Saturday 7 May 2016

Day 6 - After Dinner: Denmark, Ukraine, Norway, Georgia, Albania, Belgium

Sum Up
And with this, we wrap up another long day at the press centre. Nothing left to do than pack our things, check our holes and go get food, glam up and go to the Euroclub! Good times!

The sparkliness of that top!!! Laura is accompanied by her four backing vocalists/dancers who are dressed in white with a black sparkly line going down their arms and legs. The staging is like it was in the first rehearsal, although some of the camera angles have been improved. There is still one shot where the previously discarded 5 handkerchiefs are visible which is a bit random. Vocally I would say Laura was not as good as she was in the first rehearsal but still good enough to not need to doubt qualification on Saturday.

LOOK AT THAT DRESS! You can see the videos/pics so take a moment to go and see them. Eneda is looking fierce in it - yes I know I had said I would not write that any more but I may have possibly lied. The issue however is that her staging used a lot of golden tones which in a way makes it too golden. Vocally, although she is decent enough, I would not say she is exceptional, nor would I say that the staging is anything to write home about. Neither would I say that we shall see this again on Saturday. The bookies agree.

I think this has been one that has grown on me the most - song wise anyway. I don't hate it as much as I did before. But then again, I had not heard it much before coming to Stockholm. The presentation of the song however is still extremely visually confusing. Lots of strobe lighting and cut-away shots and mirror imaging. A bit too much I think - I never know where I'm supposed to be looking, no idea of what is going on on stage in full. Having said this however, there is usually that one random entry which completely blind-sides everyone. If this is the one I don't know but I do know a particular member of the ESCKaz team who will be ecstatic about it if it happens!

Did not hear this from the beginning since we were advised on the loud speaker of the delayed Danish press conference. When we do get to hear the audio in around line three of the first verse, the camera shot shows a cameraman. SVT really need to work on these, there shouldn't have been so many shots going wrong at this point - almost all of today's songs have had some technical or visual issue.

Agnete however is singing ok-ish, and is looking relatively pleased with herself. The dancer seems to be missing by the end of the show but that could just be my bad attention to detail. Nope, it is for sure, in the second run through I made sure to pay attention and can confirm the dancer is no longer there by the end of the song. In fact, she disappears after the bridge which is sung with a close up of Agenete.

This one gave us goosebumps the first time round and we are just hoping that we get goosebumps again. Jamala is still favourite to qualify from semi final 2. Will we be just as affected by her performance this evening?

Well, dressed in a dark blue dress with trousers underneath, Jamala did not fail to impress us. Singing with much more passion that she did on the first rehearsal, the room was just captivated by her voice. Although there were still slight misjudgements of positioning on the stage, this is not something which cannot be overcome with the time that is left in order to preform. The effect with the tree of life coming out from the struggle and blood of the land is still an amazing effect - even for those who have seen it more than once. For those who will be watching it for the first time, and if the camera angles are on point, then the effect should captivate the breath of those who are watching it just like it did ours for the first time. I personally do not think that there is any other country who can beat this in the semifinal - this after thinking, before coming to Stockholm, that it could even possibly not qualify due to the difficulty, then perceived, of conveying the message which is trying to be told by the song.

What a difference a few days can make! This has improved a hell of a lot over since the previous failures we were watching on Thursday. Although Johannes is still the only one who drops his microphone stand, the rest of the song is quite flaw-free. Could we have been too quick to dismiss this song? Let us see how the other runs are!

Second tun through and all the microphone stands are still upright!! HURRAH!

Day 6 - Albania, Belgium


This is a total standout in this semi final.
I didn't really like the song originally, but on stage it all just suddenly "makes sense". Laura is cute, bubbly and is ha ing a lot of fun. The backing singers/dancers as well, and it's nice how they made them part of the act. It's retrp bit still fresh. Thr only problem is that Laura's shorts are still very ill-fitting.
But basically, it's a great end to the show, and I am sure it's gonna do a lot better than most people expected back when it was selected.


Peach/beige tight dress that works nice with her ginger hair. The floor graphics match the dress nicely. And the backing singers are visible.

Visually it's very nice. And she sings it ok. It comes across as rather boring though. Nothing really happens during the performance. The stage is pretty static and so is Elhaida. I can't really think of any reason why somebody would find this exciting enough to vote for it.

