Eurovision 2014: May 4 rehearsals

The press room was a little feverish for the first rehearsals of the automatic qualifiers today. Movements in the betting markets reflected a lot of UK love here, whilst Denmark had a quick, initial drift after Basim’s final run-through.

It’s worth pointing out that not much has qualitatively changed about either entry. And much of the enthusiasm for the UK felt more like relief that ‘Children of the Universe’ was being competently staged with plenty of thought. Which we could’ve guessed already.

We started the day off with Germany’s Elaiza. The purple and gold lighting was nice, and matched by some streamers for the final run-through, whilst the three women looked comfortable on stage. It all felt like it was just “there” without having too much of an impact, though.

Molly was up next; she’s not so much manic pixie girl, more zen pixie girl, starting off with eyes closed and arms in a yoga position (which is how she finishes as well). There’s still an issue with lack of clarity in the first verse, but Molly grows after that as the reverb effect kicks in. The backdrop is a blooming paisley pattern on a dark backdrop, which turns to rising Chinese lanterns during the bridge. The curtain of fire is prolonged and the only one we’ve seen so far.

If I had any criticism, it would be that it feels a little too safe. I’d like to see Molly add some interest by interacting with her backing singers, for example. But this was a good start.

The Danish staging is much as we saw it in the national final with gold lighting and the gang all nicely dressed in black and white. Basim is an engaging performer who knows exactly where the camera is. There’s a nice close-up moment that will melt a few hearts when he sings that he’s “feeling a little blue” and touches his cheek.

The main point of contention was the replacement of the Danish flag with a Basim banner featuring a heart and the word ‘Love’. There was a loud groan in the press centre, but this is a ‘Cliche Love Song’ after all. I don’t think it will put off the teen girls and grannies who should respond to this “non-threatening boy”, though it may not impress the more cynically-minded.

France was a little less polished to begin with, though was coming together better by the final run-through. The Twin Twin threesome are joined by two backing dancers. There’s an acid, colour-vomit backdrop that can be very busy, and too many long shots during which the stage looks huge – but this can all be worked on.

After so many dark-looking stage shows, Italy’s Versace-inspired white and gold backdrop is a relief. Emma’s band were all in white too, like a Dolce & Gabbana photoshoot. Emma gives herself plenty to do here, walking up and down one runway before starting down the other and performing a tiger crawl for a few yards on her way back.

I’d drop the first strut for some more interaction with her band, especially as she sounds breathy by the end. Also, the bright lighting needs greater variety – Finland showed yesterday what could be done for a rock sound using pulsing contrasts. Otherwise, this was a decent enough first effort.

Spain’s Ruth Lorenzo rounded off proceedings – the last act of all to rehearse. If truth be told, she stayed mainly in second gear having recently been under the weather. Talking of which, the hosts have created a nice rain effect on the scaffold frame and backdrop, with splashes on the LED floor. This rehearsal felt like it was all about perfecting lighting such as the angel-wings spotlight on Ruth for the big moments.

There’s been a nice change to the arrangement, with the backing singers chanting “Let it come down” instead of what I assume was its Spanish equivalent. My one worry here is that Ruth was stuck to the spot, singing-candle style. I’d like to see her come to the front of the stage towards the climax. ‘Dancing In The Rain’ is looking a little prim right now as a result.

Brief video clips are available on eurovision.tv. Do give us your thoughts below.

