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Eurovision 2019 Rehearsals: Day 7 Review

Today the nations in the second half of semi-final 2 rehearsed for the second time.

Roko starts the day for Croatia. Minor improvements to the backdrop and overall presentation. The belief is that despite Roko’s vocal ability, the song and performance is too dated and kitschy.

Malta had an additional technical stand-in rehearsal the other day and we heard from a well-placed source that they might be dropping the projection concept. Apparently the delegation were not happing that the projection was appearing on Michela’s face. The visuals are now shown on the backdrop and floor along with some overlay effects. I was happy with the first concept, but this one does allow Michela greater freedom. The homework for Malta is to help Michela sound more vocally secure in time for next week’s jury rehearsal.

Jurij delivered a solid vocal performance and connected with all of the cameras this morning. The press centre tends to carry on working when Lithuania is on, which is a concern. Run With the Lions is rather bland but it is solid middle-of-the-road pop and is fairly well supported in this competitive semi. 3/1+ looks like a value punt given that Lithuania have only failed to qualify recently with divisive songs such as Attention and Rain of Revolution.

Sergey still looks boxed in and confined by the confusing Fokas stage concept. For once, I think Fokas needs to start thinking outside of the box because this just isn’t working. There’s no narrative, no emotional resonance. It needed to be more impactful and explosive than this. The staging remains too dark and static during what is the weaker opening minute or so. Russia are not appealing to nations west of Hungary based on this.

Albania have dropped their eagle overlay effect. Otherwise the staging remains the same. It’s difficult to know who votes for this outside one or two appreciative juries.

Norway were rumoured to be bringing more props with them to second rehearsal. There are still no props, so I guess we have to accept that Keiino will have to qualify on song alone, which is what makes the price of circa 1.4 feel way too low given Saara Aalto ended up 15th with the juries in semi-final 1 last year.

Now over to the current market leaders, The Netherlands. The new saviour prop is what looks like an IKEA bedside lamp shaped like a beehive sat on a perspex box. The cable is visible too. Everything about this suggests last minute addition with Pannecoucke saying “just pop down the shops and pick me up a lamp will you love?” The lamp wasn’t visible for second rehearsal yet was back for the third, so it’s clear the delegation are still experimenting even at this late stage. Duncan did tap the top of the piano during the middle-eight for the final run through and at least displayed a small dose of passion, but even that failed to provide a clincher moment. What does the broadcaster show for the televote reprise? The explosive clincher moment is still missing, and even with jury support, I’m not sure the televote will be onboard.

Anyway, moving on from our Pannecoucke drama, North Macedonia who have successfully managed to deliver a passionate and emotional performance. Proud shouldn’t have more impact than the Netherlands, yet it does despite the latter having the much better song. North Macedonia is also much more accessible in the conventional ‘vote for me‘ ballad sort of way.

This was the first time I had watched Azerbaijan properly. The first time was from the coffee queue in the main foyer. The opening minute feels rather flat and it isn’t the vote winner the market reckons. The camerawork is too slow and the direction is calling out for some Sacha Jean Baptist cuts and off-centre framing. Edgy but not edgy enough.

Tomorrow we’re back for the second rehearsals for the automatic qualifiers.

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. What was the clincher moment for Salvador?

  2. Gav I don’t think Salvador ever looked directly into the camera? So who was he able to create such a meaningful connection with the TV audience? There was no direct call to action apparent…

  3. My breakdown of the current odds for the ESC 19. Their is money to be made on most of these. I will be laying a couple.

    1. Netherlands @ 9/4. The staging has really let this down. This really needs a good second half draw otherwise it’s going to get swallowed up. Imo 9/4 is far too short considering all of the negative feedback on the staging. I get the feeling this will just fall short now. Great song, Great singer but Pannecoucke has no idea what to do with it.

    2. Sweden @ 5/1. This is far too big. It will be the jury vote winner so the 5/1 will shorten by quite a bit after the jury results. Bjorkman having input on the running order is another positive. Sweden don’t have to worry about drawing the 1st half as it will get a pimp slot anyway. The whole package on show makes you feel good. It’s a song that makes you feel happy even though it’s not the best song. This is the winner of ESC 19 imo.

    3. Russia @ 15/2 Overrated by the bookies it’s a 10/1 or bigger shot but because it’s Russia’s bookies are cautious. It’s a dated ballad and the staging isn’t that much either. Money to be made on this for layers.

