For comparison and prediction purposes, we put together this playlist of all the second run-through rehearsal clips, creating our own snabbis to reflect the one the audience will vote on at the end of the show.
Dressed in a pretty sparkly black and white with hints of gold number, Alma seems to be enjoying her time on stage. She may have a tad more make-up than needed but we shouldn't judge. Once again she is alone on stage throughout the song - as many have chosen to be this year.
The backdrop starts as a skyline of a city (we cannot see any distinctly Parisian buildings therefore cannot tell where it is - if anywhere). In the bridge however we can clearly see that this is Paris since it is a night cityscape and the Eiffel Tower is centre-stage. The landscape (or city lights if you will) then start playing in the backdrop. Since this is the first run through it was a bit hard to concept everything but one thing sorely missed is the dancers from the video. They would have fitted so well in this with that simple choreography they do but nope, once again a lone singer on stage.
2nd Run - Not much to comment extra from the first run. It does seem a little bit disappointing from what we could have had from France this year but let's wait and see how it will look in the second rehearsal on Sunday once the team has had time to look at it in the viewing room and decide which best angles to use.
3rd Run - There was no pyro, no petit sparklies, NOTHING!
But thank you anyway Alma! We can now close for the day. Many thanks to all! UNITED KINGDOM
Lucie is dressed in a gold sleeveless dress. She is inside a mirrored shell and the camera starts as if it looking from up above her but in fact it is filming a reflection and Lucy is camera left. We've got another simple starry night background with various hues of gold every now and then coming from sunbursts. Vocally Lucie is doing well, not excellent but good enough. She still managed to get a large applause in the press area - but that may be since most of the people here seem to be coming from this land.
2nd Run - It took a while to get started with the second run however this may be due to the microphone stand now becoming gold also! But ooh! There is an issue with in-ear sound and Lucie stops this.
"Let's try again!"
2nd Run Take 2 - Lucie doesn't seem fussed by what happened moments ago. She is also better vocally and finding her feet. She is static in this shell so there is no dancing or much movement to be done. And Henrik just mentioned the word which excites all us little boys (and some girls) here in the press - our friend PYRO!
3rd Run - And pyro there was - but not that much. Boo - not really that impressive, not when you see what Germany has. Everyone claps and Lucie gets off stage. We're waiting for our 42nd country to take the stage now!
Camera starts from inside the chandelier and zooms in while going down. Levina is lying on the stage floor dressed in a dirty-white long-sleeve top with cut shoulders and a grey long skirt. Stage is playing mainly with black and white geometrics. This then starts blending in with the starry space. Vocally we're not receiving a treat but it's by no means the worst we have heard this year. Not troubling anyone at the top of the leaderboard (or anyone on the left side) but if there is any justice, she will not make it a row hat-trick for Germany and last place.
2nd Run - A decent repetition. This time we notice that the top is backless and that Levina is barefoot.
3rd Run - "This time with pyro" says Henrik. "With pyro!" cries the fan press! It took us a while to get there but finally we get there! We have a half-curtain and at the same time shooting stars from the chandelier. Germany in fact have spent quite a lot of money on pyro it seems - the effect lasts for quite a while. As always, approved! SPAIN
No one is actually paying attention to this. Like nobody. It's on the screen and everyone is chatting with each other. I'm trying my best to actually care about it. So, the scene starts with a (what I am assuming is) a moon-lit night sky with clouds passing by. This then ends up turning into some beach with palm trees - cue sick bags.
Manel is dressed in a Hawaiian shirt (barely buttoned) as are his three companions with instruments. Unfortunately we get to see hairynipplegate! This couldn't scream last place more if it tried. Again, we know the cameras will be worked on but vocals are mediocre at best and the energy on that stage is the same as when receiving a wet kiss from an estranged elderly aunt. The only thing worse than having to see this once, is having to see it repeatedly in succession. What one suffers for their hobby!
