Thursday, 5 May 2016

The not-press opinion - BUL, DEN, UKR, NOR, GEO, ALB, BEL

Quick overview
Two great rehearsals from Ukraine (already shows in the betting odds) and Belgium (biggest improvement). Bulgaria and Norway delivered with neither positive or negative surprises. I'm reading negative comments on Poli's outfit but in the actual performance it's quite okay. Georgia made a good impression and their camera effects allow them to keep their hope intact. Albania was mediocre and static and Denmark was overly boring and with vocal issues.


Aha. Much dance. She appears with 4 dancers, 2 males 2 females and they walk towards us as the stage is filled with yellow circles and many colours, but not blue! The circles are more like small suns (red in the centre). There is a lot of things happening; the dancers stand on two pairs of stairs as Laura really rocks it! She is dancing either alone or together with the dancers in a pyramid shape. Vocally she manages to keep it going, with some few weak notes, because of being out of breath. The stage is yellow-orange the whole 3 minutes. She is great during the bridge ("Come on, Stockholm!"). The dancers recede to the left side of the screen and join her for a quick little dance move as it ends. Good reaction from the centre. She was really good. It was hard writing about this, there's really a lot going on, but it's not too much somehow.

Had to watch this closer to the screen carefully and update you after I organise my thoughts. The best parts are when she's singing and the backing singers&dancers are around her. It comes across very natural and fresh. This time she added another line to the bridge as she was walking down the catwalk to get her final position ("I want to see all of those hands!"). The camerawork is also well thought out, with all the important moves being captured and shown nicely. Vocally... she strains quite a lot of notes, she was worse than the first time. Maybe this won't play much role during the performance. I couldn't tell if they have another backing singer hidden somewhere.

Same again. Very up-lifting. The choreography is very complicated and she is doing around three quarters of what the dancers do. The little ending dance is really cool and should look great with the audience.

Summary: Great performance, making the small vocal problems secondary. Also, she doesn't really miss any notes or have any bad moments, the only issue is that she sounds very strained sometimes (and also looks that way in a few cases). It's a pity this comes after the similarly coloured Albania, because otherwise it would be even more obvious how much it stands out from the other very similar backgrounds. In conclusion, they 've really lifted this two classes above what it was and they are totally qualifying. One of the brightest rehearsals of the week, for sure.


Her mic is muted and the music stops after 10 seconds. She is wearing a white jacket, with a floral blouse underneath and black pants. Could that be the real outfit? She holds the mic in her right hand, standing in the centre of the stage interacting (well) with the camera. She's totally static. The floor has some yellow dots (stars?). The vocals seem to be an issue during the high notes in the first chorus. A quick shot of the backings (the stage position of which I can't really spot). Better but not flawless vocals in the second chorus, while the backings are doing some "ooh-ohh"s (or are they "moo-moo"s?). And then it ends. Meh.

I've come to like the outfit. Some (maybe too many) hand moves in the first verse. This time I spotted the backings on her right side. Again problems with the high notes in the chorus. She's all alone in those. Literally, she is standing in the same position at the centre of the stage for 3 minutes. The stage is also quite static, with just some minor parts regularly changing from the usual yellow/gold colour to purple/blue. Not much else to write about this.

Watched it closer this time. I don't understand why such a static performance was not matched with a microphone stand.

Summary: Similar staging to last year, a bit worse song, a bit better singer. She has her good camera interaction to go for her. But then, everything else about it is really toned-down. As vastly different from preceding Georgia as it may be, I doubt it will make an impact to the average viewer/jury member.


There's something. They are using camera effects that deform the picture (imagine deforming mirrors in an amusement park). It is certainly interesting to say the least. Apart from that, black and white turning to pink and blue, a typical staging with three guitar players, one being the singer and a drummer. He throws the hat and nothing much happens during the faster part, except a total epilepsy alert with yellow, light blue and green beams of light all over the stage. More camera effects and then it suddenly ends in pink and light blue lights.

The deforming effect is better implemented this time. Serious epilepsy alert during the fast part. Then, for the instrumental, the camera turns to a pan from above, showing pink patterns (square and diamond shapes). The ending is extremely abrupt. I'm not sure it will look good with the audience, as the fast part gives in to a very slow and motionless ending.

Nothing different. A bit painful for the eyes to watch 3 times in a row.

Summary: They have come up with something interesting and that's progress. I don't think anything like this has ever happened on the ESC stage at least, so it is quite original. All the visual noise distracts from the audial noise, but I'm not sure that's enough for someone to vote for them. It's good that they are trying and they managed to at least not get ruled out after this rehearsal.


Here for her second run. I expected this to be the same as in the NF, but it's not. She starts in a white dress, slightly glowing in the bottom. A dancer is to her right, about 5 metres away. They are standing on square platforms. Agnete leaves her own at the end of the verse and sings the chorus in generally close shots, while the dancer is visible to her right in the background. Perfectly finds the camera every time. The stage is blue with white light beams filling it during the chorus. The bridge is really good, as the camera slowly approaches her before leaving her during the high note. More white light beams and a star pattern on the floor. Really good vocals. The end is simple, with just her in the middle of the stage. Missed when/if the dancer left the stage.

