Sunday 15 May 2022

Another edition is over

And it's been a Eurovision like no other (aren't they always?).

In January, we released ESC-Wordle. Google Analytics told us that it has been played in thousands of locations in many countries around the world. One of these in particular drew my attention - Bucha, Ukraine. 17 February. A few days before the horror unfolded.

It probably was a nerdy Eurovision fan just like me and you. I hope they survived. And I'd like to think that last night made them happy, because they need it most, and making people happy is what Eurovision does best.

It's time to thank the EBU and RAI for making it happen, our blogging team - and of course all of you for reading and commenting. ESC Nation will be here for you during the unknowns of the coming year.

For now, happy hangover!

Saturday 14 May 2022

Grand Final - Fishy Prediction

BURSDAG! No, wait, it's even better! (Also, it is BURSDAG, happy birthday, Anthi!)

It's finally time, almost exactly five months after we had our first entry chosen, that is incidentally also the first entry on stage tonight, Czechia (yes, I call it that). Once they qualified and drew first half, I think about 84 % of the fandom assumed it'd be the opener, as one of few upbeat but generic and harmless in it. And indeed!

But the main question tonight obviously seems to be whether Ukraine wins with AAAAALL TEH POINTS, even to the degree that it was debated on NRK's main daily debate show Dagsnytt 18 yesterday. I've been of the conviction they won't all season, and even though the narrative that they will (not to mention the betting odds) have just seemed to be escalating and piling up the last few days, I think I'm going to stick with that conviction. But then I need to claim something else will win, don't I...

I didn't watch the final dress rehearsal in full (just popped in and out between tanning and swims), so most of this prediction is based on what we saw in the semis, and of course mainly what we've known all along about the entries.

1 Sweden | Does anyone not like it?

2 United Kingdom | It feels sick to predict a UK entry at the top of the scoreboard... It sure wouldn't get there if I got to decide, and I still can't really see what everyone else is seeing, but when so many seem to see it, I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree. I think he sounds very "thin" on all his MAAAAANs, and I find the song very tedious for most of it, but it comes together decently for the last minute when it gets all golden.

3 Italy | It deserves to win with AAAAALL TEH POINTS because of AAAAALL TEH GOOSEBERRIES, but it's probably not going to, is it? Y'all can just sit there loving UK, and I'll be lying here in a pile of melt from Blanco's Tu-verse.

4 Ukraine | Bold? Nææh. All season I've felt the entry itself would come 8th or so under "normal circumstances", but climbing to 5th or so in the current climate, and I'm sticking with that.

5 Serbia | I think this is bolder, not at all sure it will manage to get this high, but after being quite underwhelmed by it until Thursday, it finally clicked for me in the semi. Don't forget to wash your hands!

6 Poland | Whereas this has never clicked for me. Unless there's a hippo in that river he speaks of, it ain't doing so today either.

7 Spain | A bit rude of her to steal Sam Ryder's outfit, but at least she didn't take all of it. Not much at all, really.

8 Norway | Might get a bit lost so early in the draw, so I considered putting this a bit lower, but I've been thinking 8th pretty much since it was chosen, so if I did change my mind it'd just end up in the 8thest 8th place ever just to rub it in my face, wouldn't it?

9 Moldova | I really really really hope I'm wrong about this, I think it's the worst thing in here now that the hideous Georgian entry has finally left us.

10 Greece

11 Netherlands | S10 was destined to be #10 in the running order and 10th on the night, but now she ended up as #11, that's clearly going to be the result too. I hope she changes her name to Seleven.

12 Finland

13 Czechia | For the first time ever I had actual feelings for this in the semifinal! They weren't very exciting feelings, and mainly thanks to RAI's excellent lighting, but still, I'll take it.

14 Lithuania

15 Armenia | I hope she manages to pull the hole open tonight!

16 Estonia | I must admit I like this a bit more now that Graham Norton apparently despises it. It doesn't have many other selling points, but it feels solid enough as a closer of the show.

17 Australia | Hopefully the juries will find something else loud to vote for. And surely the televoters will?

18 Portugal | It really felt like a vibe in the semifinal, but I think it'll get really lost in the final when it's on so early. Hopefully a bunch of jurors will still remember it though, it should be their job to have a slightly longer attention span than viewers, after all.

19 Azerbaijan

20 Romania | Really happy it made it, as we need some silly in the final! But in this company it really is just that, a brief bit of silly without a chance. Bless his cotton socks and tinfoil (?) trousers.

21 Iceland | I initially thought this could do a bit better (not actually well, but, like, 15th?), thanks to some Nordic support and such, but it'll surely be bottom of the pile for most of the Nordics, and there's quite a bit of other stuff that's bound to get above it in those televotes too.

22 Germany | It's miles above some of their recent efforts, so it should do miles better. Which presumably just means 22nd, sadly, but hey ho, let's go. A third televoting zero in a row is actually not out of the question though, it really would be quite impressive if they manage!

23 Switzerland

24 France | Watch out for random howls!

25 Belgium | The day before the Belgian entry came out, I was silly enough to place a bet on it to win, as based on him they could be on to something. And I think there's a good idea in here somewhere, but it never really materialises. As it is, I think it was lucky to qualify, and he'll be lucky if he manages to avoid ending last.

I'm not feeling at all confident about this prediction, but then again, I felt quite confident about semi 1 and only got 8/10 right, but 9/10 in semi 2 which I thought was very tough, so maybe I'll be spot on? Or maybe Benin wins, with Ukraine last. Looking forward to the shocks and surprises either way!

And if you're not pleased with anything on offer tonight, have this cat instead - have a wonderful evening!

Friday 13 May 2022

Grand Final - Jury Rehearsal

Overview: there's probably not going to be much to be said or written about the songs themselves, we've all seen them live, but I'll of course focus on the Big 5 and whatever shenanigans I find worth reporting. 

And we're off at 21:00 on the dot. Cool opening sequence, a group of musicians and people singing the Beatles Give Peace a Chance to the drum roll of We Will Rock You then going to the hall with a mass clap along.  

Laura singing clad in orange and accompanied by drummers in orange too, then somehow she changes to white and sings another song. I imagine these are her Italian hits because the audience is eating this up. It's pretty cool, she's a great performer. And my feed froze but when it came back she's now in purple with purple accompanying dancers. Now we're in yellow. And now black and red with dancers doing cool Jazz hands movements. This is all very local home/arena audience centric but very enjoyable. 

21:08 - they're introducing the countries. Very nice flag colour bursts on the backing LED's with the artists coming out. Huge applause for Finland. And insane cheers for Italy, but even more insane cheers for Spain(!). It's very 2019 with the dance breaks between country blocs. Nice welcome for Ukraine of course. Another big applause for Greece, Moldova and Sweden. You can tell who the audience faves are. UK getting a huge roar. This is very colourful and a lot of fun. People at home will enjoy this.

21:13 - they're introducing the hosts. Laura is in a very chic silver glittery jacket and black pants, with Alessandro in a black glitter striped suit and Mika in white. He obviously likes his solids. The pace so far is very pleasing, they're getting right to it without too much nonsense.

Sun update: still not moving

21:16 - we're off to the first entry: Czech Republic. This is a great opener, and she's in top form nailing her vocals and the audience is cheering her along. Clever girl, she's covering her sweat with glitter. This is really getting the audience going, a fantastic choice to open. Romania up now and the clap/sing-along to the chorus is very effective, and another huge crowd pleaser. "Keep fighting for your freedom" ends the routine. Noted. Portugal goes next to a nice build-up by the audience and it's a nice contrast to the previous two, but I think it will get a bit lost. Have to point out that the audio balance and quality so far is flawless, which is emphasized by Maro's perfect vocal. Finland up next to a huge cheer and the audience is engaged from the first guitar riff and Pennywise balloon. The vocals aren't as sharp as last night, he's much more breathy here, but the audience is totally into this throughout the song with a giant cheer at the end. Switzerland is exactly the same as Tuesday but much like Portugal I fear the early draw and coming up after Finland will make this a bit forgettable.

21:37 - break, with Green Room banter between Alessandro and Mika. Thine may pee. Oops, I take it back. Don't, because we're immediately on to France. First time seeing this for me, what an interesting language. The performance is all very Voda and the audience is clapping along, the stage effects are beautiful in green with a ton of fire everywhere on stage, and it's another big crowd pleaser. Moving along quickly, still keeping a good pace and we're on to Norway which is exactly as before with lots of audience engagement. Armenia up next sponsored by 3M. Actually, not, the Armenian postcard is followed by Mika in the Green Room doing the rounds with some artists. He's about to chat with Maro, but then leaves her and introduces the song..awkward. Same same presentation with the Post-It's and the pleasant vocals but this time she destroys the paper circle in one push. Thatta girl! 

