Eurovision 2013: May 9 Rehearsals

The last of the semi-final first rehearsals took place today, covering the second half of the second heat. We started with the Greek Koza Mostra boys, whose ‘Alcohol Is Free’ shtick is already well rehearsed. This was always going to be difficult to film right initially with four of them charging around the stage, and I’m sure camera angles will improve significantly as the practices progress.

There are a few changes to what we saw at the London and Amsterdam concerts: the boys use the catwalk a little pointlessly for the first Iakovidis solo; and the bridge, when they raise one knee then another, now takes place in darkness with their instruments lit up by themselves. I can’t say I’m a particular fan of either of these tweaks, but lead singer Ilias Kozas has a strong vocal and the infectious energy remains.

Israel’s Moran Mazor stuck even more closely to what we’d seen in the national final. She’d just blinged up the same dress, but otherwise kept it simple and effective. Her vocals were strong on ‘Rak Bishvilo’ and the camerawork had some nice touches, including an opening shot at the piano keys.

Armenia’s Dorians with ‘Lonely Planet’ languish near the bottom of most fan polls, and that was reflected in the reaction to their rehearsal today. There was nothing wrong with Gor Sujyan’s lead vocals, and his band did what you’d expect. I thought that everything was competent enough though the pyros used in the song’s climax for the final run-through seemed a little incongruous with the worthy, static presentation.

Hungary’s ByeAlex was another to follow the template of his national final presentation, with the graphics from the official video used in the backdrop. The only difference was that his jeans were even skinnier and he had a new asymmetrical hairstyle.

If the fashion statement is anti-fashion, the performance statement was anti-performance. The three on stage were so laid-back they may as well have been horizontal. At one point mid-song, Alex even checked his watch and had a quick word with the guitarist. The fans loved it, and ‘Kedvesem’ worked its charms on me too. But quite how the rest of Europe will take to a Hungarian hipster mumbling into his microphone, as eurovicious has aptly described it, is open to question.

Next up, Norway’s Margaret Berger was the most keenly anticipated act of the day and scrutiny was high. There were a few missed notes on the first run-through of ‘I Feed You My Love’ but I thought the vocals came across really well after that, aided by three backing singers, and was surprised that some commentators disagreed.

In fact, I preferred the performance here to the admittedly very similar one in the national final, now that it has a backdrop and a few excellent camera shots, including a nice swirly one for her second “The whole world is mine”. Margaret was a little less reserved too, smiling lots and putting extra into her at-the-club-throwing-some-moves moment. This was a very positive first rehearsal.

I warmed to the various run-throughs of Albania’s ‘Identitet’ but that may have been due to the copious use of pyros in the final run-through, including a Roman candle out of Bledar’s guitar during his solo on the satellite stage. There was certainly more energy and oomph about the performance than the rather more subdued Armenian one.

I still find Bledar’s initial vocal solo off-putting, but if getting over that hump, the voting public looking to rock may find that this satisfies them more than ‘Lonely Planet’.

Georgia’s ‘Waterall’ followed the template of the staging concept video that had been briefly posted in the Sofabet comments section. It was everything you’d expect from a country clearly doing its best to win this competition. In the final run-through we got jets of steam followed by the curtain of fire for the impressive big note, and there were jets of fire for the ending.

Nodi and Sophie’s vocals were excellent, with my only issue being how heavy their accents are in the opening solos. Sophie’s lean on Nodi was the only one of their calculated moves which looked a little awkward, but there was no denying this was another impressive rehearsal.

Switzerland’s Takasa fell very flat in comparison. The six band members were largely rooted to the spot for their three minutes of ‘You and Me’ and the overall feel was rather amateurish despite an adequate vocal. They looked like the church band who should stick to the Sunday fete. I’d call this a non-qualifier now but for the question of whether Salvation Army members around Europe are being mobilised to vote for them.

Romania’s Cezar may have been last but he certainly didn’t provide least for the staging of ‘It’s My Life’. In a wizard’s outfit open to the navel to show off a huge cross round his neck, Cezar played Merlin whilst three backing dancers appeared to struggle with a red parachute below him.

The pendant lights and backdrop soon went from dark blue to deep red and in the flames of hell, Cezar maintained his falsetto all the way from the first chorus. During the bridge, like Aliona Moon he started to rise on a podium as his outfit extended, whilst the female backing dancer had the tarpaulin wrapped around her before rising to try and greet him. If it sounds bad conceptually, on screen it was worse: poorly executed, messy and laughable.

What did you think of today’s rehearsals, and its implications for the second semi and indeed the contest as a whole? Do let us know below.

 

31 comments to Eurovision 2013: May 9 Rehearsals

  • Daniel

    I should add that tomorrow sees all the first semi-finalists rehearse for the second time, starting at noon. It may not be worth tweeting about every single effort if it’s a replica of the first one. You can expect me to tweet during the day if there are significant improvements or regressions though.

