Eurovision 2012: May 14 Rehearsals

Babushki! Jedward! Catering at last for the press centre! Today promised much for Eurovision hacks. If truth be told, I got pretty much what I was expecting: lamb kofte, rice and the salty white drink in a carton you think is going to be yoghurt that they seem to like in these parts. Apparently it’s made by leaving milk to curdle just a little bit to generate the different taste.

A similar thing happens to fanboys and bloggers at the venue. Left to curdle in the Eurovision bubble, we generate our own hype. Today was all about that, especially regarding the entries from Russia and Ireland. Otherwise, Cyprus and Denmark were other acts high enough up in bookmakers’ lists to merit plenty of interest.

Here’s my take on the day’s events which featured the second half of songs in the first semi. A handy page with all the video footage can be found at this Dutch site.

Russia’s practice caused the first real ripple in the win market since rehearsals began, as if the drift in their odds since March had been because people had forgotten them and now they were reminded that yes, six old dears in full ethnic regalia demand a ‘Party for Everybody’.

The betting market is a short-sighted beast, because this performance was pretty much as in the national final, except the strange contraption behind them turns out to be a stove from which they collect a cake during the instrumental bridge. It all looked cute on camera, though I’m one of those people for whom the novelty wears off within about 20 seconds. You can leave me in the ‘this won’t finish in the top three’ camp.

Jedward were hotly anticipated in the last slot. What we got was unsurprisingly similar in style to last year with the added prop of a water feature that looks like it was planted by Charlie Dimmock. The boys (in blue) stand within it near the end of ‘Waterline’ without getting wet – for the moment, anyway.

Vocally they were ably assisted and they continue to bring a tremendous amount of energy to the stage. The question remains how Europe will feel about witnessing their schtick again, but it has to be said that being the last upbeat, gimmick-y performance in a semi full of upbeat, gimmick-y performances should see them in the final come May 26.

Reports on Cyprus were generally positive because it wasn’t the car crash that some expected. In fact, they can teach the Greeks a few lessons this year, like bring a decent backing vocalist and look like you have done plenty of preparation before rehearsals.

But I’m still not concerned about my liabilities on Cyprus having laid it in the Top 10 market. Ivi Adamou was vocally adequate, nothing more, whilst the choreography and backdrop doesn’t really lift the song enough on stage. However, it’s certainly in with a decent chance of qualifying on this basis.

If you saw Soluna Samay’s winning performance of ‘Should’ve Known Better’ in the Danish national final, then today’s rehearsal was a facsimile of that. I always reserve the right to change my mind, but in this case, I’m continuing to stand by my opinions expressed back in February. This is pleasant and well executed, but may get forgotten by televoters if given an early draw in the final.

Unlike many others, I didn’t think there was much wrong with the Austrian rehearsal. The Trackshittaz and their three backing dancers worked the stage well. Again, it’s pretty similar to what we saw in the national final – pole-dancing, ass-shaking and all – with a few differences.

The boys put in a bit more choreography; have a go on the poles themselves; and the girls’ asses will be lit up on the night judging by the tube-like things that were strapped to their knickers. Overall, they look like they are having lots of fun. None of this changes my opinion that juries will behave like a bunch of prudes and punish it.

Hungary’s Compact Disco put in a vocally decent performance, once again suggesting that the studio used for their national final wasn’t fit for purpose. After watching the band at the London Eurovision Party, I reckoned that the lead singer’s supposed lack of charisma wasn’t such a big problem. However, that’s no excuse for him not to look at the camera at all. In fact, even when it’s shoved in his face, he turns the other way, like a waiter who doesn’t want to take your order.

This can be rectified. What is not changing, apparently, is the way he uses one catwalk and the guitarist another, leaving the band looking far too spread out. At the moment, ‘Sound of Our Hearts’ sounds better than it looks.

Thankfully Moldova are putting on a show, which they can usually be relied upon to do. This again looks much like the national final performance, though the camerawork promises to be make it more effective than it seemed there. Pasha is in fine voice although he does sweat up, as I used to say paddock-side at the races. With this fine draw, plenty of friends and its catchy trumpet riff, ‘Lautar’ has lots going for it regarding qualification.

Israel has the best backdrop seen so far with its Dali-esque clocks. Otherwise I have niggling doubts, much as I like ‘Time’. The lead singer sounds fine but is not a telegenic presence. The backing singers are cute but either they weren’t high enough up in the mix or they couldn’t project. Either way, the chorus which they have to carry was getting lost. Losing time is never a good idea.

All you need to know about San Marino is that one of the backing dancers carries a tablet computer at all times during the routine, even when flapping his arms around. This just about sums up the whole enterprise of ‘The Social Network Song’ and its level of hopelessness.

So that’s semi one all sorted, right? If only. Let me know what you think of today’s rehearsals below.

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10 comments to Eurovision 2012: May 14 Rehearsals

  • David

    After seeing the pretty classy Moldovan video (studio filmed one) as well as the Eurovision in Concert live performance that was very well sung, I’ve backed Moldova pretty heavily to Q. My reasoning was that the performance would easily be good enough, backed by the good running slot and Moldova’s friends.

