In day five of the rehearsals we are getting the second rehearsals of most of the first semi final, and because I’m both really curious about watching (most of) the rehearsals I missed in the first round, I’m going to be here for the first AND last rehearsals of the day – which will come later in a whole new post! Sleep is for the weak.
As I didn’t watch the first rehearsals of most of the countries I will be watching today, I can’t report on any changes between the first round and this one, but it will be interesting to see how my opinions differ from what Felix blogged.
As always, don’t forget to refresh!
Lithuania: Ah, how nice of them to start with something that doesn’t require much brain power from me, because even without seeing the first rehearsal this looks pretty much like I expected it do. It’s a fun and quirky way to open the semi, and despite the craziness that we know will follow it, it’s not going to be hard to remember that one, with all its identifyable moves and style. The only thing that bugs me a bit – which was noticable in the arena video as well – is that sometimes the contrast between the dancing and the overexcited backdrop is a bit much and the transitions are happening a little too fast. But overall this has the colors, patterns and move we came to expect, and the camera shots that give it that videoclip feel.
We get another run from The Roop, and my main conclusion from this one is that this performance – and some funny interactions with the camera – is a collection of memes waiting to happen. I can only be grateful for this important contribution to Eurovision culture.
They squeeze a third run in, and honestly they could have just call it a day after the last one. I don’t think they are capable to do anything other than fully professional and invested, and basically at this point, give them 2 or 20 runs and they will perform all of them equally.
Slovenia: Unlike Lithuania, had no clue what to expect here, and the first thing I noticed is that Ana looks like she likes mornings as much as I do (which: very little), but she got into the groove of things throughout the performance and had no problems belting any of it regardless of how awake she is.
That aside, this is an interesting mix of some really effective camera work and use of lights – lot of sweeping camera shots in the right times, solid use of globes and galaxies, with the effect of the half globe on the backdrop and half globe reflection on the stage creating a whole globe working really nicely as the camera pulls away.
But there are some moments where it feels very empty too – the opening shots of it are actually a bit underwhelming, although at least it doesn’t take too long before the first impressive shot.
The part I can’t make my mind about is the bridge, where an invisible choir sings while Ana doesn’t – and she spends the time just walking across the stage all the way to the satelite stage. She looks very determined and focused as she does it, which is actually working as an emotional connection, but seeing her alone on stage in a sequence that uses all of its space while having the masse of vocals in the background is a bit weird. Overall, it’s elegant and powerful, though I have to wonder how much it will suffer for being that early.
The second run brings a smile to her face from the beginning, an effect which is ruined a bit by a one of the camerapeople accidentally making it into the shot. Don’t do it on the live show, please!
It also helped me reflect on the ending, which feels really abrupt and being prepared for that didn’t improve that. But that is nitpicking, so I’ll forgive that.
Elsewhere, someone in the press room chat has pointed out that today’s third runs will overrun the live-on-tape recordings of the artists, and will serve as the backup performance in a case of someone being Covid-positive. Oh, things I never thought I’d write in a rehearsal blog. Either way, Ana’s backup third run has her turning on her charm in full, and no camerapeople wander into the shot this time around.
As a side note, I haven’t seen many countries use the floating transparent huge screen – I’ve only seen Portugal and Slovenia do it – but the projections and the way it used during camera motion is a really cool touch.
Russia: from the first time I’ve watched Manizha perform this in the national final I expected no less than every bit of it being a surprise. There’s no way around the “wait, what is going on here” effect that first time viewers are going to experience, or 3rd time viewers for that matter, but there’s a lot to see and appreciate even as you process everything.
The close ups on Manizha from the get-go establish a really good connection to it as she is such an expressive performer, and while I think some of the backdrops are too busy they don’t interrupt much when it happens, and for the most part any stage transitions fit the music really well.
It is a really smart move to have that traditional costume she starts the song with to stay on stage – as a silent 6th member of the crew and the reminder of the constraints women are trying to get away from. The English phrases on the backdrop are perhaps a bit predictable and tacky, but also helpful in message songs where a big part of the message isn’t in English.
The back-and-forth between the modern and traditional in the music reflecting in the staging changes also create a full immersive experience into the DNA of the song, as jarring as it can get.
I was tearing up a bit when the screen was filled with real videos of different Russian Women. There was something very emotional about Manizha and her singing to the women as they were singing back at them from the screen.
Also, memo-to-self: research Russian mythology and legends (as I can only gather that’s what the traditional backdrops are). Who doesn’t want to get a homework assignment at 2am?
Manizha gets a smooth second run, and looking at it again I also want to reflect on how brilliantly the reference to the well-known 1943 “We Can Do It” poster (originally created to boost female worker morale during WWII in the United States). From the similar color scheme to the headband, and the arm flexing gesture Manizha performs during the song. Small details, and they might not be obvious right away, but got to admire the way in which this song and performance tackles and reflects the challenge of finding your way and independence as a woman both across history and other cultures – not ones that you’d usually tie in with Russia.
Manizha and the gang really give it all in the third run (and so are the pyros!), and I can’t imagine audiences not reacting to this.
Sweden: Oh, it’s like the Melodifestivalen performance, only with a slightly different staging set up and also a bit messier! While they obviously have the concept down, more or less, which one would expect as it has been the same concept before anyway, this looks – in Swedish standards, at least – not as well-prepared as you’d expect them too. Some effects and shots seemed to be timed a bit wrong, or showing up and disappearing too quickly.
The projection of walking people during the last chorus when Tusse and the dancers walk forward, tapping their heart is a smart upgrade from the MF performance, but once again, it’s a bit on the short side of things and doesn’t stretch the impact as much as it could.
The second run through looks way better, presumably because some of the effects – as well as the different aspect ratio – now seem to work properly. Not working: Tusse’s own voice. At all. It went from meh to oh oh to not even close by the last notes. I hope he finds a way to destress because what sells the song so well is him, more than anything else, and if he can’t be 100% into this, it won’t work.
Either way, this is the end of part 1. Sweden used up its time so only got two runs, and no Australia on the schedule. Although we do finally have a few photos of Montaigne’s live-on-tape performance to enjoy!
Rehearsals will resume in a bit with a new post!