Impressions from the 1st Semifinal 2nd Rehearsals, Part I

May 5

Poland:  Magda’s legs looking fabulous in white short shorts, although I don’t quite understand the wardrobe choice of added bulk around the hips.  Most women want their asses to look smaller, not bigger.   The choreo is looking good.  I heard some tuning problems from the male backup singers, although I don’t think it was a sound issue.  Magda is going for it at the end, which is important if she wants to make the necesssary lasting impression, however, at this point it feels like she’s trying a little too hard.  It all should come together as long as they can put a little more polish on the vocals in the off-camera rehearsals.

Norway:  Playing to the time-tested PowerPoint advice of “tell them what you’re going to tell them,” Norway has added an extra a cappella “haba haba” hook at the beginning.  They’re putting out a bouncy, high energy performance that is capturing the fun.  Stella needs to scale back the extra “c’mons” and “heys”.  Those work in a concert setting when folks know the song but are a distraction when your audience is hearing it for the first time.  The backing vocals are much improved–in tune and not shouty.  A step in the right direction.  Still don’t like the backdrop.

Albania: As has been mentioned earlier, they’re giving the song a hard rock spin.  That’s too bad–Aurela is a diva and she should focus on just being that, a diva not a rocker.  A longtime worry of Chris’ has been Aurela’s lack of vocal levels, and for the first time, I share that worry.  In this rehearsal she ran the gamut of intensity from 9 to 10.  She goes too big too early and there’s simply nowhere to go.  In these final days, she should try to recapture the 8 to 10 intensity range she had in the recorded version.  Their finished product is doing what it says on the label, but it’s shaping up into a missed opportunity.

Armenia:  Vocally it’s there, choreo is there (and how!), my only beef is with wardrobe.  Comparing with the first rehearsal, I now see they were trying out things on the backing dancers, such as when to take off robe.  This time, they’re in hokey t-shirts with “Boom Boom” on them, which are a little too self-aware for my taste.  Emmy’s short little white dress and severe ponytail aren’t glamorous, nor are they a fit for the sporty concept.  Emmy had a little bit of flubbed choreo but nothing too big.  It also looks like they’re still working on the in-robe, out-of-robe costume transitions.

Turkey:  After the 1st rehearsal, the lead singer must have gotten a note to interact with the girl onstage.  That was a good note, but they need to be careful. If he comes over as a little too pleased that she’s in a cage it starts to look too much like BDSM, and I’m pretty sure that’s not an image they want to portray.  It kind of puts a new spin on the song, if you know what I mean.

Serbia:  Very few changes from the 1st rehearsal.  Nina had some shaky vocal moments today, but it’s the first time I’ve heard them. The back-up singers are now wearing Nadine Beiler wigs for some reason.

Jen’s in a meeting, so Chris is coming in to wrap things up.

Russia: Glowing sneakers. Apparently the Russian delegation is taking inspiration from the shoe fashions of 8-10 year olds. Alex’s outfit of a t-shirt and leather jacket makes him look like Jeff Conaway in Grease.  Minor quibbles, because these guys have got their act down cold. Alex is a good singer, and keeps his composure while doing a lot of choreography. Very happy they got rid of the “bow bow bow” in the opening verse.  Definitely a contender.

Switzerland: It doesn’t look they’ve done any tweaking from the first rehearsal, so the Swiss must seem pretty satisfied with what they’ve got at this point. I can’t stress enough how much I think Anna Rossinelli’s dress clashes with her song, though.

Georgia: We’ve talked a lot about songs that sound dated, and to me, “One More Day” sounds just as dusty as “Ding Dong.” Sopho sounded quite shouty today, and the outfits continue to look ridiculous. Georgia has never failed to qualify for the Final,  but this is going to be a real test of friendly & diaspora voting. If this and Belarus both go through, we’re never going to hear the end of it from the Western European press.

Finland: I feel like I’m doing nothing but criticizing everyone’s costumes today, but what the hell is Paradise Oscar wearing? (He had the same shirt on the first day, but it continues to boggle my mind.) Otherwise, this performance is set and good to go.

Malta: Glen Vella just seems like a genuinely nice guy. The Nadine Beiler wigs make another appearance. Everything we said about this in the first rehearsal stands.  They Jedwardized their LED backdrop, adding a lot of images from the video and of Glen.  I don’t know whether they went back to the drawing board after the rehearsal or this is part of a gradual reveal, but it is a significant improvement.

San Marino: Speaking of genuinely nice people, Senit is back to rehearse again. I have to tell you that the Sammarinese entry is kind of growing on me. Senit’s a charismatic singer, so I think that’s why. I will assume that this is not the case with Jen, though. [Um… no.  She may be a lovely person, but the song is still boring.  -J]

Croatia: They’ve tweaked “Celebrate” from the first rehearsal to keep the magician behind the turntable more. In the first costume change he appears to be doing a bit of dancing, which makes more sense than him wandering aimless around the stage. They’ve also dropped the hat filled with glitter and instead just have the magician and the back-up singers throw confetti at Daria for her last costume change. So it’s a little bit better. Or maybe I’ve grown numb to its suckiness.  But I still think this one is going to need all the friendly voting it can muster to make it out of the Semis.