Friday 6 May 2016

Day 5 - France, Spain


Before the rehearsal

I don't think it should be difficult to do this vocally. We know she has a group of backing singers (which I hope we get to see). The big problem with this song is the really long 2nd verse. I hope they've found a way to make that look interesting visually so that people don't get bored during that part of the song.


Where to start! I'll start with the most important part: Remember how in the preview video there's a weird pause where the music stops just before the second verse?
Something similar is happening here. While Barei is doing her sneaker-dance in the first chorus, she suddenly falls over and lands on the floor. The music stops and we all thought she had fallen and hurt herself and that's why the music stops. But then she just starts singing the second verse all of a sudden and the music kicks in.
The press centre were all quite startled by this, and then reacted with a bit cheer when realising that it was part of the act.

So, regarding the rest. Barei is in a short silver dress, and her backing singers are standing behind her in black and silver outfits. The stage is bright and with flashing colours. It all comes across as very happy and joyful. Vocally Barei was maybe holding back a bit, but fine. The backing singers are mostly fine. However, there's one of them (let's just pretend it's Brequette) who is absolutely SHOUTING the "Say yay yay yay" bit as if she's a peacock that just reached puberty. It's quite reminiscent of Israel 85. So let's hope they turn her down in the mix. A lot.

Mostly Barei and her backing singers are basically dancing on the main stage. Then towards the end Barei walks the catwalk to the satellite stage and finishes there.

I got a very good feeling from this. They have so much fun on stage, and Barei looks very charming and likeable. As long as they can sort out the vocal problems, this performance should be able to lift the song quite well. Hard to say whether the fake-fall gimmick will work well or not, but it will at least wake up the viewers and grab their attention.


Before the rehearsal

This is a very difficult song to sing. It's got a lot of falsetto parts in the chorus and not a lot of moments to breath. And throughout the whole song there's backing vocals singing along with Amir. So the singing and the mix of the backing vocals will be the big key to being able to recreate this live.


They're definitely going for the "less is more" approach here. Amir is completely alone on stage. The backing singers are hidden somewhere, and so far they're not very loud in the mix.
He's wearing a plain grey suit over a white t-shirt. And white sneakers with no socks.
The stage is quite well-lit and the graphics have a space theme. There's a lot of stars, and towrds the end of the song the moon (or some other planet) appears on the floor underneath Amit.
He's up-beat and energetic, but there's not really any choreography going on. He's basically simply standing there singing the song. And loving it.

Vocally the first run wasn't perfect. He sings the you-oh-oh-oh-oh bits but they were a bit off-tune. And there were some other parts that weren't great either. But we have to keep in mind that it's a rehearsal.

Basically, this is the POLAR OPPOSITE to Russia.  While Russia has thrown in just about everything they possible can, France has a very simple and plain performance. It could be risky, but it makes me think of Lena's performance in 2010. It isn't similar, but it's the same kind of "I'll just stand here and sing the song, because the song is good enough on it's own" attitude.

Second run-through. Vocally it's a bit better, and the backing vocals are louder in the mix. But there's still some parts that sound really terrible. In the last chorus he tries to do some ad libs that are way too high for him and just turn into a strangled-cat moment. Hopefully he'll notice this in the viewingroom and ditch it.  Because he sings this just fine whenever he sticks to the basic melody, but whenever he strays from it, it goes terribly wrong.

Thoughts on France, Spain


It started off really nice and cool with Amir in the centre of the stage leaning forward through a sea of purple stars on the floor and the background. He looked really relaxed and smiled through the whole song. The rest of the staging was more or like the same, with random over-sized planets appearing in the background, forming a space travelling effect. Some shots were off, especially when he is looking up. In the first run the camera was just showing his front side, producing the famous pic posted on the MB. In the other two, the camera was actually above him, but far too high up, so nothing was really seen. I think they are going to make it so that the camera starts focused on him and zooms out quickly (or the other way), which should be impressive. The vocals are neither good nor bad. He suffers during some notes. The weird thing is that he failed to sing the same sentence all three times; the beginning of the last chorus. But then he was good at other difficult points and the backings sounded okay as well, covering him at times. The ending was a bit weird, the stage went dark and he is seen with his hand in the air, in a foggy cloud. Didn't really get that part.

