Wednesday 30 April 2014

Rehearsals1 SF2 (Part 4)

No breaks allowed and moving swiftly on to the next entry:

What is going on? I mean the song is what it is, and yes, it's not usual for Eurovision but really, are we sure there was a choreography here? They all just seem to be doing their own thing and it's the camera's job to find them. This song really polarises people, already comments being said about Greece winning the semi-final (and no, the comments are not coming from Greeks or Greekophiles) and others saying it will struggle to qualify.

Vocally it is not good - very messy and parts seem to be just shoved in. Rise Up is not a song that really needs good vocals but there needs to be some harmony. The rehearsals seem to be a mish-mash of keeping to the lyrics and adding impromptu words and phrases during the parts which were previously instrumental.

One bit of amazing news: The trampoline makes an appearance on the Eurovision stage. Nothing like three grown men on a trampoline to really get your attention. And no, it's all the three members of the team, it's two plus a Greek gymnast (or at least we assume he is). This gimmick is just as polarising as the song itself. Some thinking it a great fun idea and others just mesmerised at the randomness of it all. There will be much discussion in the land of the Hellenes later on today I believe.

 Nikos Fortune
 Theo Fortune
 Risky Kidd

Dressed in blue, Tinkara is hitting the notes well. The stage, as you could have guessed, is using many circular moving motifs continuing the 'round and round' theme. The steady-cam also goes round Tinkara many times, allowing all camera shots to flow into each other quite well. Three female backing singers are to the left of the screen. The song presentation is quite simple but just like Switzerland and others, it fits the song. Starting off in blue hues it then goes to gold after the bridge and into the last chorus. The wind machine also makes an appearance as it should. As per my wild prediction, this will probably make it to Saturday.

Update: There seems to be indecisiveness in the Slovene camp on what kind of microphone to have. We've had two runs with a mic stand and one with a headset. The headset seems to work better visually but it seems to be impeding Tinkara with her flute. They seem to be running through as many as they can - probably will have decided by Saturday 3rd which to go for and rehearse all those with the mic of choice.

And in addition, it seems Tinkara is having problems with the mic stand. She seems a bit annoyed about it too. She had problems putting the mic back in order to do the late flute solo and then looked 'agitated' (read: pissed) when having to grab it again after not ten seconds later. Will this have an impact on the stand or not to stand situation?

They are trying to have a super-imposed image of Paula at the beginning of the song - like the hologram which they had in the national final, but the timing didn't work in round one. We also see that this time, the piano is in a circular form and is... well... innovative to say the least. The backdrop is mainly of golden butterflies and heart shapes. Not the cleanest of routines we've seen but remember it is the first rehearsal so things are never polished at this stage. Waiting for the next rounds to see improvements.

Round two also sees audio issue in the press room in the beginning of the song. Paula's image still didn't work correctly and people are starting to openly laugh at the entry. There seems to be an intention to make us believe that they are a couple - but although they undoubtedly work well together, it is obvious that there is no romance off stage between the two. Excited and delighted to see what happens in the next run!

Run three and IT WORKED! THE HOLOGRAM WORKED! We're still not sure about Ovi in the circle piano but oh well, we've seen it enough times now to not be so shocked by it any more. This already seems to be coming together much better than it did before. Don't dismiss this entry just yet, Romania have not missed out on a final spot ever and don't think this will be their first.

And that is me for today! All rehearsals are done and it is just left to try and find out which will qualify and which will not. As we did for semi 1, my prediction at the moment is:

Qualifying (in performance order)
FYR Macedonia

Non-Qualifying (in performance order)

See you all now on Friday for another day of blogging and maybe more! It's a miracle!

Rehearsals1 SF2 (Part 3)

Sill haven't had lunch yet but oh well, much to busy talking about how we should be getting Andorra to come back into the final with the guys from 12 points 4 Sweden! (it's in Italian). We already have the whole plan at hand and it is just a case of waiting for RTVA to listen to reason and let us dictate everything of their entry.

