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Semi-Final 1, Jury Rehearsal: Live blog

by | May 17, 2021 | 2021 Rehearsal Liveblogs, escgo at Eurovision, Eurovision

Semi-Final 1, Jury Rehearsal: Live blog

by | May 17, 2021 | 2021 Rehearsal Liveblogs, escgo at Eurovision, Eurovision

header photograph by Daless

This liveblog is in reverse chronological order – so if you want to read about things as they happened, go to the bottom of the page and scroll up!

Good night, Europe: The crowd is cheering! The credits are rolling! There’s an upbeat music! The acts are packing their stuff so they can get the hell back to the hotel and get some sleep ahead of tomorrow morning’s dress rehearsal! And this is all from us as well. It’s semi final 1 day tomorrow!

Fake results: it always makes me laugh seeing the real delegations celebrating the fake Q. Tusse and co. are singing the Dutch entry. Ireland’s reaction is muted – they probably know they won’t get a real one. Australia qualified too but I was distracted and didn’t notice if they cut to her in the studio. I assume they did because they had to test if it works. Either way, the scoreboard is colorful and fun, and I like the dramatic music they used to create tension. It works well without being overbearing. We also get a quick recap of our fake qualifiers.

Netherlands (in full): I know it’s not the real show, but it works well as the last song of the night for the audience here, obviously. Audience singing Seven Nations Army afterwards. Randomly, as we head into the fake results and an outdoor intro for it!

Germany (in full): Like in previous rehearsals, the gap between this and Italy is so big, I can’t even process. I fully except the Dutch audience to love this, though, which they do because of course they do. I only have to see this in full one more time!

Italy (in full): still no clue about the result of this, but – as was obvious from rehearsals – it comes across as an interval, and a strong one, it’s just their own show and it’s on a different level than everything else.

More things apparently are going to happen: They are checking connections and doing all kind of tech things which will be followed by a performance of Italy. I guess they wanted to practice showing the short clips of the big 5 during the semi itself, and are now recording the performances that will be used for youtube and the short clip tomorrow night. As we wait, the audience is low key shouting “Italia! Italia!” Chantal, in the meantime, gets the entire audience to sing what I assume is a well known Dutch children’s song. Ha!

“It’s the first time they come out of the cages! Crawling”, she says of the Dutch audience.

Netherlands: Guess who got a much longer introduction and screen time? Yep. The homeboy. There’s a romance with Tix there too, apparently, as we get another close up of him sending kisses to Jeangu. I’m not entirely comfortable with the amount of screen time he gets, actually – Tix, that is. There are other contestants, you know. The audience keeps singing their song even when the clip ends.

Germany: The big 5 presentation feels really really rushed. Not much of an intro before Italy, explaining about the big 5 or anything, and then super short interviews with the participants. You could have just as well let them hang out at the hotel.

Italy: I saw the “Måneskin” giant type on the backdrop, and that’s it, that’s all I remember, doctor. It’s quick interviews and 1-minute clips, and Italy’s clip is just a slightly longer version of what we’ve seen in the 2nd rehearsal clip.

Arcade: It’s Edsilia and Duncan, and he’s wearing something that looks like yellow hospital scrubs, for some reason. We get a videographic about Arcade and its success as Duncan provides a voice over talking about its impact on himself.

More Nikkie: I really liked her in LookLab, but those videos are sort of superfluous. As I mentioned earlier, I’m guessing these are commercial breaks elsewhere.

Eurovision Winners: It’s basically a compilation of winners saying things about their winning entries and the experience that they’ve said a million times before, but produced more nicely that it has been before because technology evolves. Cynicism aside, though, I’m not going to complain about respect the competition’s history and it’s an easy thing to fill the time with.

Another recap: Can I just have my Italy already, please? Listening again, the Israeli bit is a bit pitchy too, but the whistle note is perfect, and that’s all they needed.

Interval: In which the Dutch got tired of people laughing at their flatlands and are hitting back with things flat surfaces do well: Water! Funny to have the interval singer pretty much eclipsing all the competing singers, though. Not much to report here, otherwise. It’s nicely intervaling the show as intervals should do, I guess.

