I think Brian Blessed was in the room next to mine last night, so I’m a little red in the eyes this morning. After a few strong coffees – courtesy of sending Tobbe on a drinks run – Sevak took to the stage for Armenia. His performance of Qami was virtually indistinguishable from Monday’s first rehearsal. There’s some soft blue lighting at the start, which may have been in place on Monday. I don’t remember. But it does soften the early impact of this.
There’s a strong argument that Belgium should get through because of the juries rewarding a credible track, but Switzerland’s Zibbz perform the chartable Stones effortlessly compared to the dark, distancing effect of Sennek. Zibbz have sold the pants of this song and are doing everything possible to sneak qualification, though it is still borderline.
Eleni was slightly off key for her first run through this morning, but quickly got into the swing of things. The Cypriot choreography is one of this year’s triumphs and certainly Sacha’s best bit of work so far. It’s just a question of if Cyprus have the strength to top semi-final 1 from the pimp slot or whether Czech or Israel can push ahead from earlier in the running order.
Over to semi-2 now and Norway. Rybak reportedly has the flu, but looked as accomplished as ever. Absolutely no concerns about Norway contending next Saturday night.
We visited the arena for Romania. Cristina’s vocal is astounding. I absolutely have Romania on my qualification list now despite the less than ideal staging.
Serbia features lots of unnecessary striding and gesturing and looks like some creepy religious order performing a pointless ceremony. Vocally it’s fine, but I’m not seeing much support for the Balkanika outside of their admittedly large diaspora.
Not much to say about San Marino. Much the same and not qualifying, but the market continues to like Denmark’s qualification chances. The Vikings are more engaging to camera with some nice low swooping camera shots, however the juries should see through what is a wafer thin song.
On to this year’s automatic qualifiers now:
No surprises for Portugal which remains similar to its national final presentation with songwriter, Teixeira, joining from the second verse rather that sat in the background. Cláudia’s hair is more on the shocking-pink end of the spectrum now.
SuRie is backlit within a neon tunnel during Storm. She moves forward as the song progresses before entering the main stage for the middle-eight ‘punching the air’ moment. The presentation, along with the song, just feels so lightweight and forgettable. United Kingdom will struggle to escape the bottom-3 with this feeble effort.
Spain next as the two star-crossed lovers took to the stage and delivered Tu Canción without any garish gimmicks or onstage instrumentation, which was always the fear. Amaia wears white while Alfred wears a maroon suit, which matches the sepia staging tones. The outfits are quite unflattering, actually. Alfred is more vocally secure than at the various pre-parties, but looks so wooden during the opening. I think AWS need to do a version of this.
Michael Schulte has a large projection going on behind him projecting words and graphics to the words ‘one love’ ‘two hearts’ ‘three kids’ etc., then during the second verse old photographs replace the words. From 2:30, the backdrop goes a bit trippy with a series of hypnotic patterns. One thing to keep an eye is that Michael appears quite emotional while singing this, so might be prone losing it during the live show. Any obvious show of emotion could encourage the televote for Germany. During the final run through, Michael freestyled with the vocal.
Italy were rumoured to have a ‘Jamala tree’ but instead rocked up with multi-language subtitles. Italy’s staging is now a Powerpoint presentation with lyrics as Meta and Moro spend the majority of the song fighting for attention against the on-screen text. It’s a bizarre concept and doesn’t aid the narration of the song. This is poor.
Last up today, Madame Monsieur performed Mercy for France. There are no gimmicks. It’s very much like at the national final but on a much larger stage. They split and take opposing bridges before reuniting on the satellite stage for the middle-eight and close. The outro sees them both flashing their palms to the skies/audience, though I’m not sure what this represents. This is nice and classy, but it still feels more directed to the juries than the average viewer at home. It doesn’t have the intimacy or raw power of 1944 or Amor Pelos Dois. However, it is the most competent of this year’s serious songs, so on that basis it should be respected. By the final run through the camera angles better captured the movement over the bridge.