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Eurovision 2022: First Rehearsals Review – Semi-Final One

Everything that went down for the semi-final one first rehearsals!

We’re fully underway with the Eurovision Song Contest 2022 first rehearsals, and today we wrapped up the semi-final one hopefuls as they took to the stage for the first time. Who impressed us and who shocked us? We give you a run-down of everything you need to know!

As many of you will know, press does not currently have full access to the rehearsal footage until the second rehearsals. We’ll be taking the best moments from the official live Eurovision Blog for Day One and Day Two, the official EBU photo gallery and the press conferences.

Before we get into it, we should line out that it has been reported there is an issue with the kinetic sun. It’s unclear if this will be fully fixed at this stage – so this may impact some of the LEDs on first rehearsals while the EBU, the engineering team, RAI and the delegations work on getting this sorted. This is because the half-circle mechanism in the centre cannot fully turn at this stage. 

🇦🇱 Albania: Ronela Hajati – “Sekret”

Many have stated that Albania is the perfect contest opener for Eurovision 2022, and if there was even a sprinkle of doubt, Ronela’s first run-through really confirmed that. The Albanian 2022 act brings high energy with a full dance performance and is joined on stage by four men backing dancers as well as one other woman dance providing backing support. It seems like it’s going to be the jam-packed stage show that Sekret deserves!

It has been reported that Ronela will be having intimate moments with the female dancer on stage, and when asked about her support for LGBTQ and the staging concept she stated:

“Honey, we are artists and we have no boundaries. Everyone can love who they want to.” [….] “The staging concept was mostly my idea. The message is that everybody can love whoever they want and if they want to keep this a secret it’s their life.”

Ronela Hajati, Eurovision Press Conference, Saturday 30th April 2022

A member of our team, MJ, got a chance to ask a question to Ronela. MJ asked: “Sekret has undergone a huge revamp since FiK (Albanian Eurovision 2022 National FInal). Aside from the time limit, what were some of the changes you wanted to make and what changes are you proudest of?”

“We think about it a lot so everything that we’ve done we’ve thought about a million times. And I’m still not pleased because I am not pleased ever! Most of my performances I don’t like them because I’m like ‘I can do better’”.

Ronela Hajati, Eurovision Press Conference, Saturday 30th April 2022

Unfortunately, the EBU has come under criticism for seemingly deleting and reuploading the gallery of Ronela’s rehearsal and taking out the more provocative pictures as well as the some with her and the female dancer – with rumours flying that she’ll have to change her performance to make it more “family-friendly”. A real punch in the gut for her and Albania.

Regardless of this, we can’t wait to see what she brings for her second rehearsal and we hope Ronela will be allowed to get the stage show she wants and deserves.

🇱🇻 Latvia: Citi Zēni – “Eat Your Salad”

The band take to the stage in the brightly coloured suits we have all become accustomed to. The LED behind them shows fruit and veg flying everywhere (although was covered by the current rotating sun issue). Again, another high-impact performance but this time with brighter colours which stands out against the dark colours of Albania (something Head of Contest, Twan van de Nieuwenhuijzen, has stated he wanted to do).

When asked about their famous colourful suits, the band said that their outfits have all been made from organic materials and their shoes are faux leather – mentioning they want to be sexy and sustainable!

Citi Zēni are very aware of the energy that they bring to the Eurovision stage:

“The energy is there, we love the stage. I just hope we manage to transfer our energy to over 200 million people. The party was brought, we loved the stage and now it’s just technical adjustments.”

Citi Zēni, Eurovision Press Conference, Saturday 30th April 2022

Vocals and saxophone player of the band, Dagnis pants even broke in Saturday’s rehearsal – the band really did go all out! Hopefully, the technical adjustments can be ironed out and the band can be even happier with their performance.

🇱🇹 Lithuania: Monika Liu – “Sentimentai”

Monika Liu has kept her silver sequinned dress from Pabandom iš Naujo! 2022 (Lithuania National Final 2022) and has added some backdrop swirl patterns with dark red and purple tones. She is alone on stage, just like in her national final performance.

