Eurovision 2015: May 11 rehearsals

After a longer pre-rehearsal period than usual, the press gang were chomping at the bit for today’s action. And action was what they got with Moldova’s first rehearsal.

Carrying on the concept of the video, Eduard was the cheeky criminal surrounded by police in PVC shorts. The female officer flashed her bum cheeks, the two men thrust away in their fetish outfits – there was something for everyone. As expected the choreography, involving a T-shirt ripped off and a back-flip from a multi-level platform, was well worked out. Eduard’s vocals didn’t suffer either. It looks like more of a televote song than a jury one.

I expected Armenia to be more of a work in progress given the need for six of them to figure out choreography and perfect the sound mix. But there had clearly been lots of preparation, because they arrived with a reasonably slick show. Vocals were generally strong, with Inga a particular highlight. The purple staging, like the song, is designed to appeal to the diaspora, with ethno elements and a few nice overhead shots.

Belgium benefits from coming next, given that ‘Rhythm Inside’ is as contemporary as ‘Face The Shadow’ is cheesy. Loic and his backing group sound great; the choreography and camera shots required practice, and were only coming together by the last run-through. The robotic and arty staging should cement jury respect for the package, but this and the monochrome concept could be a little clinical when it comes to televoters.

Netherlands’ ‘Walk Along’ is a bland, repetitive song that needs lifting in its staging. Unfortunately, Trijntje’s slutty widow outfit, with face veil ripped off part-way through, is distracting in a negative way. There’s only one camera take here, not dissimilar to what they tried successfully last year. But it’s unnecessary for a solo act, and only cements a rather static presentation.

Finland is as was seen in the national final, with dry ice and a backdrop which suggests PKN are playing a gig. Camera angles captured the guttural feel of the song. I remain rather uncertain as to how viewers and juries will react without any useful precedent.

Greece provides us with something far more conventional by Eurovision standards. Generally, this rehearsal was an exercise in how to sell a ballad of this ilk: keep it simple and classy. A blue “eye” backdrop didn’t need to be watchful of Maria Elena’s vocals, which were on point. If there was one criticism, it’s that ‘One Last Breath’ needs pyros or a colour change for the moment it morphs into a Bond theme tune.

Estonia was very much a rough draft, but showed signs of promise. Retro graphics showing silhouettes at an open door back-light Stig, then Elina when she walks forward to have her say in ‘Goodbye to Yesterday’. Both singers engaged the cameras effectively, which was impressive given that each run-through worked through some very different angles, often oblique to fit the retro mood. Stig leaves Elina alone on stage for the final part of the song.

FYROM is a work in progress too, though I’m not sure the concept is as promising. There’s nothing wrong with the stone-arched backdrop which slowly fills with leaves. The problem lies with the over-choreographed Backstreet Boys-style moves Daniel attempts to pull off with his backing singers. There’s not enough conviction in them, possibly because they don’t really fit the song. Still, the camera angles improved throughout each run-through.

Do look at the clips on the official site, eurovision.tv, and let us know what’s gone up and down in your estimations based on these admittedly early impressions.

45 comments to Eurovision 2015: May 11 rehearsals

  • Boki

    Thanks Daniel as always. Did you notice any use of the floor LED tiles by anyone else then Estonia (at least I understood they use some)?

  • chewy wesker

    Also Daniel I noticed the projections are impressive on the background on FYROM they look much larger than the performers, just wondering how you think Mans Zelmerlow’s staging will look like at the venue? Do you think it could it look much more improved than his performance at Melodifestivalen.

  • Daniel

    Hi Boki, it wasn’t just Estonia who used floor LED tiles. Netherlands had a forcefield emanating from where Trijntje was standing. Armenia’s use of it was particularly effective, with ethnic “hieroglyphic” circles swirling around, and later on a world map where the singers stood on their part of the globe.

    Not sure how the stage will look for Sweden, but can’t imagine it will restrict what we saw in MF in any way.

