Today’s programme straddled the two semi-finals, with the last six from the first heat followed by the first five from the second one. Whilst there weren’t as many big hitters in the win market featured as in day one, there was intrigue aplenty.
Moldova’s choreography is reminiscent of what they gave us last year. Four dancers dressed in black made wild silhouettes behind Cristina Scarlat. A brooding forest backdrop matched the brooding vocals, and ‘Wild Soul’ stays on the right side of the qualification borderline in my current calculations – just.
Valentina Monetta was modelling herself on Botticelli’s Venus, as the pearl in the shell of ‘Maybe’. The lighting was flattering and San Marino’s most prolific Eurovision entrant gave it her all. I still think it may not be enough, but they’ve given themselves as much chance as possible with this dated song.
Much the same can be said for Portugal’s ‘Quero Ser Tua’. It’s my guilty pleasure this year, and the staging reinforces this: breezy, bright and colourful with Suzy giving good camera. I’m not sure whether the whole effect is just too amateurish to survive the jury rankings, but it’s three minutes of cheesy fun you can shimmy and clap to.
Following it up, the quality of the Netherlands’ entry was immediately apparent. They’ve got the staging right too, that was also clear as soon as The Common Linnets came into shot – face-to-face with a two-headed microphone, standing on an open road. Vocally and visually assured with plenty of looks to camera, this was the best rehearsal of the day for me.
Montenegro had a more complex concept, so it was a less polished affair in its first outing. Sergej was joined on stage by an ice skater making pretty white trails in the LED floor. His vocals were good for ‘Moj Svijet’, but it felt like the skater had little connection to the song, and her failure to interact with Mr Cetkovjc only reinforced that. He was joined by some backing singers for the climax instead.
Hungary is ‘Running’ with the subject matter of child abuse – giving us a dance interpretation of the story. I was impressed with the visual progression displayed here: Andras gets up from his stool and runs down the catwalk for the first chorus, and as he walks back the piano player becomes a dancer who acts out the rest of it with a male protagonist. There’s a speed motif in the LED floor. If you’re a fan of the song, you’ve every right to be pleased with how it’s presented on stage.
Starting off the second semi, Malta’s Firelight brought warm bonhomie to the stage with ‘Coming Home’. There’s a nice backdrop of poppies and blue skies that works better than the initial selfie stuff. This was pretty much as expected, and there were plenty of winning smiles for the cameras.
Israel’s Mei Finegold cemented her fan favourite status with a Beyoncé-inspired routine for ‘Same Heart’. She was joined by two female dancers and all three strut around looking fierce, finishing the song at the end of the runway. Her vocals are great, especially as it’s just her, but this kind of routine is slightly swallowed up by the vast stage.
They’ve improved the visuals for Norway’s Carl Espen since the national final. The addition of four violinists who become apparent for the second verse are a good idea. Otherwise, you know what you’re getting with Carl: the tattoos and deadpan look of a serial killer. I jest. His vocals improved with each run-through today.
Georgia remains as leftfield on stage as it is in studio, with a drummer bearing a parachute in reference to the “sky-diver” line. There are some good vocals from all concerned here, but ‘Three Minutes To Earth’ does feel like three songs in one. That didn’t do much good for Macedonia last year.
Finally we had Cleo, without Donatan, representing the Slavic girls for Poland. The staging is as the recent spoiler indicated, with a buxom washer woman scrubbing at the end of the catwalk (and making use of the water feature) as Cleo and her ethnic-attired backings twirl on stage. It’s all very Warsaw stag show – the gays in the press centre lapped up the smut.
Once again, videos of all today’s rehearsals can be found on Eurovision.tv. Please continue to give your thoughts below.