21:51 - back to the hosts, with banter by Laura, who changed into a purple dress, and Mika. They're introducing a one minute rundown clip of the semis, set to some cool electronic music. Then back to the Green Room for the three of them, and introducing Italy to a huge roar. Mahmood in a sleeveless navy kimono top and Blanco in a glittered black suit. This is gorgeous, with the audience singing along throughout. Any hint of holding back in the rehearsals is gone, this is an incredible performance, worthy of a top 2 result - at least so far. Another huge crowd pleaser, Spain, is up now, and it's fantastic! More sing alonging by the audience, they came prepared knowing many of the lyrics, and they're going berserk! What a cheer at the end, it's going on and on even surpassing the home entry.  A huge contrast now with The Netherlands which is even better than her Tuesday performance, with sharp vocals from the getgo. The audience is engaged and cheering her on with singing along and clapping to the ooo-ooo ahh-ahh bits. So far this is an excellent Final! All-time odds faves, Ukraine, are up now and not missing a beat. Big clapping along and cheering at the last part of the song and of course a giant cheer as they end.

22:10 - back to a brief Green Room break with Alessandro and Mika and right on to Germany. His postcard is the arena, which is cool. The set-up is intimate and fitting to the song with rugs and studio equipment like it's a jam session. This is really different than anything before it, in a good way. I hope it stands out for the voters as it deserves, he's so completely one with the song. Moving along to the cool jazz club vibe of Lithuania, which is even better hearing it a second time, she's such a natural with her facial and hand gestures. On to Azerbaijan, the audience is getting a bit more quiet now and seems less engaged. Guessing the juries put him through and they'll probably be liking this. This string of Azerbaijan and now Belgium doesn't seem to be exciting the audience too much. No different than last night and another competent performance. 

22:28 - another Green Room break with chatting and flagging of the official CD, followed by another clip medley of the semis. Greece up now as flawless as on Tuesday, and the vocal and audio seems even better. The break serves this well, it doesn't get lost in the slower few songs before it. Iceland follows next, and has the audience clapping along to the verses, and the vocal blend is beautiful as is the presentation. I think juries will like this lots. Moldova, as expected, wakes up the arena to a huge cheer from the first second. What a fantastic draw for them, they couldn't have hoped for a better slot. Great contrast for Sweden, with some nice singing along in the arena to start it off. She's just as great as before and of course the contender it always was, and the audience loved it. 

22:48 - more Green Room breaking while they set up  for Australia which gets a bit lost coming after Sweden, and I expect will be blown away by that who will follow. We now have a video break promoting tomorrow's acts followed by another Green Room break while they set up for the UK. They're now doing a Volare singalong, which I guess they had to fit it in somewhere, but on the plus side it gets the audience enthused for Sam. Oh man, this is incredible! He's nailing every note and engaging the camera at every angle. This is the best thing I've heard tonight, and a worthy winner if I ever heard one. 

23:00 - you guessed it, more breaking, chit chat with artists and we're ready for Poland. This is probably well served by the break because coming immediately after the UK powerhouse would bury it. Vocally perfect, with the same dancers in rags pushing and poking him about. No break !!yay!! and we're right on to Serbia which is greeted to huge cheers. The clapping along is magnificent, and everything about this is wonderful, and a giant roar by the audience at the end. This should do very very well. The show closes with Graham Norton's fave, Estonia, which seems completely paled to me by Serbia, but he sells it as best as he can encouraging the audience to sing and cheer with him. There are some effective audience shots clapping along with him. 

23:15 - voting banter and recaps. I'm loving the huge cheer for Italy's recap followed by an even bigger cheer for Spain. Quite muted for Ukraine. Notable cheering for Lithuania, Greece and building to a roar for Moldova, Sweden and of course the UK. Serbia gets a clever clap recap which engages the audience. 

The intermission starts with dancers doing Italian hand gestures, with the hosts explaining what they are, followed by a bit in sign language. Italy's Int'l Space Station astronaut says hi, then we get Maneskin, who are lip-synced by other artists. Mmmmkay. The audience doesn't seem pleased and Alessandro addresses the lead as Fake Damiano, then asks the audience to stop booing 😂 Another fake Maneskin song, actually a half-song, this time a ballad and the audience isn't even pretending to like it. This is a weird segment, which I hope they'll sharpen by tomorrow.

23:35 - Back to another recap. The audience seems tired and isn't really cheering anything until Italy and Spain, which even they are subdued. All is forgiven as Gigliola Cinquetti graces the stage, as flawless and beautiful as always, singing Non ho l'età. Gorge! Wish there was more of this than the other unnecessary fodder. We then get a clip of past Eurovision entries, celebrating their creativity.

Now we get Mika singing his greatest hits, which is a lot of fun. Gotta hand it to him, the guy is energetic at this time of night after doing all he's been doing this far. And one more recap, followed by one more clip of building up to the winner from previous years.

00:05 - Breaking news: the sun has moved! It's a backdrop for the voting stand and it looks gorgeous...what a waste and missed opportunity not to have used it up until this point. Opening the voting with The Netherlands and Jeangu with the first fake 12 going to Australia. Right😂. The hosts have zero patience for the banter that follows with the next spokesfolk, will be hilarious if it's like this irl tomorrow. Fwiw, Ukraine gave fake 20 to the UK.

And with that I bid thee a buona notte. Thank you for following, and have fun tomorrow. There's a great show to look forward to 💖


Grand Final - Dress Rehearsal 1

 While Jonas is not allowed to leave his room until he's finished watching Eurolaul 1993, I'm watching the first dress rehearsal and bringing you the highlights. You're already seen the songs performed so there's no point talking about each one of them, so let's talk about: What surprises RAI have for us? What does the scoreboard look like? Will Blanco be there? Does Moldova suddenly feel like a surefire winner after 83 ballads in a row?

13:01 The screen has gone all blank. Scandalous behaviour by RAI. I hope Italy never host again. Oh wait, that was arcticandy pressing the wrong button on the remote. Well they haven't started - there's a UK flag projected on the floor, so possibly still rehearsing prop changeovers.

13:11 And we're about to start - Laura will not be here, she's "taking a rest" but will join us for the interval act, according to the MC.

13:49 The intro wasn't streamed, and now we see Switzerland. Marius is singing higher notes that we've heard in the last chorus. Is he planning to do this tomorrow?

13:56 France took a long time to set up and Mika had to improvise. Some very messy camerawork and they'll need those rehearsals to get things right by tomorrow.

14:02 There was no break between Norway and Armenia. They managed the allegedly complicated changeover during the 40 second postcard. And the break will be after Armenia.

14:09 Mahmood is in shorts, boots, and a kimono. That's... a look. Will he be wearing it tomorrow? Nobody knows.

14:17 You probably knew it already, but the contrast between Spain and Netherlands is the contrastiest contrast ever.

14:20 We're getting the UK postcard for Ukraine. Well they're similar names I guess, easy mistake to make. I'm not really getting winner vibes, but there's no audience now and it can make all the difference.

14:26 A green-room break before Germany, which is somehow working better than I anticipated. 

14:33 Another quick break before Lithuania, don't think this one is planned. Monika is without her wig(?) looking more like Kateryna from Go_A. I actually prefer this look.

14:39 Belgium is on. As some of you know me, I'm a hopeless ballad lover, but even I'm struggling in this section of the lineup. This is followed by a break, the fake Laura is promoting the official CD and DVD.

14:52 Greece was the same. Iceland is on and all Systur are wearing shades. Probably a tribute to Magnús Kjartansson.

14:55 Anyone who wandered off to the kitchen will be summoned back by the opening HEY HO of Moldova. This is out-contrasting the earlier contrastiest contrast ever. 

14:59 Now I get the running order. "Now that we have your attention, here's the good ballad". Oops, Corneila is having yet another technical problem and has to stop. Alessandro for the rescue.

15:11 Australia was the sa... identical to what we've seen. Followed by another break.

15:20 The UK prop is obviously causing headaches for the hosts, having to extend and improvise breaks before and after. Sam himself has polished his act and does just the right amount of adlibs.

15:26 Poland's splash is followed by Serbia's towels and I see what you did there RAI.

15:31 I can see why Estonia is closing - a crowd pleaser with no props. And the real Laura is here!

15:43 A snabbis followed by the hosts introducing us to the wonders of Italian hand gestures 🤏✋👌🤙 with the help of some dancers. Very much work in progress at this stage. Some of the gestures they're teaching us are basically identical to Serbia's choreography.

