Eurovision 2013: First staging clues

It’s a little-known fact but rehearsals for this year’s contest have already started. Just not with the acts in question but with stand-ins, based on the staging concepts each delegation should have sent. This allows producers to work on matters such as lighting and camerawork.

Pictures from these run-throughs can be found here, with videos here and here. What little we can glean is that Azerbaijan are going for it with some background choreography, Moldova are keeping the dancers from the national final, and is that a clue the Norway performance will be as before?

For those who haven’t read it or who want refreshing, I wrote an article about getting Eurovision staging right and wrong last year. The staging concept is often the most revealing aspect of a proper first rehearsal, which will not be available to watch on YouTube this year. For the first four days therefore (full rehearsal schedule here), you’ll be in the hands of the bloggers.

Let us know what you make of these stand-in pictures and videos below.

39 comments to Eurovision 2013: First staging clues

  • eurovicious

    Hmm. If Gianluca is really bringing his gaggle of hippies from the video, as it would seem judging by this, I think that decreases his qualification chances. It looks messy and takes the focus away from him. (Same applies to Austria, though I had that firmly down as an NQ anyway.)

    Is that the actual stage? It looks poky! :/

  • Daniel

    Bonnie Tyler gave a live rendition of her song on British radio today. Here it is:

    • eurovicious

      Interesting. Her vocal during the first verse is absolutely excellent, and her voice is so iconic, but the chorus and the rest of the song underwhelm. The backing singers almost drown her out and really dilute that iconic voice, it creates a negative impression; I’d rather she carried the whole thing on her own a la Kaliopi last year. The chorus is unspiring and repeated too many times, and the song just isn’t relevant either. Second half of the scoreboard; I’d love it to be in the third quarter but I think it’s more likely to be in the fourth.

    • eurovicious

      If Kaliopi (as another older woman and big regional name with an iconic rock voice) could only manage 17th out of 25 with juries last year despite regional support, stellar vocals and a better song (with a much stronger musical narrative and far greater dynamics), Bonnie doesn’t stand much of a chance…

      I’m not endorsing ageism by saying this, but I don’t think being visibly much older than the rest of the field at Eurovision is a good thing unless it’s your gimmick (the Babushki). Eurovision is to a considerable extent about new artists, about catapulting talented young acts from across the continent into the spotlight. If you were already hugely successful decades ago and are at the end of your career, what’s the point in competing? Step aside and let a younger artist showcase themselves. No doubt the whole of Europe will again be wondering why, given the UK’s music industry, the country has once again sent an over-60 whose success was in a bygone era. Relevance is a hugely important factor, and Bonnie’s song just doesn’t offer most people anything (though it’s hardly alone in that this year).

      I’m ironically reminded of Eurovision 1981. The year the UK sent Buck’s Fizz – new, exciting and contemporary – Luxembourg sent grey-haired Jean-Claude Pascal (who’d won Eurovision for them exactly twenty years previously) singing a dated chanson that would have been more at home in the contest’s early years. Bucks Fizz of course won and Pascal came 11th. Now the UK is the one sending throwback acts – and Bonnie’s result, like Engelbert’s, is going to be a LOT lower than 11th.

  • A decent performance from Bonnie there. She certainly could do with tightening up the refrain, but she sounds as good as we could ever hope for when singing the title. She’s well supported vocally. It’s not perfect but anyone who knows Bonnie Tyler well enough will know that her gravelly voice breaking up every now and then is just what you get. In other words, I think it’s forgivable, and I hope that the juries won’t be too tough on her. I quite liked what she did with the chorus towards the end, throwing in that extra “believe in me” while the backing singers go along with the refrain helps the song to sound less rushed to fit the 3 minute rule. I don’t think this sounds like last place material, so now we just have to wait and see whether it looks like it.

  • Absolutely no chance whatsoever of top 10 and I’ll be having a bet on bottom 5 for UK

  • Daniel

    Longer version of staging videos for Denmark, Sweden and Spain can be found here:

    • Good spot Daniel. I have to admit to finding the images slightly more useful, especially when looking at Russia and Iceland – both songs are working towards visual engagement. Austria also seems to have more going on – could that throw a spanner in the works?

  • yqt1001

    Belarussian stand in performance:
    I can’t say I expected anything different, other than maybe what appears to be the use of drums during the instrumental bridge.

  • eurovicious

    I’m a bit confused on this, I remember the same being done in Dรผsseldorf with stand-ins from a local dance college or something, but it was on the actual stage. These videos look like they’re from some school assembly hall, I can even see a plastic chair in the background in the Belarus one! Can anyone clarify what’s going on? Surely there’d be no point doing runthroughs with stand-ins at a different venue. Or is that really the stage?

