Monday 15 May 2017

Haiku #14

Love enough for two
Fairytale conquistador

Saturday 13 May 2017

Ooops, I almost forgot

Erm, so the result? Lord knows. Something like this, maybe?

1. Bulgaria
2. Portugal
3. Italy
4. Armenia
5. Sweden
6. Romania
7. Belgium
8. United Kingdom
9. Moldova 
10. Netherlands
11. Israel
12. Croatia
13. Greece
14. Ukraine
15. Hungary
16. Cyprus
17. France 
18. Poland
19. Norway
20. Belarus
21. Denmark
22. Azerbaijan
23. Spain
24. Australia
25. Austria
26. Germany

Fishy Final Prediction

Iiiiiih, the day has come! My very own Christmas, May 17th, New Years Eve and MF combined, culminating in a three- four-hour show tonight. But let's not forget it's not all about tonight - have a look at Martin's very good description of the good life that is being a Eurovision fan, all year long.

So, what are we going to see tonight? Well, none of my biggest favourites, for one thing... :-( Albania, Estonia, Ireland and Georgia all failed to qualify from their semis, but we're still left with some proper goodies. And unlike what we've been thinking all season, it's suddenly actually looking quite exciting! I feel there's a handful of entries that are well ahead of the others, and hence should gather up a huge portion of the votes, similarly to 2015. Which could be good news for my predicting skills, as that's easily my best year in that regard! Then again, I didn't exactly excel at semi qualifiers this week, only getting 15 in total...

So, here we go!

1 Portugal | I promised myself I'd stick with my original and obvious Italy prediction and not get caught up in any last minute hype, but here we are... The performance is pure magic and gooseberrybumpy all through, and it really, really stands out. Contrary to most, I actually think it might do better in the televote than with the juries, as viewers don't tend to overthink things, they just feel. And really, that's all that's needed to fall in love with this.
2 Italy | Still keeps me entertained and interested all through. Pure joy, and a great song structure where one bit transitions perfectly into the next.
3 Bulgaria | This was absolutely flawless on Thursday. Lovely song, great singer, simple yet effective staging, and excellent camerawork.
4 United Kingdom | I suppose Belgium should've been here if we're going by the betting odds, so this is my attempt at something "risky" :-p Have loved the song (and her!) all season, and they've really made the absolute most of it. Hønepels all over the place for the big note and pyro!
5 Belgium | I've not really been buying into the 'she's bad, this isn't happening', as I think the song is way too strong to not have an impact either way. And even more so after seeing her nervy and "raw" performance on Tuesday - what looked like the entry's biggest weakness is suddenly one of its strengths.
6 Azerbaijan | I'm expecting a big gap in points between 5th and 6th, so why not a little horsie here? It's weird, but somehow in a good way, and she came across as likeable in the semi.
7 Armenia | Nobody's talking about this at all, which I find a bit odd - I've liked the song all along, and thought it looked and sounded ace in the semi. Nowhere near winning, of course, but should get a decent result, particularly since it's Armenia. And if most of the points are lumped together in the top 5, a good bunch of guaranteed televotes and some other random scores may well be enough for 7th.
8 Hungary | Thought this worked very well in the semi, and it feels sufficiently different in a good way to get decent support, even if it'll surely also fly well above many people's heads.
9 Romania | I assume it's getting about 🕸 from the juries, but enough from televoters to see it sneak into the top 10.
10 Netherlands | I assume it's getting about 🕸 from the televoters, but enough from juries to see it sneak into the top 10.
11 Greece | This isn't much of a song, but I was actually pleasantly surprised at the first chorus with the red background and flashing lights, thought it looked great. Then it all goes downhill when they try to be all swishy about it...
12 Sweden | Still dulldulldull.
13 Cyprus | Decent draw for this, and it looks good, so why not?
14 Norway | Am I overestimating good old Norge again? I really think it deserves to be at least this high, but still fear televoters will mostly forget about it.
15 Croatia | Glad it's there, oddly. Ost.
16 Moldova | I'm thinking this did very well in the semi televote without much competition in the cheap'n'cheerful department, but will get much more lost now with more competition and a very forgettable spot in the running order.
17 Ukraine | Not good enough to get a lot, but different enough to get something.
18 Poland | Based on its starting position I guess we can assume it didn't set the scoreboard on fire in the semi, and I doubt we'll see a repeat of their televote sprint from last year - unlike Michał, Kasia doesn't seem to have much appeal out of the core diaspora audience, despite having an accented S in her name.
19 Israel | Nice arms can only get you so far.
20 Denmark | I have one good thing to say about this: It makes Portugal sound even better coming right after it. Doubt televoters will care at all, but there's always some jury members that mistake screeching for good singing.
21 Belarus | I've thought this would have a shot at a top 10 result all season, but somehow it doesn't quite click on stage. Maybe they overdid the staging a bit, making them less human and more 'Belarus at Eurovision'...?
22 France | French and nice and all that, but I think it'll be largely forgotten.
23 Austria | Glad it qualified, but doubt it will have much impact when it's on as #4.
24 Australia | Still don't see how this qualified, with that lacklustre performance... 
25 Spain | Should fall flat on its arse, but it's somehow just that tiny bit different that might make 2 random juries vote for it. Albania or so...
26 Germany | Decent, competent and just a little bit too average. Televote 0?

There you have it, my official prediction! Now I've deserved a bit of relaxing in the sun before starting on the Eurovision tapas cooking.

Good luck, and have a smashing evening! May the best song (Albania, that is) win, and may the voting be as exciting as last year!

My final prediction

I said in my last post that I can't see any entry other than the current three favourites making it to the top. And I'm sticking by that - I can't see anything else other than those three winning. But I can see them out of the Top 3 altogether, if it doesn't come together for them. In fact, in the case of Italy, in particular, there's a chance it really doesn't happen for them tonight, and Francesco ends up taking Amir's trajectory from last year.

I don't really think any of the three are failing completely - but I also don't think it's completely out of the question.

Anyway, enough waffling and avoiding starting predicting - let's get on with a ranking. But just to procrastinate even further, let's do it from bottom to top.

26. Spain
25. Germany
- I don't see any way this pair avoid the bottom 2.
24. Austria - too early and not enough friends to lift this out of the bottom 5.
23. Hungary
22. Ukraine

21. Poland - only escaping bottom 5 because of their diaspora.
20. Belarus - third in the running order is far too early for this.
19. Netherlands
18. France
- now it's on last, this is basically Molly's Children of the Universe.
17. Australia - maybe there's something I'm missing on this one, but it bores me terribly, and the live performance on Tuesday was poor, but it clearly has its fans, so that has to count for something.
16. Azerbaijan - I initally had this higher, but there's no way the producers would have placed it after Portugal if it did well on Tuesday.
15. Cyprus
14. Norway
13. United Kingdom
- the UK is always overrated by fans once it comes to rehearsals and the night itself. Lucie's doing better than the UK has for a long time, but I don't see a Top 10 here.
12. Croatia
11. Greece
- look out for a big jump up the order after the televoting.
10. Israel
9. Denmark
- will struggle not to get drowned by Italy and Portugal, but I actually think the song's genericness is a positive here.
8. Romania
7. Moldova
- hang on, how did this end up this high? I really don't see it in 7th, but then I also somehow see it doing better than the songs below it...
6. Armenia
5. Italy
4. Belgium
3. Sweden
- so yes, my prediction is that Italy just isn't going to catch on tonight, and that Belgium and Sweden will pop above them. And of the two, Sweden seems a more secure chance of getting plenty of votes from both televoters and juries. It's not my kind of thing at all (and not really the kind of music that fans listen to either), so I suspect it's doing better than we think.
2. Bulgaria
1. Portugal
- I'm just hoping against hope that my concerns about televoters' and juries' hesitations to vote for a non-English ballad are wrong and will be overcome by the excellence of the song and the performance.

Why third place could be enough to win

I hate predicting for the final. I am rubbish at it. While I can see in my mind which entries can qualify and which can't, I have a real blind spot about the final, particularly when it comes to the winner. I can construct in my mind a narrative for pretty much every entry as to why they won't win, and even why they just can't win. Which makes it rather difficult to construct a final scoreboard prediction.

In my mind, and in the minds of the betting public, there are three contenders. Even I can see that. And while I can find reasons for them all not to win, I really can't find reasons that any of the other 23 entries would end up on top of the scoreboard after tonight's voting. So let's take them one-by-one.

The favourite pretty much all season, and back to being the favourite as I write this, though only just. When it won Sanremo, I didn't see it winning Eurovision. I thought it was just too difficult to gain widespread support, both in terms of topic and being in Italian. But then, it did. Widespread support among Eurovision fans, true, but support on a level we haven't seen since Alexander Rybak, and possibly not even then.

But then I showed it to a fan-but-not-diehard-fan friend, who usually likes this side of Eurovision. She was underwhelmed. Is that going to be the reaction of much of the viewing public? After having seen the rehearsal clips, I worry that might be the case. The Sanremo performance was, for all its faults, genuinely fun, naively and innocently joyous, and that's missing from what we've seen on the Eurovision staging, as the backdrops try a bit too hard, the camerawork is too distant and Francesco is taking it one step too far into 'clever' and 'ironic'.

And there's always the eternal question that hangs over this entry like an anvil - will the juries just hate it?

Almost the opposite, here. The live performance of Amar pelos dois on Tuesday night was absolutely hypnotic, and it's unsurprising that its odds have shortened dramatically in the last four days. But do televoters really vote en masse for a ballad in Portuguese? That's what I can't fully get my head around. Similarly, it's always been assumed that juries will go for Portugal - but often in the past they've ignored the more difficult ballads and those not in English, instead voting for more 'obvious' songs in English like Australia.

A more obvious televote magnet and jury magnet, really. In a way, it's safer for both voting demographics, and unlike the previous two, there's nothing to turn televoters off or alienate jurors. So if it doesn't work for Italy or Portugal, for whatever reason, then Bulgaria is sitting pretty ready to mop up and take home the trophy.

In my mind, Bulgaria has a set amount of votes that it's definitely getting. Effectively, it's definitely coming third. The problem is, I don't know if Italy, Portugal or anyone else has the potential to go above them, or will that third place turn into the win?

Haiku #13

Calling the music
Together unite Europe
Love unlimited

Friday 12 May 2017

Printable scoresheets! Here!

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[LIVE] Final : Dress Rehearsal 1

And it's NORWAY! Norway win the fake voting of the first dress rehearsal! The artist stand-ins are then lead from the green room to the B stage and later the main stage. where they hug the presenters. We still have no audio what so ever. Congratulations over and done with there is nothing left but for the three hosts to hug eachother on a job well done and talk to us about the Eurovision App (we assume). Then off to the reprise and Good Night Europe!

And this is where we finish for today, 41 minutes later than planned. Thank you to all which have been involved in this. Thanking you muchly. Do pobachennya (до побачення) to you all!

Timur is in the EBU booth with Jan Ola Sand. They are talking about something but there is no audio so we can only assume it is about hygiene products and the price of alcohol in Ukraine.

We start the televoting with Bulgaria earning 19 points. There is no bar so we do not know how many points are remaining in the pot. Belarus received 40 points putting them currently in second place but this is soon pushed to third when Ukraine receives their 46 putting them momentarily in first place.

Germany only receives 83 points from the fake televote while there are still 10 countries left to receive points. Italy is currently last with 49 points. Sweden just got points and are currently leading on 274. Italy were just behind and now have 5th place on 211. Croatia, Moldova, Israel and Norway make the final 4. Israel is 4th ranking, but earning them top place with 293. We then have the shot of the current leader on top middle box and the three remaining nations on the bottom half of the screen.

Croatia gain 179 points from televote and are now leading with 325. Israel's lead was short. Moldova (127) or Norway (104) are left. Moldova earn 194 for 321, just missing out on top place. Now, the question remains, how many points are left?

The fake voting skipped most countries. We had Sweden, Azerbaijan, San Marino and Latvia give their points. However, we then went to the total board where Germany is in the lead with 180 points. Due to this, Timur goes to talk to Levina. He also goes to the Ukrainian pod who are currently second with 147. No time to talk to Jacques however, who is third with 146 points. We still have no audio in the press centre so going purely by visuals. UK on 139 and Belgium on 133 complete the fake top 5.

We have Volo and Oleks on stage with the platform however their mike's are off and we can't hear anything. But it appears it's the voting. And since it's fake, you know how this goes.

There is one more run through of the voting numbers happening at the bottom of the screen. Wouldn't be bad if it were not that France's number appears two seconds before we stop voting. I'm sure that will work well. Positive.

After the close, we then move to Timur who is with Eurovision Queen - Verka. And again another moment where no one knows what the f is going on. Wonderful. Please cancel that cab for 18:30 please, we may be a while.

Take 2: This is horrendous. Verka will make a falling star - which means she takes her helmet off for the first time ever. You wouldn't believe this cr*p unless you were watching it. Even Timur seems amused by the randomness of it all. "That was it" he says while starting to giggle to himself and hold his arms out in a wtf manner.

No one has a clue of what is going on now. Jamala is still on B Stage, and Volo and Oleks are now coming on stage but they thought that Jamala wanted to say something after the song, but apparently she didn't. Shambles.

First ever television performance of this song! Hurrah! It's basically Jamala just singing her new single I Believe in You. No real prizes for guessing why this is an exclusive. While she's singing, we get the numbers at the bottom of the screen for what could be the final time. I'm sure we should be done with this soon - or has the show been extended again?

And we have yet another reminder of the songs which are competing for your vote.

Timur is back on stage and gives us some more facts about Eurovision. Wouldn't be too bad if they weren't just re-used information that we've all heard before.

We then have a clip of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest winner, Mariam Mamadashvili from Georgia. She then comes on stage and hopes to see everyone in Georgia for the Junior Eurovision Song Contest. Volo. then asks her if she enjoyed the show. She unfortunately wasn't sure what to answer. Her cue card says "Yes, it was amazing" but her body language and her hesitation and loss of memory wants to say "it's been freaking sheit!". Volodymyr wants to do the part again. She clearly is not a professional presenter.

Unfortunately we're not seeing the names of the intervals, such as Ruslana's song and this. From what I can understand it seems to cover all areas of Ukrainain music into a decently modern catchy song. Starting off with a single flute, the sound then encompasses traditional Ukrainian trembitas , traditional drums and harps, violins and chellos, while also modern instruments such as a small keyboard. We then see someone playing an instrument which we've never seen before nor can find online. It's basically a drum but has a horse tail coming out of it and the sound is made by pulling on the horse's tail. Very weird. But works.

Timur interviews more audience members, well, one, Luke Gardner from Australia. We're all really interested in what is being talked about, really, riveting.

Another issue means we're not going to the next part of the show but get to see Timur just hanging around looking cute. Best part of the Hosts' involvement in the show so far.

Another recap is on its way - not before we can be reminded of the Eurovision app however - thankfully this time only on screen.

Ruslana is next to grace on stage. And there is a problem. So we'll need to start again.

Ah! So the issue was that there should a video - or so it seems. Yes, that was it, the video lasts a few seconds and then we have Ruslana on stage. Basically it's a new song with the same dancing style of Wild Dances and Dance with the Wolves and all other songs she may have had since. We're not sure which language this is in, it seems like it should be Ukrainian but sometimes there are some words which seem like we can understand and therefore it could be that it's English - or at least Ruslana's version of it.

The songs are recap'd for the first time tonight.

Well, just as the above mentions, Verka Serduchka is invited on stage and the voting is started. Very messy rehearsal.

[For some unknown reason we are not able to embed the video for France]

Postcard: Alma is having a petit déjeuner and is scrap-booking at the same time. Talented she is for sure. She also like to explore rooftops and fancy sky roof-lit hallways. Each to his/her own.

Vocally not outstanding but show is entertaining enough. Last time the contest was in Kyiv, France also closed the show with Ortal's Chacun pense à soi but it only managed a 23 out of 24 placing. Will Alma manage any better? On a side note, ending last that year was Germany - not boding well for Levina either.

Absolutely brilliant! No commentary I can give will do this justice. It doesn't give me the chills like the Dutch entry does but this will definitely score high on the night. Will we see another 'best placing ever' for Bulgaria two years in a row?

The break is mainly in order to fit the treadmills for the staging. It takes quite a while to get all 5 on stage and stuck together since they all need to be done in a specific order and it takes about 15 people working while trying not to be in camera shot in order to get it done in under a minute and a half. Robin knows this routine by heart so there is no issue. Vocally doing well but will I Can't Go On meet the expectations of the people and the bookies? Has it been hyped up a bit too much?

Another quick stop to inform the people of the Eurovision App. In case they didn't already know from the 27,654 times it has been mentioned over the course of three nights.

