Today started with the feeling that we might get a new Eurovision market leader given Alexander will surely impress and Australia could tick all the right boxes to earn victory. Day 3 is the day of kitsch and the kitchen sink.
On the subject of kitsch, Eurovision 2009 winner, Alexander Rybak, opens the day’s rehearsals with his large slice of cheese and a point-by-point plan for writing a song. The song actually becomes a secondary factor in the performance as Rybak dazzles us with his infectious charisma. The MGP graphic overlays remain – they’ve just been spruced up a bit. The final run through featured big pyro jets at the front of the stage. Rybak is the big PR story of 2018, and matched with this simple, but slick performance, Norway are a major contender for the win.
The Humans for Romania now and their staging is anything but human. It’s like they raided a 1980s C&A shop-window with all the mannequins . In fact, it’s like an artistic recreation of the film Carry On Screaming. Oddbod and Oddbod Junior seemingly escort lead singer, Cristina, to her future as a shop-window dummy. The staging is mostly purple with Cristina also wearing a long purple dress. Her less telegenic band members are in white. The problem here is the choreography and masks: the connotations are bad and confuse rather than add to the impact of the song. Even so, Cristina’s vocals are exquisite, so one can’t discount a decent level of jury support here.
Watch out the Nazi salute in Serbia’s performance. Blimey! Who checks these things? Nil-point from Germany me thinks.
Nova Deca sounds promising when it first starts, but it rapidly loses its credibility when the plastic beat kicks in. It’s performed nicely, provided you overlook the Nazi element, but the juries will hate this.
Ending this dire twosome of songs is San Marino. There are dancing robots on stage folks. Jessika appears on screen in a dark hooded robe scowling at the camera during the first verse. This is removed by two dancers, revealing a glittery gold jacket. The press centre loved this show purely for comedy value, but this is Social Network Song levels of trash. The song ends with Jessika and rapper, Jenifer, forming a heart from their hands. This trite gesture should now be a capital offence. Robots can be programmed to look as if they’re enjoying this song. Unfortunately for San Marino, the public and juries are capable of independent thought.
Denmark were as reliable as ever in terms of keeping nearly every detail of the staging concept from their national final. It’s a dark and static presentation with five non-voteable bearded guys. The love in the fan community is real, but Denmark is third in the queue for Nordic points and even further down the reckoning in the other regional blocs.
Putin just unveiled his new intercontinental weapon on the Eurovision stage, so watch out for wheelchair-bound women being shot from volcanoes. Russia has done everything possible to coverup the frailties of Yulia by focussing as much attention as possible on two ballet dancers. According to Wiwi, the final 43-seconds doesn’t feature a single closeup of Yulia. Job done in my opinion. The vocals aren’t great, but we never expected them to be. On the back of what I’ve just seen, Russia should still be ahead of Denmark when the points are combined.
I received a tip as to what to expect from Moldova, so had high hopes for their staging concept. They’ve worked a miracle here with the three main singers – joined by three body-doubles – performing a slapstick hide ‘n’ seek seaside-cum-music hall routine with some innocent Carry On naughtiness chucked in for good measure. It perfectly suits eastern and western humour and will be extremely popular on the British-centric betting markets after the live semi-final. Our new bookmaker friends, Karamba, are still offering 50/1 each-way to win this semi-final. I think they’re on for top-3 at the very least.
Over to Netherlands now and what appears to be a blend of US Country-Rock meets 1970s Live & Let Die Bronx as pimp-suited Waylon is joined on stage by four industrial black dancers. The dancing is aggressive and certainly not vote-motivating. Stage director Hans Pannecoucke has once again proven that he’s a one trick pony. Waylon in serious danger here as he’s getting nothing from the televote.
Australia were one of the early favourites going into rehearsals, but Jessica has been dressed like a half-opened sweet against dull green/purple staging. Even worse is that they’ve made this larger-framed woman gyrate and dance, rather than just standing front to camera delivering the song passionately like Dami Im – because that’s obviously what’s required. If dancing is needed, get dancers to do it! Stage designer, Sacha, even has her doing the robotic arm movements like Kristian Kostov last year. Why?
As an early Australia backer, I see no return for this unless they massively overhaul the concept, but even then there’s a ceiling.