15:46 A real astronaut this time, an Italian one greeting us from the International Space Station. There's a lot of space this year. All we're missing is Elon Musk, but there's still an hour or so to go.

15:49 This is the Måneskin bit. With stand-ins. They will perform a song (not sure what, the stand-ins didn't really sing), followed by an interview (in which they didn't really speak). Then another song.

15:58 Another snabbis. Spain chose the "ooooooo" part for theirs with very little actual song, which I think is a terrible idea.

16:02 Alessandro is in space. He is space. He's a galaxy. SO MUCH SPACE TODAY

16:03 Gigliola Cinquetti is here, looking more like Py Bäckman. Non ho l'età is performed in full, which means this is the first time we get to see it in full in Eurovision, not destroyed by Danish archive fires or interrupted by Toto.

16:09 a video section about fashion in Eurovision history (Gisela is there, nuff said) followed by Mika singing his hits with big hearty flags, an LED piano and a lot of dancers. And another piano. Oh no he took his shirt off. Oh no it's just a very tight skin-colour body suit, the kind that only Blanco should be allowed to wear.

16:25 Yet another snabbis. It's been nearly an hour and the votes are still open. I should have been used to this from recent Eurovisions, but it surprises me every time. And now Laura is in glittery gold giving us a countdown, some fancy graphics with the numbers turning into dust.

16:31 A short clip and straight to the voting. All three hosts will be doing the voting. Taking a while to get to the Dutch spokesperson standing in front of a Friet van Piet. The spokespersons are Italian stage workers who haven't been briefed about what they need to do. This will be entertaining (or exhausting). I should add that the scoreboard looks like... a scoreboard, just with this year's colour schemes.

16:47 Mika is yawning, they were fed up so they just skipped to the televote part. France won the jury vote with Azerbaijan last.

16:57 The televote reveal is ongoing. We get different sound effect depending on if the country scored well ("prrrrring!") or poorly ("pffpffpff"). UK wins the fake voting, much to the delight of the fake Sam (a stage worker who has to cut short her phone call)

And we're done - overall it's going to be a great show, despite the BALLADY SEQUENCE OF DOOM. Much thanks to the hosts being a lot of fun.

Thursday 12 May 2022

Semi 2 - Team Prediction

 After having been struck down for a sexist consequence to the first semi prediction that does not belong in the 21st Century, there will be no dishwashing this time. Instead, the loser of this prediction has to watch Eurolaul 1993.

What do you think?

Semifinal 2 - Fishy Prediction

Is it okay if I just predict seven entries to qualify tonight...? I'm somehow struggling to find enough entries that feel like actual qualifiers, but I guess someone will just have to do it, Isis Gee style. Just with less teeth.

Let's attempt anyway - can I beat the 8/10 I got on Tuesday?

Achille Sildefisk

1 Sweden | It's just miles above the others today, if it's not winning this semi you can call me a tapir with a dentist appointment. That bit in the second verse where the beat kicks and the blinking lights - soooo good, get your geese out!
2 Poland | Watching the whole thing at yesterday's dress rehearsals I actually thought there were much less effects than I'd expected, but I guess that's got more to do with my expectations. The song and performance leaves me relatively cold, but juries will surely love all the pseudo-artsyness. And we've seen what Poland can manage in a televote too when it clicks. 
3 Estonia | This leaves me quite cold too, but I need something to put third... I imagine it will do well tonight, only to get completely forgotten in the final, which is about what it deserves too. Competent and forgettable.
4 Australia | Usj. Barely a song. But at least he didn't rehearse the cry yesterday. Very well sung, so all those jurors that think Eurovision is like Idol will surely send him through very safely. Particularly since it's Australia. Hopefully televoters will have more sense!
5 Finland | Less well sung, but also needs it less.
6 Serbia | I'm less taken by this than most seem to be, but it's quite mesmerising either way.
7 Romania | It's absolute rubbish of course, but delightfully silly and cheerful, and could sneak through thanks to televoters being that way inclined.
8 Cyprus | Now it's starting to get tough... I've really liked this all season, assumed it as a safe qualifier (despite not being an UPTEMPO BOP), and think the whole shell thing looks quite nice on stage. But she looks very very bored, and isn't exactly packed with charisma. Could it lose out after all?
9 Azerbaijan | Not much of a song and not much light, but it does have a great drama-build towards the end. Instinctively I'd say it's a non-qualifier, but the juries need something to vote for...
10 Belgium | Surely another jury save, I wasn't at all convinced by this in the dress rehearsal.

11 Israel | Very nearly put this in, as it is rather struttastic while also being complete garage. Oh, did I say garage? I meant garbage.
12 San Marino | Seems to be the one gaining some momentum over the last few days, but it is still the same rather lame song it's been all along. I'll be relatively pleased to be wrong though, it's colour tv of the highest order, so would be a decent addition to the final. And I'm not going to be that person that compares it to Måneskin, nor that person that says "well actually he was around long before them".
13 Czechia | 🥒
14 Malta | She's not doing anything wrong, and I like it quite a bit, but at the dressrehearsal it mainly struck me as long (hvis det er lov å si).
15 Georgia | I didn't think it was possible, but it's actually worse than Black Mamba.
16 Ireland | It'd be nice for them if they qualified, and it's all perfectly decently done, but urgh, the song is really getting on my nerves. It's... just not very good, is it?
17 North Macedonia | Repeating my Bulgaria strategy here - it's just too obviously coming last to manage to come last.
18 Montenegro | :-(( My second favourite tonight, and unlike Denmark, where we were at least two people, I think I'm literally alone in the world on this :-((

Wednesday 11 May 2022

Semi Final 2 - Jury Rehearsal

Welcome to the live blog of the jury rehearsal of the second semi final. This is the moment of truth for another bunch of participants hoping to make it to the final. Tonight, they can make a first step and I’ll be here to praise and bitch about anything I see. Buckle up - and let’s get started!

Shocker, EBU intro is still the same.


We see one of the hosts backstage pretending everything is organized and we’re all set to go. Why don’t you fix the sun if everything’s so well-organized, eh? Opening on stage consists of various lush Italian men in suits dancing.Very cheeky. People in green cat suits joining now and I’m not sure why because there seem to be no special effects. 

Hosts (minus one) walking in and welcoming everyone (and the four excited fans in the audience). Laura Pausini looks better than during the first semi. The other hosts now notice the one host who made sure everything is well-organized is now back from his well-organizing.

The other hosts have now been impressed by Mika’s French and we’re off to go. And so ESC has begun.. again?


Lead singer still has a huge forehead and going for that Chucky look. Singing is solid. Not too keen on the stage that has been filled with huge balloons. Overall the basic “look at us being rocky” vibe. Should probably qualify.


Yas, gurl. Opening has a runway show vibe. Graphics on the floor and the use of props is rather slick. Dancing is on point. This brings much needed fun to the stage, especially after Finland. If Israel was in last night’s semi, this would’ve made it. I suspect it might struggle tomorrow night.


Brilliant or bizarre? I’d say brilliant, but I was wondering how they’d translate the brilliance on screen. The answer: the lyrics are subtitled. Despite that, will the audience get the meaning in between grabbing snacks (nom nom) and drinks (a dry white wine please) though? If not, I’m afraid people will tend to get bored easily.


I see Azerbaijan has copied Farid’s stage choreo, removed the transparent cage and purchased stairs. There’s nothing wrong with the staging, but there’s also really not that much that makes it stand out. It’s all a bit impactless. Vocals are solid and should receive a fair share of points from the juries tonight.


On par with the awfulness they brought to Rotterdam, but at least Tornike was easy on the eyes. Oh right, eyes.. eyes, mouths and possibly other body parts are part of the graphics projected on the LEDS. But of course you knew that already because this is the gazillionth rehearsal. To me this is as hopeless as Bulgaria was yesterday.


First impression: gorgeous staging, Emma looks stunning. But at the same time: oy, shaky vocals. It’s a pity because I think the song has potential to do better than it’ll probably do. Shaky went to terrible real bad in the meanwhile. It sounds like they’re only making use of the on track backings, while she probably could’ve used the help of some singers om stage as well. I’m afraid this is a non-qualifier. Unless they paid the juries a little extra of course.

Small break

Did I say Laura looks good? Haha, silly me. We’re getting some information about the San Remo Festival now and some cringe lines from the hosts.

San Marino

This is so pretentious and ridiculous it becomes amazing. Achille brings the Måneskin appeal without the song or talent. The staging is everything every average Eurovision viewer expects from Eurovision; glitter, glammer and pyro. This will do really well in televoting, I imagine. Crazy thought, could this go Top 10 on Saturday? He sounded solid too.

