It’s day 4 of the rehearsals, which also means that by the end of today we’ll be done with the first rehearsals of all the semi finalists! I’ll be here for the first four rehearsals of the day, and Felix will take over for the second half of today’s rehearsals.
As always, don’t forget to refresh from time to time and remember we always have to wait for the delegations to finish their first run before we can actually watch (and blog) anything.
Georgia: Tornike walks onto the stage from the light (literally), and in a plot twist, Georgia’s staging is about 75% typical “dark blue stage while wearing white” ballad staging, but since it’s Georgia it finds its little special ways to sneak in some wait what moments. So for example we get two stage hands pushing a box into the stage during the song, and then he can sit on it and have the song lyrics projected all over him. The backdrop coloring and lights slowly develops throughout the song to match the song development. It’s not amazing. It’s not terrible. I’m mostly confused as to why they are using the Rorschach test as their backdrop art, though.
Also, I’m sure you’re surprised, but Tornike seems to be one of those singers who don’t believe in preserving their voice, so he gave it everything (and sounded like he always does, too).
Another run from Georgia, and Tornike decided to show me I’m wrong – therefore this is the vocal take in which he really truly doesn’t give a damn. He basically is singing different words in different keys and it’s both hilarious and “I don’t think I’ve seen THAT before.” I wonder if he just gets bored super quickly and therefore is using the technical rehearsals to check what are the lowest notes and highest notes he can hit.
And then he ends the rehearsal with a cheerful hum into the microphone. Because why not.
Albania: If you expected drama based on that revamp, you’re getting it! Anxhela – who is wearing a tiny diamond-beaded dress that looks amazing but doesn’t really match the stage or the backdrops, but that’s irrelevant – gets the drama going from the first few seconds, as she is dwarfed by giant columns on smoke that are projected on the backdrop. This is actually a recurring element throughout the performance, as well as some blue smoke effects, which appear in time with the big moments of the song. They are using the size of the stage in a smart and an unusual way – they are actually allowing her to get lost on the big stage at times, which is actually what makes the impact of the background and light changes so strong.
The camera work is really well done, with a lot of quick shot changes that work really well with the overall mood of the performance.
We get another run from Albania, and I get to enjoy the hand choreography a bit more – and how it occasionally interacts with the smoke effects. The stage spotlights going on and off create a lot of silhouettes that work well too.
Watching this again, even though I was impressed with how they used the large stage for some of the dramatic effect, they do use the long and wide shots a bit too much, so while it is working well in many places, in other places during the song it actually does feel a bit empty, which is one of the challenges of getting 3 interesting minutes of a singer on stage alone.
Overall, there’s definitely a lot of clean up to do, and the vocals can be better, but it’s impressive enough in first viewing to do what it needs to do, especially when there’s not much else in the ethnic ballad department on offer. They’ll be happy with that one.
Portugal: This one starts with the familiar black and white that looks pretty much like the national final – but when you’re already about to give up hope on this being a staging that isn’t entirely useless, things happen! Slowly, but still. We first transition into dark blue, before this, too, slowly transforms into sunrise hues, and as the music crescendos, elements are being added all around. Perhaps the cleverest of all is an animated silhouette of a full orchestra on the backdrop, which works particularly well as the placement of the band’s musicians on the main stage and the lead singer on the satellite stage creates layers and depth.
When the camera pulls out into a long shot, there’s another silhouetted animation clip evolving on the right side of the stage, giving the audience something to watch even though the band is now far away. Then it slowly progresses back to the main stage and the orchestra but with the backdrop transforming into golds, and it all creates a really lovely atmosphere and a unique feel.
I have no idea what to make of its chances, still, but in terms of staging this was a lovely surprise.
In the next run, the black and white starts in a 4:3 ratio (in the previous run they started with full screen and then cut down to this), and it gives another opportunity to see how it transitions to full screen and then to color.
My favorite bits are towards the end, as the background turns into specs of gold and there’s some great camera work moving around the stage and the hall, showing the band and the lead singer – the angle during the electric guitar bit is particularly nice, as there’s something very appealing about camerawork and movement that captures and reflects what happens in the music. The vocals are excellent in both takes (even if his voice color isn’t for everyone), and they nail both takes like total pros. Classy.
Bulgaria: When in doubt go for a combination of recreating parts your music video and epic staging elements out of a children’s fantasy movie, as Victoria basically spends the entire song sitting or standing on a floating – meteorite? – above a galaxy swirl and surrounded by thousands of stars and lights. There’s even ticking sand (without the hourglass) that Victoria reaches for during the performance, which is a lovely representation of the phrase “the sands of time”.
Her vocals were very good, but she needs to be a bit better about looking at the camera in time. That’s little details though. There’s a really interesting contrast between the massive scale of the backdrop of this staging and the intimacy brought by the close up scenes of Victoria, in what looks like her pajamas, that is quite evocative. For me, personally, the song dragged a bit by the end, but I can only assume this will look incredibly impressive for first time viewers.
Second run and it reminds me that the danger of blogging at 3:30am is that my memory retains less than it does at 3:30pm, because I realized that, when describing the development from sitting on the floor with that photo from the music video to the galactic scale, it first calmly turns into floating above quiet waters, and the different states during the song tell a story. As things quiet and slow back down towards the end, the song finishes with a close-up of Victoria who sings/whispers the last words with no background music at all. I’ve never been a huge fan of this song, but this is a very special overall package.
That’s all from our morning blog – check back this afternoon as Felix covers the remaining semi 2 rehearsals, from Finland through to Denmark!