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.