Wednesday 9 May 2018

Haiku #11

Netta can love pelos dois
So you don't need to

S2 Jury Show

This will be a rolling blog, each country in running order, so please refresh and scroll to update.

Norway - great camera shots for this, Rybak is in top form and making the most of it. Again, no trace of winner material for me, there's no wow here. Great opener nonetheless.

Romania - let's see if it's less of a train wreck than earlier, I'm assuming not.Well at least they got rid of the face paint, but that's like taking the lipstick off a corpse..not gonna make a whole lot of difference in the grand scheme of things. Nothing here is connecting or cohesive in any way, I can't see this in the top 10 unless eight others eat some bad seafood by tomorrow.

Serbia -  I thought their dress rehearsal went very well and this seems to be going ok as well, although vocally it's hitting some rough patches in the beginning. Going a bit off the rails now, the vocals are getting gradually worse and that angry bald man looks menacing on the close ups, but at least he's hitting his notes. Unfortunately, I think this is another ExYu ESC casualty.

San Marino -  robot placard reads Sometimes. Got time to fetch coffee from the vending machine - thanks SM.

Denmark -  their earlier rehearsal was great, expecting the same now. Yup, this is just as good as before, the staging and vocals here are superb. The audience are really into this too and will probs even more so tomorrow, much more than for any of the earlier entries. Definite qualifier.

Russia -  basically no one here sees this as qualifying, at least no one without relatives in Russia. They removed the dress fabric from the mike, but otherwise the same as earlier. Hardly any close ups on Julia and she does none of the heavy lifting w/the vocals. Ouch, her voice is trailing off with the closing vocals.

Commercial Break

Moldova - still superb, still fun, still qualifying.Can't emphasize enough how amazing this looks on screen.

Netherlands - much better camera shots than earlier, lots of close ups on Waylon who is in the same perfect vocals as before. He is such a natural performer, and his vocals are unbelievably great here. I think the juries will love this, even with the questionable dancing parts.

Australia -  Jessica needs to be as bubbly and vocally fantastic as earlier. No more red shoes! She's vocally on point as before and having a blast...gurl got her groove back. Yas! She is living every second of this and nice round of applause in the PC too to close it out.

Georgia - the guy who starts off looks and sounds as if he's about to burst in tears..can't explain this any other way. It a love or hate song, not much middle ground here. Vocally fine and nice camera shots, and can see this having an audience of fans.

Poland -  we didn't see much of this earlier due to technical booboos so I hope I get a better impression with this run. The lead singer borrowed my grandmother's necklace, or any grandmother's really. And indeed this is much better than the little I saw earlier, but the vocals are a bit patchy.

Malta -  this is kitchen sink territory, they are literally throwing every visual trick at this. It looks too messy to me, but vocally there's no issue here and she's a good performer. Oh, there's a woman in a white Spanx onesie, must've missed that earlier.

Commercial Break

Hungary - this was orgasmic perfection earlier, expecting the same here. And indeed it is. This will be tomorrow's Lithuania in terms of an odds sleeper shooting up on everyone's radar once all is said and done. I don't think I've ever seen anything like this in ESC before, he's even more intense than earlier..may actually win this semi imho.

Latvia - doing what she needs to do, but unfortunately it's probably swallowed up by Hungary's intensity. I don't envy whoever comes on after Hungary on Saturday (Norway, please :-p)

Sweden - same as always, not missing a beat.

Montenegro -  same as before and not going anywhere. This wardrobe will make one interesting yard sale once they return home.

Slovenia - along with Hungary, this was my biggest surprise from the earlier rehearsal. The staging is so good, and I'm mega enjoying every second of this. I WANT THIS TO Q!

Ukraine -  always loved this and I expect this go to be just as amazing as earlier. The camera work has improved here as it has with several of the other acts, and Melovin is giving another perfect combo of vocal and visual. Juries gonna lap this up!

My qualifiers based on this run: Norway, Denmark, Moldova, Netherlands, Australia, Poland, Hungary, Sweden, Slovenia, Ukraine 

S2 Dress Rehearsal + France/Germany/Italy

This will be a rolling blog, each country in running order, so please refresh and scroll to update.

Betfair odds right now:
  • Cyprus - 4.1
  • Norway - 5.1
  • Israel - 6.8
  • France - 8
  • Sweden - 15.5
  • Lithuania - 17
Norway - scribbly on-screen stuff from the get go. He looks completely disheveled, as if he has no make-up on, or applied a comb, but it sounds great.Camera work is a mess, the shots are all over the place and so far it doesn't sound or look like something that justifies its odds. As our pal Jonas put it, it's all very JESC.

