Eurovision 2018

#LiveBlog First Dress Rehearsal of the first Semi-Final #JoinUs from 15:00 CET

Thomas Hanses Aisel

Aisel – Azerbaijan 2018 Courtesy of (Thomas Hanses)

Hello Europe and Australia!

We’re back back back again with another LIVE blog for the first dress rehearsal of the first Semi-Final!

Are you excieted? This is the last time all contestants can make a mistake or adjust their performances before they are judged.

You know the drill, just REFRESH this page for new comments from us (James and Bogdan).

The videos you will see on this blog are the official ones taken from

Adjust your watches, we’re starting at 15:00 CET!


Hey guys! Thank you for checking our blog, we’ll be starting in 10 minutes hopefully!

And we’re Live from Lisbon, Altice Arena!We are shown beautiful images from all around Lisbon accompanied by modern sounds.

The hosts of tonight, two in black, one in blue and one in red. Beautiful dresses…

A bit of stuttering from the hosts, but they have time to get it right 🙂

Let the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 (Dress rehearsal) BEGIN!

1. Azerbaijan

Bogdan: Aisel starts lying down on an “iceberg” and we have a lot of smoke effect on the stage. She is serving us some Loreen on the stage – regarding the dance moves. She is joined by backing vocalists and dancers on other icebergs on the stage. We have a bit of choreography, smoke and wind machine..

She was a little bit quiet for my ears, but I guess she’s saving her voice for tonight. If I were to give it points I would say 6 out of 10.

JAMES: Azerbaijan kick off the first semi final and admittedly Aisel is singing very softly – I can only assume it’s to make sure she’s in top vocal form tonight. It’s a great dance track, I only wonder if going first may mean it’s forgotten by the end of the show…

2. Iceland
JAMES: Unlike Aisel, Ari is giving it his all. Iceland have a slow song with a simple staging between two rather showy and vocally louder entries… add that to dreaded spot number 2, I fear Iceland may be in trouble…

Bogdan: Iceland is giving us a sweet performance, but nothing about it screams “wow”. It is pleasant but that’s all about it. A 4 out of 10.

3. Albania
JAMES: This song always sounds the same every time I hear it, and that’s fantastic. Eugent gives such an effortlessly strong performance and everything about the staging suits the sound and mood of the song. Albania last made it into the final in 2015, but I’m confident 2018 will see them return – and I can’t wait!

Bogdan: Black and blue lights for Albania, infused with red. What a great combination on stage that complements Eugent’s performance. I’m not sure if he’s missing the camera cues or it is intentionally., but he could look more into the camera to connect with the audience watching behind the screens. He can do better than this, but I suppose he’s saving the best for last 😉  A 6 out of 10.

4. Belgium

Bogdan: Sennek still starts the song with just her eyes showing. Then we see more of her as the song progresses. I still think she looks too alone on the stage and I can’t see the magic happening. Maybe tonight it will! A 5.5 out of 10.

JAMES: Every time I see the opening shots of this song I’m reminded of The Netherland’s ill-fated Walk Along by Trijntje Oosterhuis… although it’s the first entry to get any kind of reaction here in the press centre, I wonder if this is too dark to stand out in terms of staging. But then again, that might be 2015 flashbacks…


5. Czech Republic

Bogdan: The beat is on and we’re tapping our feet. Mikolas is moving much better than the last time and we applaud him for not giving up. Pink and blue background and some smoke involved. Of course he ends showing us his beautiful smile. Nothing wrong with that! 8 out of 10.

JAMES: Easily the strongest Czech Eurovision entry to date, Mikolas seems a lot more relaxed and mobile than he was a few days ago. He’s clearly enjoying himself and the good feeling is contagious. The backing dancers need to tighten up a little to be in sync, but other than that it’s almost perfect. The press centre erupted in applause as he finished – Richard said it best when he said “Mikolas is back!”


6. Lithuania

Bogdan: If it’s one song this year that surprised me in a very pleasant way, then this is it. I just love absolute everything about this performance. I wouldn’t change anything about it! Her voice is piercing my soul. Just beautiful! This has to qualify! 10 out of 10

JAMES: That was beautiful. Simple, elegant and so so powerful. Words don’t do it justice. Brava Ieva.