  • Chris

    I don’t see Macedonia working. Daniel Kajmakoski promised a surprise and he delivered – worst choreography since Kati Wolf. He should have just left the long forgotten hip hoppsters from Blackline to their well deserved retirement. Instead he’s performing Afro-grooves with pop pensioners in front of ancient Greek pillars and columns at Eurovision. It’s a cheap gimmick, desperately trying to add some “star power” to his bland persona. Unfortunately, the whole visual performance just doesn’t mesh and is about as congruous as Scotch whisky in a milk bottle. I don’t see this going anywhere and it seems too late to fix it.

    • Chris

      Actually more like putting whisky in a milk flask. I really don’t think the mix of an ancient Greek or classic background with the hip hoppsters of a bygone age synthesizes very well. It’s a completely random mix of styles without rhyme or rhythmn. It seems that Daniel was really desperate for that “star power” and it is almost as if the show now revolves around his “idols.” The funny thing is that these guys were fly-by-night stars back in the 90’s who have since fallen on hard times so that there isn’t even a lot of glitter to rub off on Daniel. Epic fail in my view. The leaves are falling off the Macedonian Eurovision tree in anticipation of the cold wind that is going to blow them offstage.

  • Donald

    That Estonia backdrop not looking great, gives whole thing a dated dreary feel, not modern retro pop feel. and the image itself resembles an image far far removed from Eurovision. very strange.

    • Chris

      Estonia is another country that has been struggling with staging its performances – I absolutely see your point and agree with you. I am having a deja vu moment. This reminds me of Estonia’s Eurovision effort back in 2011 – Rockefeller Street. Another fanwank that narrowly qualified but landed well outside the top 10 it was widely favored to be in. I’ll definitely be laying Estonia top 5 and top 10.

      • I wouldn’t go as far as laying Estonia top ten. It’s still a catchy, radio-friendly song with a clear package and personality, whereas Rockefeller Street was quirky bubblegum.

        • Chris

          You’re right about the quality of the songs, of course but it all depends on the odds. The staging does not look that good and the whole performance lacks oomph. With a poor draw, this song could well go under and be forgotten by the end of the show. That’s not a foregone conclusion by any means but as things stand, I don’t think it has more than a 50-60% chance of landing in the top 10 right now.

      • eurovicious

        Goodbye To Yesterday is not fanwank.

        • Chris

          Not in terms of the song, no. In that way I agree with you – it isn’t fanwank. I’m not really taken in by the presentation though. How does the skyline of New York relate to the lyrics of the song and Eurovision? I don’t see an immediate connection and find the overall delivery rather static. Of course, it’s early days yet.

          • Ultimate fanwank of this year is Russia. It ticks all the fanwank boxes of previous major fanwanks.

            Diaspora will ensure solid T10 position but it will fall well short of points needed to win imo.

          • Donal Ryan

            I don’t consider Russia to be a fanwank at all. A key indicator of such are good poll showings. Polina has finished outside the top 10 in almost every poll I’ve seen and 11th in the OGAE poll which is most notorious for its fanwank tendencies.
            She may well fall short of the line but at last the market has at last realized the distinct possibility of Sochi 2016.

  • It seems that there were real conflicting reports about the Belgian rehearsal. Based on the impression clip I saw, I thought it was by far the strongest, most visually striking performance, but at the same time, having not had much time to digest the recent “Voice” performance which was quite striking as well, it feels like everyone’s expectations were let down. Some say it was the strongest rehearsal, others say they expected more, the odds have drifted. Very strange.

    I feel like I have a comfortable 10 qualifiers I can call for SF1 at this point, but I’ll wait for tomorrow’s rehearsals to be sure, and it’s very rare I feel this sure about them to be quite honest. Belgium, for me, is sailing through.

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    I’ve been placing my bets early as I figure that by the time I manage to read the breaking lowdowns on the rehearsals, the value odds will have long since been exploited. It all feels a bit City of London trading pit. As they advise (the words from the wise): don’t be early to the funeral because you were late to the wedding

    I wrote a lengthy piece (more for my own amusement) on the 3 song-performances to which I consistently return. Only to discover that Gav has near identical opinions on 2 of them (Latvia and Cyprus). He should be very worried! Lol.

