Thursday 5 May 2022

Second rehearsal - San Marino

Postcard: They first gave us Australia and then Malta, so I've no idea what the actual Sammarinese one looks like.

Achille in a black shear sparkling jumpsuit, a big black feather boa, a cowboy hat and heeled boots.  Towards he gets on the red mechanical bull which spins him around a bit (but is clearly set to do it so slow tha he won't fall off). The screens re showing red animated eyes. There's a LOT of pyro. Probably enough to heat up the entire country of San Marino during a cold winter. 

Visually, this is all quite a lot, to say the least. It has hints of MĂ„neskin's performance from last year, but a very camped up version of it. 

Vocals: He sings this well. Even when he's on the bull.

Is it live: I think the backing vocals are a mixture of live and pre-recorded ones. We can definitely hear more voices than there are people on stage, but his band seem to be providing live vocals as well. 

Colours: The main colour is red, but there's also a lot of pink and blue. And fire. Lots of fire.

Will it qualify: I think this one is quite hard to predict. The performance, as over the top as it is, does make sense for the song. So I'm not sure if it will help or hinder its chances. 




Second rehearsal - Malta

Postcard: It's filmed in Matera. Looks pretty. Apparently it's located in a district called Sassi di Matera. Perfect drag name? 

(Turns out this postcard was actually the Irish one)

Emma starts off sitting by a grand piano on a podium. Quite quickly she stops playing the piano and walks up on top of the piano. The dress is silvery and beige, and it looks really good on her. 

In the 2nd chorus she leaves the podium and walks on to the satellite stage where she is joined by four dancers dressed in white. 

In the last run-through we also get a lot of smoke on the floor. 

Vocals: I think Emma might have held back a bit and didn't give it her all. Which makes sense for a rehearsal. Mostly she was ok, apart from some messed up notes at the end. She did get better with each run-through though. The third one was definitely her best one. 

Is it live: Lol, no. Well, Emma obviously is. But the main thing that stands out in this song is the big gospely choir that's featured from start to finish. Which is all pre-recorded. And it looks a bit silly when we hear lots of voices but there's nobody there. Did the Maltese delegation watch Ana Soklic and thought "We can take this one step further!"?

Colours: A lot of gold, orange and warm beigy tones. 

What's new: In the bridge she adds a "Come on Turin put your hands up!", and the ending has an extra vocal ad lib. Aside from that she sings this the same way as in the studio version. 

Will it qualify: If she nails the vocals during the jury final I think she will. But, if she sings it the way she did during some of these rehearsals, Malta might struggle.




Second rehearsal - Georgia

Postcard: We got the Maltese postcard instead of the Georgian one. It was pretty.

Styling-wise it's like they're all trying to out-hipster each other. With a whole lot of steampunk in it too. Hats, goggles, eyepatches.. it's quite circusy but like something from a horror film version of a circus. We never get to see the lead singer's eyes. The LED walls  and the floor are showing a lot of mouths. Sometimes huge, sometimes small. The guy with the frilly collar from the video isn't on stage, but is featured a lot on the LED screens instead. 

Vocals:  The chorus sounds totally fine. But the verses are sounding quite strange. The lead singer is only singing in the lower octave, while the high falsetto vocals is barely heard. This makes it sound quite messy and unbalanced, and not at all like the studio version. Is the singer can't do the falsetto live, maybe they should have asked Mika to come and help them out. 

Colours: Lots of turquoise. Purple. Pink. Some red lights. Sometimes yellow. Everything, really.

Is it live: Based on the soundcheck photos I thought this would be more live than it is, based on everyone having a microphone. But it doesn't sound like it. At all. Rather, I think they're probably among the ones using the most pre-recorded vocals. That might be what's causing the issue with the verse. Perhaps the high falsetto vocal is just a pre-recorded backing vocal, and we don't hear it well because it's mixed too low?

Will it qualify: I've previously thought this had pretty good chances of doing so. But the performance is a bit of a mess. It feels like they'e having fun, but we're not invited to join them. So as for now I'm gonna guess it's a no. 

Second rehearsal - Azerbaijan

Postcard: Some small town by the water called Varenna. Looks nice! I'd like to go there.

Nadir, who I just learned is only 22, starts off sitting down on the stairs, with a bright spotlight lighting him from the back. In the first chorus he lays down on the steps, and the dancer is revealed, mimicking is every move but three steps further down on the stairs. Then thy bot start walking further up the proper, until it separates into two separate stairs leaving them on one each. 

The actual distance between the steps on the stairs is quite big. So they have to take really big steps to move up and down on them. This makes both of them look like they're very tiny. (Or maybe they actually are?)

Vocals: Nadir is nailing them. He sings this as if the high notes are a walk in the park. 

Is it live: There aren't a whole lot of backing vocals in this song. But the ones that it does have, are clearly pre-recorded. But people won't notice, I think.

What's new: Well, the performance, as we didn't see it before. But I dare say the actual performance itself comes across as something not seen in Eurovision before, even if it is quite simple. Otherwise the song sounds the same as it always did. 

Colours: Black, grey, white, dark blue... Some red near he end.  And a lot more grey. 

Will it qualify: I think its chances are quite good. He really does sing this very well, and the performance is maybe not super exciting but also looks nice on screen and doesn't distract from the song too much. It comes across as the kind of entry that would have given Azerbaijan a top 3 result in the final about 10 years ago. 

Not quite the size of the stairs, but nearly.



