Jury rehearsal Final Eurovision 2019: Vocal assessment of all the songs

Duncan Laurence rehearsal Eurovision 2019 Arcade
The Netherlands first rehearsal 2019 — Photo by: Thomas Hanses

Tomorrow, we will learn who wins the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest. But 50% of the results will already be decided tonight! Follow the jury rehearsal with us. In this blog you can read what we think of the vocal qualities of each country, and how we think the juries will react to their performance.

NOTE: The star ratings are our indication of how likely it is that the professional jury might vote for this performance. They do not display any personal preferences.

Please keep refreshing this blog to receive the latest updates. Timeslots are indicated in CET. Newest update always appears on top.

23:25 – Wrapping up

Thank you for following the jury final together with us. Tune in to ESCDaily tomorrow again for the most beautiful day of the year: THE EUROVISION GRAND FINAL!

23:20 – Last place for Serhat?

While Mans Zelmerlöw sings “Fuego” (by Eleni Foureira), let’s take a look at the bottom of the pack. San Marino took its vocals to a completely new level, while Estonia was not as bad as Tuesday, but still off-key several times. From the directly qualified finalists, UK and Germany made a weak showing.

23:15 – Netherlands surpasses Sweden

Time for the recap. Meanwhile, Team ESCDaily is also recapping. On Wednesday we appointed John Lundvik as potential jury winner in semi 2, with the same score as The Netherlands. Tonight, Lundvik was not at his best, and we dare to say that Netherlands has the best chance of winning the Grand Final Jury Vote. Sweden still follows, together with Russia. The only reason we put Australia slightly behind this group of favorites, is the fact that we can’t be sure if juries will consider the swinging pole act “circussy”.

Top 3: Netherlands, Sweden, Russia
Right behind: Australia, Italy, Switzerland, Serbia, Greece

23:06 – Spain – Miki – La Venda

Miki starts nervous, as if he is out of breath before the song even started. Particularly in the first minute, he is on the edge of missing a note the entire time, without actually crossing the line. The huge amount of visuals in this song are a potential red flag. Shouting into the audience definitely is a red flag. It is sad for a guy who worked so hard on his fitness to improve his vocals, that he is at the end of such a strong streak of vocal performances. On top of that, tonight was not Miki’s best vocal performance of the week.

23:02 – Australia – Kate Miller-Heidke – Zero Gravity

There’s a trick at the end of the first chorus that I had not noticed before: Kate’s vocals fade perfectly into the music tape in a Alice & Battiato kind of way. This is a feat that speaks to how on-key Kate is. The start of the second verse is a little bit shaky, but this is easily compensated by Kate’s strong performance in the higher operatic notes. Strong vocal performance over-all. The opera genre generally works better with televoters than juries, probably because the sounds are very love-or-hate. That said, high jury scores have been achieved in the genre.

I’m gonna repeat what I said on Monday, as to why this song is so difficult for me to estimate in jury appeal:

Question remains whether juries will consider the extravagant visuals as “too much”, or as a way to distract from other weaknesses in the performance. If you look solely at technique, what Kate is doing (singing on a swinging pole) is difficult to pull off and deserves a bonus. Let’s hope juries see it this way!

22:58 – Switzerland – Luca Hänni – She got me

Luca Hänni puts on a nervous smile in the first verse. He’s a little shaky here, but picks up from the first chorus, and the second verse is also convincing.

Luca Hänni is a former talent show winner in Germany and I’ve been told a lot of people still know him over there. “She Got Me” is not a traditional jury song. Still I would expect juries to have this song high enough up their list because of the fact that there is no really obvious reason to hate it, or to drag it down.

Keep in mind as well, the fact that Luca is singing and dancing at the same time. And he pulls it off! This difficult combination will be rewarded by juries in my opinion.

22:54 – Serbia – Nevena Bozovic – Kruna

Does running order matter for juries? Serbia comes out nicely in this part of the show. The traditional Balkan ballad sticks out, and Nevena’s vocal skills are quite unmatched in this part of the draw. She is even stronger tonight than she was on Monday, I could not detect even a small vocal mistake. Could juries bring Serbia a surprise top-10 position?

Other important facts to take into account:

Though juries tend not to vote for traditional/ethnic stuff, they have repeatedly made an exception for the Balkan ballads. Nevena took part in Junior Eurovision 2007 and six years later, she came through Prvi Glas Srbije to take part in adult Eurovision as part of Moje 3. Her background in the talent show can be a plus for juries. Nevena qualified for Eurovision by winning the jury vote in the Serbian national final – she did not win the televote.

