Monday 7 May 2018

Haiku #9

Many nervous acts
Search hotels in Limassol
The chicken is limp

S1 Jury Show

Top 7 Betfair odds right now, which project real movement since the earlier rehearsal:
  • Israel - 3.4 (drifting)
  • Estonia - 7.8 (shortening)
  • Norway - 8
  • Cyprus - 8.8 (shortening)
  • France - 14 
  • Bulgaria  - 15.5 (drifting)
  • Czech - 16.5 (drifting)
Israel, Bulgaria and Czech have the most to 'prove' tonight. Let's see how well they do with 50% of the vote on the line.

Hosts still screaming and the usual pre-show banter. "Good evening Europe and good morning Australia".

Azerbaijan - same patchy vocals, nice glitter mascara on the closeups. Basically the same as before, good opener, competent but nothing special. Actually the vocals are even worse than before, must be nerves.Very cool on-screen sparkles on the last verse.

Iceland - Ari is painting on an egg in his aww postcard. Hopefully it open up his chances a bit. Lots of close-ups here and he makes great eye contact. He's squeezing everything he can from this lemon.Vocally it's perfect and some applause when he throws the mic stand, then some great wide shots in an all yellow stage for the high notes - which he nails. Great performance all in all.

Albania -the start has a blue hue on his face, no real stage lighting which fits perfectly until he hits those first big notes, then the stage goes all red. His vocals once again are fantastic, and he's owning every second of this song. The language sounds beautiful, and he shows his emotions in every note. Can you tell I'm gaga over this? First huge applause in the PC.

Belgium - hasn't been a good run so far, let's see if she can Blanche this. She's standing in front of the fan circle, with flags all around - seems a bit distracting. Vocally, much better than before.It looks a bit strange seeing her amidst the fan circle, they're basically at the same height of the stage so it doesn't visually fit for me. She's much more engaging here but I'm not holding out too much hope. This should be on the stage, not the fan area.

Czech -huge welcome in the hall even before he starts. No backpack here, but it shows up later. The camera work here is fantastic! He's still not moving at all, until the three of them twerk for the last bit.He joins the dancers for the last routine, huge applause in the hall and PC.

Lithuania - such a contrast from the Czech song, the crowd applauds during her first verse and she's basically whispering. Absolutely lovely, with echoes in the chorus. Now we're taking a stroll on the bridge and her vocals are getting a tad ouchies.This isn't as amazing as the earlier rehearsal but it's still beautifully done.

**Commercial break**

Israel -  Netta needs to own this to keep up her odds advantage. Netta's postcard is all looper so good hype preparation work. Huge welcome for her in the hall. The mike is huge and seems to cover her mouth on the closeups, not sure I noticed this before.This seems messy to me, ugh, and not sure what the juries will make of it. Netta is completely breathy and sounding vocally off, but she's oozing fun. Obvious Q, but will need a lot of work for Saturday. Gurl opened a huge door imo.

Belarus - the rose is still taking a walkabout, and man & teeth are making the most of it. The rose stabbed him in the hand, in another yet show of gore which I don't really get. Weird entry.

Estonia - nothing to add here. Still beautifully executed, and vocally perfect, except the lower notes where she gets a bit La Voix. Doesn't seem as good as it was earlier, I think a lot of them are nervous. Some more patchy vocals, as the song progresses. Yeah, not entirely convinced this will nail the juries although biggest applause so far in the PC.

Bulgaria - more nervous vocals, the mic seems too fine tuned, it's picking up every breath for these songs. Sorry to say but it's still as much a vocal train wreck as before, and the Sia lady is still miming. Probably the worst performance of the run so far :-(

FYR Macedonia - ouch. Completely flat from the offset. Nothing to add here.

Croatia - finally, a vocally perfect performance. This could be a sleeper qualifier, she's stunning, the camera loves her and she owns every second of this. The camera work is messy and too many wide shots which distracts, but it's the only negative thing I can say about this. Another big applause in the PC, something may be brewing here with this.

**Commercial break** 

Austria - pre-observation: he should wear his postcard track suit instead of his on-stage ensemble. Another perfect performance, not missing a note and looking great. Full of R&B/gospel realness with his fantastic backing vocalists. He's fidgeting with his mic pack so maybe he's not happy with something..but it doesn't show. Flawless, can't point at anything here that needs improvement, seems top 5 material.

