Eurovision 2016 – Day 1 First Rehearsal LIVE ROLLING BLOG – START 1000 CET- JUST REFRESH
Just when you thought you had seen the best of us, we are back and better than ever!! If you were thinking of going anywhere else for your fix of Eurovision rehearsal news, then SHAME ON YOU!!
You can follow our LIVE BLOG HERE – You know the drill by now. Just refresh the page for our live updates. We start at 1000CET. You will be taken care of by Phil (our good friend from OnEurope) – So if you want an honest opinion of how the rehearsals are going then tune in here. The other members of the team should be chiming in from time to time, but mostly its all me me me me me!!
Who do we have rehearsing today?
1 – Finland
PHIL – Finland kicked off on time, which is something I guess. And I’m here on time too – Hello!!!! – When there is more to say, I shall update.
Well she’s had another go and she’s not getting any better. She is using the catwalk, which visually and literally detaches her from the backing singers and she is trying too hard at the cameras. The backing singers seem to be getting hardly any exposure and it looks very disjointed. I’m not sure.
JAMES: James here putting in his two cents! An interesting choice of colour for Sandhja’s catsuit, but it kind of clashes with both the backing dancers and the stage lights. It’s an upbeat song that is well performed, but for me lacks a certain something. Still, sure to get the audience in the Eurovision mood and up and dancing!
JAMES: Afterthought: Think this would have won by a landslide in the 70s!
JOHN: Sandhja is in blue. Pale blue. And it’s a one-piece. I’m not sure whether it’s the best thing to wear for a song like this. It’s a pity because the song isn’t that bad, and this choice immediately detracts from her efforts. There’s lots of movement and she makes good use of the stage’s catwalk. There is the group of backing singers that saw Sandhja all the way through UMK. They make themselves know, although they keep us guessing by not appearing on stage first-off. It all still looks like a big-old girls’ night out in downtown Helsinki. Will it qualify? Well, it has a lot of stiff competition in this semi, and I think the choice of outfit will play a bigger part than it should on its chances.
2 – Greece
PHIL – They have done a run through on the screen at the moment without any sound and I personally think it’s qualifying on this performance alone!! – Seriously this seems to be more a choreography rehearsal than a vocal one. Lots of choreography that we have seen before, big drums, lots of “My number one” type choreography and even someone playing the Lyra!! – You can almost smell the souvlaki from here! – Lets hope we get to hear them!
JAMES: My first thoughts looking at the Greek rehearsals is it’s all very Hari Mata Hari (Bosnia 2006) but that’s where the similarity ends. What starts as a sounding like a promising ethno ballad descends into rather angry rap. The issue is, because it’s neither 100% ethno, nor 100% urban, it tries to be two different things and doesn’t quite pull off either. HOWEVER! My personal tastes aside, I can see this qualifying. It’s very different musically, so it will stand out from its competitors and a flourish of traditional dancing always does well for Greece at the contest – I think we will be seeing this again in the final.
JOHN: Argo don’t appear to be in their big night frocks, unless they’re going to be in predominantly whites. As you may not know what the band looks like from the preview video, there are two young ladies doing some of the singing, The other four on stage are a collection of dancers and a man with what we think is a Lyra Pontos. It may have sounded OK but we didn’t have any sound – just pictures. I still think that this will be in the final.
3 – Moldova
JOHN: We’re now being told there are sound problems. So we can’t judge how well (or badly) Lidia is singing. She’s also in an interesting choice of attire for this rehearsal. It’s a beige-like dress paired with trainers. Her only accompaniment on stage is a dancer dressed as a spaceman. With a helmet and everything. It might make more sense if we had some sound, but it’s a little bit distracting on a first glance. There are also backing singers which we cannot see. Right now, this is borderline to me.
We only got one sound feed through, says PHIL, but we got enough to hear that she is competent at best!!
JAMES: I’m loving the combination of close up camera work with Lidia and the wide shots showing off the light show across the arena! Moldova have got their staging very right in this respect. The addition of a hip-hop dancing astronaut (no, not making this up!) is an unusual addition (and that’s putting it mildly!), but definitely gives Falling Stars a memorable hook. I just hope the dress we are seeing now is not the final product. It’s a rather dull addition to what it otherwise a very strong visual performance. Felicitari Moldova!
4 – Hungary
PHIL – So, by now I should be telling you how great Freddie is and how well he looks in his jacket and jeans and how well he’s singing… but I can’t…
We saw literally 45 seconds of him and then they cut all of the sound and video to the hall. What I *can* tell you is that he was in a light brown jacket , they have still got the drum from the national final but the backing singers do not have the light sticks in the background.
It’s not going well for the press here. If it was any other country, they’d be up in arms.
AH well…. I bet you can’t wait for more news… frankly neither can I!!!
He’s back on screen, with SOUND now… this is good. A slightly nervous looking performance it seems from Freddie. He looks somewhat nervous or unsure about whats happening but I’m not sure which. I’m guessing it’s not 100% perfect but it does look good though. We did get a 3 minute run through and the stage looks ace with the red lava and the red lights and Freddie doing very little other than following the camera.
I can’t make a judgement on this yet…
Freddie did come on for one more run through and visually it looks excellent as I have said, they toned down the red lighting but the drummer needs to make an effort to his the actual drum rather than pulling short.
JOHN: The sound problems continue, and we’re getting sporadic bursts of sound before it cuts out again. Freddie’s general stage act is like his A Dál set up. He’s smartened himself up a little and now wears a jacket, a little like what Justs from Latvia wore in his preview video. He’s still the Alpha Male of semi-final one. And this is still qualifying.