A little ad break while our hosts stroll round the Green Room talking to empty chairs and volunteers…

7. Israel

JAMES: From the sublime to the downright whacky, Netta owns that stage with her usual effervescence. She loves connecting with the camera and the song is so darn catchy this will sail into the final in one of the Top3 spots. A lot of fans have remarked that Israel win Eurovision once every 20 years and that last time was in 1998..

Bogdan: Israel is giving us a very colourful performance. I’m not a fan of the beginning of the song, but Netta’s  at 100% and exudes confidence. I can see this do well with the public, but I can’t see it doing the same with the juries. A 7 out of 10


8. Belarus

Bogdan: Belarus will certainly remain in my memory, but I’m not sure if for the right reasons. But hey, sometimes you just need to have something in your performance that the audience will remember. If that rose does the trick, who am I to condemn it? A 6 out of 10

JAMES: Eurovision is known for outlandish staging concepts, but I feel Belarus have really uped the bar with this piece. The limited colour scheme of white, red and black give the song a strong visual from the beginning, as does the cascade of rose petals. Add to this the elegant dancer, the roses in Alekseev’s back and through his hand… this has something for everyone to make it incredibly memorably, which I suspect will turn into a lot of televotes!


9. Estonia
JAMES: Elina has a incredble voice, and when you add the stunning visuals of her dress, it’s like a work of art. We get the same conviction and performance every rehearsal and it’s magical. It may be a bit too divisive to win outright, but it’ll do well should it qualify.

Bogdan: Another beautiful performance! Eurovision fans know that this is not a “typical” Eurovision song, but hey, I like it! I think this will rank high with both juries and the public. Elina’s voice is flawless yet again. A 10 out of 10!

10. Bulgaria

Bogdan: Bulgaria has a beautiful song and I want to be convinced by it. The performance has some really great effects, but the whole thing left me like “meh”. They didn’t connect with the camera enough to make me pick up my phone and vote. I love their voices, but I don’t like some camera angles. Let’s say 6ish ouf of 10

JAMES: Bulgaria were tipped to do very well a the contest early on, especially after their debut performance in London. Since arriving in Lisbon, rehearsals have been a challenge for the group but admittedly today they were a lot more cohesive on stage and things looked a lot neater. Sound-wise, it sounded like they were all trying to out-do each other towards the end of the song. Some performers do better with the nerves of a final show, and I’m really hoping Equinox pull it out of the bag. I love you, I love your song… please get it right tonight!

11. F.Y.R. Macedonia

JAMES: Macedonia keep doing this to us… they give us a great song, a great beat… then it goes on stage and things unravel… yes, it’s better than previous run-throughs, but still it’s too much of a work in process to be a secure qualifier as it stands… it might do it, but I think it’s too tall an order now.

Bogdan: I gave this song my 12 points for the OGAE top (!!!), but I’m so disappointed in the whole performance. The camera angles look a little bit weird at time; I’m not a fan of the outfits; the song lacks power live (maybe the backing vocalists a little bit more loud?) A 4 out of 10.


12. Croatia

Bogdan: To quote Ewan Spence “ Macedonia guarantees the qualification of Croatia!” Franka’s performance looked polished and the focus was only on her and her voice. Nothing wrong with that! A 6 out of 10

JAMES: Agree completely with the points above!


13. Austria
JAMES: No moons, no clouds, Cesar gives a much more adult performance for Austria than last year. He connected better with the camera than we have seen him do recently, which certainly helps Austria’s chances of qualifying. Costume choice is a touch suspect, but maybe I’m in the minority thinking that

Bogdan: I was a fan of Austria’s song before the contest; I am still a fan after the rehearsals. Cesar still needs to work on some camera angles, but this is the best I’ve seen from him so far concerning the connection with the camera. This is another potential qualifier. A 7 out of 10 from me.


