Eurovision 2017: Latest on upcoming rehearsals

Eurovision rehearsals begin this Sunday in Kiev – the full timetable is here. I’ll be tweeting from the press centre throughout, and providing an end-of-day summary on Sofabet as usual.

As before, there will only be short, official video clips of first rehearsals on Eurovision.tv. For second rehearsals onwards, many other sites, among the best of them esckaz.com and wiwibloggs, will be allowed into the arena to film the performances in full.

Over the last few days, delegations have seen the results of preliminary stage rehearsals. The general feeling is that preparations are less forward than at the same point in recent years. This suggests that first rehearsals will be more rough than ready, especially the high-concept ones, so we may need to be even more cautious about jumping to conclusions.

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BGT 2017 Discussion Thread

The first two episodes of this year’s Britain’s Got Talent have already aired. It’s the usual mix of dance troupes, dog acts and singers trying to transform their lives. Do let us know your thoughts on who the likely contenders are below.

Eurovision 2017: Westerners’ Karma

Fake news isn’t new; we’ve always lived in a constructed reality. I don’t mean your garden fence is a hologram, I mean that stories and symbols shape our societies in ways that are profound but commonly invisible, unarticulated and taken for granted. Money has no intrinsic value, it’s just paper, metal, and figures stored in a computer (plus the occasional injection of pig fat); prices are arbitrary because no-one knows the true value of anything (the haircut I paid €14 for today would have been €35 at the hipster male-grooming place down the road or free if I’d asked the woman next door who perms poodles on the side), there’s no particular reason why you should work 5 days a week not 3 or 6, or perhaps even work at all, and most of the planet’s population believes the world was created by a supernatural being (they just disagree which one; I’m going with Dustin the Turkey) who still oversees it and even actively intervenes in their lives. (Or as an American friend once explained to me after surviving a car crash with only minor injuries, “God protected me”.) Before you click away to Digital Spy lest I hit you with even more aphorisms straight out of an A-level philosophy essay-writing contest, let me bring things back to Eurovision. Allez!

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Eurovision in Concert 2017 Review

Amsterdam’s Eurovision in Concert event took place on Saturday with a bumper crop of this year’s hopefuls. Having covered many of the artists who participated in the previous week’s London gig, the focus here will be on those seen live for the first time. The YouTube channels of esckaz and Wiwibloggs provide ample footage.

I’ve seen acts feted at these events only to fall flat on the Eurovision stage, and others ignored here only to come alive when it matters. As one example of the latter, The Common Linnets endured problems with the sound mix in 2014, and remained under the radar even though performing on home turf.

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London Eurovision Party 2017 Review

Uncharacteristically this year, the London Eurovision Party came before its Amsterdam counterpart. Among the acts, we got to compare the leading four in the outright market. You can take a look at the performances for yourselves thanks to excellent video coverage on the esckaz YouTube channel.

The following review comes with the usual caveats. A small gig to a bunch of fans on a tiny stage is not necessarily any indicator of performance in very different conditions come Kiev in May. There were occasional sound issues too. Bearing that in mind, here’s my review of how they fared last night.

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Eurovision 2017: Semi-final running order announced

This morning, the running order for each semi-final was announced. Sweden gets the competition up and running, with Portugal given the most help in the first half. Latvia gets the pimp slot in that first semi, and Slovenia gets the last slow song in the penultimate berth.

In the second semi, Serbia start proceedings in what is a friendly heat for them. Denmark and Ireland have been given most help of those in the first half. Israel finish off proceedings. Do give us all your thoughts on this and other matters below.

Eurovision 2017: The search for a second favourite

There’s no doubting Italy’s hold at the top of the market, and we now have the Eurovision edit, which cuts the first verse in half and omits the second. Beyond ‘Occidentali’s Karma‘, the outright market has been trying on different second favourites for size. Betfair was briefly blinded by Belgium’s ‘City Lights’, with Bulgaria’s ‘Beautiful Mess’ the most recent challenger to emerge.

But the mantle is currently held by Sweden’s Robin Bengtsson, who won Melodifestivalen with ‘I Can’t Go On‘. It’s a slick pop effort in the Timberlake mould, well sold by its good-looking protagonist. There’s not much to the song beyond the hook and beat behind the refrain, but the travelators make the most of it.

In comparison with Francesco Gabbani and his gorilla, I think the sight of Bengtsson and his banker-clad gym chums lack charm; but then Eric Saade almost won a weak 2011 contest with a sexy glint-in-the-eye, a refrain, and a smashing show. Sweden may currently be ante-post second favourites by default (much as Sanna was in 2014), but a good finish seems likely again.

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Eurovision 2017: Belgium’s Blanche and other recent selections

As we hurtle towards the mid-March submission deadline, we have one Super Saturday of national finals left – featuring northern luminaries Iceland, Sweden, Lithuania and Norway.

Each is its own conundrum: Iceland’s event seems more open than anticipated after hot favourite Svala was a visual let-down in her heat and some of her rivals stepped up appealingly; Norway’s contest is hard to call, with no standout song nor live performances to gage; Lithuania is its usual labyrinthine affair; while it’s hard to separate the most favoured spawn of Sweden’s Melodifestivalen – the Daddy of all national finals.

In the meantime, this year’s selections came alive in the last week by providing a wide variety of songs, including this year’s market steamer from Belgium.

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