Eurovision 2012: May 17 Rehearsals

What’s going up or down? Every newspaper loves those handy guides to fashion trends or celebrity star power, because it’s an easy shorthand that readers enjoy.

With second rehearsals (watch them here) starting today – featuring the first 13 songs in the first semi – Eurovision blogs can do their equivalent. X is up! Y is down! Z is still zzzzzzzz. You can expect a lot more of this over the next week. It’s quite the rollercoaster.

My best advice to punters is to take things incrementally; try not to over-react to one good or bad rehearsal. Easier said than done, I know, but easing yourself into positions rather than charging in on something that will probably change over time is usually the most sensible option.

Montenegro was up by a multiple of a million today, but these things are all relative. Rambo now enters in a cloak which he takes off to reveal a scruffy tux beneath. Two of the backing dancers are in dark suits and sunglasses, the other is in cap, T-shirt and shorts. Euro notes are included in the backdrop. Banners are unfurled. The suited dancers use one of these to wrap up the other dancer who is then carted off. Rambo finishes the song showing his empty pockets. I think this all adds up to some kind of political comment.

The Icelandic duo didn’t look quite so comfortable as on Sunday. Jonsi was notably off-key at the start of the first run-through, due to problems with his earpiece according to the man himself. Greta looked nervous at times. This may have explained why the leading duo felt a little lacking in chemistry. ‘Never Forget’ got better with each practice, however. By the end, the last minute felt strong, with a nice switch to a red backdrop for the key change. This is perfectly competent at doing what it does, and that should see it easily into the final.

Greece’s problem is that it’s not perfectly competent at doing what it does, which when you consider that ‘Aphrodisiac’ is standard Greek ethnopop, is a shock to the system. Eleftheria’s vocals are thin and require assistance; she’s not getting enough. Quite why they couldn’t get four backing dancers to sing as well, at least on easy parts like the ‘oh-oh-oh’ bits is beyond me. It’s not like the choreography they have in place is adding much to the song. Right now, this is getting very little from the juries.

It’s all a bit cocktail hour for Latvia’s Anmary and chums. They stand around gossiping as the song opens, then wander around together a bit aimlessly. Anmary’s rather unflattering blue dress that she showcased today is being reconsidered, apparently. I wish the same could be said for the outfits of her backing vocalists – the stage is very busy with colour. Having said all that, ‘Beautiful Song’ is beautifully sung. It’s just a shame the staging is too casual without looking like as much fun as it was in the national final.

Albania’s Rona Nishliu was wearing a stripey sackcloth today, and one has to assume that’s not her outfit for the big night – it looked like she was on day release from jail. ‘Suus’ is still three minutes of aural and visual torture for me, having said all which, I have it in my list of probable qualifiers right now.

This was clearly going to be a day of interesting fashion choices, as Romania’s Elena revealed a black leotard with orange rah-rah skirt. There’s some shoulder detail that almost put her in Minnie Mouse territory, but she still looks stunning and produced vocals to match once more on ‘Zaleilah’.

In my pre-rehearsal analysis, I worried that the chaotic, dynamic national final performance might not go down so well with jurors. But as I wrote after their first rehearsal, I fear they’ve gone too far the other way in toning down epic accordion guy and the gang, although bagpipes dude does a stellar moonwalk to kick-start proceedings. Nonetheless, these are quibbles about an act that is coming across very strongly.

Switzerland’s Sinplus get their look right even if the English pronunciation needs work. They are still urging us to “swim against the shrimp” as they were back in December. The green and white lines of the backdrop add some energy to what’s on the screen and the lead singer works the stage well. There’s nothing too wrong with this and qualification could go either way.

The Belgium / Finland debate shows no sign of slowing up. Iris has come on a great deal since her national final appearance. She works the camera very effectively, giving us a vulnerable stare as she explains, “You took my love for granted, would you really miss me?” The Belgians missed a trick by not putting a piano on stage with her, which would help cement jury love for this, but I think they’re going to get it in a reasonably big way as it is.

