votes from all four corners of the former Soviet Union. The video has suggested there will be some digital trickery in the staging and the live performances we’ve seen have been top notch. I do think this song is the most overrated one in the contest, however the more I’ve listened to it, the more I’ve grown to like it. Despite my wishes to the contrary, I would go so far as to say that I think we are looking at the 2016 champion right here!

Lisa-Jayne’s SF1 Top 10? Yes
Lisa-Jayne’s Prediction to Qualify? Yes

So that’s the first half, what do you think? Did SVT get the order right? Is there a winner amongst this group? Who do you think will qualify? Leave us a comment below or on our Facebook page.

The second half is coming at you tomorrow…!

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Author: Lisa-Jayne Lewis
Source: Eurovision Ireland

4 replies »

  1. For me in this first half of first semi deserve to go to final are Greece, Hungary, Croatia, Armenia and Russia. My prediction who wili go to final in this first half of first semi are Greece, Croatia, The Netherlands (thanks to juries points, I see this song in TOP 3 with juries but not in TOP 10 with televote), Armenia and Russia.
    My predicton that Croatia wili get more points from juries than televote.

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