Last night Rob (EntOdds) and I went to Euroclub and enjoyed live sets from Sebalter, Suzi and Paula & Ovi. Sebalter was easily the best and he’s a really down-to-earth-and likable chap. Rob still preferred the drag act’s version of Zlata’s Gravity, though he won’t admit it!
So having got back to my hotel at 2am this morning and been woken up at 6:30 by the builders next door, I think you can all understand why I’m feeling somewhat lethargic. Anyway, the Armenians were up first…
The Armenian delegation clearly chooses its Eurovision reading material wisely. Having suggested Aram uses a hand-held microphone after the first rehearsal, the Armenian delegation have obliged.
They’ve also altered the graphics to feature celestial constellations and clouds. During the climax, the backdrop features red plasma streams and dead trees, which seems to be the default arty setting this year. Maybe DR are trying to interpret the Eurovision Island wasteland? In that case, may I suggest the inclusion of abandoned, written-off cars and directions that send you the wrong way?
During the last rehearsal Armenia deployed a line of fire canons during the climax. I don’t like the fire canons and would prefer Co2 jets with dry ice.
There were no changes for Latvia, apart from the trees in the background look greener. They still look like band-camp geeks and I worry Latvia are well beyond saving.
Estonia has brightened up their staging and the background brickwork looks cleaner and less like a third-world prison.
During the second run-through, Tanja’s radio-microphone battery-pack kept making a bid for freedom, which left Tanja fumbling in places that might have required an 18 certificate if being broadcast live. I can think of a very secure place to locate that battery pack, but again, that might require an 18 certificate!
Amazing has come a long way in just a few days, and even though there are very few physical changes, the package translates much better on TV.
Sanna next and word on the street over the last few days has focused on the apparent toys being launched at DR from Sanna and Christer’s pram. Apparently, Sweden’s high command are not happy with DR’s “look at our big, beautiful stage” approach and have requested less of the fancy stuff.
I feel even colder to Sanna after rehearsal two, and comparing Undo’s staging to the likes of Yohanna’s Is it True, you could argue that Yohanna is the Disney princess and Sanna is the evil stepmother. That’s how it comes across anyway.
Like Latvia, there are very few changes from the first rehearsal. Unlike Latvia though, Iceland actually has a chance of upsetting the order and stands out as the bright spark in the first half of semi-final 1.
Albania has come alive and the staging looks stunning. Hersi no longer looks like she’ll emerge from your TV and kill you.
It’s a shame Hersi didn’t write a more Eurovision-friendly song. With ballads from Sweden, Azerbaijan, Belgium, San Marino, Netherlands and Montenegro, the vote split will likely be too great for Albania to overcome.
Tolmachevy Sisters return for Russia. They now have a Windows 95 star field screensaver as their backdrop. The vocals were pretty rough during the first run-through, but they were tightened up by the end.
The giant nipple hats used during the second and third run-throughs are laughable and the whole Russia package appears too choreographed and plastic. I still think they’ll qualify, but wouldn’t back them at such low odds.
Azerbaijan is beautiful on the TV feed. It’s simple and delicate, but resonates so deep.
Dilara and her trapeze artist wear deep red dresses, and like last year, there’s mirrored symbolism on show.
Unexpectedly, there were no pyrotechnics for Dilara and I think we all anticipated a fiery element at some point. Having said that, Azerbaijan looks so stylish on screen I don’t think they need any more gimmicks.
Maria was much improved for Ukraine’s second rehearsal. There were a few breathy moments, but on the whole, the camera angles really capture the song well and Ukraine looks a solid top-10.
One note of criticism is the lack of smiles from Maria, and for most of the song, she looks a bit stressed. Just something to watch out for!
Belgium is as per their first rehearsal, but the motherly spectre is missing from most of the shots. The stage remains quite dull and I have to admit to being quite tired of hearing about Axel’s mother.
Cristina Scarlat is draped in a blue sheet topped with gold armour for Moldova. The four dancers behind are also sporting casual battle/slave dress.
Wild Soul has always been a difficult song to like. It’s quite fierce and Cristina doesn’t look particularly endearing. Moldova do have support, but I think that will be seriously tested.
San Marino was another of those ‘as per first rehearsal’ songs and it’s difficult to find anything new or interesting to say about it. As I said in the day-2 review, I think San Marino’s progression depends on the third-time-lucky narrative gaining traction with the various national commentators.
Portugal was up straight after the hour-long break and it was the pick-me-up everyone needed.
Suzi wasn’t in strong voice today and it’s the opening verse where she’s most exposed. No one can argue against the overall visual impression though, which is a kaleidoscopic feast complete with tinnitus warning.
There are parts of the song where Suzi has this bulldog chewing on a wasp expression, like maybe one of her dancers stretched slightly too far and expelled something into the ether.
Netherlands were the highlight of the day with their staging and camera angles elevating Calm after the Storm in my personal rankings.
The interaction between Ilse DeLange and Waylon is sublime and in terms of song quality, stage impression and vocals, Netherlands is ticking lots of boxes. Each way terms for the semi win are appealing.
Montenegro is dull. It’s so dull the most entertaining feature was the multi-coloured backdrop – and when their third and final rehearsal has finished. Sergej looks grey, like John Major Spitting Image puppet grey! So at the back end of this semi-final, I think Netherlands wins the battle.
Hungary was last up and they’ve added a night-time cityscape of skyscrapers to their backdrop. It’s much more visually engaging, but the addition of white and red masks on the dancers is distracting and slightly off putting.
I think Hungary should do fairly well with the juries in this semi, but I remain somewhat negative regarding the televote.
That’s it for today. Share your opinions below and make sure you join us again tomorrow!