Eurovision 2014

LIVE ROLLING BLOG – Rehearsal 1 of Semi Finals One and Two – Tuesday 29 April


God morgen and welcome to the Eurovision Ireland LIVE ROLLING BLOG for Day 2 of Eurovision 2014’s Rehearsals. We sneaked in again to bring you all the fun and games from the dockland area of København.  It’s really salubrious, honest, and darn warm and sunny outside.  It’s almost a shame we’re inside a tent that’s bound to get a little warm later. Just refresh the page for the instant updates.

Today we have the remaining songs from the first semi-final – Moldova, San Marino, Portugal, The Netherlands, Montenegro and Hungary, and the first five songs from the second semi-final – Malta, Israel, Norway, Georgia and Poland.  Still with us?  We’ve got the random facts again, so #JoinUs for Rehearsal Two 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!

Today you will have the pleasure of Andrew Main and , as a special treat, Phil from OnEurope


Fascinating Fact about Moldova : They should be rehearsing now, however we can’t see them – We can only hear the vibrations.

Phil: And just as I say that, it comes on the screen.  However its right at the end of the rehearsal so I am writing this on the fly.  Imagine if you will, a slightly Eastern Bonnie Tyler, That’s what you have seen if you were here.  Sadly, however there was only 1:22 of this on the screen so…. gah!! Then they surprised us with a final run through and it wasn’t worth the wait.  She missed notes (blame the morning rehearsal times), changed key she was singing in and overall it was messy.


Andrew: Moldova are on first today and we only saw part of a run through due to the screens being off in the Press Centre. Vocally this was fine and dramatic. Cristina has 4 male dancers and a reasonably slick routine. She has also changed the key upwards part way through the song. Not completely on the money just yet.

John: Cristina aspires to be dramatic.  That’s why the stage is intrinsically dark.  She still has the four backing dancers that we saw at the national final.  The performance looks a little pained and she didn’t quite hit all of the notes.  It is the first rehearsal of the day though.  No one has really been talking about this one qualifying and, whilst this is a very open semi-final, Moldova have every right to be worried.


San Marino


Fascinating fact: It is the world’s first republic, established 3 September 301.  In fact, in the Sammarinese calendar, today’s date is sometime in 1712.

Andrew: Valentina on next for her third go at this game. She is in good voice and sporting a Madonna mike, she stands in a long white dress in front of a light blue fabric fan effect backdrop. There is not a lot wrong with this apart from it’s very safe and slightly underwhelming, whether it breaks the San Marino duck for the Final, I am not convinced.

Garrett : Third Time lucky for Valentina and for me the best of her songs though I wanted Jazz from her. You will be thankful to know that she is not giving birth to an IKEA light feature on stage. This time she has gone Grecian and looks like Venus emerging from a giant shell. Joined by a pianist – yes pianist – on the stage catwalk this is looking classy and vocally strong. Well you would expect that on your third Eurovision in a row. The odds are stacked against San Marino to qualify but hey that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the song!

John: Third time lucky for Valentina? Hmmm, I’m not sure.  On the one hand, this isn’t her preferred style of music – jazz is her thing.  On the other hand, this is the sort of song the sainted Mr Siegel wrote at least 20 years ago.  It’s dated and the stage show of much fabric probably won’t help it.


Fascinating fact: The Portuguese flag contains representations of the five wounds of Christ and the five victories over five enemy kings

Garrett – Portugal take to the stage and from the first 30 seconds I have to report that the song was performed more in tune last night at Karaoke by fans. This is a rehearsal and I know that they are getting the vocals correct but it sounded like she was searching for the melody like an Australian Ship looking for a black box signal. We were even denied the a flattering money shot of the handsome bongo drummer. Yes this is the first rehearsal and things should and will (HOPEFULLY) improve but at the moment it was like shooting fish in a barrell with finding faults with this song and performance.

John: We have big drums, the sort of drums used by Ireland last year.  The similarity ends here.  It is only their first rehearsal, but this needs some serious work.  It is very out of tune, the camera work is messy, the backing dancers don’t seem to be that coordinated.  On the plus side, it’s surrounded by five slow songs.  On current form, it will wake up the viewers of Europe, but they’ll only go to the drinks cabinet to get another Dubonnet.

Andrew: The first uptempo song of the day from Portugal and Suzi has forgotten to take her voice with her today. It has a good samba beat and I was excited to see this but it’s like waiting for a hurricane only to find it’s a gusty breeze. It needs lots more oomph and Suzi needs a stronger vocal( and I know she has it). To be fair  this is a report on the first run through so there is lots of time to improve and up the ante. Based on this though we are not going to Lisbon in 2015 and Portugal will not be seen on May 10th.

