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Eurovision 2017 Rehearsals: Day 4 Review

The most anticipated day of rehearsals is here starting with San Marino and Croatia, but also featuring the potential challenger to Italy; Bulgaria’s Beautiful Mess. The work experience kids were in charge of rehearsals today, hence why we missed a lot of run throughs.

San Marino’s staging features simple, flashing colour blocks of purple, red, blue and yellow. Jimmie and Valentina are in black along with three backing singers. This has the feel of a dance floor rendezvous with Valentina sporting a handbag, which really should be planted centre stage and danced around – opportunity missed! Lots of energy here following Ireland, but the performance does lose sizzle prior to the first key change. Maybe pyros will lift this for the jury rehearsal? Some brighter transitions during the latter stages would also help.

Another helping of cheese now with Jacques Houdek for Croatia who performs against a green vista and sunflower backdrop with three backing singers and two string players. It starts with Jacques delivering a closeup spoken intro to camera; his heavy makeup gives him a passing resemblance Italy’s Sergio Silvestre. The split personality is achieved by the cameras panning in to reveal Jacques from alternating directions. It’s a classy production, but the main concern for qualification backers is the overpowering stench of cheese, which the juries are known to punish. A curtain of sparks is deployed for the climax.

JOWST felt rather flat with Grab The Moment losing the sharpness of the Melodi Grand Prix final. Joakim lacked charisma at first but warmed up for the final run through. Norway’s overlay graphics deployed at MGP have been adapted, but it looks more like distortion and detracts from the overall package.

Switzerland were up just before the lunch break. Romania’s(!) Miruna is stood on top of a yellow, spiral-staircase platform for most of the song and wears a matching, big yellow gypsy wedding dress against a pastel pink backdrop. It looks and sounds bland. Miruna over-sings the climax and struggles to nail the new vocal variations. This is struggling, though we only got to see one rehearsal in the press room.

Navi Band didn’t follow the suggestion here to replicate Hora Din Moldova’s staging. Instead, the Belarus duo are planted on a hovercraft contraption as the backdrop whizzes past various landmarks. Because the staging is so off putting, this feels like an extremely long three minutes. Their chemistry is good and the vocals are solid, but with 24-points from Russia cut from Belarus‘ tally, qualification remains a tall order.

Over to Bulgaria who have replicated the on-screen scribbles used by Italy in Stockholm. Kristian is in his customary black outfit performing against a concrete and animated chalk-drawn backdrop. The staging looks cold and stark; and even though Kristian can emote well, stage designer, Baptiste, has got him performing incongruous arm gestures to match the scribbles. Gone are the days, it seems, when dramatic lighting, dry ice and intimate closeups were the most effective way of staging a ballad. Another open goal missed and Portugal promoted as the lead ballad this year in my book.

What to say about Lithuania… the betting table have all agreed burn our promo CDs of Fusedmarc’s Rain of Revulsion.

Anyway, on to the serious business of Estonia and Israel…

Koit and Laura perform similar steps as at the Eesti Laul final, but this is much slicker in delivery and presentation. There are one or two timing issues with Koit looking lost in Kyiv. Vocals are good and even Laura looks less awkward. Koit switched his light beige suit jacket for a leather bomber for the remaining run throughs – I would opt to keep the full suit. There is still a sense that these two secretly hate each other, which is probably why they’re about 5-metres apart for most of the song; however, this should be enough to see Estonia through to the final and maybe sneak a top-10 in the final given then improvements.

Imri was last up for Israel in what still feels very Tooji in influence. The staging is predominantly black and red with images of Imri appearing to break into pieces during the refrain. This would ring alarm bells if it were on X-Factor UK. Another potential red flag for the jury rehearsal is Imri’s tendency to drift off key. Fire cannons are deployed during the chorus and again for the post-middle-eight to song close along with jets of sparks. The pyros elevate this to being a more certain qualifier, but that could alter if Imri’s vocals let him down next week.

On the whole, it was a low key day with only Estonia and Croatia standing out; Bulgaria just need to add warmth. However, this makes Italy’s odds-on outright price entirely justified.

About Gavster

ESCtips Owner   I’m a qualified designer and dedicate a lot of my free time to keeping the ESCtips show on the road. My family routes allow me to support the UK, Ireland and Italy.


  1. Agree totally Gav on the missed “open goal.” I know we are only one rehearsal in, but having declared their colours, I see Australia and Bulgaria potentially ceding ground now to Salvador. This Portuguese “late entry” business of his could easily work like a “covered up” racehorse timing his run from two furlongs out. But only if he nails it first time out. But I see these songs all competing in the same market for votes: all potentially better jury than televote fodder, but I see lots of blue on Portuguese odds currently and I suspect this is why.

    You could argue that Bulgaria have time to sharpen up and improve, but even if they nail the co-ordination of the “scribbles” and the hi-tech, that backdrop looks monochrome austere and saps from his really fine, fine vocal performance. Falls short on emotion. Exudes respect rather than producing goose bumps.

  2. I’ve never been overly keen on Bulgaria but a combination of good running order and favourable semi have persuaded me this was a likely semi winner and therefore very likely for a top five in the final. That hasn’t really changed for me but the win looks beyond its grasp. Even if its tightened up there’s always been something a little off about a kid who looks about ten years old trying to sing a serious and emotional ballad. The song and singer are very good but the staging isn’t bringing it together. There’s still no other winner in this semi though. Poli received 307 points in the final, I’m expecting something similar.

