Good afternoon! It’s me, Felix, taking over again, after Shi has blogged the rehearsals of Cyprus, Norway, Croatia and Belgium earlier today.
Now we’re anticipating the first rehearsals of Israel, Romania and Azerbaijan.
Remember to refresh this page for new updates over the course of the afternoon.
So I’m back at my desk at home, and in the Online Press Centre. Doing this in my own room, and not living alone, also always means that real life isn’t that far away as it would be if I were on-site – so it now happens for the very first time that I have had sparkling wine just before writing a rehearsal blog. Let’s see how that goes, and whether it makes some of the upcoming songs more bearable.
Eden is dressed in a white outfit with black stripes and curves. She’s having a few dancers with her on stage with very similar looks.
The backdrop feels very 1980s with pink and turquoise lines and triangles.
Again, we’re getting a lot of prerecorded vocals, to the point that this one feels very much like a total playback. Even if she sings it live, it doesn’t have much impact, because her already soft voice is drowning in a sea of prerecorded vocals. The positive thing here is her charisma, and the fun moments she’s having at some points, coming across really lovable, but…
Despite all that, and the fact that the performance looks decently slick, large parts of this performance are very flat and uninspiring. Towards the end, she’s getting her white outfit removed from her dancers, and she appears to show more skin. But what she’s actually wearing there is quite unidentifiable to me.
OK, in the second run-through that we’re seeing it becomes more obvious that she is singing, as some notes were off. Her very high pitched notes towards the end come across as very random and unnecessary, as does that “hairy crown thing”, which the guys are placing on her head at the end of the song.
Nice to see even a third run-through for this one: “SET ME FREE” is written in the backdrop, something that I didn’t notice earlier. This last run is a lot more competent than the first one. You know, Israel is good at groups moving around a Eurovision stage and making it look tight and slick, and this one is just another good example for their talent there. But I can’t help getting the impression that Eden is NOT enjoying every second here. I didn’t think of it as a qualifier before, and today this didn’t change.
I didn’t “get” the song before, will this change now? Is ROXEN able to sell the song better with her performance (= to a wider audience), compared to the video?
First, we’re seeing dancers laying on the floor, only then ROXEN appears in the dark behind them – with quite a Jamie-Lee effect. She has violet hair and wears a green oversize jumper. One leg is green, the other white. Not the best look.
She joins the dancers, and the whole performance becomes a big group interaction. There’s a lot of contemporary dance, dragging around, the dancers carrying ROXEN, etc. But I have to confess, the visuals could work, with room to improve.
There’s a point when they drag her over the stage, then she walks away again, there are a lot of different interactions between ROXEN and the dancers. Her voice sound more pleasant than in the video, but especially towards the end, her vocals become more and more shaky.
Towards the end, there’s a pink sunrise (or sunset?) on the backdrop. But this doesn’t help ROXEN herself much either, as it turns out she’s really exhausted from the performance, breathing heavily just when it finished. I’m not sure it will stay like this, they might opt for something safer (for her) after all. I also advise them to think about the outfit once again, but hey, if they WANT to win Barbara Dex…
Second run-through: Fog, lots of fog, and that’s probably a very good idea considering the mood of the song. They might wanna add even more fog, to hide how nervous and insecure ROXEN appears to be about everything. I understand, that ROXEN is running away from her “demons” (the dancers), and that fear is probably within the topic of the song, but at this point, I feel really sorry for her. It’s such a demanding task to perform this song, like this, and she appears to not be able to fulfill it. If they can do anything to make her more confident, and better at the singing, then this could work very well. But right now, Amnesia is lost. Not kidding.
Efendi is accompanied with 4 other girls, who dance around her. The backdrop is featuring ornamentals and a very prominent golden sphere, on which a “dancing” snake appears every now and then.
I couldn’t write a lot while I was watching it, because I was very much enjoying it and was quite attached to the screen. The performance comes across super confident., including ARMS! We’re getting a lot of variety in the camerawork, and a very colourful stage. It’s undeniably Eurovision and very, very captivating.
I’m still not a fan of the uptempo part in the end, but in total, this is impressive and an absolute joy to watch.
Something negative must be said though: Even to a non-native English speaker like me, Efendi’s pronunciation sounds very wrong on some words. But it’s well performed, well sung, and simply the best I’ve seen so far.
Music wise, I’m still not a fan of the double-speed ending, in which the golden sphere on the backdrop rises, and eventually explodes in a Supernova, and then turns into an eye. The symbolism is quickly explaied: “Mata Hari” is Indonesian for “Sun” and literally means “Eye of the day”. Of course, from “eye” to “spy” it’s not very far, either.
We’re actually getting a third run-through, but still, no pyros. We definitely expect some fire to be added to the performance of the “Land of Fire” at some point, and not just the fake bit on the backdrop. It feels like something is missing on the stage, and maybe that gap is reserved for pyros that are yet to be added in the second rehearsals? Who knows, but we’ll find out.
Verdict? Huge huge potential for the Top 5, if you ask me. But I’m a fan of this one anyway.
And that’s all for now – the remaining rehearsals of today (Ukraine and Malta) will be covered in a new post. Stay tuned to escgo!