Eurovision 2015: Semi-final 2, first dress rehearsal

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.

15 comments to Eurovision 2015: Semi-final 2, first dress rehearsal

  • LPG

    fake applause really cheapened the first semi, I hoped they’d get rid of it for semi 2

  • Two countries giving jury votes only in Semi Final 2 – Montenegro and San Marino – is that correct? I’ve got a funny feeling they’ll give high points to each other as well, don’t ask me why 😉

  • Can I say something Daniel? From the ground of my heart, it irritated me to death to hear that fake applause and fake cheering! Not to mention this rushed up envelope ceremonies. If this is all being done to prevent booing, then by all means….the EBU has greatly exaggerated this measure.

    ORF and EBU will off course say that this is being done every year, but that’s bullocks. It was offputting. Period. I heard the fake applause already with Moldova yesterday, even with Netherlands, Romania. Actually, I think it was used for all entries.

    To delete boo-ing with fake applause during Russia I can understand. But this must not affect other entries, like Latvia.

    • Ron

      The rushed announcement of finalists in the first semi was due to the show unexpectedly running out of time. From all accounts, that section was a lot slower and more entertainingly tense in the rehearsals, and will be so in the second semi.

  • And yes, it’s more obvious this fake applause when you’re sitting on your sofa at home. It’s obvious.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Like the Eurozone, Eurovision is just one big, happy family! (And as though it’s a matter of life or death people will go to extreme lengths to avoid upsetting Russia.)

  • Simon 'Le Chat'

    Hi Daniel

    Great blog.
    Gave you a (well earned) plug here

    Simon ‘Le chat’s’ recommendation to follow…


  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Hoping the simplicity, quiet sincerity and purity of Cyprus will now shine brighter following overproduced(?)-to-within-an-inch-of-it’s-existence Sweden.

  • Chris

    As usual, thanks for the analysis!

    My punts on the last SF all came through. Serbia passed easily. Macedonia failed. Here are my predictions for the 2nd semifinal (ranked in the order I expect):

    Definite Qualifiers : Sweden (winner), Latvia, Azerbaijan, Norway, Slovenia, Cyprus, Israel
    Borderline: Montenegro (qualifier), Poland (qualifier) Ireland (qualifier), Lithuania (non-qualifier), Czech Republic (non-qualifier)
    Definite Non-Qualifiers: St. Marino (last), Portugal, Switzerland, Malta

  • Montell

    At the moment I see most value laying Malta. I’m disappointed with Malta’s performance and I don’t like the song so I think there will be only one warrior in the final. Malta’s main rivals for qualification are Montenegro, Czech Republic and Switzerland. From these four I think jury will favour Montenegro and Czech Republic. Personally I’d like to see Czech Republic in the final because it would encourage them to participate next year. If Marta didn’t choose that shoes throwing gimmick I would even put small stake on their qualification but now I’m not sure. Switzerland has a good draw and I like the song. Also I find Mélanie René very attractive. Those big eyes and beautiful smile, I love it 🙂

    Even though Poland has the pimp slot and Iceland is among friends I think one of them will miss the final but I don’t see value in current prices. I placed my bets on these countries weeks ago.

    So here’s my prediction.

    Lithuania Q
    Ireland NQ
    San Marino NQ
    Montenegro NQ
    Malta NQ
    Norway Q
    Portugal NQ
    Czech Republic Q
    Israel Q
    Latvia Q
    Azerbaijan Q
    Iceland NQ
    Sweden Q
    Switzerland Q
    Cyprus Q
    Slovenia Q
    Poland NQ

    Now let’s wait and see what Daniel has to say in his upcoming preview.

  • I’m sturggling with Iceland. I actually like the song, and the singer is fairly hot, but it’s going to get memory-holed by Sweden.

    • There is a break in between Iceland and Sweden, which is better than being followed directly by them and will keep Iceland in people’s minds for a little bit at least.

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