2016 Rehearsals Day 6: Germany, Italy, the UK, and SF2

Saturday's rehearsals gave us our first glimpse at the remaining automatic qualifiers, as eighteen countries solidified their plans for the second semifinal next Thursday.

Poli Genova rehearses for Bulgaria at the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest (Photo: Andres Putting) Poli Genova rehearses for Bulgaria at the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest (Photo: Andres Putting)

Today’s packed schedule begins with the first rehearsals for the remaining half of the automatic qualifiers, and continues with the participants from semifinal 2 getting their second shot on the Globe Arena stage. As with yesterday’s performers, the second rehearsal is key; this is the time when they’re finalizing costume choices, working through lighting and camera issues, tightening up choreography, and working out any remaining kinks. The next time these eighteen countries take the stage, next Wednesday, they’ll be performing in front of the national juries that will account for half of their score.

Here are first impressions from Saturday’s rehearsals:


I’m really glad Germany automatically qualifies for the Grand Final; over the last few days I have become increasingly concerned that all of the campy, WTF-type entries wouldn’t perform during my watch party next weekend. Jamie-Lee is doing a good job with her vocals, but at the moment looks like a little girl lost in the woods. “Who’s scared now, Mr. Wolf?” This is only Germany’s first rehearsal, so they’ve got some time to figure it out.


Are those … bedazzled overalls? This looks like Francesca in Wonderland, and not in a good way. See what I said above about automatic qualifiers.


In my brain this belongs with Denmark as fairly well-sung but generic song about love and belonging that will be forgotten almost immediately. The staging so far doesn’t do anything to make this entry stick.


I like this song, and Justs continues to kill it vocally. He’s just so awkward onstage, and I can’t decide whether it’s endearing or vaguely stalkery. I’m a little concerned the all-black outfit won’t stand out against whatever else is going on (the angle here doesn’t show us much of what’s happening with the graphics), but mostly I want to rip that dangling belt off.


This entry is pure 80s, and although I don’t love it, I don’t hate it either. I can appreciate the hair-band ballad approach to singing, and that the LEDs on the electric violins match Szpak’s Color Me Badd-inspired jacket. If Szpak can smooth out the vocals on that key change, I can see this pretty solidly making the final.


The only endearing part of this performance, for me, was Rykka’s wonderful curls, and they’ve TAKEN THAT AWAY from me. Her live vocals are much better than we’ve heard recently, but the staging is boring, and honestly it was physically painful for me to watch this performance. Please, let’s put this song out of it’s misery.


The press corps have been raving about this performance, and now I understand why. Acrobats, lots of sparkles in costuming and backdrop, fire raining from the sky, a strong and sincere vocal performance from Hovi Star that builds dramatically … wow! His voice gave out a little at the end, which makes me nervous, but otherwise I can absolutely see this qualifying very high out of this semifinal.


I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE, BELARUS. You trolled us all, putting footage of a naked IVAN rehearsing with real wolves, and made us think that was going to happen *in real time* onstage. Nudity and wolves are in fact happening, just via pre-recorded footage. God help me but I actually am looking forward to seeing this entry in the semifinals, and I would enjoy seeing it during the Finals as well.


I love the staging for this song so much! The physicality of the struggle with her abuser, a final rejection, then taking shelter with her gal pals at the end. So, so great. Like several others the last couple of days, a vocal issue at the height of the song (hopefully temporary), but otherwise a powerful song and performance. Not sure I love the all-black ensemble Sanja’s wearing — it’s highly textured, but it seems like some red or another contrasting color in there would make it pop better.


Ugh, this is the second rehearsal in a row Nicky hasn’t been able to find his notes, and even when he can mostly find them, he’s pitchy. There’s nothing in the staging, from what I can tell, that will distract from his lackluster vocal performance. I don’t hate this entry as badly as Switzerland, but it’s close.


What a great voice Kaliopi has. I think they’re smart to make that the centerpiece of this performance, but when she’s not singing, she seems a little bit lost onstage, and there’s nothing else for viewers to look at. I really want to like this song, but it’s repetitive and I have a hard time listening to it all the way through, let alone multiple times.


This young man is a hot mess right now. What in the hell is he wearing on his head, and why does everybody think that dressing in all-black is the way to go on this stage? It would be awesome if those were the biggest problems, but he’s so focused on getting the jump right that he comes in, and remains, a full beat late for almost twenty seconds before he figures it out. Painful.


This is another performance the press have been raving about, but I’m not sure I agree. What this video leaves out is that there are holograms / projections she’s interacting with, but even having seen them (in another rehearsal video) I’m not sure it deserves the level of excitement it’s getting. Dami Im has a great voice, but this is another entry (like Russia) where it feels like technology is driving the performance, and opposed to acting in service to it.


Hmmm. That acrobat is perfectly dressed but tragically underused, and the graphics and staging are bland. At least ManuElla’s not wearing black?


Is that Bulgaria being cheeky towards Russia, putting up one finger at the end and making it into a “no” finger shake? (I hope so.) This performance looks really good! I love the edgy nude panels on the dress, and am looking forward to seeing the full effect of the LEDs, although I worry about how well they’ll come across on TV.


This is the second year in a row Denmark’s sent a mediocre boy band, and I have to wonder at what point they’ll learn their lesson. The song’s bland and generic, the staging is boring, and somebody’s singing out of tune at the top of their range. And ALL BLACK. Note to everybody, wear a color.


JAMALA YAAAAASSSSS. I love everything, everything, everything about this performance — her deep blue gown with cape and sparkly pants, her hair, the wind machine, the graphics, her voice. (There are also graphics on the floor that don’t appear in this video, and I can’t wait to see them based on the descriptions I’ve heard.) This was another entry that the press has been raving about, and I am in complete agreement. I’ve had this entry at the top of my semifinal 2 list since the beginning, and now this performance puts Jamala at the top of the contest for me.


This performance hasn’t changed much from the national final, with the exception that the dancer is no longer hidden in (what I imagine as) a large ice cube. I’m a little bit sad about that staging choice, to be honest. I also like the way Agnete’s midriff provides a break from all the white — it’s a great dress, and I love the visual texture, but she’s petite and I could see her easily getting lost if it were one piece all the way down.


Good costume change from the first rehearsal, where we saw Eneda in jeans and a blazer, but I wish there was a break from the bronzey color palette of her hair, skin, and dress. It makes her look a little like an Oscar, as in the actual trophy handed out to winners. I’m also not not sure what’s going on with those ruffles, but that could just be the camera angle.


What is even happening with those graphics? I actually like this song, although this performance was not the greatest I’ve seen, but those visuals give me headaches for real.


I think Belgium is underrated this year, and this entry has so much energy and a distinctive style. Those costumes are fantastic. That stripe down the leg looks so sharp, and the graphics bring lots of warm color. I love the new ending of the song — ending with a bang instead of a whimper — and I only wish the backing dancers joined Laura out there on the extension of stage before the very very end. They need more time to dance together! Anyway, I think this is a great way to end the second semifinal.

Sunday will be a shorter work day for the Eurovision crew, with second rehearsals for the Big Five (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK) and Sweden.

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