Wednesday 4 May 2016

Preview rehearsals Day 4

Tomorrow we move into the last day of the semi-finalists' first rehearsals. With just eight countries left to rehearse on stage, we're getting a good impression of how this year’s contest is shaping up.

Highlights in this morning's session include Bulgaria, who take to the stage at 10:40, and we’re looking forward to seeing how they’ve managed to adapt the highly produced sound of their studio version to a live vocal. Malta’s first rehearsal was slightly controversial, as their backing track contained what sounds like processed vocals – will Bulgaria be the same?

Right before lunch we’ll have one of the contest's favourites, Ukraine. We’re never sure what to expect from Ukraine – they’d probably get along fine just repeating the national final performance, but we're talking about a country that in past years have brought a hell machine and a man in very tight trousers spinning in a hamster wheel (#hamsterbutt). Even when they last brought a ballad, Ukraine stuck a sand artist next to the singer, so who knows what we're going to get at 12:20.

Following lunch will be the rehearsal of Norway. As reported earlier this week, Agnete has been struggling with mental illness – she told Norwegian newspaper VG that she has struggled with the condition for a number of years, and it is this that has led her to pull out of all public appearances prior to the contest. Our thoughts are with her, and we hope that her recent problems won't affect her performance. 'Icebreaker' is seen by many here as a borderline qualifier, and NRK have told reporters they aren't repeating the MGP performance, so it'll be interesting to see what they have in store.

And after Norway we have what's looking like a long two hours, with the rehearsals from Georgia, Albania and Belgium. All three were looking like outsiders until the running order was announced, when Belgium climbed into a qualifying position with the bookies, but frankly we'll be glad of the early finish this afternoon. See you in Euroclub!

Day 3 - Last set - FYR Macedonia, Lithuania and Australia


Before the rehearsal

The song has certain similarities with "Undo" and is the kind of powerballad that is normally quite easy to stage. The challenge is probably to stage it in a way that doesn't come across as something that's too similar to what has already been done before. Dami is a strong singer and I don't expect her to have any problems. I'm curious to see what they've chosen to do regarding backing singers.

Just had some secret information that Dami's backing singers are no other than Anna Sahlene and Dea Norberg. Dea being a very frequent backing singer in Eurovision, and Anna Sahlene simply being Sahlene :D Let's hope we get to see them.


Dami is on the floor in a VERY sparkly silvery/white dress.
No, actually, it turns out she's not on the floor, but sitting on a large blocky pedestal. Which is also extremely glittery.
And. She has holograms projections (surprise surprise!) They're sort of random shapes that she moves around with her hands. For the last chorus she's helped down from the podium and walks around the stage a bit. Her dress is very princessy but pretty as it catches the wind machine. It has a very large shoulder piece on one side, and it makes her look a bit hunched sometimes. She may need to work on elongating her neck.

Vocally it's mostly fine. Towards the end there were some strained notes, but possibly just the result of Dami holding back for the rehearsal. The backing singers are pretty loud in the mix, but nowhere to be seen.

Second time around. The podium is is lit up and shiny front the start this time. And there's more lights on Dami too. It also shows off the dress better. But instead the hologram stuff are less visible. She hits all the notes even better this time. Unlike the studio version, there's a LOT of wailing going on in the last chorus. Dami is wailing, and the backing singers sing the lead melody. Which works really well.

My conclusion is that they've definitely managed to come up with a staging that's a lot more exciting than what power ballads of this genre have had in Eurovision before. The holograms are a bit unnecessary, but otherwise it's all looking really good. And sounding really good.


Donny starts off alone on a dark stage with a spotlight focusing on him. He sings the first verse rather shakily, while doing some spins and things. As the chorus kicks in the stage lights change a little bit. And he does a little bit of dancing. There's some starry-sky-looking backdrop effects. He remains completely alone on stage. The backing vocals can be heard very prominently, but not seen.
There's also a small trampoline that he briefly uses.

