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Kyiv Blog Day 13, Part 2: Dress Rehearsal for Grand Final report

Words by Hass Yusuf, images by David Ransted.

It’s Friday afternoon and it’s time for the first Dress Rehearsal for the Grand Final. David Ransted is in the arena taking final photos for this website and Vision magazine.  You can read all about our endeavours in the next edition of Vision out in July.

And here they come. All the finalists are being introduced one by one on stage. Salvador is wearing a ‘SOS The Refugees’ sweatshirt. He deserves to win the contest just for that statement! Lucie looks fab in gold. Not everyone has bothered to glam up. The ape has shed his skin to reveal a human!

Oh dear, it’s the three presenters, or rather the Three Stooges. They are so…. er, … say no more. Hopefully they’ll improve by tomorrow night. What a hilarious bunch they are. Who wrote this script? Embarrassing or what? Anyway, there now seems to be some problem. Please don’t go through that awful routine again. Is it too late to get Petra Mede back?

Hurrah, the first act is about to begin.

1. Israel: IMRI sings I Feel Alive
This is a good act to begin the show – it’s an up-tempo dance number that sets the tone well for the night with IMRI setting the benchmark. He’s an engaging performer and his backing dancers and singers do the job. This should grab the attention of viewers.

2. Poland: Kasia Mos sings Flashlight
The dreaded number two slot. Kasia is a fab singer and delivers this ballad rather nicely. She’s wearing an unusual white outfit revealing lots of thigh. She joined on stage by her violinist – obviously trying to set the tone of the song. A decent effort.

3. Belarus: Naviband sing Story Of My Life
Time for a favourite. I loved this song as soon as I head it months ago. The duo are so engaging with great chemistry. And how nice to hear Belorussian sung on stage! They’re performing in their static speed boat both dressed in white. There’s so much great energy in this act. Top Five contender? Definitely. It raised the roof at the semi-final last night.

4. Austria: Nathan Trent sings Running On Air
I didn’t rate this act before coming to Kyiv, but I was captured by Nathan’s performance and charm. His friendly smile sets the tone of the performance. Just a nice and gentle song that deserves to do well.

5. Armenia: Artsvik sings Fly With Me
This is one of the more impressive acts. No gimmicks here – just a great sound, with wow graphics and dancers who know what they’re doing. The ethnic overtones are a real bonus.

6. Netherlands: OG3NE sing Lights And Shadows
An act that offers a lot of personal sentiments. It’s good to have an ‘old-fashioned’ song in the contest. Girl groups don’t tend to do well at Eurovision, but these sisters, all dressed in glittery black, produce excellent harmonies. This mid-tempo might have been a surprise winner from their semi, but they’re an asset to the show.

7. Moldova: Sunstroke Project sing Hey Mamma
Stick the kettle on! Sorry, this is just noise to me, but it’s going to down well on TV, because despite my prejudices, it is a fun sound and act. Please finish soon.

8. Hungary: Joci Papai sings Origo
Ah, this is more like it. A serious act sung in Hungarian for once. Joci knows his stuff, as does his dancer. Shame about the rap. However, it’s great to see an ethnic act in the show. Hungary seem to do no wrong these days.

9. Italy: Francesco Gabbani sings Occidentali’s Karma
I’ve been waiting for Italy to win ever since they came back into the contest (just want to visit there!).They were robbed a few years back when they won the public vote, but not the contest. This upbeat song with its interesting message just hits the rights buttons. It’s got everything going for it. Great song, great singer, great graphics and a gorilla. Perfect.

10. Denmark: Anja sings Where I Am
Lovely girl, but please – how did this get through at the expense of far superior songs? (Personal thought of course.) Still, I’m very happy for her. Maybe after the show she can afford another dress. She’s been wearing that one for months. But regardless of that, with Anja it’s all about the voice, and she certainly has one. A great passionate performance (despite the song). Well done her!

11. Portugal: Salvador Sobral sings Amar Pelos Dois
Could this be Portugal’s year? I would love it to be. It’s such a beautiful gentle sound. This is all about Salvador. He’s pretending to play the harmonica. Was that in the act? He just exudes charm and character, Simply superb. Italy will have many chances in the future to win the contest, but this is Portugal’s big hope. So come on Europe, send us to Lisbon next year!

12. Azerbaijan: Dihaj sings Skeletons
Another great effort from the country. This is probably the most surreal act of the contest. A closed set with a ladder and a man in a horse’s head. It’s definitely one the best sounds in the contest, but Dihaj doesn’t look like a person you would like to mess with. Still, a really fab sound.

13. Croatia: Jacques Houdek (and Jacques Houdek) sings My Friend
So glad this got through to the Grand Final. It’s such a great act that just makes you smile. With a turn of the head, Jacques goes from pop to Italian opera. It’s pure Eurovision! And let’s hear it for the fuller figure. I could listen to him sing with these different song genres all day! Of course it’s a rather camp act, but what the heck – it’s fab.

