Eurovision 2012: Semi 2 First Dress Rehearsal

Eurovision week moves at great speed. No sooner have we digested last night’s result and draw implications, we move on to the second semi-final. The press centre has just witnessed the first dress rehearsal for this heat.

As on Monday night, the second proper run-through tonight will be the crucial one that juries vote on. I will be tweeting my reactions from this and summing up in the comments section, so do check back for that.

A word of warning on what you are about to read. There were sound issues for this rehearsal. The mix kept changing and there were a couple of interruptions in proceedings, presumably to deal with this.

Serbia’s Zeljko has wisely chosen a modern cut for a black jacket and trousers over a white T-shirt. Vocally he was in excellent voice, as always. As a slow-burning number, it’s a not an ideal opener, and there were too many long shots just when the opposite is required, for example when he returns to sing after the second instrumental segment (which is also used in the reprise). Still sailing through, obviously.

Kaliopi is also in a black suit, which is very sensible. There’s a tiny bit of midriff showing. You never expect anything less than fine vocals from her, and this was no exception. This feels very similar to what goes before it to begin with before morphing into the rockier part, which looks a little static. I think qualification will be a close run thing.

I still maintain the Netherlands is the equivalent of Latvia in this semi. A nice little ditty overshadowed by the way it’s staged. It’s much as before with Joan in the long turquoise outfit and headdress, whilst her campfire troupe stand miles away until joining her for the final chorus. I fear a similar fate to Latvia at the moment.

At least the full-on cheese of Malta’s ‘This Is The Night’ looks more appropriate on the Eurovision stage. Kurt is in reasonable form, but I still find his backing singer out at the moment when she introduces the last chorus, and the DJ-dancer adds to a feeling of raggedness for this final minute.

The Belarus boys are still defying the laws of gravity, though ironically they make heavy-handed work of it. The problem here is that Mr Litesound makes Mr Compact Disco look like Mr Charisma. I’m not being sold this one well enough.

Portugal’s Filipa Sousa on the other hand is exemplary in selling ‘Vida Minha’. She’s got a full-length gold dress with slit to show a bit of leg, and her backing singers are in black. If the preceding six minutes has appeared rather desperate in fishing for votes, this comes as a breath of fresh air in doing what it does very competently without bells or whistles. It could sneak into the final.

Ukraine’s Gaitana has a long white dress that’s been put through the shredder. She gives it her all once more, and it all looks well staged and a welcome change of pace. It should be lifted further by the addition of an audience, and it’s already coming across really well.

Oh dear. Bulgaria’s Sofi Marinova is in a tight white PVC outfit with high white boots. The effect is less Crystal Hall, more Sofia street corner. She stands there belting out her dance tune whilst the overhead light on her means she is lost in the longer shots. This looks doomed at the moment.

It doesn’t do Slovenia or Croatia any good to be drawn back-to-back. I’m finding it a long six minutes. Both Eva Boto and Nina Badric are in good voice whilst their sideshows play out beside them. ‘Verjamem’ is still just winning this one for me, but it’s not exactly a knockout. Nina’s dancers now unfurl their laundry in front of the backing singers, partly hiding them in certain shots.

The concerns I expressed for the last run-through of ‘Euphoria’ remain. Loreen is still wearing the outfit with the fringed arms that adds to what’s flying around her. She is now better lit herself, but the rest of the stage is very dark. The verses still contain far too much mumbling, and her slower yoga moves are sometimes at odds with the uplifting moments, which do sound very strong. I’m still not feeling that this is our Eurovision winner.

Georgia’s routine is much tighter than before, and much as I’d like to, I can’t rule out qualification here. ‘I’m A Joker’ is supposed to be cabaret, which means it has something over those numbers in this heat that just look like cabaret. Anri Jokhadze’s performance is better understood in this context too.

Can Bonomo’s hardy shipmates are like him, clad in black and white, with grey capes. This feels just a little too understated as a result, though the routine is as slick and fun as before. I don’t envisage any problems with qualification for Turkey this time around.

