The two semi-finals are approaching. Today, the last 11 acts competing in the semi-finals took the stage in Turin for their last regular rehearsal. Who has what it takes to qualify for the final? Let’s digg into today’s rehearsals.
The past two days, we have seen all 17 participants in semi-final 1, and the first 7 in semi-final 2, fine tune their performances. They now have to be ready for the dress rehearsals starting Monday afternoon.
Now, they are followed by the last 11 acts in the second semi-final. As always, the first set of rehearsals earlier this week were closed to press and fans. Only a few seconds from each were released on Tik-Tok. With the second rehearsal today, the curtain was lifted, and we as press were invited to watch it all.
Below you can read our impressions from the rehearsals from Australia, Cyprus, Ireland, North Macedonia, Estonia, Romania, Poland, Montenegro, Belgium, Sweden and Czech Republic.
- 1 Australia: Sheldon Riley – Not The Same
- 2 Cyprus: Andromache – Ela
- 3 Ireland: Brooke – That’s Rich
- 4 North Macedonia: Andrea – Circles
- 5 Estonia: Stefan – Hope
- 6 Romania: WRS – Llámame
- 7 Poland: Ochman – River
- 8 Montenegro: Vladana – Breathe
- 9 Belgium: Jérémie Makiese – Miss You
- 10 Sweden: Cornelia Jakobs – Hold Me Closer
- 11 Czech Republic: We Are Domi – Lights Off
Thr article is being updated after each rehearsal.
Australia: Sheldon Riley – Not The Same
🇩🇰 Charlotte: The very dramatic and theatrical setting fits this song. Sheldon sings it well and it’s a rather good performance. A part with flashing lights however last too long, in my opinion. There’s a lot going for this song, but there’s one big hurdle for this to qualify for the final: It requires that the TV viewers really feel Sheldon on the night. In today’s run-throughs, I didn’t do that every time. But when I do, damn this is a sure qualifier. I would probably change the shot though where the cameraman is seen running around 😉
🇬🇷 🇬🇧 Theo: Quite imposing both visually and in terms of Sheldon Riley’s impressive vocal ability. The performance starts with the singer at the bottom of two large L-shaped stairs forming a diamond-shaped arrangement. The stage is otherwise sub-lit but for white spotlights, complimenting the outfit. This consists of a white jacket and a long flared overskirt. The most characteristic item of the outfit is the headwear piece however: a tiara ending in Sheldon’s trademark sparkly face cover. Later in the performance, when at the top of the staircase arrangement, the piece comes off to reveal the singer’s face. On occasion, Ridley had to fix his hair after taking the headwear off, which took away from the lyricism of the performance. I think that the overall visual result works really well for the song and its poignant message.
🇨🇿 Josef: Sheldon Riley just proves he’s a damn good singer and performer. And he doesn’t need anything special to deliver a good Eurovision performance. Only his voice, few lights and a little bit of a high couture costume with some added fur skirt around. And the idea of joined stairs looks pretty good on stage. I expect this to be one of the strongest vocal performances in the second semifinal.
Cyprus: Andromache – Ela
🇩🇰 Charlotte: I am not sure what to think about this. It’s not a song that appeal to me, so already there I am challenged. But looking aside that, I can tell that’s it a rather good solid performance with a visually fantastic staging. Today, she struggles a bit with her voice though. Honestly, I am not sure this will do well. I can see this finish 11th or 12th in the semi-final, but of course, I can be completely wrong too if she is much stronger vocally in the live show.
🇬🇷 🇬🇧 Theo: I find the opening shot is really beautiful. The stage is sub-lit (again) in hues of blue. The water feature is used for the camera frame and, at the back, we can see Andromache in front of what looks like an abstract take on seashell. The references to ancient Greek goddess Aphrodite is therefore evident (water foam and seashells being some of her symbols), which is appropriate for Cyprus, Aphrodite’s island. Andromache, cast as Aphrodite herself it would seem, is soon joined by two female dancers. The stage lighting is later complementing by warm orange hues. The vocals were a bit wobbly for the first run. I was wondering whether it was related to Andromache’s earpiece feed at the time. After all, there had seemed to be a problem with Australia, too, earlier – it had looked as Sheldon had tried to remove his. My suspicions were confirmed when, right at the beginning of the third run, the singer had to stop her performance explaining that there was a problem with the sound in her earpiece indeed. The forth run was not any luckier – this time, it sounded as if there was a sound problem audible to everyone. Let’s hope that technical issues will be sorted out.
