Well, the first Eurovision semi-final was the perfect tonic after a manic day - it was the usual masterful blend of the good, the bad, and the barking mad. On the latter front, the opening entry from Montenegro may have been a joke that didn't quite work, but I can't fault the performer's comic timing when Scott Mills asked him what he was doing at the contest, and he replied "it's a mistake". In fact, I think that may have been my highlight of the evening.
My prediction was pretty close to being spot-on - I got nine out of ten right, with Albania the one I overlooked. Belgium would probably have been a worthier qualifier, but I should have remembered that Albania do have a formidable record of qualifying almost regardless of what they enter. If nothing else, it's good for the contest (in my opinion) to have one more song not in English through to the final.
I was a bit irked that the BBC commentators suggested that Hungary's qualification was a surprise, and that it wasn't the strongest entry. In my view, it was more a case of a strong song making it through in spite of some uninspired staging. I had been a bit concerned that the glitzier performances from Austria, Switzerland and Israel might squeeze Hungary out.
One half of Jedward (no idea which one) looked ready to burst into tears when six qualifiers had been revealed, and Ireland wasn't one of them. As with previous years, it's a bit hard to believe that the order in which the qualifiers were read out was completely random, with two of the most obvious countries left for last. And it's also very hard to see the point of the 'golden ticket' wheeze to reveal the final qualifier if the camera doesn't even zoom in when the envelope is opened.
Scott Mills mentioned during the show that Italy are now the favourites to win the contest. That doesn't baffle me as much as it would have done a few weeks ago, as the song gets under the skin a bit more with each successive listen - I had the words "you're an independent woman after all" (which may well become my new life motto) rattling around in my head on the bus home this evening. But the fact that it's taken me so long to 'get it' makes me wonder if it really has much chance of winning on Saturday, when most people will be hearing it for the first time. In fact, one of the fascinations of this year's final is that so many of the strongest songs are pre-qualified, which will make it much harder to deduce the likely outcome from the semi-final performances alone.
* * *
Thanks to everyone who voted in the Scot Goes Pop Eurovision poll. Here are the full results -
United Kingdom 17%
San Marino 5%
Bosnia and Herzegovina 2%
All Others 0%
In case anyone is wondering, the reason the percentages add up to far more than 100 is that multi-voting was enabled!
* * *
I very nearly wrote a post the other day entitled "Note for Americans : Johann Lamont does not speak for the people of Scotland. Source : Election results." But I didn't need to, because Doug Daniel said everything I wanted to say on the subject, and more.