22:50 – Italy – Mahmood – Soldi

Like Iceland, Italy too is a country with a proven track record of giving its best vocal performances on jury nights. Mahmood too is much better tonight than earlier this week. He cut out a few (though not all) ad-libs, which I think is a smart decision. It is also very clear that there is hardly any backing vocals for this performance. After what we have seen so far, juries will reward this most likely. On top of that, this hiphop style of music is usually more popular with juries than televoters, too. It is a very jury friendly genre.

22:46 – France – Bilal Hassani – Roi

Fans and journalists remember how Bilal Hassani was horribly off-key in France’s national final. Juries don’t. They only see and hear his performance from tonight, and it’s definitely acceptable. No obvious missed notes in the first two minutes, without implying that Bilal is giving a vocal masterclass. The song is not really difficult to sing, either, which a good juror is aware of. In the final minute, there are a few weaker notes, but all in all Bilal gets away with it tonight. He once took part in The Voice Kids, but was eliminated quickly. Difficult to estimate what juries will do with the visuals/message of this song: In 2014, juries fell for Conchita’s story, yet ESCDaily has previously argued that Bilal is more divisive.

22:42 – Azerbaijan – Chingiz – Truth

Imagine for one second that juries will rule this song as “modern, contemporary” like they did with Norway in 2017. And assume on top of that, that they will forgive Azerbaijan brought robots on stage. Could this song surprisingly do better with juries than televotes? It’s all very slick and professional, yet I don’t see the emotional connection that televoters need (juries do not). Vocally, the performance was flawless, though much like Wednesday it is visually noticable that Chingiz relies on backing vocals sometimes.

Chingiz is what we would call a talent show veteran. He won Pop Idol 2007 in Azerbeidjan, finished 11th in 2013 in “New Wave”, and in 2016 he tried his luck on The Voice of Ukraine.

22:38 – Belarus – Zena – Like It

The first verse comes out much better than on Monday. As I mentioned back then, it is visually very clear that Zena relies fully on backings during the first chorus. She does not even have the microphone close to her mouth. This is a shame, because I am seeing more jury potential in this song/performance combination by the day. The dance moves are slick, and Zena is extremely professional for someone her age. She misses one of the longer notes in the final chorus, but all in all this was a solid performance. Zena started in 2013 with New Wave Junior, followed by 2014 Junior Slavianski, then Junior Eurovision two years in a row, and in 2017 she took part in Fabrika Zvyozd. A cv like this is a clear green flag for juries.

22:34 – Estonia – Victor Crone – Storm

The first words “All my life” are immediately off-key, but the rest of the first verse comes out alright this time. The second sentence of the first chorus is clearly off-key. The middle part of the song is better, but the long note in the final chorus is off-key, too.

This is a middle of the road song, which means there will be fewer juries who put it at the bottom of their list based on personal taste. However, some more textual jurors might be put off by the miss-rhymed lyrics “storm like this – man like this”.

Victor Crone comes across a confident man. Perhaps even too cocky for some? In that case, it could be a big red flag combined with any missed notes. Those notes were far fewer tonight than during his Tuesday performance, yet they are more obvious in a strong final field like the one we have this year. In his preselection, Victor Crone finished in 7th place in the jury vote out of 10 entries. It was the televote that brought him to Tel Aviv.

22:30 – Iceland – Hatari – Hatrid Mud Sigra

Eurovision is popular in Iceland and the delegation is very professional in preparing its artists optimally for the competition. Perhaps that is why the only two occasions on which I have heard the falsetto part of the Icelandic song without vocal errors, have been tonight and Monday (when the jury votes). Well done, but will it matter? Grunting is a proven red flag for juries. Also, I am still of the opinion that the song is very much love-or-hate, and that the visuals can easily be perceived as aggressive / offensive. Those are both big red flags for juries.

22:22 – UK – Michael Rice – Bigger than us

It almost seems like Michael Rice is skipping several lower notes tonight. This is because he sings besides the microphone on several occasions. For a song that relies on juries so much, this is a huge red flag.  This song has the potential to be a prototype jury song, yet the last 1.5 minute is highly repetitive. Another potential red flag. The most difficult high note in the bridge is obviously done by backings while Michael freestyles in the lower ranks. Other than that, the high notes were on-key tonight.

22:18 – Norway – KEiiNO – Spirit In The Sky

Much better start from Tom Hugo compared to Wednesday. Alexandra was already strong back then and she is again on point tonight. The first note of the second verse (by Tom) is off-key, yet no further mistakes after that. As I have said on Wednesday, this type of Scandinavian “fan favorite” type of Eurodance is generally more popular with juries than you would expect. The joiking, however, can be perceived as offensive, and the ethnic elements of the song are also a potential red flag. At the moment I am leaning more towards juries punishing this song, despite a solid vocal performance tonight.

