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Monkeying Around

May 5, 2017 by

Monkeying Around

Armenia kicked us off with what was bound to be one of the most professional rehearsals of the day. The only change I could spot was a small lit flare at the back of the stage behind Artsvik for the opening. This is perhaps an overall package which is more accessible than ‘LoveWave’ was last year.

Omar has come on leaps and bounds vocally for Slovenia. He’s now hitting all of the notes where he wasn’t previously. It’s a very pleasant three minutes, but the datedness of the song combined with Slovenia’s lack of voting power are still concerning.

Latvia’s Triana Park have also improved, which is making this semi increasingly tricky to predict. Agnese is now in her match kit which makes her look slightly more sympathetic than the harsh styling of the national final. But she’s still bringing fierce, potentially alienating arm movements.

Tijana is wearing an almost identical white dress to about half a dozen other females in the contest this year. She still isn’t delivering the song particularly well, and there isn’t enough to look at on stage. This could struggle to make it to the final unless the diaspora are out in full force.

Austria’s Nathan Trent is now looking more comfortable on the Eurovision stage. He’s struggling to negotiate the high note at the climax of the song, which he will need to get right in front of the juries. It’s a charming package viewers at home should appreciate, if a little lightweight.

Jana is now wearing her stage outfit for FYR Macedonia which is a black sparkly number. Otherwise this was the same as before, with no noticeable changes. I don’t think there’s enough for people to distinguish this one from Serbia, especially being close together in the running order.

‘Breathlessly’ has been a bit of a pleasant surprise for Malta. Claudia’s presence on stage is very warm and matronly, despite her being under 30. She looks stunning in a white sequin gown. This is competent enough to be in the qualification mix, but running order is the obvious worry.

Romania has toned down its explosion of colour slightly, with the floor and backdrop switching to blue towards the end. Illinca’s vocals are not the best for this rehearsal, and the cannon wheeled over for the finale currently doesn’t fire anything, and word is the confetti explosion hoped for has been turned down by the EBU. ‘Yodel It’ is still a work in progress.

A giant head prop was revealed earlier in the week, and we now know it’s for Ukraine. It’s a little bizarre as a concept, just sitting there in the middle of the stage with glowing eyes. Members of O.Torvald are arranged in a circle, which is fine, but singer Yevhen’s piercings have absolutely got to go.

Italy’s Francesco is joined on stage by four backing singers in addition to his gorilla. The whole package is very colourful, with the backdrop featuring many rainbow shapes including simians and circles. It’s so busy though that it does divert attention away from the performers. It’s a fairly simplistic staging concept compared to some of the other favourites, which might help it to stand out. The jarring Eurovision edit of the song is as apparent here as in the official video and it’s not ideal. Francesco is currently only finding the camera when it goes right up to his face. ‘Occidentali’s Karma’ is fun and a potential winner (in this field) for sure, but I’ve been against this one all season, and time will tell if it ends up making a monkey out of me.

‘Do It For Your Lover’ is even more amateurish than I had expected. Spain has gone with a summer beach staging concept, to nobody’s surprise. The vocals are dreadful, from both Manel and his backing busker troupe. The computerised vocals from the studio version have not been permitted. Manel very unwisely has his shirt open in the first run through, before he was swiftly told to button up. The whole thing is hopeless and the biggest car crash I’ve seen all week.

The highlight of Germany’s ‘Perfect Life’ is the opening which sees Levina lying on the floor with some nice floor lighting. After that, it’s completely and utterly dull. It doesn’t get much more beige than this. It gets a relatively large round of applause from the press centre, which just goes to show how you shouldn’t trust some of the opinions coming from here. The showdown is well and truly on for the Spain vs Germany battle for Last Place.

The biggest surprise of the day is Lucie Jones’ staging concept for the UK. It’s undoubtedly the BBC’s most creative and contemporary ever, with lots of gold stars everywhere. We get three different Lucies on stage for some of the performance, and she’s in fine voice. I still have big problems with the song and Lucie’s West End vocals. It is unlikely to be setting the scoreboard alight on the Saturday night, but the TPTB have done a nice enough job. There were pyros for the final run through, because the BBC always has to have pyros – it’s the law.

France delivered one of the most disappointing rehearsals of the week. Alma is surprisingly all alone on stage, almost like they’ve employed an ant to sing for them this year. I coined the term ‘Empty Stage Syndrome’, which was inspired by performances like this one. Alma is completely lacking in stage presence as well, with a pretty lacklustre vocal on display. Part of the backdrop features a night-time cityscape with a spinning Eiffel Tower – quelle surprise. The floor even spins around for the climax, so much so that I was feeling dizzy by the end. Unbelievably France currently looks like it could be in the mix for Last Place alongside Spain and Germany.

Tomorrow it’s back over to Rob for the last of the second rehearsals for semi-final 2, starting with The Netherlands and finishing with Israel.

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2 Comments

  1. I think a few bets for UK Top 15 and Top 10 are really nice now.

    How are the camera angles for Spain and UK Tim?

    • Tim B

      Hi Gert, the camera angles for UK are a lot better than they are for Spain, which really is atrocious and you shouldn’t be putting your money anywhere near it. I don’t think the UK is getting much televote either.