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Eurovision 2018: Day 2 Review

Day 2 got off to a glitchy start with the press centre monitors looping a Visit Portugal promo while FYRoM were rehearsing. We managed to catch the final run-through, though.

Marija wears a pink tunic-type back-to-front jacket. Nothing is left to the imagination when she turns her back to the camera. It’s an odd costume choice as it doesn’t suit her or the production. During the ‘upbeat’ section, Marija joins her three backing singers for a dance. For the next upbeat segment, Bojan and Marija group around the drummer before finishing on the bridge. The staging is stagnant, but comes alive for the outro – an opportunity missed as Lost and Found is crying out for more movement.

Croatia is one of the day’s biggest surprises. Crazy was always classy, yet seemed to lack the next gear or two in studio form. It still does, but with no gimmicks the focus is solely on a classy, lace-gowned Franka who oozes  charisma and professionalism. Following was Cesár Sampson for Austria who demonstrated the pre-rehearsal worries over his ability to command the stage as a frontman. Based on the first few rehearsals today, he was found wanting.

Cesár starts in silhouette on a raised under-lit platform. There is no camera connection. This would be a red flag if one was betting on the UK X Factor. The backing singers are just in view behind the platform. Opportunity missed here, as they are integral to the track, yet play no part in the visual journey. When Cesár descends, he Craig-Davids his way around the satellite stage. Again, no solid connection to viewers at home and it’s all rather self-indulgent.

Greece were up before lunch and it’s a case of empty stage syndrome for Yianna Terzi. White dress and blue hand; a discreet nod to national colours, but little else going on. Yianna is vocally fine, but Croatia is way ahead in this early run of second-half songs.

Saara Aalto was once again proving why she has yet to make it as a global singer. Set against what looks like a Crystal Maze prop, she starts the song rotating like at the national final when performing Domino. It’s relevance? Well there isn’t any. The staging isn’t as cheesy and camp as at the national final, but it lacks purpose. The Nazi-inspired dancer costumes are a clumsy oversight. Pyros were deployed for the final run through. Finland is very 50/50.

Over to Armenia now and it’s safe to say that Qami is my least favourite entry from the nation in some years. Sevak stands in the centre of a stone circle wearing a black, ethnic natural-fibre robe, which gives him the look of a prophet or a wise old sage. I don’t see much for non-diaspora televoters here apart from the sense of quality and outstanding vocal delivery. Should be a finalist, but it’s difficult to predict his final position.

It’s beginning to feel like a very long day after Switzerland. It’s a competent song and the new punctuated start makes it stand out, but the audience will have seen everything after the first minute. There’s still a slight aggressive feel to Corinne who throws a drumstick away early on and paces around dragging the mic-stand behind her. Corrine raises a firework in the air during the ‘if anyone has ever been hurt’ speech. If Switzerland qualifies, it’ll be in 10th.

Ireland pretty much follows the official video with the two dancers performing behind Ryan and his new female pianist sidekick. The narrative seemingly focuses on a straight and gay relationship, but some of the camera angles need tightening up. This started to come together by the third run through. The steady-cam work has a Netherlands 2014 feel as it pans and circles around Ryan and the pianist.

Cyprus ended today’s rehearsals and boy were they deserving of the pimp slot. Eleni wears a predominantly gold pant suit and is joined by four backing dancers. In terms of imagery and style, it’s very Pussycat Dolls and any ‘this is so generic’ sentiment is lost on what is a current and incredibly polished performance. The semi-final each-ways at 50/1 were a gift. The fact Cyprus are still as high as 25/1 is mystifying. Given Israel is a harsh 3-minutes and somewhat buried in the order, Cyprus could conceivably win this semi-final and suffer a jury drop in the final.  New bookmakers, Karamba, are still offering 1.27 to qualify which is free money and were touting the 25/1 for the semi win.

About Gavster

Owner & Chief Editor   I’m a qualified designer and the official geek in the crew, dedicating most of my free time to keeping the ESCtips show on the road. My family routes allow me to support the UK, Ireland and Italy.

7 comments

  1. For me

    ———–
    qualified
    ———–
    Azerbaijan
    Czech Republic
    Israel
    Estonia
    Austria
    Cyprus
    Lithuania

    ————-
    Borderline
    ————-
    Belgium
    Belarus
    Bulgaria
    Croatia
    Finland

    —————-
    Not qualified
    —————-
    Albania
    Iceland
    F.Y.R. Macedonia
    Greece
    Armenia
    Switzerland
    Ireland

    • All the qualified I think

      Azerbaijan
      Czech Republic
      Israel
      Estonia
      Austria
      Cyprus
      Lithuania
      Bulgaria
      Croatia
      Finland

  2. not had a go yet at any predictions this year so here goes

    Qualifiers:

    Czech Republic – don’t like it but it has USP and extremely well performed.
    Israel – again a USP that is very compelling if not everyone’s cup of tea
    Bulgaria – too dark for the win but this should have enough to qualify comfortably
    Croatia – always thought this was a bit of dark horse and confirmed by rehearsal
    Greece – diaspora and jury will take this through easily
    Armenia – ethno/own language/authenticity will ensure this gets over the line
    Cyprus – pimp slot OTT will ensure memorability

    in with a chance:

    Azerbaijan – slick presentation and catchy make this a contender. i almost put it with the certains.
    Albania – superb vocal should snag a high jury score and ALB have friends here
    Lithuania – sentimental but great USP with excellent vocals. deffo in the mix
    Estonia – USP but very marmite. will be relying on the popera fans to turn out and jury support
    Austria – catchy radio friendly songs generally do well with juries but will need neutral vote love to progress
    Ireland – if this was first half it’d have no chance but here it is a memorable change of pace giving it a slim chance

    going home:

    Iceland – the worst song, get outta here…
    Belgium – good ballad but in the wrong place in the draw and looking poorly staged. pity because i had money on it 🙁
    Belarus – don’t care how much its improved vocally the whole thing looks and sounds a mess
    Macedonia – sorry as its one of my favourites but it doesn’t look like it will come together with any coherence
    Finland – X Factor staging at its worst. the UK won’t be able to save this omnishambles
    Switzerland – even at this late stage it will compare unfavourably with ALB and no friendly votes will seal the deal

  3. We always expected this semifinal to be really hard to predict and today’s rehearsals have shaken up things even more.

    Croatia, Austria and Ireland have all stepped up their game, while Greece and Armenia provided two of the most underwhelming rehearsals so far. Even Switzerland is back in the mix, after an surprisingly strong result in the Eurojury and a solid first rehearsal, while I don’t want to underestimate Saara Aalto’s professionalism and potential to be received positively by both juries and public.

    I do expect a few shocking NQs to be honest and I believe that probably the juries will have a say in that, given the large amount of jury friendly songs in the semi. Belgium seems to be the most obvious right now, but I have the feeling that Greece and Armenia are also in danger, failing to provide a concept that will make their songs appeal outside their respective diasporas. If we also take into account how badly both songs fared with the Eurojury, I expect them to finish outside the jury top 10, so it’s solely up to their diasporas to save them now.

  4. Guys, just as a side note, why is Sasha Jean-Baptiste highly regarded in Eurovision lore?

    Has she been the creative director for any of the previous winners? I know she handled Bulgaria last year…

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