Each artist is restricted to twenty minutes today, but Moldova suffered a few technical issues, throwing a spanner in Austria’s carefully planned schedule.
Eduard continued his strong vocal form, however, the risqué staging does risk being penalised by the juries.
I think the US already has the studio version of Face The Shadows playing on a continual loop at Guantanamo, however, the live TV feed is anything but torture. The ethnic graphics and subtle camerawork have really elevated Armenia’s song into a solid qualifier.
Belgium on the other hand, has retained and built on its avant-garde, clinical appearance. It’s still too cold and detached for me and I struggle to see viewers engaging with Loic’s psychopathic, emotionally void camera stares.
Following our Downfall parody video, it seems Mr Pannecoucke has escaped the bunker and made drastic changes to Trijntje’s appearance. The slashed-open autopsy dress has been replaced by a more humble, less flatting, floor-length gown with plunging neckline and accompanying leather jacket.
The camera features a range of intimate extreme close-ups of Trijntje, and as a whole, the Netherlands has taken a huge step forward, though I can’t ignore how repetitive the song is.
As the week has progressed, Finland’s punk rockers have gradually been nudged further down the pecking order for potential qualification. I have always respected their USP, but I feel its visual and aural properties are too jarring for Eurovision’s viewers.
Greece rounded off the morning’s rehearsals with the most slick and professional performance so far. Maria flirted with the cameras throughout One Last Breath, and as a package, it’s edging closer to top-10 territory.
Stig & Elina returned after lunch for Estonia. Their staging concept worked much better and the argument narrative is at least visible. There’s still too much gloominess for me, and seeing Stig leave the stage at 2:35 makes me think the viewers will exit with him.
FYRoM switched up their choreography a tad today with Daniel indulging in less swivel action, yet when he does attempt the odd freestyle move, it’s delivered with the finesse of a nightclub drunk. Daniel also has a tendency to zone out – eyes closed – and start riffing his vocal parts. What was a stylish song has been cheapened by flimsy staging.
Bojana’s Beauty Never Dies hits you like a 5am alarm clock following FYRoM. The presentation is very much as it was at first rehearsal, but with coloured flags used in favour of white. I still think Serbia will struggle to attract jury support, which may ultimately seal its fate as a non-qualifier.
Hungary’s plea for peace is perfectly placed after 3-minutes of watching Bojana’s tonsils. The Wars For Nothing package remains identical to Tuesday’s performance and anything over even money looks a steal for qualification.
Uzari delivered a much more confident performance of Time that was packed full of brooding stares and assertive gestures. Parts of the song still plod a little, but it at least Belarus sends Serbia down the memory-hole.
After a few false starts for Polina, Russia eventually looked like the contender many are touting it to be. Polina has a cracking vocal, but she appears nervy during the opening lines. I wouldn’t be too worried if I was a Russia backer, though I’ve always been on the can’t win side of the fence.
Denmark were trying a few costume changes with lead singer Philip Thornhill. Instead of the suit jacket, he now sports a black baseball jacket. The visuals remain similar and I think this song is doing enough to qualify.
Albania’s woes continue, though to a lesser degree. Elhaida’s vocal has improved, and even though she’s hitting the notes, you can hear the strain. As rehearsals progressed, Elhaida’s confidence grew and the main weakness is now the drab staging.
Romania retains the suitcase theme, though the backdrop has changed to shipping containers, which could be the perfect Daily Mail front page story if they were canny enough to pickup on the song’s moving-to-another-country-for-work narrative.
This song will motivate its diaspora, so there’s a strong top-10 and top-Balkan shout, which was available at 10.0+ earlier this week. I chose to dutch Romania with Greece for top-Balkan on Monday, having previously opposed Slovenia.
Nina Sublatti ended the fifth day of rehearsals with another assertive performance of Warrior. The opening stormy cloud visuals have greater contrast and Georgia is another nation staking a claim for a top-10 finish. The prize for best staging is a fight between Georgia and Latvia.
Choosing 10 qualifiers is becoming increasingly more difficult, and I think the jury rehearsal will crystallise many people’s thoughts.
We’ll be back tomorrow to watch the second rehearsals of semi-final 2.Make sure you follow the ESCtips FaceBook & Twitter accounts!