Still a bit confused as to what happened here. Does the 'dear in headlights' look work well on tv sets which aren't here? Whatever happened, and however it did, part of us feel relieved that this went through. Blanche is very sweet, maybe a bit too sweet for this cut throat competition - especially with the added pressure of your whole nation wanting you to succeed. Vocally today she isn't sounding terrible but it's not great either. Apparently however, from a NQ this song is now being seen as a top-5 in some betting circles. This is why you should keep your money and stick to something more stable - like the lottery.

Postcard: The boys from O.Torvald are rehearsing, playing some ball, and hugging nephews and sons. It's all about the buddies and family. Very wholesome.

And then you just get a massive head with lasers and later scary yellow-eyes. Wholesome indeedy. But all in all a good performance and this was enjoyed by the audience in the arena at least - we're assuming though that most of them are Ukrainian. Not a shabby entry and I would go as far as to say it would have probably qualified from a semi if it needed to. Will the luck of the host nation reign also on this band?

Postcard: Levina's been exploring the urban sights of some city (any idea where it is?). We also see twirling on an abandoned airstrip. While she's doing that, she gets to remember her highlight of her carreer so far: winning the national final of Germany. But she's ready to tackle more than that. After that last party with her friends.

Not much is being expected from Levina but she's still enjoying herself and giving it her all. Unfortunately when your song isn't really a crowd-pleaser it's not always easy to feel motivated but she is handling this professionally. And as we've asked before - will it be possible for Germany to avoid the 'last place consecutive hat-trick?!'

Unlike Romania which will be played over and over again for many years to come - in Eurovision circles obviously. Nowhere else will ever play this ... number. Not much more to be able to write about this song. I'm sure a decent few points will be arriving Romania's way however.

As with Australia, this was also probably one of the lower ranked countries in the semi to get through. Although starting with a probably 48 points before singing a note did not work against Hovig either. Although you might not agree with countries voting for one of their diaspora representing another country, this 'one of us' connection is very strong in some countries - especially Southern and Eastern Europe. Vocally in this rehearsal Hovig is doing fine, but not really demanding our attention. It's a background noise song which will soon enough be forgotten into the sands of Eurovision time.

Postcard: Lucie has found the make-up room in the International Exhibition Center. It made her think back of when her music video was being recorded. Luckily there was a behind the scenes camera team ready to capture some choice moments. And now Europe gets to enjoy them as well.

This is by no doubt the best staging of a UK entry in many a year. And it is shown by how the song has shot up in the betting odds. Yes, many Brits vote for the UK song winning even when they haven't even heard of it, but this time the betting could be correct. Lucie is pitch-perfect and is confident on stage. As always, it could go all wrong on the night (remember 17th placed Molly and Children of the Universe?) but doubt this will be the case in 2017.

God, these breaks are so bad! Really! Volo learned English from friends apparently "How you doin'". Oleks from the Royal Family, and Timur from Vitali Klitschko. The two high-five but Timur hurts his hand. Kill me now.

We are then on to a clip. Finally! Måns, dressed in a tux comes over and says he is there since he was the host of the very successful Eurovision Song Contest 2016 would the guys like a few tips. After informing them of the issues they will have to deal with, the guys accept the tips. We then move into a dramatic number which is held in a gym. This is actually reasonably funny. I guess it was written by a Swede.

This was a pleasant surprise wasn't it?! I did not predict Norway getting through just because from what I had seen previously it didn't look slick enough to convince. Gladly I was wrong. Although confidently performed, I doubt it will be setting the telephone lines alight tomorrow.

Postcard: Manel is visiting Kiev like it's his first time. He's on some square, walking in some kids park and plays football. We get to see him playing his guitar. He's been practicing the wrong part of his performance the whole time!

That shirt looks unbuttoned enough to give up #hairynipplegate once more. Let's hope he doesn't move too much, once was enough. The sad thing is, coming after Greece, this actually doesn't seem that bad. It's always gonna be a shit song, and it's always gonna be sung by someone you want to slap right in the face, but in comparison... Manel also does some bum notes but no one is really that fussed any more.

Well, she's still squeaky! But since when has that been an issue for the Greeks? I wonder how Argo must be feeling, knowing that they were so bad that not even their own tuneless people wanted to vote for them but they were willing to save this. After another three minutes of shouty torture, it's over. And we clap. If there is any justice this will be quite low in the board.

We have another quick break. Timur is in the green room and he gives a mention to Artsvik and the girls from The Netherlands. He also mentions about the new competition - Eurovision Choir of the Year which will be held in Riga, Latvia.

After a quick clip of the Choir competition, Volo and Oleks are back on stage. They try to be funny by mentioning that the audience "seem to have left their wife at home." Ha ha ha, *so* funny, stiches, remind me to get them next time we hear it. They cannot deliver these jokes.

Australia could have been 9th or 10th in the semi-final. The Aussies should consider themselves lucky that they managed to get through with this one. The vocals are still a bit shaky and it's not like there is some grand show which is that attention-grabbing. We know that Australia is no longer a 'by invitation only' participant, it will basically be a feature in most years to come, whatever your opinions are on the matter it won't make too much of a difference. If they insist on taking part however, they should bring their A-game. Yes, I know it's a double-standard but when you're basically breaking your own rule to accommodate someone, they better be more interesting than the others.

Well, we knew this would end up being in the final so we can't be too judgy. Jacques is also trying out various tones which are not the ones he should be singing in. And to be honest, they work really well - much better than what Salvador was trying to do. Once done, Jacques says "We're just having so much fun! Thank you for the support! Thank you!" No thank you Jacques, thank you!

After the quietness that is Portugal, this makes sure to wake you up! The whole team is on form - not much more to comment. The Azeris (and Swedes) know how to make sure the Land of Fire is not forgotten from the final. Will probably be able to beat the worst two placings Azerbaijan has had up until now - 22 (2014) and 17 (2016).

We now have a few random audience members being interviewed by Volo. We then quickly go to Azerbaijan but not until after Henrik tells someone off for having camera lamps on. Camera lamps are not allowed during the song "... unless they're our own."

"Hello" says Salvador before the music to his entry starts. He appears to be singing different notes to some of the lyrics. Not sure if this is just because he's bored or if it's just part of his personality or what it is. He then starts playing the hand trumpet which brings laughter to the centre. More strange gestures and sounds are made throughout the rendition of the song. If this clip ever gets onto the internet, watch it and comment. And the comment explains it all "I'm sorry, I rehearsed so many times that..." and we couldn't hear the exact words but we're thinking "I wanted to do something different."

She can really belt out a tune can't she! I don't know why anyone would not have this song in their predictions last night. Maybe a bit of a disappointment for Denmark being squashed right in between two hot favorites but this girl is not letting that dampen her spirits. She is giving it all she has, she knows she has to make sure she impresses since the reprise will not work in her favour.

Everyone seems to be convinced that this is the winner but you more and more start hearing pips of Portugal and Bulgaria coming through. It is unlikely to be the massive runaway winner that was though pre-Kyiv but do the other songs have the same energy and conviction to win? We have been used to the winner being played on the radio in many countries and last year was an exception. Will the EBU really want another non-hit winning the sow? As a side note, the gorilla only wore his head today, it might be a bit too warm to keep on dancing around in that costume which probably cannot even be dry-cleaned.

I think Joci could be my choice for artists who has improved the most since arriving here. Discounting Blanche obviously since that is still an unanswered question. But from the frightened, slightly constipated-looking lead artist we had just a few days ago, we now have a smiling, gleaming figure of a man who looks proud of managing to get Europe to put him in the top 10 of his semi and is now able to show the world that Roma can do just as well as anyone else.

And the first issue of the day. The skirts are still causing issues for the girls, one stuck a bit but then released while one just simply stuck so was left half-opened. The team really needs to look into this, it is no longer acceptable that the poor backing singers need to worry whether or not their costume will actually work while they're trying to do their choreography and sing at the same time.

A really short break just to ask people to get in touch with the show. Like anyone's tweets will actually be read out. #dontwasteyourtime

From one amazing song to another. Quite a shitty draw for Team NL to come right after Armenia but then it is a big contrast and we all know how much Mr. Björkman loves his contrasts. This gets me each time, the only song this year which gave me goosebumps in the host city. The girls deserve to be in the top 10 but if that will happen or not depends on the message that the viewers are receiving since although beautifully sung and all in harmony with lyrics which are powerfully charged, they could go missed without clear commentary.

There are many voices by people who supposedly know these things that this was the winner of the semi-final. I never claim to have such knowledge and fully admit that my predictions are mainly guesswork. I can see it however, mainly because I don't get the hype of Portugal. Then again, my and being proven wrong are quite familiar with eachother so who the hell knows. It's a good song sung really well and visually keeps the viewer wanting to see more. That is all what Europe really wants - entertainment!

