Venue: International Exhibition Centre, Kyiv
Hosts: Oleksandr Skichko, Volodymyr Ostapchuk and Timur Miroshnychenko
Date: Tuesday 9 May 2017
N.B. Any use of "tonight" or "this evening" throughout this post means Tuesday 9 May 2017. All times in this post are in BST.
The OpeningThe first semi-final began with the Monatik singing a song "Spinning". As he sang, a group danced around the stage. Towards the end most dancers left the stage leaving only one remaining dancer. Once Monatik finished, the three hosts Oleksandr Skichko, Volodymyr Ostapchuk and Timur Miroshnychenko appeared on stage.
The SongsEight minutes after the start of the show (20:08 BST) it was time for the first song. Each song was introduced by a postcard film related to the appropriate country.
Song 1: Sweden - Robin Bengtsson "I Can't Go On"It's always tough being the first song in the first semi-final. Anyway when I first saw the official preview video, I was disappointed with Sweden's song choice this year compared to "Heroes" two years ago. I've noticed Robin began back stage tonight, just like in the preview video. Also he performed on a treadmill, along with others on stage tonight, just like the preview video. Did the treadmills actually have any significance to the song though? Robin gave a good live performance tonight, but I'm currently in two minds about whether or not this deserves a place in the Grand Final.
Song 2: Georgia - Tamara Gachechiladze "Keep The Faith"I wasn't overly keen on this when watching the online preview video, or when listening to this on the official CD album, and in all honesty I still don't think much of Tamara's live performance tonight. I notice Tamara is dressed in red for some reason, and there's a lot of red in the background. What was the significance of red? Were the strobes really necessary? What was the significance of the flame effects. Please stay out of Saturday's final Georgia!
Song 3: Australia - Isaiah "Don't Come Easy"Australia, which was originally a one-off guest participant in 2015 was invited back in 2016, and again in 2017. Just like last year, Australia has gone for a ballad this year. Based on tonight's live performance, it's certainly quite a good song, and very well sung, but I don't think it's as good as Australia's 2016 entry. Were the flashing effects really necessary? Nonetheless I think this is the best entry so far, and it ought to qualify to the final.
Song 4: Albania - Lindita "World"Excuse me Lindita this is the Eurovision Song Contest 2017 First Semi-Final, not a wedding, so why were you dressed as a bride at the start of the song? I judged this as not bad when watching the preview videos. I definitely like it more based on tonight's live performance than in the preview video, but I'm currently borderline about whether or not this should be in the final.
Song 5: Belgium - Blanche "City Lights"This was one of my favourite songs among the preview videos before Easter, and when listening to the CD album. In fact based on that experience I favoured this winning Eurovision Song Contest 2017 outright! Sadly I'm not so impressed on Blanche's live performance tonight. Quite frankly I didn't think her voice was strong enough, and she looked and sounded a bit nervous to me. I'm now borderline about whether or not this ought to qualify.
Song 6: Montenegro - Slavko Kalezic "Space"Montenegro have put a variety of song styles in the Eurovision Song Contest since their debut in 2007, and this year they've gone for a lively song. Quite frankly I wasn't all that keen on this song when I first saw the online preview video, and I still don't think much of the song based on tonight's live performance. I like the way Slavko holds his arm in the air at one point, is that an attempt to mimic Måns Zelmerlöw from two years ago? What was the significance of Slavko lying on the stage for part of the song? I'd rather this doesn't qualify to Saturday's Grand Final.
A short break followed at this point.
Song 7: Finland - Norma John "Blackbird"I watched UMK 2017 online from the UK the last Saturday in January, so I saw "Blackbird" and Finland's other 9 national finalists that night. "Blackbird" is one of the songs I particularly wanted to win that night, I'm glad "Blackbird" made it to the Eurovision Song Contest 2017. I liked this on the CD album, and I think Norma John gave a first class live performance tonight. Definitely the best song so far tonight. Based on tonight's live performance alone, Finland definitely deserves a place in Saturday's Grand Final. See you Saturday Norma John!
