This will be a rolling blog, each country in running order, so please refresh to update.
Good morning to you all, now finally from the Ahoy Arena! There was a bit of a queue at the security gate and the desk where everyone is allocated a table in the press centre. So in case you're missing reports from your favorite blog (which can't be because I'm right here 👀), they're probably still waiting outside. I've been a good boy by leaving a bit earlier, so I'm all set to report to you once again, as we start day 2 of the rehearsals!
My early predictions:
🇲🇰 North Macedonia
🇲🇹 | Malta
We see Destiny in front of a pink square that is depicted on the backdrop. She is standing before a LED-lighted ballerina barre and is wearing a pink outfit that looks pretty great on her. She has two dancers on each side and they are doing a playful dance routine in front of ''doors'' that are displayed on the backdrop. It is all very colorful and looks really good. At one point Destiny walks down a few stairs onto a lighted strip on the floor and it it's then when you realize she was standing on a platform that is relatively high. The whole routine is very playful and fun and Destiny is absolutely killing it vocally. Camera work isn't spectacular, but with a few split-screens here and there as fun as the rest of the performance. Winners vibers? Not instantly (but I never had those). Pleasantly surprised by the staging? Very much so!
🇺🇦 | Ukraine
The performance starts with a shot of Kateryna wearing a black dress and what appears to be a green wig on each arms and you're a little wtf? After that it's constant awesomeness. Kateryna is standing on a platform together with five others (all wearing white) on which they have recreated a forest by placing white wooden trees on it. On the side next to the platform there are two barrels filled with sand that are only being used for a shot in which two dancers grab sand out of it and let it running through their hands. The band members are placed between these trees I mentioned. Kateryna is standing in the middle between two dancers both holding something that appears to be a ring light. They keep playing/dancing with these ring lights throughout the entire performance. Kateryna remains very calm and hardly moves as the graphics that are being displayed on the LED screens go wild - and they look absolutely fantastic. These are probably the best graphics we've seen so far. There's so much going on in the graphics that it's hard to describe it, but at one point we see several graphically designed men run on a grid. Kateryna's vocals are as solid as expected. This might be a contender to win.
🇦🇿 | Azerbaijan
Efendi's wearing a beautiful black dress covered in glitter with some sort of shoulder pads. She's surrounded by four female dancers who wear similar sexy outfits like stockings. The backdrop starts off with blue/pink effects. There's a golden globe on the backdrop that is central for the entire performance. In the beginning there's a lot of fire coming out of it, at some points there's a snake in it and towards the end it goes wild and explodes like a supernova. Next to the globe there are also these frames with patterns and embellishments (think the gates of Versailles). These patterns are also reflected on the LED-screens on the floor. All of it looks quite beautiful. The choreo is a bit pointless as it's basically just Efendi and her dancers spinning around her and doing some lame dance moves like in the music video. At one point they stand behind her in a row and do some arm movements (so revolutionary🙄). For some reason the stage also feels a little empty, probably also because there's no charisma to fill it up. Her vocals aren't great, but will probably be sufficient.
🇷🇴 | Romania
For the ones who had hoped to see Romania winning, I have bad news. It ain't happening. Roxen is joined on stage by five dancers and together they are somewhat re-enacting the interactive choreo of the music video in which her dancers crawl and touch her. She's
wearing an oversized sweater with some sort of cloak on top of it and
given her outfit in the music video I'm not quite sure whether this is
her actual outfit as it might just be. The performance starts with a stage filled with a lot of smoke and Roxen in the midst of all of it. Her dancers appear out of this smoke. Her backdrop is filled with shadows. At one point her dancers carry her and there's a shot from above. Towards the end the stage turns red and Roxen and her dancers move towards the second stage. At that point the backdrop displays a sunset on the transparent LED-screen. The performance ends with another lift by her dancers. The vocals are incredibly shaky and the performance as a whole is just too much of a mess at this point.
🇮🇱 | Israel
The performance starts with Eden and her five dancers inside a cone-shaped ray of lasers. Eden is standing between her dancers and the camera is circling around here. She's wearing a white outfit with black stripes on it. Her dancers are wearing matching tops. It appears they have somewhat recreated the Tel Aviv stage as graphics on the floor and backdrop show triangle-shaped objects giving it the feel of the 2019 stage. The backdrop and transparent LED-screen show neon images of Eden. Israel appears to be the first country to use the additional stage in the ''audience''. There is a lot of fun and energetic choreo. At the end Eden's dancers take off her jacket and one of her dancers places some sort of dreadlock crown on her head. Although Eden struggles a little vocally at times, which makes sense given all the choreography that is going on, her high notes were spot on. I think Israel is in the game for qualification, y'all.
