Eurovision Rehearsals Preview

Eurovision dress rehearsals begin this Sunday, May 1. Opinions can change greatly during the rehearsal period – and so, therefore, can betting odds. Anticipating those movements offers an opportunity to make a penny or two even before the contest starts.

In previous years, much of my betting strategy has crystallised only during the rehearsals period, as I have scoured the various blogs and messageboards written by those present at rehearsals and caught up on the performances on youtube.

This year, I’ll be in Dusseldorf and blogging on the rehearsals myself. I’ll be trying my hardest to avoid some of the pitfalls you have to beware of when reading rehearsal blogs generally – a subject I wrote about in a Top Tip article last year.

Here’s what you can expect on Sofabet over the next two weeks.

To start with, we’ll provide an end-of-day summary of the impressions gained. In these first rehearsals especially, it’s important to keep perspective and not get too carried away. The whole point of rehearsals is to iron out problems that occur with, for example, the sound mix and camerawork.

What you hear and see in a first rehearsal may have improved dramatically by the night itself. It’s during second rehearsals and beyond that stage presentations start to reach a point approaching what will be seen and heard when it matters. And at this point, I will be providing more regular updates.

In particular, it can often take longer to smooth out the sound mix and harmonisation if more than one lead vocalist is involved. It wouldn’t susprise me if, for example, the likes of Blue’s ‘I Can’ end up sounding and looking better by the end of the fortnight than it does at the start.

Another thing to bear in mind is that some performers more obviously save themselves for the moment their performance counts. So some underwhelming first rehearsals from singers who have a strong track record of performing live aren’t necessarily a cause for concern.

The main reason opinions can change so much during rehearsals is that this is the first time the visual aspect of the performance becomes clear. This is a caveat I’ve repeatedly emphasised in my previews of entries based on what we know so far.

(For ease of reference, the entries I’ve covered in those individual articles so far are: France, Estonia, UK, Sweden, Hungary, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Russia, Ireland, Turkey, Greece, Israel and The Netherlands).

So what questions am I most looking forward to having answered by the rehearsals? Jedward’s stage show for Ireland is last to be seen of the semi-final participants, but certainly not least in terms of intrigue. In the same heat, the effectiveness or otherwise of Sweden’s glass box-smashing gimmick and vocals will also be fascinating.

In the first semi, the vocals for Hungary’s Kati Wolf will be closely monitored by fans and sceptics alike. Now we have some idea of Azerbaijan’s staging, remaining unknowns include what Russia are planning for their opening thirty seconds and what will be the impact of Armenia’s promised dance routine.

One last thing. Due to other commitments, I arrive in Dusseldorf only on the morning of May 2. To ensure our readers get expert opinion from the venue also on the first day, occasional Sofabet commenter Martin Faulkner will be writing our May 1 article.

Martin is a highly experienced Eurovision journalist and punter whose judgement I value greatly. I could not have put our readers in more trusted hands, and I will of course be adding my own thoughts on the first day based on the video footage and reactions across the board.

In the meantime, what are you looking forward to from the rehearsals? Which songs do you expect to significantly climb up or down the market based on performance in rehearsals? Let us know below – as always, your comments make the site what it is.

14 comments to Eurovision Rehearsals Preview

  • Rob

    Looking forward to your reports from rehearsals, Dan. Last year, like you, I was scouring YouTube, the blogs and forums to try and get some insight into rehearsals. It certainly will be interesting to see what Eric Saade is capable of, and whether he can get close to the slick staging seen in the Swedish NF. Kati Wolf also given the jury is well and truly out on whether she can perform this demanding song well enough live.
    On your note of caution, I recall the majority in attendance last year slaughtering the Danish song live – and many thought it would even struggle to qualify. It not only qualified but ended up finishing 4th (admittedly from a great draw), but it maybe shows how misleading even the supposed informed opinion live from the rehearsal stage can be. Good luck trying to get a handle on it all!

    • Daniel

      Hi Rob, the early Danish rehearsals last year were indeed awful (you can see them on YouTube), but here was an example of two performers not putting in any effort at that stage (they had been fine performing the song live on a couple of occasions in the Danish Final), and there were problems with the sound/staging. Meanwhile, the bloggers were in raptures over Finland which became a surprise hit on the Euroclub dancefloor, but it remained a weak song that just failed to qaulify.

      So, early and immediate comments along the lines of, “Denmark will be a shock non-qualifier”, and, “Finland is sailing through and perhaps even winning this semi-final”, proved wide of the mark. This is a cautionary tale not to get carried away too soon as a blogger or punter.

      Having said which, the on-site bloggers do sterling work, and on many occasions what they signpost is highly significant. The Olsen Brothers, Ruslana and Lordi were all significant and successful gambles that developed from positive rehearsal blogs.

      So my advice remains: keep an open mind either way and watch the video footage yourself to come to your own decision.

  • James

    In addition to Hungary, I think another one to watch closely vocal-wise is Azerbaijan. I can’t stand the song, so my judgement may be clouded slightly, but it does strike me as the sort of thing that has the potential to turn into a shouting match live on stage. To be honest, I’m surprised the simple fact we’ve never heard them sing it live hasn’t set alarms bells ringing with more people.

    I don’t know about you, but on the night there’s always one song that I end up loving that I’d never rated before, even after the rehearsals. Last year I didn’t think much of the Turkish entry pre-contest, but I remember saying to myself after their semifinal performance, this is going to win. The same happened with France in 2009.