    4. Azerbaijan @ 11/1. Over priced but it’s an EW bet only. Possibly worth another bet for it to come in the Top 5 as well. The staging is good but I cant see the juries respecting it the same way televoters will. You need a good result on both sides and the jury vote will leave Azerbaijan in a position where they would have to win the televote and possibly win it well. EW and Top 5 value but that’s all.

    5. France @ 16/1. It’s 16/1 best price based purely on a man dressed as a woman, an overweight dancer and another dancer who is deaf. The song is nothing to shout about and the vocal is hardly anything to shout about either. The jury’s wont go for it at all so I don’t see any value in backing this outright. It’s purely televote pandering bait and that’s all. People will fall for it and France will get a very big televote. This is a top 10 bet. Also it will have the best finishing position of the Big 5 based purely on the pandering side. Nothing to do with the song all about the agenda’s which is a shame.

    6. Italy @ 20/1. Every year Italy produces poor staging and this year is no different. This is worth laying in the following markets imo. Top 4, Top 5 & Top Big 5. Money to be made imo.

    7. Malta 16/1. Another one who should be 25’s +. It’s going to come close to the leaders in the jury vote and I cant see Malta getting a podium position in the televote so why is the price so short. Money to be made again.

    8. Australia 20/1. I can see Jury’s showing this some respect. But opera & pop opera is like marmite you either love it or hate it their is no in between. Another worry for Australia is bloc voting. If you don’t like opera then you wont like the song or vote for it. The staging is irrelevant as opera is so divisive. Top 10 but nothing more.

    9. Switzerland 24/1. Juries will not go for this at all. They didn’t go for Eleni last year so they wont go for a knock off version. Televote is different as this will get a very strong televote. Switzerland wont be able to win after the jury vote imo as it will be too far back. Top 10 & possibly Top 5 as well but nothing more.

    10. Iceland 28/1. Jury’s will throw it under the bus. Certain parts of Europe will not go for it. Aggressive & Provocative also goes against it. Might be able to nick a Top 10 finish but nothing else.

    The only real contenders are – Netherlands & Sweden. Maybe Azerbaijan but it will have to be in the Jury’s top 3 I feel. Netherlands & Sweden will be the top 2 in the jury vote so Azerbaijan cant afford to have any other country ahead of them if they are going to win.

    The televote will be split more than ever this year. Nobody is going to runaway with it. Can see all the top 5 in the televote being pretty close together.

    Jury vote winner will be Sweden, 2nd will be the Netherlands. One of these two will get a podium in the televote imo I cant see both of them being outside of the top 3. So even 3rd will more than likely be enough to win the ESC.

    I think Sweden have more vote appeal than Duncan. John makes you enjoy the performance even if you don’t like the song and that is a crucial element to winning. The song may not have an impact but the performer does. People will be in the party mood and John’s smile and charisma will make you feel good and people will remember this. This will do better than expected on the televote. It wont win the televote but it’s going to do better than predicted. Much better imo.

    Duncan may hit a brick wall in the televote. I say this as a Duncan backer. It’s a nice guy, with a great voice performing a great song and that’s it. Their is no wow factor moment during the staging, Their is no eye catching moment that’s memorable, Other than that’s a nice song their is nothing else to make you want to vote for it. Pannecoucke is the Leicester City of Eurovision for those of you who are interested in football. He’s a one hit wonder (Common Linnets) and every other stage show has been a flop.

    • Malta is not going to come close to the leaders in the jury vote. Sorry.

    • Samuel Turnbull

      Everyone keeps repeating that Australia is pop-opera. For the first 2 mins it’s a pop track with some vocal showing off at the end. I believe people have been (wrongly) writing this off for a while. I’ve been backing it top 10 for weeks. Winner I can’t see, but with its staging and catchy chorus top 5 is possible.

    • Do you think Sweden has any chances of winning this year? Oh come on bookmakers obviously overreact cause they don’t want everyone to bet for Netherlands . Sweden is like Austria last year. Sweden is going to place first in juries and 8-10 in televoting. This song is so outdated . It reminds me Eurovision 2000 songs. No way Sweden is going to win televoting. Netherlands has a modern song and the odds are pretty good right now. Last year bookmakers placed Norway first for some hours when the first semi final finished . It’s obviously a trap. Sweden is not going to win. The only threat for Netherlands is only Russia cause it’s a powerful country in Eurovision

  4. When was the last time a guy just sat behind a piano and sang? Oh yes, Italy wasn’t it? Came second, won the jury vote by a mile…

    • Different kettle of fish, but I can understand the piano comparison.

