Let’s face it… the last 18 months have been anything but ordinary!! And in these strange times of COVID, social distancing and frantic hand washing, even Eurovision has undergone massive changes to ensure the event we know and love can go ahead. We all knew it was going to be a contest unlike any other – but just how different will it be?
In this diary series, Eurovision Ireland regular James will give you his daily personal thoughts about the goings on backstage at Eurovision 2021, both through the lens of a contest being hosted during these unprecedented times and as someone following rehearsals from afar. Will it be The Weirdest Eurovision Ever? Quite possibly!
Day 2 – Of Angels, Demons and Belgians
What kind of sadistic maniac decided there needed to be a 9am on Sunday morning? It’s nothing short of barbaric… but at least of all the things I could be doing, waking up to log on for Eurovision rehearsals is one of the more enjoyable ones!
So I’m guessing a lot of you are wondering about the title of today’s entry… well, with Cyprus and Norway rehearsing first today, Demons and Angels seemed like an apt name! Thanks to some technical issues still being smoothed out, we didn’t actually see much of Cyprus’ rehearsal. The few seconds we did get to look at seemed fine though. I feel like Cyprus have learnt how to (re)play Eurovision in these last few years and wouldn’t be surprised if we saw their first win in the near future… still not sure it’ll be this one though. As much as I adore KEiiNO and was so looking forward to having them back at Eurovision, I must admit that Tix and Fallen Angel have grown on me a lot. His run throughs were brilliant and the wider Eurovision audience are in for a real treat when that goes out live. I also suspect it’ll be appearing on Eurovision show reels for the next few decades! Croatia surprised me as Albina made taking to the stage look effortless with her polished routine. Tick Tock is a very complete package – and I use that term deliberately as it seemed like none of her backing dancers were wearing any underwear… well, I suppose that’s one way to get the attention of the televoting public!
Now on to the second part of the title. Some people out there have speculated that my apparent dislike of Belgium at Eurovision comes from a failed romance with a Belgian… all I have to say to that is, speculate away! 😉 To set the record straight, I don’t dislike Belgium, I just wish they would try something different now after half a decade of moody, emo and increasingly uninteresting. That being said, their rehearsal today was sublime. After a few years of questionable staging practises, I wasn’t expecting to be all that taken with today’s Belgian show… but if there were a way to stage The Wrong Place perfectly, they found it. Most of us at Eurovision Ireland were not optimistic about Hooverphonic making it to Saturday’s final, but after that we’re certainly reassessing our initial thoughts. Bravo Belgium, fantastic work!
The afternoon meandered along with rehearsals from Israel, Romania and Azerbaijan. I commend Eden’s commanding presence and ambitious staging, but still worry about opportunity for things to go very wrong for Set Me Free during live shows… Romania’s Roxen gave a confident rendition of Amnesia, and I’m happy they’ve incorporated elements from the video into the stage show, which I enjoyed a lot. For a country that’s known for outlandish and memorable staging, the rehearsals for Mata Hari seemed a tad underwhelming. Efendi performs well and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it – but after a decade of some of the most iconic staging designs ever, I guess we just wanted a little more wow from Azerbaijan. Still, nothing really wrong with it.
Thankfully we didn’t have to wait long for that WOW factor to come storming to the stage, as Ukraine and Go_A were up next. I’m a huge fan of these guys and this style of music and they did an incredible job with their staging this year. It’s memorable, grabs your attention and fits Shum’s driving techno and gentle folk melodies perfectly. All of us writing for Eurovision Ireland agreed Go_A were amazing and spent a few moments reminiscing about our (mis)adventures in Kyiv in 2017… could it be Kyiv 2022? Earlier today I doubt many would have given that idea any serious consideration, but after those run throughs, seems more and more people are considering it as an option!
Last but by no means least, Malta took to the stage to round off today’s rehearsals. The buzz around Destiny has been huge this year and many are suspecting Je Me Casse could be the island nation’s long awaited first win. Since I first saw Destiny perform at Junior Eurovision in Sofia in 2015, I was blown away by her level of talent and the power of her voice – but was also mindful that with such high expectations comes a lot of pressure. I did wonder if being so young she’d be able to handle it all – but boy can she! Vocally Destiny is near perfect and though admittedly the staging needs some work, it’s got the base to be a solid Eurovision entry with some tweaks. Some of you might think that seems unusual to say, but remember this is exactly why we have rehearsals – things rarely come to a Eurovision stage fully formed: they need moulding. And Malta have nothing to worry about on that score.
So that’s Day 2 at rehearsals wrapped up – incredible to think we’ve raced through one whole semi final already! Even as we film a panel show round up for the First Semi Final and discuss our high and low points of rehearsals, it’s strange to think we’ve already seen so much. Tomorrow sees the start of rehearsals for Semi Final 2, with the likes of Moldova, the Czech Republic and Greece taking to the stage for the first time, all opened by San Marino… trepidation isn’t the word!!
Signing off for today – thank you Europe, and good night!
If you want a more detailed look at what the team thought of Day 2’s rehearsals at Eurovision 2021, take a look at our Live Blog of Day 2 to see what the team made of those countries and their performances.
Author: James Scanlan
Source: Eurovision Ireland
Banner Image Source: Adapted from realireland.ie