The first dress rehearsal of the second semi-final felt like it asked more questions than it answered. It wasn’t helped by the fact that the lead vocals felt a little loud in the sound mix, and there were occasionally off-putting moments of fake applause.
Lithuania remains as bouncy as before. If anything, there was even more skipping on stage for ‘This Time’. They have now established the new final shot at the back, showing the audience behind them, which is very effective. My one hope is Vaidas drops his cringey ad lib during the instrumental break. It went from “Come On Eurovision” previously to “Make some noise, Vienna” this afternoon.
The sound mix didn’t feel quite right for Molly, who is still giving an introverted performance. But I’m coming round to the idea that this is part of the beauty of ‘Playing With Numbers’, and the backdrop looks as gorgeous as before. The pitch problems were particularly bad for San Marino, though to be fair to the duo, the arena audience seemed to enjoy ‘Chain of Lights’.
Montenegro’s Knez is really bringing some passion when it matters for ‘Adio’ and this helps overcome a rather dark stage and generic backdrop. However, Malta’s Amber was very exposed with this sound mix, and her decision not to have any backing singers remains a risk going into tonight’s jury rehearsal.
I still think the overall staging concept is too plain for Norway’s ‘A Monster Like Me’, but the quality of the final minute remains a stand-out. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Portugal’s entry, which feels very anonymous. The Czech pair are upping their game in terms of their commitment to ‘Hope Never Dies’. Marta really needs to ditch the shoe-throwing which feels like a clumsy interlude in their chemistry-laden performance.
As the only ethnopop in this field, I’ve always had a soft spot for Israel’s ‘Golden Boy’. Even so, it’s not just me who thinks it’s coming together really well on screen. The vocals and choreography were the tightest yet, with Nadav making some excellent connection with the camera. Latvia’s Aminata is equally committed. But whilst the empty parts of the song previously felt like a daring risk, the decision to add fake applause at these points feels like it cheapens her song.
Azerbaijan’s ‘Hour of the Wolf’ starts with striking lighting and backdrop. The contemporary dance and Elnur’s vocal acrobatics are not really to my taste, and there was fake applause here too, but the nation has a 100% qualification record they’d very much like to maintain. Iceland’s Maria has not convinced vocally all week, but she is getting extra support from her backing vocalists, which is papering over the cracks that appear in the LED floor for ‘Unbroken’. We had a few more effects added today, including a Malta 2002 moment with animated glitter instead of the real thing.
I think Sweden’s ‘Heroes’ fills the arena very impressively, both visually and vocally. It’s looking a likely winner of this semi at the very least. It doesn’t help Switzerland that Melanie Rene follows directly afterwards, though her performance was particularly forceful this afternoon. Meanwhile, Cyprus’ John Karayiannis hasn’t put a foot wrong vocally all week. There’s extra impact created by the crowd shining their smartphones during the minimalistic middle eight.
Slovenia’s staging is still not working for me in putting ‘Here For You’ across effectively. I wonder if fans of this nice tune will similarly feel a bit let-down when they watch it tomorrow evening. Poland remains a very vanilla finale, given some colour by Monika’s backstory.
It feels like there are quite a few songs I couldn’t call certain nor discount. I hope tonight’s jury rehearsal helps clarify the situation. Follow it on our Twitter account and keep the conversation going below.