This is the first time Lithuania will be singing fully in Lithuania since their debut in 1994. Monika was asked why does the Lithuanian language matter to her:

“We are such a small country, we have this old, beautiful language […] It was the last centrury since it was (Lithuanian) at Eurovision […] Some doubts of my song were “Oh maybe you should sing in English because nobody is going to understand this” […] Once I got on stage at the first pre party (Barcelona) and saw Spanish people singing with me I was like “yes!”. That was a proud moment for me and all Lithuanians”

Monika Liu, Eurovision Press Conference, Saturday 30th April 2022

Monika seems so proud of herself and is so pleased to be bringing her native tongue back to Eurovision. She knows exactly how to work a stage, and once we see more video clips of her Turin stage show we think this will come together very well.

🇨🇭Switzerland: Marius Bear – “Boys Do Cry”

Next up is Marius Bear, with his slow ballad hitting the stage. He has an all-black outfit and has a spotlight on him partnered up with some smokey lightning – it seems quite an intimate performance. The official Eurovision blog seems to be very happy with his first run-through – and thinks it will please the Swiss delegation with just how well it went.

In his Meet & Greet Press Conference, Marius talks about how his career started as a busker and says it’s a great experience as you’re never scared playing in front of people as you have to jump into different situations – perfect for when you’re about to perform in front of 200 million people!

With the title of his song being “Boys Do Cry”, Marius is also asked .about the difference between expressing feelings between a man and a woman:

“It doesn’t matter which gender you are, it’s about being yourself [..] nowadays with men, the struggle the most with showing themseleves, and that’s where toxic masculinity grows. That’s the seed of toxic masculinity when you’re not yourself”

Marius Bear, Eurovision Press Conference, Saturday 30th April 2022

This feels like the perfect staging for “Boys Do Cry”. Simple, slick and with a real focus on Marius and his voice. Let’s see how rehearsal number two goes for him and Switzerland!

🇸🇮 Slovenia: LPS – “Disko”

Calling it now – probably the biggest shock of semi-final one, day one rehearsals? A great staging concept! The band are dressed in smartly tailored suits, but the main stand-out here is the giant disco ball that joins them on stage. It’s very literal, but also very fun and actually suits the whole vibe really well. The maroon colour palette theme helps it classy.

Many fans may not actually know, that “Disko” is about a breakup. The leader of LPS (Filip Vidušin) talks about how the song is about the end of a relationship, specifically about being cheated on, and they wanted to create a contrast between how the song sounds and what the lyrics actually mean. He believes these types of songs resonate with people more.

Of course, their staging was a hot topic in Saturday’s preference! The band talk about how it’s different to EMA (Slovenia National Final 2022):

“I would say it’s quite different, the band are positioned in the same way but everything is bigger, so it’s more appropriate for this stage – there are way more lights […] we are very happy with the way things look so far and we are very thankful for our team who set this up”

LPS, Eurovision Press Conference, Saturday 30th April 2022

They were also asked about their musical background, stating that love many genres and “Dikso” is nothing like the band has made before. 

“We all like different genres but I think each of us finds a bit of ourselves in this older style [of music] like rock, jazz, funk and it’s our middle point. We took these, and wrote the song around this [those genres].”.

LPS, Eurovision Press Conference, Saturday 30th April 2022

LPS are known as being the school kids of this year, even talking about how their sports teacher at school inspired them, but this is far from the school Diskos now. Overall this feels like one to watch – definitely intrigued to see how this looks in full!

🇺🇦 Ukraine: Kalush Orchestra – “Stefania”

The Ukrainian act has changed their outfits from their Vidbir (Ukraine National Final 2022) performance. This time for Turin, we have the main rapper (Oleh Psiuk) in a floral waistcoat and one of the Orchestra in a fully tasselled black, red and yellow outfit – covering him from head-to-toe.

The backdrops pay homage to their home country as proud Ukraianans representing their land in what is a very difficult time of war. We’re very pleased to see this highlighted on the Eurovision stage.

