Good – something? – from San Francisco! As day 6 of the rehearsals continues, I am glad to report there really was no reason for me to go to Rotterdam when I can manage getting a jetlag sitting in my bedroom. My alarm says it’s 4am, my body says “I have no idea what is this time thing you speak of, lady. Is this what you wanted?”
Wait, this might be Vincent.
Either way, I’m back for today’s remaining five rehearsals from semi 2. I hope you like refreshing as much as I like posting updates to posts.
Austria: Well, well, well, color me impressed. Or drooling on the keyboard, considering the giant fan of brilliant lighting and camerawork that I am. That’s how you light a song!
The entire set up is so so simple – it’s just him, a platform, a giant dark stage and a genius usa of spotlights and sweeping camera work, which plays with depth perception to create this little world inside the arena where this performance exists. It’s one of the prettiest executions of a staging that I’ve ever seen. I usually type comments while I watch, but I was mesmerized by this from the first slow shot of him close up, before the shot opens up and he comes out of a sea of light. I don’t know that I can even do any of this justice by describing it, but between his great vocals and commitment to the song and both the camera work and the lights which are carefully planned for every second of this, this is really special.
Really well done, Austria.
Second run is more of the same, which basically mean I’m just gawking at the glorious artwork that this staging was. It’s still not my favorite song (although I prefer it to last year’s attempt by far), but I don’t think they could have done any better with this one and managed something that will not only appeal to juries (clearly) but can touch people at home, too.
Poland: Oh, Poland. The dance routine is super entertaining, and the presentation is shamelessly 80s which is fun, but also shamelessly projects the Polish name of Warsaw throughout the entire performance, which is just bizarre.
Also bizarre: using a real-life backing singer in a song that would have benefited from five recorded backing vocals, because let’s just say that vocals aren’t Rafał’s specialty. Nor is having any sort of stage presence, charisma or ability to not come across as such an unlikable person. For the record, Poland, it doesn’t matter if you’re nice or not, wearing sun glasses inside unless you have a good reason (which isn’t just an artistic choice for a performance) will not endear you to anyone.
We got two more runs of it which I didn’t comment on because I had nothing to add. He hadn’t improved at all between runs, and I guess it’s a bit too late to replace him with a more interesting and / or capable lead singer. And no, not even the 3rd run pyros can save this.
Moldova: Oooh! More neon effects! Not entirely sure how it relates to the song, but I suppose that all the pink and the black-and-white swirl on the surface of the rotating platform the dancers and her are using somehow do create a suitable mood.
The dance routine itself is slick and well-choreographed, although I’m not entirely convinced that the dancers aren’t the Polish ones who just changed outfits before the rehearsal.
My surprising discovery here was that when Natalia smiles, she actually doesn’t look like a Frozen Barbie (not you, Elsa) but like a real person with an actual personality and charm. More of that, please!
I like some of the camera work at the end which interacts with the backdrops and creates a bit of a depth perception game, but I think my main issue with it is that overall the entire thing is just a bit too dark, which doesn’t really fit the theme, especially after how colorful and bright the video was.
The second run allows me to appreciate the magic vocals of this more. Not Natalia’s – she’s somewhere between weak and actually ok, when you can hear her. But this has so much pre recorded vocals support that there were points in the choreography where her microphone is nowhere near her and yet the song sounds just fine and not like the lead vocal is missing.
Either way, not groundbreaking, and the Dream Team definitely invested a lot less in this than they did in Greece, but it’s cute overall.
Iceland: They’re totally angling at getting the lead roles in the Netflix Eurovision sequel, aren’t they? Daði has a delightful stage presence that really helps centering everything around him.
The staging is a somewhat odd mix of a lot of different elements and gimmicks but also never feels too big or too much, but the opposite – a bit bare at times, even. They have a stage and they get to play and goof around on it. It somehow works for this particular song and this group. The stage effects capitalize on their own quirkiness, and it’s all a tongue-in-cheek good fun which makes it very hard not to smile.
The second run is more or less the same and I really like the colors in this and the way it shifts back and forth between some very colorful moments and some intentionally dark moments. The choral bit near the end is really brilliant on stage.
Serbia: As far as I can tell, the goal of the staging in this, and in the choice of the lights, effects and modern monochrome backdrops is to trick viewers as much as possible to think that this is not a trashy track. It is quickly offset by an appropriately trashy choreography and in the hilarious expressions that happen whenever women who wear super high heels run as they try to make it to their next stage position on time.
I can’t say that I was blown away by the staging, but it gives a sufficient screen time for all 3 girls and to be honest, it’s the kind of song that if you like that kind of thing, you’d like almost any performance of it, and if you don’t like that kind of thing you’d need something really exceptional to be convinced otherwise. I belong to the former category, in case my taste when it comes to ethno stuff wasn’t obvious in all my years of writing here.
i was busy trying to decide who did wind machine better, Hurricane or Daði (he won, but only by a fraction of a point) when my stream attacked me with the third run pyros, which were very sparsely used to little effect, but I love pyros, so I’ll take it!
That’s all from me today – but our coverage on escgo! continues after a short break with the first rehearsals of the big 5 and the Netherlands!