Day three of the Eurovision Rehearsals here in Copenhagen this Wednesday April 30th. I require your “Attention – Attention” as we “Rise Up” through the final set of first rehearsals for Semi Final 2. My “Heartbeat” is soaring “To The Sky” with the anticipation of some “Cheesecake” – Dohhhhhhhhh….
Who will “Rise Like A Phoenix” praying for a “Miracle” and “Something Better”. We will again be going “Round and Round” as we will be yet again “Hunter Of Stars” for your pleasure. PHEW – thank God we got that sentence out! As usual just refresh the page for up to date comprehensive reviews like no other!
Today you will have the pleasure of Andrew Main and , as a special treat, Phil from OnEurope
Fascinating fact: Austria hosted the 1st Youth Winter Olympics in 2012
I make no secret of the fact that I have been a fan of both Conchita and the song “Rise Like A Phoenix” so I was looking at this performance with nervous excitement. So how did Conchita do? Well let me talk you through the performance and the stage design. Firstly the picture above is what ORF have said is going to be Conchita’s dress on the night.
The song begins on a long one camera shot that lasts for 45 seconds. Conchita is in darkness until 35 seconds of the song. By that time you will have heard her sing and then she become illuminated. Such an intelligent camera production throughout the song. The angle of the camera is below Conchita’s eye line until we get to the climax of the song when the camera angle pans upwards with contemporary wing like graphics projected on the background screen.
This is what Conchita wanted “Her Classy Bassey Moment” – This is qualifying in my books. Huge reaction in the Press Centre for each performance.
John: This may divide opinion across Europe. On the one hand, Conchita is a darn good singer and looks stunning, even in her rehearsal outfit. She’s alone on stage on a plinth, and is surrounded by dry ice. However, some slightly less progressive nations may play on the fact that she has a beard and doesn’t fit their stereotype of a Eurovision performer. On balance, however, ORF have done the business with the camera work, and the phoenix on the backdrop towards the latter end of the song works like a charm. A good performance, and the Western half of Europe, at least, will love it.
Andrew: First up on day 3 is Austria and Conchita looks dazzling in a black sparkly dress. The vocals are sweeping and flawless. The camera work is brilliant and already sharp. We do not actually see her face until 30 seconds in when it lights up. There are some wonderful backdrops of phoenix wings at the appropriate moments. Its an amazing first rehearsal and got a big reaction in the press centre and its still very quiet here. I hear talk of potential winner around me and I could see that but certainly top 10 material now.
Fascinating fact: Unmarried women bear different surname endings to married women
Phil : ATTENTION!!!! – This only has to be the sixth worst song in this bit to qualify and its just about there. Dance wise its the same old Lithuanian Final stuff and, to be fair, it’s going to get the Lithuanian result in this bit (i.e qualifying) – Staged with lots of lights and just her and a dancer on stage, it grabs you for sure and it just has enough to squeeze into 9th or 10th place. The one thing I would say is that before the end its a tad repetitive.
Andrew: Lithuania are certainly grabbing my attention. The dance routine is still slick and the same as their final performance, the staging here also mirrors much of the feel of that performance visually. Its very energetic and has a heavy bass beat. The vocals are also very good and she is wearing what is likely to be her dress on the night which has two holes in it which the males dancers hands come through at some point. The male dancer has also acquired a beard which is a canny link from the they last song. I can see this qualifying based on today.
John: Vilija looks noteworthy in her tutu and possibly has the same backing dancer from Vilnius, although he looks a lot more beardy. The dancing is very concept and may detract from the song. She’s very enthusiastic and give this everything. But I’m wondering whether the battle with the jets of dry ice is one she won’t win.
Fascinating fact: There are 187,888 lakes over 500 sq m in Finland
John: This is über-contemporary and the sort of song that needs to be in the final. It’s young, it’s fresh and Eurovision is the perfect opening for an up-and-coming band like Softengine. UMK appears to have worked in its selection. It ticks loads of the boxes that I suspect the juries will be looking at for. And it’s a wake-up call for the televoters.
