Eurovision 2012: May 18 Rehearsals

You can watch today’s rehearsals here. It featured the last five songs from semi 1 and the first eight songs from semi 2. These second practices are for each act to try and perfect their staging and direction – the next time they get the chance will already be the first full dress rehearsal. You could see from the press feed different shots being tried out with each run-through.

I approached the day feeling a little tired. Let me tell you those Russian Babushki were perkier than I was when first to practice this morning – I want to know their secret. However, even though fatigue set in towards the end, it had a saving grace, more on which below.

The Russian grannies are as before. They’ve stolen Paradise Oskar’s backdrop for the first segment of ‘Party For Everybody’, but the Earth zooms off into the distance as the beat kicks in. There are fireworks and pulsing smaller globes for the rest of the song. The camera angles were altered until they captured as much of the cute, small one as possible. My feelings on this haven’t changed since Monday, but it is coming across very well on the screens.

Hungary’s Compact Disco were sounding good again, but decent enough though the song is, its presentation here is the televisual equivalent of wallpaper. They’re in dark, anonymous outfits, and the brooding lead man only finds the camera occasionally. At the moment, ‘Sound of Our Hearts’ is lacking the character and verve shown by the Swiss boys who are swimming in the same stream.

I really enjoy Austria’s ‘Woki Mit Deim Popo’ in all its offensive glory, but it looks a mess on stage. As I reported after their first rehearsal, the girls have light tubes fitted to their knickers, as well as to their tops. But the effect didn’t really have any impact today, partly because the girls were not shaking their booty at the crucial moment.

The Trackshittaz also have some light thingies on their thighs and shoulders that come on for their choreography, but the stage brightens too quickly for it to be worthwhile. Given that the boys have upped the naughtiness of the routine in other ways – one of them finishes the song with his face right next to the fanny of the central pole dancer – there’s nothing here to impress the juries.

Pasha Parfeny was going through the motions a little for Moldova, but was solid enough. ‘Lautar’ relies on staging that matches the song, and the camera angles need to be right for it. They got better throughout. Pasha has altered part of the choreography: instead of mock horse-riding before mock river-punting, the girls lay on the floor and he pretends there’s a downpour.

Jedward’s fountain runneth over to a greater height today, although the main impact of this was to remind me I needed to pee. There’s a sense that ‘Waterline’ is not capturing imaginations here in the way that ‘Lipstick’ did in Dusseldorf. The backing vocals are not carrying the song so effectively at the moment, the water backdrop is much duller than last year’s visuals and the fountain actually limits the boys’ movements – they use far less of the stage than they did in 2011.

Moving onto those in the second semi, first up were Serbia’s Zeljko Joksimovic followed by Macedonia’s Kaliopi. You know what you’re getting from both – completely professional run-throughs with pitch-perfect vocals. In the first Serbian run-through the stage was a little dark but Zeljko picked up on this and it was being rectified later on. This was not the outfit you’ll see on the big night though his jacket will be black.

Netherlands is to semi two what Latvia is to semi one: charming and clueless. Joan is still going native in the headdress, and matches it with a pale blue dress. She looked far more relaxed today. Her campfire band do their thing miles away as if they parked in the wrong place before realising their mistake and joining her for the last chorus. We didn’t see it with the fires on stage today though the urns were in place.

Malta retains its bouncy, cheesy presentation – I half expect Kurt Calleja to announce at some point, “Is everyone having fun?!” There are a few things they could do to help themselves here. The fake-DJ-cum-dancer is a complete distraction and either needs to stay behind the decks or go altogether, whilst Kurt needs to be careful how he vocally riffs through the final minute, which has a tendency to become ragged. However, as Nick suggests, their qualification hopes can never be ruled out.

The Belarus and Portuguese rehearsals did happen, though they passed me by somewhat. There’s nothing wrong with the way ‘We Are The Heroes’ is staged – I dig the horizontal action, for example. The song is serviceable enough too. But there’s a leaden way that the lead singer moves and acts, as if he’s weighed down by the chainmail top he’s wearing. Meanwhile, Portugal is solid old-school Eurovision stuff of the kind I got bored with many years ago, though Filipa Sousa does her best to sell it.

What the day really needed, it turned out, was Gaitana, who I can honestly say is the best thing I have seen in rehearsals so far. It’s a shame that ‘Be My Guest’ is nothing more than a refrain and a trumpet riff, stuck together with shout-outs like “Welcome!” and “People!”

The Ukrainian team has thankfully toned down the presentation. They have ditched the body popper (he didn’t make it past the audition stage after all) and the energetic boys in skirts only enter for the first trumpet moment. This makes the virtual dancers more bearable, but the main show is Gaitana, a joy to watch as she rather remarkably turns this sow’s ear into a silk purse.

Poor old Sofi Marinova is still alone on stage for ‘Love Unlimited’. She’s actually doing sterling work herself, but without any dancers for this dance track, Bulgaria look doomed. As always, do let me know what you think of today’s rehearsals in the comments section below.

