Nadir To Zenith

May 5, 2022 by

Nadir To Zenith

Today sees the first outings for the Big 5 which would have been eagerly-awaited were it not for the fact we will be scrabbling around later today for any brief and inconclusive clips turning up on TikTok.

The last three entries competing in semi-final 1 commence with Iceland’s Systur, who are actually 4th last in the semi 1 running order. They are channelling The Common Linnets, and are ESC 2022’s answer to First Aid Kit.

This is looking much like we saw at the Icelandic NF and understandably so as it’s pitched perfectly. Nice use of the 3-way screen split. There’s something endearing about sisters, Sigríður, Elísabet and Elín Eyþórsdóttir. Iceland remains firmly in the semi 1 qualification picture and is being matched to Q below 3 after this rehearsal.

Norway’s Subwoolfer is a total change of tack following the lilting Icelandic country track. ‘Give That Wolf A Banana’ is again a case of, nothing much new to see here.

While the song piques my interest at the outset it slowly ebbs away over the three minutes. The kooky choreo is slick but it all looks and feels far too pre-meditated and the novelty soon wears off. The Norwegian USP is essentially a weaker and more novelty-leaning version of what Lithuania brought to the ESC stage last year.

The market is presuming this goes big on the televote but my suspicion is, its appeal is being over-estimated. The money buyers want to grab 1.04 for this to qualify which strikes me as one of the worst 1-25 shots you’ll ever see, as much as the die-hard ESC fans tend to help push entries like this through in semi-finals.

The semi-final one closer is Armenia, and Rosa Linn’s ‘Snap’ comes with a nicely-executed visual concept. Post-It notes fill the walls, a bed, a bed-side table, a chair… We are invited into her mind palace in the creation of the song, before she breaks out through a hole in the wall at the song’s climax.

You could describe the visuals for this as ‘meta’ and it kind of works. Crucially, Rosa comes across as an accomplished, credible musician and succeeds in putting her own unique stamp on ‘Snap’.

Semi-final 2 second rehearsals commence with Finland’s The Rasmus and ‘Jezebel’. Can this do a Blind Channel (6th last year)?

Lead singer Lauri is heard flexing his vocal cords beforehand, and he has come under much scrutiny with his live delivery. Maybe it’s due to the morning start but he does sound extremely flat in parts.

There are only 4 band members visible on stage so there is room for some concealed backing vocal support but where he needs it most during the song, it appears to be lacking.

The yellow and black colour palette is striking, the balloon imagery works well, and there’s a great guitar riff in the last minute of ‘Jezebel’, but the key element to look out for on Thursday next week will be how Lauri’s vocal holds up. Finland drifts out to 4.6 for a top 10 finish after this.

Israel’s Michael Ben David offers up ‘I.M’ and the big trouble here is, how non-descript the track is. They’ve tried hard to soup it all up and done a classic Israel job with well-oiled choreo and floor graphics seeking to boost the visuals, but it looks and feels like the emperor’s new clothes.

Israel is matched at 4 to qualify following this 2nd rehearsal and I find myself jealousy studying the Exchange chart and seeing the insane amount of money matched on this to qualify in the 1.18 to 1.5 range.

‘In Corpore Sano’ has been one of the fan community’s faves this year. Konstrakta is clearly a music ‘artist’ but does it remain too much of a wtf? entry for the first time viewer?

Subtitles have wisely been added to try and put across the depth and meaning of the lyrics but it still feels like a musical installation at the Tate Modern in the running for this year’s Turner Prize. It also makes Dihaj’s ‘Skeletons’ presentation for Azerbaijan in 2017 look mundane in comparison.

Serbia is backed down to 2.26 for top 10 following this. Top Balkan is often a riddle wrapped up in an enigma and those who believe this can really catch fire might want to consider the 4-1 being offered.

Azerbaijan has come with a visual concept vaguely reminiscent of Farid’s mirror image box man in 2013. I’ll leave others to describe it in more detail. It certainly maintains your attention, the lighting adds to the drama, and credit to Nadir Rustamli here for a tremendous live vocal. He should earn jurors’ respect for showcasing such an impression range.

The original presentation helps ‘Fade To Black’ to resonate as it may well have risked passing people by if they’d just stuck with convention and left Nadir alone on stage to deliver this power ballad. Matched at 1.91 to qualify, the market can’t quite decide where to place this in semi 2 at the moment.

You have to admire Georgia’s willingness to bring highly original entries to Eurovision and Circus Mircus already feels like it is potentially rubbing shoulders with Nika Kocharov and Young Georgian Lolitaz (‘Midnight Gold’), the country’s last qualifier in 2016.

The visuals here are a total triumph and the band’s styling is perfectly in keeping with the vibe of this psychedelic, 70s throwback. ‘Lock Me In’ feels like the joker in the pack in this 2nd semi-final and I, for one, would be delighted to see Georgia’s name revealed on screen as a qualifer next week.

There’s a lot of quirky fare in this first half of semi 2 whereas Malta is offering some easily-accessible, pop convention to proceedings. Emma Muscat starts seated at the piano, then stands on her piano, and ends up on the b-stage with her dance crew at the climax of this platitudinal, Gospel-tinged clap-along.

Malta is the sort of contrived, feel-good bilge that would often pass as X Factor winner singles back in the day. It’s so trite and synthetic, it’s painful to my ears and eyes but you know what, there will be plenty out there who enjoy this, and give it plaudits because it is well-executed for what it is.

Closing out today’s 2nd rehearsals is Achille Lauro’s ‘Stripper’ for San Marino which has some very apparent glam rock influences. He possesses the swagger of an authentic rock band frontman though overall this presentation risks moving into pastiche territory, especially when he ends up on the bucking bronco at song end.

The hipster cool trimmings struggle to conceal what is a pretty threadbare rock song. Despite my misgivings the semi 2 Q backers keep coming for this, matched at 2.14.

Nadir earns the picture caption today in a shot which makes him look suspiciously like a character straight out of Game Of Thrones.

Matt will take up the mantle assessing what we end up seeing later on TikTok by way of the Big 5’s first rehearsals. Keep an eye out for his Tweets (@EntertainOdds).

Back tomorrow for the remainder of 2nd rehearsals for semi 2.

 

 

4 Comments

  1. Montell

    Hey Rob. Do you know how is it going to be with the “sun”? Is it going to stay like we see in the exclusive rehearsal clips?

  2. D Dem

    First, what an excellent website and I suspect Serbia top Balkan is a good call for 4 reasons:

    1. Greece’s chances are somewhat overestimated. It’s a bit dreary and unlikely to get the diaspora voting en masse for this kind of song.
    2. The angsty female ballad type is also oversaturated this year so lot’s to choose from.
    2. Serbia is ground-breaking with far more USP and wtf moment even for the first listener
    3. In absence of Russia, Serbia seems like the natural go-to nation for the Russian vote and/or Russian-friendly votes

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