Eurovision 2015: May 17 rehearsals

It’s good to remember that we went from watching second rehearsals to first run-throughs today. To varying degrees the automatic qualifiers treated it as they’re meant to – as a technical exercise in trying out different camera angles – rather than giving it their all. Therefore, fast and firm staging judgements made on the basis of today’s practising may feel premature by next Saturday.

We started with a case in point: Il Volo going through the motions for Italy. I don’t have any problems with the Classical Rome backdrop, and I like the way the lights pulse, especially in the build-up to the chorus. They’ve also kept the nice Sanremo rotation between the three boys – all in suits but no ties – for the second pre-chorus. Sure, Piero didn’t really engage with the cameras, but there wasn’t anything here that couldn’t readily be fixed once an A-game is required.

Austria have decided to keep things simple and credible for their shaggy-haired entrants. It’s pretty much as in the national final for The Makemakes, except for a much darker stage at the beginning. There’s a nice overhead, fiery LED-floor shot for the instrumental break, and on the last run-through we even had flames licking out of the piano, and a small curtain of fire from the ceiling. Lead singer Dodo had no problems with his vocals.

Spain have got a bit of everything in their three minutes, which was the object of laughter at first, but makes sense given the lack of development in the song itself. Edurne starts off in a Little Red Riding Hood outfit, cradling her bearded dancer like she’s Mary Magdalene. When done with that, she comes forward and has him hold her long cloak, which is eventually ripped off to reveal a slitted gold dress with Grecian shoes. What follows is a Strictly Come Dancing routine which the judges would castigate for too many lifts. Some of the fussiness did affect her vocal, but it also kept the interest.

Germany’s Ann Sophie is going down a more sophisticated route, in a black jumpsuit in front of a set of flashlights and a James Bond backdrop. I’m not sure she needs to spend quite so long with her back to the audience and camera at the start, craning her neck around. She’s a strong vocalist and expressive performer, but there’s a certain aloofness about her presence, which may unfairly hamper her televote.

The United Kingdom have chucked a few gimmicks at ‘Still In Love With You’ though the whole thing still screamed of the bargain basement. There’s clearly been some effort with the staging: an Art Deco backdrop that goes from black and gold to neon, stairs for the introduction, some neon tubing that lights up at various points. (Though the equipment Bianca was required to carry on her back to bring this off made her look like a ghostbuster.) Four charleston dancers did their best, but just like the song, the overall effect was amateurish.

France’s Lisa Angell, clad in indigo, won lots of plaudits today for a nice backdrop and some solid vocals. The excerpt came from the powerful final minute when she’s joined on stage by four drummer boys in beige. What that clip didn’t show you was the rather long two minutes that leads up to this climax. ‘N’oubliez Pas’ remains a dated song lacking any real hook.

Finally, Australia’s Guy Sebastian, dressed in hipster garb, took the concept of a rehearsal most literally: going through the steps with his four backing dancers; only occasionally showcasing his excellent vocals; and trying out various camera angles. There are some squat streetlights on stage, the backdrop goes from golden sunrise to red-and-green streetscape, and there are some delightful little formation moves to reiterate all the hooks that ‘Tonight Again’ provides. There were lots of pyros for the final run-through.

Tomorrow sees two dress rehearsals for the first semi-final, one at 3pmCET, and then the crucial run-through that the national juries vote on at 9pmCET. I will tweet during the first one, posting a brief article afterwards, and will also tweet the jury rehearsal. Stay tuned and keep the debate going below.

20 comments to Eurovision 2015: May 17 rehearsals

  • The Ferret

    So the drift of Australia from 8 to 12 (or thereabouts) is a tad premature you would say?

  • Tom Ato

    Here are some other opinions of Australia’s rehearsal in Vienna.

  • Montell

    Do you know where can watch Eurovision online?

  • Boki

    Hi Daniel, what’s in the background of France during the first 2 minutes (what we can’t see in the short clip)?

  • Antony

    There’s far too much emphasis on costumes, pyro and visual design. Try listening to the songs without the stage shows. Which one will be worth a musical replay when Eurovision celebrates its 75th birthday? No doubt Australia, Italy or Norway. Sweden’s song will be a one-dimensional coup d’état on the night. Momentarily effective, but essentially a tedious piece of music.

  • Montell

    Can someone explain me why Georgia is 8th favorite in top 10 market? What did I miss?

  • Chris

    I didn’t like the visuals in Australia, especially the street lights and the performance was underwhelming. As things stand, I don’t see them as a winner.

  • Montell

    Daniel, do you agree that Georgia with its current performance has good chances to finish in Top 10? I realize how good performance can lift up almost any song but I didn’t like Georgia’s song in the first place so I’m willing to bet against it. What is so special about Georgia’s performance? Would you say that it’s very well thought though? Doesn’t it have any drawbacks in any of these categories: camera angles, backdrop, outfit, Nina’s facial expressions and work with the camera.

    • Daniel

      I agree with you Montell that the song alone doesn’t feel good enough for top ten. The staging is striking and gives it a USP though, and there’s not many you can say that for.
      Ex-USSR bloc votes won’t quite be enough on their own but will get Georgia part way.

      I should just apologise to commenters that I don’t have time to respond to all queries in the comments section here this year. I have a few other media commitments this time around. But for things like Georgia, at least you will get to see for yourselves in the semis.

  • Boki

    Mans singing heroes in X-factor Adria yesterday and getting exposure in many Balkan countries. Still think he has no chance of winning Panos?—favorit-evrosonga-u-xfactoru.html

  • Rune

    I’m looking at Norway in the top 10 for 1.6 at betfair at the moment. How do you view the value?
    Denmark as a qualifier at 2.1 looks ok to me. I think the have a decent position in the Semi 1 even though they are after Russia. Altso song is somewhat catchy and if the boys can come of likeable it may stand a better than 50/50 chance? Thoughts?

    • Chris

      I’d be cautious about that. Firstly, the staging so far hasn’t looked impressive – no LED screen. Secondly, I don’t feel that the song reaches out to viewers. The lyrics are also difficult to digest (keep in mind that most viewers are non-native speakers of English) and all they may hear is: “monster.., monster…” which doesn’t really fit with the the theme of the song.

  • john kef

    I believe Norway is a safe bet, drawn in the 2nd half. Denmark IMO is very risky because of the absent of allies apart from Finland and Estonia

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