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Eurovision 2019 Rehearsals: Day 3 Review

We’re up to 34°C today in Israel as rehearsals hot up for the more decisive second semi-final. Will we see our winner today?

Srbuk is on a predominately black and red stage with breaking glass and chain motifs. There’s a diva-ish look on her face, and rather than appearing empowered, she projects a feeling of anger and aggression. The whole package is ringing all sorts of X-Factor alarm bells, which is dangerous from slot 1. Armenia has a classy ballad, but I sense it won’t delight the televoters.

Ireland is set in a 1950s American diner with a pop-art backdrop. I feel they’ve really missed a trick here in not starting the song via some sort of jukebox interaction or having a bar boy serving her an ice cream soda. There’s a distinctly amateurish look around the presentation and Sarah fails to add the required personality needed to bring televoters on board. Moreover, Leonara arguably has a much better song and performance with a similarly ditzy style.

Latvia is presented in ultra widescreen which doesn’t allow for good framing options when it comes to showing the stage and audience. The concept has a dreamy backyard jam session feel. It’s pleasant but utterly forgettable and seems to go on for ever and ever and EVER! Once again, I’m not sure what’s here for televoters to latch on to.

Time for one of this year’s supposed contenders in the form of Luca Hånni of Switzerland. The production is typically Sacha Jean-Bapstist with the early fast cuts and off-centre camera framing. The backdrop is predominantly red with black and white distortion accents. Luca is joined by two dancing couples and interacts at various points; however, the performance feels way too front-on with little side-on action or audience shots. On the hole it feels competent, professional but doesn’t have the look or feel of a winner. If one thinks back to Eric Saade, Måns, Mikolas Joseph and even Netta, they all had a focal point or memorable moment, a meme or a hashtag; Switzerland doesn’t have that because the staging lacks an identity or call to action. It has the feel of a jury 6th-8th and a televote 4th-6th, so a credible top-10.

After lunch Moldova resurrected Ukraine’s sand artist gimmick from 2011 to divert from their lame song. Strangely, it took a few attempts before we got to see anything near resembling a finished product – it’s still very much a work in progress. Even so, this heaps the pressure on Armenia who will be fishing for support in the same regions.

Ester gives an intense performance of On A Sunday set against Dracula’s castle. It’s a wonderful piece of staging and there’s something slightly demented and deranged about the performance. It’s so well acted! Ester is joined by two male dancers who start on the outer-stage before surrounding her in her chair. There are lots of fire jets, as well as a shower of sparks near the end. I have Romania slightly ahead of Armenia in my qualification reckoning.

Having previously opposed Denmark in the qualification markets, I have now closed out my liabilities and accepted that Denmark probably makes the cut. There are three fairly dark female-led songs in this first half and then Denmark comes along with its sunny production and cheery singalong quality. I still detest the concept and find Leonara a tough sell for the voting audience, yet I think enough juries and televoters will show it sufficient support.

Pænda had been dismissed by the market, yet Limits has always been in my personal top-5 of songs to listen to. The presentation starts in black and white with Pænda sat down amongst glowing rods. The triangular arena lighting is also brought into the act. The whole presentation is wonderfully optimistic and introspective – it’s a gripping and emotional performance that even caused Pænda to shed a tear. There are etherial qualities here and I just can’t stop myself thinking that Austria could be the surprise envelope next week thanks to some jury love.

Last up today was John Lundvik with Too Late for Love. Hampered by the different stage design, Sweden have had to adapt key elements of their production. The flashing flights on the tom-tom beats are gone, as is the strobe effect to reveal his backing singers. The sizzle has gone for me. Those elements used to give me goosebumps. It’s still a high quality performance, but it just needs to restore its magic.

We’ll be back for tomorrow’s big decider between Russia and Netherlands.

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. Is your view on Sweden maybe being slanted because you’ve already seen the staging? I doubt the changes they had to make will have any impact on first time viewers.

    Still feeling the winner vibes with this one.

    I agree though that Austria and Romania impressed, and I think Armenia is in some trouble.

  2. Glad to see some Armenia doubt, got some great odds opposing this. The warning signs have been there for a while and there’s too many jury faves for this to be safe. There’s a clear push to try to get North Macedonia in the final out of the female ballads too as well as more well rounded songs.
    Don’t share the same optimism on Austria. Not likely to be a jury top 10 even before considering what’s likely to be a poor televote.

    Tomorrow will be the most interesting day yet with almost every song (Lithuania being the exception) with something interesting to say about it and a chance to affect the market.
    Malta and Azerbaijan will both be movers on the outright as well as the obvious 2 of Russia and the Netherlands. I don’t feel like we’ve seen the winner yet.

  3. Just curious. If Romania was that good then why it has drifted in Q/NQ market?

    • Saying the acting and stage concept is good doesn’t automatically infer qualification, it just adds to the dynamic of female singers in the first half of the show. Ever layer seems to make it harder for Armenia (in current form), and in my book I find Romania much more of a jury song than Armenia. It is slightly unconventional for the televote, but it has a concept/identity, whereas Armenia doesn’t.

  4. Everything looks very bad, nobody used their potential.

  5. Tomorrow will be the day the market moves in a big way imo.

    Netherlands could go odds on if they nail the staging. If they don’t then Russia could become favourite again.

    I still think Sweden are far too big @ 12/1. Lot’s of praise out their especially from the ESCUnited & Wiwibloggs teams and most of them didn’t even like the song before they saw the stage show today. John’s charisma already changing opinions. This is not going to do as bad on the Televote as some people think.

