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Rizzotto Recipe

May 2, 2018 by

Rizzotto Recipe

Question of the day: could we be on for 2 stat-breaking semis this year with only 4 qualifying from this section of semi 2?

Georgia starts things off and is reminiscent of a Welsh voice choir, only Georgian. If Alexander Armstrong was on the UK jury, he would love this but it’s all a bit flat. The three guys in the centre – a guitarist and keyboard player flanking them on either side – deliver the vocals well. They crank up the harmonising towards the end but it never gets out of first gear. Pyro curtain on climax.

Lukas Meijer’s vocal is better here than the Polish final but far from secure. Gromee has close-ups into a camera at the rear of the stage and he does hand movements like a footballer proclaiming to the ref that a player has taken a dive. Or given the tropical beat it is maybe intended to signify Honolulu waves. Either way it’s like a geography teacher trying to look down with the kids.

If he is encouraging viewers to ‘light up’ much like that guy in the Airplane! movie it is mighty tempting to douse myself in petrol and strike a match at this point. A guitarist stage left, and three female backing vocalists stage right lend support. Lukas does a circuit of the satellite catwalk, there are pyro jets and an encouragement by Lukas to ‘jump’. Off a cliff? After sitting through this it’s hard not to wish Poland had chosen Happy Prince instead. Or Ifi Ude.

Malta’s Christabelle has her face lit red wearing dark eye shadow and a black outfit making her look like a she-devil. She is inside some LED walls at song start with an image of a black panther projected, among others. Then, is it a ghost (based on the lyric) emerging from the walls? There is also a visual overlay of a heart among a plethora of visual gimmickry.

A woman does modern dance inside the LED walls while Christabelle tries to pull off some Loreen-type moves front and centre, and becomes the conductress, working her hands around a visual overlay of the globe. then taking charge of the video walls. The Maltese have spent a lot of money on this trying to turn it into something artistic but it is failing as Christabelle lacks conviction, the visuals are absurd, and her vocal is shaky throughout.

Hungary is proud, loud and in-your-face. For what it is, it is well presented. Yes, this is authentic metal but it’s also pretty alienating for those who do not enjoy this genre. A guitarist rocks out on the bridge stage right. The lead singer, using reverb, has a moment on the bridge stage left before running to the centre of the satellite catwalk while his guitarist buddy crowd dives behind. The last 30 seconds are a proper shout-fest with the band helping out with the vocals and the inevitable pyro jets. Hard to call how this will fare.

Latvia’s Laura is wearing a modern red dress with shorts underneath. It is a better look than her rather old-fashioned Supernova ballgown. There is an echo effect to her voice which is a nice aural flourish. It sounds like she has some backing vocal support though you cannot see them as it is just her on the stage which is predominantly red, with a single spotlight on her.

She owns this performance, showing some emotional hurt – knocking her mic stand over at one point. She is thoroughly assured and unlike many of her rivals in this semi this comes across as highly professional. Backing singers aid her on the bridge when she almost needs to catch her breathe. Latvia is missing its Baltic voting allies in this semi but this has all the hallmarks of a strong jury song.

Sweden’s Ben is doing his tribute to Michael Jackson while his backing vocalists carry the song. This is as we saw in Melodifestivalen. Plastic, slick Swedish pop polished within an inch of its life with requisite lighting effects to try and elevate it.

It’s a soulless track and Ben’s presentation of it adds to the empty feel. He is simply too self-satisfied, in his own little world up there doing his douchey head flicks. A concern for his televote is that he is too feminine, lacking in the hips department, to be considered any sort of teen dream-boat or able to set older women’s pulses racing.

Vanya for Montenegro has an interesting jacket that looks like it has been tailored by a blind guy, longer on one side. Four female vocalists behind him in flowing white dresses and a pianist, also in white. This is a Balkan ballad by numbers. Competent if rather beige. That said, in this field it is hard to dismiss.

Lea Sirk and her 4-strong female crew do their synchronised dance moves with precision and the entire presentation, and Lea’s vocal, are excellent. After they have strutted their stuff all the way to the satellite stage, there is a pause in this like the equipment has failed before they improvise and Lea encourages the audience to sing the words. It’s like a Douwe Egberts (Netherlands 2015) moment, and is possibly redundant.

She also sings in Portuguese at the end which is odd given Portugal isn’t voting in this semi-final. This could be a dark horse for surprise qualification but personal taste might be getting in the way of cold, hard logic in saying that.

Ukraine’s Melovin has the advantage of the pimp slot. He starts in a raised, piano-shaped coffin, lifted up from the crypt like an emo kid awoken from his slumber. He doesn’t find the camera very much during this. Later in, centre stage, he removes his Gothic black jacket to reveal a white one beneath. This seems to be playing with a darkness vs light theme.

At song end he climbs back up the steps, and sits at the piano while the steps burn so it becomes kind of like a funeral pyre. Is that the idea? Four backing singers stage left, 2 male, 2 female, also offer monster-type, mechanical hand and arm movements at one point.

Now we have seen both semi-finals in their entirety the Q/NQ picture remains rather unclear. Second rehearsals for semi 1 contenders will get underway tomorrow and hopefully start to clarify things.

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3 Comments

  1. Guildo Horn Forever

    Hi Rob,

    Was just mentioning your good self and Ent Odds over on Daniel’s site. I’ve commented a few times on my reasoning as to why Latvia is my only true lay bet this ESC. I’ve had Latvia pegged for a while as a value NQ. But my big worry is that I’ve noticed you seem to look upon Laura and Latvia favourably.

    In short, I perceive Latvia as this year’s Finland. What am I misperceiving or overlooking?

    • Rob

      Hi Guildo. For me, the quality of Latvia stands out a mile in semi 2. It is a modern, credible pop song and Laura is a highly professional performer. Iceland last year was darkly staged and a pretty dated track imho. There was nothing credible about it.

      I think juries should be rating Latvia highly in this semi. I’d go as far as to say Laura is the best solo female vocalist in this semi. It’s a setback for Latvia not to have its Baltic voting allies, but its much more reliant on the jury side of the equation. I think there is a lack of jury competition in this semi too.

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        Thanks for the reply, Rob.

        I’ve come to the conclusion that I am biased towards liking dated tracks and am unable to fully understand the importance of having a modern, credible song in the contest. Which is partly where I go wrong.

        I didn’t get the appeal of Norway’s modern, credible JOWST entry last year. It didn’t stop that from nabbing the Top 10 finish in the Grand Final at the expense of my beloved Netherlands with their dated song and image.