🍞 Lunch break - not so nomnomnom 🍞
🇧🇪 | Belgium
The rehearsal starts with a shot on the piano and the camera then being directed towards Geike. There are four small stages on stage with black velvet carpets. One for the piano and the guy who's playing it, one for the guitar guy, one for the drums and drummer and one for the backing singer who they've probably given a tambourine, so she's not the only one without an instrument. Geike is standing in the middle of these stages while the camera is spinning around focusing on Geike. She's wearing a black dress with sparks here and there, combined with long boots. It all looks pretty well thought out (the act, not the outfit, although it looks fine). At one point Geike's face is displayed on the backdrop. The camera work is really done well as there are some pretty slick camera shots, for example when the backing singer appears in a shot in which Geike is already visible. At certain moments the camera moves back towards the piano man so he can sing his ''you're in the wrong place'' lines. You might notice I'm talking about the camera shots a lot. Perhaps because this is the biggest asset to this performance. Towards the end the camera zooms out and we get to see some wide shots of the stage. The camera then zooms back in with some lights flashing towards the very end. Geike's vocals are crystal clear and probably the best we've heard so far.
🇭🇷 | Croatia
Albina is wearing a gorgeous top with glittery silver embellishments on it. The first few moments there's an instant wow-moment as Albina and the backdrop, on which rays of blue and pink light being are being shot towards her, look gorgeous. Albina is accompanied by four other dancers who are also wearing silver outfits. So far silver seems to be be the standard today. The staging remains blue/pink'ish throughout the entire performance and looks really nice. The choreography of Albina and her dancers is playful and sensual but perhaps also a little lame. At one point two of her dancers carry her to circles depicted on the LED screen in the floor and there is a camera shot from above. In both runs we've seen so far this has gone wrong, so this will need a little more practicing. Towards the end the backdrop is filled with part of the lyrics. During the last chorus there is a little fireworks which is followed by a big splash of fireworks at the very end of the performance. Throughout the song Albina sounds relatively OK. The bits where she sings ''oh noo'' and ''don't go'' are an actual oh no moment, because she sounds terrible there. I find it hard to judge this, because one the one hand the staging is a lot better than expected, but on the other hand it's still a bit tacky and.. cheap? I totally understand why many people like this so much though, as it really is fun to look at.
🇳🇴 | Norway
This will be relatively short as the performance is almost identical to that of Norwegian NF. Two of the six demons have been sent back to hell, because there are only four surrounding Andreas on stage. There are lights shining on Andreas and his backings dancers right from above them. At one point there are light beams originating from the middle of the backdrop somehow closing in Andreas and his demons. During the last chorus the backdrop depicts heavenly skies with white/pink clouds. The edges of the stage have white lines and blink every now and then. Also Norway's using pyro as throughout the entire performane there are puffs of fire. Norway made good use of their time because it's the first time we got to see three runs (meaning they probably had four). I must confess I hadn't listened to the live performance before yet, so it all sounds a bit flat, but it's nothing too shocking. A solid rehearsal. This should sail through to the final fairly easy.
🇨🇾 | Cyprus
The rehearsals started and we saw rather slick staging from Cyprus. The stage is mostly lighted in red (shocker), together with shades of white and black. Elena is wearing a beautiful silver-glittered dress (à la Ani Lorak) with wisps. Elena is joined on stage by four backing dancers who are appropriately wearing shiny red leather(?) outfits too. Together they're performing a pretty cool choreo that reminds us of the epic performances by Helena Paparizou, Ivi Adamou, Tamta, etc. Unfortunately we didn't see more because Elena seemed to lose some of her equipment and the stream stopped. We then got to see another run and could see Elena starts her performance by laying on the floor playing with the camera. The camera shots seem pretty advanced already as Elena has no trouble finding the right angles. At one point Elena and her dancers are mirrored on the backdrop which gives an impressive sight. Although the entire performance is pretty much the same (Elena and her dancers doing their dance routines), it doesn't get boring at all. In the last run we saw that Cyprus makes use of pyro in order to bring hell to the stage. In the end Elena sensually walks towards the backdrop facing the camera with her back to end with a last turn staring into the camera, whispering ''el diablo''. Vocally this isn't very strong, but it'll do the trick. Elena is supported by a backing singer, which became painfully clear once she lost her equipment, stopped singing and the backing singer continued singing. All in all this was a fantastic rehearsal and it looks absolutely amazing on screen.