Day 6 - Denmark, Ukraine


Ten years ago Ukraine sent "Show me your love" by Tina Karol to Eurovision. I thought it was a really dull song. Until I saw the live performance. Then I loved it!
I think Ukraine has managed to have the same effect on me this year too. I originally though 1944 was a bland melody-less song. But just having seen Jamala sing it, it won me over!

She sings it perfectly. And the vocal arrangement with the backing singers (who are on stage \o/) is really nice. I have a feeling that this will do a lot better than I originally thought.


The boys are looking a bit tired. No surprise, as they were at Euroclub until quite late last night. Vocally they are a lot stronger today though. They don't seem to struggle much at all. The performance is the same and not very interesting, but it's very different from everything else and might just really benefit from being quite simplistic.

Day 6 - Australia, Slovenia, Bulgaria


The song starts with a very very close close up of Poli's face. Almost like Trijntje last year. Her lips are dark blue. Has she been sucking on Rykka's hair?

There are no chipmunk vocals in the song now, it's all been replaced by the flute. And vocally they are all singing quite well. But the chorus doesn't quite sounds as "big" vocally as in the studio version.

I like this performance though. She pulls off owning the stage all by herself, and it's effective when the backing singers join her at the end. They really look like they're having a lot of fun.


It's visually quite pleasing. The stage has nice colours and ManuElla looks good. Not sure why she puts her hands together as if she's praying during the Aliyev-parts though.
Vocallt it's fine. The male pole dancer is there but is quite disconnected to ManuElla.
I suspect this performance won't be enough to make this stand out. Its innthe middle of a segment of three entries with female solo singers. And a segment of four songs in a row with singers who are (mostly) alone on stage as their backing singers are mostly hidden. And between those songs, Slovenia's staging probably is the least memorable, even if it's pleasant enough.


The staging is even better today. It's a lot brighter and the holograms work better.

Last time I watched thia rehearsal I couldn't hear the sound very well. But today I'm seated at a better location. Which made me notice that she's actually a bit out of tune here and there. And her facial expression doesn't really change at all during the song, so ahe doesn't look like she's enjoying herself. Hopefully both of that will change once she's performing for real.

Day 6 - After Break: Ireland, FYR Macedonia, Lithuania, Australia, Slovenia, Bulgaria

A great performance! Poli is playful with the camera and knows what she needs to do to gain the attention of the viewers. The errors that have happened (and there was a couple) where all technical in nature - mainly bad camera angles which either cover half the view or show the camera person walking accross the stage. The backing dancers come out as they did in the first rehearsal but this time they are clad in black. Unfortunately no light-up chevrons for them however.

Hope and Glory are still trying to escape but seem quite stable where they are. The stage seems to have changed however there are still undertones of blue and pink. We had to stop the first run through but the second one went through fully. Not much to comment about this apart from the dancer is hot as but even though his talent is great, it is not going to help them get through. They are just above the Swiss in the betting odds, and there is a good reason why.

Dressed in the same dress as the first rehearsal, this went quite well apart from the fact that Dami needed help to get off the box. However, even thorough this misshap, her voice did not break at all which shows her professionalism. Waiting to see what happens in the next two.

The holographic images still do not work since they are being mistimed by Dami. We can still see the guys taking her off the podium but hopefully there is another camera angle which hides what is happening on stage.

In the third run-through not only do we see her being taken off but also we see the podium itself being quickly rushed off stage back. We were not supposed to see that - althogh it was very entertaining for the gathered press.

After two false starts, both of which were technical, we had one full go. Donny's hair is a bit, well, interesting - I wouldn't personally choose it. Donny is wearing some random jacket with a bunch of writing on it, again, not my choice. He does a summersault through some CO2 bursts - and nearly trips on the landing. This could go wrong on the night. Vocally he is quite flat but it could be that he is just saving himself.

The second run-through and he has a different jacket. Not that it was very much better but still better than the first. Although it is expected to qualify, it is unlikely to be high up on the right hand side of the board.

The third run-through and we have yet another jacket, this time white leather. Out of the three we've seen, this is the best however would have preferred black.