    However, now they’re back to the in my eyes seemingly retarded choreography. This makes me afraid that it will be shunned by juries, the same way Ovo Je Balkan was. If I understand you correctly, you don’t really share my concern here, Daniel?

    Thanks for good coverage, as always!

    • Daniel

      Hi David, actually, my first reaction when I saw the choreography was disappointment that it followed the national final mess rather than the official video. However, the camerawork makes it look much better than it did in Chisinau.

      It does mean that ‘Lautar’ goes the full monty as a piece of light entertainment, but it’s probably easiest to sell it that way – it plays to the song’s strengths. Would ‘Ovo Je Balkan’ have scored any better with a more serious presentation? Probably not, I would argue.

      • David

        Thanks for the reply. It’s a shame videos of the camera feed can’t be seen on YouTube – imo the one really big advantage of actually being there, as you are! It’s somewhat comforting to hear that it looks better on camera now than it did in the NF, at least – even if I’d still prefer the video setup.
        And you might very well be right about Ovo Je Balkan.

    • Henry VIII

      Dancing would help if it was any good. The dancing has changed but it’s still a mess (it will still Q).

      Shame because his band look really good. He could have his two backing singers, guitar, drums and trumpet – the song’s about a trumpet ffs. (His voice and the song don’t seem to need the backing, he could even have his French horn and violin instead of the two girls).

      Romania’s similar in that it’s upbeat with a strong singer who has a lot of charisma and movement. The difference is that they look like a credible band with interesting musicians.

  • Emma

    Agree with this, particularly on Cyprus. I see it as this year’s Rockefeller Street–fun and modern song with a cute singer who, despite her best efforts, doesn’t quite do it justice live. It’ll qualify but I see it flopping in the final (maybe not quite as much as RS did, but far from the the top 10.

    Re Austria: staging startingly good, song, IMO, horrific. I can barely stand to listen to it (though of course rehearsal videos are never as high quality as the semi/final vids and maybe that was the problem). Don’t see it qualifying. If, say, Romania or Greece had sent it, *maybe*, but Austria doesn’t have that many friendly votes–Hungary? Switz?–to fall back on.

    Hungary just sounds like some alt-rock album filler and though I may be biased, it’s not exciting like other rock-ish songs this year are like Slovakia, or Switzerland, with whom it has to share the semi.

    Oh, Jedward–don’t you know Eric Saade already DID water on stage? It is simply outrageous? Can’t the Irish participants hire themselves a choreographer who will be able to stage their own dance?

    In all seriousness, Jedward sounds fine. Only problem? They’re out of sync with the dancing. Twin on right is ahead of twin on left and and Right’s dance moves are a little sharper. You know, I’m really not that judgmental about dancing (I can’t at all myself, so if anything, I’m sympathic when someone flops) so I don’t think I’m being overly harsh. Or am I? Maybe it’s stylized and meant to be like that, but I hate it and it feels sloppy. Still like the song though.

    Thanks for this Daniel–and now I can look forward to hearing if my beloved Belorussian band can at least pretend to speak English live.

  • eurovicious

    Ayran is an acquired taste but great. Refreshing and cool on a hot day, and probiotic. Did they only extend catering to the press centre today? :/

    Hahaha, I said pretty much the exact same thing about Ireland on Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/eurovicious/status/202057722659741696 – you’re stealing my lines, Daniel 😉

    Oh no, Austria still have light-up bums? Every time I think it can’t get more objectionable and offensive they somehow make it worse…

  • Daniel

    No lines stolen, I promise! Reminds me that during the Montenegrin rehearsal yesterday I thought to myself, great, write a Trojan horse gag. Within an hour it had been used on just about every other site 🙂

  • Ben Cook

    Israel – nice enough performance but the song isn’t accessible enough to qualify

    San Marino – looks and sounds better than was expecting, but it’s still too ridiculous to qualify

    Denmark – good move keeping the same outfits as in the NF as I think it just makes her more memorable. She’s very charming and this should sail through, and with a late draw could finish in the top 5

    Cyprus – I don’t know why I had ruled this out as a qualifier because it is a decent enough Eurovision by numbers song. It’s back in the running now because the performance is adequate, though bit ropey on the la-las. Much better than Greece.

    Hungary – huge improvement vocally which I was expecting anyway, because the sound engineering in the NF was terrible. But he is also giving a much more confident performance. Still expecting to sneak through in 9th or 10th.

    Russia – it’s as good or as bad as I was expecting really. I’m still hoping the juries will slaughter it, but I fear they may just go along with it.

    Austria – disappointing now they’ve lost the neon/darklight effect, though I think it’s one that will make more sense when there’s an audience there like with France 2010. Borderline!

    Moldova – I was thinking most likely it’s going to be that happy party song that always comes 17th in the final, but it’s quite a good routine and I’m starting to worry that if the draw is very kind to them, it could pull off a surprise win. Hopefully not though.

    Ireland – those backing singers are pretty useless. The water feature looks lame. It’s qualifying but I don’t see them as a contender now.

    • eurovicious

      Agree with most of that, though Moldova doesn’t have a hope of winning the whole thing (the song is baffling and indecipherable) and Austria is v unlikely to qualify.

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