18 November 2017
ESCflashmalta Team

ESCflashmalta Team

Some people find it tough to wake up early in the morning but when one has other things to do such as study during the same time of the Eurovision Song Contest, time is merely just a number. Good Morning everyone and welcome to day one of our LIVE coverage from this years' music extravaganza which is taking place all the way on the far east of the continent in Baku, Azerbaijan following the victory of Ell & Nikki with their track Running Scared which came out on top leaving Italy and Sweden in the first and second runner-up positions. We are preparing very good coverage for you this year noting that escflashmalta.com is being represented by a good sized team this year introducing newcomers Šira Carolyn Bezalel and Patrick Strouk to the fray alongside with Juergen Boernig, Lilian Brunell and of course, our Head of Operations; Garrett Mulhall who as you all know ran the coverage most notably by himself on location last year. I am also proud to be working with our partners including Keith Mills and his team from All Kinds of Everything and also Luke Fisher and his Team from escXtra.

Everyone has a job to do during his stay in Baku, and we are well equipped to co-ordinate the best possible footage from the press conferences and also exclusive interviews with artists as they come off the stage. The rehearsal coverage will be as prompt as possible as soon as videos are put up when they are not being reported on location and even faster when people on location are covering them. Today marks the beginning of a journey, one which will take the fans and the organizers through a number of rehearsals, press conferences and so forth therefore, stay tuned to escflashmalta.com for all the best possible coverage we can manage. Just a reminder that Malta is competing in the second semi-final but nevertheless, there is still a lot of interesting during the first with favourites inluding Iceland, Greece and Romania taking to the stage during the day along with outsiders Belgium and Finland and possible dark horse Albania therefore, it will definitely not be a boring day. Kurt Calleja will take to the stage for the very first time on Tuesday afternoon, Azeri time.

Schedule of Rehearsals

  • 08:00 - Montenegro 
  • 08:45 - Iceland
  • 09:30 - Greece
  • 10:15 - Latvia
  • 11:55 - Albania
  • 12:40 - Romania
  • 13:25 - Switzerland
  • 14:25 - Belgium
  • 15:10 - Finland

LIVE

An interesting note is that the commencement of the rehearsals has been delayed indefinitely due to some technical issues. In fact there were only some minor issues with the stage which needed to be adhered to and it seems that they have been well worked upon and in fact, the first rehearsal is now set to begin an hour and a half later than originally planned.

Montenegro

Basically at this stage, we can note that due to the fact that Rambo could not have brought along a live donkey onto the stage, they are making use of a wooden figure of the animal in order for one to relate to the official preview video. Rambo Amadeus is of course dressed in casual clothing but the staging does look quite interesting with a dark setting and vibrant lighting throughout the song. He is joined on stage by a guitarist and also a drummer whilst there is also a good backing by three breakdancers who seem out of place apart from not carrying out the full choreography. A truly disturbing start for the semi-final and this years' Eurovision Song Contest.

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Video Courtesy of Eurovision.tv


Iceland

The very first rehearsal of Iceland has also just finished and one could easily see that the staging for this one is as Eurovisoin as could be. For the first time this year, I am already amazed at the backdrop actually which is cery reminscent of the official preview video. It looks like the duo are wearing the same outfits from the national final to see that it looks well on stage. They are joined on stage by four backing vocals and this is looking awesome visually. The vocals are spot on quite quickly and this is as always a favourite to qualify and highly likely to make it to the top ten in the finals. Impressive indeed because it looks like they are ready to conquer this years' competition with such an initial performance. They will most likely work with the camera shots now.

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Video Courtesy of Eurovision.tv


Greece

Well Eleftheria has some work to do in regards her vocals but that is what rehearsals are for. What was interesting to see was that the backing singer was carrying more of the main vocals than you would expect. At times it was pitchy but in her defense she sang with gusto that would be fitting of the "Land Of Fire" where we are now. The Baku stage is amazing and BIG and a lot of countries are going to find it difficult to fill the stage and make their presence felt. Eleftheria and her dancers tend to stay in the centre of the stage and for us in the audience makes you feel somewhat cheated as you really want a rousing performance/routine to match the potential of the song The stage backdrop is glittering with varying blue and pink shapes and swirls. What Greece have failed to do is when the climax of the song takes place they don't replicate that with the visual effects thus not giving the song it's full potential.  This song has great potential if the vocals are rehearsed more and if the wide camera angles are removed from the shots as they make the song feel lost. The song though is instant in it's appeal and you can't help but sing along with the song. As I always say a good song sung not so good - will be forgiven more easily. This song will easily qualify for the final. Not a winner but a good bet for a Top 10 position.