22:14 – Israel – Kobi Marimi – Home

After a wobbly start in the first verse, we see the relief on Kobi’s face when he hears the crowd react. The first chorus comes out well, and when the choir joins him for the second verse, there is a full and convincing sound. While I think that this song has a good chance of being bottom 6 in televote, juries might actually like it more. After all, it is a slightly dated classical ballad with a solid (though predictable) build-up. Classic jury food when sung well, and Kobi (who on top of everything has a talent show background) performed well tonight. The only thing that can take away from this, is Kobi’s forced style of singing, with a constant tremor in his voice.

22:10 – Greece – Katerine Duska – Better Love

Katerine is off-key in the last word of the first verse (“inside…”). She gets through the difficult high loops in the first chorus. In the second chorus, she is slightly behind on the first time “hope ever after”. All in all, this is still a really strong vocal performances in the final field, yet I need to point out the small differences with her performance on Monday. The long high note in the bridge comes out convincingly, and this is the type of technical stuff that juries favor. A modern, westernized song for Greece, is something completely different from years before. Add to that the fact that it is contemporary, radio friendly and quite difficult to sing!

22:06 – The Netherlands – Duncan Laurence – Arcade

Duncan Laurence now sings along to the instrumental start of the song, which he previously did not do. The difficult lower notes after this (verse 1) come out better now than on Wednesday. Another very strong performance from Duncan, despite a slight hiccup in verse two, sentence “I saw the end ‘fore it began”. Especially the falsetto part is convincing tonight, it reminds me of Kristian Kostov who finished 2nd in the jury vote with an amazing performance in 2017. Juries do not, as people too often think, vote for the most outstanding, original songs in the contest. But they will take into consideration the fact that “Arcade” is by far the most difficult song in this semi final to sing. This is where Duncan Laurence beats John Lundvik tonight, not on song, but on incredible vocals.

22:02 – Cyprus – Tamta – Replay

Not only does Tamta miss one note in the first sentence of the song, she’s also out of rhythm for a moment. Sh erecovers, though. The high note in the pre-chorus comes out better now than on Monday. It becomes more and more obvious that Cyprus turned up the volume for the backing vocals, and Tamta sometimes leaves an entire note for her backings to sing. We finally hear her sing solo again in the bridge, and it’s actually not bad. Other things to take into account: There is precedent for female jurors judging a clothing change harshly. Tamta took part in Super Idol in Greece, and finished second.

21:58 – Slovenia – Zala Kralj & Gasper Santl – Sebi

Zala sounds more confident tonight, as if qualifying for the final took most of the pressure away. On Monday I mentioned that there are two melody lines in the chorus which are technically actually quite hard to get through. This song is harder to sing than it initially sounds, and Zala is without any mistakes tonight. The honesty of this performance might be picked up by televoters, but juries could perceive it as insecurity.  Those who say this kind of entry is more for juries than for televoters, should take a good look at the split results for Hungary 2013 (Kedvesem).

21:53 – Sweden – John Lundvik – Too Late for Love

In the first two lines, it almost sounds as if John Lundvik has suffered from a slight cold earlier in the week. He’s definitely not off-key, but there is a slight tremor in his voice. It seems like it’s costing him a lot more energy tonight, it does not come naturally (as it usually does). Lundvik then also struggles with the shorter high notes in the bridge, but nails the big note “noooo”. The two longer notes in the final chorus go into an adjusted version. He does not take the highest note, decides to go for safety. Again, Lundvik is not off-key, but this was not his best performance and he knows it. Last year, ESCDaily predicted Austria’s Cesar Sampson scoring massively in the jury vote. It proved how this type of uplifting, non-offensive gospel song is classic jury food. On stage, Lundvik comes across as an extreme professional, which is a big green flag. While John Lundvik was not a Jury Darling in our series, it is worth noting that his Melodifestivalen jury score was far more impressive than his televote.

21:47 – North Macedonia – Tamara Todevska – Proud

The first verse comes out slightly hoarse. If Tamara celebrated her qualification last night, I can fully understand, because Macedonia had to come from a very long dry spell! However, from the first chorus onwards, the vocal performance only gets stronger. I am convinced that her singing style is something that suits juries: she showcases a lot of long notes, without deviating too much from the melody line through ad-libs. Though this is not the prototype of a jury ballad, it has a classical build-up plus the old-fashioned full orchestration, which will help the song in its jury vote. Also: do not make the mistake of thinking running order does not matter for juries. It does, and Tamara comes right after the worst vocal performance of the night. It will make her stand out even more.

21:43 – San Marino – Serhat – Say Na Na Na

This song is rather flat in itself, and yet Serhat manages to decrease his vocal levels with every performance. It was bad in week one, really bad on Monday & Tuesday and tonight is a whole new level. I honestly could not detect a solid note in the first verse. He is consequently half a note too low, humming through the notes. The chorus is better because the backings step in, however, this is a candidate for last place tonight. Televoters will have to save it from last place in the actual rankings (and I think they will).

