The first final dress rehearsal is always a little ragged. The second semi-final qualifiers are getting over a late night, and there are usually technical problems for the new running order.
We started off with Slovenia, which feels like a decent opener: a solid song that’s chilled but has a beat. There wasn’t any change in today’s performance. It’s followed by France, whose war anthem is in the death slot. It’s largely relying on jury support to help it on the scoreboard. Israel’s ‘Golden Boy’ feels like the real opener of the show, and I still think it’s getting a fair few televotes even from this early slot.
Estonia is the classiest song among the first eight, and whilst it’s winning chances may have been hampered by this draw, it would be a shame to see this strong entry fall too far down the scoreboard. The United Kingdom came across better this afternoon, though Electro Velvet have more than a few staircases to climb here. Still, the final minute of Armenia manages to grate more.
Lithuania feels too lightweight to make any significant dent on the scoreboard, but I certainly welcome it at this point of the show after Armenia. Bojana is pleasing the crowd as before with ‘Beauty Never Lies’ – it will be interesting to see how much it’s televote/jury ranking gap widens in the final compared to the semi.
Norway is nicely placed as a return to gravitas, and starts off the strongest section of songs in the contest. Sweden’s Mans wasn’t putting in all his vocals this afternoon and we know exactly what to expect from ‘Heroes’. I think Cyprus feels a little dated in this part of the draw, but John should be happy with qualification.
Australia’s camera angles are coming together, and there’ll presumably be pyros for tonight’s jury performance. Guy is winding up his performance at the right time. It is to Loic Nottet’s credit that it feels like he can compete among this company. Belgium’s stage show came together at just the right time. Austria’s The Makemakes don’t disgrace themselves either, and there’ll presumably be a big crowd reaction, especially when flames start licking out of the piano.
Greece’s Maria Elena is as effective as ever, but the song feels like a weaker link now that it’s in the final. Montenegro’s effort is nothing original in Eurovision terms either, but the final minute is a rousing call for Balkan votes. Germany’s Ann Sophie still spends too much time with her back to the audience at the start of ‘Black Smoke’, yet on the plus side, she toned down some of her more aggressive-looking poses.
Poland feels like a weak link at this stage of proceedings. It’s followed by Latvia’s Aminata, still enthrallingly esoteric. Romania’s Voltaj are as solid as ever, and their song is clearly aimed at the diaspora audience. It’s right at this point I’m in the mood for some costumes being ripped off, so Spain’s Edurne is at a welcome moment in the running order. It feels like Hungary’s Boggie is a return to the balladeering that we’ve become slightly inured to by now.
The running order has done Georgia a few favours, however. It will be interesting to see how much it stands out when Nina is at full throttle for the juries tonight. Azerbaijan feels less impactful for televoters, but much depends on whether the country’s ambitions on the scoreboard return to 2013 levels.
Russia’s Polina wasn’t trying too hard this afternoon, and therefore not at her best. The jury rehearsal will tell us much more about just how close she can come to victory. Albania’s Elhaida will just be happy to be in the final, and she’s chosen a slightly more flattering outfit for it. That leaves the Italian boys to give us a rousing finale. Il Volo are improving with each run-through though I can’t decide if Piero’s little-boy-lost persona are a distraction or even more of a vote-grabber.
I’ll tweet my thoughts on tonight’s crucial jury rehearsal, which starts at 9pmCET. Keep your thoughts coming below.