Sunday 17 May 2015

Haiku #7

Finalists arrived
Graphics budgets overspent
Jemini part two?

Winners and losers on Day 7

Hey hey! It's my last day in Vienna, but before I head out to join the Nation boys at their villa in sunny Spain tomorrow, let's complete the set of "winners and losers" by taking a quick look at the big 5+1+1.

Oh, actual Chinese TV is here! And they just interviewed Felix and me! That's not random at all.

Anyway, the winners of today's rehearsals for me are Germany, who have a sensible staging concept and an Ann Sophie who's starting to come across as more seductive than shouty; Australia, which is basically already the complete package with no further work required, as Guy ably demonstrated; and France, where the potential of a highly conventional song is being maximised by an effective stage presentation.

Somewhere in the middle I'll place Spain - their entire performance is frankly ludicrous, but it's hugely entertaining trash and the final desperately needs a bit of that. Austria probably belong here too, if only because the Makemakes did exactly what we expected of them (well, with added fire) but nothing more.

The losers of the day? I'm going to put Italy in that category, because "Grande amore" is currently a bit of a mess in the filming department and the Il Volo boys seem reluctant to look into the camera; and, most notably of all, the United Kingdom. Even if they manage to get the camerawork right and inject some personality into the performance, the whole thing will still be a hot mess. If they don't, a very round score could beckon.

And with that, I'm off to eat some cake and actually see a bit of the host city, since it's probably better to do that before you leave than after. Laters!

Day 7 rehearsals: IT, AT, ES, DE, UK, FR, AU

Backdrop has statues, big statues, much lions. Guys are dressed in dark suits with white shirts - surprise!

When the first chorus begins, thunder clouds roll up from 'over the horizon'. Second verse, colours change to golden hues from the blue which it started in. White or the chorus.

Singing wise not so great. Ignazio has issues with in-ear it seems, not the first time this happened this contest.
First run through over and all three seem to have issue with in-ear. None look happy. Piero and Gianluca also remove their in-ear and Ignazio talks to the technical person. To be continued....

UNVERIFIED: ALLEGEDLY since unfortunately we couldn't hear very well and don't know who exactly said it, we overheard "problems" and "off stage" so we came to the conclusion that they are not happy and if it goes like this they will stop. ALLEGEDLY!

Second run they seem happier (well, less moody) and it seems the issues of the in-ear are getting resolved. It seems that when they are singing the chorus it's a bit too loud (hand gestures of lower) but only by a bit (finger squeese).

Possibly the background will be changed - it is a bit kitsch and does not really fit the song. The longer you look at it, the less 'right' it looks. I don't think the Italians will settle for less than perfect. After the third run Ignazio cracks a smile, must be good. Vocally they are doing ok, they are probably just saving themselves to ensure they don't tire themselves out.

Vocally it's exactly like in Wer singt für Österreich? Dominic is in the dark for most of the song though, it seems like the lighting is a bit off and they will need to work on it. Fire is not allowed so they tried to have a fire effect on the floor when the piano should be catching fire. But it doesn't work. As doesn't most of this - sorry Austria, but if this wasn't in the final already I don't see it being selected for a Saturday show.

Second run through and the lighting already seems to have been fixed. The fire thing still doesn't look that good in my humble opinion. Probably there is pyro waiting though, as with most delegations, they are not made of money so they use what they could buy at the later rehearsals in order to not waste it on bad camera angles.

By the third run through no one is paying any attention to what is going on... UNTIL something happened and the audio cut out and then we all turn towards the closest screen and go "oooh!" for the first time ever for this song.

God, I need to start getting bored of this many times, since now again, as soon as I going to write how boring it is ... GUESS WHAT! Only the freaking piano actually on fire, and not some silly little fire like in the national final, no, this thing is burning! They are killing it with fire! OK, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit, but it's actually a good effect... for a pyromaniac. Surely though this was the last one, Austria seems to have been rehearsing for hours.

Well, nothing like sitting on a bare-chested man to start your performance. Literally, you can imagine the screaming in the press centre. Clapping and shouting by Spanish fans. Edurne starts clad in red but this gets ripped off her before the chorus in order to reveal a sparkly silver number with much leg revealing. Had a bit of a Madonna moment though with this since it nearly choked her the first time round. The dancer is wearing some leather gear (maybe ready for fistfet later on - yes, it's also going on in Vienna) but this is gladly also removed when he reappears later on and he is showing us that he has a healthy balanced diet and a rigorous hard exercise routine.

Backdrop is quite mystical with a huge circle of warped visuals in the centre. It does work ok-ish but wouldn't say it's amazeballs. Edurne is saving her voice (we hope) since otherwise it's mediocre at best. She has a moment where she does some Sailor Mecury routine. We hope that it's not bubbles which will be the visual effect since that will be a bit 'meh'. Hopefully more like some sonic air trail.
Second run through and it's a bit better - but not much. Still, Spaniards clapping for anything she does.

Third: Oh, she wasn't sitting on him, she was holding him. He is apparently dead. Didn't notice that when he was dancing around. But now it makes sense. Well, as much as it did in the video.