🇨🇿 Josef: Cyprus has maybe one of the visually most interesting stagings this year, because they were not relying on the kinetic sun, but brought their own shell on which they made some projections. It look really, really good, in combination with blue colour and waterfall camera shots in the begining and then orange colour which may looks a little bit like when there is a sunrise. Vocally Andromache is good, but not perfect, in some parts during her first run today, she was slightly out of tune. Nothing that can’t be fixed until next week of course. This will not aim only to the final, but maybe even high in the final scoreboard.
Ireland: Brooke – That’s Rich
🇩🇰 Charlotte: I was hoping that I could start by writing that it wasn’t as bad as I feared, but unfortunately, it was. I get what they are trying, but it’s not working. With this staging and these colours, it never grows out of being entertainment to a highschool or college event, although the pyros added to it, does provide a little extra. As much as I would like to see Ireland in the final again, unfortunately, I will be surprised if it will happen this year. But Brooke is cute, and she is solid vocally through all run-throughs today.
🇬🇷 🇬🇧 Theo: Cheerful and lively. Pink and light blue are the colours. Brooke’s short dress and thigh-high boots are light blue, too. The opening shot is of the singer and her dancers lying on their backs and arranged around the periphery of a heart shown on the stage floor – it looks good. The heart motif is repeated on the backdrop later on. Not the most original of choreographies after that but it’s still fun, it works. I would personally have liked to see Brooke smile more to the camera, or, in any case, come across as more cheerful herself (she does have to take the ‘that’s rich’ complaint too seriously as far as I am concerned). She comes across as really spirited and bubbly during interviews and I would like to see more of this onstage – hurrah, I think we saw a bit more of that for the last run.
🇨🇿 Josef: Brooke has nice blue dress which fits the purple-pink colours on the stage, the heart on the LED floor and all looks good together. I just think that it is not good enough to get Ireland to the final.
🇬🇧 🇦🇺 William: If there is one thing you cannot deny is that Brooke has a lot of confidence. Yet the confidence is well placed and used in this performance. Starting by lying on the floor, surrounded by four backing dancers, she brings this contemporary pop song to live with her assure looks to camera and cheeky personality throughout. This has been a sleeper of a song all season, yet if anyone from Ireland over the last 10 years deserves to qualify, it is Brooke.
North Macedonia: Andrea – Circles
🇩🇰 Charlotte: Oh wow. Right from the beginning, I am captured in, and Andrea keeps my attention locked throughout the song. This is way better than I expected. It’s simple, yet powerful. There’s the usual camerawork, I am not impressed about, but that’s an issue many countries have. Circles is probably not a topcontender, but this performance should be enough to bring North Macedonia into the final, and I will be happy about that. This is the best today so far.
🇬🇷 🇬🇧 Theo: Once more, I like the opening shot. Dark stage but for two spotlights on Andrea and the water feature lit in blue at the front. There are circular graphics on the dance floor – at some point resembling a crown of thorns was my impression. Not sure whether it was Andrea singing with conviction the sombre lyrics of the song or whether she was dissatisfied for some reason (the technical issues today spring to mind again but it may not have been that). I would have liked to see a bit more interest added presentation-wise. It is not that it’s bad, it’s just not characteristic enough for me. The concept for the stage graphics and lighting feels a bit loose and I caught my mind wandering off at some point, I’m afraid. I would have preferred a firmer concept presentation-wise and a more relaxed performance from Andrea herself (you don’t have to be tense to be poignant, I think).
🇨🇿 Josef: Brooke and Andrea both won their national finals the same night, they are still tied together even now at Eurovision performing one after the other. And both don’t belong to the big favourites to qualify from their semifinal. But out of these two and staging wise, I think that Andrea may end up higher than Brooke. Her song is more modern (compared to the retro style fo Brooke) and the staging is better than I expected. Good luck, North Macedonia! 👍
🇬🇧 🇦🇺 William: Andrea is in good voice today, and has delivered strong performances on all three of her run throughs. She is alone on stage in a oversized black jacket and trousers, at one point in the song the LED floor seems to break away into a whirling vortex, while on two screens either side of her on the B-stage, there are images of what look like hand/footprints. This is a personal favourite of mine, and while I enjoy it, I’m not confident of it’s qualification chances.
