Even though the second rehearsals pass by quicker, the section of the second semi between the end of Lithuania and the start of Israel felt as long as before. At least the viewer will only have three minutes of each song, not 20.
Lithuania’s Vaidas and Monika are still “feeling love”: Vaidas now has a baby blue jacket to match his trousers; the camera angles were much tighter; and they are now trying out a camera at the back with the audience behind them for the final shot. The smiles all round are infectious.
There are no smiles during Ireland’s three minutes. They’re going for a completely different impact of course, but there is a danger of ‘Playing By Numbers’ appearing too downcast because everyone looks so miserable. Molly is still only occasionally connecting with the camera. This all means that she could be relying on juries to get into the final.
San Marino is as amateurish as ever, and the vocals were very ropey today, although the young duo had been out singing till late last night. Montenegro feels far more polished in comparison, with Knez an experienced and reliable performer. I do wish the visuals were less generic, but otherwise he is putting himself in with a good shout of qualification.
Malta’s Amber decided to do without backing vocalists, and that’s looking like a risk based on a few bum notes in her run-throughs today. This is another one that could struggle in the televote. Norway have made good strides from their first rehearsal. However, I’m still missing the camera swirl at the big moment that we witnessed in the national final. Still, we now have a better explosion and long shot at this point, followed by a shimmering sun backdrop.
Portugal just feels like a very long three minutes. Leonor is all in black with a dark blue, black and white stage. The Czech duo are fun to watch because they’re not taking rehearsals too seriously. They will be relying on vocals and personal chemistry to give them any chance of qualifying.
The camera angles are coming together very nicely for Israel’s Nadav Guedj, who engaged the camera far more today. His bounce and the choreography around him makes ‘Golden Boy’ tremendously enjoyable. It goes down very well in the press centre, though I’m very aware that it sits right in the fanboys’ sweet spot. Latvia was the same as before except for a henna tattoo of an owl across Aminata’s collarbones. It’s another one impressing the press centre.
Azerbaijan’s staging was even more gorgeous today. The stage now looks moonlit for the opening, and the change to red at the big moment is wonderfully done. The camera angles were better, and the improved visuals made ‘Hour of the Wolf’ a little more accessible. However, the contemporary dancers still feel like a complete distraction. Accessibility is not a problem for Iceland, and ‘Unbroken’ improved a great deal today from a shaky first rehearsal. Hera Bjork’s presence among the backing singers seemed to settle nerves, and Maria’s vocals were more secure as a result. The slightly less fussy choreography also helped.
There’s a reason why Swedish music production is coveted around the world, and ‘Heroes’ displays it. The overall package knocks what comes around it into the little stick figure’s cocked hat. Mans has this routine down pat – he could do it in his sleep. Switzerland suffers in comparison despite Melanie Rene’s best efforts. The staging and styling just feel a little bit 90s, even though it’s trying to emphasise the more modern elements of ‘Time To Shine’.
Cyprus is wonderfully simple. It’s an improvement that the lens changes from black-and-white at the start of the second verse, providing visual development at the first repetition. John is very reliable with his vocals, and has an impressive temperament for his tender years. You’re rooting for him from the start of ‘One Thing I Should Have Done’.
Slovenia have also made improvements, with the camerawork providing more close-ups and variety of an increasingly engaged lead singer. I still find it frustrating that the only significant movement comes from an air violinist and Ray’s clicking fingers. Poland’s ‘In The Name Of Love’ is best on one viewing, with its pleasant staging and clear message of Monika’s story. Repeated viewings just remind me how vanilla the song and delivery are.
Please continue with the questions and comments below. Tomorrow sees the automatic qualifiers rehearse for the first time, which means only the short clips from eurovision.tv will be available to view.