Eurovision 2015: May 16 rehearsals

Even though the second rehearsals pass by quicker, the section of the second semi between the end of Lithuania and the start of Israel felt as long as before. At least the viewer will only have three minutes of each song, not 20.

Lithuania’s Vaidas and Monika are still “feeling love”: Vaidas now has a baby blue jacket to match his trousers; the camera angles were much tighter; and they are now trying out a camera at the back with the audience behind them for the final shot. The smiles all round are infectious.

There are no smiles during Ireland’s three minutes. They’re going for a completely different impact of course, but there is a danger of ‘Playing By Numbers’ appearing too downcast because everyone looks so miserable. Molly is still only occasionally connecting with the camera. This all means that she could be relying on juries to get into the final.

San Marino is as amateurish as ever, and the vocals were very ropey today, although the young duo had been out singing till late last night. Montenegro feels far more polished in comparison, with Knez an experienced and reliable performer. I do wish the visuals were less generic, but otherwise he is putting himself in with a good shout of qualification.

Malta’s Amber decided to do without backing vocalists, and that’s looking like a risk based on a few bum notes in her run-throughs today. This is another one that could struggle in the televote. Norway have made good strides from their first rehearsal. However, I’m still missing the camera swirl at the big moment that we witnessed in the national final. Still, we now have a better explosion and long shot at this point, followed by a shimmering sun backdrop.

Portugal just feels like a very long three minutes. Leonor is all in black with a dark blue, black and white stage. The Czech duo are fun to watch because they’re not taking rehearsals too seriously. They will be relying on vocals and personal chemistry to give them any chance of qualifying.

The camera angles are coming together very nicely for Israel’s Nadav Guedj, who engaged the camera far more today. His bounce and the choreography around him makes ‘Golden Boy’ tremendously enjoyable. It goes down very well in the press centre, though I’m very aware that it sits right in the fanboys’ sweet spot. Latvia was the same as before except for a henna tattoo of an owl across Aminata’s collarbones. It’s another one impressing the press centre.

Azerbaijan’s staging was even more gorgeous today. The stage now looks moonlit for the opening, and the change to red at the big moment is wonderfully done. The camera angles were better, and the improved visuals made ‘Hour of the Wolf’ a little more accessible. However, the contemporary dancers still feel like a complete distraction. Accessibility is not a problem for Iceland, and ‘Unbroken’ improved a great deal today from a shaky first rehearsal. Hera Bjork’s presence among the backing singers seemed to settle nerves, and Maria’s vocals were more secure as a result. The slightly less fussy choreography also helped.

There’s a reason why Swedish music production is coveted around the world, and ‘Heroes’ displays it. The overall package knocks what comes around it into the little stick figure’s cocked hat. Mans has this routine down pat – he could do it in his sleep. Switzerland suffers in comparison despite Melanie Rene’s best efforts. The staging and styling just feel a little bit 90s, even though it’s trying to emphasise the more modern elements of ‘Time To Shine’.

Cyprus is wonderfully simple. It’s an improvement that the lens changes from black-and-white at the start of the second verse, providing visual development at the first repetition. John is very reliable with his vocals, and has an impressive temperament for his tender years. You’re rooting for him from the start of ‘One Thing I Should Have Done’.

Slovenia have also made improvements, with the camerawork providing more close-ups and variety of an increasingly engaged lead singer. I still find it frustrating that the only significant movement comes from an air violinist and Ray’s clicking fingers. Poland’s ‘In The Name Of Love’ is best on one viewing, with its pleasant staging and clear message of Monika’s story. Repeated viewings just remind me how vanilla the song and delivery are.

Please continue with the questions and comments below. Tomorrow sees the automatic qualifiers rehearse for the first time, which means only the short clips from will be available to view.

30 comments to Eurovision 2015: May 16 rehearsals

  • Dash Berlin

    The market thinks the 10 Qs are
    Sweden, Norway, Slovenia, Azer, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Cyrpus and Israel – as they are all under 1.5 to Q

    I think Montenegro will Q as well, but does anyone think one of the above 10 fail to get through?

    • chewy wesker

      Semi-Final 2 Israel I would say will be NQ
      Malta I think will make it.

