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Music

Irish and Swiss among those missing out on Eurovision Song Contest finals

Acts off the beaten track did well in the second semifinal for the Eurovision Song Contest, as three sisters from the Netherlands impressed with their harmony. Among those missing out were Switzerland and Ireland.

Eurovision Song Contest 2017 in Kiew | OG3NE, Niederlande (Reuters/G. Garanich)

O'G3NE from The Netherlands

The eight countries to fall out of contention in second semifinal voting by television audiences and expert juries on Thursday were Serbia, Macedonia, Malta, Ireland, San Marino, Switzerland, Lithuania and Estonia.

Eurovision Song Contest 2017 in Kiew | JOWST, Norwegen (Reuters/G. Garanich)

Norway's JOWST sang in the background behind a mask with Aleksander Walmann out in front

The 10 that made their way into the final were Austria, Romania, the Netherlands, Hungary, Denmark, Croatia, Norway, Belarus, Bulgaria and Israel.

They will take part in the world's biggest entertainment show on Saturday along with Tuesday's semifinal winners: Sweden, Belgium, Cyprus, Portugal, Poland, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Australia and Greece.

Rounding out the lineup are the "big five," the main contributors to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) - Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy and Spain - and the host country, Ukraine. 

Exceptions to the rule

The second semifinal show presented a number of women singers in flowing dresses delivering sweeping ballads, such as Denmark's Anja Nissen, singing "Where I Am."

Eurovision Song Contest 2017 in Kiew | Ilinca ft. Alex Florea, Rumänien (Reuters/G. Garanich)

Romania's entry 'Yodel It!'

But off the beaten track songs included Norway's entry "Grab the Moment," a weird and wacky rap/electronic piece enhanced by precisely calibrated audio and visual distortion effects in the TV transmission. 

A sample of the kind of fare that only Eurovision can serve up was Romania's "Yodel It!," a creative blend of rapping and yodeling.

In "My Friend," Croatia's Jacques Houdek vacillated between baritone operatic singing and falsetto, backed up by a cello, a violin, generous amounts of pyrotechnics and an LED background with images not to be outdone for sheer kitsch.  

English not really necessary

Refreshing elements in this year's edition include more native-tongue entries, including Belarus' Navi band with "Historyja majho žyccia" ("Story of My Life").

Hungary's Joci Papai did some tremulous singing in the song "Origo," also complemented by pyrotechnics and an added female gypsy dancer. It was seen as something of a breakthrough that an ethnic Roma sang the entry, as Roma suffer discrimination in the central European state.

Three 17-year-olds - Isaiah from Australia, Blanche from Belgium and the youngest of the three, Kristian Kostov from Bulgaria - all proceeded to the final on Saturday. In "Beautiful Mess," Kostov displayed a big voice and secure delivery from a child-sized body.

2. Halbfinale des Eurovision Song Contest 2017 in Kiew - Kristian Kostov (EBU/A. Putting)

Bulgaria's Kristian Kostov may be young, but his singing resonates with experience

 Infectious smiles and upbeat optimism were offered by Nathan Trent of Austria, evidently aware of his charisma. In similar style, Imri Ziv sang and danced the energetic "I Feel Alive." Generous smiles from both young men were mirrored in the audience and in the press room.

Many of the 9,300 observers in Kyiv's International Exhibition Center and veteran observers said that seldom has the party mood been better or the cheering more sustained. 

Finally, mention must be made of the most musically perfect act of the evening: the three sisters from the Netherlands who named their group after the O'G3NE gene they share. Their song "Lights And Shadows" is a perfect blend of wonderfully harmonizing voices which is both sad and uplifting.   

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