Eurovision 2018: May 5 rehearsals

On a bright, sunny day, I experienced prolonged exposure to the second semi-final. Or rather, the last 13 songs of it. We started with Yulia’s mountaintop, and the interpretative dancers providing another focus for the Russian entry. The lighting allowed for sharper projections, and there were added on-screen effects. The main problem is the backing vocals that obviously take over during the chorus, and are currently failing to gel.

Moldova was rehearsed to within an inch of its life first time around, so today just saw a few improved camera angles. The trio continue to show impeccable comic verve and timing. The Netherlands’ visuals are more problematic with Waylon in his leopard-skin jacket elevated above his krumping band mates. There was slightly less focus on the aggressive bodypopping today.

It’s not going well for Australia’s Jessica Mauboy at the moment. She didn’t look comfortable with every hair-flick of over-scripted choreography in the first rehearsal, and her vocals were also poor this morning. The delegation are running out of time to make the necessary changes. In the aftermath, Georgia is a very calming three minutes with some really nice touches, including its climactic curtain of fire.

Gromee’s Dad dancing is getting some stick during all the Polish run-throughs, but the viewers at home will only see one. As something contemporary and mainstream, ‘Light Me Up’ is doing what it needs to in this semi-final: in other words, not messing things up. There’s a lot going on in the Maltese staging, and the overall effect is rather alienating – Christabelle’s face is lit in red throughout the first verse, for example.

Hungary have got the visuals right, searing the audience with a routine full of movement, rock moments and pyros. The vocals in the final section of the song do get pretty flat though. Latvia’s Laura hit a few rough notes herself. She needs to be careful in the middle eight not to deviate too much from the melody. Otherwise this is much as before.

There are no such worries for Sweden, which feels like it’s teaching most of this heat how it’s done. Benjamin Ingrosso looks utterly assured, and the prop gives the whole thing a contemporary music video feel. Montenegro on the other hand, have time-travelled forward from 2006 with their Balkan ballad posturing, highlighting that the song has as well.

Slovenia feels far more contemporary in comparison, and is very polished until the pretend technical fault undercuts much that’s come before. Meanwhile, Melovin is still rising from the dead like a man possessed, and now has extra pyros beyond the fiery stairs. I credit Ukraine with having a suitable theme and carrying it through.

Tomorrow we get the second rehearsals of the automatic qualifiers, as we approach Eurovision week itself. Let us know your continued thoughts below.

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24 comments to Eurovision 2018: May 5 rehearsals

  • eurovicious

    Here are my collated impressions on SF1, copy-pasted from my Twitter feed the past 3 days, based on the first and second rehearsal clips:

    – Azerbaijan is similar to Australia but has come together way more and is going to do better than most people expect. It looks and sounds great. Q

    – Albania looks & sounds so good. It’s so warm, rousing + full-bodied, and his look is excellent. I really hope televoters/juries recognize its quality

    – Iceland may cheese off eurofans but plenty of ppl at home will like it. Not enough for it to qualify though. Strained vocals

    – Belgium isn’t connecting, it looks and feels like a mess on stage – dour and offputting – and the song is nearly as repetitive as Trintje’s Walk Along. Flanders also has a terrible ESC track record, almost all of Belgium’s highest placings over the years were scored by Wallonia

    – Czech Rep: am I hearing/seeing the same entry as everybody else? Because what I’m hearing and seeing is a total pile of shite. It’s 2018’s Cool Me Down – overhyped guff that doesn’t come together on stage at all, and was only fawned over cos it resembles Timberlake (not Rihanna)

    – Lithuania looks and sounds nice, she presents it well and they’ve done a respectable job staging it. It’s saying “mid-table in the semi” to me, ie. a borderliner. Quiet, especially coming right before Israel (memory hole?), but would be nice to see it through.

    – Israel: I feel like the second half is really connecting but the first isn’t (potentially even offputting); she’s static, behind a large physical barrier, and separated from the dancers. The staging feels wrong – I love lucky cats but I’d rather she had birds flying out of her, or toys coming to life (cf. organic elements, sense of birth/transition). Will it have broad enough appeal? Upbeat songs struggle to win, and we’re well out of the 2000s ethnopop era…

    – Belarus has come together on stage way better than seemed likely, given how badly the entry has been mishandled in the past months. Vocals/diction clearer and stronger than ever, staging is classy, graceful & tells a story, Alekseev is a big regional breaking star. Would be sailing through if Ukraine and Russia weren’t voting in the other semi… as it is, still probably through but by a smaller margin

    – Estonia is classy, memorable and creates a moment. She works the camera brilliantly. Will get a huge televote. How will juries respond to it? I think this is top 3 (this year’s Gravity/Undo/A Million Voices)… but perhaps not a winner, as there’s no emotional content or narrative.

