Eurovision 2018: Apr 30 rehearsals

You shouldn’t answer too many questions based on first rehearsals; and today’s action posed even more. FYROM only completed one run-through after technical issues, so should be given something of a free pass. Marija was wearing a pink suit jacket backwards and short shorts, with three female backing dancers in black. There was lots of movement around the stage that Eye Cue will be looking to tighten up second time around.

Croatia’s Franka looked and sounded every bit the consummate pop star with a confident set of run-throughs. She’s all alone on stage, but was a compelling presence in a lace black dress, sure of every move. She doesn’t forget to show some emotion and smile, the strong wind machine getting a tear out of her eye each time. The first of three acts in a row to be largely featured alone, she was the most impressive of them.

Austria’s Cesar has a routine that needs time to come together. All in grey rubber, he started high up on a huge plinth that didn’t lower fully to the floor, forcing him to jump off. At this point we could see the heads of the hidden backing singers. He then skipped round the catwalk satellite quicker than he looked comfortable with. There was nothing wrong with his vocals, but with lots of walking and some half-hearted camera effects, work is required on the concept.

Greece’s Yianna lacked any sort of concept at all, which isn’t ideal when you’re alone on stage and have a long instrumental middle eight to get through (her solution – a set of poses). In a flowing white dress with blue backdrop and a left hand painted blue, there was no doubting the provenance of the entry. The backing singers do such an impressive job, and are an integral part of how it sounds, it’s a shame they’re not on stage with her.

Saara Aalto does have some kind of concept, but it’s an amalgam of the three Finnish national final efforts, and doesn’t feel related to this particular song. As was the case in ‘Domino’, she’s turned on a wheel to showcase her ability to sing upside down, before joining four jackbooted dancers in grey military garb. She returns up the stairs for a pyrotastic finale.

Armenia kept things mercifully simple in comparison. Sevak the shepherd in grey linen is surrounded by a slatted circle creating some intimacy. He emoted and connected with the camera better than I expected, and the final thirty seconds feels more focused: he’s ditched the long Mariah Carey notes.

Switzerland has plenty of movement in comparison: to begin, Corinne is drumming with her brother on a plinth, and goes onto show rock-chick sass as she walks over the bridge and back, and then round the catwalk, where she urges people to put their hands up if they’ve ever been hurt. She rejoins her brother for the finale.

Ireland are also providing a sense of evolution in their staging. Only Ryan with his guitar is first to feature, before a female pianist becomes apparent at the pre-chorus, and two male dancers are introduced for the second verse. They largely follow the moves seen in the official video, with bench and streetlight props. It starts snowing during the middle eight. The camera angles became more polished with each run-through.

We ended the day with Eleni Foureira bringing the Beyoncé for Cyprus. In a colourful sequinned catsuit, she starts in a laser tunnel before being joined by four backing dancers. They flick their hair around, and slut drop in a coherent, confident routine. On-screen fire effects and fire pyros on stage commit to the theme, where Finland deviated.

Do keep the excellent discussion going in the comments sections below. We move onto the first rehearsals of the second semi-final tomorrow, starting with Rybak’s lesson on how to write a song.

35 comments to Eurovision 2018: Apr 30 rehearsals

  • Dan

    I knew Croatia would surprise. It was a dark horse in my book.
    Ireland gives me “Calm after the storm” vibes. This could do better than expected.
    Greece, Finland and FYR Macedonia are out.

    • I think we should officially stop using “Calm After The Storm” for every bit of staging :-P.

      • Chris Bellis

        Be fair though SFW – it was a turning point in Eurovision. A song that was written off, but was brought back into contention by sympathetic staging. Not flashy, not over the top, no big LED screen, no hamster wheel, just well done.

  • Hippo

    Disapointing Greece are doing the minimum, Cyprus could easily finish higher than them now. Cyprus could do very well if they don’t get shoved in first like the last lot of uptempo semi closers. Hurts Israel and Australia too. I’ve seen a lot of people overreact to the lesser fancied entries not being awful. Ireland, Switzerland and Croatia all started further back as likely qualifiers and are still further back in my opinion.

    Big day tomorrow with Norway and Australia. We know what we’re getting with Rybak and it will be up there, Australia a bit less sure, could move up or slip down.
    Hoping Netherlands are good to shake it up and Moldova can make a move for top 10.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Bet365 were offering a stand out 7/2 today for ages for Moldova finishing in the Top 10. Though, I’m sure you’ve helped yourself to much bigger odds than that on them!

