A slightly later start this morning due to Ukraine’s exit after the semi-final draw and it’s already 25°C outside. I’ve never been to a Eurovision where I could enjoy a cappuccino in the sun at 9:30am. More of this, please.
Belgium were first up this morning, and even though Eliot appeared slightly nervous, there was a sense of purpose in the choreography. It was certainly a little rough around the edges; however, Eliot has come along way compared to his more recent performances. The styling is quite contemporary to match the modern arrangement of the song with Eliot wearing a modern ‘Off White’ influenced jacket against a Tron-like backdrop. The camerawork needs to be sharper, but the feeling is that Belgium are moving in the right direction. If I was to offer some advice, I would suggest some pulsing lighting during the verse as the stage can feel a tad lifeless towards the end of the song.
Oto Nemsadze has a great vocal which is the only redeeming feature of Sul tsin iare, or Keep On Going, as it is now called. The staging features dramatic visuals of mountains, fire, barbed wire along with what looks like a funeral procession as the five backing singers enter the main stage. It’s nice if you like that sort of thing, but Georgia will likely to struggle for support from outside of their limited sphere of influence.
Building from her national final staging concept, Kate Miller-Heidke is mounted on one of those swingy pole things with two more swingy pole women behind her. They spend most of the time hovering over an overlay of the Earth, thus enforcing the zero-gravity theme. It’s fair to say that there are contrasting opinions in the press centre, but the betting table are very much on the fence for Australia. For a concept with so much motion it’s quite remarkable how static the staging feels once the dance beat kicks in. The anthemic “nothing holdin’ me down” parts offer the strongest visual moment yet it made me feel rather motion sick. Kate also struggles to connect with viewers and there are zero shots of the crowd from memory.
There are some subtle changes to Hatrið mun sigra since their national final. To me it has lost some of its artistry and visual energy having got rid of the caged dancers. Something is missing. Maybe it’s the larger stage diluting the intensity of the smaller national final stage. The falsetto vocals are not 100%, especially at the key change. Work to do for Iceland!
Over to Estonia and Storm remains in national final form. The main difference is with the backdrop which is now a bland sunny cloudscape slide show that would look more at home in a funeral parlour or as a Windows screen saver. It really is a bizarre choice given how adaptable the year’s stage is. We’ll need to see Estonia’s second rehearsal before making a final decision on their fate.
There were rumours Conan had hired some Swedes to help with staging. If that was to ensure he won the Barbara Dex award, then job done guys. Wearing emerald green pleated costumes, the whole performance looks like an avian mating dance. The ‘what the f*ckery’ has been cranked up to the max with Portugal and it’s hard to see who will vote for this. I don’t want to sound too disrespectful, but this is too avant-garde in what is largely a commercial contest.
The main question is what the hell is going on with Greece? Concept wise it’s all over the place like an international buffet, it specialises in nothing. There are fencers, fairies, lotus flowers, an upside down condom, a giant balloon being tossed out into the audience and the look of pain etched all over Katerina’s face. Better Love should be performed like at a concert in the same way as A Million Voices. Towards the end the vocal mix gets a bit messy as the baking singers make the noises of kids playing with guns (piaow, piaow – how is it spelt?).
After what has been a rather left-field day of rehearsals, Serhat delivered some conventional cheesy pop for San Marino. The staging is perhaps the most distinctive in this half of the semi and it’s a great show closer. Serhat still has a tendency to sound like Dracula when he sings, which is what counts against this earworm making the final. We haven’t seen a winner yet.
We’ll be back tomorrow for the first half of semi-final 2.