Ireland is on stage and we can see them but there seems to be tech issues so poor Can-Linn is just hanging around waiting for someone to tell her when she can start.

The audio is quite low in the hall so can barely hear the vocals over the backing track, and even this is quite low. The stage looks lovely, lots of Celtic motifs there and playing with the Emerald and Gold colours of Ireland.

There are men in skirts on stage! And no, it's not Conchita again. The backing dancers are doing the Irish dancing as they were bound to do. The violin solo is quite good and the stage presence seems to be good (not great yet but workable). There is a need though for Can-Linn to belt the tune out more, she seems to either be nervous or just trying not to strain herself too much - but doing it like this would not get many voters.

Second run through and I notice the lightening at the back of the stage. Can-Linn needs to connect more with the screen sine she seems to just have an indifferent glance to it which I don't think will be appreciated in the living rooms of Europe.

If this is her costume, it is long! and golden! and sparkly! And there is a wind-machine which is much needed.

Four male backing dancers/singers accompany Teo on stage. A fifth is at the back of the stage but is not a dancer, just backing singer (I guess he wasn't as popular as the rest). They do their little Robin Thicke routine and well, that's it really. The backings use the catwaks but Robin Teo doesn't. Not very imaginative use of the stage and background. You could have imagined the act a while ago even without any knowledge of the arts. And you're singing about Cheesecake? (well the word anyway - who do you know that calls their partner "cheesecake"?) Not well received in the press hall, total silence.

Most importantly: Is cheesecake cake? And what if it looks like this?


FYR Macedonia
When you come on stage wearing a top saying "That's Bullshit Darling" you cannot but love her! Well, you should only love her but a sigh of disappointment enveloped the press hall since we were expecting so much from this song! Attitude, wind machines and pyro, naked men, but nothing! Not even a gas mask could be seen on stage *sad face*.

Top like the one Tijana is wearing on stage

There are  three backing singers - two male, one female - and a male backing dancer. Tijana and the backing dancer should be performing some of the routine together but they don't seem to hit the timing right. Also, we know Tijana has attitude, she should be grabbing the balls out of the song and owning it on stage but it seems she is just a piece in the play and not the main act. I do hope there will be some talk at the viewing room since we all want to see Skopje in the final. Vocally the second run was much better than the first but from what we have seen and know about Tijana, she can sing and can pull it out of the bag when needed - no worries there.

Well, at least the dance routine to the chorus is quite easy, twirl your right hand twice in the air and then point straight up. Repeat ad nauseam.

Well, they're all there. The group starts together in the centre stage and move to the catwalk (apart from the drummer since he would find it a bit hard). There's a lot of frantic beating of drums while singing and whistling. "Interesting" would be a good word for the performance. Vocally quite good, and the whistling is flawless, we assume it is live since we don't think the EBU would allow it on the backing track. Visually not moving too far from the concept of Die Grosse Entscheidungsshow (Swiss selection show) but why would they? It seems fitting for the song and therefore why fix it? Will it be enough to see them through to Saturday? Will Switzerland and Malta share votes? Unlikely but we will find out soon enough.


Rehearsals1 SF2 (Part 2)

And would you believe it! Day 3 has come upon us and we are back in the press centre to blog about the final acts competing in Semi 2. This is a good feat considering that yours truly was at the Euroclub until quite late last night singing to a bunch of Eurovision greats such as Todas as ruas do amor, Quedaté Conmigo and many more which I don't remember. The Eurocafé which was supposed to be our stop for the night was closed early since it didn't have enough patrons by midnight. Euroclub was not fairing much better with a total of around 10 people on the dance floor when our group of four arrived. Thankfully the upstairs was open for the annual murdering of songs by wannabe starlets. The below picture was taking during a rendition of Hallelujah with Toby Carmel, Assistant Head of Press for the San Marino delegation and DQ of Denmark 2007 fame.

