Eurovision 2018: May 3 rehearsals

The beauty of second rehearsals is you can watch short TV-feed clips on the official Eurovision channel. It’s a point in time when things should start coming together. Azerbaijan were pretty ready when they arrived, so there were only minor changes today: the on-screen effects – constellations of stars that join together to form a globe – were slightly bigger. It’s all perfectly pleasant, though it doesn’t feel like there’s much to motivate people to vote for it.

Iceland are still doomed, but they’ve added a nice group hug at the end. Having been delayed in traffic, Albania rehearsed before them. Eugent is still in fine voice, but he has an uphill struggle qualifying from this spot in this semi with this song. Belgium have sharpened up the opening shots, with Sennek putting her hand over her eyes in the sliver of light, and opening them at the word “showing”. There are more intimate moments as well, but we lose that for wide arena shots every time the chorus kicks in.

Mikolas was occasionally grimacing with pain and moving gingerly on his return from the hospital bed. This Czech rehearsal felt unfinished in other ways too – one of his dancers needed a stand-in because he’s doing an exam. Only two bits of choreography have been ditched – the somersault and the legs-up V – which doesn’t detract from the overall stage show. It was all coming together nicely by the last run-through.

Ieva was experimenting between English and Lithuanian for the final few lines of each practice. Her voice in the first verse is borderline cute / annoying for me, but the staging does a good job of creating intimacy from the opening shot onwards. The augmented reality shots have been softened but still feel a little unnecessary.

The Israeli delegation has worked hard to make the second rehearsal a step up from the first. There are now many more shots of Netta framed closely by her dancers bringing the fun as she sings. She was looking more comfortable too, and is excellent on the big notes in particular. The first 30 seconds remain the most problematic, as her backing singers recreate what should have been done with the looper.

Coming after ‘Toy’, Belarus needed to provide something memorable, which they’ve done in no uncertain terms. This was also tighter than before, with more focus on Alekseev and less on the dancer’s writhing in the final minute. Meanwhile, Estonia is much as before, although Elina needed one run-through to warm up her vocals. The dress effects are on a bigger scale than in Eesti Laul, but there’s still a sense of them not providing any sense of meaning.

Bulgaria’s Equinox are shown with even more artsy, tricksy camera effects. The problem is, it’s already a job trying to make us relate to the five people on stage. There’s just no connection being established right now, which means a lot of emoting for not necessarily much reward. FYROM feature two poor costume decisions, as Marija now takes off her backwards pink jacket to reveal something even less flattering. At the moment, vocals and staging feel under-rehearsed, and Eye Cue are running out of time to fix it.

There’s nothing wrong with the way Croatia’s Franka sells ‘Crazy’. But she could do with a more intimate lighting scheme to give her the absolute focus she deserves. She’s obviously better than the song too. Austria’s Cesar was experimenting with a hand mic and a head mic today, while the camera shots of his huge plinth were more effective. The vocals are secure, the problem is his stage presence.

I wasn’t feeling the Greek rehearsal today, partly because Yianna’s vocals were inconsistent. The final run-through was her best, but the staging as a whole is rather uneventful. That can’t be said of Finland’s effort, and Saara Aalto was improved today, smiling for the cameras more often. The various angles were also tighter, though the backing singers’ “I ain’t scared no more” falsettos remain the weakest link.

Tomorrow is a long, important day, which includes the first rehearsals of the automatic qualifiers, finishing off with the highly-anticipated French entry. Do let us know your continued thoughts below.

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44 comments to Eurovision 2018: May 3 rehearsals

  • “This Czech rehearsal felt unfinished in other ways too – one of his dancers needed a stand-in because he’s doing an exam.”

    Are they having a laugh? Why pick a dancer who can’t make a rehearsal?

    It’s getting a bit late for them. Next rehearsal is dress rehearsal, just before jury show.

  • Frank

    Thank you for another informative update. I highly appreciate that you are always on point but never need to resort to derogatory remarks about the artists, for instance with misogynic language or by judging people’s charisma or alleged deficits thereof.