Jesus, even I'm clapping to this now. Finally, now that I understood what it's all about. And I speak Spanish, and I watched the video over and over and over again, and loved the song (I am a fan after all) but only now I managed to understand what the hell is going on with this. Still no idea about the tiger though. And no, it's nowhere to be seen - thankfully. People at home however will be a bit confused which may not work in Spain's favour. I would assume that the optical effect they will be going for is a ball of refracted light which she will be 'controlling' with her hands.

Dressed in a tight black number with large golden feature belt, Ann Sophie struts around with one big earring with lots of dangly bits. Vocally she is strong, and visuals at the back are simple with either white on black or black on white smoke effect. Golden spots add to the visuals.

Received an applause in the press room. Can go either way.

Second, rehearsal as good as the first. There are five large lights on stage, one for each person. Ann Sophie is in the middle while two backing singers are to her left and two to her right. Also noticed that gold plays a part in the backdrop also. The smoke effect is more for the chorus.

Third, they are playing around with the camera angles for the beginning of the song. We have seen three different ones already. Ann Sophie could do with more strutting around.

May we have your performance please United Kingdom.
I'm sorry, I don't have them.

Waiting to start UK still.

LOL! OH MY GOD! This was so worth the wait. This is the biggest car crash I've seen in a while. Bianca is wearing a pink dress with some possibly Al Qaeda inspired contraption stuck to her back. Alex is dressed in black and wishing he was somewhere else - at least his face says so. They have some random stairs which they come down of which are later used by the female backing singers/dancers. The lights do go down in order to keep the neon lighting views but the whole thing is just a mess. Cannot wait for the second run. People who are drunk - which if it is on late enough will be the majority of people - will find it hilarious!

This is not getting any better. For Electro Velvet we mean. For us, it's getting to the point now the initial hysterical shock has calmed and now that we know how bad it is, it's not actually a disaster but a wonderful laugh. There is a couple of pyro moments which only one was seen correctly. The one at the end was quite ok but it wasn't strong enough to burn the whole thing down so we will still get it on Saturday night. Get your eyeballs ready folks, this is going to be a classic moment in ESC history reviews.

Lisa is dressed in a dark purple dress with black lace arms. The backdrop is stunning. Starting off in a scene of a wasteland with some dead trees and ruins, the scene starts remerging itself throughout the song with, the trees growing leaves, the buildings built anew, the streets repairing and doves flying. Once the city becomes liveable again we see soldiers appearing both in the visuals and also four, two on each side, as backing to Lisa. It is one of those scenes that, at least I, cannot find the right words to give it justice. Brought tears to some people in the room.

The singing by Lisa is pitch perfect. She has no trouble getting this to work for her. Could definitely see this putting up a good fight.

Second run and just, wow! If France are given a good position in the final (should EBU be interested in Big 5 having possibly 2 in the top 5) then this could also see a jump and win the whole thing! Or it could just be a bunch of us just getting overexcited because we had to watch the UK before it.

Third: First run saw the mic held on a stand, second in hand and third again on stand. This might be because when hand-held, the burst effect on the floor which happens with some of the beats in the chorus do not work as well since Lisa is not placed perfecty in the centre which is not an issue when the stand helps her judge where she needs to be. No one seems to have anything bad to say about this - again, Paris 2016?

PS: In regards to the backdrop, to try and decsribe it better, we are taken on a tour of the town. So the scene is moving as if we were walking backwards (or Lisa forwards but she does not make any 'walking' movement unlike the four soldiers and the soldiers in the backdrop who do look as if they are marching through the streets of the ruined city. Amazeballs!

History has been made - and it's underwhelming. Think of any X-Factor performance you saw from any act which was quite hyped. And it's that. Good singing, good lighting, good backdrop but "wow"? No. 

Seems it's not only me who is thinking X-Factor. Many people are saying the same thing. Maybe the draw will help him, it's still better than many other shows this year but for apparently the country who spent most on their act this year, I would be asking for some back. There will be pyro for sure, I mean I don't understand how the six street lamps would have cost such a fortune otherwise. Edurne's dress would probably cost more than these bits of steel.

OK, well, I know you're supposed to save your voice and all but Guy is not even trying to sing some parts of the song. Or at least I *think* this is what he is doing. Otherwise it simply could be the biggest let down this year. Especially when we have Edurne belting her "hiyeahiyeah-o" part while doing interviews. But obvi it's the first.

... And there you have it. Rehearsals over - all 40 acts have had their first moment on stage now. Will be interesting to check the betting sites to see who has made the biggest leaps or falls from April 30 to today. Not that we encourage betting - but if you do already, then might as well let us know these things. Where's Martin when you need him?

Grande sleepy sleeps!

Good morning and welcome! Welcome to the 'direkt till final' group. After a good take away (Chinese, obvi, what else would you eat in Vienna?) and an even better sleep, I'm all refreshed and ready to go through the pain and agony for yet another day. I just can't wait to hear the screams of ¡GUAPA! and ¡E-DUR-NE! ¡E-DUR-NE! ¡GUAPA! 

Just to make sure, I started them already myself... better be prepared.