Welcome to more coverage from Copenhagen’s fair city, as we see the second and final working rehearsal for the songs in the second semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest, taking place on 8 May. A few countries had a bit of work to do after their first rehearsals. We’ll bring you our own personal thoughts on these songs. See what you think. JUST REFRESH THE PAGE for up to date commentary. Will the fire continue to be alight for Malta? Will the phoenix still be bright for Conchita? Will Greece rise up the rankings further?. On the blog today will be Andrew Main, Phil Colclough from OnEurope and John will be in later, he’s with the Irish at Tivoli and Garrett will be interviewing and videoing!
Here is the door to the Eurovision stage – it may not look much but don’t be fooled
Fascinating fact: Of the countries that have never won, Malta is the most successful, with two second places and two third places.
Phil : Richard has tried 9 times to get to Eurovision and, now he’s here he’s possibly going to win the Semi Final. This looks really really good, however the only thing that stop me saying “definitely” is that there seemed to be a dodgy vocal mix, and lots of other songs still to come in this bit – however it’s very very good.
Andrew: Looking and sounding great again today. They have so much enthusiasm and really are enjoying their time on the stage. The staging is straight forward and the band are selling themselves. The vocals are spot on and the song utterly catchy. The backdrop is a poppy field with lots of faces of people who are coming home.
Fascinating fact: When Israel won in 1978, they still had no colour television. But it was successfully trialled and introduced by the time they hosted it a year later.
Andrew: Israel have sharpened up their routine it’s a lot more slick and the strutting with the dancers and Mei are now pretty effective. Vocally its fine too. I am sure we will see this progress to the final.
Phil : I don’t like how she’s performing this. It’s very shouty and very lighting heavy on the stage but is a strong woman mincing on stage shouting at me the way to go?? – I’m not sure she will – but I could be wrong!
Fascinating fact: Alexander Rybak achieved the highest ever winnign score with Fairytale in 2009. But Norway has also finished last the most times – 11 in 52 attempts.
Andrew: This starts with a tight camera angle on the keyboard of the piano then sweeps away. Carl stands alone on the stage lit by spotlights. It is dark and moody and a damn good song. His vocal comes across as very fragile which sets the mood of the song perfectly. He is managing to connect with the camera a lot more because he is opening his eyes though he is struggling to remember to do this at times. He is accompanied on stage later by 4 ladies a fiddling (fiddles have won it for Norway twice before). A sure qualifier I am sure.
Phil : This is the first one that I have seen in the hall properly and it was…. a tad underwhelming to be honest. It just looked the very same as it did before to be honest but that is not a bad thing. There seems be an underwhelming bandwagon with this one – it used to be the top one and was winning, but this is now just a little bit… meh.
Fascinating fact: The entrant from 2008, Diana Gurtskaya, has been given awards not only in Georgia (Medal of Honour), but also Russia (Russian Honourable Artist) and Ukraine (Award of Saint Barbara)
Andrew: Prog rock comes to Eurovision ahead of a worldwide revival. Georgia are at the cutting edge of a musical revival in many peoples eyes here. In my eyes this is bold and certainly has ethnic elements which are always welcome by me at Eurovision. They are a genuine band out to have a good time, the weirdest thing for me is the drummer wearing a parachute. Otherwise there is not a lot wrong with this apart from the fact I personally dislike the song. A surprise qualifier on Thursday? Possibly.
Fascinating fact: Aside from 1956, and until Serbia’s win in 2007, Poland’s Edyta Górniak’s second place was the best finish by a debut entry. It’s only been equalled by Serbia & Montenegro in 2004
Andrew: Poland have not toned down the boobies in their act, they are still as prominent as ever (snigger). This is very colourful and Cleo is really belting out this ethno pop song. All are in traditional polish folk dresses. This has a heavy almost drum n bass beat all the way through it. Its getting a good reaction here and hopefully we will see it grace the stage next Saturday.
Phil : Poland. Without a doubt TVP know what they are doing here. This is a hit first before a Eurovision entry and it shows. The elements of the 4-5 million view video are all here, albeit toned down for a family show – and that’s it charm and where it;s votes are coming from. It’ll get the “dirty old man” vote, but it will also get the hipster modernists that understand that it’s a cracking little song. This is going through and will do very well on Saturday!
Fascinating fact: Persistence pays off. Udo Jürgens took three consecutive attempts before he managed Austria’s first and (to date) only win.