      • Isn’t getting a contestant to play the piano seen as the kiss of death on X Factor? I remember Laura White being a shock evictee the week she played the piano. I don’t know if there are any other examples.

  5. Netherlands very lucky this year. The field is very weak.

    My prediction is, Sweden Top 2 in Jury votes. Netherlands Top 3 in Jury Votes. Netherlands beat Sweden in televoting. Can’t see any other contenders this year really..

    1-The Netherlands

  6. Last 24 hours have really shaken this thing up. Spain and Israel screwed their staging and song respectively. I doubt either will walk it back now so thats their lay value likely kibbutzed. Still getting on ok with developments and hope everyone else is too.

    Netherlands in the first half seems lost at sea. It doesnt quite have the stand out factor of Salvador. Seems more of a Silent Storm. A year of poor stage shows keeps them in contention, especially with a 2nd half draw.

    Sweden look like a defacto winner, based on mere competency in all aspects alone. But it feels clinical and Swedish for me. Mans and Loreen had standout qualities. This feels like overpolished scandipop. But in a year of botches I wont dismiss it.

    Russia need A plus staging, as compelling as Sergey is. Russian voting power could send this up through the middle, but the song is a bit meh.

    Iceland and Australia stand out but have uncertain jury potential. Azerbaijan is on the boil but seems to have revealed weaknesses in its rehearsals if the markets can be trusted.

    France is very Right On, but I think we’ve missed a trick not realising its USP potential of courting its inclusivity message with a sledgehammer and beguiling of the well meaning but vaguely insufferable twitteratis Yas Kweening at the sight of anything to do with identity. I’m not against this, but it would irk me for some oik to piggyback off the likes of Conchita and Bojana to victory. Still, we should have seen this coming.

    Its a year where nothing feels like a winner, but someone must win by sheer math. The most recent iteration of that turned out to be a Azeri victory. But I lean towards favouring on paper quality (Sweden) winning the numbers game, or juries rewarding a memorable show and televotes rewarding a hype/gimmick entry …Iceland.

  7. It’s a clear top 3 of Netherlands, Sweden, Azerbaijan for me.
    Russia is incredibly lacklustre. It’s almost impossible to see this in the jury top 5 and beyond diaspora and Sergey fans this isn’t scoring high enough with the public, West or East.

    Right now I’d go
    1. Azerbaijan (Jury 3, TV 1)
    2. Sweden (Jury 1, TV 3)
    3. Netherlands. (Jury 2, TV 2)

    Azerbaijan starts well, progresses throughout and has the moment of the year that’s recap ready. It’s 3 minutes of great visuals and an instant hook.
    Juries will respect this although their top 2 seems settled on more conventional entries. Whilst Azerbaijan don’t have the strongest record with the very west of Europe and the nordic, any Eastern country with a beef against Russia now has an entry to throw their weight behind.

    Sweden for me have a more generic and average song than Azerbaijan but again it’s all about the live performance. It’s the lighting, John’s charisma, the positive feeling. The latter two are are why this will much improve on Austria’s televote last year that everyone likes to compare this to. I’ve never been sold that it’s a televote winner but it’s slowly crept up whilst others have quickly fallen away. There will be countries and juries that blank this and it is ‘too American’ for some but this will hoover up jury 12s. I’d be stunned if this is not our jury winner.

    Netherlands have the best song. No debate. And the staging is not objectively bad. It’s nothing close conceptually to what I’d be doing with it however which makes it difficult to have personal faith in it. It’s hard to say whether expectations were too high and this will still win easily or if this just doesn’t connect and won’t make a great first impression. I worry more as this is surprising underprepared from a delegation and broadcaster who have been gearing up to win for months. For me it’s the staging concept (not execution) they should have used for the “I Miss You” demo that first got expectations high about Duncan. Sweden is more polished for the juries and Azerbaijan more impactful for the televote right now. They still have a great chance to win but at this moment I don’t think this is working as well as the other two.

    It’s really hard to call between the 3 and will be highly affected by running order. I know a 1st half out of them is guaranteed 10-13th but if the other 2 get second half they’re guaranteed 19+.

    • Agree 100%.

      Netherlands have the song. Sweden have the performer & Azerbaijan have the eye catching staging.

      Public vote will be interesting. It’s a case of which element do you prefer.