Staged beautifully, Kaliopi is wearing a mainly black dress with a white flowy underskirt. Four backing vocalists to her right and a drummer to her left (remember, mirror image if you're looking at her). Much use of the spotlights to a great effect. For the chorus this changes to tones of red and orange. We know however that the Macedonian team is perfectionist and they probably will be looking at this, going through it with a fine toothbrush in order to piont out any perceived inaccuracies. Kaliopi however is also saving her voice a bit, consciously deciding to not try and catch the high notes even though we know she can do so with ease. She is not hitting the money-makers alight with qualifying expectations and I would tend to agree but it is definitely not a showing due to her part but rather the fact that there are other, better songs in this semi final.

Ooh! Something happened mid-song of the third run-through. Kaliopi therefore has a fourth run though, we therefore assume the issue was technical rather than the fault of the delegation.

Not too much different from the first rehearsal. Unfortunately I do not think this will be the year that we will be seeing the Irish colours on the Saturday stage. Vocally Nicky is not the best and although the staging is good enough there is nohing that would make me want to vote for this song rather than any other which has before it. I don't think it would make too much of a difference to Nicky's carreer however maybe it will make RTÉ rethink their selection process. In fairness however, they have tried letting the public select the song, and done an internal selection this year so what they should be doing extra is really not for me to comment.

Day 6 - After Lunch: Latvia, Poland, Switzerland, Israel, Belarus, Serbia.

New item: Faces of various women appear on the backdrop for the first verse. Sanja is dressed in all black, as are her backing vocals. The backing dancer interacts a lot more with them than he did in the first round. Vocally stunning and the message of the song is protrayed nicely.

In the second run through there has been something happening with the dancer. We don't know if he is hurt of it something technical happened to him. We will se in the thrid run through if he comes back or if it is something to worry about.

(Voice of Consuela on Family Guy): No, no, you no worry, he come back.


Well, he's no longer digitally frenching the wolf - again, a good thing learned. The staging is still confusing and we are still not sure what the message is but that is what commentators are for. There are some bad camera angles still happening - you can see other cameras in some shots which definitely is not what the plan was. We don't need to worry too much either way, finalist he is not. For the first time in the 5 years that the contest has been held in Scandinavia since Belarus' debut in 2004 that the country will not qualify - in fact, it only qualified when the contest was in a Scandinavian country.

Question: Will the acrobats get it right or will they have an argument on stage again? And it appears they will get it right - and they have changed the choreography a bit which is good. Hopefully they will get it right. Everyone seems to be glued to the screen when Hovi is on stage. We can't really hear the first 30 seconds of so of the song since Justs is singing his song for the 140,321st time since he arrived here and his press conference audio is higher than the screen. The presentation is excellent and as long as the hula hoop girls don't fuck it up make any errors, it should be through to Saturday.

On the third run there is a bit of an issue with the voice. He couldn't reach the high note and the look on his face after the last rehearsal says it all - he is not happy with that performance.

The smoking armpits are still there but the hair is looking a hundred times better. Unfortunately that is where the improvements stop. Unlike Poland, there is no chance that this will gain enough votes to get through to the final on Saturday. As long as Rykka is having fun it's all that matters. The staging is quite good however, lovely backdrop to her.

The red jacket is back! No more bare arms or silvery jacket which triggers mockery. And yes, we do have an actual third violinist who actually know what she is up to. Dinah Nah's lookalike can go back to her day job. The chello and piano are still where they were last time, piano barely visable. The lighting appears to have improved and it is not such a car crash as it was earlier but it will still need to find something amazing in order to qualify.

Actually, after I wrote that, I am thinking it could just sneak through. There are enough good but not great mid-table songs that the better presentation of today could actually get it through.

Just as in the first rehearsals, a good vocal permance. Simple staging, nothing extravagant. Works well on the first run. We did see Justs struggle in the last run through in the first rehearsal, will the same happen today?

And the answer is no, his voice was fine this time throughout all three rehearsals. We will be seeing Latvia again on Saturday night

Day 6 - Germany, Italy, United Kingdom


Before the Rehearsal
The UK decided to move away from their format they chose for the past few years of internal selection. Admittedly, they did not have much of a lot to choose from and probably did choose the best option for the show. No one is expecting this to really do anything in Stockholm (apart from the British media who keep on asking people if they are going to win - just to have people disappointed and angry when they don't even finish top 10), but we should be seeing the UK reach a higher position than they have seen for a bit.

