Today we see get to see the second rehearsal for Greece and San Marino (semi 1), the first half of semi-final 2 and the first rehearsals for this year’s automatic qualifiers, so it’s one hell of a long day!
Katerine kicked off today’s rehearsals with a solid performance for Greece. The opening is still rather dark and the various stage props lack a coherent narrative. Katerine does struggle to sell the song to camera: grimacing and displaying a general lacking enjoyment. Having said that, the ending has much greater impact as a giant lotus flower opens on the backdrop and the vocal mix lifts the mood.
San Marino brings the strongest backdrop in this semi. Unfortunately they have one of the weakest singers in Serhat with noticeably poor diction. Even so, Serhat does provide a dose of much needed fun from the pimp slot in what is quite a serious semi.
On to the second rehearsals for semi 2 now…
Srbuk spends 3-minutes starting a fight with Europe. She angrily gestures and stares at the camera on a predominately empty red and black stage. Armenia has become more aggressive and unvoteable since rehearsal 1.
Meanwhile there was a noticeable improvement for Ireland with Sarah exuding greater confidence to camera; however, 22 still sounds terribly average in this semi-2 lineup. As does Moldova following with their sand artist and barely any camera connection with Anna Odobescu. Given this is second rehearsal it is surprising how under-prepared Moldova’s camera work/angles are.
Switzerland switch between different aspect ratios during She Got Me and it can be quite distracting – I’m not sure how it enhances the overall impression of the performance. Likewise, the distortion backdrop is distracting during the refrain. Overall the performance lacks a sizzle moment and appears too sterile in places. It also feels like Luca is upstaged by his staging. Nevertheless, this is a cracking pop package and it should bring Switzerland their best result since 2005.
Latvia acted as the lunch bell for us, though I am informed it was just like first rehearsal earlier this week.
After lunch Romania delivered their dose of Transylvanian vampiric drama. Unfortunately the presentation and mood went backwards from first rehearsal with Ester tempering some of her more kooky acting – that was its USP in my opinion. Lots of fire jets were deployed for the final run though which added a lot more energy to the show. This feels like a 9th-12th.
Denmark does exactly what it needs to do to qualify. I’ve now taken an all-green position because of how much I detest the song. But oh wow, Sweden is back to Melodifestivalen levels of emotion and connection: the gold lighting, the strobed backing singer reveal all returns with some added explosive white lighting during the climax and outro. Don’t forget, the backing singer reveal is the equivalent to Jamala’s tree in terms of emotional effect. The jury vote will be very interesting next Saturday. Lundvik has played Sweden right back into contention.
Pænda was slightly off form for Austria during the first run through, but her delicate song really came together for the second and third performance. Limits is so beautifully shot and delivered that it could very well make the jury top 4 or 5 in the semi.
Israel kicks off the first rehearsals for the automatic qualifiers and Kobi gives an emotional rendition of Home with its new Eldorado-theme tune additions (see Spain last year). The staging features a series of lit panels which also display images of Kobi. Five backing singers form behind Kobi for the second verse. Kobi walks to the catwalk stage for the climax as a shower of sparks descends.
Eurovision rarely makes me angry, but France succeeded today with their virtue signalling empowerment bullshit. Bilal – sporting a longer blonde wing – is joined on stage by a large-framed dancer, the statement being you can be who you want to be. Yeah fine, I get that, but we all know the healthier option. I wonder how she feels about being used as a gimmick!? Then we move to a deaf dancer. Again fine, as deaf dancers, like larger dancers exist in the real world. The whole performance is just sickeningly box-ticking and is representative of today’s superficial virtue signalling culture. It’s not empowerment, it’s tastelessly piggybacking a cause for marketing and self promotion.
Miki is in a very big house with the front and back cut off creating a dolls house effect. The backdrop switches between bold primary colours and paint splatters. There’s a weird moment when what looks like a WickerMan doll walks on stage for about 20-seconds. What the Fokas? Eventually the dancers join Miki and lineup with GoPro cameras. Another what the actual Fokas? The strongest parts of the performance are when Miki and his four backing singers are able to move freely around the stage. I wouldn’t be surprised to see changes in Spain in time for second rehearsals.
Over to Italy now and Mahmood still has a virus-ridden look about him. Vocally he’s fine, but overall the staging appears too dark. What’s clear is that Soldi is a very long 3-minutes. It was funny to see the market to drift out to 20/1+ after the first rehearsal – we all knew what Mahmood was like and we all knew there wouldn’t be a game-changing stage concept. Even so, the 20/1+ odds are a back at this point, as Italy will likely shorten again as rehearsals progress. The package was already looking more competent by the final run through.
Michael has as much charisma as the wooden table I’m sat at blogging. The random arm movements are back along with the unvoteable diva-ish looks to camera. The backing singers eventually appear behind CO2 jets and form a circle with Michael, which is another vomit inducing moment from today’s rehearsals. The UK is a giant cheese board with a stale, over-singing amateur leading the line. Absolutely terrible.
Finally the day ends with the Germans, though they’ve had their towels on the stage since this morning. S!sters start at opposite ends of the stage (on the bridges) before meeting on the catwalk-stage. They then sing face to face rather than at the audience or the cameras. A big ‘SORRY’ appears on the backdrop, seemingly apologising for how bad the staging is. There’s also a ‘RESPECT’ chucked in before ending with a peace logo. More virtue signalling. There’s a cracking melody here, but they’ve failed to maximise it’s emotional resonance.
We’ll be back tomorrow for the remaining second rehearsals from semi 2.