After the artists performing in semi-final one blew us all away, it was time for the semi-final two artists to take to the PalaOlimpico in Turin for the first time. This is considered the stronger of the two semis so who managed to shine? Keep reading to find out!
While we still don’t have full access to the rehearsal footage, we do have the live Eurovision blog, the official EBU photo gallery and the press conferences to whet our appetites until second rehearsals.
🇫🇮 Finland: The Rasmus – Jezebel
The Rasmus have already dropped plenty of hints about their staging plans for Eurovision, including posing with huge yellow and black balloons and UMK posting that their staging would be “very different” from the national final, with yellow and black ‘under construction’ tape emblazoned across. Therefore, it was no surprise when the colour scheme for Eurovision was revealed to be…yellow and black.
While there might be no surprises for Eurofans here, the staging is nonetheless impressive and has fireworks and smoke jets in the final chorus. It’s sure to kick semi-final two off to a flying start. The Eurovision live blog described their first rehearsal as “a really confident performance” – unsurprising for a band that has been together since 1994 and enjoyed worldwide success.
The Rasmus are an established band who enjoyed worldwide success with their 2003 hit single ‘In the Shadows’. At their press conference, I got the chance to ask them “Why did you decide to do Eurovision this year?” Their bassist, Eero Heinonen, had this to say:
Lauri [the frontman] presented the song, or the demo of the song, and he presented the idea of ‘Hey, what about going into Eurovision with this one?’ For us it was sort of like the idea that in this COVID time, we wanna do something fun, we wanna do something different, we wanna try something that we haven’t done before. This is something that we haven’t seen and we would like to learn it. We have a good song and we would like to be part of the bubbly environment!The Rasmus, Eurovision Press Conference, Monday 2nd May 2022
As well as being excited to participate in Eurovision, The Rasmus were also excited to hear UK entrant Sam Ryder! As well as citing ‘Space Man’ as one of their favourite entries this year, the band also said they would love to collaborate with Sam, with Eero saying:
I really like the energy of this Sam Ryder. He’s such a good singer and he’s quite a sparkly personality. It could be cool to do something with him.The Rasmus, Eurovision Press Conference, Monday 2nd May 2022
Could this mean 12 points from the Finland go to the UK? We’ll have to tune into the final to find out!
🇮🇱 Israel: Michael Ben David – “I.M”
Next up onstage was Israel’s Michael Ben David, who managed to avoid the problems caused by the kinetic sun by bringing a huge wall of lights which served as the backdrop for his performance. The colour scheme mainly consisted of red lighting, with Michael and his dancers wearing white. However, at one point in the performance, one of his dancers suddenly changes into a black outfit. As we haven’t seen the rehearsal footage yet, it is unclear whether this has any significance. Check out images of the first rehearsal below.
Michael brought a chaotic energy to his press conference that rivalled Subwoolfer the previous day! In between replicating Chanel’s ‘SloMo’ choreography, flirting with the interviewer and inviting his dancers on the stage to teach him the ‘I.M.’ dance moves, Michael found time to talk about how he came to be at Eurovision:
Six months ago I was a cashier in a supermarket. You need to bring some food home so you have to work.Michael Ben David, Eurovision Press Conference, Monday 2nd May 2022
One of Michael’s colleagues submitted an application to the Israeli edition of the X Factor on his behalf and before he knew it, he found himself the winner of the contest and Israel’s Eurovision entry! Michael says he feels “blessed” to be in Turin.
In a rare sombre moment, Michael also spoke about his Ukranian family and the impact the war is having on them:
My uncle is there with my nephews and I feel horrible about this situation. I’m talking with them every two days. They don’t want to come to Israel because they are patriots and I am scared for them. There is no food, no medicine. This is a disaster.Michael Ben David, Eurovision Press Conference, Monday 2nd May 2022
Regardless of how he fares in the competition, Michael seems to be having the time of his life in Turin and we’re sure nobody will bring him down!
🇷🇸 Serbia: Konstrakta – In Corpore Sano
This looks similar to previous performances with chairs, towels (the official Eurovision blog describes it as towel choreography!) and of course hand washing. Eurovision rules mean that Konstrakta isn’t allowed water on stage but it looks like she’s got a very small amount to work with. She is joined on stage by five backing singers.
