Vocal Assessment: Malta’s Destiny clear winner in Jury Rehearsal Semi 1

Malta second rehearsal Destiny Eurovision 2021
Destiny, Malta, Second Rehearsal, Rotterdam Ahoy, 13 May 2021 — EBU / ANDRES PUTTING

Tomorrow, 16 countries will compete in the first semifinal of the 2021 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.

For more information on how to read this blog, check out our Jury Jargon Explanation.

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22:52 – End of the blog

We are rounding up for tonight. Tomorrow the big liveshow!

22:48 – Recap: Sweden obviously off-key

We have never been able to determine without a doubt how much the recap influences the jury result. However, if it does, then Sweden is in big trouble.

22:33 – Song 16 – Malta – Destiny – Je me casse

Malta apparently also suffered technical issues and performed again. Not much to say, other than the fact that this performance becomes even more impressive when you see it twice in a row in exactly the same way. Easily the winner tonight.

-rating not changed, see below-

22:29 – Song 15 – Ukraine – Go_A – Shum

Not much new for me to mention here, as Katerina was on point the first time around. This is still an entry that I wish jury’s would like more than they probably will.

-rating not changed, see below-

22:25 – Song 13- Romania – Roxen – Amnesia

Yes, this was much, much better. Roxen, to be fair, still missed two notes in the first verse and two more in the second verse at the words “take it” and “wishing for” (missing both notes low). However, the choruses are on point, the rhythmic issues are resolved and the high note towards the end comes out perfectly. Roxen takes full advantage of her second chance. What could this bring her? The composition is still not jury friendly. However, combined with the extensive choreography and the fact that she had to deal with technical issues the first time around, jury’s could reward her for seeing it all through.

22:22 – Thank goodness: technical issues caused Roxen’s performance

Both Romania and Ukraine had sound issues and will perform again for the jury’s.

22:17 – Song 16 – Malta – Destiny – Je me casse

Destiny pulls out all the stops at the jury show. It sure sounds like the Maltese delegation made her aware of the fact that this is when it matters most. As the song progresses, Destiny grows even more. She is the prototype of a jury friendly performer, with her big voice, her strong vocal control, and her long list of talent shows. Among others, she reached the semi finals of Britain’s Got Talent in 2017 and she won X-factor Malta in 2020.

Let’s not focus on vocals alone: Destiny looks like a professional on stage, too. The dance routines and the playing with the camera, it all comes out not just slick, but convincingly as well. For the first time tonight, I am willing to call “Mans-factor”. This should easily win the jury vote tonight.

22:13 – Song 15 – Ukraine – Go_A – Shum

The traditional whitevoice style in which Katerina Pavlenko sings, is technically extremely difficult and she commands the technique completely. You could even argue that the staging is done so well, that it gives a kind of credibility to the entire performance. However: the song is the textbook example of jury poison, being both extremely ethnic, innovative, divisive and has a few pace changes, too. All huge red flags.

This is yet another entry with many flags on both sides of the equation. However, given the troubled history jury’s have with extreme ethnic songs, I feel more comfortable leaning towards the negative side on this one. Should still qualify on televote, though.

22:09 – Song 14 – Azerbaijan – Efendi – Mata Hari

With this type of ethnopop song, and this type of outfit, it is easy to forget that Efendi is a classically schooled singer. She received extensive vocal training since a young age, and this song is a piece of cake for her. You could even argue that she would have better picked a more difficult song – jury’s might rate her lower this time around because
“Mata Hari” is rather flat. In a field of so many up-tempo female songs, many of which have lacking vocals, this is a breath of fresh air for jury’s, especially with the rest of the staging and performance being so competent, too. Comparing it to Mans might be a bit of a stretch, but in the current field, this could do really well. Ethnopop is not a genre made for jury’s, however this song is inoffensive. Efendi has a long, long list of talent show experience, most notably finishing third in The Voice of Azerbaijan in 2016.

22:05 – Song 13- Romania – Roxen – Amnesia

What exactly is going on with Roxen? From the first sentence on, she seems to have lost the rhythm of her own song. She is falling behind the music in a very obvious way. And yes, she also misses a few notes along the way, however this is not nearly as obvious as the rhythmic issues that Roxen hardly recovers from. This must be a technical issue. The final high notes go off-key too, as Roxen finishes weakly. It’s hard not to feel sorry for the teenage star.

Let’s take a quick look at the composition before moving on to the next song: it is contemporary, daring, a very modern ballad while jury’s tend to be older and outdated. No green flags to the rescue there.