Song 8: Azerbaijan - Dihaj "Skeletons"Firstly what is the significance of the step ladder and chalkboard (and messages on it)? This power ballad is another song I felt lukewarm about when watching the preview videos. I like the way they pulled down the sides of the chalkboard to form part of the floor, but was there any significance to that? Dihaj gave a good live performance tonight, but I'm borderline about whether or not this deserves a place in the final.
Song 9: Portugal - Salvador Sobral "Amar Pelos Dois"When I first watched the preview song I thought it sounded a bit old fashioned. Based on tonight's live performance, it was a simple song, with no dancing around, graphical effects strobe lighting etc. That coupled with it being sung in Portuguese it really stands out from the crowd. A good song, very well sung live, I think this deserves a place in the final.
Song 10: Greece - Demy "This is Love"I quite liked this song in the preview video and on the CD album, and I like it even more based on tonight's live performance. It's quite a lively song, and very well sung. Does anyone know the significance of the singer standing on the rising platform? Altogether a much better song than Greece's entry last year. This definitely deserves a place in the final.
Song 11: Poland - Kasia Mos "Flashlight"This was one of my favourite songs among the preview videos and on the CD album. To me it sounds very much like a James Bond movie theme. I like the way Kasia is accompanied by the violinist in the background. What was the significance of the word FREEDOM on the background screen close to the end? Altogether a powerful song, very well sung live. This definitely deserves a place in the Grand Final.
Song 12: Moldova - Sunstroke Project "Hey Mamma"I didn't like this song when I first saw the online preview video or on the CD album, and I dislike tonight's live performance just as much. I'm not sure the bursts of saxophone belong in the song, if anything I think they make a below par song worse. What's the significance of the women with the bouquets? Please, please, please stay out of Saturday's Grand Final.
Song 13: Iceland - Svala "Paper"Another of my much disliked 2017 entries among the online preview videos and on the CD album, and I still don't like tonight's live performance. Were the green lasers towards the end really necessary? I don't want this in the final either.
A short break followed at this point.
Song 14: Czech Republic - Martina Bárta "My Turn"Whilst watching this song's online preview video and listening to this song on the CD album, I wasn't overly impressed by it. Put it this way, I didn't think it was as good as Czech Republic's "I Stand" last year. Based on tonight's live performance alone, I think it's quite a nice song, and definitely one of the better songs that has been on tonight. I'd like this to appear in Saturday's Grand Final. Czech it out, see you Saturday Martina!
Song 15: Cyprus - Hovig "Gravity"A song I thought was reasonably OK in its online preview video and on the CD album, I like it better sung live tonight. It's quite a good song overall, with a really powerful catchy chorus What was the significance of the lines on stage, and the lead singer lunging, during various times in the song? Another song I'd like to see on Saturday night.
Song 16: Armenia - Artsvik "Fly With Me"I didn't think much of this song when I first saw the online preview video, and I don't think much of it sung live tonight. It certainly gets lively towards the end, with the flame effects, coloured lights, and arm movements, but I'd rather this didn't qualify.
Song 17: Slovenia - Omar Naber "On My Way"This was one of my favourite songs when I first saw the original online preview video well before Easter, and at the time it reminded me of the UK's "One Step Out of Time" sung by Michael Ball in 1992. I was less keen on the revamped version in the final online video that was released later, based on Omar's live performance tonight, I think this is one of the best songs in tonight's Eurovision Song Contest 2017 First Semi-Final. It's a simple but powerful song with a catchy chorus, and very well sung. I like the way Omar holds his arm in the air at the end, is that copying Måns Zelmerlöw from two years ago? This definitely deserves to be in the Grand Final. See you Saturday Omar!