Vocally the first run-through was quite bad. There were a lot of off-key notes. Maybe he'll improve. But vocally it was probably the worst rehearsal so far today.
The performance itself came across as rather minimalistic. This is a prime example of when hiding the backing singers makes no sense at all. He could really have needed more people on stage to make this performance come to life. Right now it's just Donny running across an empty stage all by himself, and mostly it just looks as if they didn't make much of an effort with this.

Second time, and his vocals are a bit better. The stage graphics do look quite good, but there's just nothing very exciting about it. Except maybe for that one tiny jump on the trampoline.

One more run-through, and he changes his clothes. He's wearing a white oversized neoprene jacket that looks like something one goes jogging in. Not sure if he just got cold, or if it's part of what he's planning on wearing next week.


Missed the first one, because we were out getting sushi and etceteras. But got back in time for the second run-through.

The stage is looking pretty nice but simple. There's some circular podium-looking graphics on the floor underneath Kaliopi that looks a bit like a digital donut (did someone misunderstand the title?). Or maybe it's supposed to be a Q?

Unlike many other singers, Kaliopi has decided to acknowledge that she has backing singer and has been polite enough to have them on stage with her. Four female backings are on the left side of the stage, and a drummer is on the right side. Kaliopi is in the middle and stays in position for most of the performance. She's wearing a black baggy top and black trousers. It's all rather shapeless and not doing any favours for her figure. So it better not be the real outfit.

The stage is first grey-ish, and then switches to gold, yellow and orange tones with flames on the screens at the back. For the second verse it then switches back to blue and grey. During the instrumental section the cameras pan over the audience and switches to different parts of what's now just empty chairs. But will probably look a lot more exciting once there's a crowd in Globen.

Vocally Kaliopi is mostly fine. In the second run she had problems with her earpiece and had to do the Zaleilah-point to get it fixed. It meant that she was very off-sync in the first chorus, but quickly managed to get back on track. She's a pro, after all. At the end she tries to do a high-pitched falsetto scream (similar to what she did in Crno i belo) but it seems as if she can't quite pull it off this time. But it might just be the rehearsal-effect. The backing singers sing well and also lift the song quite a lot.

Overall, the performance itself is visually nothing special. Not much happens, and just like the song, the staging and choreography could just as well have been in Eurovision 1992. But that's also what suits the song, and it's not trying to be something that it isn't. The focus is on the song and on Kaliopi, and that's probably what's best for this kind of entry. But just like with Ireland, it may still struggle with being memorable enough to make people pick up the phone and vote for it.

The not-press opinion - SRB, IRL, MKD, LTU, AUS


Blue city lights. She's wearing a silver dress and lies mermaid-style on a glittering blue box. The dress glitters as well. It sounds *perfect*. She lifts the key during the second verse. And then a high note before the second chorus. She's only just sitting there but it looks mystical. She's down from the box helped by two guys during the bridge. Perfect vocals and the high notes sound awesome. She's moving a bit forward. She has given it all, which is kind of risky, I think she will not strain herself as much in the other two. This is pleasing to the eye and the ear.

Looks like no-one else agrees with me. Not sure how biased I am about it, but let's keep going.

The 3D effects are just there, don't really see the point of their existence. That's the only "negative" thing I can say about it. It's really, really pleasing (apparently even more if it's one of your favourites anyway!).

A bit more expressive in the last run and held back vocally. She's also satisfied, a big smile.

Summary: What I wanted it to be like, could have had just a tad more movement from her (it takes too long to leave the box). And the projections stuff does not really give anything to the song and happens too fast to understand. Apart from all this, it is really convincing and certainly a challenger for gold. See the odds shortening the next few hours.


Donny Montell is around 5 years younger than in 2009. He's alone on stage and dancing awkwardly in the beginning. Everything's blue and some dots, supposedly stars, appear. After the second chorus, it suddenly becomes more colourful. A prop appears, but he doesn't use it (?). He hasn't been very good vocally so far, then he goes melisma on the last part and somehow sounds okay. I guess he is not good at holding a tune, but he is good at "inventing" tunes? Nothing much, really. It was basically a blue Ireland.

