Jury rehearsal Semi 1: Vocal assessment of all the songs

Tomorrow, 18 countries will compete in the first semifinal of the 2017 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 adult jury might vote for this performance. They do not display any personal preferences.

23:01 – Rounding up for tonight

Portugal or Sweden will probably have won the jury vote tonight. Read our detailed assessments below. Thank you for following us tonight!

22:55 – Jamala on stage

She’s the interval act tomorrow night, as you can read in our afternoon blog.

22:49 – And there is Italy

Gabbani’s connection to the camera is today slightly weaker than during his second official rehearsal.

22:45 – Panayi tweets

22:43 – Spain and UK perform

Snippets of their performances tonight will be played during tomorrow’s live broadcast.

22:32 – Greece allowed a second chance

Apparently, cutting out the backing vocals was not a move on purpose – it was a technical error! Greece gets a second chance and would you believe it: the backings are actually somewhat in key for the first time this week. Still I would rate this second performance similar to how I rated the first one.

22:28 – Latvia – Triana Park – Line

This song is modern, yet repetitive – difficult for me to judge how jurors will react to it. The biggest issue, however, is the vocal problems Triana Park have during the verses. In a vocally rather strong semi final, this stands out in a negative way. She looks in control on stage, but the sound does not match the looks. High notes in the chorus are okayish, it’s the lower verses that kill this performance.

22:23 – Slovenia – Omar Naber – On my way

Omar misses the first two notes of the song. He keeps struggling with some of the lower notes in the verses, but the high notes in the choruses are solid and on point. This is the classical example of a jury song: solid, non-offensive, easy on the ears albeit predictable. He gets through the modulation at the end of the song, never mind two small hiccups, this is one of his stronger vocal performances of this week. Visuals look solid, too.

22:20 – Armenia – Artsvik – Fly with me

A nervous Artsvik misses two notes in the first verse of her song. Important thing is that the chorus sounds good though! This part of the song has a very high degree of difficulty, which is something juries often notice and reward. Whether they will also fall for this type of original and ethnic song, remains to be seen – but Jamala certainly fared well with juries last year. Last minute sounded good as always.

22:16 – Technical error

The backing tape of “My time” starts, while Artsvik from Armenia is on stage! That’s a tough technical error that Artsvik now has to deal with.

22:14 – Cyprus – Hovig – Gravity

Hovigs vocals were not as strong as in the afternoon, but still solid enough. No off-key notes. His strong point is the performance, which scores very high on the professionalism scale, especially at the end of a semi final in which some other acts have looked much more amateurish. The act is not only well executed, but also progresses well and tells a story. Certainly top 10 tonight.

22:10 – Czech Republic – Martina – My turn

Do not believe the fan myths that juries vote for ballads only – nor do they vote for every kind of ballad. Juries do not like to be bored. This song is in danger of disappearing in the list of jurors despite another set of strong vocals by Martina. Compared to Poland and Georgia, this song is weaker & has a lower degree of difficulty in terms of vocals.

22:04 – Iceland – Svala – Paper

Svala’s song does not display any particular musical selling point to jury’s, although it is not offensive either. Vocally, we are being treated to an exceptionally high level tonight and Svala joins that party: she makes no mistakes tonight. The biggest question in terms of jury appeal for me, are the movements. She looks a little restless at times and therefore she does not always look like the professional that she definitely is.

22:01 – Moldova – Sunstroke Project – Hey Mama

On the plus side: Vocally this performance is surprisingly strong. And on the “Mans-scale” of commanding the stage, this is almost a perfect example of how to do it. Everything looks comfortable and professional. However, there are downsides too: Song might sound trashy to jurors ears, and lacks a recognizable build-up. Lead singer shouts “come on!” to the audience a couple of times –> red flag. And last but not least: in 2010, juries perceived epic sax guy as a gimmick.

21:57 – Poland – Kasia Mos – Flashlight

Much has already been said about Kasia’s jury appeal. Vocally she is exceptionally strong. In terms of the song, the same questions arise as with the Georgian performance and I reckon many points tonight will be split between those two. It is not the type of ballad that juries will generally favor over other songs, however, the vocals stand out from the pack even in this strong jury show.

