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The View from San Francisco – Second Semi Final, First Rehearsals

by | May 4, 2017

The View from San Francisco – Second Semi Final, First Rehearsals

by | May 4, 2017 | Eurovision, Featured |

It’s a new day, a new semi-final, 18 new rehearsals, and I am feeling like I’m really ready for it to be next week already. Hi!

Serbia:
Much like Sweden, Serbia makes sure we get an easy landing at the beginning of the second semi-final, opting for a staging that matches her song perfectly. It’s the Eurovision-ballad-by-the-book staging, with the blue backdrop and the white outfit, although she has one up over Poland by replacing the violinist with a nearly shirtless dancer. It’s competent but generic, and pleasant but forgettable. Just like the song.

Austria:
Thank you, dear person who staged this. As an artsy human being who is also good in math and codes websites for a living, I spent my entire life trying to disprove the stereotypes about artsy crafty personalities being crap at science. And then, dear Austrian stage director, you had to step in and ruin everything. You might have no clue what I want from you. That’s fine, I imagine that Middle School was indeed a very long time ago and no one really retains anything they learned in school after the finals are over, but just so we can be on the same page, let me refresh your memory with a few guiding questions:

Q. What is the name of your entry?
A. Running on Air
Correct. Next question.

Q. What prop did you choose for Nathan to run on and represent the idea of running on air?
A. A mirrorball cresecent moon. We call it “moon” for short.
Correct, and I’ll hand it to you, it’s a very pretty moon! You all must be very proud. Now, to our last question.

Q. What does not exist on the moon?
A. Starbucks?
Air. The correct answer is Air!

Little boy blue and the man in the moon | Anders Putting, eurovision.tv

Macedonia:

Malta:
You keep using this word, but I don’t think it means what you think it means. If you were really that breathless, then you wouldn’t be able to breathe, which would render singing impossible for you and then we would not be here and I wouldn’t have to listen to you sing that goddamn awful song.

Like every other entry this year, she also has her giant face behind her, but considering the fact Ira’s face was projected on pretty much everything last year, perhaps we can call Malta the trend setters on this and forgive them. Except they chose this song, so I don’t forgive them. And will not forgive them, ever.

“What a big mouth you have.” “The better to eat you with!” | Anders Putting, eurovision.tv

Romania:
Me, after watching the Romanian rehearsal clip:
– Eh, wait, what did I just watch?
– Checking the lyrics for literal references. Nada.
– Googling Yodel and Canon. Getting results for a book called “Yodel in Hi-Fi: From Kitsch Folk to Contemporary Electronica”, and a page for a Jedi master named Yaddle.
– Realizing I misspelled canon, and searching for Yodel and Cannon instead, only to only get references for Romania’s staging.
– Googling “history of Yodel and war” as one would, and getting the Wikipedia page for Yodel It, which should have been my first stop. As it turns out, they explained their concept is a message about making love, not war, which has never been done before.

Love Love Peace Peace (The Yodel Remix) | Anders Putting, eurovision.tv


Netherlands:

As performers, O’G3NE aim to embody the idea that we are stronger together. When alone, they are good soloists, but put them together and suddenly your value has tripled! (See, Austria? Math!)

With this idea as their guiding light, the three girls have chosen to revisit all the Dutch failed qualifying attempts, asking the past competitors to donate something to this year’s effort so they show the world that while each entry couldn’t make the cut on its own, bringing all of them together did the trick!

After spending an hour trying to figure out how to make Google Hangout work, the knights of the round table went right down to business. Glennis Grace was the first to speak up, rambling about her favorite moment back in her day in Kyiv was – quite literally – the spotlights. Treble didn’t even have to say anything, as Lisa, Amy, and Shelley confessed that Treble have been their source of inspiration, ambition and determination to come back to Eurovision and show the world there are girl trios in the Netherlands who can actually sing. Edsilia provided a short choreography session in which she taught the girls the correct way to use hand gestures, while Hind praised the stunning visual effect created when wearing dark outfits against a dark backdrop. De Toppers went above and beyond, and FEDEXed the girls the fabric leftovers from their own Eurovision costumes, while Sieneke spent an hour at her parents’ house looking for her old phone, where she found the number of her Eurovision hairstylist.

During that hour, the girls expressed their concern regarding people’s difficulty to figure out how to pronounce the group’s name but 3JS convinced them that no matter what, the 3 has to stay. Joan Franka was a little hard to make out because she insisted on playing her guitar while mumbling random lyrics, it sounded like it was along the lines of you and me and everybody out there know that my taste in fashion is crappy my color scheme was pretty damn awesome, while Trijntje gave the ecstatic girls the contact information of her personal stylist, whose specialty is post-sexual-assault chic. Who said there is no 3 in T3AM?

