Tuesday 1 May 2018

Haiku #3

Step one: Write some words
Arrange and count syllables
Step two: Haiku done

First rehearsal: Netherlands and Australia

End of day

Semi 2 is feeling fun and entertaining, comparing to the 'heavy' Semi 1. And a good word about the Portuguese police at the arena gates, they handled the scanner malfunction well this morning and have always been nice and smiley, which isn't a given.


Pre-opinion: I've never had a problem with their inclusion, but haven't warmed up to their entries. Until now. This lifts me up in all the right ways. There are some questions about Jessica's lower notes, but if they overcome this it could be a contender.

First run-through: It's her in a glittery purple short dress with a side trail, standing in front of a structure made of symmetrical LED lines, that are pink/turquoise most of the song but turn red during the climax. Doesn't sound good at the start (but this may be sound issues). Backing singers are not visible sadly, but Jessica's personality carries it well.

Second run: Sounds better now. A short pyro shoot from behind after the drummy bit. This aims at looking great with the audience in. The camera shots keep switching too often for me, but despite the cold reaction in here I'm not willing to rule it out yet.

Last runthrough with some more pyro around the outside of the ring. This is fine, if a bit underwhelming.

The Netherlands

Pre-opinion: I was a huge fan of CATS, even before the staging allegedly lift it from nothing to something. Can't say I feel the same about this one. Not ruling it out from qualification, but it's very lucky to be in this semi.

First run: A family of leopards were murdered for this. He's on a simplistic platform with lights on the sides, Waylon 'doing his thing' on top of it, busy dancers doing all the moves around him.

Second run: Waylon sounds fine (but that was never going to be an issue). One of the dancers-pretending-to-be-guitarists is particularly eager with his breakdancing while still wearing a guitar. Not exactly buying me over, but Waylon is as great eyeing the cameras as he was four years ago.

Day 3 of first rehearsals - Netherlands and Australia


Australia is in my top 5 for this year, so my expectations were high. Jessica performed it well, with good presence, in a short glittery asymmetric purple dress with gold details and a tail on the side. This will do well, but I'm not as impressed as I would have liked to be, not sure why.

After the second and third run, I have figured out what is missing in this for me. I don't like her dancing. It's a bit too messy. Some adjustments there would help, if you ask me!


So far we've just gotten a glimpse of the run through, without sound. But we have this pattern, in gold and black, going on, on Waylon's jacket:

He and his band are standing on platforms, with constantly blinking yellow lights. Two dancers are with them on the side, they're going crazy, with almost robotic movements.

However, robots don't have six-packs like that...

First rehearsal: Denmark, Russia, Moldova


Pre-opinion: The kind of guilty pleasure Moldova does best, they can send it every year as far as I care. They'll need to do something than the cheap mirrors to progress though.

First run: They're channelling Kamferdrops!! Hurrah. A seemingly simple, but clever prop of white magician squares that can become windows and doors. A healthy dose of comedy going on there when the windows open and close, this made me very happy and the press centre loved it. And (spoiler) they have doubles!

Second run: Very similar, it's all been well-rehearsed. The doubles join them in the end for a bit of Balkan dancing and it's all very energetic.

The prop is almost identical to the IKEA Kallax. Sennek's vote guaranteed.


Pre-opinion: Well. This song would and should be written off if it were sent by most other countries, but it's not. I guess the main question here is how serious they are about doing well with this.

Set up: Julia is on the volcano (we haven't seen how she gets on top unfortunately). Backing singers standing behind it to the side. Zoom in shows that the volcano is made of boxes of foamy plastic sprayed green, I don't think Icelandic viewers will be convinced.

First runthrough: This sounds very different to everything we've heard so far, I think they changed the key? Lots of dancing going on below her, topless male (too dark to see if attractive) and female in dress. More close-ups on the dancers (conclusion: not attractive :-/ ), if you thought Ireland gave theirs too much focus then this is even more. Volcano doesn't do much, except a bit of Estonia-style projection, but we'll wait for the last run to see if there's pyro.

