Jury rehearsal Semi 2 ESC 2018: Vocal assessment of all the songs

Tomorrow, the next 18 countries will compete in the second semifinal of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest. 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 Portuguese timezone. Newest update always appears on top.

21:53 – Thanks for following

This blog is over, but if you tune in just now, then please read back our coverage below to get a good grip of what the juries have seen tonight. Thanks for joining us tonight!

21:46 – Australia’s recap

Not just Malta, but Australia and Denmark, too, have made a poor choice for their recap part. They both have noticeable off-key moments in the recap which makes their performance look weaker than they actually were.

21:42 – Montenegro, Sweden, Netherlands

Behind Rybak, it is a battle between three countries I reckon: Montenegro, Sweden and Netherlands. Montenegro was at its best tonight and therefore may have gotten top 5 (or even top 4) in tonight’s jury vote.

21:38 – Rybak clear winner

The first semi final was very difficult to predict. Despite our many years of studying into this topic, I could not be quite confident in predicting the jury result. Tonight, however, I am quite confident to predict Alexander Rybak and Norway as winner of the jury vote.

21:32 – Recap: Malta out of rhythm

I did not notice this the first time around, but Malta’s Christabelle loses track of the rhythm at some point during the second chorus. Jurors, who are obliged to watch the entire show, are kindly reminded of this in the recap…

21:24 – Ukraine – Mélovin – Under the ladder

Mélovin’s vocals have definitely been worse than today. His diction, however, will cost him points, especially with Western jurors. The song is not typical jury food but has a predictable build-up, which is good enough to see him get away with it. The only thing that might be a downfall for Ukraine with juries is the aggressive, almost vampire-like staging and look of the singer – it could be perceived as negative, offensive. It definitely takes away from the “non-threatening boy” stereotype (but there are very very few of those in this semi). Mélovin won X-factor 2015 in Ukraine and this might help him, especially with Eastern European jurors. This is an entry that could have a split outcome between different regions with juries.

The opening shot of Mélovin is him lying in a piano (not a coffin).

21:20 – Slovenia – Lea Sirk – Hvala, ne

“My song was getting too flat in the middle,” said Lea Sirk earlier this week about her own entry. She admitted the thing that juries will also notice tonight: this is one of the flattest entries out there. Lea is vocally solid, but that’s not a bonus but a prerequisite with such a flat entry. Lea’s solution for the problem was the fake technical breakdown, but that is a definite no-go for jurors (they punished Barei for it in 2016 as well). Lea also acts poorly tonight, juries will for sure take offense, will feel like they’re being tricked. As much as Lea looks confident in her choreography, this song is too divisive and flat to pick up jury points.

21:16 – Montenegro – Vanja Radovanovic – Inje

Earlier this week, Vanja had one rough day vocally, but tonight he shakes off the nerves and starts solid. As much as juries have been divided on ethnic entries, they have generally supported traditional Balkan ballads. The big test tonight is whether they will still do this when the song is weaker in its build-up than for example “Moj Svijet” was. The fact that Vanja is vocally spotless will definitely help, especially in this weaker semi final. The big high note at the end is also good. Vanja does not look like a confident performer who controls the stage, but he does look very credible and serious in what he does. Juries like that.

Vanja Radovanovic himself thinks that his song is not similar to Zeljko Joksimovic.

21:12 – Sweden – Benjamin Ingrosso – Dance you off

There is a curse on the first note tonight: Benjamin’s backing vocal misses it. The first verse, Benjamin sounds okay. The choruses are not as strong as this afternoon. It seems as though not Benjamin, but his backing vocalist (an important part of his team, as he acknowledges) is suffering from nerves. No big mishits though, and the big high note at the end sounds clear. Benjamin is a confident dancer and performer, he is well trained and looks like a professional. The male falsetto’s are usually not jury food, but the rest of this composition could be.

Read more about Benjamin Ingrosso and his backing vocalists HERE.

21:07 – Latvia – Laura Rizzotto – Funny girl

Laura does not look comfortable on stage tonight. Previously this rehearsal week, she has been strong in playing with the cameras, but tonight, she does not display the ease, comfort and control that she had before. Vocals are okay-ish. Laura struggles with the “to MAKE you feel” high note, but juries might be lenient with that given that it is one of the most difficult vocal loops in this entire semi final (the Softengine effect). The bridge, in which Laura previously has been vocally shaky, is now on point. It was not her best performance though. The jazz ballad song is well built-up, but outspoken enough to make it drift away from the classic jury ballad.