Kalusha Orcsha talked about how the song is very important for Ukrainians. The song “Stefania” is a tribute to band member Oleh’s mother. The state this song resonates a lot with Ukrainians is family is very important to the nation. 

The band touched on the blue and yellow lights in the official EBU rehearsal images, as well as if they have been impacted by any technical issues in their first run-through.

“We will have yellow and blue colours in our performance, there will also be Ukrainan [traditional] ordainments […] I wouldn’t say we had any major technical issues, there is some camera work we are still working on but I wouldn’t say it was anything critical for us.”

Kalusha Orcsha, Eurovision Press Confernce, Saturday 30th April 2022

Kalush Orchestra were also asked about their style and outfits.

“This is the style of our band, Kalush Orchestra, it was not made for Eurovision specifically, but this is what we are. It’s like our music, we take something old from the past and we make it sound modern. The same is about clothes, we take something traditional and make it look in a modern way”.

Kalusha Orcsha, Eurovision Press Conference, Saturday 30th April 2022

A member of the group is, Ihor Didenchuk, who is in the band Go_A who of course represented Ukraine at Eurovision in 2021 finishing 5th. The band stated that Ihor said the best advice he could give was to sing sincerely from the bottom of your heart. This is exactly what they are doing already, and it’s only going to get bigger for them as Eurovision rehearsals continue.

🇧🇬 Bulgaria: Intelligent Music Project – “Intention”

The classic rockers are next to hit the stage! In this performance, there are some neon lights, pyro, and geometric shapes which look like speakers behind the band. Intelligent Music Project are rocking the leather jackets in their stage show. The official Eurovision blog describes their run-through as a hugely polished performance, and after the way they performed at pre-parties, we’re not surprised to hear this.

The drummer of the band, Stoyan Yankulov-Stundzhi, is taking to the Eurovision stage for the third time. He describes how Eurovision has changed:

“Eurovision is growing up every year, it’s very good and new all the time – new light shows, new styles, and good singers. Great inspiration now [at Eurovision]. […] I feel very comfortable at Eurovision.”

Intelligent Music Project, Eurovision Press Conference, Saturday 30th April 2022

The band’s professional stage shows have been prominent throughout the Eurovision season so far, and semi-final one rehearsals have been no different so far for the Bulgarian 2022 act. We expect the same again for the next rehearsal.

🇳🇱 Netherlands: S10 – ” De Diepte”

The Netherlands take to the stage for their first run-through at Eurovision 2022 – and they will be singing in Dutch for the first time since 2010. S10 is dressed in all-black that features a jacket that’s cropped at the front, but long at the back. Her staging features some dramatic lightning and some smoke – it definitely fits the vibe of the song.

She was asked about singing in Dutch at Eurovision, and if this was a conscious decision over English.

“I never actually thought about it because I just write in Dutch, I can express myself the best in my own language […] but now I get the question a lot [about writing in English] but no, I really wanted to do it in Dutch.”

S10, Eurovision Press Conference, Saturday 30th April 2022

S10 talks about her outfit and working with Dutch designers Viktor&Rofl.

“I love it [my outfit], I’m really excited that Viktor&Rofl wanted to work with me […] it’s just like a wedding dress, when I went there [to try it on] I tried on so many dresses […] a suit really fits me right now and it’s my favourite outfit ever. […] it really represents who I am.” 

S10, Eurovision Press Conference, Saturday 30th April 2022

The staging for The Netherlands this year seems to have really captured the mood of the song, the black with the warm lights looks stunning from what we have seen so far. We’re already wanting to see more!

🇲🇩 Moldova: Zdob și Zdub & Advahov Brothers – “Trenulețul”

Moldova has brought the high-impact, crazy, folk party performance we were all hoping for! The lighting is very neon as well as their LEDs. It looks like there is even going to be a dance in the chorus! They are also the first act to use the B stage – this is used by some drawbridges over the waterfall.

