Eurovision 2013: May 6 Rehearsals

And they’re off! For the first day of rehearsals, an assorted group of bloggers had a cinema seat for the Odeon-like surroundings at Euroclub. But just who was going to be The Good, The Bad and The Ugly?

Austria’s Natalia Kelly wasn’t any of them. She was vocally reasonable for ‘Shine’, but as it stands the performance isn’t dynamic enough: there’s some walking to different parts of the stage; a bunch of suspended pendant lights rise up in the air; and her five backing singers join her in an outward-facing circle. Overall it feels average and lacks bite right now, especially as a show opener. It needs to improve from here on in.

I thought it was soon overshadowed by Estonia’s Birgit Oigemeel, the staging for whom currently looks more effective. That’s because the visual signposts to differentiate various parts of the song worked much better. We started with a Yohanna-esque close-up camera swirl, the picture went from black-and-white to colour before the first chorus and after that chorus, Birgit walked back along the catwalk to the main stage.

She sounds great, including for the big note that’s been added to the new version, and looks more comfortable in front of the camera than Natalia at the moment. We’ll see if she can maintain that lead in the coming week.

Slovenia’s Hannah Mancini could also take some lessons from Birgit on engaging the camera. She currently makes singing ‘Straight Into Love’ look like hard work, though to be fair to her, it’s not an easy number for the lead vocalist.

The bodypopping choreography is good in theory given the dubstep opening, but it veers into Hungary 2011 territory with the three dancers looking rather removed from the action at certain points. They join Hannah on the catwalk for her purposeful strut later on. Unfortunately for her, it’s a particularly demanding part of the song, and every run-through saw an obvious missed note or two at different points. This is another one that needs work in the next week.

There were no vocal problems for the Croatian Klapa team. Their outfits were initially a bit off-putting, until I realised that they were traditional garb to go with the old-world feel of ‘Mizerja’. This was a strong rehearsal, showing it to be perfectly placed after Slovenia, and I continue to think it’s been underrated in this semi. 

The afternoon’s big four were eagerly awaited. Emmelie de Forest essentially has the same shtick as in the Danish national final. Having to re-work camera angles all over again meant that it looked less polished here, but the whole focus of the rehearsal was on getting these right.

Emmelie’s vocals were strong, and if some commentators were underwhelmed by this practice compared to the finished article they witnessed in Copenhagen, the show-stopping ticker-tape and curtain-of-fire effects in the last run-through had them reconsidering.

Russia’s Dina Garipova, like Emmelie, offered a precocious lesson in looking the consummate professional. Her vocals were excellent, and with some effective backing vocalists, created an impressive wall of sound.

The staging was generally as safe as the song with one exception: there’s a strange moment when the two male backing singers, holding a ball each, bring them up for Dina to touch before throwing them into the audience. I can only assume these will be balloons on the big night. 

It’s nothing, however, compared to the bizarre introduction for Ukraine’s ‘Gravity’. Zlata Ognevich pretends to be asleep as she’s carried onto a plinth by a Shrek-like giant. The process is awkward, and leaves Zlata looking dishevelled and bemused as the giant wanders off, job done. If it wasn’t so unintentionally funny –  there were collective guffaws around the press centre – it would be creepy.

Zlata tries to recover by belting out the song, though the plinth and tight dress don’t give her much room to manoeuvre. She makes up for this with some major head-tossing, so the song now looks as well as sounds like a shampoo commercial. Her vocals are pretty amazing, however.

It’s worth bearing in mind that Ukraine ditched a dancer after their first rehearsal last year, so the opening cameo could magically disappear, though the giant seems an integral aspect of the concept.

The simple, understated staging for Anouk’s ‘Birds’ was a relief in comparison, and who’d have thought it would be the Netherlands teaching Ukraine a thing or two on this subject. She was vocally strong, and the Dutch press contingent I ran into were understandably delighted with a good first rehearsal.

