Thursday 13 May 2021

Day 6 | First Rehearsals | Big Five (+ Netherlands) | ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฑ ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ

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

Heyhey, it's me again! No, I wasn't in EBU jail, but simply enjoying the views from within the arena while my very capable colleagues shed their light on the second rehearsals. We're back to first rehearsals, so back to me as well! Bring it on!

๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ | Spain
Blas started his rehearsas standing in the dark with blue'ish lights. Blas is hardly visible. The staging and backdrop look quite beautiful. The backdrop is depicting a dark universe with stars and an eclipsed sun. At one point there are two spots shining on a giant moon that is hanging above Blas. Even though the moon is ruining the staging, it all looks rather gorgeous. The staging doesn't seem to be the issue here. It's the fact that Blas is howling like a frog that is being boiled alive.

๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง | United Kingdom
The first thing one notices are the two giant white trumpet props on stage that are slowly moving whole James stands on a little stage in between those trumpets. The rather simple backdrop and lighting is mostly a mix between red and blue. He's surrounded by four dancers who play the trumpet as well. James is wearing a long leather jacket with a golden necklace. This together with his attitude on stage of him being a badass doesn't seem to suit him at all. At one point James, after all the dancing with his mates, gets back on the small stage and lasers surround him. I'm guessing this was supposed to look impressive, but it really doesn't. It's a rather harmless performance and as random as unimpactful as we've been used to from the BBC. Other than that James vocals are pretty good.

๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท | France
Massive response from within the press centre for this rehearsal, but I'm a little less impressed. Barbara is a class act, sings amazing, captivates the camera, but (as I believe this is the question you all want answered) this doesn't seem like a winner. The staging is simple and effective. Barbara is standing behind a microphone stand with a spot direct at her. The entire performance it's spots shining on Barbara and camera shot from different angles.. and nothing else. At one point the camera seemed a little shaky and I'm not entirely sure whether this was part of the act. If it is it's rather odd. Anyhow, as said, I understand they tried to keep it simple, but at the same time it also feels like a waste not to make better use of the incredible features the stage has to offer to really go for that wow-moment. Now it's lovely and qualitatively well done, but also a little underwhelming. I can see the juries eating it up, but do I see Europe massively voting for this? Nope.

๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฑ | Netherlands
The performance starts of with a close-up of Jeangu with two of the backing singers/dancers joining him from the sides in the shot before a purple background. Throughout most of the performance the backdrop depicts some sort of transparent layer that seems to be broken/into pieces and also shows the lyrics of the song every now in graphics of bricks breaking (which is probably convenient since everybody seems to hear broccoli). Somewhere in the middle of the performance, while the backdrop depicts Lion-King’ish warm colors, Jeangu and his dancers move towards the bridge on which they perform the choreography we’ve seen more often, incl. the knee moving moves, while the transparent LED-screen (and later on the backdrop as well) depicts a true color-explosion. At the end they carry on to the extra stage to perform more dance routines. It’s solid staging and Jeangu is obviously a great performer. Unfortunately, the whole performance isn’t able to lift the song to heights that potentially might’ve been possible. This will probably keep the Netherlands away from the last spot in the final, but I can’t see it doing much better than that.

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช | Germany
Jendrik (really, just name your child John or Hendrik), is on stage together with three other backings who stand on the side behind microphone stands. As expected, the whole performance is an energetic explosion. Next to the three backings, there’s also a saxophone-playing dancer wearing a.. hand. Throughout the entire performance they’re all doing some rather weird, but I suppose for some fun, goofy dancing, including a tapping part. The backdrop is an explosion of different colors. Jendrik’s wearing a pink blazer with a black shirt underneath and black pants. He’s playing around on his ukulele and at one point when he’s doing the let’s-say-words-fast-after-one-another part, he’s looking from side to side in different cameras. He looks like he needs a shower and although they’re trying to be playful and fun, it looks rather cheap and amateurish. This is absolutely not my cup of tea. I think it’s all rather annoying. I feel very much hate.

๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น | Italy
Damiano is on stage with three other musicians. He's wearing leather pants and is completely (apart from the straps) shirtless. They've placed a staired platform on the middle of the stage with LEDs, which has a drumset on it. At the start there's a camera shot of him walking around this platform. He's then joined by two guitarists. Throughout the routine there are lots of flashes with Damiano going wild while interacting with the others. It's what one'd expect from a rock performance. The backdrop is mainly white with shadows of musicians on it. Towards the end there's lots of fireworks, he's walking up this platform, performing together with the drummer, walking down and laying down on the stage. Vocally Damiano's flawless. As said, it's what one would expect from a rock performance, so I'm not blown away. It's good. Winner vibes? Not really.

Day 6 | Second Rehearsals | Second Semi-Final | ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡น ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑ ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฉ ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ธ ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ธ

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

Well, hello. Jesus is popping off to heaven today which means I have time to do a bit of blogging. Hope I can remember how.

But while we're waiting for Vincent Bueno to finish his lunch, let's take a moment to remember his grandma, Kay, from Eurovision 1965.

๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ธ | Serbia

Hajde da ludujemo.

Wear black, they said. It will look classy, they said. Stylists have been wrong before.

Struggling with this one. They sing well enough and gyrate all over, but the whole package feels a bit empty and without the necessary joy. Maybe it's just the lack of pink and purple that's confusing me.

Sanja serving some "C'mon Ahoy" realness during the bridge.

Nah, I'm just not feeling it and I'd really like to. It ought to be a right boppy banger.

So that's over and out from me for today. If you're very lucky I'll make another appearance soon, regardless of Jesus's travel arrangements. Jordy will be back to deal with the finalists. Tot ziens!

๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ธ | Iceland

The silhouette start is MAGIC. I wonder if they wrote the unnecessary slow bit at the beginning of the song just to include this?

I know I am meant to be bringing fresh eyes to this. But well, we all know the routine by now.  Excellent on camera, this should sweep up plenty of televotes. Juries, hmm, maybe less so? 

But anyway, me during this performance:

Ooh. And unexpected pyro.

๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฉ | Moldova

Good news: Natalia has safely removed herself from Kirkorov's lap. Although the fixed grin is still there.

She looks very comfortable singing this and I think will turn it up a notch when it matters. Does feel like she's very much in rehearsal mode. Some of the shots are a bit strange when she's turning on the turning thing. They film her from the side or back and it seems like the timing is a bit wrong. And the "body talk talk talk" choreo looks like she just needs the loo.

Impressive looooooong note towards the end. Not sure who's singing it though. ๐Ÿค”

Camera work tighter in some parts on third run-through, but less tight in other parts. Hmm.

Dunno. It remains a bit of a let-down when you think of what might have been, with a huge prop and some more fun. Song is still a fave of mine but this performance is more low-calorie sweetener than a delightful sugar cube. 

So here's a delightful sugarcube I prepared earlier.

๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑ | Poland

Talking of lights. But these are less impressive and can't distract from...well...I'm fairly tone deaf, but even I can hear those tones. ๐Ÿ™€

"I'll make it through..." We'll see Rafaล‚, we'll see. Even with shades on. There's precious little to say about this. There's a bit of dancing, he takes his shades off and puts them back on. It's even more half-hearted than Azerbaijan. 

At one point he seems to be standing in the middle of the pyro.

Seriously, if that was the ride of my life I'd be asking for a refund.

๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡น | Austria

This is very competent and he is in fine voice. I'm really not a fan of the song, but did wake up with it in my head the other day. If that means anything at all. Note to his Amen sister: It's possible to sing and walk at the same time.

Song really shows off his voice, much more so than I imagine last year's song would have. Not that I can remember last year's song, but anyway. Simple staging with some gorgeous white then purple then orange lights and a catwalk thingy that I'm worried is going to surprise him by moving like Sakis' giant stapler. 

At times he is trying to emote a bit too much. He should leave that to Vasil.

