Eurovision 2015: May 13 rehearsals

The first half of the second semi-final isn’t the most thrilling part of this year’s contest. Today it served up a series of largely competent rather than exciting initial run-throughs.

Starting things off, Lithuania was a ray of sunshine – literally in its purple and orange backdrop. The summery feel was carried over into Monika and Vaidas’s outfits, and their chemistry-laden performance. They join hands early on, kiss as before, skip around different parts of the stage, whilst the paired backing singers perform some co-ordinated moves. Cheesy? Yes. But really, really feelgood too.

Ireland offers the polar opposite: an earnest performance without any cheese in sight of its sun-drenched forest backdrop. Molly at the piano has two backing singers, a drummer and two others on strings; they’re all in black. ‘Playing With Numbers’ was otherwise as in the national final, an authentically delivered ballad that lacks in melody but makes up for it in the tone of Molly’s voice.

Anita and Michele of San Marino are up next with ‘Chain of Lights’. There’s nothing wrong with the staging – a candlelit globe – and there’s a nice shot when the pair turn to face the camera at the back of the stage. Anita is the stronger performer, though Michele has plenty of help from one particular backing singer in the second half. But the song remains a strange mish-mash of dated Eurovision tropes thrown together in a disjointed way.

Balkan Eurovision royalty Zeljko Joksimovic penned the Montenegrin entry ‘Adio’ for Knez, and it’s as if he’s overseen the choreography too. Five backing singers, one with violin, wander around with the lead singer at various points, perform some co-ordinated turns and gestures. To be fair, I really like the swirling camera work and movements for the instrumental break. Knez has wisely toned down the lothario look, and my main criticism is the colour-scheme which is overpoweringly blue or red at different stages, and usually too dark.

Malta’s Amber is the second ‘Warrior’ to go it alone on stage this week. However, she doesn’t bring the attitude (or backing vocalists) that Georgia’s Nina does. The performance and ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’-inspired backdrop have clearly been well thought through. Too much so: it feels a little lacking in spontaneity or any USP. Amber’s vocals usually held up well – though not all the time – and there was a terrible bum note on the final run-through.

Norway’s ‘A Monster Like Me’ was much anticipated, which might explain why it felt like an anti-climax. The problem came with overly plain staging, matched by their white outfits. There was no backdrop, no dry ice, nothing to furnish this gothic tale. The explosion of white light for the big moment wasn’t followed immediately by the camera swirl that heightened it in the national final. Let me make clear: these are issues that can be fixed in later rehearsals, and I didn’t have any problem with Morland or Debrah’s vocals.

Leonor is in black rubber and a cape, whilst her backing singers are in what I assume are traditional hats. That’s the most interesting thing I can find to say about the Portuguese rehearsal, and I fear televoters will feel exactly the same way.

The Czech Republic finished off what is a rather morbid run of songs. I found the stage a rather uninspiring dark blue for this too, before gold is introduced for the climax. Vaclav and Marta spend the first half apart before they come together, at which point Marta attempts to throw off her shoes in anger, though it looks a little clumsy and comic. There’s no doubting their vocal abilities or chemistry – when given the chance to show it later on.

We start with Israel tomorrow, which definitely feels like a necessary return to something fun in this running order. Please keep your comments coming below.

13 comments to Eurovision 2015: May 13 rehearsals

  • Ben Cook

    Did it sound like Norway were using a recording of the live orchestra from MGP? They did say they were going to try.

  • I have it on good authority that the Norway team is keeping its powder dry for later. Today was all about secure vocals and giving the singers a sense of their place and space. Expect the dry ice, camera angles and 360 degree swoops later on.

    • Ron

      So Norway told ORF to hold back on the full camera movements in case Mørland and Debrah were scared by a Steadicam operator running around them?

      • Dash Berlin

        Every year Norway garners a lot of pre-match hype….and then fails to deliver. I don’t see this year being any different

        • john kef

          Norway eventually will make it but not this year. I believe they are trying to establish their trademark in the contest by sending dark ballads. Televoters will get used to it and finally will vote for a dark song.

          They tried something different also in the past. My theory is that Lordi wouldn’t have won in 2006 if Norway wouldn’t have opened the road in 2005 with Whig Wam…

        • Avitas

          I would hardly call 4th and 8th the last 2 years failing to deliver…?