Seeing from the clip from the semifinal we can finally see how the damned transparent box was not seen on tv - basically flood the stage with dry ice. At least it worked though so kudos! It is still seen a bit in this rehearsal but I guess it's just for the time being and tomorrow it will be back to super-dense clouds that ORF want. Don't see this being such a hit as Loin D'ici however.

I don't think anyone can be upset that this song went through! As previously commented these two are adorable and they are loving every minute of this experience and it shows! And with such a happy-clappy song who can blame them! Vocally they might not be superstars but they accompany each other well and their nuances are quite fitting for the song. It would have been nicer if they were given a spot a bit further down but let's see what they can manage to rustle up tomorrow. They have my vote already!

Still unsure how this managed to get through over entries such as Georgia or Finland however the power of the Polish plumber should not be discounted. Last year we all thought the shock third place in the televote for Poland was due to the popularity of Michał Szpak but could it be that finally after all these years the Poles managed to work out that their combined diaspora mean a guaranteed final and a good result in the final iteself? Could we see another repeat? This time the package is actually better!

IMRI keeps on winking at cameras - god knows he needs to help distract from his high notes. It just goes to show that a pretty boy can do anything they put their mind to. Really, he cannot hit one of them correctly.

The three hosts are now on stage and reading their lines from cue cards. It doesn't seem they were given them much time in advance. We get to see a picture of each of the presenters when they were younger. Again, the script is no masterpiece. Bring back Måns and Petra! Timur leaves the stages and the other two keep on talking about stuff we don't care about. We then get to see the board with the 26 competing nations. "Let the grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2017 begin!"

We do not get to see the opening of the show nor the first three artists come on stage. However we see artist introduction as of Nathan Trent from Austria. There are flags appearing on the backdrop and the artists comes from backstage. There is a voice saying "number one", "number two" etc but they are not actually the numbers which the artists will sing in. I guess they are still getting this piece sorted. There is a couple of short breaks to let the artists get to the green room. One before Australia, one before Germany. Once all artists are in the green room, we are asked to welcome the hosts!

We made it! God, traffic on a Friday afternoon in Kyiv is just terrible! All in all, waiting for and riding with Uber took 57 minutes - and I thought I was being clever trying to get here with time to spare! Thankfully however the show seems to be a few minutes late which gives just enough time to set up and pretend you've got nothing to panic about.

How haz we did?

A quick look at yesterday's predictions shows we were equally good with 8/10, although we didn't get exactly the same qualifiers right or wrong. (Except for which managed 5/10).

So over the two semis we have predicted:

Sam - 16/20
Roger - 16/20
Sild - 15/20 - 11/20

It's a relief to know we are better than a random list generator.

Haiku #12

Fan faves come and go
A western type of drama
Time to dance alone

Thursday 11 May 2017

Semi 2 guesswork

I'm not even going to call it a prediction. It seems most people agree this semi could go all kinds of way, most of which are "Bulgaria + 9 others".

I've spent a lot of time thinking, re-thinking and over-thinking and have somehow ended up with this list.

Austria (hoping more than believing at this stage, but based on first rehearsal gut instinct)
Malta (it has no direct competition for old-fashioned balladry but they spent all their money last year, so maybe the juries won't like them as much as usual, ahem)
Romania (because Romania)
Netherlands (have been confident all along, now worried it might turn into this semi's Finland)
Denmark (dull competence, now hoping it might turn into this semi's Finland)
Croatia (less confident than I was after the first rehearsal as they seem to have replaced some of the fun with seriousness)
Belarus (because happy vibes)
Bulgaria (a bit underwhelming in rehearsals, but expectations were too high probably)
Lithuania (because we need a LOLZ moment)
Israel (the last song to perform surely won't fail to Q in both semis)

Estonia should be the Baltic qualifier, but the rehearsals have been mixed and it might just be too cheesy and dated for juries.

Macedonia could quite easily do a Belgium, getting through on a just about sufficient performance of a very good song.

The running order was presumably meant to make Norway seem professional, normal and of high standard coming after San Marino and Croatia, but there's a risk it will not get noticed, at least by televoters who will still be talking about All The Jacqueses.

Hungary will have its fans and I initially thought it a safe qualifier, but it might struggle to hold interest through the long rap part.

And OK, I wouldn't really be surprised if any of the others qualify (except Switzerland). Even San Marino (see Lithuania for explanation).

Which just leaves me to ask for an alternative opinion:


Fishy Semi 2 Prediction

My semi 1 prediction wasn't exactly spot on - can't remember getting less than 8/10 in any of the two-semi-years actually (though I may have just repressed the memory), but hey ho. At least I wasn't really shocked by any of the qualifiers I missed - Moldova, Poland and Australia were 11th, 12th and 13th in my predicted ranking.

Like most, I was surprised to see Finland missing out, but the ROBBED one was rather Georgia, imo - they nailed it all the way down to the WHOMP PYRO. And of course fantabulous Albania, but that was more expected. I think it might be the first time since 2005 my overall favourite isn't in the final. 😔

Either way, upwards and onwards! A little sprinkling of rain in Syden right now (RUDE), so a good time to scribble down some thoughts about tonight's semi. Semi 1 was hard to predict as it had about 13 likely qualifiers, whereas this one is hard for the opposite reason - it feels like it only has seven or so... But let's get on with it - I need to go stock up on rosé soon!

1 Bulgaria | Took me a while to get into this, but televoters and jury members are always much quicker than me to pick up on the growers. Professional, current, charming - and of course actually good.
2 Estonia | Oldfashioned and clichéed schlager nonsense, but with a cracking melody and an interesting structure that keeps you interested all through. I like it a lottle.
3 Netherlands | No idea what televoters will make of this piece of calculated 💩, but I assume the juries will love it enough to not just secure qualification, but a good placing too.
4 Belarus | No idea what juries will make of this piece of charming 🌈, but I assume the televoters will love it enough to not just secure qualification, but a good placing too.
5 Romania | My initial love for this has worn off a bit, but it's still very 'colour tv' that stands out in this bunch.
6 Hungary | No idea what to make of this... Presumably many will shrug and move on, but it's also bound to have a certain amount of fans, it's good at what it's doing.
7 Norway | Rehearsal reports suggests it comes across as 'competent' (i.e. 'dull'), but I think the song itself is strong enough it should make it. Possibly mainly thanks to juries.
8 Malta | And speaking of juries... Have had no faith in this before, despite loving it, but surely something has to qualify...? Also: YAY.
9 Denmark | 🤢
10 Israel | Not much of a song, not much of a singer... He pwetty though!

11 Macedonia | The clips I've seen of this look better than I expected and what most bloggers seem to think, so who knows?
12 Ireland | KEYCHANGE OVER A HILL. Would love this to make it!
13 Austria | Will his cuteness and charm be enough to make it from spot #2? If he'd brought a better song too I think he'd make it, but it's just that tiny bit too dull and non-descript when followed by 16 others.
14 Serbia | Speaking of dull and non-descript...
15 Croatia | I wish they'd gone all in, drowning it in 🧀, à la Jacques Gratinée. From what I've seen it just comes across as a bit too serious for its own good. Diet Jacques, if you will.
16 Switzerland | It's average, it's yellow, it's Switzerland. I'll be pretty impressed (or do I mean annoyed...?) if this escapes bottom 3.
17 Lithuania | Surely the worst song this year. It probably has at least 20 points secured in the televote since Ireland and Norway are voting tonight, but will that be enough to keep them away from last?
18 San Marino | lolz

Have a great evening, everyone! 

Semi 2 - a prediction

On Tuesday, I got 8/10 right, and I thought that was the easier semi to predict! There's a lot more tonight that I'm far less sure about, partly because there are a number of performances that are in question - both in terms of whether the singers in question will be able to deliver, and whether that will really matter.

1. Bulgaria - obvious jury magnet, and lots of televote points too.
2. Denmark - again, another obvious jury magnet, and it's been looking and sounding great in rehearsals.
3. Israel - as I alluded to in a previous post, I'm expecting this to be really lifted by the crowd, and benefit greatly from that, like Blanche did on Tuesday.
4. Romania
5. Netherlands
6. Estonia
7. Hungary
8. Austria
9. Ireland
- I've been betting against it all season, but I think it has a distinctive look, and a singer with a very voteable face among his demographic. I'm not sure the high notes are going to matter much.
10. Croatia - I really hope I'm wrong, and that...

