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Eurovision 2017 Rehearsals: Day 2 Review

Eurovision tiredness has officially set in, so rather than trek half mile uphill to the metro station before covering a further quarter mile to the arena, we instead opted for a taxi. Having said that, the metro is an experience not to be missed; the trains are relics of the 1960s and the stations have the full Soviet, art-deco regalia with star motifs and Stalinist busts. Oyster card technology hasn’t quite made it here yet, and access is gained by small plastic coins like the money one used to get in those toy tills as an 80s child.

Anyway, first up today was Demy for Greece. She was joined by two guys dancing in a pool and a holographic waterfall effect during the middle eight. Given the Greek delegation were up at 5am this morning, it was understandable that the first run through lacked the required sharpness. [Cue market overreaction] The final performance was much tighter and appeared more impactful on the small satellite screens in the press centre. They still need to work on the vocals, but that should come together for next rehearsal.

Urrrrg, Poland now. It’s a conceptless dirge with generic constellation staging featuring animals that form the word FREEDOM at the end as if to add some element of gravitas and meaning to what is a lazy, primary school level composition. Kasia relies on reasonably solid vocals and a bit of leg lift this toilet break song, though she can’t help but grunt during the power notes, which gives it a problematic aggressive feel.

Bang! Sunstroke Project delivered Hey Mamma straight out of the box for Moldova. They have really maximised the LED wall with dynamic, contrasting black and white graphics and projected figures of the three guys dancing. The backing singers remain in wedding dresses. The good thing about Moldova is that it feels authentic and natural – these guys have genuine sax appeal and a solid USP that should see them stake a claim for a place in the final. There’s not much for the juries to mark down here, as it feels much stronger than their 2010 effort when they opened the semi and finished 10th on the televote and 13th with the juries. The standard of their opponents is much lower this time around too and there isn’t a Hera Björk shaped Je Ne Sais Quoi vote magnet at the back end. This year’s Golden Boy?

Someone was requesting £1,700 at 2.98 for Iceland to qualify earlier today, which was eventually matched – in full. In hindsight, laying that was probably wise, as Iceland suffers from chronic empty stage syndrome; and while Svala is nowhere near as aggressive as she was at the Icelandic national final, she’s not doing enough to win over non-scandie voters. Greta finished 13th on the televote last year and it’s difficult to see Svala beating that given the lack of USP and visual hook.

My Turn isn’t the sort of slow, insipid song one needs after lunch. Wearing an inappropriate, gold lamé jumpsuit, Marta starts sat down front of stage before walking to centre stage following a yellow path. The staging shifts to pink with lots of closed eyes which eventually open and close again. This is an apt representation of how Europe will react to Czech Republic’s song, which looks nailed on for last place in this semi-final. The naked bodies from the official video also make an appearance. NEXT!

If you have a singer who lacks charisma, then giving them loads of tricky choreography isn’t going to help the situation. Hovig, joined by two backing dancers, spends most of the song trying to balance and walk along various LED lines which they often miss. There are one or two moments that require Hovig to balance on one leg and he failed every single time until the final run through. They should shove a small lead weight in Hovig’s back pocket to counterbalance him. Cyprus just about OK with this fairly unimpressive song.

The day’s most anticipated rehearsal now and maybe a song more difficult to get first time than in previous years. The distinctive production of the official video has been replaced with Artsvik joined by two female dancers performing intricate armography against a predominately purple backdrop with asian motifs; the showpiece being the highly effective, multi-arm Durga-move. This is an artistic performance that will attract jury love, it just depends if they prefer the simplicity of Portugal or the artistry of Armenia, which ends on a high with a terrific soaring eagle effect.

Omar is the first of this year’s acts to use the much publicised staging chandelier. It looks like Omar is performing on Israel’s Rising Star franchise, as the chandelier totally shuts him off from the live audience. There are moments when Omar appears a tad deranged, which may prevent neutrals warming to him. However, On My Way has a rousing, epic ending with plenty of white light and swooping camera shots, so it’s possible Slovenia could surprise if Omar connects with TV viewers.

