I’ve watched the rehearsal footage of the first semi-final acts, and a top tip is if you want to play a drinking game and get drunk, have a shot every time a white outfit, wind machine and cape turn up in a performance. If all three occur at the same time, have double shots. Here are my opinions on the performances.
1. Sweden – I love this song, I’ve championed it from the start and it’s still in my top 5. I’m disappointed though that two of the original backing dancers/singers have been switched with replacements, I’m not sure why as I can only find references to it being due to a rule of the contest – presumably not allowing too many handsome men on stage at one time I guess. The routine hasn’t changed for the show, stylish men in suits and trainers dancing on treadmills who wouldn’t look out of place on a Milan cat walk. Is it wrong that I want to join a gym now just to dance on a treadmill? Starting off sober, zero shots.
2. Georgia – I was hoping for a Bon Jovi number when hearing the song was called Keep the Faith, but no, a belter of a song that wouldn’t be out of place in a James Bond film, complete with a Bond Girl singer in a red sparkly figure hugging outfit. She has a red cape and a wind machine. Two shots.
3. Australia – All about the singer here, his image is on the screens behind and it’s just him singing on a giant turntable. He’s wearing a grey coat, which is almost a cape, and his trousers don’t meet ankles. It might be fashionable, he might like to flash his ankles, but it does nothing for me. And even though I applaud him for singing while spinning around on the turntable, part of me, the wicked part, wants the turntable operator to speed it up faster as the song goes on just so he flies off at the end. No shots, but a sip for the cape-like coat.
4. Albania – Love the steampunk graphics on screen for this song. There is a wind machine and the singer is wearing white with silver sparkles, and starts with a veil that flings back into a skirt cape. Allowing three shots here, and that doubles to six!
5. Belgium – Blanche wears a full white ballgown for this, it looks like she’s concealing something. If doves don’t fly out from under there at the end I’ll be disappointed. I’m already disappointed with the vocals, the recorded track sounds much better than the live performance. Plus, she stands still in one spot, I know it’s not a lively song but a bit of oomph or facial expression would be good. One shot for the dress. Bonus gulp from the bottle if doves do indeed fly out from under the dress.
6. Montenegro – Distraught by this performance as it was my favourite to win, based on the recorded track. Shockingly bad vocals live, and his dancing should be phenomenal but my bowels have move movement than this. He seems to be going for if in doubt twirl your fake plait around, I was hoping it would get caught in the lighting rig to liven this performance up. No shots. Although I might have a consolation shot for wasting money betting on this one.
7. Finland – Bucking the trend here as they have gone for black ballgown, and instead of a wind machine have chosen smoke machine. The background graphics put me into a boredom trance. Another performer who doesn’t move from the spot. No shots.
8. Azerbaijan – The strangest staging so far. Singer wears a silky Columbo mac while scrawling on blackboard walls, while a man wearing a horse’s head stands on a step ladder. He takes the horse head off to reveal an Azerbaijan Rylan Clark. Good vocals, good song, but not so good that even though the song is called Skeletons there are no actual skeletons on stage. No shots.
9. Portugal – The singer’s sister has been standing in for him during rehearsals as he has a mystery illness that prevents him being away from healthcare for too long. His sister looks like him though so it’s easy to imagine him on stage (I think Salvador has just dressed as a female and is pretending to be his sister for japes). There is minimal staging, just the singer and the song, again not moving from the spot. No shots.
10. Greece – The singer is wearing a flesh colour dress, there are two topless Greek men dancing around her but not much movement from her and considering it’s an up-tempo track is disappointing. There is a wind machine though. One shot.
11. Poland – Not a memorable song or performance. Singer wears a white dress/weird toga and there is a wind machine. Two shots.
12. Moldova – I love this one, so much fun. The toe tapping ‘get this chewing gum off my shoe’ dance is in there, the running man dance while playing the saxophone is cool, the screen graphics are funky, the backing dancers/singers have dresses that switch from black and white into wedding dresses, and I do love a costume within a costume. One shot.
13. Iceland – Wow. If Iceland’s entry was a superhero she’d be PVA Glue Woman. She’s wearing a white PVC jumpsuit, white latex platforms, white plastic cape, and has her blonde hair scraped back into a no-nonsense ponytail. In the jumpsuit, there is a cut out to showcase her boobs, like a pornographic power ranger. There is a wind machine, but no way is that knocking her off those platforms. Three shots doubled! Six shots.
14. Czech Republic – Well we’ve just had PVA Glue Woman so now bring on Ferrero Roche Woman. This is the worst outfit so far. A metallic bronze foil boiler-suit is not flattering to even beautiful people. Background screen graphics show people dancing slowly in nude underwear, like a beginners swingers party. The most un-erotic thing I’ve seen. No shots.
15. Cyprus – Hovig reminds me of Chico. I like the song, it reminds me of last years’ Russian entry. He wears a black suit, but another ankle avoiding trouser. There are lots of balancing yoga moves in the dance routine which will give me a good workout as I dance along. At one point in rehearsals he lies down to sing, I’m guessing this will correspond with floor graphics. Or he might have just been tired. No shots.
16. Armenia – The screen graphics remind me of a lava lamp, that’s all I have to say about this performance. Oh, and she wears a black trouser suit. No shots
17. Slovenia – Dull staging to match a dull song. He wears a black suit, and the background graphics at one point look like a spaceship is going to beam him up, unfortunately it didn’t. No shots.
18. Latvia – Great staging with a punky neon set. Wind machine and weird fashion. Singer has metallic thigh high boots, which look like the Wonder Woman boots I made when I was seven out of my mum’s kitchen foil. Good song to end the night on. One shot.
Twenty shots, and a sip, in total*.
*This could change on the actual night if wind machines are added to other performances.