Eurovision 2017: May 2 rehearsals

Serbia’s Tijana was being kind to her voice in this morning’s first rehearsal. There was nothing particularly original about the staging for ‘In Too Deep’, a dark-blue watery concept with bubbles. Tijana in white, was finally joined by a male dancer for the middle eight, and he ran backwards around a whirlpool effect on the LED floor, before scampering off stage to suddenly return at the final moment.

Austria’s Nathan – also in white – was much more charming, all smiles for initial close-ups while sat on a sparkly crescent moon. He jumped off it, continued to look happy, before returning to the moon for the middle eight, when his backing singers showed up. A cloud backdrop turned from stormy pink to twilight blue.

FYROM’s Jana is left to ‘Dance Alone’ in green to a cityscape backdrop, with panels that occasionally feature her. The message should be empowering, but some of Jana’s moves – including a slutdrop where she stayed down and opened her legs for the line “feel the heat” – felt slightly desperate instead. Vocally she was adequate, but she didn’t command the stage.

In comparison, Malta’s Claudia did own the stage in a full-length white dress and dark-blue backdrop (a running theme by now). The video footage on the backdrop is occasionally focused just on her cleavage, which is a mis-step. Halfway through, the wind machine starts up and she moves slowly forward, with the lighting chandelier evident above her. It’s all very tasteful if predictable, but there’s no faulting her vocals.

We were woken up from our post-lunch lull by the Romanian rehearsal. The candy-coloured stage featured marching drummers, butterflies and exploding cannons. Alex and Ilinca were joined by one male backing singer. Before the climax, the two men unveiled sparkly glitter cannons that they wheeled centre stage. The assumption in the press centre is that they will be firing confetti at the end, but this hasn’t been confirmed. The two singers were having the time of their lives, and ‘Yodel It’ should go down a storm with televoters.

The Netherlands’ entry held its own with a highly effective rehearsal. The three members of O’G3NE were in sparkly little black dresses with purple staging; their backdrop included images of candles and occasional lyrics. The harmonising was very effective, and their was good choreography which ensured visual development.

Hungary was similar to their national final performance, except the female violinist is on the satellite stage. There’s an avian backdrop that’s at various times blue, gold and red. Fire-jet pyros come from the floor for the part where he swirls with his female dancer. Joci wasn’t really engaging with the cameras, but the angles being used were very much a work in progress.

Denmark offered another facsimile of what we saw in February. This time Anja is in a multi-coloured trousered dress, which got some unfair criticism in the press centre. There was a golden backdrop and Anja dropped to her knees for the middle eight, after which we got a big curtain of fire. This remains as ruthlessly slick as it was in the Danish final, even though it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

Ireland have a concept, with Brendan Murray standing in a hot-air balloon with a white and black landscape bathed in red. Brendan engages nicely with the camera and his vocals were good enough. The main problem is that the staging doesn’t make enough of the big key change, failing to change from red, so there’s no sense of before and after. This lack of development is easily fixed, but whether it happens is open to question.

Tomorrow sees the second half of this second semi. In the meantime, you can catch up with video clips of all today’s rehearsals on Eurovision.tv. Let us know your continued thoughts below.

20 comments to Eurovision 2017: May 2 rehearsals

  • Mark Duncan

    Netherlands look to have a great chance to making the top 10. with 7/2 still available, I think it’s a cracking fair price.

  • Agree on that. I think 7-2 will soon be coming into 6-4 or shorter…very good jury fodder and will attract enough televote to possibly get it over the top ten line.

  • niko

    I’m really not sure what to think about the Netherlands. I wouldn’t be surprised with a top 10, but on the other hand I wouldn’t be surprised either if they don’t qualify to the final at all. I think they’re gonna pick up at least some points in Western Europe, but is this something that will be enjoyed among the eastern countries?

    Austria’s staging is not very good if you ask me. The selling point for this song should have been natural joy compared to all the other high-concept staging. The moon is way too cheesy and does not fit the song at all. I actually think this staging hurts their chance of qualifying and I need to see more before I back it now.

    Speaking of cheesy, am I the only one who thinks Romania is a bit overrated? To me, it is total amateur hour, more Woki Mit Deim Popo than Playing With Fire, and not even very fun. I respect that it’s probably going to qualify from getting novelty votes, but I don’t think it’s gonna make the top 10 in the final. Cezar in 2013 finished 13th, which I think is a realistic prediction.

    • I think the biggest asset of The Netherlands is the fact that the staging and their blow-away vocal harmonies actually sideline the song a bit, but all in a good way. In a way that create plentiful influx of votes from juries and televoters.

      I have compared Netherlands this year a bit with Il Volo, Zlata Ognevich or even Rona Nishliu. Take the singers away, put new singers in place, and then the magic is gone. The sublime vocals are gone. The charisma is gone. Now I’m not saying that Netherlands will be TOP 3. I think that’s way too farfetched. But it is an example how charisma and vocals become the actual voting magnets, and less so the song.

      Compared with The Common Linnets and Anouk, one easily sees O’G3NE’s entry as the most flawed one. Me as well. But perhaps we shouldn’t compare so much and take it for what it is. Voters, and even jurors, have long forgotten those entries.

