Eurovision 2012: May 15 Rehearsals

As planned, there was one less rehearsal today with run-throughs for the first eight songs in the second semi – video footage of which can be found at songfestivalweblog.nl once more. I wish I could say that the day felt shorter as a result, but it didn’t.

I was flagging by 5pm, at which point Ukraine came to rehearse. Could the nation that took us all by surprise last year when putting sand artist Kseniya Simonova on stage alongside their singer, do it again?

Perhaps Gaitana would appear with other former luminaries of Ukraine’s Got Talent. I was hoping that Timophey Vinkovsky could provide backing on the crystal glasses whilst Just Two Men put in some rope work. Instead we got a body popper who wouldn’t have made it past the audition stage. Pfffft.

The day started out brightly enough. Serbia’s Zeljko Joksimovic gave us exactly what we expected. A flawless vocal surrounded by his musical troupe. Just like the song, the staging ticked all the Balkan ballad boxes. My thoughts on ‘Nije Ljubav Stvar’ remain as they were just after it was first presented.

Macedonia’s Kaliopi proceeded to wow the fans once more with a very strong vocal for ‘Crno E Belo’. What I wrote about its qualification chances after the London Eurovision Party remain the case. It has six allies to help it in the televote, and one would hope the juries will reward her abilities, but counting against her among neutral televoters is a terrible draw, the language barrier and a change in tempo.

I’m afraid it was rather downhill from here. The Netherlands have managed to stuff up their staging again based on the first rehearsal of Joan Franka’s ‘You and Me’. She’s wearing an even bigger Native American headdress than in the national final, and there’s a fiery backdrop for the first minute to match the urns of fire on stage which were only used in later run-throughs.

Those Sofabet readers conversant with our X Factor coverage will know that putting images of fire, or fire itself, next to a performer isn’t the wisest move. It makes the stage look like Hades. In some unfortunate camera angles, Joan’s headdress looks like it might go up in flames, just like the Netherlands’ qualification chances.

I find the Maltese song a long three minutes. This rather impacts on my interpretation of all the action on stage – there’s a DJ, a foot shuffle move and Kurt Calleja making friends with his band. Some bloggers found it energetic; it came across a tad desperate to me.

Kurt’s vocals are not entirely convincing or consistent. Most of their time they are adequate, but the final minute is a bit nervy and occasionally contains a big bum note. ‘This is The Night’ will have to be alright on the night in this respect.

The Belarussian Litesound boys have a gimmick of going horizontal. They took the Cypriot concept to angle oneself at 45 degrees during that 2011 entry and raised it to the max, Spinal Tap style. The outfits, staging and mannerisms are rather Spinal Tap too which is a little incongruous for the newer, poppier version of ‘We Are The Heroes’.

Their English pronunciation, the mike stands, the slightly awkward way the lead singer moves about the stage – it’s all very Belarus at Eurovision raised up to eleven on the dial.

Talking of which, Portugal is just as you would expect too, with a lovely Lisbon setting on the LED screens. Meanwhile, the backing singers do what they always do for these numbers. Filipa Sousa is a sound enough vocalist, but it’s hard to envisage too many neutral televoters picking up their phone and voting for this amongst many other similar ballads in this semi.

This brings me to the Ukraine and Gaitana, who I was hoping would kick the day up its backside. Actually there were high kicks and everything else in this one, including the body popper. My initial reaction was that it was all too much, but everything will depend on how the camera angles deal with it. There’s certainly plenty of energy on stage.

Gaitana belts it out without assistance, which means that each run-through was rather varied based on how much effort she wanted to put in, though at her best she carries ‘Be My Guest’ very effectively. I’ll reserve judgement on its overall claims until I see how it’s coming together in later rehearsals.

We saved the worst till last, with Sofi Marinova all alone on stage looking like she had scared everyone else off it. ‘Love Unlimited’ was the song – the same could not be said of my patience. Despite some strong competition on the evidence of today, Bulgaria is a contender for last place in this semi-final.

Let me know if you can put a more positive spin on these rehearsals in the comments section below.

