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#AllAboard: Live blog of the Second Jury Semi-Final from 2100 CET

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#AllAboard: Live blog of the Second Jury Semi-Final from 2100 CET

 

More fun and games for the countries in the second semi-final of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest. Eighteen countries will compete for the 10 remaining spots in the Grand Final. Tonight is the what the juries in Europe ad Australia will vote upon, so the performance counts.

You know what to do. Hit ‘Refresh’ and see what I’ve written. Feel free to tell me what you think too.

Refresh from 20:00 GMT/21:00 CET

And we’ve started. We’re getting more views of the hilly city that is Lisbon. And the lovely pastries we’ve been consuming all week.

Our hosts now greet us. They’re in red, pink, black and red. All long dresses, especially for the Thursday. They’re teaching us greetings in Portuguese. Not scripted at all.

The numbers come up, but we can’t vote until we’ve heard all eighteen songs. As you may know, you can vote up to 20 times, but not for the country you’re calling from.

Norway

The 1,500th Eurovision song is on first. This will be one to watch tomorrow, and probably on Saturday. The way the graphics are in the right place impresses me. I don’t want this to win (partly because I’ll stay sober in Oslo if it does), but I’m finding myself tapping my feet. There are plenty of tick-box ingredients. And yet, it might be just too slick, and Alexander might come across as just the arrogant side of self-confident. A qualifier definitely though.

Romania

I love the staging for this song. It’s a bit dark and moody – slightly disturbing maybe, but not in a Belarusian way. However, the song appeals to me as I loved this sort of thing back in the 1980s and 1990s. The lead singer has a cracking voice, and the rest of the band complement her well. I’ll admit this could be a borderline qualifier, but it would be in my top 10.

Serbia

You would expect this typical etheral song from Serbia to do really well. And I would normally love it. Well, to start with I think the time for this song has passed. Or maybe it needs the Zeljko touch. On the plus side, the band’s voices are excellent and their choreography is the usual schtick of the band members walking around the stage. At one point, the male singer seems to stare at the camera in a “vote for me or you’ll regret it” sort of way. I can’t make my mind up. A borderline qualifier I think.

San Marino

Robots! More songs need robots! Especially ones that carry messages. “Sometimes” at the start of the song. Anyway, Jessika does her bit OK and carries. And then along comes Jenifer and it gets weird. It gets weirder when the message changes to “Size doesn’t matter”. Jess doesn’t quite hit all the notes towards the end of the song. I don’t think we’ll be seeing this on Saturday night, unless there’s a large ironic vote for the robots. Go on Europe, prove me wrong!

Denmark

Now this is more like it. Lots of close harmonies and a decent melody to boot. The stage show does just enough without distracting from the quality song. Rasmussen’s may look a little scary, but it does suit what he’s singing about. Finally, the snow starts which was the cause of a few problems earlier in the week. It works this time. This needs to go through to make the final interesting..

Russia

Yulia is now higher on her mountain than she was in earlier rehearsals. There are lots of things we’ve seen elsewhere this year. The Mountain changes colour like the Estonian dress. The dancers are in various other countries’ acts. I also suspect that for certain parts of the song the mikes of the backing singers are turned up a little. It also looks that there could be more focus on Yulia instead of wide angles of the stage and shots of the backing singers. I think this will just squeak through tomorrow night. Whether it should is another matter.

It’s Ad Break time. And shots of the Green Room. A host asks Alexander Rybak about a country winning twice with violence. Or it could be violins. She gets to stroke Rasmussen’s beard too. Are we past the watershed yet?

Moldova

This is fun fun fun. Who cares if there’s a song – the stage show makes up for it. There’s lots of business going on, and a blog can’t do this justice. Again I’m asking if we’re after the watershed in some countries. Still, the comedic element to the song makes this a dead cert for qualification. There might have been a few off notes, but no-one seems to care.

The Netherlands

Waylon’s choice of jacket is an interesting one. It might polarise opinion. What his co-performers do during the song may also polarise opinion. He does have the vocal skills and this seems to suit his voice. It’s also the only song in this genre we’ve got this year, and that will make it stand out. Taking the song alone, it would qualify. The stage show lets it down a little, and I also think it ends a little abruptly. Borderline for me.

Another very brief ad break, before we move on to…

Australia

We get some effective staging here. Jessica is alone on stage, and I think this needs dancers. She misses a few early notes too. However she carries on regardless and seems to save things further down the line – until the final chorus. You can actually tell that she enjoys herself as the song progresses though. Its borderline judging on tonight’s performance. I also think that if she qualifies and draws the first half, she will open the Grand Final.

Georgia

From fast madness, to something far more mellow. And incredibly tuneful. I’d have these as the best singers tonight. Everything is kept simple – the outfits (well-tailored suits), the staging (with some dry ice thrown in) and the ease at which Iriao carry themselves. I’m even getting goosebumps. The shower of pyros is the finishing touch. It needs to qualify.

Poland

I loved this song when I first arrived in Lisbon. It’s a great summer hit. And then I arrived here and got a little bit disappointed. Lukas is an OK vocalist, but OK vocalists don’t win Eurovision. On the plus side, the dynamic behind the song may well carry this through. I hope so, because it’s not contrived at all, and would be a good headline winner.