      Having said that, I do think that this year’s Dutch entry could receive more televotes from deep-Eastern European nations than ‘Birds’, ‘Calm After The Storm’ or even ‘Slow Down’. ‘Lights And Shadows’ lacks the artistical relevance of those entries, but I think countries like Georgia, Armenia, Belarus, Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan and Israel will lap up this year’s Dutch entry a bit more than previous recent Dutch entries. And do not forget: ‘Calm After The Storm’ heavily underscored in those parts of Europe.

      ‘Lights And Shadows’ feels a bit more ‘pastiche’ maybe, but pop music in those nations are, from a cultural perspective, differently influenced.

      But well, who am I hehe :-).

  • Serbia looks and sounds like a dog’s breakfast. It’s strident, confusing, and just feels irrelevant – there’s no sense of who it’s for, what it’s saying or why anyone should like it. Big alarm bells.

    • I was saying in the past weeks that both Macedonia and Serbia could suffer from Austria’s Nathan Trent and his charisma. What do you think?

      • The 30-second rehearsal clip of Macedonia didn’t look that bad to me, but I trust Daniel, Rob, Tim etc who’ve seen the full thing. I’d love it to get through but I think I reluctantly have to have it as NQ (indeed, with Austria in its place) after reading what Rob in particular wrote today.

        Quality of the Dutch vocals is outstanding. Denmark also really quality vocal and she’s giving the performance a lot. So today definitely changed my mind about various Q/NQs a lot more than either of the two previous rehearsal days did. For SF1 I’m changing 1 pre-rehearsal prediction at most, perhaps none; for SF2 I’ve already changed 3 based on today. Serbia, Macedonia and Hungary look much more NQ-likely to me than Azerbaijan, Belgium and Latvia do in SF1. Azerbaijan and especially Belgium have their issues, for sure, but I still think they’re more likely to qualify than not.

    • I think Hungary is in real danger of doing badly both in the jury and televote, I feel more and more that people just aren’t gonna click with it or feel any sense of it being interesting or relevant – I like it a lot personally, it’s about my 6th favourite this year, but it’s downbeat foreign-language ethno hip-hop with no fun factor and not much drama either. Add to that widespread anti-gypsy/Muslim/refugee sentiment in Europe (groups conflated with each other: https://theconversation.com/how-the-refugee-crisis-is-dealing-another-blow-to-europes-roma-74000) and I don’t think people are going to respond to it; it was also very low in Eurojury.

    • Black n Blue

      I agree. Serbia’s awfully anonymous. As for Macedonia, it doesn’t come across as badly as I thought it would, taking Jana’s prior lip-syncing displays into account. That said, the shadyness of her performance for want of a better word (please leave your suggestions below), is going to turn the jurors off big time. I do think there’s a possibility neither Serbia or Macedonia will qualify. There’s plenty of acts tomorrow who should stand out more than the Balkan pair (I’m thinking Belarus, Norway, Estonia, Israel, Bulgaria and of course Croatia). I’m hugely intrigued to find out how Jacques performs this one.

      • John

        I remember hearing Macedonia, Serbia, Azerbaijan, Estonia in short order during the run up. They’re all somewhat similar radio friendly EDM numbers (you can lump Israel and Greece in there too).

        Macedonia and Serbia are by far the weakest. They all sound catchy enough but those two really have Zero impact. You might want to dance to them but you’ll forget them by the next song too.

        Both doomed imo

  • I’m about as likely to take press polls seriously as OGAE votes, but was very taken aback by Austria’s 79 top rating score…he’s cute in that Johnny logan outfit, but the moon had little to connect to the song and boyish charm only gets you so far without a decent song…it’s VANILLA and we know it. More seriously were Romania and Netherlands today….I see them easing up the bookies tables with the likes of Azerbaijan, Oz, Greece and even Sweden easing in the days to come…..

    Bulgaria first rehearsal tomorrow is a BIG moment I think in this year’s ESC……those vocals!

    • Cathal

      Nathan has really charmed the press centre which could be a factor. It was a good rehearsal but it wasn’t anything that stood out in anyway.

    • Black n Blue

      For a song that has a more acoustic feel, it’s disappointing that Nathan isn’t playing the guitar. I don’t know if he can play it or not, but I really thought there was potential for a Tom Dice sort of performance. Instead, what we’ve got from Austria is a lot of over-compensation when what they needed to do was keep it simple. *Facepalm*

    • Ron

      Check out Kristian’s vocals in this acapella version of Beautiful Mess. To my mind, he is really struggling to hit some of the high notes and yet he has somehow escaped any criticism at all on his vocals in the run up to the Contest.

      • Mark

        You’re right to point out that this is very vocally demanding but I see and hear nothing here that would have juries marking him down. Today’s rehearsal is gonna be one of the biggest moments of the week for sure.

      • Checked them out; thought they were fine; still didn’t think Brendan was any more likely to qualify.

  • Cathal

    I really hope the lighting in the Irish rehearsal is fixed, it really doesn’t look appealing at all in this part of the semi. If they can fix that and Brendan can do his thing by singing on key and actually connecting with the camera than he might still have a chance. Can’t help but say I’m disappointed as with the team behind this I expected more than a balloon. Most acts Nicolina Refsing are involved with usually don’t come to life until the second rehearsal so I’m on my knees now praying that this is the case here as after hearing the rest today it’s looking extra difficult for this to stand out in this semi final.

  • dicksbits

    Austria has the worst lyric in the contest: “If you let me drown I’ll swim like a champion”.

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