    – Bulgaria: where is the staging concept? Everything seemed to indicate they were going to go for some kind of advanced storytelling this year. The concept strongly hinted was Equinox = equality = “where darkness meets light”, hence 2 black US singers + 2 white Bulgarian singers. It’s also my understanding that one each of the white Bulgarian and black American singers is gay, one straight. So (given the kiss in the video, and the “love beyond the bones” chorus) I really thought they were gonna do sth about Black Lives Matter or interracial (gay) love. But no, they’re all just milling around on plinths. Whatever, Bulgaria. You had a huge opportunity here, why didn’t you run with it? Was it vetoed from higher up or changed at the last minute? Because 5 singers on plinths isn’t a “concept” or a narrative. And Zhana is wasted.

    – Macedonia: too esoteric for first-time listeners. It’s grown on me slightly, but not a qualifier.

    – Croatia: Franka is gr8 but this is one of the most boring, colourless songs in the entire contest

    – Austria slays Croatia. It’s a better song + Cesar gets more humanity out of it

    – Greece is great. She doesn’t need other people on stage with her because she’s the star and she owns this. I doubt top 10 in the final, but it’s going through.

    – Finland: Everyone has been correct to point out all the issues with Monsters. But it’s sounding better than it ever has, and feels like a big perk-up after the above three low-key entries. It just needs to have perfect vocals and feel tight, joyous, coherent and sincere to qualify. If they don’t absolutely nail it it’s out. Saara needs to convey a big personality and radiate joy; that hasn’t always come naturally to her as she’s quite shy.

    – Armenia is classy, original, strong-voiced and sailing through. Sevak is a major upcoming star in the wider region, but it’s somewhat of a problem that Ukraine and Russia (where he’s known) are voting in the other semi. If it gets through, which deservingly it should, quite possible low top 10 position in the final (I’d guesstimate 8th-12th).

    – Switzerland is really working on every front, there’s solid material here and they’re making the most out of it. What could have been rendered a filler entry is credible, impressive and engaging. Jury catnip, less strong in televote, but quite likely through.

    – Ireland has transitioned from something sincere that I really supported to something akin to pinkwashing/gaybaiting. It reminds me of Francesco’s unnecessary stripes. The focus should be on the song and performer, which I’ve always thought were fairly strong with a decent USP. I have mixed feelings about its Q prospects now. The video felt like a celebration and had a nice innocence; its transition to the stage almost feels like they’re preaching “look how progressive we are” – and it bears no resemblance to gay reality.

    – Cyprus is working and it’s going through, that’s how you stage a song. Eleni has been a big star for a while for a reason. One for the dads.

    • Rob4

      agree with the majority of this. i have my fingers crossed for Albania but its a big ask. looking forward to your SF2 musings. lol, don’t hold back, we know most of them are shite

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        Hear hear – wonderful summations. It seems there’s a lot of fingers crossed, including mine, for Eugent and Albania.

        Think I completely agree about the first half / second half quality divide for Israel. I guess you’ve seen more rehearsal footage than I have. Or indeed directly viewed the arena rehearsals.

        It’s a toy of two halves?

        Very nice idea about a toy coming to life. Guess production has focused on (or gotten hung up on) the literal lyrical negativity of the given conception of a toy. Hence, the sheep-like synchronised waving from the shiny banks of lucky cats. Which Netta leaves behind in the second half, asserting her movement, free dance ability, free spirit, autonomy, verve, individuality? The simultaneous, repeat waving motions of the 112 toy cats on the banks of shelving either side and Netta’s symmetrical elbow-led arm waving adds to the confusion and obscures Netta’s message.

        Still, it’s memorable, creates a backdrop, no danger of empty stage syndrome.

        Bulgaria is a mystery. Incredible selection / bidding process, betting bots galore in play, dodgy jury voting strategy, dodgy draw selections, seemingly unlimited funds available – this country is in it to win it.

        Yet their contestants arrive on stage supported by what seems an village hall Am Dram staging budget. The staging production doesn’t even chime with their costuming.

