1st Rehearsal Day impressions and videos

It’s early Sunday morning here in Los Angeles, but halfway across the world in Baku, early evening marks the end of the first day of Eurovision rehearsals. Wish I were there, of course, but at least we have reports from the websites and bloggers who are esconced in Baku. So far, most seem to be in agreement about the stage presentation and vocal quality of the first nine entries.

MONTENEGRO
Rambo Amadeus kicks off this year’s Eurovision with a modern electronic number that some see as more of a joke than a serious entry. The staging and performance are rather messy, and the vocals aren’t impressing anyone. At least people will remember Rambo’s wooden donkey that dominates the stage.

ICELAND
With a backdrop of chilly vistas of mountain glaciers, Greta and Jonsi take the stage and present a vocally perfect rendition of “Never Forget”. The staging is a familiar Eurovision configuration of the two lead singers downstage with the four backup singers lined up slightly behind. But their strong song and vocals should point toward a good score next week for Iceland in the semis.

GREECE
Eleftheria and her backup dancers take the stage “like a maniac”. Her four backup boys have now become two boys and two girls, and the dancing is energetic and well-rehearsed. Vocals are fine enough for this undemanding number, and with the usual strong votes for Greece, no one should be surprised to see them voted through to the finals next week.

LATVIA
Anmary and her crew sing well, and don’t come across as silly and amateurish as their national final performance, but can a good performance of a weak song take them anywhere close to the top ten in their semifinal?

ALBANIA
Rona Nishliu is very impressive onstage with her impeccable vocals and bare, minimal staging. The closeups and lighting don’t do her any favors visually so far, but we can hope that in final stage costume and makeup she will look as good as she sounds for the actual competition.

ROMANIA
One of the first semi’s strongest contenders, Elena and her bandmates in Mandinga look and sound fine. The staging and presentation are not that dynamic so far, but there are no worries that “Zaleilah” will have any trouble sailing through the semis.

SWITZERLAND
Sinplus are strong and seasoned stage performers and do a fine performance of “Unbreakable” in the arena. The first of 2012’s rock entries takes the stage and seem to be in with a good chance to qualify.

BELGIUM
Young Iris does an adequate rendition of “Would You?” without creating any strong impressions. She probably needs something better than this to catch enough votes to make the finals, but there is still plenty of time to grow after this first stage rehearsal.

FINLAND
Pernilla gives a fine vocal rendition of “När Jag Blundar” with a simple performance at the microphone, while a solo cellist provides visual counterpoint. A solid but unspectacular entry which seems like a possible qualifier.

So far, Iceland, Greece, and Romania seem certain to qualify, Albania and Switzerland strong possibilities, and Finland a good possibility. A lot depends on the other entries of the first semifinal, who will run through their first day onstage tomorrow.

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