The squared platforms have small white lights on them. A small Georgia 2015 Final problem, as the dry ice drowns both Agnete and the dancer. I do believe that the act might be relevant to her condition, as the dancer acts weirdly, in response to Agnete's moves. More dry ice during the ending. She was a bit tired vocally this time, however she looks comfortable and it's very pleasant seeing her happily smiling after it's over.

Summary: I've liked it from the start and I'm positive to the change in the staging. Even though it's not as impressive from the first moment now, it is much classier and fits the song better. Also, no way this will come across as cheap, like an actual prop might have been. She's good with the camera and there doesn't seem to be any problem of different nature with her. I hope she does well, she both needs it and deserves it.


Wait, is this Zlata? Similar hair and pose for the beginning. After the first few lines in total black, some colour finally on-stage! She is standing on a flower-shaped graphic with yellow, green and other colours. For the second verse it turns red and the backdrop is black-blue with medium-large red shapes (supposedly blood drops). The camera moves really slowly. The wow moment comes for her shout. The red shape slowly goes colourful again and during the high note it quickly becomes white and rises, creating a tree/fountain effect in the backdrop. Very very impressive! The end shot is just her, as the backdrop has turned dark again. Vocals perfect, I have a feeling she held back for the high note though.

Second run and some more effects for the first few lines. It appears there is a watery effect behind her in a light shade of blue (almost turqoise). Not entirely fitting, but attractive to the eye from the first second. The way she slowly moves her body and the way the camera follows that move is magical. The high-note effect is clearly a tree (yellow branches with blue flowers at the very ends). End shot of her almost smiling and looking beautiful.

More of the same. The watery beginning is more like a square water box that she's walking out from. The flower pattern is yellow in the centre, blue-green points in the circumference and red endings (representing Ukraine bleeding, I may guess?). Not holding back vocally at all this time. The backings are good as well. The tree is visibly collapsing in the background towards the end, before the final shot.

Summary: This has reached the peak of what was expected from them. Graphics were stunning and she connected with them and the camera in an excellent way. Predictions are tough this year, but I can't see this missing top-5. Could be winning the semi as well.


Everyone here is delighted, as the song first doesn't start and then gets cut exactly when the chorus kicked in! Well, it finally starts again and they are there with the white neon microphone stands. Vocally some problems in the chorus (at the high parts). Oh, the stage is as blue as it has ever been, by the way. Seems it is an identical performance to their NF, with roughly the same camera angles as well. For the last chorus they are using the catwalk, but totally not to the rhythm. Very weird dancing while on the final square of the catwalk which shows expanding squares. Very unimpressive and very similar to Ireland, bar the microphone stands and x3.

Second run and trying to find something more positive to right. Well, the vocals are getting better and the ending makes a bit more sense, though still very sudden. They smiled somewhat more as well.

Final chance for them to improve. Vocals keept getting better but they are still not convincing. At times they are covered by their backings. They are good at making all the camera angles. But then again they've been doing this since February. Some more jumping during the last part after the catwalk.

Summary: Really boring, identical to the NF performance and average vocals. This is pretty much everything about it. A huge downpoint after Bulgaria. They need to fix their dancing after the catwalk part, it's very out of rhythm and they are not synchronised at all. Lots of issues and lack of energy.


Close up shot of her and she is wearing huge ear jewellery in her left ear that reminds me of the "accelerate" signs in racing games. She's dressed in black and her hair drops to her right side only. The shot widens and the backdrop is mainly blue/black but filled with little starry dots (think the 2010 logo) so it is lighter. Poli is all alone on stage, accompanied only by figures dancing on the backdrop during the chorus. She does a weird move with her legs every time the chorus starts (there must be a name for it, but the only thing I can compare it to is the Las Ketchup last move during the chorus of Asereje). Some close-up shots seem to work well on-screen, although she doesn't hit most of them. For the last chorus, the backings appear from the right side of the stage and join her as they sing together. What initially looked as knee protectors turns out to be white neon lights that are turned on for the last part. It ends a bit abruptly, but people here react very well.

The dancing is not "diva-esque" at all, rather comes across as simple and contemporary. Better camera-work and manages to hit all the shots. Vocals are really good as well, a bit breathy at parts, but that's reasonable. They are trying for the backings to be a bit lower in the mix (both in volume and in tone). Not sure this works that well, although it gives an interesting result. The end pose is left fist in the air for Poli and the five backings placed in a straight line.

The close-up shot a bit different this time, with her having closed eyes and not openin them until the shot changes. Don't like this change, cause it takes too much time for her to have the first eye-contact with the camera. Oops, a backing came in one sec too early. Some green lights this time, before and during the second verse (not sure if they were there before). It's impressive that the dress is that long and complicated and yet doesn't bother her dancing, actually helping her do some moves. The backings are again low in the mix in the last part, which is short but again I'm not really sure if it's correct, it steals some of its power.

Summary: Great first rehearsal, it appears they've managed all they wanted to achieve. Everything about it is very thought through and yet avoids coming across as too calculated. It lacks the 'wow' factor though. The lighting knee/shoulder/thigh-protectors thing is not so noticeable, certainly not after having seen it once already.

(A much more crowded fan zone at the press centre today. Sitting a bit farther away from the screen compared to other days, so expect me to miss even more!)

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