        Is the production concentrated on the camera work, camera effects? How much can that help / disguise? Odd as Hell.

        “Was it vetoed from higher up or changed at the last minute?”

        Maybe so. There’s more sense there than any other explanation.

        Belgium looks a NQ.

        100% agree on all comments re Austria and Croatia.

        I’m rooting for Armenia, too.

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          On reflection, I think Netta and Toy will be fine. Crucially, the 2nd half is the better / terrific half. The joyous release of the 2nd half will be all the more so coming after the static, constricted, restrictive 1st half. Shows progression and a breaking free and letting loose, in line with an uptempo danceable number.

          Plus, the publicity and sensation around Netta and Toy will ensure viewers stick with it through the confusing and stagey opening, in the knowledge there’s a smorgasbord of great things on the way?

  • RD

    This year has proven hard to predict because (pretty much like 2011) it’s hard to find entries that prove to be enjoyed by the juries and the people at home. Then again, looking back at 2013 I just can’t give a reason why Emmelie de Forest was SO likeable that her win was unescapable yet I remember watching that contest knowing that she had it in the bag. Anyway, these are my current predictions for the outcome of both SFs (and why):

    SF1

    19. FYRoM: Sounds bad (off key + not the right mixing). The clothes look weird (Barbara Dex Award material). Terrible slot once again for them. Not many friends. I just can’t see any type of appeal for this song outside of some televoting in the Balkans – and even that could be just marginal.
    18. Iceland: We all know how doomed this is but I think some love from the juries may save this from coming last.
    17. Switzerland: One of the last six always does really bad in the last few years and I think this time around will be poor Switzerland. I think this is pretty solid and may get votes from across Europe but none of those (except for the Austrian televote) will be high marks. That way it will just sink: I’m not sure it has found its audience.
    16. Belgium: It doesn’t sound well, there’s no connection with the audiences, the chorus seems flat. I may be completely wrong but I don’t see Belgium getting a nice place with this staging, improved as it may be.
    15. Finland: It does feel like this year’s piece of fanwank. There’s just too much happening and that won’t bode well with the juries. I can’t see much love for it outside of Western Europe.
    14. Austria: Cesár doesn’t look straight at the camera (at least not even ONCE in the 30+ seconds video uploaded in Eurovision’s YT channel). That will damage him with both juries and televotes. If he finds the camera, he will be in a MUCH better position.
    13. Belarus: Just like with Finland (the rose bit with the steadycam is the campest shot this year) but with Eastern televote in his favor. Not much love from Western Europe. I sense a Verona ending for him with its telenovela drama: I can’t see juries falling for it.
    12. Albania: This will score well with the juries but I don’t see the televotes putting him in the top 10 in the end.
    11. Ireland: Just like last year, they get a good slot (so I feel like Christer wants them to succeed). Looks somewhat solid for both juries and televoters and will probably get enough love to get pushed near qualification (even at their worst they never managed to be in the bottom 3 of a SF, so…). I just don’t trust it can make it.
    10. Croatia: This is likely to get a good (not great) result with the juries and they have been quite good (not great) with the televoting in the past two years. The Swiss and Austrian televotes are up for grabs.
    09. Czech Republic: Juries won’t be fans of this one and I think it loses lots of charm with an injured Mikolas. I still believe it will qualify.
    08. Greece: I don’t think it will appeal that much to non-diaspora.
    07. Armenia: Ditto.
    06. Azerbaijan: If Miracle qualified in 6th place with Samra’s mic being off… This isn’t a clumsy staging like what happened with Hour of the Wolf.
    05. Lithuania: I think it will do a C’est ma vie with the juries (maybe not winning with them but with a really strong showing) but with a more votable package. I didn’t think about its chances in the past but now I more than fancy them.
    04. Bulgaria: For some reason I think this will be the favorite among Eastern juries. Don’t see enough love from audiences: it looks too dark, disjointed, with no clear idea and may even pull a Gaitana.
    03. Estonia: I do think this has a very good shot at winning the televote – the public shows lots of love for popera. Not that much love from the juries but may be good enough for a SF. Then again: this can do a Sognu – I just think it’s a flashier performance that will get people involved.
    02. Cyprus: It will do well. I do believe this will do better than expected with juries.
    01. Israel: Perhaps the most divisive personality – but that’s common trait in the last few winners.

