Jury rehearsal Semi 1 ESC 2019: Vocal assessment of all the songs

Tamta Eurovision rehearsal Cyprus

Tomorrow, 17 countries will compete in the first semifinal of 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.

22:40 – Thanks for following us

The rehearsal goes on with Big-5 performances. However, for us, the purpose of this blog is over and we will close the blog. Thank you for following and feel free to read back our analysis below.

22:31 – Greece or Serbia?

Both Nevena Bozovic and Katerine Duska had a slightly shaky start but convinced in the rest of their performance. Combine their strong finish with a jury friendly song, and you should have two potential jury vote winners for tonight’s semi final.

22:28 – Kate Miller-Heidke lays foundation for another qualification

Australia should qualify for another Eurovision Grand Final. Kate Miller-Heidke gave a strong performance tonight and lays the foundation for another solid result for Down Under. The big question is whether juries will appreciate the technical difficulty behind singing on a swinging pole. My fear is that they will see this as “circus” instead, which is why I do not think Australia won the jury vote tonight.

22:24 – Song 17 – San Marino – Serhat – Say Na Na Na

This song is rather flat in itself, yet Serhat has struggled all week with lower notes in the verses. Tonight is no different: he hums through them and misses at least 4 notes per verse. The only sentence that comes out rather clean is the last one “life is beautiful and fine”. The flat disco beat behind this song is a red flag for jurors, as it sounds like instant synthesizer. I can’t imagine this faring well with juries.

22:20 – Song 16 – Greece – Katerine Duska – Better Love

Slightly shaky start for Katerina, who is on the edge at three times in the first verse. Second verse and chorus are solid, as we have heard from her all week. The long high note towards the end comes out convincing as ever. A modern, westernized song for Greece, is something completely different from years before. And given the fact that it is also contemporary and radio friendly, it could work well for them in the jury vote.

22:16 – Song 15 – Portugal – Conan Osiris – Telemoveis

Conan Osiris looks focused and starts out strong. His voice is slightly warmer, fuller than earlier this week. On-key from start to finish, and a strong confident showing. However, as much as fans and journalists have emphasized the musical quality of this entry, truth is, juries are not generally into this kind of strange ethnic stuff. The performance does not help: while some jurors might find artistic, it will be offensive for others and those jurors can drag Portugal all the way down their list.

22:11 – Song 14 – Estonia – Victor Crone – Storm

A middle of the road song right in between two more divisive entries – the draw might not help Victor Crone with televoters but it does slightly help him with juries. 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.

Tonight, Victor starts with two missed high notes in the first elevated chorus. Second verse and chorus, however, are without mistakes, which is the first time the entire week. Victor does shout to the audience in the bridge, however, which is usually a red flag for juries. Right before the green screen projections kick in, there is one more slider, and the big note at the end of the projections is wildly off-key. That said, this was definitely not the worst performance Crone gave all week. 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.

22:07 – Song 13 – Iceland – Hatari – Hatrid Mud Sigra

The grunting part, while not off-key, is never jury friendly. It should be noted, however, that the melodic lead singer gives his first flawless performance of the week when it mattered most. Whether or not this entry is, in the basics, jury friendly, was a point of high debate in the press center this week. The statistics would suggest that it is not: the song is very much love-or-hate, the visuals can easily be perceived as aggressive / offensive. Everything about this performance is divisive, which bodes well with televoters but not with juries in general.

22:01 – Song 12 – Australia – Kate Miller-Heidke – Zero Gravity

Kate starts out well in first verse and chorus. The last high note in the chorus, she cuts off short and you hear the backing vocalists take over for just a short moment. This does not have to prove costly, as the second verse and chorus come out excellent. The opera genre has precedent in Eurovision, and this tells us that it 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. 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.

21:57 – Song 11 – Georgia – Oto Nemsadze – Keep On Going

Technically speaking, Oto has proved a strong singer, one to whom notes come rather easy. Tonight though, he makes a few small mistakes in the beginning of the song. A few well-timed ad-libs in the last minute of the song can bring him bonus points. Oto is a true talent show veteran. He won Geostar in Georgia in 2010 and had a decent run on The Voice of Ukraine in 2013. His song, however, is no traditional jury food, with strong ethnic elements and aggressive rock sounds which are highly prone to taste.

21:53 – Song 10 – Belgium – Eliot – Wake Up

Eliot misses a high and later a low note in the first verse, and one more in the chorus. These are relatively easy notes that he misses – juries could punish him. The second verse is better, and he vocally gets through the rest of the song without errors. Because of the end, this was one of Eliot’s better performances this week. The song “Wake up” lacks a hook or a climax – but this is more of an issue for televoters than juries. The composition is middle of the road, radio friendly enough and not offensive. Eliot’s background in The Voice could help him with juries, however, his lack of confidence on stage could counterbalance this fact. This is another example (like Slovenia) where televoters can appreciate authenticity where juries go for professionality.

21:49 – Song 9 – Serbia – Nevena Bozovic – Kruna

Uncharacteristically, Nevena misses the last low note of the first verse. It seems as though her nerves only start to calm in the first chorus, where she warms up her voice to strength in a couple of difficult longer notes. Nevena only gets better as the song continues. Though juries tend not to vote for traditional/ethnic stuff, they have repeatedly made an exception for the Balkan ballads. The silverware around Nevena’s neck and arms can be perceived as off-putting, though I do not think it will have a huge impact on the total jury vote. 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, who generally tend to support these singers. Nevena qualified for Eurovision by winning the jury vote in the Serbian national final – she did not win the televote.