In her Meet & Greet Press Conference, when asked if she is confident that her performance will connect with international viewers despite the language, Konstrakta was hopeful:
We’ll see, we have this performance with washing hands and we have these [sub] titles from time to time so we can connect, I think we have enough elements – if we enter the finals the audience have enough time to read more.Konstrakta, Eurovision Press Conference, Monday 2nd May 2022
The questions were flooding in about why Meghan Markle is the centre of her song. Konstrakta explained that Meghan Markle is a figure and representative, and it’s not about specifically her – but a representation of all women in the media. She says she would love Meghan to hear her song!
She said she writes songs mostly when walking with her dog. The dog is with her family while she’s in Italy and his name is Rocky – you can see him in the music video for ‘In Corpore Sano’ too! This way of working certainly has inspired Eurovision fans; let’s hope the average viewer feels the same energy of her performance.
🇦🇿 Azerbaijan: Nadir Rustamli – Fade To Black
Looks like Azerbaijan has gone all out for this one! Nadir sings his ballad from a set of steps which are set up like the bleachers you’d get in a high school sports stadium. He moves through the song with a contemporary dancer. The steps also split in half at one point. Seems like a very impressive set-up that’s really made for a TV show.
Nadir was asked about his staging in his Meet & Greet Press Conference:
The staircase represents stepping from the past and moving forward. At the end of the staircase I face my fears, insecurities, all these dark thoughts – and I am fighting them and I win.Nadir Rustamli, Eurovision Press Conference, Monday 2nd May 2022
Nadir was coached by Eurovision winner, Eldar, on The Voice Azerbaijan – and he’s travelled to Turin with him! Nadir said that Eldar is an inspiration to him and he’s learned a lot from him.
When asked how and why ‘Fade to Black’ was chosen to be Azerbaijan’s entry, Nadir said:
It wasn’t only the delegation pick, but also my personal choice, I think it’s a beautiful song with good energy. I would love to sing rock at Eurovision, but the most important thing is the connection with the song and that’s what happened with Fade To Black.Nadir Rustamli, Eurovision Press Conference, Monday 2nd May 2022
Nadir also revealed that he is a professional swimmer! He still swims from time to time but singing has taken over for the time being. Being a pro-athlete will surely help with the dance show he’s looking to perform for us in Turin, mixed in with those insane vocals!
🇬🇪 Georgia: Circus Mircus – Lock Me In
The band are out with a graphic backdrop featuring colours from all over the spectrum: blues, pinks and yellows. Of course, the stage show has circus themes mixed into it but it’s not directly circus-like. Loud, bright and off-centre – it’s a great vibe!
Circus Mircus talked about their philosophy in their press conference:
We’re on a mission to get as many people to join Circus Mircus. Our manifesto says it doesn’t matter who you are because identities are overrated. There is no place for egos in art. Anyone can be part of Circus Mircus.Circus Mircus, Eurovision Press Conference, Monday 2nd May 2022
It seems like Circus Mircus still have some surprises up their sleeves. A question was put forward to them about why they use a puppet show for their art and they said that question must be from the future. Could this be a hint? One thing is for sure, this is definitely an act where you just have to sit back and enjoy the circus!
🇲🇹 Malta: Emma Muscat – I Am What I Am
Emma Muscat is going for gold with her staging. The lighting is warm and golden and her four dancers are wearing shimmery skirts or trousers. Emma herself is wearing a dress made of mirrors which she spoke about in her Meet & Greet Press Conference:
Mirrors reflect each and everyone of us meaning that we all have a different personality, different character. We’re all unique the way we are.Emma Muscat, Eurovision Press Conference, Monday 2nd May 2022
It certainly seems like Emma’s outfit has been chosen with the message of ‘I Am What I Am’ in mind but of course this wasn’t the song that won Malta’s national final! I asked Emma about the decision to ditch ‘Out of Sight’ and perform ‘I Am What I Am’ instead and she explained her reasons:
‘Out of Sight’ was a very personal song to me. It was written for my younger self of around 10-years-old. It wasn’t very relatable to the general public whilst ‘I Am What I Am’ is more universal. It talks about loving yourself, about appreciating yourself. I feel that this was a very important message to bring to the contest.Emma Muscat, Eurovision Press Conference, Monday 2nd May 2022
Emma also spoke about her love for Italy, which she called her “second home”. She even said it is a dream of hers to compete in Sanremo one day! Does this mean we could see Emma on another Eurovision stage very soon?
🇸🇲 San Marino: Achille Lauro – Stripper
Fans of Sanremo will know that Achille Lauro is renowned for his elaborate and even controversial performances. All eyes were on him to see what he would bring to the Eurovision stage and boy oh boy, he did NOT disappoint! With musicians in cages, pyro galore and Achille straddling a bucking bronco in a lacy body stocking, this isn’t likely to be a show viewers will forget when voting rolls around. Check out the eye-popping images for yourself.
