50% of the outcome of Semifinal 1 will be decided over the next three hours. Our editors will be tweeting @escXtra from the arena, plus the live blog below from the press room, where we’ll be watching exactly what the jurors see. Access this at www.escXtra.com/live or www.escXtra.com/live/mobile.

 


Peter Dunwoody
May 18, 201510:28 pm

The brief to make Nina look like a “fierce bitch” has definitely worked and she could qualify just based on how she looks. She pulls the vocal out of the bag, and the staging is so effective. A pretty surefire qualifier.


Alec Parkin
May 18, 201510:23 pm

A couple of minor staging changes for Romania. While there have always been spotlit suitcases on-stage, there were previously some lit spaces with no suitcase, which we assumed were symbolic. These have now disappeared, as have the images of childrens’ faces on the stage floor. Some of the white outfits have changed to black, which looks a lot better.


Peter Dunwoody
May 18, 201510:18 pm

Elhaida starts off slightly nervy vocally but pulls it back towards the end and delivers the high note better than she has done all week. HOWEVER, I’m now seriously doubting that the song will have enough impact to qualify. I don’t think the juries will go as crazy for it as they would need to, and it could be overlooked by televoters at the expense of the other “diva” performances.


Alec Parkin
May 18, 201510:16 pm

Anti Social Media from Denmark certainly bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the stage. The boys all look like they’re having a lot of fun.


Alec Parkin
May 18, 201510:08 pm

I have to say, Russia’s entry is my favourite this year, (those that know me won’t exactly be surprised by that!) Polina really gave her all this evening, though. It looks great, it sounds fantastic, and the camera absolutely loves her. 


Peter Dunwoody
May 18, 201510:07 pm

Russia is coming across just as well as it has been all week, although Polina’s vocals haven’t been AS great today. Doesn’t really matter right now of course as it’s easily qualifying. Very loud, warm response in the press centre.


Alec Parkin
May 18, 20159:59 pm

It’s only really when you watch and hear the songs in their order of presentation and in such quick succession, that you appreciate what impact – or not – each has. The Hungarian song is one that suffers – it doesn’t have any individual element that will make it stand-out. Pretty and pleasant, but nothing more.


Peter Dunwoody
May 18, 20159:57 pm

Hungary has trees and globes, for any of you keeping count. It is easily qualifying, but I just cannot get behind it no matter how competently it’s performed.


Peter Dunwoody
May 18, 20159:54 pm

Serbia going big in the arena, Bojana giving 110% in the vocal stakes, it’s much more of a qualifier than I had it down as before today.


Alec Parkin
May 18, 20159:51 pm

Daniel from Macedonia seems to be struggling slightly vocally this evening, He is, however, far more relaxed on-stage and the dancing is fluid and not over-thought so it all looks better.


Peter Dunwoody
May 18, 20159:48 pm

Macedonia have done the staging as well as they can, and Daniel is looking a lot more relaxed now, but I just don’t think it’s quite enough to save quite a boring song.


Peter Dunwoody
May 18, 20159:46 pm

It has taken a lot to get to this stage, but Estonia is looking fantastic now. The visuals work, the singers have chemistry whilst still being able to convey the coldness in the song, and whilst I still don’t see this as a contender to win, I might have to re-evaluate how negative I’ve been with my predictions of this.


Alec Parkin
May 18, 20159:45 pm

Our Estonian duo are next to perform. No real changes to staging, but the camerawork has been tightened-up to really focus on the intensity of the ‘relationship’ between the pair. Just before Elena arrives downstage, a stage-hand is seen placing her microphone stand on-stage; hopefully this is a one-off and isn’t repeated tomorrow!


Peter Dunwoody
May 18, 20159:40 pm

Maria Elena has pulled one of her best vocals of the week out of the bag for Greece, just when it matters. The wind machine is cranked up to 11, her dress looks great, and this SHOULD qualify now that she (hopefully) has the juries onside.


Alec Parkin
May 18, 20159:39 pm

After the little ‘meet and greet’ with Conchita, we’re on to Greece next. Maria Elena looks stunning as always, and delivers a very impassioned performance. This comes across very well on-screen.


Alec Parkin
May 18, 20159:36 pm

Trijntje has yet another outfit this evening, (that makes three changes now!) This is a distinctly unflattering, very loosely-fitted, shapeless black trouser suit. Trijntje is vocally on-point as ever, though.


Peter Dunwoody
May 18, 20159:35 pm

Good evening all! So far I think the juries will have loved Armenia, hated Moldova, and been dramatically split by Belgium and Finlannd. We’re on the first ad break and Conchita is chatting to the contestants in the green room.


Alec Parkin
May 18, 20159:27 pm

Our first monochromatic performance of the evening, from Belgium. Loic still looks borderline psychotic but it seems to suit the mood of the song and this is well-received in the Press Centre.


Alec Parkin
May 18, 20159:21 pm

Armenia is up next. A little rolling dry-ice on the stage, which we haven’t had before. Very polished and professional, both vocally and from a stage presentation aspect.


Alec Parkin
May 18, 20159:18 pm

Now we’re on to our first country of the evening: Moldova. Lots of energy and activity on-stage, though the lighting sometimes ‘blinds’ the camerawork and a couple of shots are a little shaky.


Alec Parkin
May 18, 20159:13 pm

Conchita introduces our three hosts for the evening, Lots of smiles all-round!


Alec Parkin
May 18, 20159:06 pm

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the first artist to take to the stage this evening is our incumbent winner, Conchita. She is joined by a complete orchestra, and wears a sheer white sleeveless gown with lots of folded detail. She moves from the stage, down a ‘catwalk’ that splits the audience, and into the green room area. After performing her winning song, she invites the participating countries for this semifinal to take to the stage, and they are all introduced in performance order.


Alec Parkin
May 18, 20159:06 pm

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the first artist to take to the stage this evening is our incumbent winner, Conchita. She is joined by a complete orchestra, and wears a sheer white sleeveless gown with lots of folded detail. She moves from the stage, down a ‘catwalk’ that splits the audience, and into the green room area. After performing her winning song, she invites the participating countries for this semifinal to take to the stage, and they are all introduced in performance order.

Chief Editor: A non-schlager Europhile who's been doing this ESC writing malarkey since 2008, usually championing Eurovision's alternative or quirky offerings. My role at Xtra isn't too dissimilar from my previous life as a school teacher, but they're a well behaved class. Also responsible for dropping bum notes on a piano.

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