14. Greece

Bogdan: I like Greece’s song and I enjoy listening to it. Am I convinced it will qualify? Well, I’m not so sure about that. While I am mesmerized by some sounds, I am completely unimpressed by others. The performance has piro and smoke but I’m not sure that that was the way to go. Still, a good effort! A 6 out of 10 from me

JAMES: I’m loving this song more and more every time I see it performed! Yianna does a spectacular job and the staging and costume make her look like a Greek goddess… it’s simple but very well done!


15. Finland
JAMES: At the risk of being hugely unpopular, I’m not as entirely convinced as everyone else is about how well this is going to do. Saara is a fantastic performer, make no mistake and the staging works well. But it’s between 2 very subdued ballads, and while that means it will stand out more, that’s not necessarily for the right reasons and I’m still not convinced that’ll be enough to see it into the final. Regardless, Saara is a strong singer and knows how to sell a show – so kudos for that!

Bogdan: Everybody loves Saara? We’ll see tomorrow if she qualifies. I love the song and I love Saara, but I’m not 100% sold by the whole concept of her show. I think one of the things that I puts me off are the outfits. I want this to do well… yet again I’m not wow-ed. A 6.5 out of 10

16. Armenia

Bogdan: I like the Armenian song, I’m not in love with it. I can’t fault his performance. He did all the right things. A 6 out of 10 from me and best of luck!

JAMES: Sevak always delivers the goods when singing and this run through is no exception. The problem for me with Qami is that while it’s beautifully sung and staged well, it’s also quite a niche song in the sense that ethno-ballads tend to be either loved or hated by televoters. Will it qualify? Honestly, I have no idea. I can see it going both ways, and it might just come down to which way the wind is blowing on Tuesday night..


17. Switzerland

Bogdan: I really hope Switzerland qualifies this year. And they have a good chance with that performance. I’m jamming along and I’m happy as I could see more of the singer’s face this time. Dare I a 6.5 out of 10? Yes I do.

JAMES: Were this in the other semi-final, I think Switzerland would have more of a chance. Much like Armenia, there’s nothing wrong with this song (at all) but there are a lot of strong entries in this semi… there’s a reason the Press have been calling this semi final a Blood Bath!!


18. Ireland
JAMES: Watching Ryan’s rehearsal in the hall the other day I must admit I did get swept up in the emotion of it all. But Eurovision is a TV show, not a concert… on TV screens, as moving as the song and it’s video (faithfully replicated on stage with the addition of snow) are, it’s also quite dark and difficult to focus on. I would love to see it qualify because it’s a strong performance and it’s time Ireland were back in the final – but I’m also mindful it might not storm into the final, but rather slip in quietly. Not that that is a bad thing, obviously!

Bogdan: Come on Ireland, it’s time for a qualification! Ryan definitely deserves to qualify this year. Such a beautiful, romantic performance! I am really proud of the whole performance. I won’t score it because it won’t be fair, but I will say WELL DONE!

19. Cyprus

Bogdan: Cyprus is going this year with all guns blazing! A very energetic and powerful performance and I love it! I can’t put too many exclamation marks, but it got me excited. Could we have a first win for Cyprus? We’ll have to wait and see. 10 out of 10!

JAMES: What a way to end the semi final! Cyprus and Eleni have given their all and the result is smoking hot! If this wins the semi outright, I wouldn’t be surprised. I think we also have a potential winner for Saturday night too… Cyprus 2019 anyone?

Awwww… as voting lines are opened, we’re treated to “Amar Pelos Dois” sung by singers from last year’s Eurovision in Kyiv! Alma, Norma John, Kristian Kostov and Svala are among them, just to name a few!

Thank you all for joining us in this afternoon and let us know who are your qualifiers. Be sure to check our website tommorow as we are prepairing or predictions (qualifiers) for tomorrow’s First Semi-Final!!!

Authors: Bogdan-Stefan Fedeles; James Scanlan
Source: Eurovision Ireland,

2 replies »

  1. Thank you guys! Year after year you provide the best, and most balanced, commentary. So grateful! Best wishes, Vazken (London)

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