ESC Countdown 4 Days: I Miss Jury Rehearsals!

This is a little departure from recent posts, and is more of a personal rant.  Of all the wonderful things I miss from not attending Eurovision in person this year, the one I’m pining for the most might come as a surprise. I REALLY loved going to the three Jury Rehearsal shows, which are the first public dress rehearsals and take place the nights before semis and the Grand Final.

The Jury Rehearsals are watched by the professional juries from each of the participating nations, whose scores have a 50% bearing on the final scores each country awards.  So even though we can can these full show runthroughs a dress rehearsal, none of the artists give anything less than 100% in their performances (if they have any brains in their heads).


The show is also the very first time anyone sees the full semi or Final as it was designed to be seen, in real time, no do overs, with all the bells and whistles and special effects in place, and before a cheering live audience. When you spend a week at Eurovision with tickets for all the shows, the excitement of the Jury Rehearsals and seeing every performance live on stage for the first time is probably what you remember most fondly.

Of course, there is nothing so much fun as watching the scores mount up on Finals night and hearing the roar as the winner is announced and brought to the stage for their victory lap performance, but the relatively calm and yet focused energy on rehearsal nights is something I will always treasure and look forward to sharing again, maybe next year?

Notes after Semi One Dress Rehearsal

Well, last night we had our first look at the stage setup at Globen, and our first chance to see the 18 acts of the first semifinal.  Overall no painful catastrophes, but below the top rank and the acts below there is a clear delineation.


Finland, Greece and Moldova opened the contestant portion, and I think tonight’s semi will probably be the last wee see of them. Greece has had a perfect record of qualification, but this year’s offering is a messy rap-ish number that I think few viewers will relate to. Finland is a peppy opener, but dated and not visually exciting, while Moldova is merely bland and pleasant. San Marino offered a whispery disco number from Serhat, and I think it also will struggle to qualify. Bosnia and Herzegovina offered up a weird melange of Balkan ballad and Euro-rap, and though there are many friendly neighbors in the voting, it probably shouldn’t make it through.  And Montenegro’s hard alternative rock looked and sounded fine on the big arena stage, it will struggle to appeal to televoters.


Croatia has been getting its share of criticism for Nina’s strange stage wear, but she was in fine voice last night. Azerbaijan has put the press through painfully offkey rehearsals this week, but on stage Monday Samra was good.  Estonia sounded good, but his weird cardplaying theme seemed a bit disconnected. Austria had a big fanbase in the audience, but her song is a little simple and sweet to make any big impact. Hungary looked attractive, but Freddie’s song is not the strongest.

For the big votegetters, I think Armenia, Malta, Russia, Iceland, the Netherlands,Czech Republic and Cyprus are all pretty safe bets to qualify.


The hosts of the show are lively and fun, and the opener was a repeat of Måns Zemerlöw’s ballad version of “Heroes” with live children’s choir that was so striking at the Melodifestivalen finals.  It should be a great show tonight, and I will be interested to see what surprises may be in store when the ten finalists are named.

LOGO will air Eurovision Live in US!!

Amazing, stop the presses kind of news for Americans interested in Eurovision! For the first time ever, American fans can watch Eurovision Song Contest LIVE on television in the United States.  No European satellite or cable channels, no playing your internet feed through a smart TV, no gimmicks required beyond a cable or satellite TV subscription.

Viacom announced today that LOGO network will air the complete Eurovision Song Contest as it takes place in Europe, Saturday, May 14th at 3pm Eastern/noon Pacific.  Check to make sure that your tv provider airs the East Coast feed of logo with no three hour Pacific delay (in which case the show will air at 3pm Pacific also).  But just turn on your TV, tune in LOGO network and watch all the festivities and look for me in the front standing section by the stage (I usually find a place on the left side facing the stage).

Here’s the NY Times article:

This is a delayed case of my manifesting an American broadcast. Years ago I started putting the thought out there to a LOGO producer at my gym that his network would be the perfect demographic to reach Eurovision fans in the US.  His response indicated that he didn’t take the Contest seriously, and he sort of laughed it off.  But somewhere along the line the idea sunk in and here we are.  Maybe it was President Obama mentioning ESC a few weeks ago as a unifying cultural event in Europe…


Watch and ENJOY!

The Amazing Eurovision 2014 Stage

Due to a little glitch in the ticket handout, I got to the Arena last night only to find that my ticket for that night had been mistakenly for the seated section, rather than the standing area next to the stage. Since I have the standing ticket for tonight, it was no big deal to see one night’s rehearsal from further back.

