Wednesday 10 May 2023

Second Semi-Final Dress Rehearsal 2 (live blog)

Hi all. I'll be blogging this rehearsal. I've only heard most of these songs once, and even then probably not the full 3 minutes, so it will almost be the first time seeing and hearing them in full.

Starting with a recap of last night's talent and the qualifier announcements, then straight to the hosts. Once again the hosts' fashion is gorgeous with black, blue and yellow outfits.

1. Denmark

Very cool opening with close-ups on Reiley's face and and interesting contraption on stage. Vocally this is very competent and a good ending. They should be quite pleased with this.

2. Armenia

Brunette starts on the floor and the colours are gorgeous. Beautiful vocals and the camera work for the first part is intimate and engaging. The rap parts are in alternating white and black lighting and the audience clearly likes this. It ends on a slanted elevated stage and this is a fantastic rehearsal for her.

3. Romania

It starts with a beautiful pan out shot of the stage, then he starts singing and it sort of gets lost from there. He's alone on a stool in a pink shorts suit and a guitar and it doesn't seem to connect. When the song gets going faster there are LED images of him in a long sleeve white tee..hashtag choices. I doubt this is staying beyond tomorrow night and there's very little engagement from the audience. 

4. Estonia

Ooo there's a piano that plays itself. What kind of sorcery is this?!? Now she's sitting by the piano and singing in a beautiful blue outfit, then she starts moving on the stage. She looks stunning and this is very professionally staged. She's very animated for the last third when the tempo picks up and her vocals are flawless, especially that last note. They should be very pleased with this.

5. Belgium

The opening of this is great, and it gets the audience going immediately. Gustaph is a stage animal and he's incredibly engaging and a damn good vocalist too. His interaction with backing ladies is also very slick, every second of this is so thought out. The audience is eating up every bit of it and it should do very well tomorrow. Biggest applause so far by far.

Chitchat break with Timur and Graham, and some more banter on stage.

6. Cyprus 

Nice dark blue staging starts this off and good vocals (the little of it that isn't pre-recorded). There's not much going on stage, but he's nice to look at so I imagine that's the idea here. There are some fiery parts towards the end. There's too much pre-recording here to assess this properly. 

7. Iceland

Dilja starts on the floor and the stage looks lovely for it. Very strong vocals throughout the song even when she's running back and forth. As good as she is, though, the song isn't very engaging which is a pity, and there isn't much reaction from the audience. 

8. Greece

Nice start to this, he's extremely likeable and the audience is clapping along to the first chorus. Vocals get a bit patchy in the second part when he's walking down the catwalk but it doesn't really matter because the camera loves him and the audience is cheering him along. Lots of closeups on him and this  seems to me like a very good rehearsal. 

9. Poland

Lots of Fuego vibes to this from the getgo up to the on-screen smoke effects. Vocally it's awful, but it's all about the stage and spectacle which is visibly pleasing. The dance part comes off a bit amateur hour to me and the audience, it seems, isn't sure of it either. It'll probably Q but Fuego this ain't. 

10. Slovenia

This starts off very slick and with great vocals, they're such pros and the staging is perfect for a band song with lots of guitar riffs. The audience is loving it. The entirety of the song is on the forward circular part of the stage. Great rehearsal!

11. Georgia

Powerful opening with Iru owning every inch of the camera and perfect vocals. Even her mid part sounds are so well done and the dark staging is a great fit. For the last part she makes use of the stage LED panels that rotate open and ends it all very dramatically. Should be top 3 tomorrow.

More chitchat and a clip with Luke Evans

12. San Marino 

Confession: first time hearing this. The lead Jack is a decent vocalist but the song isn't going anywhere, nor is the staging for this very engaging. They should ask for tips from Slovenia how to stage a band song. His jacket has an exposed back - cool. It ends with a lot of off-pitch screaming. 

