12 May 2016
Four of my Fab Five in this semi final, plus Australia of course, this was always the more anticipated semi final and it didn’t disappoint. We also learnt something more about these so-called Jury Shows. They are back-up shows, that in case something happens that the Broadcast Show can’t be made (eg: an attack on Stockholm by giant, killer meatballs) or there’s a technical problem, the Jury Show becomes the official show. For the artists, they refer to this show as the general rehearsal. Germany, Italy and UK also got to perform.
The Family Show on the afternoon of the day of the broadcast is more for fine tuning any technical changes with the acts, like camera angles and timing, particular if there’s a stray cameraman on stage caught in a view. The artists are typically not in full final makeup or costume, and after they compete, they head back to the dressing room. In the green room for the fake interviews and announcing the winners are stand-ins, for often hilarious results.
We were seated about 20 degrees off centre in front of the stage. It meant the sound was good and we could see much of the stage effects and TV screens for context. Definitely now from the four shows seen, the least ideal spot is on the sides where it’s a bit too loud and affected by echo.
*** SPOILER ALERT ***
As with the impressions of the first semi final, nothing specific will be mentioned below, only the strength of the performances. If that is still to much information for you, go away now!
The big theme from this year’s Eurovision is solo stage artists. There’s very few bands or a posse of dancers on stage, and even backing singers are rarely seen. It could be a function of the stage with the design being so centric in its focus.
Wow, just wow, is all I can say about Dami Im from Australia. This was one of the two goosebumps moments of the show. While Australian pride obviously played a part, Dami’s vocals were peerless, and the presentation sterling in its simplicity and elegance. Even though my feelings for the song overall are mediocre, the key to it would always be Dami Im live. She made a few small vocal enhancements to the song, which will only enhance its chances of winning, forget about merely qualifying for the final. She’s there. Australia will be proud and she destroys Guy Sebastian’s 2015 effort in a head to head contest. Curiously she left the green room before all other nations finished presenting and never returned.
The second goosebumps moment came right after Australia when Slovenia followed. I think even the goosebumps had goosebumps of their own. It’s no secret Blue And Red is my favourite song this year, and while there’s also an emotional investment here, ManuElla made me so proud. I was always reserved about the small changes to the song and arrangement she made since winning her country’s selection, preferring to wait for the Eurovision stage to see how it matched the new choreography. I should not have been. It was sensational. The team did everything right. ManuElla also looked stunning in her chosen dress, and it was great I could get a wave from her at the end of the show and offer my appaluse. Disappointingly I still see Slovenia is low in the betting, which does not provide high hopes for a finals place. We’ll see when the people that matter count, and they can feel the song exactly as I do.
Below is my little interview I had with ManuElla the day before. It’s my first one ever and yes I was nervous.
Latvia kicked off the show and Justs simply blew it away. While I’m not a great fan of the song, the electronic beat and the passion Justs put into the song make it so good. Belarus was the big notable update from their national final, really using interactive graphics to the extreme. It remains to see whether Europe will be impressed by this or see it as a gratuitous ploy to win votes. Donny Montell from Lithuania was also impressive. Poland and Norway brought their familiar presentation to Stockholm. If it aint broke, why fix it? Israel finish their song off so well and Bulgaria brought a great rendition of their song, mostly thanks to Poli’s power. Note that Agnete from Norway has been fighting a virus for weeks, which stopped her doing promotional tours and attending the Red Carpet official welcome, so it was pleasing to see she’s well enough to perform.
Serbia, Ireland, FYR Macedonia, Albania and Belgium all brought serviceable presentations of their songs that won’t sway pre-existing opinions too much. Same goes for Germany and UK from the pre-finalists, with UK being the best of the three. From the six pre-finalists, Spain’s Barei is the best. She was also brilliant at the Eurovision Village last night. If Spain can’t get a high place this year, it makes you wonder if they could in any year. The Spanish fans are also impossible to miss in town.
Similarly, Ukraine and Denmark brought a familiar presentation. If anything, Denmark’s was tackier than before. Both of these songs are songs I simply will never like. Ukraine got a massive cheer, so don’t let my opinion sway you there. They are also high in the betting to win. Georgia got two goes after the first suffered from a technical problem. Unfortunately that problem wasn’t the crazy strobe lighting near the end so those in the venue had to suffer twice. I can’t see anyone in the venue voting for Georgia because of that lighting. It was so bad I couldn’t even tell how the TV broadcast might look. Switzerland was the only song that dropped in regard. It was probably the weakest of the night.
Finally, Italy – second in my Fab Five for this year. Sensing this is not the sort of song expected to excel on the Eurovision stage, those fears prove true. It was decidedly placid, if not lame, with the imagery making no sense – not even connecting with the small English section in the song. Foreign language songs must focus on the song and artist to bring out their appeal and meaning. Think Serbia’s winner from 2007.