Finland

Grand Final - Dress Rehearsal - Part Three - Songs Seventeen to Twenty-Six

17. Finland
Postcard: It's a day on the golf course for the Finn femme.
Performance: Saara belts it out and the staging continues to enhance the song. Probably the best climax of the final due to her stage dive before being caught by her dancers...even though it always looks worryingly as if she might be dropped.

18. Bulgaria
Postcard: It's a tram ride for Equinox and then the downtown viewing point in Lisbon.
Performance: As can so often be the case with five-piece groups in this contest, it seems it's more a case of competing rather than synchronisation. Strong vocally but what was seen as a top-three certainty may just be a top-ten finish now. Having said that...

19. Moldova
Postcard: A little bit more sightseeing
Performance: A light, fun song with very entertaining staging (if a little slapstick), this may see Moldova trouble the top five for the second year running. Certainly ranks in many people's favourites this year due to the cabaret feel of it all. DoReDos dos what they dos best.

20. Sweden
Postcard: It's off to the farm to make some cheese for Benjamin...no reflection on Swedish pop music of course...
Performance: The lighting is impressive and Benjamin glides effortlessly through the performance, as vocally smooth as it gets. More than likely another top five result for the Eurovision powerhouse. If it weren't for Cyprus, Israel and France this may have just sneaked it...

21. Hungary
Postcard: Chocolate making and a wander about for the hard rock AWS boys.
Performance: If Sweden, which precedes it, is smooth and refined, this would be its antithesis. Rough rocking it as much as you like, AWS really take the decibel level up to like it has never been seen before at Eurovision. The sreeches and screams and pyrotechnics would scare Lordy away any day of the week. Given the fact that it differs to everything else in the contest this year and the band's energy on stage, expect a solid finish for it - top ten in all likelihood.

22. Israel
Postcard: A Lisbon rooftop DJ set for Netta (and a few eager facial expressions too).
Performance: This could be a talking point from the first rehearsal. Netta's mike seemed to be set into the off position for the intro and the first verse. We were expecting a re-run but no such thing happened. The so-long favourite, now relegated to second place on the list, has it experienced an Italy-style YouTube burn out? If it does, it won't be anything near as dramatic and probably still not wise to bet against it. A top three shoe-in but will it win?

23. The Netherlands
Postcard: Just as well Waylon wasn't waylaid in his semi and came out tenth - he was tasked with baking the pastel de natas (custard tarts in a filoux-style pastry and Portugal's signature sweet).
Performance: His first time on-stage before proving the Dutch (and much of the) media wrong, Waylon isn't likely to get anywhere near to the highs of 2014 but perhaps sitting somewhere between 10th and 15th may suit him fine.

24. Ireland
Postcard: It's a walk along the beach and deep-sea diving for Ryan.
Performance: Well, it's the luck of the Irish for the draw. Really the only out-and-out ballad in the second half, its understatement may stand out and take them to a slightly higher finishing place than expected when it qualified on Tuesday. The market is certainly hotting up for it.

Jury final semi 1 - Live Blog - to be updated

Desiree on Mon, 05/07/2018 - 20:11

The jury final has just started. As tonight it is all about the performances, this live blog will focus mostly on that. But of course, if anything special happens we will of course let you know.

1. Azerbaijan
Aisel immediately gets the audience clapping along with her - maybe eager to see the show started as it's the first one. The running before the first chorus looks very panicked now. OK performance but not spectacular, vocally she is struggling in some of the verses. Azerbaijan has a great record but I would not be surprised to see it broken this year.

2. Iceland
Ari has been very solid all week through and again now his performance is good. However, it will most likely not be enough for qualification.

3. Albania
It seemed to me there was an issue with the lighting at the beginning as he was mostly covered in blue until the first chorus starts. Vocally a very good performance though that gets a huge applause in the press hall. However, Eugent seemed a bit nervous to me.

4. Belgium
It took some time before we got a good focus in the opening and vocally Sennek sounds very fragile tonight. She improved as the song progressed though.