Recap: not much to report here – all delegations seem to have made sensible choices, as much as possible. Even if I was hoping Croatia would use the Croatian bit, but that’s just me! I’m also not a fan of the Israeli fashion choice in the last part of the song, but of course it makes sense to use it. Romania sounds terrible, but I think they’d be hard pressed to find a good clip to use that also features the chorus as she can’t sing the damn thing. The Ukrainians in the green room are jumping to the their song and it’s a lot of fun!

You know the deal: Yep, we’re getting the usual “this is how you vote for a song” spiel. And don’t forget: you can’t vote for yourself!

Malta 2.0: Because I apparently somehow missed this is getting a repeat too. While they are setting it up, we’re learning about the clapping app. If you want to know why they are performing again, I have no idea. Not even a guess.

She still sounds good, but ironically, her voice sounds a bit more tired, having just given so much 10 minutes. I wonder if it was some of the effects that didn’t work, because I’m never going to be able to remember all the stuff they use there and therefore will not notice when something is missing.

She’s good, but yes, she definitely doesn’t sound quite as good, although for balance, her last note is better than before. Either way: Won’t matter, of course, but why this was even needed I don’t know.

Ukraine 2.0: Ha! I didn’t realize it before, but she looks a lot more relaxed now than she did in the beginning of the previous take, which is probably when she realized her in-ear monitor didn’t work.

She sounds way better than the first run, where she sounded good too – but hearing the difference really means she was incredibly professional under pressure to have gotten it right, not knowing that she would get to sing again. It’s a learning experience of sorts, seeing how small things that we might not realize are happening impact the quality of the performance, because once she didn’t have to focus on the vocals as much as before, everything flowed much better. Another huge audience reaction!

Romania 2.0: She’s not behind the beat now, but she still can’t sing the chorus of this remotely in tune. Verses are better, but similarly to before you can always tell when she moves and when she doesn’t even without looking, because as soon as she walks and sings at the same time, her voice becomes flat and breathy.

It’s still the best vocal I heard from her, for whatever that’s worth, there’s more flat moments than offkey moments! Except the ending, of course, which I don’t think she’ll ever be able to sing.

The audience cheers for her having to have gone through it again, so respect for that!

Green room: Tusse asks to hear more about the Tix / Efendi love story, so we’re getting that. Shoot me now.

“Is there a love story or did you just make it up?”
(Tix: “I hope so”).

This might be my favorite green room host line of all time!

Repeat Performances: We’re being told that Romania and Ukraine will perform again due to technical problems (as was evident by both being behind the beat). We’re seeing a video report from the opening ceremony as the production sets this up.

Malta: Oh, so it’s silver boots and shiny white top now? glad we’re focusing on what’s really important. Does work better than the full on silver from rehearsals, though. And would it be rude to message her to ask where she got the boots from?

Anyhow, she’s great, and this is as fun and colorful as it should be. The audience is eating up and it’s the perfect way to close the show! A bit pitchy at the end, but honestly? Won’t matter.

Ukraine: I only watched this with the stand-in singer, so this is also a first proper view of this for me.

Whenever I see Kateryna’s dress, by the way, I feel like she invaded Dana International’s closet. And overall, the staging and styling, for however off the beaten track they are, are really interesting. Vocally, she has a couple of seconds where she’s a tiny bit behind the beat, but she course-corrects very quickly.

The performance, much like the song itself, really picks up as the music speeds up, and the audience gives a huge cheer as Kateryna hits that last note.

Azerbaijan: there’s something quite impressive about being able to shout a melody line that has very few notes in it, and actually sound like you’re singing well. Elsewhere, the choreography in the first two minutes is as half-assed as it always been, but the crowd loves the ethnic instrumental breaks, obviously. You can’t always hear the audience during the performances but you definitely hear it during the breaks, and of course as soon as the last sped up bit starts. A huge cheer at the end and there was a close up on Tix giving a standing ovation and cheering excitedly and I just choked on my keyboard. This is not a great timing for keyboard failures. Thanks for that!

