ESC2019: BLOG OF DAY SEVEN REHEARSALS #DARE TO DREAM LIVE FROM 9.00AM CET
Welcome back to day seven of rehearsals for the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest. Today we see the final two acts of the first semi-final, first nine acts of the second semi final, Israel and the Big 5. Will any qualifiers 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!
Greece: 09:00 – 09:20
RICHARD: Greece have come back with a polished performance, that’ll not only qualify for the Grand Final, but deserves to be up high on the scoreboard on the Saturday night. While I had my reservations on the amount of creative elements last Sunday, everything seemed to click into place today. The Press Centre certainly enjoyed it too.
John – First on, and not a bad way to start the day. Katerine and her chums are in pink, yellow and white, and made a decent fist of things. I still don’t quite get the épées and the streamers on sticks. And the weather balloon-sized ball that’s thrown out into the crowd could cause all manner of fun and games. But the way the construction between them goes from bare to floral during the course of the song is a nice touch. It’s a revolving structure, obviously. It’s Greece, so already has a higher than average chance of qualifying.
San Marino: 09:25 – 09:45
John – Yeh! This is three minutes of the purest most unadulterated fun you’ll come across. You could call it kitsch if you want to, but that makes Serhat’s song even more likeable. The dancers have ditched the megaphones. And we see the briefest of Turkish on the screen behind the Hat. There’s not much else different. It’s the sort of song that needs to qualify for the final. So, Europe (and Australia), you know what to do on 14 May.
RICHARD: Well that was a guilty pleasure and a half. Nothing wrong with a bit of 1970’s disco on the Saturday night Final in this year’s Contest. After all, it deserves to be there and is one of the better songs in the last quarter of the first semi final. Those voting on Tuesday night, remember to vote for fun and guilty pleasures.
Armenia: 09:50 – 10:10
RICHARD: Srbuk has come back to her second rehearsals with a strong performance. We have a change in outfit too. Srbuk now has a black ensemble – jacket with gold feathers on the shoulders and trousers too – no sign of knee high boots.
John – This didn’t look any different to me, but I’m assured that Srbuk has ditched big boots for something more demure. She’s still alone on stage. The staging is OK so it’s turned out to be a very uneventful rehearsal. That’s a good thing.
Ireland: 10:15 – 10:35
RICHARD: Sarah McTernan has arrived on stage for her second rehearsals and appears to have the corrections the delegation asked for. The milkshakes are there are a small clear perspex step is now in place for Sarah to get on to the counter. Over all, it is a very pleasant performance that Sarah delivers.
John – Sarah puts in a much-improved set of run throughs. The production is slicker, there’s more confidence, and it hangs together quite well now. It must be the milkshakes on stage. I’d clearly have it through to the Grand Final. However, my worry is the early draw in the running order, and the madness still to follow might hamper its chances. However, if Sarah does next Wednesday/Thursday what she’s done today, then she should be very pleased with herself.
Moldova: 10:40 – 11:00
RICHARD: For me, I’ve see no real difference between this set of rehearsals and the last. My attention is still drawn away from Anna Odobescu and focuses on the sand art. If this qualify’s, I fear it’ll be for the art and not the song.
Contrast or what? This is an earnest song with added sand. Has someone told Darude? I still want to get the song but I’m struggling. All I can see are the sand pictures appearing on the backdrop. To this seasoned hack, the sand thing has been done and I think it detracts from the song.
Switzerland: 11:05 – 11:25
RICHARD: Luca has come to the stage today in Tel Aviv and delivered what he needed to do. I like the whole letterbox effect because it makes you concentrate a lot more on Luca and his dancers. Top 5 finalist.
John – To start with, Luca’s little song will leave Moldova in its wake. His song is very polished and could – just could – have this in the bag. It’s easily the best thing we’ve seen today so far, and may be the one to beat when it makes the Saturday night final.
Latvia: 11:30 – 11:50
RICHARD: This is the same as Monday. Pleasant enough, yet passes by without much notice. Sadly for me, I can’t see Latvia progressing pass Thursday.
John – I only caught the last two minutes of this. It sounds OK, but it doesn’t really get me going. I think Europe might feel the same.
Romania: 12:55 – 13:15
RICHARD: Romania still seems to be a very busy stage performance in terms of creativity. It didn’t really get a reaction in the Press Centre either and it makes me think Romania could be heading towards a second consecutive non-qualification.
John – I can see what Ester and co are trying to do with this. That is, to give us a song that’s downbeat and slightly sinister. She’s still looking pale, which is tricky to do in a city like this. Her dancers cavort around her in Hatari-lite outfits. And she’s one of the few acts with visible backing singers, although they are way off on stage left. In its defence, this song is just a little bit funky. But I think that might not be enough.
BOGDAN – So I’ve just arrived at the press centre just in time to see Ester’s rehearsal. Is it fate? Let’s see!