John: Conchita appears to be saving her voice as it was obvious she wasn’t hitting all the high notes. The camera work, particularly the first 45 seconds or so gives us a very enigmatic figure with what we know will be a decent voice next Thursday. There may be gasps in certain quarters when she is revealed, but hopefully the prejudices that do exist won’t hinder this fine performance.
Andrew: Austria is very dramatic and Bondesque. We do not see Conchita’s bearded face until 49 seconds in and this is a bold move as it sells the voice first. The backdrop is amazing when we see the phoenix wings beating behind her. The voice is ok most of the time a few duff moments but she is warming up. Looks like they are playing around with pyros or flames at the ending so see which they prefer. I am sure this will qualify now.
Phil : It is what it is, I guess. There is no doubt that It is a decent enough song – however it is missing *something – but I don’t know what that something is. It’s left me a little cold and the couple of people I have just spoken to have agreed. It should qualify but the pyro effects ( depending if they go for the mines or the waterfall) could either make or break it…
Fascinating fact: LT United was created especially for Eurovision, and the song was performed during a series of concerts by Robbie Williams
Andrew: Now this is very slick. Love the dance routine, love the back beat, love Vilja’s strong vocals. The staging of it is very flashy and dramatic. Did I mention that I love this song? I can certainly see this as a qualifier too.
Phil – Our esteem-ed webmaster plays this CONSTANTLY in Eurovision Ireland/OnEurope Towers and let me tell you he’s been near a slap several times! – However, don’t let that put you off, but do let the dancing and costumes put you off!! – Vilja certainly grabs your attention, by singing it 80+ times ( it seems) and that grates me and the casual voter may well have the same problem. It’s in trouble for qualifying to my ears!
John: First, you must give credit to Vilija for singing her own composition. However the dance routine might be a little too unusual for some. She has holes in her tutu skirt that play a role during the song but otherwise they look a little odd. Maybe it will qualify, but I have my doubts.
Fascinating fact: Ossi Runne, born Yrjö Osvald Rundberg, conducted the Finnish entry 22 times until 1989. He also wrote the 1966 entry, and acted as commentator in 1981 and 1990.
Andrew: A very contemporary number up next and Softengine are a young boy band who play their instruments. The feel of the song is good and the vocals great with a raw edge to them. It is also good the guys do not jump about all over the place but stand and sell their song well. Great use of backdrop and sweeping spotlights.
John: This starts well and just builds up from there. They’re young and energetic and sell this really well. Maybe they should be dressed more casually than they are, but their suits do not detract from the song at all. No one has talked about this one winning. It may not, but if it can make the final it will be one to watch as it’s a breath of fresh air that the contest needs.
Phil : If this doesn’t qualify you are all silly!! – This has the modern sound that the contest needs at this time of its life. As John has said, no one has mentioned this winning and, to be honest, that’s not that far fetched. They sound great, they look like a typical teenage rock band with that modern sound that is going to get votes from all over Europe. Get this voted for now Europe!!
Fascinating fact: Colm T Wilkinson sang for Ireland in 1978. But besides his European he is an accomplished actor, having appeared in the most recent film adaptation of Les Misérables
Andrew: The second run through today and we are seeing improvement in the camera angles and the interaction. Kasey is in good voice and looks like she is enjoying herself . Still a lot of work to be done here but if they can solidify their performance with lots of practise before next Thursday then Ireland could save themselves from an early bath.
John: This rehearsal was much much better than Wednesday. The camera work was tighter, the choreography was more in focus, the bodhránist was playing it like she meant it. All of a sudden this looks like a contender for a spot in the final.
Fascinating fact: Belarus has not had much success since their debut in 2004. Three times in the final in 10 attempts. However, Alexander Rybak who represented Norway was born in Belarus
Phil – Teo what have you done?! – On Wednesday this looked fab and sounded really good but, whilst it still does sound spot on, it has left me a tad underwhelmed to be honest – It just seemed to be background music after some of the fab songs that I have heard today and thats a worry.
John: Teo gives this a good go, with his chirpy persona and very relaxed stage performance. Now I’m over the fact his video’s leggy blonde isnt’ there, it seems OK, but OK can have trouble getting out of a semi-final. He could still come a cropper.
Andrew: A slick performance on stage today from Teo with his slice of Cheesecake. Not too elaborate in the dancing stakes but good interaction with the cameras. The vocals are competent and the song modern enough to appeal to some. Whether it has enough to persuade lots to vote for it, I am not sure.
Fascinating fact: When Vlado Janevski sang in 1998, his became the first debut song to perform last in any Eurovision show.
