Albania

LIVE ROLLING BLOG – Rehearsal 1 of Semi Final One – Monday April 28th

 

Eurovision 2014 Semi Final Rehearsals Rolling Blog. Photo : EBU/DR

Eurovision 2014 Semi Final Rehearsals Rolling Blog. Photo : EBU/DR

“Ahoy There Shipmates” and welcome to the Eurovision Ireland LIVE ROLLING BLOG for Day 1 of Eurovision 2014’s Rehearsals. Yes we made it in one piece through the Eurovision building site here in Copenhagen and would you believe that NOT one single Danish Viking tried to take me for their clan. I digress – this is what you have been waiting for. First rehearsals in Semi Final One! Just refresh the page for the instant updates.

So what countries do we have performing today? Armenia, Latvia, Estonia, Sweden, Iceland, Albania, Russia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Belgium. So let the pickle see the herring and let’s bring you the up to date news on the rehearsals. We will bring you some completely random information about the countries too – and not all Eurovision related too. So sit back and #JoinUs for Rehearsal One and expect an interview or two and a video diary of the day and a review. Fingers crossed that we will have good news for you!

Armenia

Fascinating fact about Armenia :  Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion in 301AD.

 

Phil :  As this is my first blog, I won’t cause that much offence.  This is a very good performance by Aram.  He knows how to sell the song, he looks at the camera.  They have spent a proportion of the budget on the lighting and all those people that remember 1983 will smile at the backdrop.  Flawless he may be, but there is a flaw in his plan for domination of this contest…. It seems to be missing something, and presently I’ll work out what that is.  Don’t be tempted to sing the Te Deum when you see the light halo around his head though.  Saint Aram?

 

John: Well it’s arrived – are you as excited as me?  It seems that Mr Aram is a more earnest chap than excitable.  Contrary to his song, he appears to be all alone on stage.  He likes a nice ring of spotlights around him too.  But it’s a darn tall building and perhaps as he is all alone on stage he might appear a bit lost.  First impression is that he might need someone else on stage for the very drummy bits.  However as we only saw one run through – isn’t technology wonderful – it was a bit tricky to come to an overall impression.

Garrett : Ok Guys – I have been busy recording videos that you will see shortly but I have been keeping a close eye on the rehearsals. So what of Aram MP3? Well Danish Broadcasters decision to put the favourite on first is certainly paying off. Aram was wearing his “Madonna Head Mike” and was certainly giving us some serious Armography but it works. It is just him on stage with a spotlight and some countries should remember that less is more. Sailing through to the final with a marching band. Aram MP3 justified his lead in the betting odds

Latvia

Fascinating fact about Latvia.  They only won in 2002 because Portugal, who finished above Latvia in 2001, withdrew that year.

 

John : In contrast to loner Aram, Jorgen and co are very busy and animated.  It still sounds like a camp fire song to me and I like its naïve charm.  The lyric could be a little contrived but I guarantee you will be humming this catchy little melody hours after you hear it.  And with only six going home, a catchy tune is likely to be an advantage.  They finish together for the closing money shot and give us big big smiles.  Maybe they’re thinking of that finished cake.  Yummy.

 

Phil:  My, this song *is* busy, but nothing you would not expect if you have heard the song before – but from my seat in the press tent, I am having trouble with his intonation of certain words and on this run through, your lead singer is slightly ahead on the backing, but that could just be the sync on the feed.  It’s catchy….. then again so is the common cold but this will leave the contest faster than the cold leaves your body, sadly.

 

Garrett – This is really the dancing segment of the show starting off. Latvian cake is sweet and the lead singer uses the stage and camera like it is second nature. He struts his stuff on the catwalk that goes into the audience. His smile and charm had me feeling all rather “Kum-Ba-Yah” and roasting a few marshmallows on an open fire. This is the feel good factor times 10 and happily making my Top 10. The fan polls maybe confounded when Latvia is called out of the envelopes!

Estonia

Fascinating Fact : According to Ernest Hemingway, there is an Estonian Sailor in every port (!)

 

Phil : Where do I start with this? To me it gets lost in the big stage with just the two on stage, herself and the dancer around the stage completing what appears to be a routine straight out of the European Ice Dance Championships.  To be fair, however, there are not any other ways you can present this song to Europe but your eyes are cast that way, and your ears are closed to the song, and that could be it’s failing!

 

John: This song gives us an idea of how massive the stage is.  And it’s as tall as it is wide, roughly forming a cube.  This song involves lots of dancing, so naturally the floor is made to look like a wooden dance floor.  Tanja is thrown about by her cohort but doesn’t appear to miss a note.  They are both very lithe.  And barefoot.

Sweden

Fascinating fact: Sweden is Europe’s biggest consumer of bananas

 

John:  Sanna looks like she’s singing within the lighting emitted from the Crystal Hall in 2012.  She’s alone on stage with lots of small sparkly lights behind her.  These explode in a bright flash as the final chorus kicks in.  She has got rid of the diamond curtain that appeared at Melodifestival.  She is a darn good singer but, I’m sorry, it just underwhelms me.

