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08:00 BST – Armenia
Artsvik back on stage with Fly With Me opening rehearsals for us today. Still really disappointing for me, but then again that is the luck of the draw, and we were spoiled yesterday with our man Robin. Quite a few of us have said that despite listening to the songs over the last few months, none of us remembered this song, and sadly it is easy to see why. Let us just hope the voters remember it on the night.
08:25 BST – Slovenia
It looks like Omar Naber finally found his notes, but that is about as far as it goes. Now that he is actually singing in tune it is clear to hear that the composer and lyricist on this track were both working on separate missions when they come up with the song. It is titled On My Way – one thing is for sure; I will not be on my way to Slovenia next year.
08:50 BST – Latvia
Up next, we have what has to be the brightest act of the competition. The whole stage is covered in neon pink and green for Triana Park and Ms Park is dressed in a very futuristic costume that I am sure she has brought from Cyber Dog (and her hair colour is different every day I have seen her so far). The penis-imagery in the neon backdrop scribblings from rehearsal 1 has gone. The song is quite catchy but I still cannot get used to her vocals. She has a strange twang to her voice that will no doubt endear her to some, but not me.
09:15 BST – Serbia
It looks like Serbia’s dress is made out of the same material the toilet paper is here in Ukraine. I wonder if it is irritating her as much as it is my backside. Next we welcome the improv dancer to the stage (who at this point looks like a gorilla having a fit). He proceeds to repeat his routine, but in reverse. He has totally pulled my attention away from Tijana Bogicevic and I am seriously worried that we might need to call the poor lad a doctor. It is not a bad song but it is not really a good one either. That said I am sure it will do okay and qualify for the finals.
09:40 BST – Austria
Again a good showing from Mr Pro with a very polished performance and no obvious mistakes through all three of his run-throughs today. He really knows how to play to the camera, and my feeling is he is one that can give the favourites a run for their money this year. I know that most people think that Italy have it in the bag. but those of us that have ears and taste will be voting for either Austria or Sweden. I myself would not mind a trip to Austria next year.
11:05 BST – FYR Macedonia
The more and more I listen to this song, the more I hear Kylie. Now she may have ditched the hot pants from her performance the other day, but she has changed it for knee high boots and a very Kylie-esque dress. It is a shame that the performance does not live up to the Princess of Pop’s standards. She still seems very uneasy at performing in this way, and it really does not suit her. Anyone that has met or seen her in interviews will know that she is quite sweet and this just does not play along with her image. Right song, wrong performer in my opinion.
11:30 BST – Malta
Malta on now, and Claudia Faniello keeps singing about being breathless. It is not hard to see why as she is still being pored into her dress. And no real changes from the first rehearsal. It still reminds me of a Celine Dion track, just minus the vocal talents. I think she is going to struggle to get to the finals with this one, it is drab and depressing and they are not doing anything to help it.
11:55 BST – Romania
Romania take to the stage and within seconds stop the show after complaining they can not hear their ears. Strange, I have never been able to hear mine either but it has never stopped me. The song is growing on me, but they just do not seem to have any stage direction and look to be making it up as they go along, but then again what can you really put to go with a good old yodel. The one single backing singer does not seem to be doing much and it makes me wonder what he is doing there (apart from steer the second cannon). Once more as the cannons make their entrance, Alex nearly falls over. He needs to sort out his ability to ride a big weapon before we go live.
O.Torvald seem to have to have stolen the head of Om from Take That’s Progress tour for their performance. This is the first time that we get to see the so-called big 5 and of course Ukraine as the hosts this year, who all get a bye to the Grand Final. Having heard them a few times this week in the Euro Club, I was a little disappointed to see that they have dropped the countdown clocks on their chests from their National Selection performance, but as this is a first rehearsal for them, there is nothing to say that they won’t make a return later in the week.
13:40 BST – Italy
This is the favourite in this year’s competition, and try as I might not to like it, it keeps creeping into my head and I cannot help but sing along and do the little dance (which is a beat out of sync with the backdrop’s dancing gorilla on the second chours, but that is a minor point). I have to say out of all the acts we have seen over the past six days, the cheers that went up for Italy at the end of the first take was by far the loudest we have had all week. Is it just hype, or are we all off to Italy next year? I hope not but we will have to wait and see.
14:15 BST – Spain
Well what happened to Manel Navarro over the last few weeks? When we heard this at the London party it was not too bad, now you add a couple of backing dancers to it and he loses the plot. I am sure he was making the words up as he went along (not that there are many to remember in the first place). They played it in rewind after he left the stage and it actually sounded better. Out of all the acts that we have seen so far (nearly 90% of them now) he has been the worst for his timing, to the point that at times it sounded like he was singing a different song. It is lucky he is part of the big 5 because on today’s performance he would not qualify on his own merit. Over the three attempts he had today it was clear to see that his timing and his tuning were both busy having a siesta.
14:50 BST – Germany
Germany have not had the best of luck in this competition over the last few years, but that may be all set to change this year after Germany decided to put Sia and David Guetta forward to represent them this year (oh no wait, it is just another rip off). It is not a bad song, even if it feels like we have all heard it before, and the crowd in the press centre seem to like it with the second biggest cheer of the day. We will just have to wait and see what the public and the professional juries think next week. Staging was okay, nothing to blow your socks off but not a bad attempt.
16:35 BST – United Kingdom
At last the one that we all have been waiting for (well at least I have anyway), and I am glad to say that she did not disappoint. Lucie Jones really shows emotion when she is singing the song and you can see that she really gets into the lyrics, even at this early stage. I would like to see a better dress on her as the one she is wearing today looks a bit like it has come out of the bargain bin at Primark, and the song and the staging really calls for her to have something a bit more glitzy. She has the balls to stop the song mid way when she is not happy with the sound on run-through number 2, and asks to speak to the sound engineers. She returns to the stage moments later, sounds much more confident and manages to eye-ball the camera more – although more practice converting her theatrical skills to, what is a essentially a TV show, would not go a miss in the week to come.
17:10 BST – France
So we have gone from Lucie for the UK who showed passion during her rehearsal, to someone showing about as much passion as a dead cockroach. Seriously, she walks across the stage as if she is walking past a shop window and catches herself in the reflection. For someone from a country that prides themselves on romance, this was a big let down and the visual effects left me feeling nauseous with the animations spinning all the time my Borscht nearly made a come back.
Well we have seen all of the big 5 and our hosts this afternoon. They will get another go on Sunday. All in all, it has not been a bad showing, and a lot of the acts that I thought were struggling after the first rehearsals have really turned it around. Tomorrow we have the rest of Semi Final 2 taking to the stage and we can see what improvements they have made.