Malta

Christabelle throws everything into this, and it’s a very effective stage show. Her graphic screens make you look twice to see whether the people on them are real or just images. They’re images. It bounces along nicely and she is eventually joined by a non-image dancer. I like this one too with its vivacity and genuine-ness. A qualifier? It’d be nice.

Brief ad break time again, and our hosts speak to Yulia from Russia about the ocean.

Hungary

Hold on tight, it’s AWS. He looks angry and determined. The audience in the Golden Circle is really setting this off and when one of the band crowd-surfs it gets me all goose-bumpy. There’s flames, lots of energy, lots of applause and that is through!

Latvia

Taking us down several tempos is Laura. She has a very hard act to follow. She is trying but it still sounds like a three-minute nag. Sorry Latvia. The red staging doesn’t seem right as she’s wearing a red dress. It also seems like a very long three minutes. This ain’t qualifying.

Sweden

Benjamin has a great summer hit on his hands. But more for radio in my opinion. The staging, as you would expect, can’t be faulted, even though the lights could get a little distracting after three minutes. However, he sells this really well and that will be enough to qualify.

Montenegro

Our other classic Balkan ballad. Like Serbia’s, I think it needs more Zeljko in it as he has gravitas. Instead, Vanja tries his hardest but I still think it lacks something. Maybe it’s the slightly pained look on his face. Or the interesting choice of suit. It’s definitely not the vocal ability though. Ten years ago, this would have been one to watch. But not now.

Slovenia

Epileptics look away now. At least for the first few bars. Lea’s staging is a mid blue, designed to give the song some attitude. And she has a dance routine you could set your watch to. It bounces along in an OK sort of way. Not outstanding, but not lacking either. Until the ‘surprise’ about two minutes in. The false breakdown of equipment doesn’t do anything for me, and I’ve already turned off when the backing track kicks into life again. This was potentially a qualifier, but not any more.

Ukraine

Finally, Mélovin has his magic piano and rises from the grave. Well, the stringy part of it. He’s always had an odd look about him and this might garner him a few votes in the ‘standing out from the crowd’ stakes. As a song, it’s competent enough and is very polished. I say polished, but he seemed to have trouble discarding the long black coat he wears until the end of the second chorus. Then we get the flames and it’ll be darn hot in that Golden Circle near the stage. I think this will qualify.

And that’s the song presentation. Tomorrow night, the phone lines will open at this point. We get a reprise of them, just to remind people who sang what.

After the song snippets, we get a plug for the CD and DVD. The a potted history of stage acts through the years. “Esclopedia” it’s called. And that even includes stuff from the 20th Century!

Do you like the medium of dance? Well how would you interpret ‘Refrain’, ‘Puppet on a string’, ‘Dschingis Khan’, ‘Making your mind up’, ‘Euphoria’ or ‘Riverdance’ (smiley face) through that medium?

More reprise-type stuff now. This is followed by talking to the audience and the outfits they wear. What fun.

Voting over. Somewhere in the ether [tomorrow night] will be ten lucky qualifers that have to do this all again on Friday and Saturday.

Next we get out-takes from the postcards filmed by the acts over the preceeding weeks. Utterly hilarious.

Back on track, we get Planet Portugal. It goes on a little too long.

Can Eurovision change history? Well, in 1974, ‘E depois do adeus’ signified the start of democracy in Portugal. We get the story behind this major event. It’s the most informative thing of the night.

At last, we get introduced to three more of the Big 5. Madame Monsieur from France sing ‘Amar pelos dois’ in French. Michael Schulte sings ‘Fly on the wings of love’ on a ukelele for us. Ermal and Fabrizio from Italy lead the crowd in singing ‘Nel blu dipinto di blu’.

France

The staging is kept very simple. Just the duo and dry ice. For the second verse, they split up and go over the two bridges to the front stage. I can’t fault the camera work here and the Golden Circlists set it off really well. Émilie is really enjoying herself on stage. It could be a contender on Saturday night.

Germany

Michael is on stage alone, and relies on a small backdrop that’s a LED screen. How very Måna Zelmerlöw. He means what he sings as it’s about subject close to him. The song is OK and very well-orchestrated. However I find the trippy effects towards the end of the song slightly distracting. I found myself  concentrating on them rather than his song.

Italy

The ‘gimmick’ here is the lyric of the song overlaid onto the camera shots, in 15 different languages. They still sing in Italian. I like the way they’ve tried this, but I’m again a little distracted, I’m trying to play ‘guess the language’ instead of listening to them sing what I’m sure is a very heartfelt song. They also use both bridges before coming down to the front stage. Not bad I guess.

There is another dry run of the dummy reveal of which ten countries have qualified. But it won’t mean anything until tomorrow night.

We won’t be blogging at all tomorrow (Thursday). We may Tweet and Periscope for you. Feel free to agree or argue with us. And don’t forget to enjoy the show.

Author: John Stanton

Source: Eurovision Ireland

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