The lead singing of Zdob și Zdub (Roman Iagupov) talks about his third time at Eurovision and describes how he feels about the contest:

“For me, this is not a competition, this is like a very nice carnival and festival of peace, friendship, and music, that people need.”

Zdob și Zdub & Advahov Brothers, Eurovision Press Conference, Saturday 30th April 2022

This is a song many have been saying “waiting until you see their Turin staging!” and now we have, we’re very interested to see how this looks in full. You can always count on Moldova to bring the staging!

🇵🇹 Portugal: MARO – “saudade, saudade”

Starting the second day of rehearsals was Portugal’s MARO. We had our first act on day one using the B stage partly, but now have our first act fully using the B stage which is right in front of the Green Room. She is singing in a circle formation that is a reminder of the Festival da Canção 2022 staging (Portugal’s National Final 2022, complete with five backing vocalists. It feels very intimate and dream-like – with the LEDs swirly around her to back up the full vibe.

MARO talks about the staging in her Meet & Greet Press Conference and says that because it’s such a personal song, they tried to keep it as close and as intimate as possible.

She also describes the story behind her Eurovision entry:

“It’s about my granddad, when you’re missing someone it means you have saudade, it’s really just is a homage and celebration to the person he was and is in my life.”

MARO, Eurovision Press Conference, Sunday 1st May 2022

There aren’t too many surprises here, we expected this stage set-up, but it’s great to see it all come to life in Turin.

🇭🇷 Croatia: Mia Dimšić – “Guilty Pleasure”

Mia Dimšić is going different to her Dora 2022 (Croatia National Final 2022) performance – from staging to her look. She is wearing a hot pink dress with ruffles and is joined on stage by three contemporary dancers rather than just the one from Dora. A similar theme from before is that they provide some storytelling of the song with their dance. The sparkly lights suit the guitar-led song.

Mia discussed if the performance now has a different focus from one dancer to three:

“The number one difference is we are now looking into my dream [the story of the song], so I’m not directly part of it, but I am definitely immersed into that dream, I hope the fans feel the emotion”

Mia Dimšić, Eurovision Press Conference, Sunday 1st May 2022

There doesn’t seem to be anything like this currently staged in this style at Eurovision 2022, the staging still feels very true to Mia but has been cranked up a level. One to judge completely in full!

🇩🇰 Denmark: REDDI – “The Show”

The Danish act has given us bright pops of colour in their staging – looking like some red and neon yellows from what we can see so far, which complement their retro-70s feel with their outfits. Apart from that, it’s giving quite similar vibes to their DMGP performance (Danish National Final 2022).

An interesting discussion in their Press Conference was the use of live instruments at Eurovision:

“We’d prefer to play live instruments at Eurovision and we find it harder to perform with playback. We do understand why the rules are the way they are however.”

REDDI, Eurovision Press Conference, Sunday 1st May 2022

Seems like a clean run-through for the Danish pop-rock band – they said they are very happy with the changes they made with their staging, and we’re forward to seeing more of them!

🇦🇹 Austria: LUM!X ft. Pia Maria – “Halo”

LUM!X and Pia Maria were definitely one of the most hotly anticipated rehearsals of the day and it sounds like they brought the party! The duo are surrounded by a light-up ring that shines red and white, with a big light show around them. It sounds like LUM!X will be shouting things like “Put your hands up Turin!” and ‘What’s up Eurovision, are you ready to party!?” according to the official Eurovision blog and TikTok.

LUM!X and Pia Maria talked about their biggest music inspirations at their Press Conference.

LUM!X: “I started making EDM music because I wanted to put my own spin on it, my biggest inspirations were Michael Jackson and Queen growing up. But now I get most of my inspiration from travelling. Pia Maria: “I am inspired by Billie Ellish and Lady Gaga is a big female role model for me.”

LUM!X and Pia Maria, Eurovision Press Conference, May 1 2022

There have been question marks around Pia Maria’s vocal which at this stage, still remains to be seen. However, this is a very impressive stage show from Austria so if the vocals are right – they could be onto something great here.

