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.