      • Dash Berlin

        interesting Chewy, I was really impressed with how Israel is coming along. Looks a lot more fun today, a lot more confident of it going through now

        • chewy wesker

          Dash never again will I back Israel for qualification, after Izabo “Time” failed to make it to the final 2012 ;-(

          • Dash Berlin

            Ahahaha Chewy….I had to remind myself that song just now. I remember it well, it was terrible! What made you back that!!?

          • chewy wesker

            Don’t know seemed a good idea time ;-$

          • Shai

            I can understand why you’ve backed it.
            As a song it’s not that bad, but the staging killed the song’s chances. How to say it mildly-it was a (very, very) messy staging

    • Shai

      In that scenario there are 8 qualifiers from the 2nd half and only 2 from the 1st half. I think this is most unlikely.

      Based on songs only, and without seeing the rehearsals videos, I see Poland and/or Iceland as NQ and than someone form the 1st half will replace them.
      I suspect Ireland/Montenegro/Malta and even Czech Republic are within a chance.

    • Chris

      I’d agree with that list, Dash. I suspect that Ireland will also make it provided that she also manages to look at the camera. I do think she will get a lot of jury love. If she makes it, I think it will be Israel or Lithuania that loses out.

  • chewy wesker

    D-Day tomorrow then. We’ll see what Il Volo and Guy can pull out of the hat.

  • Shai

    Daniel – I have a question regarding Azerbaijan:
    Is he looking at the camera with open eyes or is he singing with close eyes,as he done in some of his previews concerts?
    Is he making contact with audience at home?

  • Comparing markets – the Monday before the final last year, the winners market was:
    Armenia 3.15
    Sweden 4.7
    UK 12.5
    Ukraine 11.5
    Denmark 18
    Hungary 14
    Norway 30
    Austria 36
    Azerbijan 42
    Netherlands 55

    on the day of the final
    Sweden 3.8
    Austria 4.5
    Netherlands 5.6
    Armenia 12.5
    UK 16
    Ukraine 15.5
    Hungary 26
    Denmark 36
    Norway 90
    Azerbijan 160

  • And again, my ranking/qualifiers for semi final 2. I think Latvia and Cyprus could surprise us (not me though 😉 ):

    01. 100% Q-chance, SWEDEN:
    Nothing to add. Has been a contender for the victory ever since it won Melodifestivalen. Interesting to see how Sweden is mastering the art of creating a live videoclip.
    02. 100% Q-chance, LATVIA:
    Has been too low at the bookies for months, while the impressive total package was already available from the NF. France 1991/Albania 2012 meets 2015. Goosebumps.
    03. 100% Q-chance, CYPRUS:
    These simple songs have an advantage: They are easy to stage and therefore easy to score with. This is reminiscent of Tom Dice. But in the final it needs a good draw.
    04. 100% Q-chance, NORWAY:
    Personally, I love the song. Like “Birds” the song lyrics are quite heavy. I just think it’s a bit too complicated for televoters. Hence maximum 9th or 10th place in grand final.
    05. 100% Q-chance, AZERBAIJAN:
    Like Norway a huge pre-contest favourite, but therefore a bit too “fan-wank-ish”. From all ballads it’s simply a bit too complicated next to Italy, Austria, Cyprus and Russia.
    06. 100% Q-chance, SLOVENIA:
    This song is simply too good to not qualify. It will qualify only for that reason. More close-ups really help, but the overall total package is not screaming “winner”.
    07. 090% Q-chance, ISRAEL:
    This up-tempo song comes after a string of rather mediocre slow-tempo songs; songs that we’ve seen already too much. Has Greek/Turkish vibe that helps.
    08. 070% Q-chance, CZECH REPUBLIC:
    This duet has got “X-Factor”. They have stage presence and charisma. And they are fun to look at, unless many other duets in this contest.
    09. 055% Q-chance, POLAND:
    Pleasant, though a bit dull ballad helped tremendously by….a story. And that will especially help from that very last running order grid. Staging here really works.
    10. 050% Q-chance, MONTENEGRO:
    Pleasant enough Balkan-ballad, but it’s nothing new. Wunderfully and intimately performed/staged. I do think the battle for 10th place will be fought with Iceland.
    11. 050% Q-chance, ICELAND:
    I could see this go to the final as well, but then one country from 8th, 9th and 10th place in my list needs to be sacrificed. Also the running order draw might not help.
    12. 045% Q-chance, LITHUANIA:
    From all Baltic nations this is the weakest entry this year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this goes through on charisma and great interaction of this boy and girl.
    13. 040% Q-chance, IRELAND:
    Though lovely staged, I heard Molly doesn’t engage with the camera enough. But I also must say that I don’t understand why ORF/EBU has put this entry on 2nd slot!
    14. 040% Q-chance, MALTA:
    Good enough entry that has been helped by a better remix. But it also feels a bit forgettable, even when that Conchita-esque staging is added. Still could be a surprise.
    15. 035% Q-chance, SWITZERLAND:
    I’m afraid that after Sweden this falls flat. Not only that, the songs that come after the Swiss entry have IMO a better shot at qualification.
    16. 000% Q-chance, SAN MARINO:
    It’s a pity that small nations like San Marino don’t get plenty enough guidance in selecting a song. Look at the Monegasque entries from the 1970’s. It IS possible!
    17. 000% Q-chance, PORTUGAL:
    Portugal needs to quit that contrived inclusion of pseudo-fado and the Portuguese language in their entries. Like Netherlands, they need to choose internally first.

