Albania

#ESC 2021: Day Four Rehearsals Blog from CET10:00

#ESC 2021: Day Four Rehearsals Blog from 10.00 CET

After the best part of two years, we finally get a proper rehearsal of performances for a Eurovision Song Contest! Yes, at 09.00 BST/10.00 CET we kick off with the second set of songs from the Second Semi-Final.

REMEMBER: This year the first run through of each song is delegation only and not broadcast to the press centre – we’ll give you all our thoughts as soon as we can!!

Follow Eurovision Ireland’s blog, to see what we think, and who could make it to the Grand Final, or even win. Hit your refresh button to keep an eye on our thoughts!

So what’s in store for Day 4? Hard rock Scandinavians and techno-folk… those of a nervous disposition, take cover… And don’t forget to visit our TWITTER page, for our Daily Poll!

Good morning everyone, we’re all ready for another day of fun and action on Day 4 of rehearsals . Today we will see those acts taking part in the second half of the second semi final . #joinus and see what we think as the action unfolds from Rotterdam. Just a reminder that the first run through is not open to the press centre , so we may be a little while until we get to see the first act today, which is Georgia, so please bear with us, we will bring you our comments as soon as we can .

GEORGIA (09:00 – 09:30 BST)

Richard – Tornike’s vocals are not the strongest if I am completely honest. Although we must remember this is the first rehearsal and he only needs to be at his best next Wednesday and Thursday night to achieve those all important votes. The performance looks like it could be a really strong and emotionally packed one when it’s all polished.

James – Georgia’s scaled back song needed scaled back staging and they’ve done that beautifully. It’s very minimalist, plenty of darkness, a few graphic effects and the addition of the beautiful Georgian script to the backdrop is a particularly nice touch! Also thought projecting the lyrics directly onto Tornike was an interesting idea. Vocally, Tornike appears to be experimenting a lot, which makes me wonder if he’s using these rehearsals just to work out when he’s supposed to be and when. This have great potential to be an emotional addition to Eurovision 2021.

Sarah – Georgia have brought us a simple, scaled back staging , dark , blue , with a nice touch of projecting the lyrics of the song onto Tornike’s shirt. The vocals come across as Tornike trying to express emotion in his voice but do need some work. However it could be that as this is only the first rehearsal, he is holding back and we will see the more polished version in the next rehearsals .

ALBANIA (09:40 – 10:10 BST)

Sarah- Albania have brought us the full package with their staging , red backdrop, smoke effects , the ethnic vibes , dramatic vocals .It’s the kind of song and performance that wouldn’t look out of place as an introduction to a Bond movie . Anxhela dressed in a silvery tassled dress , which I am not too sure if it actually fits the mood of the song. Towards the end of the performance the red changes to white cloudy effects . Anxhela is alone on stage and I think that’s the right thing as this helps to put the focus on her and her powerful vocals. It’s a very typical Albanian entry but one I think could be up there for one of the 10 qualifying places.

Richard – Anxhela’s vocals are really strong and give a powerful performance. The back projection adds a lot of drama to the staging of the song and some may see to as a bit of a Fuego feel too. The lighting also adds drama, but those that can’t look at flashing lights, this might not be for you. I can really see Albania qualifying with this and it is great that Anxhela is unaccompanied on stage, allowing all the focus to be on here.

James – Anxhela performs with such confidence and gusto that she sells what is essentially quite a minimal staging – wisps of colourful smoke wheel around behind her as she belts out Karma with aplomb. If anyone else had tried to pull this off, I’d have been very sceptical. But somehow Anxhela makes it work and elevates it. I would have liked to see a little more admittedly, but it’s still a solid performance.

John – Hmmm. Dramatic interpretation? Woman in a very expensive frock? Must be Albania. We know what to expect from RTSH, and this was a better-than-average performance. There’s lots of dry ice interspersed with flashed of red on a black background. More allusion to her country’s colours there. Another plus – for me at least – is that it’s in Albanian. Her outfit is a variation on the silver blingy theme we’ve seen elsewhere, and I’m disappointed the heavily coiffured hair from the preview has gone.

PORTUGAL (10:20-10:50 BST)

Richard – Wow! The start of the performance, when it was in Black & White, really gave me the feel of the Contest from the 1950’s and early 1960’s. Even when we have some colour, its mainly dark blues with orange added in here and there. The staging is very much the same as the national final and you can’t fault the vocals. In a very open semi final, this could do well.