The official videos uploaded onto are, as feared, not terribly revealing. Nonetheless, do give me your thoughts on the day’s events below, and feel free to ask any questions you may have.

24 comments to Eurovision 2013: May 6 Rehearsals

  • Justin

    Daniel thanks for your hard work.

    A few commentators are comparing Croatia with the flop of ‘Sognu’ a few years back – saying it is of a similar genre and it could face the same fate. I remember the performance by Amaury on the Saturday night was a bit ropey but do you think there are valid comparisons?

    • Daniel

      Hi Justin, as a group effort I think it’s a more authentic version of Latvia 2007 than France 2011. Latvia 2007 managed fifth of 28 in that long semi-final, admittedly from the pimp slot, but it was far more kitsch than this.

      Of course, France was 2-1 favourite to win the whole thing, so 15th place and 82 points was seen as a flop after a disappointing vocal when it mattered. Croatia is 125-1 for this semi alone, and 15th would represent its best position since 2006, so ‘flopping’ is a relative term!

  • Daniel, can you tell me if Anouk works the camera? Every performance I found of her on TV shows looked like she was more interested in performing for the people who were there, but not the viewers at home.

    • Daniel

      Hi Shell, it’s funny you should say that as after the first run-through she asked if she should look at the cameras more, and the Dutch team in the press centre shouted “YES!”.

      There is an anti-performance aspect to her performance, and charmingly natural though that is, she has to be careful not to go too far down this route.

  • Henry VIII

    Thanks for the updates Dan. My thoughts, having just seen the short clips available to us ordinary plebeians:

    Denmark: strong as expected. Dan have they dropped her intense close up interactions with the man? If so probably a good thing as it looked a bit OTT.

    Ukraine: a mess.

    Russia: strong as expected. But the backing singers peering out from behind those globes – weird or what? However strong her voice is, the unoriginality and overdone nature of the tune should have the jurors ignoring it, but as most of them in many eastern nations are likely to be ethnic Russians that maybe too much to wish for.

    Netherlands: staging looks right. Backing singers a good distance away, soaring seagulls, a trendy but modest outfit for Anouk. My favourite of the competition but a big unknown.

    • Daniel

      Hi Henry, sorry I missed your question there initially. They haven’t dropped her intense interaction with the man for the first lines of the second verse. In fact they spent a good deal of time trying to get the camera angles right at this point to repeat what we saw at the Danish final.

  • Guys,

    Could someone point me to a precise link of some sort of “number of points scored and from whom over the last ten years” site. This is the one area where I have little data, but surely some eurogeek has set up a site with this sort of information?

    I’m more interested in the last ten years than, since records began. I’d just like to see which countries normally give points to whom – but can’t easily find it – is there a link (rather than a site) that you could post for me?


    • Daniel

      Hi Richard, go to and click on the ‘Analysis’ box. Each country is listed; once you click one, scroll down for a list of whom they have given points to and got them back in return.

      The stats work best for countries that have joined the contest since 2004. Those in it much longer have all their points given and received over the years included.

  • Thanks Daniel – Alas I will have to design my own spreadsheet for the rest!

  • chewy wesker

    Zlata’s performance in her dress looks very effective, she has to lose the giant, I mean what are they thinking there? Birgit with the added note and staging amazing, really hope she makes the final. Wish I was there to see it all. Enjoy.

  • Laying Ukraine to win while she’s still second favourite sounds quite good to me at the moment.

    • DashBerlin

      If they drop the Giant scene though, you may find your fingers burnt, her voice is still terrific

      • eurovicious

        Yeah but voice or no voice, it ain’t never gunna win. The song is terrible, a structural mess, and it looks naff and kitsch.

        • hansenus

          Well, sorry to tell you, but that is a too strong statement when dealing a second favourite.
          The odds clearly say it has at least 12.5% of chances to win.
          Anyhow, it really looks like they are struggling a little bit with the performance and so on.
          Making it too complicated is not always or never the best solution. The way it is going ukraine this year reminds me a lot of azerbaijan 2010.
          Exactly the same, strong campaign and media and then overdoing a too complex stage performance that ends up requiring multiple changes.