Second rehearsal - Serbia

All of this afternoon's rehearsals are apparently delayed quite a bit, due to earlier ones overrunning. But hopefully we'll get to see Konstrakta soon.

And we're on!

Postcard: Some countryside with old castles and ruins. There's even some snow. 

Konstrakta seems to struggle with her ear-piece a bit and spends the first bi of the song adjusting it. The performance itself. She's wearing white, sits on her chair,  washes her hands. The backdrop features a lo of hands. Konstrakta sings well in spite of seemingly having some issues. During the break she asks them to adjust the volume of the track vs. her voice in her in-ear monitor. Like the pro she surely is, she's very specific and tells the exactly how many decibels things should be turned up or down.

What's new: We get some random words and lines from the song subtitled.  Not on the LED-walls, but literally regular subtitles, in black and white at the bottom of the screen. We ge lines like "An artist must be healthy", "God give us health", "Heart beats by itself" and ""The body is healthy, so what now?"

Colours: The stage is mostly dark and blue, but occasionally shows some pink flowers and a yellow sun.  And during the bridge the spotlight on Konstrakta suddenly goes red. 

Is it live: The "backing vocals" definitely come across as all being pre-recorded. As there are some microphones involved, it's possible that they sing something at some point. The only part where we see them "singing" is in the outro. But all the prominent parts sound exactly like in the studio version. There seems to be some intention behind it, as during some of the backing vocal solo parts the camera shows close-ups of the backing singers, who stand there with their mouths shut. In spite of having microphones. So it might be an artistic choice to show that thy'r not singing. Symbolising artists being silenced in the healthcare debate?

Will it qualify: I find this one very hard to predict. It seems like it's already huge in Serbia and neighbouring countries. For a good reason. But will other countries "get" it? The rehearsal doesn't change a whole lot, though, because it's basically what we've already seen. With the exception that we get parts of the song subtitled. Maybe that will help viewers understand what it's all about?

Rules being broken: She seems to have actual water in her basin! In spite of initial reports that water would be banned on stage. Either those reports were untrue, or she got special permission, Or, which I chose to believe, it isn't water, but rakija.

Israel

 Postcard is some really beautiful coastal town. Manarola. I wouldn't live there, it looks steep.

Starting off with Michael among mirrors, so there's more of him. Then there are dancers who look exactly like him, with the same white suits, which gets confusing when they all move around so fast. Which one is he?

Find Michael

Michael: "It was FIRE, even though I can't hear well in my ears"

The stage is black, white and red, with the title projected on the floor at times. The singing is adequate, which is a relief to the ears after Finland, although it's not exactly amazing either, and the act isn't doing enough to convince me that there's a song in there.

There are a lot of fast camera angle changes (as you'd expect from this song), Michael isn't always getting them right. The dance routine is well-rehearsed though. I still don't like it, but those who do probably still will. Over to Jonas for the rest of the day.

Finland

Postcard: Rasmus are in a lake with trees and  a lot of snow. Almost like home, except that there are mountains around it.

Starts with Lauri holding a yellow helium balloon and releasing it. Later the band is revealed among ginormous white and black balloons. And he takes his shirt (or, rain jacket) off.

As for the singing, let's ask our Spanish correspondent

Well, I'm not writing it off just yet - it very much feels like an actual band performing, and with roaring audience the singing might not matter so much. The lights and simplistic colour pattern work quite well, and it ends with a lot of energy.

But the verses...

Armenia

 Postcard is a waterfall. Very nice, but totally overshadowing the one that's on stage.

Everything is white or off-white. Rosa's outfit, the microphone, and the postits. So many postits. The bed, the sofa, the bedside lamp, everywhere.

But she tears them off. Not one-by-one, just pulling them in bunches to reveal some words ("the last one", "june 22" etc.). And in the last chorus she makes a massive round hole in the wall to appear in the other side, facing the audience. This could be great with audience - going from intimate to huge.


... And yet it took them only about two minutes to put everything back where it was for the second runthrough. Singing is just fine and this is all quite effective, I can see why they put it on last.

For everyone going to the arena, you're just going to see a wall for 2:30 minutes, so that would be a good time to go to the bar.

Norway

 Postcard has enormous Subwoolfers projected on lakes and mountains. They really are the biggest band in the universe.

Subwoolfer look the same, dance the same and have the same props. So what is new?

First there are some things on the screen. Parts of the title in flashy 3d letters (very PowerPoint). Sometime superimposed on the stage, sometime completely taking over the picture - yellow fonts on a starry blue background, I guess intended to look retro. And there is some actual live singing.

Yes, definitely live singing. They don't sound like they did in MGP at all. A bit off at times. I actually prefer it this way, gives them some much-needed personality.

And there's a lot of yellow and blue. Everywhere. You'd think it's Sweden. Or Ukraine. Or Palau. It does go red during the middle-eight.

Last runthrough to get the hi-five right. All in all - it does what we expected.

Iceland

 Oh no I see "-5". Oh yes I see Systur. Oh no it's "-5" again.

So, the during the ten seconds of Iceland that were actually streamed, we got a glimpse of Systur looking and singing pretty much the same as they did in Söngvakeppnin, in a golden-red stage.

We have a stream!

Just enough for the last runthrough. It's all very... elegant. Quite suitable for the song. Nocturne-esque lights spots on the floor, a bit of red-gold light that intensifies as the song goes on and explodes in the last chorus. And there's a triple split screen moment with each syster looking in a different direction.

A bit like this, but sideways

All in all - it does what it should do, difficult to tell if it's enough to stand out.