Mental As Anything

May 4, 2017 by

Mental As Anything

The 2nd rehearsal for the majority of semi-final 1 participants today starting with Sweden. Looking even sharper than it was already. This is big night ready and slicker than Tom Slick, but in terms of the damage it causes to my musical landscape, it’s slick like an oil slick.

Beautiful red dress for Georgia’s Tamara and moody setting – red and black imagery behind her at song start and dry ice effect. Tamara could do with some Frizz Ease – her hair looking like Monica’s in the Friends episode ‘The One In Barbados’. Pyro bursts circle her later on. Visually decent but still a feeling it drags through the last minute and the song does not have enough progression.

Lindita has a veil at song start and is wearing a silvery white see-through number, exposing her legs. She can belt this out tremendously well, but the dress is a shocker. Dry ice as well for this.

Australia has more close ups but there are still plenty of Isaiah visuals behind him including one messianic pose. The song still feels like it plods along, despite a fire curtain and pyros, unaided by his somewhat unemotional face. The trench coat and sockless look is not helping him. It all feels rather lifeless.

Belgium’s Blanche is wearing an old-fashioned ballgown that doesn’t really suit this modern indie/pop song. I wonder if a casual jeans and Converse look would have worked better for this. She’s a young woman and needs to be showing her teen angst, but this only really comes in the last minute when she finds the camera well with a tortured look. In the last 10 seconds of this she offers more emotion than the full 3 minutes of Australia.

Slavko’s absurd ponytail is used in this like he is proudly swinging his phallus about. Vocal patchy. Cabaret, and camper than a field full of tents at Glastonbury. It’s so bad it’s… really bad. Next please.

Finland is coming along well. Some nice camera angles. Vocal sounding more secure today. This feels authentic and highly quality after Slavko.

A convulsing Dihaj at song start certainly draws you in as does the entire abstract presentation of this. She is this Eurovision’s Sia and much more convincing in her performance today. The guy on the top of the ladder joins in making various jolty movements in this now before taking the horse’s head off and holding it by his side atop the ladder as the box of skeletons opens up. It’s bonkers and brilliant.

Portugal is still missing a key ingredient – namely, Salvador. Camera angles-wise, it looks like they will capture the intimacy of this song well courtesy of the satellite stage. Some nice slow camera glides lead into close-ups. Maybe a couple of ubiquitous wider shots are still in there, but I guess the camera does have to pan out at certain points.

Demy has great teeth but a poor chorus. Some issues on the ‘This is love’ lyric as Demy is patently off-key but this being Greece it shouldn’t be too much of a concern as they will no doubt adjust the sound mix. A nice moment when she sings along with her bare-chested water spirits.

Kasia, like Demy, showing plenty of leg in a lovely white dress. White birds take flight either side of her in a nice visual backdrop moment. She holds the last note very well and following the ‘Saw’ movie instrumental, this certainly ends evocatively. She might have done with a couple more violinists on the stage to ramp it up even more but Kasia goes to the top of the class today for giving ‘good camera’.

Moldova looks and feels like a one-trick pony of a song and performance, an outdated mannequin challenge moment showing how little they have to play with here. It reaches a point about 30 seconds from the end when the song needs to finish as it has shown its hand, but it carries on as they all go through their synchronised foot taps one more time. This is relying on a big ‘fun’ televote as jury points could well be in short supply.

All in white, Iceland’s Svala has platform shoes on, a white cloak and a body suit that exposes plenty of cleavage and what looks like another tattoo mid-chest. She is performing this much like she did in the Icelandic final – in her world. Combined with the backdrop of sharp lines and icy blue colours, the danger here is, it doesn’t feel like a warm and inviting performance for the viewer.

The competition for the Barbara Dex Award in this semi is fiercely competitive, Czech Republic’s Martina making a bold bid by sticking with her tinfoil trouser suit. As solo ballads go this is perfectly acceptable and she sings it well but the visuals are letting it down including some incongruous images of people in their under garments. Gabriela had sub-standard staging for Czech Republic last year; this feels worse.

Cyprus is coming together much better now with a nice mirror image of Hovig at song start. There is a lot for him to do in this and positions he needs to be accurate with for the sake of the assorted visual effects. It is certainly engaging for the viewer, and plays well on the gravity theme throughout. Vocally he is fine.

That’s it for day 5. Tim will return tomorrow for a bit of everything – 2nd rehearsals for the last 3 in semi 1, 2nd rehearsals for the first 5 in semi 2, and… drum roll… the first chance to see hot favourite Italy, along with the rest of the Big 5 and hosts Ukraine.


  1. Shaun

    Hi Rob. With great reports about Finland and also Moldova do you think either of them could sneak a top 10 finish in the final, presuming they are both likely to make it.

    • Rob

      Hi Shaun. I think Finland has top 10 potential but I’m never especially keen to pile in until we know the grand final running order. It could do with a 2nd half draw. Moldova I am less keen on as a top 10 prospect, & only have it as a borderline qualifier atm.

      • Shaun

        Yes, good idea to wait until the running order. I remember Chiara coming 2nd in Ukraine in 2005 from 2nd or 3rd in the running order but I suppose that was a very strong entry.

  2. hemsby

    Many thanks Rob & Tim for all the articles during ESC.

    Today was the first time I saw a rehearsal which got my attention in a positive manner ……Azerbaijan.

    It was always the strongest of the Eastern European songs IMO,but I’d had major doubts over the staging reading the various reports from 1st rehearsal.Having watched (an admittedly poor quality) full 3 minute clip I think it’s fantastic.Whilst I appreciate it won’t be to everyone’s taste,it’s certainly a memorable 3 minutes.

    I’ve backed it today in various markets today including SF1 and OR without Italy.Personally I find it far more captivating than Armenia and Bulgaria who seem to be its biggest competition for the Eastern Televote.

    • Rob

      Hi hems. Thanks for posting. It seems to have polarised opinion somewhat here but I think it’s a visual triumph &, as you say, it has a USP – arguably the most memorable piece of staging seen so far.

      Dihaj’s vocal sounded more assured today too – it requires a lot of movement from her as a piece of performance art but I felt she was going through it with assurance today, & selling it better than 1st rehearsal.

      One question is, how UK punters will react to it in-running next Tues when seeing it for the 1st time – will it be one that is so surreal they will push the Azer price out? I’m not sure but I see plenty of jury appeal, & given Azer’s televoting strength… who knows how high it might climb.

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