Monday 2 May 2016

Last rehearsals of the day. San Marino and Russia

 We had a quick break to pop over to McDonalds to get something unhealthy to eat. On the way we made sure to ask the security people about what we've all been wondering. And yes, this year it *is* allowed to bring food into the press centre. That should be very handy, considering the food available here isn't very exciting.

Let's see what the last two rehearsals bring us...


Before the rehearsal

Vocally I'm sure this will be fine. All they have to do is a professional performance and not make it too messy, and it should be all right. Let's see what they've come up with


So. The performance is basically all based on a project screen behind him. It's a mix of Iceland this year. Sweden last year. And Ukraine 2012. And Ukraine 2008. And Belarus 2007. Imagine all of those mixed together.

Sergey first is on the floor and the screen gives him wings and does a lot of stuff behind him. Then he starts climbing the screen, as there's things sticking out of it. At one moment he got quick high up on it and was lying down on something... but then he fell down, and they cut the live feed. Not sure if he injured himself, but hopefully the fall wasn't too bad.

Let's see how the next run-through go, if they do another one

Here we go again. He seems to be fine. He's wearing pretty plain black clothes.

The screen is white and has black shadows creating wings, and then in the first chorus there's thunder and lighting on the screen. Halfway through the first chorus 4 male dancers appear as well.

The screen ha some sort of invisuble steps that he's climbing around, which gives the illusion that he's walking on blocks and pieces of icebergs and whatnot. And eventually he ends up at the very top, as the screen turns into a sun.
It's really a LOT going on, and it's very hard to describe it all.

And at the very end, his one female backing singer walks out from behind the screen and grabs the sun in her hands.

Yes. I realise this is quite vague. You just have to see it for yourselves eventually.

So, is the staging going to help it win? Well it's certainly a staging that gets noticed. It's impressive, and it's expensive. This performance could either go "Heroes" or it could go "Be My Guest". I really can't tell what it might be. The people who already love Sergey will presumably love this performance as well and think it's the best thing ever, and those who don't like him will think the opposite.

San Marino

Before the rehearsal

This song will obviously depend heavily on the backing vocals. They have long solo parts and are quite prominent in the rest of the song as well, so it'll be important that they are good. Hopefully they are able to sing and dance at the same time. And hopefully they've found a way to stage this to make Serhat actually seem like he belongs on that stage.


There are five "real" backing singers/dancers. All female, and they carry their part quite well.

The song starts off with the five of them moving seductively on a podium in the back, with Serhat in the front slowly swaying his hips while trying to be seductive as well. Not too successfully.

Serhat is wearing white trousers and a blue jumper. Which is too short so when he lifts his arms we see his belly. Neither his clothes or the outfits of the girls are likely to be the real outfits. The girls are wearing silvery high heels though, which might give an indivation of the colour theme.

They're using a sort of hologram effect here too, to make it seem as if there's a lot of more dancers than there are. But unlike Armenia, it's just images on the LED screen.

The song ends with Serhat throwing his hat (The Serhathat?) into the audience.

Somebody will get rich on ebay.

Afternoon rehearsal. Croatia, Netherlands, Armenia


Before the rehearsal

The song is quite a difficult to sing live even for the most talented singer. So that will be a challenge. Good backing vocals will also be very crucial. Another challenge will clearly be how to stage the parts where she doesn't sing. But I'm very interested to see how they've chosen to do this.


 Now. This staging REALLY impressed me. She's all alone on stage. But she has actual holograms of herself appearing in the instrumental bit. It didn't work perfectly, but compared to all previous attempts at doing holograms on stage in Eurovision this one really did it well.
She's wearing net-stockhings, a swimsuit-shaped outfit and a long flowy coat on top. Basically being sexy and tall without being too pornographic about it. And the stage is mainly dark and blue and very glittery. The floor looks like someone dropped a big bucket of glitter snow on it and couldn't find a broom.

The backing singers are clearly somewhere where they aren't seen. But unlike most performances that hide their backing singers, I think it worked quite well in this one. She CAN really fill up the stage all by herself. And with her holograms.
The vocals were also very good. Overall I would say that it was a very good rehearsal for Iveta.

Second run-through now. Will try to describe the performance a bit more in detail.
It starts off by a blurry shot of Iveta and then a close up of her chin (!), The first verse has a lot of various shows alterning between showing all of her or just various body parts. In the big swoopy part before the first chorus the lights around her go red while she does some stretching exercises , and then ... well, then in the first chorus she managed to tangle up the earpiece in her hair and had to ask for them to stop the music.

Here we go again... So, the first chorus and the first verse keeps the dark blue/grey colour theme. She leaves the mic stand halfway through and walks around a little bit. And at the end of the song she does a pose that looks a bit as if she's just been crucified.

Overall, I think this works really well visually. The staging is a little bit similar to Croatia in terms of colours, but Armenia does it a lot better.

