Day 7 – The Pastora & Sabina Show

May 19, 2012 by

Day 7 – The Pastora & Sabina Show

It’s a Saturday, so Slovenia’s wedding ceremony is at least timely. Eva has a couple of bridesmaids you wouldn’t mind having a fumble with post-reception but that’s about the best there is to say about this presentation. Eva is so tall it looks like she must have a crate concealed under her bridal dress she is standing on. When she opens her mouth wide to deliver the notes at the climax, it creates an unflattering visual – looks like she could swallow the entire Crystal Hall. Her voice is not that strong. Nor is the song. Her backing singer sounds a little off in her solo section too. In its favour it starts the 2nd half of semi 2 but struggling to see how this merits being 4-6 to qualify.

Interesting… Croatia’s staging looks better compared to 1st rehearsal. Less busy. Great lighting, clouds sweeping past as the backdrop. Nina doesn’t look at the camera enough. She has 2 guys doing these strange dance moves in black vest tops, dresses and biker boots… must be an Eastern European thing. They unfurl the white banner. The colour contrast, with 3 female backing singers in front, also in white, and Nina in a black dress, sort of works. Really don’t know about this and hard to call the Slovenia vs Croatia head-to-head. May end up settled on count back.

Time for the hot fav Sweden and this, if anything, is visually more impressive than 1st time around. The close up camera work on Loreen really is top notch. The viewer is taken right in there. There is no doubt this works on the Crystal Hall stage. They were marking it out a lot today. It is darker. We have falling snow on Loreen towards the climax.  If it’s about the marriage between sight and sound, this is hugely compelling and may have just surpassed Melodifestivalen – there’s a clever piece of choreo late on where she is launched into the air by her partner in time with the beat. And the final lift is done using a slow mo effect which works well. There are bound to be naysayers looking to pick holes, getting bored of it, and there is a psychological element of trying to get a short-priced fav beat if you’re not a fan or you’ve not got it on side. Whether the price is right or wrong on Sweden is all about the final draw. Right now, I wouldn’t be a backer or a layer, but I wouldn’t want it to be a red.

Talking of red, Anri starts in a horrible red monk’s tunic but he is in a black suit for the remainder of the song. Having to pick up the pieces of my shattered jaw off the press centre floor here… This merits a detailed description… He sings into a glittery loud halo at one point. A lady in a flowing red dress bounds onto the stage and does some impressive gymnastic dance moves. She is brightly juxtaposed in front of his 4 other ladies on the stands, dressed up in short black pvc outfits and who look, for want of a better description, like whores. Sorry, that’s maybe a tad harsh. Remember the Witches Of Eastwick after Jack Nicholson gets the women under his spell and they are transformed into sexy vamps? Like that. The lady in red looks like a virginal nymph in comparison. Get away from this sinister guy… run for the hills. The whorish vamps paw at Anri. He is definitely cast as the brothel owner here. The 4 whores from Eastwick don Liberace style, paper doily cloaks towards the end. This is so outlandish it could go down as one of the all-time classic presentations. Does Eastern Europe like this sort of high camp, cabaret filth? Answers on a postcard please.

Turkey really looks the part in terms of visuals – lighting, backdrop… bravo Turkish delegation. Can’s sailor buddies build a ship for him at one point using their black capes, complete with a white sail. It’s strangely endearing and quirky, much like the song. This might have a top 3 chance in semi 2. The 13 draw helps.

Drum roll of anticipation for the upcoming Big 5 and Azerbaijan going through 1st rehearsals. Maybe one or more of these will impact the Outright market. Roman Lob is 1st up… beanie, 5 o’clock shadow, ah, yes, instantly recognisable. Roman looks like a cute little elf. And we already know this guy ‘gives good camera’ and should have a gusset-moistening effect on female viewers of a certain bent. Roman has a solid live vocal – no flaws there – and delivers the song as we already knew he could. There is a guy on piano, 2 guitarists, a guy on drums. Lighting is of a reddish brown hue with some sparkly spotlights and this doesn’t really lift the song. It has a Dusseldorf hotel lobby bar feel. All rather safe and sanitised. Ruthless German efficiency at its finest though as they test out assorted Gap clothing on Roman to see what works best in this light. It’s all subjective but to these ears and eyes it comes across as insipid and instantly forgettable. But then again, listening to the likes of James Blunt, James Morrison or Jamie Cullum makes me want to slit my wrists. By the 4th run through I’m not quite attaching a noose to the light fitting above my desk but I feel in need of 40 winks and it’s only 4pm here.