Romania - guys with white hospital outfits with masks on their necks are alternating as the lady murders any hint of an on-tune note. The mask dudes now face each other and have strange paint on their faces, as if they were on the losing side of a paintball game. The lead is going around the stage touching and singing to mannequins, and now she's screaming. To paraphrase AlRy, this is how you murder a song, then do it again and again for 3 minutes. Anyone saying Azerbaijan?

Serbia -  this looks lovely from the offset, and sounds nice too with good camera work focusing on the 3 girls. A bald man with a beard is now scolding them :-(
This looks much better than it sounds, and I wouldn't rule it out by any stretch, although there are too many wide-shots, as in the previous semi.

San Marino - nice light work in the beginning of this, and  a robot is holding a sign saying Size Doesn't Matter, clearly misreading the demo. The rap starts and it's obviously downhill from here. Next.

Denmark - yikes..a very extreme close-up on his face from the onset then panning out to the sails. Sounds excellent, great vocals all over, and now the vikings are marching. They're over-earnest in a Bulgarian kind of way, but that's really the only thing I can point to that's on the downside. Did I mention that vocally this is amazing? They even sorted out the snow, making it more blizzard-like as they asked for. Best rehearsal yet, can't see this not making it to Saturday.

Russia - her mike stand is covered in the same fabric as her dress - coolski. Vocally, her backers are pulling every second of this, you can't even hear her in the chorus. Decent camera work but Julia is looking at the wrong camera in the close ups so it's a bit weird. A shirtless guy is running on the outer parts of the stage, and is joined by the girl. They don't show Julia at all for the last 45 seconds of this. Not entirely horrible all in all.

Moldova - manic, crazy, AWESOME!! The cube routine is brilliant and the camera shots for this are spot on. Vocally it's also perfect, they're completely in sync. Moldova are clearly the cool kid of ESC, and they're earning every second of it here. Can't fault this, and if there's any justice should be top 10 on Saturday.

Netherlands -  oops, the music failed to start, and we have a technical break until they figure things out. Here we go.Good start, oozing country charm with the four of them in close up on camera. Waylon follows every second of the camera that's on him, and then the breakdance starts and me-no-get-it. Vocally this is great but that dance routine kills off any country feeling it has. Dancing aside, though, this was excellent to listen to.

Australia -  same dress, same shoes. Eh, we'll put that aside for now. Very good vocals to start off, she's a stage animal and owning every second of it. There are great dark shots of just a back light on her, and then it pans out to her in full light - very effective. The vocals are fantastic and she's beaming with every note, with some good pyro to close it. Her backing vocalists are great too and this is the best rehearsal we've seen of it (little personal yay from me).

Georgia -  sorry, I can't. Don't know what to make of this, it's really really strange on screen. They're singing in turns and the camera jumps from one to the other, and then they join in unison in the last third. Pyro curtain to close it out and ....yeah.

Poland - the screen froze in their postcard, and we didn't see the beginning of it. And we got cut off again, and if the first 7 seconds we heard are anything to go by, we're the lucky ones. We're back on and it's terribly off key, and messy camera shots...welcome to Macedonia part 2. Got cut off again in what can be considered the musical equivalence of euthanasia.

Malta -  the feed in the press center is awful and we missed the first minute of Malta. I got a glimpse of lasers, shadow games, an on-screen globe, and painted gloves. She looks like Morticia Addams and I'm expecting someone to kiss her up the sleeve. The feed keeps cutting off so I don't really know what to make of it. It seemed pretty cool from what I could tell and her vocals were good.

Hungary - oh, this is good! He's screaming and running to the bridge, then going for a stroll onto the outer stage without missing a note (hear that, Netta?). Pyro and fire everywhere, which makes Cyprus look like a game of matches. The guy is running everywhere and screaming his lungs out, have no idea what he's saying but it doesn't matter. THIS.IS.AMAZING!

Latvia - not sure anyone will pay attention to Latvia after that shot of quadruple espresso with a topping of vodka and Red Bull. The stage is in all red to match her outfit, but it's not going to stand out in any way, I'm afraid. The first time I can point to the downside of a draw, given what it follows. Laura is stunning as is her dress, but that's all I can mention about this.

More technical issues and we've stopped once more.Green Room lady is improvising and is hilarious. Can she please host the whole thing?

Sweden - we skipped Sweden(?!!?). On to Montenegro.

Montenegro - oh right, the 80's wedding ceremony.'s Liberace singing in Montenegrin and being straight. His backing singers are in glittery bride dresses of sorts and doing strange hand gestures and seem to be mourning something. Now the backing singers are forming a circle and taking turns touching his shoulder. He looks genuinely sad and has turned his back to the audience. You won't want to miss this tomorrow and it will be your only chance to see it.

