France. I love the moving cloud backdrop. Performance-wise Amaury is doing exactly what’s expected of him. He stands there, looks pretty, builds the song, and interprets the lyrics in his phrasing. This performance will not disappoint his fans and will win over many votes from those who like the genre.
Italy. They’ve classed it up. Raphael brought his band. I like that the Italians have used the LED to highlight Raphael’s piano playing and the trumpeter. This comes across as a jazz act doing their thing without staging gimmicks. But the screetch is a gimmick, which I still hate. I think the juries will lap this one up, but I have ongoing concerns about jazz’s ability to translate to votes from the public.
United Kingdom. Oh my, where do we begin? Lee sounds terrible, for starters, and the backing singers can’t be heard at all. The green light gives the staging a futuristic spin, but it’s all a little bit ’80s sci-fi. The four onstage screens range from Invasion of the Body Snatchers moments to effective dancing images of the boys in Blue. Without the extra spacing between subject and verb, the text during the chorus looks odd — ICAN. It’s very different imagery from what they’ve given us leading up to the big show, but I’m not sure that it complements the song or advances the message in a logical way. They may be overplaying their hand. In good news, though there is a lot going on it enhances rather than overpowers the performers. Their wardrobe choice is pretty slick. We get it, they’re hot. There is work to do. [Note: Daniel over at Sofabet said that they improved with each run-through in today’s rehearsal.]
Germany. Lena is dressed in signature black, supported by 3 female dancers and 2 female vocalists dressed as sperm. The backdrop evokes the mirrors from the video. The effect amplifies the haunting, potentially mentally unstable character of the song. Extremely effective lighting from the home team. It all adds up to a very compelling performance. A contender.
Spain. This is more engaging than I was expecting. Spain has successfully established a party mood in their presentation. The choreography evokes Carnivale or festive dancing in the streets. The choreography draws us in and is easy enough that a lot of us will be following along at home. The fireworks contribute to the mood. But then they did something baffling: an LED backdrop of slow-moving stargazer lilies. It’s way too mellow and gentle for the tone of the song and the choreography. The good news is that the overall presentation is interesting–now I probably won’t take the time during Spain’s performance to visit the toilet, but the bad news is this concept will do little to move them up the leader board.
So what have we learned? France is for real, and Germany shouldn’t be underestimated. Both are contenders to win it all. The UK may be thinking a little too hard. If Lee can pull it together they’ll probably have a strong finish, but it’s not the winner. We feel a little better about Italy and Spain but still believe neither is going to have a serious impact.