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Eurovision 2019 Rehearsals: Day 6 Review

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.

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. Sweden will win the jury 🙁

  2. Italy is not a player I think. It remains to wait for tomorrow’s rehearsal of the Netherlands and Russia.

    The final promises to be very interesting.

  3. 2 horse race by now. It’s between NED and SWE. I give a small chance -too small to be honest- to Russia, because now jury votes will be divided -which means no clear jury winner- between NED and SWE. So with a big televote and at the same time a 3-4 jury place (huge ”if”) Russia can take the crown. After today’s rehearsals things are far more clear…

  4. Netherlands have stated that we have not seen anything near finished product and that there is a surprise with the ball.

    This could change everyone’s minds about netherlands tomorrow, it is wise to be heavy backer tonight before potential crash tomorrow?

  5. It was a long day today, without though many highlights…

    I’m happy with Italy’s rehearsal. It’s more or less what I expected, and I believe that they will tighten up their performance. It seems that there is a lot of anticipation building around Mahmood, and it has not subsided despite the awkward first reaction of the fan press. I’m not ruling them out yet.

    France is getting a lot of attention and regardless if their staging approach is political correct or not, the fact that it can create such strong reactions (including people like Gav absolutely hating it) probably means that they will do better than I expected. A top 10 finish is not beyond their reach, provided that juries will not kill it (and probably won’t – Bilal did better in Eurojury than Madame Monsieur).

    I still can’t see Sweden winning the whole thing. Yes, it’s very polished and professional and could easily win the jury vote, but I’m still getting zero emotional connection (maybe because I’m South European?). I’m very confident that the South/Southeast part of the continent will not appreciate ‘Too late for love” much more than they did Cesar from Austria last year…

  6. As for the first semifinal, seeing Greece rehearsing today didn’t help me to clear out my thoughts about the possible winner. ‘Better love’ sounds very good and it’s visually rather pleasing, if not somewhat overblown. They will probably win the jury vote, but I’m still very unsure how the televoting will react, since this type of song and performance is uncharted territory for a Greek entry. I feel that they need to win the jury vote by a big margin to take the first place in the semi and I think this is not the most likely scenario. Still looks like a solid top 3.

    If Greece doesn’t win the semi, then it’s the televoting winner that will. My guess right now is that this will be either Iceland or Australia. I have to mention though that both have enough weak spots imho, but I can’t find any other convincing candidates for now.

    All above are currently my strong favorites for the semi top 3. If a country was to make a surprise breakthrough in the top 3, my bet would be on Serbia.

    Finally for the qualifiers, and after seeing a recap of all performances today, I have the feeling that the complete madness of the second half of the semi will wipe out the televoting potential of some earlier nice entries, leaving only the ones that are either very distinctive or have potential for a big jury vote.

    My current (very bold) list of qualifiers would be:
    1. Greece
    2. Iceland
    3. Australia
    4. Serbia
    5. Cyprus
    6. Belgium
    7. Poland
    8. Czech Republic
    9. Slovenia
    10. Portugal

    I don’t feel confident though for any of the songs below my 6th place and I think that any of them could easily lose out to Hungary, Estonia, or even Georgia…

  7. Virtue signalling can be a vote winner – take last year’s winner for instance, but as Gav points out using a sledgehammer to prove a point can also be a vote loser. The main point about France is that it’s just not very good and no amount of virtue signalling can compensate for that.

    Commentators, encouragingly for me, seem to think Greece is now shaping up a bit better. I’m not convinced by the clips but still hopeful for strong showing.

    Sweden is an interesting one. The country took a pasting from the public last year and I think that might encourage juries to be less forgiving of the generic nature of their presentations this year. They might actually recognize how superficial and calculating the package is for once. However, given that not many entries are firing on all cylinders it might be prudent to take out some insurance. while still at 7s

    Italy has always been a low top 10 at best for me.

    Looking forward to the Azeris tomorrow – another I took early at long odds. There has to be a surprise steamer out there, its a matter of picking the right one

  8. Whoa, hold on now Gavin, France had a message? I think I must have missed that. Subtle, real subtle. Sometimes the press centre bursts into applause and gasps over incredible staging, other times it’s just wiwibloggs and the like being silly.
    I said before rehearsals that Fokas was unnecessary for Spain but he seems to have lost the plot more than I thought and has actually had a detrimental affect on them. I was toying with the idea of this being a big televote hit but that’s probably gone now.
    From what I’ve been able to see of Italy, it’s slightly worse than expectations. We all kind of knew they’d just have him stand there but again the backdrop and dancing needs serious rethinking for me. Before rehearsals I was quite non-committal on Italy and had it anywhere from 1-7th, this is looking at the lower end of that now.
    The other automatics can be summed up as dull which doesn’t surprise at all.
    At the top of the market, the odds probably corrected themselves a bit. Russia still too short but apart from that it looks a bit more accurate.

  9. In Eurovision, ever since the introduction of semifinals, it never has been a two-horse race anymore. Having said that I think this could happen in the grand final. Please note it’s just a ranking of where I think things stand at the moment:

    01. SWEDEN (before the contest my ‘fear’ was this could be the only one threatening NL)
    02. THE NETHERLANDS (let’s see the 2nd rehearsal, if it wins its a mere song-alone win)
    03. AZERBAIJAN (good song, not as memorable as NL and SE, great staging though)
    04. ITALY (this will do well thanks to jury’s, probably lower TOP 10 with televote)
    05. RUSSIA (Fokas is following Pannecoucke here; nice song but lacks a hook)
    06. AUSTRALIA (a stylish staging triumph, rousing climax, a great and charismatic singer)
    07. MALTA (probably best, most Maltese modern song ever, performed in endearing way)
    08. ICELAND (in order to stand out it has to be a bit more brutal, will get TOP 6 televote)
    09. SWITZERLAND (make no mistake, Luca is a rousing performer, could do 6th – 8th too)
    10. CZECH REPUBLIC (great performer, lovely staging, very sympathie, but the song?)
    11. NORTH MACEDONIA (could still enter TOP 10, depends on running order I think)
    12. SPAIN (wonderful performer, still not sure of Malta, because of him, Albert, Luca)

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