Short break again, before we move on to Australia

I was expecting quite a lot going by the fact this is pretty high up in the odds, but I find it a tad.. irritating? I’m not buying the fashionable look, the song is mediocre at best and his endless whaling makes you forget the nice features there are to this performance real bad and remember. Juries will probably save this, but I doubt many people will pick up their phone for this. Marija Serifovic ain’t winning again this year.


Dodgy vocals and she seems to be off from the track a little in the beginning. Ouch. Nice prop, but really doesn’t add anything to the performance. A complete waste of a great song. She completely blands into her prop which makes her stand out even less. There’s as much charisma on stage as there are visitors in the audience. Emma’s vocals sound fine now.


A nice surprise after the Irish screw-up of last year. Is it unique and total awesomeness? No. It *is* a very welcome breath of fresh air after the line-up we’ve seen so far. Vocally solid’ish. She could really use some help from backings. I’d say this has a good chance to make it into the televoting Top 10. I’m afraid all in all the juries will keep this out of the final though.

North Macedonia

Anyone who’s followed the news around her can’t help but feel sorry. I’m a little confused here.. she sounds bad? Is she purposely not making a proper effort? I thought she was a better singer. I’m a little baffled. She better asks for political asylum in her last sentence.


Stefan is looking very lush and sounding very stable. The staging is sufficient, nothing too special, but it’ll do the trick. Pretty safe qualifier, I’d say. He’s actually the first one who manages to hype up the audience. 

And yet another break, Mika is going on about alarm clocks for some unapparent reason.


Romania brings some much needed fun to the line-up, although it’s surprisingly tame. Vocals aren’t great and therefore I’m afraid the juries will bury this. As a Eurovision fan though, I’m really digging this and hoping the televoters will pick it up.  


I can see why this allegedly received so many applause from within the press centre. The staging is well done, although it has some really rough parts of incredibly cheap on-screen graphics and effects. My problem with this isn’t so much the staging or the song, but rather him. He has the charisma of a sandwich and hardly ever makes a connection with the camera. I suppose this will qualify, but no freaking way this is coming anywhere near winning.


First impression: gorgeous staging and Vladana looks beautiful as well. If she sounded anything like on the studio this was a sure qualifier. Now, with these vocals, it’ll be tough, but not as unlikely as the current odds might suggest.


From the very first few notes Jérémie shows he’s vocally very capable. Capable is how I’d describe the staging as well. I can’t really find anything wrong with this apart from the fact it’s all a bit repetitive and therefore boring. A few notes off towards the end as well in his eagerness to vocally impress. I’m fearing for Belgium’s qualification.


Whatever you saw at Melodifestivalen. Flawless. The first real contender for victory on Saturday. Head and shoulders above anything else.

Czech Republic

I was afraid this would be this semi’s Austria, but the staging is slick, her vocals are much more stable and the song definitely belongs in the Top 10 here as well. Qualifier.

Going through to the final:

🇫🇮 🇷🇸 🇸🇲 🇦🇺 🇪🇪 🇵🇱 🇲🇪 🇧🇪 🇸🇪 🇨🇿 

Semifinal 2 - first dress rehearsal live blog

Good afternoon, ESC Nation and other readers. Today I'll be live blogging from the first full rehearsal of the second semifinal.

The show starts with some backstage "funny" segments with Alessandro Cattelan. I'm not quite sure what's going on. Then he enters the stage and the stream starts buffering a lot, bu we catch a glimpse of him dancing to the TikTok hit "My Name Is" by the band D Billions (If you don't know this song yet, good for you). 

Then we get Laura and Mika on stage instead. Just talking. Thank god. It's clearly a rehearsal, because Laura is sometimes literally just going "bla bla bla bla bla bla" to fill out spaces where the script possibly isn't ready yet.

Alessandro is wearing a black suit with glittery silver details, Laura is in a dark red dress, and Mika is in white trousers, a white t-shirt and a baseball cap. I assume his outfit made sense with something in the intro that we couldn't quite see, but it does make him look like he's their 6 year old son. 

🇫🇮 Finland with even more silly hair than we're used to seeing. Vocally it sounds... fine? Definitely comes across better than in some previous performances. It's adequate for the type of song that it is. If it'll qualify or not will probably not have anything to do with the vocals, if he can sing it like this during the evening shows as well. I'm still not sure who thought that the yellow wellies were a good idea, though.

🇮🇱 Israel starts of with a vocally perfect performance. As with Finland, if this doesn't qualify it probably won't have anything to do with underwhelming vocals. Then... unfortunately the stream dies. Did the EBU deliberately cut it to hide something?

🇷🇸 Serbia next. Konstrakta performs it confidently without any issues. I'm still not sure what the viewers will make of the subtitles that come and go. But I do like that they look like regular subtitles rather than just some artsy words smacked on top of the picture. 

🇦🇿 Azerbaijan up now. Another vocally good performance. It's all dark and gloomy, and comes across as perhaps slightly boring. But there's some serious power vocals in this, especially near the end. I can not imagine that this would not do well with the juries?

🇬🇪 Georgia has a slightly better sound mix than before. We can actually hear the high falsetto vocals in the verse a bit better. But the staging feels like it's darker than before. They band members are quite badly lit, even when the rest of the stage is bright. Not sure if it's a mistake or intentional. But even if it's intentional, it's clearly a mistake. 

🇲🇹 Malta is the last one to perform before the ad break. Emma struggles a bit with the low notes in the first verse, but once she gets to the chorus she gets a lot better. Overall I think the vocals are far better now than in some of the earlier rehearsals. Not amazing, but perfectly adequate. 

And here's Laura again, introducing a segment about the history of the Sanremo festival. We get to see some footage from past editions. The speaker also points out that it was the FIRST song contest to be broadcast on television and was the inspiration for Eurovision. 

🇸🇲 San Marino is on, quite fittingly, right after the Sanremo mini documentary. With ALL THE PROPS. And ALL THE PYRO. The vocals are sometimes slightly off, but again, probably perfectly fine for the type of song that this is. Even when he's being thrown around by the mechanical bull he manages to sing this quite ok. But visually, this really is a lot. 

🇦🇺 Australia next up, but first a quick greenroom visit with Mika. Probably to get some extra time for the stage people to get all the props on and off the stage. And now the song starts. Somewhere behind all the feathers and rhinestones and frills there's a Sheldon who does his best to outloud the backing track. Vocally there are no issues at all here. 

🇨🇾 Cyprus also has another huge prop, so we get one more quick break before the song begins. Shorter than the one before Australia at least. Andromache looks stunning in her oyster-prop, but also slightly sulky. The vocals are not quite spot on. Not bad enough to be bad, but also not good enough to be good. 

🇮🇪 Ireland up next. Brooke stars off on the floor in the centre of attention a big heart. Another vocally fine performance. But most importantly, all of Brooke's charm and likability shines through quite well. The spoken part still comes across as a bit forced, but overall it works fine both visually and vocally. I've no idea if it will manage to qualify or not, but I think Brooke's giving it quite optimal chances with this performance at least. 

🇲🇰 North Macedonia up now to change the mood. Andrea sings it well, and the LED-floor has some really nice moments. But everything also looks quite dark and sad. And there isn't much to disguise the fact that it's essentially just a person alone on an empty stage. Though after all the crazy props and dancing we've had before this, maybe it will be a good thing?

🇪🇪 Estonia is another song that very much is just a single person on an empty stage. But we do get a lot of walking. Stefan does handle the empty stage better than Andrea. And he sings well. But there is not much done to hide the fact that most of the chorus is just basically a bunch of pre-recorded vocals where he doesn't even pretend to sing. 

And here's a break. Mika is talking about birds and Måneskin and whatnots. And then we get footage of... babies.. and rain... and coffee...?? I have no idea what's going on. I think it's supposed to be some sort of ASRM-themed bit, but it's not very relaxing. 

🇷🇴 Romania up next. During the opening party he revealed that he does have on live backing singer. And it very much sounds as if both he and the backing singer are singing everything together. I think there might still be some adjustments to the mixing that should be done to make it sound right. But it's a confident performance. Could be enough to get Romania back into the final.

🇵🇱 Poland now. Can't tell what's the stream buffering and what's deliberate effects. Ochman sings it perfectly and the high notes are very impressive, but if he has a personality the cameras are unfortunately not quite catching it in this rehearsal. 

🇲🇪 Montenegro's Vladana in another dark staging now. She's wearing a blue dress with a giant umbrella attached to the back, with lots of tiny lights on it. Vocally some notes are a little bit off, but nothing major. At the end she switches to Italian, and then back to English for the final climax. 

