It’s fair to say that by this point in the week the Eurovision Song Contest is in full swing. After the semi final this evening we’ll know which half of the draw all the successful countries will be drawn in. Overnight Christer will get busy with his post its and publish the full final running order. This show will then be rehearsed tomorrow afternoon, followed by the jury run through in the evening. The grand final will follow soon after and we’ll finally have our winner. To get to that point we need to whittle away a few more tonight. So here’s what to keep an eye out for in tonight’s show.
1. First and foremost, this is a far more ‘eclectic’ semi final. Whilst there are a number of entries that are up to the same quality of Tuesday night’s batch (My personal two favourites are coming up tonight) it does not have the same strength across the board. This one has a few more sillier numbers, big props, a Balkan ballad, a returning champion and dancing robots. There’s certainly something for everyone in this show.
2. Yes, we have a returning champion. 9 years after storming the Eurovision stage with one of the most dominant victories of all time Alexander Rybak returns with violin in hand to try and ‘do a Logan’. His entry, ‘That’s How You Write a Song’ has polarised opinion within the Eurovision community. This still hasn’t stopped it currently being 2nd with the bookmakers behind Cyprus. On a year with a fairly even spread Rybak’s undoubted star quality and on stage charisma could easily win the whole thing. Also worth noting that his performance tonight will be the 1,500th song performed at Eurovision. It could end up being a landmark performance in more ways than one.
3. As I mentioned previously my two favourite entries of this year will perform in tonight’s semi final. Moldova’s DoReDos bring not only an upbeat, catchy banger but they also bring staging that’ll match the finest farcical comedic romp you’ll ever see. Far too often many will laugh at Eurovision, well now it’s time to laugh with it. Hungary’s AWS will then treat us to the most hardcore pyro show you’re ever going to see at the Contest. If you think Eurovision is all pop and ballads prepare to be mistaken.
4. As well as these two favourites, tonight will also include two of the most problematic Eurovision entries in recent times. Julia Samoylova from Russia with ‘I Won’t Break’ is an incredibly difficult watch. Her wheelchair is hidden in a mountain for no obvious reason, she is surrounded by able bodied dancers, she and her backing vocalists are horrifically mismatched and she’s barely featured in her own performance. It’s almost as if Russia are trying not qualify to further the idea of Western Russophobia. Then there’s Waylon from the Netherlands. And his backing dancers. I’m not going to say anymore, I’ll let you all figure out the visual context for yourselves.
5. Robots. Dancing Robots. Dancing Robots that hold up comedy signs. Yes, the team from San Marino are going for the meme vote. The song itself isn’t great but it’s performed well by two vivacious singers in Jessika & Jennifer Brening. However, it is their robot companions who steal the show. On occasions in rehearsals they’ve either broken down or fallen off their plinths but they now seem to work fine. One robot in particular has always shown a comedy sign with varying slogans, my favourite being “size doesn’t matter”…placard reverses… “sometimes”. Top gag!
6. Whilst they won’t be performing live this evening you will get the first glimpse of another of this year’s favourites during the show. Just before the results will be announced France, Germany & Italy’s dress rehearsals will also be broadcast. France’s Madame Monsiuer have, in their song ‘Mercy’, a genuine chance at bringing the Contest back to France for the first time in over 40 years. It’s a powerfully emotive song about a child called Mercy born at sea during the migrant crisis. In the last minute the crowd should join the pair in a defiant raised arm gesture. If this goes to plan prepare for goosebumps.
7. Much like Tuesday night the actual scripting of the show leaves much to be desired. It’s chocked full of gags which don’t quite land and ‘humouristic’ (their word, not ours) sketches to fill the voting period. To give them their dues though there are two really nicely put together segments as well. A short blooper reel from the postcard shoots shows a little more of the performers’ human side you wouldn’t normally see. In addition there is also a well made segment about the influence of Eurovision on the Carnation Revolution. And whilst the hosts’ skit when they attempt to recreate past winners is total cringe Filomena Cautela’s Loreen is pretty spot on. She’s an absolute star. The ‘Planet Portugal’ sketches are, however, an absolute crock.