Eurovision Semi Final 2 First Dress Rehearsal Summary

Yesterday’s semi-final reminded us that Eurovision likes to surprise, though the fact that all the big hitters were grouped in one heat was always going to make an upset or two more likely. I don’t think we should jump to any conclusions based on last night’s result, beyond the fact that the jury system and semi-final allocation based on splitting voting blocs is obviously doing its job.

The second semi-final has always appeared more clearcut to me, although it remains true – as I wrote yesterday – that it wouldn’t be a Eurovision semi-final without a few assumptions being overturned. Denmark and Bosnia had impressed in earlier rehearsals, whilst the other front-runners – Sweden and Estonia – needed to step up their game. Jedward were the jokers in the pack.

All this made this afternoon’s first dress rehearsal an intriguing affair. Once again, we should take into account that it took place before an empty auditorium, which won’t have helped those songs which require the lift of an audience.

Bosnia’s Dino Merlin and his merry crew have already got their routine down pat, so we didn’t learn much: it’s a fantastic show opener. The camera shots mercifully play down the antics of the trumpeter, who skips around like Jimmy Jump (last year’s stagecrasher during the Spanish performance).

Next up is Austria’s Nadine Beiler, who delivers another great vocal performance. I’ve been asked why I think the song has limitations. Well, ‘The Sercret Is Love’ sounds like something from Whitney Houston’s first album – which is no bad thing, except that was released over 25 years ago.

This has been a popular choice in the qualification markets, and whilst the failure of vocal powerhouse Aurela Gace up early in Tuesday’s first semi for Albania may cause some anxiety, I think Nadine and ‘The Secret Is Love’ offers a far more attractive and traditional package that works better on the Eurovision stage.

I must have been in a good mood, because Netherlands, Belgium and Slovakia – which I had down as no-hopers – all sounded better than they have done all week. The lead singer of the 3Js for The Netherlands does, however, need to get his suit trousers to match his jacket – his ‘off-the-peg’ look is not attractive. At least the Slovakian Twiins are telegenic, and were vocally much improved, but ‘I’m Still Alive’ still feels like a long three minutes.

I’m not yet feeling a Lithuania moment coming on, as these three have a far worse draw to contend with than last night’s shock qualifier. But they have reason to be happy with the progress they have made.

Next up, in sixth, is Ukraine. Having loved the sand gimmick in first rehearsals, I had mixed feelings on the second rehearsal and I now feel that on balance they’d be better off without it. Perhaps it’s because I’m not a multi-tasker, and it just requires too much effort to follow both the song and the etching. Mika Newton and ‘Angel’ are serviceable enough on their own, it turns out.

Moldova remains an excellent contrast to what has gone before it, though the hatted unicyclist looked a little more concerned this afternoon. Perhaps she was worried about what the juries were going to think of her schtick tonight.

Sweden’s Eric Saade is still looking like he might not be as ‘Popular’ as he hoped on the Eurovision stage. Vocally he wasn’t strong, but given that it’s all about the routine, I’m more concerned that we haven’t seen a run-through where the glass box gimmick has worked effectively: the cameras didn’t catch any glass breaking at all this time. As gimmicks go, it’s a non-gimmick so far.

Cyprus is a little bit bland right now but added effects such as dry ice, along with an audience tomorrow night, may lift it. Christos Mylordos is now looking at the camera, he just needs to do it like he means it. This can’t be discounted, partly because it’s the most ethno piece in the semi-final which contains more of the voting countries that this kind of thing might appeal to.

Bulgaria’s Poli Genova is also carving out her own niche and remains in fine form for ‘Na Inat’, now with a black jacket that comes off towards the end of the song over her white dress. Vocally strong and performing with conviction, she remains a possible qualifier.

I fear that Macedonia can be consigned as a hopeless case, however. I didn’t realise that ‘Rusinka’ had such a great introduction, but Vlatko Ilievski is rough with his vocal from the very off, and whilst the backing dancers do their best, this just has too little impact.