Andrew: This is also looking a lot better than the first rehearsal. The dancing is much tighter and the stage and backdrop lighting effects work much better with the rhythm of the song. Lots of white everywhere, lights and costume. Good vocals and this is in with a chance.
Phil : It’s just background music. It is, as people have said, an album track put front and centre and it just passes people by. It is purely competent, and that’s the worst thing that anyone can say about a song in this contest. It does have to beat 5 only, but I’m struggling to name them.
John: Tijana did run throughs with and without the glasses. It’s a very good presentation of the song, with a very monochrome theme running through it. I’m again still not convinced this will quite do enough to get through, as it’s arguably similar to the Israeli song. I think only one of these will qualify, and having missed the Israeli rehearsal I can’t say which is more likely. It’s definitely borderline.
Fascinating fact: Switzerland’s only top 10 finish in the last 20 years – Cool vibes in 2005 – was performed by the Estonian band Vanilla Ninja
Andrew: A jolly little song this one, extremely fun and catchy. Sebalter loves the camera and smiles and whistles a lot. The staging is gold and amber mainly. The vocals are slick and I can really see this qualifying now.
Fascinating fact: In 1995 Alex Panayi represented Cyprus and Elina Konstantopoulou represented Greece. In 2005 Alex was a Greek backing singer for Elena Paparizou and Elina was a Cypriot backing singer for Constantinos Christoforou.
John: Possibly one of the best things I’ve seen today. It’s the fun entry and entirely harmless. There’s nothing wrong with it and all of the elements (direction, vocals, lighting) fit together very well. We still have the trampolines that they make good use of, with a great shot at the end. The televoters will love it. The jurors I’m not quite so sure about, but I think it will do enough to make it to Saturday.
Andrew: Greece is hitting all the right buttons for me. I a modern upbeat song with a good beat and splashes of rap. 3 lovely looking guys who love the camera and a trampoline artist who is joined by the 2 singers towards then end. The vocals are not always perfect but this kind of song does not always need that. This is sailing into the final.
Phil – Infectious like the flu, bouncy like a bouncy castle, talented as…. well…. you know… This song is happy and qualifying through this bit with no doubt at all. It’s the perfect combo of vocal and lighting in perfect harmony and, unlike many in this contest, the boys are having fun. That will translate to the Juries and the Televoters. Qualifying, definitely, and a danger to the established favourites.
Fascinating fact: Slovenia’s 1X Band won what is arguably the first ever semi-final in 1993. The seven-song show was held in Ljubljana with them, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina qualifying.
Andrew: Slovenia is as good as it is going to get I think. It is neither brilliant or awful. It is sitting right in the middle. The singing is lovely, the song pleasant and some of the effects(the swirling circles on the stage) great. But I am not convinced it has got enough to qualify.
Phil: (pseudo Phil anyway as he has to dash off to catch a water bus) But he says that Slovenia is a goner and doesn’t have any chance of qualifying.
Fascinating fact: In 2007, Romania’s Todomondo sang a song that had substantial elements in six different languages
Andrew: As I am the only one here I better report on this one. John and Garrett are off doing interviews. Romania sound good and vocally this works. The circular keyboard is still there and the camera shots with Ovi inside it are more slick but I still see it as a pointless prop. Paula is going for her high notes but just after that they come together to form a rather awkward embrace as she is much taller than him. Overall its still qualifying but not a serious contender on Saturday.
John: It’s still a really odd presentation in my opinion. The holographic Paula seems to miss the point. I know they’ve worked together before, but some of the moves look really forced. Their embrace towards the end of the song looks a bit contrived too. And I don’t think there is the need for the circular piano keyboard. The press centre were highly amused when said keyboard started being played. It’s all very messy.
Andrew: So based on todays overall rehearsals I am going to call a tentative 10 countries to qualify.
Malta, Israel, Norway, Poland, Austria, Lithuania, Finland, Switzerland, Greece and Romania. Sorry Ireland but we need to see more improvement from them to get them through.
John: This is another tough one to call. I suspect there will be a surprise in there somewhere that no-one will predict. But I’m guessing that this 10 will get through (in performance order):
Malta, Norway, Poland, Austria, Finland, Belarus, Switzerland, Greece, Slovenia, Romania
Phil : My 10 are : Malta, Norway, Poland, Austria, Lithuania, Finland, Greece, Romania, Switzerland, Belarus. Ireland should finish in about 11th place, sadly.