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Video Courtesy of Eurovision.tv


Latvia

Latvia is one of those songs which one would either love or hate but somewhat somewhere in between comes my opinion. The staging for this one is quite generic as the design is very retro. The lyrics are still abysmally dull unfortunately and bear no real meaning. In fact, the colour scheme is a mixture of blue, yellow and red. Anmary is joined on stage by four backing vocalists of a female nature who carry out the most ridiculous choreography ever. It seems that they were just brought about from the street as it is such a clueless set of moves. The vocals are not bad but also need a bit of work. Whilst this is being worked about for the cameras, more than half of the stage is empty and it is not a small stage area which needs to be filled and this could also be looked into. Nevertheless, this was good a rehearsal as expected at this point in time and there will be room for improvement in the days to come.

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Video Courtesy of Eurovision.tv


Albania

Following the break, the next performance comes from Albania who are being represented by Rona Nishliu. The setting of the stage is just beautiful actually with the performer in the middle od the screen as lights shine one by one on her. She is clad in black attire today and her hair is in a beehive fashion. She stands there in the middle of the stage with black and black being predominant in terms of colours. As expected, her vocals are spot on and she managed to shine throughout all of her run throughs. During the refrain, the lighting changes putting the singer in the best possible spotlight and during the bridge, there is a lot of emphasis on white lighting. The backdrop in itself seems to feature window panes which also drastically change colour. This rehearsal was perfect, there are no changes needed!

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Video Courtesy of Eurovision.tv


Romania

Most of the backdrops will most likely be changed but nevertheless, the next one is quite cool noting that Romania have decided to go for elements very much connected with their song which include drums, women and hearts. The group is clad in so many different colours, it all looks a little bit too happy but nevertheless, there is a huge positive element going round. The main singer is of course Elena Ionescu and she looks extremely beautiful in a red revealing outfit. What is even more enchanting though is the choreography of the group which is simple and does not require any more work honestly. The group is working well together and it shows that they have been rehearsing this quite a lot prior to their departure. The vocals in the beginning are slightly shaky but they are quickly adjusted and Romania is one of the songs which will surely stand out especially coming after Albania which is still a borderline qualifier.

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Video Courtesy of Eurovision.tv


Switzerland

Ohh, loving the blue staging for Switzerland and it seems that they have already decided to test run similar clothing to their performance at the Eurovision Song Contest in just a weak. The blue is quickly changed to green in the chorus although what is different and still work is the raging spotlights which come on evertime the line unbreakable is sung. Nevertheless, in the second part of the song, the lighting is red. The problem with the diction has somewhat improved in the past couple of months and the vocals are definitely faultless at the moment but despite this, I believe that this song does lack that special something which would make it qualify. Last year, Switzerland were quite lucky to pass on virtue of just one point surpassing Malta putting it in eleventh position.

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Video Courtesy of escXtra


Belgium

The youngest performer in this years' Eurovision Song Contest takes to the stage for the very first time for her runthrough and she is wearing white clothes in this casual rehearsal. The focus on this song has to be the voice and prior to this performance, there have been issues on whether she can actually deliver but what she has done is that she has tranformed her innacuracies with a sort of twinge which is reminiscent in country music. She is not along on stage as she is joined by three female backing vocals. The performance is simple but the performance area is bathed in purple and pink which works very well with this type of song. I must say that this song did not do much for me but I am really loving the interpretation here and she may just be the dark horse.

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Video Courtesy of Eurovision.tv


Finland

Finland bring about the final rehearsal of the day and the stage is bathed in sparkling blue lights. It is important to note that Pernilla is really smiling as she performs her song and without a doubt is enjoying every second of this experience being the second most youngest performer in this years' competition. The lighting is impressive and works extremely well with such a ballad. The singer is joined on stage by a cello player and the cameras are working the angles perfectly to make sure that both make a number of appearances. The skirt that Pernilla is wearing might be similar to the one she will be using in the semi-final actually because a wind machine has been switched on with the main reason honestly being to see how the article of clothing would sway. The vocals are perfect and the few people in the hall seem to be quite happy with the overall performance.