Estonia’s Ott adds further vocal flourishes to ‘Kuula’, but is still very much a jury sponge. If he performs like this, he should easily be in the final, though he does suffer a little from nerves so it may be best to wait and see how he gets on when it matters.

Max Jason Mai was not bringing his A-game with him for this rehearsal and was very flat throughout. He needs to raise his game when it matters, but is capable of it. Norway’s Tooji is never going to be completely note-perfect, but it’s more than enough with a song and routine this strong. Bosnia’s Maya Sar lulls you a little too much for the first two minutes. The final minute with the wind machine at full throttle is actually quite lovely.

Donny Montell with his blindfold was the most entertaining thing in this dress rehearsal. He’s already wearing it when he’s introduced before the postcard, which will leave viewers guffawing. Best of all, his covered face managed to find every camera angle. Most of the competition couldn’t even manage that without a blindfold! The flip, the little air guitar bit, the cheese-tastic final minute. I surrendered to it all. I had been worn down by what came before.

Let me know what you think of these thoughts and how you find this semi to be shaping up below.

53 comments to Eurovision 2012: Semi 2 First Dress Rehearsal

  • Mrs Shrewd

    Brilliant review as always Daniel. I’ve very much enjoyed reading your thoughts this year. Are we to read into this that Lithuania look a value bet to qualify at odds against??

    • Daniel

      I took a little bit of odds against after he finished performing. Just a small amount, mind. I am partial to that dancey last minute though.

  • Ronnie

    This is the second time I have read something about Ott’s nerves. Do you have any examples of when he’s messed up due to such anxiety? I’m a worried backer of Estonia to make the top 10!

    • Daniel

      Yes, his nerves clearly showed in the national final for a less assured performance than in the semi (when he was playing the piano rather than standing). The Estonian press have also been discussing it here in the press centre.

      • Ronnie

        Thanks, Daniel. It’s all very strange as he looked confident during rehearsals and was joking around when singing the song. I supposed a packed arena is a different ball game altogether! I hope he holds himself together when it counts.
        Interesting info regarding Portugal – the 5/1 to qualify has been taken. Ladbrokes 7/4 is probably nearer the mark.

  • David

    I’m surprised to find Belarus around evens still. Having bet against it @3.20, I was looking to hedge a bit of that at around the same odds to qualify – but with the current standing, I’m finding myself increasing my liability instead!

    Pop/rock needs something extra, as Switzerland clearly demonstrated yesterday. And the vertical lean isn’t it. Nor are they helped by the early slot or the dance-ification of what earlier was a more clear-cut popsong. Sure, Belarus have some allies in this semi, but this might partly be offset by some (western juries in particular) not wanting to put a propaganda-weapon in the hands of Lukasjenko.

    • Boki

      Don’t want to influence your decision but let it ride man 🙂

      • David

        Cheers – you know I want to 😉

        Besides, I have four big lays (Belarus, Netherlands, Malta, Bulgaria) in this semi, so I might well consider my “insurance” (instead of hedging) being that if just one of them fails (ie qualifies), I’m still reasonably good…

        • Boki

          You look good with all 4 imo 😉
          I have those plus Croatia and Georgia (all at much better odds than now) but the only one I hedged is Georgia.

          • David

            No worries at all about Croatia?

          • Boki

            Borderline Q is always a risk but in this case not enough worries to hedge. But that’s my normal style, let qualification ride and hedge the winner markets. Georgia was just an exception, I took there only my stake back since that garbage shouldn’t come through.

  • Donald

    Daniel you have to be seriously complemented on your efforts keeping us all so up to date and so well especially with the speed it moves at.

    I had to do some work yesterday just like Eurovicious much to my annoyance because of others errors.

    However back enjoying Eurovision etc today.

    Will Loreen win this semi final?
    Is there something to back against her?

    Note on yesterday leaving Jedward until last yesterday really pimped them and all the Jedheads had their nerves tested. Will they vote more on Saturday? I had them laid last night not big but now they got draw as well, what about the final? The odds are shortened so back and lay advise spot on again. They’ll never manage to pull it off? S

    • Daniel

      Thanks for your kind words, Donald. There is an argument that Jedward are a good back-to-lay option – based on everything written in Andrew’s article on the subject. Though bear in mind it was 32 on Betfair at the time, and drifted out to over 40 I think before coming into the current 26. The draw does make the hype of a potential Jedward win more plausible and may help.