Slovenia -  similar routine to Cyprus as in skimpy suggestive clothing and sultry dancing. This comes across very well on screen with good camera shots, and Lea is a-m-a-z-i-n-g. That "oh my, the music stopped" bit is fantastic!! Never saw this coming but it's so so good! Every second of it.

Ukraine - Melovin is starting inside an open coffin that opens up and spits him out. His voice is incredible and the camera work is also on point for this. Loving the eye thing and Poldark/Jack Sparrow costume, and then he tosses his jacket and makes his way up a ladder that bursts out in flames. This is epic, wowzies, and what a way to close a semi!!

Sweden - same as MF, nothing here is off key or lacking in any way, but maybe we've expected these things from Sweden for so long that our impression scale is saturated? Dunno. Anyway, it's slick, smooth, vocally pitch perfect with the optimal blend of backing vocals. Towards the end the camera pans out and we see his box thing, which kind of breaks the magic of it, but that's a small detail. Can't fault this and it's an obvious qualifier + top 10.

Summation: this semi is BONKERS and in terms of pure entertainment and what you love/want/need/ in terms of ESC kitchen sink stuff, it's leagues over the first semi. 

What to expect post entries: same intermission Esclopedia routine and that strange David Attenborough bit. Madam Monsieur will sing Amar pelos dois in French, Michael Schulte will sing Fly on the Wings of Love, and the Italian guys will sing Volare..of course.

France - they start in the center of the stage engulfed in smoke and then the camera is all her as she goes to the outer stage where he eventually joins her. Vocally it's fantastic and exactly as it sounds in the studio version. The final hand part is very effective and they part ways to each side of the outer stage to get the audience participating from every part of the hall. Not getting winner vibes but it's lovely to watch and hear.

Germany - the staging for this is incredible! The screen starts with the words of the lyrics in animation, then childhood stills of him and his Dad (I think). His vocals are superb, he's connecting with the camera for every second of this and there are very few "wasted" wide shots. The staging/shooting/lighting/sound of this are as close to perfect as I could imagine, and can see this lapping up votes from everywhere. How this isn't in contention for a win in the odds is beyond me.

Italy - more lyrics, this time on screen and in different languages and different fonts. The stage is all red throughout and they are vocally great. Towards the last bridge they part ways and go to each bridge to end it up. That last high pitch is a bit off but still, another fantastic and effective performance that I wasn't expecting.

Post S1 thoughts, pre Semi 2 rehearsal musings

Well that was a fun packed evening last night in the arena, and I had a blast attending Semi 1. I shouldn't be surprised by now that what we experience in the arena is nothing like what you eventually see on TV, because in the arena it was all Netta, and also a lot of love for Eleni. But since Fuego is a late bloomer, the audience didn't really sing along to it like they did with Toy, which created a magical atmosphere.

But it seemed little of that made its way onto the screen and when I watched them afterwards on YT, both songs came across as messy and disjointed, especially Israel. It baffles me that much of the great camera work and staging that was accomplished during the dress rehearsal and jury show on Monday was nowhere to be seen on the screen last night for so many of the entries. Perhaps the production team didn't account for the fact that the fan zone and golden circle are almost level with the stage so every hoisting of every flag, banner, hammer & baby gets in the way of the main camera shots, and are a real distraction.
The biggest benefactor of this mess was probably Ieva who stayed on the floor most of the song and that forced the cameras to bypass the flags and nonsense, and when she got up to move it was on the bridge and that's elevated enough to avoid the distractions. I doubt anything can be done for tomorrow and Saturday other than banning all flags and props in the fan areas, but the people standing there create such colour and atmosphere that the producers will want to keep.
The circle crowd also deserve some compensation for having their hair singed during the bonfire that is Cyprus. Seriously, the flames are all over every part of that stage.

I was fascinated watching the preparations on stage while the postcards are on display and it's incredible to see how fast it all moves, and to see how some of the artists whip the crowd into a frenzy with their gestures just before they start. Most amusing was watching Elina getting off her platform after the performance (the dress surrounds it, so you don't see it) and being stripped of that tent, as she skips off stage barefoot wearing the top part of her outfit and a pair of shorts. Also, the commercial breaks aren't for assembling the technical acts, because the stage work begins only once the postcards are on, which makes sense given that Netta (for example) likely won't be on following a commercial break next time she's on stage so they have to know how to put it all together in the same amount of time as the other acts.

So I'll be blogging the S2 dress rehearsal and jury show, but take into account that, if last night is any indication, much of what we'll see today on screen won't necessarily be what you'll see tomorrow night.