Estonia: Stefan – Hope
🇩🇰 Charlotte: I don’t know if it was intended or not, but it appears like the cameraman is drunk for this one. It’s so bad that I tend to believe, it has to be delibrately. In that case, I have no idea what they are thinking. I get the performance, the staging, but NOT the camerawork. If the camera can’t even phrame Stefan’s jump right, it’s not good in my eyes. This song has the potential to be so much more. It can take us all on a horseride in the American dessert with a beautiful sunset and the charming Stefan, or it can leave us unfulfilled. This song will clearly look different with an audience, but will it be enough to qualify? I would love to see that, but it’s impossible to predict based on this.
🇬🇷 🇬🇧 Theo: I like the Estonian song, I like Stefan’s voice and I’d like the entry to do well. The choice for the backdrop – bright orange sun, dry landscape, blue sky and use of the water feature – has an essence of the Grand Canyon about it and, thus, suits the very American sound of the song . A grainy effect on the screen provides a further nod to a Western film conceptually. Having said that, there are issues here. The vocals – especially the very low notes – need improvement. The singing is not helped by the fact that Stefan often has to run on the walkway and across the stage (the performance starts and finishes on the walkway). More than once, he complains about how slippery the floor is after rehearsal runs. Insecurity relating to such technical issues might explain why, all in all, Stefan never really looks in command of the stage. The performance has not come together yet for me, I hope that things improve.
🇨🇿 Josef: Estonia had the biggest work with the camera angles so they had to include multiple times wide shots so the LED background is visible more, because there we can see the western landscape which is crucial for Stefan’s performance. He starts in the front stage, during the song runs to the main stage, just to be back for the ending in the front stage again. Vocally he is perfect as always, so after these 2nd rehearsals, I think we can be calm as I believe that Estonia is a sure qualifier.
🇬🇧 🇦🇺 William: Very much in the vein of their 2019 entry by Victor Crone, Stefan is a good performer and for the most part the vocals are good. He starts on the B-stage playing guitar, before making his way to the main stage by running part of the way. This is where it starts to get shaky vocally, and at times it’s hard to hear the lyrics. Once he’s static again, it’s better. There are a lot of cuts to the audience and the camera seems to linger in areas, even when Stefan is out of the picture, so there may be effects still to come. For now, it’s not a definite qualifier, but it’s a decent effort.
Romania: WRS – Llámame
🇩🇰 Charlotte: I quite like this, in fact after three run-throughs today, I think I love it. It’s well performed with four dancers, and instead of them just being background, he interacts with them. I really like that. Camerawork here is much better than what we just saw on Estonia. The colours fits the song, and all in all, this is a well delivered package. I would like to see Romania qualifying for the final, and it’s not impossible with this one.
🇬🇷 🇬🇧 Theo: The presentation starts with shots of Wrs’ near-topless male dancers. When we get a wider camera frame, we can see that the artist is also joined by two female dancers. The stage is lit in reds and oranges, reflected for the stage’s shimmering ‘sun.’ Wrs is in what appear to be vinyl trousers and, to start with, a red poet shirt. This is later discarded to reveal a black top with sequin embroidery. Lace-type motifs are shown on the stage floor. The intricate choreography – one-to-one Latin lines with both a female and a male dancer for Wrs at some point – is carried out with ease. The singing is also relaxed – you forget that the artist is dancing at the same time as there is no detectable strain his voice. Not the most contemporary-looking of entries in the end, but a welcome addition to this year’s Eurovision. I find it very pleasant.
🇨🇿 Josef: Romania brings a very sensual latino performance, with WRS, two male dancers and two female dancers as well. WRS wears a red flamenco shirt and black trousers, it’s all about dance and the red colour. In the dance break, WRS dances with one of the female dancers while she pushes him to one of the male dancers so both men are dancing together for a while. In the last part, dancers rip the shirt from WRS and he finishes only in the black top instead of that shirt. I am glad they managed to work with the camera angles so the “Hola mi bebebe” signs are visible on the sides, behind the kinetic sun.