11. Belarus qualifies instead.
12. Macedonia - has a chance of qualifying if it can repeat Blanche's arc throughout the season, with an excellent video, ropey live concert performances, weak rehearsals improving just enough by the night, with a big fan reaction. I'm really not sure here.
13. Switzerland - I've been sure of this as a NQ all season, ever since it was picked. It just seemed like another piece of Swiss bland that would fall right through the gaps again. But as April has gone on, it's been picking up a lot of momentum among the fans, and listening to it again, I'm much more positive about it. Despite that, I'm going to stick to my initial instinct.
14. Serbia
15. Malta
16. Norway
- like Icebreaker, I just don't think it's going to come across to an audience at home. And with two NQs, will we be able to get rid of Jan Fredrik Karlsen? Please?
17. San Marino - because not even Valentina's boundless enthusiasm can save it.
18. Lithuania

Eurovision Hotties World Cup - THE FINAL

It's second semi-final day, but it's something more important for two of tonight's performers - it's the final of the ESC Nation Eurovision Hotties World Cup.

In the hours leading up to tonight's live show, Nathan Trent and Imri Ziv will be competing on Twitter to judge who is the hottest male artist in this year's competition.

32 guys have been whittled down to two over a number of rounds - who will emerge victorious in today's final? Will it be the wholesome, boy-next-door looks of Austria, or the Instagram thirst-magnet from Israel?

Enjoy the pictures below, then vote in the poll at the bottom of the post and make sure you're following our Twitter feed for the results later.

Haiku #11

Juries hear fine tunes
Looking for more finalists
Level-pegging field

Wednesday 10 May 2017

[LIVE] Semi 2 : Dress Rehearsal 1 - live reporting

That's it for this rehearsal, people!
Was really fun to see how everything clicked together.

Me signing off!!

The 10 winning songs are being shown once more.

and finally...

Volodymyr announces Jon Ola Sand as the Mr. Miyagi of Eurovision. Does that also mean he can catch flies with his chopsticks? Before Eurovision once again turns into a cut-throat business, Volodymyr reminds the performers how amaaayzing they are and how great it is that they were allowed to perform in Kyiv.

The interval act is something dance-y. It's all very interpretative but looks slick because everyone is wearing black clothes with some red ribbon accent. In background of the predominantly percussion backtrack you can hear female voices singing Tatar-style melodic lines. Ukrainian horns warn us of Ruslana's arrival, but luckily for us, for the time being, she's not showing. Then it all ends.
Before we are officially introduced to the leftover finalists for next saturday, Timur gets to chat to Belarus.

'They say time flies when you're having fun' Time was very slow today, I felt. Maybe there's a button to speed up time in a special app. The Eurovision App isn't the one though. After the countdown, they're talking to Macedonia.

Just before the second reprise Poland is being interviewed. Nothing earth shattering happening here...

VERKA II - The Rise
We now see Verka and mom live the independence of Ukraine, Dana International and eventually her taking part in Eurovision. Again, some of the years mentioned in the captions don't add up, but don't let that spoil your fun watching this.

Oleksandr and Volodymyr are bantering away as their life never depended on it. In any way the reprise soon follows.

O.Torvald are bringing their show with gusto. They really enjoy performing out there. A bit screamy here and there, but I'm glad this type of song is in this year's final.

Same story for Germany in the camerawork department. But at least it starts really interesting enough. Sadly it quickly descends into dullness. Although I really like the stark architectural backdrop they've gone for, I feel a splash of ONE extra colour could've lifted it a bit. In this run there was new pyro too.

Alma is a bit breathy in the English bits during the first chorus. I feel that the camerawork could've been much tighter on Alma. The graphics are impressive in themselves, but do nothing to emphasize or help how amazing the song is. Instead it's almost off-staging the French entry.

Imri's big hurdle throughout all of his rehearsals has been getting the vocals right. In this rehearsal he's much more in key. Occassionally 'just' getting away with sloppy singing. But dancing and singing at the same time is a challenge after all. If he repeats this in 6 hours, he'll be qualifying with ease.

What can I say, I love the 80s throwback. Koit seems to have finally mastered his cues and the entire thing is, to paraphrase mister Sofabet, a Telenovella fest. And they'll all repeat it on Saturday.

Victorija is wearing very long razorsharp white fingernails. If she would have a blackboard she could torture us all by scratching those of it. Instead she's singing her song. She sings it well though, and it's well performed. Well, as in, fully committed to annoy us for three minutes.

I wish Kristian would stop hiding his mouth behind his microphone. Just keep it a tad lower. Still not sure of the line graphics that appear on-screen. I don't feel they add much. The more I hear the Bulgarian song, the more I feel it's a dull dirge. But he's quite good, being such a young singer.

The sound mix is off here once more. The male voice sounds much clearer. Kseniya is also a bit more shaky on the vocals. I would so love this to qualify, but they will need keep everything much tighter.

Timur again singing his prepared script.

That yellow... thing. Someone get me a bucket of anthracite gray paint now. Vocally she's fine, though in the high notes she clearly lacks power. Or confidence. I like this song in fact, but the dress isn't helping her. After the bridge, she tries channel Mariah, but sadly only Isaiah shows up. Luckily only us press center fanalists are the one subjected to it. Gosh. Not sure about this one.

Joust and his song 'Grab The Moment' is of course the streetcred that Eurovision has been craving ever since the mid 70s. However after Croatia it just seems a bit too mellow. The boys themselves are doing it fine, but I feel myself getting annoyed by the long fast sweeping cameracrane shots. Also not helping Norway's chances is the mumbling during the bridge. At this point in the show, it comes across as filler.

If San Marino was the appetizer in the car crash department, then Croatia is a full-on three course meal. But I adore it. Hope it qualifies, because I feel saturday night needs this. To be honest, I don't think Croatia's camerawork has improved since the last rehearsals. Still Jacques pulls it off. What 'it' is exactly, still remains to be determined.

They are very good! 'Nuff said.

Brendan is not doing well vocally. He sprinkles his performance with singing 'just' under the melody. The backing vocals are also all over the place. He was MUCH MUCH MUCH better during last rehearsal session. At least he's a way better body language performer than some of his age cohorts in this competition. It felt as something was wrong in the sound mix.

The backing vocals open the song a capella and the vocal balance is not there. The female voices in there just sound too shrill. Anja is moving professionally on stage, selling the song well. A bit slippery on some of the end-notes, but she's a great singer anyway. Songwise it's such a shame, just because she is so great. Pyro-curtain to end off the song.

Joci Papai still looks a bit 'Blanche-y' when he starts his song. But I feel that he, just like Blanche, seems to have found his comfort zone on stage. And at the latest by the rap bit he's actually winning me over with his performance. Happy for him, but not feeling the song. But that's only me.

Gosh. Timur's English is horrible. As he rambles off his Eurovision facts, he sings his phrases in a totally artificial manner. Luckily his bits are being kept to a minimum.

Talking about vocal powerhousing. Although one of the sisters starts a bit early. The trio seem a bit more nervous than they have been throughout rehearsal week. And it's a bit audible in the voices. By the bridge they've all composed themselves and are vocally back on track. I seem to have noticed a few faintly flat notes. But nothing to be worried about.

Finally! It's Romania. And nothing too soon. Not really fond of Alex's sleeveless jacket. Nor am I wild about the child letters that spell 'Y - o - d - e - l - i - t' on the big screen. It's harmless, unpretentious fun until the bridge, where they show that vocally they mean business. This is sailing through.

We got the wrong credits. Those of Romania.
Claudia still has her breasts projected on the gigantic videowall behind her. This is Slovenia 2017 territory. Competent, yet somehow sleep inducing.

Macedonia's postcard has a bit 'NOT FOR AIR' message slapped over it, meaning this isn't the definitive version for the show tomorrow.
Backings aren't pitch perfect, but to the untrained ear they'll sound okay. I think Jana is doing well in this rehearsal. The entire package isn't in the top tier though.

Nathan is his impish self throughout the entire performance. I feel that he'll go full on energizer bunny once the arena is filled with a responsive audience. For now the rehearsal is almost faultless. A bit slidey on the wailing, but apart from that smiles all round.

Tijana starts and the sound mix in the press centre is off. The music sounds way too harsh. She looks great this rehearsal. I wonder if the hair will stay the same. Vocally on the cusp of being shouty, but still powerful enough. Ok, now she does cross that line into shouty territory. She ends her song with overemphasizing the last 'p' in deep.

The host boys are on stage now. Oleksandr takes the word. And again the guys try to be funny. They'll get it right by tomorrow evening. Also, they're still heavily relying on their cue cards.

