Wednesday 2 May 2018

Haiku #4

Beetle piano
Wearing your heart on your face
Don't stop the music

First rehearsal: Slovenia and Ukraine


Pre-opinion: I mostly remember the eye, the burning structure and Melovin's brave attempt at 'English', the song itself hasn't left much impression. Rather certain they have someting to sell to make it to the final though.

First runthrough: Help! He's been tied to a cocoon by a giant spider. But then the thing (which is actually a piano) releases him and helps him down. But he decides to come back to the piano, sudden tempo change, now it's a piano ballad, picks back up in the last chorus. Fire on the stairs leading to the piano.

Second run: They're really playing on his vampire looks and try to make this look creepy, and it works quite well. The change of tempo near the end almost makes it seem like the music stopped, but maybe I'm just paranoid after Slovenia.

Since I don't have good words to explain what the first scene looks like, this is him inside the spider prey/cocoon/coffin/beetle:

Last run: Wind machine made his hair stick awkwardly to his forehead. He fixes it going up the stairs. No pyro at all, stairs must have run out of gas. Bottom line: This is very Ukraine in Eurovision, make of it what you will.


Pre-opinion: She's one of the best singers in here, it's a cool song and yet it does very little to engage non-Slovenian viewers. I have it down as least likely to qualify, unless they do something super spectacular.

First run-through: Blue stage with a bit of pink projections on the back (pinker than the hair). About the same routine as the NF, but making use of the outer ring, which looks nice. Music dies half-way, Lea is quite fun dealing with it. And we're back. Last chorus in Portuguese (the Syllable Nazi in me itches)

Second run: Music 'died' again (So, scripted. Barei says hey). Feels a bit silly and too long without music. Otherwise, good use of the stage again, especially the crossing the bridge and walking around the ring part.

Third run: Vocals are good, there's a hidden backing singer in the pre-chorus. The fake malfunction is still weird and the Portuguese last chorus ('gada não não) sounds like she's saying "got it now now". Lea, why why?

Day 4 of first rehearsals - Slovenia and Ukraine


A giant beetle with ladder legs combined with a piano and stairs on fire! Mélovin is raised out of the beetle part it in the beginning. Quite different, visually, it stands out. The song is not strong enough for me though, and all the props take away focus from the few good parts that are there.

Ukrainian blueprint for piano construction, Ukrainian inside information.


Slovenia gave us some Allsång (sing a long) after about half of the first run, when the music suddenly stopped. Lea really wanted to keep singing and she did it well! The stage is pink, blue and purple, which suits the outfits in silver slitter and black. All in all a positive impression. 

Second run through - the sudden stop of music was supposed to be there... a new approach to vote fishing?! I'm not as positive anymore. I hope it doesn't work.

First rehearsal: Latvia to Montenegro


Pre-opinion: I've warmed up to this recently, but wasn't exactly keen at first. And neither did Montenegro, considering he only finished third in the first round of their NF. This won't be easy, even if it's the only Balkan Ballad competing for your votes.

First run-through: Vanja wears a suit made of silvery scales, a bit like an Atlantic fish. Has he been looking through our lunch photos? A pianist and four women in feathery dresses doing some Balkan hands around him.

Second run-through: This is all done by the Balkan Book of Choreography. Dramatic women freeze in different hand poses, then take their turns touching his shoulder lightly and turn away. He's confident vocally with the long notes.

Last run and some nice camera angles there, a shot from behind the stage while the dancers are illuminated in yellow is effective. Still not quite sure the whole package is strong enough, but I'm looking forward to his press conference.


Pre-opinion: This is nice for the first 30 seconds or so, then I get bored. This may or may not get the typical Swedish 5th place, but there's no question about qualifying. Anything other than the exact MF performance will surprise me.

First run-through: Yeah, almost the same. I think the neon device is doing a slightly different routine, dividing into three different squares at some point, resembling the 1983 stage:

Second run-through: At the start of the last chorus we get a glimpse of the stage, until that point you don't even know if Benji is even in Lisbon. Clever, but it's not really working on me.