18 comments to Eurovision 2012: May 18 Rehearsals

  • justin

    Dan thanks for these daily updates. I am really impressed by both Serbia and Macedonia and the live vocals on both sound spot on. For me Serbia is shaping into a real threat for the whole contest.

    There seems to be some hype surrounding the Ukraine performance today. To me it is still very lightweight on lyrics despite the vocal and staging. Do you think this one has potential to qualify and go top 10 with a good draw in the final?

    • Daniel

      Hi Justin, good to hear from you. Based on today’s evidence, the answer to your last question is yes. Meanwhile, Serbia is looking very solid at what it does.

  • Montell

    First of all, I’ve recently discovered this website and I have to say I love it! Secondly, I’d like to know your opinion about Lithuania vs. Bulgaria in semi final 2. Who will take better place. I have odds 1.60 that Lithuania will do better than Bulgaria and I’m willing to take this bet. What do you think? Sorry, for probably off topic question.

    • Daniel

      Hi Montell, welcome to Sofabet, thanks for the kind comments, and your question is a very valid one. Both Bulgaria and Lithuania have three allies to rely on but have just the one strong singer on stage. Lithuania is better drawn so I would favour it in a match bet. 1.60 strikes me as a reasonable enough price in the circumstances.

  • Panos

    daniel, thank you so much for all the great work. there are many blogs around, but u r invaluable.

    Re the odds, do you think we will start seing some drops to single figures by countries other than sweden in the outright, and if yes is it usually only right after the 2nd semi? My memory and otherwise freaky archives fail me!

    Thanks again!

    • Boki

      It might also be after the 1st semi, the draw for the final is afterwards and I can imagine if Russia for example gets great slot it will certainly go single figure.

    • Daniel

      Thanks Panos, and I agree with Boki that if Russia gets a late draw, it should certainly be under 10-1, maybe significantly so. Also, I have little doubt that Loreen’s odds will drift out if she gets a single-digit slot, and that could see something like Italy come in a bit too – Nina is not far off single figures right now.

      • Tim B

        Regarding Italy, do we yet know if she is singing the bilingual version or the Italian version? On the official album is the bilingual version, but on their official video she sings in Italian. Would it make a difference either way?

        • Daniel

          Hi Tim, I’m pretty sure she will sing the bilingual version. I’m not the biggest fan of how they have handled the language change, but I don’t think it makes any real difference to televoters hearing it for the first time.

  • Boki

    Hi Daniel, one quick and scary question that came suddenly to my mind: if for example Cyprus qualify and Greece don’t, can we expect that Greek diaspora votes for Cyprus in the final and make Ivi much stronger?

    • Henry VIII

      If I can add a follow up question: is it likely for Greece to fail to qualify?

      I’d be surprised if they failed from this semi, even from slot 3.

    • Daniel

      Good questions all. My calculations indicate Greece should still qualify, even if the low jury score does indeed materialise. A kind of Russia 2011 scenario, as one of our commenters mentioned the other day.

      It’s not a popular view right now given that people are willing the underdog Cyprus to succeed over Greece, but I’m still of the view that the latter will outscore the former in the semi-final, not leading to the scenario that Boki mentions.

      As for Macedonia, Henry, I’m hopeful. It was always borderline for me before rehearsals. One just has to hope the juries recognise the strength of the performance if it matches what we’ve seen so far.

      • Boki

        I basically have the same views on the subject Dan but I was just imagining a “doom scenario” and its consequences. So, if we imagine that scenario do you have a view on a Greek support for Cyprus?

        Sorry for being pushy, it’s actually a general question. Last year without Turkey there were opinions that Azeri will profit, yet Germany gave them 0 points. Also Last year I thought/hoped that Cyprus will profit from the Greeks in the semi (since Greece was in the other one) but that didn’t happen…

        • Daniel

          Hi Boki, you answered the question how I would have done, by using the examples of Cyprus last year (0 from Belgium in the semi for example) and Azerbaijan (0 from Germany in the final). The Greeks and Turks respectively didn’t transfer their votes elsewhere.

  • Henry VIII

    My favourite of today is Macedonia ‘Crno i Belo’. Kalipi’s got a wonderful voice (and I love her epic scream). I remember you saying Dan you liked it after seeing her in London.

    Tough for her from draw 2 even with Macedonia’s friends and a bit of jury support.

    But with 18 contestants (as in the semi) draw 2 can’t be quite as catastrophic as with 26 contestants (in the final). Looking back of the years of 2 semi ESC’s it seems that such slots aren’t as disastrous in the semi.

    Is that something you’ve found Dan or am I being over optimistic?

  • Tim B

    Bit of a heads up on Malta: Scott Mills has been playing this song every day on his Radio 1 show, which regularly has an audience of several reason. For that reason I expect it to receive some televote points from the UK, in the semi at least.

  • Tim B

    Several million. Sorry phone auto correct typo.

  • eurovicious

    You wrote “fanny”. I’m complaining to Points Of View.

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