Next they 'freestyle' with some musical instruments. Oleksandr is quite good with his flute. Volodymyr likes to handle an accordeon.

Hahaha! They're Ukrainifying some of Eurovision's best known hits. :-)
Awww... a glitch in the sound tape and they have to restart. Volodymyr calls out for his accordeon. Henrik keeps his cool as always. They restart.

Oleksandr's flute is called sopilka. Whatever you say Oleksandr. But keep playing it please.
So, the Eurovision hits... first Euphoria, which is actually quite nice and epic in traditional music style. Next up is Fairytale, which already sounded quite folksy. So not too much of a stretch there. Third hit is 'My Number One'. Think the male choir in 'Moja Stikla'. That kind of singing.
Wow. Even 'Rise like a Phoenix' gets a treatment. It's nothing short of impressive! I like!

As this is the first dress rehearsal, they get to do this intro act a second time. As the production team sets everything up for the second go, Oleksander occupies himself with the logistics of swapping his musical instrument with the cue cards. Quite ingeniously he suggests that one of the Ukrainian grannies has them stuffed in their skirt. It sounds more ridiculous than it is, really.

During the second go, 'Rise like a Phoenix' gets pyro during the final.
A few more hiccups in the transitions - The choir has to leave the stage immediately. But that's what rehearsals are for. Did you know that you can vote using the Eurovision App? It's like a Eurovision party.

The show starts with traditional dressed young Ukrainian ladies similar to Semi 1. I 'think' they're different but I can't be sure.

Still waiting. What did I rush for?

Right. So a bit later than usual.
I'm by myself this afternoon, so it won't be a verbatim report. Only the stuff worth mentioning.
Think performance, camerawork and the likes. For a description of the postcards, well, you'll have to wait for a bit more than a day.

How did we do?

After predictions come results. And after results come "ha ha ha I told you so" etc. 😉

So how did we get along on this blog with last night's qualifiers? Fairly well, in fact.

Sam - 8/10
Roger - 8/10
Sild - 7/10 - 6/10

Haiku #10

Blackbird won't sing now
Like others it's lost in space

Tuesday 9 May 2017


I hate this bit because everyone else always gets more right than me. And I hate not being right. I think that's a Piscean thing.

So anyway, with no further explanation here we go, the qualifiers in running order:


I think Belgium and Azerbaijan are a bit borderline, but Blanche is improving with every performance and so I'll give her the benefit of the doubt and as much as I'd love for Azerbaijan to fail I expect they'll just make it, too. And although it pains me to say it (because TUNE), Moldova could also be a bit as risk if the juries take a real disliking.

And if two of those three do miss out then I see Georgia and Australia taking their place.

I would most like to be wrong about Iceland. I love the song but it just isn't coming across on screen.

As an alternative to my predicting, I also consulted which could be a more reliable source. In which case these are the finalists:

Czech Republic

A Semi 1 prediction

Semi 1 is a really tough one to predict. There are about 13 qualifiers that, under other circumstances and with different competition, would be a sure bet for the final. I don't think there are any potential shock qualifiers tonight, but there's a few possible surprise non-qualifiers.

1. Portugal - I'm thinking, and hoping, that this is the Calm After the Storm of this year.
2. Sweden
3. Cyprus
4. Armenia
5. Greece
6. Finland
7. Moldova
- ugh, but the running order, coupled with the performance, has been a gift for this one.
8. Azerbaijan - a safe qualifier, but I'm not convinced either the song or the act are as vote-grabby as many think, and I'll be looking to back out of my Top 10 final bet on this.
9. Australia
10. Latvia
- because the worst result for a song performed last in the running order since 2013 is 11th, and Triana Park only look about 80% as ridiculous as Moje 3 did.

11. Poland - I'm very on the fence with this one. We've seen they have a motivated diaspora, but they haven't been fully tested yet.
12. Belgium - I've always thought it was battling Finland for votes, and the way things have been going from rehearsals, Blanche is losing that battle.
13. Georgia - I had it as a potential borderline qualifier prior to rehearsals, but they just haven't brought the performance this year.
14. Slovenia
15. Montenegro
16. Iceland
- because you need a face that people want to vote for.
17. Albania - amaze, obvs, but too shouty and inaccessible, and the votes it was going to get will be swallowed by Georgia.
18. Czech Republic - because as Rykka showed us last year, sometimes the obvious last placer really is the last of its kind.

Fishy Semi 1 Prediction

Once again, this little fish is not actually at Eurovision in Kyiv, but in a sunny Syden location. That's not going to stop me from trying to predict the result, is it?

It's obviously only the ten qualifiers we'll get to know tonight, but just to sort out my mind, I've tried to predict the full result below. So we won't know how wrong I am until after the final, when the full semi results are revealed. I'm guessing about eleventyfive metres wrong.

1 Portugal | Hoping and thinking this will win both jury and televote.
2 Finland | Ilike both piano part and rest.
3 Armenia | Good and different song, good staging, being Armenia... If this doesn't qualify you can call me an owl for the next month.
4 Belgium | Reports have not been promising, but I'm keeping faith - I think it's way too strong a song to be wrecked by a performance that isn't necessarily perfect.
5 Sweden | Dulldulldull.
6 Azerbaijan | 🐴
7 Greece | An actual chorus would get this higher, but I suppose a beat and her face should be enough to see it safely through, even though I doubt it'll do much in the final.
8 Cyprus | Of the rehearsal footage I've seen, this is the one that impressed me the most. It has been fluctuating between 'lost cause' and 'borderliner losing out' all season for me, but I think it should be pretty safe after all.
9 Georgia | I've started bloody loving this. Best ending in the conteWHOMP
10 Slovenia | Certainly helped by the draw - quite ordinary, but think it'll come across as 'solid' at this point.

11 Moldova | Doubt the jury will like it, so it'll come down to the televote. I don't think it'll be enough personally, but certainly won't be far off.
12 Poland | Love this, but fear it'll disappear a bit.
13 Australia | Dulldulldull.
14 Albania | Tuneless Albanian screeching with big teeth, what's not to love?! Easily my favourite all season, but for some unfathomable reason, not everyone seem to agree! 🙄
15 Iceland | Good song, but it's hard to care about, somehow, and she comes across as pretty cold. Which could often work on me as a Scandi, but when even I think she seems unlikeable, what are Southern Europeans etc going to think... It all gives me Icebreaker vibes.
16 Montenegro | For someone as flaunty as Slavko, it's quite impressive how boring this is.
17 Czechia | Yes, I'm doing the Czechia-thing, deal with it. Surely not getting any televotes apart from maybe a handful from Poland?
18 Latvia | Czechia might be able to gather some jury points, but can't see why this would. And why would anyone televote for a sub-par dancey act performed on a dark, aggressive, neon-y stage by unlikeable people?

Have a fun evening, everyone - don't forget to stock up on rosé and icecubes!

Haiku #9

Technical trouble
What difference does it make
This is jury love

Monday 8 May 2017

[LIVE] Semi 1 : Dress Rehearsal 1 - live reporting

The three presenters are on stage as are the qualified artists. A few general questions are asked in usual Eurovision style and then the show is closed. And that is also where this blog entry ends.

The recap is in order of announcement.

- Armenia
- Czech Republic
- Greece
- Finland
(six places remain now and I can feel my heart racing)
- Albania
- Slovenia
(our seventh finalist is)
- Australia
- Moldova
- Iceland
- Belgium


'The yoda of the Eurovision Song Contest" (not my words) is introduced and Jan Ola informs that we have a valid result - or maybe he will, depending on if he can say so or not. If there is a valid vote, he will tell the two guys to "take it away".

"This is the moment of truth, the countries..." and that's where we currently end. The boys are just looking into the camera wondering what to do next.

Back, "the countries will be announced in random order".

As a filler, Timur goes to the green room and interviews Australia, asking them why they are taking part. Volodymyr later also goes to the greenroom and interviews Manel from Spain. After the quick chat, we get the snippet of the song. The next artist to be interviewed is Lucie from the UK. Timur asks her how her experience of X-Factor has helped her for tonight. Volodymyr then moves on to Francesco Gabbani. It could be that they arm wrestle since "he's stronger than he looks!". The gorilla also gets a nod. We need to know more about the gorilla's movement.

Timur is then back informing us that that was three of the big five and Ukraine. If it weren't for him ...

Jamala passionately performs another song (unfortunately we did not note the title) alone on stage. Dressed in what looks like a white poncho with multi-colored fringes.

