So much for the afternoon shift…

Noa & Mira Awad
Noa & Mira Awad.Photo: Alain Douit (EBU)

OK. Let’s look back on today in Moscow, as that’s really what we’re all here for.

Israel – almost entirely pleasant. A few worrying fluffs by the performers in the run through, but they can iron that out on the training ground. The arrangement is a little sparse though, so much so at the beginning that the girls will have to use all their experience to avoid wandering off the intended notes. Definite potential to be very good indeed by next Tuesday.

Bulgaria’s run through was, of course, an utter joy from start to finish, and something similar would be the talk of offices in all corners of Europe come Wednesday morning (if Europe has corners, etc). Sadly unlikely to qualify, but definitely one for the 2009 memory album.

Jóhanna Guðrún Jónsdóttir & Friðrik Ómar in Mo...
Jóhanna Guðrún Jónsdóttir & Friðrik Ómar in Moscow, 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Iceland has made a lot of people in blog and MBland get excited and say very complimentary things. Personally, I found the whole affair a bit leaden and lifeless. It’s perfectly nice, but reminiscent of poor old Dutch Michelle in 2001. Yohanna does her best to lift it, but is dragged down by the musical arrangement.

FYR Macedonia’s impressed me. They look like they’re in their natural habitat in this arena, and capable of achieving the difficult balancing act of pleasing the 74 people in the arena and the 237 who’ll be watching the semi-final on TV at the same time. If they can carry on having this much fun, they’ll carry the audience with them.

Romania have an inverse-Icelandic problem – everything possible has been done to lift the backing track and the staging as best as possible, but the song itself goes round the loop one too many times to stay interesting. Worryingly, I have the YT in the background as I write this and started involuntarily humming Amambanda.

Finland has some work to do. A lot of elements all have to work together, otherwise the whole song doesn’t work. As far as I can judge from a YouTube video from the hall, I’m not at all happy with the girls’ performance on the chorus. Bloke’s good, the fire juggling and industrial circus vibe looks great, but if the chorus doesn’t work… then the song doesn’t work. Must do better.

Portugal’s a joy, mostly. The set looks absolutely magical, I’d like to see the musicians a little bit closer together (you don’t have to fill the whole stage, and being so spread out makes them look like they don’t like each other!). We’re going to get some memorably lovely TV pictures out of this one, and they’re as close as they can be to squeezing every drop of juice out of the song. Thumbs up!

Malta looked weird and wrong. I think we can expect a different backdrop for this come second rehearsals, and I can’t regard today’s show as one that’s going to impress anyone, really. The Chiara effect may not be enough this time.

Finally, Bosnia-Herzegovina... well, if neither Turkey nor Bosnia wins Semi 1, then something very odd will have happened. Definitely following in the footsteps of the Joksimovic ballads of the last few years, but with extra twists of its own. If the camera thinks the lead singer looks like a cute sad little puppy and not, say, Paul Merton – then this one has wings for Saturday. It’s moving fast with the bookies too, so it’s definitely the first one to catch the punters’ imagination in rehearsals.

FYR Macedonia, Portugal and Bosnia (in no particular order) are the daily winners for me, whilst Finland and Malta are the most likely to have been looking slightly glum in the rehearsal review session. I don’t think any of the Moscow-based team will stop me from giving a great big Fork of the Day to Krassimir and his amazing friends, however.