    I’m not particularly impressed with any of what I’ve seen today but I think Switzerland had the worst rehearsal in terms of where they were to what they’ve done today.

    At the moment from the second half I have Romania, Bulgaria, Estonia and Israel certain q.

    Serbia, Austria, Malta, Netherlands, Hungary, Denmark, Croatia, Norway, Switzerland, Belarus all borderline.

    Getting no easier to predict this semi.

  3. Hi Gav, been reading this page for years now and just wanted to say thank you for such in-depth coverage and thoughts!

    Like you I have been a big fan of Bulgaria’s chances this year and have a few bets placed on them here and there, though I understand you were a bit dissapointed with their first rehearsal today. Just wondering were you place Bulgaria now, top 5 still a possibility to you? Personally I think top 5 is very likely and I wouldn’t rule them out for the overall win until after their second rehearsal.

    • Thanks for reading, Anna.

      Like you I’m very keen on Bulgaria’s song and think Kristian has star quality. However, I think the staging isn’t dynamic enough to compete with Italy, given they’re the yardstick at the moment. I suspect they will change some elements for rehearsal 2, but I’m not expecting a significant overhaul. I passed my comments onto the delegation, so hopefully they take note and make the required changes.

      My guess is they’ll just try to perfect the scribbles, rather than keeping things simple. Let see.

      As for it’s progression, I would say top-5 is achievable, but I’m slightly cooler on the win right now. There aren’t any goosebump moments, whereas Italy just nails everyone on charisma. That’s not to say Italy isn’t beatable, they probably are, I just haven’t seen anything close to threatening yet.

      • Thanks for the insight Gav. It will be interesting to see if the Bulgarian delegation does take note.

        On the whole, I am struggling to picture who could actually win this year. All of the main contenders do seem to have some sort of flaw.. As for Italy, as much as I am a personal fan of the song, I can’t shake the feeling that they won’t win either the jury vote or televote. Obviously they could still do a Ukraine but I do have a niggling doubt that we won’t be going to Italy next year. Will people get it, or will it just be written off as a joke? It is a very fine line. On base level, it is a guy dancing with a gorilla singing in a language most of Europe will not understand.

        For me, Bulgaria does seem to be one of the only songs that could do well with both the jury and televote. The only other countries I can see doing this is Sweden and Italy, I think the winner will definitely come from one of these three songs. Armenia could do well in the east, but I don’t see western audiences taking to this. Portugal is another big question mark, I just can’t see a Saturday night audience taking to this. I still doubt its Q chances on occasions, especially as it’s slap bang between crazy, eccentric Azerbaijan and upbeat-europop-diaspora-heavy Greece (will people be too busy WTF’ing and having a laugh after Azerbaijan?), though I know I’m largely alone in this doubt. Portugal haven’t had the best luck in Eurovision recently, either.

        I don’t think this year is as clear cut as it may seem, and I think the grand final running order is even more significant than ever this.

        • Portugal haven’t “had the greatest luck”…..well, they have sent very few songs of note and promise over the years, but they deserve respect for staying with Portuguese throughout all the years.

          Juries will mark Salvador high, of that I have no doubt. The televote will decide whether this ends up in the lower half of the top ten or pushes on to really threaten. I think we can talk of the “phone threshold”…..people seem to love it or hate it, but if a very large proportion of the former pick the phone up, it will score votes. Better polarisation of tastes that yields real votes than a vaguely positive, “yes, I quite like it” that does not cross the pick the phone up threshold.

  4. To keep it short

    San Marino impressed and will be borderline when we see the semi results on Sunday morning but as long as the jury are doing their job this simply doesn’t have enough going for it to get through

    Croatia : brilliant, qualifying and if the first half rehearsals stay the same it could be the final nail in Serbia & Macedonia’s coffin.

    Norway : My personal favourite this year but the staging is just not working at the moment but at this stage itshow simply a work in progresse, should still sail through if they fix things up.

    Switzerland : gone, like Panos said on Twitter this just a complete USP-less song trying to be something it’s not. Shouldn’t get anywhere near the final.

    Belarus : A little so-so, still a little unsure about their chances but at the moment they have given themselves a decent shot at it.

    Bulgaria : out of the running to win with this, should still win the semi but will be doing well to hit top 5 in the final

    Lithuania : KILL IT!

    Estonia : improved, still find the whole performance really cringe worthy but that’s just me I feel they do damage to Belarus earlier on. Will qualify but unless it has a Michal Szpak level of popularity in the televote I can’t see it hitting top 10

    Israel : Vocals really aren’t good and the staging is meh, I felt after seeing Bulgaria that this could have been the dark horse to win the semi prior to its rehearsal today but now…let’s just say Israel can count themselves lucky that they have the pimp slot. Will still qualify comfortably but will bomb in the final as things currently stands.

    At the moment my 10 qualifiers are

    Bar Lithuania I still think anyone can qualify from this very wide open semi, after Saturday when i see the stage performance fully I can give an accurate prediction.

    • meridian_child

      San Marino boarderline? You should put your money on them to qualify 🙂
      Or lay them for last place.

      • I said they could end up being borderline e.g like Serhat last year but I still can’t see them making it but crazier things have happened.

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