Eurovision tiredness has officially set in, so rather than trek half mile uphill to the metro station before covering a further quarter mile to the arena, we instead opted for a taxi. Having said that, the metro is an experience not to be missed; the trains are relics of the 1960s and the stations have the full Soviet, art-deco regalia with star motifs and Stalinist busts. Oyster card technology hasn’t quite made it here yet, and access is gained by small plastic coins like the money one used to get in those toy tills as an 80s child.
Anyway, first up today was Demy for Greece. She was joined by two guys dancing in a pool and a holographic waterfall effect during the middle eight. Given the Greek delegation were up at 5am this morning, it was understandable that the first run through lacked the required sharpness. [Cue market overreaction] The final performance was much tighter and appeared more impactful on the small satellite screens in the press centre. They still need to work on the vocals, but that should come together for next rehearsal.
Urrrrg, Poland now. It’s a conceptless dirge with generic constellation staging featuring animals that form the word FREEDOM at the end as if to add some element of gravitas and meaning to what is a lazy, primary school level composition. Kasia relies on reasonably solid vocals and a bit of leg lift this toilet break song, though she can’t help but grunt during the power notes, which gives it a problematic aggressive feel.
Bang! Sunstroke Project delivered Hey Mamma straight out of the box for Moldova. They have really maximised the LED wall with dynamic, contrasting black and white graphics and projected figures of the three guys dancing. The backing singers remain in wedding dresses. The good thing about Moldova is that it feels authentic and natural – these guys have genuine sax appeal and a solid USP that should see them stake a claim for a place in the final. There’s not much for the juries to mark down here, as it feels much stronger than their 2010 effort when they opened the semi and finished 10th on the televote and 13th with the juries. The standard of their opponents is much lower this time around too and there isn’t a Hera Björk shaped Je Ne Sais Quoi vote magnet at the back end. This year’s Golden Boy?
Someone was requesting £1,700 at 2.98 for Iceland to qualify earlier today, which was eventually matched – in full. In hindsight, laying that was probably wise, as Iceland suffers from chronic empty stage syndrome; and while Svala is nowhere near as aggressive as she was at the Icelandic national final, she’s not doing enough to win over non-scandie voters. Greta finished 13th on the televote last year and it’s difficult to see Svala beating that given the lack of USP and visual hook.
My Turn isn’t the sort of slow, insipid song one needs after lunch. Wearing an inappropriate, gold lamé jumpsuit, Marta starts sat down front of stage before walking to centre stage following a yellow path. The staging shifts to pink with lots of closed eyes which eventually open and close again. This is an apt representation of how Europe will react to Czech Republic’s song, which looks nailed on for last place in this semi-final. The naked bodies from the official video also make an appearance. NEXT!
If you have a singer who lacks charisma, then giving them loads of tricky choreography isn’t going to help the situation. Hovig, joined by two backing dancers, spends most of the song trying to balance and walk along various LED lines which they often miss. There are one or two moments that require Hovig to balance on one leg and he failed every single time until the final run through. They should shove a small lead weight in Hovig’s back pocket to counterbalance him. Cyprus just about OK with this fairly unimpressive song.
The day’s most anticipated rehearsal now and maybe a song more difficult to get first time than in previous years. The distinctive production of the official video has been replaced with Artsvik joined by two female dancers performing intricate armography against a predominately purple backdrop with asian motifs; the showpiece being the highly effective, multi-arm Durga-move. This is an artistic performance that will attract jury love, it just depends if they prefer the simplicity of Portugal or the artistry of Armenia, which ends on a high with a terrific soaring eagle effect.
Omar is the first of this year’s acts to use the much publicised staging chandelier. It looks like Omar is performing on Israel’s Rising Star franchise, as the chandelier totally shuts him off from the live audience. There are moments when Omar appears a tad deranged, which may prevent neutrals warming to him. However, On My Way has a rousing, epic ending with plenty of white light and swooping camera shots, so it’s possible Slovenia could surprise if Omar connects with TV viewers.
Latvia stays in national final form, but the Eurovision stage allows for more dynamic, psychedelic lighting effects. Agnese is sporting bright red hair and resembles last year’s Swiss performer, Rykka – one would expect this to change for next week’s semi-final. Line takes a while to get going here, but it is difficult to hear with the growing number of press attending. It should qualify, but it’s not a position I’m getting involved in for now given the lack of liquidity and sensible prices around.
We’ll be back tomorrow to review the first half of semi-final two’s rehearsals.