Talking of which, Dana International isn’t quite dead in the water yet, as it’s hard to judge how her catwalk strut will look when she’s surrounded by thousands of flag-waving fans. They will, however, have to lift ‘Ding Dong’ well over and above what we saw this time and in the first two rehearsals.

Slovenia and Romania remain as solid as they have been all week. Both contain strong and contrasting central performances that suit their songs; Maja Keuc does dark defiance with a hint of Christina Aguilera for ‘No One’; Hotel FM’s David Bryan is all dimples and bonhomie for ‘Change’.

Estonia is getting there based on this run-through. The introduction remains the best we will hear this year, contemporary and cute. The staging is still very Disney Channel, but is becoming far more slick, and Getter Jaani is wisely leaving more lines to her backing singers. The vocals are not ideal for the chorus, but that will always be the case and not too much of a hindrance in a number like ‘Rockefeller Street’.

Belarus is this year’s car-crash; the clip they will save for a future programme entitled ‘100 Greatest Moments of Eurovision Kitsch’. Anastasiya Vinnikova’s vocals steamroll through ‘I Love Belarus’, flattening everything in its path.

In terms of qualification, Latvia’s ‘Angel In Disguise’ is definitely moving up through the ‘maybe’ category with all it has going for it, not least engaging performers and a great draw. There was nothing new about today’s performance, but seeing it immediately after the bombast of ‘I Love Belarus’ emphasised Musiqq’s unassuming charm.

Denmark gave another very solid, even, strong rehearsal, and this is still one to watch out for, especially once A Friend in London are playing to a crowd. I’m not sure the lead singer’s sprint down the catwalk for just a few lines before running back is adding much to the performance, but we’ll only know when the audience is there.

We finished with the irrepresssible Jedward, the subject of a major plunge in the last day or so and now remarkably top-priced at 8.0 second favourite to win the whole thing at the time of writing. They’ll have to look and sound a lot more polished than they did in today’s rehearsal to justify that kind of position.

I’m still in the dark about how Europe will take to Jedward’s hyperactivity on stage – but however well it goes down with televoters, I’m guessing that the juries are going to be less impressed.

The juries vote on tonight’s second dress rehearsal, which I’ll be watching here in the press centre. Based on my impressions of that, I’ll be writing up my advice for the second semi tomorrow morning.

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17 comments to Eurovision Semi Final 2 First Dress Rehearsal Summary

  • Stephen

    Hi Daniel do estonia look good enough to qualify to final.

    In another forum on esc nation the guy said she sounded the worse she has ever been.

    what do you think her performance was like and would it vote well in jurys?

    If given a good draw (if she gets through the final) like 15,20 or 23 do you think she could go far or is it doomed as alot of people are thinking it could be out 2moro night

  • Daniel

    Hi Stephen, I’m aware that bloggers have posted very different opinions of the performances, as is our right 🙂

    I pay particularly close attention to Estonia as a fancied entry and one of my favourite songs. What I think was most important is that the routine is much sharper than before.

    I think her vocals have improved too as a result of making the choreography less complicated but she is still shouty in parts, especially the chorus and at the end of the song.

    The introduction still really grabs, so I’m not prepared to discount a high finish with a good draw. However, everything has to continue to come together to put itself in with a chance.

  • Stephen

    I also got Hungary to win the eurovsion i thought it was gaining momentum at the start and winning some of the polls and its a really good song i like it so i thought it had a great chance but the staging aint great and to draw no.5 last night was the end of it i think what do you think of hungary

    I think the main threat now is azerbaigen no.19 is a really good draw think i should put a few bob on them.

    Im from ireland and im really shocked by the odds of the bookies alot of people here now actually think they will win

    im not so sure tho i think its another wagner situation with x factor loast year

    what u think of the odds for ireland

  • fiveleaves

    Hi Dan.
    Cheers for the update.

    My thoughts on Irelands price it that it could well be Jedwards management at work.