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25 comments to Eurovision 2014: May 4 rehearsals

  • RMarko

    Hi Daniel! Thanks for these reports from Copenhagen, they’ve been very helpful.
    UK is the only one I see winning (never thought I’d bee saying that), it’s catchy, anthemic, and overall fun.
    The problem with Armenia is that Aram is just not pretty enough. I know that does seem shallow, but so are the voters. People will not vote fore someone the do not find attractive. Furthermore, the staging makes him look creepy and evil. And I really don’t see anyone else being a contender. So you can say that UK will win for the lack of competition.
    My ‘wild’ predictions are:
    Portugal Q
    Norway NQ
    Malta top 5
    Finland top Scandinavian
    Cheers from Novi Sad, Serbia 🙂

    • Haha very wild!!
      However, for Norway to NQ it will take a disaster in the dress rehearsal for the juries, as its likely to either win the jury vote or at the very least be top 3

      • RMarko

        The juries are as unpredictable as the voters. Songs like this can go either very high (Kuula) or very low (My Heart Is Yours). Norway is lacking friends in the semi, has an awful draw and I believe that the mentioned performers are both way more charismatic than Espen. I do really like the song and the story behind it, but I am convinced that Norway is not a sure qualifier.
        Or you could be right and Norway tops the juries 😀

        • I disagree with you that the results of the juries are unpredictable. On the contrary.

          Just take into account that juries vote more “detailedly” than televoters. Not necessarily for different kind of songs, but they need to take the time to judge all entries. That’s sometimes absent with televoters.

          By doing so, they have the time and patience to judge the following aspects:
          –> vocals, usually impressive vocals present in ballads
          –> originality/uniqueness of song and perhaps hit potential
          –> “X-Factor” or charisma of the entry

          Now imagine if televoters would judge in the same way. Then Russia would not have won in 2012 in the 1st semi final with 189 points. And that’s quite easy to explain. Televoters are “occasional watchers”.

          They are sitting in the living room and when something like 5 old grannies show up, your dad would most likely say: “Now YOU need to see THIS haha!”. Hence the 189 points.

          Therefore, the points distribution of the 100% jury is always more equally distributed. In that the winner of the 100% jury most of the time receives not as many points as the winner from the 100% televote. The other way around for the rest of the ranking, especially the BOTTOM 6. Because of absence of favouritism towards a small number of acts, the BOTTOM 6 usually have a larger points total alltogether than the BOTTOM 6 from the 100% televote.

          I think….a 100% jury result from upcoming semi final 1 therefore could (COULDD :-/ !) look like this:
          01. Hungary
          02. Azerbaijan
          03. Armenia
          04. Estonia
          05. Belgium
          06. Ukraine
          07. Netherlands
          08. Albania
          09. Montenegro
          10. Sweden

          11. Moldova
          12. Russia
          13. Latvia
          14. Iceland

          And then the 100% televote:
          01. Hungary
          02. Ukraine
          03. Armenia
          04. Sweden
          05. Estonia
          06. Azerbaijan
          07. Russia
          08. Belgium
          09. Moldova
          10. Portugal

          11. Latvia
          12. Iceland
          13. Netherlands
          14. Montenegro

          Off course there’s a lotttt of guesswork in it as well.

          • Sorry, something went wrong with the template means qualified

          • Grrrr, something doesn’t let me type a certain character! So again….a 100% jury result from upcoming semi final 1 therefore could (COULDD :-/ !) look like this:
            01. Q Hungary
            02. Q Azerbaijan
            03. Q Armenia
            04. Q Estonia
            05. Q Belgium
            06. Q Ukraine
            07. Q Netherlands
            08. Albania
            09. Q Montenegro
            10. Q Sweden

            11. Moldova
            12. Q Russia
            13. Latvia
            14. Iceland

            And then the 100% televote:
            01. Q Hungary
            02. Q Ukraine
            03. Q Armenia
            04. Q Sweden
            05. Q Estonia
            06. Q Azerbaijan
            07. Q Russia
            08. Q Belgium
            09. Moldova
            10. Portugal

            11. Latvia
            12. Iceland
            13. Q Netherlands
            14. Q Montenegro

          • RMarko

            Whilst I do agree with you on the maths part, I still think you can’t know how the juries will vote, Simply because of those guidelines they are give. Because they are not rules, they are just guidelines, and a juror cat put an entry everywhere he wants on the list.