    • John

      Yeah. Daniel is the immutable Stefan Edberg of Eurovision punditry. Its a good reminder that this is all fairly hard to judge with certainty.

      But we secretly know that expressions like ‘busy staging’ or ‘questionable vocals’ = kiss of death.

  • I didn’t think I would say this but I kinda miss the LED screens 🙂

  • Chris Bellis

    Anybody who’s spent some time in Czechia will be used to customer service there – “one notch above surly”, as a friend of mine described it. I forgive it because it’s a great place with some great people, but without going all “have a nice day” on us, maybe a bit more of an attempt…?

  • Ande

    No looper Netta 😮

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Just watched via Daniel’s tweeted link the “Useful recap of today’s rehearsals.”

    It’s brief, with only approx 15 seconds footage given to each act’s rehearsal, but it’s good quality footage.

    My brief impressions:

    Azer: Beautifully lit Aisel sounds soaringly fabulous and looks fresh and gorgeous, blue ice berg staging which she is astride is mint fresh and striking, and it’s angularity subtly echoes the “X” facet about which she is powerfully singing. I’m surprised at just how top-notch this looked. I wanted to watch more.

    Iceland: Young lad with strange Dennis Compton hair style occasionally screaming at the floor, while a bunch of people stand loosely huddled about, acting as backing singers and looking like they might be middle-aged relatives supporting their good lad nephew’s attempts to win the local talent show.

    Albania: Eugent sounds amazing and the camera likes him, the passionate, cute rock elf with the super lungs, with staging looking pretty good and as expected.

    Belgium: Jesus! Sennek is still out of tune! She can’t stay in tune for 15 seconds. On first music video listen, I chuffing loved that song. Very disappointing.

    Czech: Mikolas looking understandably stiff and deliberate. He’s really carrying an injury, isn’t he? It’s been obvious for a while that he’s not a trained nor natural dancer, so whose bright idea was it to have him performing backflips? And how was that going to not interfere with his breath and vocal control, anyway? If he can literally loosen up this one’s odds may start shortening. Possible back to lay potential?

    Lithuania: Dreamy gorgeousness with camera melting looks from Ieva. Powerful belter, with (not overdone) hint of girlishness when talking. Romantic, intimate feeling. Tim B was right all along.

    Israel: Loving the cats! The scene looks coherent and works, vibe seems fitting and good. Would definitely be 12 points from China! Backing dancers look great and look great fun, but are having tuning issues, which distracted and detracted from Netta’s flawless vocals. That could be a concern. Like the costume coordination between Netta and her dancers. Difficult to judge the effect of the looper loss, but increased vocal involvement for the dancer crew seems concerning. Really want to see how the Wonder Woman lines are handled. Am missing the five costume music video personas of Netta already, but then I always predicted I would. Do hope there’s opportunity / choreography for Netta to move away from the fixed mike. She’s too much movement skill talent to have stuck in a static position behind equipment. Have her front and centre. Israel need to be very careful with the stage image that the look isn’t one of a Chinese restaurant or gift shop. It needs to be both fun and classy (serious). You don’t want the Wonder Woman lines delivered to a tacky backdrop. Toy is meant to tap into the Year of the Woman and #MeToo zeitgeists and it should do, it must do. Girls having unrestricted zany fun is part of that message but don’t let the full depth of the USP message be diluted. Netta can talk to the camera with the same level of quiet intensity and connection as Ieva. Support her platform to do that. Keep it credible as well as incredible.15 seconds just isn’t long enough to judge Toy, with its many elements, switches of tone and themes. The whole shebang needs to be viewed. Very promising, but with real caveats.

    Belarus: Echoes of Farid and a full-on artistic stage show. I like brave artistic choices and am desperate to know what happens next! Apparently, the “camera-held” rose is being delivered to an archer…with ultimately wild results. Alexseev as the doomed Romantic poet? This will be as memorable as Hell! Finally, they’ve made the right costume choice for Alexseev, after a series of botched choices. This Belarus entry has constantly been evolving. Probably by an intense run of trial and error, they’ve hit on a winning formula? But does look ripe for parody, mind. Which can often just mean a strong, definite impression has been made.

    Estonia: As a genre, not my choice of brew, but the Estonian package does fill the stage in so many ways. Can see how this will attract votes.

    Bulgaria: Has lost a bit of that magical over-produced music video soundscape but still good. Enjoyable vocals sounded very good to my ears. Is the bored / moody looking lass a bit miffed at having that ridiculous wig badly perched on her head? It is a wig, right? Where’s their much vaunted stage concept? It’s just a group of singers walking around, to take turns in shifting positions on a platform. Surely, they have yet to reveal an ace they’re keeping up their sleeve? Belarus have put a ton more creative thought into their stage show. It’s evident Belarus are dramatising and telling a story. Unless they have unplayed cards, Bulgaria is layable?

    FYROM: Fantastically interesting, imaginative, brave song, let down badly by unimaginative staging. Costuming and style disaster, darling.

    Croatia: Singer giving it great camera. Impassioned performance. Knows where the camera is (Sennek take note). Reminds me very much of someone I know. I still just don’t like the song. It bores me. There’s vastly superior songs that come to mind than this yawn of an effort which yet also centres on being a kind of “crazy.”

    Austria: Too difficult to judge. Camera is too far away from him in this clip. All long distance panning shots. Then there’s image distortions being added (reminiscent of the music video effects). Weird how the production seem to be reluctant to do anything but showcase their singer, the only person on stage! WTF? He’s a bloody good singer with a rich voice. There’s no hiding that.

    Greece: Seems to have reproduced some of the lovely sound and tone of it’s studio sound. This is a snap impression of course, but is the singer a bit boring and is the song a bit one level? Lacks a touch of excitement, maybe?

    Finland: Opening image is Saara being Saara. Overwrought sounding and looking? Trying too hard? Love the song but…

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Just rewatched the above recap and my first impressions as layed out above seems fair enough.

      I am more concerned for Israel on 2nd watch.

      Thankfully, they steered clear of the joke Amsterdam styling but the costume choice is still a downgrade on my faves from the music video.

      The scene is very busy, with initially it being unclear if Netta is standing behind a shop counter. The backdrop could be said to be chintzy?

      Ok, so the cats are a “Toy” reference. But is that immediately obvious? The waving cats added to the waving wings motion Netta uses to portray a chicken is a bit confusing. There’s a lot going on. Banks of waving toy cats, plus chicken mimicry, plus Netta behind the stand, plus the dancers, plus it being a rapidly moving song. Dare I add that the scene is close to bordering on “colour vomit”? The focus needs to be on Netta.

      But it could be that it all hangs together wonderfully when seen in a full run via cameras. Joyous, fabulous energy. Party feel. Netta, a superstar performer.

      I love the backing dancers / singers but don’t like the backing dancers’ singing. They’re alright but not great. I suppose they were employed primarily for their dance ability. That element is a minus.

      Greece was duller yet on rewatch.

      Finland as OTT.

      Austria, get the camera closer to your main man, for crying out loud. Believe in him! He’s really good. Studio voice vs stage voice equals the same with this guy! Great singer.

      Azer is fabulous. Am loving Aisel. Are they able to move off those angular ice bergs? Are they all static and perched throughout the performance? Hmmm.

      Desperate to watch Belarus in full!

      I love the bearded singer amongst the Bulgarian collective, but it all looks a bunch of nothing.

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Just a random thought.

    If France happens to win, it would be ironic that the tip / clue / foreshadow has been there all along, winking at us, all season long.

    ALL ABOARD!

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Not so random question.

    Can Fuego / If Love Was A Crime (Mark 2) win Eurovision?

    It’s forever contracting in price.

    Will Eurovision 2018 be a replay of the 2004 edition, which culminated in Ruslana’s triumph?

  • markovs

    As a song itself Fuego isn’t even close to being a winner. It’s a skip for me in studio version. However, in a year where the top 10 in the betting changes day by day, the staging becomes ever more important, and Cyprus hits it out of the park.