    The other 1 I love, perhaps my absolute favourite from this years ESC (just ahead of Latvia), but which doesn’t seem to warrant much serious attention, is Belarus.

    I find the EW 100/1 odds a wee surprising. In the 16/1 to 33/1 range is what I would be allocating.

    But it’s the EW 20/1 available for Uzari and Maimanu in Semi 1 that strikes me as my idea of this festival’s value bet.

    Staging changes everything -of course- but, to me, the 5 countries ahead of in that Semi’s betting all have problems to overcome. For one (or several) reasons, I don’t listen with any pleasure to any of those others. Imo, and at this stage, they’re all beatable.

    Just an aside, but has any one else noted how the Belgium singer looks like a young Mads-as-Hannibal?

    And how Armenia’s song (enjoyably) sounds like it could have been a near-qualifier to make it onto the ‘Rent’ soundtrack?

    • Hi Guildo. As a general bit of advice, I would say that if you are betting on a song to win a semi-final, you are also betting on it to finish in the top 4 of the final (at least!) Consider that when placing your bets. I personally think Belarus is tacky, Eurovisionny, lacks in identity and personality, and is structurally and musically unconventional and will not qualify. I’m open to having my mind changed by the rehearsal, but that’s where I stand for now.

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        Hi Ben, have just watched the rehearsal snippet and have concluded you’re probably right and I’ve done my money.

        Nothing’s connecting, including the performers, the backdrop and the choice of colours and imagery. The storyline from the video has also disappeared.

        There were hints in the music video of a ‘Hold Me’ type staging being prepared.

        The absence of any semblance of narrative or visual imagination is a pity and a waste. They appear to have given up!

        For me, the keynote vibe about the song is its dynamism, its drama and sense of thrill. The staging translation has managed to straitjacket, divorce and alienate all these qualities.

  • Thanks for the diligent reporting Daniel, much appreciated as always!

  • Alen

    looks like russia had a terrific rehearsal and i just betted on them winning their semi and overall top eastern country (yes even against estonia)…not a high amount though but i already saw odds shortening 🙂

  • Chris

    That I am quite certain won’t happen. You can bank on a lot of 0 points from NATO countries. There will be pressures – informal and/or more formal from the state broadcasters – on juries not to vote for what many consider a piece of propaganda. I don’t think there is any appetite for a Eurovision in Moscow in the current political climate.

  • john kef

    Last year it was the ”Eastern countries won’t vote for Conchita” theory that got busted. Maybe this year is the ”West won’t vote for Russia” theory that’s going to get busted.

    Russia has a minimum of 150-180 points from the allies given the absence of Ukraine and other strong favourites from this block. It only needs to score 50-100 points from the Western block

    • Chris

      You’re comparing apples and oranges. I don’t think any state broadcasters in Eastern Europe told juries not to vote for a performer because he was gay. Ukraine sent Verka Serducka and s/he got votes throughout Eastern Europe. So the theory that transvestites could not get votes in the East was a non-starter to begin with.

      Russia these days is a different thing alltogether. Many of the allies you are mentioning may not turn out to be allies this year – Ukraine, the Baltic states, Romania. We shall see. It’s something you have to factor into your calculation.

      • john kef

        The theory about the Eastern countries and Conchita wasn’t about the juries (even Russia with the anti-gay law voted for Conchita, jury and televote) but about the conservative viewers from those countries that wouldn’t vote for a transvestite, but they didi, or at least the sexual minorities did it in big numbers.

        a. Ukraine is out of the contest this year
        b. The Russia diaspora in the baltic states is so huge (e.g. Latvians are a minority in their country) that the jury members have to bury Russia in order not to give them 8-12 points.
        c. Romania and the Balkan region is Russian friendly too

        • Chris

          Yes but that theory was a non-starter because it was televoters that voted for Serduchka.

          I will be curious about the votes in the Baltic states. You’re right – the Russian population there is so large that they will really have to “fudge” the numbers to prevent them from coming out on top. That would be very controversial.