-no rating, see above-

21:59 – Song 12 – Israel – Eden Alene – Set me free

Off-key at the first time “Set me free”, missing that note high, and soon after missing the note “let me down”. In the second verse, she is off-key at “just another story”, followed by another mistake in “perfect harmony” at the pre-chorus. The end of the third verse, however, is another story when Eden slides off three low notes in a row, followed by another low mistake at “let me down”. Countless mistakes, which cannot fully be compensated by a slick choreography and the high whistle notes at the end (which Eden reaches well, by the way). Eden Alene won X-factor 2018 in Israel. Plenty of possible green flags, as you can see, but even more red ones. The lack of clothing at the end is also a potential red flag for juries.

21:55 – Song 11 – Belgium – Hooverphonic – The Wrong Place

Geike, who has not missed a note all week, starts off being off-key at the word “day” in the first sentence. Nerves? Either way, she quickly recovers and is solid all throughout the first chorus until the end. Belgium did a great job of staging this song in a very credible way, enticing jury’s to perceive this as a high-quality ending (almost like a reversed FOP-effect). In the current field, settled between two female up-tempo entries, it could stand out even more. However, this was not the strongest vocal performance of the week.

21:51 – Song 10 – Croatia – Albina – Tick Tock

In the first verse, Albina is on the edge several times, but misses only one note at the sentence “If you pull me down”. After a solid chorus and second verse, she is again off-key for one note at “overcomplicate” in the second chorus, missing that note low. The bridge part, when she sings while being lifted up is a potential green flag for jury’s, who tend to reward technical stuff like that. However, she misses the “Don’t go” note right after that. The final note is better, also because Albina cuts it a bit short. In playing with the projections at the start, Albina looks a bit out of sync and therefore misses out on the “Mans-bonus”. All in all no vocal masterclass, combined with a performance and (particularly) outfit that female jurors could punish for being overtly sexist. Albina finished 3rd on The Voice Hrvatska in 2019, and the song in itself is middle-of-the-road, but this performance was no jury food.

21:47 – Song 9 – Norway – TIX – Fallen Angel

Tix is off-key in “I can’t make her stay” in the first verse, and in the first word “here” in the pre-chorus. Chorus is better and the second verse, while not convincing, is without big mistakes. After a shaky start, Tix gives away one of his better vocal performances of the week. In the bridge, he takes off his glasses to show his real tics, which is a nice and genuine touch in an otherwise gimmicky performance. The FOP-effect could really be in place here if jury’s do not immediately get the message of Tix’ song. If not, this song is classic jury food, being the keyboard electronical ballad that jury’s tend to love.

21:43 – Song 8 – Cyprus – Elena Tsagrinou – El Diablo

Elena misses one or two notes in the first verse. She recovers quickly, however, this one note could prove costly as the verses of this song are extremely flat (and therefore easy to sing). Jury’s will notice this. The chorus is vocally solid, but will jury’s notice the backing vocal support (which is largely pre-recorded)? Second verse is not off-key, though still at the edges.

Elena participated in the Greek ‘Got Talent’ show Ellada Eheis Talento in 2009. The choreography is strong and Elena looks comfortable performing it, however, there are potential red flags, too: jurors could potentially interpret the act as sexist, and the “El Diablo” theme is of course a divisive one. There only needs to be one person on a jury taking offense to bomb Elena’s jury vote in that country.

21:39 – Song 7 – Ireland – Lesley Roy – Maps

“Maps” is a middle-of-the-road poprock song, which may not be classic jury food. However, it is definitely not offensive either.

Lesley Roy starts off rough, missing 4 or 5 notes in the first verse. The prechorus is fine, however, in the chorus, she is consistently off-key in the first and third word of every sentence. The second time around, the same thing happens: a few mistakes in the verse, a solid pre-chorus, followed by a chorus that is tough to sit through. Will jury’s punish Lesley Roy even harder for this due to her experience and the fact that she should be able to do better? The bridge is acceptable, and the final chorus is better than the previous two, however, the damage is already done.

This is a performance in which the lead singer could score bonus points (the Mans-factor) if she interacts with the cardboard props flawlessly. However, will this effect still work when combined with shaky vocals? And if not, could the tables then turn the other way, with jury’s perceiving the viewing box act as a gimmick?