Shaky start again, and his moves are of a poor man's Måns :) He even has his legs a bit wider apart than normal. The performance is very energetic, but the energy is inefficiently used. No point in carrying a prop (a tiny trampoline) if you are going to use it for 1 jump. It was a bad idea to have him alone on stage, the backing vocals could have appeared towards the end, when he does his solo.

The vocals have improved, or in more honesty, he skips the notes he knows won't happen. The moves keep looking a bit out of place. And then the prop is finally used. He does a backflip and smoke comes off from both sides of the trampoline as he is landing. More smoke and then it ends.

Summary: A bad decision to be alone on stage, but if he qualifies again, all credit goes to him. Coming after Macedonia is a plus for them, but then there's Australia after them, of which a classier staging is expected. The vocals are not perfect, however they've managed to make it less noticeable. And the melismatic part was flawless all three times.


Blue background and black clothes for her, her 4 backings and her drummer. Very strong voice and it's well performed. She knows how to make a live performance; she isn't trying to imitate the studio version, but finds ways to give some more life to it. Unfortunately, these ways include a very bad wail at the end. It plans on making the song more impressive but it comes across a bit forced. Literally zero movement on stage, except for some hand moves, on which I'll focus in the next run.

Turns out that this was the last run (McDonalds is far more time-consuming than expected).

Summary: Can't properly judge it, but it looked flat and unexciting. They haven't done anything to try and improve its chances. It's a much worse song than her other effort, so I don't think they are qualifying, based on what I've seen.


Nicky appears in a red beam of light behind him on stage, wearing a brown-red jacket and black pants. He's a bit shaky at first but by the chorus the backings do their job quite well. Some problems along the next verse again. Nothing's really going on on-stage, with a drummer, a guitar and a keyboard player standing around him. No sight of the very audible female vocalists. The stage is too red, almost Dum Tek Tek red. It comes across as a filler, unfortunately and his voice doesn't do them any favours.

During the second verse the backdrop turns blue (innovation alert) and then back to red. Vocals much better this time round. He walks on the catwalk towards the end, with the last shot being him standing with the fist in the air. Improvement overall.

The place where he stands in the catwalk for the last few seconds has a very flamy sun on. No more improvement this time.

Summary: It is a very ordinary performance and it will probably be lost in this semi. There's not much going for him, although the catwalk was an effort to make him seem somehow charismatic and audience-friendly; this doesn't work. He needs to relax, smile a bit more and manage to hit some camera shots.


Arrived just in time for her second (?) rehearsal. Sanja's dress is gorgeous, is there an opposite of the Barbara Dex award? I hope she actually wears this. Her strange moves have been reduced and the performance is much less weird; or I'm getting too much used to it already. A blue flower/star shape appears on the floor during the chorus. The staging reminds of Molitva's a lot, as expected. There is also a male dancer who acts like he wanted to be a female backing singer. Sanja misses one high note but rocks the ending.

Last run. The concept seems to be that she tries to escape the guy. She makes good eye-contact with the camera, as long as her eyes don't make the weird things. The dancer's moves are a bit too "aerobic" for the atmosphere at some parts. She fails the high note before the last chorus once again and makes the final note once again. The backings are staged identically to Molitva towards the end.

Summary: Well, it is much more polished and much less busy than I expected. She appears to be cool on stage and they are doing something that they've tried before and won. It should be safe, however the twice missed note is a bit concerning. Hopefully she will make it on the night (or they can skip it otherwise, because there is nothing else really wrong with this).

Day 3 - Taking a look at Belarus, Serbia and Ireland


Before the rehearsal

The song is quite different from everything else this year, so it has the possibility of grabbing some votes just based on that. I expect the performance will also just be a rather simple one, which suits the genre. Nicky isn't bad looking, so they don't need a lot of distraction. We've seen him being a bit shaky vocally in the past though, so that's probably their main challenge to overcome.


