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Sarah McTernan is now on stage. Another strong rehearsal for this song. They're sticking with the same routine, and I think it works for them. Additional things I noticed: The video art has now more effects in it, mostly vivid colors bursting from the center outwards. The diner bar is rotating and the backing dancers spin Sarah on the last chorus. This looks a lot like a typical X Factor performance. Will it work in Ireland's favor? The vocal performance wasn't accurate and Sarah missed a few queues.
The Irish delegation dropped their original plan of staging. The current concept puts Sarah at an American diner in the fifties, and it works quite well! Sarah looks good in a red dress, standing behind and then in front of a diner bar. She has two dancers in pink matching outfits. The style is low key Amy Winehouse, and the video art shows American comics. It's all very engaging, including marking the number 22 by Sarah doing a V sign twice. At the last part of the song Sarah lays on top of the bar, and the camera shoots her from above, as the video art on the floor is filled with stars.
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.
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...
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Vocally competent but very cold performances. I'm just not really sure if everyone will go for this tonight and tomorrow.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Armenian performance also went well, though the high note with the guitar sounds a bit strange from time to time.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.