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.