Hello and welcome to another article looking in-depth at the rehearsals for the Eurovision Song Contest. Nine countries rehearsed for the second time on Saturday the 11th of May and here is my ranking of them, based on the overall package they are presenting on stage through still images and the thirty second TV clips released by the official Eurovision YouTube channel.
9th – Croatia – Roko – “The Dream”
How can the climax of a song look so dull? Those are my thoughts upon watching the exclusive rehearsal clip of the Croatian performance. There isn’t really anything there that would grab my attention, and those notes seem to have peaked on the highest point possible and don’t come back down for air.
8th – Lithuania – Jurij Veklenko – “Run With The Lions”
Arguably just as damaging as a bad performance is a flat performance in Eurovision. The gold staging isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it suits the kind of song Lithuania’s entry is, except that it is one-dimensional and safe. In Melfest terms, this staging would be seen in a song that wouldn’t even make the Second Chance round or Grand Final. This isn’t bad by any means, but it is very middle-of-the-road.
7th – Albania – Jonida Maliqi – “Ktheju tokës”
I really want to like this performance more but it seems like the Albanian delegation excluded a lot of the ethnic undertones and message about immigration in coming up with their staging, because it just feels a bit flat. Jonida’s excellent voice, with which she can convey the emotion of this entry, is the best part of the stage presentation. Everything else is par for the course for Albania; static positioning and red and black backdrops.
6th – Russia – Sergey Lazarev – “Scream”
In 2016 Sergey Lazarev wowed with his live performance at Eurovision, with his act featuring a wall with holograms on it, that would twist and allow the artist to climb up. Three years later, the Russian delegation have once again gone with a technical staging in order to push forward the message of the song. I really felt that the music video did a good job at this but I am completely ambivalent with this staging – unlike in 2016, the reveal comes right at the start and there are no massive surprises after that, except from an effective effect where rain appears to fall down the side of the box the artist is in. It’s not bad by any means but this doesn’t feel like a push for victory.
5th – Norway – KEiiNO – “Spirit in the Sky”
The Norwegian delegation might have looked at the national final staging for “Spirit in the Sky” and decided that it was far too busy. They have chosen to focus on the three performers, losing a lot of the additional elements and at times it feels very empty. With the song itself nothing special, save for the “joiking” segment, there needed to be an explosion of personality in the staging. Ultimately it is still a decent package but it lacks that memorable something to convince juries and voters to choose them as a higher placed entry.
4th – North Macedonia – Tamara Todevska – “Proud”
Like Russia, North Macedonia have also gone with a line of mirrors for their performance but, unlike the calculated staging in the former’s entry, the line of reflections of Tamara’s back gives the song an added power. She is singing out to all of the women out there who are suffering or are being treated as lesser, the reflections showing she is speaking up for many women around the world. It is nothing groundbraking but I think it is professionally done and Tamara’s vocals sound brilliant. This is North Macedonia’s best chance to reach the Grand Final in many years.
3rd – Malta – Michela – “Chameleon”
Fitting in with the genre of the song and the music video, the staging for the Maltese song at Eurovision appears to be modern, fresh and colourful. There are effects happening in front of the singer, effects happening behind the singer, and we go from a house to a jungle to a city. It is all very bright yet clean, and will definitely stand out to televoters in particular. This does not look like a perfect performance however; for a modern dance song especially, it looks quite stiff, like Michela and the dancers are going from one move to another rather than flowing through it. But this should ensure that we will be seeing Malta in the Grand Final.
2nd – Azerbaijan – Chingiz – “Truth”
This staging caused a massive stir amongst the Press when it was revealed for the first time in rehearsals. It is ultra-modern and cool and brings something different to the competition. Sometimes, like with Russia in 2016, staging above all other elements can attract the televoters. That is the reason why it is only at number two in this ranking. I don’t feel like there is absolute synergy between what is happening on stage and the content of the song itself; the staging feels too over bearing, like it is all about that. But once again, this is only my personal opinion and I think that it will definitely impress closing the show in semi-final two.
1st – The Netherlands – Duncan Laurence – “Arcade”
Duncan Laurence is hanging on to the top spot in my ranking! The bookmakers’ favourite may have slipped slightly in favour of the more flashy entries, but it is still top in the odds and you can see why with this staging. A lot of the entries have tried to attract the televoters by going all out in the staging with a weaker song, whereas the stripped back presentation reveals all of the vulnerabilities and emotion in the song. The blue backdrop looks stunning and the wide shots are kept to a minimum to keep the personal feeling in the entry. This will do very well with the jury vote, but this will appeal to a lot of people across Europe. Can this give the Netherlands their first win in a long time?
So what do you make of the second half of semi-final two? Who do you think has great staging and will qualify for the Grand Final? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below and stay tuned for more Eurovision articles in the days leading up to Saturday night!