Eurovision 2014: May 3 rehearsals

The second semi felt wide open and mediocre after first rehearsals. There were some improvements today but the label still fits.

I’ve always thought Malta was a safe qualifier, even opening the show. ‘Coming Home’ is the kind of safe package that scores particularly well in semi-finals, such as Iceland or Romania in 2011. It was also ready to perform before it even arrived in Copenhagen, so there was nothing new we learnt here. Firelight continue to warm the stage.

Mei Finegold’s performance is to fans’ taste, it’ll be interesting to see how much it catches on with the wider public from the #2 slot. The switch to Hebrew after the stomping instrumental riff slightly limits its appeal. There’s no doubting she’s a strong performer, though. I wish I could say the same about Norway’s Carl Espen, who doesn’t bring enough to the table for ‘Silent Storm’, classy though the song is. He’s too buttoned up for the first verse and chorus before opening up a little more in the second half.

Georgia’s Mariko and The Shin are happy doing their own thing, and lovely though the stage looks, I think viewers will leave them to it. Poland is a more polarising entry, enjoyed on Youtube and the fans in the press centre for the suggestive stage show. I’m not so sure juries will be impressed.

Austria’s Conchita Wurst was not at her best vocally today, and seemingly mirroring this, the camerawork was disappointing too. The face reveal needed no tinkering with after the first rehearsal, but they tried today, to poorer effect. I’m optimistic that the delegation will look at these alternatives and ditch them. Lithuania’s space age costumes are unnecessarily distracting for me, but Vilija is really enjoying performing her own composition, ‘Attention’.

Finland saw the biggest improvement of the day. This big arena with its scaffold frame over the stage, is tailor-made for this kind of indie rock, and the lighting plus camera angles really came together. I’d still want more engagement from Softengine, but the new emphasis on the instruments is highlighting the strengths of ‘Something Better’. Ireland was something better today but everyone involved still looks to be making heavy weather of it, Kasey dragging her dress around the stage whilst the superfluous dancers circle her.

The Belarus performance is a beacon of professionalism in comparison. The Vegas backdrop has been replaced by some less interesting blocks of squares, but Teo is still shining in close-up. It’s nice to see some (surprisingly rare) co-ordinated dance moves between the lead and his backing dancers: sometimes viewers appreciate the simple things. Something that Macedonia’s Tijana doesn’t bear in mind for her hopelessly complicated and unconvincing set for ‘To The Sky’.

Switzerland’s Sebalter is charm personified but needs a little more polish whilst performing ‘Hunter of Stars’. There’s an awkward transition to the fiddle-playing amongst other details that televoters will forgive more than juries. Greece offers an even bigger televote-magnet next. The camera angles are key to this, and they were coming together nicely with each run-through, though Riskykidd wasn’t finding them as well as he did in the first rehearsal. Vocals are a point of dispute, but these worry me less than getting the shots right.

The last two songs at least feature great backdrops, but pose other problems. Tinkara Kovac is trying to lift the rather ordinary ‘Round and Round’ and not really succeeding, but with this draw in this field, I can’t completely rule out qualification. Romania’s Ovi and Paula have a horribly forced routine involving an embarrassing embrace to add to the silly hand gestures and Ovi’s O-piano. It gave the press centre plenty of laughs at the end of a long day.

Let us know what you think below.

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