Pyro round (wait what?): OK they lied, no pyro. Still the same, and sounding perfectly fine as expected.


Pre-opinion: Good singer. Looooooong song. My current tip for last place in the final (although these things are hard to predict). I will need coffee for this.

First (visible) run-through: Red dress, red stage, red lights on her head. Red lipstick. I think the concept is red. And erotic, she's making love to the microphone stand (not quite in the Lena Philipsson way) and then leaves it for the second chorus, and comes back to it. Singing well as expected.

Second run-through: Camera does a few zoom jumps during some parts of the song to match the drums going 'bonk'. She does several Eleni hair flicks and a small shoulder boob shake dance. Banking it all on her sex appeal. Does this work? Maybe, I need to find the only straight man in the press centre and ask.

Last run-through had a small mic failure, but otherwise polished and well-song. This minimalist staging may work for them after a couple of bombastic stagings, although I'm still not sure it's enough.


We nipped outside to the supermarket and saw this. I can live in a Portuguese supermarket. #eurofishon

Day 4 of first rehearsals - Latvia to Montenegro


Four female  backing singers (and I suppose dancers as well) in white long dresses with over sized sleeves and fluff on the shoulders are being over dramatic and Vanja (wearing a light blue/silvery suit made of some kind of fish skin fabric?!) didn't sound too good unfortunately. This got a few giggles from the press centre, and not the good kind of giggles. 

The last two run throughs were actuallly much better, Vanja seemed more confident and vocally it sounded good now - well done!


The Belgian press around me have started humming "Da da dance you off" even now, during set up.

It looks like Benjamin and his team are trying out more colours for the background here. He is also warming up his voice, nod and hips (the latter a lot like I imagine Elvis had to do back in the days).

Nope, no happy colours this time, the Latvian flag theme continues. The performance is very similar to what it looked like in Melodifestivalen. During MF however, I didn't notice Benjamin's shoes, I do now. They look too big for his feet! I hope he changes them.

I have to say - sorry fellow Swedes who are hoping for this to do well - I don't think Sweden will do well this year.

Second and third run - Benjamin seems to be trying on different shoes - tack Sverige! These last ones were much better.


Latvia's lady in red did what she could with a snoozy song. This is a contrast in many ways to the previous performance, here, instead of using all the lights and all the pyro, they've decided to only use red. For everything. Lights, dress, shorts underneath the dress, lipstick... I happen to be in a red dress myself today, so I feel like Laura is my new best friend. Or something.

Latvian flag, 2018 edition, artist's impression.

First rehearsal: Georgia to Hungary


Pre-opinion: This has been the love or hate song of the season. I'm on the love camp. And I'm pretty sure there's enough of us to take this to the final, the main question is how far they can go there.

Set up: Lead singer in bare feet.

First run-through: Guitar player is on one bridge, lead singer crossing the other and runs about screaming. Lots of camera attention to the drummer with the nice arms. STAGE DIVE (the guitarist). Post-keychange chorus sounds a bit different from what we know (missing the recorded female singers), but not too different. This is going to look awesome with audience and pyro.

Second run-through: Running with bare feet isn't easy. Doing that wearing a jacket that looks like it was last washed in 1996 should make this even more uncomfortable. But this is all adding up to the incredible energy of this. Very positive reaction in the press centre.

Pyro run-through: Flames during the choruses, all around the stage going in different directions. Fireworks during the bridge. Fire geysers are added to the last chorus. Smells like a semifinal winner to me (and like feet).


Pre-opinion: I've heard this several times and still don't remember how it goes, except the repeated parts, peated parts. I would write this off if it were in Semi 1, but...

Set up: There's a 4m high box thing (which could be a shower). Heart screen effect, not the 💗 heart, but the kind that has arteries (!)

First run: Well, a lot of €€€ was spent on this. The shower complex is made of LEDs, there's lasers, on-screen effects, you name it. It's impressive if you like this kind of thing. Once Christabelle leaves the shower, a woman dancer replaces her. There's a lot going on, especially on the screen (from humans to tigers to stones), and I don't really notice Christabelle herself.

