11 May 2017
Impressive! Most impressive. That was the feeling from the second semi final rehearsal show last night, particularly the first six acts. In contrast to the lacklustre early stages of semi final 1, this was a breezy and a sustained run of quality acts. France, Germany and Ukraine were the three finalists to perform during the show.
If there’s one criticism this year it’s that many acts are trying too hard, either with overly elaborate visuals or over-singing. Our favourite Australian entrant this year, Anja Nissen, was somewhat guilty of the latter. Again, there will be no spoilers below.
The first six acts: Serbia, Austria, FYR Macedonia, Malta, Romania and the Netherlands. All had excellent renditions of their songs. As did Switzerland, Germany and Ukraine. Switzerland added vocal flourishes to her song, and it worked. These countries are really competing and trying to squeeze every bit out of their songs. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Estonia fixed their flaws, notably better integration of graphics and removing the awkwardness they share when on stage together. Belarus were huge fun, as were Israel. Imri can sing and brought a thoroughly entertaining presentation to the stage.
The excellent opening run was broken by Hungary – a song of only minor appeal. The two-voice novelty of Croatia quickly wore thin, so they will be judged on performance and song alone. The constant switching between styles sees Jacques licking his lips – an ugly habit for TV, and needs to be fixed. Norway were solid as you’d expect if you saw their national final, while France did enough to satisfy their fans. Bulgaria is trying too hard. Many of these more emotional or intimate songs should start low and build to medium. Instead they start high and build to insanity. To Anja, who ramped up the vocals even further than from the Danish national final, if that’s possible (it’s not possible), and sounded a bit screechy at times, especially towards the end. Hopefully the delegation noticed this and she will tone it down a smidgen. You just want to stay in control.
Ireland lacked imagination with the staging while nothing can save San Marino. It’s a dull, repetitive song. There’s so much potential with Lithuania if it only didn’t contain that screechy “yay, yay, yay” stuff. It was exaggerated by our seating position on the side, which made several other songs sound a bit too high in pitch, notably Estonia, and possibly Denmark too.