Andrew: Finland have a lovely little rock/pop song here and they are doing everything required to get it noticed. The band fill the stage perfectly and play their instruments like they mean it. The vocals sound raw enough to fit into the feel of the song. The lighting with sweeping spots is really spot on. Overall it’s a young rock band learning their trade but they have enough charisma and presence to sell the song to the audience. I can see Finalnd getting through with a perfectly competent performance.
Phil : Finland is brilliant. Country wise and musically with this. I can not praise this highly enough with the way that SoftEngine has had this staged by YLE/Sony Music really brings their talents to the fore. They are a good looking, highly credible act that will bring in the jury votes and get you toe tapping to the beat and drumming!! – VOTE FOR THIS!!!
BREAK 11:50-12:50 (CET)
Fascinating fact: The Irish language was once spoken by a large proportion of Newfoundland.
Andrew: One good thing about the Irish rehearsal, the backdrop and the staging is great, very colourful and Celtic. We also have the 2 male dancers in kilts. Now we like kilts at Eurovision. The vocal need to be beefed up a bit and the overall effect is a bit static despite the dancers. It needs more energy and a hint of confidence and enjoyment in it. The second run through was a little bit better but Kasey looks scared and needs to show confidence and look like she is having the time of her life. This needs to improve a lot for next week or I fear it could struggle to qualify.
John: We guess there were some problems between the first two runs through, as there was a long gap. I seriously hope those issues, if there were any, are sorted out quickly. The golden setting is very nice, complete with Irish symbols and the direction shows it off well. Kasey is also in gold which could be seen as both a benefit and a hindrance. We could also tell there was a bit of nervousness. Perhaps it’s the vast stage, which the performers aren’t used to. This still needs some work to polish it.
Fascinating fact: Whilst part of the USSR, it had a separate seat in the UN
John: Now here’s a cheeky little song that will be completely different to the preceding song. That will win it votes. As will Teo’s happy-go-lucky charm. I think I might be missing the tall leggy blonde that appeared in the music video, but it may well standalone enough to not need her. Instead, Teo has four backing singers in view and one tucked discreetly away on one side. This will qualify.
Andrew: Belarus is now coming across like a breath of fresh air after Ireland. Teo oozes confidence and is clearly enjoying his time on the stage. He has 4 backing dancers, all blokes, and one backing singer almost hidden away at the back. The staging is very colourful and bright and this is catchy enough to get through. The vocals are also bright and modern and lots of folk will like the beat of this song.
Phil : Teo will look you in the camera, look you in the eye and go “hiya!!”, tell you that he doesn’t want to eat your cheesecake and will dance around the stage with his backing singers and look totally different to the one before it and that is going to be one of its USP’s. He’s changed the words from “google maps” to “all the maps” and, quite honestly, he’s got “all the looks”. This should do very well and qualify easily!
Fascinating fact: The lake resort of Ohrid has 365 churches
Andrew: Ok Macedonia have a backing male dancer and 3 backing singers to the side. Tanja sounds good vocally and enough raunchiness in her vocal to sell the song. There is a lot of interaction between her and the dancer which I find looks a bit messy on stage at times so that needs to be tightened up. Also some of the camera angles are not quite sharp enough so that will need looked at but that is why we do rehearsals. The backing dancers strut into the centre behind Tanja for a final group shot. Overall an ok rehearsal but plenty room for improvement.
John: I didn’t see all of the rehearsal but it seemed OK. She’s got a decent enough stage presence and plenty of people with her to show this off as a dancey track.
Phil : Looks messy on stage with lots of lighting effects trying to distract you from Tanja’s perceived lack of “looking at the camera”. Vocally she’s on top form, but it melts into the background and that’s the songs failing. John not seeing it is the least of it’s worries, Europe might well do the same unless something memorable happens.
Fascinating fact: Switzerland was established in 1291, and the flag imitates the flag of Canton Schwyz in the centre of the country.
