With the first rehearsals being off limits, the journey to cover all rehearsals of this year’s participants in this series felt considerably shorter, which means there are only 5 more entries cover in this entry of The View from San Francisco. Is there anything more evil than preventing me from writing as many words as I normally do? (Oh, sit down, Bulgaria. You’re not evil. Just useless.)
France isn’t the only country this year that stuck to their national final performance, but out of those on the list, it’s the country that really should have done so. Don’t get me wrong – I’m still glad it’s here, adding a bit of variety of genre and language to the final line-up, especially when that’s something we don’t usually see from France. But it’s not lost on me that quite possibly one of the reasons this was even in their preselection line-up was because the powers that be saw Shum last year, and understood that the range of music styles representing a country can indeed be extended. What the same powers might not grasp: If this ends up doing not remotely as well as either Voilà or, indeed, Shum, it’s because the song choice might have been inspired by Eurovision 2021, but the staging looks like it comes straight out of Eurovision 2004.
Now, granted, this definitely represents progress considering yesterday’s rehearsals went back to 2002, but I doubt it’s what they were going for. I was almost surprised that there were no giant drums involved, because come on, there are always drums. Then I remembered that drums were all the rage in 2005 and we aren’t quite there yet. Maybe next season.
As far as I can tell, the Italian staging consists of two conceptual ideas:
1. Darkness and light. Lights on. Lights off. White LED. Black LED. Black outfit. White outfit. More lights on. More lights off. Wait, what does this button do? Oooh, more lights! And now it’s dark again. You see where I’m going with this.
2. Mahmood and Blanco are adorable.
I don’t entirely know quite yet how the first part of their staging strategy will work for them, but I can absolutely not fault them for the latter, which should absolutely be the focus and is a fantastic reason to not have unimportant, attention-grabbing things like actual colors anywhere near a camera lens. In fact, it’s such a sensible strategy that if I were any country in the line-up wanting to improve their chances, I’d just put Mahmood and Blanco on my LED backdrop. Move over, Michelangelo.
It took me a year to figure it out, but I finally realized what James Newman was singing about last year! “Out of the embers, you and I are gonna light up the room” might sound like a line from a love song, because it is a love song. But it is not a love song for a person. It is a love song for the bizarre obsession the UK has with sending props that light up on stage to Eurovision. How sad must he have been to realize that while he might have gotten two giant trumpets, they didn’t actually light up? If Electro Velvet, SuRie, Joe and Jake, Blue, Lucie Jones and whatshisname, oh, right, Josh Dubovie, could all bring props that required the BBC to foot an extra electricity bill, why couldn’t he?
After James’ spectacular showing and point count, though, BBC have clearly worked very hard to draw the right conclusions. There was just no other choice. They must return to their ways of old and bring a giant prop that has lights and can be turned on and off and do all kind of things so Graham Norton will have something to talk excitedly about!
It should be said that they also reached some other, less important conclusions, and are experimenting this year by also sending a charismatic and talented singer with a great song. But this really isn’t the main thing. First and foremost: the prop! Everything else is secondary.
Spain, somewhat unsurprisingly (which actually is surprising because it doesn’t usually work that way), brought their national final performance to Italy almost as-is.
The main change, however, seems to be rooted in someone in RTVE having the same idea ERT had about their own staging: “It’s great, but make it Greek”, except, you know, Make it Spanish instead.
They stared and stared and stared at the screen, until someone shouted: “I’ve got it! Paso doble reggaeton!”
“Oooh,” someone else replied, “that’s brilliant! But what does it mean?”
“I donno. Just make it black and red and add about 100,000 rhinestones.”
“Do we have the budget for that many rhinestones?”
“Si tengo un problema, no es monetary.”
You might have noticed I often give Germany a hard time here. It’s done with love, it really is, because I actually liked 4 out of their recent 5 songs they finished in the bottom 2 with, and I also really liked Jendrik, song aside. You know the saying about doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results? How can you blame me for letting Germany drive me insane? In a country of more than 80 million people there must be some way to measure what types of songs and performances have a better chance to get people to notice them? Or at least have a decent amount of qualified professionals who can help you figure it out?
To their credit, not only they did pick the song and artist that had the most potential in the national final (even if it still feels more like a song for a long drive than a Eurovision stage), they definitely did their homework afterwards. It’s almost like someone decided to look back at the last time Germany managed to finish 3 straight times inside the top 10 and asked themselves what the lovechild of the Standing Still staging and the Me and My Guitar staging would look like.
Well, now I know.
What I don’t know, though, is what I am supposed to do with myself during the horror known as a day off from rehearsals. Am I actually expected to be a functional adult? What is this madness?