River Of Gold

May 6, 2022 by

River Of Gold

Sheldon Riley starts 2nd rehearsals today. Amazing to see Australia was backed as low as 5.7 on Betfair to win ESC 2022 when there was lots of hype building around him ahead of the Australian national final.

Australia is traded at 240 following this so those 5.7 layers deserve a big pat on the back. Sheldon is like a modern-day Liberace and this has Las Vegas showmanship written all over it. In an outfit sporting a long feather train and precariously ascending a flight of stairs mid-song, this has Madonna at the 2015 Brits potential next week.

Sheldon’s vocal is strong and the Phantom Of The Opera mask unveiling works better here than seen during Australia Decides. The concern that remains is, it all feels overwrought and a bit too self-indulgent. Some still see top 10 potential, backing Australia at 3.2.

Cyprus is next and Andromache’s ‘Ela’. Everything about this feels underwhelming. Andromache herself struggles with the vocal, the shell prop she resides in looks pointless, while her two female dancers do little to help elevate. Cyprus is extremely uneasy to Q from semi 2, shifting out from 1.4 to a pretty friendless 1.76.

‘That’s Rich’ performed by Ireland’s Brooke at least brings more energy to the stage following Cyprus. Quite a nice overhead visual shot of Brooke lying on the stage floor inside a love heart at song start.

This is full of youthful pop exuberance and maybe isn’t such a forlorn Q hope in a semi with a seemingly low qualification bar. Ireland is matched at 4.8 to qualify.

North Macedonia’s Andrea finishes this 3 solo female stretch. Nice spot-lit start, close-up handycam work and overhead swirly, whirlpool effect on the stage floor, playing on the ‘Circles’ motif.

In her Neo from The Matrix outfit, I can’t help but find myself rooting for Andrea here as she gives this her all, her live vocal sounding the best it has sounded all ESC season. ‘I just want a hеalthy conversation. Get it right and fix this situation. Everything is crumbling down bеneath us. We run around, run around in circles.’

Lyrics there that undoubtedly strike a chord with the times. North Macedonia is matched at 7 to Q following this, and alongside Ireland is rated least likely to qualify from semi 2 which seems harsh on Brooke and Andrea both.

Stefan for Estonia with ‘Hope’, which is begging to be used in a re-make of ‘Young Guns’. He manages to put plenty of dynamism into this, cleverly using the runways to come out and greet the audience, and he has a winning smile.

Some highly effective camera work throughout with Stefan very much engaging with the tv viewer. He performs an exuberant leap in the air before climaxing the song nicely on the b-stage, and the camera cuts before the credits roll. Good job, Estonian staging folk.

Over 3.5k matched at 1.2 Estonia to qualify which looks fair enough for those with big pockets, happy to back 1-5 shots.

WRS is hard to change to lower case as much as I would like to, real name, Andrei Ursu, and what’s wrong with that as an artist’s name? Really no need for all this shouty, upper case business.

‘Llamame’ involves a lot of intricate choreo with concise dance moves performed by two guys and two gals in unison with Andrei. The synchronicity is impressive. It is a well-polished routine and deserves credit for its professionalism.

It needs the live crowd but rather than falling away in the last minute, the spirit of the track powers it through to the end. The instrumental refrain is particularly joyous and catchy.

Romania hasn’t qualified for the grand final since ‘Yodel It!’ back in 2017 and this certainly deserves to be in the qualification argument in what is an uncompetitive semi 2 this year. Romania settles around the 3.2 mark to qualify following this.

Time and again it has been stated that Ochman has zero charisma, as a stick to beat Poland with this year but this is a real triumph live, and similar to Greece, they’ve managed to cleverly build upon its USP. Not only is Ochman’s vocal prowess exemplary but ‘River’ is a visual feast, aided by some inspired effects.

It gives the feel of electrical pulses igniting all around him and helping to charge his performance, capturing the unique drama of the track. Finally realised what the piano intro reminds me of. It’s been bugging me for months – ‘Dr Baker’ by The Beta Band. Look it up, it’s a gem. Poland is matched at 1.66 for a top 10 finish after this.

Montenegro’s Vladana has a song in ‘Breathe’ that also chimes with the zeitgeist, and the sad events we have been seeing in Ukraine. ‘The battle for the life. Is bigger than you know. To act so selfishly is unforgivable. The air is what they need. Air is what they breathe. They’ll die without it. It’s unforgivable.’

This has the makings of the classic, competent solo Balkan ballad that sneaks its way into a semi qualifying list of 10. Vladana delivers the lyrics with such gusto she has to be careful not to get shouty. She has what looks like a circular satellite dish on her back, which could potentially pick up the 1.30 from Chester.

Matched at 5 to qualify, this is another semi 2 song it would be dangerous to entirely dismiss.

This is far and away the best I’ve seen Belgium’s Jeremie Makiese perform ‘Miss You’. Live vocal strong, as we knew it would be, but he actually takes command of the stage and has a touch of Justin Timberlake swagger about him up there.

His 4-man dance troupe do a sterling job, especially in the last minute in helping give the presentation a contemporary feel. Is blue and black the only backdrop lighting allowed in this semi? That’s 3 in a row of the same hue. Belgium is matched at 1.53 to qualify after this.

You can probably add Sweden to the disgruntled delegation list as Cornelia has to deal with earpiece sound issues and a malfunctioning mic. When she finally gets the chance for a run through it’s pretty much as we saw at Melodifestivalen.

This is a song that doesn’t need to be over-rehearsed as it’s the organic, and off the cuff way in which Cornelia performs it that helps bring ‘Hold Me Closer’ to life live. Sweden remains a solid third favourite trading around 8.4 on the Outright after this.

The Czechs may hold the pimp slot but could it be checkmate by way of non-qualification? The backing vocal support does a great job helping Dominika navigate her way through this.

As a semi closer, you can see this working pretty well, with pulsing light effects and Benjamin and Casper flanking her on either side, helping to bring this electro pop number to life.

There’s some nice imagery incorporating Roman sculptures, and the set has a Clean Bandit feel about it. Czech Rep is backed at 1.4 to qualify after this.

Are we any clearer which 10 are making it through next Thursday? Plenty more thought required as we look ahead to tomorrow and a first proper chance to see the Big 5 perform at 2nd rehearsals.


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