Turin, 05 May 2022

Buongiorno everyone! We’ve here with the live report on this morning’s rehearsals.

Note: Images and videos will be added once they go online on the official channel. 

Country: Iceland
Act: Systur
Song: “Með hækkandi sól” [With the rising sun]
Semifinal: First (10/05/2022)
Position in Running Order: 14/17

Icelandic sister trio Sigga, Beta and Elin (also known as Systur) were the first act to fine-tune their staging today. Due to the online press centre delay, we were only able to see the third of their three runs.

However, the run that we were able to witness ran very smoothly. Iceland have opted to retain their Songvakeppnin staging, with the three sisters standing in a diagonal line, each holding a guitar. This configuration allows the camera to capture them from both the front and the side.

Compared to Iceland’s national final, the finer details have been noticably improved. The camerawork now has lingering shots of the stage’s waterfall before panning towards the sisters, creating a soothing atmosphere. The spotlights from the arch create the illusion of sunlight, bathing the sisters in a bright warm yellow. The vibe has been nailed.

The sisters themselves are dressed in three distinct but highly fashionable outfits that are flattering to the form. You really get the idea that you want to hang out with them, if that makes sense?

Finally we have the vocals, which were exceptional. The harmonies are excellent throughout. In what is probably the biggest change compared to Songvakeppnin, Systur have now added a high note after the bridge, and this high note is… probably the best vocal note we’ve heard thus far? It marks a memorable and gripping end to a very charming performance overall.

A strong showing from Iceland.

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Country: Norway
Act: Subwoolfer
Song: “Give that wolf a banana”
Semifinal: First (10/05/2022)
Position in Running Order: 16/17

Next up are the (*inhales*) non-binary, millennia-old, banana-devouring, grandma-loving, covid-metaphoring, vaguely-lupine space muppets posturing as Norwegian dudes, Subwoolfer.

Like Iceland, Norway have opted to stick to the staging we saw in Melodi Grand Prix, with only a few adaptations to the Turin stage.

Subwoolfer open with the usual introductions, but with an added vocoder effect (similar to the one we hear in Die Together). Backing vocals are very prominent in “Give that wolf a banana”, despite both Kim and Jeith delivering live vocals as well.  DJ Astronaut is now position in a flying saucer suspended into the air, underlining the Alien Wolf concept they’re going for.

Norway have dealt with the defunct kinetic sun well. While there are still a few wideshots, these are compensated for by the use of augmented reality. Several of the song’s catchy slogans (“YUM YUM YUM” / “Someone give that wolf a banana” ) are projected onto the footage via an overlay (similar to what you saw during “Non mi avete fatto niente”, but less cheap).

Overall, a solid rehearsal by Norway, who hasn’t made any mistakes to speak of. They’re ready to lift off into the finale.

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Country: Armenia
Act: Rosa Linn
Song: “Snap”
Semifinal: First (10/05/2022)
Position in Running Order: 17/17

Armenia’s Rosa Linn is the act closing the first semifinal. Reportedly, Armenia had paid a hefty sum to use the stage’s kinetic sun during their act. With the stage being broken, they’re now forced to resort to a fall-back plan.

With this in mind, some of the ideas Armenia work very well. Rosa Linn is placed in a room covered by post-its, singing about love playing the guitar. It’s an intimate start to the song.

However, as the song progresses it becomes clear Armenia are more of less winging it. Rosa Linn rips post-its off the wall to reveal key word, but her timing is off, either being too fast or too slow. She also needs a few tries to properly interact with the camera’s. This is to expected knowing the context, but this objectively puts Armenia behind countries that had fewer mishaps.

Vocally, the Armenian singer delivers a strong, crisp performance. Her voice is strong and her stage presence is apt enough.  About Rosa there is nothing negative to say.

The song ends with Rosa ripping a hole into the post-its, revealing a circular gap in the wall. She then moves into the hole and faces the crowd on the other side of the wall. The intention itself is cute, but the effect is a bit off. The post-it room doesn’t resemble a house from the outside, and the stage’s dark arch transforms it into a nondescript black blob. The camerawork should probably ditch the wide shots, and instead focus on the audience (with Rosa Linn possibly moving to the satellite stage). There is an opportunity for a great phone light moment to end the song with, but it’s currently not being taken advantage of.

Armenia are definitely trying to make the best of a bad situation, and while their efforts are valiant, “Snap” remains a work in progress for now. All of its issues are fixeable however.

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Country: Finland
Act: The Rasmus
Song: “Jezebel”
Semifinal: Second (12/05/2022)
Position in Running Order: 01/18

After the closer from the first semifinal, we get the opener of the second semifinal. Finland’s The Rasmus emerge from the shadows (heh) for their second rehearsal.

The Rasmus have ditched their viriual reality / cartoon gimmicks from UMK and replaced them with a bunch of balloons. The first shot of the live features Lauri in a large yellow raincoat, standing on the satellite stage while clutching a small yellow balloon (inadvertantly we’re reminded of Georgie from It), before he walks onto the big stage, which is infested with giant balloons, most of them black, a few of them changing colour between yellow and white when needed. The coloured balloons are used to create a strobe-light effect during the chorus.

Vocally, Lauri sounds a bit unconvincing. The erstwhile rocker suffers from both nerves AND vibrato issues, rendering his voice paper thin throughout all three runs. It also needs to be noted that Finland largely ditched their backing vocals, with the bass player providing backing support for Lauri.  For a soundtrack this powerful the vocals sounds weirdly subdued.

The Rasmus promised a new staging gimmick, but other than having a pre-recorded crowd chant “JEZEBEEEEL!” once, there’s no sign of it. I assume the plan is to make the crowd chant “JEZEBEL” and then play it live? Otherwise, the staging remembles what we saw in UMK, swaddled in balloons.

There’s still some work to be done here.

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Country: Israel
Act: Michaël Ben David
Song: “I.M”
Semifinal: Second (12/05/2022)
Position in Running Order: 02/18

The last act to take the stage before the lunch break is Israel’s Michaël Ben David.

Israel’s defining characteristic throughout the decades has always been their pristine rhythmic choreographies, and “I.M” is the next installment in this long tradition. Effort has been put in to make it as appealing as possible. Michaël and his dancer wear white trousers and jackets with puffed up shoulders – stylish and stalward, with a touch of graceful femininity.

Israel dodge the broken stage curse by investing heavily into overhead shots and and close-ups. The camera work is very dynamic, darting between close-ups of Michaël, mid-range shots of the dance choreography and the geometric shapes that make up the floor LEDs. The song’s uptempo, and the camera’s maintain the momentum throughout.

Even if you’re not a fan of the song, you have to admit that Israel are really good at their craft of creating powerful dance choreographies out of nowhere. The floordrop is made to resemble a catwalk on which Michäel swans around like the living incarnation of the Queen of Sheba. Impressively enough, while the choreography of “I.M” is rather labour-intensive, Michaël also manages to retain a powerful voice throughout. Singing and dancing at the same time is not easy, but he makes it look effortless.

A strong set of rehearsals by Israel, who may do a bit better than previously anticipated.

For more coverage, join Matt & C° on the today’s livestream!

What do #YOU think of  these rehearsals? Did Iceland rise? Did Norway own? Did Armenia snap? Did Finland rock? Did Israel slay? Share your thoughts with us in the comments, on our forum HERE or on social media!

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