          There is a huge difference though with azerbaijan 2010: now Zlata is the best singer on the contest and has plenty of charisma which Safura fully missed in dusseldorf.

          Well lets see what happens. I think most of you guys are too negative with ukraine because the initial song composition was not good (the one in ukranian final). But this has changed to a much better and easier to digest version. Strong campaign and superb promotional video promotion are the ones that put the odds low from 17 to 7-8 and not the giant thing…
          Anyhow i dont understand why so much criticism about the giant too, one thing is to see it like in current videos or if you are in the arena these days and a completely different thing is to watch it in the television with all the camera play…

          Anyhow, my thoughts at the end of this path of this eurovision 2013 are leading to me to a strong EW bet for Italy which is the most obvious solution/value i find this year finally.

          I will go further into this next days and will share with you guys my views. I kindly ask you one favour now: Is there any link or place where i can see how did italy 2011 perform with televote? I think i read from some of you it was 1st with jury but i dont know about televote… Can someone help?

          Anyhow, thanks everyone for the tips and enjoy Malmo 🙂

  • Henry VIII

    I don’t think having her stand on that plinth looks good but I don’t know why, so maybe it’s just me. It’s not as if she could move that much without it, in that dress. Norway also has a restrictive dress but it works, it just looks much better standing on the floor.

    Maybe it’s an audience connection thing.

    • DashBerlin

      Henry, a quick note about the Norway dress, there were rumours yesterday of a new dress (which brought a new meaning to the word hideous), but apparently the dress Norway will use has not been seen yet

    • eurovicious

      It’s not just you. It looks terrible.

  • Daniel

    Betfair now offering a wider array of markets, eg Top Big 5.

    • chewy wesker

      Not many head 2 heads, would like a few more selections Georgia v Italy would be one I’d get involved in. Betfair should of got these up ages ago really.

  • I think it’s such a pity that nice songs like Moldova, Ukraine and (to a lesser extend) Russia are so over-the-top. With Ukraine and Moldova showing is 100% circus.

    My standouts so far (Cyprus is rehearsing now) in semi final…and the songs that improved substantially:
    – Estonia (underestimated, stands out after Austria. Estonians teach us something about staging here!)
    – Croatia (wunderful, brings in memories of Croatia 1995 and 1996)
    – Netherlands (Improvement, because SO many disappointments in the past 14 years. This simplicity suits the performance. Wun-der-ful.)
    – Montenegro (this circus SUITS the song)
    – Belgium (I never truly understood why this entry was being ridiculed so much. The song is written by the co-composer of ‘Running Scared’ and I must say the staging was superb. Perhaps even better than Ireland!)

    My disappointments:
    – Austria (Such a gem should not have such cold staging. I hope this will improve)
    – Slovenia (Ughhh)
    – Ukraine (Whyyy, ooowh why. The entry reminds me of M People -I’m a fan- so why not a simple band-format concerning staging? Her previous performance in a Russian music show impressed me so much more)
    – Belarus (Childish. Will probably qualify. But it’s static and old-fashioned for today’s Eurovision standards. Simplicity seems a bit more cooler as of today)
    – Moldova (Well, here’s the second giant of semi 1. Why oo why this dress. Eastern Europe loves this kitsch though. Still good song!)
    – Ireland (Not as well staged as Belgium. Bit too busy and less slick. From these two I prefer Belgium)

    No changes in expectations:
    – Denmark
    – Russia
    – Cyprus

  • stoney

    With Ukraine now as short as 11/4 for the win, i reckon there could be a few people with egg on there face come the final

  • Daniel

    Current rumours doing the rounds are that the current giant will be replaced by heavyweight champ Klitschko for the dress rehearsals.

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