Greece - blue hand is back! She sounds a bit nervous but her backing vocalists are doing a good job of lifting her in these parts. I don't think anyone will get the blue hand reference, she's not creating any effect with it, and she's not moving much in the last build-up.The previous rehearsal seemed better, both vocally and visually.

Finland -  some screaming to start off the song as she gets off the wheel. As with many others before her, she's not as good as the previous run, some vocal shakiness throughout, and lots of unnecessary screaming..Will probably Q but wouldn't be shocked if juries push it down.

Armenia - exactly as before. Like with Austria, this dude is completely focused on what he's doing, it's just him and he's living every note. The juries should lap this up. Update..he botched the last part and missed some of the high notes, which took a bit away from the initial impression.

Switzerland - I want those abs. She's making good use of the bridge and it looks very good with people all around. Other than that, it's exactly as before: competent and well delivered (except that "anyone who has been hurt" bit of saccharine), but not sure if that's enough here - I'm betting it ain't.

Ireland - whatisface is wearing shorts in his postcard. Tip: stop skipping leg days in the gym. On to the song, big applause in the hall before he starts.Just as before, every bit of this comes across as earnest and heartfelt. There's a great shot behind the dancers with the audience holding a glowy thing? Really lovely :-)

Cyprus - the hype seems to have reached the audience, they're into this from the get go. Flawless, sexy, engaging. Everything that needs to be done is done here, will score big.

People are coming back from the arena, reporting a very sparse showing of audience and almost no reaction during or after the songs. Any/all noise coming from the fan circles. Anyhoo, join us on the MessageBoard for more fun.

S1 Dress Rehearsal

Following on the Press Center feed, will try to keep up with what's going on, b/c it's all very fast :-p

 Azerbaijan - she's as flat as a pancake in the verses (nerves?), not the best camera shots but it comes together nicely in the chorus

Iceland - he's sweet and earnest and giving it his all. Nice wides hots shots when the last part comes on

Albania - amazing! Fantastic vocals, great camera work and he's owning every second of it. That little self clap he has going during the song is very effective.

Belgium - ugh..not good at all. Vocally competent but she's not connecting to anything really. Weird camera work for this one.

Czech - wowzies! This is amazing, he's such a pro at this but something's lacking in the post-accident static staging. And the backpack is back. Towards the end he gets more athletic and it comes across fantastically. Best camera work so far.

Lithuania - she's on the floor, looking gorgeous and connecting to the camera. Lots of close ups on her and very little wide shots until she gets up and stats walking on the bridge. Looks beautiful on the screen. As cheesy as the end is with him and her, it so works.

Commercial break before Israel. Green room banter: the crazy lady is talking to the white sofas, small talk with the audience and they have props they share with the artists. The home audience will be pleased they're not seeing this.
Now the two hosts are on the bridge and are promoting the app and hashtag.

Israel - the intro is REALLY weird, not very effective imo.Shit. They stopped her mid rehearsal :-( Starting over.  Netta is a pro, though so she should be fine with it. Starting fresh with postcard.

Israel pt 2 -lots of close ups on her face, much better intro now! Her expressions are so effective and great camera work on them all the time. The dancers are so good, interacting a lot with Netta and more great camera work. Not really hearing the backing vocalists tho. Loads of pyro, crazy lights, bubbles wide shots at the end. This is working! (but not everyone here agrees...)

Belarus - a love song to a rose. Those teeth should be a Disney ride. Little red hearts fluttering on the screen towards the last chorus, and you see a bed of roses in a gushing flesh wound on his back. Hide the kiddies, for a multitude of reasons.

Estonia - no dress till the first "La forza". Vocally perfect and it looks absolutely magical on screen. More effective camera work and the dress does all the work during the boring verses. We may be looking at the winner here imho.

Bulgaria - a lot of beards and manic camera shots, can't really tell them apart. i think they're introducing themselves to each other with these ABBA-esque shots. The Sia is just standing there till they ask her to join in. Comes across a bit amateruristic to me, trying to invent the wheel with the ever changing camera shots. Messy vocals in the last bit, and a big meh in the press center.

