Eurovision 2016: May 2 rehearsals

“Sing it away!” Finland’s Sandjha started proceedings in a powder blue catsuit to a purple backdrop. She was holding back on the vocals, and the focus was on interacting with her backing singers. They walk onto the stage from the back for the first chorus, and split into two groups either side of the lead singer. Sandjha uses the catwalk to the smaller satellite stage during the bridge, but turns back no sooner than she’s there. This early practice didn’t change any minds on its qualification prospects.

There was no sound in the press centre for the first Greek rehearsals, so we could only judge visuals. Those were very much “Greece at Eurovision #101”, which is a compliment from these quarters. Think ‘Opa!’ with the band in white, some homoerotic touches between the new young dancer and the older rapper, and a ‘My Number One’ moment at the bridge. A fiery backdrop soon changes into an evolving set of golden compass patterns. There was plenty to keep the eye interested.

Moldova also came up with some development in the form of a cosmonaut who joins Lidia after the first chorus of ‘Falling Stars’. He removes the helmet to reveal himself as one of Aliona Moon’s backing dancers, before breaking into some moves that help explain his kneepads. Lidia has some backing support, but the vocal still isn’t powerful enough for a 90s eurodance number.

Hungary’s Freddie clearly felt he’d been enough of a ‘Pioneer’ with the national final staging, as that was replicated here minus the glow sticks. Three backing dancers sway as Freedie smoulders into the camera on a red scorched-earth floor with a red storm backdrop. The vocals were fine, but beyond a few short walks, there wasn’t anything else that visually developed in the three minutes – it finished much as it began – but we’ve been promised some changes before the next rehearsal.

For Croatia, a gasp went around the press centre on the first sighting of Nina Kraljic’s dress. A grey mesh tent with a toilet roll neckline, it is most distracting for the first verse, before Nina’s joined by four backing singers who rip it off during the first chorus. Nina was wearing civvies underneath, and continued with her armography as seen at the London Eurovision concert. The vocals started off very uneven, but had improved by the final run-through. A blue ocean backdrop added gold overtones near the climax.

There are some changes to The Netherlands’ ‘Slow Down’. They’ve lengthened the ticking clock intro, referenced by the staging in the gold LED floor. Douwe Bob in a dark suit starts off next to the piano player before quickly moving centre stage. During the guitar solo bridge, he uses the catwalk to the satellite stage, and then there’s a break in the song where we’ve been informed Douwe will get the audience to sing the chorus, before joining in himself. There were teething troubles with camera angles here but no problem with the vocals.

Armenia’s entry divides pundits, and today’s first rehearsal only exacerbated that divide. For its fans hoping for something different from the staging, they got it. Notably, Iveta is joined by six holograms for the instrumental second chorus, and there are lots of Oscar Zia-style close-ups and cutaways. For those less enamoured by it, who amongst other things worry about it appearing aggressive, Iveta is striking sexy poses in a short-cut black leotard with cape (Mei Finegold springs to mind). Iveta’s vocals are strong on the whole for a demanding song.

Disappointingly, San Marino failed to camp up their staging for ‘I Didn’t Know’. Serhat is joined by five backing singers / dancers who come off their plinth and gyrate around him in various ways, to a blue and red disco backdrop with some hologram dancers.

Russia started off with Sergey Lazarev falling off his projection wall. Later run-throughs were slicker. Sergey starts by imitating an eagle as a wing shows on his wall, rather like Iceland’s Greta. He’s then joined by four formation dancers, also clad in black, before his next task is some Ani Lorak movements. After this he proceeds to climb the wall like Dimitry Koldun, with new platforms emerging to save him, as in the video. He eventually ascends the wall after a swirling moment, to finish atop for the finale, with a mysterious woman emerging to hold a diminishing sun.

It’s like a boot camp routine or Krypton Factor brought to the Eurovision arena. My main gripe is that it contains no relevance to the song and no emotional connection, which we saw with Mans’ stick boy, or Farid’s alter ego and lady in red.

Do give us your continued thoughts below, and I’ll be back tomorrow, when the rest of the first semi acts have their initial rehearsals.

29 comments to Eurovision 2016: May 2 rehearsals

  • Chris Bellis

    Be fair, Sergey’s fall was quite entertaining. I think he should keep it in, like Spain in 2008. By the way, as Ben has pointed out, San Marino don’t realise that the internet praise is ironical.

  • Alpie

    The Russian staging is beyond the song involving too much things to concentrate on. I can’t see a connection between them. Not a winner to me.

  • RonH

    Full rehearsal of Russia can be seen here
    Indeed an example of ‘All kinds of everything (too much)’

  • Hippo

    Russia’s staging is as if Fokas popped into the first Ikea he found in Stockholm, maxed out his credit card buying anything that caught his eye, and threw it all on stage- without putting anything together first. Complete overkill.

