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The View from San Francisco: Spirit of the Night

by | May 7, 2022 | 2022 Rehearsals, Eurovision, Featured

The View from San Francisco: Spirit of the Night

by | May 7, 2022 | 2022 Rehearsals, Eurovision, Featured | 0 comments

Hello there, it’s me again. Yes, it’s your timezone-challenged friend who just spent her Friday night watching rehearsal clips, and I have words. I have many words. No, Lior, they are most definitely not words for love. Have you met me?

Australia:

Those of you who have had the slight misfortune of knowing me for many years might know that I have a slightly unhealthy and dysfunctional relationship with reality singing shows. It has diminished somewhat over recent years, but I’ve watched enough shows in enough countries to still have a “wait, I know this one!” reaction when I see national final participant lists and recognize names that haven’t done anything Eurovision-related before.

Sheldon, having competed in several shows, is one of those people, and I will forever associate him and his veil with his performance of Frozen (as well as some other great renditions he had over the years). As such, I found myself delighted to have him represent Australia and his song and performance are exactly what I would expect him to do. Unfortunately for him, though, almost anyone who will come into this Eurovision with a predetermined notion of liking him is either in Australia or, apparently, in San Francisco – two places from which he can’t get any votes. For the rest of Europe, this performance has some clear vibes of “if you’re going to scream at me for three minutes, the least you can do is actually show your face throughout the entire time.” Or possibly even the more basic “ok, but why?” reaction, for those of us whose brains will be overwhelmed in deciding what to process first, the veil or this outfit. Because, really: why? Did he pack all the white stuff he had in his closet and then wore everything all at once? And more importantly: is it safe? Can he walk down his stairs without either tripping over the outfit, or just tipping over because it’s so heavy? Is it the Rorschach test of clothing and we’re all supposed to see something else in this? Is it actually blue and black?

Many questions that will get no answers because no one cares.

Cyprus:

Speaking of things I have an unhealthy and dysfunctional relationship with: this song. In theory, I really should have nothing against it. It might not be the best thing ever written, but I described it in our line-up check as “a pleasant, breezy lightweight three minutes of Greeklish folk pop that should totally be my thing” and absolutely meant it.

So how could a relationship with such an uncomplicated effort be contentious, you might wonder? The answer to this is actually the second half of my reaction to this song that I mentioned above, which, incidentally, was also the first thing I noticed when I originally heard this: the singer cannot, for the life of her, pronounce the letters S and Z. So, even in the studio version phase of this, I – and as it turned out, also a Greek-speaking friend of mine, proving that I’m not entirely crazy – had to resort to extreme solutions like singing over the song so we didn’t hear her constantly murdering Sigma and Zeta. It’s such a cruel way to go.

When I heard the rehearsal clip, it brought both good news and bad news with it. The good news: Sigma seems to have survived the massacre and is doing ok. Not well, but ok.

Zeta, however, wasn’t as lucky, and is now an unwilling participant in a Greek-Cypriot stage tragedy as Andromache assassinates it in cold blood, sounding like nails on a chalkboard while doing so.

Luckily for her, because that vicious crime against the alphabet takes place within the Greek part of the song, the only people who are likely to throw stuff at the TV are Greek speakers who either can’t vote for her or will vote for her regardless, depending on their geographical location.

As for myself, I can only ask all of you to join me in prayer for the health and safety of my laptop come the semifinal broadcast.

Cyprus 2nd rehearsal

You make me want your aphrodisiac
(EBU / Anders Putting)

Ireland:

Speaking of our line-up check, my Ireland take there was surprisingly optimistic – to the point of the country at least being able to not be horribly embarrassed by this. Well, I take it back. It takes true talent to take a fairly simple concept of a pop song, lead singer and a choreographed dance routine, somehow even without ridiculous props or even truly awful outfits – and still make it into something absolutely terrible. But I should have known that if anyone had the ability, it would be Ireland.

It’s not even that it looks like a scrapped performance concept from Eurovision 2002, not that Ireland entered that contest because – surprise! – they were awful the year before, although that certainly doesn’t help matters. It’s just that it’s all so amateur. From the outfit choices – hen party gone clubbing circa 2000 – to Brooke’s vocals, because pretending that she was just saving her voice and actually believing ourselves would be wasted energy. And let’s not talk about the choreography, straight out of a local Ulster talent show (where it finished 17th. Out of 15 participants).

Singing an entry called That’s Rich when exactly €0.00 was invested in it? Now, THAT’S rich.

Ireland, second rehearsal

Vodka, that’s the secret word
(EBU / Anders Putting)

North Macedonia:

So… did Srbuk really think she could sneak into the North Macedonian selection and go to Eurovision again and no one would notice? I’m on to you, Srbuk. And I hate to be the one to tell you this, but your angry singing about bad relationships didn’t work then and isn’t going to work now. Have you considered couples therapy?

