I still much prefer the second semi. For example, Latvia makes a great starter as the PeR quartet jump around the stage in their glittery disco suits having the time of their lives. As he did in the final run-through in the first rehearsal, Ralf goes crowdsurfing towards the end and there’s a nice aerial shot they look up at for the climax. It’s still going to struggle, but there is a point to ‘Here We Go’ in the context of the semi.
San Marino’s ‘Crisalide’ feels rather pointless in comparison, except as a conduit for fanboy hopes. The staging is as before, in other words surprisingly dull, and Valentina is variable in quality during the run-throughs: sometimes she’s excellent; and sometimes she struggles to make the gear change convincing. I don’t think it’s pulling in any neutral televoters, so it’s a question of how much fanboy and jury support it can muster.
Lozano is back singing in Macedonian throughout for ‘Pred da se Razdeni’, which is the third significant change they’ve made in the run-up to the semi-final. He’s in a black suit and white T-shirt with Esma less subtly cloaked in red. The presentation was tightened up today but there’s no getting over the disconnect between the two elements of the song.
Azerbaijan’s Farid Mammadov is looking into the camera at every opportunity and it might well have an Eric Saade-like effect on the voting public. The staging is as eye-popping as before and when everything comes together it’s incredibly effective. There are occasional problems: on the final run-through most of the rose petals failed to get airborne, for example. But there’s no doubting the impact of ‘Hold Me’.
The same can be said for Finland’s ‘Marry Me’. There was confetti for the final run-through and the backing dancers squeal like happy bridesmaids after the lesbian kiss. Krista is enjoying every minute and looks great with her pink shoes and matching lipstick. The backdrop is as joyous as the stage show. Overall, this can’t come across much stronger than it’s already doing.
Malta’s dimpled Gianluca has a winning charm but he still occasionally gets ahead of the backing track on ‘Tomorrow’, possibly as a result of nerves. He missed a couple of notes as he returned along the catwalk for one run-through too, but was much better afterwards. This can appear a little amatuerish compared to what’s around it, the question is whether the public think it’s a knowing amateurishness, which is what it’s trying to achieve. The final thirty seconds on the park bench with his band is very effective though.
Bulgaria’s Elitsa was a bundle of energy for today’s rehearsal. At times it causes problems, such as a dropped drumstick or not grabbing the microphone quickly enough because she’s so into her drumming. Generally her enthusiasm is infectious but it does mean the cameramen have a job on not to make things look too messy. It’s worth bearing in mind she takes a while to warm up vocally and is much stronger by the final run-through. This is the most ethno entry we’ve had since Armenia’s 2009 effort ‘Jan Jan’.
Iceland’s Eythor is not Ott, but he’s doing his very best with the dated ‘Eg a Lif’. He’s still experimenting with a white or black jacket, though the Icelandic delegation have been told what looks best (black). They’ve been working on the lighting for his Jesus pose when the big note comes along, and it’s looking pretty effective by the final run-through. Sandwiched between Bulgaria and Greece, it’s either a nice change of pace or a bland return to 90s Eurovision depending on your opinion.
I was much happier with today’s rehearsal for Greece. The camera angles are far more polished and the Koza Mostra boys have a stronger appreciation of where they need to be on stage at each point. The run to the catwalk creates a nice shot when they swivel their heads and scarper back like the Scooby Doo team, and they’ve delayed plunging the arena into darkness during the bridge to capture the knee raise. A very solid rehearsal.
You know what you’re getting with Israel’s Moran Mazor: a strong, impassioned performance. ‘Rak Bishvilo’ doesn’t get much more geographically or culturally removed from ‘Eg a Lif’ but there’s a sense that they’re fishing in the same waters. We get the same zoom back for a long shot on the big note. This match may be decided by the juries, and Israel does at least have the advantage of not being so obviously old-fashioned.
Armenia’s Dorians do as much as they can with ‘Lonely Planet’. The vocals are good, especially on the last note. Meanwhile the pyros came in earlier for today’s rehearsal and were more effective as a result. After a succession of strong songs in their niche, this falls notably short in its genre, but we have to balance that against the country’s voting strength.
ByeAlex was in his charity-shop chic today. The way that ‘Kedvesem’ is being sold is hopeless in a Eurovision context: the lead singer couldn’t look more awkward. That’s part of its charm, of course, along with the fact that the song is eventually persuasive to those open to it. The question is whether three minutes of it will persuade a watching audience who don’t understand the words. It’s a tough ask.
There was sharp disagreement among bloggers regarding Norway’s first rehearsal. There seemed greater consensus today, and it was highly positive. Not much had changed for me: visually and vocally this is still coming across very well, with Margaret owning the blue and white stage; it’s just a case of whether the dark electropop of ‘I Feed You My Love’ will catch on with a mass audience on the night.
Albania were in their stage get-up, and it’s not particularly flattering. There are too many close-ups of guitarist Bledar during the first minute, although his stint on the satellite stage with his pyro guitar is also the highlight of ‘Identitet’. This is still a borderline case for me. It has echoes of Turkey 2011 and Albania are relying on a similar number of allies, admittedly from a better draw.
Georgia, on the other hand, is pushing all the right visual buttons, as it did in the first rehearsal. ‘Waterfall’ was coming across as well today as it did on Thursday though Sophie has to be careful with how shouty she gets in that final minute. Otherwise the vocals are excellent. They’ve improved some of the camera angles, notably for her lean on Nodi. This is still looking strong, it’s problem may be that it’s Eurovision-by-numbers in a year full of them.
Switzerland’s Takasa still look like the school Chemistry department putting on a show at the school fair. It’s really very amateur looking and sounding compared to what comes before it. There was more focus on 95-year-old Emil today, but I’m not sure even that’s going to save ‘You and Me’.
Romania was more polished today but it would be hard to get any more chaotic than what we saw at the first rehearsal. The backdrop is less heavy on the red and the camera angles have improved hugely. But Cezar still spends the entire song looking like he’s got a terrible case of trapped wind, which helps explain the way he rises in the air from the bridge onwards. The contemporary dancers struggle with the tarpaulin and each other in a very distracting way. Basically: still a dog’s dinner and unintentionally hilarious.
Let us know what you thought of today’s run-throughs below.