  • Daniel

    Hi James, duets always involve the possibility of a shouting match. The four backing singers for the Azerbaijan team have been announced: they are all Swedish, two of them part of the group Shirley’s Angels. Of course, there is the possibility that Nigar may not do very much singing at all, as the limited amount she has to perform could be carried by someone else.

    The rumours around the Armenian staging are as I expected, revolving around a boxing theme, as in the promo video. After all, the bridge of the song involves the lines, ‘you are the strongest fighter’, and, ‘ring of love’.

    I suspect the dance move will involve a punch with each arm for the ‘Boom Boom’, followed by a hip wiggle for the ‘Chaka Chaka’. This can also be seen in the promo video. Though one departure from what you witness there is that the backing dancers will be male (the same ones employed for Greece’s ‘Opa’ last year).

    An indication of the Russian staging can be gleaned here, with maybe not much going on for the introduction, but a nice effect with spotted neon screens like an MTV video eventually opening out during the song (if this is indeed what happens on stage). The dancing is reminiscent of Eric Saade’s routine for Sweden.

  • It’ll be roles reversed for most of us at OnEurope this year, only Roy has got accreditation so we’ll be watching your blog amongst others to get our pointers and form opinions.

    The big tip I’ll give you is to spend as much time as you can in front of TV monitors, and as little as possible actually in the arena. It’s only there that you can really glean some insight into what TV audiences and juries will be seeing, and work out whether the camerawork is breathing life into the performance.

    At the same time, spend *some* time in the arena – it’s a rare privilege to see at first hand how a show of this kind is being put together behind the scenes – and enjoy it!

    On a betting subject, I note that Bwin are offering tempting odds of 1/4 about Cyprus awarding 12 to Greece in the final, and approx 1/3 about San Marino doing the same for Italy. Are opportunities like that no-brainers in your opinion, or are there notes of caution to be sounded?

    • Daniel

      Hey Nick, thanks for the advice and I’ll be happy to help in any way. I’d gathered from the years of valuable experience reading sites like OnEurope that performances can come across very differently in the hall compared to on the TV screens, so I will bear that in mind, as indeed should those reading the blogs.

      There are plenty of short-odds Eurovision bets that are no-brainers. The 12 from Cyprus to Greece in the final seems like one of them to me, especially as the Greek singer, Loukas Yiorkas, is Greek-Cypriot, and was born in Cyprus. That’s free money – IF Greece is in the final. The only caveat is, if Greece fail to qualify, do you lose your money? Check the rules of the bet, as they might explain the apparent generosity of the odds – because if Loukas is singing on Saturday night, it’s surely 1-100 he gets the Cypriot douze.

      Of course, we’ve never had a Eurovision where San Marino has been able to vote for Italy. Depends on how brotherly the San Marinese jury feels, but I’d still be surprised if it didn’t happen.

      • Martin F.

        I’ve gone the other way on that San Marino-12-to-Italy bet, for what it’s worth – with a comparatively “random” jury in play (albeit one that’s subordinate to the televote), a potentially defunct televote depending on the number of callers, the popularity of Blue in Italy, the “24 other countries in the final” factor and all, I’m happy to bet against the 12 points heading Gualazzi’s way at the generous odds offered.

        Though, admittedly, that’s partly because it’s money I’ll be happy to lose considering Italy is my personal favourite this year and any points it does receive will be greeted with whoops and cheers from at least one corner of the arena, regardless of the impact on my bank account. 🙂

  • geoff

    really look forward to hearing what you make of the rehearsals Daniel.Eric Saade will be very interesting if he sounds good hes going to be a real contender. also think the armenia and ukraine stage shows might end up quite good

  • peter

    Enjoy the rehearsals Daniel. Really looking forward to your feedback and betting insights. Personally, I think it’s between France and Azerbaijan but as you rightly say rehearsals can change everything!

  • annie

    How does the google forecast work?
    I read on Lena’s website that according to that she is winning again… Some are discussing that it’s mostly influenced by searches, where lena being a returning artist, the competition being in germany, she is obviously doing well. others say it as a more complicated algorithm then simply the no of enquiries.

    • Andrew

      Hi Annie, interesting question – been looking into this but I can’t find any explanation other than Google’s “based on search data” and the note that it excludes searches from the participant’s own country. Not surprising, as Google aren’t exactly known for revealing their methods.

      Here’s the predictor tool –
      http://www.google.com/landing/eurovision/index.html
      Currently showing Lena top, Jedward 2nd ;), Amaury Vassili 3rd, Dana Int’l 4th.

      Google have done this for the last two years and got both Alexander Rybak and Lena top, though you can question how impressive a feat that was. Looking at some bloggers who took snapshots of Google’s data in the days before last year’s final (see e.g. here and here), you can see that apart from Lena the predictions were hardly close.

  • Eloise

    Have just had a look at that Google site showing last year’s listings and you’re absolutley right, it’s nothing of an indicator, and in fact 3 of the songs they have in the top 5 didn’t even qualify, so won’t be bothering with that again! As a far better alternative, the All Kinds of Everything bloggers have already started, and Elaine Dove has joined the team this year, so great to have all the team’s comments on rehearsals. Will be reading avidly and watching video footage. This is such a fab time of year with the build up to Eurovision, so exciting!

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