Good afternoon from the German countryside once again, it’s me, Felix, taking over to cover something new for a change:
It’s time for the first rehearsals of the automatic finalists! The Big Five (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom) and the Netherlands (previously known as “The Netherlands”) get to keep Eurovision bloggers busy over the next few hours.
Remember to refresh this page for new updates over the course of the afternoon.
Next on stage: Måneskin. We’re late and get cut right into the middle of the song.
Lead singer Damiano is shirtless and wears shiny, violet trousers. The drummer is placed on a pedestal in the background, which has lots of lights attached. The backdrop features silhouettes of the band members playing their instruments.
Two band members make use of the full width of the stage, as they are apparently the first artists to leave the central trapezium and walk down the more narrow “wings” to each side. That’s a proper use of the full width of the stage here, and I kind of already expected it. Good.
At the end, Damiano lays down on the floor.
This comes along with a very powerful show, and a much better staging than Finland.
Now we’re the lucky ones, getting the last run-through from the start. The camera begins from behind the stage, capturing Damiano, before he walks in front of the drummer’s own little stage.
Before the last chorus, Damiano is first “flirting” with Victoria, then with Thomas, before he joins Ethan on the drummer’s stage. As he walks down the stairs of the drummer’s stage again, we’re getting a huge pyro curtain and basically pyros all around, a thunderstorm of flashing spotlights, and incredibly good camera work.
I expected their outfits to be more flamboyant, but these are things that can be changed, and probably will be changed. It’s just the first rehearsal. And that was an incredibly strong one.
We had to wait for ages, until Germany started to be fed to us in the Online Press Centre. I hope we even get to see a full run-through.
My impressions from the first run that we get to see:
Jendrik stands in front of a blue door, with a glittery ukulele. He wears a pink (PINK! totally lacking this year, right?) jacket and blue trousers. He has that woman that is dressed as a peace/victory sign (or is it a middle finger after all?) standing next to him. Three backing singers, who also have brass instruments in their hands, stand at the left side of the screen. The backdrop and the floor show lots of splashing colours.
Jendrik looks amazing and performs the hell out of this song. Vocals are okay. The announcement towards the end of the song seems to be done in Dutch, but I don’t know for sure. At the end, the group of five is walking towards the satellite stage for another “last dance”. This was a very solid run-through, and managed to be more catchy and captivating than I expected. That was fun.
2nd run through – new observations!
Jendrik wears a necklace saying “Annoying”. There are lots of “bad” words displayed in the backdrop, both in German and English.
As much as I found the song “annoying” before, as much do I feel entertained by the performance now. It puts a smile on my face, and that hasn’t really happened a lot in the history of Germany at the Eurovision Song Contest. Will this be the big surprise? Will this be exactly what people need now, after a long, demanding and depressing pandemic?
Okay, if the host country is finally officially “Netherlands” in the context of Eurovision, and not “The Netherlands”, then bear with me if I don’t drop old habits that quickly. At least, it’s announced as “Netherlands” here in the Online Press Centre, unlike the official website still saying “The Netherlands”.
Now back to the main topic: The first rehearsal of the host country.
Jeangu wears a blue jacket, and underneath, a very interesting piece of fashion, on his bare chest. What this is, is beyond me, and it’s so distracting from the song that it took me until the chorus to give up figuring out or describing what it is.
In the chorus, “Yu no man broko mi” is displayed in capitals on the backdrop, another trend for 2021, it seems.
For large parts of the song, the stage is mostly drowned in blue colours, and there’s an overall cold vibe that I think isn’t very suitable for the song.
After the second chorus, Jeangu and his three dancers move towards the catwalk, and now the stage gets brighter, and lot more colourful. The vocals are perfect from what I can hear, but as a whole, it could have been staged ten times better.
Don’t get me wrong, this was solid. But the overall presentation left me disappointed.
Time for more observations:
In the beginning, we are seeing cracks in a wall. Jeangu is joined by two backing singers. In the first chorus, we see a very interesting dance being performed by one of the dancers.
Okay, it’s really not aligning to what my own imagination of the staging was, but I also have to say, that this sounded absolutely wonderful, and the dances look very tight and smooth. They got these parts right, at least, and the Dutch can – generally spoken – be happy with their home entry.
Barbara stands in the spotlight, with a bit of fog rolling over the floor (not guaranteed, I couldn’t verify this yet, apparently we don’t get a second run-through). Barbara is dressed all in black, but shows shoulders and a bit of her belly.
We get a close-up to her very quickly, then we see her being wonderfully lit from the left side. The stage is totally black. Just Barbara and the spotlights on her.
Barbara delivers an incredible vocal performance.
Only once, there is a notable use of the LED: At one point, on the floor, the silhouettes of doves emerge from Barbara’s shadow.
As the song gets faster towards the end, the camera becomes “alive” and reflects the movements of “stomping” that is also represented in the music. This kind of camerawork has never been done before at Eurovision, and suits the whole vibe of the song so, so well. Incredibly strong.
James stands on a pedestal, in the middle of two massive white trumpet props. Four dancers in white are entering the stage in the first chorus. A mix of turquoise, pink and violet light is giving the white clothes of the dancers a very nice touch.
James himself wears black. Later in the song, he leaves his pedestal and performs close to the front of the stage. In the more quiet part, the stage is dark, and a few laser lights circle around James from above.
The dominating colours are red, violet, pink and turquoise. At the last note, James is doing a proper Eurovision end pose, with his forefinger up in the air.
Overall, this was… good. Captivating, colourful, performed tightly, and vocally just fine. I don’t think it will do a lot on the scoreboard, but it’s an entry that the United Kingdom fans will be able to stand behind.
Blas stands alone in the dark. The first bit is without instruments, just Blas’ voice. As soon as the instruments set in, we see stars on the backdrop. This is apparently a new version of the song, compared to the video. In the chorus, in which the stage is drown in blue light, we’re seeing an eclipse behind Blas.
At some point, the blue light goes away, and Blas is being lit – and he looks beautiful there. That much has to be acknowledged. Over him, there is a massive moon prop. We assume it’s a Samanta Tina reject.
The second verse is turned into an uptempo part, turning it into a completely new song, and not adding anything positive to it.
Last run-through, last chance for new observations, and then we’ve seen all entries rehearsed at least once.
The staging is quite beautiful, but my my main worry in the second run we’re getting is: Will the moon eventually fall down and overrun him? Okay, focus back on his vocals, which sound indeed like he got overrun by the moon. Nice, that’s maybe next year’s host city, but not a word I’d associate with this performance.
The song ends in warm, yellow lights, and Blas gets a last chance to interact with the camera, but the moment isn’t really intimate, even though it’s probably intended to be exactly that. Under the line, this has zero emotions, zero impact. A bottom result is very, very likely.
And that’s all for today! Thanks for going through this Crazy Thursday with us (is that a term yet?). We’ll be back tomorrow morning to cover the remaining second rehearsals of the second semi-final.