🇧🇪 Belgium has stage lights quite similar to the previous two entries that were just performed. Dark stage, blue and white lights. The producer-made draw feels weirdly odd here. There might also be something wrong with the lights, or they've made some odd choice, because Jeremie spends a lot of the song being just lit from the sides, leaving the front of his face in darkness. Vocally this is excellent, though! If there are a lot of singers, vocal coaches and Idol/The Voice/X Factor judges in the national juries, this will surely get a lot of points. 

🇸🇪 Sweden, and we have our first obvious technical issue. Cornelia sings the first line, then the song stops, she suddenly goes "YEEEAAAAAA!!!" and interrupts the performance. Alessandro comes on to explain that things are not quite ready yet and gives us some filler-talk. Then Sweden gets to restart.  Cornelia seems to hold back slightly (probably wise) and her hair goes a bit rogue and fluffy at times. But overall a convincing performance that I think does manage to stand out in spite of being the last of 4 ballads in a row. 

🇨🇿 Czech Republic are up last, but the stage is once again not ready. So Alessandro has to come up with even more things to say while we wait. Finally We Are Domi get to start their performance. Vocally there's some slightly shaky bits. The high notes are definitely not 100 % in the correct pitch.  Just like with Austria, the off-stage backing singers are quite prominent in the mix. This is sounding better than that, at least. But after a lot of strong vocal performances in this semifinal, this does stand out as vocally quite weak. Let's hope they can improve for tonight. 

And... after about half an hour of fixing some technical issues, the rehearsal continues. Romania are about to rehearse again. We don't know why. But the stream buffered a bit during their first performance, so perhaps something went wrong that I couldn't see. This second rehearsal feels like it sounds and looks the same as the first one they did earlier this afternoon. 

And now... Poland are on again? Are they going to re-do all the six last songs? This might be a very long rehearsal. He's now taken off his suit jacket and is in just a white shirt. Is it deliberate or is it just because he had already got out of his outfit and was ready to leave the venue when he got called back? His dancers might have left, because they're now missing. (Which, to be fair, makes the whole performance look a lot better)

And of course... here's Montenegro. She's at least wearing her umbrella-dress this time as well. Vocally, she's better this time. Maybe there were issues with the in-ear sound for all the last 6 entries before?

Belgium on again now. Looks and sounds the same as before. Same outfit, same dancers, same lights. 

And here's Swe... no, here's Czech Republic again. For some reason we don't seem to get another performance from Cornelia, so We Are Domi are the next in line. Vocally, it's about the same as before. 

Back to the hosts. And it's time for a recap. 

And now some interval acts. Mika and Laura are singing something. And then some various pre-filmed bits. 

Now, Chanel on stage to be interviewed by Laura. Who asks Chanel "When was the last time Spain 🇪🇸 won?". The shade! Followed by about a minute of the footage from Chanel's earlier rehearsal. 

Then United Kingdom 🇬🇧, with Sam wearing a more covered-up version of Chanel's black and silvery outfit. And we get to see a minute of Space Man. It looks and sounds good. 

And last, Malik and Germany 🇩🇪. He talks about his grandfather. For the clip they're showing they're starting off with the spoken part, which is... a choice. 

And now... I kid you not... we get a postcard from Serbia. But... it's not Serbia rehearsing again, instead it's Spain 🇪🇸. So we get to see her full performance. The main thing I'm learning from this is that they've re-arranged the song to include a brand new intro. It sounds a bit like the trumpet intro from I Wanna. The trumpets also appear quickly before the dance break. Overall they've made it more latin. For the final chorus she takes her jacket off and we're getting a very big pyro curtain. Muy pretty!

And here's the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 and their full performance. Sam is singing very well but comes across as maybe slightly over-excited and ad libs a bit much even in the 2nd verse. The props look nice, and he pulls out a guitar in the end. Otherwise it's a pretty straightforward performance that highlights the song quite well.

Finally, Germany 🇩🇪. After a looong break to get the stage ready. Did he not bother to get changed into his outfit and ended up in his lazy-sunday-at-home-clothes? Nope, that's just his actual stage clothes. Vocally it's fine, but the spoken bit still sounds a bit awkward. He walks around between all the various instruments placed all over the stage. The stage is another dark stage with blue lights. 

It's now been 3 and a half hours since the rehearsal started. And we're still waiting for the fake results announcement. I feel like I'm being held hostage. 

And... here's another UK rehearsals. ffs. By request, I'm now paying extra attention to whether you can see the stagehands open the props. And no, I can't see them do it. The camera films it from very far off. 

And finally, nearly 4 hours after the rehearsal began, we're soon about to get the "results". Alessandro is the only host still left in the arena, so he just said that he'll have to try to do the scripts of all three of them by himself. 

But... No! Now we suddenly get Il Volo performing. 

That's it! I've had enough. I'm giving up. This rehearsal has officially broken me. I'm off to try to recover, and you'll have to find out about what happens during the remaining 2 hours of it from somebody else. 

Tuesday 10 May 2022

Semi 1 - Team Prediction

 I've twisted the arms of the entire escnation team (at least the ones who have watched the dress rehearsals) to call their 10. This is what we came up with:

The worst predictor gets to wash the dishes tonight. Which one do you think it will be?

Semifinal 1 - Fishy Prediction

Watching the dress rehearsal yesterday didn't really hint at any shock qualifiers or non-qualifiers (yes, Ukraine will make it), but it did potentially clarify some of the borderliners a bit. And then unclarified (fogged? calima-ed?) some others...

We all nearly got a heart attack from a plane flying literally a few metres above us just now, but I think I've decided what I think will happen tonight - unless more heart attacks happen.

1 Greece | I'm still not sold on the song, but can't deny that it's good, and they're doing everything right with it. Likely jury winner, and shouldn't be too far behind in the televote either.
2 Ukraine | It was always a solid entry, and all the surroundings gives it an extra dimension.
3 Norway | Televote winner? Assume juries will be less keen, but no reason they should completely burn it.
4 Armenia | I was a bit underwhelmed for parts of it yesterday, despite loving it (the best song tonight, except the Italian ones later in the show), but when she rips a giant hole in the set it all comes together. Now just get the keychange back and we're all set!
5 Portugal | It doesn't give me a lot, but it's quite flawless still. And she's surely the prettiest person to be in Eurovision since Greek Dancer With A Hat II or so?
6 Netherlands | It disappeared a bit for me in the line-up yesterday, but then it always did anyway, unlike for many others, so there's clearly something there that I'm missing.
7 Austria | My first bold choice - I think this stands out a lot and is performed well enough for what it is to get the audience in the hall and at home on board. It doesn't necessarily need perfect notes as much as it needs joy, and it sure has the latter!
8 Albania | An incoherent, shouty mess, but it's quite a glorious incoherent, shouty mess.
9 Lithuania | I've assumed this to be safe for months, but not that sure anymore. It's not doing anything wrong (quite the contrary, it literally sparkles!), and I think it'll get solid jury support, but apart from the usual televoting suspects (who are mainly in the other semi, except Norway and Latvia), I doubt your average televoter will remember it when it's time to pick up the phone.
10 Iceland | I'm not at all sure about this, but it's got a lucky draw and feels like a nice breath of fresh air.

11 Denmark | :-(
12 Moldova | They ruined it for themselves by rocking it up and folksing it down, trying to be more serious just makes it boring. Also, it's horrendous, of course.
13 Switzerland | It's a shame, as I really like it, and I think the juries will too, but I think it'll be completely forgotten by the televoters when it's on that early.
14 Croatia | Is it even there?
15 Slovenia | I have no idea who is going to vote for it or why or why not, it's all very befuddling.
16 Bulgaria | It's just too obviously coming last to manage to come last, isn't it?
17 Latvia | Is it just wishful thinking? Or is Alex going to ruin it all, unless I drown his phone?

Monday 9 May 2022

Semi-Final 1 - Second dress rehearsal (jury show)

In a couple of minutes the jury show for semi-final one is scheduled to start. I'm pleased to keep you updated about what's happening!

INTRO - Due to technical issues I missed the first minute of the opening, but we see an inventor inventing a drone that flies over Turin and in a ESC 1970 way it flies into the arena, where we see a glimpse of a FIAT before we enter the stage to the sounds of 'Nessun dorma' (which you may recognize as the Danish postcard song in 1991). But quickly a rock guitar kicks in, followed by someone on stilts singing 'Sound of Beauty' surrounded by dancers that were already excellently described by Sild and alex earlier today. We finish it off with a very high note.

