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.


A big big hello to all ESC Nation-ists! Haven't been posting so far this year, but I will be helping out Thomas (behind the scenes) with live reporting on the 1st dress rehearsal for Semi 1.

Enjoy! x

Who's qualifying from Semi 2? The bookies' view

As we did with Semi 1, we've taken a look at the current bookies' odds for qualifying from the second semi-final. In the list below, we've simply ranked the eighteen competing entries by their likelihood of qualifying, according to the odds currently offered on Betfair.

1. Bulgaria (1.05)
2. Estonia (1.19)
3. Romania (1.22)
4. Netherlands (1.23)
5. Denmark (1.24)
6. Hungary (1.34)
7. Israel (1.43)
8. Belarus (1.5)
9. Norway (1.58)
10. Austria (1.61)

11. Serbia (1.82)
12. Croatia (2.3)
13. Switzerland (2.48)
14. Macedonia (2.58)
15. Ireland (3.2)
16. Malta (3.3)
17. Lithuania (8)
18. San Marino (8.8)

A clear ten here, then, with only Serbia sitting relatively close. There's money to be made if you think one of those at the lower end of the top 10 (or even the upper end) isn't a certain qualifier, or if you think one of the outsiders has a chance of making it in. Again, this blogger does have a bet on one of those outsiders (though it's one I'm slightly regretting now!).