ESC2019: BLOG OF DAY FOUR REHEARSALS #DARE TO DREAM LIVE FROM 9.00AM CET
Welcome back to day four of the rehearsals for the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest. Today we see the final nine songs in the second semi-final that takes place on Thursday 16 May. Will the eventual winner be amongst them?
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All times are in CET (local time is one hour ahead of CET) and subject to change.
Shalom from Tel Aviv! We’re just getting settled in at the Press Centre for another day of Eurovision 2019 rehearsals! Keep checking back for all the latest goings on, live from sunny Israel!
Croatia: 09:00 – 09:30
JAMES – Croatia returned to Eurovision with a vengeance in 2016 with memorable staging and it’s what we’ve come to expect from now (especially after the stage spectacular that was My Friend!!) Roko is an amazing young vocalist, no question. It starts out as volcanoes scorch the earth and we look to be at the End of Days – but then bare-chested angels swoop in and give Roko his wings to soar over the clouds. It’s laden with imagery and symbolism, which as a piece of story telling it’s great performance art. I suspected Croatia would give us a show and have had them ear-marked as a dark horse from the moment Dora ended. I still think it could be one to watch to qualify.
RICHARD: Croatia are another country that have delivered some drama to the stage. With the back projection and stage projection giving the impression of fireballs and earthquakes at the start, you know you are in for a good performance. Roko starts on the floor surrounded by pretend wings, before getting up to be joined by two backing dancers – wearing the wings. Later on in the performance, the backing dancers adorn Roko with his own pair of wings. There is a story here, which could help it qualify.
John – Gordon’s alive!! Roko earns his wings during the course of this song. And this time they’re golden. Unlike Dora, he has golden wings this time, presented to him by Balthemos and Baruch from His Dark Materials. I like this more than I thought it would. Still not sure whether I should, and I think if it qualifies it’ll do a more deserving song out of a place.
Malta: 09:40 – 10:10
RICHARD: Malta has literally thrown the kitchen sink at this performance. It is a fun and colourful three minutes of hip and modern music. High energy is what is needed, as very little has been seen throughout both semi final rehearsals so far. While this is a tough semi final to qualify from, if Michela delivers well for the juries and the public, she may have a chance.
JAMES – It’s Malta in glorious chameleon technicolour! Michela is dressed in white while brightly coloured lights bathe the stage, making it look like she and her backing dancers are changing colour on stage. Her second run-through was much slicker and smoother than the first and Michela appears confident and connects well with the camera. She’s also relaxed a lot more and looks like she’s starting to enjoy herself, which is always a plus! Because there’s a lot of focus on the stage and colours, there’s only a few long distance shots to change up the camera angles. But overall, a memorable performance.
John – This is a festival of colour and graphics, which all look nicely effective. Michela is in white so as not to clash with the shenanigans going on around her. She’s in a room that floods, she’s looking through windows, she’s dancing like her life depended on it. All stock fair in this game. I suspect there’s someone off stage helping with the vocal. It’s not that Michela is a bad vocalists, more that it’s a challenging song. A finalist? Maybe.
Lithuania: 10:20 – 10:50
JAMES – I’ve struggled to warm to this song, but am putting that aside to comment on just the performance. Jurij has quite simple staging, which is always a plus for me and is one of the best artists in terms of connecting to the camera. No flash, no gimmicks, just his voice and the song. It’s actually not bad at all, well done Lithuania!
RICHARD: Jurij has quite a simple, pulled back performance. For me, it works. This is a Song Contest and it’s just Jurij’s voice – no dancers, no flash ideas, just lights. It is a tough semi final admittedly, but some will appreciate such a performance like this. For me, I would put Lithuania through.
John – Jurij is alone on stage and smiles into the camera for the duration of his rehearsal. He’s pleased with how things are going and it sort of comes across OK. However, coming across OK doesn’t cut it in this semi-final. This game attempt at a song will get lost in what is a very competitive semi-final.
Russia: 11:00 – 11:30
JAMES – A flurry of activity in the press centre as the cues start up, as people rushed to put everything down and get to a screen to watch what we’ve all been waiting for – Sergey’s first rehearsal in Tel Aviv. Dressed in Dima Bilan winning white, Sergey is a natural showman and stares right down the camera, giving a deeply personal and intense performance. The alternating screens and mirrors work well, as does Sergey’s rain box (for lack of a better word!) and it’s all as polished and well staged as we’ve come to expect from Russia. Will this get Russia back to the final? Oh yes. Is enough for a much coveted second Russian win? I think it could…
RICHARD: Sometimes there can be too much of something. Sergey appears nine times all at once during this performance. He’s got Ani Lorak’s light box from 2008, with added rain. There is a gimmick and then there is a gimmick. While it is a good stage show, I think they’ve gone a little too far once again.
John – Sergey’s performance was eagerly awaited, and I have to say I was impressed. I’m not sure I wanted to be, but there was a hush over the press centre as his three minutes on stage unfolded. We see multiple Sergeys and they sort of interact with the real ones. It’s really good and if he can get his cues a fraction of a second better, this could well be top five. Or even higher. I still have a slight problem with the lyric, which could be a bit less clunky. But definitely a qualifier.