A much lower voice goes "Ciao Torino, let me hear your voice! You are the sound of beauty!" and it introduces the hosts. They make a reference to ESC's 1965 and 1991 and a thank you goes to Rotterdam. I was expecting Laura's English to be better. Mika and Alessandro are fine in that respect, but I agree that Mika is a bit annoying. At least in this opening. He's doing the obligatory French part. 

The onscreen graphics are very much in the style we already saw for the semi allocation show, it's all very red/cherry colour.

Finally the words "Let the Eurovision Song Contest begin" are spoken. Followed by a probably unintended but hearable 'Bomba' by Laura Pausini during the Albanian postcard.

ALBANIA - OK this makes much more sense as an opener than I expected. Ronela immediately tries to involve the audience. And they seem to love it. The hall doesn't seem very full for this rehearsal though. So yes, I suppose it makes some sort of impression to viewers and it's a crazy mess that will get noticed. But also still a very incoherent song. But it's better than I expected to be fair.

LATVIA - Another very in your face one to follow them. Okay, this comes across as big fun. Slick and very colourful performance. When the (epic?) sax player has his moment the stage lights up all in white to get back to all colourful right after. This is an excellent performance. Can't see this not qualify now actually. But of course, there's still quite a few goodies to follow. 

LITHUANIA - Oh, the stage looks beautiful for this one. For the chorus there is a short Sertab '96/mirror effect. Monika draws you in but perhaps it remains too much on the dull side to make a long lasting impact. Oh I really love the lighting for this one. But I fear for its chances.

At the end of the song we see a random shot from the green room where stand-ins are cheering for Monika.

SWITZERLAND - After having seen the rehearsal pictures I had expected the worst for this, but for me this staging really works. It's fragilely sung, he's looking fragile. He totally convinced me and connected very well with the camera. It got a big applause as well. This looks like a pretty certain qualifier to me, and may actually be a bit of a surprise in the final.

SLOVENIA - Must say the sound on this stream seems to be very good (as it should be in 2022 of course). LPS sound totally fine. The staging concept makes me a bit dizzy with all the circling around the disco ball. This needed to be excellent to be in with a chance but it is not. It is decent and that's very likely not going to enough I'm afraid.

Must say that I don't think anyone will notice the stage isn't functioning as intended. It's been looking just fine for all entries so far.

UKRAINE - Already a historic performance in the making. Flute man apparently has been taking singing lessons now too. I don't think they could do anything wrong here and they aren't doing anything wrong. Got a very long and loud applause.

BREAK - Laura reminds us that we cannot vote yet. And she asks "How's going on" (sic). And then there's an semi-awkward kiss-your-neighbour moment. We get to see a short city promotional for Turin. But also the stage building in progress. Including a rotated sun. It ends up with a 'Veni vidi Eurovici'. We're back to the hosts with some random information from the indeed very green room.

BULGARIA - Solid performance here as well. Stage is all black and white for the first part, and with the second chorus the red kicks in. And there's pyro's with the guitar solo. This wasn't a bad performance really, it was quite enjoyable.

NETHERLANDS - A very minimalist staging though perhaps a bit less minimalist than Switzerland. S10 is standing on some sort of kite-shaped platform for the first verse. She sounds vocally fine, but to be fair, and I may be a bit subjective here .... I was expecting to be drawn into it more. It's fine but a bit ... underwhelming? 

MOLDOVA - This just comes across as trying too hard to be funny in an aggressive way but sort of not really achieving to entertain. It's very noisy and whereas I had this as a certain qualifier I can now actually seeing this close to a last place. The audience seems to enjoy it somewhat though.

PORTUGAL - No car crashes so far, and this one is no exception obviously. That makes it a bit hard to tell you something you haven't been able to read in earlier reports perhaps. I see six singers, so I suppose the quarantined girl is out of quarantine or she got replaced. Interestingly a very disappointing audience reaction to this one. I think we've been overestimating its chances a bit. I'd say it's one of the borderliners based on this decent, but also a bit 'passing by' performance. I also think it's very dark and the standing in a circle makes it look messy.

Small break with Alessandro and Laura.

CROATIA - A very confusing choreography with people walking randomly around each other and not so much actual dancing. Mia switches to Croatian for the last minute or so of the song. Which unfortunately makes it even a bit more messy to me. Also a bit lame applause here. Vocals seem to be fine here as well though, it's getting a bit boring almost.

DENMARK - What's this with Denmark having people starting at a piano and leaving it halfway whenever the contest is hosted by Italy? I think the slow part of this is a bit too long. It's also the first one where the eclipse on stage really looks a bit odd. For the rest this is obviously much the same as we know it. Perhaps the weakest vocals of the night, even though still not really bad. Yeah, I think it's a nice try, but I couldn't ever see it qualifying and I still can't.

Back to Mika in the green room with some talking about 'diversity' and 'no barriers for anyone'. And 'Fat is what Eurovision means to me' but I think I misheard that. We get to see some snippets from the turquoise carpet and someone random (or is it Nadir? or well, why not both) singing a snippet from 'Con te partirò'.

AUSTRIA - Thankfully finally some vocals that don't sound totally decent. It probably doesn't matter much for this song, but yeah, we've heard better. Pia Maria also looks like she's in pain at moments. The halo on stage is a bit of a strange idea as both Lumix and Pia Maria are stuck within it, creating an artificial distance with the audience, where some direct engagement may have suited the song much better. We get lot of audience shots though and they're enjoying it. Also the vocals get better near the end of the song. Big applause. I really can't tell but I'm tempted to give it the benefit of the doubt, especially if juries forgive those ... not so good first notes.

ICELAND - First impressions really play an important part in people listening to your song and that's why I'm paying particular attention to the start of each song / performance. This is one where the start is fine. The sisters look classy and sound fine obviously. At the end of the song one of them makes a reference to Ukraine "We stand with you". Which is nice, but also comes across as a bit tacky to me. But as a performance I'd say this wins it from its most direct competitor Portugal quite convincingly.

GREECE - Birthe Kjær must agree with the message to 'dye together'. But this time we're not painting it red but blue. Very blue. Amanda sounds excellent from the first second. The camera work for the climax of this song is excellent. Thankfully they've not overdone the staging. It suits it just fine. This is definitely sailing through and one to watch as a jury favourite in the final. And I don't think it will leave televoters cold either. Best of the night I dare say.

NORWAY - Totally what we've already seen and/pr what you'd expect it to be like. The singing in the first verse sounded a bit strange, as if they weren't in sync with the backings on tape. Also I thought the audience reaction wasn't as massive as expected tonight. But it comes across on television I'm sure. Nothing to worry here about when it comes to qualifying obviously. Not sure if it's the obvious televote winner though.

Mika and Alessandro throw coins into a 'fountain' to wish the artists luck and apparently for the first time Mika hits it right this time, or so he says.

ARMENIA - As you could have already read and see Rosa Linn walks around a lot in her paper room, revealing texts on the wall, which do not all seem to make much sense. Not very unlike their not so dear neighbour in 2017. In the end she breaks through the paper wall which looks like this actually might be the first time in the song she's facing the audience. Unless I missed a rotation of the paper room. Obviously she sounded fine, but the choreography is unnecessarily distracting imho. Still a certain qualifier in my book, but this is probably not going to break their record.

The presenters then introduce the recap. I think the presenters are doing a decent job. They're not overly there and we had no awkward hiccups so far. It's all going quite smoothly actually. And this goes for the full show so far actually.

To sum it up I think the biggest surprise was Switzerland (possibly because I wasn't expecting much, but I actually thought it really was very good). The runner up (to Ukraine, because yeah, they still look like the one to beat here at least in this semi-final) should be Greece or Norway, but Greece looks m,ore likely to me. Bulgaria was very decent though but yeah, they were never in the Safety Zone anyway, so I don't think it's enough. And Netherlands and Portugal I think didn't really live up to my expectations. Latvia should be a qualifier, I think it looks not so good for Lithuania. And if there's any justice we'll get rid of Moldova tomorrow. Of course this is all pretty subjective, so I'm totally curious what other bloggers around the internet have made of all this! The ESC Nation team members will give their individual qualifier predictions tomorrow, so I'm not doing that yet.

Meanwhile the show of course continues and remember that we also will have a full performance from Italy and France later on tonight. 

Okay minor hiccup with the sound at the end of the recap, but it's nothing dramatical really.