  6. I agree Daz :-). Sweden is a big contender. I think Gavin always said it. And to me it’s a very good 3 mins. This conveys tons of positive emotions with both televoters and jurors. Hence I was ready to write a piece about it; about ’emotions’ in Eurovision:


    • Wonderful article. You have a talent to write my friend. Eurovision better than sex? You’re not the only one 🙂 I even forget to eat during these days. So intense, so exciting and yet so shortlived.

    • Just reading your article Gert. Good read. I agree.

      Sweden for me. I fully understand when people tell me the concerns they have with the song. But you have to see this live to like it imo. John’s charisma makes you enjoy the performance even if you don’t rate or like the song. I have Sweden as a real contender granted it’s more likely to come 3rd or 4th but it’s a real contender based on two reasons imo.

      No.1 Jury’s will go big for this. I could possibly even see John winning the jury vote.

      No.2 Saturday Night Eurovision parties all over Europe will have people in good spirits enjoying the show and when they see John imo they wont be thinking aaahhhh this song is a bit meh. They will be enjoying the performance because John’s charisma and stage presence draws you in.

      It’s not going to win the televote. I know that but it wont do as bad as some think. Too late for love is a stage song. Not a studio song. I can see John getting a decent televote anywhere from 3rd to 6th imo. It may not be enough to win but @ 12/1 paying 4 places at 1/4 of the odds is just too big imo.

  7. Before I deliver the Showlad ESC verdict for 2019 I’d just like to say a heartfelt, appreciative thanks for Gavin and this site. Tel Aviv will have been a lonelier and less fun place without dear Daniel’s being there and Gavin – know how important your continuing work is. Thank you.
    OK, as an ESC better/tipster I have had 4 main results: broke even; moderate win; big win; huge win (Ruslana, Marija, Dima, Conchita, Netta). Started pretty much in 2004. Only total blind spot was the Az win, but like many of you, not through pride but genuinely, I raise a very big eyebrow at that ‘win’. As Gavin says though…not to dwell on past successes or failures so here we go, predicted final placing forecast and placing parameter:

    1st (1st to 4th) NETHERLANDS this is pure class and the best song by far this year. I’m feeling Duncan will emote well and ‘connect’ enough to deliver a clear win in the end. I think the staging will be very good. If Duncan struggles and the staging doesn’t deliver I can’t see this lower than 4th.
    2nd (1st to 7th) MALTA I flagged this up early doors when written off on here by many and though I may be wrong my gut tells me this will be this year’s Fuego shortener 2mo (though not as dramatically obv) and easily will be the main female challenger. With Jamala’s staging crew on the job, Chameleon’s lyrics could be amazingly depicted. Michela a great, fresh, pretty, young singer. If they ‘support’ her well enough this could go very close. Best bridge in ESC 2019 and annoying as hell chorus – though it has a ‘baby shark’ earworm feel that if depicted by that team well and a cool choreography they could turn that flaw around. I expect an explosion of colour tomorrow. The outro is totally fantatsic and ends on a massive high. Valletta 2020 is not out of the question.
    3rd (1st to 5th) RUSSIA dull, predictable song in verse and bridge, the song sections are very disjointed though the chorus is good if again predictable and the middle 8 superb. If you think this is better or more viewer friendly than The Only 1 was then you are kidding yourself – the generic 80s/musical theatre feel of that song was much more viewer friendly. But this should do better with juries and it lends itself to an epic staging. All things being equal I think it’s another bronze on the podium for Sergey – he will not catch Duncan whose televote will be much stronger than Dami’s for example in 2016.
    4th (1st to 5th) ITALY coolests guy on the bock, clever, modern slice of pop. Will do amazing with jury and well too with public. Not quite getting there methinks but not out of it.
    5th (1st to 6th) SWITZERLAND that cannot truly be their stage outfits – surely they reveal the real thing on 2nd run through?? Great ethno pop driver. Limp basic vocals and somehow I don’t think they’re going to quite get this ‘right’ and fulfill potential. Others need to fall and this needs to exceed in order to have a peep.
    6th (1st to 7th) SWEDEN Will need a mathematical House of Bizarre Cards for this to succeed. Jury teacher’s pet but will fall (from what’s needed) by some way on Tele.
    Iceland could be huge on tele and do considerably better than anticipated with juries but still one would think too far back to figure…but hey it’s Eurovision.
    Oz should provide a televote spectacle and for once they may do better with tele than jury. Expect Azerbaijan, Denmark and Estonia to do better than their current odds suggest. Fra could do well too but I except none of these ‘others’ to threaten in any significant way. Gre could do well with juries but vocally she is not comfortable to my ears in ‘pop’ and also for me has no stage presence.
    Enjoy Eurovision folks ❤👌😎👍😁🤣😉

  8. The consensus seems to be that Austria took the biggest step forward today. However, good reviews of first rehearsals don’t necessarily equate to qualification. I’m thinking of Croatia and Latvia last year.

  9. My gut feeling tells me that this year around, during and shortly after rehearsals, we won’t see a clear favourite for the trophy. With that I mean that right during the voting procedure we could see a real battle evolve.

    After yesterday I’m aching more towards a jury victory for John Lundvik. However, I could see Duncan Laurence take the televoting prize. But then you have this weird possibility that Sweden becomes 1st with jury’s and 2nd/3rd with televoters. And Netherlands 2nd/3rd with jury’s and 1st with televoters. Then it can get interesting, and draw becomes more pivotal. Ooowh, and what if Italy becomes 3rd twice, with both televoters and jury’s, and points totals really close to 2nd and 1st placed countries?

  10. Mike G'day Mate

    As I alluded to before, Netherlands semi placement is not so great…

    There’s North Macedonia straight after. And by all accounts she will likely take some of the attention away from Netherlands with a vocally more empowering ballad…

    Then there’s Azerbaijan… both singers have the same look, and both may come with an underwater theme as the videos did…

    All seems to favour Russia, but we’ll see!

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