James – Starting out in black and white, The Black Mamba are giving us a classy beginning to their entry that evokes memories of Eurovisions from decades ago. It’s very gentle and nice, which I like. The issue is, gentle and nice have to be exceptional to do anything at the contest in the 21st century. I can see this qualifying thanks to heavy jury support, as the band perform well and the staging suits the mood of the song well. Once it gets to a larger pool though, I’m not so sure. Overall though, a good effort from Portugal today!

Sarah-After the drama of Albania , we have a nice gentle come back down to earth song  in Portugal. The performance is very like the National final , with the performance starting with black & white effects , which changes to colour as the performance progresses. For me, it’s much more a radio than a Eurovision song , but for some viewers , especially those nostalgic about the earlier years of the contest this will be the performance for them and we may see this slipping into the qualifying top 10 . A good first performance from Portugal.

John – This is the ultimate pleasant song. It’s nicely inoffensive, it’s honest, and it’s actually quite charming. It could be the soundtrack to a family friendly animated film. The Black Mamba are competent musicians, so their delivery will be spot on every time. Unfortunately, pleasant rarely wins a contest like this, so I think we can rule out Lisbon 2022. Having said that, this is in a very open semi-final, so might just cut through some of the histrionics, dubious stagings and lacklustre performances from others to get its fair share of votes. Genre-wise, it’s not really competing with anything. A qualifier? I wouldn’t be surprised. A threat in the final, maybe not.

BULGARIA (11:00 -11:30 BST)

Richard – Wow again! I think this performance can only be described as beautiful. Victoria’s vocals are strong and show emotion at the same time. Emotion is needed to help convey the story of this song. The staging is simple yet effective. Victoria is sat on a wooden boat-like platform and the floor has water imagery on it. “Growing Up, Is Getting Old” will appeal to the majority I feel and should easily qualify.

Sarah- Victoria has created an effective staging which suits the mood of the song . She’s casually dressed sat alone on a wooden platform , which looks like it resembles her being sat on a cliff somewhere by a coast , with floor effects created to look like she’s surrounded by water. She has a black and white photo of a man carrying a child   , which she looks at as she sings  .A night-time atmosphere is created with lights representing stars and yellow LED lights. Victoria then stands up  and we then hear the sound of gospel backing vocals as we go into the finale of the song. I feel at least seeing a backdrop of a backing choir on the screen would help add to the power  . Victoria’s vocals are fine and you can feel the emotion as she sings . I am sure this will be a strong contender for qualifying.

John – If you’re looking for that potential winner that’s just under the radar, Victoria could be the one. Her sound is very now, and the staging is nicely simple. The camera work is generally quite tight, so she doesn’t appear as a dot on the screen. That really works. Her floating rock that she sits atop reminds me of the ʻOumuamua interstellar object story from a couple of years ago. The song also appears to be making use of pre-recorded backing vocals – a lot of them – so it might have been nice to see an image of a choir on a backdrop. But that might just compromise the dark close setting being put across. A highly likely qualifier in this more even semi-final.

James – Victoria’s emotional ballad is set at the edge of the world on what looks like a cliff top, as stars fall overhead and the waters swirl around her. It captures the pathos of the song exquisitely and Victoria has a good balance of connecting well with the camera and staring forlornly across the stage. For me Bulgaria came back to Eurovision in 2016 with the purpose to win it and are steadily proving themselves a force to be reckoned with. This song is beautiful, well performed and staged and I can see Victoria doing very well for Bulgaria. Winning? I’m not sure yet, but should easily be another Top 10 finish.

FINLAND (12:40 – 13:10 BST)

James – Dark Side won their national selection by a landslide and it’s really easy to see why – they’re incredible performers! The staging has built on the original UMK show with some added effects such as pyro and some new graphics on the screen behind them. A certain demographic of the audience is going to love this and I’m really enjoying it too! I’m also delighted that (unusually for a rock band at Eurovision) Blind Channel connect well with the camera and it’s great to watch! It’s loud, in your face and rocktastic, so while I’m not sure the juries will go wild for this, the arena audience and televoting public certainly will!

John – Our Finnish friends are going to wake everyone up after a couple of slower numbers. It will definitely have its fans. However, we’ve seen songs like this either sail through a semi-final or sink without trace. This has something about and if viewers listen to the message – which is crucial – it will pick up votes. I do like the full use of the stage as it’s been lacking elsewhere. And there’s a very colourful motif running through it. I wish Finland luck with this.

Richard – Finland have just had their first rehearsals. It’s really no my cup of tea.