      • Donald

        Did it after Andrews article but now with their draw the scary thought did cross my mind. Common sense says no so lay away time between now and Saturday as odds shorten with the hype.

        The Irish bookmakers having field day already laying them like last year. Paddy Power go 10/1 to win yet only 5/2 to be 5th to 8th finishing position and 9th to 12th. They have shortened Loreen 6/4 from 7/4. They still have Russia at 9/2 second favourite!

        They have some fancy prices on Azebaijan, Ukraine at 40/1 Spain 22/1 and Italy 7/1. 1/4 odds for first 4. I will be entering a few green doors tomorrow I think.

        Must try catch up on days happenings at Liverpool now also.

  • Donald

    Scary thought re Jedward that should have ended above.
    Loreen not feeling like winner?

    Will watch rehearsals now.

    • Daniel

      When I just listened to her performance, it was sounding very strong. When I watch it as well, the way it’s presented is off-putting. That’s the only problem I have with it.

  • Teo

    Daniel what do you think on the ex-Yugoslavia mess in this semi? Do you find possible that every single one of them can qualify or some of them are gonna be left out and who? Thanx.

  • Donald

    Sorry for X-Factor info on Eurovision thread but do bear this in mind for later.

    http://www.unrealitytv.co.uk/x-factor/x-factor-2012-bosses-cause-outrage-with-secret-fast-track-auditions/

    Back to BAKU.

  • Daniel

    JURY REHEARSAL UPDATE:

    Tonight’s ‘winner’ in terms of performance was Estonia’s Ott Lepland, with Ukraine’s Gaitana second and Croatia’s Nina also putting in sterling work.

    Solid stuff from Portugal, Sweden, Bosnia, Turkey, Norway and Slovenia. Serbia and FYROM as dependable as ever. Netherlands better than the first dress rehearsal.

    Malta, Belarus and Georgia pretty much on a par with earlier rehearsals when they could have done with upping their game.

    Lithuania’s Donny Montell not quite as good as earlier though vocally decent. Bulgaria still a tragedy of staging. Occasionally poor vocals from Slovakia.

    • Donald

      Gaitana!, the type of power needed in that arena. Looking forward to tomorrow, draw going to be important tomorrow night. At least we got few shaping up againt Loreen.

      Jedheads at full steam online already… it’s a scary thought…

  • Paje

    Daniel which do you think is more value for top 10? Serbia or Russia? They both have similar odds!

  • George

    Quality blogging by the way.
    Betting question for you or anyone here. Do you know wether bookies accept accumulators on qualification?

  • Jay

    Havent seen much mention of Spain, any opinion on them, well drawn and a good song, could it make top 4?

  • Boki

    I will try to call top10 in semi2 since I have much more bets than in semi1:

    Serbia
    Portugal
    Ukraine
    Slovenia
    Sweden
    Turkey
    Estonia
    Norway
    B&H
    Lithuania

    Still can’t understand why is Portugal doing so bad, it’s a big value bet for me.

    • Tim B

      My guess for the 10:

      Serbia
      FYR Macedonia
      Ukraine
      Turkey
      Norway
      Sweden
      Slovenia
      Estonia
      Bosnia & Herzegovina
      Lithuania

    • eurovicious

      Portugal is Finland – competent jury-friendly ballad in a language no-one in the semi understands.

      • Boki

        You are probably right. I count on more traditional esc package which has its voters and a warm mediterranean appeal it offers (unlike the classy but cold Finland).

      • Boki

        Btw Portugal has nice Q record with singing these types of songs in their language and Andrej Babic as the composer also.

        • SED

          Hi everyone,
          still enjoy reading the articles and comments.
          Regarding Portugal, I noticed that there are 13 Eastern European countries in this semi. Plus small Scandinavian bloc. If you look at voting patterns, Portugal might get votes from the Big Five countries voting in this semi: Germany, France, UK. Enough? For an old-fashioned song?
          This said, I layed Portugal, so I’m biased.

