Eurovision 2016 – Rehearsals: Day 6 – UK, Italy and Semi Final 2

Some of the reactions in today’s round-up post are from rehearsal videos the EBU has published on YouTube today and some from watching rehearsals in the press centre. This post will be updated throughout the day.

Francesca Michielin’s vocal stamina slipped a little during the second run-through in Italy’s first rehearsal. I still like the song – it has an endearing bittersweet quality, a sort of wilting flower defiant in the face of its dwindling levels of chlorophyll. The plant reference isn’t some flight of fancy, by the way. Francesca stands in the middle of a row of fake plants stuck on the top of stalks. It’s as though she got lost in amongst the exhibits at the Natural History Museum. And that’s disappointing, because the imagery jars with what is otherwise quite a beautiful song.

Joe and Jake, singing for the first time at the Globen, had three run-throughs of their song ‘You’re Not Alone‘. There is an pleasing simplicity to the number which is complimented by a backdrop which lacks pretension, serving to underline the boys obvious enthusiasm on stage.

Joe and Jake with their twinkling eyes and bright white smiles are striking in close-ups, particularly in the opening sequence. They bound around on stage together like brothers too. The may well start by giving the impression it doesn’t have much impact, but the repetition of the hook and seeing Joe put arm around his singer partner’s shoulder, makes for something rather touching come the final chord. There were some mild (and I mean mild) intonation issues in the opening intervals during run-throughs one and two, but what really impressed me was how these seemed to be completed ironed out come the third time through.

Lithuania’s song ‘I’ve Been Waiting For This Night‘ makes for an entertaining watch though not for the reasons their singer Donny Montell might hope. Since his arrival and first rehearsal, a few days ago, Donny’s now got his hair done and it looks ridiculous. His moves on stage are clearly channelling Justin Bieber, making the whole thing look really rather overblown. I’m actually feeling a bit sorry for the guy – someone needs to step up and take control.

The press centre is enthusiastic for Austrlia’s ‘Sound of Silence’ and I remain so on the whole. But, on the high definition screens here, there’s a cheap look to the quality of the outfit Dani is wearing (despite the sequins on the long flowing dress) which starts me wondering whether this might possibly jump the shark.

Slovenia’s ‘Blue and Red‘ has worked itself into my brain. I now whistle it to myself a great deal and know that in a year’s time when this year’s songs have matured into the soundtrack for 2016, this song will be a key musical shortcut. That means I’ve lost all objectivity about it. Keep an ear out for the key change though – some shakey intonation.

I had a bit of a notable moment watching Bulgaria’s ‘If Love Was a Crime‘ on the big screens this afternoon: I wondered whether this might be the surprise success of the Contest. Not a surprise winner, but something that takes us unawares. Its competent, polished and quirky without veering into the ridiculous. The hook is mysterious but catchy, and singer Poli clearly loves performing. I think it will qualify, which means my list needs to change.

Words cannot convey quite how awful I think Denmark’s ‘Soldiers of Love‘ has actually turned out to be. I suspect it would be pretty cheesy, but rehearsals have surpassed those expectations. Either the vocals are high in some places for all of them, but they’re all struggling to pass something solid – the expressions on their faces are, really and truly, over the top. I don’t want it to qualify, but I fear it might just.

Ukraine’s ‘1944‘ from Jamala is far and away the most sophisticated song, and the most sophisticated presentation too. It looks even better on the big screens which means it will be striking for TV audiences. This is the one that will make people sit up and say, ‘that’s the one’. That’s what I’m hoping. And when the initial hook is reunited with the vocal in the final chorus, I feel physically moved. It’s an incredible thing.

Second time around, Norway’s ‘Icebreaker‘ remains infuriating – it doesn’t make any musical sense to me at all. Similarly, nothing has changed for me with Albania ‘Fairytale‘. Not a Grimm tale, more of a set of operating instructions for an old washing machine. Georgia’s Brit-Poppy ‘Midnight Gold‘ has been pushed over the precipice by their ridiculous lighting.

Belgium‘s choreography remains beyond amazing, and Laura’s performance is remarkable. An absolute corker of a stage act.

 

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