Eurovision 2012: May 16 Rehearsals

Straight to the question of the day: how was Loreen? I can report that she’s still doing tai-chi, even when it snows. What we saw today was similar to the Melodifestivalen production. Once ‘Euphoria’ starts, there are no long shots, Loreen is at the centre of the action at all times and there’s only the occasional glimpse of three backing singers in the background.

There were a few other minor changes, in what was very much a game of spot the difference. Some purple lighting makes ‘Euphoria’ look less dark than it did in Stockholm. The stage is bigger, which means that we catch the backing dancer creeping towards her a bit earlier, looking for all the world like a Jimmy Jump-style gatecrasher.

Overall, there’s little reason to change your opinion of Loreen’s chances from what you reckoned after the Swedish final. Those who believed they saw the Eurovision winner back then can take comfort from the fact that Sweden haven’t tinkered with it significantly.

What else wasn’t new? You can see for yourself here. My thoughts are below.

The Norwegians have also applied the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ maxim to ‘Stay’. Sure, Tooji’s hairstyle is a little different once the hood comes off, but this was a competent rehearsal that followed the MGP final formula.

Without the pre-recorded backing vocals, Tooji’s voice is a little thin and occasionally off-key, especially towards the end, and this reinforces the feeling that ‘Stay’ is not quite as effortless as it appeared in Oslo. However, given the strength of the song and its draw, this should sail into the final.

Both ‘Stay’ and ‘Euphoria’ were at least a blessed relief from the Balkan ballads on offer today. Slovenia’s Eva Boto generally got positive reviews, but you have to overlook the kitsch nature of the presentation that had more than a touch of Feminnem about it. Emoting away in her bridal outfit, Eva looked like this was a shotgun wedding or unhappily arranged marriage.

If that was a little much it was nothing compared to Croatia’s Nina Badric, who had two male dancers making angles out of their arms and unfurling a long sheet, as if they were thinking up new ways to come up with the most pointless activity within three minutes. It was highly distracting and is doing ‘Nebo’ no favours at all.

Bosnia’s ‘Koratke ti znam’ is not the most exciting three minutes, and that’s putting it mildly, but at least it avoids the kitsch. Maya Sar sang it perfectly well, though she kept her eyes closed for much of it, both at the piano and after standing up for the last part. I’m not sure how well this will travel beyond its allies, but those friends are plentiful in this semi, and it also has a fine draw and the juries to rely on.

Turning to some of today’s uptempo numbers, Georgia should have learnt from Moldova how to stage their number – make it fun. It’s not rocket science, right? Instead, Anri Jokhadze looked like he took himself incredibly seriously, which is wrong on so many levels when you’re belting out a song like ‘I’m a Joker’.

Anri started off on the catwalk before surrounding himself with pretty ladies, occasionally went over to bang on a drum and briefly took to the piano. We thus got plenty of shots of his back as he strutted around, whilst being reminded how disjointed and annoying the song really is.

At least Turkey got their staging right. Can Bonomo generally toned down his antics whilst a bevy of hunky sailors played out a nautical theme, throwing in some boat formations to match the sea-and-anchor backdrop.

However, just as when first aired on Turkish television, this still feels like a private party which one hasn’t been invited to. I think that the main problem with ‘Love Me Back’ as a song and package is that it doesn’t really care if you love it back at all.

If any act bettered my expectations today it was Estonia’s ‘Kuula’. Yes, it’s Eurovision-ballad-by-numbers, and staged accordingly, but in amongst what I’ve seen over the last few days that felt like it would be enough to see Ott Lepland over the line in this semi-final.

The backdrop pleasingly built with the song, starting out with black-and-white shadows that became colourful before blooming into a full-on shower of rose petals. This was a chick-flick with a handsome male lead able to give the camera a searching look when his eyes opened. ‘Kuula’ is also ideally drawn, sandwiched between Turkey and Slovakia.

The latter is a difficult one to call. ‘Don’t Close Your Eyes’ certainly stands out and there’s a demographic for hard rock, but it all boils down to how it’s performed when it matters. Max Jason Mai was a bit hoarse today, both when singing and talking in between run-throughs. He’ll only need to throw himself into it once on the night though.

Lithuania’s Donny Montell did have his eyes closed for the start of ‘Love Is Blind’ but I’m happy to tell you that he has upgraded his blindfold. It’s now diamante. Perhaps he travelled first class on Azeri Airlines and it came in the complimentary wash bag.

However, the pole-dancers featured in his backdrop felt inappropriate, especially as Donny doesn’t look a day older than 13. This is still 80s-ballad-meets-dancey-80s-cheesefest, as if Donny was listening to Wham’s greatest hits and decided to amalgamate what he heard. I’m not buying it despite his best efforts.