Latvia stays in national final form, but the Eurovision stage allows for more dynamic, psychedelic lighting effects. Agnese is sporting bright red hair and resembles last year’s Swiss performer, Rykka – one would expect this to change for next week’s semi-final. Line takes a while to get going here, but it is difficult to hear with the growing number of press attending. It should qualify, but it’s not a position I’m getting involved in for now given the lack of liquidity and sensible prices around.

We’ll be back tomorrow to review the first half of semi-final two’s rehearsals. 

About Gavster

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I’m a qualified designer and the official geek in the crew, dedicating most of my free time to keeping the ESCtips show on the road. My family routes allow me to support the UK, Ireland and Italy.

12 comments

  1. Slovenia is the biggest surprise for me – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uct1_Lxx_o4

  2. People are giving too much credit to Portugal. I doubt this will even get a top5 with the jury, let alone win the semi-final. There are better vocalists and better ballads than his super-dated song. Heck even Slovenia sounds better. I don’t see why people need to make a hype of just about anything. Slovenia and Moldova are positive surprises of the day.

    • Catriona colville

      Maybe loads of people just like it? Why do you struggle to understand that?

    • Portugal is sublime – simply because it has a unique sound (together with the simple presentation) will appeal to juries and televoters I think. It’s SO different that you remember it. At the very end it has a few tinkles of the piano to mark the end. Very gentle and nice.

  3. Hi Gav, I’m Sam and I’m taking my first step into the comments section. I’m a student so I am not playing with large amounts of money, but I like to place a few bets here and there.
    This year the best value right now seems to be for the semi 1 winner.

    This is what I’m thinking right now after the two days of rehearsals:

    – Jury: Armenia and Portugal are likely to be placed 1st or 2nd in the jury. An outside chance is Sweden – the juries tend to go for songs like ‘I can’t go on’ and the stage performance is solid. I’d see Finland making the top 5 of the jury also.
    – Televote: The hardest bit. Robin is hampered by slot 1 and his lack of charisma but I think the song is strong enough for top 5 televote. But then will audiences vote in droves for Portugal and Armenia? I think many will dislike Portugal but a big enough number will love it for it to get top 3 on the televote. Armenia should make the top 5 also. I can’t see Australia or Finland getting top 5 televote. Greece surely will, Albania and Cyprus are 24 televote points already. Azerbaijan and Moldova should be up there too.

    This leads me to think that the only contenders for the win are Sweden, Armenia and Portugal. I just think the Greek song isn’t good enough for the juries to be in contention to win the semi, and I really don’t get Australia. If I had to say, then I think Portugal has the best chance of winning if it wins the jury vote by a wide enough margin.

    • I think you have a good grip on this semi-final, Sam.

      I expected slightly more from Greece, but in just three run throughs, it took quite a large step forward – 3rd-5th is the range, I think.

  4. I think the greek staging is stunning and I am glad it’s not over the top.
    Elevates the song for sure anyway.

  5. Greece : Much better than feared like I feared last week, not a contender for the semi win but a probable top 3 and should be hitting top 10 on saturday.

    Poland : I love Kasia Mos but this song is just pointless, Poland every year since 2014 seem to be on dodgy ground but now I think they will come unstuck, much too early in the draw and in right between Greece and Moldova it is dead in the water.

    Moldova : This is my favourite song in the semi already and im now so delighted to see the package has come together so well, before rehearsal’s they were an Amber although a very green one but now they are 100% Green and ive said the same thing, this is the Golden Boy of the year and should get Moldova back onto the left hand side of the scoreboard and with a 2nd half draw who know’s, could surprise.

    Iceland : It actually is quite well staged but its not for a TV Show audience unfortunately and right now they are on very shaky ground, should come close but im struggling to see it get over the line

    Czech R : Its chance’s of qualifying appear to be gone now, it is at the end of the day a good song so I expect this to get enough jury support to get them off the bottom of the semi but its almost certainly last in the televote so it’s still not getting anywhere close to the final.

