North Macedonia – Defying the odds?

Andrea, singing her song Circles in Turin today
Andrea, singing her song Circles in Turin today

Andrea was the fourth performer on the rehearsal stage this morning with her song ‘Circles’, representing North Macedonia at the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest.

She’s currently languishing at the bottle of the betting odds, with some bookies offering 1000/1 on victory – the consensus being we’ll only be hearing this song once – or umpty-billion times if you have access to the press centre – and I do right now, so there!

We start – as always – with a pan across the waterfall, this time lit in blue. Andrea is alone, centre stage, picked out by a light, dressed all in black. She stays pretty much that way through the first verse and chorus before walking downstage. There follows a rag-bag collection of bog-standard Eurovision shots (overhead, follow-cam, close up, emote down the lens). The back-drop (behind the sun) is of storm clouds billowing. Later this turns into bursts of orange light. It’s a classic solo staging, and I can’t help but wonder if a backing team would have lifted things.

Husky and textured voice

Andrea’s voice, which starts out wonderfully husky and textured, becomes less controlled (on the first run through) by the final chorus, and I suspect this might be some kind of technical issue with the in-ear monitor, as when the first rehearsal finishes, she shook her head in disappointment and wanted a word. When Andrea wants a word, people listen.

For the second run-through, she’s higher in the mix, and gives it far more. I can’t decide if her end-gesture was one of joy or frustration. There was certainly far more life in things. The third rehearsal was (unsurprisingly) the stronger one. She improvised far more – and I suspect she could be better to do more of this on the night.

The overall impression is that things stay too dark for too long. It’s also not the sort of sound that does well at Eurovision – perhaps this is more tinged with US R&B. Where North Macedonia has done best in recent years, it’s been by getting the staging spot-on. This isn’t by any means their worst effort, but I don’t feel there’s enough here to defy the odds.

Andrea has a bright career ahead of her, though, based off what I saw today.