2016 Rehearsals Day 5: SF1, France, and Spain

Friday provided a clearer separation of the wheat from the chaff as all eighteen performers from Semifinal 1 took to the Eurovision stage for their second rehearsals.

Gabriela Gunčíková will compete on behalf of the Czech Republic in the Eurovision Song Contest's first semifinal. (Photo: Thomas Hanses)

The second rehearsal is key for Eurovision performers; this is the time when they’re finalizing costume choices, working through lighting and camera issues, tightening up choreography, and working out any remaining kinks. The next time these eighteen countries take the stage next Monday, they’ll be performing in front of the national juries that will account for half of their score.

Here are first impressions from Friday’s rehearsals:

1

Apparently this is the final costuming? And those vocals … they are not good. Here’s hoping Sandhja’s just tired, and will be able to get some rest over the weekend. Props to those backup singers, who are doing great work trying to give energy, but ultimately the staging is static and the performance flat.

2

When in doubt, dance with your arms! Seriously though: I’m not a fan of this staging, in part because it reminds me too much of Portugal 2011. It’s very Greek, though, and hopefully some smart camera angles will capture some of the energy the dancers are bringing. Greece has never failed to qualify, but this just might be the year it happens.

3

This dress is definitely better than whatever she was wearing in the first semifinal, but … a stripper astronaut? I’m so sad this most likely won’t make it to the Grand Final, because I’d love to include that in the game I’ll be running at my watching party next weekend.

4

Freddie continues to look like someone pulled him off the street to fill in for the real performer. At least we finally have the actual drummer, who seems like the only one who’s trying. This entry will forever be known to me as #PleaseClap.

5

Vocals are a mess in this one, which is surprising — it seems like Nina has been pretty consistent up to this point. Or maybe I just haven’t seen enough live performances from her. Love the feather keyboard dress, though! I look forward to seeing why those other people are onstage, besides making the costume change happen.

6

Booooooring. Five of the first six performers stand and sing, and while Douwe Bob is executing the vocals really well, he’s not doing anything to stand out visually. I’m pretty sure he and Serhat are wearing the same suit, in the same color family even.

7

Once again with the awful vocals! Did somebody put something in the coffee? I love this outfit, though — much better than the solid black leotard she was wearing in the first rehearsal. It’d be great if we could see more of that train. I’m constantly in fear she’s going to walk backwards and trip over it.

8

OMG this entry. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. The synchronized head snap is a nice touch, but they all seem more interested in giving face than coming in on time. And I’m still upset there’s no monocle headstrap. At least there’s some movement onstage.

9

Poor Sergey. After collapsing from exhaustion onstage a few weeks ago, he’s now slipped off the setpiece, and is locked in a dead heat with France heading into the semifinals. That is a whole lot of falling. Overall I am so disappointed in the staging choices for this performance, which force him to move tentatively instead of showing off his moves with energy. Not that many people in this contest can dance like Sergey Lazarev, and by not taking advantage, Russia is ignoring their biggest advantage. How sad.

10

What a great song, and a great performance! Gabriela and her backup singer(s?) are spot on, and it’s a joy to hear them put on a strong vocal performance after so many weak ones. I wish there was more going on visually, but we have yet to see this with the full graphics, so it’s possible that will help with energy.

11

Okay, so, I actually think this is a decent song, and I really appreciate the energy the backing musicians are putting into their fake instrument playing, including the hair whipping from the lead guitarist. The cages might be too much, though — besides (as Mike pointed out) creating an obstacle course for the steadicam operators, it’s visually cluttered with the lights and the squares in the stage floor.

12

Well, at least the second half of this semifinal is shaping up to have better vocal performances, if not to have any more movement onstage. Another stand-and-singer, but the vocals are executed well, and the graphics do a great job of creating the sugary-sweet atmosphere.

13

Estonia is in the same boat as Russia right now; they have a really good song with potential that’s suffering as a result of performance choices. Jüri has no idea what to do with his arms, so he keeps doing the same thing: lifting with an open palm. It’s awkward. I appreciate the card trick he pulls, and it’s on theme with the graphics, but the scale is wrong. On the Eurovision stage, one card isn’t going to show up. You need to throw an entire deck for that to make sense. And don’t use a random card, either! Use a deck made up only of Aces of Hearts. Come on, don’t make me do this for you.

14

I am sitting here LMAO over the half-dressed football gladiators voguing with their mic stands while singing “mira, mira mira.” And the pyrotechnics are awesome, as one would expect from the Land of Fire. This is exactly the kind of visual performance I watch Eurovision to see. Unfortunately the vocal performance is a hot mess, the same as in the first rehearsal. This is the exact same problem Azerbaijan had last year — good song, weak vocals — so I’m interested to see it repeat. Apparently Samra has been sick the last few days, so hopefully as her health improves, her voice will as well.

15

There is a LOT of lighting going on here, and we’re still waiting on that dancer to appear.

16

There’s not much more we can say about this one; it’s been the same since the national final, and probably nothing will change from here forward.

17

I can’t decide which of those dresses is more fierce, and does taking off one’s jacket count as a costume change? I’ll be honest, the staging with the barbed wire makes me really uncomfortable; it reminds me of the Holocaust Memorial in San Francisco. But I suppose that’s the point, to conjure up images of war.

18

Ira Losco has ditched the jacket and projections for a black sleeveless dress with gold rhinestones. (Thank goodness, it’s not Eurovision until someone comes out covered in rhinestones.) We’ve got the reverse camera angle this time, so a better look at the interplay between her and her dancer. It’s another stand-and-sing, but the movement will really help keep the energy, especially as Malta’s performing last in this semifinal.

19

Amir’s vocals are spot on, but his outfit and the backdrop graphics are both well-tailored but generic. And no dancers? This is only France’s first rehearsal, so plenty of time to make updates. I honestly don’t understand why this entry is nipping at Russia’s heels, but then there’s a lot I don’t, and will never hope to, understand about Eurovision.

20

This is about what we expected from Barei — an energetic performance featuring hi-top sneaker heels and her signature dance. Her backup singers need a little work, but other than that, it’s hard to tell what the finished product will be. We’ll know more after Spain’s second rehearsal over the weekend.

Saturday will feature a full runthrough of the second semi final as well as the first rehearsals for Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom.

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