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Video Courtesy of escXtra

Friday, 14 May 2010 07:12

A Little Nordisk Melodi

For the past few years the Nordic countries have consistently worked hard to provide Eurovision with a winning candidate.  Sweden, first of all annually holds one of the most extensive and long running national finals, rivalled closely by Malta. Sweden also has one of the most impressive Eurovision track records as since their last win in 1999 Sweden has managed to qualify for a place in the final even after the introduction of the Semi Finals in 2004.

This makes them one of a handful of countries whom have managed to have a place in the final every year for the past decade.  Melodifestivalen 2010 was no exception, some of Sweden’s most loved and famous artists once again banded together for the chance to represent Sweden in Oslo. There were no outright winners or early predictions in the competition; there were of course popular songs and some good songs managing to qualify from the second chance round.  This year 18 year Anna Bergendahl won the competition by coming second in the jury vote but winning the public securing her win. The song is a charming ballad with few or no gimmicks; she has a nice voice and performs well. She lacks the stage presence her predecessors bought to the competition however; it is refreshing to have some fresh talent brought from Sweden.

Norway has had a mixed  history in Eurovision, still holding the highest number 0 points scores in the history of the competition.  The past two years have seen this reversed in 2009 Maria Haukaas Storeng managed to secured a 5th place in Belgrade before producing one of the most talked about ever Eurovision entries and winner. Alexander Rybak ratkked the Eurovision record book in Moscow and gives Norway one of the most peculiar records in the competition as they now have the records for the highest number of low scores and now the highest score ever. This year 21 year old Didrik Solli-Tangen is singing his ballad “My Heart is Yours” which beat early favourite boy band A1 to the right to represent the host country. Didrik’s ballad is very emotional but is reminiscent of a typical Westlife song. However, Didrik bravely performs it by himself and the home entry really isn’t one that is unpleasant on the ears. I wouldn’t assume it to be a winner, but this one will be picking up votes from right across the board.

Denmark has now become the less successful country from the Scandinavian peninsula over the past two years. In spite of qualifying for the final in 2008 & 2009  they have failed to neither make the top 10 nor really leave any lasting impression on the stage. Arguably similar for Sweden however Denmark’s acts lacked any real strong charisma or originality. Anyway, Denmark will be represented by Chanee and N’evergreen in Oslo this year and although the performance had a few cheesy elements the singer sing excellently live, which is not a bad thing at Eurovision. Their song “In a moment like this” is a power ballad sang as duet. The song was sung flawlessly a number of times in Melodi Grand Prix 2010 and I am sure they will have had time to perfect their onstage performance and as much as I would love for this to win, I do fear that some of the other songs will over shadow this.

Iceland has had a terrible few years not at Eurovision just in general terms, through economic collapse and now sending half the worlds aviation into turmoil. Iceland has however sent some of the most remembered acts to Eurovision in recents years. In 2008 Eurobandið had started out with high hopes but ended disappointingly outside of the top 10 yet last year Yohanna equalled their best ever result finishing second, albeit miles behind Norway. For 2010, Iceland has sent Hera Björk with her song “Je ne sais quoi” an up-tempo entry with only the title being sung in French the remainder being sung in English. This is certainly an enjoyable one, but I doubt this will make a huge impact in the competition as there are a number of better songs.

Finally, Finland; who have had steady success since their win in 2006. This year however, they have decided  to send a rather unusual song. Kuunkuiskaajat  "Työlki ellää" is a little like a Nordic folk-like pop song. As it is sung in Finnish it is difficult to understand exactly what the song is actually about and the onstage performance is actually quite bizarre I just think this is a little too weird and Eurovision fans will not appreciate this. So, Once again the Nordic countries have tried to send decent or at least memorable songs. I am quite a fan of Denmark and Sweden followed closely by Norway, but this may not be what fans think.

