Day six of rehearsals has drawn to a close and attention has already shifted to welcoming the big-5 and the hosts, Azerbaijan to the stage tomorrow.
Russia were first up this morning and the Grannies were bursting with energy. The presentation was spot on and Russia are rapidly shaping up as a major threat for the final. Those grannies may be cute, but they are street-fighting their way to the top of Eurovision.
Compact Disco were another act to significantly raise their game today; their lead singer went from Mr Nobody to Bono in a matter of four days. In some parts though, he does seem to bob around like fluffy dice in a car windscreen – and it’s those bits that need taming. What they gave with one hand however, they took with the other. With what are quite dull graphic and light effects, someone had the dim-witted idea to dress the entire band in black. If Hungary have any chance of qualifying, they need to brighten things up.
Austria’s Trackshittaz are good fun to watch, irrespective of their obscene content and lack of musical quality. The two lead rappers and their fellow pole dancers are now lit up during the bridge. It looks somewhat messy and uncoordinated, rather than the brilliance that was Danny Saucedo’s pioneering effort at Melodifestivalen. The Trackshittaz have taken this one step too far. What was a fun, tongue-in-cheek novelty moment, has developed into a clumsy and painful piece of trash.
Moldova have developed their choreography every so slightly, so rather than the questionable straddling horsey moment, the dancers perform a bizarre side-on swimming motion while lying down, during which point, Pasha Parfeny gazes up to a imaginary downpour of rain. I’m undecided as to whether I like it or not. Nevertheless, Moldova are sailing into the finals and should perform very strongly once there.
Luckily for Jedward, the juries were not marking today’s performance, as for those watching, it was without question the worst live performance since their days on X-Factor. The twins turned up in white jackets with various European flags attached in what could be seen as yet another desperate attempt to attract voters. If those voters were subjected to the vocal performance I heard today, there’s no chance of Jedward qualifying. Ireland only just scraped into the final last year and that was aided by a surprisingly high jury score. By alienating the juries with a poor vocal performance, Jedward will surely struggle on a much duller stage as last year.
My initial reaction to viewing Serbia’s second rehearsal was, “that stage looks too dark!” The visually effective deep blues and pinks from the first rehearsal have been replaced with an unflattering trio of yellow, orange and light blue. The clarity, warmth and visual appeal of Serbia has been recklessly damaged, but I do hear that this will be corrected. You will be pleased to hear that Zeljko was is usual fine and silky smooth self.
Where did FYR Macedonia come from? We all thought Macedonia were toast, but Kaliopi continues to wow with her song ‘Crno i belo.’ The consensus was that Kaliopi’s chances would be damaged performing immediately after Zeljko. On the contrary, she fought her ground by delivering a stellar vocal performance that will melt the hearts of watching jurors. Macedonia should be a solid qualifier on jury points alone.
Big Chief Franka set up camp on stage for yet another three minutes of tedium. The headdress remains and she seems to be the only person oblivious to its unsuitability. The problem is that she’s stood there singing without moving her head at all – it’s a though she’s balancing a volume of books on her head, so only her eyes and mouth are moving – this makes her look like a Thunderbirds puppet. Joan and her Turkey are still non-qualifiers and beyond the help of even International Rescue.
Malta’s ‘This is the Night’ is like a reworked Russia 2011, but instead of Kurt prating around like Vorobyov did for Russia, it’s the DJ – which kind of clarifies that he wasn’t actually DJing at all. Their saving grace is that Kurt delivers a flawless vocal performance and is ably assisted during the bridge by his female backing singer. The whole package reportedly looks great on TV and the likes of AKOE have tipped them for qualification. Personally, I reckon they will be outshone by the bigger beasts, but hats off to them for making this song look and sound so good.
Belarus were remarkably unchanged but put in a respectable performance, however, ‘We are the Heroes’ is beginning to look rather flat – or at least to me it is. The main positive for Belarus is that they follow Malta and Litesound’s lead is far more telegenic and equally gifted in the vocal department. Belarus also have more allies to call upon for votes.
Portugal, whilst quaint and well performed remains a non-qualifier.
Every day we have surprise and today it was Ukraine’s turn to pull out a good performance and show us they haven’t lost their touch at pushing for a high finish. The LCD screens have been reworked and are now less formulaic and actually complement the presentation. Furthermore, one of the dancers has been dropped from the routine, resulting in the stage looking less crowded. This type of uplifting powerhouse song always flies on finals night. With a good draw, Ukraine could be celebrating yet another top-10 finish.
Sofi looks as if she’s performing at a holiday camp rather than representing Bulgaria on biggest stage in world music. She looks terribly isolated on that huge Baku stage and is in dire need of some choreography. We are still none the wiser as to what Sofi will be wearing on semi-finals night, but we have so far been treated to two fashion faux pas’. I’m not going to comment on the blindingly obvious, because I think she deserves a pat on the back for singlehandedly delivering the song with no support whatsoever.
Lastly, we came across a rather splendid video today that we shared on twitter. For those of you who missed it, enjoy what is a fantastic spoof version of Loreen’s Euphoria.
Our in-running blog, chat room and all-encompassing coverage will resume once again in the morning at 7:00am GMT, when the last of semi-final two’s hopefuls will perform, followed by the big-5 and Azerbaijan. It sure is a big day ahead of us!