    I could certainly see a scenario where this does an Azerbaijan. 2nd half draw, near the end as a memorable climax to the show (followed by UK just to highlight how it’s done properly) . The whole package does seem to work and if the camera does capture that, it’s a lively outsider.

    By the way, I don’t see it a Poli Mark 2. I adored that song before the competition and it stands up in its own. I still play it now. Fuego is an OK song with dazzling staging but personally not one I like or will ever play.

    • Ande

      Yes, ‘Fuego’ is an average song with a great performance while ‘If Love was a crime’ was a difficult-to-stage masterpiece. The indeed subpar staging was rescued by an amazing performance by Poli, just imagine the dire mess that would’ve been if Blanche had performed in her place.

  • Stoney

    Come on chaps has anyone not realised that Norway has this in the bag?

    • Ande

      I believe Norway will be put down by juries. I’m also very uncertain of its televote appeal, it’s a lay for me at these odds.

  • markovs

    Have to agree Stoney. Norway looking nailed for top 4 and juries will be the decider whether it wins or not.

    Separately, you can get 2-1 currently for an Everton home win v Southampton and 21/20 for a win, with draw no bet??

    Evertons home form is excellent (outside of top 6) current form is good. Southampton’s away form is poor and current form poor bar a win over Bournemouth.

    Big Sam will not let his players switch off in the last few games and Southamptons desperate need for the win will leave them open. Odds look brilliant to me. (Sorry about going off Eurovision but this looked a good bet to me)

    • Chris Bellis

      Thanks markovs. I’ve bet on this as my next door neighbour died recently, and he was a lifelong Everton fan. I’ve done it in his memory. Plus some of my most irritating relatives live in Southampton (only joking Sandra).

  • For those of us who know how to ”read between the lines” and have a bit of political nous it’s becoming increasingly clear that the wheels are falling off netta’s wagon …her zany song doesn’t transfer well into a live act ; in fact it’s becoming more like a bizarre novelty act that will leave first time viewers completely baffled ! She’s never going to win and will be fortunate to even get into the top 5

    France is rehearsing at 7PM tonight and so I predict it will be the beginning of the end for poor Netta…I expect their odds to shorten tonight and sometime next week to become the favourite ! ( France are adding two well known French female musicians to their team )

    France is part of a historical trend and is riding its tidal bore !

    • Chris Bellis

      I don’t entirely disagree: Netta’s act could well provoke a turn-off on the night. However, I am sceptical about the argument that the France team adding “two well known French female musicians to their team” will make any difference. France in the past has wheeled in some of the most famous singers and musicians in the francophone world. I knew who they were, because I’m a sucker for French music, but nobody else seemed to care. In Eurovision different rules apply. Balkan countries have regularly brought in their greatest talents (maybe not Slavko) but since they are not much known outside their own fan base, it’s made no difference. So I don’t buy that argument.

  • Lol Norway will be lucky to be T10.

    Interesting how we’re all in the bubble now and is it possible to break out? Maybe by trying to remember peoples initial views about a song. Youtube views have very large numbers, not such fanatics as us. (But YT has failings – high population countries will skew views and Italian entries always get huge views because of the Sanremo effect, MF a bit similar.)

    • Walrus

      Unfortunately for him, Gabbani surged past 100m views and got nothing to show for it. Salvador or Jamala weren’t the top viewed clips too. So while the Youtube views may be an indicator, they surely must be taken with a grain of salt.

    • markovs

      Initial views are great but without knowing the staging and vocal capability they can be incredibly misleading.

      Italy last year was a certain winner for me on first listen. Then came the 3 minute cut and the staging and Portugal became the obvious winner.

      My first Impressions if the favourites thus year have all been pretty negative. Israel I heard before the fanwank hype and dismissed very quickly as a bit of an annoying novelty song. I would have had it 33-1 at best.

      France grew on me big time but first listen was meh and I still don’t see it connecting first time with a Saturday night audience.