  • I agree with Daniel about the first half of the 2nd semi final. Some “creative souls” at ORF should have come up with a bit more variety in the 1st half (up-tempo vs. ballad, etc).

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Earlier I grabbed the last of the 4/1 with totesport about Latvia to top 10.

    The general and sharp odds contraction of the Latvian entry is a strange one, given that the 1st rehearsal performance is only slightly more impressive than the magnificent performance that I’ve watched many, many times on the link on the oddschecker site over the last couple of weeks.

    It looks like the 29/1 I took for Latvia to Top 5 last week might yet give me a run for my money. I was only allowed piddling amounts at those amounts; likewise the 80/1 for it to win its Semi. I’m kicking my self now that I didn’t back the 80/1 (1/3 odds the top 2) which subsequently became available, with other firms. I know I lost confidence after watching the Belarus 1st rehearsal snippet, and realising my EW bets were goners.

    Also kicking myself for not opening a bf account to take advantage of the 5/1+ that Latvia was trading at for a long time.

    I should really have more on my other fancy, Cyprus. The remaining niggle I have with the package is the lead singer’s looks. He does look like the less attractive brother of one of the Italian trio.

    Just listening again to the Italian entry and have to admit it is glorious. Feel uplifted by it, without understanding why.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Bit late with posting the following. The reason I didn’t was because just after finishing the piece, the other day,, I happened across Gav’s comments on another site and realised my piece had nothing new to add to what he had said.

      This Eurovision my only bet so far had been Australia EW at 8s. Have proceeded with caution this time around, after last year’s losses.
      I’m broadly in agreement with Gert, with my faves this year including Australia, Belarus, Iceland, Slovenia, Norway, Sweden, Macedonia, Armenia, Georgia and last but not least Cyprus.
      And the outstanding value this year for me this year, with that focus on value, is Latvia’s offering.
      Maybe Lithuania’s Monika Linkyte is the most photogenic female singer this year but Latvia’s Amanita is a real beauty, too. She has the mysterious beauty and soulfulness of Sade Adu at her peak.
      Yet unlike Sade, Aminata can switch up from delicate, caressed, intimate vocals to unleashing an absolute powerhouse of a voice. I wouldn’t mind betting that if there was an award for the best live vocal performance on the big night, Aminata would be a prime contender. I guesstimate the juries will be taken with her.
      And her song (which she wrote) is arresting, hypnotic, gorgeous, sophisticatedly sexy, deeply felt and original. Breathtakingly impressive for a 22 year old.
      The 2 most modern songs in the contest seem to be Belgium’s and Latvia’s. They’ve some similarities in structure and pacing, but there’s an aggressive vibe to the Belgium’s performer, an alienating droogy, young-Mads-as-Hannibal undercurrent (not completely offset by his charisma), and for me his song loses energy and stalls round midway.
      I find Aminata’s presentation and vibe easily more accessible than, say, FKA Twigs’s. Plus her staging and look (so far) are interesting and seem to all come together.
      Latvia have sent some duds in recent years so maybe Latvia’s odds are overly and falsely reflective of this, for this year’s ESC markets? After all, Latvia did take the top prize in 2002, so when they send a good ‘un, they can contend (not that that Ricky Martin rip-off from 2002 was actually a good ‘un, imo).
      The big concern (and possibly the only concern?) for its prospects is whether this Latvian package is too modern for the ESC audience. The soundings and feedback suggest it’s the year’s marmite entry; that for instance on a preferential ballot system Latvia would be receiving as many number 1 votes as it does number 40 votes. From what I know from Sofabet articles, divisiveness is a feature to steer clear of at Eurovision.
      But for me, ‘Love Injected’ is at heart an old-fashioned power ballad, with (successful) electronic / trip hop stylings. More encouragement is to be had from last year’s results. 30 year old Aram MP3, with an entry that could have been considered too modern for ESC tastes (and from a draw of 7, with a rough look, and with a woeful vocal performance), finished 4th. To be blunt, he looked a bit dodgy.
      There is room on the top deck for the daring. I remember concerns previous to ESC 2013 that (the epic) Margaret Berger’s ‘I Feed You My Love’ was too edgy and modern for Eurovision tastes, and that too came in 4th, placed on the bookmaker’s podium. It seems an electro edginess is no bar?
      And Aminata is a wee little lady (who will look cuter still on a massive ESC stage before an arena-sized audience) who can belt it out with control. In that sense, she may have old fashioned audience appeal working for her.
      Relying virtually solely on her vocal ability, Albania’s Rona, finishing 5th from a GF draw of 3, was probably the big surprise result of 2012 (wasn’t she 80/1+ pre the final?). And Leanne Mitchell from Series 1 of The Voice is another reminder of how a powerful diaphragm and set of lungs can prove v popular across a breadth of viewers on Saturday night primetime.
      I find watching Aminata’s ‘Love Injected’ (love that lyric!) back-to-back with Nina Sublatti’s ‘Warrior’ instructive as to what is right with Aminata and her total performance and what is so v nearly right (but not) with Nina and her package.
      The one true overlap is the lack of smiles worn by Aminata and Nina. Another poster on Sofabet has observed that he and his friends labelled the UK’s Molly an Ice Queen for her perpetual grim-faced look and so he wasn’t surprised at the subsequent UK flop last year in Copenhagen. I think it was Sofabet’s Gert who mentioned Molly’s perma-glumness last year, also. I was oblivious to this flaw.
      Lena’s carefree playfulness looked a big factor in her win back in Oslo in 2010 (it sure wasn’t the quality of her singing!) Minus the live crowd response to Lena, the music video for Satellite falls flat (and sounds awful).
      Aminata looks focused on striking the poses of the choreographed armography and on actioning the reverence with which she holds the unspecified ‘you’ who has resurrected her, probably to the detriment of the potential to play with a light wink and a smile the midsection that begins just prior to the ‘Show me the source of the light…’ verse. (Whereas, Nina might look a bit sadistic or overly triumphant if she were to begin smiling in her performance.)
      So, if she can relax and introduce a better mix of light and shade into her performance, she might go deep in the competition?
      Pity I’ve only been allowed piddling stakes: but 29/1 for Latvia to finish top 5 on the overall outright, and 80/1 for Latvia to win Semi-Final 2, both struck me as value bets. I could easily be completely wrong about Latvia but at the prices I was willing to pay to find out.