21:45 – Song 8 – Belarus – Zena – Like It

Without making any huge mistakes, Zena’s voice runs thin during the first verse, and in the bridge and chorus, it is visually clear at two moments that the backing vocalists cover the lead vocals. At the end of the second chorus, Zena misses the last note. The end of the song contains a few ad-libs, in which Zena also misses a note or two (though not as bad as earlier performances). Juries could be mild in this regard if they keep in mind that Zena was dancing throughout the entire performance as well. The overtly sexual dance moves have been removed and are no longer an issue. Zena’s track record shows a born and raised performer. She 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.

21:41 – Song 7 – Hungary – Joci Pápai – Az Én Apám

We have arrived at a very jury friendly block in the show. Joci Pápai is really convincing in the first verse, in which he makes no errors. He rides a thinner line in the chorus, but gets through without mistakes. After this, Joci comfortable continues his performance. Arguably the best vocals so far. In 2017, televoters favored Joci Pápai over juries, though it needs to be said that his jury vote in the semi final was still very good. His run on Megasztár was not extremely succesful, as the juries eliminated him on the consoltation rounds. Here at Eurovision, however, his past as a talent show performer could work as a green flag for Joci. Technically speaking, Joci Pápai was not a Jury Darling in this preselection season because he won the final televote. However it should be noted that the Hungarian jury did clear the path to victory for him by eliminating anyone who stood in his way.

21:34 – Song 6 – Czech Republic – Lake Malawi – Friend Of A Friend

The first minute of the song is convincing, pitch perfect, it makes you sit comfortably knowing he’s never gonna miss a note. In the second verse, it is visually obvious that Albert leaves one difficult note for his backing singer. He also misses one note at the end of the chorus, presumably a concentration error as the rest of the song has come so easy for him. Albert made the smart decision of cutting down on his jumps for the jury performance, but someone should have also told him not to shout to the audience tonight as well – he does this, and it’s a red flag for juries. Please 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.

21:31 – Song 5 – Slovenia – Zala Kralj & Gasper Santl – Sebi

In the first minute of the song, Zala is fully on-key. She threatens to slip at two moments but does not, and is solid ever since. Even though the majority of the song is quite flat, there are two melody lines in the chorus which are technically actually quite hard to get through. Zala passes the test tonight. Big question for me is how juries will react to the interaction between Zala and Gasper (whom juries know is not actually playing live). Their honesty 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).

21:27 – Song 4 – Poland – Tulia – Pali Sie

The first flawless performance of the evening, in the sense that no off-key moments can be noticed. At times, the girls were struggling with volume during the verses, but all in all this was vocally alright. “Pali Sie” is a song with a high ethnic profile, which generally is a red flag with juries. Whenever there is a group of singers competing at Eurovision, juries like to hear harmonies. Yet in this song, the girls all sing in the same key (no harmonies).

21:23 – Song 3 – Finland – Darude feat. Sebastian Rejman – Look Away

Rejman misses two notes in the low part of the first verse. The bridge and chorus are fine. Several big mistakes in the low part of the second verse – worse than during most regular rehearsals. The higher notes come easier to the singer, yet there is no part where he truly convinces / scores bonus points. The EDM genre is not very jury friendly in itself. This song is rather flat, and a bit dark in tone with the bell sounds at the start.

21:19 – Song 2 – Montenegro – D Mol – Heaven

The first two solo singers are on-key, yet they do not make you feel like it all comes naturally. The third solist (second male) makes a big slider that he did not make earlier in the week. Harmonies are fine in the first chorus, but some errors in the second. The first big note by the older solist guy is off-key. All in all it feels like every note costs the singers a lot of energy. The most obvious weakness of Montenegro this year (the generic, old-fashioned song) will not be a huge issue with juries. They generally like dated stuff more than televoters and on top of that, the song has no strong outspoken elements that can put jurors off. Yet the performance breathes amateurism from start to finish, and the group hug at the end remains rather fake.

21:15 – Song 1 – Cyprus – Tamta – Replay

Tamta starts with her voice running thin quickly. The third line of the first verse is off key, as is the sentence “we keep it up to colour” in the first chorus. During the second chorus, you can clearly hear that she is supported by a backing vocal. The big note during the bridge is not convincing, but not off-key as it was in the afternoon. It remains a question how juries are going to perceive the cloth change, and in general Tamta’s revealing outfit. There is precedent for female jurors judging this harshly. Tamta took part in Super Idol in Greece, and finished second. All in all tonight was vocally not her worst performance.

21:02 – Technical delays in the afternoon

The rehearsal from this afternoon got delayed several times and finished almost half an hour behind schedule. Tonight, we have heard the Te Deum tune at exactly 21:00 o’clock CET!

20:51 – This blog is all about the juries

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!

Liveblog Semi Final 1 First Dress Rehearsal

20:45 – We’re ready

Team ESCDaily has studied jury results extensively over the past few years. We are confident that we know what jurors are looking for in a Eurovision performance. And tonight, we will describe each performance for you through the eyes of a juror! Stay with us, we’ll get started in about fifteen minutes.