The opening is a moving one with Loreen and the children’s choir. It didn’t seem to impact too much on Austria’s Natalia Kelly who had her best rehearsal to date with ‘Shine’, although the staging remains as static as before. Juries and televoters have a clear question early on: whether they prefer this more contemporary number or the greater vocal power and personal warmth that Estonia’s Birgit brings to her following number.
Slovenia’s Hannah also had her best rehearsal yet. The backing dancers wore masks for the early part of the song. Significantly, Hannah was more convincing vocally during her catwalk strut. The backing singers were slightly higher in the mix and she’d finally changed the way she sings ‘Straight Into Love’ to fit in with the performance. Croatia were very much as before: vocally sound.
It was fascinating to see how Denmark’s Emmelie de Forest came across. It’s still a little short of the Danish national final, and it’s hard to put my finger on why. It’s looking better from previous rehearsals with some nice golden spotlights on the drummers before the first chorus, for example. I think it’s because Emmelie is still fishing for a few camera angles and isn’t owning the stage as much as she did on home territory.
Russia is generally professional, apart from one notable missed note and when the cameras caught the production assistants handing the balls to the male backing singers. They should just ditch the whole idea. Otherwise, it’s very sound. Ukraine’s rehearsal was not without glitches. We had to start again with the opening sequence when the giant caused a problem with Zlata’s audio equipment. It’s still a baffling introduction that ‘Gravity’ takes time to recover from.
Netherlands’ Anouk was as she has been throughout rehearsals this week, and in the same casual outfit. No changes here. Montenegro too although I realised the opening is rather off-putting because we can hear Nina singing but she doesn’t appear until her second solo moment.
Lithuania’s Andrius is a pretty unpredicatble performer. He was in space cadet mode this afternoon, who knows how he’ll be next time. Alyona Lanskaya was looking a little awkward and forced for Belarus, and she really needs to nail it given a song as dated as ‘Solayoh’.
Aliona Moon stood out as strong at this point, and I don’t envisage any problems for Moldova qualifying. It was a very good run-through for Ireland’s Ryan Dolan as well. His stage is far too dark and he sometimes gets lost visually, but otherwise it’s full of energy and it’s contemporary, which means it’s beating Belarus right now. Handily for Ryan, the main break comes after ‘Only Love Survives’.
I thought this was an improvement for Despina Olympiou from Cyprus, the question remains whether the song is going to grab televoters. Belgium’s Roberto Bellarosa has upped his game a little today in terms of stagecraft. The production of ‘Love Kills’ fills the arena very effectively, but I’m still not convinced by the choreography. Finally, I’m enjoying Serbia more with every rehearsal, but perhaps that’s because I’ve got over the outfits and finally have a grip of what’s going on.
Do feel free to ask further questions and make points below.