      Another entry to seriously catch my gaze value-wise is Belarus at EW 100s. I love it but am in 2 minds as to whether it’s a value bet. Essentially, I consider it to be a superior version of Aram MP3’s song from last year, with a charismatic, handsome lead singer heading it up, assisted by a smoking hot female violinist. I have my doubts about the staging (which so far looks like a XF subliminal deramp design!) and his vocal ability but it does have a lot going for it.
      The only song to get close to bringing a tear to my eye is the open love letter of a gentle confessional from Cyprus’s Giannis. He really needs to tuck his shirt in, but that lad is putting his heart out there for you the viewer – what an intensely tender and enormous ‘give’ he provides. He’s a bit geeky looking and, by gum, it’s a pity he doesn’t look like for example Roman Lob, but that a capella moment 2 thirds through ‘One Thing I Should Have Done’ is as genuine a slice of real emotion as I’ve heard from an ESC song since Johnny Logan’s ‘Hold Me Now’. Regretfully beautiful.
      There must be worse bf 360/1 shots than this?
      I love the Armenian song and performers because it sounds like a song that could have came v close to making it onto the ‘Rent’ soundtrack! But bf 227/1 looks about right for a song performance that fails the Old Grey Whistle Test.
      Bit confused why Estonia is a cramped bf 19/2 while Slovenia is an appealing 51/1.
      So…there’s the run-through of all the entrants you should be laying!

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    If anyone’s interested: a little earlier I got an extra £50 win in a WH shop a little earlier at 9/2. Apparently that’s a WH shop limit on that market. If you ask the staff to ring HQ they’ll secure (and find out) the price but if you try to stake over £50 they’ll need to re-ring HQ. This was about half an hour ago or so, and this info might be out of date: I don’t know..

    • Chris Bellis

      I liked the Latvian entry on first hearing and it´s still one of my favourites. I didn’t have the courage of my convictions to put money on it, but good luck to you.

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Hiya Chris, the 9/2 was on Cyprus to Top 10. My big lesson from this year’s ESC experience is to learn to schedule days off work this time next year that coincide with the ESC 1st rehearsal dates!

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