16 comments to Eurovision 2012: May 15 Rehearsals

  • Well, I got carried away by all the Ukrainian fuss and placed a 3 figures bet on it. I’m not into the song but given the succesful ukrainian ‘eurovision resumé’, the soccer spirit that put France close to a top10 in 2010 and the usual good deal NTU does with local broadcaster to achieve a proper camera work I thought it was worth it. I loathe the song, but last year I was tempted to put the same bet on Mika Newton and thought that the sand gimmick wouldn’t work…

  • dicksbits

    I agree on Bulgaria – this is very poor showing. Portugal too is a big miss. The only definite qualifiers from this little shower are Serbia and Ukraine. FYROM are a maybe. The Maltese performance looked (on YouTube) very high school / sixth form to me. He sounds like he’s in a tunnel – very muffled. The new mix of the song doesn’t really add to their qualification chances. With no neighbours and diaspora, surely this is a certain for a miss for the final?

    • Nick D

      Whilst I love Malta and agree that they’re unlikely to qualify, past years’ statistics show that they have a habit of doing *cough* unexpectedly well in jury rankings. I’d certainly steer well clear of them in last place markets.

  • eurovicious

    Agree on Malta; I do actually like the song and Kurt but the performance does come over as desperate. A projected crowd of partying non-people, a fake DJ on fake decks (possibly one of the worst things any country can do on a Eurovision stage – see UK 2001, Romania 2003 and Czech Republic 2008) and unnecessary tacky acrobatics in the middle-eight do not good staging make. Kurt’s an able performer with a good voice, he needs simpler.

    Re: Belarus, trash/manflesh/electro connoisseurs may enjoy this number from Cyprus’s 2009 selection, which I believe was the first appearance of the swaytastic foot-boards: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYfgM7Am5DM

    I thought Belarus looked and sounded surprisingly good in the clip I saw (I’m watching the ESCXtra ones). Much more professional than I’d have expected.

    Unfortunately I kind of agree on Bulgaria. Ukraine is balls.

    • Daniel

      Yes ev, and you can add Bulgaria 2008 to the list of staging failures that featured fake DJs. Flames were involved in that one too. You can relive the unfolding disaster here.

      • eurovicious

        Ooh, I really liked that one. It was in a really strong semi though. I guess I should have made a clearer distinction, I don’t mind decks in the rare case when an actual dance music group like Deep Zone is performing, it’s when they’re tacked onto a naff pop act as a visual aid to try and make it “street” that I get my hackles up…

    • Boki

      Escxtra is a nice site, they are fast with videos but they don’t have much close-ups.

      Btw they say about Turkey:
      Rumour has it that he will be joined with four dancers in pirate outfits who he will fight with on stage.

  • Uncle Si

    My opinion of Malta shot up on seeing their first rehearsal today. I really liked it! I wasn’t too bothered by the song beforehand, but the staging sets it apart. There’s a lot to look at, yet it feels cohesive to me. People are doing different things but they join similar dance moves. The DJ breaks into dance. The final few seconds look splendid and the last punch of the air gets that all-important message of success across.
    (A thesis I share with a friend is that a flourish at the end of a song, in that crucial 2-second period before the cameras cut away, can be used to convey the expectation of success, which is self-fulfilling.)

  • Boki

    Rg Macedonia, I believe there are few more negatives to be mentioned Daniel: middle aged women don’t attract much televotes, too many jury friendly songs, poorly arranged and outdated rock part of the song.

    NL NQ looks good, also Belarus NQ at those early odds. Very bad start of the semi indeed (except Serbia). Then comes the Portugal which I really fancy (at these odds) to stand out between Bel & Ukr. Most underrated act imo, don’t get why it is on the bottom everywhere. Common agreement on Bulgaria but that’s nothing new 🙂

    • David

      Boki, on what do you base the claim that middle-aged women don’t vote a lot? I find these demographic questions very interesting, but must say I have gotten the complete opposite impression in MF.

  • Donald

    Performance of the day came down to a good tune and a singer obviously. it’s Euphoric.

  • Boki

    Daniel, do I imagine things or the BF liquidity on semi Q markets is rather low?

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