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Anna Odobescu is taking the stage. Moldovan delegation surprised everybody with their first rehearsal featuring the sand artist Kseniya Simonova. This rehearsal starts off wrong when it seems the camera work doesn't work... it's completely static. Only later it works out, only to go completely blank, so they have to stop the rehearsal in the middle.
On the 2nd attempt, it works. The stage is mostly dark with a light that focuses on Anna. There are a lot of long shots so we can see the Kseniya's work with the snow (apparently it's not sand). Her work also being screened on the LED floor. Anna still needs to work on the way she pronounces the words "Stay" and "Way".
Anna Odobescu is up now. The performance is much like the one of Ukraine in 2011; it features Kseniya Simonova, a sand animation performance artist, that draws objects, shapes, and faces using sand. These are being screened on the background. On stage nothing much is happening; Anna is standing, in the middle of the stage, and the sand artist is behind her. There's a point where they interact for a brief moment. The camera moves from focusing on the screen and on the board the artist work on. On the board, there's two candlelights and a rose. Vocally Anna's on point, as always. She's wearing a sparkling white and silver strapless dress.
It's Latvia's turn, which has replaced places for the rehearsals with Moldova. Carousel is taking the stage. White and bright yellow are the colors for this performance. All the band members are dressed in white and black, with the lead singer wearing a white dress. The video art is of a big wheel on a bright yellow background. This gives vibes of a performance at the American Country Music Awards. It all looks very clean and neat but might be too mellow for qualification. At the last part of the song, the video art changes and looks like a shiny starry night. Lead singer vocals are on point, she has a beautiful soothing voice.
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.
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:
After the Russian performance this one will definitely put a smile on everyone's face. It sounds and looks great in the hall and doesn't get boring for a moment. DoReDos obviously know their act through and through, and maybe it's because of that it looks a little too rehearsed, female lead Marina seems a bit tired.