Barbara Dex Award alert again!
Black jeans, brown boots (when was that ever a good match?) and a leather jacket with some black bits, some bits of brown suede, and some red parts. It's not silly or ridiculous. It's just a very very ugly combo.

The stage is switching between red/pink colours and dark/blue. He is joined by a drummer, a guitarist and a keyboard player on podiums. They also seem to sing. But we can hear female voices as well, so there's probably more people behind the stage.

Vocally quite ok, actually. Although I couldn't quite tell because Hovi Star and about 9 members of the Wiwibloggs team are in an interview room next to where we're sitting at the moment. But it seemed a lot better than some previous performances that he's done. I would say the main problem with this performance is rather that it comes across as rather boring. It doesn't exactly scream "Remember Me!", and there's no really anything happening at all. Which could of course be a good thing, especially in a year where most of the other entries have so much happening on stage. Will have to watch this again to get a better impression of it.

Nicky sings it again, and this time I was able to focus less on the jacket, and more on the singing. And yes, it's really not that strong, but the backing vocals do back him up a lot. It's almost a bit like with Jedward, when we basically heard Leanne Moore's voice more than the actual lead singers. And the harmonies do work quite nicely.

It still comes across as quite boring visually though. The stage is mostly very very red. He mostly walks around the stage and eventually walks out to the end of the catwalk. That's about it.

No applause in the press centre.


Before the rehearsal

I was preoccupied and forgot to write something here before I saw the rehearsal. Sorry :-)


Sanja is at the centre of the stage, which is lit with tones of red and blue. And the edge of the stage has the Undo-styled light pillars. Simple but effective. Sanja is dressed in a rather interesting dress with a printed landscape on it, but it doesn't look like it would be her performance costume.

Behind Sanja there's 4 female backing singers who start off standing in a half circle behind her, doing synchronised arm choreography with Sanja. Later they move to one side of the stage and do a more complicated choreography which involves a lot of grabbing of shoulders and other body parts. And towards the end the backing singers move back and stand right behind Sanja. It's rather reminiscent of the choreography of Molitva.

With one major difference. There's also a male dancer. He appears after the first chorus, and tries to grab Sanja. She over and over again pushes him away. He then moves on to try the same thing with the backing singers, and they also reject him. Basically, as the song seems to be about getting out of a bad relationship with domestic abuse, he's clearly playing the part of the violent ex, and she's now strong enough to push him away. It might sound messy, but I think it worked quite well. They could easily have overdone it, but they didn't.

Vocally Sanja was perfect, and the backing singers were very strong too.She doesn't quite hit all the camera angles yet, but hopefully she will later. Both the first and the second run-through was met with an applause from the press centre.


Before the rehearsal

I think the only question in people's minds right now is whether there will be wolves of any kind. and whether Ivan will be naked. I assume he will not. But a bit (or lot) of skin would surely not hurt to make this song memorable. The song itself shouldn't be difficult to perform live, as long as he's given the right amount of backing singers and doesn't try to do anything too complicated vocally.
Whenever Belarus send rock-inspired entries they tend to make pretty lame stagings that don't really do much to help the song stand out. Let's see if they've come up with something that is a bit more interesting than Hasta La Vista or Eyes That Never Lie


Projections are really THE most over-used prop this year. The song starts off with a video projection of a naked Ivan and a wolf. They both then turn into dust (or stars) just like Greta's silhouettes do, and instead the real Ivan is seen. He's in a beige linen blazer over a beige shirt. His extremely long legs are dressed in beige trousers of some material that might almot be some kind of leather. The only non-beige thing in his outfit are dark high military boots. And he has the white face-paint stripes that we've seen before.

The screens behind him show images of wolves as well as very badly animated people walking around looking a bit like Neanderthals. There's also additional sheer hologram screen which he at one point steps behind, which means he can interact with one of the holograms.
The floor also has projections and at one points it gives the effect of Ivan standing on blocks of ice. Very similar to some of the Russian projections.

And at the very end of the song, the screen behind him shows an image of a huge baby. Stumbling towards the camera. In a diaper. It's rather cute but totally awkward.
Needless to say, this got mostly laughter from the press centre rather than an applause.

Second run-through. Some things I didn't notice before. The hologram screen also at one point shows a drummer, and then a guitarist. Which are actually Ivan himself, dressed in different clothes and with his hair done differently. Basically instead of having a  real band on stage, he's got holograms instead.
He does have backing singers though, but not on stage.

Vocally, Ivan is mostly fine but there's a few notes that aren't 100 %. But probably not bad enough for the average viewer to notice.

It's really hard to tell how this performance will be received. Just like the Russian projectiongavanza, it's doing SO many things all at once. But there's certainly a lot of cool parts. Especially the part where it looks like Ivan is standing on a solid block of ice floating in the air over a river of moving sheets of ice. (Or whatever they are). Unlike Sergey who had to climb a screen to reach his block of ice, Ivan just has to stand on the floor, and the 3D effects are doing the rest of the work.

Day 3 Afternoon - Belarus, Serbia, Ireland


Before the Rehearsal
The question we are asking ourselves is - will he actually be able to sing it this time? It seems that for someone with his status he should be able to but for his promo his was not able to pull it off live.

And the fear was well-placed. Unfortunately not the greatest vocal performance we heard tonight. Not sure if Nicky is wearing his Thursday outfit but hopefully not. The stage is quite dark with hints of orange and red which are also on Nicky's jacket - which would lead me to believe that the outfit may actually be THE one but hey ho. The camera angles were quite bad so this distracted a lot from the stage performance. We were not  really to sure what we were supposed to be seeing.

Second run - It appears that our sneaky "let us not post until we see the second run to comment something better above" did not work since Ireland is taking it's sweet sweet time to do the second run. We therefore have to come out and admit it.

And obviously as soon as the "update" button is clicked they decide to start. So now we can report that the stage starts in red/orange and then in the second verse moves to blue tones - returning to red for the chorus. The camera shots we are seeing are still extremely messy and they are not sure what they are looking for. For the last chorus Nicky uses the catwalk. His face says it all however - not good.

Third run - The initial shot is of a red beam directly above Nicky which works well (something positive)! On stage we also have a drummer, a guitarist and a keyboard player. With the competition in this semifinal it will be hard to see this again on Saturday. Question is, will Nicky fly back in order to continue the tradition of points-giving for the Irish Republic? The odds of him being needed in the actual show are not in his favour.


Before the Rehearsal
Myself and J just noticed that we both didn't write any 'Before' for Serbia. Oops.

Light columns welcome you to the stage. Sanja is centre-staged, bathed in white light while around her, her four female backing dancers are lit in red. After the first chorus, a male dancer comes on stage and brings the message that she doesn't want him there. The harmonies are very in tune - although the staging is becoming a bit too Molitva. Today this has been the second show that commanded attention (and therefore less comments). You want to watch this. It makes you gravitate towards it. It is an easy qualifier and we all know it. Big applause in the room.

Second run - Again, amazing performance! Would not be surprised if this started climbing today.

Third run - Unfortunately I cannot really write much else on this. The team has clearly worked a lot on this, they have read and listened to reviews online and have come to Stockholm with a slick, professional entry. If only other countries were as diligent in listening to what people were saying,


Before the Rehearsal
The question will finally be answered shortly. (Voice a-la Ingvild Bryn, 1996) Will there be wolves on the Eurovision stage this year? Although you can never tell with Eurovision, we do believe that the likely answer will be "No". Hopefully nakedness is not part of the show. Let us wait and see.

