A Look at the First Rehearsals of the Final

United Kingdom
Just let Engelbert be Engelbert. Why have the dancers during “Love Will Set You Free?” They don’t really add much. It’s a blow to the UK that they drew the first slot, especially with a moody ballad. But Engelbert generally sounds good (although he went a little out of control at the end of this clip), and if his fan base is a strong as the BBC says it is, he should end up doing decently.

France
Echo (You And I)” is still one of my favorite songs from this year’s competition, but for some reason, it hasn’t developed any buzz. Anggun lipsynching during all her appearances during the national final season may have hurt her, but she sounds great live. The staging is a little odd, with good bits (some cool choreo moves) and bad bits (the train throughout most of the song until the end when the wind machine kicks in).  I don’t think the staging is good enough to overcome performing ninth, but I’m still hopeful Anggun can make a good showing when the leaderboard is finalized.

Italy
Is it me or does Nina Zilli look really bored with “L’Amore È Femmina?” I know it’s just the first rehearsal and it was strictly for blocking purposes, so I might be reading too much into it. But I’m bored with the song, and I’m not even singing it. Expectations seem to be high for this one (second in the odds behind Sweden as of this posting), but I have a feeling it’s going to be a bit of a flop in the end.

Azerbaijan
I cannot offer objective analysis of “When the Music Dies” because I really, really, really, really hate it. Flames on the side of my face, heaving. The lighting on Sabina Babayeva’s feather dress gives a sort of fire affect that I like, and she sounded fine singing during rehearsal. But I just hate this song in a not entirely rational way and want it to go away.

Spain
Pastora Soler sounds good singing “Quédate Conmigo,” avoiding the shoutiness that bugged me during the national final. A good draw and a type of song that juries eat up may bode well for Spain, which is a phrase I don’t think I’ve ever uttered in the past six years.

Germany
Jen sort of ruined “Standing Still” for me when she described it as being very “Notting Hill soundtrack,” which for me is the worst soundtrack to a good movie ever. But it’s still a good song, and Roman Lob is a good singer with a lot of charisma. Here you have a contemporary-sounding artist singing a contemporary-sounding song in a contemporary-looking way, which may not offer a lot to kitsch-freaks and schlager fans, but certainly has served Germany well in recent past. A good draw and a good performance could mean good things in a Top-10-finish sort of way, but I don’t think this is a winner.