I missed who exactly are in this interval act, but it's something with electronic music and it's actually quite enjoyable (but visually not extremely interesting). Ah at one point there's suddenly a piano on stage and we here a part of 'Children', a big hit of Robert Miles in 1996. And a classical-ish version of 'Blue (da ba dee)' from Eiffel 65 (from 1998). And 'Push me and then just hurt me so I can get my satisfaction'. I should know what this is but it doesn't come to mind right now :p A red-haired singer finishes it off with a song I don't recognize. Ah, they're (or well some of them are) Benny Bennassi and Sophie and The Giant, the presenters say. And indeed there's a small tribute to Raffaella Carrà with 'Fiesta'. 

Ah this time the artists are actually in the hall so we see them in the recap. Again the end of the recap sounds a bit like it's not intended to sound like that. Still one minute left to vote after this recap, so the presenters soon get to the traditional countdown which for some reason is done half in Italian. And again we hear Laura talking though the bumper. 

Then it's time for Diodato singing 'Fai rumore'. But a very toned-down version, which sounds beautiful. Okay, the toned-down part is just the first part. After that he leaves the piano and we see he's joined by a lot of dancers on stage. He then belts out the second chorus. Oh and it seems like the sun is in a different position now. This is beautiful!

This is followed by a 'trip down memory lane' with angels and demons, robots, space men, yodeling Romanians, naked Belarussians and many others.

After this it's time for Armenian JESC winner Maléna, who probably will look different tomorrow? Alessandro says that next year's JESC will be hosted in Yerevan. We also get a promo for JESC 2022, which apparently is also held in Yerevan. A nice dance remix of the winning JESC song plays in the background.

We quickly get to the auto-finalists and France are first. They are interviewed by Mika. And Alvan doesn't really know what to say. We first get to see snippets, as we will tomorrow. But later they, as well as Italy will perform the full song, just today. As you well know recordings of these performances will be made available online tomorrow night.
After a similar interview and snippet with Mahmood and Blanco we get a small promo for Thursday's show. After that something seems to go not totally as intended. Ah, they stopped the recording, to let the two big 5-ers perform. Alessandro shouts 'fuck' at some point .... not sure why. 

It takes a lot of time apparently to set up the stage for France. Perhaps this is an indication that they will indeed open the show on Saturday?

FRANCE - It's all very green ... and a big mess. But also fun. And it has Alvan. Would indeed make a great opener. Haven't got much else to say about it to be fair. Nothing unexpected here.

ITALY - The snippet we saw earlier indeed didn't sound all that good, but by tomorrow it will be replaced by a snippet from today's performance which is about to start now. There's a lot of Italians in the hall it seems, and Blanco fans. We get to hear some sounds from the audience we haven't heard since the voting of ESC 1968. And we've started. Opening shot already looks wonderful with the waterfall lighted up in blue. For the 'tu verse' Blanco stand on the piano. Vocals are totally okay now. Lighting sceme creates a nice intimate atmosphere. I don't really like the LED screen lighting up all in white during certain parts of the song, but that's not a show stopper. For the last chorus some structure comes down from the ceiling and it looks great. It's not much different from what we expected I think, and obviously doing well, but not sure if this was a winning performance. But then, no-one is voting on this one.

We are back to the actual show rehearsal with another promo for Thursday. But I suppose we will see it only once tomorrow. The presenters are standing at their desk and according to Martin Österdahl everyone is good to go. So here they go, bye! 

Okay, not really. Qualifier time. And the first fake qualifier is Latvia. The artists are not longer in the hall so we get to see empty seats. And Portugal is qualifier two. Like last year the countries still to qualify are shown with flags and odd abbreviations in alphabetical order. Lithuania and Norway are qualifying as well and so is Denmark! Laura has a lot of trouble saying 'the fifth qualifier' and shouts 'porca vacca' resulting in the audience laughing and she apologizing. Meanwhile Greece and Armenia also qualified. So still three to go .... Switzerland goes through! The tempo is acceptable tonight, not too quickly but also not too much drawing it out. Laura shouts 'Austria' which means there's only one spot left. And yay, it's the Netherlands! That means that Ukraine is out! But of course only in this rehearsal.

All in all this all went pretty smoothly, actually a bit disappointingly! We see a small recap of the qualifiers and that was it for tonight. Let's hope (or not?) for such a smooth running tomorrow and it's going to be totally alright!

Mika and Alessandro are going to eat a pizza and it's bed time for Eurovision, according to Laura. Joined by the artists on stage we see the end credits followed by Te Deum. 

That's it from me tonight. Probably there won't be coverage for the third rehearsal tomorrow but as announced earlier we'll all (or most of us I hope will) share our prediction for this semi-final! Everybody, enjoy tomorrow!

Semifinal 1 First Dress Rehearsal

It's time for the very first dress rehearsal, iiiih! This little fishie will try to take you through it, and I also have a little helper, or well, a rather tall and Dutch and Alex-y one, who will butt in with his insight. We're not expecting it to start on time, are we...?

We're getting to know the cutie drone from the poastcards and its inventor, and it takes us into a lasery arena, it's all actually quite cool. Some people are playing the lasers like harps, but we're not sure what song it is - it's something familiar, but whether it's familiar for being a famous classical piece or from a Romanian salt mine semifinal, we're not sure.

Some lady (Aminata?) comes on later and shouts Sound of beauty at us, I hope it's not the theme song... But we get plenty of shirtlessness to hello at, so it's all good. Or, apparently they're not shirtless after all, Alex says it's some kind of latex - colour me disappointed. (Excuse me, I got carried away, etc - luckily there was a strict Dutchman to say IT WAS WRONG).

Presenters come on, Laura still with curlers in her hair - I really hope that's the outfit for tomorrow! I'm already annoyed at Mika, this starts promising...

It looked like Ronela went to Ireland for her postcard, but I guess not?

NOW there's shirtlessnness! And quite a bit of drama and shouting and headbanging. It looks far less messy than it did in the clip I've seen before, so I'd say they've tidied this up nicely. Alex is mainly busy trying to spot who is allowed to touch themselves (the male dancers seem to be).

There's some absolutely hideous shouts from her every now and then, but otherwise it's engaging and quite the punch in your face as a starter of the show!

It's been going for fifteen seconds, and I'm already exhausted, but Alex is approving of all the bussy (brassy, that is!). It's exactly as colourful and funky and things as it's always been, but I thought we had a 3-minute rule...? We must be at 30 by now. The red man (do they have names?) is not deemed acceptable in the hair department by Alex, and I must say I agree. Does he have Laura's curlers?

SPARKLY! Alex says it's like Toad from Mario Kart in a sparkly dress. I don't know what that is.

She multiplies towards the end! :-o There's very few surprises here, she's doing everything she should and doing it well, and if you liked this before, you still will, but I doubt it'll get many new fans. It was the first one where Alex lost interest, whereas I find it 'comfortingly dull' (copyright Roger).

Marius is very alone in the dark with his fluffy hair, which apparently went blue just when Andy said it could be blue! Does he have special powers? I think the song (and especially the voice) is rather delicious, but I'm not sure it's not very... watchable? I'm not sold on him, but it might just be the hair. And Alex and I agree on a song for once!

We have several important questions. Is there a girl in LPS? And what gender is the disco ball? Alex wonders if maybe Alcazar will pop out of it? Will the drummer fall down from his plinth (hashtag moist). Why are there no brassy instruments, when we can hear them all through?

I hated this when it won Ema, but I've warmed a bit to it. Alex, on the other hand, really likes it, and describes it as clapworthy. I kinda agree, they make the most of it - but I do assume we're looking at a solid 15th place here.

Yamster bought a pink bucket hat today, so he's ready to step up if they need a replacement. But for now, I see no reason why they should, they're all doing it pretty well without help. The song is an acquired taste everything aside, but I think it's working really, and the mix of eclectic, ethnic, modern and sad-sounding fits the, well, environment. I don't think it's the winner, but it's undoubtedly going to do well.

The flute bit SLAYS, says Alex. He's right.

We get a bit of Mika and Laura standing in the really green green room, and it's very awkward, I somehow think it still will be after rehearsing it more. They're requesting us to kiss our neighbours - our official advice is to ask nicely first.

Then we get a little video with some facts and figures, guess how many metres of cable they needed?


It starts off with only half a screen, before the next half gets filled by another person, and it looks quite neat, but then shortly you realise it's just this song. Stage is just dark with white lights, until it suddenly gets bathed in red about halfway through. It doesn't really help. It's... competent.

Finally some pyro for the guitar solo, so Alex is pleased, but it really needed some more.

Apparently the stage floor shows a fire-y dove at the end, but I missed it! I'm very helpful like that. I think it means they like peace.

