In the second day of The View from San Francisco, I continue to bring you all the real (possibly. Maybe. Not really) stories behind the staging decisions of the Eurovision 2022 participants. In today’s edition – which includes the 3 remaining entries from the first semi final and the first 7 entries of the second semi – we will see more nods to Eurovision history, camaraderie and sportsmanship between delegations… and Georgia.
The Icelandic sisters have had quite a dramatic time in Italy so far. Imagine this: you arrive to your first rehearsal where you intend to sing a song called “With the Rising Sun” only to find out they have a dead sun as a backdrop. That obviously couldn’t do!
They had to quickly scramble and figure out an entirely different concept while also exploring the answers to the philosophical question: How do you make a dead sun rise again? With the time ticking down to their second rehearsal the pressure was on, but the spring of ideas was as dead as the sun.
But then, in a remarkable demonstration of true friendship, the Lithuanian delegation reached out to them and revealed that in their own rehearsals they discovered that while the stage doesn’t really do the things it needs to do, the one thing it does well is looking like it belongs to a time long forgotten, when things were simpler and delegations didn’t want fancy LED screens. Luckily for Iceland, they already had the warm, nostalgic staging down from the national final, and after a long night of exploring all the buttons that activate the stage (most of them don’t work and are just there for show, but no one bothered to put stickers on the buttons that do work), they found the button that produces pretty warm sparkly lights.
And this is how the Icelandic staging was saved!
No daily round up of rehearsals is complete without at least one “this is exactly what it was in the NF, you don’t need me for this.” Given the fact the Norwegian entry was already pretty damn good in the national final there was really no reason to touch this, which once again gives me too much time to contemplate important life questions. Why did you call him Jim? Who is Keith? And why in the name of everything that is good and dear would you try to feed a wolf with anything? Don’t you have any sense of self-preservation? Does your grandma know this is what you do on her behalf? Walk around hidden underneath a mask and giving bananas to strangers? And will I ever manage to not sing this for 5 hours straight every time I hear a 20 second snippet of this? Only time will tell, but only if no one tells Jim.
I’m sure that like me, you’ve all been wondering for many years what ever happened to Hayko. You know, that one of the toilet paper tree fame?
I have no idea where he’s been all those years, and was saddened to hear of his passing. But his spirit lives on in this year’s Armenian staging. Apparently, the stage designer for Rosa Linn’s Snap really took to heart the bitter disappointment of Hayko finishing in 8th place, and has obsessed over the question of what went wrong for many years, until he finally realized what the issue was. Whoever did Hayko’s staging was too hesitant and never committed and went all in. You can’t compete like that, you can’t win like that. So when it was time to draw the plans for Rosa Linn’s staging, the plan was clear. No more environmental awareness and staying within budget. One roll of toilet paper isn’t enough.
“How do you know when it is enough toilet paper”, he was asked.
“Well, that’s easy. If you can see something in the backdrop that isn’t paper, it’s not enough. Now, stop talking, back to work. Chop chop! This low-quality paper won’t glue itself!”
On the topic of countries that maintained their national final performance concept, Finland was supposed to be an easy one – and in some ways it is: the color scheme is the same, the stage act hasn’t really changed much and they definitely come across like they’ve been doing this for a while and know what they’re doing. But something weird happened on the way to the Palasport Olimpico, and the Finnish song lyrics and real life started blending into one another.
“Sleep tight until the dying sun?” They sang, and poof. Kinetic sun is no more.
“Was it the dangerous things you do?” They asked.
“I’m making friends with all the creatures that are hiding there under my bed,” she answered. “But my name is Saara. Why do you keep calling me Jezebel? And who are you?”
“We’re running away from a killer shark in heels and heard your demons are gone. We were hoping you need some new ones.”
“You can try and scare me now,” she said. “But I ain’t scared no more. Well, except those hairstyles, girlfriends. I will strongly suggest to reconsider whatever it is that is going on here.”
“You wound me,” the lead singer of The Rasmus clutched his heart. “Your final kiss is to leave a scar. Wait, where are you going? Jezebel? Jezebel???”
Ten years ago, when my home country sent Izabo with the song Time, I would have never imagined that a decade later Israel would send a song with a title that has 3 letters out of those 4, but more unbelievably for 2012 me: a pop uptempo song with a good performer, slick choreography, impressive stage and actual camerawork.
I definitely wouldn’t have believed my future self if she told me Israel will do this at Eurovision and I wouldn’t even be remotely excited about such an unimaginable transformation when it comes to my country’s entries to the contest. But 2022 me? You know I.M not a fan.
