What’s going up or down? Every newspaper loves those handy guides to fashion trends or celebrity star power, because it’s an easy shorthand that readers enjoy.
With second rehearsals (watch them here) starting today – featuring the first 13 songs in the first semi – Eurovision blogs can do their equivalent. X is up! Y is down! Z is still zzzzzzzz. You can expect a lot more of this over the next week. It’s quite the rollercoaster.
My best advice to punters is to take things incrementally; try not to over-react to one good or bad rehearsal. Easier said than done, I know, but easing yourself into positions rather than charging in on something that will probably change over time is usually the most sensible option.
Montenegro was up by a multiple of a million today, but these things are all relative. Rambo now enters in a cloak which he takes off to reveal a scruffy tux beneath. Two of the backing dancers are in dark suits and sunglasses, the other is in cap, T-shirt and shorts. Euro notes are included in the backdrop. Banners are unfurled. The suited dancers use one of these to wrap up the other dancer who is then carted off. Rambo finishes the song showing his empty pockets. I think this all adds up to some kind of political comment.
The Icelandic duo didn’t look quite so comfortable as on Sunday. Jonsi was notably off-key at the start of the first run-through, due to problems with his earpiece according to the man himself. Greta looked nervous at times. This may have explained why the leading duo felt a little lacking in chemistry. ‘Never Forget’ got better with each practice, however. By the end, the last minute felt strong, with a nice switch to a red backdrop for the key change. This is perfectly competent at doing what it does, and that should see it easily into the final.
Greece’s problem is that it’s not perfectly competent at doing what it does, which when you consider that ‘Aphrodisiac’ is standard Greek ethnopop, is a shock to the system. Eleftheria’s vocals are thin and require assistance; she’s not getting enough. Quite why they couldn’t get four backing dancers to sing as well, at least on easy parts like the ‘oh-oh-oh’ bits is beyond me. It’s not like the choreography they have in place is adding much to the song. Right now, this is getting very little from the juries.
It’s all a bit cocktail hour for Latvia’s Anmary and chums. They stand around gossiping as the song opens, then wander around together a bit aimlessly. Anmary’s rather unflattering blue dress that she showcased today is being reconsidered, apparently. I wish the same could be said for the outfits of her backing vocalists – the stage is very busy with colour. Having said all that, ‘Beautiful Song’ is beautifully sung. It’s just a shame the staging is too casual without looking like as much fun as it was in the national final.
Albania’s Rona Nishliu was wearing a stripey sackcloth today, and one has to assume that’s not her outfit for the big night – it looked like she was on day release from jail. ‘Suus’ is still three minutes of aural and visual torture for me, having said all which, I have it in my list of probable qualifiers right now.
This was clearly going to be a day of interesting fashion choices, as Romania’s Elena revealed a black leotard with orange rah-rah skirt. There’s some shoulder detail that almost put her in Minnie Mouse territory, but she still looks stunning and produced vocals to match once more on ‘Zaleilah’.
In my pre-rehearsal analysis, I worried that the chaotic, dynamic national final performance might not go down so well with jurors. But as I wrote after their first rehearsal, I fear they’ve gone too far the other way in toning down epic accordion guy and the gang, although bagpipes dude does a stellar moonwalk to kick-start proceedings. Nonetheless, these are quibbles about an act that is coming across very strongly.
Switzerland’s Sinplus get their look right even if the English pronunciation needs work. They are still urging us to “swim against the shrimp” as they were back in December. The green and white lines of the backdrop add some energy to what’s on the screen and the lead singer works the stage well. There’s nothing too wrong with this and qualification could go either way.
The Belgium / Finland debate shows no sign of slowing up. Iris has come on a great deal since her national final appearance. She works the camera very effectively, giving us a vulnerable stare as she explains, “You took my love for granted, would you really miss me?” The Belgians missed a trick by not putting a piano on stage with her, which would help cement jury love for this, but I think they’re going to get it in a reasonably big way as it is.
I still find Finland far more repetitive and dated in comparison. Pernilla’s turquoise dress, cut away to reveal her knees, is not flattering. At this moment in time, I’m not feeling ‘Nar Jag Blundar’, but then again I never did.
Israel is as it was before, a fun song that looks nice enough on screen with the clock backdrop. ‘Time’ is also boosted by the lively backing singers. However, the chorus still feels like it’s not being projected enough and that could make the difference between qualification or not.
Just when you think San Marino’s ‘The Social Network Song’ couldn’t get any more hopeless, it finds further reserves. It turns out the four backing dancers are dressed as a pilot, a surgeon, a cheerleader and something else, a kind of Village People for the internet age. At the end each of them flourishes their gadget, be it a phone, iPad or camera. It’s the kind of thing you’d expect at a school assembly.
The only positive thing to come out of today for Greece’s chances was the initial stages of the Cypriot rehearsal. The first run-through for Ivi Adamou was actually worse than anything even Greece has come up with this week. Things improved afterwards, and it’s still in the mix to qualify but there are a few problems here. Firstly, the lifts look like quite an effort for all involved, either bring in male dancers or don’t bother would be my advice. Secondly, the staging is devoid of colour – everything is white, cream or neutral, which slightly drains the life out of this fun dance tune.
Another problem for Cyprus is that Soluna Samay follows her onto the stage, starts by belting out the refrain of ‘Should’ve Known Better’ and within five seconds knocks ‘La La Love’ into her sailor’s cap. Denmark’s act is as consistently strong as it’s always been. There’s little more to add. Some of the backdrops work better than others – the sunflower and corn fields look great, for example. Otherwise we know exactly what to expect from Soluna.
Let us know what you thoughts on today’s rehearsals in the comments section below. Who’s up and who’s down?!