May 6 Eurovision Rehearsals Summary

Today’s article is split into two parts. This first instalment covers the last six songs of semi 1, who have now done their thing for the second time.

This afternoon we get to see the first seven songs of semi 2 again, including a second look at Bosnia – which I thought, after its first rehearsal, was shaping up into a realistic contender. Thoughts on these will follow this evening are now posted below.

First, the first semi-final. This contains all the big hitters – many of them crammed into the top half of the draw, who all had their second rehearsals yesterday. It remains a tricky one to call, with the possibility of a surprise casualty – will someone follow in the footsteps of Sweden’s Anna Bergandahl last year? She failed to qualify when a 1.1 chance to go through on the exchanges.

The last six in the running order of the first semi contains three who are strongly fancied to qualify (Hungary, Azerbaijan and Greece), and three who are not (Iceland, Portugal and Lithuania). The more fancied runners all had a positive day, just to add to those increasingly crowded ‘definite’ and ‘maybe’ columns that punters are compiling.

Firstly, Hungary’s Kati Wolf appeared far more comfortable with ‘What About My Dreams’ than in her first rehearsal.

She was more confident early on in the song, and while she still had her shaky moments, they were more confined to the final minute at the points when she starts moving. A key note near the end is still proving problematic, but the backing singers are now doing a better job at this point, aided by one of the dancers.

This one can now be comfortably filed in the ‘maybe’ column. It will be aided by having the likes of the UK, Malta, Iceland and Albania voting in this semi, as all of these nations tend to favour the more Western-sounding poppy numbers.

Azerbaijan also showed decent progress from its first rehearsal. It’s very competent in so many ways. The choreography and staging look good, and the male vocalist Eldar is selling the song well. With a plum draw – 18th of the 19 songs – there seems little doubt that it will be in the shake-up at the top of the semi-final leaderboard.

The biggest handicap remains the female vocalist, Nigar. On the screens, her solo parts still come across on the weak side, and it has needed a clever arrangement to keep these to a minimum. It would be even shrewder to let the backing vocalists carry her at all times.

Greece remains what it was in a strong first rehearsal: dramatic and cleverly staged. It is the perfect climax to the semi, and benefits from following the soppiness of Lithuania and Azerbaijan. This is another one to file in the ‘definite’ column.

That leaves us with the less-fancied Iceland, Portugal and Lithuania. In today’s second rehearsals, all were much as they were before. Whilst I would be surprised to see any of them qualify, each has a great draw, a niche if not broad appeal, and a couple of friends. I can’t completely discount any of them, despite the strength in depth against them.

If this all sounds inconclusive, it’s meant to. The dress rehearsals, which begin on Monday, will hopefully help to clarify this exceptionally tricky heat somewhat.

Now onto those rehearsals for the second semi-final. We saw second rehearsals from the first seven to perform in next Thursday’s heat, and these were a reminder that it is in many cases a more clearcut affair.

Bosnia, opening the show, will surely be fighting it out at the top of the leaderboard in this semi after another excellent rehearsal. The camera shots thankfully give less prominence to the dancing trumpeter, whilst another well-advised tweak is that in the final shot Dino and his merry band are now all looking into camera.

Austria should be joining them in the final after another strong vocal performance from Nadine. The staging here is simple and effective.

Third to perform, the Netherlands has joined the “highly unlikely to qualify” pile in my book, because the staging remains dull and there’s not enough interaction with the camera. Also on that pile are the next two acts – Belgium and Slovakia. Though the latter were better today, with the Twiins not so flat vocally, I still don’t see it being enough.

In answer to Luca’s excellent question in the comments box from earlier on, the producers are doing a good job of capturing Ukraine’s sand gimmick on camera. Nonetheless, while during the first rehearsal it struck me as a welcome diversion from the dullness of the song, now I wonder if it comes across too much as a distraction. For that reason I am not yet quite convinced that the sand makes qualification a dune deal.

Moldova too felt less interesting second time around, though it remains a blessed relief after what has gone before – and while the novelty of the hatted unicyclist may have worn somewhat thin on me, it must be remembered that most viewers will be seeing all these presentations for the first time next Thursday night.