We start seeing views of Kyiv and a Ukrainian flag fluttering, the camera pans out and we see that it is being held by none other than Verka! Not to spoil it for you who are reading - you must watch this! It is actually quite funny! It's basically a clip of Verka and her mother, together with some other friends and family getting into comic situations in different parts of Kyiv and also a visit to Dolce & Gabbana.

Apparently people from all over the world are voting! I thought it was only Europe and Australia but maybe they know something we don't! Only 60 seconds left. "All acts desperately want to be the new champion!" Who comes up with this? Oleksander and Volodymyr then start the countdown in Ukrainian from 10-6 and English from 5-Stop Voting Now! Again *eye roll*

It's a bit confusing which microphone to use since apparently the one Jamala is holding is for singing, not talking - or so Volodymyr thought. We're therefore not sure what questions will actually be asked - or if Jamala is actually interested in answering them.

Another reminder of the artists which have performed tonight.

Oleksander and Volodymyr are on stage and they remind us of last year when Jamala won. She will be with us tonight with a special version of her song. Before that however, we see a montage of the voting and the 12 points to Ukraine.

9 dancers surround Jamala who is centre stage. From her nine roots are projected, each reaching a dancer. String instruments feature more heavily in this version of the winning song. Jamala does not move from the centre of the stage. No tree bursting out of her this time.

Let us just say that French does not seem to have been Volodymyr's best subject at school. Once we get the usual spiel of how to vote, and something which should resemble French, we go to the first recap of the 18 competing songs.

Henrik is requesting some cleaners on stage. We do not know what happened and probably don't want to ask.

It seems we have a few minutes before we can continue so since apparently Jan Ola Sand has many jokes, we go to him. He's not ready yet but he'll have some for later. We're nearly done with this delay, and Henrik is asking the audience to help with the dance.

Performance: Francesco is delivering it today. With his cheeky smile he's making sure the people at home will want to jump up and dance with him. There are many shots where the audience is involved, and since it will be the fan zone you know there will be plenty of volunteers to be seen on tv. Although it was practically a given before we even stepped a foot in Kyiv, the more we go on, the less likely it is that anyone can take the trophy away from him.

Since we've already seen the (Italian) postcard we can go straight to the song. However we would if we could. The United Kingdom's shell is not possible to get set up in 40 seconds, which means that the UK will have to come after a break.

This is taking a very long time so Henrik is informing that as in Stockholm, these will be 1 minute snippets of the Jury Final rehearsal. Timur is now taking over since we have "tecnical issues". He has "many questions in this emergency card". The poor guy doesn't really know what to do - it's a very long break. He therefore goes back to Alex who wants to thank his mum, but Timur says he should also thank his "daddy". Well now!

Performance: Visually this is working extremely well - could it be that the UK appear to have actually understood how to stage a Eurovision performance? Surely not! Lucie does not appear to only be the 26 year-old she is. She may be saving herslef slightly vocally in order to be able to belt out later on in the jury final however by no means failing to deliver. The only comment we could make would be that the tattoo on her right arm should be covered up but since it hasn't been yet all week, it is unlikely to be later on.

Spain's postcard isn't ready so they're showing Italy's postcard now. In fact, all postcards from now on are going to be Italy. It's Francesco being in a postcard with all different Francesco's (as a waiter, as a chef, as a dining guest). The fun and playfull character that he is exudes here. What Manel's postcard will be will be anyone's guess. Apparently for tonight's jury rehearsal they'll just show Italy's postcard for all countries.

Don't be fooled, this is still as wrong as it always was, we're just getting used to it more. If this was the first time we'd be seeing it the comments might be a bit different. The group still seems like they should be a supporting band rather than actually in the competition but it is what it is. Manel pokes out his tongue to the audience during the chorus. Not sure we wanted to see that.

Latvia's postcard is a mixture of some of the members doing rope skipping, make-up powder tasting and roof-top sightseeing.

Agnese seems to be taken by surprise that the camera is on her. I'm sure she's done this before but oh-kay. Vocally we've had better and the backing is taking over. The group are using as much of the stage as is left due to all the props but there is possibly a bit too much going on on stage. Sometimes less is more.

Omar wants to seduce you with sunglasses. He's visiting the Sports Palace where he took part in 2005 and relives some of his memories there. He then finds a cafe to have well earned drink. Hope it's not spiked. He'll need all of his wits after Armenia.

And it's already nearly over! Omar said that his experience might help him over some of the younger competitors since he has learnt things over his career such as flirting with the camera's etc. He clearly can sing and the staging complements him very well. There are some shots which could have been better reviewed but again, we need to see them with a full audience. At the end of the day, he is confident and knows what he wants - it's just a question of if the people at home want the same thing.

Artsvik is in an air balloon. Not a warning for hot air though. Nice vistas of Armenia in the background.

Still sticking to the claim that this song could have done so much better with more dancers. The mystical emotion from the music video is missing from the stage performance. Vocally you can't fault her but the backing dancers are (or she is) not always in correct place so some visuals are a bit of a miss. The ending also has had a change to it. No longer is the digital eagle coming from Artsvik herself but the screen goes black and the eagle from the darkness. Not sure we approve of the change. It will still qualify however.

Hovig has his head down, but then looks straight into the camera. We see him hanging in the park with his bros but also practicing hard on the dance moves. He's having fun while doing it.

This started off as being quite cheesy and bad but over the past week Hovig must have really practices his choreography and it is now looking quite good on tv. He is also singing quite well, another case of 'bringing it when it counts' and answering his critics from the first rehearsals. Also, coming after the Czech Republic is not hurting his chances. Closing the song the backdrop no longer sees a digital Hovig in mid-air, again, very good move since it did not work. With this new package, it is a likely qualifier.

Martina decided to drive to Czech TV's studio and discuss her participation with the delegation team. They then sit outside drinking juice and celebrating their inevitable win in Kyiv. Martina practices a bit in the studio, but you know she's already won... or so the postcard says.

Well, we forgot about this. Lindita has some competition for Barbara Dex. Fierce competition. This unfortunately just does not work. The colours are just no, the golden jump-suit, the half-naked people in the backdrop ... vocally Martina is reasonable enough but unfortunately we cannot see how this can turn up enough votes to see the final.

Oleksander and Volodymyr once again flog the app. They both appear to know the inside of a gym and in this rehearsal they're only wearing tight fitting t-shirts. Very pleasing to the eye.

Break-bumper again. And Timur has nestled with fake Finland-artist (aka volunteers).

Timur is doing some emogic (emoji + magic, get it?). It goes all downhill from here as the rehearsal grinds to a halt. Some tech guy jumps into frame to hand something. Oh. They're re-doing it now. The mic seemed dead. that's been fixed now. The bit doesn't go down any better second time round. *sigh*

Luckily he now doesn't dwell and moves on to Moldova's booth. More of the knowledge tidbits. This time a relevant one - they refer to Sergej's YouTube meme-fame as the epic sax guy. And now it's Martina Bárta's turn.

Svala is siting on hexagonal mirrors. She didn't break any though. So she can go home and sip some coffee and sing a bit in her home studio.

Although looking like some character from a superhero comic (we're not sure which side of good she'd be on however) Svala is on point with her vocals today. Hopefully the same will be true tonight when the juries will be viewing. She does look quite lonely on stage though but add a large dancing audience and it should be fine. There are a number of wide shots and she's playing around with that cape like I used to when I was dancing around my room also pretending I was on the Eurovision stage. Good times. After a couple of years out, could this see the return of Iceland to the final?

The guys are out for a quick walk and then they go and select vinyl records. They end in a restaurant and clink their wine glasses. Then they're in Kyiv, performing for the gathered crowd.

The question we're all asking ourselves, are all three skirts going to work. We know the guys have been solid throughout the rehearsal week and their confidence is showing. They feel at ease on stage. Solid. And YES! All three skirts worked. And also the choreography is getting much better, the team must have been practicing a lot during their time here. A good reaction from us and Europe (and Australia) will likely agree.

The Polish postcard shows the Kasia with the dogs. She's the one who let them out!!! After she decided she doesn't need them back, she goes to listen to a rehearsal of a classical concert.

The violinist behind Kasia is a bit more visible than before and there are more shots of him too. Kasia is still trying to escape from her dress but the pressure must be doing something for her since she is belting this out well - or it could just be the post-Demy effect. Kasia was in the right place again when the doves fly out from each side of her. A good reception is heard.

Demy is in her hotel room, sipping a coffee. Next she's walking in a park as she spots some dancy guys she quite fancies. But she's not deciding yet. She first wants to explore the Greek country side a bit.  But yeah, in the TL-lamp hallway she's brought them along.

