This morning may well have been a reduced schedule, with only our big five nations rehearsing, but one of tremendous significance to us Brits. In all fairness, given the overall quality of this year’s automatic qualifiers, this was a highly anticipated morning. And it did not let us down.

Opening this morning’s proceedings we had France and really…WOW! I’ll admit I’ve been largely skeptical when it comes to Alvan & Ahez. I’ve always thought the live performance of Fulenn felt messy and I just could not find the connection.

Therefore, it was much to my surprise this morning when they came out with a similar concept but with a few tweaks and suddenly it was elevated. Dark green celtic imagery appearing on the screen, sharp & dynamic camera work and a beautiful blend of pyro and dry ice all create one hell of an atmosphere.

I get France now. And it’s spectacular.

Spectacular is a word I’d use to describe another rehearsal this morning, and that was from Spain. SloMo is a fairly average song elevated to levels beyond itself by the sheer power of Chanel. She has leaned even further into the matador crossed with J-Lo vibes and it only makes it an even grander spectacle.

This is an almighty three-minute show that you just cannot take your eyes off. I mean she does sing “booty hypnotic, make you want more”… SHE AIN’T WRONG!

Germany & Italy had the two lower key rehearsals of the morning and both had their charm. Malik Harris has recreated an intimate recording studio vibe for Rockstars and it’s actually really sweet. The song may get lost against other entries but they’ve done a good job with staging. Italy felt more like a first rehearsal, given it was exactly that for Blanco, so I don’t want to be too harsh. However, it did feel lacking of the passion of the Sanremo performance. It remains to be seen if they will pull this out next Saturday.

However, the real highlight of the day was courtesy of my own United Kingdom. For years I’ve watched our rehearsals and said the likes of “well, that’s not too bad” and “they’ve done a decent job with it” in that tone that knows deep down I’m lying to myself. Kidding myself year on year knowing full well what would happen come the final. Not this time.

At every point this year my own delegation has pleasantly surprised me but there was always the nagging doubt. There was always a worry and an apprehension about how Space Man would look on stage. However, the BBC and Sam Ryder have pulled it out the bag and then some. I don’t want to give too much away here but not only does the staging elevate the performance, they’ve actually changed the end of the song to make it all the more epic. It is quite simply, a stunning three minutes of television.

Who knows, or indeed cares, where this places. We can be proud of every aspect of our entry. And for that Sam Ryder, thank you from the very bottom of my heart.

Image Credit: EBU / Corrine Cumming

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