But back to the job at hand, the songs of this morning:

Simple and effective staging, starting dark and moving to red and orange tones in first chorus. Conchita dressed in her traditional black today but will this change later on? She is on a white podium and has dry ice enveloping the floor of the stage. Vocally totally working - even the high notes at such an early hour. Backdrop seems to play with the idea of Conchita having firey wings. No gimmick to the song, which is a good thing since it doesn't need any. Ask yourself "Would Victoria Beckham do it?" If the answer is no, then don't expect Conchita to! No backing singers to the song - not that they are required and Conchita does a great job standing on spot throughout the song.

Run two and three are quite similar to one, still great vocally and receiving a big applause from the gathered press. We expect her to have a wind machine since the song is clearly needing one but apart from that hurra!
This was one I was waiting for this morning - not because I have any major feeling about the song but just because the last two years I got 9/10 in the Lithuanian semi final, and Lithuania was always the one who made me miss the perfect score. Not much more enlightened after the first run - the song is messy, the dancing is messy, the vocals are messy - but it's Lithuania so I am not sure I can just say no. Need to see it more times in order to get a better opinion.

Run two took a while to happen but we have it now. Just Vilija and her dancer on stage but they do move around quite a lot on it, using most of the space. First time I see smoke columns coming from the stage this year. There is lots of me saying this won't make it but then my head just doesn't want to commit. I say a definite maybe.
A hint of the music video here. Much playing with lighting on stage but everything seems to complement the song nicely. Vocals are a bit low but sound good - it is just that the guy in charge of the sound board that needs to find the right mix. The boys seem to be comfortable on stage and even though they don't move around, they own the stage in the camera shots. In general the song is working well and will not find it too hard to go through to Saturday. Could do with a bit of pyro - just because which song could do without!?

One thing I did not notice in the first run (unless it's a new thing) is that the guy playing the piano is facing stage right, while all the others are facing stage front. I guess it's fine, but it does seem he is not connected as much as the others. And the drummer is going mental, bashing his instrument like there's no tomorrow! I guess it's just youthful excitement and he will calm down the more rehearsals he does.

Run three done and it seems that the lead singer is getting a bit tired already - someone should tell him there is quite a lot more of this for him to expect. Not sure if this was the last run or not but not much more to say about the song. Qualifying me thinks.

Smiling is not allowed in Finland. EVER!

Now for a break. Will check the Austrian Meet and Greet later on and then back for the continuation of the Semi 2 hopefuls.


Tuesday 29 April 2014

Rehearsals1 SF2 (Part 1)

Strange as it might be starting Semi 2 just moments after the last song of Semi 1 but that is what is happening. So here we move on to the next lot of 15 songs starting with...

OK, so again, I know I may be seen as biased since this is my home nation but in all fairness I think it is a good entry, not just because of where it represents but just because I really think it is. The selfies did show but they do not seem to be showing many. Could it be because of the "quality" of the faces? We do not know. The background though seems to be a desert scenery scape - my interpretation of it anyway. Blue at the top to represent sky and then sand colours flowing down. The selfies make appearances in the boxes every now and then but as already mentioned, didn't see many of them.

Vocally they were good. Only Richard and Michelle really seemed to be doing anything in the first round, maybe the other guys will start being more into it as the rehearsals go along. You can follow the Maltese entry's facebook page (and some of their funny pics) here.

Run two: And yes, all members of Firelight now seem to be involved. Richard doesn't always look at the camera but that may be on purpose. Oh wait, just saw a bit more detail of the background and it is a field!! It first had wheat and then something that looks like poppies and flowers. The band stays static for most of the song until the last chorus where Richard takes the mic in hand and walks a few steps to the front of the stage. Will it make it to the final? Probably, meaning a third qualification in a row for the George Cross island.


One that we've been looking forward to. With such fanwanking going over this song it needs to deliver. And well, starting off unfortunately it didn't. Camera starts from the back of the stage and zooms into Mei who is quite hard to see in the beginning. Vocally it starts a bit weak but it could be that Mei is just saving her voice. Vocals seem to be much lower than backing track which makes her quite hard to hear in the verses. We are pleased to announce though that the strut is there! Yes, Mei and her two fierce dancers are there showing Eurovision fans accross the globe how it's done.

Hebrew part again sounded a bit weak but that could all change like we have seen so many times in these Eurovision rehearsals so please, no screaming of "Oh my God! What is she doing?!" It will probably all be fine on the night (note: Chanée & N'Evergreen). For the bridge, Mei et al. lie on their backs and spring up for the chorus. Waiting now for the next runs to see what was missed before.

Run two: And the volume on the lead mic has been increased so Mei doesn't sound as lost as she did before - in fact, she sounds quite good now. And she uses the catwalk, followed by her ladies in leather. Visually though its still a bit all over but it still seems to work for me. Not sure though if Europe will agree - as I said in my wild prediction, this will probably qualify but I don't think it will go far on Saturday night.

Run three: And this is still as good as the previous round. There is a few new camera angles for some parts but vocally still sounding quite good. Noticed however that the backing dancers do not seem to be totally in sync and Mei is not in sync with them, but that is just timing which is easily fixed.

Mei signing various items for the gathered press.

So, the podium that Albania used yesterday seems to not be a one-country-set. There are four female violin players for Carl and they all fit on it.

We start with a close-up of the keys on the piano which is being played. It is not just the podium which Norway has in common with Albania, also the dry ice which is creating the mood on the stage floor. Carl is standing with mic in hand and well, keeping to that for the entire three minutes. After the end of the first chorus, you see the girls in the back walking up the podium and they then become the focus of the shot once the violin becomes noticable in the music. Vocally it is okay, but not much there. We have heard that Carl actually had to take this as Vacation from his real job as painter-decorator (not like we would know what THAT is like would we?) and  I think he could probably fit in some shifts for Friday and Saturday if he wanted to. As much as I would like to say this is going to the final, I just don't see it happening. Yes songs like this have made it in the past but we are in this years' strong semi and therefore you need to have something special to be noticed. Coming after Malta and Israel and so close to the start of the show does not help - and having the mess which is Georgia after you will not be in their favour.

 Carl takes a litte nap during Meet and Greet
 Cousin Josefin - Author and Composer
They might actually be the sweetest duo I've seen so far

Oh how I was waiting for Georgia! If there was one country which I understood less than I do Russia it was this. And they do not disappoint. Cue guy drumming an oil drum and who is also btw strapped to a parachute which is open above. He might be the same guy as in the video which then starts doing those tai-chi moves. He also does them on stage but not sure if he is one-in-the-same. Mariko is good vocally but this is such a mess she cannot save it if she had all the sim-cards in the world.

The best thing of this is the acid-induced shots which just add to the wierdness of it all. The song stops with dead silence - and yes, it is probably what will be happening in living rooms accross the continent where people try to ask themselves if what they just witnessed actually happened or did someone put something in their drink of choice. I know Europeans have had some strange likes which have allowed undeserving entries through to a final, but GPB should have saved the expense and tried harder next year instead.

Let's see how many more runthroughs are needed before we start to appreciate this song... 

Lots of people love to hate this but me being the simple thing that I am LOVE IT! There are elements of the preview in the set and we are happy to see butter-churning and clothes-washing are still popular tasks in Poland - popular enough to be on the Eurovision stage. Vocally maybe not the best entry we have seen but there are enough distractions and good WTF moments to safely say this might actually do well just for the fun variety of it (did I mention I am a dreamer?). I need to see this repeatedly in my life and can already see it being my guilty pleasure of the year. Can't wait for run two already!

And OMG! Round two is even better than round one! *splurt* This is the best song ever to finish a day of rehearsals! Twirling Slavic Girls, suggestive semi-pornographic butter-churning, good music and decentish vocals... what more could a Eurovision fan want?!?!

Oh, btw, Donatan is not anywhere to be seen apart from on the backdrop wall. And this could only get better by the girl washing clothes rincing them above her plump assets. Can not find any single thing wrong with this!