Starting on a darkened stage, we open with Joe's closeup. The shot changes which then brings Jake into the picture for the second verse. The stage also lights up in blue, white and red lighting. There are two drummers on podiums. For the intro to the chorus, photos of people take the stage. For the second verse, the stage goes back to its original colourings and changing back to new photos for the chorus. These photos change with the rhythm of the song. This unfortunately does look like a bad performance in an X-Factor style show. They would be in the sing-off and probably get eliminated this week. The third run-thorough has some pyro on the last chorus but I doubt this will gain many extra points (if any) due to it. Don't expect any "Royaume Uni, douze points!" being uttered.


Before the Rehearsal
Well, at least we have someone who wanted to come to Eurovision rather than the group Stadio who let's face it, would not have any interest in coming here. Italy is one of those nations who everyone wants to see but has no real following at home. This is the first year that the contest will be shown on the first channel - until last year it was on Rai2 with the semifinals still being on Rai4 until today. Will having it on the first channel make any difference? I believe it will all depend on what happens. If they do well like last year, then it is likely that the interest will remain the same. If however Francesca fails to light up Europe, then it is more likely we see it go to Rai2 and stay there for the duration of Italy's comeback - which in itself might not be greatly long-lived.

She's definitely not wearing her outfit for Saturday. Brown sparkly dungarees on top of a white t. There are a lot of digital effects on screen like we saw in her music video. They take a bit of getting used to. Staging, well, it's nice, it's different, it's unusual... we have a couple of platforms with a lot of items on sticks around the edges. I'm sure I can find better words to describe it but it is quite difficult to explain. A yellow balloon, a seagull, a sunflower, a parrot, an umbrella, 3D glasses (blue/red) and much, much more.

Unfortunately I seem to be the only one who does not get this. At all. Everyone around me is telling me how amazing it is but I clearly am (as has been told to me) "dead inside". The staging starts with a bare tree on a cloudless, sunny day. Francesca is on a grassy circular platform. The background turns into night for the chorus. The tree is lit up as is the floor and we have fireflies buzzing around it. For the second verse, the floor is an ocean. This continues throughout the rest of the song while the time of the day changes from day to night depending on the chorus. Her microphone stand has ribbons in blue and yellow - unlike in Rimini where this was in the colours of the rainbow flag.

At least for this rehearsal there has been no pyro or any other effect. If there was going to be it would be likely that Italy would have paid for it but maybe we just need to wait for the second round of rehearsals. A lot of people here are already talking about Turin 2016, could this be just press-centre emotion like we had with France last year?


Before the Rehearsal
What are we to expect from Jamie-Lee. The good thing is that we really do not know. The staging for this song is one of the things I've personally been looking forward to. we know that she is quite a character and that it is hard to point out what she will want to do next. Will the artistic director want to change from the staging in Cologne or will we see something similar to that?

Well, it is similar to the national final. You can see the outline of Jamie-Lee in front of a moon. She is in the forest which we saw in Germany. Wearing an outfit not too dissimilar to that we saw in the national final, consisting of a Japanese schoolgirl shape however being a sparkly silver top, turquoise skirt with sparkly blue circle stones, and frilly shoulders. She is also wearing a headpiece in the same colours of her attire. Socks are knee-high and in blue and purple. White sparkly flat-souled shoes with a silvery bow complete the outfit.

The backing vocals are unfortunately quite off in the first round, unlike Jamie-Lee who is giving a good performance. There is, as you can imagine, not much choreography. Jamie-Lee walks along the stage rather calmly but never moves too far from her original position on the main stage. She does however later use the bridge to the satellite platform which is where she completes her performance.

Second run - the backing vocals have been lowered which is a good sign that this was noticed immediately by the delegation. Jamie-Lee is looking like she is really enjoying being there but is quite shy and has the 'I'm just a little girl' look. Mothers across Europe will be into this if she finishes her performance with *that* look - regardless of what they think of the song.

Third run - Addition of the dry ice to cover the stage to enhance the mystical look of it. Could do with getting the combination right, the platforms of the trees are visible which could be done without. Small issues which will be fixed before you know it.