    SF2

    18. San Marino: Probably won’t do anything besides winning points from the Maltese (and German?) televote. It can win more points than Spirit of the Night, though.
    17. Montenegro: I still think that Serbia may suck more votes than we expect for them and Slovenia is a more likeable package right after it. All about it looks lost on camera – I don’t see much more for them.
    16. Georgia: They don’t look at the camera nor move – televotes won’t flow towards this entry. I’m also wary about its chances with the juries: the Russians won’t fall for it, probably.
    15. Romania: It just feels like this will be their Utopian Land. It really isn’t one of the worst songs out there and Cristina really works hard for it but I don’t see much appeal for it besides diaspora and Moldova will suck more than a few of those votes.
    14. Slovenia: The break will probably damage it more than what they expected. It can do better with the televoting, though.
    13. Latvia: I don’t see many people voting for it but juries may show it some love.
    12. Serbia: It does look like a difficult package but even when they fail to qualify they are borderline.
    11. The Netherlands: It’s losing its televoting appeal, IMO.
    10. Malta: Don’t forget the brown envelopes… it’s borderline at best but I wouldn’t rule it out at the moment.
    09. Russia: I think they can qualify even with this staging, vocals and camera work.
    08. Australia: Juries are likely to push this one through (and big time).
    07. Denmark: It’s not exciting enough but this will probably find some votes across Europe to make it through. I don’t see many big marks for them and that may put them among the candidates for a last place in the final if they really make it through.
    06. Poland: Juries won’t like this one but their diaspora has proven to be MASSIVE help in the last few years (totally unlike their ethnopop era showings). Even their YouTube numbers spike quite easily.
    05. Ukraine: It’s not the most likeable package from Ukraine but they can do enough damage with it.
    04. Hungary: I don’t think they can pull a Lordi but they will stand out and that may work a lot for them.
    03. Sweden: My pick for Juries’ winner, all in all.
    02. Moldova: Perhaps the surprise of the contest but with that staging they can pull another Hey Mama. Plus the sight of Kirkorov in the first recap won’t hurt.
    01. Norway: Rybak’s personality will be tough to overcome, IMO. Juries will need to be harsh with him in order for this not to win the SF.

    • Chris Bellis

      RD
      Thank you for this list, which is pretty much right in my opinion. I think FYR Macedonia is slightly better than you say – they aren’t actually out of tune, but as I’ve said in the past, why have they taken a good song, a good telegenic singer, and fucked it up entirely? They rival Czechia and Slovenia for staging fuckups.
      As always, don’t bet against Sweden, so I agree with your assessment there. Plus there’s no way Norway isn’t going through.

  • Okay, here are my predictions fort he two semi finals (after watching also all 45 sec. footage clips from eurovision.tv):

    SEMI FINAL #1:

    01. ESTONIA: Sometimes people exaggerate this “storytelling” thing. And traditions are to be broken. With that I mean: (p)Opera at Eurovision. We have seen quite a bit of crap lately. What comes to my mind are Italy 1984, Latvia 2007 and Slovenia 2007. But for every music genre there’s a way to stage it properly. And this is the first time in Eurovision history that I feel an ‘opera’ related song is staged magnificently.

    02. CZECH REPUBLIC: I find it so difficult to predict the TOP 4 of this semi final. But it will include this Central-European nation. Mikolas is a charismatic boy. And the front shots of Mikolas and his two dancers actually work pretty nicely. Feels more like a tightly knitted videoclip.

    03. ISRAEL: Netta is still a top favourite for me. But I do think it works slightly better as a radio song (hence the status of a favourite). On Eurovision the first minute is pivotal for maximum impact. But Netta’s opening sounds……at times it feels like she doesn’t want to do it and wants to get tot he actual song.

    04. CYPRUS: Outdated Britney-/Shakira-esque pop bonkers, BUT with this one the staging is fantastic. I can see this doing very well, even grabbing a 7th place in the final. But winning? Let’s not exaggerate. For that I think juries will slightly rate it down and prefer Israel and Czech Republic over this one.

    05. BELARUS: He has been ridiculed a bit within the betting community (which at times appears to me a bit like a separate fan bubble). But Alekseev has proven it to us all that he can sing. He’s a charismatic stage performer. And the act to me is not that laughable as many people in here want to make it believe us. It reminds me a bit of the piano woman from Russia 2006.