Some more thoughts, always subjective. The staging is vastly different to the other (until recently co-)fav but then quite similar in some ways to other faves. Suppose we have France, Australia, Ukraine and perhaps Sweden as contenders apart from Russia. Well, only one of those 5 features more people on screen. Only one of those 5 has some serious dance moves. Someone is truly "the only one"!

Then again, I don't get why France was suddenly written off, or even why it's drifting at the bets. Or maybe, I know why the second thing happened. People were expecting far too much from him and the staging and this didn't happen. Now we're sure Amir won't win by a landslide, as people were hoping. Now we know that he is just one of the 5 main contenders, with Russia being the clear front-runner. I expect the odds to go up to between Ukraine/Australia at the very most. Which is what would truly represent the song's and Amir's abilities. Being a strong possibility to win, but not the strongest one


OK, this was first of all a smart trick that certainly grabs your attention and captivates you for the rest of the performance (I suppose everyone is already updated with the fact that Barei falls just before the second verse). There was not really much going on in the beginning, and the staging is too simple, just her in the middle and the backings close behind her. The floor showed an arrow, similar to Poli's earring before the first chorus. After the fall, it was so entertaining and energetic to watch! She stood back up, danced and walked around a bit during the verse and then proceeded to the catwalk. The camera turned a lot to the backings, but when it was back to her she was still only midway. She tried to make the non-existing audience sing along ("Sing it"). Then the last part came in which neither she nor the backings say "Hooray" at the first "say yay yay yay"s, but then they sing it for the last ones. I missed those "Hooray"s actually.

But more (or less) importantly, what do I think she's going to get with this? It certainly didn't hurt her, this rehearsal. She should be within the top-15, a distant outsider for being just inside the top-10 (although there's a lot of songs that are on the same level or a little better than her). Depends a lot on the draw and how surprising the fall comes across. It wasn't that good the second time, she made it look too artificial. This might be to protect her from injury, cause the first time it felt very real. I also suppose SVT won't pick the falling part to show during semi 1.

Day 5 - Iceland, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Malta


Now, this has changed! She's in a totally different dress. And it's a pretty one. Gold sparkly top and a dark skirt. No projections or silly bulky fabric this time. They've clearly given up on that idea. (Thank god).
The dress is rather tight, and it very visibly confirms that she the rumours about her being pregnant clearly being true. Ira's dancer is wearing a grey flowy outfit with glitter details matching her dress.

The song starts with the same projection of her face as before, but this time it's projected on the floor instead of on the cloak of her dancer. The stage graphics seem mostly to be the same. And the choreography is mainly Ira waling around the stage interacting with her male dancer. She seems a lot more comfortable on stage and seems to enjoy herself a lot.

Basically, they did the right thing to change this. And among all the rehearsals, this is by far the one that imrpoved the most from the first rehearsals to the second ones. It's nice that they were able to see that the previous staging didn't work (and that a lot of other countries were doing projection-based performance) and decided to scrap it.

Second run-through and I noticed that the stage graphics are quite different too. Instead of the blue swirl the floor looks more like actual water. And there's a lot of smoke on stage too. The colours and images keep switching between gold/fire and water/sky.

Thir run-through, and Ira still feels very secure. The performance is basically mostly all about her, and she has the personality to pull that off.


 Same performance as before, but with different outfits. The thermal blankets are still there. But Deen is wearing a long leather trench coat, and Dalal is in a tight red and gold dress with a mermaid skirt. It's not a great dress, but compared to a lot of the costumes we've seen earlier today, it comes across as fairly normal and stylish.


Not much change here. It's the same interactive performance. But they've managed to get the lights more right this time. She's less in the dark, so her connection with the cameras is a lot better.

We couldn't really hear much of the first half of it, as there was a video-message playing for Samra from a bunch of random Azeri people who sent her get-well wishes. As in, "we wish you'll recover from whatever disease you have" not "we wish you'd suddenly start singing well".

Day 5 - Estonia, Azerbaijan, Montenegro


Montenegro are now in their actual outfits. The random woman is on the satellite stage and is not wearing any trousers whatsoever. Which the camera captures really well by filming her from below right up between her legs. Thank god her panties aren't as sheer as Samra's outfits though.

The guys are dressed mostly in black. A lot of faux leather and lose-fitting stuff involved. But it's hard to get a good look at their outfits or even the faces of any of the people on stage, because the lights keep flashing really quickly (the UK broadcast will clearly need to tell viewers with epilepsy to turn he TV off) and the camera shots never really seem to focus on their faces long enough for them to make any eye contact with the viewers.


Samra is on her costume now. It's basically a white swimsuit with short sleeves. Reminds me a lot of the outfit Magdalena Tul was wearing for Poland in 2011. Except this one is about 50 % see-through. Or at least gives the illusion of being see-through. It even has a see-through bit right in the crotch. But we can't see anything there, so it's probably skin-coloured fabric covering it. It basically looks like she's wearing a slutty diaper.

The backing singers/dancers are in shades of white and gold. And Samra's vocals are all shades of off-key.
The may claim that she's still sick. But right now it's more or less on the Lisa Andreas end of the scale of bad singing.

Second run-through. And now she changed her outfit. It's a full-coverage skin-coloured catsuit with lots of glittery stripes. It basically looks as if she's naked with random lines of silver paint on her body. And it's looking a bit unfinished in the crotch-area, as if they attached a camel-toe on the outside of the costume.  Maybe lumpy fabric labia is a fashion trend in Azerbaijan, but I think it looks quite terrible.

The battle for the Barbara Dex Award victory is gonna be really tough this year.


Jüri is in his blue suit and the stage shows images inspired by cards (like, hearts and clubs and things). Again, he's all alone, the backing singers can be heard but not seen. It doesn't look bad, but it just makes it look very similar to a lot of other performances that also just has a solo singer alone on stage.

The magic card trick passes by quite quickly. If you blink, you'll miss it. Which I managed to do both times so far.

Vocally he sings it without any problems. The suit isn't very flattering, but he looks handsome and comes across as rather charming. But the performance just neither enhances or ruins the song. It's just there. So I suspect it's qualification chances will have to depend on the song itself.

The not-press opinion - FIN, GRE, MLD, HUN, CRO, NED, ARM, SMA, RUS, CZE, CYP, AUT, EST, AZE

OK, this was it for me. Nothing to do with Samra and my ears. If you want my opinion and some (badly written) info on the rest of Semi 1, refer to my previous blog post. If you prefer well-written posts, then try the other bloggers of this website. Will be back for the other semi and the songs I missed from them.


First live performance, like in the actual stadium, ever for me was Samra Rahimli performing amazing Miracle. Certainly not the wisest choise I've made. But since I really love the song... And then again, she improved each time, also having very weak moments though. Loved the pyro show in any case.


I expected something darker from them, but instead they went city-lights and Casino Royale. The camera closes in on him and then there's some prop with a card appearing and disappearing a couple of times, before he throws it to our direction. The end shot is a close-up on his face, but he obviously doesn't know what to do with it. He tries to be still, then smiles, then does a half-wink (like something is irritating his eye). I need to see this once more to be more descriptive.

Initial shots are well thought of, he appears to the right side of the screen before walking towards us, while the camers pans from above. Some far shots are closing in on him from the side. He has some issue timing the hand moves, they are looking a bit weird. Far shot closing ing again for the second verse. Camera then rolls around him slowly. Then he does the card thing. The card is thrown better this time. A nice red spade/heart shape on the floor. Nicer ending shot.


Long break followed Cyprus, I think we won't see this many times actually. Camera zooms to her smiling face. Then approaches her again from afar as she's walking towards us. Another close-up during the first en chante. She's a bit breathy. Many close-ups again, usually zooming out and showing the wonderful flowery backdrop. It comes across very optimistic, but then she misses some notes and the feeling is gone. Camera switching from far to close shots regularly. Then some more mid-distance ones. For the last sentence, it zooms out quickly. From some point on she looks really straining with keeping up with the notes. Not very sure about this.

Last run and nothing much changed. A cute thing is her interaction with the backdrop during the second verse, where moving her hands creates red roses in the back. Vocals again a bit strained (but then this is her third run, so she is tired). For the bridge, the camera rolls around her and she makes good contact with it. The last part was really shouty and strained unfortunately. Must improve to qualify, I see it just missing out as it is now.

Day 5 . Russia, Czech Republic, Cyprus and Austria

Yesterday I spent the day at the Euro Fan Café / Euroclub (it really is just the same thing this year, just different names depending on the hour of the day) and watched some meet & greets. More about that later. Now back in the press centre to watch some rehearsals.


Another singer who is completely alone on stage although we can very clearly hear her backing vocals. The staging backingdrop is interesting though and she carries it off alone pretty well. But there's also no reason whatsoever why the backing singers couldn't just as well have been somewhere on stage. It would have worked nicely with this staging. And would have made it stand out a lot more among all the solo singers being completely alone on stage.