That’s day four in the Eurovision house. What were your thoughts? Do let us know below.

7 comments to Eurovision 2012: May 16 Rehearsals

  • henna

    I am being sceptical about how good Loreen’s chances are. The performance seems disjointed to me. The dark setting and her face being covered up by her hair distances her from the viewers. I feel it creates a bit the same effect when they wear sunglasses or heavy eye make up on X factor(nicolo festa, katie waissel’s bewitched) and we know how that motivated viewers to pick up the phone. This facial shadow, the whole haunting setting and broken up dancing with the way the song sounds breaks the song from the singer, it almost creates the impression that she was only dancing and miming, like she’s not even the source of the vocals. Even with the facial close ups at the melodienfestival performance i still had this disjointed and alienating feeling about it. I haven’t seen all other performances and am not sure anyone(else) stands out as a potencial winner so far… I guess (as always) the draw will decide a lot, maybe a late run will boost her chances , but I think an early one will most likely produce another (default) winner like ell and nikki were last year.

  • Emma

    Maybe this is just the opinion of a fan who’s watched the MF video too much, but I’m liking Euphoria less at this point. The changes in the dance routine, IMO, are not for the better and I hate the backup singers–they sound out of place and don’t blend in. Norway impressed me–Tooji was a lot more competent than I had thought he would be. I thought his backup singers were more effective than Loreen’s. Agree on Turkey–the dancing isn’t painful to watch anymore but I heard a rumor that the backup singers will be dressed as pirates. Juries will love that, I’m sure.

    A lot of people seem impressed with Estonia. There’s no piano, which is a pity, but it’s really well-performed, a, b, it’s still in Estonian, and c, it’s a genuinely good song–so I think juries will love it. Can’t see the juries going for Lithuania. It’s not in the least bit memorable–I’v heard it several times but none of it sticks in your head like Loreen’s “U-u-u-u-u-u-up!” or Tooji’s “I need you to STAY!” or even like the ethnoballads like Estonia and Serbia. Draw might help but I see this missing out.

    I still don’t know what to think about Slovakia. I can see anything happening. Rock doesn’t seem to the juries’ favorite genre but even so, it’s a well-composed song and it’s not like good rock acts are *punished*, per se. MJM is rather attractive, at least if he loses the sunglasses (pretentious!) and he’s well-drawn but on the other hand, Slovakia is rather friendless in a semi-final that’s full of countries with friends and his rock is a little high-octance–the poorly drawn, but better-friended Belarus’ rock-ish song feels much more accessible. Like Hung. and Switz in the first semi, I think there’s only room for Belarus or Slovakia to qualify–but I’m not going to call it. Too close, IMO.

    Once again, this is much appreciated Daniel. Here’s to hoping Loreen gets her backup singers in order and Turkey’s ridiculous antics don’t result in another 2011.

  • dicksbits

    Oh semi final 2, what a perplexing collection of songs you are. Starting with the original complaint – why are so many ex Yugo countries in a position to carve up the result? Surely someone at EBU needs a good talking to, or we are heading for the Balkans in 2013.

    For me the definite qualifiers are Serbia, Sweden, Turkey, Norway and Georgia. I say (controversially) Georgia because it has so may friendly neighbours in this semi, and it really sticks in your mind as a ‘fun’ eurovision performance. The choreography isn’t as good as Moldova, but these two countries are the most improved.

    I’d like to revisit my Ukraine to qualify prediction yesterday. I am slightly doubtful as it is a poor song, staged in a messy fashion. With fewer diaspora voting countries than usual, Ukraine could be in trouble.

    In fact I feel that a few 100% qualification records could be broken in 2012.

  • eurovicious

    Croatia was simply appalling. I also thought of Lako je sve but this is much worse. Bosnia looking and sounding great, has a lot going for it. Kuula is great and Slovakia was poor – the poor unsuspectic public are going to soil themselves when that racket interrupts their nice sedate semi. Lithuania: Donny sells the song tremendously but I agree on the backdrop. Together with Malta and Ukraine, that’s 3 countries adding pretend crowds of people to their performances this year, not a trend I’m keen on – it just comes over as desperate and pathetic. Agree on Slovenia, Norway, Sweden and Georgia. Regarding Turkey, I didn’t like the new staging. I prefer Can just doing his thing, I thought the troupe of dancers made it too boyband and the backdrop was v dubious at times – the hearts whizzing round are just too much and don’t match the song’s offbeat/indie approach at all.

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