            For example, My favourite song this year is from Finland. But the song from Armenia had more impressive vocals, it was more original, and it had a superior performance – it ticks all of the boxes. But still I am gonna put Finland above Armenia on my rankings because I like it more than Armenia.
            Most jurors vote this way. They may be told to be objective, but they still vote how they want to. I hope you got my point.

  • Hi Daniel. Like you, I wouldn’t count off Denmark for victory just yet. When I place my bets (I did place my first ones today. But only for semi 1) I try not to get clouded by all the tweets on the internet.

    And most importantly, I think we overestimate the props sometimes. Yes, there was laughther with the Romanian “toilet seat” and the new banner for Denmark. But so was there a big giant last year for Ukraine. Laughable, but absolutely no influence on taking home the bronze medal.

    On the other hand, I think the “golden rain of fire” was executed perfectly with Azerbaijan in 2011 and last year with Denmark. But it didn’t add anything to the total package of the UK in 2012 and Georgia last year. On the contrary….they were far far away from the TOP 15 in the scoreboard.

    And, it’s only the first rehearsal. I still think Denmark can pull off a 2nd victory in a row. As long as the charisma from Basim stays. And so far the effective total package from Dansk Melodi Grand Prix is copy-pasted nicely to the Copenhagen stage. Let’s wait till Tuesday.

    Regarding the UK. Yes, good first rehearsal. Still not a winner for me. The first verse/30 sec’s are too quiet to make an impact. BUT, I have it on 8th place now in the TOP 10.

    —————————————————————————
    –> I have a feeling it’ll be a fight between Hungary and Denmark this year (Also Hungary had some pretty damn good rehearsals so far).
    –> Then two ballads fighting with Hungary/Denmark for a 2nd,3rd or 4th place (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belgium and indeed now Spain).
    –> I have Ukraine (they do it again) and Estonia (wunderfully staged, underestimated) complemening a TOP 6.
    –> Possible surprises for TOP 10: Netherlands.

    • Henry VIII

      I’m not sure about Hungary. Just now in the opening ceremony the interviewer asked the Hungary guy if he thought the subject matter was appropriate for ESC. All the national Graham Nortons will also bring it up on the night.

      I agree about Denmark. Very solid act, with an undeserved drift today. (I don’t personally like the song).

    • Of course a fire curtain is going to do absolutely nothing when you’ve got a man in his mid-70s singing a dreary song from first slot.

  • Daniel, how likely are any further costume changes for tomorrow’s Semi-Final 1 dress rehearsals? I say this because more than one act in that Semi looked to me like they should improve/change their stage outfits. Have costumes been tweaked or changed at this point in proceedings before?

    • Daniel

      Hi Tim, there is still time for costumes to be tweaked or changed and there have been a reasonable amount of examples at this stage before.

  • Justin

    Thanks again Daniel for all your thoughts. It was a very interesting day.

    Germany just fades away into the background for me. If it gets an early draw I think its a candidate for last place – though I did note that it has charted in several neighbouring countries this week.

    To me it seems quite clear that (unusually) the UK are out to win the Contest. I like the staging though as you say they could squeeze more out. I do think Molly has the advantage over all the Scandi entries that COTU can pick up points from ex-USSR and Balkans. Lots of middle to high rankings all over the place.

    Saying that, to me Basim is still a strong contender. He talked in his interview about his x-factor experience assisting him to find the cameras. Looking forward to seeing the close-ups which have potential to be hugely effective. Its a shame about the flag – it doesn’t do the presentation any favours. Lets hope they don’t shine lasers through his eyes on the big night.

    Sweden has just hit 5 in the betfair win market. Suspect some sofabet readers are getting stuck in !

  • The odds are still looking weird to me. I can’t believe people still think Armenia will win after his competent but underwhelming rehearsals. I do like Sanna’s entry but again it doesn’t look or sound like something that will be contending for victory. Ukraine’s song is still poor and I don’t think the political situation is going to make people vote for them.