  • Ron

    The various blogs are making a big deal about Molly Sterling failing to connect with the cameras, but Raphael Gualazzi sang with his eyes closed or looking down at the piano keys in 2011 for nearly the entire three minutes without once looking into a camera lens and still finished second.

    It’s an obvious example of people seizing on something innocuous and making too much of it. Molly’s style of performing could even work totally to her advantage in that her performance may come across as sincere and authentic.

    • For certain songs I do think it doesn’t matter if the performer isn’t engaging with the camera enough. But then you need to have quite an….ehm…..”artistical relevant and unique” song I think.

      Anouk didn’t engage the camera too much with “Birds”, but then again the total package on the whole was simply too magical and unique.

      Same with Italy in 2011. And also with Albania in 2012. I even like it when certain singers are so…..closed in themselves, so concentrated in singing that because of that they are closing their eyes. It gives a rather sympathic feel to it.

      I don’t…have that really with Ireland… far. Her song isn’t a “Birds”, “Suus” or “Madness Of Love”. It’s slightly more forgettable then those.

      • Ron

        Molly has addressed the whole issue in her interviews this week Gert. She says she likes to lose herself in her songs and connecting with the cameras is not a priority for her but she adds that she hopes people respect her for this. She doesn’t want to perform in a way that’s not true to herself and is instead designed to win her as many points as possible on the scoreboard.

        I think those who are pulling her up on this may be slightly getting ahead of themselves. For all we know, the juries and televoters might actually like her style of performing. It’s the complete opposite of singers like Bosnia’s Maya Sar in 2012 and Koit Toome in 1998 who sang straight into the camera lens while playing piano.

  • Bruce

    Looking again at the betting odds movement posted by Dash Berlin reinforces my view that considerable informed inside betting/trading exists in Eurovision.
    These final odds had the top 4 in final placing in the top 4 in the betting although not in the correct order. Amazing informed punting by all the experts? or the fact that how the 50% jury vote had been distributed was already known to some?
    The dramatic price movements from after Friday nights jury performance through to Saturday evening would provide you with that answer.

  • Ron H

    Hi Daniel, can you tell us how the Italians brought the song within the three minute limit?

    • Daniel

      They’ve ditched the second verse, Ron. We go from the first chorus straight to the second pre-chorus. Before rehearsals, I didn’t think that was ideal, but turns out it doesn’t really make any difference to the run-throughs I’ve just seen.

  • Opinions on the UK then? Tragically undersold I think.

    • Donald

      Not really going anywhere, leaving voting blocks out of it, not really where competition is at no matter how you’d dress it up..
      Best left alone reckon, might pick up few votes here and there, that unfortunately is about it reckon.

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