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Semi-Final 2, Jury Show: Live Blog

by | May 19, 2021 | 2021 Rehearsal Liveblogs, escgo at Eurovision, Eurovision

Semi-Final 2, Jury Show: Live Blog

by | May 19, 2021 | 2021 Rehearsal Liveblogs, escgo at Eurovision, Eurovision

title image © Daless

This liveblog is in reverse chronological order – so if you want to read about things as they happened, go to the bottom of the page and scroll up!

The End: The jury show ended, as did my last live blog for 2021! But worry not. If you need lots and lots of words, there are a few View from San Francisco posts still to come, including one tomorrow morning, both looking back at things we can learn from Tuesday’s semi and things to look for during tomorrow’s semi!

Fake results: Production PA system announcement: “he’s getting the moon out.” I swear there’s a cheer going around the hall once this massive task has been completed.

Poland is getting a chance to fake celebrate! Enjoy it while it lasts, guys. Austria is second, and now I’m hoping they pick all the red and white flags next. Color coded qualifier list! Almost worked, Serbia is next – so the red and white matches. Estonia is next, matching the white and the blue. Czech Republic matches the full set – red, white and blue. Latvia gets to coordinate its white and red next. Finland matches the white and continues the blue/white/red theme. Who will ruin it for me?

Portugal. Clearly.

Only to go back to red and white with Denmark Ending up with Bulgaria, so they can match the Green. I’m sure they deliberately excluded Moldova because the yellow matches nothing except Edsilia’s dress.

Spain: Was there a bet going on between the delegations about who gets to hang a bigger prop from the ceiling? Or did he supersize Duncan’s lamp? It doesn’t seem like it’s going to hit him from behind this time, but it does like it might fall on him from above, which is clearly a metaphor for a piano crashing from above. Duncan copycat!

Sorry. I had to keep myself distracted during the falsetto. It was actually relatively pleasant otherwise, even if it’s – well, this song, which I will probably not manage to differentiate from any other similar song.

United Kingdom: We get a break so the crew can get the mutant trumpets from the chamber of secrets and hang them on the ceiling.

Trumpets are alive! The legends have to survive!

Sorry, where was I?

Ah, on James Newman attempting to sound as bad as he can in the opening of this. His voice does get out of the embers, and while it doesn’t quite light up the room, it makes my ears happier. He does sound like he overexerted his voice. He’s handling it like an experienced singer and it’s definitely his voice that needs lots of rest, tea and honey, and not an inability to sing.

Elsewhere, the staging is what it is, but the audience likes this. But they’re Dutch, what do they know about stagings.

France (in full): No intro this time, so we basically got the postcard and her performance as soon as the Spanish clip ended. Not many delegations make a full use of the floor, but France – expanding on their NF performance – are really using it to a great effect. The experience of watching it is – perhaps predictably – like watching a French movie, not just because the music, which definitely sounds like it, but just the intensity and harshness of emotions and cuts between shots. It’s still a bit much for me by the end, but definitely one of those performances you can’t ignore.

Big 5: France gets the first minute shown, which made me realize that the impressive part of this doesn’t really kick in until the second minute, so all you get in the first minute is a nice French ballad sung nicely.

I was also temporarily looking away from the screen when the UK’s minute started and it (mostly) sounded really good, but then I looked back at the screen and it was like going out to party with Josh Dubovie instead.

I’m not usually the type of person to find stuff like this funny, but I should warn you to not eat / drink when the camera pans back to Nikkie and Blas, because that height difference will catch you off guard. At least you should be mentally prepared for the falsetto in the clip, though.

Green Room: Shameless Stefania promotion, obviously.

EurovisionTutorials: whoever edited this also wanted to know how If Love Was a Crime would have looked with a different choreography.

Eurovision winners in a box: I have no idea what else was said because Nicole was talking, almost in tears, about how it was to be A German girl getting 12 points from Israel and I just started crying on my keyboard.

Second recap: In which I am reminded that nothing has been said about a Latvian second run, which means it was… intended to sound like this? OK, then. Also, realized that the Albania bit is supposed to be the dramatic part of the song, but the sound really blurred out all the drama of it. It actually sounded a lot quieter in the recap than the rest. While Bulgaria sounds louder than the rest. At least it’s not Latvia. Switzerland gets a big audience cheer.

Close encounters of a special kind: Yes, that’s what they called it. If the first semi’s interval was dedicated to the water of the Netherlands, this goes deep into Dutch core values: it’s a love song for a bicycle! I never knew that what I needed in my life is classical ballet performed while riding a bicycle, but you learn new things every day.

Not sure how many people will enjoy this interval, but my classical crossover loving heart is loving this too.

Recap: San Marino has pyros and Flo Rida, obviously. Otherwise, the recap picks are just as sensible but slightly less exciting. Although, the way Iceland was cut is a bit odd, especially as they don’t even need to grab it from a live performance. I’m also not entirely sure about Albania who picked one of the less visually interesting parts of it. Latvia managed to pick the only part of the song that was on key!

