Even more weird at ESC: The second semi-final will be queer

Even more weird at the ESC
The second semi-final will be queer

By Volker Probst

This year’s Eurovision Song Contest impresses with three things: the overwhelming favorite Ukraine, a lot of average and a whole series of pretty wacky entries. The same goes for the second semi-final.

15 participants in the grand finale of the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) in Turin have already been determined. On the one hand, there are the representatives of the so-called “Big Five” – ​​Italy, France, Great Britain, Spain and Germany. On the other hand, Switzerland, Armenia, Iceland, Lithuania, Portugal, Norway, Greece, Moldova, the Netherlands and of course Ukraine qualified in the first semi-final on Tuesday.

Now there are a few more countries that will try to pull in a surprise victory after all. For many it is already taken for granted that Ukraine cannot be deprived of an ESC triumph out of solidarity with the country attacked by Russia. But in the second semi-final there are again 18 potential competitors, ten of whom will win the final ticket.

The queer target group of the ESC clearly have three contributions in mind. Take, for example, Michael Ben David from Israel. His song “IM” is a crazy mix of musical styles. There are lines of text that say it all, like: “You can call me crazy or just call my name. You can say that I’m stunning, it’s not a shame. ‘Cause I know I am” (“You can call me crazy call me crazy or just say my name. You can say I’m gorgeous, there’s no shame. ‘Cause I know I am”).

The wild, wild west

The appearance of WRS from Romania with “Llámame” – somewhere between Village People and Dschinghis Khan – has a very clear thrust. Not to mention the contribution that faraway Australia wants to score with this year. Sheldon Riley smashed his song “Not The Same” with a face veil at the Australian preliminary round before tearing it away melodramatically and on the verge of tears. Recordings from the rehearsals in Turin show that he also has his accessory with him in Italy.

What does Georgia have to do with funk? Not much, one might think. Until now. With “Lock Me Up” Circus Mircus present rather atypical sounds for the country. But the Wild West wasn’t actually in Estonia either. Nevertheless, with “Hope” Stefan brings a touch of Italo-Western from there to Turin. That could actually catch not only, but also with the Italian audience.

Washing ritual in suspenders

The offer from Serbia this year is also pretty weird. In any case, it’s the music video that goes with it, in which singer Konstrakta first wins over a chicken. Then she completes an extensive washing ritual to a monotonous sound, clapping and in suspenders. The fact that the song is called “In Corpore Sano” (“In a Healthy Body”) somehow fits in with that.

On the other hand, Nadir Rustamli from Azerbaijan proves to be extremely versatile, both in terms of his voice and his clothes. His “Fade To Black” is also instrumented rather sparingly, before the song increases dramatically with strings towards the end. Jérémie Makiese from Belgium builds up a similar arc of suspense. His song “Miss You” starts out Bond-like before getting lost in beats and gospel echoes.

But what are the highlights in the second semi-final? They are few and far between. The breathy “Ela” of Cyprus’ Andromache comes across as very pleasing. Poland brings a solid indie pop song to the stage with Ochman and “River”. And with “That’s Rich” by singer Brooke, Ireland has a radio-ready pop number at the start.

The Rasmus on Lordi’s footsteps

The contribution from Finland is particularly striking because it comes from a few good old acquaintances. One-hit wonder The Rasmus, who also had a number 1 hit in Germany with “In the Shadows” in 2003, are following in Lordi’s footsteps and want to get the coals out of the fire for the Finns this year with “Jezebel”. However, they would not be the first established stars to fail on their ESC mission.

Meanwhile, Sweden is one of the other favorites – always at the ESC anyway, but also in 2022. Cornelia Jakobs knödel in her ballad “Hold Me Closer” barefoot to dramatic heights. It’s not really exceptional. But it will probably be enough for the finale.

And then there is San Marino. The dwarf state surrounded by Italy, which in the past has repeatedly relied in vain on the services of Ralph Siegel at the ESC, apparently hopes to be able to copy Maneskin’s success this time. Achille Lauro and his backing band seem like cheap decals of last year’s winners when they perform the song “Stripper”. Okay, the Maneskin frontman didn’t dig in his pants on stage. But will that be enough to help San Marino’s copycat reach the final? We’ll find out on Thursday evening, just after 11 p.m.

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