Albania: 11:40 – 12:10
RICHARD: Jonida has brought some traditional ethnicity to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest stage, just like Joci from Hungary. The Albanians have also brought a CGI eagle that appears (currently) from an inappropriate place, although I’m sure production will have this polished by the second set of rehearsals. In such a strong semi final, I am not confident in its qualifying chances.
JAMES – Wearing a black and gold gown (that’s actually quite tame compared to some previous Albanian frocks we’ve seen at the contest!) Jonida belts out the ballad with aplomb. It’s quite a scaled back performance, with just the singer alone on a darkened stage but it suits a song like this – it doesn’t need the bells and whistles, the voice carries it all. There was a CGI eagle circling at one point (run Staggy, run!!) but he seems to have flown off in that second run through. I like it a lot, I just wonder if after Russia it’ll be too scaled back to grab many televotes.
John – Red and black are the backdrop colours of choice for this. Jonida is in black and gold and emotes emotes emotes. Obviously with a bit of singing thrown in for good measure. Towards the end, an eagle appears, although we’re not quite sure where from. I think this will confuse Europe a bit too much, despite a strong voice and decent delivery. It’s just too dramatic and heavy.
Norway: 13:20 – 13:50
JAMES – The screens in the press centre seem to have stopped working, so we can only hear Norway – but my goodness they sound good! With the live feed up and running, we can see KEiiNO using the full extent of the stage, one of the few countries to do so thus far. It’s similar staging to Melodi Grand Prix, which is good, though the band look tiny as there are lots of wide angle shots to get in the projections of remote northern mountains and auroras, which means they seem a bit lost amongst it all on the stage. Fred’s joiking is going to become a continent-wide hit and I still suspect this may even be a dark horse for the trophy…
John – There are no major surprises with this. If you’ve seen the Norsk MGP performance you’ll know exactly what happens for the three minutes. The trio sing their bits and move around stage. They harmonise well, so there’s nothing to worry about there. The joiking by Fred-René could potentially cause some amusement in some parts of Europe, perhaps likening it to certain comedy characters. It seems like a better than average chance of qualification is certain for this song.
RICHARD: KEiiNO use the whole stage well throughout the performance – both catwalks and the main stage – just like Melodi Grand Prix. Vocals are just as good as they were on MGP. It should qualifier.
The Netherlands: 14:00 – 14:30
RICHARD: Probably only the second or third time that the Press Centre has gone silent throughout the run through. Duncan is on his own on stage, sat at the piano. The favourite could carry it off, with the camera long shots potentially showing the audience and their mobile torches on. It could provide a moment, but then again it might not.
JAMES – A hush falls over the crowd as Duncan starts his rehearsal. The rest of the Press Centre seem to be utterly drawn in by his piano, his moody sideways glances into the camera (and no real connection!) and camera work that suggests we may be getting a sea of mobile phone lights in the live shows. So why is it as they applaud and fawn, I am unconvinced? I’m fairly confident this has the potential to win the jury vote f it makes it to the final. But I also suspect this may receive the same fate as Sweden in last year’s televote – I don’t think this is our winner.
North Macedonia: 14:40 – 15:10
RICHARD: Tamara is another participants to give a raw and emotive performance. Slightly a female version of the Russian performance, with Tamara featuring as holograms on the back projections. Tamara wears a teal/green and black ballgown outfit. She has taken my breath away and deserves to be up there on Saturday 18th May.
JAMES – Teal is a difficult colour to pull off, but Tamara’s vocals allay any such dubious fashion choices (teal, turquoise or green? The debate rages on at our table). Proud feels like a stage show song, but the subtle staging, just her and mirrors really let the music and vocals take centre stage and it works well. Tamara connects beautifully to the audience at home throughout and admittedly, the whole package feels a lot more cohesive and memorable than the hot favourite that come before it… North Macedonia were last seen at a Eurovision final in 2012… I don’t want to jinx anything, but I think this really could be their year to come back t the final!
John – I like this. It’s another one that I didn’t think I would; it’s really good. In fact, it almost leaves Duncan in the distance. Tamara gives us a simple presentation using Sergey’s mirrors. But she stays still in her nice long teal dress and belts out a number with passion and conviction. She means business and I can’t really fault it.
Azerbaijan: 15:20 – 15:50
JAMES – For the first time since we’ve arrived in Tel Aviv, the press centre erupted in applause BEFORE a song ended!! With robot arms scanning the (let’s face it) gorgeous Chingiz, and projecting graphics of a beating hearts onto him, this performance ticks a lot of boxes for a lot of people. It’s the first performance I’ve seen that screams winner to me so far. The last time we said it was a contest where we couldn’t identify a clear winner, Azerbaijan pulled ahead to take victory. Can lightening strike twice?
John – Ching, Ching, Chingiz can! That was bizarrely staged, but thoroughly enjoyable. We get robots straight from a car manufacturing plant. We get heart projections. And we get “levitation”. It’s highly entertaining, and Chingiz can manage this tune pretty well too. There sound like backing singers off stage and they enhance what we’re hearing although I’m hoping we’re hearing more of Chingiz than his backing singers. All in all, a really good performance and this will absolutely sail through to the final.
Author: Eurovision Ireland
Source: Eurovision Ireland
Image Sources: Eurovision Instagram