Romania: She sang it well until the first “I lost myself” where she started singing behind the music again, similarly to the previous rehearsal. This entered flat vocal territory, and looks like it’s going to get worse. As soon as she gets to sit down, she sounds fine, but she can’t handle singing while moving and every time she needs to move around the stage it sounds really bad.

Her new costume actually works better for the artistic concept, and works nicely with the dancers and the backdrops. She had a few good vocal moments towards the end, which were followed by her officially running out of breathe and sounding terrible at the very last seconds. A very mixed bag.

Måns Zelmerlöw: Yes, you’re cute. No, I don’t really care.

Israel: This is one of those countries – as often happens – that slowly got it together during rehearsals. There are more close ups on her than the rehearsals I saw, which improves things immensely, the vocals – while not her best – are definitely strong enough for this kind of song and whether you like the whistle notes or not, she nails them.

The last part of the song is now timed to perfection, with the pyros coming in the right time and working really well with the choreography. She ends up with a thank you to the audience in both Hebrew and Arabic, and the reaction was huge, which I wasn’t expecting when watching the rehearsals previously.

Belgium: With this being the most jury-friendly (and not very televote friendly in the semi) this is really where they need to bring it on.

What I find the most interesting about this performance is that it’s clear Geike has been watching herself and has really improved the way she interacts and flirts with the camera, with the really angry / crazy expression – which now is obviously intentional – only happening at the very end.

Elsewhere, it’s as perfect as it could have been, obviously. The prerogative of being such a pro.

Croatia: You know my brain has reached full-capacity mode when the postcards show Albina’s photos and I still can’t remember what country is next.

Albina starts off a bit pitchy and nervous vocally, but she manages to just about hold on to the first big note. Then, of course, the recorded backing vocals kick in, and she gets into it a lot more, flirting with the camera as this song requires. I’m still not a huge fan of this staging, though. I really wonder how juries will handle the recorded backing vocals this year, as it makes it very clear how much of the performance is that. Not sure Albina could have done a lot more with that, a few wobbly notes aside – something that honestly even juries often don’t care about much in that type of song and performance.

Norway: Ooh, say hello to my bestie, Tix! Is it wrong of me to keep picturing what will happen to the wings if they get tangled in the iron chains? The most exciting thing to happen, though, is that Tix actually took his sunglasses off. Miracles never cease.

Tix sounds as he always does, so… not great? Although, about halfway through he decides he actually can sing, and it sounds fine from then onwards. Having said that, I don’t think juries would have been its biggest fans even if he did, and the audience really won’t care about his vocals.

Cyprus: The postcard has some really awesome murals. Just putting it out there.

Cyprus repeats its strategy of making sure the first few seconds have very little movement so their singer can start off by singing alone and sounding strong, before we cut to the rest of the song, which has a lot of spoken word and recorded backing vocals. But let’s face it, this is really not the point of the song.

But if their point was looking like they are on a different level than what they had before, they got that one down, especially after Ireland. If the former was a children’s TV show, this is out of a major music award ceremony, and I think we can guess which one will work more for both the juries and the audience.

The closing part of this is also back to little movement, allowing Elena to sound strong vocally as the performance finishes.

Another quick break: AKA we need to get all the Irish props off the stage.

Ireland: Hello, the other country I get to watch for the first time! I can’t compare it to any previous runs, but she’s fairly flat, and she’s also displaying a somewhat odd mix of smiling and genuinely enjoying herself while also looking a bit like she doesn’t want to be there. No idea how that works.

Speaking of things I have no idea about: this staging. Why? It’s actually interesting visually, so I’ll give them that, but this doesn’t mean it fits the song. Or her. It makes it feel like she’s an adult performing on a children’s TV show or something.

I was about to write that her vocals improved throughout, which they did, but then she managed to sing the last note anywhere but on where it actually is.

Green Room: Edsilia is speaking to The Roop. I’m distracted by the cute Azerbaijan guy behind them, though. We’re getting a satellite sync with Montaigne in Australia, and it really is her this time! She speaks about being sad missing the chance to perform her song live but hopes it didn’t suffer too much because of it.