Poland: Ochman – River
🇩🇰 Charlotte: I hadn’t heard this song before, only that a lot of people spoke so positively about it. My expectations therefore were high. Ochman lived up to them. I guess this is what you get if you combine Arcade (Netherlands 2019) with Beautiful Mess (Bulgaria 2017). It’s visually great, he is a strong performer – and this package is a top contender. I am not sure, it’s the winner, but it should be a Top 5 result for Poland. Best from both semi-finals so far!
🇬🇷 🇬🇧 Theo: I like the concept staging-wise. I find the opening, in particular, quite impressive. There is a convincing impression of rain and full use of the water present as part of the set to this end. The otherwise dark stage is lit in blue to quite a moody effect and complete with large pre-recorded close-ups of the singer himself. Later on, there are impressions of lightning as an intentionally shaky panoramic shot adds to the drama. I am less certain about the dancers, resembling river-creatures I guess in their rug-like costumes, but they probably add movement around Ochman and contrast to his sharp tailored suit. The singer does deliver the difficult phrases of the song, though not without evident strain, I am afraid (save voice, Ochman). His performance comes across as a tiny bit pompous to me, too. I would have preferred it if he was a bit more relaxed personally. In many respects, this an ambitious performance. I hope it all comes nicely together for the second semi-final.
🇨🇿 Josef: Poland is just great and also aiming for their best result in years. Ochman is a top class singer and his vocals are flawless, I mean, there is not a single hiccup in his singing, that’s just amazing. I love how they uses sound effects of rain falling down as well as on camera effects of water running on the glass down the screen, when Ochman is in the middle of the TV screen. Once they also used virtual lightnings as well as some screen shaking, which looks pretty dramatic. And those four dementor-like dancers are really haunting. This is simply a perfect Eurovision performance. I predict TOP 5 result for Poland this year.
Montenegro: Vladana – Breathe
🇩🇰 Charlotte: It’s tough to follow after Poland. Vladana does do her best, I am sure. Vocally, it sounds good, visually it’s quite good too, even she looks like a peacock, but I am sorry, I am still thinking about the impact Poland left with me, and we even had a few minutes between the rehearsals. Unless there’s a commercial break just here, Montenegro could suffer. It is good, but just not near the standard we just saw.
🇬🇷 🇬🇧 Theo: What I had initially taken to be the ‘sun’ feature in shimmering white actually turns out to be part of Vladana’s costume, which is the main presentational prop, I guess. The singer is also wearing a beautiful blue gown and sports face jewels, reflecting her sequin bustier. Similar to Poland in terms of darkness, blue lighting and water for the stage and projections of faces on the backdrop (though, in this case, not of the artist herself and complemented by full body figures). Back-to-back ballads, too, which might not be a favourable running order. The singer misses here camera slightly for some dramatic left and right turns of her head but, all in all, the presentation comes together fairly well, I think.
🇨🇿 Josef: Montenegro surprises with a big change in the dress for Vladana. She still has her blue dress we saw on the photos from her first rehearsal, but she added a round thing to her back so she looks almost like an egyptian queen. Her vocals are flawless when she doesn’t get too emotional in the refrain and what is a big surprise is that part of her song is in italian (as she did the full italian cover of her song as well as italian with orchestra). She stands all the time in the front B-stage so the wider camera shots can include sides of LED background with some projections.
Belgium: Jérémie Makiese – Miss You
🇩🇰 Charlotte: Jérémie has an interesting and quite unique voice. He has the potential to sing much stronger songs than this one. It’s not a bad song, it just doesn’t stand out, which is a shame with his potential. Visusually, it works quite well with him and his four male dancers. I can’t help but think about Daniel Kajmakoski and his Autumn Leaves from 2015, when seeing Jérémie with his dancers. Unfortunately, that didn’t qualify for the final, and I am afraid Belgium 2022 won’t either.
🇬🇷 🇬🇧 Theo: A cool performance. I like the balance with which everything comes together. Good singing, nicely executed choreography that supports the vocal performance without distracting from Jérémie Makiese who, in his silvery jacket, comfortably stands out from his dancers and their black suits. Blue then golden hues for the lighting, which, in time for the final high note, floods the stage having turned into white. The third time in a row that we get impressions of faces being shown on the backdrop either side of the stage. There was yet another technical hiccup during the rehearsal. The artist had to stop one of the runs explaining that he could hear someone speaking in his earphone, which did not let him concentrate on his singing. Nevertheless, Jérémie remains expressive without being tense, which is welcome.