Estonia:

Sharing is caring, or so the saying goes. Looks like both Victor Crone and Uku Suviste really care about Stefan, because they have both generously shared their own staging with him ahead of the national final already, with the hope that he will be the one to finally get it right. Third time’s a charm, right?

All signs, for however little it’s worth, point to “yes”. If Victor was lovely but couldn’t sing to save his life, and Uku couldn’t make a camera like him to save his life but at least was a better singer, Stefan actually does well on both counts. And he also has a better song, so there’s that.

I would also like to welcome Stefan to the lucrative secret society of Eurovision contestants who pointlessly and needlessly sprint across the stage to make it across the catwalk while trying to not entirely mess up the camerawork timing. I will never not be entertained by this concept, because I clearly have a terrible sense of humor and should get new hobbies.

Romania:

“Hello? Police? I would like to report a mass breakout. A second act that escaped Eurovision 2002 has been spotted in Northern Italy. Send help.”

I’m not entirely sure what is going on here and what possibly could have led the person who put this together think any of this was a good idea. My best guess is that there are Americans involved, and when they were told to watch previous Eurovisions for inspiration they went on Netflix and watched Eurovision: The Story of Fire Saga. Alexander Lemtov would approve, but he’d be the only one. And he’s also fictional, so there’s that.

Romania, second rehearsal

I wanna be the sunshine in your arms
(EBU / Corinne Cumming)

Poland:

I compared River to Silent Storm more than once, even before rehearsals, but what we’ve seen of this showed they have even more in common. First of all, the River staging is – quite literally – a storm, because river, storm, potato, potato, they’re both potentially deadly forces of nature. Close enough.

Secondly, much like Silent Storm, the people behind the staging realized that while they do have a good song and a good vocalist to rely on, what they do not have is a performer that can sell this to the camera. Instead, they have understandably chosen to just have lots of other things happen on stage so the camera can occasionally show Ochman but not rest on him for too long.

The Polish delegation obviously learned the word “subtlety” from a Maltese-English dictionary, because there is absolutely none in the staging, but you do have to applaud the effort of putting so much trouble into finding KEiiNO’s spirits who have been lost in the night for three years. Although sadly they will continue to be trapped on this mortal plane for a bit longer, because they need to go into the daylight to be free, which might be a bit difficult when the sun behind them is dead.

Poland, 2nd rehearsal

I hear them calling me, I hear them whispering
(EBU / Anders Putting)

Montenegro:

Is it really Eurovision without a female ballad with a blue backdrop? Asking for a friend.

But hey, if the Polish/Norwegian spirits are going to be stuck at the Palasport Olympico, at least they get a fairy to dance with!

Belgium:

The other day, when I wrote about the Dutch entry, I mentioned my Mute Test. The short version, in case you missed it, is this: you mute and watch for a bit, then you unmute, and if the music gives you the same feeling as watching the performance without sound does, then the performance works. The Dutch did very well on that test.

Their neighbors? Not so much. When I mute the Belgium rehearsal clip all I see is one of those viral videos where a bit of dancing is shown over and over again, every time with a different song that could work with it.

In itself, the fact that I could probably come up with a few dozen songs that would work as a soundtrack to this choreography isn’t a bad thing. You know what is a bad thing? When the actual song for which it is the choreography isn’t one of those songs.

Sweden:

Oh, Sweden. Can you be more Swedish than this? And no, don’t try to pretend that you don’t know what I’m talking about. You know very well that I don’t mean the song itself or even the performance, which are indeed not as typically Swedish as some of your other entries. I’m not even talking about this being a carbon copy of your national final performance, because you’re not the only country to do so, even if you do manage it more effectively than most.

So what is Oh-So-Swedish about this? I’ll tell you what. Every time you see a stage you don’t like, you decide to ignore it.

What did you say? One does not simply ignore an entire stage? Well, Sweden does, and it only requires a few simple steps: Bring a few items from home with you, tweak some camera angles, and you’re done. No one will even notice that anything is missing, because you’re that good. You’re Eurovision’s own Houdini, at least until some Swedish songwriters write an entry with the same name and sell it to Azerbaijan.

Sweden, second rehearsal

Magic, oh, magic, vagamente italiana
(EBU / Corinne Cumming)

Czech Republic:

I can’t say that a staging mashup of Triana Park and Il Volo’s backdrop (after Achille Lauro hacked the computer file and modified it) was on my Eurovision 2022 bingo card, but to answer your question, Dominika, this is apparently where we are now. And while we’re at it, can I just say that searching for someone with the lights off sounds counterproductive?

That’s all for today I will return tomorrow after what is sure to be a day that is entirely counterproductive to the fact I have actual work to do, which I would have done today except – you guessed it – I did other counterproductive things.

Yes, yes, I know. That’s rich, coming from me.

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