Song 18: Latvia - Triana Park "Line"The final song already, it's amazing how time flies. I didn't like this song very much when watching its online preview video or listening to it on the CD album and I dislike it just as much tonight. Thank goodness it's not the Eurovision Dress Contest because I don't think much of Triana's outfit. What was the significance of the multi-coloured flashing images on the background screens at certain points in the song. Please, please, please stay out of Saturday's final.
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Televoting and RecapAfter the songs finished, (names) reappeared to announce the start of the voting at 21:32 BST. A recap of the songs followed. The UK voted in tonight's semi-final, and therefore UK viewers saw the voting numbers at the bottom of the screen during the recap.
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My PreferencesHere are my preferences based solely on all of tonight's performances:
Definitely want to qualify: Australia, Finland, Portugal, Greece, Poland, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Slovenia
Wouldn't mind qualifying: Sweden, Belgium, Azerbaijan,
Prefer not to qualify: Albania, Montenegro, Armenia
Definitely don't want to qualify: Georgia, Moldova, Iceland, Latvia.
So these are the ones I want to see Saturday night: Australia, Finland, Portugal, Greece, Poland, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Slovenia, plus two (and no more) of Sweden, Belgium, Azerbaijan.
The UK voted this evening; I voted for Australia, Finland, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovenia.
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Eurovision Song Contest 2017 First Semi-Final ResultsHere are the results, which were announced in a random order at 22:04 BST. Any use of "tonight" still means Tuesday 9 May 2017.
My desired qualifiers: Australia, Finland, Portugal, Greece, Poland, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Slovenia, plus two (and no more) of Sweden, Belgium, Azerbaijan.
Actual qualifiers (in order of announcement): Moldova, Azerbaijan, Greece, Sweden, Portugal, Poland, Armenia, Australia, Cyprus, Belgium.
Bold entries represent the actual qualifiers that match my preferences.
OUT: Georgia, Albania, Montenegro, Finland, Iceland, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Latvia.
I am gutted and deeply upset that Finland and Slovenia failed to qualify as I thought they were two of the best songs tonight, and most deserving of places in the final. To a lesser degree I'm also disappointed that Czech Republic didn't qualify, I thought their entry was quite good and deserved a place in the final. On the other hand, I'm appalled and disgusted Moldova qualified as I detested their entry, and therefore it ended up on my "Definitely don't want to qualify" list. I'm also annoyed that Armenia went through, as I didn't like their song, and thus it went on my "Prefer not to qualify" list, but from the first time I saw the online preview video I guessed "Fly With Me" would qualify against my wishes. As far as I'm concerned, Finland and Slovenia deserved the places Armenia and Moldova took.
Thank goodness Georgia, Iceland and Latvia are all out as I detested their entries and thus they ended up on my "Definitely don't want to qualify" list. I'm also glad Montenegro are out as I didn't think much of their entry, and thus put it on my "Prefer not to qualify" list.
I was overjoyed when Poland was announced as one of the qualifiers, because I thought "Flashlight" was one of the best songs tonight, and hence on my "Definitely want to qualify" list. So much so Poland was one of the five countries I voted for this evening. Also I'm glad Australia, Portugal, Greece and Cyprus qualified for the final as they were four songs I particularly liked tonight, and hence they were also on my "Definitely want to qualify" list.
As for Belgium, I particularly liked the online preview video of "City Lights", and the said track on the CD album, but I was disappointed with Blanche's live performance tonight Although Belgium ended up on my "Wouldn't mind qualifying" list when the songs had all been sung, when it was time for the last qualifier to be announced, I would rather the last place had gone to Finland or Slovenia instead of Belgium.
So five of my eight "Definitely want to qualify" countries made it through and all three of my "Wouldn't mind qualifying" countries also reached the final. Not bad I suppose.
Well done to the ten countries which qualified to the final. So that means 16 finalists are now confirmed and 8 countries have been eliminated. Another 18 countries will battle it out for the 10 remaining places on Thursday evening.
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