We’re into the long, gruelling days now and today we watched semi-final 2 second rehearsals and the first rehearsals for France and Spain.
The staging has come together for Finland. Sandhja retains the light blue playsuit and works the cameras well – maybe a little to aggressive in some shots. Her vocals drift during the big moments, which will be picked up by jurors and televoters, and is certainly a concern for Finland qualification backers should any exist.
We finally got to hear Greece today. Utopian Land isn’t a personal favourite, though I’ve seen much worse songs make the cut. It’s another presentation that looks half-baked, yet despite the decent visuals, the lack of interest from the rapper reflects the wider reaction to Argo’s song.
If generic, trashy euro-dance is your thing, then Lidia’s Falling Stars will appeal. The juries will hate it – as will most of Europe – and despite adding a verse in French, Moldova will be exiting Eurovision next Tuesday night. Au revoir!
Hungary features slightly revised staging graphics, but largely remains in national final form. The drummer wears a cowl and performs a few capoeira moves during the verses. Freddie appears more engaging and walks both sides of the stage. Could just qualify in 9th or 10th.
Still starting the song draped in bubblewrap with decorative tree motifs, Nina is joined by four monkish figures in black cloaks. This is a bizarre creative direction for a song aiming to be positive. Nina also shows off her white and silver metallic dress. Nina looks and sounds nervy, so the jury rehearsal will be essential viewing. Croatia are in trouble.
Douwe Bob hasn’t quite hit top gear yet, but I think he’s the sort of guy that will come alive during the live shows. He needs to maximise the close-up shots with some simmering stares down the lens – he does give us a Gianluca Ginoble wink, though. Netherlands is simple and charming and will be on SVT’s wish list to make the final.
Iveta still wears a cloaked leotard; the fish-nets have gone, but the overly sexual visuals remain. Vocally, she’s fine, but TV viewers will struggle to take anything away beyond what is a scantily clad woman shouting at them for three minutes. Armenia aren’t getting many votes once in the final.
Serhat wears a plum suit and fedora with five backing dancers in sparkling silver leotards and bodysuits. San Marino have taken big steps forward with their staging adding disco balls, starbursts and a general feeling of fun.
More problems for Russia during the first run through. This was quickly sorted, and with some graphic and lighting tweaks, Sergey gave a more assured performance. The staging is still like one of those all you can eat international buffets: loads of choice, but nothing of standout quality.
In a total contrast to Russia, Gabriela Gunčíková delivers I Stand with blissful simplicity. The staging has been toned down during the softer moments and the camera angles convey greater drama. One or two more closeups would really help the Czech Republic’s cause.
Cyprus have stripped back the most of the wolves, but added more bite to the overall presentation of Alter Ego. Francois Micheletto gives great camera and the whole performance is lifted by pyros during the final run through.
Austria remains the same and are still on my NQ list, but could offer better lay value in play. Estonia is much the same too, but Jüri has got rid of those awful glasses. If you thought Loïc looked like a psycho last year, then you wouldn’t want to be caught in a dark alley with Jüri.
Azerbaijan would be better off following the Spice Girls’ lead and muting Samra’s microphone. She has improved since last rehearsal, however, if the juries stay true to the marking criteria, Azerbaijan won’t be scoring well outside of their regional and oth€r allies.
Highway are all dressed in black against black staging with red tinges. The girl at the front appears even more slutty in black thigh-high boots. This is really messy. Montenegro should be fighting for last place with Moldova.
Way to turn it around Iceland! I Hear Them Calling now features a new pre-recorded special effect where Greta turns into a black puff of smoke and plunges through the floor. This is the compromise to the rather jerky link to the second verse that was causing problems on Tuesday.
Bosnia & Herzegovina also took a step forward if you can overlook the hyperthermia sheets and Dean’s Gestapo officer’s jacket. I actually think this is becoming more credible, in a Balkan sort of way and took some 80/1 top Balkan at Bet365 as cheap cover for Serbia. This is qualifying.
Malta makes it a hat trick of countries improving on their first rehearsal. The dodgy cape projection and Tinkara whirlpool are history and instead we have a stunning blue, watery backdrop and a smiling Ira in a flattering gold and black dress.
Amir is in his traditional svelte blue suit with white t-shirt and trainers combo. The backdrop features stars and flying planets, which is quite fitting really, as I’ve been forward in telling people for some time that they were in orbit if they thought France could win Eurovision. Amir is isolated on that huge stage, and even when he smiles, it looks strained. After three rehearsals, the supposed fan favourite received no applause from the press centre.
Spain were last up today. Barei is joined on stage by four backing singers-cum-dancers who struggle to hold a tune. The stage features blue/white triangles with the surrounding effect-lights spewing out all shades of colour vomit. It looks messy. One of Barei’s dance moves, or rather gimmicks, is to fall down with the music and lights cutting out. It’s dramatic, but it doesn’t take genius to work out it’s faked. I can’t see the juries being kind to this, so I think Spain have already reserved their customary 20th+ finishing position.