Demy still looks like a dear in headlights when the song starts. At the beginning of the first chorus the vocals go quite wrong. She tries to recover but the damage has been done. There is a very wide shot when Demy gets off the podium which works fine but then the waterfall projection Demy is very close up - a bit too close, you can practically see her womanhood! No one needs to be seeing that on a family tv show! Messy end to the song and not a great response.

Oleksandr and Volodymyr are seeing that the social media is being whipped into frenzy. They're now reading fake tweets. Not telling you lot what they are, but they do remind the viewers of the hashtags are.

Smattering from the press centre as Salvador seems to have managed to get a postcard produced. We see him in Lissabon. Smiling a lot, but also singing and riding the tram. First performance for him on stage.

And the first time we actually see Salvador and not his sister Luísa singing. He's dressed in a black suit with black shirt and red handkerchief in left pocket. He's also wearing his accreditation but that is likely to be taken off during the show - unless we have another 2016 Moldovan dancer moment. The vocals are decent enough however they probably would have been better if he had been doing the rehearsals since in some areas they are not the best. However this simple song gains a huge reception here and it is likely to have the same in Europe.

Dihaj gets some cheers from the press center. She's out in the streets, but then visiting her favourite spots: Where she likes to rehearse, where she likes to hang out with her friends, where she likes to get tattooed. We also get to meet her kid (?).

Diana has her covered in a black tightened scarf which is the first time we've seen this. She is trying to be softer on the fake walls while she's banging them however it makes her looks uncertain of her strength when the song demands her to be confident in herself. Once again, amusement at the 'horse-man' having a fit on the ladder while "thorns" is being written on the wall. Azerbaijan always manages to pull stuff when needed however. The whole show is looking a lot better than what we've seen previously and again another good reaction from the gathered (fan)press.

Buildings seem to be sparse in Finland. The two have found some urbex site where we can see them promenading through the abandoned rooms. Oh, and of course a piano is being played.

Leena is pitch-perfect again. Even though we mainly know the show from back in UMK, it's simplicity and harmony is all it needs. It draws you in, making you want silence in the room in order to be able to appreciate it in its entirety. The camera shots being used have been clearly chosen and they bring much to the table. There is a huge applause by almost everyone present. It would be an injustice if this did not make it to Saturday.

Oleksandr and Volodymyr are still trying to flog the Eurovision app, and its amaaaaazing features: Voting, downloading the songs and finding bios and lyrics. They just still have to mention the telephone number and you'd be forgiven to think that you've accidentally switched to a teleshopping channel. After the break bumper, Timur is quickly introducing some of the countries that already have performed. Georgia, Australia, Sweden and Albania. He tells a few politically correct facts about these.

Oleksandr and Volodymyr introduce Norma John, and thus the Finnish post card.

Slavko is a theatre animal and shows off his spiritual home. But he's also excited as drawings of his Eurovision outfit are being made. Dancing, performing in the theatre. It's all part of who he is.

One thing you can't fault Slavko on, is his attention to the fans and his willingness to do any piece of PR he can. For his performance however, well, the beginning starts off harmless enough but there are too many elements which do not seem to make Eurovision sense. Yes we know the fans love it, however the juries will not look favorably on this entry and the regular Joe's at home will need a reason to vote for this. The vocals are not great and the spinning pony tail is still as distracting as ever. We will have to wait and see what happens with this entry.

Blanche is wearing a lacy dress in the first shot. She's still a schoolgirl, so we get to see that. We also get to see that she has to juggle school with being an up and coming artist. So lots of press and gig-shots. She looks frightened in the live shot just before she's on.

Blanche is dressed in black, like her heart. The camera work is a bit shoddy, a lot of frontal shots and many many wide shots. Vocals are what we have got used to. She still doesn't look at the camera when she should. The robotic arm movements are still there but a wide camera angle helps mitigate the issue - slightly. This is however her best performance since we've been here. And there was an applause in the press centre to encourage it.

Lindita shows us her fingered heart. Lots of cuts here: she's dancing performing, working out, enjoying the Albanian country side while jogging, fitting her dress, singing, playing violin... she's multi-faceted of course. Let's hope her performance is up to scratch.

Who is Lindita trying to fool with that white veil? The whole ensemble is debatable. Could this be a contender for Barbara Dex? Forgetting the attire, Lindita is singing well and the backing singers compliment her rather than overpower. The backdrop visuals may not be as appealing as some other entries' but this package seems to be getting slicker than we had seen it before - or it could be just the problem of having seen it multiple times that you just get used to it.

Australia's Isaiah gets up - he overslept probably. And speeds in his car to his next gig. Everyone's already left (we never get to see the audience at the gig place) but they decide to shoot him performing anyway. He reaches out to us before he too appears in the now familiar TL-lamp hallway.

For the first time since we've been here, Australia has actually followed Georgia on stage. A more-confident Isaiah is trying his best but there is something missing still. It's a decent enough package with the singer connecting with the camera and vocally pretty decent but the visuals are slightly distracting - especially the one commented before when Isaiah gets swallowed by his own eye-ball. Luke-warm reception in the press centre, cheering mainly heard by the Aussie fanpress.

Georgia's postcard then. Tako Gachechiladze wants us to know she's very much into transparent fabrics. It's all about make-up and fashion with her. But also about her as a singer/performer. So we see her in the studio. The TL-lamp laden hallway is the recurring theme for ALL the participants it seems.

A big pause before the song however - who wasn't ready for this? The fog is now on stage and we start closing in on Tako. Her hair still seems to be a bit of a mess, maybe she's half-way through getting it ready for tonight when it actually counts. Her vocals however are here and present. Girl can sing. Visually, like many others, this needs a large audience to be present to make it more appealing but but grand dramatic show is already enough to get most of the visual across. Another likely qualifier.

Robin is being shown as he prepares but also during his pass-times, being on a motorbike. Next he suits up and finally readies himself with his dancing cronies in a TL-laden hallway.

Robin is dressed in his favourite fitted suit while the backing dancers are again in their grey/black combo. Slight error on the lighting of the front two dancers when the treadmills work them however this was quickly rectified - but noticeable. That however seems to be the only mistake made. Robin is looking like he's enjoying his time and the dancers are on form. No real worries for this entry.

They thank Sweden in their best and almost cute Ukraidish. Next they acknowledge the fans.
They banter on for a bit. Timur is going to be the greenroom Cinderella. Since he's the Eurovision nerd. Or so it is claimed.

Next they give an overview of the countries taking part in this semi final. They also mention the Eurovision app and tell the viewers not to vote just yet.

After it is established that Kyiv indeed is ready, the first postcards roll.

An out of breath Monatik announces the hosts and now we get to see them (Oleksandr Skichko.
Volodymyr Ostapchuk and Timur Miroshnychenko) for the first time. They of course say 'Good Evening Ukraine and Europe' as well as the now more familiar 'Australia'. Planet Earth also gets a mention. Though it is morning over there. You can't claim that you haven't been informed. As a side note, we don't know which is which, and to try to explain who exactly of the three is doing what over a rolling blog is like trying to explain Australia taking part in Eurovision: A futile exercise.

It took a while for the repeat to start. In the beginning of the dance act a female dancer dressed in white has the spotlight on her and this goes on and off a couple of times before Monatik appears from behind her. The female dancers are all clad in white while the male ones are in black. In total we count five female dancers and three male. "Heads are spinning!" If you say so dear. It's not the worst opening act we've seen.

Repetition of the opening act and the hosts this time will actually come in.

Monatik : Spinning - The first dance of the event. Monatik Sergeyovich is the full name of the artist. There are a number of dancers on stage with him. He thanks Eurovision Song Contest 2017 and then introduces the presenters.

Young girl dressed in Ukrainian traditional garb falls into screen. More Ukrainian female beauties of different ages all dressed in traditional garb from different areas of Ukraine end up gracing us with their presence. They represent the diversity of Ukraine. Doesn't last very long however and we are soon in the arena.

Stand by everyone!

We're getting clearance from the track that they're slowly getting ready!

Henrik is explaining what is going to happen - he seems quite excited about it all. We're not 100% sure what he's going on about but from what we heard even though now there's only 7 (somethings) when there was 25 (somethings) he doesn't mind because he's still getting paid.

We are a couple of minutes late but that is fine, gives us more time. There are some postcards which aren't ready so we're going to have Italy instead "because they paid the most money" Henrik informs.

Jon Ola Sand is there.
Henrik warns us with the final countdown.

Platforms are being wheeled on and off the stage... The press center is a lot more busy than it has been for the past week. It's almost as if something is about to happen.