Eurovision 2015: Semi-final 1, first dress rehearsal

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.

20 comments to Eurovision 2015: Semi-final 1, first dress rehearsal

  • Other than Albania, does anyone know if any nations are likely to not meet the televote threshold in tomorrow night’s live broadcast, and therefore offer a jury vote only?

    • KeyserSoze

      Australia, as it will be broadcast in the morning. And Georgia’s viewing figures are notoriously low every year. 🙂

      • Ben Cook

        I reckon there will be enough Australians up to vote

        • sonovox

          I’m not sure. Wouldn’t be that surprised to see jury-only.

          • Ron

            There will be no problem with the Australian televote. They have a population of 20m after all and only need a few thousand votes to have a valid poll (there are already plans for Eurovision parties and cinema screenings for the final)

  • Daniel

    Hi Tim, as well as Albania, other countries in this heat that relied on a jury-only semi-final ranking last year were FYROM, Georgia and Moldova. It also remains to be seen whether Australia can meet the televote threshold, despite those involved talking up their ability to do so.

    That’s 4 or 5 jury-only scores if last year is anything to go by. Could make all the difference for those on the borderline.

  • I must be honest by saying that I’m also worried now about the Dutch progressing to the grand final. The pre-contest arguments that Netherlands has a rather bad draw after Armenia (guaranteed votes from Armenian immigrants) and the unique entry of Belgium are bubbling up again.

    It’s a pity that the only narrative for Netherlands is “the dress”. But then again, it doesn’t matter if you’re an experienced artist or a newbie: If you choose wrongly, you’ll get scrutinized. Having said that, televoters and judges don’t know about “dress-gate”.

    In ranking order I think these are certain qualifiers:

    – Russia
    – Estonia
    – Romania
    – Belgium
    – Georgia
    – Greece
    – Denmark
    – Hungary
    – Armenia

    Which leaves only one last ticket. And the battle for that last ticket will be fought out between The Netherlands, Belarus and Finland.

  • Looking forward to seeing everybodies view tomorrow..
    Here’s mine –>

    The short version of it is
    Lay Finland
    Back Denmark
    Back Macedonia

    But most importantly LAY FINLAND agian

  • Scott

    Can’t say I’m right across every single song – I take more betting interest in the far more predictable (for me) X Factor. I’ve thrown a couple of quid on a few long odds selections in the hope that the likes of Sweden, Russia and Italy stumble and let someone else in. Have to say – doesn’t look like it at the moment. Then again, Austria were 50/1 at one point last year.

    Have to say that, of the songs I’ve heard so far – and I’ve majored on the favourites – Russia passes the “can you imagine it at the end of the show” test. If it wasn’t for two factors: a) It’s Russia and the obvious politics involved with that and b) The queries over whether she connects with the audience, I’d be backing it big style. Anyone reckon it can overcome those hurdles?

    • Donal Ryan

      Absolutely Scott, lets make no mistake Sweden and Italy have to be taken down and the political argument is valid but the 40+ that was available was nuts. Polina’s got a 15-20% shot and the market is now in line. I expect the price to come in further after tonight.

  • Scott

    Incidentally, for anyone interested my long shot picks are Finland, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Albania, Poland and, ludicrously, Macedonia. A couple of hunches, a few cribbed from others. Thoughts welcome. (apart from “are you mad?” I’m aware the answer is yes)

  • john kef

    My Semi Final 1 estimations are: (Q/NQ – Finishing Place)

    1. Moldova NQ / 14-16 ( Mediocre song- bad slot)
    2. Armenia Q / 7-10 ( Diaspora – many allies)
    3. Belgium Q/ 4-6 ( Innovative song)
    4. Netherlands NQ / 14-16 (Dreadful song -no allies-bad slot)
    5. Finland NQ / 11-13 (Dreadful song -no allies-bad slot)
    6. Greece Q / 4-6 ( Many allies- powerful song)
    7. Estonia Q / 2 ( Appealing song- Voting magnet)
    8. Macedonia NQ / 14-16 ( Badly staged)

    9. Serbia Q / 7-10 (If Conchita made it last year, she has a chance of qualifying)

    10. Hungary Q / 7-10 ( Well staged – Peace message)
    11. Belarus NQ / 11-13 ( Repetitive- Lacking energy)

    12. Russia Q / 1 (Shut up and take my money !!! )

    13. Denmark NQ / 11-13 ( Commercial break- After Russia- no allies…needless to say more)

    14. Albania Q / 7-10 ( 4/6 from the last 6 songs rules applies- Quality song)

    15. Romania Q / 3 ( Smartly staged- Diaspora- Broad appeal to the eastern countries with immigration problems)

    16. Georgia Q / 4-6 ( Pimp slot- Powerful song)

  • I think Belarus is a cracking lay to qualify at odds-on. It’s a cheap, fluffy song with a repetitive chorus and average staging. The running order slot in 11 is terrible as it comes directly before Russia (which is hot favourite to win the semi) and after the earnest and evocative package from Hungary. It’s not a particularly jury-friendly song and one has to err on the side of juries in this semi, with 4-5 countries likely to be giving a jury vote only. I also think it will be last in the pecking order behind Russia, Armenia, Georgia and Estonia in ex-USSR friendly televotes. It will score next to no points outside of the ex-USSR region. Its only hope to qualify, in my opinion is some dodgy deals with other countries, which shouldn’t really mean it’s an odds-on shot to qualify.

    • Boki

      Hopefully you are right Tim, this was my reasoning also.
      I also like prediction from Panos, only remark would be exchanging Moldova and Finland.

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