Wednesday 19 May 2021

ESC week | Wednesday | Second Semi-Final | Jury Show

This will be a rolling blog, each country in running order, so please refresh to update.

Here I am again. This is quite exciting, I don't think I've ever seen a jury show before. At least not since they were "jury shows". Most likely I have witnessed a good old second dress rehearsal back in the day.


It's starting! I see a windmill!

People are dancing. Whatevs. 

The crowd are cheering Chantal's French. A lot.

SPOILER: Edsilia said 10 great songs will qualify. 

🇸🇲 | San Marino

"Good Evening Europe! Are you ready to...[incomprehensible]?"

Hard to say anything that hasn't been said. It has everything you could possibly want and must the most perfect show opener ever. If it qualifies and draws first half...would they dare?

Miss Hit is sounding better than before and just looks *so* happy to be here. Mr Rida is, well, here. And wearing some shorts the BBC had going spare.

🇪🇪 | Estonia

I'm not saying this sounds flat coming after the Most Serene Entry. But well.

OK, let's be positive: It's not that bad.

🇨🇿 | Czech Republic

He's rather breathy. And not in a good way. Yeah, just doing his thing. Enjoyable, but not spectacular.

But the smile at the end. I'm gonna have to distract Sild with a huge bottle of rosé and then steal Benny.

🇬🇷 | Greece

Sounding good. Finds the camera. Every time.

I think the whole green screen effect looks a But it's a talking point and keeps your attention.

Senhit seen cheering wildly from the Most Serene Green Room. 

🇦🇹 | Austria

He really feels this. And you can hear every word so clearly. If this isn't sweeping up jury votes than I don't know what is.

And there's those lights. Oooh, the lights.


🇵🇱 | Poland

The opposite of emotion. 

Positive: I needed to go and fill up my glass. Yes, drinking on the job again.


It's Molly Sandén talking about appearing at Eurovision. Hmm.

🇲🇩 | Moldova

The juries won't like those opening "vocals".

Yeah, it's a good job that this isn't the kind of song that needs amazing vocals. And that makes the looooong last note even more conspicuous. Still, this still basically does what it says on the tin. Or packet.

🇮🇸 | Iceland

I can literally point you to my rehearsal blog from Thursday!

Still smiling. And there are *lots* of nicely added cheers. And a crowd shot at the end. Fits in seamlessly.

🇷🇸 | Serbia

Ok, I'm feeling it more now. Actually makes me want to bop this time. Might be the wine. Sanja managing to look happy while singing the big notes, rather than angry, and that's not easy.

Likely qualifier, and then just watch it sweep up the Balkan votes in the final.

🇬🇪 | Georgia

Talking of wine.

Mountain, I wanna feel you. #ThatsWhatSheSaid

This is very dark. And I don't think the juries will appreciate some of those notes.

OK, he recovered. It is quite soothing after the Serbian tempest. So props to the running order peeps.

 🇦🇱 | Albania
Albania in red-and-black staging shocker.

Not her best vocals in places. This song will have its rosé-drinking audience. But that's not me.

🇵🇹 | Portugal

We already know I am the anti-Sild. So yes, I really like this.

Masterful staging, which you've probably all seen from clips. legal and otherwise. He sounds like he sounds. This is what this is.

Like Albania really, this is either your thing or it's not.

*finally another break* I'm quite exhausted.

Oh, yay, It's La Paparizou. Now, laugh!

🇧🇬 | Bulgaria

Hmm, postcard and then Chantal talking and then a weird video with Duncan Laurence talking about music.

And then to Victoria.

The sand thing doesn't really work. She looked scared to touch it. And then you could see the bucket being hoisted away.

She is a very engaging performer though. And even smiles at the end. Yay!

🇫🇮 | Finland

Straight from postcard to performance. Hooray!

This evening's theme is songs which have their audience. And this got a very loud cheer.

🇱🇻 | Latvia

*turns down volume*

Hmm, not sure that was the right key, Samanta?

Goodness, it pains me to say this, as I love Samanta and rather like this song, but this could see Latvia back to its golden days of last place in the semi.

🇨🇭 | Switzerland

This is nothing like as busy as I was expecting from reports and previous clips.

It is a bit like a supersized version of Paul Rey's staging from this year's MF though.

Sings well, obvi. And manages some smiles too, which really help.

🇩🇰 | Denmark

To quote someone from the online press centre chat: "As if the stage has been made exclusively for them."

Jesper singing better than in the Danish final.

*clap clap*

So that went quickly. Everyone except Latvia is qualifying.

Aww, Iceland in the hotel lobby for their green room shot in the reprise. ❤️

Interval: It's a bit like Ola & Barbro from Eurovision 63 (only Ola & Ola). And one of the Olas is shirtless.

They have food in the green room. 