Phil : The camera loves Sebastiano! – This is a good thing, believe you me!! – This song, in preview, could be too complicated to do anything – however they (SSR) have put this all together and it all works. Camera’s on the singer, hardly any choreography apart from him going down the catwalk and banging his drum at the end of the catwalk, backing singers with guitars are always a good thing and they actually *look* happy. This will be going through – and I didn’t think it would.
Andrew: Switzerland have brought an ok song to Copenhagen and made it happy and catchy. Sebastian is a looker and the camera know this too. Its staged simply and has a certain energy and charm to it. In a mixed bag of a Semi Final I have every confidence this will qualify now.
Fascinating fact: The only winner at the first ancient Olympic Games in 776 BC was a cook and baker called Coroebus of Elis.
Andrew: The trampoline makes it’s debut at Eurovision courtesy of Greece. We have already had some mad props this year but this is a new one on me. It starts well with the rap at the beginning really strong and crisp. Then the beat kicks in and the mood is bouncy bouncy bouncy. The vocals and movement around the stage is fine. The backdrop is mainly versions of white. Then to top it all we have a gymnast bouncy and looping on the trampoline behind the singer. Then to top that the two singers get onto the trampoline and bounce and sing to end on their backs looking up at the money shot camera angle. Weird but it works for me all right.
Phil : its only a bloody trampoline! – it’s a health and safety nightmare on live European Television, potentially. They are using the trampoline to it’s full affect!, plus an acrobat – If this song wasn’t up-tempo and bouncy enough, it now becomes literal!! The start of the song gives nothing away of the madness to come, the decks are there and it all looks perfectly normal for the first 2 minutes and then all hell breaks loose. It’s great fun for all the family!!
BREAK 16:00-16:30 (CET)
Fascinating fact: It was the first ex-Yugoslav republic to adopt the Euro
Phil: Thats gonna be one whole lot of blue dress, there, Tinkara. She’s currently wearing a very bright blue dress with a wide bell bottom which looks a bit silly but, like Ireland, thats the least of their worries. She seems to be struggling with her inner ear monitor which leads me to believe that she has had an uncomfy performance. It looks old fashioned and tired – a bit like me – but there are lots of issues here.
John: Tinkara has a very purple floor length frock. She didn’t hit all of the notes on every run through, but was certainly on the way. There did also appear to be an issue with the microphones. Sometimes the backing vocalists were heard above Tinkara when it wasn’t needed. We have an interesting stage floor which is swirling circles. It put me in mind of something slightly hypnotic. Maybe that’s to garner more votes. They can work on these technical issues, and then the song will probably be fine.
Fascinating fact: The Palace of the Parliament in Bucharest is the world’s biggest civilian building
John: we have another bizarre prop here. The song starts and there’s a tilted doughnut on legs at one side. It then gets revealed to be… a circular keyboard! We have a keyboard in the backing track, so I’m not sure whether it’s really necessary. The direction is also a little messy. At the start of the song, Paula appears in hologram form wearing a different outfit to the one she rehearsed in today. Obviously a clue to her Thursday night frock. Romania were once destined to win this, but the giggles that appeared when we saw the keyboard may well scupper any chances they have.
Garrett : It’s Billy Joel and Lisa Marie Presley representing Romania. Do you remember the 80’s toy “Simple Simon”? Well Romania have gone and bought a big one for Copenhagen. Eh Errrrrrrrrr – They have just struck a wrong note with this! Ovi during the song surrounds himself in a circular keyboard that is suspended from the roof. Yes it looks as ridiculous as it sounds! Couple this with a hologram of Paula at the beginning of the song – that looks rather cheap and raises the question of how many people (live of virtual) can you have on a stage at once. Romania go from 6 to 7 on this score. This had the press centre looking at each other with a bemused look of disbelief. 1980’s dance moves and an unflattering nasal close up of Paula begs the question – Why oh Why of Why!