    It’s another 2010/2011 situation where things are going to change a lot in this next week, and may still end up being wrong right up to the final night.

    I think it’s mental you can still get Greece at 66/1 – had an each-way nibble on that today. Azerbaijan looks too long at 25/1 too considering they’ve been top 5 for 5 years running and the bloggers are saying it looks and sounds fantastic.

    For the win I’m still saying Denmark or UK, now edging more and more towards UK. Manchester 2015!

  • Justin

    Ben I think you are spot on about the odds. The market looks lopsided to me. There has been a gentle drift of both Armenia and Sweden over the last couple of days which is probably the market slowly coming to terms with the fact that they are both under priced – but the market is uncertain as to which are over priced.

    I still think there are 6 or 7 (the obvious ones) who can win the Contest but none of those tick all the boxes from what we have seen.

    Only one box left to tick – the draw. Obviously Denmark is ahead on that one – but that may well help us narrow it down!

  • Now that we’ve seen all countries rehearse at least once, I think it’s pretty clear that exactly three nations are in it to win it: Hungary, Armenia and the UK. I think they could easily end up being three of the Top 4, but obviously Denmark could be up there with its perfect draw and highly competent package. Azerbaijan should also be floating somewhere around the Top 5. I don’t think Sweden are bothered about winning, it’s a dull song that needed spectacular staging in order to lift it, which it hasn’t got. Ukraine is polished but isn’t good enough to win and it doesn’t seem to be a song that people have shown much interest in. Norway is decent enough but I’m struggling to see it as a contender and it may miss out on the Top 10. Other countries I expect to see in the Top 10 or there abouts are Malta and Italy. Very excited to see how the next few days turn out now. Bring it on! 🙂

    • I agree with everything you say. But i think Armenia has a few chances for winning. Bookmakers have totally screw up the favorites. And after all rehearsals , Uk is still 10!!! and swedon 2nd favorite!!!I think that if Uk or Hungary is second half, odds will crush!!

    • I completely agree with this, I believe that may actually be the top 5 indeed. Not ruling out Azerbaijan slipping to 6th or 7th this year on the basis that this is the first song since 2008 which is not a pop song, but it appears beautifully staged and captivating, and I’m happy about that since it’s my favourite. I also would love for the Netherlands to do better than last year… while I don’t think the Calm After the Storm is better than Birds musically, it is structured more conventionally and also appears beautifully, romantically staged, so might do well on accessibility grounds. Malta could make a surprise jump into top 5 as well, but that’s more of a personal hope really.

  • Scott

    I’m worried about Hungary now, having backed it with some cash. For me it is the standout performance so far, but I heard a podcast with a former jury member declaring that it isn’t a suitable subject matter for Eurovision and suggesting it was his least favourite song (behind cake to bake?). I hugely disagree, but it doesn’t matter what I think. That combined with the red and blacking – though fire on stage not having hindered previous Euro winners suggests viewers watch in a different way to The X Factor – and possible racism are less of a concern but also in the back of my mind.

    Ultimately, I get the impression you need something that stands out to win Eurovision most years, so suspect it’ll either be in the top four or the bottom four.

  • Montell

    Daniel, in which dress rehearsal of semi final 1 jury is going to vote? Two dress rehearsals are scheduled today and one is tomorrow.

    • Daniel

      Hi Montell, juries vote on the second rehearsal today. After this afternoon’s first dress rehearsal, I will write an article describing my impressions. I will then tweet the all-important jury rehearsal tonight.

      The third rehearsal, tomorrow afternoon, is the one taken least seriously by most acts. It’s treated like a warm-up exercise for the televised event later.

      • Perhaps you can dig deeper into the jury’s minds Daniel ;-)? What will the full 100% jury vote look like (ranking-wise). And then tomorrow your thoughts about the 100% televote during the televised show or tomorrw’s 3rd dress rehearsal.

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