Zoe's pink strapless princess dress suits her well. It would have been awkward in any other performance, but in this fairytale backdrop world it looks nice. The performance is visually memorable, but the question is whether it's really exciting enough to give the song that extra boost.


The song starts with a close-up of Francois. So close that we can even see him spitting while singing. But he's handsome and he's got nice arms, so all is forgiven.
He's wearing a very lose flowy knee-lenght black sleeveless cardigan, over a tank top and black trousers. It looks very modern and fashionable, yet suits the rock feel of the song. The other members are mainly in black as well, but they're in the dark most of the time so we don't see them a lot.

Vocally it sounds fine, but it's hard to hear in the press centre as the volume is low and there's a lot of noise coming from San Marino's press conference.

Second run-through, and we can hear things a bit better. Basically, he's not the best singer in the world, but it's perfectly adequate for the song. Of all the rock-inspired entries this year, I think this will be the most approachable to the general viewers. As it has a very distinct and memorable melody. And the staging isn't too weird or gimmicky, so it might stand out among all the technically advanced entries.

There's a lot of armpit flashing going on. And (unlike Moldova) he's kept just the right amount of hair there. It's trimmed, but not clean-shaven. And no stubble. 


The colours of the stage really look great. Blue and pink. She has an interesting necklace that looks like a robe with some sort of big rock crystals attached to it. The dress is a plain white top with a peplum around the hips. And a white flowy bottom, which catches the colours of the lights.

She sings it more or less perfectly, even if holding back a little bit. Everything is simply both very pleasing both for the eyes and the ears. I dare to say that of all the pop ballads this year, this one works the best on stage.

As so many others, this one hides the backing singers. But unlike most of the others that like to pretend that their singer can produce 6 different voices at the same time, I think it kind of works for this one. Due to the darkness of the song and due to how the stage is lit, it doesn't come across that weird that she's alone on it.


It's pretty much the same as before, with the difference that Sergey is a lot more sweaty today. I still think the performacne is way too much. Especially as the projection screen doesn't always work perfectly. The "steps" that are supposed to be invisible, are very much visible. And the projections are a little bit off-sync sometimes. Still time to fix that though.

If this performance had been in any other year, it would REALLY have stood out. But since about half of the entries this year are using some kind of 3D projections or holograms, this staging may not come across as impressive as they had hoped. But Sergey does really manage to sing it well enough in spite of all the climbing he has to do. Something not everyone using similar staging effects manage to do. And I'm pretty sure it's by far competent enough to get the votes of everyone who already love Sergey and the song. In the countries where he's already popular I can't see him getting much lower scores than a 12. The problem is though, so far I haven't really heard anyone who isn't a Eurovision fan or a Sergey fan say that they like the song... And will this performance convince them?

Day 5 Afternoon - Armenia, San Marino, Russia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Austria

Unfortunately still so sweet it gives you cavities. I can definitely see why some people really like this however I cannot say that I am one of them myself. I wold not be so totally surprised if it does not make it to Saturday and neither would the bookies. No sign of a treadmill anywhere.

The cages have remained (which I don't believe was actually up for debate). In-ear still appears to be an issue for some acts. There are hardly any graphics of wolves appearing any more which is a good thing. Vocally not completely there but it works fine for the song. Is it enough or not however that is another question.

Wearing the dress from the first rehearsal, Gabriela is lit up a bit differently. Still vocally on cue. The song presentation is spot on. It will be really unfair if the Czechs do not see the stage on Saturday.

I know the post is small - but there is not really much to say about the entry - it simply works. J has written more so also check that blog to see comments!

There are some evil people in this room. There was a large applause due to the technical mishap of Russia. The song started about four to five seconds before the technical image which meant that it was all out of synch. The song was stopped before the first chorus starts since there is no point continuing. Remember, each act has a specific amount of time and can do as many runs as they wish, however, once time is up, it is up. How long before Russia are back up and running?

Second run and this one goes a bit better technically but there are some mistakes which can be seen. The camera angles need to be exact in order for the effects to work but this is not happening yet. Likely however that these little tweaks will be done before Tuesday. And well, would this be in doubt even if there are some errors in it?