2nd Run - So, now that we paid more attention. The backdrop starts with a silvery globe which pans out while you have the darkened beach in the forefront. Strange since the globe should be the moon (would make more sense) but it is not - you can clearly see Europe and Africa etc. Anywho, the globe then splurts to become this beach thing. Nothing strange at all there. Manel's shirt seems to be better buttoned this time so we are not inflicted with another showing of his hairy right nipple. Even the camera crew are bored - they spent 5 seconds of showing us the stairs to the stage. Manel does not look impressed at all. We're not either but only one of us is forcing the other to watch them sing for what feels like an eternity.
3rd Run - Unfortunately even though the time had technically run out, Manel still managed a third rendition of the entry. The best I can say is that it didn't get any worse. ITALY
The one we've all been waiting for is now on stage! Excitement is already massing up in the press room.
There are three backing singers, two female one male. Female to the left is dressed in blue jumper, middle in yellow and the guy on the right is in the orange ensemble that Francesco himself wore during San Remo. Francesco himself is dressed in a black suit with a tiny silver tie. And actually there is a fourth backing singer - male, dressed in a red jumper.
Background has many elements from what we saw in San Remo with a couple of additions here and there, such as umbrellas blowing in the wind on the backdrop while the floor leds show a figure of a man with an umbrella walking. Also there is graphics of the monkey itself.
In regards to choreography, the backing singers don't do the "Alé!" which would have been more apt and also the cameras are still not very tuned since there are parts where the choreography Francesco is doing and the camera which should be following are completely in two different worlds. If we were a site who liked drama and skandal we would be saying this is a disaster and Italy have just lost the game but since we know this is the first run of the first rehearsal, we will wait to announce that judgement. Until the second one that is.
2nd Run - So the camera angles have been changed and work a little better than those we saw in the first run through. Also, the "Alé!" (or Allez! however you want to have it) is not so much of an issue since the camera pans to crowd which I'm sure will be more than happy to provide the correct choreography for this piece. Although for us who have heard the song in its entirety the cut still sounds a bit weird, and maybe also to Francesco, I guess those who have heard it for the first time will not be too confused by it. A good show for sure - has it given me goosebumps, no. Will it still end up winning ... never count chickens but we've heard that Milan's hotel availability in May is already basically zero. Maybe Turin?
3rd Run - I cannot be sure but I think Francesco got mixed up in the lyrics by saying "cercasi, umanità virtuale" instead of "cercasi, storie dal gran finale". Oh well, it's a simple mistake to make! You can see that the camera crew are playing around with as many angles as they can since the show again seems to be new in this third round. It seems like Italy is pulling out the stops this year to ensure their package is seen as best as it can be.
That was it for Italy, on to ... Manel! Another piece of information you get to find out when being here, due to the reaction of the eurofans during the national final, rtve decided to not accredit any fansite with 'P' but rather gave them all 'F's. There you go. UKRAINE
So we were not able to see it from the beginning but it did pop up on screen in the end. Gone are the timers coming out of chests and the team is dressed in black. We've finally revealed which act has the mysterious large head - this one! Since we didn't see it from the beginning we can't comment on how it started but it seemed pretty good at first glance. And what more could you want than lasers being shot out of the eye sockets of a massive shiny head in the middle of a stage?!
2nd Run - Trying to get more information on what is going on in everything. Starting with a wide shot, the stage has an 'under the sea' vibe to it. Correction to previously, the lead singer, Yevhen, is dressed in a silver jacket over black. The stage turns to black tones and green lighting while during the instrumental bridge we then have lots of lightening and strobing. The head which at first seems silvery, and later simply seems possessed) then starts turning golden hues at the end of the song with the background complementing this change. The backdrop appears to then be the new dawn rising from behind mountains and the head has a body starting to be attached to it via the floor leds. There is a lot to take in with this performance so definitely needs another look in order to try and understand. 3rd Run - The vocals are what we are used to with O.Torvald so can't comment much on them. The colours change from blue to dark after the first chorus and then the green spots are added during the second chorus. One thing that was noticed this time, the eyes of the giant head are closed at first however later these open in order to reveal the lasers (at first) and then, during the golden hues, the eyes shine yellow also. Not creepy at all.