    • eurovicious

      Ignore that, I just answered my own question – they’re quite obviously rehearsing elsewhere before doing it at the venue. Ignore above comment. #brainfart

  • Alexander S

    Eurovicious, I completely disagree with you. There is an unhealthy level of ageism among fans when it comes to Eurovision artists. I don’t like to see Eurovision becoming a pan-European talent show; as a whole that concept of “participants should be new, young and relatively unknown” is quite recent, it did not exist that powerfully in the past. Eurovision with popular artists will be much more credible and interesting. Imagine if all acts were like Anouk, Cascada and Bonnie. And here goes another criticism towards the juries – they prefer to vote for young over older singers even when the young obviously sing bad.

    • Yes there may well be several types of discrimination at play when you aggregate votes from a particular country, but Bonnie Tyler will not do well this year mainly because the song itself is a dull run-of-the-mill ballad and that live vocal is undoubtedly painful in places. Combine that with UK being one of the most unpopular countries in the contest and you have good reason to predict a bottom 5 finishing position. It will not be because of ageism.

      I would love to see UK turn things around and compete in this contest. I really thought this year we would do something special after learning some lessons from recent entries. But yet again it’s a poor decision. They should have asked Christopher Maloney – he certainly couldn’t have done any worse!

    • eurovicious

      Alex, I’m not talking in terms of my own personal preferences, I’m talking dispassionately/analytically in terms of what does well and what doesn’t, and how viewers and jurors will likely react to Bonnie…

  • Give her a tray of cakes and she’ll be fine.

  • Alexander S.

    James B: Ageism often has the tendency to hide its ugly fave behind subjective claims about the songs’ quality. The truth is that people said the exact same thing for almost all previous entries performed by an older person – Engelbert’s, Niamh’s, Lys Assia’s, even Croatia 2008. I honestly don’t know what kind of a song people expect from a 60yo Bonnie to sing?
    And speaking of Lys Assia, there goes a strong evidence of ageism: two years ago people dissed her newly written classical French chanson (which couldn’t fit her image better; and yes, it was a “dated” 1950s song, but so is Netherlands this year, notice the total difference in reception). She took her lesson and offered something more contemporary than an old chanson last year, yet people still dissed her. I’m not arguing that Eurovision is a young people’s business, but we cannot excuse discrimination with opinions of the song. Estonia this year has a very bland entry, yet many people wish her luck just because she’s so sweet. Imagine the reactions if Lys or Bonnie would sing that song (which wouldn’t be out of place for their repertoires).

    • eurovicious

      There is no comparison between Birds and C’etait la vie. And no, All In Your Head is not contemporary. It’s a 67-year-old German millionaire’s idea of what “young people” listen to. I love Lys but she no longer has the pipes – it’s a simple fact that one’s singing voice changes and become less strong in old age.

  • Alexander S.

    eurovicious: Personally, I find C’etait ma vie much better. It has a climax, story, builds up, the lyrics are meaningful. “Birds” has nothing of the sort. The whole hype behind it seems to me very… hipster.

    • eurovicious

      Fair enough. But they can’t be compared from a musicological perspective. Birds isn’t dated or a chanson, it simply couldn’t have been written back then. It’s less about the lyrics than the fact that chanson/schlager is limited to certain chords and cadences where Birds features unusual cadences and a complex and unconventional chord progression.

  • Alexander S.

    You might be correct in analyzing the cadences, but to me and to every other common viewer “Birds” sounds exactly like a soundtrack song from 1950s US movies, so it certainly sounds like something that could have been written back then. People are not experts.

  • chewy wesker

    The stand-ins are great, really would like a eurovision stand-in market on betfair lol, Bonnie I think sounds great, but can’t put her in the top 10, sorry Bonnie UK bottom 5 again this year.

  • eurovicious

    In the interests of thinking aloud, herewith my summarised thoughts on SF1.

    Nature of semi: Ex-Yu cluster (Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria) and ex-USSR cluster (the core three countries of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, plus Moldova, Estonia and Lithuania, the first two of which both have a large Russian-speaking population). Ergo regional effects in televote and jury. This is the Slavic semi. However also significant no. of western countries (Austria, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands, Ireland and Cyprus, with Italy, UK and Sweden voting).

    Austria: Low voting power, irrelevant song, weaker singer, distracting backing singers, overshadowed by other female soloists, poor draw. Out

    Estonia: Crystalline/flawless voice, middling voting power, forgettable song, jury-friendly but faces a lot of competition. Likely out but could sneak.

    Slovenia: Strong voice, very low voting power/v poor qualification track record, poor draw, song and presentation credible but weak chorus. Will get some points from other Balkans but only some. Jury uncertain. Likely out but could sneak.

    Croatia: High points from the other Yugo countries, but (basically being opera-lite) not a genre that typically does well. Cheesy/irrelevant presentation bordering on kitsch (cf. Latvia 2007, Belarus 2010). Extensive promo done on Serbian TV. Regardless of uncertainties re: broader European popularity, should be in jury and televote top 10 though in this weak field. Through.

    Denmark: Will get Western Europe vote. Will be in jury and televote top 10. Not a Rockefeller/Soluna, but also not a Fairytale/Euphoria. Through.

    Russia: Certain qualifier – televote and jury top 10. Highly likely top 3.

    Ukraine: Visual and vocal showstopper of the evening, guaranteed through despite the issues with the song

    Netherlands: Jury top 3, televote midtable to low midtable = through. But not certain. Given the country’s terrible qualification record, is value lay at current price.

    Montenegro: No. Juries hate aggressive rap, so do viewers in general and it’ll only get points from Serbia. The cool kids who’d vote for this don’t watch Eurovision semis. Could come last or near-last. Out.

    Belarus: Likely near-bottom of jury vote, kitsch and will be poorly performed – Alyona lacks charisma and her vocals are poor on upbeat songs. Given the song’s kitschness and datedness and Belarus’s poor track record and general unpopularity, televote may not be high enough to pull it through. Worlds removed from “credible upeat” like Cyprus/Greece last year, and song/country mismatch. Value lay. Very borderline, tempted to say “out”.

    Lithuania: Poor jury score because of pub-standard vocal and dubious visual impression, though still not terrible as song is OK and stands out. Some televote. Could previously have expected diaspora points from UK, Ireland and Belarus but new system will partly compensate in the former two cases. V borderline, not calling either way.

    Moldova: Language barrier, but is good, though outclassed by others vocally and in terms of voting power. However, late draw is good, as is impressive stage show and piano played by Pasha (only onstage piano of night) Soviet support, well-written and structured, broad east/west appeal, and the most upbeat/engaging and least wet/soppy ballad of the night. Shouldn’t be outside either top 10 in this weak field, despite language barrier. Through.

    Ireland: Very contemporary, will get western European support and likely some eastern. Question marks hanging over his vocal and the staging. Fair televote but not necessarily jury, could even be just outside jury top 10. But: through.

    Cyprus: Some jury, no televote. Late draw, well structured song and highly competent performer, but one that televoters will ignore. No value in opposing so don’t touch. Out, with a very slim chance of “through” if pulled up by jury.

    Belgium: Good draw, middling to low jury score, some televote, especially from Western Europe. Very mainstream in a good way. Question marks hanging over vocals and staging, but will perhaps be more competent than many expect. Borderline. A late draw for this rousing mainstream pop-rock number, in a semi where it has little competition on this front = value back.

    Serbia: Televote high to midtable, jury midtable. Croatia will steal on both accounts due to its gravitas vs Serbia’s lacking gravitas. Will do better than Cipela/Ovo je Balkan but not as well as Serbia’s credible entries. But definitely through.

    I’m having a hard time finding value this year – anyone else? SF1 last year was easy – a raft of clear no-hopers like Euro Neuro, Beautiful Song, The Social Network Song, Woki mit deim Popo, Finland and Israel made it very easy to call. This year there’s a much greater level of uncertainly, scant value and so much sameyness – a ton of bland female ballads. Combined with the new system, this leaves me much more uncertain about things than I was last year.

    • sonovox

      Just had a good look at SF1 myself before rereading this. As with almost every ev post, I find the analysis rock-solid except for strong disagreements over song quality.

      I can only find four definite qualifiers in this semi. At this pre-rehearsal stage I’m really struggling to go further. Agree that Belgium offers tempting value to backers at this stage, but won’t be nibbling myself. Don’t agree at all that Moldova is safe – though they are proficient at stagecraft, and reasonably well-placed – and I’d be much more confident backing Belarus at virtually identical odds.

      Estonia at around 2.25 looks pretty reasonable to me. Should be kept afloat by regional effects and juries, despite its poor draw. Not that I’d advise betting the farm on that one.

      Netherlands the best laying opportunity by miles. Nothing about the song, country or draw merits qualifying odds only barely longer than Serbia’s from the pimp slot with a bunch of ex-Yugoslav friends voting.

      We badly need a bit of rehearsal action to sort this one out. I’d be happy to pick 7/10 as things stand, and I thought those years were behind me.

  • Daniel

    Hi ev, an excellent assessment and I can only echo your concluding remarks. I currently have very few liabilities on this semi (and much more on the second heat). With a weak field of just 16 fighting for ten places, that tenth place could be going through on a relatively low score. Rehearsals will tell us plenty more on many of these.