Oppa Trijntje Style | Anders Putting, eurovision.tv


Hungary:

For 12 years, the fate of one of the dancers in the Polish entry to Eurovision 2005 in Kyiv, who disappeared the day after Poland just failed to make it to the Eurovision final, was a mystery. Today, in a special edition of the popular show, “Eurovision Mysteries”, we will exclusively reveal her amazing personal journey.

The dancer – who requested to remain nameless – was deeply traumatized by the painful defeat, and while the delegation eventually returned to Poland after waiting for her at the airport in vain for two whole hours, she decided to cut herself off from the outside world, and trekked to a small and isolated village in the Carpathian mountains that she saw in one of Ruslana’s videoclips.

She spent years reinventing herself as the local delicacy chef while working hard to forget her painful past, but as it often is, the showbiz bug never really went away. One day, in a trip to the nearest village, 434 km away, to get some supplies, she stumbled into an internet café, which also happened to be the local post office, hardware store, and a music store that only had Ruslana’s albums – legend had it Ruslana personally restocked them, then shouted hey hey at unsuspecting villagers, and waived her iphone at them until they realized the only way to get rid of her is to buy an album. On that fateful day, though, Ruslana wasn’t there, and having seen the computer, equipped with a state-of-the-art Windows 1995, an idea came to mind. She sheepishly walked over to the counter, ordered coffee and asked how much it cost to use the computer. Turns out it cost a Ruslana album per 5 minutes of computer usage and that they didn’t actually serve coffee. She quickly sat in front of the keyboard, typing from memory the URL she could never forget: her favorite dance messageboard.

She kept returning there every week, buying groceries that she didn’t really need and piling Ruslana albums up – she already ran out of furniture she could balance with them – when she ran across an ad looking for a dancer to participate in a videoclip and performance of a song that takes part in the Hungarian Eurovision selection.

She can’t remember what happened next – later she will describe it like being possessed by ghosts of Eurovision backing dancers past – but she PMed back. It was time to face her demons. Communicating when she only had a computer access for five minutes once a week was challenging, but Joci’s curiosity was piqued. A few weeks later she packed her personal belongings, gave a Ruslana CD to every person in her village, and then in five other nearby villages, and made her way to the Hungarian – Ukrainian border, where she turned around, looked at the waving Ukrainian flag and swore that she’ll be back in Kyiv again, and this time, she will qualify.

Then

Now | Anders Putting, eurovision.tv

Denmark:
Like many others this year, Anja also turned to previous Eurovision performances for inspiration. Her team decided to pick a random theme according to which they will view previous entries, and after having everyone at her record company offer ideas, the theme that won was “Eurovision participants in the televote era whose name sounds almost like Anja”. The first video they watched was Serbia 2016 ad they spent three minutes tilting their heads and trying to figure out the concept of the Serbian outfits. They fast forwarded Estonia 2014 after ten seconds, but spent more time with Anna Rossinelli, mostly because the girls from the front desk enthusiastically led a campaign to get the two guys on board. Or just ask them to move to Denmark regardless. But it was the next entry they watched that made everyone gasp. That’s it! They found it!

Anja | Anders Putting, eurovision.tv

Anna

Ireland:
“I was dying to try a balloon ride to the top of Mount Doom ever since my Bar Mitzvah – look! I even kept my clothes from that important day in which boys get to sing in front of an audience before their voice changes! – and all I got you was this crappy paragraph in Shi’s blog”.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains | eurovision.tv

San Marino:
While Malta has managed to establish itself as a trend-setter, I found myself looking at her sister-in-bribing-arms showed up to realize the only trend they can set is creating entries that manage to have absolutely nothing from this millennia in them. That has to count for something, right?

We’re dancing at the Trendy Discotheque | Thomas Hanses, eurovision.tv

Croatia:

A picture is worth a thousand words | Anders Putting, eurovision.tv

Un’immagine vale più di mille parole | Anders Putting, eurovision.tv

Norway:
I know we were all curious to know what Darth Vader does between shooting Star Wars sequels. Well, now we know. He hangs out in Oslo, where he frequents slam poetry and open mic nights, and adlibs over his favorite quotes of himself.

Obi-Wan: Just relax, concentrate.
Anakin (That’s Darth Vader before he was Darth Vader, for the Star Wars challenged readers): I try to act cool but I’m boiling.