          • Boki

            Hi SED, it might get votes from some Balkan countries which appreciate “the warm atmosphere that creates” (don’t know how to put this but I’m biased also) and surely some points from Slovenia (composer). GL with your lay 🙂

          • SED

            Hi Boki,
            good point about the composer. Although I’m sure no German voted for San Marino because Ralph Siegel composed the song. Might be different in Slovenia.
            Good luck!

  • ross

    Uk half the price of germany now, yet second favourites in the head to head ?

  • Henry VIII

    Serbia
    Norway
    Bosnia
    Sweden
    Macedonia
    Turkey
    Ukraine
    Slovenia
    Estonia
    Georgia

  • Tanya

    Came across this blog an really enjoyed the insights, probably the best on Eurovision. Also very close to my perception of the songs. A pity comments for my country’s entry are so ..how shall I put it…merciless, but truth be told, Sofi’s team have done a horrible job with the whole presentation of the otherwise good song. Am sorry about Sofi because although she is not my type of singer, she sings well and a more competent team could have “sold” her piece.
    Thanx for all you have been writing!

  • tpfkar

    Bosnia
    Estonia
    Macedonia
    Norway
    Serbia
    Slovakia
    Slovenia
    Sweden
    Turkey
    Ukraine

  • sonovox

    Serbia
    FYROM
    Ukraine
    Sweden
    Georgia
    Turkey
    Estonia
    Norway
    B&H
    Lithuania

  • Ben Cook

    Spoiler!

    Someone’s posted the jury rehearsal of Sweden:
    http://tumblr.hole1988.nl/post/23634805664/loreen-euphoria-sweden-jury-rehearsal

    I don’t think the camerawork is as good in MF, but perhaps I’ve just watched it too many times. The performance itself is fine.

    • justin

      Great find Ben! I’m not sure if its the Eurovision fan in me taking control of my level-headed betting self but to me that is mightily impressive.

    • Emma

      Thanks for posting! Loreen sounds good here, at least for the first 2:30. I thought some of the ends bits (the last “divinity” for example, and the uuuuuuup that follows) sounded a wee bit off though. Perhaps I’ve watched the MF/heard the studio too many times? Still, it’s a performance to be proud of and I don’t see them punishing her much if at all.

    • Rob44

      very useful thanks. my impression is that it is very good but i can’t see it winning the jury vote so it will have to kill the televote to win the sf. you have to think that the presence of turkey and so many balkans means that loreen is far from nailed on for the sf win?

  • justin

    Gosh somebody really fancies Turkey to qualify – the price is tumbling on Betfair. Daniel – do you consider this is free money…I assuming you have something to do with this…

  • Henry VIII

    Shouldn’t they have tried to get some fill in her eyes? They remain blacked out for the most part, like some horror film.

  • Henry VIII

    Watch MF again (it will probably be the youtube one with the most hits) and then compare the two.

  • Henry VIII

    MF = Meledifestovalen (or similar), the Swedish national final that Loreen won.

  • Popking

    For me:

    Serbia
    Sweden
    Norway
    Estonia
    Bosnia
    Turkey
    Ukraine
    Georgia
    Slovenia
    Lithuania

    Macedonia and Belarus just miss.

  • Nick D

    I’ve not done anywhere near enough prep on this semi, so I’m just going to call 10 for fun based mostly on first principles of draw and friends.

    Serbia, FYR Macedonia, Ukraine, Slovenia, Sweden, Georgia, Turkey, Estonia, Norway, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

  • Donald

    I’ll have a go at ten for tonight. Some are certainties so any betting on those even though short odds. chancing Malta as song upbeat but close run thing for final three places.

    Serbia
    Norway
    Sweden
    Ukraine
    Turkey
    Estonia
    Bosnia & Herzegovina
    Portugal
    Lithuania
    Malta

  • Nick D

    Public Service Announcement: Greece are evens at Stan James to finish above the UK. Enjoy your free money! :o)

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