Brewing Up A Storm

Apr 29, 2014 by

Brewing Up A Storm

Cristina Scarlat gets day 2 underway for Moldova. She has 4 male dancers who look like ninjas in black outfits initially camouflaged among a forest backdrop before springing into life, reminiscent of Radiohead’s ‘There There’ video, and laying down some shapes around her in a classic Eastern European style. Her vocal improves each time. The staging doesn’t help lift the song the way Aliona Moon’s self-raising, multi-coloured dress did last year for Moldova.

Will it be third time lucky for plucky underdog Valentina? She needs national broadcasters of semi 1 to convey this message to televoters.

It is very stripped back staging for ‘Maybe’ with Valentina singing the song in front of a big, bright pearl in a shell – ‘maybe there’s a pearl in the shell’ – and it is successful in its simplicity. After Cristina’s throaty rendition, Valentina’s voice is light and fluffy as is the entire presentation. She sells it well and smiles blissfully – this certainly qualifies as giving good camera. San Marino have learned from the backfiring Mystic Meg presentation of last year that was all too distant and rather new age.

‘Uauaue, uaue, uauaue uaue’. It’s party time here in the press centre as Suzy struts her stuff for Portugal. Two male dancers, who double up banging on big white drums, 2 female dancers who double up as backing singers.

Suzy interacts with another guy tapping away on a smaller drum. It is a bright, lively canvas of a stage with the colours of the Portuguese flag – reds, greens and yellows – prevalent. The Suzy wiggle seen in Amsterdam is missing here – aged 34 this is understandable. She could be heading for a replacement hip if she overdoes the wiggling in these early rehearsal run throughs.

Does this inspire a big televote after the 2 quieter solo female ballads that precede Suzy? Two red flags are waved at the end. A red flag is an appropriate symbol here, betting-wise, if you are considering laying this – dangerous to write off, though not especially keen to back either.

Netherlands is very much Calm After The Storm of Portugal. Ilse and Waylon face one another in the middle of the road with a nice overhead of them at the song’s start. Given the song is middle of the road this is appropriate imagery.

Good close ups of the two of them at various points as the camera moves around them while they remain still. They lock their gazes on one another at certain moments, and individually look at the camera at other moments. It works well in combination like this. Waylon is wearing his hat, wisely as this gives him that bonafide musician vibe like Bono circa Rattle & Hum. Solo close up on guitarist. This is nicely polished already. After Portugal, does the classiness of this audio-visual package shine more brightly?

Wow, we have an ice skater accompanying Sergej for Montenegro. She is somewhat distracting performing her moves. Only halfway through, or maybe later, do his backing singers appear on stage.

This was a song that possibly required some orchestra joining him as he looks a little lost and alone despite the skater. She leaves a sort of snail’s trail behind her on the ice – if, that is, snails could skate and there is pretty strong empirical evidence they cannot – and this trail her skating blades leave behind is lit up like a kaleidoscope when we see the overhead shots. This skater is definitely not of the Evgeni Plushenko standard of Russia 2008.

Andras is sitting on a chair at the start of the song, with the pianist playing behind him. He does a brief sprint down the catwalk leading into the ‘she keeps on running running running’ chorus.

One male and one female dancer team up behind him, doing some interpretive dance moves throughout. At the end of the song, the woman hugs Andras and he pushes the man away. He is the protector – capping the story that has just been told.

My guess is, most televoters, and probably plenty of jurors pay little or no attention whatsoever to the lyrics anyway. Jurors really should but they probably do not. Word on the ESC street is, these dancers could be in masks on the big nights ahead.

First rehearsals for semi 2 commence with Malta. Nothing much new to report here. They have a backdrop of ‘selfies’ at one point. The word ‘selfies’ is abhorrent in itself, let alone using it as a concept for an ESC backdrop. The saying goes ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ and this is certainly true of the effect Malta has on me personally each time it is heard.

It is far too vanilla as a song, derivative and twee. They are trying too hard to please, as evidenced by the ‘selfies’ backdrop, and similar to those Icelandic guys yesterday. But, this is not the Grammys so maybe this kind of trite nonsense pleases ESC televoters and jurors alike. Its rival in this semi is obviously Switzerland. Room for both to qualify? Not sure.

Mei Feingold is a fierce performer and brings plenty of attitude to this performance flanked by two female dancers. There is a nice synchronised strut among the three of them like they are top models on a catwalk during Milan Fashion Week. Another misheard lyric here is, ‘I’m skinning you up’ in this song, which makes you wonder if Mei will be heading to Christiania, Copenhagen’s very own hippy village complete with a buoyant hash trade… allegedly.

Recalling how Hannah Mancini struggled with her vocal last year walking down the catwalk, and Kati Wolf in 2011 while being mostly stationary attempting ‘What About my Dreams?’, Mei is a textbook lesson in how to maintain vocal control while singing an uptempo tune with movement involved in the routine.

There is a nice overhead at one point. Camera angles need to be sharpened up here, as do her female dancers moves. There is certainly no room for error as everything needs to be timed right.

Pianist at the outset, but Norway has added four female violinists and there are some nice visual touches here including lightning striking across the stage floor, captured by the overhead camera.

Carl still does not engage the camera enough but the lighting is right for the song with the strings and the piano adding to the ‘sell’ of a quality song. Cool blue is the predominant stage colour added to by the violinists who wear floaty veils which offer up a nice visual effect. This is certainly a big contrast following Israel. Carl is wearing a dark jacket and shirt which is a better look from the scruffy lumberjack shirt seen in previous performances.

Malta could do with swapping their female vocalist with Mariko Ebralidze as she carries the song well vocally for Georgia. They have a guy on stage strapped in to a parasail – ‘skydiver’s space jump’. He does perform only a small jump, prior to drumming duties, when it was hoped he might launch into the arena at some point. This listener had already crashed back to earth long before this three minutes was over and Georgia possibly helps those songs placed close to it in this semi 2 running order.

Last up today, Poland offers up some quality sexual innuendo which is sure to be loved by the Brits. Where the woman was previously kneading bread in the official video, here she can be seen stroking her curdling stick suggestively, while showing off some of her ample bosom.

Along with Suzy this is very much one for the dads. The presentation certainly has impact. Brightly coloured, 3 female dancers accompany Cleo twirling away in their national dress. Cleo also does some nice free-styling at the start of the song to get the whole thing powered up. A fun end to the day.

Today’s recommendation is Netherlands ‘to qualify’ from semi 1, available at 8-15 with Coral and Betfred, 30pt win.


  1. steve

    Cheers for the update Rob any juice in the 7/2 Netherlands top 10?

    • Rob

      I’ve been keeping an eye on the Netherlands top 10 price for many weeks, Steve, & always felt it was under-priced – like a lot of ESC pricing on BF this year. It really could do with a 2nd half draw if it makes the final. 7-2 is probably about right but I guess it would shorten more if it lands a 2nd half draw in the final.

  2. Rob

    It’s a great read, ev – I read it before 🙂 You are heading towards the Grumpy Old Man stage where I now firmly reside and where I am also more than happy to mock my misanthropy.

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