          I’m still expecting 0 votes from NATO countries in Western Europe. A first indication of this may be the Eurojury poll. (These “jurors” did not even need any instructions to refrain from voting for Russia.)

        • Chris Bellis

          Dead right John Kef. I was in Romania a few months ago and they were bemoaning the loss of Russian tourists. “They are badly behaved pigs and they break everything, but they always pay for the breakages”. Bit of a love/hate relationship, but there’s still a connection.

    • Dash Berlin

      John, that was something I was thinking. I had a read of all the 2014 comments on here leading up to the contest to refresh myself with how opinions on here were accurate and how much of an idiot I looked in hindsight!!

      Austria were consistently written off, even after the semi finals – it couldn’t win because the East wouldn’t vote for it. Austria had done extremely well on the iTunes charts in the week, but still it wasn’t considered a winner. One thing to look out for, is Austria charted in Russia in the iTunes charts, so if you saw Russia charting in western iTunes charts after the semis, then it may be something to take note of.

      • john kef

        Dash trust your insticts. Last year i placed bets on Austria and Netherlands each way @ 51 and 101. it was late march and till the semis i was wondering why everybody is writting those songs off…

        • Dash Berlin

          Always do John, good going last year! I never liked the Netherlands, but always liked Austria (largely down to the fact I’m a huge Bond fan anyway!).

          Seems to be this “idea” that everyone outside of Russia, hates Russia and we are all indoctrinated by our media to hate the evil Russians

          • Chris

            Nah. it’s not that simple. The media is not vilifying Russians in general but rather Putin in particular. I think many ordinary citizens would vote for the song but I doubt that the juries appointed by state broadcasters will do so too.

          • Dash Berlin

            If you believe that the music industry professionals that have been appointed to be jury members, will be swayed/instructed how to vote (politically) by the “state broadcaster” and conform to this then you operate in a thought process a million miles away from mine, especially for Western countries.

            Chris, I’ll leave it as this as we have different opinions on the matter.

          • Chris Bellis

            Dash – People here haven’t been to Russia, obviously. Last year they even managed to persuade me that Russians wouldn’t vote for country music and wouldn’t vote for a transvestite – this despite me attending a country music festival in Moscow and visiting a number of gay bars in St P and Moscow. They believe the propaganda, not that I’m saying that Putin and his mate Kyril aren’t anti-gay – just that the eurovision crowd is not so prejudiced.

  • Donald

    Dash, Russia is very good not just average song looking for votes! It bounced out pre rehearsals on my early listens. Great to see it fulfilling it’s early promise today. It is a serious contender in my books. that song is so well written and put together to do the buis and Polina can carry it. Will politics stop it?

  • Donald

    At least we can still spot one on here early doors 🙂

    Interesting article in Metro, http://metro.co.uk/2015/05/12/is-russia-set-for-eurovision-victory-with-a-million-voices-sung-by-polina-gagarina-5193550/

    Easy trade out now but going to hold station. Closed the eyes hitting the button last week, glad I did it now. It will shorten more and more I reckon. Long way to go but not a bad start. Rumania had good day also it seems. Lithuania to go and Norway.

  • I don’t think Russia can win. The song is like Putin singing Ein Bisschen Freiden. It’s like running over somebody’s dog then sending the grieving owner a box of Quality Street.

    • Dash Berlin

      True, but a lot of people will simply not care about the politics and just vote for the song they like best.
      It will get a shed tonne of points from the east, so it’s not about if it will get many 12s from the West – its about, will it pick up enough points to win from the west.

      I win a lot if it wins, I was leaning towards it not going to win, but the package they have displayed in rehearsals is easily in the top 3. I think it will likely finish 2nd or 3rd in the end.

      • I’ve gone each way on it for that reason. You’re right though that there’s enough countries, as Wogan said in his last year, wanting to keep the oil and electricity flowing in the East; if they all throw enough Douze Points their way, and there’s enough Western points from it being a good song on top, it will do well.

        The UK is 10/1 on Betfair for Nil Points. I think that’s actually worth a cheeky few quid.

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