Many words have been written and told about the Serbian song, staging, and Queen Konstrakta the First. What has not been spoken about enough, however, is the fact this clapping-centric entry is performed in the land of Soldi, and in a competition in which Italy is represented by the clapping singer in question. With the backdrop not being very subtle when it comes to suggesting actions, the Italians better have a good audience shot in stock for us with the entire audience clapping, because otherwise what is even the point? The Eurovision clapping bar has been raised, and the pressure of bringing Eurovision clapping traditions to the next level is all on Konstrakta and her minions.
Much like their neighbors and frenemies Armenia, Azerbaijan also decided to look at previous entrants for staging inspiration. First up was Safura, who was delighted to finally have someone take that useless set of stairs from her basement, where it has been gathering dust for the last 12 years. She actually tried to use the opportunity to unload more things that have been hidden down there and offered to throw in an extra backing singer for free. “Like new!” she declared, “was only lightly used.”
Poor Nadir thanked her for the stairs as politely as he possibly could and then he ran scared. Very scared.
He skipped Dihaj’s closet, because digging through skeletons really felt counterintuitive at this point. Nadir initially wanted to pay Aisel a visit, but his management vettoed it. Apparently props from entries that didn’t qualify to the final are outlawed in Azerbaijan. You learn something new every day.
Nadir pulled out his cell phone and went through the other options.
“Sabina… dead music. That’s a no. Samra. Dead vocals. definitely no. Is Elnur still into wolves? But there are already wolves this year, never mind. Efendi… I don’t think I could pull off those costumes. Dilara? Maybe pyromania isn’t the best way to go, I’d rather not get arrested. But who is left?”
“Me! Me! I’m left!” Chingiz suddenly showed up next to him.
“Woah!” Nadir jumped, “where did you come from?”
“Tel Aviv, I think? We never managed to turn that prop off.”
Nadir shook his head to himself. “I can’t deal with this nonsense right now,” he walked away before noticing something weird. Somewhere in the dark, a shadow was following his movements. Except his own shadow was still connected to him, and unless you’re Peter Pan, your shadow isn’t supposed to mimic your movements across the street from you. Nadir considered panicking, but decided that if he survived watching Azerbaijan’s 2008 entry he can survive everything. He took a deep breathe, and took a few steps. The shadow walked a few steps towards him.
“Ahhhhh!” screamed Nadir.
“Ahhhhh!” screamed Farid.
“Wait, Farid? What are you doing here?”
“Looking for you! I heard you’re looking for staging concepts! I’ve been holding on to him for a long time!”
“Him? You must mean it.”
“Him. I meant him.”
Imagine being the person that just came up with this entire Azerbaijan text above, and still feeling not remotely crazy enough to explain Georgia, especially when even Georgia quite possibly couldn’t explain Georgia. Or maybe, looking at their track record, it’s just self-explanatory. Either way, I’ve got nothing. You won, Georgia. You might never win Eurovision this way, or ever qualify again, but in this competition you didn’t know you were having between you and I, where we both attempt our best at being euro-psychotic? You win. I bow to your batshit crazy greatness.
Do you hear this noise? This is the sound of Ira Losco throwing her Maltafest trophies at the wall. She went to Eurovision twice. Twice! She had a song called “7th wonder”, but it was too subtle for the Maltese HoDs who don’t do subtlety well, so she came back years later with a much more obvious “Walk on Water”. But did she get water? Nope. Not even a little tiny bucket with a bit of water in it. But Emma? Emma?? She gets waterfalls? Plural? When she doesn’t even have one single lyric that references a body of water? What’s next? Actually keeping the same camera angles between one rehearsal and the next? Complete blasphemy.
We finish this batch of rehearsals with another artistic effort that demonstrates environmental awareness and uses available resources by reaching out to former Eurovision participants and asking for their old props. It wasn’t the initial plan, though. There was actually a very detailed list of ideas and requirements, but someone’s cat sat on the keyboard and accidentally added a few extra digits to the budget lines for fireworks and dry ice, which caused the entire worth of San Marino’s 2021 GDP to be assigned to it. Oops, don’t tell anyone.
Achille Lauro, like the Eurovision virgin that he is, didn’t know what to do next, and kept insisting that all he needed was love, but was promptly told to shut up and go get some props. He was then introduced into the inner cycle of the European point-exchange fellowship. It required some negotiations, but eventually Cyprus agreed to provide Minus One’s old stage props. What is Cyprus getting in return? We don’t know.
But we can guess.
What I can’t guess, though? What shenanigans await us as the second rehearsals continue.