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LIVE FROM KYIV: THE FIRST SEMI FINAL’S JURY DRESS REHEARSAL

ON THE SPOT: LIVE FROM KYIV

photo: Victor Cruz Lafuente / www.oikotimes.com

OLIVIER ROCHER REPORTING LIVE FROM KYIV – UKRAINE – Tonight was the jury rehearsal of the first semi-final live from the Ukrainian capital city. Mind, this is much more than the rehearsal of what’s going to happen tomorrow evening! Indeed, 50% of tomorrow night’s outcome was decided tonight, since national juries (from the 18 semi-finalists as well as Spain, the UK and Italy) have awarded their points according to tonight’s performances. Moreover, if some technical problems occur tomorrow, tonight’s show is the one that’s going to be broadcast since this rehearsal is the exact replica of the “real” show.
IMPRESSIONS ON THE SHOW. 

Tonight show was far from being flawless, with a number of mistakes and technical problems. Let’s hope everything will be fixed by tomorrow.

Well, to make it short, let’s say that we’ve watched more exciting, dynamic and innovative Eurovision semi-finals (rather banal postcards, average graphics on screen, and a hosting that could remind us of Copenhagen 2014 or Vienna 2015 instead of Stockholm 2016…). But, the positive thing is that on screen, the stage and the effects look just amazing. The opening sequence is quite “blank”, with only a video about Ukrainian women in traditional costumes (for “diversity” I guess), but there is absolutely no mention of the city, the logo or the motto, really weird! We go straight inside the arena to discover the opening act, singer Monatik (a Ukrainian version of Justin Timberlake) and his dancers performing “Spinning”, before introducing this year’s hosts. Yes, the “tradition” of opening the show with previous year’s winner has been skipped, and you have to wait for the interval act to hear “1944” in a new version by Jamala. 

THE ENTRIES AND THEIR POTENTIAL BEFORE THE NATIONAL JURIES
Since professionals are the target of tonight’s rehearsal, the vocal ability and the artistic dimension of the artists have to be focused on to see who the 10 lucky acts to proceed to the Grand Final could be (from a juror’s point of view, which is often quite different from the public choice).

Sweden: A flawless, confident and very well produced performance by Robin that should please our jurors, even if some professionals could find it a bit to “mechanical” and predictable. 
Jury’s Top 10: 100% sure

Georgia: The Georgian diva, Tamara and her powerful (too powerful?) voice delivered a perfect performance. The question is, will juries go for this loud Eurovision diva anthem which lacks a bit of originality? Not sure though… 
Jury’s Top 10? 50% chance

Australia: Young Isaiah did the job to perfection with his entry “Don’t Come Easy”. Even if the public might be a bit disappointed by the Australian act this year, professional must love it.
Jury’s Top 10? 100% sure

Albania: Lindita was vocally strong ‘til the last note of “World” even if a bit loud at some point. Unfortunately, the lack of originality of the entry may not help jurors go for it. 
Jury’s top 10? 25% chance

Belgium: The modernity of the soundtrack and the original voice of Blanche should have made her the jury’s favourite by far. Unfortunately, even if she has improved a bit, the lack of charisma of the young girl and this impression she is as frightened as bored by her performance could ruin the whole act. Nevertheless, Belgium should be chosen by professional.
Jury’s Top 10? 80% chance

Montenegro: Jurors will be just like the public: they will either love Slavko or find him awkward. The very “original” staging can easily make us forget the song itself. Well, will this outfit from another era, this very “gay friendly” choreography and the “so-so” vocal performance conquer national juries? 
Jury’s Top 10? 50%

Finland: From cheap to classy, Finland will shine after Montenegro! Finnish have gone for a very emotional and simple act that is flawlessly delivered by Norma John. It’s poetry time! The beautiful voice of the singer, and the piano will definitely put them in high position tonight.
Jury’s Top 10? 100% sure 

Azerbaijan: Dihaj is just great. Even if the too complicated staging may get the public a bit lost, professionals should praise Azerbaijan for having chosen such an alternative artist with a contemporary entry, out of Eurovision standards. 
Jury’s Top 10? 100% sure

Portugal: Salvador should be the jury’s favourite by far! The key word here is “emotion”. A very simple staging that allows viewers to focus on the singer’s incredible voice. Salvador was as classy as original in his delivering of the song. He simply offered the audience his classy, a bit old fashioned but beautiful “Amar Pelos Dois”. This song definitely stands out and will be appreciated by professional ears.
Jury’s Top 10? 100% sure