🇨🇿 Josef: I can (again) imagine this song being a title song to one of the Bond movies, which is somehow almost a tradition when it comes to Belgium. Jérémie Makiese is a good performer and knows how to use his voice, well he should, when he won The Voice of Belgium. The staging looks very glittery, while Jérémie wears silver, the colours of lights are oragne/red so it somehow doesn’t bland into one together with him nor his dancers. This second half of second semifinal is really stacked with such a good performances and we still have two good ones to come.
Sweden: Cornelia Jakobs – Hold Me Closer
🇩🇰 Charlotte: Just like many of the rehearsals today, Sweden also suffers from technical problems. Very few of the ones for today have been unaffected. Cornelia Jakobs looked like she more or less just wanted to laugh at it, and go on to next week instead. She is strong vocally – and you can always count on Sweden to deliver a visually great performance. This is so well produced, typical Swedish, that one might even add that they didn’t actually need this rehearsal – they will still nail it in the live show. This will be fine come Thursday night, and Saturday too as of course this will qualify, and get a good result in the final.
🇬🇷 🇬🇧 Theo: First things first, Hold Me Closer is my favourite track in this year’s Eurovision compilation album. Having taken this out of the way, let me say that I was curious to see whether today’s runs would be an improvement on the Melodifestivalen performances, which, despite giving Cornelia the ticket to Turin, I thought could have been better staging-wise. Right from the beginning today, there were problems with the singer’s microphone and the first run had to stop just a few seconds in. The second run goes on for a bit longer but technical issues put a stop to it as well. The large disc behind Cornelia remains the trademark of the presentation. It starts in green, then turns into red. Both the use of block primary colours, the sudden change and the play with the disc shape itself reminds me of Miley Cyrus’ 2020 MTV Video Music Awards performance for Midnight Sky – not executed in exactly the same way, yet it does. Also, what are the chances of using a disc for the background for MF and then realize that the Eurovision stage itself will be using a ‘sun’ disc as its focal point, right? Isn’t that a coincidence. Like at MF, Cornelia starts her performance on the floor. She sings and moves confidently to a routine she knows well by now – a tiny bit of coarseness here and there perhaps vocally. Somehow, there is still something missing for me visually. Not sure whether it looks like a winner. Not yet anyway (I would be very happy if it did). By the way, what would have been the last run had also to stop and be repeated (did I see correctly? was it the cameramen stepping on her microphone cable?)
🇨🇿 Josef: Sweden just does what they do every year – they try to take their Melodifestivalen performance and just adjust it a little bit so it fits the bigger Eurovision stage. And that’s also the case of Cornelia Jakobs and her song Hold Me Closer. I like that they kept the projection field behind Cornelia and they can do colours there, they kept the red and green. In the end we also see some fireworks to be used, like a cherry on top of a cake.
Czech Republic: We Are Domi – Lights Off
🇩🇰 Charlotte: First of all, visually this is really strong. I do like the song too, but I am missing some vocal power from the leadsinger. This could be so much more with a stronger vocalist. It’s becomming difficult to predict the outcome in this semi-final, but unfortunately I don’t think Czech Republic will make it to the final. Visually, they would have deserved it, but that’s not enough.
🇬🇷 🇬🇧 Theo: This is another song I like this year. The performance itself is also very fresh and pleasant.Simple, sub-lit stage with piercing white spotlights, the only splash of colour coming from the electrical equipment onstage for the first few seconds. The guitarist and keyboardist perform to the back and on either side of Dominika. She looks cool onstage and her vocal performance is good, save for the occasional tiny vocal hiccup perhaps (nothing serious). There is also classical statuary shown on the backdrop and stage floor. Only this is invariably mistreated: vandalized, painted purple, set in chains, exploded even at some point. And that’s because We Are Domi are sworn revisionists. And too cool for school. And edgy. Get it? Are you sure? Right…
🇨🇿 Josef: We Are Domi with their electro pop banger Lights Off couldn’t be better closing act for the second semifinal. The lights drop in the middle is exactly the same as everyone expected. From the first rehearsals there was an addition of purple jewellery to Dominika so she looks much better. And it is one big party at the end. Especially with all those flashing lights.