This starts with some lovely dry ice mist. He sings so clearly, the death and funeral lyrics can't be ignored and that could be a bit off-putting.  Vincent is clearly fishing in jury waters, and it worked for Cesรกr in 2018 with a similarly bland piece of competence, so who knows?

Gosh, this is a lighting orgy ❤️

Day 6 | Second Rehearsals | Both Semi-Finals | ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡น ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฒ ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ช ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟ ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ท

Good morning from, well, not Rotterdam (Notterdam?). While I'm sure you're all waiting for the Big 5 (will there be an LED middle finger? A giant inflatable baguette?) which Jordy will bring from the real press centre later on, here's a bunch of mostly microstates first.

๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ท | Greece

After all those overly coloured entries, the minimalist purple-white-grey theme works wonders and the stage (and Stefania) look stunning. The transparent dancers trick will be the talk of the day and they've impressed me where other trickeries failed. Not quite sure that Stefania is a strong/experienced enough singer to carry this, but maybe she's holding back.

Sedond and third runthrough and she's singing better (not great, but adequately). This is the best rehearsal I've seen of all - one criticism is that the 'rotating screen' effect while she's on the stairs is already done before (by Sergey, at least). Other than that, transparent is the new black. Or is it 'invisible'?

Over to Roger for some more excitement.

๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟ | Czech Republic

The first thing I notice is that Benny's glasses are very reflective, both lenses and frame. Or did they get steamed up in the mask-mandatory dressing room? There's nothing exciting about this act, it's just Benny & co having fun on stage. He's very likable (both in the attractive meaning and the charismatic meaning) and seems to be quite the professional, visually and vocally. I don't know if this will be remembered by song 17, but I'm liking what I see.

Actually there is something exciting - a really clever way to reveal the female dancers who join the male dancers in the second verse. One of them just appears out of thin air. Magic! There's also a sideways jumping routine when they sing the title, that's going to become a gif as soon as it's allowed. Something like this.

Last runthgough was without glasses. Probably better this way (said the blogger with glasses)

๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ช | Estonia

Trying to find something nice to say here, ok: Everything about this reminds me of Lithuania 2019, and that very nearly qualified (the Irish televoters loved it!). And it's wise of Uku to use loud backing vocalists, because during the first line of the first verse you can hear him alone and he's really not great. The moon backdrop is kinda nice too, as is the ripply floor effect... running out of nice things to say here, help me!

The online press centre are chatting about coffee, that's nice too.

๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฒ | San Marino

The main question I've been concerning myself was - would it be possible for the real Flo to perform without having rehearsed? And the answer is - yes, Faux Rida just walks in and sings his bit, never finding a camera and is just there - something that should be easy enough to replicate without any previous training. Hell, I could do it.

Besides him, there is a lot going on  - Senhits everywhere, including the LED floor, and everyone crowding on a rotating stand, like a giant Lazy Susan.

The're really doing the most to cover Senhit's lack of singing abilities and the rather average song, and it's working, but on Saturday it's still going to be mostly a novelty. The last runthrough brings the pyro, including on the catwalk box which works really nicely.

Oh, and the fully-masked-bar-star-shaped-eye-hole dancers are terrifying. Like some kind of clown ninjas. At one point they're surrounding Senhit and staring at her like they're about to murder her, but so far thankfully she survived.

๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡น | Malta

Well, they tried. They really tried. They brought in their best gun. But the whole thing still feels very... Maltese. As in, amateur - although perhaps less so than 2019. Destiny is cute and her new burrito-wrap dress will make sure she's noticed, but you can still tell that she's a bit too young for this song.

The best moment here is perhaps the vertical split screen during the first chorus with lots of hands doing the familiar routine. Othere than that, there's not much else to say - it's very much focused on Destiny with lots of different solid colour backgrounds. One of those is very yellowy yellow, and to my eyes it's really not the best background for pink and silver dresses. It's not bad (and the pyro curtain helps a bit), but if I had lots of money on this to win I'd be worried. Maybe live audience will help and she'll own it when it really matters, so not all is lost for them.