Edsilia: Have you spoken to Katrina?
James: No.
Edsilia: Oh...Embers..I've never used that word
James: It means the bit of the fire that's still burning
Edsilia: Oh.

Having just had the chat and clips of the finalists, they will now get to perform in full.

🇫🇷 | France

Nothing new to report from this performance, apart from a slight giggle in between all the Voilàs.

🇬🇧 | United Kingdom

A minute's delay before this to do some "flame checks".

He's swapped the gold outfit for plain black. Other than that, he's doing his best, bless.

🇪🇸 | Spain

"Our stage hands are working hard."  I don't think they'll be putting the UK and Spain next to each other on Saturday.

The vocal/music mix here feels a bit off.

Hahaha. He offers us a "here we go" before the big notes (which he hits perfectly).

I doubt you want to know about the announcement of the fake qualifiers, so I shall bid you a good night. Enjoy tomorrow!

ESC week | Wednesday | Second Semi-Final | First Dress Rehearsal

While celebrations and speculations after the first semi-final last night are still very much alive, we're ready to dive into another dress rehearsal, and finally see how the next batch of entries look and sound when they're all nicely tied together!

After the intro video consisting of polders and such, we're treated with a performance on stage by some moody lady and a dancer, soon exploding in a full-on dance performance with pyro and all. And in come the hosts!

Chantal is in a teal dress, clearly in sympathy of Iceland. But it's all about Edsilia and her very very yellow/lime green outfit! 😍

San Marino
A colour explosion! The start with her massive golden headpiece thing is both ridiculous and glorious, but my main take is that I'm very impressed how good (or, well, big) her hair looks when they take it off her. Flo (I assume?) joins in, and it really adds to it all, and you can tell it's more of a pro than Jenny B.

Racecars in the postcards really isn't the way to seem more likeable or interesting, is it... Yet it's probably the most interesting thing here. It's all quite nicely done and decently sung, but zzzzz.

I mainly noticed pics saying Asian in Benny's "house" in the postcard, what's that about?

Omaga he so cute! I'm defs stealing, but he can leave that golden, glittery jacket in Rotterdam. He performs it decently well, but as people have described before, it mainly feels like some people bouncing about on a big stage, I'm struggling to find much of a coherent concept here. Favourite bit is when he suddenly crouches down and clearly hadn't mentioned this to the camera people, as he just disappears. Adorbz in the end when they all gather in front of the camera and giggle!

Looks great at the start, with her alone in all the purple, but sounds a bit ropey... Then the effect kicks in, and she sounds better, but I'm not entirely sold on this concept. Particularly since all of the green clearly reflects in her hair, eyes and sparkly outfit, so she ends up being quite grey. The stairs and leaning back is possibly a bit better, but all in all, I'm left with this being a better version of Ireland, but still with a lingering why?

The word die is a bit overly clear at the beginning here, but it's quickly forgotten when the chorus kicks in and the stage shows all its lightning glory, creating a very nice, narrow "hallway" in which he performs. It feels like a much easier, and yet more striking, way of standing out than what Greece did.

Stage bathed in a golden light for the last chorus, and all in all a very solid effort, this should sail through.

I literally LOLed as this started, the contrast in quality was striking after Austria, both in how it looks and how he sounds. He's singing weirdly deep all the way through, and sounds out of breath already in the second verse, and the 'uncle at karaoke' look that other bloggers have mentioned is spot on.

Oh Christ Almighty and all his eternal serene rappers, it just keeps getting worse!

Nikkie's giving us some fan videos, before moving over to a little Fire Saga segment, including a message from Molly Sandén (whose name Nikkie pronounced as Sændn, rather than Sandén), and a bit of Jeangu's pwetty face.

Natalia has a candy train in her postcard-house!! I want one.

A surprisingly simple staging from Moldova (particularly considering the video!), but it works quite well. Oddly, I think particularly the instrumental "chorus" is quite neat, with their syncronised moves - I was expecting that to potentially look a bit empty. There's a veeeeeeeeeeeery long note in the end, was that always there?! And is she actually singing it live, or just faking it? Sounds good!

I'm assuming this is a pretty safe qualifier, but also not doing much on Saturday.

As much as I despise this, I feel really sorry for them not being able to have the time of their life on stage tomorrow and Saturday. The intro looks very neat, with just their silhouettes over a purple background, before it all goes into the usual Daoi-mððd, with their moves and all the colours of the world. I like the second screen with all the colourful faces, but other than that, I'm a bit baffled at the reactions this has got for the rehearsals, as I think it's pretty much exactly how it was always going to be.

Well something is clearly sung live in that first verse... They're gloriously undone in hair and make-up, which makes for an amusing contrast to their usual looks. There's not much to say about the staging here, apart from maybe mildly disappointing. There's just not much happening, while I think they should've probably jazzed it up a few notches to win over some people out of its core audience. As it is, I think said core audience is too limited to tip this over.

