I know, #firstworldproblems and all that, but crikey, it's been a tough old afternoon in the press centre. There's a great deal of shade and not much light in the first half of the 2nd semi-final, a situation that isn't exactly aided by some remarkably similar choices on the visual presentation side of things. I swear, if I see one more blue or gold stage... sorry, who did you say was on first tomorrow?
Anyway, this makes it all the more difficult to pick out the beneficiaries from today's proceedings, but let's give it a go regardless! Things started well enough, actually, which is why I'm according "winner" status to Lithuania, who were perhaps a bit too colourful but who at least get things off to a nice and jolly start, and Ireland, where Molly was given explicit instructions from the production team on which cameras to make eye contact with - and followed them to the letter, getting more and more assured with every rehearsal.
Somewhere in the middle we find the Czech Republic, who threw their shoes and shouted at each other a lot, but garnered a warm press centre response for a competent and reasonably personality-filled performance; Portugal, who are getting as much as humanly possible out of a total B-side of a song; and actually, San Marino, which wasn't anywhere near as bad as we initially feared - though on the other hand, sadly it wasn't anywhere near as bad as we initially feared.
It might be a little churlish to classify Norway as a loser, because there was nothing fundamentally wrong with their rehearsal, but the middle section of the performance is too empty on stage and Debrah's fashion choices are quite frankly weird. Joining them near the bottom of the pile would be Malta, whose solo staging for Amber is dull and far too obviously taken from Conchita's Big Book of Inspirational Colour Schemes and Wing Designs; and, most disappointingly of all for me today, Montenegro, for whom the stage is JUST TOO DARK - it distracts from the song, as does the peculiar hoppy dance indulged in by the backing singers during the instrumental break, while Knez's "Stefan Raab in the Let's Get Happy video" face provides a further obstacle to enjoyment.
Tomorrow should be a more pleasant experience, at least, with several bookies' and fan faves to look forward to - I'm thinking of Israel, Azerbaijan, Sweden and Slovenia, for starters. Just please, no more blue stages...