May 6, 2017 Rehearsal Recap

Judging from today’s rehearsals, Semifinal Two is shaping up to be a magical evening.

Here are your Eurovision words for the day:

  • Dance with who brought you
  • Cheese
  • JACQUES

OG3NE from Netherlands are delivering exactly what you would expect: tight harmonies, stomping positivity, and perky encouragement. It’s all a bit cheesy, but it’s wrapped up in such an appealing package it’s hard to hate on it. I mean, we still do, but we are determined to do so.

Joci is doing exactly what he did at Hungary’s national final. The stage picture is him and a Roma dancer. And, like the national final, it still feels like he really doesn’t catch fire until he does the rap in the third minute. We’ve learned not to worry about that, though, because “Origo” is a compelling package.

Anja keeps the string of strong performances going, largely retaining her staging from DMGP. As far as we can tell, Denmark is keeping those cameras locked in on her for much of the song. Good idea. She’s a dynamic performer and she makes “Where I Am” a lock to qualify for the Final. As it turns out, Anja was the artist Australia should have sent, with the staging Australia should have used.

Ireland is hopeless. They set up Brandon with a giant balloon, but he looks completely lost on it and he does nothing to engage with the prop. The backdrop for Ireland looks like a YouTube sleep hypnosis video. Between all of that and a song that is dull as dishwater, everyone in the audience is going to be lulled into slumber.

Fortunately, San Marino arrives to wake us up. (Wait, is that something we just said? It is.) Valentina and Jimmie look like they are having the time of their lives up there. “Spirit of the Night” is vibrant and entertaining and would have been fabulous in 1978. I mean, can you imagine the lines at Studio 54?

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a bombshell: Croatia is successfully portraying Jacques’ duality as pop diva and opera singer! The Croatian delegation has nailed the tone of “My Friend,” which is possibly the most remarkable staging achievement at Eurovision this year. Jacques, as the front man, is exuding confidence and sincerity while clearly enjoying the moment. Everything behind him, however, is over the top. His stylist has triumphed with a coat that’s part tux, part leather jacket – it underscores the different vocal colors, but yet still works as a single piece of clothing. The staging features daisies and rainbows and violinists and, of course, pyro. Yes, it’s cheesy, but what a delight it will be for everyone on Saturday if it qualifies.

Norway has preserved the cool staging they did at MGP, including the on-screen camera tricks. Aleksander sounds great and it is all very chill and quite fun. But we wonder, with its laid back vibe, whether viewers at home will watch and say, “Yeah, I like this, this is good, but what the hell was that from Croatia?” That would be a shame.

So, that Beauty and the Beast movie was a hit this year, right? Timebelle took note and had Switzerland spring for a mullet version of Belle’s yellow dress. It’s a timeless look. See, Belle, Timebelle, get it?

Hey look, NAVI are dressed in white. Belarus has opted for more of a dream-like staging of “Historyja majho žyccia.” We’re not sure that it works. Plus, the duo are confined to a little airship seemingly stolen from Albania’s staging. It’s reining in their exuberance. Still, it’s such a fun song and a joyful performance it’s hard to imagine this won’t win over first time viewers.

Watching Bulgaria’s rehearsals doesn’t tell us much besides Kristian being in good voice. There are apparently a lot of camera effects that will be on full display when watching the show. How much that adds or subtracts remains to be seen, but based on strength of song and singer, Bulgaria looks to be in good shape.

Lithuania is next and Fusedmarc’s performance is unchanged from their national final. If you’re Sweden or Hungary or Denmark, this is not a problem. If you are Lithuania, it is. Now we’re getting closer to Two (Semifinal Two!), we don’t feel the “Rain of Revolution.”

Hey look, Laura’s wearing white. Koit’s in black, though, so we get it. He is the yin to Laura’s yang, the chocolate cookie to her creamy center. Anyway, watching the rehearsal footage for Estonia, our big problem with the staging is that Laura and Koit are standing nowhere near each other. In context of the song, it makes sense. But since the camera work is going to be all close-ups on the two of them, why have them stand so far apart? Move them close together so they can feed off of each other’s energy. Maybe that’s why their cheesy facial expressions are so amusing to us. They are over-emoting to make up for the lack of a real connection.

This year, Israel lacks the epicness of “Golden Boy” or even “Made of Stars.” But “I Feel Alive” is a perfectly enjoyable pop song that will add some flair to the Final if it makes it. We hope it goes through, but in rehearsals IMRI has been teetering on the edge of Tooji-ing his performance. Then again Tooji still qualified, didn’t he?