ESC United is in Malmo to cover the Rehearsals and we will keep you updated on how it went as the press is not allowed to record any of the first rehearsals during the first four days of the contest. The 8 countries to set foot on the stage today are Austria, Estonia, Slovenia, Croatia, Denmark, Russia, Ukraine  & the Netherlands.

Check back and refresh as we will update this article as the artists perform one after another.


1. Austria: Natalia Kelly – Shine

Natalia is in the center of the Stage with white lighting pillars right behind her. The five backup singers are somewhat hidden between the pillars and become visible during the second chorus as the pillars are being lifted up to the ceiling .  At that point Natalia starts walking across the Stage. She is wearing silver pants/leggings and a white top (may or may not be the outfit she’s going to wear during the Semis) while back backup singers are mostly wearing black. The Stage itself is mostly white and blue with quite a lot of purple added halfway through the song.

MATT: Her voice was spot on and the backup singers were equally good vocally. It is a very good opening number, my biggest concern is the connection and chemistry  between Natalia and the camera but she still has plenty of time to work on that. Other than that it was a solid performance.
ROY: It is a good song to start with. When she sings “light in your eyes” I wish she would play more with her eyes and connect with the audience.

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2. Estonia: Birgit – Et uus saaks alguse

The screen starts in black and white, and goes into full color at the start of the first chorus.  Yellow flower- or sun-looking objects cover the Arena floor.  Birgit is wearing a flowy, strapless white dress with sparkly silver lining at the top.  Given the news that she is pregnant, looks like they are trying to hide her baby bump.  After a slight trip and giggle from Birgit, she lays into the second chorus.  Fun note: two of the backup singers were from 2XL of Estonia 2001.  At the beginning of the final chorus, she changes it up a a bit from the studio track and throws in a couple new notes.

ROY: The dress was the perfect dress for her being pregnant in the situation that she was pregnant. And the song is such a grower.  This is definitely one of the songs that growing on me the more I hear it.  I just didn’t like the song starting in black in white.  
ZACK: A pretty song. Birgit is a very capable singer.  But I find it funny that the Swedes wanted to have control over the song order.  This is reminiscent of  the 2011 finals where we had to wait a couple of songs before we got a club stomper.


3. Slovenia: Hannah – Straight int love

Three dancers are standing in front of Hannah doing a robotic choreography. As soon as she starts singing Hannah becomes visible with the dancers continue to dance around her. Hannah is wearing tight black clothes giving her a sexy look.  The Stage is mostly blue and white, During the second chorus Hannah and her dancers walk down the catwalk.

MATT: Hannah sounded great until she started walking down the catwalk when she lost control over her voice a bit. To me the performance seemed unremarkable but being surrounded by so many ballads may work in Slovenia’s favor.
ZACK: Thank god, finally a dance song. Entertaining, the backup singers helped but she seems to struggle to sing and walk.

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4. Croatia: Klapa s Mora – Mizerja

The men of Klapa s Mora are wearing traditional garb.  Black full length jackets with gold trim and red lining on the inside.  Very beautiful outfits, but some may mistake it as too costumey.  They sound great.  Far better than the studio version.

ZACK: This was pretty much the performance I expected.  Superb vocals, a touch of culture through the clothing, but otherwise bland staging.  They sound fantastic, they look great.  A sad use of the wind machine during the instrumental break…
ROY: I like it when acts dress differently from the average person.  Their outfits look unique, so it shows they put some thought into it.  They didn’t just open their dressers that morning and put on the first thing they saw.  Their voices blend well. But the song didn’t really end with a climax.


5. Denmark: Emmilie de Forest – Only Teardrops

If you’ve seen the DGP version of this performance, this is pretty much what you seem to be getting here in Malmo.

ZACK: I enjoyed this song very much on the first listen, but I admit, it’s a casualty of too much hype and airplay all over the Eurovision world.  First time I’ve seen pyrotechnics so far in the first rehearsals.


6. Russia: Dina Garipova – What If

A dark stage with only Dina on stage.  She’s wearing a very conservative peachish-pink dress with long lace sleeves.  She is surrounded by unlit spheres.  As the song progresses, the spheres light up and red and orange hues appear on the LED screen in the background.  The big finish comes as anticipated with the backup singers coming from the back and moving in front to form a line with Dina.

ZACK: I think Russia tries to pander to the voters.   First, the YouTube sensation from 2010, the Lady Gaga producer song from 2011, and the grannies from 2012.  Now we got the cliche song for peace!  However, with that said, this song, unlike Denmark, grows on me the more I listen to it.  It may be my guilty pleasure.  Dina seems very sweet.


7. Ukraine – Zlata Ognevich – Gravity

A big guy that towers over Zlata is lugging her around.  Must be the giant she talked about.  It’s very awkward.  The whole press erupted in huge laughter.  She’s still doing all that finger twirling and spirit hands routine.  Her backup singers are here again, but they are stronger and not as distracting as in the National Final.

ZACK: Her facial expressions when she sings “MY GRAVITY” are killing me.  Best voice of the competition. 
KRISTIAN: It looked strange.  Her movements weren’t natural but she sings very well.


8. Netherlands – Anouk – Birds

A dark stage with one light shines down on Anouk on the smaller stage that’s connected to the main stage.  Instead, the background singers take their spot on the main stage.  At the start of the first conference, the projection screen in the back goes red like dusk and white birds fly from the bottom to the top of the screen.  Anouk sounds great.  Just as good, if not better, than the studio version.

ZACK: Oh the Dutch press are excited about this one!  It’s a bit of an understated performance.  I have concerns that although the jury will love it, the televoters may be bored.  Anouk’s tattoos are beautiful.  I hope she shows them off at the show.


And that’s it for today.  Videos and photos of the acts to come.  Also, we have got some quick interviews with some of the other members of the delegations.

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  1. rajo

    May 6, 2013 at 22:56

    I’m pretty disappointed by the Austrian performance. I would have had much better ideas than what was on display today. Such an unsophisticated acting, walking on the stage, changing places…. and Monika Ballwein in the background choir, seriously her? Did ORF owe her something for training the Starmaniacs (who consistently flopped at ESCs 2007 – 2012)?

    It reminds me a lot of Austria 2002 (Say a word), when we had a catchy song with an incredibly boring performance (actually there was no performance) and very unappealing background artists.


  2. […] area as Austria was going through their second run-through of “Shine.”  You can go here for more on my thoughts as well as the thoughts of my colleagues regarding the rehearsals and […]

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