Eurovision 2012: May 19 Rehearsals – part 1

To misquote Shakespeare: “Hubble, bubble, toil and trouble.” Quite the spell was cast over the press centre today. Slovenia featured a ghost haunting Eva Boto, Croatia created their equivalent of the Turin Shroud, Sweden’s presentation made Loreen seem rather witch-like; Georgia Anri Jokhadze started off looking like Lucifer, whilst Turkey’s backing dancers were swirling their capes.

That was just the morning, when five further songs in semi two had their second rehearsal. If that didn’t wake up the walking dead in the press centre recovering from last night’s parties, this afternoon promised the six automatic qualifiers on stage in Baku for the first time. The Crystal Hall was a cauldron of excitement.

The ‘big six’ merit a separate article once they are done. Look out for video footage of them and all today’s rehearsals here. For now let’s focus on those morning run-throughs.

I was trying to work out the narrative of the Slovenian staging for ‘Verjamem’. Why is Eva Boto so unhappy on the morning of her wedding – could it be the ghostly figure is the groom’s first wife whose life ended in mysterious circumstances? Whilst I was mocking it, Eva was actually doing a great job selling the concept, improving in the first verse in particular.

I was certainly more sold by her than I was by Croatia’s Nina Badric teaching her class of undergraduate Experimental Dance students. You can analyse lots of different aspects of the staging, but all that sticks in the memory are the two men prancing around like ‘eejits’ as Terry Wogan would have called them. Their bedroom sheet got caught over the head of the backing singers at one point. I don’t see how anyone who has never heard of Nina Badric will choose to vote for this dull song that looks ridiculous.

I’ve sat on the fence regarding Sweden so far, but now I’m starting to get off it. My fears that the presentation is too arty-farty and alienating are being realised. Having got rid of the purple spotlights witnessed in the first rehearsal, the stage is now as dark as it was in Melodifestivalen, Loreen is wearing a dress with fringed arms, as if her hair wasn’t enough flying around in her face, whilst the snow effect was one big ‘meh’ today.

Loreen continues to mumble too much, especially in the first verse. She also took little interest in the camera. The overall effect was the opposite of emotionally engaging, which is precisely what defines recent Eurovision winners. Whilst ‘Euphoria’ will no doubt look a lot more polished when it matters, and I won’t write it off yet for that reason, the mood it’s creating just isn’t very accessible compared to what we’ve seen succeed of late.

Georgia’s ‘I’m a Joker’ is an even bigger mess than before. Anri Jokhadze starts off in a hooded red habit then proceeds to flounce around with four cheaply-dressed girls who later on affix fringed Elizabethan ruffs to their corsets. I know, the things one has to describe, right?! We still see too much of Anri’s back, but when he turns around, the smug look on his face isn’t a huge improvement.

This is awful, but with its many friends in this semi, I wouldn’t die of shock if Georgia qualifies next Thursday night. I’d die of shame instead.

You can probably tell that I wasn’t in a good mood at this point. Which makes it all the more commendable that Can Bonomo and his band of drunken sailors cheered me up so much, especially as I’ve never been a particular fan of ‘Love Me Back’.

With added capes swirling around and helping to create the mock boat at various points, this is as well staged as anything this year, really turning around my opinion of the song, much as Greece managed to do in 2011. Turkey are now sailing into the final (geddit?!).

Do let me know what you think of these rehearsals below, and don’t forget to check back later in the day for analysis of the automatic qualifiers’ first run-throughs.

8 comments to Eurovision 2012: May 19 Rehearsals – part 1

  • Bexley

    I’m a Turkey fan Daniel and encouraged by your review. I have read the dancers are going to be in pirate costumes for the final, have you heard or seen anything to confirm that.

    I think with Turkey there is an element of East/West divide. I like the song myself but can understand that it’s not a typical western chart song. I’d be very hopeful this does extremely well in the region and with its diasporo I think backing it top 10 at the current odds against is a value bet.
    It has sufficient allies to make it through this years semi comfortably and when you look at Turkey’s recent record in the competition top 10 looks the least of its potential.

  • David

    “Loreen is wearing a dress with fringed arms, as if her hair wasn’t enough flying around in her face,”

    Looks like a bad version of the first dress she was wearing in sweden.
    Why even change it?!?!

  • justin

    Dan just been watching the the Azeri first rehearsal.

    I am very interested to hear how this came across in the arena. It sounded to me like Sabina was very good – but a bit messy when the mugam performer was introduced towards the end. It might just have been the sound quality of the film I watched. My thought was that the introduction of the mugam performer would surely be a jury vote winner ( to what is already a jury-friendly song) – providing it doesn’t make it a shambles.

    It did look quite an atmospheric performance.

    I look forward to your views on the rehearsal.

  • Donald

    Loreen accessibility always been a musical conundrum for me it’s been holding me back despite the market.

    Edging towards laying at the price, easy get out if need be.

    Now I like good dance tunes and the tune is sufficient but it is not in Guetta or Avicii territory either which are the current crossover dance tracks, same with Jessie J Lazerlight. Currently dance hits have stunning vocals with some reverb like Sia on Titanium, Flo Rida etc. and the rhythm becomes the bass line to drive the track. Euphoria not like that but it does capture.

    Euphoria should be bright and happy, not dark and arty, big Lazers etc. so I been leaning towards looking elsewhere for the winner. Why Loreen so short in the market?? That the mystery, it’s good but doesn’t tick all the boxes, in fact far from it in some areas as you rightly mentioned.

    Lets see how France pans out today.

    Back to Ukraine, that drop into the dubstep is very cool, so now juries may like and kids watching will love.

    And it “silk purse” performance well must be worth some punt, that football type euphoria no harm either.

    I am going to catch up with all rehearsals over the weekend.

    Great info. and writing as always Daniel.

    Afternoon laying the Jedheads I think!

  • Donald

    One question Daniel, could Jedward be a lay in the semi? They only managed 8th last year with all the hype…

  • Donald

    Just watched Spain from today, intrigued to hear your views. That is some song, they need to glue down the backing singers and stop them walking around at the end. Killed it, I thought was well decent up to that.

  • eurovicious

    Agree on all of this. Absolute gospel on Sweden. Turkey is great. If Anri qualifies (which I don’t expect), don’t die of shame, Daniel – we need you!

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