13. Austria

Within the first few seconds the audience are clapping along and loving it. Oh my word, this is so well staged and they're so in sync with one another. I think the weak spot is the "zero zero" part which no one will get and it stays a bit flat from that point to the end. Huge applause though.

14. Albania

The Kelmendi's are here to party! Actually, it's a cool opening with lots of red and black and some nice LED effects. The audience loves the ethno instrumental break with the red handkerchiefs. The vocals here are great and it's a damn good rehearsal. A family that sings together stays together :-)

15. Lithuania

Monika looks gorgeous in orange, and it looks effective when her backers join her from the sides of the stage for the chorus. The LED's for this are beautiful and it's flawless vocally and in every way. Definite Q. 

16. Australia

The song starts with the lead voyager sitting in a car. It's nicely staged and the mid part break is very cool, it's exactly how a rock entry should be staged and everything is on point. Not my jam but I can see it doing quite well. When it ends he yells "Eurovision Nation, we love you". Hi back :-)   


Summary: unlike the first semi this is much more even and it won't be easy at all to name 10 qualifiers. With the exception of perhaps 2-3 entries, they all stand a chance. 

The music intermission for this semi is with an emphasis on the Ukrainian talent, and it's quite lovely, and understandably very emotional. After another recap we get the "3 hosts" in drag which is cool and camp, with pride colours splashed everywhere on the stage. It ends with a nod to Australia 2018.  

Next is another zzz round of Filomena vs. Mรฅns Eurovision trivia. This guy is the human version of Te Deum and will be featured in every Eurovision for the end of days.

Now it's time for the finalists.


Looks and sounds great, the staging is so on-point and the red drape effect is gorgeous. This is wonderful and so different than anything else in the contest. 

There are some technical issues setting up for Ukraine so the stage director is goading the audience to cheer on the stage hands. 


Always saw this as the weakest link of the finalists and this rehearsal doesn't change that. It's visually fine and cleverly staged with 4 LED cubes that interact with the artists, but as a song it's not all that engaging. The end part is great though and the audience shows them a lot of love.

More delays setting up for the UK, and more banter by the stage manager. The audience is getting excited for the home entry.

United Kingdom

Still a bit lacking in the vocal dept and it could really use a backing vocal track. The staging and backing dancers are fabulous, with beautiful LED effects throughout. It's unfortunate that the vocals are so weak, especially given that many entries use backing vocals throughout the entire song and here there are none, not even for the chorus. It's an odd choice and could be costly. 

Taped Q&A with the finalists (discovery: Blanca's sister was in JESC...never knew), followed by live interviews and finalist recaps. Fake qualifiers and good night.



Semi-final 2 - The first dress rehearsal (live blog)

Good afternoon! Or, whatever time it is when you're reading this. The show starts off with Melanie C (not Lynda Woodruff) informing us that it's 8 pm in Liverpool, 10 pm in Kyiv and 5 am in Sydney. So now we know that. And I will once again attempt to let you know of as much as possible of what's happening in this first full rehearsal of the second semi-final of Eurovision 2023. 

We don't get any video intro or performance at the beginning of this show. Instead the three hosts appear right away. They talk a bit about the voting again, Hannah is struggling with the French, and Julia is perplexed by the word "queue" on the teleprompter and needs to ask the other hosts for help. Then we start with the first song pretty much just a few minutes into the show.

1. ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Denmark

Reiley's first show is through a cutout of a heart on a paper, which he then draws some squiggles on and then throws it away. His pink rhinestoned jacket and trousers also have heart cutouts. Pink and heart-shapes seem to be the general theme here, as he walks around his prop walls. Vocals... well... No. His falsetto is unfortunately rather shaky throughout the song. The only parts that feel like they're well-sung are the bits that aren't in falsetto, but those bits aren't that many. And unlike in the Danish final, his voice is a lot more exposes in the mix here. Maybe they'll manage to fix it more until tomorrow.

2. ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Armenia

There's a short extra break after Denmark where Alesha is giving a short talk, probably to get the big props on and off the stage. Then Armenia begins. Which is another vey pink staging with lots of lying on the floor. Or rather, lying on a prop. It reminds me of Victoria's rock in 2021, but more flat and square. The projections on the prop look pretty, but they sometimes create weird shadows on her face as well, but that adds to the artsyness of it all. For the second verse when she starts to rap, the projections disappear and the lights go white. Then we get a pretty long dance break (I don't even remember this part from the studio version?) before the final two choruses. Vocally, this sounds exactly as it is supposed to sound. And the staging looks pretty nice. So they every reason to be pleased with this rehearsal.

3. ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ด Romania

The new revamped first verse and chorus actually work surprisingly well. You get the impression that he's just sitting there playing his guitar live, and it comes across as quite genuine. Then the song reverts to the old Sense Tu-style arrangement, and it becomes a bit messy. He's in his pink shorts-suit with the pink boots, running around seemingly without much plan. By the end a female dancer in a tight gold jumpsuit (not the Irish one) appears. Which seems a bit random. Vocally he nails this, though.

4. ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ช Estonia

Alika looks stunning in her blue dress. She starts off sitting next to the piano which plays and moves its keys all by itself. Then for a quick moment in the chorus she turns around and play the piano, before getting up and stats walking towards the circle stage and eventually back to end the song next to the piano. Vocally she really sells it, and visually everything i not just very pretty - but also very pleasing after all the pink and hectic performances we've seen so far. It does quite stand out in this draw. 

5. ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ช Belgium

Gustaph's postcard partly shows the "Angel of the north" statue in Gateshead, which I believe was in one of the 1998 postcards as well? Was it possibly even in the Belgian one? I can't remember.

The stage is very white, and Gustaph is at the top of his stair-prop. The LED screen features the faces of his backing singers and sometimes a drag queen and silhouettes of dancing people. The backing singers also features heavily in the staging, often being right next to Gustaph. In the bridge te dancer appears and does some vogue-inspired dancing. Vocally this is excellent. Gustaph sings it excellently, and the mixing of the backing singers is perfect (unlike in earlier rehearsal clips we've seen). It aIl comes across very peofessional. And I can imagine my mom (whose favourite in 2019 was Serhat) voting for this.

Next we get the ad break. Timur and Graham (fakes ones) are being interviewed for a bit. There's also a part with some people who I think are meant to be Scooch. And the stream suddenly starts breaking up and reverting back to bad quality again. Let's hope it's temporary.

6. ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡พ Cyprus

The stream is back to normal now! The flag-colours at the end of the postcard makes it look as if this is Ireland. But unlike Ireland, he's alone on stage and the staging is simple. With a lot of smoke. And what looks like a waterfall coming down from the ceiling right behind him. He's barefoot, all dressed in black and the stage is dark and blue. So blue that even his face is blue. As the song progresses, the water becomes fire and everything goes red and orange for the last chorus. Vocally this sounds very good. There are some prominent pre-recorded vocals in parts, but mostly in the parts where it would be impossible for him to sing it live since there are so many vocal lines that overlap each other. And he does sing all the high falsetto notes.

7. ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ธ Iceland

In theory the staging ere is quite similar to Cyprus. The stage is dark and Diljรก is all alone on stage. But she moves around as if she was six people. The colours are mostly blue, green and pink - quite like a modern interpretation of a 80s neon colour theme. The LEDs seem to be running with a plant theme. Palm leaf silhouettes, occasional green leaves, tree outlines. Vocally it was decent but not perfect.

8. ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ท Greece

He starts off on the floor in his beige safari leisure outfit. It sounded as if he messed up the vocals in the first verse, and went "uaagh!" before quickly getting back on track. Vocally it's otherwise fine. But not much is happening in the performance. He walks back and forth on an empt stage, basically. Although there are several moments where he squats down on the floor and we see right up the legs of his shorts.

9. ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑ Poland

Oh. Last year's on-screen effects during the Polish entry are back. There are rose petals, fish-eye lense effects, and a holographic Blanka on the LED-walls. It feels quite unnecessary, because in the parts without the effects (mainly the choruses) this looks good. After three songs in a row with singers being alone on stage, this choreography with Blanka and four dancers is effective. And vocally she is totally fine for the type of song.

10. ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Slovenia

The band are all out on the circle stage in a traditional band-lineup. The stage is pink and purple and red. There are some very obvious pre-recorded falsetto parts where the other band members pretend to sing even though they have no microphones, which looks a bit silly. But the actual live vocals are good and sound effortless. Nothing crazy is happening during the performance, it's pretty much what you'd expect from this type of song. And it works well for what it's meant to be.

11. ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ช Georgia

Iru is out running some kind of Parkrun in Tbilisi during her postcard. I hope she's not out of breath for the performance.

She appears all dressed in white standing on a podium. The stage has smoke and a lot of flashing lights. There's also a wind machine in use. This also features a lot of obviously pre-recorded vocals, but this time nobody is pretending to sing them. The colours and lights are a bit like Cyprus. Often so blue that she herself becomes totally blue. Then in the final chorus the stage goes gold and peach and pink. Vocally she's good, except for one missed high note in the last chorus.

And now we're getting another ad break. We get to see a a video of some man talking about Eurovision, with archive sots in the background. We briefly see Milly Scott, Helga, Conchita, Dana, the 1960 scoreboard, among other things. The guy is mostly talking a lot of nonsense, which is probably meant to be about how great Eurovision is, but it sounds more like a very long inspirational quote meme shared by a boomer on Facebook. 

12. ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฒ San Marino

The postcard features them playing volleyball in San Marino. Then we get the performance. It's very very red. The stage floor sometimes has a neon square pattern looking a bit like the 1988 stage. But red. The backdrop features mouths and eyes. Lots and lots of eyes. The band are all mostly dressed in different versions of black, occasionally making the whole thing look a bit like an Albanian flag come to life. And the lead singer nailed the vocals.

13. ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡น Austria

Teya and Salena are laughing a lot in their postcard while they're ice-skating. They start off doing the spoken bits in front of a massive LED-screen type-writer. Then the stage goes black, white and red (just like their outfits) and the four dancers appear in the background. Vocally it sounds a bit as if they're holding back. The vocals sound a lot softer and whispery than in the studio version, but that might just be a rehearsal thing. The performance is surprisingly un-crazy. It's mostly just the two of them standing next to each other, singing the song. It's not bad, but I was hoping for something a bit more wild and memorable considering the song is anything but regular.

14. ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Albania

Here are some people who are definitely not holding back their voices. Albina nails the intro, and they all look like they're having a lot of fun on stage. I'm quite pleasantly surprised by this. There's suddenly something very likeable and charming about them. I have a feeling that it could translate into making it quite televote-friendly. The stage is mostly red, and they're all wearing black, so it's a bit like San Marino but here it actually makes sense to look like an Albanian flag.

15. ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡น Lithuania

The stage backdrop is looking beautiful. There's a round shape behind Monika which sometimes looks like a sun and sometimes like some sort of pagan zodiac symbol. She's in a short orange dress with sleeves and shoulder pads today. The backing singers, dressed in black, join her in the first chorus. And they spend most of the rest of the song on the circle stage together. It's sung very well and the staging seems quite perfect for the. But it also seems like it might not be an ideal draw to have this and Albania after each other.

16. ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ Australia

Last but not least, we have Voyager on stage. Very modern 80s neon theme here as well. Hot pink and blue. He starts off sitting inside the car (with the steering wheel on the right-hand side, for authenticity). It looks a bit restrictive for him, though, because the car is actually quite small. The camera shots are a bit all over the place and of the kind that makes me a bit seasick to watch. Vocally it's good, even though I think he's holding back a bit in some parts.

Cue the now mandatory "Europe, Australia AND the rest of the world - start voting now!" After the voting opens there is for some reason a conga train in the greenroom. Then we get a recap. In Denmark's bit there's a cameraman visible in most of it. Georgia has that one note that she didn't manage to hit.

Disregarding my own song preferences, I would say that the ones that most impressed me today were Albania, Belgium, Cyprus and Estonia. They didn't necessarily have the best performances, but they exceeded what I expected for them. And in reverse, I was the most disappointed by Iceland, Georgia, Austria and Australia. But this is all based on quite minor things that may have absolutely zero impact on the outcome.

Next up we get an interval act with a medley of well-known Ukrainian music performed by Mariya Yaremchuk, Otoy and Zlata Dziunka (yes, I had to check Wikipedia for this). It's pretty nice! 

Then the second (shorter) recap. 

Next up we get a drag-themed interval act where Hannah, Julia and Alesha get transformed into drag queens. But it's not them, it's three three actual drag queens. Currently they're rehearsing the beginning of this over and over again, figuring out how Hannah should go into the queen machine" which is just having to squeeze through an opening in a LED wall. 

The drag performers then perform and dance and lip sync number together with a bunch of other dancers. It's all definitely a lot more up-beat and positive than the previous interval act. They eventually proceed to pull up "random" people from the audience, who turn out to also be dancers. 

The songs that they perform are first some old-school gay/drag classics, but then it turns into... "We Got Love" by Jessica Mauboy.

And now we finally get part 2 of Mรฅns and Filomena's quiz battle. This time they have to guess if Lithuania 2010, Malta 2018 and Moldova 2010 qualified or not. Followed by a video clip of four scouse children showing us around the arena. 

It seems like we're finally about to get performances from Spain, UK and Ukraine any minute now.

๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ Spain

As far as I can tell, it's more or less the same as in the national final, but amped up a bit.Vocally it' excellent, especially the ad libs at the end. And two of te other women on stage also seem to actually be singing a bit as well. They all move out to the circle stage towards the end where there is a small podium. 

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Ukraine

It seems to take a while for them to get the Spain props off the stage and to rig everything for Ukraine.

Eventually we get the performance. They are all wearing sunglasses. Which feels like an accessory that doesn't necessarily have the best track record in Eurovision. But the performance comes across as tight and effective. Vocals are on point. It's all performed out on the circle stage, which should be quite effective when surrounded by the crowd on Saturday. 

๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง United Kingdom

They are getting the stage ready for Mae. I think the same LED-sided platform is used for this was was used earlier for the drag interval act. It's basically a ca 2 metre high and maybe 6 metre long rectangular platform, where the front of it has 3 LED screens that are miniature versions of the stage's own back LED screens. 

And here we go. In case there was any doubt, it is the video version of the song, not the single version.

The stage looks great. A lot of cool graphics going on. Mae walks down from the podium in the second verse. Then she and her four dancers move out to the circle stage. There is no sign of the robotic male backing vocal that we heard last week. Instead she seems to have a female off-stage backing singer. We can hear that singer's voice clearly in some parts of the song when Mae isn't singing. Problem is, neither Mae nor the backing singer are quite pitch-perfect. But overall it's better than I feared. It's the type of song whee you can get away with some not-perfect vocals.

Now the interview section with these. Blanca Paloma reads English from a paper when talking about why her fans are called "pigeons". Tvorchi says something about life being difficult. And Mae talks about being born in 1997 when the UK last won and what an honour it is to represent the country.

Time for results! Only fake ones, of course. And this time they didn't make the performers wait around to rehearse this, so we only have stand-ins in the greenroom. But the countries qualifying" in this rehearsal are:

San Marino










That's all! Thank you and good afternoon!