Oh dear lord Jesus. Well, here are wolves and nakedness - however digital. No one needs to be seeing that really. Ivan is dressed all in beige. The iconic three face lines are still there. There are three digital wolves, left, right and center. They seem to not be in sync on purpose (alpha, beta etc) but this just looks wrong. And it is not the only thing that is wrong with this. There is a hologram box which is being used but the holograms are quite distracting if not simply weird. We end with some random baby with Ivan's face lines. Very weird. Vocally Ivan is challenged - but we knew this. The studio version has been worked on a lot in order to make it to a point pleasantly audible.

Second run - Noticed: The three wolves in the hologram box end up becoming dust which then turns into a drummer... and other musicians later on. Still messy. Still vocally challenged. End.

Third run - "Leave all the madness behind, far behind". Couldn't have said it better myself. We managed to find one good shot - the stage floor is made of ice which starts breaking and obvi Ivan is standing on the one piece which can fly. Very nice, but probably not enough.

Day 3 Morning - Latvia, Poland, Switzerland, Israel


Before the Rehearsal
Although most people you ask seem to like this song, neither the polls nor the betting seems to think it will qualify. So why are we enamored by this? It could just be because the singer is outspoken about who they are and are not afraid to say it as it is - quite refreshing. What we do know is that there is bound to be more profanity in the meet and greet, although 'fuck' has already been blurted by Armenia's Iveta during hers.

Simple black staging. Hovi dressed in black suit, glittery black shirt and matching finger-less gloves. The camera pans out to reveal two people in a hula-hoop spinning around. There are some effects on the stage floor which probably Hovi should be in the centre of but he was not in place this time round. The spinning twosome seem to be caught by the camera having a bit of a break. This might be due to some mishap in their performance or due to bad camera shots. Elements from the preview video are seen in the blue light graphics enveloping the stage. Hovi is clearly emotional after this first rendition.

Second run - Although there are no backing singers visible, the stage floor does consist of a digital face, made from a constellation of stars, which acts as the backing singer face. Again, the two spinning artists end up stopping and arguing on stage - or at least that's what it looks like to us. Vocally a bit less good than before however maybe we should not discard this so quickly. What should be discarded however are the two acrobats who clearly are not good at what they do (again, unless it's the camera angles) and just seem to distract and annoy rather than add any value to the performance.

Third run  - The acrobats finally managed to get it kinda right, not perfect, but right. They don't argue on stage anyway. I still think having them there is too risky. The addition to this run is the pyro curtain which happens on the final chorus. Wouldn't count this out at all.


Before the Rehearsal
Hmm... well... they have nice chocolate don't they. And mountains. Nice mountains. Having watched the Swiss selection the choice of Rykka was 'interesting'. We have seen her performances since while on promotional tours and unfortunately there appears to be a collective agreement that this will likely finish last in the semifinal. Will something be able to get pulled out of the bag this morning in order to help us change our opinion?

Rykka joins the ever-growing list of singers who are barefoot on the Eurovision stage. She has decided to change her hair colour but with the lights behind her it just looks gray. She has a black top with black bedazzling going on. A light grey see-through fine-mesh skirt which leaves nothing to the imagination, at least for the legs. The song unfortunately just seems to be there, and there appears to be no real interest by anyone on what is actually being sung. Rykka appears to be pleased with herself however which is, at the end, a very good thing. It must be very disheartening going into a competition like this knowing that no one expects you to be able to do anything, so keeping positive and making the most of the experience of a lifetime is all one should be doing.

Second run - Smoke is coming from under her arms - literally! Not exactly sure what it's supposed to be adding, apart from the idea that she has smelly arm pits. I'm sure someone can answer it in the meet and greet. The other amazing fact about this song, we've started to get used to the vocal performance - which she seems to be doing actually quite well. Better than anything in the promotional tour anyway - then again, it is better production value. The stage looks a bit too big in this song however for someone who is just there on her lonesome singing about being the last of her kind.

Third run - Armpit fire is still an issue. But PYRO!!!!! OK, the last chorus, we have pyro making a round of the stage edge and then you have the curtain pyro to close the song. A bit Azerbaijan 2011 but still works. Could this possibly not end up last in their semifinal?


