Ordinary, this week would have been the time for the first rehearsals of Eurovision 2020. While things were cancelled, we’ve still been thinking back to the times we watched the first rehearsals in the press centre at previous editions of the song contest. Here are some of our favourite memories of Eurovision first rehearsals.

Experiencing Alekseev’s WTF gothic romance for the first time

In 2018, the Lisbon press centre was expecting Alekseev to do what many artists do and bring a big-stage version of the national final performance to Eurovision, with his futuristic LED suit. Instead Alekseev got weird. Team Belarus had gone back to the drawing board and given Alekseev a gothic romance. It was intense. In the press centre, we watched as the high-concept staging unfolded with Alekseev, his pirate shirt, the interpretive dancer, the rose, the archery bow, the petal explosion effect, the hydraulic lift and…. he has bloody rose petals embedded in his back?! 

It was shocking. It was alarming. It was punk. It was just what the press centre needed to wake us up from the mid-afternoon slump. Sadly, despite the shock and awe of the first rehearsal, it wasn’t enough to get Belarus into the grand final, but it left me with an unforgettable experience from the Lisbon press centre. Watch our live stream reaction here. – Robyn

The pure magic of “Sognu”

My favourite first rehearsal was France 2011 — Amaury Vassili with “Sognu”. It was the big favourite at the time, and I thought maybe finally a song I really liked would actually win Eurovision. He sang incredibly well, and the backdrop was so beautiful. It was pure magic. I had tears in my eyes. – Jacob

Jedward’s Waterline got me wet!

Eurovision dress rehearsals often give a good glimpse of what to expect in the final run, but in many instances, they can be rather predictable. Eurovision 2012 was notable for its early rehearsals, late showtimes, excellent entries and hyped acts. I was particularly excited to watch Jedward’s return after their top ten finish the previous year. Standing on an elevated platform and flanked by two vocalists on either side, the twin brothers sang, danced, jumped and cartwheeled across the stage. Just when you thought it couldn’t get better, the technical crew wheeled a real fountain on stage, and during the third take, the boys dived in and got totally drenched in their sparkly suits. It all happened so fast, and my adrenalin kept pumping for days afterwards. Definitely one of my Eurovision highlights. – Deban

Seeing Aisel’s staging come to life

They say you never forget your first time, and it holds true for 2018. Waiting in anticipation for my first semi-final rehearsal, Aisel’s rehearsal was by far my most memorable, especially as I saw layer upon layer being added to the staging. Her first run-through was just the ‘Sydney Opera House’-style triangles while the second run-through was lit up. But the third run-through added staging and more and more rehearsals saw a cohesiveness in sound, stage running (which took practice to be timed to perfection) and a hologram that came to life after the first rehearsals. Experiencing Eurovision from behind the scenes gave a completely new perspective to my love for the contest. – Sebastian

The buzz of the press centre

What I love about attending the Eurovision Press Centre is that it is always abuzz with enthusiasm for the contest right into the sing-a-long stratosphere! The people walking through the doors are genuine lovers of the contest and its incredible to meet with like-minded peers in the industry including my fellow wiwibloggers to bask in the excitement before it all hits the screens.

It is one thing to hear the song but another to sneakily see it being unleashed on stage with the final tweaks, hair throwbacks and last-minute bling outfit changes in an almost empty larger-than-life arena is mind-blowing. It just makes me appreciate the Eurovision’s star’s journey to the contest even more so for their dedication and efforts in putting on such an epic show! – Julia

Learning lessons from bloopers and outtakes

I have so many rehearsal memories, it’s my favourite part. At the live shows of Eurovision, everything usually goes smoothly by the plan, shot by shot, move by move. It’s beautiful and impressive, but watching the rehearsals, the bloopers and how they put it all together is even more interesting. Over the years I’ve made some compilations of funny bloopers and outtakes. In case you haven’t watched them yet, you’re more than welcome to sit back, relax and laugh. – Ron

Nina Sublatti proves she is a “Warrior”

Prior to Nina Sublatti’s first rehearsal, people were focused solely on trying to define “oximated” and questioning her pronunciation of the word warrior. But powered by Sacha Jean Baptiste’s killer staging and oozing non-stop Goth emo slayage, she really got the press room talking. I’m literally gonna copy-and-paste my first rehearsal review here now. While I was a bit too exuberant with my suggestion she could win — rehearsals are a rolling thing, you see, and you don’t always know what is to come. But I stand by everything else. YAS! — William

First reaction: “This is how you slay. Georgia’s Nina Sublatti turned up to her first rehearsal at Eurovision 2015 with the total package — vocals, costume, camera angles and attitude. Vocally this was dark, mysterious and pitch-perfect. That carried over to the staging, which saw Nina standing still with a lot of LED magic happening around her. At various points she sprouted wings, stood on lightning, and swirled in an other-worldly universe of clouds. During the bridge we see two large eyeballs releasing tears. But Nina, don’t cry: You’ve just threw yourself in contention to win Eurovision. Her costume — she looks like a Victoria’s Secret model at a Dracula party — is an example of a racy outfit that works.”  

Emotional moments from the Big Five

There are two moments of first rehearsals that really struck me, both with the Big Five, so not as rehearsals began. The first was Germany, 2018. I was so moved by Michael Schulte’s “You Let Me Walk Alone” that I cried every time I heard the song and still do, as this song touches my heart in a way no other song ever will. In 2019, during Bilal’s “Roi” performance, as dancer Lizzy entered the stage, my jaw dropped. My response was undeniable on the live stream. This was such a powerful moment. – Suzanne

What do you think? What are your favourite moments from following the first rehearsals coverage from home? Share your thoughts below!

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Roy Moreno
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Roy Moreno

I definitely remember the responses to Jamala’s tree for the first time
People then knew that she could win the contest and I was so hoping for it to happen :3
That was my first ever contest (in general and while following the entire season) and I hoped my favourite would win and so happened!
1944 is my most favourite song in the world to this very day 🙂

Jose
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Jose

One of my favorite moments was the hype that ‘Fuego’ got after the rehearsals. I had always loved the song and I always had felt that people were underrating Cyprus (Eleni was around 25th in the betting odds and some people said that Cyprus wouldn’t qualify). After that incredible stage, she became a real contender after being ignored for so long. Was so damn good! This encapsulates the magic of Eurovision: you never know what’s going to happen.

Africavision
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Africavision

Reading this literally brought a tear to my eye, knowing that we are missing what would have been Eurovision 2020 rehearsals. Nothing beats that feeling of seeing songs come to life on stage (or crash and burn), hearing or reading journalist’s and fan’s reactions to the staging, waiting for snippets of the performances to be uploaded to YouTube, and watching the betting odds spiral, as new favorites emerge. My stand-out rehearsal moment has to be Jamala’s, back in 2016. Coming into rehearsal week, ‘1944’ was my favorite entry of the year. I grew accustomed to knowing that my musical taste… Read more »

Marion
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Marion

OMG, thank you! You said everything I wanted to. I love 1944 and the entire performance and think it’s one of the best winners. My other loved memories are the performances of Hari Mata Hari, Loïc Nottet, Aminata, MANGA, Loreen, Laura Tesoro and Eugent… There are just so many. And of course, I love everything Hatari, they were my heroes last year. The ESC is a family tradition and we’ll follow the show(s) next week. Hope to see many artists from this year back in 2021. It was a good decision to give us the alternative show: that feeling of… Read more »