Eurovision 2015 - Semifinal 1 Preliminary Reviews | Museled

Welcome, Museled readers! After all the fun of covering Melodifestivalen 2015, it's time to carry on by serving commentary on Eurovision, too.

Many of the songs we won't know the full quality of as a Eurovision competitor until we see the live versions, upon which their live vocals, staging, and overall performance will be put to the test. The most rabid Eurovision fans will have formulated opinions off of earlier performances of the chosen songs, but judging solely off of that would be tricky since many of the songs get revamped between when they are first selected and when they are performed on the Eurovision stage.

Our scoring system will be on a curved 10-point scale, to give you readers a better sense of just how the songs stack up relative to one another. What might seem like a low score does not necessarily mean that the song itself is bad. For example, as there are an incredibly high amount of ballads competing in this year's contest, the songs must do a great deal more to stand out within that style and may have received a higher score from us if the line-up had been more dance-heavy.

In the running order that the songs will be competing in, let's take a look at the songs competing in semifinal 1!


01) Moldova ~ Eduard Romanyuta - "I Want Your Love"

This is one of the few numbers that we've seen both the qualifying live performance video of as well as the music video and the contrast between the two is enormous. "I Want Your Love" is a massive love-letter to the golden pop era of the 1990s/early 2000s. The music video attempts to paint "singer" Eduard Romanyuta as some roguish bad-boy who just can't be tamed, or even bother to pull over in a back alley before getting tongued down by his arm candy (because who cares if you're in a high-speed chase when your libido needs tending to?) The studio version (which has actually become our low-key guilty pleasure) makes bountiful use of auto tune and turns up the backing brass hook to cover up his lack of vocal ability. Admittedly, the melody of the chorus is a carbon copy of the verses of Mariah Carey's "It's Like That" but with how consistently vanilla Eurovision has been, that type of hook is certainly not something that's been played on the ESC stage. This song could have had potential to drum up some support and play on peoples' sentimentality for that glorious pop era if the song's arrangement had been spruced up a bit, as well as had an artist with actual abilities, which brings us to…

The live performance is a complete train wreck that simply cannot be unseen and we would advise all our readers to proceed with caution before doing so. It's also the reason that its Museled score is so low.  There's no way we could've given this song a higher score after seeing this mess. Imagine if you took Justin Bieber, gave him Hanson's 'Mmbop' hair, and removed 95% of his singing and dancing ability (regardless of whether or not you think he is skilled in those areas), and gave him all the charisma of that creepy bloke at the bar that simply wouldn't back off no matter how many times you told him you weren't interested, and you'll have Eduard Romanyuta's live performance. But if you go into watching it with the right attitude, you may derive some enjoyment from laughing at how absurd it is that none of what you're witnessing is meant to be ironic.

Museled score: 1/10


02) Armenia ~ Genealogy - "Face the Shadow"

Genealogy consists of six singers, one of whom is Armenian-from-Armenia, while the remaining are of Armenian descent but come from other continents throughout the world. It's a unique concept that we're fully on board with; we are all for elevating multiculturalism. "Face the Shadow"'s first verse is a slow start to the song but once the first chorus kicks in, things picks up more. It's certainly a unique song and the arrangement aims to highlight and mix the wide variety in vocal styles into an Armenian celebration. The most interesting part of the song is the post-second-chorus breakdown as it flows a bit like some sort of experimental-classical aria. Despite the less-than-stellar beginning, the song builds well and goes out on a high.

Museled score: 6/10


03) Belgium ~ Loïc Nottet - "Rhythm Inside"

One of our top 10 from the first listen, "Rhythm Inside" is a song that commands your attention but perhaps in a more round-about way than the other strong songs. It sits comfortably between mid and up-tempo; you can definitely dance to it but the slight pull-back allows more room for you to lean into it. There's an understated but undeniable attitude to the song, from the alluring bluesy hook, Loïc's sultry vocal delivery, and the touch of scatting.

Museled score: 8.5/10


04) Netherlands ~ Trijntje Oosterhuis - "Walk Along"

Quite forgettable, and lacking impact, "Walk Along" sounds much like a warm-up act at Lilith Fair. No, not even the 2010 revival. The original run in the 1990s. It's not a terrible song, nor is it unpleasant to listen to. But the song is repetitive, lacks range, and despite its title, does little to take the listener on any sort of journey.

