A hectic day 7 of rehearsals has drawn to a welcome close. It has been a busy betting day for me and I’m sure for you too if you followed our tweeted tips or those posted in the chat room. Remember, you need to follow us to receive these exclusive tips, as the value soon vanishes once touted.
Slovenia’s haunting wedding party kicked off rehearsals in Baku this morning. My nightmares involving one of those backing singers ripping off their face to reveal the old woman from ‘Drag me to Hell’ has been compounded further today, with Eva Boto resembling that black haired spectre from The Ring. The vocal is much stronger, but I still worry that Slovenia’s position in this semi-final is under threat from livelier performances. Slovenia’s support is further diluted once you add Serbia and Macedonia to the mix.
Nina Badrić has followed our sage advice and covered up those Terradactyl-like knees of hers. Many people still find Croatia’s song dreary. Yet, the addition of a dramatic cloudy sky backdrop has added some much needed oomph to the performance and somewhat works to neutralise Slovenia’s wishy-washy display of innocence. In short, Nina’s song has more balls, although I doubt either will qualify.
Next up was Sweden and Loreen appeared in her finest Macbeth witch regalia. It was billed as a day of reckoning for Loreen, but I’m afraid to admit that she was found wanting. The rehearsal videos are notoriously deceptive to judge, but Loreen is sporting a black shredded cowl against a backdrop of dull blue light. Much of the 3-minutes is spent taming her hair, which results in missed opportunities to connect with the viewing audience. There are more things wrong with Euphoria than right at this point and Loreen’s favourite status is slipping fast.
Georgia casts further shade on Loreen with a dazzling display of camp novelty. What’s the deal with cloaks and cowls this year? Anri screams and squeals his way through ‘I’m a Joker,’ which will not exactly endear him with the juries. What’s key here is the injection of light and energy against Sweden’s dark and moody 3-minutes. Are Sweden in danger even before the final? Possibly not, but I certainly don’t fancy them for the win on today’s evidence.
Once again, Can Bonomo delivered some Turkish delight with his second rehearsal of ‘Love Me Back.’ Can and his team delivered their song with much more conviction and climaxed in the formation of a boat with the aid of their costumes. Turkey have evolved from a drunken sea shanty to a strong top-10 contender. Name of boat has to be the Turkcanic!
The first of the Big-5 contenders to set their stall out were Germany. For Roman Lob it was very much ‘as you were.’ Even the stage graphics were near identical to the German national final. The band is almost superfluous to the ensemble, as those cunning Germans know their strongest asset is Roman’s face. This should be a nailed on top-10 finish and if you were following escbet today, you would have got 2.1 for that – and not forgetting the 2.88 for Turkey!
International superstar Anggun was next up for France. Having caught a few pre-contest videos from various national finals and fan concerts, I wasn’t at all surprise to learn that Anggun sounded off-key in places. I have a question, “What on earth do gymnasts have to do with Echo (You & I)?” It is perhaps the most inappropriately staged song in the contest – even Austria makes sense! On this showing, France’s finishing position will be in the high twenties.
Italy were possibly today’s most eagerly awaited act and Nina certainly didn’t disappoint. With a retro monochromatic backdrop, Nina performed L’Amore E’ Femmina alongside three backing singers. The first run-through seemed somewhat wooden, but thankfully the Italians were up for trying new things. During the second performance, Nina walked the stage, which signaled an early step forward. I think the Italians are missing a trick with their presentation. There are a number of recognisable baritone saxophone flourishes in the melody that I believe should be performed on stage. Furthermore, there needs to be added emphasis in the graphic displays during the ‘Boom Boom’ moments. These enhancements would add even greater class to an already sophisticated composition.
The hosts, Azerbaijan, ventured onto their home turf and thoroughly surprised all with their straight-out-of-the-box impact. Sabina was joined on stage by three backing singers and renowned Azerbaijani mugham singer, Alim Qasimov. The melody is beautifully crafted and builds from a mysterious and mournful introduction to a powerful spine-tingling ballad. ‘When the Music Dies’ possesses some stunning details that the juries can’t fail to ignore. Azerbaijan already enjoys massive televote support; couple that with strong jury representation and we could be facing another trip to Baku in 2013. One word – Wow!
Spain have a lot to be proud of in ‘Quédate Conmigo’ and Pastora always gives it 100%. My one gripe with Pastora in the past has been her facial expressions – she looks as if she’s constipated, which for an intimate and emotional song where the camera will mostly be focused on the face, it’s not a good look for the viewing public to endure. I’m disappointed to say that the constipated look returned again today. To add insult to injury, Pastora is eventually joined on stage by five marauding backing singers that dip to a lower register when they should be following Pastora to the skies. Spain have a great draw, fantastic song and an outstanding singer, but they stand to lose what could be an extremely respectful finish if they fail to address these presentational concerns – right now, they are forgotten after Germany.
Last up today was Englebert Humperdinck for the United Kingdom, with ‘Love will set you Free.’ After three minutes of Englebert falling short on nearly every big note and key change we really will need setting free. In fact, after just one minute, the Hump’s first hit rings in my mind – “Please release me, Let me go!” The stage was equally low-key, where the Hump is joined by two waltzing dancers and a guitarist. With the Hump performing first in the running order, on current form the UK is more likely to finish in the last-10 rather than the top-10.
We’ll be back again tomorrow from 7:30am GMT to cover day 8 of the Eurovision rehearsal schedule, where we will once again be providing all the latest information, videos and odds in one simple location.