Spirit Rising

May 11, 2019 by

Spirit Rising

The completion of semi 2 second rehearsals today. Croatia starts proceedings. Roko’s ‘The Dream’, you sense, has less chance to Q in this semi than Thea Garrett’s ‘My Dream’ for Malta had in semi 1 at ESC 2010 (finished 12th). A lonely hay bale blows through the Betfair markets, with 6.6 still being offered for it to Q, and you do sense Roko and his winged angels will struggle to fly high enough with this.

They have done well to soften Michela’s look and tried to help her by reducing the amount of movement required. Vocals flat in part and she does look a little too static now with her feet often firmly planted. Nice start as she plays with her hair looking through the window of a house. Malta drifts on the Outright from a starting position of 18, matched at 24 before being smashed down to 14. This looks like blatant market manipulation at work as this pattern has been observed for months now.

Lithuania has been friendless as a Q proposition in semi 2, despite this being a friendly semi-final for it. Matched as big as 4.3 now having previously attracted decent money as low as 1.67. This comes across as a bit limp, despite Jurij being an adequate live vocalist, and it does look dangerously sandwiched between 2 much stronger entries. The ESC cocktails could well be on those canny early layers.

Russia underwhelms again despite some extra visual flourishes. This is a bombastic track that really needed a bombastic stage show but this isn’t it and it exposes the track’s limitations. The BF Outright agrees as Russia drifts to 10 later in the day.

Albania’s Jonida has her hair up rather than fiercely scraped back. This is a wise styling move though we still see the tats on her forearms and she remains a rather fierce presence, appearing inside a burning globe image on the stage floor. Albania keeps being chipped away at to Q around the 2.56 mark which is understandable given it has a few friends in this semi. The lyrics are trying to appeal to the diaspora though the nationalistic image of the eagle has disappeared.

Norway was being considered as a potential back-to-lay proposition on the Outright ahead of rehearsals, which has backfired spectacularly up to this point (much like Spain). Some improved visuals here of the Northern Lights on the backdrop, with dry ice and pyros added on the final run through. When the yoiking section happens, we see the image of a stag on the screen behind but the visuals overall feel rather lame and dated, which some critics might say is perfectly in keeping with the song. 1.41 is taken, however, by someone who looks upon Norway’s Q chance more positively.

The Swedish price has been stealthily creeping in on the Outright pre-2nd rehearsal for Duncan. He now has a bright circular light on a perspex box atop the keyboard. Lovely blue and black visuals behind him that explode on the key change. They get rid of the lamp and have a spotlight illuminating him instead on 2nd run through. This works better and feels more intimate overall but they revert to the light/box combo on 3rd run through. The Netherlands re-asserts itself at 3.5 with Sweden slightly on the retreat again having briefly been matched below 6. But it does drop to 5.6 again at close of play.

North Macedonia has been one of the big Q punts this year initially matched for decent sums at over 2 on BF and now being matched as low as 1.29. Tamara is a very solid conveyance vocally and they have wisely kept things simple with the focus on her and the familial montage kicking in set to violin like the obituary moment at The Oscars. It closes with a black and white image of Tamara and her young daughter. It has a classy feel overall and is beautifully done.

Azerbaijan has been backed even more on the Outright, matched under 9, but seeing it again it screams even more of visual gimmicks trying to elevate a pretty ordinary pop song. The robots scan his body at song start and then we see his illuminated yellow heart pumping on the big screen behind. The out of body moment happens during the ethno sounding section. It is the best moment in the song but overall you sense there has been a big over-reaction to Azerbaijan. The market agrees as it shifts out to 15.

That’s stumps for today. Matt will return tomorrow with his views on 2nd rehearsals of the Big 5 and hosts Israel.

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