    Cyprus : Probably the biggest improvement for me, if they can polish it a little and try make it work for Monday and Tuesday than Cyprus should be pretty much locked in for a spot in the final albeit about 7-10th in the semi.

    Armenia : The only song in this half that can contest for the semi final win imo, its a certainty to be top 3 in the semi and top 10 in the final but im not so sure it will win the semi just yet as I need to see the first half rehearsals one more time.

    Slovenia : Gone from a NQ to an Amber, I know 2nd last is generally the scandi zone of death but it should still being so late have a good chance of being remembered to the extent that they could be a shock name to come out of the envelop, if it does manage it though it will be at best 10th but it has a serious chance of qualifying compared to what we thought 2 day’s ago. ATM they have got litterally every last drop out of the entry.

    Latvia : Didnt hear much about it but from what I have heard it looks quite good but the sound wasnt the best, I still think it’s a certain qualifier as while it’s not everyone’s cup of tea it is the most modern song in the semi final and because of this I see juries rewarding it plus being last should ensure a decent telelvote so at the moment until I see it on Thursday I think its 4-7th in the semi.

  6. Moldova looks the pick of the day to me. Drawn second half after a worthy ballad in the final it might even outdo Golden Boy. It’s slick, fun and stays with you. Could it even do a Poli G..?? Odds for top ten fell from fives to twos just after it finished.

  7. Moldova instead of Belgium to q my take from the last two days. The standard is much higher than 2010’s semi but they’re in a better position.

    Cyprus dissapointing, wasn’t expecting much but thought they’d have a better concept. Have friends in Greece and Armenia though.

    Armenia still lacks impact on first listen for me and I don’t think it will have wide enough appeal outside the diaspora and not a jury winner. I think a 5-10 is the very best this can achieve in the final. Maybe 3rd- 6th in the semi.

    Not much to say with the rest, don’t think too much has changed.

    Really interesting win market, three countries around 4s for the semi.

  8. After the last 2 days this is my traffic light system

    Green : Sweden, Australia, Finland, Portugal, Greece, Moldova, Armenia, Latvia

    Yellow : Georgia, Belgium, Azerbaijan, Iceland, Cyprus, Slovenia

    Red : Albania, Montenegro, Czech Republic, Poland

    Greens – Moldova and Finland have gone up with Azerbaijan going down. I originally had it has a fight between Finland and Belgium for 1 spot but after seeing the rehearsals Finland is simply too good not to qualify so by default I picked the. Least likely qualifier for the first half who was already green which was Azerbaijan. Apparently bar Blanche Belgium did have a lot of things left to show so until Thursday I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt but I feel Blanche is the HUGE problem in this.

    Moldova is just amazing now and TBH I’d have them as a dark horse for top 3 in the semi, that may sound a little crazy but not many of us backed Golden Boy for top 3 in 2015 and this is a weaker semi final than that and Moldova have more friends and Sergey is a much more charismatic performer and the epic sax guy will also be a huge help when it comes to the recap.

    Yellow – Georgia and Slovenia have gone up with Czech Republic going down. Georgia tbh I can’t really see qualifying and are likely to be a red come Thursday but For some reason I’m feeling that with a strong vocalist that they have that Georgia might still have a chance of qualifying albeit VERY small. Slovenia with its draw and decent enough staging have to be considered, juries in EMA voted for him so their must be some appeal here, if it qualifies it will literally be by the skin of its teeth.

    Iceland are very much on the edge and like Georgia they will probably be moved to red come Thursday unless there’s improvement, not much else to say which shows what effect the entry had on me.

    Cyprus out of all my yellow are one of the few that I’m feeling confident for, this could be one where I’ll be waiting until post jury show to make my final call but I think it’s a perfect package for this place in the running order and ATM it’s hard to see them being left out, Armenia following it is the only negative I feel.

    Contrary to the first two I think this is most likely to change to a green come Thursday as Belgium really have their work cut out for them to make the cut.

    Red – Czech Republic down, first 3 for obvious reasons won’t be making it but the one I’m out on a limb on is Poland, similar to Lithuania bar diaspora I can’t see who’s going to vote for this.

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