Home. It’s not just the name of the Israeli entry – it’s a state of mind. Having been in Israel for eleven days now, Shi takes stock on what the Eurovision-at-home experience has meant to her so far.read more
It’s nearly Eurovision!
Our very own Shi has just landed in Tel Aviv, and starting from Saturday, she’ll be doing as much rehearsal blogging for you as one woman can reasonably be expected to manage.
But what are the things she – and all of us – should be looking out for as those rehearsals begin? We take a look at five outstanding question marks…
1. Revenge of the preview party underperformers
Katerine from Greece had a nasty cold in Amsterdam, Klemens from Iceland sounded worryingly exposed without recorded vocals on the backing track, and poor Srbuk had a serious case of the Azucar Morenos as her ear monitor malfunctioned completely in Madrid. Do any of these things mean anything at all? Of course not. But April is a month for analysis and overanalysis, as we fans seize upon any and every bit of “evidence” to build a narrative for what we expect to see happen at ESC itself – and in terms of regaining a bit of positive momentum, those preview party underperformers will be looking to make a strong start to rehearsals, if only to allow their fans to breathe a big sigh of relief.
2. What can the stage do?
First impressions of the ESC 2019 stage have been broadly positive as they’ve leaked on social media, but there’s a big difference between a few short clips and a full show. Plus there’s the question of whether, as many fear, the stage will look disproportionately huge in what is a relatively small venue – although we probably won’t get a proper feel for that until the dress rehearsals. In any case, we’ll be looking out to see exactly what moving parts there are, and to what extent the delegations can actually harness them for their performances – not to mention the sticky topic of lighting and colours. An overdose of blue and white is something we always hope to avoid, since it’s such an easy ESC cliché. But when the host country is Israel…
While the first rehearsals don’t tell us too much about a final performance and it’s important not to overreact, what they will show us is exactly what the different countries are planning to do staging-wise. Last year, this was the moment we properly encountered Mélovin’s piano-coffin, Ryan O’Shaughnessy’s street furniture and, of course, DoReDoS’ door-and-window contraption. So what can we expect this year? Australia may not be bringing Kate’s hydraulic platform/dress/witch-on-a-stick combo all the way from the other side of the world, but they’ll surely have something similarly visually impressive waiting in the wings. Likewise, Sergey Lazarev isn’t the kind of man to take to the Eurovision stage without some serious gadgets and gizmos behind him – and even at the simpler end of the scale, all kinds of little tricks undoubtedly await us. Peonies for Romania? Blindfolds for Spain? Animatronic robot lions for Lithuania…?
No, really. What would ESC be without those moments – the ones that make the clip reels for years to come? The obvious candidate here is Serhat, who will surely be pulling out all the stops with a camp-tastic performance of “Say Na Na Na”. But that’s almost too obvious. We want to see Tamara Todevska ekeing every inch of melodrama out of “Proud”. We want the Czech performance to cut to a great big close-up of a grinning girl saying “I’m only a friend!”. We want awkward white-boy interactions between Luca and his dancers. We want the whole arena to join in on the Norwegian joiking in a display of regrettable cultural appropriation. It’s 2019 – give us shareable content!
5. Betting reactions (and overreactions)
When it comes to semi-final qualification, the betting markets see the second semi-final as a fairly clear affair, with five of the 18 entries – Ireland, Austria, Moldova, Latvia and Croatia – deemed to be absolutely miles away from having any chance of qualifying (and Lithuania and Romania not faring a great deal better). If any of those countries delivers a surprisingly persuasive first rehearsal with a real concept behind it, we can expect those long odds to shorten fairly swiftly. Meanwhile, the first semi is seen as a less predictable affair, with eleven countries currently deemed more likely to qualify than not (i.e. with odds of shorter than evens/2.0). Since only ten of them can actually fit into the magic envelopes on Tuesday week, if any of them has a disastrous first day – and there are performance and staging question marks about everyone from Poland to Belgium and beyond – their odds could soon get a great deal longer.
Don’t forget to stay tuned to escgo! as the rehearsals begin. We’ll have extensive coverage from both near and far, with Shi live in the press centre to cover the reherasals and deliver local colour and content from inside the Eurovision bubble, flanked by Felix and Martin’s traditional analysis from a distance. So get your refresh button ready – and let’s do this!
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