Eurovision 2016 Day 2: first rehearsals from Azerbaijan, Montenegro and Iceland

EuroVisionary is covering the Eurovision Song Contest 2016 rehearsals live from Stockholm to give you an idea of what to expect! We got to see the first seven countries of the First Semi Final yesterday and now it will be Azerbaijan, Montenegro and Iceland taking to the stage of Globen Arena. already seen the rehearsals from the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Austria and Estonia earlier today and, after a break, it is now time for songs 14, 15 and 16 in the running order of the First Semi Final to rehearse on stage for the first time.

Azerbaijan: Samra – Miracle

Azerbaijan’s is one of the catchy songs this year. Reminiscent of 80s pop, the entry still sounds contemporary. Samra herself looks very beautiful on stage. She is wearing white trousers and a lace top today but, judging by the fact that she has her accreditation badge on, it is likely that this will not the outfit she will be wearing during the First Semi Final.

Her presentation starts with Samra lit by icy blue spotlights focused on her against a dark background where yellow spotlights dominate (yep, spotlights again, you’ll see more than usual this year and even more so with the Azerbaijani entry). There is an impression of fire on the stage floor that’s a sign of what there’s to come. Samra throws one arm to one side and a flame appears behind her, then repeats the trick with the other arm. There is a bit of a problem with Azerbaijan though. As Samra hits the chorus and the ‘Gonna take a miracle’ line, the whole stage seemingly on fire now, it is apparent that the singer is off-key. It is not just this line either, the vocal performance remains wobbly all the way through during the first run of the song. The second run is cut short a few seconds in by Samra herself who asks if they can start again touching her earphone – could it be that the return sound she gets is the problem? When the second run properly goes ahead, the young singer unconsciously touches the front of her neck – has she got a throat problem? (I am trying to find an explanation as to the shaky vocals). I should not fail to mention that Samra is joined by four dancers, two men and two women, who carry out a contemporary, yet typically Eurovision, dance routine around her. We get the full works during the third (and final) run when (expensive) pyrotechnics are used left right and centre – usually in sync with the word ‘Miracle’ and very appropriate for the ‘Land of Fire’ (though used quite a lot as a reference by Azerbaijan in previous contests). These are particularly effective when seen through the angular wall created by the spotlights around the perimeter of the stage. Towards, the end there are also overhead pyrotechnics (think of 2013 winner Emmelie de Forest and Only Teardrops). It is quite effective actually and, what is more, Samra’s vocal performance improves a lot, too. I choose to believe that my faith in Azerbaijan has been restored somewhat…

Montenegro: Highway – The Real Thing

It’s a day with a generous offering for rock fans as Montenegro, like Cyprus, is a rock entry. Contrary to Cyprus’ pop feel though, Montenegro’s is hard rock song. Again, we get the setting of a sub-lit stage and the (yes, yet again) bright spotlights, this time flashing continuously in colours of white blue and red. One of the runs starts with the main singer of the group walking from the back of the stage (yes, yet again) with his face half-covered under his hood. There is woman standing right at the front of the stage, what you would normally call a backing singer (and thus expect to find her at the back of the stage but, hey, why not). She is standing within a bright white square, singing, moving to the music, even kicking in the air at some point, and, whatever it is she is doing, she is doing it rather well actually. There is some edgy camera work, too, similar in parts to the one used for Cyprus earlier (one would expect it to be somewhat of a standard direction for this genre). Not a bad presentation for this kind of song.

Iceland: Greta Salóme – Here Them Calling

Greta is a Eurovision veteran having represented her country back in 2012. She appears determined this year both in terms of her song and its presentation. The former is an up-tempo song with some traditional musical elements, the latter combines technology in the form of images displayed on a panel as part of the choreography (many people have pointed out that a sequence of the Russian presentation looks similar to Greta’s presentation for the Icelandic final). Changes are rumoured in regards to the presentation of the song for Eurovision though so we will have to see if/how these take place.

Everything actually looks very similar to Greta’s performance for the Icelandic presentation once we get to see the first run of the song. Most parts look slicker and, contrary to the country’s national final, we actually get to see the singer’s face better this time as the concept of keeping it under-lit appears to have been abandoned, save for the introduction when Greta is still lit from behind. The start is a bit shaky vocally. There is a nice overhead shot of Greta as she falls on her knees on the floor seemingly setting the stage floor bright. The usual set of graphics from the Icelandic final are preserved (the effect of hand shadows displayed on the panel as well as the jet of black smoke seemingly coming out of the singer’s chest for example). Additions include a revolving close shot of the singer. During her (Loreen-esque?) dance routine during the first run, when Greta is supposed to fall on the floor singing ‘I hear them calling me’, she misses her spotlight and, as a result, remains invisible in the dark. The sequence is repeated successfully in subsequent runs (and it looks pretty, too) but there is always something that does not quite go perfectly. There is a minimum of long camera shots for most of the performance, the emphasis being on the panel graphics and Greta, but the presentation finishes indeed with a panoramic shot of Greta silhouetted against a backdrop of flying birds (both on the panel and the actual stage background wall).

Stay tuned! The rehearsals from Bosnia & Herzegovina, Malta and Sweden coming up in a few minutes!

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