JAMES: Last year it was A Million Voices from Russia, now it’s A Million Hearts and A Million People from Hungarian Pioneer Freddie! So what can be said about this? Well, clearly they like red. There’s almost too much of it, especially in the lighting. Maybe tone them down just a touch? Vocally it’s very strong, but the performance looks a tad hesitant. We can forgive him that as these are only the first rehearsals! Freddie is clearly hoping that the leather-look that did so well for Eric Saade and Måns Zelmerlöw will also pay off for him.
5 – Croatia
JAMES: Oh wow… was not expecting that! 0_0 Nina’s dress definitely looks like a contender for winning the Barbara Dex award, but you can’t fault the result – in a press centre of several hundred people, almost everyone’s eyes were fixed on Croatia’s performance. As a song, it’s clearly a fan favourite. As a performance, complete with reveal, Croatia are really on to something here!
JOHN: We have another interesting choice of outfit which doesn’t really do much for the song. Nina appears to be wearing a big tent with some convenient arms. It has a large tree design on it which doesn’t seem to bear any relation to lighthouses. It’s really unfortunate because this is a very nice song with much potential. Thankfully, this outer garment is discarded part way through the song for something more agreeable. Before I saw this I would have said definite qualifier. Now it’s borderline.
6 – The Netherlands
JOHN: Douwe Bob and his pals on stage gave a very business-like and functional rehearsal today. There were no histrionics or anything too flashy, just singing. It might have been a little to ordinary for some tastes. There was an interesting break at the same point during two runs through the song, so does that mean some sort of surprise awaits us? Or was it just a technical glitch? We’re not quite sure. Personally, I like the song. It might, however, need pepping up a little bit for enough televoters to give it the votes it needs.
JAMES: Hmmm… I’m really not sure what to say about this one… the large clock on stage was a promising start, but I’m wondering if such a big stage doesn’t suit a more intimate song like this. It’s lost quite a bit of its original impact. The Netherlands have had some spectacular stagings in recent years and this doesn’t quite match up to those. Can’t decide what would improve it though.
7 – Armenia
PHIL – This is the first WOW moment of the contest so far. The camera loves her and so do the cameramen it seems. This performance and song have lifted so much since the preview video it is unreal. Iveta stares directly at the camera and smolders womanly at the stage and, as someone has said already, something for the dads. Vocally really on point and this has gone miles up in my estimation. They would need to tone down the lighting for me but, i’m just picky
JOHN: Iveta and her song catches your attention. In fact, it not so much catches your attention as grabs you by the throat and screams in your ear “vote for me”. It does have a lot of the right ingredients to mop up huge amounts of votes from all over Europe, and not just from its heartlands. Armenia will sail through to the final if they manage to repeat what we’ve seen in this rehearsal.
JAMES: As unpopular as it has made me online in the last weeks, I’m not a huge fan of this song. But I must admit, I am WOWED by what I have just seen!!! Fire, lights, camera angles and holograms!! I mean, come on!! The Armenians really have gone all out for this performance! I think this may well be a contender for the Top Spot based on that – I’ve got a new-found appreciation for this song!
8 – San Marino
JAMES: I didn’t know… what to expect… and yet I feel underwhelmed. I think San Marino have played it a bit too safe with staging this entry. It could have been a spectacle in gloriously disco technicolour. That would have suited it so much more. Instead, it feels a tad flat and tame. Oh well…
JOHN: What can one say? They try to throw everything at this, but the more they try the more Serhat looks like a night club owner in a 1970s cop show who’s doing a turn in stage. It’s a dark stage with a stepped psychedelic area at the back. The backdrop has dancers projected onto it, to give the impression of many more people than the six people allowed on stage. Unfortunately I still can’t warm to it and it may only be irony that sees this through to a Grand Final. On the plus side, the disco version miles better than the original, and the slightly foot-tappy nature of this may catch interest.
9 – Russia
PHIL – This is preposterous!! – On the first run through the song is so choreography intense that your man Sergey climbs up the screen on bits that protrude out from it that he actually fell off it (it’ll all become apparent soon enough), after a break for a Health and Safety check, he comes back on and sings the song again, but it’s very “kitchen sink” and they have literally thrown everything at it…. some of it sticks, some of it doesn’t. He also appears to pinch everything from songs as disparate as IVAN and Greta and bits of Mans…. it’s a feast for the viewer and, by the end of it he’s at the top of the wall singing down at a woman that appears from nowhere and for no reason. It looks like five ideas in one.. It should still do very well but it’s not a nailed on winner. It’s clearly trying to be but…… missing it.
JAMES: Oh wow… on paper, this should be spectacular staging. Wings, climbing up graphics, falling through starlight, backing dancers… it should be one of the most EPIC Eurovision stagings ever attempted. I’ve always been a believer that sometimes less is more. And as epic as this is trying to be, it all gets a bit muddled because there is just so much going on. So much so, that Sergey looks exhausted by the end of the routine. Russia, you are my favourite song this year. And you’re going to give us one hell of a show, that’s for sure!!
JOHN: This has everything in it. And the only place to start is Mr Lazarev’s first run-through being cut short when he fell off a ‘block’ several feet up. Playback stops and the screens in the press centre goes immediately blank. I’m not sure what to make of the run throughs that we did see. Sergey does lots of work with a videowall. It copies shaped he makes, and then he copies the shapes he’d made. He has dancers that momentarily join him. He climbs the videowall (hence the fall). He eventually climbs to the top of the videowall and that’s where he finishes the song. And right at the death a young lady in a long dress appears from nowhere. There’s too much going on, and it’s trying to out Måns Måns and his Heroes. It’ll obviously qualify for the final, but there’s something at the back of my mind that makes me agree with the line from the song saying ‘so unbelievable’.