      1. A lovely ballad with next to nothing staging.
      2. Average song that’s performed by a very charismatic artist who puts a smile on your face
      3. An intriguing stage show that comes with a decent up tempo song.

  8. 2 horse race for me now NL v Oz. With Sweden the justifiable compromise winner.

    Russia not delivering; Az great but not strong enough; Ita staging awful and not quite enough; Malta good but not good enough. Sweden win unlikely but comes through if NL and Oz don’t deliver.

    Netherlands is looking fine. If 1 star was a staging disaster and 5 amazing it sits at around 3. I love the gorgeous sky, Duncan’s vocal is FABULOUS and his keys look current pop trendy even if a baby grand would have been better.

    Oz has shades of the classy Stay by Shakespeare’s Sister and a touch of the barkingness of Wuthering heights in the chorus. Juries will LOVE. Public will be wowed over by staging which hugely compensates for the clever song’s intricacies being not immediate in some small parts (the verses). The bridge is fresh and uplifting and the chorus genius. Oz a MASSIVE player – underestimate at your peril.

    France indeed are a small threat but I don’t see enough votes coming in from the headline grabbing staging to compensate a compensate a nice but ultimately not fantastic song. I don’t get the Bilal hate – i think the pushing of the marginalised clumsy but not coming from a bad place (think Christine Aguillera Beautiful video).
    Sticking with my gut.

    Netherlands is still winning this all things being even but a late draw for Oz and a 1st half draw for NL could see the tables turn.video).

  9. Italy top big 5 at above evens is just insane value, it’s essentially a bet on Italy to beat France at this point. I think we can all agree that juries will see Italy as a very credible, contemporary artist with one of the best songs in the contest. On the other hand, there’s Bilal’s poor vocals and an assumption from me that juries will see right through the desperate staging. France willl need to storm the televote, and I have doubts over its appeal to Eastern voters, and Italy would need to underperform expectations for France to get near it.

    In terms of what’s on offer at current prices, this stands out as the best value for me. The market has quite clearly overreacted to both first rehearsals IMO.

    As for the winner market, my biggest greens in order are Australia (will eventually lay more off), Sweden, Netherlands and Italy. I’m not convinced yet on Azerbaijan, there’s a tiny probability of it scoring well enough in both to be a compromise winner but I think we’ll see it drift a bit more.

  10. It’s interesting to read how many different ‘definite’ top 2/3 people predict after the rehearsals, just confirming the fact that this is still a very open and a rather lacklustre contest.

    I’m not convinced by any of the performances I’ve seen so far, and in that sense this year feels a lot like 2011. Of course that doesn’t mean that we’ll end up with a similar result, but the most possible scenario is that there’s not going to be a runaway winner that wins both sets of votes.

    For that reason, I believe that we should also keep in mind the voting patterns, something we seem to keep forgetting completely this year.

    So, for example, I can’t see Sweden and Netherlands finishing in top 2 of the televoting, simply because they are both very North/West-leaning songs. This is rather unlikely, but of course it’s not impossible since it has happened before, in 2014 with Austria and Netherlands. The result in 2014 though was based more on the fact that Conchita managed to get very well received in Eastern Europe for a variety of reasons that don’t necessarily reflect the quality of the song.

    I don’t see any similar potential in any of the 2 current favorites, as neither Duncan or John are nowhere near doing a Conchita… The only reason I still give some advantage to Netherlands for the win, is the immediate accessibility of the Dutch song, which unfortunately gets lost so far in the performance. I still believe that it can be fixed, but my confidence has been shaken.

    At the same time, I can still see Russia doing very well in Eastern European televoting (and juries), Azerbaijan getting some very good televoting and decent jury support all over Europe, Italy and Greece getting very high marks from many juries, and Australia and Iceland invading the televoting top 3 in various countries due to their impressive or provocative staging.

    This contest is very far from being decided yet, much further than the current odds suggest…

  11. Well Netherlands is going to win this year. The only way it’s not going to happen is if juries will place Netherlands not in top 5 . In televoting obviously Duncan will be first and Sergey will be second . My prediction for televoting is 1) Netherlands
    2) Russia 3) Greece (as a dark horse ) . In juries it would be like 1) Sweden ( we all know juries are in love with Sweden)
    2) Netherlands 3) Russia.
    Well it’s kinda a trap that bookmakers put Sweden so high in odds . Sweden will be first in odds tomorrow I guess .. this song it’s even more outdated than the Russian song . No way Sweden will place first in televoting. All these days Sweden was in 5th place in odds and today Sweden is almost first ? What changed? It’s obviously a bookmakers trap that they try to make people bet for Sweden. They it did last year with Norway too . When the first semi final finished last year Norway was first in odds for some hours. My prediction is that Netherlands is going to win easily this contest . Sweden will be like Austria last year . First in juries and like 8-10 in televoting no matter how much they push Sweden .

