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08:00 BST – Sweden
Good old Robin, you can trust in him not to let you down, or Sweden for that fact. Over the last few years they have turned up to Eurovision with acts that hit the ground running (literally this year with treadmills to boot!). Still one of my top three this year, but as with a few of the good acts this year it is missing that last little something that would make you go WOW! I cannot help but still note that the staging this year is just not up to the same standards as it has been the last few years. Could this be a sign of the times and a cut back on costs, or is it Kyiv against Stockholm that is making the difference?
Well Tamara has finally shown us what she is going to be wearing on the live shows, and let us just say it does not leave a lot to the imagination. Now all she needs to do is do something with that lion’s mane of a hair do – that thing really does need taming. The song for me could easily be a theme song for a Bond film, and she does the song justice. I can see this one making it to the Grand Final, but then after that it is a mid table slot for me.
08:50 BST – Albania
Once again swapping places with Australia (what is with that?), Lindita makes her way to the stage in what reminds me of a glitter ball, and that is where all the excitement ends. The staging elements are nearly non-existent and the song itself is not one to write home about. This to me is really one that is going to find it hard to qualify for the Grand Final and I do not see them making any big changes this late in the day.
09:15 BST – Australia
A much improved showing from the young man from Oz, Isaiah, and the graphics playing behind him do make a difference to the performance. At this stage he seems to still be lacking connection to the song and it seems like he is still going through the motions. I only hope that before we get to the live stages that he is able to connect to the song a bit more and show us some passion. At the moment you could be forgiven in thinking he is some Random Joe in a karaoke bar, singing a song that has nothing to really do with him.
09:40 BST – Belgium
Someone get me a cattle prod! For such a upbeat track, she has about as much life in her as a bratwurst. Blanche looks depressed on stage, and when she did try to step it up a gear the vocals did not go with her – they were outside getting an Uber to the airport. Maybe it is supposed to be a solemn song, given the fact they have dressed her up to look like she just got dumped on the way to her own wedding, but then with a face like the sauerkraut they serve up for breakfast every day here, who would want to take it down the isle? Someone slip the poor girl a Prozac. It is easy to see now why this has slipped down in betting odds. It is a good song but she really lets it down performing live.
11:05 BST – Montenegro
Up next we have the Montenegrin’s answer to Louie Spence. That is right people, it is time for camp attack with Slavko. Thankfully this time he spent less time on his hair and concentrated on the vocals more. I am not too sure why he wears the stupidly long hair piece, he actually looks better without it, and if he never had that thing to fling around he might actually stand a better chance of making something of the song. However, it was a much improved performance; plus, the screens behind him showing half naked bodies mixed with this X-rated lyrics made for an appreciated addition after our break for lunch. My only issue is that some countries are likely to find this to too close to the knuckle which will likely affect their scores.
11:30 BST – Finland
So we go from camp craziness to dark and depressing. Finland seem to have brought a song and a singer with them that would have been more suited at Eurovision 1960 rather than today’s contest. The song does not really go anywhere and if it did, I do not think she would have it in her to take it where it needs to go. With minimal staging and minimal effort, this has not improved much since its first outing and I am not sure what you could do to make this song any better, other than rip the whole thing up and start again. Oh well Finland, better luck next year.
11:55 BST – Azerbaijan
The more I get to see and hear this song, the more I am starting to like it. Okay. I don’t want it to win but I do want to see more and more of the dancing horse on top of the ladder. It seems they have not taken my advice and replaced the ladder and it looks like it is going to stay for the live show, but I suppose that means after the competition they can use it to start a new window cleaning business. What I will say for the song is that if you took the dancing horse away this song would easily fit into a Harry Potter musical with the staging lending itself towards the dark and creepy side. Good job Dihaj, this one is sailing through to the Grand Final.
12:20 BST – Portugal
Once again with have big sister stepping in for her brother in rehearsals, so we cannot really tell you much about how the performance is going to be on the night, given that it will not be her and she sounds different to her brother. And that’s a shame because I prefer her to her brother, and she wrote the song as well. No one really knows why Salvador decided not to arrive until the last minute. Some are saying that Salvador is suffering from a heart problem, others think is something to do with mental health, Whoever it is singing the song on the night, I will be taking that opportunity to have one of my famous wee wee breaks.
12:45 BST – Greece
Ouch ouch ouch. She has problems hitting the notes throughout the song. The saving grace is the two half naked men dancing in a puddle of water managing to keep me entertained for the most part. Second and third run throughs, and the top note is still out of reach for Demi. Instead of not trying hard enough like others, I think she is trying that little bit too much. I have just been told she has ordered a taxi to go pick up her notes ready for her next rehearsal in a few days’ time. Fingers crossed that they don’t get lost on the way.
13:30 BST – Poland
I am sure that Kasia Mos must have just had a dose of Botox before coming on stage as try as she might, her face does not move. Her dress on the other hand does seem to move a bit, and looks like someone’s bad attempt at wrapping her up like a mummy. So far it has managed to stay in place. Again there is no blow your mind staging, and for some reason they have gone for a random selection of animals being screened behind her with everything from a dog to a bish (bird-fish aka Penguin) being projected. I think this will safely make it through to the Grand Final and maybe even a top ten finish.
13:55 BST – Moldova
You know when you get one of those songs that you cannot get out of your head, and when you do it just pops back in at random times? Well this song is definitely one of those. I found myself this morning sitting on the toilet singing this song to myself and even doing the little foot dance to it; it really does have a catchy tune. This time around the Mary Poppins brides have been replaced with just brides ,and they have had a little play around with the lights. I think the change in the dresses for the brides has been the right choice and make it fit together a bit more, but they really need to go back to the old light settings.
14:20 BST – Iceland
So most improved performance of the day goes to Svala from Iceland. It has changed so much now her luggage has arrived and she is dressed to impress. I am glad to see the back of the Nobbly Bobbly trousers. Staging wise it now looks like a far more polished performance from start to finish. The only bit I did not get before and still do not get is the little rap bit she does in the middle I do not think it goes with the song, but I suppose you cannot have everything. Not a show stopping winner for me, but it has moved up my table a fair bit on that performance.
14:45 BST – Czech Republic
For the second rehearsal in a row now her microphone has not worked on the first run through. Martina is the only one this has happened to – does she know how to turn the thing on? Disappointingly, she has still not given Honey G her outfit back so looks more like she is about to take a space walk on the moon. If Iceland get the award today for most improved act, the Czech act gets the award for the performance that has changed the least. I do not see any changes from the first rehearsal to now, and that is actually a great shame as their delegation needed to make some in the hope they could save something from this performance. The song and the staging just do not marry up, in fact it is almost like the two have gotten divorced, stopped speaking and now end up thrown together at a relative’s wedding.
15:10 BST – Cyprus
Ooh now we have a close call for the most improved. Hovig has really pulled this one out of the bag. The vocals are much better and his routine was near perfect. I am guessing that he got a big telling off from the choreographer after his first try the other day. He still has a few little tweaks to make, and needs to learn how to keep his leg up on his own, but he’s firmly put this one back into my top five.
That is it from me for today’s round up. Make sure you check back tomorrow where once again we will be blogging live from inside the arena as yet more acts take to the stage for their second rehearsals, and we get even closer towards what you will be seeing on your TV screens in the coming week.