For Anggun to mount a challenge she will require outstanding staging… hmm… she has two backing singers helping her and there are 3 bare-chested hunks going through a repertoire of Olympic standard gymnastic moves. They have 3 boxes they use to perform on. One tumbles over Anggun’s head at one point using slow mo effect. She is struggling with her vocal – run through 2 worse than run through 1. 4th run through is a slight improvement but it doesn’t sound like she is getting much support from her backing vocalists. She has a veil attached to her that forms a clever floaty visual. Lighting behind her is blue with squiggly white lines like a heart monitor. It all looks like a cast off from Cirque du Soleil. Much work needed here.

Nina Zilli, previously described here as ‘aloof’ in giving a potential negative against Italy this year. She has 3 backing singers. The staging is completely minimalist. Just the 4 of them up there. There is no band. Surprising. Black and white backdrop. Trying to look ‘retro’? Nina has a hard, stern looking face. Only on the 4th run through does she elicit any kind of joy, or enthusiasm, trying to get the crowd going with a ‘come on Eurovision’ clap. This looks out of place given the song is trying very hard to be oh so stylish and sophisticated and, as such, it’s not really in keeping with a clap-along. It’s not warm, it’s not cute, it’s no Lena ‘Satellite’ 2010. It’s still too… aloof.

Now Sabina who knocks Nina into a cocked hat with this first run through. Big applause from the press conference for Sabina’s vocal – maybe a bit of home support. It is a rip off of Sam Brown’s ‘Stop’ but no one else seems to have noticed. Lighting is atmospheric. Pitch black with only Sabina and her backing vocalists lit. One sits alone cross-legged on a stand like a yogi. The backdrop looks like a far flung galaxy. Very dreamy, suiting the song. Sabina’s stunning gown glows different colours at different moments. Behind her swirl more colours and patterns. A truly mesmerising effect. There is a lovely yellow but also a bright red that lingers dangerously long – let’s not forget the demise of Sophie Habibis. The music is certainly not dying here and the presentation comes across as classy.

Can Pastora surpass the benchmark set by Sabina? Forgive me as I feverishly rub my lucky rabbit’s foot ahead of her stepping on stage. The fear is, it could follow the same school of Iberian staging as Portugal which looked dire. It’s a promising start as it’s Pastora alone on stage to begin with. Through the darkness the camera moves up the runway before focusing in on her. She stares right down the camera lens and it’s like you’re staring directly into her soul as she emotes the words on close up. Fireworks float down on a dark blue backdrop behind. And this is a tremendous vocal. It’s only on the key change in the last minute that the stage lights up the backing singers behind. It looks good. Applause from the press centre again. She needs to rest up. Forget the other rehearsals, save your voice for the big 2 nights ahead. She must have heard my plea, pulling out of the big note on the penultimate run through, and not giving it her all in the last one. There is no way Roman Lob is stealing this lady’s limelight in 20.

So that just leaves Humpy who by all accounts has been sounding great back home. What might Arlene Phillips offer up by way of staging? Oh dear. He is hugely underwhelming after Pastora. Actually, strike that. He sounds downright poor. He is joined on stage by a guitarist and, surprise, surprise, a couple waltzing. How much do the BBC pay her for coming up with that? And Humpy really struggles on the big notes and this is only the first run through. It’s arguably worse on the 2nd run through. ‘And… if…you…’ He thrusts his arm towards the camera at this point of the chorus, pointing his finger out. The light changes to a burning sunset at the finish with pyrotechnic fireworks for extra razzle-dazzle. This doesn’t help capture any sort of emotive power.

So that’s stumps on day 7. Among the Big 5 + Azerbaijan. Sabina and Pastora the big winners today, Roman remains solid if unspectacular while Nina and Anggun need to massively improve. Humpy doesn’t look like he has a hope in hell, which we pretty much knew already.
Rob Furber

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  1. fiveleaves

    Excellent write up as always Rob.

    On the whole we’re singing from the same song sheet today.

    The only 2 I’d differ with you are Azer, which bores me tears and Germany which I really like and thought adding the band worked well.

    Italy look like they can’t be arsed. Who is backing it?

    ..and Pastora the star of the show. An awesome display.

  2. Bruce

    Rob I’d appreciate if you could clarify one thing for me by maybe doing a quick search online.
    Have you seen what us poor plebs are seeing as Sweden rehearsal clips? I’d feel a lot more confident in Sweden if you were to say yes thats a bit underwhelming but what I am seeing/hearing on tv screens is very much better.
    Persoanlly I think the performances from Loreen have been very lacklustre.