    06. LITHUANIA: Being smashed in between countries like Czech Republic and Israel might actually help this slightly? Perfectly staged. A wonderful understated song, with a lovely message. This to me in the end resonates better than Ireland. To me now this is a certified qualifier.

    07. AUSTRIA: It’s a great modern pop-/soul-song. But it could have been helped by backing vocalists like those with Netherlands 2013. A bit more gospel flavor would actually help this. Now it’s a bit…empty on stage. I disagree with many pundits that he lacks charisma. It’s just not much to boast about, but still effective enough.

    08. BELGIUM: I found it so difficult to put this song in my eventual list of qualifiers. And let’s face it, down below you’ll see that I added Bulgaria too. That makes 7 (!!) countries from the first half of this semi-final to qualify. Sounds ridiculous, but remember, traditions are tob e broken every no wand then. And this song simply is quality. Juries will help it.

    09. BULGARIA: It’s like one giant anthem for a vampire movie. Not voteable to me. They tried too hard to detach the unity of this group. The song in itself is quality. But, like Armenia 2017 and Azerbaijan 2017, it’s simply put too ‘artsy’ to do well. This will struggle, but could still qualify.

    10. ARMENIA: If I left Azerbaijan in, that would result in 8 (!!) countries from the first half qualifying. But both Azerbaijan and Armenia are not giving their best lately. The Armenian ballad has a nicer running order, but it lives me rather cold.

    11. to 15.: AZERBAIJAN (first time ever), CROATIA, GREECE (2nd time in three years, although I personally love it), IRELAND & ALBANIA

    SEMI FINAL #2:

    01. NORWAY: Need I say more? This is not a matter of “That’s how you write a song”, but more a matter of “That’s how you stage…..and perform a song”. The USP, thus the story of this song (i fit has one) is Alexander Rybak himself. Vvery much like Johnny Logan’s story on the contest of 1987 in Brussels: Weaker than its predecessor, but up there for a victory.

    02. MOLDOVA: Kinda crappy song, but then again 2018 is the year that happy up-tempo, camp and cheese are returning again (Look at Norway, Cyprus, Israel, Sweden this year). As long as you excell in that genre. Moldova is doing exactly that. Very kids-friendly too.

    03. SWEDEN: I think people are overthinking the Swedish entry. And therefore a certain anti-Sweden-feeling is taking the better of the fans…and the odds. To me the Swedish entry still is wonderfully staged. Quite unique really. If Norway, Moldova and Cyprus have so so songs, then why only blame Sweden fort hat?

    04. AUSTRALIA: It’s kinda sad how fashion people behind the stage dressed Jessica up in a frock like that. It’s not suited to her, to say the least. But here some anti-Ozzie-backlash is creeping in as well. This could have helped more with better staging, but the staging is far from a disaster.

    05. UKRAINE: Kinda scary to see Melovin with a colored eye. I know it’s fake, but still. Nevertheless, it’s a perfect closer of this semi final. I fit draws 1st half in the grand final, I could see this as a show opener.

    06. THE NETHERLANDS: Although I am still far from satisfied with the staging of this song, we are overreacting a bit. What works with this particular entry is an incredibly charismatic singer, who vocally stuns most other singers in this semi final. I think it will score more or less evenly between juries and televoters. Yet, I am still pissed this wasn’t staged like in “De Wereld Draait Door”, with nice intimate MTV-Unplugged-like camera angles, and some lense flares.

    07. POLAND: Nice enough song, but I still need to hear/see a song from the Polish people that is as good as Poland 1994. Why can’t they send a little bit more ‘urgent’ quality? Nevertheless, this is fun, and with the audience present this comes to life.

    08. HUNGARY: Great concert-like performance by this metal-band. But I think that even with those weird dansers Netherlands is more palatable than Hungary. It’s all a lot of fun, but it feels more ‘niche’ to me than Netherlands. Another question with rock groups like these: It’s always hard tob ring about charisma. Will still qualify though.

    09. SLOVENIA: Okay, perhaps a surprise. But I think it’s quite a contemporary pop song. I’ll be honest, I dislike it. But the Armenia 2017-style dance choreography actually works here. Lea Sirk sells this song very well as well. Could bet he surprise qualifier of the night.

    10. GEORGIA: Most fans probably dislike this entry tremendously. But it has this weird kind of quality that entries like Armenia 2015 and Hungary 2015 had as well. I think jury’s will help this enough.