Second run: It gets dark when she sings "even in the darkness" (see what they did there?), during which the dancers run off - each on a different bridge, then when the lights are back they run towards each other. Romantic...? The whole thing treads between 'uncomfortable' and 'boring' for me.

Last run: No pyro. Worst volcano ever. (or, best volcano ever, because the nice ones stay quiet)


Pre-opinion: I wasn't too impressed by the DMGP show, but other performances of him suggest that the sound mix may have been at fault, he's a pretty strong singer and sells it really well, even if the song is bit on the basic side.

First (visible) runthrough: We only see half of it, but it looks identical to what we know. So much that I'm not even sure they're just replaying the DMGP performance.

Really, I'm struggling to spot anything that's new here. Today's theme must be "keep to the NF stagings". At least San Marino bred its robots since theirs.

Second run: Ah, here's something different. The Loreen/Ryan snow effect. The rest is still the same, except that the live backing vocals make it sound more lively, the stage is a bit darker, and the wind machine stronger.

A positive rehearsal, I'd say, and I rarely say positive things about Denmark.

Day 3 of first rehearsals - Denmark to Moldova


From funny in a bad way, to funny in as good a way as possible. I really liked this performance! There was a big white wall with doors being opened and closed with funny/colourful/suggestive things happening, in a true retro kind of farce spirit. A big cheer from the press centre!


There was laughter in the press centre when the male dancer came running with his arms open towards the female dancer. It looked funny, and not in a good way. Julia, wearing something bright and puffy, is on a green "volcano", which actually looks all right when there is some kind of lightning effect that reflects on it.

The running was a little different second and third time around, but still funny.


White sails and white flags on and a mainly blue stage, nothing unexpected from the first run though (that we get to see).

In the second run Denmark is pretending to be a chilly country in the north (fake snow). In my world, Denmark is basically southern Europe, you're not fooling me! ;)

Day 3 of first rehearsals - Norway to San Marino

San Marino

The cute little robots are with Jessika and Jenifer in Lisbon! The press centre, including myself, is LOVING them. One robot held a "Will you marry me?" sign and our hearts melted. It was the awww-iest awww so far. And the song needs it, I think, it wouldn't do much for me without the robots.

Robot number four has "I'm not your robot" - Brilliant! #ThisRobotToo!? - written on the platform it's standing on, it then flips over to the "Will you marry me?"

Rehearsals are breaking for lunch. I wonder what robots like to eat.


Huge oil barrel looking drums - yes, they are standing in a (semi)circle - an older man playing and/or pretending to play the flute are combined with outfits that makes me think of ancient times. This is one of the songs I have really enjoyed listening to the studio version of, and I'm happy that it's sounding and looking ok so far!

Yair's description "liquorice worms" is spot on! Something like this in combination with the ancient style dress:


The protesting security check has something to do with a power problem, apparently. We were asked to move from the newly opened part of the press centre during Romania's first run through. Some of the computers had blown up for some of the journalists, and they didn't want that to happen to us (OK, I'm exaggerating a little bit, but someone in there had had some damage to his charger and was a upset). From what I saw and heard of Romania, the only things that stay with me are the colours blue and pink and the creepy white face masks. The song doesn't stay at all unfortunately.

Trend spotting part two for Eurovision 2018: props in circles. Yesterday we had planks from Armenia, today we get mannequins from Romania.


We got to see the second to last run through from Norway, a cheerful Alexander (is he ever anything else?) on a stage lit up in blue, turquoise and pink and the "clip art gone wild" in white.

Last run was with pyro. I want more pyro. Always more pyro. This run went what seems to be according to plan as well, tons of energy from Rybak. Nice wake up call in the morning, good way to start the semi. I have a feeling I will be singing this song today, torturing Yair with it. Better put Estonia on to get it out of my head!

