Vocal Assessment: Gjon’s Tears nails high notes at Jury Rehearsal Semi 2

Gjons Tears Switzerland Eurovision 2021 Switzerland

Tomorrow, 17 countries will compete in the second 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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22:40 – Finishing up

No technical errors tonight. We can finish the liveblog a bit early. Feel free to read back on all the action at tonight’s jury show!

22:34 – Gjon’s Tears may have won tonight

Semi 1 had a clear jury winner in Malta’s Destiny. Tonight, we are leaning towards Switzerland as the jury winner, with Albania, Greece and Bulgaria following close behind. Five countries need to fear: Moldova, Latvia, Czech Republic, Poland and Georgia.

22:24 – Denmark – Fyr & Flamme – Øve os på hinanden

Vocals have never been a huge issue for this performance. Tonight again, the duo delivers, without this being a huge vocal masterclass – after all, it is quite an easy song to sing. The guys do not breath to be experienced performers, however, they have “inoffensive” written all over their faces. I expect juries to relate to them more than many may think. This type of outdated Scandinavian schlager is a genre that people rarely associate with professional jury’s, but make no mistake: jury’s love this kind of music. More often than not, they have voted it up and rated it higher than televoters, who generally like something a little more original.

22:20 – Switzerland – Gjon’s Tears –  Tout l’univers

Gjon misses one note in the second sentence of the first verse. After that, flawless up until the chorus. Impressive high notes in that first chorus. After that, Gjon simply does not feel like missing. Sounding very comfortable in the falsetto, and he nails the big note at the start of the final chorus. He is in total control of his vocals tonight.

His awkward dance moves are less of an issue with jury’s than with televoters. Okay – he will probably not get the Mans-factor for this performance, but the visual aspect is still credible enough for jurors not to drop out on him. Gjon’s Tears has a long history in talent shows, too. He finished third in Albanians Got Talent, reached the semi-final of Die grössten Schweizer Talente in 2012 and reached semis of The Voice in 2019.

Not only is “Tout l’univers” an accessible and jury friendly ballad (mainly because of the movie theme song vibes), it is also really difficult to sing. Potential winner tonight.

22:16 – Latvia – Samanta Tīna – The Moon is Rising

The first two sentences are almost entirely off-key. Samanta seems to succumb to the pressure. A few more small mistakes in the first verse. Afterwards, she picks it up to a more acceptable level, however, the danger of overdoing it remains, especially in the higher belting notes.

Is rave music something that jury’s can vote for? The list of comparative material is not long, but Slovenia in 2018 (“Hvala ne”) scored extremely similar among jury’s and televoters – and she qualified for the final. Then again, the staging, the clothing combined with the eccentric dance moves gives me vague “Telemoveis”-vibes. If jury’s were to consider this “niche artistic”, then Latvia could be in for a very low jury vote.

22:12 – Finland – Blind Channel – Dark Side

The guys from Blind Channel manage to peek at the right time. We have seen slight vocal troubles at times from them, however, today they are on point. Both in the lower ranks of the verses, the higher ranks of the choruses, and the grunting parts toward the end. The only exception is one off-key note at the word “club” in the second chorus.

Jury’s do not necessarily dislike rock music (see Softengine in 2014 and MaNga in 2010). However, this song has a very divisive nature, and is clearly targeted at a younger audience, making it less accessible to jurors. At the end of the performance, the guys put up their middle fingers, despite the fact that EBU rules do not allow this – and jurors may not appreciate it either.

22:08 – Bulgaria – Victoria – Growing Up is Getting Old

Another singer with a clearly recognizable sound – albeit this one is probably far less divisive. The first twenty seconds sounded not as strong as before; Victoria is not off-key but sounds a bit more trembling than we are used to from her. Afterwards, she picks up where she left off. The high notes in the choruses come out strong.

The originality of the song and the strong emotional connection may be more important to televoters than to jurors. So let’s take this out of the equation and see if there is enough left. Victoria placed 6th in the X-Factor Bulgaria in 2015. However, this is not the only reason she is a potential jury darling. She looks, sounds and moves like a potential teenage star.

21:59 – Portugal – The Black Mamba – Love Is On My Side

The lead singer of the Black Mamba is seriously on point today. He sounds comfortable, hitting the notes right at the middle. He adds some ad-libs here and there to increase the level of difficulty, and this works out well for him, particularly the falsetto part at the final chorus (“love is, love is, love is”).

The song is slightly dated, however this does not create a problem with juries. As a matter of fact, it may even be an advantage here. Another advantage is the technical level of difficulty of this song, especially when executed well. Small question mark: the sound of the lead singer’s voice is very niche – could this turn off a few jurors enough to vote it down? The staging, with the black and white at the start, the calm camera work and the music solo at the end (even if it is playback), makes it very tempting for juries to vote this up. Juries also do not have the strong need for the emotional connection that televoters may miss in this performance.

21:55 – Albania – Anxhela Peristeri – Karma

Anxhela is one of those performers who allows the listener to sit back in their chair. She just never sounds like she is going to miss, particularly at the higher long notes in the chorus. She also looks comfortable playing with the smoke projections in the backdrop. As mentioned before, juries appreciate former talent show candidates, and yes, Anxhela ticks that box too: She competed in Kënga Magjike in 2009, and finished third. While jury’s generally dislike overly ethnic songs, they do have a soft spot for dramatic Balkan ballads such as these.

21:51 – Georgia – Tornike Kipiani – You

Tornike has displayed vocal skills during rehearsals, however, he is not at his best at the start of today’s performance. The first verse features a couple of sliders, small off-key moments. The chorus comes out better. However, another slider at the sentence “where I am” in the second verse. Tornike won the first season of X Factor Georgia in 2014, which could be a small green flag to his advantage. The high notes “My love” are not a problem for Tornike. However, in a semi filled with jury friendly ballads, you cannot help but wonder if this will contrast poorly in comparison. Juries do not simply like every ballad, and they can most certainly be bored.

21:47 – Serbia – Hurricane – Loco Loco

Strong, comfortable vocals in the first verse. It quickly becomes clear that we are dealing with three professionals here. First chorus solid, too. Jurors would not expect a song in this genre to have such seasoned performers & strong vocals. A little bit of shouting into the audience before the bridge. Strong harmony in the last high note of the bridge. Will it be enough to sway juries, who have not generally been fans of this genre?

This composition is not jury friendly, with the heavy percussion and the club vibes. Especially when you combine it with the performance, which certain (female) jurors could perceive as sexist, this is the kind of entry jurors could purposely vote down.

21:43 – Iceland – Daði og Gagnamagnið – 10 years

Daði sounds flawless in the first verse, then slightly weak in the low notes of the first pre-chorus. Second verse and chorus are solid again, with the harmonies being a nice touch. juries like harmonies and the fact that they are partly performed live, could help their cause. “10 years” is a song that is very jury friendly. Not only because it is middle-of-the-road, but also because of the electronical keyboard pop sounds. The biggest question mark, however, is how juries will react to the performance. With the outfits, the “silly” dances and the keyboard circle are all potential gimmicks, and could create the so-called FOP-effect. If juries feel like they supposed to be “above” this, none of the green flags above may matter all that much, making this a difficult act to predict.

21:39 – Moldova – Natalia Gordienko – Sugar

Natalia has a severely panting voice in the first verse. This makes her on the edge for several notes, and she misses one big one (on the low side). During the choruses, prerecorded backing vocals carry the song. The dance routine looks slick and for a minute, one could think that we are dealing with a very professional performer here. However, the second verse arrives and Natalia struggles with the lower ranks once again. No big mistakes this time, but definitely keeping a juror on the edge of their seat, afraid Natalia could fall off any moment. The bridge sounds more confident, including the difficult high note all the way at the end. Could this provide some compensation?

Much has been said about the sexual nature of the song “Sugar”. Generally speaking, this is a big red flag for juries. Moldova has tried to keep the performance modest, in an attempt not to scare off female jurors. That has succeeded, however, Natalia’s panting voice could highlight the lyrics once again.

21:32 – Poland – RAFAŁ – The Ride

Rafał gets through the first verse without being off-key, but do not ask how. He’s shaky in both vocals and performance, looking particularly uncomfortable when holding the camera. After the first chorus, he shouts into the audience, ticking another red box for juries. Three missed notes in the second verse as Rafał walks the catwalk. Another shout into the audience before the second chorus. The high line “it doesn’t matter” comes out relatively okay tonight. After the bridge, things start to go south for Rafał, who skips one big note and then cuts another one short. It becomes painfully clear that his backing vocalists have to carry him, to avoid bigger mistakes.

