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!