Some musings: Hosts are doing the “this is how you vote for a song” thing, and since I already got distracted by Chantal’s dress at the beginning, I’m now concerned that my uncharacteristically non-violent reaction to Denmark means I have reached that phase of the rehearsals where I just like everyone and everything and can’t be trusted.

Denmark: Oh, the one that I’m really not the target audience of!

On a literal positive note, they are on key, and it makes me dislike it remarkably less. Either that or a Copenhagen syndrome is a thing, too.

It also really does work well as a closer and providing a bit of a levity after – well, most of the second half, really. Can’t see juries going for it, but at least I sort of get this now. Progress!

Switzerland: We get a bit of extra talk before the postcard so Switzerland can set up their abstract sculpture on stage.

There are less scary facial expressions, but he does look like he’s trying really hard to remember to not do that. His voice is beautiful in this, though. Especially coming after Latvia.

I still don’t get any of the choices for this – the clothes, the movements, the backdrops, the entire thing. But one thing I do get is the song, and for all of how much I am disappointed by the staging, the songs itself comes across very effectively (make sure to send Samanta some flowers). Timing is everything.

The audience loves this, and for whatever that’s worth: any points this will get is purely for the song.

Latvia: I recognize the postcard music from a movie and now it will drive me insane for the next 24 hours.

Oh, Samanta, the backing singers and the music are all on different keys. Kill me now. Kill me more if it’s because her in-ear monitor doesn’t work and I’ll have to hear a repeat of this where she’ll only be marginally better.

Are jurors allowed to mute? Ouch.

Finland: This is the 4th time I’m watching them perform this in Rotterdam, and even if you threaten me with being locked up in a room with I Don’t Feel Hate on repeat, I won’t be able to detect any differences between any of those runs. Which is a compliment, really. It’s as together as it can be, and it’s does its thing convincingly.

Bulgaria: Fashion choices aside, this is just so different from the rest. It takes its good sweet time (pun somewhat intended) to develop, but it’s one of those songs that are hard to not stop and listen to (which is a surprising discovery for me, considering I’ve never been a fan of the studio version).

The biggest moment of the song, towards the end, is breathtaking on the screen but probably is less impactful in the arena, which creats a bit of an odd dissonance between the feel it should have and what it actually does have. Gorgeous, regardless.

Not Bulgaria yet: I only watched the early rehearsals of Bulgaria, so curious to see how it looks like now. However I will have to wait some more as of course the postcard isn’t long enough for Bulgaria to set up their Asteroid. Instead we get Chantal give us a zen pep talk, followed by a philosophical zen video about the we and the me.

People, I live in a San Francisco location that is about two seconds walk away from where the Summer of Love happened and even I can’t take the “we’re connecting music and people” seriously.

Elena Paparizou: The things you do for Eurovision! Like standing outside and risking pneumonia! I’ll have my mom call you and tell you to wear a freaking sweater. Other than that, I’m enjoying my own memories of being in the hall when Elena won than her own reflections that are the most neutral thing you can say about something like winning Eurovision to a green room with people who are trying to win it. Good talk.

Albania: The sound is definitely off today. The last time I heard Albania, the booming of the beginning attacked me even through the computer’s speakers. I’m wearing proper headphones now, and it sounded a lot more subdued. At least she sounds fine while singing, even if the mix is doing whatever it wants to do.

Either way, the visuals for this are as gorgeous as they were previously, and Anxhela is getting the most out of the fact wind machines exists.

Portugal: memo to self: check what the location in the postcard is.

Love or hate Pedro’s color of voice, but this is the best vocal execution I heard from him, and it carries him throughout the first black-and-white section of the performance beautifully.

The parallel development of the staging and the song really help keeping constantly engaged throughout. Best performance I’ve seen from them and I can hear the juries around Europe sighing with joy.

Georgia: He really stopped caring at some point last week, didn’t he? He sounds fine, really, but it just looks and sounds like he’s going through the motions. I might be reading too much into it, but his facial expression towards the end of it is all kinds of “are we done with this yet? Can I go home?”

Tomorrow night, Tornike. Tomorrow night. Just two more times.

Serbia: Hurricane: *the girls strike a pose*. Crowd: *shouts*
Hurricane: *the girls dance*. Crowd: *shouts more*.
Hurricane: *the girls strut*. Crowd: *shouts louder*.
Humans are easy to please sometimes.

Much like the previous jury show, though, the audience mix sounds odd with the music drowning the cheers, but that was sorted somewhat in the live show, so audience engagement should be more obvious there.

Either way, they sounded good, considering all the effort they were doing – honestly, even just standing on those heels and singing is a workout. And they had fun with it!

Iceland: Is there anything more 2021 – unfortunately – then having to actually use the backup performance? Having said that, I do think it was a good call – having seen that run before anyway, it works better with the full crew, and the videography of that means that apart of a couple of brief shots it doesn’t even look like it’s not live. Even the green room seats have people in them.