And there you have it, that was it for today! We shall be back tomorrow for another thrilling day of rehearsals and 'meet and greets' and hopefully random pictures which would not be shown on an official Eurovision or artist website.

Portuguese Meet and Greet (in photos)

 Are you being serious with this question?!
 Why don't you come on stage and ask this?!
 Not so tough now are you?!
 God, where did they find these "journalists"?
 Hey, what do you want? We have a crisis in Portugal!
What was the question again?

Can never write it enough: just to make sure, this is not a representation of actual facts - just in case some people didn't get that! If you want to see the real Meet and Greets you can watch them on the offiial website


Rehearsals1 SF1 (Part 5)

Back from lunch (picture to follow) and Moldovan press conference and now about to start the last three songs of Semi 1! OMG it's nearly over already! Seem like yesterday we just started (oh wait..!)

The Netherlands
Simple scenery. Ilse and Waylon facing each other with a moving central strip road marking in between them for the beginning. Both playing their guitar and not moving for the entire song. Single mic stand with two holders - one for each artist. At least three other people on stage with them all playing instruments - Base guitar, drum and cello. No gimmick, just good use of the stage lighting and perspex floor. Vocally impeccable - quite a good change of making a second appearance for the Netherlands in the final.

Second and third runs not much different to the first. Still working visually, still working vocally. I wouldn't be calling anyone crazy for thinking this will do well (especially coming after Portugal).

 Lovely question from a Dutch journalist (a real one, from SBS6 NL)
 We like you, you can ask more!
 Look at those eyes!
Some of you were thinking it before and well, we can confirm. Get a mixture of Lane Moje and Lejla.
There is a female ice-skater on stage, but unlike the Russian entry of 2008, this time you don't spend half the time wondering if there will be toes being cut off. This is because she can actually use all of the stage, not sure how, but it looks really good.

As you'd expect from any good ethnic Balkan presentation, three backing singers appear as the song progresses. This staging worked well for Bosnia & Herzegovina and Serbia (& Montenegro) each time they sent this combination, could this mean the first qualification for Montenegro as an independent country? This blogger thinks yes! Now that makes it 13 that will qualify according to me. I'm sure I must be right there!

So, apparently in run two the ice-skater fell flat on her face (she apparently is quite famous in her own right, but I don't know who she is). In the third run we had a false start and Sergej had to stop in the first verse. Running on 3 part two and no more falls, good singing and working stage. It's still a "yes" from me.

Well, we approve of his choice of clothing - a nice white wife beater showing András in all pumped-arm glory. Vocally quite good but stage is a bit messy. Not messy bad, just messy meh. Then again, could I come up with anything better? Probably not. Dancers on stage have changed from A Dal. There is now a story of the guy being the child abuser and at the end of the song the girl runs towards András as does the guy but the latter is stopped by András holding out his hand.

Waiting for future runs to see what I missed in the first.

Run two: Forgot to mention András starts on his little wooden chair and there is the girl on the piano again. No teddy though from what I can see. András has to run (get it! Running) on the catwalk. Doesn't spend much time there though. The two dancers do a little run and hide routine around the piano and then the guy seems to just drag the poor girl across half the floor. Not sure if it was meant to be but at one point the camera is upside down - not a great shot so probably tech error. András could do with having a bit more commanding presence on the stage. I'm watching him just because he's the focus of the camera not because I want to. Hopefully this gets worked on by András before the Semi 1.

András seems to not have known what Eurovision journalists are like.
 Panic! Internet connection lost in press room. Thankfully yours truly has also version in word of this blog to a) improve on spelling which I am known to be bad shit at and b) avoid issues like those faced by some others who have just lost all their work for the Hungarian song. But as you probably guess, internet back up now which is how I am able to add this bit to the post!

It seems though that there is no more runs for Hungary meaning we have done it. All Semi 1 songs have rehearsed and we have been able to bestow our comments on them. Basim is also outside giving interviews and photo opps to people. Will go and check him out later maybe if he still there.

