You can watch today’s rehearsals here. It featured the last five songs from semi 1 and the first eight songs from semi 2. These second practices are for each act to try and perfect their staging and direction – the next time they get the chance will already be the first full dress rehearsal. You could see from the press feed different shots being tried out with each run-through.
I approached the day feeling a little tired. Let me tell you those Russian Babushki were perkier than I was when first to practice this morning – I want to know their secret. However, even though fatigue set in towards the end, it had a saving grace, more on which below.
The Russian grannies are as before. They’ve stolen Paradise Oskar’s backdrop for the first segment of ‘Party For Everybody’, but the Earth zooms off into the distance as the beat kicks in. There are fireworks and pulsing smaller globes for the rest of the song. The camera angles were altered until they captured as much of the cute, small one as possible. My feelings on this haven’t changed since Monday, but it is coming across very well on the screens.
Hungary’s Compact Disco were sounding good again, but decent enough though the song is, its presentation here is the televisual equivalent of wallpaper. They’re in dark, anonymous outfits, and the brooding lead man only finds the camera occasionally. At the moment, ‘Sound of Our Hearts’ is lacking the character and verve shown by the Swiss boys who are swimming in the same stream.
I really enjoy Austria’s ‘Woki Mit Deim Popo’ in all its offensive glory, but it looks a mess on stage. As I reported after their first rehearsal, the girls have light tubes fitted to their knickers, as well as to their tops. But the effect didn’t really have any impact today, partly because the girls were not shaking their booty at the crucial moment.
The Trackshittaz also have some light thingies on their thighs and shoulders that come on for their choreography, but the stage brightens too quickly for it to be worthwhile. Given that the boys have upped the naughtiness of the routine in other ways – one of them finishes the song with his face right next to the fanny of the central pole dancer – there’s nothing here to impress the juries.
Pasha Parfeny was going through the motions a little for Moldova, but was solid enough. ‘Lautar’ relies on staging that matches the song, and the camera angles need to be right for it. They got better throughout. Pasha has altered part of the choreography: instead of mock horse-riding before mock river-punting, the girls lay on the floor and he pretends there’s a downpour.
Jedward’s fountain runneth over to a greater height today, although the main impact of this was to remind me I needed to pee. There’s a sense that ‘Waterline’ is not capturing imaginations here in the way that ‘Lipstick’ did in Dusseldorf. The backing vocals are not carrying the song so effectively at the moment, the water backdrop is much duller than last year’s visuals and the fountain actually limits the boys’ movements – they use far less of the stage than they did in 2011.
Moving onto those in the second semi, first up were Serbia’s Zeljko Joksimovic followed by Macedonia’s Kaliopi. You know what you’re getting from both – completely professional run-throughs with pitch-perfect vocals. In the first Serbian run-through the stage was a little dark but Zeljko picked up on this and it was being rectified later on. This was not the outfit you’ll see on the big night though his jacket will be black.
Netherlands is to semi two what Latvia is to semi one: charming and clueless. Joan is still going native in the headdress, and matches it with a pale blue dress. She looked far more relaxed today. Her campfire band do their thing miles away as if they parked in the wrong place before realising their mistake and joining her for the last chorus. We didn’t see it with the fires on stage today though the urns were in place.
Malta retains its bouncy, cheesy presentation – I half expect Kurt Calleja to announce at some point, “Is everyone having fun?!” There are a few things they could do to help themselves here. The fake-DJ-cum-dancer is a complete distraction and either needs to stay behind the decks or go altogether, whilst Kurt needs to be careful how he vocally riffs through the final minute, which has a tendency to become ragged. However, as Nick suggests, their qualification hopes can never be ruled out.
The Belarus and Portuguese rehearsals did happen, though they passed me by somewhat. There’s nothing wrong with the way ‘We Are The Heroes’ is staged – I dig the horizontal action, for example. The song is serviceable enough too. But there’s a leaden way that the lead singer moves and acts, as if he’s weighed down by the chainmail top he’s wearing. Meanwhile, Portugal is solid old-school Eurovision stuff of the kind I got bored with many years ago, though Filipa Sousa does her best to sell it.
What the day really needed, it turned out, was Gaitana, who I can honestly say is the best thing I have seen in rehearsals so far. It’s a shame that ‘Be My Guest’ is nothing more than a refrain and a trumpet riff, stuck together with shout-outs like “Welcome!” and “People!”
The Ukrainian team has thankfully toned down the presentation. They have ditched the body popper (he didn’t make it past the audition stage after all) and the energetic boys in skirts only enter for the first trumpet moment. This makes the virtual dancers more bearable, but the main show is Gaitana, a joy to watch as she rather remarkably turns this sow’s ear into a silk purse.
Poor old Sofi Marinova is still alone on stage for ‘Love Unlimited’. She’s actually doing sterling work herself, but without any dancers for this dance track, Bulgaria look doomed. As always, do let me know what you think of today’s rehearsals in the comments section below.