The Netherlands

Before the rehearsal
The song is pretty straight-forward and I have no doubts that Douwe can handle the singing. I think that they will have to find a way to make the staging stand out and highlight the song well without making it too gimmicky. The Dutch have a history of not staging things too well... Except that one time when they got it really right, in 2014. If they can manage to do an equally good staging without copying it, this song can really grab the attention of the viewers. But if they go 3JS with it, it could quite easily be overlooked as well.


First run-through.

The Mrs Einstein-ripoff intro has an accompanying clock on the floor that ticks along with the song. Douwe is in a blue suit and his band are in similar suits. The only tattoo that he shows off is his neck tattoo. There's a pianist, a guitarist, a bass player and a guy playing the drums. Pretty straight-forward band line up.

The stage keeps the clock on the floor for the rest of the song, and the rest of it is dark and gold.
During the guitar solo Douwe walks down the catwalk and sings the rest of the song from the end of it. 

Between the guitar solo and the last chorus there was a long piece of silence, which I first assumed was some mistake. But people are saying that it was actually planned, and that rumours have it that the silent part is an intentional addition where the idea is that Douwe will make the audience sing and clap along to the chorus, without any music. If this is true, it could probably either work great or fail terribly. Let's see if they give us any more clues in the next run-through.

Second time around... there's a lot of yellow Sanna-lights as well. And the drums are very glittery. Douwe manages to be charming in a very somber way. And his legs look extremely long in the slim suit, especially as there's a lot of camera shots from below.

They did the silent break before the last chorus again. This time it definitely did look intentional. It goes on for what's probably a full round of the chorus, so would make sense if they're indeed supposed to have the audience sing along there. But right now during the rehearsal Douwe is doing nothing at all, just standing waiting for the music to start again. So it's really hard to tell if this gimmick will work.


Before the rehearsal

People have been worrying a lot about this. Will she sing it well? What will she wear? Will her hair stay in place?
What I hope is that they will not make something too ridiculous, and that she will sing it well. But to stand out they clearly also have to do something memorable, so it's a thin line.


Nina just walked on stage and began her first rehearsals. She starts off wearing a HUGE sort of kimono dress. It's silvery and glittery and stiff and BIG. Like a hybrid between a Times Square Christmas tree ornament and an inflatable geisha pool toy. But in true Linda Wagenmarkers fashion it's ripped off a bit into the song and reveals normal clothes underneath. As in, clothes that probably aren't what she will be wearing.

Now a long break before the next run-through. This rehearsal created quite a buzz in the press centre, and people aren't really quite sure what to make of this. I guess the huge over-dress might possibly make more sense once she's wearing something proper underneath after the reveal. But that's probably just wishful thinking, because the clothes underneath will probably be just as ridiculous.

 Second run-trough. Can hear her voice a bit better now when there's less of a OMG ROFLMAO-noise from the press centre. She's not perfect but kind of "good enough for Eurovision" and definitely decent enough for a rehearsal.

The four backing singers are moving around the stage and doing some choreography, very much part of the act but still mostly in the dark.

Nina is mostly standing still in the centre front of the stage, doing some arm movements but with her silvery heels nailed to the floor.The stage itself is dark with tones of blue. The backdrop is quite discrete. Basically, this is probably visually supposed to be all about the clothes.

Some more about the dress... it's mainly made up of a glittery see-through meshy kind of fabric, with ornaments in the shapes of tree branches on it. It looks a bit like sea-weed and as if she's caught in a glameor fishnet. And the dress comes off as two parts, so there's probably a lot of velcro involved.

And not a single Ingeborg hair! I'm very disappointed.

Day 1 Rehearsals - Finland, Greece, Moldova, Hungary

 We're here at the press centre, ready to blog!


Before the rehearsal

The song is quite a powerful ballad and Freddie has an interesting voice. I don't think it will have to rely too much on a spectacular performance to stand out. As long as the performance is competent and he sings it well, not more should be needed, in my opinion. And I'm hoping it won't be doing a Moldova and hide the backing singers... Because frankly, it's rather silly to do when the backing singers play such a prominent part in the song.

There's no feed at the moment. Not sure if it's because they have a break of because we just neither have sound or picture at the moment.


The rehearsal started, and we had both picture and sound. For about a minute! Then it all died again.
The stage is basically very red. The floor looks a bit like dark red molten lava with black cracks in it. (That's the best description I can give). And Freddie had backing singers surrounding him on stage. That's about all I can tell from the brief part we got to see.

The stream is back! Freddie is wearing a light brown leather jacket over a light overlong t-shirt. Light-wash jeans with lots of rips and holes, and brown boots. He's got three male backing singers on the left side of the stage, and on the right side there's a guy beating on a huge drum which they probably stole from Suzy.

Vocally it's not 100 % but good enough. Basically, I would say that the performance is totally adequate for the song, and they could probably not have done much else with it to make it better without risking to distract from the song and from Freddie.

