10 May 2016
Weird! That’s the primary feeling coming away from the first full dress rehearsal of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest. Also in this jury show were three of the pre-finalists, meaning by seeing the two semi final jury shows you could see every artist. This show we got France, Italy and Sweden.
These rehearsals are also full TV rehearsals, complete with the script, interviews and announcing (fake) winners. Some of the jokes were quite naughty, so they will make for an interesting feature during the “family show” – the second full rehearsal for 3pm today. The interviews in the green room don’t use the official questions, so it’s just friendly banter between Petra Mede and the contestant, which might prove to be more interesting than the official interview. Especially this night when Petra suggested to a contestant if he wanted to see more of her luscious legs she had currently exposed.
The weirdness with seeing Eurovision live is the remarkable fact little happens on stage. It’s a marvel that the camera work and directing really bring the acts alive. Even those acts with props seem small and insignificant, and choreography can look quite messy. Obviously the TV experience is the aim, so no complaints other than the arena should have bigger and better placed TVs to help watch the show. Globen is a very high arena, and all the screens were up high. The one in my peripheral was subject to shadowing and lighting, so that made the positioning even less ideal.
All jokes aside about Justin Timberlake appearing as an interval act during the final and that earplugs were being sold outside the entrance, the sound is really loud – perhaps too loud. Some of the heavier bass and beats felt like they could stop your heart, and the vocals occasionally too piercing to enjoy (as the vocal connoisseur I am). Arenas like this also struggle with echo around, so that might have been part of the problem – something that can’t be avoided. Before the spoiler section begins, I’ll simply say I enjoyed the strong vocal performances the most.
*** SPOILER SECTION ***
Even though spoilers are contained below, nothing specific is mentioned.
Russia, the favourite, did nothing to harm their chances. Starting with a mediocre copy of Sweden 2015 with the background graphics, Russia evolved, even transformed, that formula with an amazing presentation. If there’s a weakness, it is the song. It’s not the strongest ever power-pop song. Then, if we remember to 2015, it doesn’t need to be.
Armenia blitzed with the vocals. Amazing. Croatia my favourite overall of the night. This is a pure artistry song, performance and vocals. Fans of Azerbaijan, Estonia, Hungary and Iceland won’t be disappointed. Of course, the latter two have brought their excellent national final acts, so were already in a position of strength, while Estonia has only had tweaking. France and Spain were very accomplished, while Sweden we already know from Melodifestivalen. Fans of those three will be happy. Most awesome of the night was Petra! Mans Zelmerlow beside her was reduced to an accessory.
It’s a shame Czech Republic followed Russia, because Gabriela seemed like a dandelion drifting in the wind. This excellent ballad deserves much more attention. Hopefully, with this being the weaker semi and she the only female ballad, that will help her. Similarly Cyprus were underwhelming. Rock can always have a problem bringing energy to Eurovision, which is ironic in a way. The strange stage props did nothing, and they’d have been better to learn from Montenegro, who lifted their average song into something decent. Bosnia Herzegovina did well with their average song, and Netherlands were good too.
No surprises with Finland, Greece and San Marino. They brought nothing to help their causes. Greece, especially, was very poor by the usual high Greek standards. I’ll reiterate from my Big Preview that I don’t want Greece anywhere near the final. Moldova made no sense with their presentation – totally spaced out. If you’re to pick a surprise qualifier, it would be San Marino. The only act that received more applause through the night was Russia. It’s probably more cult following than anything real.