Achille is a Sanremo veteran but this is his first time on the Eurovision stage. While Sanremo is known for its secrecy with regards to its staging, Eurovision builds a lot of hype by showing us how the artists are staging their works. I asked Achille how he felt this might affect him in the contest and he had this to say:
It’s two different kind of events, this is for sure. In Sanremo, there are no public rehearsals so the first time you go on stage this is the first time people see what you bring so it’s a surprise. I think that in Sanremo we were able to bring some controversial performances and we’ve been like the first ones to bring this sort of a new wave in Sanremo as performances, I mean. We will try as much as possible because the rehearsals are public in Eurovision to bring something different and something that belongs to us deeply.Achille Lauro, Eurovision Press Conference, Monday 2nd May 2022
Although he has cultivated his image over a long period of time, casual viewers have compared Achille to Måneskin frontman Damiano David. When asked about these comparisons, he said the following:
Everybody knows where we started and everybody knows the type of work that we are bringing in our performances. Of course we know each other but I do think that my style is different and that I am different from them and unique.Achille Lauro, Eurovision Press Conference, Monday 2nd May 2022
The photos we’ve seen today certainly show that he is unique! We can’t wait to see his performance in more detail in the second rehearsals.
🇦🇺 Australia: Sheldon Riley – Not the Same
Up next was Sheldon Riley who had managed to avoid getting jetlag and appeared upbeat throughout his Meet & Greet Press Conference. Not that he isn’t used to long hours: Sheldon is a self-confessed Eurovision superfan and wakes up at 5am in his native Australia to watch the contest!
As a fan of the competition, Sheldon has undoubtedly been paying attention to what the viwers have been saying about his performances and staging. Some complained that his Australia Decides staging was too dark and although not much appears to have changed, he is now wearing white which has helped lighten things up. He has also enlisted the help of Sasha-Jean Baptiste with his staging who is responsible for producing Bulgaria’s ‘Beautiful Mess’ in 2017, Cyprus’ legendary ‘Fuego’ in 2018 and Switzerland’s ‘She Got Me’ in 2019. See the impact this has had for yourself.
In his press conference, Sheldon also spoke very movingly about the origins of his song ‘Not the Same’ which started out as a poem he wrote to himself on Facebook when he was just 15:
I was diagnosed with Asperger’s from a really young age and I also grew up in a really reserved and religious family. Being told there were a lot of things I wouldn’t achieve because of what was going on mentally, I told everyone in the world that I didn’t want to be this quiet person anymore, that I didn’t want to be defined by what people were telling me I couldn’t do. So once I did, I wrote this message to myself on Facebook and I was just like ‘You’re not the same and it’s okay. ‘Sheldon Riley, Eurovision Press Conference, Monday 2nd May 2022
‘Not the Same’ clearly means a lot to Sheldon, as does representing Australia in the contest he loves so much. Will it be enough to earn him a place in the final?
🇨🇾 Cyprus: Andromache – Ela
Last but certainly not least on today’s roster was Cyprus and it’s safe to say everyone was surprised by what they brought to the stage! Flanked by two gorgeous backing dancers with a shell prop in the back, comparisons were immediately made to Botticelli’s ‘The Birth of Venus’. Andromache confirmed this was not intentional but said she was happy to hear them because it’s “really nice to do this in Italy”.
Many were not expecting the colour scheme of blues and purples so I asked Andromache about the thought process behind this. She said:
I just think that these colours are Mediterranean – the sea, Cyprus, Greece. I think it’s more the idea Marvin [Dietmann] and Dan [Shipton] had because they have a great fantasy.Andromache, Eurovision Press Conference, Monday 2nd May 2022
Andromache was also asked how she feels about following such a strong string of Cypriot female Eurovision entries but this does not appear to faze her:
I’m actually really confident because every artist is so different. Everybody has his own beauty and his own special voice and special aura so I try to give my best to make Cyprus proud.Andromache, Eurovision Press Conference, Monday 2nd May 2022
Will Andromache’s quiet confidence stand her in good stead in this year’s contest? If her staging is anything to go by, the world’s her oyster!
That’s a Wrap!
Today’s proceedings definitely show why this semi-final is considered to be a bloodbath! We had strong staging, powerful songs and a few surprises along the way. Who were your favourites? Who are you excited to see tomorrow? Who do you think is qualifying? Let us know in the comments!