Good morning! Or, well, middle of the night for me, because such is the sacrifice of Eurovision bloggers when they can’t travel to Eurovision. They blog rehearsals at 1am. The things we do for the love of our beloved but sometimes inconveniently-timed hobbies.
Anyhow: Felix was here yesterday for our very first rehearsals, and he’ll be here later today for the afternoon session (which takes place in the evil hour of “no one should be up at this hour, not even for Eurovision rehearsals” o’clock. We have Cyprus, Norway, Croatia and Belgium coming up, and you know the drill! It’s a rolling blog so you might want to refresh on occasion and I will try to not make you wait for too long.
Having said that, I do have a thesaurus ready in case I need to find more synonyms for the word “Angel” that I haven’t used in my Norway review, so I can’t make any promises.
Cyprus: It takes about five thousand hours for us to actually get to see a run (as the first one isn’t shown), which I imagine I will get used to after a few more of those but is odd to have this blank space of waiting for the second run through to show up. It was a bit startling to switch from the silent feed to Elena’s vocals, which aren’t great, but recorded backing vocals for the rescue!
Elsewhere, it’s red catsuits, a stage show that is a shameless mashup of Fuego and Replay, and then El Diablo showed up and had the feed cut off with Elena’s “sorry” sending us into the abyss of waiting, once again, to see a feed.
When it got back, we had the chance of seeing a bit more of the staging – the backdrop is set up in a way that creates a mirror effect and some depth (as it looks like it is an angled surface that has dancers on it, too). The red dominates this one but while it’s visually striking there are a few places where it’s actually a bit too overwhelming so I’m hoping to have that toned down a bit.
Either way, it looks very slick for the most part, but some of the effects definitely need a bit of fine tuning because they don’t have the same quality of the rest.
We’re getting another run through, also known as the pyro run-through which we all know and love. She’s way more comfortable in this now and actually sounds good, and my only real issue with this overall good rehearsal (literal mic drop aside, which is what caused the first run through we saw to be cut) is that some of the dance moves are bit too much of a pole dancer at a strip club and that’s a range of sexy that I don’t think Elena is entirely comfortable with. But I think the Cypriot delegation will be happy with this one, and it’s not a bad way to start the day!
Norway: AKA remind me again why am I doing things to myself that cause me to blog about this at 2am?
At least Tix is making it extra easy for me to blog about it, because it’s basically the NF performance – the wings, the chains and all that jazz. There’s some ridiculous dance going on which might have been in the original performance too, but my brain had apparently tried really hard to block as much of this out. The backdrop goes between a blue scheme and a fire color scheme and you really don’t need me to tell you what this represents. Anyhow: Ugh, but this one really is what it is and I doubt we’ll see many changes between this and the semi final performance.
Just to prove my point, the next run through is exactly the same with some pyros. I honestly can’t get over how ridiculous this all looks, but we all know that some absolutely ridiculous stuff had made it through in the past, so what do I know. It does feel like a stage act Jacques Houdek would be proud of. Make of that what you will.
Norway has inflicted a third run through me, and despite my deep belief that I will not manage to pick anything out of it, I did realize that the angel dancers are pulling the chains in time with a backdrop change, except the camera travels to the side of the stage so the impact of the change doesn’t really work. So much for divine intervention.
Also, while I wait for the next delegation, two rehearsals in and I have to say that I’m even less of a fan of the pre recorded backing vocals idea than I thought I would be. As both singers today are generally not the best vocalists and were also not trying too hard to varying degrees, it’s clear that the recorded vocals can easily drown and overshadow the lead vocals. It’s not a surprising discovery for anyone who watched Melodifestivalen or MGP where Tix sang about as much as he sang now, and while I understand the reasoning behind it this year it does take a lot away from the atmosphere of a fully live performance.
Croatia: Appropriately enough, since I complained about vocals, Albina starts her run through with no backing vocals and perhaps she should have had them because wow, she sounded terrible.
Visual effects give us five Albinas, but thankfully the effect doesn’t impact the number of times in which we hear her vocals.
When we don’t have five virtual Albinas, we have 4 real dancers, wearing some impressively silly silver costumes and displaying choreography that is far from being ready and confident. The dark backdrop blue and pink neon effects feels both outdated and just doesn’t provide enough contrast for the show. With Cyprus only a couple of songs earlier, it comes across as amateurish and unpolished, and not just because of not being rehearsed enough – which can happen, as delegations often arrive when in different phases of the process, but the entire concept is far off the mark they need to beat.
Belgium: Hooverphonic went for – perhaps somewhat unsurprisingly – a serious musician / band setup, as simple as it can get without feeling empty – four musicians on four square black platforms, and the lead singer standing in the middle, making a little effort to sound pretty much perfect, as you’d expect someone with that much experience to be. It’s all pretty dark and gimmick free, and if you would have told me this an hour ago I think I’d say it sounds like a disaster waiting to happen – doing something so simple and stark. But the performance – and the usage of some long shots which we didn’t see much of today yet, actually makes it feel like you’re watching their concert and not a song in a context.
I have no idea how audience at home will react to this, but I think this just upgraded their jury chances considerably.
The next run through gave me a chance to appreciate the camera work of this a bit more – unlike other entries they are not hiding the hall, but it works in a way that makes it work even if the stadium is entirely empty – it goes well with the “wrong place” theme, and even those shots don’t take away from the overall intimacy of the performance.
And on that note – this is me done for today. Felix will be here with a new post and the continuation of today’s rehearsals after lunch!