Anakin: You’re asking me to be rational. I know that is something I cannot do. Got no control but I know there’s a fire in my soul.

Yoda: Premonitions, premonitions. These visions you have…
Anakin Skywalker: I’m looking for a sign while they’re stepping on my mind.

Yoda: Careful you must be when sensing the future Anakin. The fear of loss is a path to the dark side.
Anakin Skywalker: I won’t let these visions come true, Master Yoda.
Yoda: Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealousy. The shadow of greed that is.
Anakin Skywalker: What must I do, Master Yoda?
Yoda: Train yourself to let go… of everything you fear to lose.
Anakin Skywalker: I’m gonna kill that voice in my head, I don’t care about falling, I’m gonna grab the moment.

Luke: Your thoughts betray you, Father. I feel the good in you, the conflict.
Darth Vader: There is no conflict. when it’s all or nothing I get that good vibe buzzing.

JOWST, I am your father.

Switzerland:
You know those parents who try to act like they’re totally hip and cool while in fact they are using a slang word no one has used for 15 years and horrible embarassing? So: Switzerland. Trying so hard to be trendy, the poor thing, but getting it all wrong. They wanted it to feel like a lobby of a classy hotel in the early 1900s and got a lobby of a Las Vegas hotel on N 19th street. They wanted a stunning, never seen before color scheme, and they at least managed the second part, but there’s a good reason why this scheme was never seen before and should never be seen again. They wanted a unique dress but got a used prom dress from Goodwill. They even made the effort to research the most current Eurovision trends and have invited a singing ghost to join them on stage, but hadn’t realized that when your ghost sounds like your lead singer and sings when your lead singer does not, the effect is not haunting and dramatic, it’s just funny, of the unintentional variety.

Most definitely not the stairway to heaven | Thomas Hanses, eurovision.tv

Belarus:
As it turns out, the story of Naviband’s life is the opening title sequence for the Belarussian version of Doctor Who, including a Tardis visual upgrade so it features traditional Belarussian art. It’s still bigger on the inside, I hear, although all we get to see is the outside, where they both manage to always look genuinely happy, which I imagine is really exhausting.

Come Josephine in My Flying Machine | Thomas Hanses, eurovision.tv

Bulgaria:
Our theme today is trendy, and is there anything more trendy than sustainable living? Because Bulgaria is all about recycling and using existing resources. They managed to secure Latvia’s 2016 stage, mainained their own color scheme from the last year, re-purposed Poli’s dress and turned it into Kristian’s outfit, and got that giant box where they kept their backing singers since last year from storage. It is now back where it truly belongs – backstage, where no one can see them.

Lithuania:
I don’t remember Lithuania. I never remember Lithuania. I remember having to review Lithuania here last week. I don’t remember what I wrote, but my incredible talent of clicking links in the sidebar tells me I wrote this:

“Have you ever watched “Seinfeld”? It was often dubbed as “a show about nothing”. I’d like to say that this is the musical equivalent, except “Seinfeld” was hilarious and brilliant in its exploration of mundane nothingness, while Lithuania’s entry isn’t even unintentionally funny. It’s just there, and it makes noises for three minutes while avoiding any attempt to make anyone care about it or remember it. I can’t imagine a single person watching this semi thinking they should vote for this, and I imagine the juries will place it last just by virtue of being unable to remember it. And the Lithuanians only needed 42555 heats to find it!”
The rehearsal is pretty much that, only with a lot of pyros.

Estonia:
Koit and Laura actually made it out of Verona, stole the Tardis from Belarus and went back in time to Southern USA in the early 30s where they got stuck in a black and white movie and believe they are another doomed couple, Bonnie and Clyde. Laura, AKA Bonnie, just robbed a bridal shop and is now asking Koit, AKA Clyde, if the dress makes her look fat. Famous last words.

Lost in Monochrome | eurovision.tv

Israel:
We wrap the second semi final with another master class in how to use what you have to your advantage. With Imri and part of his entourage having been part of the 2015 entry, hours and hours of having to teach them new choreography and staging were saved, and for the backdrop – which they didn’t realize they had to provide until three minutes before the deadline – they scanned this year’s logo, zoomed in on one part of it in photoshop, and saved as “backdrop.jpg”. With a few more seconds still on the clock, they decided to make sure no one will notice where they stole the backdrop from and decided that Imri is pretty so they just should add an image of him on top and no one will notice. They saved the image as “backdropimri.jpg”, attached, and clicked the send button.

Three minutes gotta go bye.

eyeofthetiger.jpg | eurovision.tv

And that is it for today! May the Fourth be with you!

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