Kurt Calleja will be representing Malta in the 2012 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest taking place in Baku, Azerbaijan and alongside the members of the Public Broadcasting Services are making sure that the promotional campaign is done well by virtue of touring the best possible countries which up to this point has included the host nation; Azerbaijan where he made an appearance during the national final just last week. It has just been confirmed that he will be making an appearance at the Bulgarian National Final on the 29th February 2012.

At this point in time, we have heard that other offers have been made by The Netherlands for the Eurovision on the 21st April 2012 and also the United Kingdom for the London Eurovision Party on the 29th April 2012. It is expected that Kurt will be making at least one of the two trips. We can also exclusively reveal that Kurt Calleja is currently in Germany accompanied by Peter Carbonaro who both said that they are in the country through different methods. Nevertheless, their visit to Germany is to master the song 'This Is The Night' written by Johan Jämtberg, Kurt Calleja and Mikael Gunnerås.

Cap-Sounds have been supporting the Maltese entries at the Eurovision Song Contest for quite some time. Last year, they stepped in late into the game after the Public Broadcasting Services made an effort to try and change the label following comments by certain people in the media. Nevertheless, the product was released onto the music market with distribution by Universal Music Germany. The Public Broadcasting Services did not release any information about this matter so I guess all this will be revealed in due time. Stay tuned to ESCflashmalta for more exclusive news as Kurt and his team go to Baku, Azerbaijan.

The last rehearsals and preparations for the Malta Eurovision Song Contest have just finished at the Malta Fairs and Conventions Centre at Ta’ Qali. Although they are taking place behind closed doors, the team of ESCflashmalta dedicated itself to provide all the latest and exclusive news to its readers in regards to the Eurovision Song Contest and the process for the selection of the 25th Maltese entrant. As we all know, the winner of the Maltese final will be decided by a panel of six judges and the public vote which is equivalent to a two-member jury.


Close sources revealed that the three of the six juries are: the head of French delegation, Bruno Berberes; head of Cypriot delegation, Evi Papamicheal and the TVM newscaster who hosted the previous two editions of the Maltese selection, Keith Demicoli. Both head of delegations own a lot of experience and Berberes is also part of the reference group of the EBU. Today marked the final preparations for tomorrows' semi-final actually with a full on dress rehearsal organized once more behind closed doors although we have good sources keeping us informed that the members of the voting panel were actually present this evening accounting their first opinion of the respective acts.

It is important to note that the dress rehearsal was followed closely by ESCflashmalta was a vantage point outside the venue where the acoustics and the music was at the maximum best. The first part (after 12 songs) of the show went on at a very smooth pace actually with one of the acts particularly stepping it up amongst the rest to shine but the problems crept in the show mid-way when there was an issue before the song 'Pure' by Claudia Faniello, hence noting an extremely long pause. When she ultimately got to performing, her song was stopped mid-way through the session and was asked to sing again due to the issue. The evening went on without any problems though and it seems that everything is ready for tomorrow evening.

There were a total of three songs which seem to have stepped up to the competition with their live vocal rendition but one of them has a clear winner written all over it at least in terms of a vocal performance. For the confines of the song festival, we will not make a revelation as we do not wish to influence our readers although the song which comes towards the second part (last 12 songs) of the competition will definitely be one of the contenders on Saturday with the right starting position. The hosts being Elaine Saliba and Ronald Briffa seem well prepared with the script being quite enchanting and funny whilst the clips seem to be simple with each artist presenting himself in a traditional and formal way.

ESCflashmalta would like to take this opportunity to wish all the best of luck to all the participants and do not forget to vote for your favourite song in our poll noting that it will ultimately close just hours before the semi-final will take place. There will be eight entries eliminated tomorrow night and we will be vying to keep you posted with all the latest news as our man of the hour, Andy Muscat takes the reins and comments on the songs in the competition tomorrow evening.

Source: ESCflashmalta

“Min Imissu?, Malta’s current satirical TV show aired prime time on Television Malta, has already gained success after a couple of weeks which featured popular Maltese personalities. “Min Imissu?” comes from the producers of popular TV Series Deceduti and L-Evangelisti. It’s a unique comedy show where a variety of elements and characters are all blended together and juiced up with a solid dose of actuality, satire and good natured humour in a cabaret style show. In each programme, we meet a particular guest, who meets up all the different characters and who surely must be ready for any type of criticism!Tonight’s guest will be one of Malta’s most popular female singers; Thea Garrett.