4th Run - Another decent performance. I don't think it will be worrying many people but decent enough - and they're on home soil so they have the advantage.
We start, Alex does his first part, then Ilinca announces "I can't hear my ears at all, they're not working!"
So, take two! Alex is showing us his arms this time while Ilinca is dressed in a tiny red number. Vocally neither of them is blowing anyone's mind although the yodelling is still good. The canons are revealed and they are now sparkly! And Alex can kinda ride the one he pushes on stage. Unfortunately EBU have refused the requests of TVR to have confetti blasting out of them due to clean up time. Also refused were two fire cannons. Due to this, the camera shot at the end of the song is wide, which does not really suit in this occasion. I can understand the frustration of the TV station in this case since that visual would have helped them a lot.
2nd Run - Actually maybe the request being turned down is not such a bad idea. Throughout the rehearsals we've seen the cannons on more than one occasion pointing quite directly at Ilinca's head, so whether it be confetti, or worse fire, she might be glad that Alex's cannon-pushing skills are not putting her directly in danger. Although it would be entertaining.
3rd Run - Alex has just talked to me: "Now what’s the use of being so confused, of doing all this work you really don’t want to be doing?" These songs actually make sense when you read the lyrics. Sometimes. No, no - I joke! But the run itself was same as the other two, this time the cannon was at a safe angle and all in all good enough to qualify. MALTA
Claudia also decided to change her costume for this rehearsal. Although similar to that worn on Tuesday, this one has an open cleavage. I guess we will know which one will be decided on in the dress rehearsal. Vocally Claudia shows us how it's done, especially with the trio we have before her in the semi (although I still believe Nathan was just having a bit of a bad day). No gimmicks as you know in this song, they wouldn't fit if there were. Unfortunately nobody at the table was facing the screen when the shot of the bosom-backdrop was due so we need to wait for the second one to see if it was kept or if the camera was changed to have it not so visible.
2nd Run - The bosom shot is still there, and Claudia stands right in between the girls. A very confident and competent rendition. Before coming to Kyiv I wasn't truly believing this could qualify but I am now converted and would be quite surprised if it did not.
3rd Run - No faffing about for Claudia, she's finished with one and on to the next! And another very strong rendition. And we're now off for a bit of yodeling! Hurrah! FYR MACEDONIA
Gone is the green thing from Tuesday's rehearsal, Jana is now dressed in a black shimmery number with fringes - much better. But that is as far as the improvements go. OK, she's less $25 corner more $75 hotel lobby but still. Vocally we're still a bit squeaky in the beginning but she manages to bring it back later on in the song. Jana might not be dancing alone on the semi-final night but she probably will be hugging a bottle on Saturday while watching the contest on TV.
2nd Run - The vocals are still not convincing. The backing singers are clearly better than she is - and they are hidden which seems to be the way to do it this year. Nothing in this song makes you want to get up and dance - not sure if that is ironic or not considering the title. Here's hoping for some glittery masterpiece to be rolled out in the third try.
3rd Run - Unfortunately no glittery nothing, no pyro, no smoke, no nothing! Oh well, MRT will be happy for the refund on the hotel.
I know I mentioned yesterday that lunch has it's own section - but since I've not yet been to lunch there is not much to comment on it. I might even try and get some fruit! I'm assuming they're not going to add spices to THAT also. I mean, literally, everything is covered in spice here, even salads. Tasty spicey, but spicey! This Western type of stomach does not deal well with this constant Eastern type of food!
This means there are effectively nine songs the market considered 'safe' now, with Belgium and Latvia fighting it out for the last qualification place. Poland are still potentially in with a shout, and the remaining six are long shots for qualification. But if you think one or more of those six is going to make it through (and this writer does, and has a bet placed to prove it), that's where the money is to be made.
Oh Nathan! I warn you from the start, he can't do anything wrong in my eyes! But the damned light and camera people can! There is no longer the über-cute cheeky turn to camera right in the beginning. HOW DARE THEY! Also, Omar Naber is singing the Slovenian version of On My Way in his press conference making it a bit difficult to listen to Austria's rehearsal. RUDE. The not-so-invisible box is back, however this first rehearsal is without the heavy fog so maybe it will be 'invisible' at some point.
