This will be a rolling blog, each country in running order, so please refresh and scroll to update.
Betfair odds right now:
- Cyprus - 4.1
- Norway - 5.1
- Israel - 6.8
- France - 8
- Sweden - 15.5
- Lithuania - 17
- scribbly on-screen stuff from the get go. He looks completely disheveled, as if he has no make-up on, or applied a comb, but it sounds great.Camera work is a mess, the shots are all over the place and so far it doesn't sound or look like something that justifies its odds. As our pal Jonas put it, it's all very JESC.
- guys with white hospital outfits with masks on their necks are alternating as the lady murders any hint of an on-tune note. The mask dudes now face each other and have strange paint on their faces, as if they were on the losing side of a paintball game. The lead is going around the stage touching and singing to mannequins, and now she's screaming. To paraphrase AlRy, this is how you murder a song, then do it again and again for 3 minutes. Anyone saying Azerbaijan?
- this looks lovely from the offset, and sounds nice too with good camera work focusing on the 3 girls. A bald man with a beard is now scolding them :-(
This looks much better than it sounds, and I wouldn't rule it out by any stretch, although there are too many wide-shots, as in the previous semi.
- nice light work in the beginning of this, and a robot is holding a sign saying Size Doesn't Matte
r, clearly misreading the demo. The rap starts and it's obviously downhill from here. Next.
- yikes..a very extreme close-up on his face from the onset then panning out to the sails. Sounds excellent, great vocals all over, and now the vikings are marching. They're over-earnest in a Bulgarian kind of way, but that's really the only thing I can point to that's on the downside. Did I mention that vocally this is amazing? They even sorted out the snow, making it more blizzard-like as they asked for. Best rehearsal yet, can't see this not making it to Saturday.
- her mike stand is covered in the same fabric as her dress - coolski. Vocally, her backers are pulling every second of this, you can't even hear her in the chorus. Decent camera work but Julia is looking at the wrong camera in the close ups so it's a bit weird. A shirtless guy is running on the outer parts of the stage, and is joined by the girl. They don't show Julia at all for the last 45 seconds of this. Not entirely horrible all in all.
- manic, crazy, AWESOME!! The cube routine is brilliant and the camera shots for this are spot on. Vocally it's also perfect, they're completely in sync. Moldova are clearly the cool kid of ESC, and they're earning every second of it here. Can't fault this, and if there's any justice should be top 10 on Saturday.
- oops, the music failed to start, and we have a technical break until they figure things out. Here we go.Good start, oozing country charm with the four of them in close up on camera. Waylon follows every second of the camera that's on him, and then the breakdance starts and me-no-get-it. Vocally this is great but that dance routine kills off any country feeling it has. Dancing aside, though, this was excellent to listen to.
- same dress, same shoes. Eh, we'll put that aside for now. Very good vocals to start off, she's a stage animal and owning every second of it. There are great dark shots of just a back light on her, and then it pans out to her in full light - very effective. The vocals are fantastic and she's beaming with every note, with some good pyro to close it. Her backing vocalists are great too and this is the best rehearsal we've seen of it (little personal yay from me).
- sorry, I can't. Don't know what to make of this, it's really really strange on screen. They're singing in turns and the camera jumps from one to the other, and then they join in unison in the last third. Pyro curtain to close it out and ....yeah.
- the screen froze in their postcard, and we didn't see the beginning of it. And we got cut off again, and if the first 7 seconds we heard are anything to go by, we're the lucky ones. We're back on and it's terribly off key, and messy camera shots...welcome to Macedonia part 2. Got cut off again in what can be considered the musical equivalence of euthanasia.
- the feed in the press center is awful and we missed the first minute of Malta. I got a glimpse of lasers, shadow games, an on-screen globe, and painted gloves. She looks like Morticia Addams and I'm expecting someone to kiss her up the sleeve. The feed keeps cutting off so I don't really know what to make of it. It seemed pretty cool from what I could tell and her vocals were good.
- oh, this is good! He's screaming and running to the bridge, then going for a stroll onto the outer stage without missing a note (hear that, Netta?). Pyro and fire everywhere, which makes Cyprus look like a game of matches. The guy is running everywhere and screaming his lungs out, have no idea what he's saying but it doesn't matter. THIS.IS.AMAZING!
- not sure anyone will pay attention to Latvia after that shot of quadruple espresso with a topping of vodka and Red Bull. The stage is in all red to match her outfit, but it's not going to stand out in any way, I'm afraid. The first time I can point to the downside of a draw, given what it follows. Laura is stunning as is her dress, but that's all I can mention about this.
More technical issues and we've stopped once more.Green Room lady is
improvising and is hilarious. Can she please host the whole thing?
- we skipped Sweden(?!!?). On to Montenegro.
- oh right, the 80's wedding ceremony. Awww..it's Liberace singing in Montenegrin and being straight. His backing singers are in glittery bride dresses of sorts and doing strange hand gestures and seem to be mourning something. Now the backing singers are forming a circle and taking turns touching his shoulder. He looks genuinely sad and has turned his back to the audience. You won't want to miss this tomorrow and it will be your only chance to see it.
- similar routine to Cyprus as in skimpy suggestive clothing and sultry dancing. This comes across very well on screen with good camera shots, and Lea is a-m-a-z-i-n-g. That "oh my, the music stopped" bit is fantastic!! Never saw this coming but it's so so good! Every second of it.
- Melovin is starting inside an open coffin that opens up and spits him out. His voice is incredible and the camera work is also on point for this. Loving the eye thing and Poldark/Jack Sparrow costume, and then he tosses his jacket and makes his way up a ladder that bursts out in flames. This is epic, wowzies, and what a way to close a semi!!
- same as MF, nothing here is off key or lacking in any way, but maybe we've expected these things from Sweden for so long that our impression scale is saturated? Dunno. Anyway, it's slick, smooth, vocally pitch perfect with the optimal blend of backing vocals. Towards the end the camera pans out and we see his box thing, which kind of breaks the magic of it, but that's a small detail. Can't fault this and it's an obvious qualifier + top 10.
Summation: this semi is BONKERS and in terms of pure entertainment and what you love/want/need/ in terms of ESC kitchen sink stuff, it's leagues over the first semi.
What to expect post entries: same intermission Esclopedia routine and that strange David Attenborough bit. Madam Monsieur will sing Amar pelos dois in French, Michael Schulte will sing Fly on the Wings of Love, and the Italian guys will sing Volare..of course.
- they start in the center of the stage engulfed in smoke and then the camera is all her as she goes to the outer stage where he eventually joins her. Vocally it's fantastic and exactly as it sounds in the studio version. The final hand part is very effective and they part ways to each side of the outer stage to get the audience participating from every part of the hall. Not getting winner vibes but it's lovely to watch and hear.
- the staging for this is incredible! The screen starts with the words of the lyrics in animation, then childhood stills of him and his Dad (I think). His vocals are superb, he's connecting with the camera for every second of this and there are very few "wasted" wide shots. The staging/shooting/lighting/sound of this are as close to perfect as I could imagine, and can see this lapping up votes from everywhere. How this isn't in contention for a win in the odds is beyond me.
- more lyrics, this time on screen and in different languages and different fonts. The stage is all red throughout and they are vocally great. Towards the last bridge they part ways and go to each bridge to end it up. That last high pitch is a bit off but still, another fantastic and effective performance that I wasn't expecting.