So, my prediction of Semi 1 based on the first rehearsals: 

Qualifying (in performance order)

Non-Qualifying (in performance order)
San Marino

Azerbaijani Meet and Greet (in photos)

 Hmm... what the hell is he wearing?
 Wouldn't you love me to answer that question..?
 So, she had no chice in the matter of the staging or the changes of the song.

 This was news to me! What about all my suggestions?
 Oopsie! Oh well, she didn't mind.
Wait 'til we get back home b'.

Again, just to make sure, this is not a representation of actual facts - just in case some people didn't get that! If you want to see the real Meet and Greets you can watch them on the offiial website

Rehearsals1 SF1 (Part 4)

Well, starting with a bang this morning - bang to the head that is. OK, so even though I fell asleep at 9:30 last night and didn't manage to make it to anything interesting, Danny (my roommate) did and he is still somewhere in the apartment sleeping it off. Anywho, will make sure to do something tonight and grab pics of any shenanigans going on.

But, let us focus on this morning's job at hand: rehearsal day 2!

Starts off with - you guessed it a dark background and white lighting. We start the gimmicks early today, a guy on a pole right behind Cristina... hmm... too early for these thoughts! Vocally she can do better but it's by no means bad. Not too sure about the stage presence. The song mulls along for the most part and then in the bridge she decides to start pulling her hair and following this makes a move which to me looks like she is cutting part of it off but not sure if this is what she is doing or if she is just having a 'moment'.

Dancer-wise, they not in costume today but I think they will be quite extravagant. They seem to be having moves which involve the removal of a mask in the line "All the masks we have are meant to make us free".

We have seen our first look at the info bar. Nothing special, but then again what haven't we seen over the years? It does seem to have a space for a 'flag' of some kind so the vexillogers amongst fans will be happy!

A wink to ESCNation from Moldova

San Marino
Well, she starts off with a shell interpretation behind her reminiscent of the Birth of Venus by Botticelli - Venus she is not! Background very simplistic starting in shades of light blue and turning on orange and gold hues in the second half of the entry. Valentina is a pro at this Eurovision thing by now, she sings it really well but has a look on her face that she seems to know she is setting foot on the stage for the last year.  

Run two was not so good for poor Valentina. First there was a false start with the audio and then the video in press room went away. We can still hear her, just not see her - some people may prefer that.

Run three is also not good for her - "the wind is down so there will be no more wind".  Again, sings impeccably but there is an air in the press arena that we would love to see her do well but just don't see how she will manage to get through to Saturday. May this be the end of the road for San Siegelno?

And maybe I will pass to the final?
This is how I will be on the plane home.

Can anyone say "hot mess"?! Now that the dancers actually have clothes on they don't look as scary as they did in the national final. The background should come with a warning to all those partaking in class-A drugs - a mess of rotating bright colours. Do not focus too much on it if already under the influence of alcohol and have a weak stomach.

Singing-wise, where to begin? Poor thing, "She can sing" I've heard from the table next to me, "just not this song". I tend to agree - well, not that she can sing since I have no reference for that kind of comment, but I can confirm she cannot sing this one. Is it a ploy to keep us guessing and then come up with an amazing performance on the night? Could well be, but I don't think we will be hearing the usual "Portugal! Portugal! Portugal!" chanting we have seen in previous years from the fans when there were only a couple of envelopes left to be announced.

Run two and the drummers are also giving up. They don't seem to be in rhythm to the song and just bang the drums as they wish not when there is a "thump" in the music. Ooh, I didn't see that before - prancing men with flags in hand - definitely a winner combination according to every Eurovision Song Contest EVER!

Third run through and it's not really getting any better - just more familiar since we saw it a couple of times already. Vocally it is still not very strong, visually still making you a bit queezy. Thank you and good night Lisbon.

Now we will be off for a lunch break. There will be Meet and Greets starting in 20 mins so maybe pics from those to come later.