Phil : As a seasoned old salt at things like this, this is horrific.  It has as hardly any styling och consulting, It has no vocal talent what so ever ( She needs to find her voice quick, but I fear that she won’t be finding that anytime soon – even with a map!!) with notes that are flat and out of key and just generally ear-bleedingly shocking.  It has choreography from the 70’s and a style that is “all of its own”.  Some people on this table think that its “fun” – No its not, Eurovision Ireland, It’s a non-qualifier if ever there was one.


The Netherlands

Fascinating fact: Between the 14th and 18th centuries, Edam was the world’s most popular cheese!

Andrew: Country comes to Eurovision again. This is laid back and very country music and the vocals are understated but good in harmony together. They are singing facing each other with a double forked microphone stand while playing guitars( well pretending to). The number starts with a moving road on the stage as if they are travelling along Route 66 which is exactly where I would tend to play this sort of song. Very effective as is the rest of the ever changing backdrop later. Some really good sweeping camera work with good close ups of each of them staring into the lens.

Phil:  This is what they want – a nice simple song sung well with no overblown business at all.  Looking straight at each other… most of the time, they just sing the song and that’s all that this requires.  They look good together, the background works a treat, the vocals are mixed well and despite my personal opinion about this song, it’s qualifying straight through to the final without touching the sides.    My only issue with this is that in the next bit of the contest, will it be too boring to get many points? – but that’s a discussion for another time.


Fascinating fact: Podgorica means ‘under the small hill’, was formerly called Titograd, and is home to 30% of Montenegro’s population

Phil :  There is a superfluous Ice Skater in this one!! – I don’t know why because Sergej can sing this song and its strong enough and doesn’t need this!! – It will make you guffaw with laughter and no mistake.  However, it is still going to qualify by a street though but, this is the only one that makes me stop writing – sorry!!

Andrew: The only Balkan ballad in this year’s contest needs no gimmicks or trickery but only a simple performance with a stunning vocal performance. Ok so why have Montenegro ignored this? Stunning vocals? Check. Simple Performance? Well no as the backdrop is very colourful and busy. No Gimmicks or trickery? Well a female dancer on rollerblades creating a lights contrail on the stage is certainly not what we expected nor was it required I feel. Will it detract from the simplicity of the song? Most likely. Will it qualify despite all this? Most likely which would be a big plus for Montenegro.


Fascinating fact: The Magyar nation was established in 895 AD

Andrew: Onto one of my favourites and Hungary hit the stage running. Well they don’t as Kallay is sitting on a stool for the first ballad part and he is on stage with a female piano player. When it hits the chorus his jumps off his stool and runs along the catwalk onto the satellite stage. Later on the piano player is joined by a male dancer who chases her around the piano then all over the stage like a proper game of cat and mouse. This reflects the abusive element of the lyrics and Kallay ends up being the protector at the final pose. Vocally this is great and I still think it will get through with ease.

Phil : Hungary is winning this Semi Final.  There, if that’s not a prediction for you…..  Kallay is on his own, running around and he loves the camera, but not in a cloying way but in a really good, professional way.  This is miles better than in the A Dal where it scored maximum points and its not hard to see why.  There is no danger of the abuse storyline of the song being misinterpreted and your voter at home will see a really well performed, Eurovision esque song that has all the right elements.


Fascinating fact: It is the only non-person to be awarded the George Cross.

John:  This is a brilliant way to start a semi-final.  Firelight have also fallen on their feet by getting an afternoon rehearsal because of the condensed programme.  They sell this like you wouldn’t believe.  Very good run-throughs of the song.  They play the camera excellently, and the selfies in the backdrop are a very nice touch.  It did also get some rounds of applause here in the press centre.  They don’t need to do much to this and a final place looks assured.


Andrew: Malta won Junior Eurovision and will host the next one in November. Malta could win Eurovision with this and host again 6 months later. There I said it and given what I saw and heard here it really could happen. That’s what Malta’s dreams are made of and they have come up with a really catchy ditty here which has the feet tapping away to it, the vocals are really great, the harmonies spot on and the performance not overstated and exactly what this song needs, a bunch of guys and gals belting out a number on their assorted instruments. This opens Semi Final 2 and could get people remembering it instantly and getting a high qualification mark into the Final.



Fascinating fact:  The Israeli flag is taken from the Jewish Tallit, a prayer shawl, and the contains the Shield of David, a symbol in Judaism since the 17th century.