21:31 – Song 6 – North Macedonia – Vasil – Here I stand

A technically difficult song with a lot of high notes and some difficult loops and note-changes. Vasil has of course received opera training and he gives away a very strong vocal performance again tonight. Nearly flawless. Traditional, even slightly outdated ballads are classic jury food. They supported North Macedonia last year much more than many expected for the same reason. It reminds me of Claudia Faniello, who had an extreme split between jury’s and televoters. Vasil could do the same this year.

21:27 – Song 5 – Australia – Montaigne – Technicolor

The high note at the beginning is off-key; an insecure start followed by a quick recovery. First verse vocally solid, chorus even stronger. It is the high notes in between chorus and verse where Montaigne struggles most. The performance involves complicated choreography though, which she performs very well. These routines are definitely a green flag. On top of that, the song is technically very difficult to sing, which jury’s will understand.

There is not much precedent for hyperpop in the Eurovision Song Contest, making it difficult to judge whether juries will like the genre. However, it is a divisive genre, and the pre-chorus could be perceived as shouting, which is a red flag. Another difficult and unprecedented question is how jury’s will react to the live-on-tape nature of this performance.

21:23 – Song 4 – Sweden – Tusse – A Million Voices

Tusse is right on the edge a few times in the first verse, but gets through it without actually missing a note. In the chorus, it becomes painfully obvious how much this track relies on backing vocals on tape – a potential red flag. Second verse is much better, as Tusse works his way through the nerves. At the end of the second chorus, however, he is off-key twice at the sentence “Can you hear them”. After that, he shouts “Let’s go” into the audience. Tusse won Swedish Idol in 2019. “A Million Voices” is the classic type of jury song: middle-of-the-road, easy listening, inoffensive and accessible to all. The WOKE-message only adds to this even more. However, with the end of the performance vocally lacking, this was not Tusse’s best performance of the week.

21:19 – Song 3 – Russia – Manizha – Russian Woman

Manizha gives a flawless vocal performance, although it must be noted that many rap parts of the song are rather flat (and therefore technically less demanding). The traditional Russian parts are more difficult, and she gets through these okay in good harmony with the backing singers. Manizha shouts into the audience after the first verse – this could be a red flag.

Manizha took part in two talent shows; she won the Grand Prix of the Rainbow Stars competition in Jūrmala, Latvia, in 2003 and she was a finalist at the Five Stars music competition in Sochi, Russia, in 2007. This is something jury’s tend to like.

While the message of the song is something jury’s all over Europe tend to support strongly, it remains to be seen whether the genre itself is jury friendly. The combination of rap and traditional Russian music can be perceived as messy/chaotic. The act with the big dress at the beginning, while fitting the message of the song, is also a potential red flag if jurors consider it a gimmick.

All in all, this is an extremely difficult performance to judge, considering it has many many red flags as well as many green flags.

21:15 – Song 2 – Slovenia – Ana Soklič – Amen

There is a sound issue in the first sentence of the song. Nothing off-key, but weak sounds – unclear whether this is a sound issue or whether Ana is to blame. Rest of the first verse sounds strong, as does the first chorus. Ana is a professional and she looks that way on stage. Vocally she makes jurors sit back in their chair comfortably. However, the shouting into the audience during the bridge is a big red flag.

Ana took part in X-factor, where she was unrightfully portrayed as a troubled woman. “Amen” is an inoffensive ballad, with strong choir influences and a gospel vibe to it. This should play right into the jury’s ears, although the edit at the bridge could be a slight hiccup.

21:11 – Song 1 – Lithuania – The Roop – Discoteque

The parlando start is slightly insecure though not off-key. First verse, vocals are solid. Whether due to nerves or not, the lead singer seems to have a slightly hoarse tick in his voice that was not there all week. However, he still manages to stay on-key throughout the entire song without making big mistakes. The dances moves are very slick and on point at every moment, giving a solid and convincing appearance. Will this be a green flag for jurors, or will some consider the crazy dance to be a gimmick? The composition, while not classic jury food, is accessible enough not to be voted down by jury’s. The happy feeling this conveys, will help make it even more inoffensive.

20:51 – This blog is all about the juries

If you wanna know more about the visuals of the show, the presenters, the postcards and the interval acts, 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 start in about fifteen minutes.

3 Comments

  1. Why should win Malta? Simular song with Neta…. Better songs exists this year on competition. Good luck the Roop?

  2. The Maltese girl was obviously miming some of the more challenging parts of the song. Her outfit was hideous and the performance clumsy. The best performances were Belgium which was very understated and classy, Ukraine and Azerbaijan. Whilst I don’t like any of those songs the performances lifted them to contender territory.

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