May 3, 2014 by


Malta. See first rehearsal notes. Nothing much new to report here. All adequate enough. It does what it says on the tin, even though the song is not my cup of tea.

Israel has improved the accuracy of the camera angles capturing Mei and her 2 female backing dancers. A great shot when they all go into this leg stretch position, all in a row. Hard to explain. Her dancers are a lot better visually when they are standing still like this, or walking – as during their great catwalk strut. The trouble comes when her dancers are dancing. They simply aren’t very good. A few too many long shots with this presentation.

Managed to get inside the arena for Carl’s first run through, and nearly got blown on stage by the wind machine. Nothing much has changed with this. Loved it in the arena; loved it on returning to the press centre and watching it on the tv monitor.

Mariso wears a paganistic green dress which stands in stark contrast to the darker colours everywhere else. It is only in the last 30 seconds that the green spreads across the stage floor and to the backdrop behind along with some yellows. This is actually a really nice visual effect. Trouble is, this is the last 30 seconds and you fear the audience would have long given up the will to live. Georgia might have been wiser to choose Mariso alone this year, singing a nice ballad.

Poland is wonderfully suggestive. Cleo is wearing top notch fuck me boots. The woman with the curdling stick gives some brilliant come hither looks to camera every time she gets the chance. Another buxom Slavic wench kneels over a wooden bucket of water using a washboard. All that is missing is her squeezing the towel out seductively over her chest. Polish flags are waved by Cleo and her dancers at one point. Bright red overhead shot with the spinning umbrellas is arresting, as is the entire staging of this. UK televoting catnip this one.

A change with the Austrian staging and less impact when Conchita is first revealed. Vocally not as assured today compared to previously. Not sure why they have changed the start as it was clever the way it was before and worked well. If it ain’t broke…

Vilija and her male dance partner in their big match kit here. Same chimney brush black skirt but the fabric of his dance tunic is like a bin-liner. Both their outfits have some blue in them. He is reminiscent of the bad guy in Superman II played by Terence Stamp. Yes, there it is, General Zod, with a shaven head and a beard and with a bit of biker chic thrown in. The choreo between them, as strange as it is, does fit the beat of the tune, as do the bursts of white lights. In the light show stakes this is right up there to be fair.

We do get ‘something better’ from Finland today after their weak first rehearsal efforts. Topi has his eyes open a bit more and while his vocal isn’t the strongest the light show for this is very effective for the most part. The sort of soft rock lighting Muse would be proud of. Or Coldplay.

Ireland’s Kasey did not impress during first rehearsal. Can she improve here? She certainly isn’t a natural on stage, and you wonder how her vocal will hold up on Monday in front of the juries, as she is susceptible to fall off a few notes. The lighting for this, playing on the colours of the Ireland flag, looks good, especially towards the end of the song.

Teo is a bit of a snake hips. His main difficulty is negotiating the start of the song vocally. Once he gets into it he’s fine, he certainly has the charisma for it and his ensemble help with the sell of this swing/R&B number.

Tijana is without her trademark white specs and this small aspect alone seems to detract. Her sparring partner for most of this, male, is in a white boxer’s tunic while Tijana is in black as they shadow each other around the stage. Vocal not the best. Teo is sandwiched between 2 solo females who both should have the Timeform squiggle alongside their names given their unreliability vocally.

Sebalter are such a joy after this. Only trouble is, Sebastiano is disconcertingly lackadaisical throughout this if you are considering lumping on Switzerland to qualify. When he tries to reach for his fiddle mid-tune he is groping at thin air and when he fiddles his effort lacks conviction. The fiddle is still playing in the song long after he has stopped miming too. Lovely fiery orange and yellow lighting for this.

Of most interest today has been the plunge on Ukraine on the Outright. The same thing happened round about this time last year with the Ukraine entry. A PR push most likely and maybe some lemmings effect as UK punters figure the current deepening crisis in Ukraine will encourage a huge sympathy vote.

Rise Up feels like it knocks the Swiss entry into a cocked hat. These guys are a lot more professional in working the stage. But, but, but… let’s not fall into the amateur trap again as Lithuania last year was very amateur but got to the final after finishing 9th in its semi and with an endearing/handsome frontman in the Sebalter mould. Sebalter is almost a hybrid of Gianluca and Andrius Pojavis.

They cleverly have shots of the crowd incorporated in this which will show them jumping in beat. They also use a nice Loreen slow-mo effect at one point on the trampolinist. Final shot is from the overhead camera showing the guys sprawled out on the trampoline canvas after their brief sortee onto it for a couple of leaps at the end of the song. This looks like it could be grabbing the ‘youf’ vote.

Tinkara is still prone to dropping a few vocal clangers. Lovely royal blue dress and whirlpool blue effect beneath her on the stage floor which looks like it could do a Bermuda Triangle and swallow her up. A journey to another dimension would certainly help this especially if it was her backing singers who got swirled away. They are about as much use to Tinkara as a field of pumpkins after Halloween got cancelled.

Romania has improved on 1st rehearsal. Great lighting for this, the backdrop playing on the Walt Disney magic castle thematic in the last minute, for want of a better description. Ovi hugs Paula in quite a seedy older uncle kind of way. You wonder if he might go for a cheeky grab of Paula’s derriere, Jim Carrey style in Dumb & Dumber, memorably featuring Lauren Holly’s pert rear. Paula’s in a lovely, sparkly black frock. Aside from this being a paper-thin pop tune, the interplay between them simply doesn’t work the way it did so well with Playing With Fire back in 2010.

Plays for today:

Top Balkan – Greece – Evens Bet365 (10-11 with BetVictor) – 15pt win

Outright – Greece – 60-1 bet365 – 1pt e/w

Semi 2 – Greece – 5-1 Ladbrokes 5pts e/w


  1. “Of most interest today has been the plunge on Ukraine on the Outright. The same thing happened round about this time last year with the Ukraine entry. A PR push most likely and maybe some lemmings effect as UK punters figure the current deepening crisis in Ukraine will encourage a huge sympathy vote.”

    Ah but the lemmings might be right about the sympathy vote. Ironically I think Russia might get a little sympathy vote too (although Russia have made a strained and dated production from a passable song imo).

    I don’t know about Ukraine’s present price but I’ve felt it was too high for a while. Thankfully they’ve dropped the sexiness (“sluttishness” to many viewers) of the early versions and official video, sex which was great for a pop video but no good for ESC. Maria is good on stage. And the guy in the wheel is a fantastic prop.

    What’s not to like?

    • Rob

      You’ve done well Henry given the current Ukraine price. I do sense it is a marketing ploy to help generate heat around it. Saw it with Ukraine last year, saw it with Ireland in 2011…

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