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.