    11. to 15.: LATVIA, DENMARK, RUSSIA (can’t see it guys), ROMANIA (takes like 1 min to take off), MONTENEGRO

    • Milton

      “Outdated Britney-/Shakira-esque pop bonkers”

      There is an ongoing narrative that Fuego is a weak song, that seems to have replaced the previous ongoing narrative that Elini wouldn’t be able to sing it. Well guess what folks, she can sing and its not a weak song – its bloody brilliant. This is an incredibly strong package that is perfect for Eurovision. How the market has taken so long to wake up to this is a mystery to me. I see this in the top 3 and think it has as good a chance of winning as anything.

      Nice write up btw SFW. As a much less frequent poster I appreciate the contribution you make to this forum. As others have said I loved your piece about Waylon. Keep up the good work.

      • Ande

        It’s because these kind of light pop songs are usually punished by juries and also experience a corrosion in votes across the board between semi and final. It’s similar to any of the “slutpop” that what quite a staple in the years following Ukraine won in 2004 and Greece in 2005. It’s signified by an explosive but conventional dance routine/staging usually covering up an old fashioned song, tacky lyrics and questionable vocals. If the singer is really good live it will prevent some of the decay but not all of it. There are countless examples:

        Greece 2008
        Armenia 2008
        Turkey 2009
        Azerbaijan 2010
        Greece 2011
        Sweden 2011
        Greece 2012
        Ireland 2012
        Russia 2016

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        @ Milton

        The Cypriot video for Fuego was the first example that came to mind when I mentioned NVV – Naff Video Value as I christened it.

        When you laugh AT something, you are automatically tending to devalue it. It’s true value can thus be pushed from sight.

        http://sofabet.com/2018/03/19/eurovision-2018-netta-barzilais-toy-recent-selections/#comment-88419

        (But I’m obviously on my own with the ILWAC comparison.)

        When I discovered I was wrong about my perception of Eleni’s height, I had a look at some of her other performances (only to find that they were also sexually charged), thought about the Fuego lyrics and the genre of song, and concluded that although I liked the song, and thought it might be a grower as I was hearing an ILWAC influence, it would be the case that the Eurovision stage show might be … exactly as it now is.

        What I should have realised (if at that time I had had a trader’s mentality) was that it was a good example of a back-to-lay bet.

        • Ande

          That’s true, if you had seen any Eleni live performances she would’ve been a great back-to-lay. She’s a really charismatic performer which makes people overvalue her during rehearsals. She’s still sits comfortably in my top 10 but laying her top 4/5 is well advised.

    • Shai

      SFW – your list of semi 1 qualifies, highlights how difficult this semi is.
      Not only that you have 7 songs from the first half, you also have 7 songs in a row (songs 4-10), which I can’t see happening.

      The only similarity I can think about is 2016, where 8 out of 9 songs in the running order have qualified from semi 1 and they were spread 5 from 1st half and 3 from 2nd half, with San Marino as the gap between 2 groups of 4 songs.

      I am still pondering about my list. Not sure who need to be left out and who stays in.

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        I’m aware from other types of betting that all stats will one day fall. Or, if that is an exaggeration, or impossible, I’m suggesting that it can be wise to consider stats as men – not as Gods.

        Stats are mortal, no matter how iron-clad, secure, or comforting they seem. Any stat can be replaced by a new stat.

  • Hippo

    Alright, semi two qualifiers pre jury show-

    Certain:
    Norway, Sweden, Moldova, Ukraine

    Very Likely:
    Australia, Romania, Russia, Poland

    Borderline in:
    Hungary, Latvia

    Borderline out:
    Netherlands, Malta, Denmark

    Nq:
    Serbia, San Marino, Montenegro, Slovenia, Georgia

  • markovs

    Just to say what an awful line up semi 2 is. It’s a shame 10 have to get through and some in semi 1 will miss out. That said, here are my musings:-

    Definite – Norway, Sweden, Moldova, Ukraine, Russia

    Probable – Australia, Poland

    Marginal qual / non qual – Romania, Hungary, Netherlands, Denmark, Malta

    First plane home – Serbia, Latvia, Slovenia, Montenegro. Georgia, San Marino

  • For what it’s worth:

    SF1: Israel, Estonia, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Lithuania, Austria, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Greece.

    Belgium, Finland, Albania….all knocking at the door to get 9th/10th.