John:  I really don’t know what to make of this song.  It’s good in itself – it’s modern and contemporary. She looks good, and with her backing dancers executes a pretty good dance routine.  My one nagging doubt is the draw.  Graveyeard springs to mind, and the fact that it’s on a minority channel on a weeknight might mean that the intended audience won’t be tuned in.  I’d like to see it get through, but it’s a darn tough show and some popular choices will fall by the wayside.



Andrew: This day just gets better and better. Another one of my favourites is Israel and OMG this is so sharp and professional, great strong vocals and  the choreography with the 2 female dancers is so slick, the look and feel remind me of a better Madonna moment. The stage is very big in this and they have a bit of trouble trying to fill it. They march in synch along the catwalk onto the satellite stage towards the end. Great visuals on the backdrop too, very strong energy and a serious contender.

Phil : The stage seems too big for her at the start of the song and it continues to swallow her throughout the opening 45 seconds until the dancers comes on and they do some power strutting down the stage and generally making a nuisance of themselves.  It becomes “busy” all of a sudden with lights and the stage moving beneath her and changing light formations and some light angry choreography and, whilst on the one hand that suits “angry” Mei, on the other hand I’m not sure it suits this competition.


Fascinating fact: Per capita, Norway is the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas outside the Middle East.

John: Carl has a great voice – maybe not the once you’d associate with someone that looks like he does.  This is classy and takes us down a tempo.  What they maybe needed to do was keep the camera work close.  The distance shots lose him completely, and the violins are a little bit over-egging a decent enough pudding.  It also needs a dark stage which doesn’t always happen.  This is almost there but needs a tiny bit of work.

Phil : I Understand this song – and I understand the ideas behind it, but what I don’t get is who is going to vote for it.  It’s staged well with 4 violinists and a pianist on stage but the stage is so huge they are resorting to overhead shots which are dreadful and take away from the supposed drama of this song.  It’s got everything that should make it do well in the final but my fear is that it will do very well in the jury and nothing with your televoter at home.  If he finds consistency in his vocal, it’ll be alright – he isn’t consistent.



Andrew: Three favourites in a row, not often that happens, Norway are ticking lots of Eurovision boxes here, strong haunting male ballad, fragile soulful voice, dry ice, lots of blue in the backdrop, 4 girls playing violins in the background, guy on piano. Good camera work here and it’s ticking a lot of boxes. But I wish he showed he was somehow enjoying being on the stage. It is vocally shaky at times but this could cover as fragile and soulful. It should qualify but it is a bit underwhelming after Israel and Malta. The second run through was a lot better with much tighter camera work and Carl is opening his eyes and looking into the lens.


Fascinating fact: Georgia has one of the oldest producers of wine, making it since 6000 BC

John:  Now this is a curate’s egg of a song and there is a growing band of people that like it.  Prog-rockers are not going to be watching this semi-final which is a major disadvantage because The Shin and Mariko can at least carry a tune in a bucket.  In all seriousness, I don’t think this is qualifying.  It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just that it’s not instant enough for a show like this.  And maybe the percussionist in a parachute might just hit some viewers’ point-and-laugh reflex.




Phil :>It’s very very complicated and will only appeal to a small section of the audience (me included) beforehand, when they look at this they will all go “EH”? and I fear they will forget to vote for it, which is a shame because both “The Shin” and Mariko are good vocally, though 45 seconds of Yodelling smacks of having half a song written and something needed to fill the other 2:15.  I like the package, and I like the concept but I feel that it’s not doing anything but coming near the bottom.


Fascinating fact: The best attended sport in Poland is Speedway, and they have had two world champions

Andrew: Poland has Clio on stage with 3 dancers in traditional costume and an extra lady who is dressed revealing lots of cleavage and kneeling at a wooden tub how shall I put it scrubbing what appears to be clothes. It is all very colourful and there are a few close up camera shots of the boobies of said scrubber. Clio has a very strong vocal and the tempo of the song is very modern to say the least. I think the mix of modern and traditional does work and the reaction to  the boob shots in the press centre were pricelessly funny. Will it qualify, yea I do not see why not. It is certainly memorable. The bass of this is deafening and we are not even in the arena.



John: We finish with one of the most talked-about videos of the year and some of us were hoping they’d recreate it on stage – despite the limit of six people.  I was pleased to discover Donatan has disappeared, so Cleo is there with five Slavic Girls.  They dance and wash clothes do other stuff Slavic girls typically do, no doubt.  It was very tongue-in-cheek and very very good.  Our juries might have second thoughts but the televoters may well vote for this in their droves.


Thanks for reading.  This is the end of the blog for today.  Day three starts tomorrow at 10am local time.

See you then

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