I still find Finland far more repetitive and dated in comparison. Pernilla’s turquoise dress, cut away to reveal her knees, is not flattering. At this moment in time, I’m not feeling ‘Nar Jag Blundar’, but then again I never did.

Israel is as it was before, a fun song that looks nice enough on screen with the clock backdrop. ‘Time’ is also boosted by the lively backing singers. However, the chorus still feels like it’s not being projected enough and that could make the difference between qualification or not.

Just when you think San Marino’s ‘The Social Network Song’ couldn’t get any more hopeless, it finds further reserves. It turns out the four backing dancers are dressed as a pilot, a surgeon, a cheerleader and something else, a kind of Village People for the internet age. At the end each of them flourishes their gadget, be it a phone, iPad or camera. It’s the kind of thing you’d expect at a school assembly.

The only positive thing to come out of today for Greece’s chances was the initial stages of the Cypriot rehearsal. The first run-through for Ivi Adamou was actually worse than anything even Greece has come up with this week. Things improved afterwards, and it’s still in the mix to qualify but there are a few problems here. Firstly, the lifts look like quite an effort for all involved, either bring in male dancers or don’t bother would be my advice. Secondly, the staging is devoid of colour – everything is white, cream or neutral, which slightly drains the life out of this fun dance tune.

Another problem for Cyprus is that Soluna Samay follows her onto the stage, starts by belting out the refrain of ‘Should’ve Known Better’ and within five seconds knocks ‘La La Love’ into her sailor’s cap. Denmark’s act is as consistently strong as it’s always been. There’s little more to add. Some of the backdrops work better than others – the sunflower and corn fields look great, for example. Otherwise we know exactly what to expect from Soluna.

Let us know what you thoughts on today’s rehearsals in the comments section below. Who’s up and who’s down?!

20 comments to Eurovision 2012: May 17 Rehearsals

  • Nick D

    Greece is turning into a conundrum. I predicted earlier that it’ll come 7th, but I wasn’t really expecting my assessment of “slightly below average” to come under serious challenge, as now seems to be happening.

    This raises the question of how vulnerable it might be if the perfect storm of poor vocals and unconvincing visuals were added to its early draw a la Armenia 2011. My gut says that it’s still coming 7th… but oh, those pesky juries! How much damage could they do, and will they do it?

    It’s a puzzlement. The standard of the jury performances on Monday (and hopefully Friday!) night will be very valuable information.

    • tpfkar

      I was bullish on Greece’s chances a couple of weeks ago, and had them down as probable top 10. Glad I didn’t put anything on though as these are red warning lights coming from rehearsals.

      I also wonder whether the political situation will come into it – Greece has further elections June 17th and if there’s a sense that it is holding Europe to ransom, could this kill the televote ( and possibly influence the juries?)

      • Nick D

        My suspicion – never evidenced either way – is that a large chunk of Greece’s televote is core and would remain unaffected by such factors as a poor song, a poor performance, or unclear political governance causing wider structural instabilities in the European macroeconomic environment.

  • David

    Thanks for the reporting, Daniel.

    The comparisons with Finland (which I do agree doesn’t come across visually flattering) aside, would you go as far as having Belgium as a probable qualifier at this point in time – despite the pretty early draw and lack of allies?

    As said before, I think the song is weak. On the other hand, I’m having trouble amassing the needed 10 qualifiers out of this sorry group – as always 🙂

    • Daniel

      Hi David, and a very valid question. Based on what I saw today, Belgium is a possible qualifier. I get a whiff of Lithuania 2011 or Portugal 2010 from it, though admittedly they were better drawn and had a few allies.