21:52 – Greece – Demy – This is love

Demy is strong in the first verse, and then… they cut out the backing vocals in the chorus! The much discussed backing vocals, who were off-key during the entire week, DO NOT APPEAR in this performance. Demy does it all by herself, and she does it quite well actually. Surely not the strongest vocalist of the night, but a sufficient performance without big missed notes. Juries still might not react too well to this type of song, in which ballad & dance are oddly united into one.

21:47 – Portugal – Salvador Sobral – Amar per los dois

In the afternoon, Salvador was amazing – tonight he is “just” very good. One or two slight hiccups in the notes will not hurt him too much. Small question mark might be whether this dated song will fare well with juries, but I reckon at least western juries will appreciate it. Press center applauds loudly. This could win the jury vote. Despite the fact that he did not peek when it matters most.

21:42 – Azerbaijan – DiHaj – Skeletons

DiHaj definitely controls every aspect of her act. It is difficult to judge, however, how jurors will like this act. Is it artistic? Or is it a circus? Especially the horse head will gather criticism. DiHaj starts vocally not at her best, hissing at times, but she – too – recovers at a later stage. First two choruses sound fine. This helps Azerbaijan get over the line in this semi, especially compared to the vocals of the last two Azeri entries.

21:35 – Finland – Norma John – Blackbird

Nerves at the start for Norma John, who almost misses two notes in the first verse! That’s sad as she has been perfect all week long. Strong recovery though, just like Isaiah did. Staging looks professional enough for juries, classy even. Do not overestimate the jury power of this song: televoters tend to vote for these kind of original contributions more than juries do. Still, this should fare well with professional juries.

21:32 – Montenegro – Slavko Kalezic – Space

This type of song/act will most likely be perceived by many jurors as a joke. Especially the hair-act does not do Slavko good with jurors. Vocally there is not too much wrong with it, except for a bit of hissing at the start. However the song has some weaker points especially in the instrumentation of the verses, which might cost points. Slavko shouts to the crowd at the end – a notorious red flag for juries.

21:29 – Belgium – Blanche – City lights

Many of tonight’s artists have saved their best performance for last, and Blanche is one of them. In terms of vocals, she missed one note at the beginning and a few at the end, but over-all it was okay. She does however still have a problem with the so-called “Mans-factor” of commanding the stage – Blanche looks more like she’s afraid of the stage. This is a red flag for juries, who on the other hand probably will appreciate the modern radio friendly song.

21:25 – Albania – Lindita – World

Lindita has sounded worse earlier this week – but this is still the weakest vocal performance of the night so far. In that sense, juries are also pround to running order bias. Lindita will suffer from the three strong performances before her. Her song is not really jury friendly either as they will notice the lack of storybuilding in the song.

21:22 – Australia – Isaiah Firebrace – Don’t come easy

Isaiah unfortunately starts with the first vocal mistake of tonight in his first sentence. However, he recovers strongly. Vocally this is his strongest performance of the week. He still does not always look comfortable on the stage though, in terms of his choreography. The song is definitely jury friendly as it is both non-offensive as well as suitable for radio. It should bring Isaiah somewhere in tonight’s competition.

21:17 – Georgia – Tamara – Keep the faith

Another vocally perfect performance. This semi final is filled with good vocalists and the jury has a tough job. I am not certain about the song – there is usually a fine line between well built up ballads that juries like, and dull ones that do not go anywhere. Eastern European jurors will definitely recognize and appreciate this classical instrumentation. Looks like top 10 with the juries tonight.

21:12 – Sweden – Robin Bengtsson – I can’t go on

Vocally flawless performance from Robin. This is an underestimated part of his total package, as he sounded good during second rehearsals as well. Performance slick, professional, although he missed one camera shot towards the end. Robin sometimes looks a bit nervous but still will pick up some of the “professionality points” that brought Mans Zelmerlöw victory in 2015. Song is radio friendly and not offensive, especially since Robin took out the word “Fucking.”

21:05 – “Welcome planet earth”

For the first time in three years, the presenters do not explicitly welcome Australia. Instead, they welcome “Ukraine, Europe, Planet Earth.”

21:02 – Show started

The press center applauds to “Te Deum”, the famous intro tune to the Eurovision Song Contest. After the opening act, we will check in with you with the first update about Sweden.