Eurovision 2016 – Rehearsals: Day One

This is the first in a series of posts tracking the final fortnight in the run up to the Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm. Expect personal takes on the banal, insignificant and inconsequential from this year’s contest in these daily posts.

The big event in the first day of rehearsals was undoubtedly Russia’s act. Sergey, according to two commentators, suffered a bit of a fall which prompted the Eurovision’s Health and Safety department to rush to the stage with their clipboards. All seemed to turn out OK as this subsequent run through of his high-octane pop number seems to illustrate. Was it a lot of fuss about nothing? Experience prompts me to assume it probably was.

Sergey’s stage presentation was the thing everyone’s eyes were on today. Eurovisionary has a detailed account which illustrates the buzz Sergey’s PR team has built in the run-up to rehearsals. Eurovision Ireland corroborates the ‘Sergey Falls Down’ story too. Watching Russia’s complete run through, I’m caught between four successive viewpoints.

First, his performance – essentially ‘live video’, Sergey interacting with a part-projection, part-3D backdrop – is eye-catching.

So maybe, I’m thinking (second) as I watch it this afternoon, I should just give up the whole ‘I don’t like Russia’s song’ thing and give in to the inevitable.

But then I watched ‘Bridge of Spies’ this afternoon via Sky and realised that good can triumph over the other stuff (third) and that maybe, just maybe, there would be others who shared the same crude view I do, which is that Russia’s stage presentation just makes me think of Sweden’s last year.

That’s when I started wondering whether my implicit expectation that each winning Eurovision song should in some way be original or distinctive from anything that has gone before is nothing short of ridiculous (fourth ). I don’t know where that expectation comes from. Fundamentally, the people who will vote him as winner won’t remember last year’s winner because they’re far more rounded individuals who have perspective on life and won’t have devoted any more time than is absolutely necessary to the Eurovision, hence why their memory is short.

In comparison, San Marino’s ‘I Didn’t Know‘ looks dull and lacklustre (no surprises there) though I suspect that the criticism levelled at Serhat for being a little creepy in his performance may cut a little more deeply than I first thought.

Netherlands’ ‘Slow Down‘ also looks a little bland on stage, confirming for me that the strategy for the song is projected further than the contest. This remains a radio playlist number.

Croatia’s ‘Lighthouse‘ has a more traditional, more recognisable on-stage gimmick, which is nice.

Sing It Away‘ may well do better in the voting than I originally thought it would. I’m still not entirely convinced the vocals will be bang on come the final night, but its simplicity may well make it look better on TV compared to some of the others.

Hungary’s song looks exactly the same as the national final performance and will almost certainly appear as dull in the semi-final next week as it did in preview.

I’m remained convinced that Greece’s song won’t qualify.

In other news, there appears to be a spaceman on stage as part of Moldova’s act (instant disqualification, surely), and lots of people appear to be talking about Armenia’s ‘LoveWave‘, God only knows why.

Also today, EBU HQ announced plans to syndicate Eurovision to 50 million US home via the LGBT TV network Logo TV. A precursor to US participation? Almost certainly.

Catch up with Thoroughly Good Eurovision coverage at www.thoroughlygood.me/eurovision

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