Impressions from the 1st Semifinal 2nd Rehearsals, Part II

May 6.

Iceland: Not much more to say about this one. I can’t tell if this is going to qualify or not. It’s old-fashioned to the nth degree, but it’s easy to imagine people hearing Sjonni’s story and giving it a vote for sentiment’s sake. Will enough people do that to get it through? I don’t know, but I’m guessing no. Still, tell me Matti Matt is not this year’s breakout singer. I really want him at Eurovision as a solo artist soon. As long as he doesn’t sing another song about volcanoes.

Hungary: A much better rehearsal for Kati Wolf. They weren’t in costume today–is wardrobe being rethought?  The lighting with language transitions is much improved and Kati has sweetened the vocal when singing in Hungarian.  The trouble with “What About My Dreams” is that it needs to be sung absolutely perfectly. It’s not a number like, say, “Ovo je Balkan,” where bum notes can be overlooked. So I imagine there’s a lot of pressure on Kati to nail this. I would say that if she does, she goes through.

Portugal: Here are my two issues with “A Luta É Alegria.” One, I don’t mind joke songs as long as they’re executed well. I don’t think this is. Second, this is a two-minute song stretched out to three. I don’t hate the song, but I get bored with it long before it’s finished. When you’re reminding yourself it’s only three minutes, the act is in trouble.

Lithuania: Man, this is just rough to get through. And the sign language sequence just feels desperate instead of thoughtful. Remember, you all, this was the best song in the Lithuanian final. Yikes.

Azerbaijan: I’m glad the Azerbaijani delegation learned a little something from last year and did not overstage this number. “Running Scared” isn’t as strong a song as “Drip Drop,” but they’re letting the singers just sing the song, rather than run them through an obstacle course like they did with Safura. I’m not afraid to say they’ll move on.

Greece: I want to say that “Watch My Dance” is a song saved by its staging, except I’m not sure Greece was ever in danger of not qualifying. But the staging is pretty danged cool. Professor Stereo Mike’s rapping continues to suck the life out of the song, but the dancing helps bring energy back in.