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Nevena Božović goes on stage with a black strapless dress and some big silver accessories. The stage is dark, with a yellow supernova (?) in the video art. She sounds absolutely amazing vocally. The whole package seems very elegant. Nevena and the backing vocalists making some vocal runs and it could work. People cheered in the press center. I see it qualifying to the final from the 5th-8th position.
9. United Kingdom
Postcard: Rather aptly SuRie goes tea-picking before enjoying a nice brew. Some of these postcards are perfectly suited to the artists and their countries.
Performance: Complete with her stage prop, SuRie shines and brings the song to life. It may even trouble the top of the second half of the scoreboard based on this performance.
Postcard: Sanja and Balkanika team go wine-tasting in Porto. Another appropriate postcard sequence given the group's love of the grape.
Performance: A deserved qualifier from last night, vocally they just keep getting better and better. Reverting back to the initial Nevena Ivanovic-designed costumes they first wore before they were refitted for the semis, they really shine. From the betting odds, it seems it may have come in at 10th place in its semi but it is worthy of a good placing tomorrow night.
Postcard: Another country walk with waterfalls and forests before Michael paraglides.
Performance: Solid all the way vocally. One of the better performers of the Big Five on the scoreboard this year?
Postcard: Eugent takes a gondola-style boat trip.
Performance: Incredible vocal - as always - exactly why he has earned his place in this final. Great song, powerfully delivered. If the contest was judged solely on vocal ability, Albania would be beating their best finish (5th) of 2012.
Postcard: More scenery and a funicular ride for the French duo, before busking.
Performance: Immaculately and simply staged with just enough understatement to see it creep up. Still my tip for the winner and it may pip Cyprus to it just yet. France for the first since 1977? C'est possible...
14. Czech Republic
Postcard: Carnival time for Mikolas Josef.
Performance: Still lacking the gumph that the original acrobatics gave it, it will easily give the Czech Republic their best ever result. A finisher between sixth and eighth, or maybe a little higher on the night depending how it's received.
Postcard: Rasmussen head to a library among other things. Maybe to read up on Viking history...
Performance: The chorus and the chanting coupled with drum beats make this incredibly catchy. Could see it finish top 10, but unlikely to conquer Eurovision as much as the Vikings did Northern Europe all those years ago.
Postcard: A quick rooftop and waltz around Lisbon before some guitar/banjo playing.
Performance: Jessica can relax a bit now after weathering the storm and making it through after much undeserved and unfair criticism in the last week or so. Some lovely vocal adlibs - especially in the second verse - and the vocals will be spot-on come tonight for the juries and tomorrow. A top-ten finish should still be in the offing - especially if she continues to sparkle like this.
No time to keep thinking of what happened yesterday as the first dress rehearsal for tomorrow's semi-final is already in full swing! Later on we will fill you in on what happens on the postcards as well..
This is becoming a solid favourite for the win, the performance is slick and it's a cheerful opener. But the question remains how much juries will take this song seriously. Alexander seemed to be saving his voice.
Vocally this is very strong again, but the performance is too theatrical, too kitsch for this song. I will not be surprised if this will be the end of Romania's perfect streak.
Good performance in this rehearsal, it keeps getting better and better. After Romania I think this has a chance.
04 San Marino
The robots and Jessika and Jenifer as well are back! Size doesn't matter was one of the messages on the cards held by the robot. It may distract from the sometimes weak vocals at the end.
Another good and solid performance from Rasmussen, really not much to say about this, it looks and sounds very well, no issues at all here.
The vocal arrangements in the chorus seems to have been altered a bit, it sounds a lot more shouty now especially during the long notes. Really hard to predict what will happen here.
Time for a little break now in the greenroom, with a little game with Alexander Rybak among other things..
Not sounding that great today in the hall, could be that they are saving themselves for tonight. It's still a fun performance though.
08 The Netherlands
Putting Waylon's stage together apparently takes a bit more than the time of the postcards, as just after the postcard we got switched to one of the hosts in the audience for a very awkward conversation that went completely wrong. Let's say "It's just a rehearsal" as San Marino reminded us a few days ago.
Now, to the actual performance. Vocally it sounds really good and it is not completely my genre but I feel we're back to real music after a few weaker songs. There are far less shots of the crumping dance right now, so it looks better. I think there's still a chance for the Netherlands.
Back to the greenroom again! That's how they fill three extra minutes it seems being this the semi with one song less.
Very strong vocal performance from Jessica. It's one of the few straightforward pop songs and still think this could really have an instant appeal. I do think however that the shots during the bridge where Jessica is dancing are not that great.
There seemed to be some issues with the sound at the beginning as it started a bit weak. Iriao soon got back on full strength though. With a few of the ethnical entries out from the first semi-final gone it could really stand out in the final if it qualifies, which I hope, as the last part was absolutely beautiful.
Vocally not the best performance. The many pyro fountains and the catchy song might distract from it.
Lots of flames at the beginning of this performance, very strange, likely to be a technical mistake. There seems to have been done a lot of work on the lighting of this song as there are now many laser effects. The light show could get the audience to go for this more than we expect now.
After these 6 songs it's time for another break in the greenroom.
Those were three very intense minutes - very energetic performance as always and it does stand out.
Still a very theatrical performance as well even though Laura seems to have toned the hair swinging down a bit and that's only for the better. In the bridge she struggles vocally.
15 Sweden.. or maybe not as we switch to the greenroom and then go to:
The girls have changed their outfit, as over the mostly white dress they are now wearing a tight black top. Of course styling is always a matter of taste, but I definitely like this more than what I saw the first time. Vocally it sounds flawless, apart from some timing issues in the first run but that may have been a sound issue as is not unusual today, so expecting to have that improved in further rounds.
In just about 15 minutes the first rehearsal of today will start, which is Armenia.
We start the day with the remaining 4 countries of semi final 1 who will each do their second rehearsal which will be blogged live from the arena like yesterday. The same goes for the first five countries of the second semi-final.
After all these we get to see the first 30 minute-rehearsals from the BIG-5 countries + Portugal. These rehearsals will go on well into the evening, so loads happening today, stay tuned!
Sanja Ilić and Balkanika just had their first rehearsal. There's been a lot work done after the national final with more choreograpy now. The girls are all wearing white dresses with black accents. Vocally it's sounding good already and it looks well with golden accents in the background. To me it sounds very relaxing after the pretentiousness from Norway.
Serbia up next. Balkanika take to the stage dressed in very Balkan-esque attire. Very strong vocals for the first time out and visually impressive. The choreography is lovely and symmetrical and the percussionists flank the four vocalists. The flutist shot at the end was a typical Balkan touch. Ten years ago, this would have easily troubled the top four and on the night, it should qualify. Will be interesting to see how the rehearsals progress.