Babushki! Jedward! Catering at last for the press centre! Today promised much for Eurovision hacks. If truth be told, I got pretty much what I was expecting: lamb kofte, rice and the salty white drink in a carton you think is going to be yoghurt that they seem to like in these parts. Apparently it’s made by leaving milk to curdle just a little bit to generate the different taste.
A similar thing happens to fanboys and bloggers at the venue. Left to curdle in the Eurovision bubble, we generate our own hype. Today was all about that, especially regarding the entries from Russia and Ireland. Otherwise, Cyprus and Denmark were other acts high enough up in bookmakers’ lists to merit plenty of interest.
Here’s my take on the day’s events which featured the second half of songs in the first semi. A handy page with all the video footage can be found at this Dutch site.
Russia’s practice caused the first real ripple in the win market since rehearsals began, as if the drift in their odds since March had been because people had forgotten them and now they were reminded that yes, six old dears in full ethnic regalia demand a ‘Party for Everybody’.
The betting market is a short-sighted beast, because this performance was pretty much as in the national final, except the strange contraption behind them turns out to be a stove from which they collect a cake during the instrumental bridge. It all looked cute on camera, though I’m one of those people for whom the novelty wears off within about 20 seconds. You can leave me in the ‘this won’t finish in the top three’ camp.
Jedward were hotly anticipated in the last slot. What we got was unsurprisingly similar in style to last year with the added prop of a water feature that looks like it was planted by Charlie Dimmock. The boys (in blue) stand within it near the end of ‘Waterline’ without getting wet – for the moment, anyway.
Vocally they were ably assisted and they continue to bring a tremendous amount of energy to the stage. The question remains how Europe will feel about witnessing their schtick again, but it has to be said that being the last upbeat, gimmick-y performance in a semi full of upbeat, gimmick-y performances should see them in the final come May 26.
Reports on Cyprus were generally positive because it wasn’t the car crash that some expected. In fact, they can teach the Greeks a few lessons this year, like bring a decent backing vocalist and look like you have done plenty of preparation before rehearsals.
But I’m still not concerned about my liabilities on Cyprus having laid it in the Top 10 market. Ivi Adamou was vocally adequate, nothing more, whilst the choreography and backdrop doesn’t really lift the song enough on stage. However, it’s certainly in with a decent chance of qualifying on this basis.
If you saw Soluna Samay’s winning performance of ‘Should’ve Known Better’ in the Danish national final, then today’s rehearsal was a facsimile of that. I always reserve the right to change my mind, but in this case, I’m continuing to stand by my opinions expressed back in February. This is pleasant and well executed, but may get forgotten by televoters if given an early draw in the final.
Unlike many others, I didn’t think there was much wrong with the Austrian rehearsal. The Trackshittaz and their three backing dancers worked the stage well. Again, it’s pretty similar to what we saw in the national final – pole-dancing, ass-shaking and all – with a few differences.
The boys put in a bit more choreography; have a go on the poles themselves; and the girls’ asses will be lit up on the night judging by the tube-like things that were strapped to their knickers. Overall, they look like they are having lots of fun. None of this changes my opinion that juries will behave like a bunch of prudes and punish it.
Hungary’s Compact Disco put in a vocally decent performance, once again suggesting that the studio used for their national final wasn’t fit for purpose. After watching the band at the London Eurovision Party, I reckoned that the lead singer’s supposed lack of charisma wasn’t such a big problem. However, that’s no excuse for him not to look at the camera at all. In fact, even when it’s shoved in his face, he turns the other way, like a waiter who doesn’t want to take your order.
This can be rectified. What is not changing, apparently, is the way he uses one catwalk and the guitarist another, leaving the band looking far too spread out. At the moment, ‘Sound of Our Hearts’ sounds better than it looks.
Thankfully Moldova are putting on a show, which they can usually be relied upon to do. This again looks much like the national final performance, though the camerawork promises to be make it more effective than it seemed there. Pasha is in fine voice although he does sweat up, as I used to say paddock-side at the races. With this fine draw, plenty of friends and its catchy trumpet riff, ‘Lautar’ has lots going for it regarding qualification.
Israel has the best backdrop seen so far with its Dali-esque clocks. Otherwise I have niggling doubts, much as I like ‘Time’. The lead singer sounds fine but is not a telegenic presence. The backing singers are cute but either they weren’t high enough up in the mix or they couldn’t project. Either way, the chorus which they have to carry was getting lost. Losing time is never a good idea.
All you need to know about San Marino is that one of the backing dancers carries a tablet computer at all times during the routine, even when flapping his arms around. This just about sums up the whole enterprise of ‘The Social Network Song’ and its level of hopelessness.
So that’s semi one all sorted, right? If only. Let me know what you think of today’s rehearsals below.