2nd Run- This is too sweet! It gives you cavities. Which from memory is what I have written for Austria last year too. What is it with them and sending candy recently? Unfortunately however we can't say that today's singing is a masterpiece. The high notes are not so high and the visuals are not as good as Monday. One more run through to maybe redeem himself but Nathan needs to be more on form than this in one weeks' time or it could be a bit of a challenge.
3rd Run - Slightly better but not amazeballs. And the invisible box is not invisible at all. In fact, it's more of the 'in your face' kind. #magicfail SERBIA
Tijana just looks so alone on stage. Even when the dancer comes on for that short while it doesn't really help much. She also looks slightly stiff which just adds to the awkwardness. Vocally not the strongest, the camera does what it can but in general this is not the best we've seen from Serbia by far. Neither is is Cipela, but it's not one of their better packages.
2nd Run - Read above.
3rd Run - "Won't somebody save [her] tonight?" It is Serbia after all so let's not discount them since that would be silly, but I am struggling to find reasons to vote for it. LATVIA
One and only one question needs to be answered - is the penis still there?! Answer - NO!
Agnese is dressed in a white and black techo-spacey number with boots going, in the words of Loreen, "up, up, up, up, up!" The props on stage have been changed slightly, especially that which created penisgate a couple of days ago. The Freedom Monument is now filled in and the stars are made a lot more visible, no mistaking it for a flacid shlong any more.
2nd Run - The backdrop colours are mainly black and white for most of the start of the song with green lighting coming from behind. This then turns into a technicolour mess during the chorus. Props are all in neon colours - pink, green and blue. All in all a decent performance but is it strong enough to reach Saturday night? The juries are unlikely to go for it so it will need a large televote to really stand any chance.
3rd Run - And the final run through we get to see the smoke but no pyro. Boo. SLOVENIA
Omar seems comfortable enough on the stage. The usage of the chandelier is working well and Omar connects well with the camera. Although alone on stage, he does not look lost which is an improvement on quite a few of this years' contestants.
2nd Run - Another good performance. He is confident and comfortable and he shows it. The lighting of the stage also enhances the song well. I've never really been in camp Slovenia this year but this could be my mistake in my predictions.
3rd Run - He's flirting with the camera! We approve! The only thing we can fault this on is the distinct lack of pyro in places where it so obviously should be. Not that it actually needs it, but who ever had it for the need of it? Why wouldn't you have it if it is available? So if you're reading this my dear Slovenian delegation - PYRO!
Clad in black, Artsvik and her two backing dancers and visually immaculate. Clearly they did not stay at Euroclub until 2:30am yesterday night. Someone might have, but not them. The choreography and staging is looking very sleek, much better than in the first rehearsal (which as you all know is what a first rehearsal is all about). Vocally she is perfect, no faulting, and even the many movements which were not so rehearsed (or so it seemed) on Monday have now been corrected - especially the 'Vishnu' one where the two backing dancers are behind her and she has now three sets of arms.
2nd Run - No real major comment to make from the first. It's qualifying - not that that was ever in doubt.
3rd Run - The this that I love about third runs is that you see what it should actually be looking like. And now we have dry ice and pyro! Hell yes we do! And it works so much better as a full package! I'm still not fully convinced by the pink digital eagle bursting out of Artsvik and flying across the screen at the end of the song (you'll understand what I mean when you see it) but it does have meaning I guess. For those who didn't know, Artsvik means 'baby eagle' in Armenian.
So, first of all I wish to apologise to everyone for the delay in the blog today. Although arriving on time, we have been experiencing technical difficulties in such that the laptop decided it had to update for over 30 minutes (and counting) so we have now gone on to the general PCs instead to at least get some content out. This comes in addition to the technical issue with the Uber taxi who forgot to say that we had arrived at our destination and continued to drive around Kyiv after dropping us off ... and charging for the pleasure. Uber support, here we come! But enough about the shitty start to the day! On to the songs!