All 17 countries from the second semi-final have now performed on the Eurovision stage in their first rehearsals. Some of the big favourites of the competition featured in the second semi-final, so have we seen the winner yet? In this chat conversation I had with Dennis van Eersel from ESCDaily, we spoke about the highlights so far in Rotterdam and the remarkable things in the second semi final so far.
A: Dennis, what are three moments that stood out to you from the rehearsals of the second semi-final, either good or bad?
D: Of course we knew Switzerland, Bulgaria and Finland were gonna be good, but I should mention them at the start. The moments that stood out for me were the nations of which I had lesser expectations, but were a very pleasant surprise. Those were the rehearsals of Serbia and Albania. They offer a very strong visual and vocal performance and I think they have a great chance. What about you, when it comes to the highlights thus far?
A: Switzerland stood out in the semi-final to me as the only song to give me winner vibes up until that point, while I was also surprised by Albania and Austria. There are a few songs in this semi-final I had definitely written off prior to the rehearsals, but they have certainly opened the field back up again. Do you think we have a clear 10 qualifiers for this semi-final?
D: I think the second semi final has about eight or maybe nine countries that I am really confident about and I can’t see either of them missing out. These are, in order of appearance, San Marino, Greece, Moldova, Iceland, Serbia, Albania, Bulgaria, Finland and Switzerland.
A: As much as I want to say that San Marino won’t make it through, I can’t really deny it at this stage. As for the rest of your list, I feel fairly confident in each of those entries as well.
D: My remaining qualifier at this point would be Denmark, Austria or maybe even Portugal. I’m leaning towards Denmark, being a cheerful closing act of the show.
A: Denmark hasn’t been a huge hit with fans in the lead up, but it’s such a grower. And it’s the perfect closing act. I think first time viewers might actually appreciate it more on face value than what Eurovision fans in the bubble did. As for who really earned that final spot, I think Austria is probably up there as well. This has strong potential with the jury for a really great vocal performance, but also the staging is really high quality. Either way, we are going to lose a few decent entries. Who in the list of semi-finalists failed to impress you the most?
D: Estonia is really underwhelming for me. In the Eesti Laul final they had more visual props to go with the song, and it needs that. Now they have toned it down a bit, and all that’s left is how weak the composition is. I feel safe to write them off. The same goes for Poland. Rafał presents himself as a cool teenager, but since he isn’t… it’s just not working out well for them. I think those are the two most disappointing countries in the semi final 2 field to me. Do you have more?
A: Estonia and Poland certainly felt like the most underwhelming, and I feel fairly certain we won’t be seeing either of those two acts in the Final. One that fans expected a lot from, but hasn’t delivered is Latvia. While I didn’t like the song prior to the contest, it seems that they have done a lazy job at staging this entry. There was a lot of potential, but nothing is really adding up on stage. The backing graphics are confusing and don’t do anything to share the message, nor do they really fit the colour scheme of the outfits. What do you think?
D: I forgot about Latvia… Yes, I was also disappointed in what they brought us this year. It’s like they copied their plan for 2020, with the facemasks for the backings of ‘Still breathing’ and it doesn’t make sense anymore. Samanta is also wearing a gala dress, whilst performing a rave-song. It just doesn’t add up together. So I agree, Latvia is also a likely non-qualifier.
A: The fact that you forgot says enough, I think! What about Portugal? We were both unsure of their status before the contest, and while I think they offer a really nice stage show, is it going to be enough?
D: I’m not sure. The bookmakers have them in their top-10, but I don’t know if it will make enough impact. Being followed up by Bulgaria isn’t helping them, even though their staging is very different. They made it bigger and more colourful, even using the catwalk. I expected Portugal to keep things the same mostly, but they didn’t. I still need to get used to that, because I have watched and heard their national final performance a lot of times. I think a couple of ballads sneaking through to the final from this show would be nice for the final field, since the qualifiers from the first show will likely be mostly uptempo.
A: Do we have a winner in this semi-final?
D: It’s possible. I am still not ruling out Switzerland and also Bulgaria, even though the bookies don’t have them listed very high. Should Bulgaria be one of the few, or the only, ballads in the second half of the final, far away from Switzerland and France. That would be a very interesting scenario for me. Which countries are still on your list for the win, I still have even five, which is rather unique at this stage. France, Italy, Malta, Switzerland and Bulgaria.
A: From this semi-final, I only have Switzerland. I still don’t see Bulgaria as a winner, as nice as the song is, I just don’t feel it yet. Maybe the next rehearsals will help, but for me Switzerland is probably the only semi-finalist in general that I can truly see winning. The other competitors are France and Italy, which are both offering up incredible songs this year.
D: That’s true, let’s talk about these contenders in our next chat, when we have seen all the finalists have their second rehearsal as well!