  • Justin

    Nice summary EV you hit the nail on the head. The problem for me is that some of the relatively strong songs are drawn early and weaker ones have nice late draws. For example I would happily call Ireland, Cyprus and Belguim as highly unlikely to qualify IF they had first half draws.

    One thing you wrote has got me thinking… I am pondering on whether if a song is inside the top 10 overall for juries and top 10 for televote then it would definately qualify. I dont think this is necessarily the case as of course it is not the overall scores that count – but each country’s individual points. So in theory a country that comes 10th in the televote and 10th with juries would not necessarily qualify (though likely) – it would depend on how the overall points were constructed to constitute the final overall position.

    • eurovicious

      Thanks Justin, that’s an interesting point. My maths days are too far behind me to answer it! My brain overheats when I try to think too hard about the new system and I start emitting sparks.

  • Jimmy

    @eurovicious, great review of the semi final. It seems like you have a good eye on Russia this year, do you think they will win? Is Denmark overrated this year?

    • eurovicious

      Thanks Jimbo. I’m steering clear of the win market until the afternoon of the final. I don’t think Russia will win, it’s insipid – as blandly derivative as Iceland but in English. It may sound like an X Factor winner’s single, but the problem is it doesn’t have any X Factor, thus it can’t win in my book. It’s about as contemporary as David Starkey. I think Denmark is overrated but it’s hard to glean anything from that, as I’ve thought this both of previous winners and of stuff like Rockefeller which genuinely was overrated.

  • chewy wesker

    Semi-final 1.
    ev think you maybe right with Belgium as a bit of value, much improvement. feel there will be plenty of polish when it comes to the staging. Could be a breath of fresh air in the comp, what with all the ladies this year. Croatia and Austria I can’t see getting a place in final, so I’m going against the market there. But I do think Estonia and Lithuania will make it. Belgium could well take one of those two out thou!

  • chewy wesker

    Could well go to Denmark if a late draw, Norway is far the best song I think, Sweden is over priced noticed betfred didn’t keep their 33/1 long before cutting it, if staging goes well Georgia has a chance. Ukraine Russia top ten but can’t see them winning.

  • Is there some further info out? A couple of “probe-bets” (backing Armenia and Albania to Q, both @1.79) have just been matched at Betfair, after lying there for quite a while. Also, my San Marino lays just keep getting matched – seems like a never ending flow of money willing to back that one.
    Thoughts on these bets?

    • Daniel

      Hi squall, I noticed these three. There’s a logical explanation for the continued money for San Marino: its continued success in the polls (which just end up mirroring each other). No idea why someone has decided to take on Albania and Armenia today.

  • I wouldn’t read anything into the matching of the Albania & Armenia money either, if it wasn’t for the fact that at the same time some quite large sums (for this stage) appeared on the layer side of those entries. But I guess it simply goes to show that May finally is here – the pace is picking up ๐Ÿ™‚

    Regarding San Marino, I’m slightly worried I’m investing too much too early. I’ve already built up liabilities on various ways of laying San Marino for about 7-8% of my bank roll, which really is a lot this early in the proceedings. If we get a Cyprus 2012 (or to some extent, Iceland 2008 and Hungary 2011) type reaction in the live show, I’d like to have some dry powder left. On the other hand, I don’t like to leave what in my eyes is clear value on the table. Tricky, this!

    • Boki

      I decided to stay away from SM qualification and wait for potential top10 lay (based on both Cyprus, Hungary experience) which would be blown in case of NQ.

      Last year I believed Cyprus could be punished by the juries for weak vocal and she ended 4th (while only 6th on televote)!? SM this year should enjoy some jury love at least and with such fan reaction I feel she could Q easily of fail miserably. Tricky indeed.

  • Alexander S.

    I have Slovenia as a surprise last place in semi 1. Notice how last places are usually not ballads, but uptempo/midtempo songs. And I definitely don’t see Montenegro that low. They are very dependent on the stage act, if it is good enough, they will and should qualify. The song is a big hit on the Balkans – when a song is a hit in Scandinavia, we’re talking about a runaway winner, but when a song is a hit on the Balkans, we’re expecting a last place in semi, why??
    Also, I still disagree with Daniel about the semi discrepancy. Yesterday I tried doing my predictions and semi 2 is much harder to predict. What I’m pretty sure is that after the top 3 there the rest will have rather close points, so places 4-17 can be very random. Really anyone can make it, nothing would surprise me.

  • Yeah, I’m also aware of the definite risk of her Qing. Have it at around 40/60 atm – which still implies ridiculous value of course (hence my overcommitment). Especially Albania & Malta are high risk factors here – Malta gave Perelli 2008 the full 12p in the finals! At least Sweden isn’t voting in this semi ๐Ÿ™‚

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