    “Massive gamble on Jedward” adds to the hype surrounding them and wouldn’t take a huge amount of cash from Louis Walsh and his chums to create.

    Something doesn’t add up as they’re 2nd favourites to win, but are 4th favourites to win the weaker semi final from the pimp slot.

    Maybe Louis hasn’t seen the semi final markets yet.

  • Rob

    Hi Dan,
    Paul Jones on his At The Races ESC blog writes regarding Switzerland: ‘I have a sneaky feeling that this may have been the wild-card qualifier from the first semi-final that the professional jury can secretly put through in which case that would mean it didn’t make the top nine on voting.’
    I wasn’t aware of this wild-card rule for the 10th qualifier – can you please clarify?

    • Hi Rob,

      Im not Daniel but can surely answer you that:)

      Dont know who Paul Jones is but he is clearly wrong. The qualification system he is mentions was last used in 2009, and the one which is used now was introduced in 2010.

      That is the Juries having a 50% say and the televoting has a 50% say as well in the final results:)

  • bunnyman

    Hi Daniel, thanks for another interesting report. I can see where you’re coming from with the Whitney thing, Austria’s song could easily have come from the soundtrack of the Bodyguard, but as you say perhaps that doesn’t matter, I think its a thoroughly decent song that gives a potential superstar a perfect vehicle to showcase her incredible talent. Dated or not it takes my breath away every time, and its not the sort of song which normally appeals to me.

    But if we’re talking dated, what about Romania? Surely this belongs in a 1970s ESC not 2011? Not sure I dare oppose it as everyone seems to rate it which does surprise me.

    I’m confused by your review of Estonia which seems out of step with every other blogger. Have you seen a dramatic improvement today, or have you always felt they were better than other bloggers do? Interested to see the reviews of the jury rehearsal later.

    Keep up the good work

    bunnyman

  • Justin

    This apparent gamble on Ireland is apparently gathering pace its now 11/2 on Betfair to win the whole thing! Isn’t this an amazing lay opportunity (like Wagner last year?) or is there something we don’t know?

  • Daniel

    Hi Justin, from where I am sitting in the press centre in Dusseldorf, watching every rehearsal as it comes across on screen, there isn’t something you don’t know. For those willing to take the plunge at these odds, it is a great lay opportunity.

    Wagner was one of a long line of similar hype-generated X-Factor gambles. The year before, exactly the same thing happened with an act that was also nowhere near winning. That, of course, was Jedward.

  • Ron

    Hi Daniel,

    I have a feeling you might be slightly underestimating the impact Jedward will have in this semi.They are an act who are absolutely made for a huge arena, and I was struck by their manic and frenzied energy in the dress rehearsal yesterday…..this is something that could set a 36,000 seater stadium alight,particularly as the last act in a semi final.

    Of course it is entirely possible that the plunge on Jedward is a marketing ploy by Louis Walsh and his friends, but we can by no means take it as a given that this is what has happened.Looking at the Youtube stats, Jedward’s rehearsals are getting views from over the place, including a large number from Russia.

    I’d agree that a win in the semi would be tricky because of the jury factor, but I wouldn’t at all rule out a top 3 finish.

    Ron

  • Daniel

    Hi Ron, and many thanks for posting. Having watched the jury rehearsal last night, I can’t see Jedward near the top 5 among juries.

    I think Bosnia and Denmark have two of the top three places, and sure, Ireland could fill the third place, but being able to lay at just 6/4 is too tempting. You could have backed Jedward at 9/1 for a top 3 finish in this semi a while ago.

    Yes, their televote score will be better, but there’ll have to win over huge segments of eastern Europe already voting for Dino Merlin and others closer to home.

  • Ron

    I’d have to agree that the juries will be their major obstacle in this semi Daniel.There are other more conservative songs here that are likely to pick up a lot of jury points.

    I’m sure they can do very well in the televote though.Their manic energy and spontanaeity is an interesting contrast to the clipped preciseness of the more stage school efforts from Eric Saade and Getter Jaani.

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