Ry-back or Lay?

May 1, 2018 by

Ry-back or Lay?

Semi 2 represents a significant decline in quality compared to semi 1, is my view leading into today and tomorrow. But you need to be open-minded in this game so let’s see if things change.

Alexander Rybak starts the day. This looks like a near carbon copy of what we saw in the Norwegian national final with graphics over-layed. Only Rybak could have the chutzpah to sell this but there is no escaping the wafer-thin tune he is peddling.

Charismatic performer? Yes but watching it it strikes me as an altogether inferior version of Mans Zelmerlow’s ‘Heroes’ in 2015. The visual trickery has been done before, and better than this, and the song itself is interminably awful. This year is going to have to fold like a house of cards if this is to come anywhere near winning. But on the back of this Norway hits a low of 7.6.

The Humans band members are wearing white and have masks on at song start either side of Cristina. The stage is full of mannequins in masks and the whole concept looks messy and superfluous. This is a decent rock song with a nice guitar riff, why take it down this bizarre M&S, or should that be S&M stockroom road? Masks are just plain sinister and a bad staging idea.

The best aspect of this is Cristina who is vocally great, is wearing an amazing purple dress and has flowing blonde hair made for a Timotei ad. She is the perfect rock chick but she is surrounded by an untelegenic band and a lot of mannequin/mask silliness.

Serbia starts so promisingly but then suffers a death by a thousand cuts. The brunette carrying the female vocals in the centre looks uncannily like Sanja Vucic from 2016. She is good. It’s very Balkan styling-wise with the 3 goddesses in robes and the bald, bearded guy in a dark cloak towering behind them. He is no Sevak carrying that look.

The guy banging on his big percussion drums tries hard to give it some oomph, stage right, as does Gandalf on the flute, stage left, or is it Formula 1’s Eddie Jordan who has let himself go a bit? I usually enjoy a Balkan ballad but struggle with this.

Jessika interacts with a small robot toy during San Marino’s trolling of Eurovision 2018. And to think, Sara de Blue sits at home while this is presented next week.

She wears a dark cloak at song start and has 2 female backing dancers. Three mini-robots are front and centre. Jenifer strolls on doing her rapping. One robot holds up a ‘Will you marry me?’ placard. At song start the message reads, ‘I’m not your robot’. The Israel delegation should go for some sabotage next week and cross out the robot and write ‘toy’ instead. The two of them form a love heart with their hands at song end. This is so many shades of horrendous, even by San Marino standards.

There is some major beardage on display for Denmark. Rasmussen stands on a plinth at song start. He is joined by his four shipmates sporting the Viking pillager look as they make their way to higher ground (in this instance, actually a few steps forward on the stage). White sails either side which is the only light on an otherwise very dark stage. One guy waves a white flag behind them towards the end. They march through wind and snow, and it feels like a bit of cold trudge sitting through this.

Russia has a young woman and guy doing modern dance/gymnastic moves to distract from Julia who sits atop what looks like a prop volcano behind them. Three backing vocalists stage right try their best to elevate Julia’s vocal. Their harmonies are pretty ropey but this sounds better than the Moscow Calling effort. The guy does a good impression of how Phoebe from ‘Friends’ runs before reuniting with his young lady friend at the centre of the satellite catwalk, Julia framed behind them. This is the weakest Russian entry I can recall (don’t forget, ESC 2010 is my year zero).

Moldova plays with doors in a giant prop wall. It’s a slapstick 3 minutes in which the 3 of them use body doubles to pull off various amusing poses. It is like British seaside humour brought to life on the ESC stage. Their antics help you forget about the song and similar to Rybak this is really about whether a visual show can win out in the song/performance equation. Is this Moldova achieving a remarkable trick for a second year running of successfully selling shoddy musical goods to the masses? They are becoming the ‘Del Boy’ Trotter of Eurovision.

Waylon is wearing a jacket that would suit a getto pimp in Harlem in the 70s. This could be the law of diminishing returns kicking in with a returnee as he has decided to have four black guys, 3 on guitars, one drummer who rock out surrounding Waylon on his plinth.

But it takes a strange turn when they individually do these aggressive body-popping moves. Then they break rank and bounce around the stage doing backflips and throwing other assorted shapes before all pointing at Waylon. This is as detractingly incongruous as Autumn Leaves featuring Blackstreet in 2015.

Australia ends the day and is poised as second favourite now, trading at 8.6. Jessica is dressed in a tight-fitting sparkly pink dress that isn’t especially flattering as she is quite a big unit. Vocally, she struggles pretty much throughout. Not only that but she simply looks awkward trying to dance while she sings. It screams drunk woman on a hen night, doing a karaoke performance.

Pyros and lighting are not going to salvage this. It looks like another perceived contender has just bitten the dust, while Norway bounces back to 7.8. Welcome to the madhouse of the ESC 2018 Outright.



  1. Montell

    The market is very shaky this year. Jumping from contender to another. Tomorrow it will Sweden, you’ll see.

  2. Shaun

    Hi Rob
    With the last than enthusiastic reviews of Australia, do you think they could be in for their first non-top 10 result?

    • Rob

      Hi Shaun. On what I saw today, I struggle to see Oz in the top 10. I was always skeptical regarding its chances as the song seemed too synthetic to me & I doubted Jessica as a performer and a live vocalist. I think if it was in semi 1 it would be an NQ judged on today’s performance.

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