Netherlands, The
All by herself in the dark, and it feels like it's going to be very atmospheric with her nice voice, but as Alex points out, wouldn't anything sound magical after Bulgaria...? I always feel a bit disappointed at this, cos it doesn't really deliver what the opening promises, but I can also not find anything wrong with it. Of course it's qualifying, according to both me and little helper.

Hey ho, let's go indeed, Peter Poles-style... Both me and Alex are annoyed already after about nine seconds, so this bodes well. Also, Alex points out the important question - how will we know whether it's meant to be funny if they're not wearing a pointy hat?

I think the more rocky version is a big mistake, even if I may like it slightly more (no, wait, dislike it slightly less). Now it seems less like a fun folksy thing, more like the Bulgarian band (sorry, project) dressed up in colours.

Tedious is the keyword here.

For some reason this is introduced by Alessandro comparing Eurovision to an airport?

The camera pans in on her in a way that makes it feel very intimate and different right away, it's certainly a refreshing change from Moldova! They're facing each other in the circle like has been reported, and while it might feel a bit odd for the audience, it works very well. Alex says he's not overly keen on the song itself, but that the vibe is quite delicious, and that describes it well. It's like a comforting cup of tea or something, and is of course sailing through.

Laura thinks it's eeeaaasyyy.

The very big very pink dress along with the guitar is choice. Maybe that's why the guitar suddenly disappears. The three dancers (pretty dancers, says Alex!) seem to be telling us some elaborate story, but I'm not sure what it is? Mainly that you only need to wander about to be called a dancer.

Oh, and there's suddenly Croatian! That's new, right?

There's about two people in the world who like this, and both of them are right here! So this is going to be very balanced. So negatives first - her hair. But it's better than it was in DMGP, at least!

We can't quite agree about whether the calm bit is suitable in length or waaaay too long, but we LOOOOVE that it just builds and builds and builds and builds and KEYCHANGE PYRO YAAASS.

Is Mika a philosopher now? He's just blabbering, and it's making Alex shout at the tv. Then we're treated with some footage from the Moroccan Oil-coloured carpet ceremony yesterday.

Reports on this have been very mixed, but from the clip I saw, I thought it worked really well, so let's see...

They start off with shouting What's up, Eurovision, party with us! I'd advise against that. The singing is a bit dodgy, as expected, but not too bad, mainly thanks so being doubled by someone (it's probs Valentina Monetta). It must be very awkward to be a DJ in Eurovision, but he looks far more into it and natural than they often do. It's not exactly winning the jury vote, but I think the party feel could help it through thanks to televoters. Alex loves it, but is worried...

Alex loves it, but goes for a wee. Half of that sentence is true. I'm more partial to it, and it's got a good draw, seeming very proper after Austria. Or in Alex's words, "people will confuse it for quality after Austria".

Stage is bathed in warm orange, which is a good choice for something sunny. They're doing it well, but I'm not sure it will be enough.

Norw Greece
It starts off with a close up of her face in the dark, but they didn't line up her eyes with the big PROHIBITED on the screen, and Alex is a bit befuddled by it. Other than that, it's very well done, some great camera shots and lighting effects. And she manages to sing the weird take my heart bit much better now than in a previous clip from the rehearsals. Best moment is obvs blinking lights in the back for the biiiig DIIIIEE. Very blue and very clapworthy!

Wolves in nature in the postcard, very natural. The best thing about this really is when they move their heads and the ears bounce.

There's not much to say here, is it? It's what it always was and always will be. Only change I can spot is that Gaute sounds even more like Gaute than ever. I'm being told off by Alex for ruining the SEKRET now, but some pyro arrived, so he's happy again!

Allora, someone's sticking post-its all over the stage, so we get Alessandro and Mika getting wet. They're not great at throwing coins in a fountain.


All the white and post-its all over the walls and bed and chair and lamp makes it very distinct, but I'm still not sure it's a good idea. But suddenly she rips a big hole in the wall, and audience is there and it's an actual moment! Love it!

Apparently, Destiny is in our hands. What are we going to do with her? And did she bring the pink boots? Other than that, just saying words seem to confuse the presenters, let alone saying them in an order that makes sense.

We're loving the shots of "the artists" in the green room during the snabbis, with very bored stand-ins! Except for Bulgaria, they didn't even find a stand-in. Main take from the reprise is that Switzerland is very forgotten by now, and that Moldova and Portugal switched places, but not graphics - oops! AND DENMARK YAASS.

Interval act
If you want to be surprised by interval act, stop reading now! If you want detailed descriptions of it, go read somewhere else. For now it's some drumming, Alex wonders if it's Safri Trio? Safri Quartet? We've established it's not Robert Miles, at least, as apparently he's with Lys on a nice farm. There's also a brief mention of someone else at that farm - Raffaella Carrà!

Another snabbis, after Laura threatens us that voting time is nearly up. And speaking of threats, Alex is threatening to televote 20 times for Latvia, shall I throw his phone in the pool or the ocean? Votes on a postcard, please.

They sorted out the order of Moldova and Portugal now, luckily. They're possible the least interchangable songs ever? Maybe except Sehnsucht and Aina mun pitää.

It's time to make up for a certain 2020 cancellation, and welcome Diodato on stage to finally perform Fai rumore. A bit unfair to just run over all the actual participants like that, but who am I to complain. Starts off very intimately by the piano, with some random people walking by - could it be the Croatian dancers? And there's an absolutely GORGEOUS gentleman dancer, and lights for the chorus and I'm all covered in gooseberrybumpies from head to toe. WINNER!


We're treated with a recap of various Eurovision history, one more random than the next. Lidia Isac? Brendan Murray?? Odd segment, it doesn't really seem to have a narrative, except to fill some time. Then JESC winner Maléna appears in her massive moon boots, and we get no less than two clips about it - first her not being able to sing the winning reprise, then something to tempt us to go to Yerevan.

Up next is direct finalists, with a little interview and presumably clips of their performances. It's obviously very awkward now, hopefully it will stay the same tomorrow! In news that will shock no-one, Mahmood and Blanco are wearing some ridiculous, massive outfits, but still look delicious.

It took ages to set up the steps and get them going, but here we go. It's green, it's chaotic, it cool, it's weird, it's pretty much exactly how it was in French final. I'm glad it's there, but I don't think it serves any other purpose than that. Look out for scary howls towards the end!

Alex has a very clear message to these people: Sounds do not a song make. Poetic.

Fair and balanced review, here we come! The singing was patchy here and there, Mahmood looks like Herr Flick and Blanco wears a massive tablecloth, but that's not gonna stop me being covered in previously mentioned geese, is it? Nope! The stage doesn't do a lot during this, mainly just black and white, but there's some great lighting effects, like flashing lights for Blanco's angry bit, and some very pwetty blinking in the background during the last chorus. I have officially melted.

Alex, however, is unmelted still. He's not really connecting with it, and mainly just thinks it's high singing.

Martin Österdahl is sitting behind a hedge, for some reason, but he says we're ready. So here are the qualifiers, annoyingly with the three letter codes of last year on the scoreboard:

Bulgaria lolz
Slovenia (the sfthisfsfth qualifier - or qualifier number six)

Jättegrattis, over and out! Alex also waves!

Saturday 7 May 2022

🇩🇪 Germany

If you've seen the NF performance, this is more or less the same concept, but just bigger. Malik is joined on stage by a full set of instruments, including a big piano and a drumkit, neither of which he ever touches. The idea was obviously to create a 'living room' feeling, there's even a carpet on  the floor.

Malik starts off 'playing' the keyboard, but quickly decides not to play any of the instruments on stage and talk/sing to the camera instead occasionally playing the guitar, that for a big part of the song is hanging on his back.

It's a very personal song, but somehow it feels like Malik is too busy with his stage routine to actually get the message across. It gets better near the 'restart' part. Waiting for a second run now. 

Okay, that's more like it. The camera work is totally focused on Malik, which makes totally sense. It circles around him, and we're with him in his living room. There's quite a bit of smoke on stage, and the atmosphere created suits the song very well.

Between rehearsals we see his stage director (I suppose) giving all sort of tips to him, which unfortunately we can't hear. It's not like anything noticeable has changed for the last run. Except that a weird shot of Malik's feet is gone. I suppose it was never supposed to be there anyway. I'm a bit annoyed by the way by Malik's hand gestures when he's singing about 'thinking' or 'remembering' he points to his head all the time. But maybe that's just me. 

It does what it does quite effectively, and it should get some jury love at least. But it's hard to tell what televoters will make of this. They should give it some love too really, but not so confident they will.

That's it for today's rehearsals. Now watching the UK press conference. They just drew (\o/) second half!