Quite the contrast here, which could theoretically work for Tornike, but it... doesn't. It mainly comes across as the slightly hopeless, slow thing it is, plus he disappears completely in the dark about half the time.

We're postcarding in Maastricht, seems a decent compromise for not getting to host it.

Once we're back in Rotterdam, we meet Anxhela in red (shocker) lights and fog, a suitably dramatic entrance. All alone on stage just like Tornike, but unlike him, she has the presence to own it all, while also looking deep into the cameras. I'm obviously biased, but surely deserves to go through.

Well, speaking of biased... Let's see if they can manage to win me over during these three minutes.

The black and white filter until the first chorus ends fits it quite well, makes it seem a bit like something from an old film. Probably a classic I've never seen. There's a nice shot of the lead singer walking out to the satellite stage alongside the second screen, where the stage gets a much warmer feel that fits the atmosphere. Good job.

Am I won over? Heck no, it's ghastly.

We cut to Paparizou to talk about her underwear, and have a look at her winning entry from, hmm, about eight years ago, right?

I think I quite like her boat/cliff, except the fact she's sitting right at a giant crack in it, which is very visible when we zoom in on the photo of her and her dad, underlining that it's just cardboard or so. The shoes, however, I'm quite sure I don't like. But then I'm getting old.

All in all this is a decent and complete package that stands out and will for sure have an audience. I'm not really it, but it's all quite nicely done.

This is in my top 10 of all the entries, and yet I somehow always forget it exists. Is that a sign it will be forgotten by everyone else too, or is it just that it's so obviously doing exactly what it was always going to do, so not much point in bothering my little head with it?

It's red, flashy and pyro-y, and makes me feel like it's 2004 all over again, but I do wish we got to connect with the singers a little more. I have no clue what they look like, and they're right in front of me.

This one is a little harder to ignore, somehow. All the green should be right up my alley, but the shade of green is somehow just a little off - it's as if it's a mix of kitchen-green and Daoi-grððn.

The singing is mainly loud. Sometimes she sounds really off, but I'm not entirely sure if it's just me being used to the studio version and it slightly diverting from that, or if it's actually properly off. Not that I think it matters much anyway, if this was ever going to qualify, it would with or without that vocal performance. (Hint: It won't)

A refreshing draw for this, even with a brief host-break as buffer between THE QUEEN and Gjon. The performance starts off quite intimately, before getting bigger and more dramatic. He sings well throughout, and I really like how it all looks towards the end with the blinking lights on the backdrop. Quite far from a winner, but not really due to any choices they've made here.

Et dansetrin - and ta-dah! 🕺

Actually seeing the backing singers lined up for everyone to see was very striking, gave it a nicely nostalgic feel. Otherwise it's all very similar to the Danish final - purple and joyous. I don't think this is winning over anyone that wasn't already won over, but hey, I'm overwonneded enough for everyone!

Mainly sensible choices for which bit of song, except San Marino's that felt a bit... song-less. But it's a bit with both Mrs Hit and Mr Rida, so that's probably why.

Interval acts
Close Encounters of a Special Kind, apparently, and the first close enounter we see is that of Chingiz and some other person?? No, can't be, this guy looks likeable.

Another snabbreprijstje before countdown, and then it's time for part two of looking back at winners, this time with Duncan in Johnny Logan's slippers (and someone else's unflattering suit).

Nikkie's tutorial is focusing on teaming up today, about finding your right backings and helpers. Like Loboda's dancers, for instance. "Get a muppet DJ!". It's a sock, Nikkie.

For greenroom interviews Edsilia is talking to a fake Stefania, which makes sense. And then Benny, jeej! She probably should've talked to him for a bit longer, as we're now treated with some stage-mopping.

In a shocking twist, this looks and sounds exactly like it always did and was always going to. Favourite part is still that brief close-up of her hand just before the turning point of the song.

Oh, new favourite part - a fistbump with the cameraman as she's finished!

United Kingdom
James has set up a tent right next to his little postcard house, which feels... a bit pointless, when there's, well, a little postcard-house right there? #staycation

He's on stage dressed about as subtly as Tix today, with a full golden suit under the horrible jacket. Not sure if this is to underline it or draw attention from it, but it does neither. There's some added pyro flashes here and there, but it doesn't really add much.

Blas is watching a little clip of himself singing Sentir from the JESC NF in his postcard-house, any chance we can have a last minute replacement of song? I won't tell anyone it's been out a while...

There's some bits of worse singing today than the previous rehearsal I saw of this, both in some unimportant verses early on and for some big howls, but overall this is still solid for what it's doing. And his hair is higher again - phew!

And with that, over and out, time to let the moon back out into traffic!