Just a general observation, I thought this jury final was sold out, but I see lots of empty chairs everywhere...

5. Czech Republic
Miklas struggles a bit to get his rucksack back on after the tricks in the middle. Otherwise a good performance and he looks relieved after it.

6. Lithuania
A bit breathy but otherwise very good performance vocally with a good reaction in the hall. In the end Ieva has decided to revert to English for the very last line again.

7. Israel
The beginning sounds good today, but for the rest it's not Netta's best performance vocally, however the long high note towards the end goes quite well.

8. Belarus
An otherwise fine song ruined by the staging, it's still all too much. Not convinced about his performance tonight, his vocals seemed off from time to time. No specific issues though.

9. Estonia
I would not say Elina is off, but in the verses she is not as good as she was before. In the higher parts during the chorus she is perfect though, and that is probably what will matter most and stay in people's minds.

10. Bulgaria
Vocally competent but very cold performances. I'm just not really sure if everyone will go for this tonight and tomorrow.

11. Macedonia
Major issues earlier today, but they finally got the camera shot right with her walking to the drummer taking off her dress. During the end she's still out of breath though, and the (great!) backings are not able to hide that at all places.

12. Croatia
Franka's confident performance from earlier this week is back. Some issues with the sound of the stream though that might be only here. Flawless performance, I still think this can surprise everyone.

13. Austria
Sometimes César is just walking in the dark through the end which is not so great to see. He and his backings gave a good performance though.

14. Greece
Yianna is out of tune in the first verse and also struggles during the end. During the second verse we get fireworks now which is just a bit too early really.

15. Finland
A seemingly effortless performance of Saara Aalto who does not miss any note. Based on this alone I would not be surprised if there's a space for Finland in the final after all. Oh, today all three firework fountains worked.

16. Armenia
The Armenian performance also went well, though the high note with the guitar sounds a bit strange from time to time.

Semi-final one - Dress rehearsal 1 - LIVEBLOG (to be updated)

Desiree on Mon, 05/07/2018 - 14:06

Dress rehearsal one for the first semi-final has just started - we start of course with some opening sequence showing, among others, images of Lisboa, Pasteles de nata, water, football... and of course the various logotypes of this year's contest before we move into the hall where our four hosts all come on stage, still a bit giggly at first!

I'm here liveblogging this semi-final from the hall and will most probably be back in the evening for the jury-final when it really matters, so I'm curious to see where my impressions will differ today comparing the 2 rehearsals!

Check back here from time to time to see all the latest updates, as the performances and more pass by!

1 Azerbaijan
Postcard: Aisel in what seems a typical Portuguese village with white houses before taking a balloon tour.
Peformance: Lots of smoke on stage in the beginning, not sure I noticed that earlier. Vocally ok until th esecond verse where she starts to struggle a bit. It's still very artificial, the glitter effect in the bridge seems to have been developed better now.

2 Iceland
Postcard: More Portuguese villages but Ári gets inside a building where he makes a puppet-on-a-string - Now is that a Eurovision reference or not?!
Performance: Missed camera shots in the beginning where we see cameras through the screen while we should only see Ari. This better not happen tonight or tomorrow night. Otherwise great performance again from Ari who once again shows how good a singer he is.

3 Albania
Postcard: Eugent is taking a boat tour what looks like through the Venice of Portugal.
Performance: In the last part of the song the backings can be heard a lot more now. Vocally this is great once again and I can not see any fault to this performance but I immediately admit I'm biased as this is by far my favourite.

4 Belgium
Postcard: Also Sennek went on a boat trip but this time closer to Lisboa, in fact it seems very close to where we had the blue carpet event yesterday.
Performance: They finally seem to get the opening right, even though I wonder if it's the right opening to this song. After Albania this is really quite relaxing without getting boring. Not completely sure the vocals in the chorus were as perfect as in the last rehearsal.