Museled score: 3/10


05) Finland ~ Pertti Krikan Nimipäivät - "Aina jun pitää" (I always have to)

PKN is a Finnish punk rock band comprised of adults with developmental disabilities. What is positive about this song being a part of Eurovision is the representation and inspiration it can offer many other similarly disabled people who do not normally get an opportunity to identify with a competitor in Eurovision. As for the song itself, the only melodic aspect is the guitars. The vocals lack any melody for us to connect to, but perhaps some viewers who do like this particular style of rock may enjoy the song.

Museled score: 0/10


06) Greece ~ Maria Elena Kyriakou - "One Last Breath"

A good but not great ballad, "One Last Breath" is one that suffers from the heavy competitiveness that has been established by the abundance of ballads this year. It takes too long to build to its climax and had the tone and momentum of the last 30-seconds been the song's starting point, it may have been able to stand out more in the pack. It's also a bit of a downer, both melodically and especially lyrically. Maria sings the song well enough but being that there are plenty of other decent vocalists in the contest, her vocals simply aren't enough to carry the song to a higher score.

Museled score: 5.5/10


07) Estonia ~ Elina Born & Stig Rästa - "Goodbye to Yesterday"

Taking a page right out of the 1960s with its guitar, horns, and understated drum set, "Goodbye to Yesterday" is a duet that has a well-written backing instrumentation. On top of that are vocalists Elina Born & Stig Rästa. Stig starts the song off and on our first listen, we were rather underwhelmed by his introduction. But as soon as that cheeky guitar hook came in to transition the song over to Elina's vastly-superior voice, we were sold. That guitar hook sounds like it could have been done by the grandchild of the Clifford Essex used to birth the James Bond theme. This is decade-influenced music done right, and Elina's vocals are what carry the song into the 21st century. Elina and Stig's voices blend well together best when the volume is set to be 70% her, and 30% him and the song's producers have wisely levelled it as such.

Museled score: 7.5/10


08) Macedonia ~ Daniel Kajmakoski - "Autumn Leaves"

Here's yet another ballad, folks, and it won't be the last of the night! The arrangement of the backing on "Autumn Leaves" is more contemporary, and the percussion has a little bit more layering than some of the lower-scored ballads. This song is something that you could find from a bigger Top-40 artist of today, but perhaps more likely as a song from their album as opposed to something released as a single. But it's quite pleasant to listen to and in the biggest moments of the chorus, Daniel's voice bears some similarities to Nate Ruess'.

Museled score: 7/10


09) Serbia ~ Bojana Stamenov - "Beauty Never Lies"

This is another song we've seen both the qualifying live performance of as well as the music video. It was actually difficult for us to score because of this. Originally, the song was in Serbian, entitled "Ceo Svet Je Moj." The general consensus is that the song sounded better in Serbian, which we have to agree with. When sung in Serbian, the song was able to stand out more since the English lyrics aren't exactly innovative. But vocally, Bojana sounds fantastic no matter what language she's singing in. It's quite tricky for non-native-English-speaking countries because many of the Eurovision fans prefer for them to stay true to themselves and sing in their own languages but often the songs selected for Eurovision get translated to English so as to better appeal to the masses. The song is decent to being with, but once it builds up to the inclusion of a dance beat, it really soars. The staging is highly visually appealing, from the light projection onto Bojana's dress, the dramatic back-up dancers, and the wardrobe change mid-number. It's exactly the type of spectacle to make many a new fan of Eurovision but what's great is that it's a spectacle on top a song that's actually good.

Museled score: 6.5/10


10) Hungary ~ Boggie - "Wars for Nothing"

A pandering song about world peace, "Wars for Nothing" is incredibly weak melodically. It's more like something that would be sung around a campfire and put everyone to sleep. We don't mean to be callous about the intended message, but on top of the abundance of ballads, many of those other songs also have subject matter intended to play on people's hearts and humanity so this song just gets lost in the shuffle.