    • There is a certain amount of bias during the rehearsals in favor of the most ‘polished’ and well-produced stagings. This is exactly what happened with Norway last year, and it’s happening with Sweden this year as well. Don’t forget that most people that place bets during this time are already familiar with the songs and they are influenced by their own expectations, or the expectations of the fan press that mostly reports about the rehearsals.

      Some things will change after the semis, but still will not be completely representative, because the audience of the semis is still limited compared to the final, and the changes of the odds will mostly reflect the buzz that is created around some of the performances.

      I do agree that Netherlands will probably win the contest, but I don’t expect a very big margin. Russia will win the televoting in East Europe, and will be inside the televoting top 3 overall, but lower with the juries. Sweden will indeed win the jury vote (of course they are being pushed by the producers, that’s no surprise), and will do a little better than Austria last year. Total amount of televoting points for Cesar in all countries of East and South Europe last year was a little less than 30 points – even if that doubles I can’t see Sweden getting more than 150-180 televoting points. I have no idea about the rest of the top 5 right now…

  12. I think it’s funny to see all these over-reacted jumps and falls in the betting odds. To such an extend that people completely forget the likes of Iceland, Cyprus, Switzerland and Greece? That’s a bit preposterous. Expect some corrections on the very evening of the tv-shows. Meaning that Azerbaijan and France will go down a few places again.

    To me, at this stage, the only true contenders are Sweden and The Netherlands. For both of them one thing counts: no promotional back stories this year, no pityful sickness creating a narrative, or the rise of LGBT-phoenixes, or whatever bit of #MeToo narrative there was last year with Netta. If either Sweden or The Netherlands wins, it’ll be the first time since the earlier winners of this decade (Germany 2010, Denmark 2013) that it wins mostly on song/charisma.

    With a Netherlands win more reminiscent of Sweden 2012 (instant modern song) and Portugal 2017 (no real staging). And a Sweden win more reminiscent of Austria 2014 (too classic song, but unforgettable meme) and Azerbaijan 2011 (effective, yet simple staging).

    • And you’ll see more jumps in the next few days, especially after the semis.

      It happened last year too, with Norway almost competing with Israel for the first place during the rehearsals, while Ireland and Lithuania did some crazy jumps after semi 1. The only correct reactions were the prices for Cyprus (and Moldova) shortening quickly after their first rehearsals, and Australia and Bulgaria drifting significantly at the same time. All other prices for the winning market were all over the place during the rehearsals and especially after the semis.

      I expect some crazy reactions after the actual shows this year too. Australia and Iceland may shorten even more after semi 1, while Switzerland and Russia will probably go back to green after semi 2. I expect Azerbaijan to stay rather strong – they are closing the show impressively and will leave an impactful last impression to the audience, and this might be important for the final as well. I also expect that the buzz around France will stay after showing the short clip of the performance during semi 1, but I don’t expect this to reflect to the actual results.

      Song-wise Netherlands should still be in the lead, and I expect this to be confirmed by the odds before the final, provided that all issues with performance will be resolved by Thursday.

      If not, then anything could happen, from a conventional winner with limited accessibility to the whole of the continent similar to Azerbaijan 2011 (in this case Sweden), to a crazy unexpected result like 2006 (such as Iceland).

  13. It’s still Netherlands to win in a landslide. He could be sitting on top of a wheelbarrow and the result will be the same.

  14. The Netherlands will win this in what is a poor year bar the odd three or so. Semi final one was one of the poorest i have ever seen.

    Netherlands have by far the best song and yes the stage performance is risky (lucky its a poor year) but that more simple look may appeal to the jury. Had he sung solo with backing it would have made a better performance but i am confident The Netherlands will pick up many 10 and 12 points in both the Jury and Televote and win well. Sweden is a good 2nd best and i am sure the computer will make it look like a close fight when the points scores are given in the final. Russia will do better than many expect but not the winner.

    A confident prediction for The Netherlands to win.

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