Time to preview three more countries all bidding to qualify from the second semi-final on 24 May. Unlike any of the other trios being previewed this year, none of today’s threesome have ever won the contest, although the first country, Malta, has come very close on a number of occasions, most recently in 2005. This year, they’re sending Kurt Calleja (who appears to have the same stylist and wardrobe as Marcus Collins), singing This is the Night. The video starts with what appears to be a resurrection of those grisly Doritos “Friendchip” ads from about a decade ago, in which Kurt and friends watch a home video of him somewhere very cold. It then turns into a riot of quiffs, bow-ties, floodlights and Tulisa on drums. Really it just needs the shouty voiceover man to go “KURT CALLEJA!”
It even has the vibe of an X-Factor runner-up’s debut single (i.e. okay but fairly unmemorable). On now to everyone’s favourite European dictatorship, Belarus. Last year, they sent someone telling everyone how much she loved her home country. The rest of Europe wasn’t buying that one, but undeterred Belarus are sending another self-aggrandising entry, as boyband Litesound (who appeared to have pilfered from will.i.am’s wardrobe) perform We Are the Heroes.
A testament to the perils of overusing straighteners (apart from the one with the blond hair, who’s testament to the perils of using eyeliner). Incidentally, they actually came second in the selection contest, only for the winner to be disqualified after it was discovered there had been shady dealings in the voting process. Ironically, this was uncovered by the country’s president.
Last up today are Portugal. The Portuguese are arguably the greatest under-achievers in the history of Eurovision – they’ve been entering almost every year for nearly half-a-century, and have still yet to achieve a Top 5 finish. Indeed, it’s 16 years now since they last made the Top 10. This year they’re hoping to restore their fortunes with Filipa Sousa, who sings Vida Minha, or “Life of Mine”. Potentially this is quite a powerful ballad, but unfortunately it’s serially undermined by backing singers who look like they’ve stepped out of the Apprentice boardroom; a pair of dancers whose peripheral presence keeps forcing the cameras away from the singer; and by increasingly enthusiastic deployment of a wind machine towards the end.
Given the rule about not having more than six people on stage at any one time, something will have to give at the Contest itself between the backing singers and the dancers. As that performance stands, you get the feeling there’s a lack of confidence in the song and the singer in themselves being enough to get Portugal through to the final.
And that’s it for today. Next time, the 2012 efforts of Ukraine, Bulgaria and Slovenia will be getting a thorough examination. See you then!