The big-5 and Ukraine join rehearsals today, which means we’re entering the business end of the Contest and can now start zeroing in on our top-4 and 5 nations.
Finishing off the second rehearsals of the first semi-final, Armenia were first up today and Artsvik is wearing a black pantsuit with chainmail detailing at the top. Fly With Me is looking slick and the swooping eagle overlay effect at the end is superb. A compelling 3-minutes!
Slovenia is… #BetterThanBelgium! Those PaddyPower qualification odds of 9/1 recommended on Twitter this week could be the rick of the year. Omar is in good voice and this conventional, bright, white staging delivers a massive epic feeling that other ballads fail to deliver. I can’t see On My Way lighting up the scoreboard, but it’s definitely doing all the right things to nab 8th-10th place in this semi.
Latvia’s penis has been covered up, but I have to question the displaying of the Hindu ॐ – are religious symbols permitted? Even so, the latter is far better than a penis being broadcast to Europe’s primetime viewers. Agnese doesn’t look particularly voteable in her Eurovision garbs and seems to be channeling an 80s Boy George. It’s an aggressive performance with some sexual overtones – I don’t think this will go down well at all.
Tijana looks like she’s borrowed Lindita’s dress, as well as unintentionally replicating elements of Greece’s watery backdrop. This isn’t particularly great live and Tijana is still well short of the studio vocal quality. Serbia will need their diaspora to secure a place in the Grand Final.
Nathan was less surefooted today with some of the big notes causing him problems. He was better during the final run through, but it’s maybe something to keep an eye on for Austria’s jury rehearsal.
FYRoM up after the lunch break and Jana looks even more amateur and totally out of her depth on the Eurovision stage. Her outfit is black and shows lots of leg. The performance is too seedy.
Claudia has incredible stage presence and delivers Breathlessly with such sincerity and warmth. This time she wears a more silver-coloured dress. Otherwise Malta the same as rehearsal 1. Very consistent.
Romania have been in dispute with the production team over their wish to use pryos in the cannons. The use of confetti was denied on the back of limited cleaning time before the next song, and as Russia withdrew, the advert break no longer favours Romania. They have revamped the LEDs to dark blue during the slower middle-eight, before shockwaves and bangs are added to the arrangement for the cannon reveal. This is a good fix.
Now it’s time for this year’s automatic qualifiers and we start with the hosts, Ukraine, who have a giant statue’s head prop behind the band. The staging is blue with white and cyan flashing lights. The statue’s eyes light up during the middle-eight and pulse for the remainder of the song. This doesn’t look like a top-10 finish.
Francesco is dressed in his black, starry suit and silver tie and joined by four backing singers each wearing a different, brightly coloured jumper (blue, yellow, orange and red). The staging is much like at Sanremo, but the gorilla is more prominent on the backdrop, plus there are umbrellas on the “singin’ in the rain” line. The on-stage energy is there, and by the final run through the backing singers joined in for the “Olés” and “Nameste”. There are shots of the audience during some of those parts too. Italy’s camera work started off a tad messy and Francesco does have a tendency to improvise his dance moves – this will be rigidly rehearsed and slick for next week! Francesco added in his press conference: “There are two types of audience [for Occidentali’s Karma], those that understand the lyrics and those to who they are dedicated.”
Top-5 or bottom-5? Well the debate over Manel Navarro’s Do It For Your Lover has raged both in the ESCtips comments section and over in Spain. Here in Kyiv, the outcome looks certain for the lower region of the scoreboard. Manel is joined by three backing singers, two playing guitar and one on the drums. They look like a boyband, given they all wear Hawaiian shirts and it takes a while for Manel to distinguish himself as the lead artist. Visually, it doesn’t help that they start with their backs to camera. The vocals were off in places, too. There’s also a vintage, VW Camper van on the backdrop which rocks in time to the beat – it looks like someone’s making babies in the back when they really should be making a new song.
Can Germany beat Spain to last place? Well Levina is dressed in grey. She starts the song laying down on a grey sea LED floor. She stands up and backdrop is also grey. It’s VERY grey. It’s 50,000 shades of the dullest grey. Two pyro curtains are deployed for the final chorus. The vocals are fine, but this isn’t escaping the clutches of the bottom-5.
Lucie stands in a sort of mirrored shell for United Kingdom. There’s some subtle camera trickery to start which switches between a reflection of Lucie before revealing the real Lucie. The backdrop is a starry cosmos that explodes gold stars towards the viewer during the refrain. Pyros shoot from the stage after the middle-eight. Really well acted by Lucie given her West End roots.
Wait for it… FRANCE HAVE PARIS ON THE BACKDROP. Yes, totally unique concept being used here! It looks like a helicopter shot from the news looking for tiny terrorists. The tango dancer concept from the official video has gone and Alma stands alone. Very alone. Vocally it’s fine, but visually it’s typically France. They can’t do staging.
Tomorrow we’ll be back covering the remainder of the semi-final 2 second rehearsals.