    I’m with you about just about everything else. I’m very much on the Turkey ship now and getting vibes of Greece last year. Top 10 and ew on the semi are how I’m playing it for the moment.

  3. Substanshell

    Dear Rob,

    as self-appointed ambassador of severed leg nation I would like to inform you, that there is a very exclusive group forming amongst punters who actually back Slovenia for a top10 finish and this sort of judgement on our aspirations is not taken lightly. 🙂

    That said, I want to thank you for your daily updates and would like to ask if you think judging by today’s performance that a bet on a UK finish 21st-26th @9/1 is a strong one to consider.

    Best regards,

  4. Rob

    Hi fiveleaves. I’d say the Azer staging has added greatly to the song, while the Germany staging is not making Roman any more impactful. Why Italy is the price it is is laughable on today’s showing. Looking a strong lay for top 10, even.

    Bruce – I can assure you you get a whole different impression watching these performances on a big tv monitor, which I am doing. I’m not looking at any YT clips filmed in the Crystal Hall as they are completely deceptive and unreliable. A huge lesson from being here. I will check the Loreen clips when I get a free minute but it looked and sounded fine on tv. I also think she is holding back for the big nights ahead.

  5. fiveleaves

    Oh, I can see the logic behind the Azer move.
    It is very well staged and Azer have a great record in the contest.
    I’m just not a fan of the song.

    As for Germany, I just feel it ticks plenty of boxes. It’s a song you could imagine hearing on the radio, unlike most of them.
    That appears to be one of the critrea the juries take into account these days.
    Also the guys ‘cute’ and should get plenty of text votes from the teens of europe and fair few from their mums too.

    Following Spain a slight worry, but the late draw and the contrast between the 2 songs means that’s only a small worry.

  6. steve

    Hi Johnny good news re Englebert and Spain, With Italy do you think improving the staging will improve its chances? Re Sweden after viewing the footage from the hall I took it red just dont get it will be interested once youve viwed the footage we are getting.

  7. Rob

    Hi Substanshell. Thanks for posting. Slovenia looks up against it. It’s a borderline qualifier at best. We have seen big improvement from 1st rehearsal to 2nd with some nations so maybe Humpy will sound a bit better tomorrow. I still wonder if the juries will be sympathetic towards him which would help boost the UK’s overall score. That said, 9-1 for 21st-26th looks pretty decent value.

    steve – hard to know what is happening with Italy. She seemed disinterested today. Not sure the staging is going to change – what we saw today is how it will stay from what I can gather.

    fiveleaves – I think that’s a fair argument for Germany. Just think the song is too limp but maybe his telegenic looks will help it reach the top 10. Not one I’ll be backing.

  8. Henry VIII

    Bruce I’m not a Sweden backer but to be fair the videos taken by bloggers zoomed in from the back of the hall make Loreen look a lot darker and worse than she is.

    She looks much more impressive and better lit from the youtube. They use professional cameras and are nearer but they’re still nowhere near what the edit will be on the night – you can see other cameras pass in front of them for the close ups. Unfortunately they only show us a simple single camera unedited feed.

  9. Henry VIII

    …I was talking about the different videos from the second rehearsal.

  10. Rob

    Bruce – had a chance to see one of Loreen rehearsal vids. Assuming you are looking at vids like this one:

    As Henry says, what you see on this vid is far, far removed from what comes across on screen. I can see how that sort of footage would make people question whether it’s any good. But I can put your mind at rest. This looks nothing like what we see on the tv monitor. On 2nd rehearsal there were far more close ups, clever use of slow-mos and it was visually impressive.

  11. Bruce

    Thanks for taking the time to search a YT clip out and taking a look Rob. Yes its stuff like that we have seen, in fact thats probably a better example than most.

    In that case your being there is a godsend because these are giving us very misleading impresssions indeed.

    Its not that I want Loreen to win, far from it in all honesty, but evaluating the favourites chances correctly is one key aspect to making a profit

  12. Jay

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  13. Rob

    Thanks for that, Jay. Yes, I can imagine the dilemma you face there. Have heard similar musings from other readers. Hey, you know what you should do, follow EntertainmentOdds via Twitter (@EntertainOdds), or subscribe via email and hey presto, you can have a quick shifty as soon as the latest post drops, stay up-to-date, and be able to converse with fellow readers immediately, so you won’t feel so left out. Keep reading and happy ESC punting 🙂

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