  • eurovicious

    Re: the supposed risk of a Salvation Army vote, I’ve largely discounted this after brief consideration. The Salvation Army is greater in number in western countries where the overall number of votes cast will be much higher, so they’re unlikely to be able to make much of a difference. In the eastern countries where the televote is smaller (in the tens of thousands) and where organised voting thus really could make a difference, the SA is a much smaller and newer presence. In any case, the televote is counterbalanced by the jury vote in every country. It could always still sneak through but it’s much more likely not to.

    We can assume that commentators Europe-wide will preannounce the band as being representatives of the Salvation Army, unless this is clamped down on by the EBU (which it should but probably won’t be). As such, there’s also the possibility of it picking up a vote from viewers who aren’t SA members but are sympathetic to the SA and Christianity. We can also assume that commentators will refer to the fact the group weren’t allowed to perform under the SA name or in their uniforms; this could engender further sympathy by pressing people’s “religious persecution” buttons. (Am I overthinking this?) However, I again can’t see this happening in the many eastern countries in the semi, where a lot of viewers simply won’t know who the SA are while others may dismiss them as a cult.

    Romania looks beyond awful. I loved Krassimir’s staging for its gleeful excess, but this is pure horror. Cezar himself looks diabolical in both senses – like what you’d get if you put Aliona and Moran through the machine from The Fly. Complete with fleshy sheet, lightning bolts, smoke and bursts of fire, It’s the most unwittingly perfect realisation of the on-stage hellmouth (as employed in X Factor et al) that I’ve ever seen – a giant Martian menstruation of a performance, with Cezar as the baffling, malevolent coil reigning supreme in a vast Satanic uterus. pic.twitter.com/WtjScH9aHb I hope Syco are taking notes. Previous Albanian red-and-blacks pale in comparison; this is a 10 on the scale. And what’s the deal with the cross, is he trying to out-Christian the Christians? I hope it’s at least the right way up, otherwise this is an 11 on the scale.

    Have to say I’m appalled at SRF for promoting the Salvation Army to such a degree (including before their victory – they were complicit in the whole thing) and for not even realising that you can’t send an organisation to Eurovision, let alone in their uniforms. If they were just a Christian pop group I’d have no problem with it at all, but the members were specifically “cast” and the whole thing was planned to a T as part of a Salvation Army PR campaign. Can you imagine the BBC sending an evangelical Christian organisation to Eurovision? EBU should have disallowed it.

    Saw the old fella speaking on Swiss TV the other day, I think it’s awesome that (like Lys) he’s not only in great shape at a very old age but also has all his faculties plus wit aplenty. I really warmed to him just on his character, despite my reservations about the song and group; they’re daft not to involve him more. Get that man on a turntable. (RIP 75 Cents. You will live on in our hearts forever.)

    • So, I guess you don’t like Romania to qualify

      • eurovicious

        I did, put it that way! http://sofabet.com/2013/04/06/eurovision-2013-is-romanias-cezar-worth-your-tenner/

        After today I see Iceland qualifying rather than Romania. The question posing itself now is that if we’re to assume Romania, Switzerland and Hungary are all NQs, we only have 3 of the final 6 getting through (Norway, Albania and Georgia). However, while this would be unusual, it wouldn’t be unprecedented – only 2 of the final 6 qualified in SF2 2008. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurovision_2008#Semi-final_2

        • DashBerlin

          Sorry Eurovious, that was a bit tongue in cheek response by me!!
          I think the Swiss might sneak through, however I also think Romania will. When I first heard it, my first reaction was this is awful, but that changed to, this is so bad/crazy I like it. Its allies and pimp slot makes me think it will be in the final

          • Nugg

            I had exactly the same reaction to Romania Dash, EuroV sent me it the night it qualified and I said awful, but the more I listened the more I love it and have bet it to qualify at 6/4. My main concerns now are the staging and the fact that casual viewers will only hear it once and the awsomeness of “Cezar-the voice” may not sink in on first hearing.
            Regardless of finishing position I still love it and it has earned a spot on my ipod.
            My main bet though this year is ITALY top 10 finish at 4/6….I have this priced much shorter in my own tissue and see it as a banker.

  • Chris Bellis

    Excellent stuff, eurovicious. I’m very glad I found this site.
    I know they won’t get through, and I haven’t bet on him, but I would love Cezar to succeed just for the crack of it.

  • I’m left not as clear in this semi final as the first as to who qualifies.
    Azerbijan, Norway, Georgia look the certain Qs, all staged well, sounded great
    Greece, Iceland, Romania, Finland, Israel should Q

    I have a problem with Malta, its a nice song, but will it be remembered? It can’t count on any voting allies.
    Latvia, Armenia, Albania – only one of these can qualify if any, Albanias staging and slightly better ally count might get them in.
    I’m an anti-Bulgaria guy, but I could be wrong. I have it not qualifying at the moment.
    San Marino, a fanboy favourite just isn’t going to do well enough on the jury and televote will struggle.
    Macedonia won’t qualify, I can’t think of any reason to put it through.
    Hungary, the staging is nice, its a quirky song. I just don’t know how it will do.
    I really do like the Swiss song, for some reason, its my guilty pleasure of a qualifier.