  • I feel so bad for Macedonia. They are sending a really good song second year in a row and most likely won’t qualify again. In last 10 years they qualified only once. I just hope they don’t loose faith and stay in the contest no matter what. There’s nothing worse than a country announcing they will not participate in Eurovision.

    • dicksbits

      Yeah I was disappointed in FYROM. For a catchy song the staging is just not enough in this kind of field.

    • Chris Bellis

      FYROM – good song, good singer, very attractive woman, but I commented a couple of weeks ago that she should shoot whoever is dressing her. Presumably the same person who’s doing the staging. Diabolical.

  • dicksbits

    The Cypriot entry definitely benefited from simple staging with lighting. She’s amazing – I hadn’t really rated the song until it stood out today -visually looked very good. Could easily be vying for the top 2 in this semi now.

    It would be interesting to know how many ‘soft votes’ some countries start with…that could help work out if countries like Croatia could make it over the line..

  • markovs

    Is Fuego what Legends could (should?) have been, had they selected a better performer, in the UK selection at Brighton?

    Oh, and should we get on the Israel lay while it’s still worthwhile??

  • markovs

    The live performance of Fuego really makes the best of it, but as a song it’s meh. It’s a skip song for me, nothing interesting at all.

    • dicksbits

      It’s almost a ‘red herring’ moment for the final… I mean that yes it could score top 2-3 in the semi, esp performing last (Iceland 2010 was similar) but then get lost in the grand final.

  • Russia… oh dear! Lay off the nerve agent guys.

  • I was looking at a recap of the rehearsals .. I could count 11 qualifiers! The 10 I think at this stage are (in random order): Israel, Belarus, Lithuania, Croatia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Czech Republic, Greece, Bulgaria, Cyprus.

    The mistake there could be TOO many ex-Soviets and not allowing for at least one ‘Western’ nation to make it. I had Austria as a YES but wasn’t that impressed LIVE.. Finland is such a marmite song and performance that I’m not sure it has wide enough appeal – and it’s Finland (hope I am wrong).

    Don’t think Belgium has been presented effectively enough and will get lost at 4th. Armenia and Albania are being hyped atm, but their presentation is dull (esp Armenia).

    Ireland is a great song, but just isn’t quite there on so many fronts.

    • eurovicious

      It’s hard to find likely western qualifiers in this semi, with the exception of Greece and Cyprus. I rate Ireland’s qualification chances a lot higher than Austria, Finland and Belgium’s. So I have 9/10 the same as you, except I have Ireland instead of Croatia. Franka is fantastic but it just doesn’t seem like a televote song to me; Ireland has the draw and a USP.

      I’ve loved Franka Batelic ever since her 2009 NF song – she’s improved a lot since then, of course…

      • The Nefeilibata

        The concern I have with Ireland is whether or not there’ll be Eastern backlash over the male dancers

      • Tim B

        I would give Switzerland a much better chance of a “surprise” qualification than Ireland. Anyone who disagrees is a liar in the face of facts – that Eurojury score of 89 (4th out of 19 in semi-final 1) is very promising. Ireland scored 24 points and was 11th in the semi by comparison.

        • eurovicious

          I think Switzerland is a really strong jury song, yeah. Given the good draw it could get enough televote to see it through.

          • Tim B

            Definitely, and it has a USP as the only contemporary English language (pop) rock thing. It can potentially pick up the odd televote point from anywhere. The Zibbz woman is most definitely telegenic and “aspirational” as an artist, as you-rovicious would put it.

    • Ande

      I think you are making a mistake with Austria. The song is quite strong and even with a meh performance it’s an almost certain qualifier in my book!

  • Milton

    Not sure we are going to get any surprises from France, sounds like they are keeping it simple:

    “We are going to Lisbon to deliver a message of hope and inclusion. We are not going to compete for the best staging. Song UPFront ! The rest will follow.”

    • The Nefeilibata

      That’s the right move imo, not that I thought they needed to change anything we haven’t already seen in the NF and pre parties, less is definitely more.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Hmmm. That’s slightly disappointing news – perhaps. Difficult to take away exactly what he is emphasising from such a brief statement.

      I assume he understands that the best way to inclusively deliver the message is to maximise the potency and clarity of the stage translation. That can mean steering clear of elaboration and business – that’s also true.

      I hope he watched and enjoyed the Mercy music video, as well as enjoying the National Final performance. Both translations.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      One final thought about the French staging.

      I thought ages ago that come the Grand Final a guest appearance in the Arena from Gal Gadot would be a natural tie-in and a star power super boost to Israel’s chances.

      Could that occur?

      Likewise, an appearance in the Arena from Mercy and Taiwo could prove a real-life game-changer.

      Could that happen?

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