    SF2: Norway, Sweden, Moldova, Ukraine, Australia, Denmark, Poland, Russia, Hungary, Netherlands.

    Romania may just squeeze out Denmark/Netherlands.

  • RonH

    Should anyone wonder if the krumping act of Waylon has any meaning, in the clip below he gives a pretty good explanation. Apparently song and routine are his respons to his participation in 2014, which turned out to be a big disappointment for him personaly. Back then, as we all know, he was asked by Ilse to jump aboard her newly formed international band TLC. While both were established artists at the time, Waylon got little to say, which resulted in big fights during the concert and his dismissal from TLC straight after. Apparently Waylon feels being used as a circus prop in 2014, since at several occasions this week he said “Krumping is the outlaw of dance. The dance originates from clowns in the circus. Well everybody has a little outlaw in em and I’m not your clown anymore. The dancers therefore exactly show what the song is about.”

    Don’t know if this is the spirit to get Euope aboard, but I must admit despite all critics I kind of like what I have seen so far. But that saus nothing since I’m a biased Dutch.

    https://www.avrotros.nl/eurovisie-songfestival/gemist/detail/item/tweede-repetitie-waylon-zorgt-voor-goede-vibes/?

    • Ande

      Interesting dance and kudos to him for making a stand. It’s unfortunate that it’s a horrible decision from a promotional perspective.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Waylon basing a stage show around a message that only he will understand, thus displaying the mentality of the impenetrable poet.

      He’s country rock meets the rebellious spirit of punk.

      I’m guessing Netherland bettors would have liked an indication of his lack of interest in both the popular reception to his entry and to its finishing position.

      He might even be perceiving a rejection as a kind of win?

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        Just watched the 2nd rehearsal footage and there is an obvious and consistent takeaway to be had from the singer and dancers.

        TEAM TESTOSTERONE!

        Fans of aggression (MMA, UFC, boxing enthusiasts) will enjoy it.

        I’m wondering if the costume designer for FYROM’s Marija is also responsible for Waylon’s outfit? What is that Leopard print jacket thingie he’s wearing? FYROM and The Netherlands share elements in common.

        Waylon’s voice remains freaking awesome. Cracking song, too.

        Maybe they want to concentrate on showcasing that, rather than have a violent urban street circus kick off around him and leave the immediate audience feel threatened!

        Further, I feel there is an unintended and unfortunate look to the show, with a possible takeaway impression of a white guy, the singer, atop and central, with a group of (only) black guys below, (his crew?) performing an aggressive, thuggish dancing style below. White boss; black heavies?

        I’ve known people who krump (black and white), that dance style is meant to be thuggish, it’s meant to be an aggressive release. If it looks pure “dance” or perhaps I mean if it looks choreographed (even if it has been) then it’s not being done right.

        I’ve also taken clown workshops and so feel Waylon is being a wee bit misleading with his description of krumping, with an emphasis on it [distantly] originating in clowning.

        Following on from Ron H’s comments, I think this entire stage show is an artistic manifestation and enactment of Waylon’s anger.

        Might exceed expectations on the televote?

        Don’t see how a show of this character helps the jury vote.

      • I don’t really understand what you are talking about…..

        To me it’s plain and simple: The Dutch entry is good. Not as good as some other entries. But it’s good. And if we look at the plain songs here, then perhaps we should say the same about Cyprus, Estonia and Norway this year: No masterpieces, but….good enough.

        Before Sweden, Norway, Israel, Australia and some others chose their entries, Netherlands was actually liked by some pundits over here. A risky choice, perhaps a bit too niche, but it’s a song with a distinct melody and nice enough rock vibes.

        Now, after two rehearsals, Netherlands is 24th in the odds. Well seriously guys. This is solely based on a few weirdo dancers and a leopard-jacket? I honestly think there still is some Waylon-backlash dating from his Common Linnets period.

        Every year there are some ‘over-reactions’ about two or three songs in the contest. Remember Belgium last year? Yeah I know, it was already high in the odds, but Blanche’s complete lack of dullness on stage should have been the nail in the coffin. Partially yes, because since most press people judge as detailedly as jurors, it indeed didn’t do very well with juries. The televoting was a whole different story though.

        Same with Armenia last year. To a certain moment after the 2nd rehearsals Armenia rose to 5th place (!!) in the odds. We know where that ended.