NikkieTutorials Break: Commercial break fodder, I guess? Nikkie is showing us highlights of fan online presence, and… it’s not very interesting. It’s literally the type of content TV channels will run on their online broadcasts when they aren’t legally allowed to show commercials.

North Macedonia: This is one of the two countries I didn’t watch any rehearsal of, so I get to have a fresh impression here! Doubt it will do much good considering my feelings about the song, but we shall see.

He’s actually performing this really well, but that song and I will never be friends. Also, even seeing it in the context of the entire performance, the discoball top makes no sense. They did well with the spotlights, though: if you can’t avoid making it look over theatrical, just go for it instead. Don’t think Vasil could have done more with this, so props for him.

Australia: It’s the first time I get to watch this as well. As Martin said earlier, there’s no reference to her not being in the hall, but I’m sure all commentators will make a point of it anyway. It’s a cool performance, but as was pretty easy to guess, the difference to a live show with audience is obvious, and the production didn’t insert fake cheers throughout as I thought they would. She did as much as she could do with it, and I’m grateful for the audience making an extra effort to cheer for her at the end. I don’t think there’s a way around it feeling like it is included as a courtesy, though.

Sweden: Oooh! He sort of remembered how to sing! He sounds so much better than he did in rehearsals, and with him being the strongest thing about the entry, it makes a huge difference in how this comes across. With the vocals the confidence came back too, and now it looks a lot more like it should for it to do its job well. I almost wonder if he’s a performer that needs a crowd and pressure, because what a difference in how he performed this previously. This is the Tusse Sweden needs tomorrow to get their televotes, too.

Russia: If there was a song I was really curious to see an audience reaction for, it’s this one. I think everyone commented by now on how long it takes for the song to get going or at least get to the parts that really evoke a reaction, and on that end it always reminded me of Watch my Dance (which had a much worse rap part). I thought then that once you reached the strong emotional part of the song, that’s what the audience will remember the most about it anyway, and I suspect the case will be the same here too.

Huge audience response to this as well. I felt she even put a bit more into the singing that she did before, and she is so easy to relate to.

Slovenia: I lied. Not all postcards show elements from the staging. Oh well. Either way, it’s Ana!

It’s jury time, so Ana is giving the vocals 120%, as you’d expect, and a bit more emotion than I’ve seen from her before. Not much to report otherwise – the choir with no actual people is as odd as it was before, but such is the beast that is pre-recorded vocals.

Loved to see her laughing shyly at the end of this otherwise bombastic vocal performance.

Lithuania: It’s first time for me to get a look at the postcards, and I love that they found visual ways to match them to the performers and performance!

Lithuania – unsurprisingly so – is a great opener for a live show, and the audience gets into it easily. Performance wise, I don’t think The Roop have “not 100% pro” as part of their vocabulary, and they give this all the energy it deserves. Also, after getting used to not having an audience for so long, it’s really cool to appreciate the fact we can notice what the audience react to. A giant reaction in the hall, obviously.

Hosts: I dare you to not tear up as well when the hosts talk about finally being back and the crowd cheers like only a crowd that couldn’t attend a live show for over a year could. I double dare you. We also get a nod of thanks to Israel and the standard introduction of the mechanism of the competition. Oh, hi there, scoreboard. I missed you!

Feel Something: We start with Duncan singing Feel Something (and not very well, but he’s not competing now, is he?). Then we have have the official Eurovision dance crew and more pyros than I knew was legal to use inside a closed space.

Opening: Oh, look, it’s the Dutch version of Chariots of Fire! Did I cry a little bit now when the broadcast morphed from an atmospheric soundtrack music to the host saying “Eurovision is back!” with an actual live audience? I will not deny it.

Before we begin: Are you excited? I am! Both for the fact it’s finally money time, and also about being able to blog at the reasonable hour that is noon! It’s also the reason I won’t be using the current hour as my subsection titles, just a short text to describe where we are in the show. It’s a bit too confusing to remember what is the correct time zone.

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