Sarah-Eurovision isn’t Eurovision without a heavy rock style entry and there have been quite a few over the last years .The problem with this kind of entry is that while Blind Channel put in a very enthusiastic and dramatic performance, it may only appeal to those who like this particular genre of music, unless people get the message of the song . This reminds me a bit of AWS back in Lisbon in 2018 and Blind Channel could either get a similar outcome to what they achieved back then or be passed by depending on how the voting public sway on the night.

LATVIA (13:20 – 13:50 BST)

Richard – Well all that was missing from this performance was Doctor Who. Samanta certainly has a unique vocal sound and has a unique take on how to stage a performance. Latvia either do it well or do it badly and sadly they need to practice a lot if they have any chance of qualification.

John – Green. So. Much. Green. On Samanta and her pals anyway. The backdrop was gold of various shades and demonstrated how big the stage really is. I must admit I’ve not been a massive fan of this, and what I saw didn’t do much to change my view. There are a lot of ideas that don’t quite seem to gel together. And they seem to have ignored ideas that could make this gel together. I’m not sure what it needs to do to beat at least eight other songs in this semi-final. Pyros maybe, or something slightly less static. Or shorter instrumental breaks. I don’t know. Samanta’s very powerful voice is a major selling point and they can still turn this around. But they will need to, and quickly.

Sarah- We have green and gold as the theme colour with the Latvian staging with Samanta and her backing singers dressed in green and a bright gold backdrop , presumably representing the moon rising . It looks a bit chaotic in parts and a bit static with there seeming to be no real connection between Samanta and her backing singers. On the positives, Samanta has an incredible voice and this is really the selling point for this song , though will it be enough to carry her through to the Grand Final ?

SWITZERLAND (14:00 – 14:30 BST)

Richard – Gjon’s Tears, that was simply amazing. Gjon is stood on a large white structure, which over the course of the song comes apart. Vocally Gjon is very strong and the added contemporary moves add to the whole atmospheric feel. Potential non-accidental winner.

John – For the first time in this year’s rehearsals, I got goose bumps. Gjon has looked at the interpretative dance booklet, when he might not quite need to. He’s singing an honest song very powerfully. It’s a high-risk strategy, as so many things could go wrong note-wise. From what I’ve seen, he’s hit them all. Especially THE note. The staging is different. I was expecting maybe him with just a piano – in true Duncan mode – but he’s climbing around parts of the Channel 4 logo instead. I like it. I like it a lot. It’ll be the one to beat next Thursday night.

DENMARK (14:40- 15:10 BST)

Sarah- Being of Danish roots, I always like to see what Denmark bring to the contest and this year, their song has brought a real feel good factor after what has been a difficult year. Fyr og Flamme haven’t changed their act much from the National final and are still social distancing on their podiums with very bright patterned staging , very reminiscent of the 80’s style staging. Good decision to keep it in Danish as this keeps the strength of the song . Opinions of it on social media have been mixed with some loving it, some hating it , I personally love it and would love to see it do well. Being last on to perform may work to its advantage ,although coming after one of the contest favourites , Switzerland , could equally stall its chances. Good first rehearsal , Denmark, Tillykke !

Richard – Fyr & Flamme have delivered just what the doctor ordered after a year of in and out and in and out of lockdowns around Europe. It’s definitely a carbon copy of the national final performance, but on a bigger stage. It definitely has the 1980s vibe about it – the neon blues and pinks we’ve seen throughout the last four days work best in this performance. This will hoover up the votes in the semi final and will be fun enough to win a fair few votes in the final too.

John – Finally we got a good healthy dose of 1980s froth. Just the thing after a day of contrasting rehearsals and the like. This song is an immediate foot-tapper, whether you like it or not. It’s fun, light, and bound to make you smile. Singer Jesper (or is it Laurits) takes it upon himself to have a bit of a gambol around the stage with half of his microphone stand. This could be slightly unnecessary but it doesn’t really detract from the song. They have a plum draw being last on, so almost certain to qualify.

James – Back from interviewing Moldova just in time to see a Danish run through. It seems to be very similar to the national final staging of the song with lots of purple and blue and the boys wearing the same costumes as before – but if it worked so well, why change it? I know for a lot of people either love or hate this song, and have ranked its chances of qualifying according. It’s in a very sweet spot, one countries traditionally always qualify from. It’s upbeat, fun, and very 80s. Jesper and Laurits look like they’re having such fun and sell the song, I’d be amazed if this didn’t qualify!

And that’s it folks, we’ve come to the end of another rehearsal day ! Thank you for joining us today .Please #joinus again tomorrow at 9am ( BST) for more of our thoughts and comments as we watch the 2nd rehearsals for the First Semi Final! See you soon!

Author: Eurovision Ireland Team

Source : EBU

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