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Live Blog - Rehearsals Day Two

I thought generally that day one was fairly underwhelming. Lithuania and Sweden did their thing, North Macedonia was hilarious, not in a bad way, and Russia was good and I love it, but not sure on it being universally great that many others have suggested. In the odds the worst one of today is ranked 12th to qualify in this semi, so lots more potential interest.


Cyprus

Win semi - 17, Qualify - 1.11

Ok so we only saw one minute of the second run through of El Diablo, as the wireless mic pack fell out of her tiny dress - which reminded me of Ani Lorak on first glance. Unsurprising red staging going on, and the 4 backing dancers are in typical format (think Kadiatou in Melfest here).


Elena's look was my concern from a betting point of view, but she looks great and offers a charisma that is more likeable than I thought.. Vocal is fine, diction isn't my taste, but it's covered so much by the backing vocal even Jemini couldn't mess this up. From a technical perspective I enjoy the mirror image effect of the dancers, making if appear like there are more on stage.


Two concerns. 1 - the stage is saturated in red. No surprise, but it's a little bit much. 2 - nothing new happens in the last minute other than the mirror lifts up. No moment to pop if I compare to Luci Hänni. Ah, last run through had pyro. That did it. Yeah, this isn't my taste, but good.


Norway

Win semi - 34, Qualify - 1.3

You know any podcast listeners that this is completely not what I go for. This is now just half a step more ridiculous, with TIX wearing even more glitter in his outfit. Other than a little bit more colour etc, this is the national final performance.


Is there enough here for a jury to appreciate to win? Not a chance. Is there enough to get some low points to qualify? Still not sure. It is like something that was meant to be in Fire Saga, not the actual Song Contest. Back to back with Cyprus it comes across a little bit too amateur and I have concern.


Televote qualifier, but by enough? Or does this need 20 jury points to stumble through?


Croatia

Win semi - 50, Qualify - 1.52

So called 'bops' are not my normal cup of tea but this is also excellent and there's real chance that this qualifies now. First off, Albina is beaut-i-ful. Sexy, but in a way that I imagine to be vote appealing no matter if the female form is your sexual preference or not. I'm not sure the cut out hole in the bum cheek is needed - but the jump suit she wears is excellent and empowering.


There's visual appeal here too and I love the effect where Albina multiplies into five different images - more focus on her the better. The problem is, on the big note before the chorus she is just a little pitchy, but otherwise the focus is not a problem at all.


Colours, formation and dance routine are a step up from the national final. This had reached 1.6 on the exchange to qualify by the time of rehearsal (assumingly because Cyprus was good) - this is very much a contender to make it as well and that female bop field isn't getting any less crowded! Now matched under 1.5 and, while it's short, I think this makes it and could even do well in the final...especially if Serbia don't make it.


Belgium

Win semi - 46, Qualify - 1.6

Very much real music from Hooverphonic, I like how the backing singer gets airtime - definitely a nod that juries would appreciate. This has drifted to over evens on the exchange (maybe it was before, I know it was earlier this week, that 1.6 above is probably wrong/liquidity issue) and no interest in this moving in.


I think the band just look old and out of place, especially after Croatia. The imagery of the lead singer's eyes on the backdrop only reinforce that, and remind me of the aging in 'Mamo' - Russia 2009.


There's a distinct darkness and realness that they are going for with this. And it is unique in this regard. But I fear the audience that would like this won't pick up the phone, and therefore NQ feels right. High standard deviation on this one as so different than the others in the semi though.


Israel

Win semi - 26, Qualify - 1.52

Eden is backed by five dancers who, for quite a few of the close ups don't actually dance and just frame Eden. The staging graphics are very neon and thematically work well. Eden is more confident I feel with this package than we have seen previously. Vocally perfectly fine.


Can't help though that the material isn't very engaging and there's nothing to do here - no storytelling - when those whistle notes come they feel so stuck on for little reason. Small pyro blast on into into final chorus but nothing to write home about. While I'll happily say Eden is a great artist I don't know what she stands for and have little to vote for her.


Press room seem split from what I can make out on Twitter/live chat about this. Price wise this had been backed in through recent weeks but has popped out ever so slightly after the rehearsal.