12 comments to May 6 Eurovision Rehearsals Summary

  • David

    With Hungary as a “maybe”, do you see value in laying it at the current odds? Personally, I see it as a pretty likely qualifier (great draw if nothing else, both running order and friends) but I’d never back it at Betfair’s 1,21.

  • Daniel

    Hi David,
    I certainly would never back Hungary at that price. I have been laying it to smallish amounts at prices under 1.2. There really isn’t much value left anywhere else in what has become a very tight market. What I’ve done is laid at that price because there’s a chance her performance when it matters will be more like the first rehearsal than the second. We will find out soon.

  • Luca Brasi

    Thanks for your additional thoughts on Ukraine Dan! I was considering a Top 10 Final bet (currently @9.00 on Betfair) but will probably pass now.

    Re. how the gimmick works on screen I stumbled upon this on the escnation blog:

    OK, Mika is continuing the bridesmaid theme. But with some straw on her shoulders. Not very fetching. She sings well, but the whole sand art thing is a huge distraction and doesn’t work well on screen. In fact, it makes the whole performance seem a bit unrehearsed, like something they came up with 5 minutes before leaving home.

    But I put much more trust in your eyes here Dan who actually put your money where your mouth is. Your ESC-betting record is impressive.


  • Daniel

    Hi Luca, the escnation team are very good judges, so their opinion is well worth following. Don’t forget that different viewers watching at home will also have different opinions: some may love it whilst others think it is a ridiculous distraction. Also remember that the whole point of rehearsals is to make the camera angles work as well as they can, and this takes practice.

  • Luca Brasi

    Ok, thanks, I’ll put them on my trustworthy list then! What I wanted to highlight in my quote of escnation was that according to them the gimmich DOESN’T work well on screen (and you thought it did). But since both of you agree on the fact that the gimmick itself might be a distraction, my question wheter or not the arena-view is transferred adequately to the screen is not the critical one. Pass bet for now!

    • Andrew

      Hi Luca, having seen only the same youtubes of Ukraine that you have, I think there are two subtly different questions here –

      – does the producer find good enough camera angles that viewers can follow the sand art story as easily as people in the auditorium?

      – does the whole package feel like it hangs together as a coherent viewing experience?

      I can sort of imagine how the answer to the first one might be “yes” while the second one might still be “no”. We shall see!

  • Daniel

    Hi Luca, by passing now, you can see for yourself how it works next Thursday night and also learn where Ukraine are drawn in the final if they qualify. Of course, if they do, you won’t get those odds on a Top 10 finish, but it would be a safer option.

  • David

    Thanks Daniel. The price for Hungary qualifying is now down to 1.17, I’ve layed it for a little bit and will be laying it some more if it reaches 1.15.

  • Stephen

    I got Hungary at 18-1 to win the contest

    and i got estonia at 8-1 to win the contest

    i dont understand the over critcal comments made about hungary.

    Yes it could be better but exactly who could beat it??

    France operah song i dont think so

    Uk??great song great group but probably will flop like they always do

    estonia or hungary will snatch the win for victory im pretty sure of it i got big money on both

    azerbaigan are probably the only other main threat and if drip drop couldnt win last year why would running scared do any better.

    thanks daniel for your tips but i prefer to ignore them this time around as the negative comments on estonia and hungary are certainly uncalled for

    if u dont think one of those win

    who do u actually think will win

    ur negative about pretty much everyone

  • Stephen

    I apolgise daniel for my over reacting comment about hungary.

    Love the blog and you make some really good points about the eurovsion.

    I can see where ur coming from about hungary hopefully things will pick up during the semi final night.

  • Sándor

    David, about Kati Wolf (Hungary)

    please check the 1.33-1.50 part of this video.

    you will find the final outlook (what will see the watchers of tv). and plese tell your opinion after seeing it.
    i guess you going to wrong way if you try to judge anything of any rehearsals. its taken you for a ride.


  • Sándor

    The previous message was going to Daniel. (Not for Dávid).. I’ve busted up. sorry.. Sándor

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