21:03 – Hungary – AWS – Viszlát nyár

The lower notes in the verses have generally been the weaker point of lead singer Örs Siklósi, and while he is on the edge sometimes tonight, it is definitely one of his better performances. The grunting lines in the chorus are on point. As much as I would like juries to reward the fact that this is great within its genre, and as much as AWS will hope that the new jury point system might work in its favor – this is a very niche genre which generally does not work with juries. The genre is offensive, the lead singer looks threatening. Strong performance tonight though, good vocals and professional and believable band look.

The stage diving part was filmed well during tonight’s AWS Eurovision performance.

20:57 – Malta – Christabelle – Taboo

Christabelle misses three notes in the first verse. The chorus is good and juries might reward the fact that the vocal loop towards “Break the chapel” is technically difficult. Then again, it is also repeated very often. Christabelle never looks in control of her big act, she does not have the expression of a professional. In the second chorus, she is off-key for the word “animals, animals”. The song has a build-up that never actually goes anywhere, it therefore is not the easy listening pop song that juries generally like. Dark staging can work divisive as well, just like the fact that she eats a heart.

Christabelle told ESCDaily about the meaning of her many visuals.

20:53 – Poland – Gromee & Lukas Meyer – Light me up

Lukas Meyer’s vocals have been a problem for this song ever since its national final. The first verse is sloppy but without big mishits. In the chorus, he has the support of his backings. Not terrible, but the kind of vocals that constantly keep you on the edge of your seat, holding your breath, afraid he can make a mistake any minute. In the second chorus, the big mistake finally comes: “tell me WHERE to go”. The fact that this song is radio friendly and from a Swedish producing agency might not be enough to save this. Lukas sounds out of breath in the final chorus.

20:49 – Georgia – Iriao – For you

The first male vocalist is having a rough day. He was off-key this afternoon and again so tonight in the first few notes. Juries have no choice but to perceive this as a very serious musical performance, however, that does not mean they accept being bored. The song does not have a clear build-up, and is not really going anywhere. Many have suggested that Georgia is relying on jury support, but I would not count on tonight’s performance to get them through. Remember the Croatian song “Mizerja” from 2013 which performed better in televote than jury vote. Iriao performs solid vocals in the second part but this will not get top 10 tonight.

20:45 – Australia – Jessica Mauboy – We got love

Oh no! Jessica is off to a rough start when she is off-key with the first word “why”. She recovers in the lines that follow, but the first “I know” is again off-key. Thankfully, the balance between Jessica and the backing vocals has been changed, which proves to juries that she does not rely on the backings too much in the chorus. Second verse is solid. Choruses sound good too, but Jessica is tempted to shout into the audience several times. Juries don’t ordinarily like that. High note towards the end is cut short but solid. Her performance this afternoon was better, but she has also had worse this week. She’s obviously enjoying herself on stage, which makes her appearance more jury friendly. The strength of the song is that, like many Australian songs, it seems to be written for juries: middle-of-the-road, western, radiofriendly, non offensive.

20:41 – Netherlands – Waylon – Outlaw in ‘m

Waylon is one of the better vocalists in this semi final and he is strong tonight, too. He does not miss a note and occasionally shows his skills with an ad-lib. Bonus points for his vocals, while the song itself is not extremely jury friendly – it has rough edges and it’s not middle of the road. Performance with the krumping dancers can also be perceived as “offensive”, while Waylon is definitely not a “non-threatening boy”. And still… I can’t shake the feeling that juries will reward the absolute professional at work here. Waylon was a former runner-up in Holland’s got Talent – juries tend to vote for talent show participants.

20:36 – Moldova – DoReDoS – My lucky day

The first verse is, while still sloppy, today better than before (by the blue male solist). The woman is not a good singer, which is why she has few solo lines, and juries might notice this. In the chorus, the backing vocalists (the doubleurs) sing almost everything. Second verse by the red male solist sounds solid. He is the strongest of the three. Important to note, however, that the Moldovans do not actually miss many notes. This is important because the song is really flat and juries will punish them even harsher for any mistakes they make. The woman shouts out to the audience at around 2:30 minutes, that’s a weaker point. The main question therefore is: will juries perceive this as a joke, because of the act and also the explicitly sexual lyrics? Or will they see through this because the performance is slick?