What I was most struck by from sitting back in the audience, was how spectacular the stage looks.  It is MASSIVE, but can be adapted for any kind of mood.  Here is an album of photos I took last night of the great transformations of the Danish Eurovision stage:


Thoughts on the First Semifinal

Tomorrow night I get to see the B&W Hallerne, the former shipyard warehouse that has been transformed into the Eurovision theater of our dreams, and the “jury rehearsal” of the first semifinal.  This is the show exactly as viewers will see it Tuesday night for the first semifinal.  Sixteen countries’ representatives will give their best try, and after the jury scores Monday night’s show and the televoters do the same on Tuesday, ten of those sixteen will proceed to the Saturday night Grand Final.


I will know a LOT more about who have the best chances tomorrow night, but to test my skills against everyone else in the press and fan communities, let’s make some predictions so far.  Here are the contestants in their performance order for the first semi.

# Representing country Performer(s) Song title, writer(s) and composer(s)
01 Armenia

Flag of ArmeniaAMPTV
Aram MP3 Not Alone

02 Latvia

Flag of LatviaLTV

Cake To Bake

03 Estonia

Flag of EstoniaERR


04 Sweden

Flag of SwedenSVT
Sanna Nielsen


05 Iceland

Flag of IcelandRÚV

No Prejudice

06 Albania

Flag of AlbaniaRTSH

One Night’s Anger

07 Russia

Flag of RussiaRTR
Tolmachevy Sisters


08 Azerbaijan

Flag of Azerbaijanİctimai
Dilara Kazimova

Start A Fire

09 Ukraine

Flag of UkraineNTU
Mariya Yaremchuk

Tick – Tock

10 Belgium

Flag of BelgiumVRT
Axel Hirsoux


11 Moldova

Flag of MoldovaTRM
Cristina Scarlat

Wild Soul

12 San Marino

Flag of San MarinoSMRTV
Valentina Monetta

Maybe (Forse)

13 Portugal

Flag of PortugalRTP

Quero Ser Tua

14 The Netherlands

Flag of The NetherlandsAVROTROS
The Common Linnets

Calm After The Storm

15 Montenegro

Flag of MontenegroRTCG
Sergej Ćetković

Moj Svijet

16 Hungary

Flag of HungaryMTV
András Kállay-Saunders


I think there are the entries that have it all, artist, song and stage presentation.  They are virtually certain to qualify.  From this group, Armenia, Sweden, Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Hungary are the shoo-ins.

On the other hand, there are the entries that are missing one or more key component, and that lack dooms their chances.  I think Latvia is doomed–their song is slight and nothing more than pleasant, and the word around Copenhagen is all about the friction and lack of chemistry between the band members (they have already stopped speaking to each other, according to onlookers who have seen their guest appearances). Portugal came back to the contest this year riding a wave of goodwill, but basically blew it and sent a really slight “summer vacation in the sun” song that will vanish by the time the phone lines open to viewers.  I personally like San Marino and Valentina’s grand easy-listening diva style.  But if she failed to qualify last year with a stronger song, I think her little country still hasn’t developed the network of support to get votes across Europe.  I think that this might be the year that breaks Moldova‘s string of very strong scores, and Cristina’s dark, strange song isn’t going to electrify the voters.

So five definites and four pretty definitely not. Of the remaining seven, five will go through and two will fall by the wayside. I think Albania, Iceland, Montenegro and the Netherlands are on the bubble.  None of them is hopeless, and I actually really like Iceland’s goofy “No Prejudice” anthem and Montenegro’s smooth Balkan ballad “Moj Svijet”.  I need to see them on stage and ascertain who might have something to reach through the screen and grab voters’ attention.

Belgium has an excellent singer and a strange song and presentation that viewers will love or hate.  I give it a tentative yes.  In a fairer world, Russia‘s lame song would not qualify, but I think even this year there are enough Russian ethnics throughout the former Soviet republics to get them through to snab at least a medium level result in the finals. And Estonia is not the most original dance pop number, but I think its uptempo qualities will help it this year.

In an hour or so I get to see the opening ceremony and red carpet entrances to the opening party, and then tomorrow it all revs up on the stage.  It’s going to be exciting! After the show tomorrow, look for me to revise some of these totally unqualified guesses (or maybe not?),


Emmelie Writes #JoinUs Theme Song for ESC 2014

She had a big task, trying to live up to the massive ESC theme penned by Björn, Benny and Avicii for last year’s final entry procession in Malmö.  But pretty AND talented Emmelie deForest was come up with a theme that will get the fans on their feet to begin this year’s final night of competition in København. She will be joined in song on the big stage by the entries for the 26 countries who ascend to the finals on Saturday May 10.


Here is a sneak preview of Emmelie’s “Rainmaker”, the #JoinUs theme for this year’s show:

And for comparison’s sake, here is last year’s flag-waving parade of nations: