Today was an intriguing final day of second rehearsals in Dusseldorf. It started with the last seven to perform in the second semi-final, including Estonia, Denmark and Jedward (yes, their reputation precludes having to mention who they represent).
This was followed by the Big 5 performing another set of run-throughs. Cue further heated debate about whether France will become the runaway winner the odds are starting to indicate, and the impact of Blue’s boxes on their chances.
A quick word about Sofabet this coming week. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, the days of each semi and final, there will be one morning article with my thoughts and advice based on the previous evening’s second dress rehearsal which the juries vote on. If I feel like anything should be added based on the third dress rehearsal on the afternoon before each event, I will add it in the comments section.
On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, there will be an early evening summary of the first dress rehearsals that take place on those afternoons. These give us the first opportunity to watch the songs back-to-back without interruption, and the impressions gained should be useful.
Back to today’s rehearsals. We started today with Maja Keuc (13th in the running order for the second semi-final) giving another solid performance of ‘No One’ for Slovenia. I hope this qualifies, and it certainly deserves to.
However, comparisons with Norway 2008 – which ended up coming fifth in the final – ignore at their peril the fact that three years ago ‘Hold On Be Strong’ was laden with hooks, whilst ‘No One’ – though it is complex, interesting and well-executed – doesn’t really have any, as Panos commented a while ago.
Next on, Romania’s effort ‘Change’ is much as it was before, and remains what it always has been in my book – a solid qualifier. The camera shots are working well and there’s some nice movement in the final minute of the song, with the lead singer of Hotel FM showing plenty of gusto.
It was followed by Estonia, which started the day second favourite. Getter Jaani had a nerve-wracking first run-through having slipped when climbing down the backs of her dancers near the start of the song. They wisely ditched the concept for a far more assured second practice.
This turned out to be their last run-through, but it was the first time the song looked like an assured qualifier, let alone something that could have any impact in the final. Now they’re on the right track, I’m expecting it to come together further for the dress rehearsals, just like Sweden’s ‘Popular’.
Next up, and sounding flatter than a German autobahn, is Anastasiya Vinnikova. ‘I Love Belarus’ is something of a cult favourite in the press centre, but on stage it’s so bad, it’s… well, not qualifying.
My thoughts on Latvia’s ‘Angel In Disguise haven’t changed from the first rehearsal. I still think it’s the kind of thing you’d expect to see in a gig at your local pub. However, the refrain is catchy, it’s different from anything else in this semi and it has a great draw in 17th. It can’t be ruled out.
I commented after an impressive first Danish rehearsal that it probably wouldn’t get much better. Everything was as before, until the lead singer now sprints along the catwalk to the central stage for some of the middle eight before running back for the final lines.
Perhaps it will make more sense when the crowds are there, and it’s the kind of anthem that may benefit from it, but my main problem with the idea at the moment is that it emphasises the singer’s unusual fashion choice of a backless top that’s just a bit too outré for the Eurovision audience.
Talking of outlandish, Jedward are in sparkly red military-style tops with huge shoulder pads. Their performance is very Jedwardian, there’s no other term for it. Given how much the boys are bouncing around, it’s wise that the vocals are largely being carried by the backing singers. It’s slick, crazy and fun. I have no idea how the rest of Europe will respond.
Now onto the second rehearsals of the ‘Big 5’.
I’ve used popopera as shorthand to describe France’s ‘Sognu’, though of course it has no pop elements at all. It’s a 2m40s aria. This kind of thing is not ‘Eurovision’ as we know it at all, but Amaury Vassili is still creating collective shivers down the spine.
The only difference today was with the camera work which is coming together ominously well. There are a few long shots, including one panning out on the penultimate big note before a close-up of Vassili for the climax, after which he gives a smile that middle-aged women around Europe will dream he shows them whilst announcing he wants to marry their daughter.
For those who think it’s nailed on but don’t want to back it at 2/1 or under, and are still looking to dabble next Saturday night, Betfair have started a win market without France.
Moving onto Italy and Ralph Gualazzi, there are some excellent camera shots for this one too, especially in the final moments. The man may not engage the cameras but there’s something very engaging about his performance. I’m seeing the juries score ‘Madness of Love’ well, even if televoters may not.
What followed was another solid rehearsal from the United Kingdom, and ‘I Can’ is shaping up into a contender. The Blue boys looked better in their civvies than the suits they wore yesterday, which I fear will be their costumes on the night.
Vocally they were tight, the camera shots started to come together, and the main gripe remains the four LED boxes behind them showing their images at various points. If nothing else, it makes the stage look far busier than it needs to.
There’s not much to add about Lena for Germany and Lucia for Spain that wasn’t already said in yesterday’s article. Both offered identikit rehearsals.