Rafał participated in The Voice Poland in 2011. The song, while definitely not offensive, features a disco instrumentation that does not always play well with juries. On top of that, the song is extremely flat, making every vocal error count extra because the song is not difficult to sing at all.

21:28 – Austria – Vincent Bueno – Amen

A couple of sliders for Vincent Bueno in the first verse. No big mistakes, but an uncomfortable start. The chorus has always been easier on his voice than the lower ranks in the verses. He shows off in these choruses with extra-long higher notes. In the second verse, Vincent gives a bit of extra energy, however he still misses one note low.

Vincent Bueno won Musical! Die Show in Austria in 2008. The staging of this performance is very classy and simple, without visual gimmicks. This makes it easy for a jury member to relate to it. The final minute of the song is without any vocal mistakes and with the addition of a few solid ad-libs. Strong finish.

The composition of the song is solid, and very inoffensive. However, there is also a large amount of repetition notes, making the song relatively easy to sing. This decreased level of difficulty is something juries generally pick up on.

21:24 – Greece – Stefania – Last Dance

First verse vocally solid, a couple of notes came out weaker than intended but still definitely on-key. It is the chorus where Stefania can truly belt out the notes with more confidence. Here the choreography also comes into play, and she looks very comfortable there. I will gladly call “Mans-factor” for this one, Stefania shows a lot professionalism.

Stefania did not only participate in Junior Eurovision, she was also eliminated in the battle round of the Voice Kids Netherlands in 2013. Combine this with her young age, and we have got a potential jury darling on stage.

Second verse, Stefania misses a note low at the sentence “signs of life tonight”. The high notes in the chorus come out great though. After a slightly shaky bridge, she finishes off with a very strong last high note. Well done.

21:19 – Czech Republic – Benny Cristo – Omaga

Benny misses one note in the first verse and then skips another one at the end of the verse. Second verse is fine, but the final sentence of the chorus it becomes very visible that Benny is leaving all the work up to prerecorded backing vocals. He also misses a couple of camera shots, making him look slightly unprofessional on the stage. Benny skips another note in the bridge, seemingly out of breath.

Benny Cristo was a finalist on Česko Slovenská SuperStar in 2009. Will this talent show experience help him with Eurovision juries as well? The title of the song can, by certain jurors, be perceived as swearing and therefore as offensive. Although Benny is clearly more energetic than during previous rehearsals, the performance still looks a bit laconic. Jury’s could get annoyed by this one.

21:15 – Estonia – Uku Suviste – The Lucky One

Uku is constantly at the edge in the first verse, but manages to get through it without missing one of the lower notes. In the pre-chorus, we hear backing vocals more than live vocals. Then the chorus comes, and the two high notes are a bit shrill. Other than that, Uku holds on, until the final “I should be gone”, where he is really off-key for the first time. Second verse better than the first one.

Uku may not be an amazing singer, but the middle-of-the-road song is suitable for juries. Also, his talent show background could help him a notch: He finished in 3rd place in Estonian singing competition Kaks Takti Ette in 2005, took part in Russia’s largest song contest “New Wave” in 2010, and competed in The Voice Russia in 2018.

21:11 – San Marino – Senhit & Flo Rida – Adrenalina

Senhit does not have the attitude of an extremely professional performer, however, this week she has always displayed solid vocals. She is again strong today during the first verse. After that verse, she shouts into the audience – a well known red flag. The second verse and chorus are solid, too, and then the big guy comes on stage. Flo Rida is a stage presence, a seasoned and experienced performer. He brings a touch of quality to the act, and on top of that, you can see he has a great chemistry with Senhit.

Between the headpiece, the prop and the clothing there is a lot going on on stage. Some jurors could perceive this as a gimmick. As for the genre: juries have not been in love with ethnopop, however this song has some reggaetón influences as well, which is a genre less with few precedent at Eurovision.

21:02 – Borderline ballads

The rehearsal has started. Tonight is particularly important for countries like Portugal and Austria, considered to be borderline qualifiers. They need jury support tonight.

20:55 – Almost go-time!

We are 5 minutes away from the start of that always important Jury Show. Join us!

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!

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