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Eurovision 2018: Day 4 Review

A change of position for us today: the hosts have opened up another room with a proper TV screen. We are now commenting on performances in HD.

Georgia kick of proceedings today with their take on Croatia 2013. Vocally it’s fine, but this is your typical toilet break song. One or two of the 5-piece group aren’t particularly telegenic or vote-motivating. In fact they all look as if they were kicked out of bed way too early for this morning’s rehearsal.

It’s amazing how many Nazi references there are this year with Gromee seemingly dressed like Allo Allo’s Herr Flick. That aside, this is a fun and competent 3-minute crowd-pleaser following the lowkey Georgia. The staging is visually striking with deep blue and pink hues. Lukas Meijer’s vocals are much stronger than at the national final and pre-party concerts, so Poland are cementing their place in the final.

Malta loves to blow money on staging, and in this case they’ve gone the whole hog. Christabelle starts inside of a box with four LED walls with internal and external scenes. The visuals are confusing and lack any sort of relevance to the song. For instance, when singing about ‘sticks and stones’ Christabelle manipulates an on-screen overlay of the Earth while channeling the evil half of Shakespear’s Sister. It’s always dangerous to bet against Malta when they’re throwing this much money around, so it’s a ‘no bet’ here unless they edge closer to even money.

I do like a bit of rock, but I’m not into growl-rock, so Hungary is well beyond my comfort threshold. How many of Europe’s rockers will be sat around the TV on the a Thursday night watching Eurovision? Not many, in my opinion. Admittedly, there’s a strong USP. The final run through had every form of pyro possible, so there’s little doubt AWS will standout.

There’s an interesting contrast with the serene Latvia following noisy Hungary. Will jurors who find Hungary too jarring be more prone to reward a stylish Latvia? That’s one theory floating around the Eurovision betting table. Funny Girl probably won’t stir an enthusiastic response from the televote, but Laura’s fine vocal should be capable of overcoming Latvia’s regional vote deficit in this semi.

The last of the big names in this semi-final now and a performance that continues to leave me cold. Benjamin Ingrosso delivers an exact carbon-copy of his Melfest performance, albeit with a subtle costume change. Sweden drifted during the first run-through, which sort of highlights how people feel about this package. It’s flat and it lacks heart. Moreover, Benjamin isn’t as vocally crisp without the Melfest backing track trickery.

If there is ever to be a male winner of the Barbara Dex award, then Vanja is in with a shout. He wears what looks like a futuristic, light blue asymmetric bubble-wrap suit that probably featured in an old episode of Star Trek. It isn’t bubble-wrap, but it creates that effect under the lights. As the song progresses, the stage lights turn orange, so you have this awkward moment when his suit is totally the wrong colour. Vanja’s greatest weakness is his lack of gravitas when compared to former purveyors of this genre. It’s difficult to see Montenegro making the cut with this, but given the state of semi 2, it’s another no bet.

Just to ensure they stand out during the semi-final, Slovenia have opted to fake a technical glitch with the music cutting out before the second chorus. During this Lea invites the audience the sing along with her [in Slovenian] before the backing track cuts back in. A huge negative is the strobe lighting during the refrain; it’s far too bright and distracting watching from our new HD TV position. The last chorus is performed in Portuguese, which isn’t particularly helpful given Portugal don’t vote in this semi.

Thankfully we’ve reached the end of semi-final 2 with Ukraine’s Mélovin performing Under the Ladder. This son of Dracula rises from a piano coffin to start the song before descending a staircase to the stage during the second verse. He makes his way back up the staircase for the middle-eight to play the piano, at which point the first five rungs of the staircase set fire. The performance feels laboured and lacks the energy present during the national final. For that reason, I don’t think Ukraine will be contenders for the top-10 this year.

Having got to the end of this half, I find myself wanting to watch Moldova or Norway again, which sort of confirms who are the main players in semi 2.

About Gavster

ESCtips Owner   I’m a qualified designer and dedicate a lot of my free time to keeping the ESCtips show on the road. My family routes allow me to support the UK, Ireland and Italy.


  1. Gavster, thanks for the review. Did you hear the rumour that Israel is going to replace their feline prompt with something more audacious? Allegedly cats are a place-holder for a big surprise. Just interested if you hear any rumours

  2. In a semi final that is rather light on successful jury friendly songs, the juries will be looking for a home for their votes. I reckon Latvia could do surprisingly well here. It will need to to qualify because it is likely to struggle in the televote against the many diaspora big hitters in this semi.

    It is obvious that Norway and Moldova are both going to do well with the televote. It is the jury vote that is the question. Last year there were three big televote friendly songs in the final – Romania, Croatia and Moldova. Moldova came third primarily because it was the only one of the three to get a decent jury vote. Gav, what are your thoughts on how Norway and Moldova will fare with the juries, particularly relative to each other?

