Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Semi rehearsals - winners and losers

As Day 4 in Kyiv draws to a close, all 36 of our semi-finalists have now rehearsed, and as always, these days have brought us some winners and some losers. Some songs have leapt up in our estimations, whereas others have drifted away.

(And yes, this is with the proviso that these are only rehearsals, some singers are holding back, others have got days to practise standing on one leg etc etc etc.)

The losers

Belgium - oh dear, it seems like what we'd been worrying about at the preview show performances has come true. Blanche just doesn't have the personality to pull this one off. Instead of commanding the camera, she's trapped in the middle of an empty stage. We can't see six qualifiers coming from the first half of this semi, so will Belgium be the one to miss out?

Ireland - after so many years of coming with bland, uninspired performances, Ireland have finally turned up with a concept this year. However, it doesn't seem like they know what to do with it. A real missed opportunity because, if they'd got this right, it would have turned what was always a borderline qualifier into a potential Top 10 finisher.

- performing last in the semi should be a gift for a song like this. It'll no doubt come alive (pun intended) in front of a live audience in much the same way Beauty Never Lies did in 2015, but for now Israel is more Tooji than Golden Boy. There's even whispers of a possible NQ going around the Eurovision bubble.

The winners

Slovenia - the fan and betting communities have always been united in calling this a non-qualifer; it's spent the last few weeks further out in the odds even than the Czech Republic. The rehearsal was something of a surprise therefore, with a strong vocal performance coupled with strong imagery that makes the most of the stage. With Latvia coming across as an absolute mess immediately afterwards, Omar could feel like the natural closer of the semi-final, and hoover up the votes from juries and televoters alike.

Croatia - we always said that the only chance that Croatia had of making it through the semi was to make the performance of My Friend fun and ridiculous - more Cezar than Axel Hirsoux. Unfortunately, it's seemed like Jacques was far too po-faced and wrapped up in the serious artistry of the whole thing to even consider that. Pleasingly, someone in the production team has considered it for him. The performance with the camera shots from both sides is just quirky enough to work, and the massive double-Jacques heads on the background screens add just enough camp to draw the audience in. A potential qualifier now?

Italy - he hasn't even rehearsed yet, but these have been good days for Francesco Gabbani. Every time another favourite rehearses, his odds shorten. With Blanche faltering and Bulgaria proving more Francesca Michielin than Dami Im, victory is looking more and more assured for the Italian.

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