Checking on rehearsal write-ups from the press centre must feel like a frustrating game of snakes and ladders, as entries improve or deteriorate at various moments. That was certainly the case in today’s first dress rehearsal for the first semi-final.
Moldova’s Eduard plays his own version of snakes and ladders, jumping up and down levels of a platform. His routine has made gradual progress during the week so that it’s now as slick as it’s been, though as sleazy as before. Under normal circumstances I would have this down as a non-qualifier, but there are friends to be made in this heat.
Armenia was surprisingly polished from the off, so it hasn’t really changed at all over the last week. It’s professional in its delivery even if the song isn’t up to much. Belgium’s Loic toned down the mad-eyed stares this afternoon, and the choreography is also coming together, which felt like a big ladder in this board game because it means the contemporary nature of the song is allowed to shine.
That’s not helpful for the Netherlands afterwards, because it slips down a snake to feel bland in comparison. Trijntje had another fashion moment this afternoon in an unflattering black cape-come-pantaloons. Meanwhile, Finland is 90 seconds of punk rock that just passes me by. I’ve no idea if the viewing public and jurors will feel the same way.
There’s some quality acting to follow. Greece’s Maria Elena is on ‘One Last Breath’ for three minutes, and not in a bad way. It’s a very conventional ballad in its studio form, and she brings it to life here. Estonia’s Elina then does a great job of playing the woman scorned by Stig in ‘Goodbye To Yesterday’. There’s a great emotional punch in the final long shot of her alone on stage.
FYROM’s Daniel and his backing singers have toned down their impression of leaves through the medium of dance, which allows us to concentrate more on the song’s pleasant chorus. The collaboration still feels a little incongruous. Serbia’s final minute of amateur dancing goes down very well in the hall; I still think jurors will be less impressed.
Hungary comes across as the epitome of sanity in comparison. Boggie and her backing crew were very tight in their vocals today. Visually, Belarus feels like it’s becoming more compelling with each rehearsal, which is good as I think the song itself is repetitive and feels like a borderliner.
I’ve been asked a few questions about how much Russia’s Polina connects with the cameras, so I watched extra carefully. She has a tendency to start looking in the right direction only to then move her eyes away. But there’s enough connection here and a very powerful performance.
Denmark’s Anti Social Media continue to offer us something very straightforward and competent. In the other, far more western semi-final, I would be pretty confident of this qualifying. Albania’s Elhaida is struggling with a song that doesn’t offer any hook to viewers, on a stage that has the same problem. She is doing her best with it.
Romania’s Voltaj immediately offer something more compelling. The lead singer has changed to a better all-black outfit, and their staging which felt overly bright before, has also been toned down to its advantage. Finally, Georgia’s Nina has come across a large snake, in the form of an illness that is clearly impacting her vocal. ‘Warrior’ really relies on her being at the top of her game, and a watching brief is advised until tonight’s crucial dress rehearsal which juries vote on.
You can follow that rehearsal from 9pmCET on the Sofabet Twitter feed, and add your thoughts to the comments section below.