I love France’s ‘L’Enfer et Moi’ as much as anybody but it strikes an odd tone as the show opener. Amandine Bourgeois threatening bad things on whomever has crossed her jars with the ‘We Are One’ stuff that precedes it. The number two slot is oft considered the worst of the lot, but Lithuania’s ‘Something’ does introduce viewers to a strong beat and Andrius was actually in great form this afternoon. On this evidence, it’s not propping up the scoreboard.
Moldova doesn’t stack up so badly in third either. It’s our first big Eurovision ballad of the evening, and that along with the staging may help it stick in viewers’ minds longer than plenty of others following it. I’m not sure how healthy it is for Finland’s ‘Marry Me’ to be on so early, but the camera angles and staging for this looked great once more. It’s definitely not good for Spain, though. Pleasant though the song is, it’s the polar opposite of Finland in terms of impact.
Qualifying for the final seems to have given Belgium’s Roberto Bellarosa’s confidence a tremendous boost. He was far better at putting across ‘Love Kills’ than earlier in the week. Estonia’s composition seems very old-fashioned next to it but Birgit sold it as well as she always does. Belarus offers a welcome change of pace though it still seems like we’re stuck in a previous Eurovision era. To be fair, Alyona Lanskaya was in good form this afternoon.
Coming after the slightly forced nature of Belarus emphasises the contrasting charm and warmth of Malta’s ‘Tomorrow’. Gianluca had no problems vocally, though his schtick works best with the arena full for some glad-handling during his catwalk moment. Russia too needs the crowd to help life the final chorus by waving illuminated bracelets, although the overall effect of ‘What If’ is always going to be cheesy but immediate.
Fans of ‘Glorious’ will be pleased to hear that Natalie Horler was back in top form for this rehearsal. Germany have added some extra pyros for the instrumental after the first chorus. Not all the camera angles were right here, but this was far more encouraging. Armenia suffers from coming afterwards as much as Spain isn’t helped by following Finland.
What comes next is a skit from comedy character Lynda Woodruff, which means Netherlands’ Anouk is first on after the big break. I’m not sure it’s ideal for her, but she sounded great this afternnon. She’s now followed by Romania’s Cezar who had the last laugh in the second semi-final. I’m once bitten and twice shy concerning the fate of ‘It’s My Life’.
Many UK fans were unhappy about the 15 slot, but Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Believe In Me’ works very well here as a return to sanity. The staging continues to be effective. It’s actually got better for Sweden’s ‘You’ too, I think because the camera angles are more polished.
After the pyros of the Swedish finale, Hungary’s more low-key approach is incredibly refreshing. The problem for ByeAlex is that it’s followed by the winner’s staging of Denmark’s ‘Only Teardrops’. Emmelie is looking increasingly confident on the Malmo stage.
Iceland’s Eythor is not overawed though. He’s doing his shaggy-haired, sensitive Viking thing to great effect, and ‘Eg a Lif’ offers a welcome and natural performance. Azerbaijan’s ‘Hold Me’ comes across as rather contrived in comparison, but its impact on the scoreboard shouldn’t be underestimated.
‘Alcohol Is Free’ really needs the outifts and a full arena to lift it; but the Koza Mostra boys were in fine voice. I have to admit readers, that the poorly-structured ‘Gravity’ from Ukraine has grown on me over the past week. It’s still a mess of a song, but Zlata is captivating, especially given the testosterone that surrounds her this late in the running order.
Italy’s Marco Mengoni accidentally caught the camera’s eye once as he scanned the arena. But his heartfelt performance of ‘L’essenziale’ with catwalk use for the finale does have an impact. I can’t rule out a decent finish for this either given the way the draw has helped it. Norway’s Margaret Berger was in good form; it’s becoming clear just how strong this run of songs is.
Georgia’s ‘Waterfall’ can seem more formulaic in comparison and the final minute still sounds a little shouty, but don’t discount the fact it’s the best love story viewers will get out of this Saturday night. Talking of love, Ireland has a tough set of songs to follow but it’s an entirely fitting closing number.
Initial conclusion? The producer-decided draw has created an unprecedented finale with very few duds in the last third of the running order. That makes life more difficult for punters. Let me know your thoughts below.