Hello everybody! I'm live-blogging the rehearsals with my escgo hat on this year, so I'm leaving the ESC Nation work in the able hands of Roger and Tom - but in addition to supplying the occasional photo and bit of colour from the press centre (and, of course, the traditional betting blogs next week), I thought I'd pop in at the end of each of the rehearsal days and give my quick thoughts on what we've seen, framed in terms of the "winners" and "losers" from my point of view.
For me, today's winners were Greece insofar as they delivered the most persuasive individual performance, regardless of what you may think of the song; Finland for coming across as a breath of fresh air; and Belgium and Estonia for giving us high-concept stagings that work well visually, though that means both will take some time to get right on camera - we'll see what the second set of rehearsals on Friday bring us in that respect.
Somewhere in the middle we find Armenia, which is still a confusing mess of a song (and the first minute today never quite gelled right even after several attempts), but which has some really effective moments on camera that use the video wall and floor to perfection.
The losers - to be understood in the sense of "compared with prior expectations" - include Moldova, whose police-in-hotpants routine just comes across as unpleasant and sleazy; Macedonia, where I can see what they're trying to do but it's still an awkward blend of under-rehearsed choreography and faux-R&B stylings; and, in particular, the Netherlands, who appear to have thrown the kitchen sink at their visual performance in order to distract from the song, except the sink has a leaky plughole and the hot and cold taps are marked "NO" and "YES" and the owner of the kitchen is a mad old bat with a fetish for funereal bondage gear. I mean really, what the fucktje.
So that's it for Day 1. It's certainly been a fun and varied start to proceedings! Let's see what tomorrow brings, from Bojana and Boggie right through to emigration and oximation. Till then!