The audience is also a bit extra supportive, and big cheers both at the beginning and the end.

Like Australia, we do get a shot of a screen at the end to let us know they weren’t actually there, but unlike Australia, this really should do the job.

Moldova: Basically, all the sugary stuff that were in the videoclip and weren’t included in the performance are now featured in the postcard instead. I’m hungry.

Ooh, we can have a serious competition on who is the singer who sings the least of her chorus. Natalia is definitely in the running. They solved the singing problem in the verses by having her whispering them all instead.

I’m on the fence with this one. It’s catchy, but it’s quite basic too, and while there are some changes in the staging throughout the song, it’s actually fairly understated (in DreamTeam standards) and doesn’t really make the most of the song’s biggest moments.

Still goes over well, because catchy songs are fun.

More Nikkie video bits: So probably a commercial break?

Poland: Yay! Nothing like being viciously attacked by a voice flatter than the Netherlands right from the start.

I still like the dance routine and the general vibe of the stage does fit the song’s sound (even though I still have no clue what the point of the videos they incorporated in the backdrop are beyond imprinting Warszawa on our brains permanently.

The most impressive thing about him is his talent to suck the life out of everything within a 20 meter radius, which is an interesting take on social distancing.

Austria: Much like Stefania, Vincent’s voice also sounds a bit tired in the first low notes, but his voice in up to his usual standards when he gets to go a bit higher and belt out.

This is still a lighting and camerawork masterpiece, which really helps supporting the song throughout. Can’t imagine the juries not getting it, and I can only hope it manages to do the same for the viewers tomorrow.

Greece: The starting portion of this is still gorgeous, but Stefania’s voice sounds a bit… tired? The lower notes in particular. I don’t know if it’s intentional or not, but I can hear the backing singer dubbing her a lot more than I did previously. Can’t decide if that’s good (vocal sounds stronger) or bad (juries will be able to tell too).

Green screen part is still equally entertaining and silly, but Stefania looks more relaxed in it. Some of of her high notes are slightly painful, but she gets covered well during the two big ones, and I’m sure you’ll be shocked to find out it goes down well with the local audience.

NikkieBreak: Nikkie is talking about the ClapApp, meaning that I get to try and remember what song needs so much set up. Oh, yes. That one.

Czech Republic: All the terrible backdrops are gone! We now have a lot of striped patterns that still have little to do with the song, but at least make for a slightly more pleasant visual. We even get a bit of a kaleidoscope effect going on.

The problem of this remains the same – not much happens during the three minutes other than a group of people jumping around a big stage that also doesn’t change much throughout. He doesn’t sound too great – but better than any of the rehearsals of him that I’ve seen, and their energy and positivity on stage does come through, at least.

Estonia: With all the energy and excitement after San Marino, I wonder if any of the viewers will even realize it’s happening on their screens. I was still typing San Marino when I realized we were about 50 seconds into Estonia. I didn’t even notice it started.

Good news for him, though: this actually sounds the way it should sound! He has found all the keys! It’s still boring, though, and the staging does so little to add or maintain interest throughout. But it’s the jury rehearsal and Uku did all he could do.

San Marino: Since the delegations submit their stagings at the submission deadline, I am going to assume this was chosen to open the first semi solely for that very first pose. What an image to open the show with! Although it’s different than the rehearsals and that was done a bit less dramatically now. Glad to see the dancers wearing less creepy clothes though.

Oh, look, it’s Flo Rida! I still have no clue how much of a difference that will make, but she will get all the trending!

The vocals are, well, what they are, which is the neighborhood of ok, give or take a few notes and keys, and lots of playback. It honestly doesn’t matter.

They’re also trying to outdo Italy’s pyro budget. Good times! Fun opener, either way.

Hosts: The hosts are here and Edsilia is wearing yellow. Who is going to tell her? Also, will anyone notice if I fly to Rotterdam, invade Chantal’s closet and steal her dress? It’s perfection. Yes, I’m very focused on the important details because they are telling me how to vote or not vote. I’m in the US. I can’t vote. Let’s move on.

Opening: While I have to admit I’m not a huge fan of the postcards, I do like how the opening video connects to the boxes we see in each of them. Consistency is the best friend of a cohesive concept! The opening performance, though, is somewhat unexpected – in that that I have no idea what this is, and the female singer isn’t all that great, and there’s a bit of a modern ballet going on. But then it morphs into a dance video with our dancing friends from the opening of the first semi, and back to stage with them and more pyros. It’s actually kind of cool and also a nice touch to have a similar opening for both shows but still a different performance so it’s not a repeat.

Before we begin: Hello there, it’s me again, for my last live blog of the season: the second semi jury show! As I did in the previous one, I can’t deal with remembering what time zone I’m in and what time zone the jury show is in, so instead of timestamps you’re getting titles to tell you where we are in the show. One, two, girls (and boys) come on!

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