      Seeing Norway in the MGP final I Thought the song was weak but catchy and Rybak was brilliant and televote gold. Juries not so sure.

      Bulgaria – boring

      Czech Rep- loved it and thought it was a contender .

      Australia – thought it was generic but fun and had down as a top 5.

      Sweden – Not my thing but cool, well performed and had as a top 5

      Estonia – An absolute noise and hated it but could see the possible votes on it and another possible top 5

      Loads has changed since these first Impressions and vocals/staging are all important. Norway stands out as a package and definitely could win, as could several others. Playing the fluctuating market has been fun this year as all the top songs bar Israel have been available at great odds some time or another. I think there’s still more to come.

  • BT

    One thing the rehearsal recap shows is how forgettable Belgium is coming before a run of 6 countries that have either strong songs or memorable staging (Czechia, Lithuania, Israel, Belarus, Estonia and Bulgaria). The harsh lighting and grimaces won’t do anything to help its televoting score and it’s in a semi that already has a lot of competition for jury points. At 1.7 to qualify, I think it’s a fair bit too short at the moment and have bet on the NQ.

  • Chris Bellis

    Daniel referred to the backing singers falsettos.’…the backing singers’ “I ain’t scared no more” falsettos remain the weakest link.’
    That style of singing doesn’t have a good record in Eurovision, but one of my guilty pleasures is the act where it was combined with Stockport rap:

  • Ande

    I never thought I’d say this but Ireland is actually in the mix to qualify now 😮 The staging concept is really nice and at 4.5 it’s definitely worth a punt.

    Isn’t Ireland to Q pushing UK into last a reasonable scenario?

  • Ande

    Will Czech now get a disabled sympathy vote? How strong is it with juries?

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      It’s a story, and maybe a blessing in disguise. He couldn’t really dance anyway, and could occasionally veer towards a smug stage persona. He’s the brave, handsome professional, now, soldiering on. I’m sure there would be no shortage of volunteers – both televiewers, jury members and fellow contestants – to nurse him better.

      SuRie

      @surieofficial

      Cripes, I’ve only just heard about @MikolasJosef ‘s injury from today. Wanna sprint to Lisbon + give that gorgeous head a massive, but gentle, hug. Thinking of you, bud + wishing you the speediest of recoveries x

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Daniel Gould
    @sofabet

    SMr2ndR: setting the bar so low you wouldn’t even trip over it.

    ==

    Hahaha!

  • Ande

    So there we have it. France won’t win.

    Which countries represent value for the outright? Anyone wants to stick his or her neck out?

    • JACK H COOPER

      God knows.

      Estonia could ace the televote I’m thinking now. Just depends on the Juries. Probably where my money would go.

      Still not sold on Rybak.

  • When will France ever get the importance of staging a song???

    • Ande

      Let’s just say it wasn’t great.

      Similar to NF but darker. Mistook hand waving for being production values.

      • Rob4

        i doubt you can read anything from that clip. remember they will be surrounded by hundreds of fans doing the same gesture (perhaps with lighted wrist bands?). and these guys are really professional – they’ll give good camera. still heading for a high position i think.

  • There is no way Israel can win now looking at the second rehearsal.

    Interesting to note SuRie’s initial rehearsal has had no market impact.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      I watched your linked video before it became unavailable, as it is now.

      The section were the dancers arranged themselves around Netta, before Netta strode forward, looked superb and her vocals were stellar throughout.

      I suppose the good thing about the initial chintzy backdrop is that it does provide a backdrop, provides a sense of place. That’s mostly preferable to ESS.

      A reassuring watch.

  • Be careful James. We don’t get to see any of the close ups, which will be prominent in the edit. William of Wiwibloggs said completely different from Reh1, now much sharper, concentrates on Netta, capturing her fun and energy, good interplay between her and dancers, wide shots are fewer and now are motivated. ESCunited guy says he thinks it wins “if you put money on it it’s safe”. I think it wins easily.

    Just a question of trading the ones below it who keep swapping position depending who the current recipient of groupthink by desperate Israel layers is.

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