    • I’m not sure why Norway is considered as bad for juries or compared to Romania or even Croatia last year – both were far more divisive and gimmicky. Being a former record-breaking winner also help Rybak IMO and it’s not as if they can mark him down for impact, vocals or visual impression. Moldova could certainly be pegged back, but I fully expect to televote to get behind them. Kirkorov will ensure the regional jurors play their part too.

  3. Gav, after the first rehearsals, do countries change their staging much?

    Is it even possible to do a complete overhaul considering the timeline is getting closer to the semis in less than a week?

    • Not drastically, no. I’m just trying to cast my mind back to such revamps and the most significant change was Malta 2016 when they rocked up in Stockholm with a projection concept. This was trashed after the first rehearsal. Trijntje’s and her backing singers had a costume change in 2015.

      It’s mostly things like camera angles, lighting colours or subtle choreography/costume alterations. Let’s face it, all of the delegations will have story-boarded their staging months in advance and will have a firm idea of their concept. They will have also seen the stand-in rehearsals, so it’s surprising some countries make such a pig’s ear of it.

  4. Thanks Gav!

  5. What were Netherlands thinking!!

  6. This semi-final is much weaker than the previous one.

    For me


    The Netherlands

    Not qualified
    San Marino

    • All the qualified I think


  7. Well, after the ghastly shock that went over The Netherlands, I am finally able to post again :-P. Before I post my predictions after the 1st rehearsals, I will precede them with a pre-rehearsal prediction. Here we go!:


    Pre-rehearsal (April 28th):
    02. ISRAEL
    03. ESTONIA
    04. AUSTRIA
    05. BELARUS
    06. CYPRUS
    07. BULGARIA
    08. GREECE
    Alternatives for 9th to 10th place, though with less chance: ARMENIA, ALBANIA, IRELAND & BELGIUM

    After 1st rehearsals (May 3rd):
    01. ISRAEL (+1)
    02. CYPRUS (+4)
    03. ESTONIA (–)
    04. CZECH REPUBLIC (-3)
    05. BELARUS (–)
    06. ARMENIA (+5)
    07. BULGARIA (–)
    08. AUSTRIA (-4)
    09. CROATIA (+4)
    10. IRELAND (+4)
    Alternatives for 9th to 10th place, though with less chance: GREECE, AZERBAIJAN, ALBANIA, LITHUANIA & BELGIUM

    I find this sooo difficult, but I think Ireland has a better draw than Lithuania. On the other hand, Lithuania stands out a bit too and I favor it slightly more than Ireland (but it’s close!). Yet, if we look what happened with Cyprus in 2015, then I ought to say Ireland.

    Estonia is slightly underestimated I think. On camera the opera singer is very likeable. And I do think “the dress” is better, more impressive, and less cheesy than for instance Moldova 2013. Cyprus has really improved with incredible staging. And I have to give it to Gavster, but this could indeed be the year where camp and cheesy up-tempo entries (with props and all that) will do best again.

    And Greece? My, I was shocked I forgot about it. But although I adore it….my taste doesn’t matter. I adored Finland last year too. Perhaps Greece this year is a bit too 90’s? Still, it could go through. And then there are Lithuania and Azerbaijan……


    Pre-rehearsal (April 28th):
    02. NORWAY
    04. SWEDEN
    05. MOLDOVA
    06. POLAND
    07. HUNGARY
    08. UKRAINE
    09. LATVIA
    10. GEORGIA
    Alternatives for 9th to 10th place, though with less chance: ARMENIA, ALBANIA, IRELAND & BELGIUM

    After 1st rehearsals (May 3rd):
    01. NORWAY (+1)
    02. MOLDOVA (+3)
    03. SWEDEN (+1)
    04. AUSTRALIA (-3)
    05. POLAND (+1)
    06. UKRAINE (+2)
    07. HUNGARY (–)
    08. DENMARK (+5)
    09. THE NETHERLANDS (-6)
    10. LATVIA (-1)
    Alternatives for 9th to 10th place, though with less chance: GEORGIA, RUSSIA, ROMANIA & MONTENEGRO

    Like Lithuania in semi #1, also Latvia perhaps suffers a bit from the “sandwhich syndrome”. I mean, being placed right between Hungary and Sweden, although I think it’s not that big of a problem because Latvia is in the 2nd half of this semi final. Australia is perhaps not doing anything great, but they could do another “OG3NE”-kind of scoring. We should not over-exaggerate fashion blunders. What stays is a charismatic singer.

    The Netherlands however is my biggest disappointment. Fashion-wise Waylon’s jacket is a big fail. Similar to these fashion fails: Netherlands 2000, Netherlands 2003, Netherlands 2009, Netherlands 2010, Netherlands 2011, Netherlands 2012 & Netherlands 2015. Yet my biggest concern is the actual act. It distracts from an otherwise good song. Having said that, I think it will still qualify….but barely.

    Hungary is great niche music for metal lovers, but like Georgia 2016 and Cyprus 2016 there’s not a big enough market to propel this to the TOP 5 of this semi final.

    As alternatives I do think that Georgia has the best chance to slip through.

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