Suddenly there's one more run-through. The camera shots start off with a close up of Freddie (good idea) and then a close up of the drummer.  And then a close up of the backing singers as they do the whistle bits. There's actually a LOT of shots of the backing singers. Which would probably work better if they had actually rehearsed their choreography (which mostly just consists of swaying a bit back and forth and clapping along) a bit better. But in general it's all quite effective on camera and the performance comes across as effective without really doing much. 


Before the rehearsal

Again, vocals could potentially be an issue, so what Lidia need to do is to nail them. And do a staging that doesn't feel too much like a Melodifestivalen entry from 2006. Hopefully they have also brought a bunch of competent backing singers to back her up, and to make sure she doesn't look lonely on stage.


The first run-through just finished. Still no sound. But, Lidia has brought an astronaut with her! The guy (currently only wearing the helmet part of the costume) suddenly appears behind her without warning. It almost came across a bit frightening.

Lidia is wearing a potato-sack-coloured jersey dress, silvery jewellery and white jogging sneakers. I assume it's not her final performance outfit.
There's also a LOT of armpit-flashing here. And she did shave them. But about three days ago.

Apart from the astronaut, Lidia seems to be all alone on stage. Without the sound there's no way to tell if she's got backing singers hidden somewhere, but it seems quite likely.

Overall, the performance reminds me a lot of Montenegro 2009. A single woman with lots of hair alone on stage with a random dancer.

And... We've got SOUND!

As suspected, it's vocally a bit shaky. But she does have a stack of backing singers hidden somewhere, which help a lot. However, the fact that one can hear a lot of voices but only see one person (and a flailing astronaut) just makes her seem even more lonely on stage. She doesn't really have the energy or the big personality to pull off owning the stage all by herself.


Before the rehearsal

This song's biggest challenge will probably be the singing and the staging. In the studio version the girls are quite off, and songs like these tend to be difficult to stage. To present this well I think thy first of all have to nail th singing, but also stage it in a way that puts emphasis on the strong ethnic elements without feeling too much like it's 2005. Let's see how they do...


First run-through... we get to hear the first few seconds. Which are voclly actually quite fine. Then the sound goes silent on the press centre stream (happens every year, nobody is even surprised anymore)

They are all dressed in white. But some of them in sweatpants, so unless they plan to really go chav with this, I assume it's not all their actual performance outfits.

There's a lot of "WE ARE GREEK"-styled choreography going on. Dancing in a line while holding hands and waving their feet like they're drunk drag queens who just broke a heel. Combined with lots of jumping (kind of like Serbia-Montenegro 2005) and stomping. And there's big drums (the kind that only really exists in Eurovision performances) and what I assume is a pontian lyra. Basically, nobody will miss the fact that this is Greece.

Second run-through and we still have no sound.
The stage is black and yellow/orange, with the backdrop and the floor displaying a moving animation of what looks a lot like that sun (or is it star?) of the original FYR Macedonian flag that the Greeks made them replace.

Personally, I quite like it visually though. I do hope they go for white outfits in their actual performance too. This is all very Eurovision, and it's not trying to be anything else. It could borderline coming across as a parody of a Greek Eurovision entry, but I find it hard not to enjoy it.

Still haven't actually heard the sound though, as there's still only a visual link. So this is all based on what can be seen. No clue if they're actually singing it well or not.


Before the rehearsal
The Finnish song "Sing it away" has always been more effective on stage than in the studio version. It's downfall may be that it tends to not stand out as much among all the songs. What I hope to see from the rehearsals is that they really give it all they have during the performance so it will really come through the camera and be an opener to remember rather than just another opener that people find nice enough but won't remember at the end of the show

Sandhja just took the stage and did her first run-through. On time. She's wearing a baby-blue jumpsuit of what looks like some kind of faux suede-ish material, with bare shoulders and some open parts in the sides and the back. On top of it a silvery kind of necklace/harness. And sparkly flats.
Enough about her fashion sense.
Sandhja and her backing singers did what seems to be the full routine of the performance. Bascailly the performance opens up with Sandhja alone on stage, with a bunch of white microphone stands. Then as the first chorus kicks in the backing vocals appear from the door at the back of the stage and do a syncronated strut across the stage into the camera, joining Sandhja. Then there's a bunch of pretty simple but effectiviely joyful choreography. And a good use of the catwalk in the bridge.

Vocally Sandhja is steady but holding back a little bit. The five backing vocals are competent but for obvious reasons it doesn't sound as big as the studio version as that one has a million voices to create the gospely choir-sound.

Second run-through, after a looong break. Vocally good again. The stage is kind of dark and red-ish, colours which I don't think necessarily work with the actual performance and the outfits. Let's see if they change anything for the next one .

Third runthrough, and the colours are more blue this time. Which works a lot better.
And Sandhja has got herself several Ingeborg hairs by now. I assume that's intentional.