Before the Rehearsal
Sources tell us that unless Poland ends top 10 in the final they are unlikely to be back next year. I would worry more about being top 10 in the semi rather than the final. However, the bookies do seem to think it will qualify - although this could also just be due to a large amount of Polish (possibly diaspora) money being placed on the Polish song giving it a fake augmented standing.

This starts well. A collective laugh from the gathered press. It is a sight to behold. Michał dressed in some silver jacket over a black tank top and black jeans. Most noticeably, one of the three violinists doesn't have a violin and is just moving her hand up and down. Lovely. They should keep it! Apart from the 2+1 violinists, there is a cello and a piano. There are no gimmicks at all to the stage, keeping it very simple.

Vocally - another capable singer. Styling choice might however end up taking away from his talent.

Second run - The silver jacket is gone, this time Michał is just clad in the black tank-top and jeans. Nice big gold watch on his left wrist. The missing violin seems to have been found, but, at least to this reporter, it looks that who is 'playing' it is not going to be an actual performer on stage since even to my untrained eye it is clear she has no clue of what she is doing with the bow. Another good vocal rendition just as before.

Third run - Jacket stayed off. The piano appears to have been replaced, losing it's prominent position it had before. "There is no smoke without faaaayher" apparently. Michał is not able to keep the note this time. He also chose to not complete part of the last chorus. This could be taken of he is trying to save his voice but the look on his face appears to tell otherwise. Will today be a day of bad third run-troughs?


Before the Rehearsal
Well, well, well... Latvia is currently third on our scorewiz which means that many of us like it. And we all know that one question we want answered - will Rīgas Berbs finally make an appearance of the Eurovision stage?! Latvia is quite sure of qualifying this year but could it suffer from the fan hype for something which is not being considered as a contender?

The feed to the press centre was not from the start of the song so it caught us all by surprise. Justs is wearing his black leather jacket, tight skinny jeans and a maroon oversized t. There are many position markers on stage but he does not seem to be using any of them (at least in this run). The staging is quite like we had seen in the Latvian selection however just more slick - red hues on a black backdrop. The bridge does change this to bright white (a bit too bright, could not see the singer). Song over and there is a deer-in-headlights moment close up of Justs' face. Still gets a decent applause by the room. But no, Rīgas Berbs is alas once more forgotten by the delegation.

Second run - We see it from the beginning which is good. The stage in fact starts in a gray anthracite - and the effects complement the song very well, simple enough to not overshadow the song which is a trap that seems to be catching people now. Vocally Justs is doing well, but we knew he can sing this song, even with the bad audio we were able to watch from the Latvian preview show.

Third run - Nothing changes in the stage, no pyro, no CO2 columns, no glitter confetti ... but he is a bit weaker in this run-through, seemingly he is forcing the notes out which is not a good thing to do during rehearsals - the last thing needed is to lose your voice. Still, plenty of time to recover if needed.

Before we Start

And so we have it, it already feels like a week but we're only on Day 3! The word around the center is that Austria and Cyprus were at the Euroclub yesterday but it seems it was more of the same in attendance figures. Your ESC Nation team decided to stay in and have a quiet night in order to be able to bring you the updates from this morning as we see them.

Day 3 - Poland, Switzerland and Israel

Tom is doing the main blogging at the moment, so I'll just post some brief comments on the rehearsals I'm seeing.


Hovi is on stage in a black suit with glittery black gloves and shoes, glittery black shirt and a glittery black microphone stand. He's joined on stage by two acrobats spinning around in a large hoola hoop. Yes, one hoola hoop. They're both inside it. Though at one point the stop spinning and look like they began arguing instead, which is probably not part of the performance.

The stage, of course, has star-themed graphics. There's a big star on the floor surrounding Hovi, and there's stars behind him. The stage is mostly black except for the stars which are in shades of blue. It's a little bit like a darker and prettier version of Chiara's starry sky from 2009.