Step one, get out of bed, shower and put on clothes
Step two, just brew a cup
That's how you wake up smart

(work in progress, by Polle and Elin)

First rehearsals: Norway to San Marino

San Marino

Pre-opinion: Haha. Well, this song surely has zero televoting potential (except in Malta), I do sometimes enjoy it. Really hoping for robots or a similar concept.

ROBOTS ARE HERE! At least three.

First runthrough: Jessika starts in a cape, which is helped off by dancers. There's a fourth robot in the back, all robots doing some kind of hand choreography. Press is loving it. Jenny B does her thing, then Robot 4 is holding a sign, something along the lines of "will you marry me" (another Portugal 2011 tribute, clearly). Huge applause.

Second run: There's a lot of Verka-style up and down arm dancing. The robots are the true stars, getting a lot of camera love. In the bridge, Jess interacts with one of them and places her hand under the robot's, feels like it's meant to be holding something we haven't seen yet.

Third run: Sign says "I am not your robot" in the back. Clearly someone there is having fun, and so are we.


Pre-opinion: This has been a complete mess so far, but has a certain fun potential to it. Let's see if they sort out the vocals, at least.

First runthrough: Yellow-black stage that becomes blue when the beat kicks in. Fancy drums with patterns on them, similar patterns on the women singer's tan dresses. Men are in black.

Patterns on women look like liquorice wormsSanja Ilić
Second run: This sounds fine, looks like they solved the singing issues by bringing in a third girl. That means they had to get rid of someone - Sanja? No, he's not there. Now it's Sanja Ilić (In The Audience) Feat. Balkanika. The act is less messy than it was in Beovizija, but still a bit all-over-the-place.

Last run looks about the same. I wonder why they decided to place Serbia right after Romania, both have an "ancient Greek theatre" style choreography.


Pre-opinion: One of my favourites this year since I first heard it in the salt mine (or was it Sighișoara?), I was gutted when it got such cold reaction from the fans and betting odds. Everything seems to be against it, but I still have my hopes. They'll have to work hard to follow-up this opener.

First run-through: Mannequins! Lots of them. Black shiny plastic bodies with white mask. The band also wear the masks from the NF, but on the back of their heads. A very dramatic staging.

Think Elouiz (from MGP 2016) meeting Schmetterlinge.

Second run: First shot is the woman who isn't the lead singer (Corina, I think) taking off her mask and walking about. Everyone's in white except Cristina's purple dress and the black mannequins. Male band members touch her dramatically and trying to keep an expression-less face. She's singing well. The white suits and back-head masks make the male Humans look like they're lab workers who try to contain Cristina with some kind of microbiological pandemic, and I'm not sure it's intended this way. But I like it.

Last run: Still sounding good, act however comes out a bit over-choreographed and feeling very much like a #2, unfortunately.


Pre-opinion: I have a love-hate relationship with this song - annoyed by the lyrics and infectiousness, but for all it's given us, I'm glad it's there. Perhaps I won't be so glad if it wins (and it can)... If they keep to the MGP concept, the first rehearsal will probably not look good, because they need to align the screen graphics.

First (visible) run-through: I say visible because it looks like they've done a few already. Colour scheme is similar to Finland (pink-purple and turquoise). About the same routine screen graphics we expected (with some added hearts I think?). Álvaro & co sound good. Rybak himself has obviously done this before, he's not giving it all and saves energy for the live shows.

Last run: We're getting pyro, apparently. Rybak takes off his jacket and throws it to the audience before the scatting part. Pyro fountains shoot when the violin goes 'wheeeeeh'. Another pyro coming from the arch at the last boom. Visually, this all makes sense as an opener.

A luta é alegria

The Portuguese take their worker's rights very seriously, a demonstration was setting up near our apartment and the security scanner at the press centre gates decided to protest too, causing a long queue. But Norway isn't starting on time either, so all is good.