Second run-through: They're struggling with the on-screen effects a bit, now the heart is in her mouth. Oops. There's so much going on, they're really doing their best to distract from the lack of song.

Last run-through: Heart's still not in the right place, this time in the right side of her chest. Pyro flames are added to the already too busy stage. Press around me is divided on whether this is amazing or too much. Vocals are ok.


Pre-opinion: I'm no fan of songs with instrumental chorus, unless the instrumental bit is amazeballs which is not the case here. But this kind of song has its fans, so if done right it can make it out of this semi. Expecting a lot of (empty for now) audience shots here.

First run-through: Black stage at starts, in the first chorus the DJ stand and stage arches turn purple around the edge (think Zbudi Se). Pyro geysers in the first chorus. Lukas doesn't get much vocal help, so he'll need to do better than we've heard him so far. Gromee is the real star of this, making little hand dances to the camera.

Second run: Lukas walks the bridge and around the outer circle, high-fiving an imaginary audience member. Vocally better now, but he could still do with help with the higher notes.

Last run-through: We're promised more pyro. We didn't get it. It's coming along though, overall it's doing what it's supposed to, within the vocal limitations.


Pre-opinion: One of my favourites this year, but this could easily go from gorgeous and atmospheric to Mižerja #2 if done wrong.

First run-through: They're standing and singing in a row, the extreme two have instruments (keyboard and guitar). Not really finding the cameras (but that's what rehearsals are for etc. etc.). This sounds really good but visually underwhelming. Reminds me of Questa Notte for some reason.

Third run-through: We were promised pyro, but didn't get any. Another one coming soon with waterfall (yay)

Last run: Starts with dry ice (they're over the Nina Sublatti trauma, good), colourful lights on the dry ice look really nice. Running Scared pyro curtain in the very end, revealed dramatically by the camera.

These guys are true music professionals, although they seem to lack experience on large televised stages. It's far from convincing right now, but can do wonders after the a few more rehearsals and director instructions.

Day 4 of first rehearsals - Georgia to Hungary


Hungarian metal (if you are allowed to call it that when it has a key change?) in bare feet. Surprisingly well received in the press centre, which I personally don't get. To me it was what I would have expected for this song, a lot of energy, sreaming, high frequency blinking using all the lights, headbanging and running around on stage. Apparently there was a stag
e dive too, which I missed. Must have blinked or fallen asleep for a second or two.

Second time around I missed the stage dive since it wasn't timed right with the camera shots. I'm starting to fear that I'm never going to get to see it.

Third run and pewww, I caught the dive this time. Now I can relax and watch the flames being tested. Looks like Hungary's not only using all the lights but also all the pyro. I like it much better with all the pyro!


During the set up I just went "ewww". They seem to be preparing a fire-y heart - in the actual shape of a anatomically correct heart.


We are in a part of the rehearsals that contains a few personal favourites of mine in a row, Malta is one of them. This performance was well thought through, with tall boxes displaying different visual effects, which makes it stand out from the other performances in a good way, I think. Christabelle sang the song well. The heart looked like it was about to be eaten by her at one point, but I'm sure that will be adjusted!

Impressions of Malta.
Including the flames from the last run.


We get some "fuldans" (hard to translate, but let's call it less perfect dancing) from Gromee, but he does it with a big smile and a bit of irony, so I just find it charming. This is a song that I enjoy a lot when it comes up on my playlist, but there's some struggling going on here vocally unfortunately. But overall it's a charming number still! 

I do believe Lukas sounded a little better second time around.

Third run about to happen, with full pyro (we had some fire sparkles in the second one). The "tell me wheeeeere toooo goooo" is back to sounding awful this time, and actually, there was no pyro... something must have gone wrong there.


I very much like their spacey in a modern way collars! Vocally I thought it was perfect. This act stands out from the other songs to me, when it comes the the actual song. I very much approve and like.

Second run was just as good, if not better.

The third will have pyro and a waterfall, we are promised! The pyro was a nice fire rain curtain at the end of the song. However, the waterfall was just dry ice, I wouldn't call that a waterfall, but it looked a bit like this, which I suppose resembles a misty watery place: