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Paper Cut?

May 1, 2017 by

Paper Cut?

Greece’s Demy is alone on stage for the first minute of the song, in front of a pretty starry backdrop. There are hidden backing singers to boost the vocals, but Demy herself is currently sounding very strained. Some impressive holographic water effects are the highlight of this number, but some distracting scantily clad male dancers detract from a package which could have been a little classier.

‘Flashlight’ is very minimalist for Poland. Kasia is joined by a violinist on the stage, which looks very sparse throughout. Her vocals are strong but her diction is a noticeable weakness. Coming after the theatrics of Greece, this could suffer and it’s questionable whether the diaspora will get behind Poland this time around. There’s an embarrassingly random ‘FREEDOM’ which flashes up on screen, which I suspect could be removed over the next dew days. This is probably beating Georgia and Albania, but will it be enough to qualify.

Sunstroke Project are back for Moldova this year, with a package that’s trying to emulate the fun of 2010. This first rehearsal was largely the same as the national final, but with the female backing performers experimenting with some different costumes. There’s a mannequin challenge moment which will benefit from the presence of a live audience. It’s quite possible that semi-final televoters will relish this sort of amusement after enduring so many ballads.

The secret backing singers do a good job of lifting the vocal for Iceland, which is just about the only nice thing I can say about its entry this year. Svala is alone in the middle of an empty stage with Minnie Mouse-inspired hair. With Windows 95 screensaver graphics swirling around on the backdrop, it doesn’t really feel like Iceland is trying this year, which is a shame for a country which always used to have such aesthetically pleasing staging concepts. The market didn’t react well to this first rehearsal.

Czech Republic is another solo female on stage, with a low key concept involving Martina walking across the stage. She’s wearing a gold tinfoil outfit which hasn’t gone down well here. There are some pleasant enough floor visuals which develop enough to hold more interest than some of the other solo females we have seen. Martina was finding the cameras well for the final run through, but it’s going to require a significant jury score in order for it to qualify.

It feels like a very favourable slot in the running order for Cyprus, given what it’s following. There is some complex and ambitious choreography for this song, which they aren’t quite getting right at the moment. It’s all very stylish and contemporary, and this one should look impressive by the time we get to the semi-final next week. Hovig is also arguably one of the most telegenic males in this year’s contest, which always helps.

Artsvik gave us very much what we expected for Armenia. It was one of the most polished and professional rehearsals thus far. There’s lots of pink on the backdrop, and the two female backing dancers are already extremely tight with their choreography.

It’s perhaps lacking that “wow” moment necessary to win the contest, but this should not be underestimated given the fact that Russia is not competing this year. This performance is a textbook example of a Sacha ‘Fierce’ JB staging concept, and with dry ice, pyros and a hologram bird flying up for the climax, it’s already very strong.

Slovenia is the penultimate song in this semi-final. In order not to make the many solo females feel left out, Omar is also all alone on stage. Unlike the others though, he doesn’t have any backing vocal support. This is a very understated and simple performance, which almost has a kind of amateurish charm.

If there is an underdog for people to get behind in this semi, it could well be Omar, but it would help if he hit all the notes. His best chance at qualification will be if there are enough fans of old-fashioned songs watching and voting, and if juries are sympathetic to a package lifted straight from the mid-Noughties.

The strobe lighting and mad visuals of Latvia close out this first semi. It’s a very colourful and striking package for sure, but given that it’s not a friendly heat for it, I struggle to work out who the audience is for this. Agnese doesn’t seem to be one of the most voter-friendly singers in this semi, and she appears a little too fierce when throwing some shapes between verses.

In the battle of uptempo songs, it’s probably battling with Moldova for a qualification spot. The power of the pimp slot, and the fact that it’s one of only a few lively numbers, could potentially see it through to the Saturday night. I am far from convinced though, and will need more time to assess this wacky dance package relative to its competition.

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