Ester starts singing from her chair, with her head turned to the side at the beginning. The whole atmosphere is dark and this time we have pyro almost every 10-15 seconds. It works well as a show and Ester’s vocals are on point. What should still need some work is on her connection with the camera. Out of all the times she says ‘Loving you is a hard price to pay’, we can see her face about 3 times and she’s not convincing me that she’s singing to the ones watching. She really has to stare into that camera and find that connection.
Denmark: 13:20 – 13:40
John – The Danish song still makes me smile and it has a charm about it that few other songs have. The Danes have this penchant for a bit of shufflepop and this is a nice example. Leonora is fully on key and even the ladder climbing antics don’t put her off. I can see why people could think this is a bit contrived, or even creepy. However, just when we need some light relief, it comes at the right time. A pleasant song.
RICHARD: We have more of the same from Monday. It’s a very happy and pleasant song that makes you smile and sway from side to side. They still haven’t addressed the ladder issue, when she climbs up to the chair – it just doesn’t look that elegant. Leaving that to one side, we should see Denmark qualify.
Sweden: 13:45 – 14:05
RICHARD: Nothing has changed from Monday and nor should it have. This will attract both the public and national juries. Many can picture the credits rolling over this performance at the end of the final.
JAMES – I’m here too everyone! Just busy behind the scenes today. So what can I say? Sweden is as Sweden does… it’s polished and frankly almost over rehearsed. I love the song. It’ll do well, I’ve no doubt of that. I’m just left feeling a bit cold as it’s so perfected and lacks a little humility. As a linguist, I’m also flinch at “I will lit your world” every time”!!
BOGDAN – John is charming us like always and the staging is very similar to what we’ve seen at Melodifestivalen. We can’t fault John’s voice or his commitment to the performance, yet for me it doesn’t work as much as it did at the national Final. Maybe once I’ll see the performance with the audience, those wide shots will look better. Is it too late for love? Never!
John – My opinion on John has been clouded a little as I saw him several nights ago wandering around Tel Aviv and he was a little off. However, you can’t fault this rehearsal. Very very polished and professional. He knows the camera angles, he knows the moves to sell this song, and his four very able backing singers enhance without stealing the limelight. Will it qualify? Easily. And in a field like this, it could be one of the few songs to score highly from both juries and televoters.
Austria: 14:10 – 14:30
JAMES – She’s still amazing. Such an intense and personal performance, it really feels like PÆNDA is singing just to you and the effect is mesmerizing. This really is sublime!
John – We like Pænda. She’s great, and you may have seen our interview with her. Anyhow, her rehearsal was very emotional. Just her on stage with no gimmicks – unless you call blue hair as a gimmick. It works for me as she didn’t miss a single note and it’s honest. From the heart. Jury bait I would think. And maybe for some televoters too.
RICHARD: Paenda is a favourite with us here at Eurovision Ireland. I really like the raw and emotive performance she give’s us. Paenda can deliver this down the camera and should therefore be able to connect with the viewers a little bit easier. Qualifier? I hope so.
Israel: 15:00 – 15:30
RICHARD: Now I’ve seen this entry as a performance, I am starting to appreciate it for what it is. The staging is very simple. Kobi is surrounded by four sided shapes, outlined by led lighting. The stage is all very dark, but this adds to the overall atmosphere. Kobi is dressed in a black three-piece suit. The backing singers who join him part way through are also dressed in black. There is something about backing singers joining the main artist on the stage midway through entries this year. Very well executed for a first set of rehearsals.
John – The first two run throughs were sound only. Then we saw it. The staging is black. Kobi’s in black. The backing is black and consists of four-sided screens showing his face. He’s joined by five backing singers at one point. Then he leaves them and heads over one of the bridges at the side of the stage, to become the first act to use the front part of the stage. And there are golden pyros from the rigs above the stage. I’m not overly enamoured with the song, but he sells it really well. It’s move up a little in my estimations, and several thousand Israelis in the audience on 18 May are going to really give this some reception.
France: 15:40 – 16:10
BOGDAN – Be proud of who you are. That’s the message that Bilal tries to convey in his performance of ‘Roi’. He brings to the stage an atypical ballerina and a mute dancer to prove his point. You can not bring Bilal down and for sure people will be able to relate to his message.
JAMES – WOW… barely 30 seconds in, and the Press Centre erupts in applause. With his trademark blond wig, Bilal starts the performance in darkness, with various images projected onto his face. He then strides to centre stage and is joined by a dancer, as words about judgement and tolerance appear on the screen behind. “Only you can choose who you want to be” – very important to remember! Vocally, I feel like Bilal is holding back a tad (it is only a rehearsal after all) But we’ve not had a reaction like that in the Press Centre since we arrived. France, you’ve done something quite special there!
RICHARD: Just when we thought we had potential winners, Bilal and France have taken to the stage. The song is emotive, looking at judgement and prejudice. France have been building up to something special over the last few years and Bilal may have just delivered it. The story through the performance is helped by the oversized and normally sized ballerinas joint Bilal.