FYR Macedonia - god, she's so beautiful! They're making her go over the beginning, so that makes it 4 songs instead of 3. World record! And they've stopped her for a second time, they're pre-recording the beginning for some reason. Oh wait, she's backstage for that part #GotIt
Proper try - lots and lots of circular shots of her with the usual boring blue stage lighting. Nice spiraling lights just before song #2 kicks in. She switched outfits for that part mid song and she's wearing short shorts for the last bit. She's not even bothering with singing the last bit, and it's obv not going to go anywhere but it's fun to watch.

Croatia - disclaimer: this is the first time I'm hearing the full song. Another stunning beauty and she's connecting very well with the camera. It gives me Israel-Rita vibes with her movements with her hand gestures and being alone on stage. Oooo..wind machine too.Very competent delivery over all.

Another commercial break and we're back to the Green Room..."we're here with the Czech Republicans...can I call you Mick? What's inside the backpack?". If you could see the collective eyebrow raise in the PC...

Austria - opens with a reeeeal close up on his lovely face, then the shot goes down to show him on up on the platform. Lots of shots from under him that way, not sure how effective it is (I'm guessing it is). Same outfit as before and when the lights flicker on his pants it looks as if he's happy to see us...I doubt it's intentional and that anyone but me will notice. This is done so well, not sure why people were down on it. The outfit isn't great for sure, but he's such a good performer.

Greece - let's see if the worries were warranted. They stopped her and she's just standing there all alone, I hope none of this nonsense goes on tonight, it must be unsettling for the artists. :-(
Here we go: no blue hand yet (does it show up later?) and lots of wind, very good backing vocals. She looks stunning in that while dress on a dark stage. It seems very static during the second half of the song but lots of smoke on the floor with yellow lights. Now there are lots of pyros and it looks a bit awkward and out of place for a ballad. Still no blue hand. Solid rehearsal all in all but no one other than the Greeks here are applauding this, so make of it as you will.

Finland - nice camera work, showing her spiraling like a Dervish at the first verse. Vocally perfect, and she looks fierce in those knee-high boots. The crystal structure adds absolutely nothing and looks like a cheap Legoland steal. Not enough closeups of Saara during the song but comes together nicely at the end with shooting pyros from the lego thing and ceiling.

Armenia - he's a very somber and serious man, and he lives every emotion of this song on his face. He needs some concealer for the dark circles under his eyes (you don't learn nothing from having an office next to the Mac HQ ). Vocally perfection and the stage goes from blue to red midway, then to white for the crazy last high notes. The backing singers are taking over this too much for my taste but an excellent rehearsal.

Switzerland - loving the Stevie Nicks (spelling?) hat and mic-handkerchief combo. She goes quickly to the bridge, which btw looks really cool on camera as an interesting stage prop. She's now waving one of those emergency flares and it's another cool effect, but overall this isn't going anywhere, at least not in this wonderful lineup.

Ireland - first shots are just on him, and it looks great because he's selling this.  Then it pans out to him, the pianist and lamp post. Now we see the two guys on bridge holding hands (Russians, this is where you look away). His voice is so beautiful, and as we near the end the dancers come on again sitting on the bench while the snow falls. This is magical, and please God let it qualify because it deserves to!

Cyprus - huge applause all over the press center, there's clearly a buzz here before the first note.This is so slick and well done. Every camera shot sells this, it doesn't waste shots on the audience or panorama. The on-screen smoke effects (twice) are great and it matches the red/pink/purple lighting beautifully. We close it with pyros and this performance is everything! Can't be anything but an overall  top 3 in this semi.

Some overall thoughts:
The hosts are a mess, lots of usual screaming and silly banter that no one will volunteer a chuckle at.
Best overall imo were Estonia, Albania, Cyprus, Israel, Czech, Ireland, Austria, Lithuania. Finland also deserve a mention but it wasn't as good as the others above, and same goes for Armenia.
Impossible to predict who will qualify, but there will be several who deserve to and won't. Not sure that can be said about the next semi.

Warning: during intermission they'll be showing a medley of ESC 2017 artists singing Amar pelos dois...even Manel.

Thank you for following, join us on the MessageBoard for post-analysis and our usual fun discussions :-)

Haiku #8

Portuguese duet
First first first first and second
Roll out the carpet