Romania

Win semi - 16, Qualify - 1.21

Oh dear we may have a faller. Roxen has gone exactly for the music video look with the baggy jumper, grey tracksuit wearing dancers and downtrodden look. I want to like, but I think if you commit to that image for the Eurovision stage you have to make sure what you deliver is magical to get over the first impression that you haven't put in effort. Dry ice is a nice touch to help with this touch.


The routine left Roxen breathless at the end of the first run through we saw, and the vocals didn't fit right. It's energetic in how she has to run away from the dancers at one point, and it means the long notes suffer. Think Safura with Drip Drop.


I don't know what to make of it. Not winning I'd say, but I can see some loyal televote appeal for this sound, particuarly from younger voters regardless. Qualify market bounced out, now appearing to settle at 1.3 rather than 1.2. This is worse than I expected, think top 10 in the final would be a surprise, but think this will still qualify.


Azerbaijan

Win semi - 41, Qualify - 1.41

Seen this routine before, from the preview video I believe. Azerbaijan surprised us there by not having the kitchen sink and just giving a straight up performance.


Vocals were good. But, there aren't any hard vocals in this track and plenty of backing. Efendi is fine but the routine and song are almost completely different concepts - infact, wouldn't surprise me if some of the same visual elements from Cleopatra made it to this year's cut as well.


Price wise, there's been lays matched on Azerbaijan all day, with the price matching at 1.4 and then matching at 1.6. Make of that what you will. I had this at 1.37 as a lay on a podcast tip a few weeks back. That was a good deal at least.


Probably go and qualify tenth knowing my luck now.

Ukraine

Win semi - 34, Qualify - 1.3

Lead singer of Go_A performs with green feathered arms which I'm not particuarly sure goes with the feel of the song. But it is fine. Flute, guitar and mixing desk on stage as instruments, with two dancers holding bright white circles of light in a forest of trees like Armenia 2007 (there's a throwback reference!).


The lights build up on the backdrop of this well into a frantic, it isn't Chernobyl themed, at least not obviously, with the lights eventually turning into humanoid creatures that run faster and faster. Good, if not great concept. Vocal is zero issue with this song and incredibly comfortable. Split screen on verse 2 is brilliant


Lots of talk about this winning. I'd be very game for that, but don't think I'd be convinced by something so left field, nor the wishes of the EBU to return to Kyiv! Top 10 very doable (exchange down to Evens) but unlikely to be able to get enough for either side of leaderboard to go further. Remember the lack of Armenia and Belarus here for a sound that is difficult to Western ears.


Malta

Win semi - 1.73, Qualify - 1.01

The colours! Bright pink from Destiny and tons of bright pink and yellow on the backdrop. I really can't stand the colours on this and I think a toned down palette would have been better. Camerawork is too Sasha Jean Baptiste, dancers in formation just like 'She Got Me' and the routine has split screen (which I usually like) but this is messy and disorientated. Most notably can we see Destiny struggle to go down the stairs, lights not focused and no focus on her for the cheeky 'excuse my French' line. You need that focus - it should just be her in a spotlight with a close up of the face there, and that it isn't by default is worrying for how much they have a cohesive concept. Would rather Destiny didn't have the Madonna microphone as well.


Vocal good if not outstanding. Destiny freewheeled on her last run through at the end of the song, but not on the big diva breakdown which was what I was counting on.


Market has now moved France to favourite. I am surprised that the market hasn't drifted more on Destiny (4.8/5) at the time of recording. I struggle to see this being what a neutral jury goes for, without knowing Destiny from JESC etc, nor see this as a 250+ song on the televote. I've come out of Destiny a tad to win.


I suspect the reason for the moving out on Destiny being cautious is that people remember that Toy rehearsed badly and then came back in as it got better during the second week. I suspect there's a style here that's too far away to come back from. If it wins, happy for me (would prefer it to the other favourites), but I wouldn't foresee a landslide here now. If it did win, more likely to be a compromise winner.


Tips today


Ukraine for top 10 - good value if you can get evens

Keep an eye on Malta, it is drifting as I speak and may be value in the next day or two


Croatia at 1.55 (Betway) seems solid to qualify, and Azerbaijan still available at 2.8 (Betsson) not to make it



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