14. Australia: Isaiah sings Don’t Come Easy
Time for a serious act full of teenage angst which ain’t easy y’know. He’s walking on a giant turntable which looks like a lot of fun. He’s got a great voice and knows how to deliver the emotion of the song perfectly. And what bloke isn’t jealous of all that hair?

It’s time for an interval from the Three Stooges – on stage and Green Room. Their talking about a new Eurovision contest – this time for choirs. Of dear – it’s that old “They’ve seemed to have left their wives at home joke” talking about fans in the front rows.

15. Greece: Demy sings This Is Love
But the Greek act doesn’t hep with their camp act of two half-naked male dancers having slish-slash in a paddling pool. If they get any more water on Demy, we’ll have our first wet-T-Shirt contest in Eurovision!  This, however is a fun up-tempo song that should get you all dancing. Not Greek in style though – there’s nothing ethnic about his song. But it’s great fun, and Demy is gorgeous!

16. Spain: Manel Navarro sings Do It For Your Lover
And talking about gorgeous here’s Manel! Just joking of course, but he did say he looked on stage. This is actually a fun summer act that should appeal to the young. It does offer a different sound to the contest, which is never a bad thing. But it is rather repetitive. Oh c’mon then – let’s clap our hands and do it for our lovers. And if you haven’t got a lover there’s always the internet.

17. Norway: JOWST sings Grab The Moment
Well the lads on stage certainly are grabbing the moment. I thought Europe wouldn’t actually appreciate the mix of genres of this song – but it’s great to see this rather modern sound in the Grand Final. There’s a rational reason for the mask worn by JOWST, but read about it in Vision.

Oh, the Three Stooges are back again. But fret not – her’s a video featuring Mans from last year. There far too much male testosterone here. But finally a fun segment – but we were spoilt by Verka at the semis. Who, by the way is back with his mum in this show.

18. United Kingdom: Lucie Jones sing Never Give Up On You
As feared, we’re on after this segment/ad break – the giant mirror chard prop needs a lot of time to install rather than the 40 seconds allowed. Fingers crossed that everyone will have made their cup or had their wee quickly! It will be worth hurrying up as her performance, as usual, was top-notch. Keep your emotions together boys and girls. Lucie has the best voice delivery so far in the contest . There’s lots of clapping in the press hall. Fingers crossed! She nailed it.

19. Cyprus: Hovig sings Gravity
Here’s a fun act, which probably won’t get too far on the night. But Hovig and his dancers perform well enough and try to tell the story of the song through various movements. It’s all about ankles.

20. Romania: Ilinca feat. Alex Florea sing Yodel It!
My guilty pleasure. Yodeling and rap – who would’ve thought it? But this is Eurovision so we should expect the unexpected. This is such an uplifting act you won’t be able to stop you smiling.  Shame the cannons don’t actually go off!

21. Germany: Levina sings Perfect Life
This up-tempo number should stop the country achieving the triple nil points award three years in a row. It’s far too good to come last. Levina is a really charring performer and the act is a vision in sliver and white. Who needs colour TV? Levina, like Lucie, is also performing barefoot. It’s a decent modern sound.

22. Ukraine: O.Torvals sing Time
Time for a big cheer – and pun intended – it’s the host nation. At last we have a rock song in the Grand Final – and most welcome it is. They have a great stage act full of energy and fab lighting effects. This is going to well for the host nation – for more reasons than just the song.

23. Belgium: Blanche sings City Lights
One of my favourite songs in this years contest. I had my fears after the very first rehearsal, where everything seemed like a car-crash, from her performance and outfit. But finally Blanche gets it right. Her venerable voice sets the mood of the act. Perhaps too bright for the subject matter, but overall quite fab,

The Three Stooges are back. Never mind. Mind you, it was short and sweet. That segment was there to give the prop guys enough time to assemble there five treadmills.

24. Sweden: Robin Bengtsson sings I Can’t Go On
What needs to be said? Robin and his crew perform expertly on their treadmills. Slick, slick, stick, it just makes you sick. As much as Sweden has produced some great shows, it would be nice for the contest to head south. But let’s not take anything away from this act – top marks for everything!

25. Bulgaria: Kristian Kostov sings Beautiful Mess
And after that kinetic performance we have one with electric energy! Young Kristin is highly regarded and it’s easy to see why. He has Russian connections, so all the Russian diaspora will no doubt vote for him.

26. France: Alma sings Requiem
This is a great act to end the show. It’s one of the best songs in the contest and really shows off the scale of the stage. Any song sung in French is a bonus, and Alma does it beautifully.

And there you have it! So who will win? It appears it’s Italy’s too lose. Portugal do have a great chance. Everyone is raving about Bulgaria – and you can never discount Sweden! Ukraine will probably do well, because its anti-Russian neighbours will give top marks for the host nation standing up against them! Poland, looking at last year’s result, should also be in the mix. Could Belarus or Romania pull off a surprise? We shall find out on Saturday night!

Good luck to the winner – and please vote!



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