20:30 – Russia – Yulia Samoylova – I won’t break

Yulia misses a few notes in the first two lines. The rest of the verse is solid towards the chorus. Here, however, the backing vocalists are also on the edge. They sound shrill in the high notes. Yulia is giving one of her better performances of the week, but definitely still not flawless. The song has a classical build-up which is suitable for Eastern European jurors – less so for Western jurors because of the heavy bombastic instrumentation. Yulia is off-key in the bridge. The last chorus is on key, but here jurors might take offense in the fact that Yulia sings the backing part while the actual backing vocalists sing the lead vocals. However, they might also show compassion with the fact that Yulia has a handicap and is obviously hindered by this. She also has the advantage of being a former runner-up in talent show Faktor A in Russia.

“Yulia Samoylova is not Celine Dion”, said a Russian press officer to us earlier this week.

20:26 – Denmark – Rasmussen – Higher ground

A slight hiccup in the first longer high note in the first verse. Solid otherwise all throughout that verse. Harmonies in the first chorus are on point. At the line “men laying down their swords”, Rasmussen is off-key in the second verse. Harmonies sound better than all week, very strong. Still this song has several things running against it: Rasmussen’s rough look is quite the opposite of the “non-threatening boy” stereotype, and the Viking-act is on the borderline of being perceived as “not serious”.

Denmark struggled a lot with the snowstorm at the end of their performance.

20:22 – San Marino – Jessika & Jenifer – Who we are

Jessika, never the strongest vocalist, now starts out with a full on false note. The entire first verse is shaky with a couple of missed notes. When the backings join in in the chorus, it gets slightly better, but there comes verse two and with it: the rapper. Rap is not a jury friendly genre, and it is not confidently and professionally performed here either. The robot-lyric reads “Size doesn’t matter” tonight – I still believe juries will consider this as a joke, and therefore offensive. The high note towards the final chorus is again off-key. I never liked San Marino’s jury chances but tonight was one of their worst performances all week.

20:18 – Serbia – Sanja Ilic & Balkanika – Nova Deca

The male vocalist misses a couple of crucial notes at the beginning, notes that he – sadly – has not missed before. But tonight is the show that matters and he does not bring it. The second verse & chorus are vocally solid, although the guy decides to leave the final harmony to the girls. This song, has never really been jury friendly: the difference in styles, the messy build up (which is also clearly portrayed on stage). Juries have turned their back on ethnic stuff that is too out there. The heavily studied choreography also does not seem to come natural to the performers and that makes it look amateuristic.

20:13 – Romania – The Humans – Goodbye

Cristina, vocally flawless all week, is now shaky in the first few lower notes. The higher ranks are sung strongly, but during the first chorus, Cristina shouts out to the audience – that is usually a red flag for jurors. The high notes toward the end are really strong. This song is not particularly jury friendly, though not offensive either – it reminds me of the easy listening poprock of the ’90s, like The Cranberries for instance. Juries could vote for that type of song – but can they also vote for this act, which looks alienating at times? Masks have a negative connotation.

20:09 – Norway – Alexander Rybak – That’s how you write a song

Rybak has received much criticism on the “simpleness” of his composition. Juries will not mind, as it is friendly, non-offensive, middle of the road and competent. The “scoobydoo-baba” part is not particularly jury friendly, but they will forgive Rybak for this. The ease with which Rybak plays with the projections on the screen will come across very professionally – kind of like the “Mans-Factor” in 2015. He also looks like a winner (and not just because he actually is one). The high note towards the second chorus has always been shaky, other than that Rybak is vocally flawless in this vocally relatively easy song. It is also pretty obvious that, while Rybak is playbacking the violin, he is in reality a good violinist (and therefore it is not fake).

Earlier this week, Daniel Gould told us that he thinks Alexander Rybak has one of the best stories of this year’s competition.

20:02 – Introduction clip

If you want to know more details on the over-all look of the show, check out our liveblog of dress rehearsal 1 this afternoon.

This blog will focus only on the performances and their jury potential.

19:58 – Here we go again

Team ESCDaily has studied jury results extensively over the past few years. And tonight again, like Tuesday, we will describe each performance for you through the eyes of a juror!