      • David

        Hm… although on the other hand, draw should (in theory) not affect judges as much, which undoubtedly were the ones pulling Lithuania’s surprise finish out of the hat.
        That being said, surely the top jury score there must have been largely carried by the amazing vocals, more than anything else? While ably sung, Belgium 2012 surely can’t compete in that department. On the other (yet another) hand, it’s a ton more contemporary than Lithuania 2011 🙂

        • Boki

          Lithuania was 1st on jury and 11th on televote, Belgium can’t achieve any of the two imo for all the reasons you mention. Together with the “jaw factor” I think it’s a NQ but I don’t see a lay value – just forget it 🙂

  • Boki

    I’m really curious to see the Greek drama development – Armenia jury score from the last year might be just enough to send it home. Daniel, where are you exactly when you watch the rehearsals and what do you follow (stage view, on screen or mixed)?

    • Daniel

      Hi Boki. Today I was in the press centre throughout, so watched it on screen, where I have to say, Eleftheria looks great and smiles straight at the camera despite everything else being so uninspired.

      • Boki

        Well, we all know how she looks 🙂

        My point was that only you guys there have access to the screens and can get a feeling of the camera shots. But not only that: I guess you get a very different sound from us judging on echoed youtube clip from the arena, is that so? Is your judgement about the possible bad jury score based on the that?

        • Daniel

          Yes Boki. I think the sound in the Arena and thus on the video footage you see is to some extent deceptive because it can differ from what’s coming across on screen. Having done both during the last five days, I will be trying to comment based on the sound coming through the TV feed in the press centre.

          • Boki

            “On the that”, lol.
            Many thanks, I find your reports to be as objective as they can so (as Nick says) the one from jury performance could contain some vital info.

  • Ben Cook

    ESCInsight are tipping Norway to win, and I think they might be on to something after watching this runthrough:

    I’ve put £20 on it at 25/1, on top of the £20 free bet I already have on Romania at 25/1 (now down to 14/1) and £10 on Sweden just because I want it to win. Though I don’t think winning £500 would ease the pain of it not, such is my Loreen hysteria right now.

    • Chris

      Ben that closing comment made me smile… i think I am suffering from the same Loreen hysteria too! I have followed Eurovision for over 15 years and never have I been obsessed so much with a song!!

  • dicksbits

    Sweden’s Loreen is almost evens on the betting exchanges. Unheard of short odds for a 42-strong contest. I increasingly think we’re heading back to Stockholm.

  • dicksbits

    I think Greece is a better song than Cyprus, is better presented, and will qualify. People often forget that despite good staging, it is still down to how good a song is. Although I don’t think the Greek entry is their best ever by a long way, Cyprus is poorer.

  • Donald

    Hi Daniel, thanks for updates from Baku, still as clear as mud?
    Few questions and thoughts to post.

    Is it really the one horse race the betting says?
    Big prices outside top 5 in overall betting, notice Italy holding strong,UK regional voting etc. Russia is what it is. Serbia?

    What outside of them could shine through possibly, might be some value, at least try get a little potential value going.

    Point taken re DJ and Malta.

    Ukraine is tempting at the price, I,ve had some on already. I keep coming back to it, it definitely seems to have something going for it which is more than can be said about many at fancy prices, still early though.

    Will the juries support Belgium maybe? or Italy and the big question will they support Loreen?

    If public vote gets split up it just might come down to the juries.

    Who will Sweden give 12 points to?

    Loreen has travelled far and wide online even Perez Hilton posted. Her management team well versed in the buis.
    Is the hair real or extensions?

    • Daniel

      Hi Donald, lots of imponderables and that’s just concerning Loreen’s chances. I’m not backing or laying her at present, but given that we don’t know where she’ll be drawn in the final and the fact that it’s not a typical Eurovision-winning package, I do think her price is very short.

  • Chris

    I generally agree with this analysis.

    I see Belgium as underrated and think it will stand out as the most accessible ballad in this SF. Therefore, I’ve been backing it at current odds.

    I’ve also been laying Ireland (albeit for a smaller amount). I think they’re overrated. I don’t expect them to get a lot of jury votes this year. But they might still qualify based on their fanbase and the late draw.

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