Museled score: 2/10


11) Belarus ~ Uzari & Maimuna - "Time"

A song with great dramatic flair and danceability, "Time" goes above and beyond to make use of strings to strengthen their song by making the track a partnership between singer Uzari and violinist Maimuna. The urgency of the song (which lines right up with the song's concept) is what sets it apart from typical dance tracks, as well as the aforementioned larger incorporation of non-synthetic instrumentation. The hook is also strong as it sinks in immediately and Uzari's phonetic stretching of certain words further individualises the song's identity.

Museled score: 8.5/10


12) Russia ~ Polina Gagarina - "A Million Voices"

Many a joke has already been cracked about Russia's "ironic" sending of a song about world peace. Last year's Eurovision entry from Russia was subject to booing each time they performed due to the strong LGBT following that Eurovision has. As for a "A Million Voices," it's a decent ballad and Polina sounds great singing it. It certainly has great potential to translate well live as there's a lot of big musical swells in the song. For better or worse, this song sounds much like something you've probably heard before, be it generally speaking or specific to Eurovision itself. It sounds like a typical "official Olympic Games theme tune" released every 2-4 years, but all in all it's not a bad song.

Museled score: 5/10


13) Denmark ~ Anti Social Media - "The Way You Are"

Again, we have another song influenced by the 1960s but this one is from the "boy bands" of that era. If The Beach Boys' "Wouldn't It Be Nice" and Sara Bareilles' "Love Song" hooked up, "The Way You Are" would be the love child born from it. It's a perky, summery, feel-good song that had us swaying back and forth going "Bahp, bahp, bahp." We're honestly amazed that anyone under the age of 60 could nail this style of music, let alone put out new content of it for us to enjoy.

Museled score: 7.5/10


14) Albania ~ Elhaida Dani - "I'm Alive"

By far, one of the strongest ballads of this year, "I'm Alive" nails pacing and building. It starts off with the guitar laying groundwork to keep it from feeling too slow, and the first chorus only picks things up further with the percussion adding more layers. The construction of the song is really solid because the second verse and chorus are not mere repeats of their first-verse counterparts. The song continues to build and Elhaida even adds more melodic vocalisations as the song carries on. By the time the song hits its climax, Elhaida has you jumping out of your seat and cheering for her. Her vocals are magnificent and those harmonised "Ay-ay-ay"s used for transitioning throughout the song are quite lovely.

Museled score: 8/10


15) Romania ~ Voltaj - "De la capăt (All over Again)" [From the beginning (All over Again)]

Remember what we said about ballads with meaningful messages? Well, here's another one. "De la capăt (All over Again)" is about Romanian parents who leave their children in Romania in order to work elsewhere so the children may be provided for. That's all quite moving and we do appreciate the fact that the song has chosen to dig a little deeper and be more personal in its message. However, the production of the song itself is a bit underwhelming. Many of the ballads we've had to repeatedly go back and re-watch in order to be able to remember and differentiate which is which, including this one. Like a majority of the songs in this year's contest, this one isn't unpleasant to listen to. But without a bigger musical impact, it more so fades into the background of the lineup.

Museled score: 4.5/10


16) Georgia ~ Nina Sublatti - "Warrior"

Nina Sublatti has absolutely exploded onto the scene with "Warrior" and we couldn't be more thrilled! The original version of this song (which we didn't see until later) didn't make as much of an impact but once big-name Swedish composer Thomas G:son got his hands on the track to help Nina revamp it, the new production combined with Nina's powerful lyrics are enough to give us chills. It's sleek, modern, and make no mistake, this is an "I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar" anthem. The scope and scale of the song is downright epic and there's so much dimension created from all the moving cogs in this machine.  From the almost dubstep-like swelling used to transition into the chorus to the pulsing sixteen-note-percussion in the post-second-chorus breakdown, there are many plenty of details for even the most well-trained musical ears to geek out over. Nina also fully commits to her vocal delivery and throws herself right in. She delivers top-notch drama and it suits the song entirely. The Eurovision show runners have wisely saved the best for last in this semifinal, and here's hoping that Nina's new staging will match the levels of the song itself.

Museled score: 9/10


Which semifinal 1 songs do you have on repeat? Let us know in the comment section below and stay tuned for our reviews of the rest of the songs!


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