Since I do not have the privilege of being in Tel Aviv this year, I will be my usual live notes. Join me as I reveal my reactions and thoughts as the semi-final unfolds.
As a reminder, here are the ten songs I am predicting for qualification tonight (in no particular order):
Of course, this will likely change after seeing the songs performed live tonight. I’m excited!
Interesting fashion choice, but this rendition is no less epic than anticipated.
Can’t say I am a fan of that disco ball dress, but it’s okay I guess
Cyprus: Why does her hair look so wet? What are her dancers wearing?! I like the use of the screen, a lot! Oh golly, she should have kept the jacket on. But the choreography was good. I now understand why she’s dropped in the betting odds, that was not great. But good enough, I think.
Montenegro: Clearly, they’ve been working on sounding like more of a cohesive unit. This is still a very cutesy song. It still will not qualify. They look and sound good, though!
Finland: The vocals could definitely be stronger. I guess the dancing lady is alright.
Poland: WHAT ARE THEY WEARING?! I also do not get this backing projection of their faces. I will say, the camera work is well done. And getting the audience to clap with them is a great idea.
Slovenia: Looking awfully casual, aren’t we. I guess it adds to the intimate feel of the staging. Wow! You can really tell that they have a tight connection. Wow! The staging fits them and this song so well.
Czechia: Love this dance off in the postcard. OMG I love this Eighties camera effect with the rectangles. This was fantastic – definitely the strongest thus far.
Hungary: I love the lights and the use of the screens. As expected, his vocals are on point. His look is not, but as the song goes on, he sings with more and more emotion.
Belarus: Those boots! Best boots since Ukraine 2009! Cool flips from the dancers. Great choreography in general from the dancers. Smart to go with a 90s aesthetic, it makes the song feel more in context. Just not sure, overall, how much appeal it has beyond the teen girl demographic. But they are huge and they vote, so…
Serbia: I love her outfit. and the use of the floor screen! Not sure the 3D water effects were necessary. Her voice is just as powerful and on point as on the studio version. Her biggest issue is that this sounds like a typical Balkan heartbreak ballad, despite being a song of love.
Belgium: The backing screens are well utilized. That is about all the positive I have 😦 He looks and sounds very scared and uncomfortable. I’m glad the crowd is clapping and trying to keep him going, but this just missing the mark, by a lot. Not to mention the costumes are awful; his jacket is WAY too big.
Georgia: That was a great postcard and a smart idea to show him so smiley ahead of this dark and dour song. While the marching silhouettes were weird and creepy, I like the bridge effect on the floor. The fire just adds to how dark this song sounds. It’s like a villain song from a cartoon musical.
Australia: That opening silhouette was powerful and perfect. Love the visual effects to make it look like she’s floating. Way to hit that big note, Kate! WOW! Now I know why Australia shot up the betting odds as soon as the first rehearsals started. This was wonderful!
Iceland: I am happy that they toned the sex aspect of their staging. The singer was a bit off but the screamer was fine. Idk, I am just not convinced that this can connect with most audiences, particularly in the age of juries.
Estonia: I feel like they’ve wasted the potential this stage to create amazing storm effects. His vocals are way off, though. and not by a little bit. And he keeps missing notes on the refrain which is the most important part. These effects at the end are too little, too late.
Portugal: So much energy in such a somber song. The dancer is great. I think this translated very well. Not “too” artsy like one might think. I still think this one qualifies.
Greece: Huh. Her voice is interesting, for sure. For such a high energy, powerful song, this feels quite dull. Just like Belgium, it’s as if someone sucked the soul out them right before they took the stage.
San Marino: Well, the second verse sounded miles better than the first. They should have had a male backing singer that could double his weak vocals. It started off low energy, but it’s picking up throughout the song. Sigh, I do not think SM will get through with this, its tenth entry.
Okay, my favorite ten from tonight.
And, more importantly, who do I think will qualify (in order of confidence):
Voting sequence interval act: Dana International is rarely a bad idea. But kiss cams are literally the worst. I wish she would sing one of her songs and not just this Bruno Mars one.
Interval Act: Quite liked the dj mix of ESC songs through history.
Spain needs to sound better for the jury and live show at the end of the week. He sounds so breathy.
France’s staging is so smarmy – the words on the screen are so unnecessary.
Israel’s staging is the best one can do with such a boring song. At least he sounds good.
Greece! As expected (1 correct out of 1 qualifiers)
Belarus – the power of a good staging (2 for 2)
Serbia! – unexpected but nice! (2 for 3)
Cyprus – again, no surprise (3 for 4)
Estonia – I guess he sounded better last night (3 for 5)
Czech Republic – Woohoo! (4 for 6)
Australia – again, perfect staging! (5 for 7)
Iceland – no surprise (6 for 8)
San Marino!! – the power of the running order, everyone! (6 for 9)
Slovenia – as expected, they’ve been a betting odds favorite for quite some time (7 out of 10)
Cannot wait to see the final split scores. I am assuming Estonia and San Marino sounded better last night in the jury finals. Super stoked that San Marino finally qualified again! The song is fun and catchy, though, he needs to sound way better if he hopes to outdo Valentina’s 24th place. I am very pleasantly surprised by Serbia’s qualification. And saddened by Portugal’s lack of qualification. Cannot say that I am surprised by Hungary or Georgia, though I would have liked to see both move through. Georgia was just too dark, I think, and Hungary was a bit too low energy (listen to the studio version, there’s much more passion in it). Overall, I am satisfied. Australia, I think, was by far the strongest tonight. It will be interesting to see how these ten songs fare on Saturday.