  • chewy wesker

    The betfair market for semi-final 1 has as follows to make the final
    Austria
    Croatia
    Denmark
    Russia
    Beauty&the beast Ukraine
    Netherlands
    Belarus
    Moldova
    Ireland
    Serbia.
    But doubts about Austria
    Doubts about Netherlands
    Doubts about Ireland
    All worth a lay really when you think about it. I think you can make a case for Estonia, Lithuania and Belgium.
    Semi-final 2 betfair market would have it as follows
    San Marino
    Azerbaijan
    Malta
    Bulgaria
    Greece
    Israel
    Armenia
    Norway
    Albania
    Georgia
    But doubts about Bulgaria
    Doubts about Israel
    Doubts about Armenia
    Doubts about San Marino
    All odds on to make the final
    But I’m sure one of these semi-finals will give us all a surprise! Cezar hmmmmm!!

    • Chris Bellis

      Chewy…Pretty much agree with your doubts, but for Bulgaria, where I think the technical proficiency will win over. The song will stand out because even though it’s a bit of a travesty of itself to those who know Bulgarian ethno beat music, it will sound different to the televoters and be interesting to the juries. I’ve tested my theory with the family who know nothing about Bulgarian music and they like it and would vote for it.. Enough for me.

  • Alex

    Daniel,

    Thanks for another summary of the acts. There are a lot of people writing about it; but so often it feels like they are merely promoting their own agenda – you don’t come across that way.

    I have had a sizable sum on Greece to win the contest because:

    Their song is different to what else is on offer
    The act is enthusiastic and passionate
    No Bosnia or Turkey would seem to increase marginally their already very strong televoting bloc
    As an aside I feel there could be a “sympathy” vote for them after another bad year economically (the smallest factor of the four)

    My concerns are simply that so many people seem to dislike it, it isn’t sung in English and finally (again the smallest factor last) there is a concern that they can’t afford to host

    What are your thoughts?

    Thanks,

    Alex

  • Daniel

    Thanks for the kind words, Alex. I did write a preview piece about the Greek entry summing up my thoughts on its chances. You can read it here:
    http://sofabet.com/2013/02/19/eurovision-2013-can-alcohol-is-free-see-greece-return-to-the-top-ten/

    Bear in mind this was written before the realisation that the rules had changed concerning the juries and televote scores using a ranking of all the acts rather than just providing a top ten.

  • john kef

    Hi, Daniel! Many thanks for all the useful infos that you provide us. What do you think about Moldova’s chances for a Top10 ranking @ 4.00? I believe there’s a value in it.

  • Daniel

    Hi John, it’s an interesting one to consider, and we’ll have to see how Aliona comes across today now that expectations have been raised. Moldova tends to knock on the door of the top ten with its better entries – 11th last year, 12th in 2011 and 14th in 2009.

    • DashBerlin

      To shove my thoughts in, I think its a far better song/performance than last years which finished 11th (I had money on it to finish top 10, sigh), its my belief it will score well with juries and the price will likely contract after the semi but may drift as once the contest days come up and betting livens up, I doubt it will be popular in the markets

  • Daniel

    BREAKING NEWS: at an 11am press conference, the organisers revealed that three of the automatic finalists will be drawn in the first half and three will be in the second half. As Sweden have already been drawn in the second half, there are two remaining slots among the automatic qualifiers here, three slots left in the first half.

  • Daniel

    As an addendum to this, there was nothing said about the ten qualifying from each semi being split so that five get a first half draw in the final and five get a second half draw in the final. However, given the system for the automatic qualifiers being used, this could very much be the case.

    One final point from the press conference: those deciding the final running order will not have access to the semi-final results.

  • Justin

    Dan, any improvement from Austria today? I’m thinking last in the televote at the moment. There are only 3 or 4 it can beat with the juries.

  • I saw the video of Belarus performance today, wasn’t really impressed with the vocals at all. Gone cold on Belarus

    • eurovicious

      I like her vocals but the overall look is cheap, and there’s a country/song disparity.

      • sonovox

        Yep – that’s sure to be a problem in a year where Denmark have sent an Irish entry, Serbia have sent a Croatian entry, Georgia have sent a Spanish entry and Moldova have sent an Azerbaijani entry 🙂

        • I don’t think anyone will care about that. I was used to the studio version, thought it was a hit, watching the staging, less keen. Wouldn’t want to put anyone off betting it, just think I’m swerving it now

  • Israel seems to be providing a Nishliu-lite moment for the juries (meant as a compliment) and it seems to be coming across nicely, both vocally and on the screen. I expect it to be in semi 2’s jury top 5 alongside Norway, Georgia, Azerbaijan and either Greece/Malta. Even if Iceland or the other of Greece/Malta knock on the door of the jury’s top 5, I think Israel won’t be pushed down to 6th/7th, Malta/Iceland probably will. Well, a jury top 5 has never failed to qualify from the semi, and Israel have a good song and decent voting power here I think. Any thoughts guys?

  • Despite the dress, I think its sung well, as you said, sure to be popular enough with juries and will pick up enough televotes to Q I believe.
    I don’t see a top 3 finish or doing much damage in the final though

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