John – Challenging stereotypes is the theme of Bilal’s performance. He has two female dancers on stage with him – one a plus-sized young lady and one who I think is deaf. Bilal himself has a longer blonde wig than we’re used to, and is dressed in white. It’s all about not judging a book by its cover. Again I’m not a massive fan of the song, but Bilal’s a decent salesman.
Spain: 16:20 – 16:50
RICHARD: Oh dear Spain! What have you done to Miki’s party anthem? I didn’t expect to see Miki parading around a house from room to room before leaving the building. We then had an inflatable body on stage too – what is this about? It’s far from the party atmosphere I’d expected to be presented to us on the stage. The one year I actually thought you came to the Contest fighting, I’m quite disappointed.
BOGDAN: Why fix if ain’t broken? Before it was natural and fun. Now you’ve lost me in a forced choreography. Fun, please come back! I applaud their commitment and luckily I’m still enjoying the soundtrack.
JAMES – On paper, the Spanish Eurovision entry could work. In reality, there’s a lot going on to the point of being utterly confusing. Starting out in what I can only describe as a giant IKEA shelving unit, Miki runs around the stage and his energy is the one saving grace of this performance. The idea of the camera turning to the audience is a fun idea, but the giant puppet looking like an effergy? For why? They’re buying, because you’re selling. Sorry Spain, we’re not buying it! This song is such a party track, it would have been better with much simpler staging.
John – What was that? Miki had an inflatable wickerman on stage! That made things very disturbing. Up to that point, it was passable. Miki and his pals are in a six-roomed, two-storey stage/house, which is OK. He interacts with the other five before going stage front. It’s at that point when said inflatable appears, making a pushing action against said house. It’s all very busy – to go with the song’s tempo – but that’s the issue. There’s too much going on. I wanted this to be good, to help restore my faith in Spanish songs. Sorry Spain, you’ve taken a decent song and now I’m roundly disappointed.
Italy: 17:00 – 17:30
RICHARD: You don’t need to understand Italian to follow what is been done in this performance. I appreciate Mahmood has been slightly ill, so for me to think it sounded a bit flat, wouldn’t be wrong. Saying that, we know Mahmood will succeed, but how Italy will fit into peoples voting is yet to be figured out.
JAMES – Yes, I get it he’s moody and the song is about quite difficult and emotional topics… but the performance is so dull for me. I honestly haven’t made it to the end of a run through without becoming distracted… that does not bode well for televoters. They’ve noted their success last year with having lyrics on the stage and brought it to Tel Aviv, which is nice. But the dancers don’t so much for the overall show. Sorry Italy. Still love the song, but yeah..
United Kingdom: 17:40 – 18:10
RICHARD: The United Kingdom have arrived in Tel Aviv in a NOT-BAD shocker for a rehearsal. The UK have a reputation for not great staging and various other aspects over the past few years, however what’ve seen today is definitely not the worst we’ve seen so far this week. The green sea monster from Portugal anyone? Michael Rice should be proud and can rest easy on any advice he gets given.
BOGDAN: Michael starts singing alone on the stage, having only a lot of smoking effect surrounding him. Then we can see the ‘universe’ unveiling on the back triangular screen, whilst the backing singers appear out of smoke into beams of lights. All together they form a circle and they sing facing the viewers with their backs. This scene needs changing as it would look much better with the singers facing the camera. I think viewers would rather appreciate being sang to, then seeing one’s back. All in all not a bad first rehearsal for the UK.
JAMES – Appearing through the smoke, Michael gives a competent rendition of Bigger Than Us. It’s all quite dark to start with, but builds into quite a light show across the stars, (admittedly, quite like Slovenia). Overall, not a bad attempt from the UK! Michael has a fantastic voice and his connection with the camera is getting better with each run through. The addition of the backing singers at the bridge of the song works well, though I do wish they’d face outwards rather than facing each other – we’re over here everyone!
John – Michael’s rehearsal wasn’t bad. It wasn’t a contest-winning performance, but he was on point throughout the song, and we have heard much much worse today. He sells the song reasonably well and we actually see his backing singers (including Sahlene). It’s a nice touch, and they more than prove their worth. They don’t steal the limelight either. Of the song itself, I fear that it might get lost. I’m not taking anything away from it, but it could be in a televoter’s favourites list, but it’ll be the one that just misses out on getting a vote from them. If this finishes on the left-hand side of the scoreboard, I’ll be very very happy.
Germany: 18:20 – 18:50
RICHARD: Well, that was interesting. Completely different stage show from the National Final and quite frankly it’s even more sickly. Honestly I’m not that much surprised. Depending on who qualify’s from the semis, I can see Germany going Spain at the bottom.
JAMES – The girl sound great. The biggest problem is the presentation. Singing to each other at point-blank range, the girls look mismatched in their outfits and the giant words across the screen are supposed to grab attention. Instead, this whole performance feels utterly forgettable. I have German roots and I say this with love – but Germany are unlikely to do place well with this.
Author: Eurovision Ireland
Source: Eurovision Ireland