Hello and welcome to another article reporting on the lead up to the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, this year held in the sunny city of Tel Aviv after Netta’s win in Lisbon with “Toy”. The so-called ‘Big Five’, countries who pay the most into the contest and automatically qualify for the final, plus the host country Israel had their first run of rehearsals and here is what we can gather from the staging of each of them.
Israel – Kobi Marimi – “Home”
The home favourite Kobi Marimi elevated his already classy ballad in his first rehearsal for Eurovision 2019. He is joined on stage by five backing singers and they all blend well to provide good support for him in the more uplifting parts. Kobi himself, dressed smartly in a variation of a black tuxedo, sounded great in all the run-throughs but was obviously holding back in order to save his voice for the contest itself. His stage presentation also includes jagged blocks which he and the backing singers stand in front of and projected onto these are images of his face, adding to the personal nature of Israel’s entry this year. In the final run they added a golden curtain of sparks as Kobi walks off the stage via the bridge and onto the catwalk, ending the performance amongst the audience.
France – Bilal Hassani – “Roi”
Bilal’s song for Eurovision 2019 is all about acceptance and equality, and being proud of who you are despite the haters trying to pull you down. This message is made more powerful by the inclusion of a plus-sized female as one of Bilal’s two backing dancers. The LED backdrop also flashes up inspirational messages to get viewers at home to hold on to their “crown”. Bilal looks great in a two piece white outfit and a very long blonde wig, and sounded better in the run-throughs than they did at any stage of the French national selection.
Spain – Miki – “La Venda”
Miki’s staging for Tel Aviv is an explosision of colour and fun; Spain are bringing the Fiesta to Eurovision 2019! He and the backing dancers/singers start out in different rooms of a “house” built on stage, with a robotic version of a Wicker Man standing on guard nearby. They then proceed to leave the house, at which point there is a segment with a GoPro which Miki holds, and the group have tons of energy as they dance and sing. Towards the end of the song, they sprint off down the two catwalks and eventually finish right in front of the audience. The backdrop is suitably colourful, really creating that Summer vibe. Time will need to be spent on perfecting the camera angles and the various segments, as this is a technically packed performance.
Italy – Mahmood – “Soldi”
Mahmood had his first rehearsal at Eurovision 2019 whilst battling illness, but that didn’t stop him from completing several run-throughs of his performance at a high level. He is joined on stage by three backing dancers, who interact with Mahmood and the screen and highlight the double clap section. This song is quite personal to the artist, singing about his father and how he chose money over his family. As a result, the LED backdrop highlights this message, with an image of Mahmood shattering and English translations of his lyrics, making it accessible to all in spite of the language barrier.
United Kingdom – Michael Rice – “Bigger Than Us”
The United Kingdom had their first rehearsal at Eurovision 2019 and highlighted a professional and focused stage presentation. The song starts in a washed out filter, with the backdrop similarly muted, complimenting the message of Michael singing to a lost soul who is on the verge of giving up. When the song starts to pick up in tempo and power, the backdrop becomes more starry and his five backing singers (including a couple of Eurovision alumni) joins him on stage. Upon reaching the song’s peak, the backdrop changes again into a colourful and beautiful swirling galactic sky. Michael sounded vocally good on every run-through and now the delegation will look to perfect the camera angles so that they can get the most out of the song’s message and emotion.
Germany – S!sters – “Sister”
Germany completed their first rehearsal for Eurovision 2019 and they have ditched the rotating table that the ladies walked on in the national final. Instead, they start off in different parts of the stage, showing two sisters who have lost touch with each other. Messages of apologies flash up on the LED screens as the two walk down separate catwalks to the middle area, where they embrace and sing to each other. Towards the end of the song, empowering videos of women who are sisters, friends and partners flash up on the backdrop and in the final run-through, there was a pyro curtain to bring some edge to the performance. The two sounded vocally good and now, like a lot of their contemporaries, the German delegation now need to work on the camera angles for their performance.
So those were the final six countries to complete their first rehearsal at Eurovision 2019? Who was your favourite? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below and stay tuned for more Eurovision preview posts in the next couple of days, with the first semi-final taking place tomorrow!