Live Blog - Rehearsals Day One
I'll be typing up any quick thoughts here today, not done a live blog for years, let's see if it works. Odds in headlines best available the morning of rehearsals.
Win semi - 8.8, Qualify - 1.11
Sound issues for the first run through, didn't hear anything. Routine is the same as the three minutes, with more disco and more yellow. I am glad to see the split screen, think that helps with this a lot, particularly with juries in mind. The facial expressions are played up more than we have seen before.
No obvious betting thoughts, it is overall exactly as expected. Camera work to tighten, but it comes as a ready formed package.
Win semi - 226, Qualify - 5
I'm not a huge fan of Ana's vocal style, but the heightened focus on the gospel section gives a suitable crescendo. There's a weird world where this resonates with random juries and sneaks a jury top 3, and qualifies, but that's the only route I can see to qualification. I'm reminded in style to Keep The Faith (Georgia 2017), and if that couldn't qualify then I struggle to see this deserving it. If there's nothing else in the vocal category I'll be keeping an eye on this, but otherwise I expect others to win out for huge vocals in this semi.
Notable use of the staging though, we see the HUGE screen as she walks out to the satellite stage. This needs work but isn't a poor decision.
Win semi - 29, Qualify - 1.37
You know I have this as a personal favourite, and Manizha does it well. But it doesn't work in a rehearsal format. What this song needs is a dose of adrenalina that isn't there. Sadly, I don't think you'll get that so much in a 3,500 arena of Dutch fans socially distanced around the Ahoy. I suspect it will go flat, whereas in Moscow for the National Final the place was popping and Manizha fed off that. 3rd rehearsal was better for this however.
Yes, there is the Russian doll gimmick with the dress, but only having one doll to pop out of let it down. If you were going to do that gimmick you needed to go the whole way, and the English text on the screen isn't hard hitting enough to get votes based on the message. Don't think it is obvious enough.
There's been movement here, mainly in the top 10 market where it has traded down to evens. Not convinced and think that's a tough sell.
Win semi - 13, Qualify - 1.13
First thought is that Tusse has his slight outfit modification that has these black glittery sleeves rather than the suit jacket. It makes Tusse into an interesting, albeit alternative character and it runs the fine line even more between being engaging and endearing and being impossible to connect with. I'm not sure.
Vocals, the big question mark, were acceptable if not outstanding. Definitely a case of holding back and I don't know if the extra gear exists with the new voice - he's not trying anything off the melody and it's less rounded than I recall three months ago.
It's a Melfest winner, so you know exactly what you are going to get, pretty much all camera shots are as before, but the light effects make it a touch more frantic in the verse. The strobing on the dancers does work though. It's an odd one. No movement so far on the qualify market, and a slight drift on the win market.
Win semi - 125, Qualify - 3.7
Well that was a thing.
We saw this video. Stage looks miniscule compared to the Ahoy. Not given any hope that this is a coherent package with qualification chances, or that the delegation are putting any weight behind it to make it happen. I took a position on this not to qualify a while back and very happy to sit on that.
Win semi - 201, Qualify - 5.5
No no no, this was a thing. A hilarious thing. Haven't laughed at a rehearsal so hard since Spain in 2015. The centrepiece of the laughing is the ridiculous costume change - the disco waistcoat that has all the fans going "this is Dotter" from Melodifestivalen. Dotter moved though, while Vasil's standing still and the allure of the glitterball body armour is lost.
Vasil though has the vocal quality to smash this out the park - he pulled back for the first run through we saw fine, but then pulled out awkwardly on the final attempt. Timbre is great but I want to see him nail it before sticking more on him to qualify.
As a package it's the cheapest and most overblown piece of cheese I have seen for a long time. There's a good 30 seconds in the first chorus just looking down on camera pointing at centre stage. He carries it well, and the Melfest 2017 style overlays work a treat. After Sweden and Australia (and surely a break after that) in the running order, yes, this has a route to the final, but I want much more to invest further. Betfair moved slightly, down to 4.3/7.6 from 4.8/10 before the rehearsal.
Win semi - 101, Qualify - 3.2
Back in to crazy levels (matched at 70s to win Eurovision on the Exchange) prior to rehearsals, because we knew something special was going to happen. It was special enough to make us wait 25 minutes to appear on stage, and I think we'll only get one run through of that for us to observe.
I'm reminded of a few things. Junior Eurovision - Lesley's outfitted in an emerald green etherial piece that many of their previous performers there could have also modelled. She's also dotting around the stage performing to cameras through cardboard cut outs and AR effects - I'm reminded here of the music video to Sergey Lazarev's Scream.
Does it work? Not massively. It's got storytelling features but without the story - there's no "vote for the one in the green who did this" - what is this? Each of the elements is good theatre, but without being vote grabbing. Vocal was hard to pick out from the track too, little impressing me here.
After the performance there was a huge run on this to qualify under 2.5...and then pushed way out again. While it's a "wow, cool" effect for the first 30 seconds, it's got nothing else in the tank for later on and the overall impression wasn't great.
Market seems convinced of a Russian qualification now, still available at 1.33 (Bet365)
If you can get long odds on Slovenia/North Macedonia (over 7s lets say) that might be worthwhile, they have the potential for good vocals in this mess we have so far.
Honestly, I'd look at the second half of this semi and I expect the quality will rise compared to today. Expecting songs from the likes of Croatia, Ukraine and Romania to move themselves into being more likely qualifiers after entries that weren't game changing.