ROLLING BLOG: Final dress rehearsal of the first semi-final


Hi folks

We’re here for the final dress rehearsal for smei-final 1.  We’re 14 minutes late!

The show opens with a montage of 2013 and then a certain Emmelie de Forrest wandering through Copenhagen.

We see images of Europeans singing ‘Only teardrops’ to webcams and then Emmelie on stage with a choir and a slightly remixed version of ‘Only teardrops’.

Our three hosts are not in their posh frocks, preferring the jeans and sweatshirt look.  They introduce themselves and tell televoters how to vote, both in English and French.

Seven minutes in, and we’re onto the postcard for song one – Armenia.

Aram MP3 is all dramatic once the beat kicks in and sports a dapper long coat and dark clothing underneath.  He performs well.

Aarzemnieki from Latvia seem happy with how they perform and it’s still very catchy.  It could spring a surprise and get through due to its simplicity.

Tanja from Estonia got all her moves and vocals right.  My slight issue is the wide sweeping camera shots across the audience appears to make her and her dancer dwarfed by the stage.

Sanna Nielsen had issues last night with lights but they seemed to be working OK today.  Sweden will be pleased if she can recreate how she sang this tonight.

I like the brightness and positive message of Iceland.  You cna tell they are competent experienced musicians and sell this as best they can.

We have a commercial break telling us about who has Eurovision’s highest hair.  But who is it? Find out later.

Hersi looks a little tired. Maybe it’s the fact she’s been here over a week and it’s tough.  The dress style doesn’t fit in totally with the song in my opinion.  Her voice is holding out though but with the graveyard slot of after the commercial break, her chances must be slim.

I’m not sure about Russia.  The girls aren’t in their frocks but still have their glass poles and see-saw. Part of me thinks they will get the necessary number of votes – part of me thinks there could be a backlash. We didn’t hear any booing (quite rightly), so it could well qualify.

There are no doubts about Azerbaijan.  This is the best performance so far in this semi-final.  Dilara in her red dress was faultless.  They may need to tone down the backing vocals a little, as they interfered just a little bit with Dilara’s lead.

Mariya from Ukraine is next.  The giant hamster wheel has grown on me, and to be fair looks quite effective on stage.  She belts this out really well and the camera loves her.  It will qualify.

Belgium is another country I’m not too sure about.  It could strike a chord with viewers, or they could see it as not quite the right song you should sing about your mother.  Qualifier?  Not sure.

Cristina Scarlat from Moldova sings a challenging song and didn’t quite hit every note.  There’s the bizarre moment when she rips out a piece of her hair and I’m not quite sure why.

Valentina tries again with a nice if slightly dated song.  The distant shots do her no favours as she’s completely dwarfed by the stage.  Even the cloth behind doesn’t really help.  It’s unfortunate that some inoffensive songs won’t qualify, but I think this will be one of them.

We have another ad break and another ‘record’ to determine.  Again, you’ll find out about it tonight.

With red and green in the colour scheme, it can only be Portugal next.  It’s a high risk to have a song after an ad break which could ultimately be Suzy’s downfall.  However, it’s an upbeat song among slower ones.  Also in this run through the backing vocalists seem to be overshadowing Suzy herself.  But it is popular here in the press centre.

The Common Linnets are on next and this is more my sort of thing.  Two assured performers and a very contemporary country-style song. They are faultless and get a big round of applause.  But I fear it might get lost tonight but I would love it to qualify.

Montenegro’s song was my personal favourite of the 37 and that hasn’t changed.  The skater works in my opinion and a song of this quality should shine through.  I do however worry that this is a very Balkan-free semi-final.

Finally, András Kallay-Saunders gives a great performance of his dark song.  The fairly simple staging works and I think this will win this semi-final tonight.

There were some good performances, but here are my 10 predictions, in performance order:

Armenia, Latvia, Estonia, Sweden, Iceland, Russia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Netherlands, Montenegro, Hungary.  My eleventh would be Portugal.

This is the end of the blog.  The show starts at 9pm CET/8pm BST.  Enjoy.

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