🇮🇸 Iceland: Systur – “Með Hækkandi Sól”

Systur are made up of three sisters called Sigga, Beta and Elin – but their brother Eythor will be joining them on stage for Eurovision, a nice touch! They have different outfits to Söngvakeppnin (Iceland National Final 2022) but it’s still very much the retro-70s vibe. The burnt orange lights really suit the song – after all, it is translated to “With The Rising Sun” in English – so fits in perfectly. 

Syter are big supporters of the Trans community. They discussed this further, especially their support for Trans children, at their Meet & Greet Press Conference:

“We are trying to be supporters and tell parents over the world that you should love your children unconditionally, no matter how they are they should be loved. We should protect these children […] They are going to make our world more loving and accepting. It’s our part to make sure that they get a clear path.”

Syter, Eurovision Press Conference, Sunday 1st May 2022

A beautiful folk number from Iceland this year, with beautiful staging to match.

🇬🇷 Greece: Amanda Tenfjord – “Die Together”

It looks like Greece has got a good one going with this one, Amanda is alone on stage wearing a silver-white dress and is surrounded by chairs topped off with a blue backdrop. It seems like a great idea to just focus on her and let her tell the emotion of the story and song.

Amanda discussed her collaboration with Marvin Dietmann on her stage show:

“I would say it’s good collaboration, from the first time I met him we were a good match, I felt like we were friends from the very time we met. The important thing is he listens to me and what I want […] I like to have control over the creative things since I’ve written the song. The first thing we did is that we put on the song, I sang it with my movements and he made something out of that which I think is great”

Amanda Tenfjord, Eurovision Press Conference, Sunday 1st May 2022

Amanda was asked to describe her performance in three words in the press conference and said “Blue, white and energetic” – very interesting, but this looks like Greece are back to its very best, this is one to keep an eye on for sure – brilliant work from their team!

🇳🇴 Norway: Subwoolfer – “Give That Wolf A Banana”

This is one of the only national final performances so far that is a complete cut and paste. We see the iconic Keith and Jim on stage with their backing dances and of course, DJ Astronaut. It’s slick, well-rehearsed, and exactly what we expected. 

Subwoolfer’s Meet & Greet Press Conference was full of fun, featuring their ever-present translator who helped the duo speak. A question was put forward to the Norwegian act asking if they will take their masks off if they win, to which their translator replied stating they’re not sure what masks they are talking about, as they are obviously from the moon.

The group were asked how long will they stay on earth:

“It’s been slightly boring on the moon, the past couple of million years, so we’re going to stay here for a while, for sure.”

Subwoolfer, Eurovision Press Conference, Sunday 1st May 2022

They are already making waves in Turin, and this is only just the start for Subwoolfer as they look to take over planet earth!

🇦🇲 Armenia: Rosa Linn – “Snap”

We finally get to find out the head-scratching running order position for this song – but of course, there was a perfectly logical reason. There’s a full constructed set for this performance! Rosa Linn is in a white bedroom with walls and furniture that look like they’re made from sticky notes – she has a white and cream outfit to match. The official Eurovision blog confirmed with the Armenian delegation that the stage is a reinforced paper structure. The set also rotates which is done through manpower. This is a very interesting one!

Rosa Linn was asked if she could take the Eurovision Song Contest to Yerevan for the third time, after the country won Junior Eurovision again in 2021:

“I will do everything that comes from me to bring Eurovision to Armenia for the third time, everything else is in your hands – the people, the juries. I will do my best to make that happen”

Rosa Linn, Eurovision Press Conference, Sunday 1st May 2022

A wonderful stage show from our semi-final one show closer. Could she be one to watch?

That’s a Wrap!

Our first rehearsals for semi-final one are over, and we finally get a clearer picture of what some of our class of 2022 will present to us in Turin. The first rehearsals can always be hit or miss, simply as that’s what they are, rehearsals and time to check and iron things out. It looks like we have some really cool concepts on our hands this year though – and we look forward to seeing them in full.

Who’s your favourite stage show of semi-final one so far? Let us know in the comments!

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