5. Czech Republic
Postcard: Mikolas finds himself with some very strangely dressed creatures with carnaval masks from the Tras-Os-Montes region of Portugal.
Performance: Mikolas seems more comfortable on stage than in his last rehearsal, he's moving around a lot more, but of course leaves out the backflips that caused him lots of trouble one week ago. Still a lot running and a normal jump on stage though.

6. Lithuania
Postcard: Ieva is taking a trip in the mountains in her now quite trademark comfortable wide pullovers, very similar to what she wore in the second rehearsal.
Performance: On stage she is now wearing a very princessy pink dress. Vocally it is very good and the song is so relaxing and smoothing that it is over before I know it! And, small detail - 2 lines in Lithuanian are back today!

After this performances we get to the greenroom where the host is already asking how Lithuania is doing, I wonder if she'll be back at all at that moment! Will be fun to watch tomorrow.

7 Israel
Postcard: Netta performing at an outside party.
Performance: The beginning now sounds better in the hall than it did during the second rehearsal. However, we get to start over again as apparently there were issues..
Thought the first time sounded better, but it's probably more noticeable in the press area that it didn't go well the first time. As if Netta may have thought she had something to prove after the issues in the beginning, she gave it all at this rehearsal, to send up a bit out of breath by the end.

Finland second rehearsal

Desiree on Thu, 05/03/2018 - 17:46

Last act rehearsing for today - Finland.
As I was about to write the beginning is very screechy Saara Aalto already stopped singing and the music was cut off.

The turning wheel faces the audience backwards which means no one in the hall gets to see Saara until the first verse starts. Vocally it's very good and it looks nice in the hall, but on a second look the choreography is not spot on everywhere yet.

Finland First Rehearsal

ChrisB on Mon, 04/30/2018 - 14:00

Finnish UMK was different this year as Saara Aalto was chosen internally to represent Finland, but public got to vote from three different songs. ‘Monsters’ was chosen to be the song Saara is performing in Lisbon and it’s a very catchy song indeed. Finnish UMK stage show of Monsters was a mess and luckily Saara and Finnish delegation realized this as the stage show has been redone entirely. British choreographer Brian Friedman, who worked with Saara Aalto in UK’s X-factor back in 2016, is responsible for her stage show.

Those of us who followed her in X-factor know her talent as a vocalist as well as her superb theatrical presentation skills. She delivers in both departments. While this is better than UMK show it’s still a work in progress especially with camera work. Saara and her compatriots in uniforms on stage move around a lot so finding perfect camera angles is essential.

Finland first rehearsal

Desiree on Mon, 04/30/2018 - 13:53

Big applause in the press hall after the first run from Saara Aalto.

She starts her performance on a turning wheel, going 360 degrees up and down while singing and wears a short black/white glittery dress with high black boots.

Lots of choreography, Saara seems confident and sounds ok but seems to be holding back in the first run so it's a bit hard to judge on the vocals just yet.

Second run - she actually starts completely acapella so that could be tricky - there's some running here as being unclipped from the wheel turned out to be a bit problematic.

The last run revealed even more pyro - fountains and a curtain and she is taking some risks by falling into the hands of her dancers at the end. Vocally it's become better during the rehearsal.

Day Two of the First Rehearsals

So, here we are for day two of the first rehearsals. A first opportunity to see Croatia, Greece and Cyprus, none of whom took part in the promo parties in the last month. We'll also be seeing how Macedonia, Austria, Finland, Armenia, Switzerland and Ireland have adapted their songs for presentation on the Eurovision stage. Stay tuned for updates throughout the day from the team.

Norma John talks in the press centre after semi-final one

Desiree on Wed, 05/10/2017 - 12:48

Norma John in the press centre after semi one

Finland not making it to the final has been a big surprise - if not shock - for many, including quite a few of the team of ESCKAZ didn't see this coming and/or hoped otherwise.

Despite the disappointment, not long after the semi-final finished, Norma John already showed up in the press centre to give some words to mainly the Finnish press. I also spoke to them for a few seconds (not on video, sorry everyone..) and they didn't seem too devastated. Lasse told me that it's always hard to compete in music.