        Or what about Lithuania 2016 and Poland 2016, who both had odds of 150/1 the day before the grand final, and who eventually got 9th place and 8th place respectively. Again, with Lithuania press-people kinda forgot about the sheer charisma of a dude with an OK-ish popsong. Or not to mention the rather unique charisma of Michał Szpak. Because of all the diaspora? Yeah right, how come Poland didn’t do better in the other more recent contests?

        So having said that, and looking at certain entries from this year’s contest I still find the Netherlands’ total package more voteable, more fun to look at, more charismatic, more ‘unique’, more entertaining, more song-worthy than. Even with some weird krumpin’ madmen:

        –> BULGARIA (is this friendlier and more voteable than Netherlands?)
        –> FRANCE (nice enough story, but if you can convey emotions without a clear story as opposed to having stories that do not emote, than there’s a reason Estonia and even Germany will do better than France)
        –> ITALY (my oowh my, they will surely win. Not)
        –> FINLAND (Eurovision is a “Now Show” and this stuff is 10 years too old)
        –> GREECE (although I personally love the studio version, staging-wise it’s a different thing)
        –> DENMARK (really, Rasmussen scares me)
        –> HUNGARY (metal, nice enough, but the problem with bands is emoting and oozing charisma, since it’s a group, like Bulgaria)
        –> PORTUGAL (friendly, peaceful, but for me a certified right-half-scoreboard-placing)
        –> AUSTRIA (after 2 rehearsals it has gone down in my ranking)

        But guess what. Currently all these countries have a higher placing in the betting odds than Netherlands. Based on a lot of things obviously. But really? Netherlands 24th? This implies it’s a borderline qualifier now. It isn’t. TOP 10? Perhaps there, but only there the staging struggles. But between 11th and 18th place must be possible.

        I do think Netherlands is actually NOT jury bait like so many people in here like to think. Netherlands didn’t do that well in EuroJury (nor did Cyprus and Estonia by the way, but that’s a different story). And I think Netherlands therefore will struggle with juries.

        But, contrary to what people in here think, Netherlands to me is much more televoter-friendly. Perhaps even more so with those bad-ass construction workers living in Trumpland. And I think it’s there where we need to look at. Every year there are a few outliers, like I mentioned above. Although the odds now are much more accurate than the average fan poll, it can still ‘predict’ certain things wrong or less correct. By default odds are about ‘trading moods’ and less about ‘correctly predicting’.

        If we have to look for an outlier, where most people obviously won’t bet for at this stage, then for me it’s The Netherlands.

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          Hi SFW,

          I agree with you that Netherlands will exceed expectations on the televote; and will not do so well with the juries.

          I removed a patch of my post before submitting:

          “Might wildly exceed expectations on the televote.

          Just checked Romania’s televote last year from 2017.

          “Yodel It!” attracted 224 points on the televote, came in 5th on the Grand Final televote rankings!”

          At one point, during that previous composition, my mind made a connection to that memorable Romanian entry from last year.

          On second thoughts, I considered that Yodel It! was a different beast entirely, in its family friendliness, attractions for the Saturday evening audience, its wide range of appeals (even if the composition was a hodgepodge, it was a memorable mess, with elements appealing to different demographics).

          The Netherlands might be one of the few entries ever were I’ve checked both the NQ odds and the Grand Final Top 10 odds!

          It is a memorable show, Waylon is charismatic, he does have a good song and a great voice.

          Yet I do think his choice of attire looks silly (and jarringly is the one decision in that entire stage show that doesn’t serve to boost his standing and machismo) and I question if his aggressive dance crew will improve his televote.

          Though it might.

          I can envision that a handsome outlaw cowboy figure with a manly voice and a group of powerful, good-looking dancers with their 8 packs-a-flashing could appeal to a few demographics.

          “The Outlaw and his Hip Hop Chippendale Cowboys” might be a rebrand / reframe idea?

          Interesting lead-off comparison, by the way, you make between Netherlands and Bulgaria. In both shows there are a group of 5 arranged across a series of plinths / platforms.

          You’re right: The Netherlands slays Bulgaria in terms of concept. No one could accuse The Netherlands of not making a strong impression or of not making a brave, daring statement; unlike Bulgaria (thus far).

  • markovs

    Yeah I got burned on NL, money down the toilet.

    Im still looking for value. Malta are 8.3 to finish top 15 in the final (UK only 5.4??). Seems a reasonable bet given how tight it is going to be. Looked a decent package in the clips.

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