    Very impressed with Armenia, they may take this semi and can beat Russia.

    Looking forward to Czech Republic and Malta tomorrow.

  • My big take-away from today is that Russia have taken away Iceland’s chance of having a USP. Their staging was the reason I thought its chances were perhaps underrated… but if interacting with motion graphics is the standard for a handful of countries this year, it’s hard to make a case for them NOT all cancelling each other out.

    Russia’s performance is really cool, but even with the graphics it still reeks of typical Fokas, and all the thunder and flashes and leaping around makes it feel contrived and without emotion.

    So, vocals notwithstanding (crucial question there), France have gone up in my estimations now. “Genial” really is the one-word summary for the French entry, but I’m keeping my eyes open for “something different” to come along too.

    • Ande

      Yes, Iceland, Netherlands, Croatia and Armenia can be discounted from the win market. The Russian entry hurts Icelands overall chances but the package should still be strong enough for qualification.

  • Russia…”full of sound and fury signifying NOTHING”??

    Narrative missing. Big Time. And too late to contrive one methinks.


    Too much, too busy, too keen, too cold, too vain. An average song drowning. Let’s go France, Serbia and Italy!

  • Ande

    The Russian performance surpasses my (perhaps lowly set) expectations. Nothing slutty, cool camera angles, enough closeups and it even has a narrative of him trying to reach his loved one.

    Kids will think this is cool, I believe those who loves action movies will vote for this, I suppose this will score top 10 and probably even top 5 with juries.

    • Henry VIII

      Simply put: it’s a winning performance. The market will eventually realise that too.

      • Ande

        Yes, the effort put into this is two levels above the rest of the rehearsals so far which also calms my fear of Sergey being marked down by juries. Finally Russia is the favorite in my book.

    • Mr Wolf

      I agree, technically it’s pretty impressive and didn’t disappoint me as well.
      Perhaps there’s a woman missing, the presence of the “the only one” in some part of the act, which would help the narrative and give more emotional resonance (help people connect with it more).
      Or how exactly was it really solved? From the video a saw a woman only at the beginning of the song..

      • Ande

        RonH posted the full performance earlier in the comments section.

        I agree they could’ve highlighted the girl more but at least she’s coming back for the finale. I don’t really get what they are doing at the end but I guess there’s some kind of special effect or montage that links Sergey together with her fireball.

        • Mr Wolf

          I watched EurovisonWorld video, but I didn’t see the girl coming back in the finale (only at the beginning). When should that be happening?

      • RonH

        I believe the Russian act will pretty much look like the video once we get a look through the TV camera’s, so yes it is impressive staging. Yet the song misses the ‘feel good’ or ‘oh so cute’ experience that many winners had. Except Lordi off course 🙂 I still think France can beat Russia, taking present European sympathy into account. We probably will have to wait for Amirs singing to make a final evaluation.

  • johnkef

    First it was Croatia, then Azerbaijan…Iceland your time is coming!!!!

  • Ande

    Jüri is really good on stage!

  • Montell

    I’m starting to think simplicity will win this year. That’s why I think Sweden’s odds will start to contract soon. To win Eurovision you have to stand out. Iceland, Russia and probably Malta will be playing with projections. I think everyone is fed up with that kind of stuff. I think Sweden or France have good chance to take the victory. Australia and Bulgaria may also do well depending on the staging concept. I just hope they don’t bring the god damn projections. I enjoyed Eurovision more when there were less LED screens. Now they they are everywhere.

  • Robyn

    One big difference between Russia and Iceland is the technology. Russia has super sophisticated motion tracking that locks the projected graphics onto Sergey’s movements, generated on the fly. Whereas Greta is doing hers the old-fashioned way and has to perfectly sync herself to the projection. It means that it’s a lot harder for Sergey’s to mess up his staging (or if he does, it’s in other ways) whereas if Greta messes up her timing, it’s going to look bad.

    • Greta is less likely to fall over during the semi final though.

    • This is news to me Robyn. How do you know there are motion tracking sensors involved?

      • Robyn

        Actually, I could be wrong here. From the tech production blog, it was revealed that one country was using such technology, but it looks like this is Malta – the projection on Ira’s dress lets her move around instead of having to stand still (confirmed on blog). From the rehearsal footage of Russia, it seemed like they were also using similar tech, but it could also be fixed projection.

        • PurpleKylie

          Russia defo has fixed projections, Malta has the motion tracking *member of press here*

          • Henry VIII

            But I heard Malta’s didn’t work and they’re thinking of dropping it.

            Kylie did you find out about the running order?

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