21:39 – Denmark – Leonora – Love Is Forever

Leonora is another good example of someone who peaked at the jury show more than at the televote show during the semi finals. Tonight, she does it again. A vocally flawless performance. Something I never noticed until tonight, is the fact that Leonora sings while sitting, and later while climbing stairs in her performance. Technically very difficult and jurors will notice this!

Leonora did not won the televote in her national final and thus she was a part of our series Jury Darlings. I had my doubts earlier in the week whether “Love is forever” could be a jury friendly song, or whether it would be too comparable to Austria 2016. I am starting to lean more towards the positive side now.

21:35 – Russia – Sergey Lazarev – Scream

Sergey starts slightly better than on Wednesday, despite one missed note on the second sentence at the word “burn”. The first chorus comes out highly convincing. It is in the technically difficult notes, the higher ones, that Sergey Lazarev makes his mark. This is a really difficult song to sing, and juries should realize that.

This musical styled ballad is a jury friendly genre (think of Ukraine 2013). As mentioned before, Russia toned down its visual performance not to repel juries and I am convinced they succeeded in this. Juries have no obvious reason to drag this down based on the holograms, in fact, Sergey playing with the projections in the exact right timing could get him some “Mans-factor” points. He timed his movements well tonight, and gave a better performance than on Wednesday or Thursday.

21:31 – Germany – S!sters – Sister

Carlotta misses two notes in the first verse, while Laurita is still okay. However, then the chorus comes around and the higher harmonies are off-key on several occasions. Second verse and chorus are better. The lyrical repetition in the song is something juries often frown upon. Carlotta from S!sters took part in a children’s talent show when she was 9 years old. Will juries “remember” this and take it into account? This song has plenty of that. The biggest issue with this performance is credibility, however, that’s a prototype televote issue (jurors do not care).

21:27 – Czech Republic – Lake Malawi – Friend Of A Friend

In the first two sentences of the song, singer Albert of Lake Malawi is on the edge several times. He is off-key in chorus one at the sentence “I can’t recall her name anymore”. He skips a note in verse 2, “Who is it?”. His performance on Monday was significantly stronger. And that’s an issue, yet you need to keep in mind that Lake Malawi won its preselection based on jury vote, not on televote. This could have something to do with the fact that “Friend of a friend” is a very inoffensive and slightly dated song, which is the kind that fares very well with juries.

Albert made the smart decision of cutting down on his jumps for the jury performance, but someone should have also told him that shouting to the audience is also a red flag for juries.

21:23 – Albania – Jonida Maliqi – Ktheju tokës

Jonida sang much much better during Monday’s jury show than during the live show on Tuesday. Still, I reckon that she qualified on televotes. Why? Our model shows that juries (all over Europe) prefer for mainstream and western compositions. Ballads in this darker ethnic style (like Greece 2018) are generally more popular with televote.

The first verse tonight is flawless. In the chorus, she squeezes through a few notes. Not off-key, but we can actually see in her face close-up that she is struggling to pull it off. Jurors, obviously, like people who sing with ease. In the final minute, there are a few small mistakes. Yet it must be said, that Jonida again gives one of her stronger vocal performances at the moment when the juries are listening.

21:19 – Malta – Michela – Chameleon

This song is really hit sensitive and our model shows that this is NOT the green flag with juries that people often make it out to be. Michela’s vocals have improved during the week and tonight she starts well in verse 1 and chorus 1. She misses a lower note in the second verse. Generally, this vocal performance was acceptable and not a huge red flag for juries. The biggest issue remains Michela’s appearance on stage. Tonight, Michela missed the camera shots almost the entire performance. She also does not give jurors a comfortable, professional feeling. Malta uses X-factor as its preselection and Michela won it.

21:12 – All the artists have been announced

After a long introduction ceremony, we are still awaiting the first performance of the evening.

If you wanna know more about the visuals of the show, the presenters, the postcards etc, then read back our liveblog from the first dress rehearsal this afternoon!

20:58 – The way we blog the jury show

Over the years, ESCDaily developed a model by studying the past results of Eurovision jury votings extensively. We built a frame of reference for each entry. That way, we determine how likely it is that juries will like the song, the performance, the vocals.

Our vocal assessment is the main point of the blog. We will try to point out any mistake made tonight, as this is the show that juries will vote on. Juries tend to find vocals more important than composition.

20:47 – Our previous vocal assessments

If you want a frame of reference, please do read back on our vocal assessments of both semi finals:

Jury Show Semi 1

Jury Show Semi 2

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