Phil : It’s the MF performance people!! – It’s unoriginal and not thought out but it ticks all of the boxes that you would expect it to.  This has been honed to the audience to within a millimeter of its life and, without doubt, this is what they are looking for in the televoting but the juries will open the green book and it won’t tick all the boxes.  She’s a really good performer and does belt this out with great aplomb but, and it’s a big but for all you Swedophiles, It’s not doing “all that”.

Iceland

Fascinating Fact : Iceland had the first female elected Head of State.

Phil : It is the first uptempo song in this bit so far and, as such, wakes you up from your slumbers.  This looks good on stage – all 6 of them are in their usual coloured suits and are “in act” from moment one and probably will be throughout all of the week.  This has danger signs of qualification written through it because it looks good, sounds ace, very little dancing but, unlike the last one, it has a certain something that makes it stand out.  Yeah, this should do it.

Albania

Fascinating fact: The only ever Albanian Nobel Prize winner is Mother Teresa, who incidentally started life as a nun at a convent in the Rathfarnham area of Dublin.

John: Hersi is standing on a box.  Maybe not a box, more a ship’s bow.  Her assistants are scattered around the stage beneath her.  The rock guitar riff seems to help what could become the accidental last-placed song in this semi-final.  It’s otherwise OK, but only OK.  Hersi is also a young girl, and this is the first rehearsal, but she looks  a lot older than her years.  I think Albania will need to do a fair amount of work to make this song progress.

Phil : Yeah, she’s on a box… and that’s just silly.  It looks wrong, the camera flits between her and her chums at the right time but it is the wrong song at the wrong time.  I think that the staging is not helping this be nothing other than a toilet break and, to my ear, the juxtapose of the tinkly background at the start and the rawness of the last 45 seconds is lost here with no choreography.  A missed opportunity methinks.

 

Russia

Fascinating fact: At their closest point, Russia and the USA are three miles apart.

 

John: We’ve gone from boxes to a see-saw.  Another Eurovision first.  Our young sisters start on it waving glass batons some 1 metre in length.  The see-saw moves one way then another.  They eventually get off it and it forms a fan behind them.  There is way too much going off, and that’s without the pyrotechnics we’ve been promised.  In itself, the song is OK.  But I think Russia are trying too hard.

Phil – I’ve not seen anything like it in my life to be honest.  The See-Saw defies description and the sisters look totally out of place with this and RTR have thrown the kitchen sink at this production but, sadly, they are lambs to the slaughter here.  They have very little chance of qualifying because all of Europe will be guffawing at their performance.  It’ll going to be a tough vote to be honest.

 

Garrett – For me the first “Car Crash Performance” of Eurovision. You can read it in it’s full – See Here

Azerbaijan

Fascinating Fact : Azerbaijan has no official religion.

Phil – Or indeed no chorus in this song.  There are people that are close to me who say that its very good and it will do well and Dilara can sing this, as every Azeri can (!) but, and it’s a big but, will there be a voting backlash due to the rumours of naughtiness last year, who knows, but a song with a superfluous trapeze artiste and a stained glass window background can not disguise this is “When the Music Dies” in different clothing.

John: When the trapeze appeared towards the start of this performance, it worried me, especially after boxes and see-saws.  But when the camera panned back and we saw the brilliant backdrop of skyscrapers, it more than made up for it.  There are some very effective shots and Dilara’s voice suits this song perfectly.  This will qualify, and will do very well on 10 May.

 

 

Ukraine 

Fascinating fact: Arsenalna metro station in Kyiv is the deepest of its kind in the world

 

John: The propfest continues with a giant hamster wheel.  Mariya sings all around this wheel, which has a dancer operating it throughout.  He runs, tumbles and makes the most of it.  In one way, she’s a bit overshadowed by the guy in the wheel, as you don’t know what he’s going to do next.  Think Mika Newton. It’s OK, but needs a bit more going off to really make it work.  They might be fine with this – she’s attractive after all – but it is overshadowed a little by Azerbaijan.

Phil : The Air Filter or the hamster wheel took everyone by surprise, but what shocked me more was Mariya’s troubling vocals in parts of this song.  She sounded a touch weak and she could well have issues here.  I’m still thinking that she’ll get the sympathy points, but the song IF sung well, will get enough points to go through.  I’m not sure what’s going to happen to Russia’s telephone votes here, but thats for another discussion.

Garrett – I just had to write a separate article on this Sexy Hamster Wheel – See Here

 

Belgium

Fascinating fact: Belgium has four parliaments, three premiers and one Prime Minister

 

John: Now here’s an interesting way to end the day.  An almost empty stage, save for Axel and his dancer.  There are lots of distant shots of Axel, making him look very small indeed.  I honestly don’t know how this will do.  It may bomb completely because it’s borderline schmaltzy.  Or it may sail through because everyone has (had) a mother and it strikes a chord.  He can sing, there’s no doubt about that but it may just be too much to take by some.

 

Andrew: Now fully acclimatised since my arrival earlier this afternoon I get the chance to comment on the last song of the day from Axel. It certainly has lots of emotion and heartfelt sentiment, the staging is simplistic along with the older woman dancing behind him. I actually feel its simplicity and emotion will be what works in its favour after the crash bang wallop of previous entries. Will it qualify I am sure it will, will it win Eurovision, don’t be silly.

 

 

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