It only took 34123 days, give or take a few, but we’ve made it! It’s the last day of the individual rehearsals! I will be here for one more night of second rehearsals, this time with our direct finalists: Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom and Spain. I predict that my entire range of emotions will be tested.
Don’t forget to refresh, and also don’t forget to keep an eye out for the allocation draw of the big 5 as those take place later today!
Italy: There comes a time in the life of every Eurovision blogger when they finally get to see their favorite entry of that year rehearse. So for full disclosure: this is my favorite, and no, I’m not at all nervous about this, my nails always look that way!
The thing about this is that I always knew that in terms of setup, it’s going to be what it is: the band, the instruments, and their styling, which is in your face but song-appropriate. The question was always how will it translate to the Eurovision stage. What worked really well for them – which isn’t necessarily the case for most of the acts this year, even though there are only four people on stage, is that using the big stage helped sell this. The lights, the harsh color scheme of stark colors and the contrast when the stage goes white, and the sweeping camera shots make this feel like we’re watching a recording of their sold out giant rock concert. And yet, it’s also shot in a way that takes into consideration that there might not be an audience, but the feeling is created in a way that makes us fill the blanks.
Unlike Finland, they never go too overboard with the lights and the speed of the cuts, which means we get to actually see the band, and with Damiano being the charisma explosion that he is the to start the song with the camera on him as he walks to the center of the stage gets us right into the middle of the action.
The second run is the same as the first, which basically means that despite being very young all of them, and especially Damiano, are already pros at this. It looks amazing – even before the pyro rehearsal, which I don’t say lightly, considering how very much disliked the staging of my #2, Switzerland, but my struggle with predicting this remains as it was: it’s not a particularly easy song and I have no idea how many people will like that kind of song.
The pyros actually don’t come until the very end, but when it rains, it pours, and they use more pyros in 20 seconds than the rest of the acts combined.
Either way, I’ll say something that I said about Salvador – of all people – ahead of the 2017 final: love it or hate it, you won’t be able to miss it.
Germany: Well, if that’s not a massive change of mood from Italy. I’m glad to report that I actually don’t feel hate towards this, and not even particularly sorry, because while there was never a way for this to not be a bottom 5 song, Jendrik is lovely and likable it’s hard to fully form negative thoughts about this. Not that it will help voters form positive thoughts, mind you, and it really is all a bit silly even if it is in good fun. I suspect the mockery levels of this will vary based on people’s personal taste and also how many times they’ve heard it, but it’s colorful and performed well within the given nonsensical nature of this entire adventure.
Second run, and I might need to reconsider my non-hating sentiment. This is really not a song that needs to be consumed more than once. This is such a weird mix of grown-up messages and a children’s show presentation, though. I was about to say I’m confused about it, but let’s face it, I’ve been confused about this since it has been revealed.
Third run, which means that I only have to watch it one more time, in the final, and then forget it happened. Although I do have to give him (honest) props for bringing the same high level of energy into every run. I respect the commitment, if nothing else.
Netherlands: In which we find the song that is quite possibly going to have the largest gap between jury and televote placing. I honestly have no idea what the audience at home across Europe will do with this – the somewhat unexpected song, the styling, the colors, and some of the choreography. It’s such a grower that I feel you need more than once to really appreciate it, even though I do think that the melody is pretty immediate and Jeangu’s personality and positivity really shine through.
The juries, however, are a different story, and not only I am sure many will appreciate the musical style and the orchestration, I can’t even begin to describe how amazing it sounded. In the sea of recorded backing vocals, this is a literal love song to a rich live vocal performance.
Second run, and what can I say – I really do hope voters get it, because it’s so so lovely. Probably one of the few rehearsals I’ve seen that without even thinking out it too much, I found myself feeling so happy. We all can use a bit of that.
Third run, and if Germany became more tiresome after each run, it’s entirely possible that I could listen to this seven more times. Wherever this finishes, the home crowd can be proud of this! (Something that I didn’t get to have in 2019.)
France: Oh, good. Another one I have no idea what to do with. It’s definitely striking in its simplicity and intimacy, and will stand out more than any ballad in the final, and Barbara could not perform this any better. But it’s also very angry – which I know is the point of the song, but it’s not an easy emotion to relate to, and the way the camerawork and performance develops towards the end is both very memorable and a bit anxiety-inducing as the movements become jerkier and jerkier. If Netherlands made me incredibly happy, this makes me feel like I need to step outside and take a deep breath.
The unexpected joys of remote rehearsal coverage life is that my power grid definitely did feel some hate towards someone and decided to crash, making me miss the next French runs – but judging by what it was in the first run-through, I doubt it’d be any different.
United Kingdom: James might be singing “out of the embers”, but this staging and performance is what you get after you take a nice (even if not groundbreaking) song and burn it until all you have left is embers.
Said no one, ever.
I find it funny that this essentially uses the same color scheme as Albania, but if Albania got almost everything right, this got almost everything wrong. I don’t even know why I’m surprised at this point.
It’s a song that has such a happy vibe, that is about getting into a good mood, and yet the staging does the opposite. It’s dark and uninspired (and very tacky), there’s nothing really happening that keeps you interested in the song. It’s just there.
James’ vocals are a bit wobbly – nothing really terrible, but considering most of his chances to get something out of it are hoping that someone will appreciate his voice, to do that he needs to sound great (which he can do, but doesn’t do right now).
Looking at it again, it does have a bit more color than I remembered – there are some orange and yellow lights coming in, but dude, it really doesn’t light up the room. Lighting up the room isn’t the same as keeping a light on so we can find our way in the dark.
As we wait for Spain, I can report that Italy just drew 2nd half, and I should probably apologize to my neighbors tomorrow for that squeal.
Spain: It starts with an almost a capella intro and Blas sounds really good in it. And then the music sounds in and he sounds… not as good. It’s a bit pitchy, but I got easily distracted by the fact there’s a giant moon hanging right behind him and I kept waiting for it to accidentally hit Blas.
The backdrops and the changes are really pretty, actually, but this really could have been helped by a better vocal arrangement – and actual backing singers instead of recorded ones. The falsetto in particular was pretty painful, and it’s difficult to get into it.
He gets better in the next run, but it’s still not entirely comfortable to listen to despite him getting the notes right. It just feels like he might miss the next note. Staging-wise, though, not much more that they could do with this.
I am happy to report that he got the vocals entirely right in the last run! What good will it do considering I still can’t see too many people liking the song, but it’s a nice note (pun only partially intended) to wrap up the individual rehearsals with!