Vocally he's doing what he should. And the backing vocals are loud and sing well too. We can't actually see them though, as they aren't on the stage. But since there's three people on stage already, I assume it means that he has three backing singers.

Second run. The acrobats once again stop their spinning and look like they're arguing. So it's probably part of the act after all.

Also, Hovi is wearing a lot of make-up. Which is no surprise. But you'd think that someone who wears make-up more or less all the time, would actually make sure to wear good make-up?
On the big screens here we can see every piece of powder and foundation on his face very visibly, and it's all looking quite cakey. Something which hasn't been an issue with any of the previous singers, so it's not just the strong lights. Let's hope they fix that for next tuesday.

Last run-through. Now with pyro. The EXACT SAME PYRO as for Switzerland (i.e. the Running Scared Golden Shower). 


Rykka comes on stage and reveals that today's hair colour is blue. Due to the lights the blue hair most of the time looks dark grey though. They may need to do something about that. Unless they want "Last Of Our Kind" to come across as if it's a song about pensions and euthanasia.

She's completely alone on stage. It would probably have been a good idea to have the backing singers visible somewhere instead, because the stage looks very big and she's looking very small. Although maybe that's the idea, because it sort of almost fits the theme of the song. She also has smoke coming out from the back of her dress. Basically as if she has cigarettes in her bra straps. 

Vocally I would say that she's surprisingly ok though! Even in the last chorus which has a lot of difficult notes.

Last run-through, and she now has pyro as well. The "Running Scared"-kind. It's all looking very nice, and once again she manages to hit all the notes. If they can only dye her hair in a less grey shade of blue, this will all be quite perfect visually.  I would dare to say that this rehearsal really lifted the song quite a lot. It even got an applause in the press centre. Of course, whether it will be enough for a qualification or not is a totally different matter. But at least it seems that it will be presented in a nice way.


Got to the press centre in time to see the last two run-throughs of Poland.  Michal was in black trousers and a black tank top that revealed that he has quite muscular arms. That could possible be a good idea for the actual performance outfit as well. If you've got arms like that, then why not wear them?

Day 3 Preview - will there be wolves?

As Day 3 dawns, there's really one rehearsal we're looking forward to today more than any other, and that has to be Belarus? Will Ivan have any clothes on? Will they have made good on their threat to bring live wolves with them, or are we going to be seeing holograms or even some terrible dressing-up from a backing dancer?

We're hoping for the latter, obviously, as we'll be ready for a laugh after what looks to be a rather slow morning. One of the second semi-final's favourites, Latvia, is on first at 10:00, and we're hoping they've nailed the staging like Aminata managed last year - and we'll try not to read too much into any pre-rehearsal pictures of Justs wearing a massive red dress.

After that, though, we have what promises to be a rather slow few hours with Poland, Switzerland and Israel rehearsing before we get to Belarus on stage at 1:40, after lunch. We might even make a point of attending the Belarusian press conference, if only to ask what on earth they were thinking/what happened to all those ideas (delete as appropriate).

Following Belarus we'll have Serbia at 2:20, and we'll be keeping an eye on Sanja's demeanour on stage. The visual performance from the presentation show of 'Goodbye (Shelter)' was, shall we say, rather dramatic, and we're curious to see if Sanja will be able to rein in the histrionics on the big stage, when she's singing live rather than miming. We hope so, otherwise we fear it could be rather off-putting to a European audience.

Finally, the last rehearsal of the day will be Australia. 'Sound of Silence' is another performance that we haven't seen a proper televised live performance of yet, and we're eager to see what Dami Im can bring when she takes to the stage at 5:20. Australia are one of the favourites, currently sitting within the top 5 in the bookies' betting odds - the first rehearsal of this one could bring some big shifts. Keep an eye on the blog and on our Twitter account.

And as always, feel free to ask us any questions in the comments - is there anything in particular you want us to keep an eye out for in today's rehearsals, or just interested in a Swiss backing singer? Ask it away!