Well, Iveta he is *not* but he is still having a great time. The backing dancers are clad in silver while Serhat is in a maroon suit. He keeps on doing it so we believe it will happen - at the end of the song Serhat throws his hat into the crowd. We expect it to be on ebay within the week. What we unfortunately do not expect is to see him on stage on Saturday.

It seems that the afterbiib will consist of one goers. Russia on stage now.

Iveta is lookin HOT! Hot and FIERCE! (OK, I promise that is the last time I write that). The projections to me are still not working but it has received a warm applause by the gathered europress. I am needing to start counting since to me they appear to all be qualifying now. Armenia however is not only qualifying due to my dubious taste but because it is a good song which is well produced and presented extremely well. The videos you will be watching soon will reveal the staging and the outfit and enough will be said.

Only country to only perform once. The screen came back up but it was definitely not Iveta on screen.

Day 5 Morning - Finland, Greece, Moldova, Hungary, Croatia, The Netherlands

Unfortunately Douwe is not wearing his costume which he went swimming in on Wednesday. The stage has a big clockface with the hands slowly going anticlockwise. The five-piece band accompanying him are working well in harmony. The 10 seconds of silence are currently a bit 'out of place' but this will be filled nicely with the audience cheering him on. Another song which I do not see not qualifying for Saturday.

The 'dress' is still there! Nina is looking a bit nervous. The Barbara Dex award gets ripped with the help of the backing vocals to reveal a silvery number with a 'tail' coming from each sleeve. It is better than the first number but Nina's shoulder tattoo is showing and also, in one shot, her large back tattoo which would need to be covered up. The song/dress combination does not really match the look of her ink. Vocally a bit weak but she really only needs to get it spot on for the Jury and televised shows. Currently in 6th most likely to qualify will she be able to keep this spot?

*Second run-through was a lot better vocally. Good sign.

Wearing the same attire as the first rehearsal, Freddie is seeming confident on the stage. The three backing singers are also doing well but the drummer unfortunately is not convincing at all. The husky voice still works amazingly well. Only two runs were done for Hungary due to the time it took between them but they were good enough. I predict it will qualify (bookies agree).

Well, the dress is different but it's still a NO! I don't believe we will be seeing it on Tuesday either. It is just to help promote some local dressmaker. Lidia also sang part of the chorus in French which is new but took a while to realise it. The dancer is in a new silvery outfit but is not fooling anyone on being a real astronaut. Vocally sound and the song is catchy enough but good enough to be in the top 10? Needs work to get there.

"Houston we have a problem" says stage director. We need to wait for the second run it seems.

Oh, I made a mistake, the French is in the second verse not the chorus. The song could do with Lidia dancing more. She is quite static in her spot which for the kind of song she sings is not the best. Her dancer is very active so it becomes quite confusing visually when your brain automatically expects her to start doing a chorographed dance with him.

We finally get to hear this! The group appear to be wearing what could possibly be their outfits for the show. Christina and Maria are in loose white dress pants and top while the male members of the band and dancer are in white shirts (sleeveless for the dancer) and beige pants. Vladimiros seems to be concentrating too much before the moment he has to jump into the Greek dancing. Vocally not catching fire but I wouldn't rule Greece out ever in this competition. Dancers' shirt came off - not sure if this was intentional or not but appreciated none the less by many here.

Konstantinos starts the song off playing the Pontian lyra but, he stares into the camera and is a bit scary. Also in the bridge, the guys are all surrouding Alexandros (the tabor player) and the camera shot is from above. There is something a bit off with the picture just because Alexandros is in the centre of a sun motif and the two guys are on the edge of it. No problem there however the girls are inside this 'circle' making it look just not right. The dancers' shirt is back off for the third run but his microphone wire (and tape) is clearly visible. I am thinking this is not on purpose.

Wearing the same blue catsuit as the first dress rehearsal. We don't seem to be the only ones who are not good at the early start. Sandhja is a bit weak vocally at the moment. And another audio hiccup in the area - this is starting to get on our nerves. Although the performance is slicker, it seems to be missing something from what we had seen in the national selection. The bookies are also not convinced we will be seeing the Finnish colours flown on Saturday.

Before we Start
This early time of the morning should not be allowed - especially after a party. Last night we went to the Vodka Bar which had ESC Bubble as guest DJs. At some point Lighthouse X (sans Johannes) came along - which was just coincidental. Also, today the accredited fans and press are allowed into the arena so we are sure there will be much more video content online. The prospect of a dark and (hopefully) warm room however is very appealing.