Greece: The main interest of the Greek act is the staging. Unfortunately, professional juries tend to focus on the song and the performance. The symphonic part of the song is followed by a very “Euro-dance” chorus and that could disappoint jurors. Moreover, Demy was not at her best vocally tonight. She was not out of tune, but not as strong as usual, and the high notes of the studio version of “This Is Love” were avoided… But given to technical difficulties, Greece was given another chance to perform and we could have a more powerful performance (with the expected high notes) by the talented singer

Jury’s Top 10? 80%
Poland: Kasia has a powerful voice for sure, and gave a very good performance. Nevertheless, her song “Flashlight” may struggle to remain in juror’s head for long… 
Jury’s Top 10? 25%

Moldova: Coming after Poland is a chance for Moldova. Sunstroke Project’s entry will definitely stand out. It’s actually very well delivered. Originality, good voice (even if this is not a vocally challenging song) and a simple but effective choreography (well ok, the brides could have stayed home) should help this act please most national juries.
Jury’s Top 10? 80%

Iceland: Is the song strong enough for such a simple staging? Svala was flawless but I’m not sure “Paper” will go very high in juror’s hearts. This is not a very memorable act I’m afraid, especially in this semi-final…
Juror’s Top 10? 25%

Czech Republic: We’re not used to this kind of act on Eurovision stage. A “jazzy” voice for a “lounge feeling” song. The public may ignore this entry, but I can bet professional juries won’t, especially after such a perfect performance by Martina tonight.
Jury’s Top 10: 80% chance

Cyprus: Let’s wish jurors have forgotten Belgium 2015 act, because Hovig’s staging is almost a copycat of it. From a vocal point of view, the singer has improved, though not totally perfect. “Gravity” is a modern song that lack a bit of melody. Nevertheless, it’s well produced. But the outcome of the Cypriot act with national juries is hard to predict. The presence of Greece in this semi-final could help.
Jury’s Top 10: 50%

Armenia: The first technical problem of the evening happened for Artsvik who had to wait on stage before starting performing “Fly With Me”. This modern, electro and ethnic act does stand out in the line-up. The singer is perfect and juror should appreciate everything in the Armenian entry.
Jury’s Top 10: 100% sure

Slovenia: If national juries go for the voice, Slovenia should do well because Omar has a very beautiful and powerful one. If they focus on the song, well “On My Way” is not very up to date and sounds like a Disney soundtrack, especially with this orchestral arrangement. The last part of the act is very good though and quite enjoyable. 
Jury’s Top 10: 25%

Latvia: Well, the Latvian entry is very modern on all aspects. “Line” is a good electro act, a bit repetitive though and jurors make get tired of it after the first minute.  
Jury’s Top 10? 50%

Jury’s prediction:
Top 5: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Australia, Finland, Portugal, Sweden
Top 10: Belgium, Czech Republic, Greece, Moldova
Out of Top 10: Albania, Cyprus, Georgia, Iceland, Montenegro, Poland, Slovenia

THE PARTICIPANTS

  1. SWEDEN / ROBIN BENGTSSON “I CAN’T GO ON”
  2. GEORGIA / TAMARA GATCHETCHILADZE “KEEP THE FAITH”
  3. AUSTRALIA / ISAIAH “DON’T COME EASY”
  4. ALBANIA / LINDITA “WORLD”
  5. BELGIQUE / BLANCHE “CITY LIGHTS”
  6. MONTENEGRO / SLAVKO KALEZIĆ “SPACE”
  7. FINLAND / NORMA JOHN “BLACKBIRD”
  8. AZERBAIJAN / DIHAJ “SKELETONS”
  9. PORTUGAL / SALVADOR SOBRAL “AMOR PELOS DOIS”
  10. GREECE / DEMY “THIS IS LOVE”
  11. POLAND / KASIA MOŚ “FLASHLIGHT”
  12. MOLDOVA / SUNSTROKE PROJECT “HEY MAMMA”
  13. ICELAND / SVALA “PAPER”
  14. CZECH REPUBLIC / MARTINA BÁRTA “MY TURN”
  15. CYPRUS / HOVIG “GRAVITY”
  16. ARMENIA / ARTVIK “FLY WITH ME”
  17. SLOVENIA / OMAR NABER “ON MY WAY”
  18. LATVIA / TRIANA PARK “LINE”
  19. SPAIN / MANEL NAVARRO “DO IT FOR YOUR OVER”
  20. UNITED KINGDOM / LUCIE JONES “NEVER GIVE UP ON YOU”
  21. ITALY / FRANCESCO GABBANI “OCCIDENTALI’S KARMA”
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