Thea Garrett was one of the surprise finalists in the 2010 Malta Eurovision and she stunned the nation when her dream became reality winning both the public vote and the jury vote with her power ballad 'My Dream'; she represented Malta in Oslo where she finished in 12th place in her semi-final. After that experience Thea didn't look back and started working on establishing herself in the local music scene. Her debut singe 'You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video' managed to garner success on the local airwaves and even reached the peak position on Bay Radio which is considered as the penultimate success for local artists. Recently, Thea launched her second single 'You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video' which also managed to enter the top ten on Bay Radio's chart but the single didn't emulate the success of the first. Last night, Thea also achieved another success in her young career as she was one of the nominees for the Best Female Artist at this year's Malta Music Awards.

So tune in tonight with the cast of “Min Imissu?” at 20:40 for a hearty dose of sketch based comedy from Gordon Bonello, Manolita Ellul, Maruska Mallia and other familair faces which keep the viewers entertained from week to week.  The lovely presence of host presenter Andreana Debattista, a former finalist in the Malta Eurovision adds that extra glamour so it is surely the ideal programme to chase away the blues and set the audience in the right mood for the week ahead.

Source: Facebook

Friday, 21 October 2011 21:30

Breaking News: PBS Receives 161 Submissions

The Malta Eurovision Song Contest has managed to keep up the interest that it has in recent years remaining as the premier entertainment showcase in the local music industry. In the past two days, during specific hours as decided by the Public Broadcasting Services, both in the morning and in the afternoon, entries were received for the annual event out of which a panel of judges will be making their respective choices based on studio versions as recorded by local and foreign producers. This year, the submissions process managed to move at a commanding pace with a number of performers queuing to submit their songs at the very last couple of hours.

It was widely expected that during the evening news bulletin, the number of submissions would be revealed and indeed it was as the newscaster stated that the amount of entries vying to represent Malta in the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest set to take place in Baku, Azerbaijan reached 161 in total. This number represents the interest which is being shown throughout the board be it with both local and foreign songwriters who seemed to drop in to help our artists with their ventures within the competition. The number of submissions is higher than the 141 entries received for the 2011 edition of the Malta Eurovision Song Contest and this is quite a surprise so to speak especially when looking back at the amount of entries received by the Public Broadcasting Services for the selection since back in 2005.

  • 2011: 141 submissions
  • 2010: 123 submissions
  • 2009: 182 submissions
  • 2008: 225 submissions
  • 2007: 228 submissions
  • 2006: 213 submissions
  • 2005: 186 submissions

Foreign interest was quite high it seems as the entries are coming from a variety of nations including Sweden, Norway, Germany, United Kingdom, and Ireland amongst others. It is expected that a number of well known local songwriters have submitted songs including the team of the decade featuring Philip Vella and Gerard James Borg as well as this years' representative team made up of Paul Giordimaina and Fleur Balzan. The dates for the studio version phase is yet to be announced but those who make it to the next phase will only be sent an email to confirm their participation. If things are not held up, the process might continue as early as next week according to our sources.

Source: PBS, ONE (Image)

Sunday, 01 May 2011 10:59

ESC 2011: Day 1 Rehearsals - LIVE

Good Morning and welcome to our first live coverage from this years' Eurovision Song Contest which is taking place in Dusseldorf, Germany. Our team tells us that things are buzzing within the city with the event taking place there in the next couple of days that is. A huge press centre and a huge arena, things are looking very professional at the moment seeing that Germany wish to improve on their first hosting back in the Eurovision Song Contest held in Munich in 1984 following the win of Nicole with the song 'Ein Bischen Frieden'.

Anyways, the show has already started in terms of rehearsals this morning as we have our collaborator Keith Mills as well as myself in place to bring you the live reports from each of the ten rehearsals as Juergen Boernig and the rest of his team are taking care of press conferences and pictures so stay tuned because these two weeks are surely going to be an interesting couple of days for all Eurovision Song Contest lovers. Also joining in on the fun now is our very own International Relations Officer, Garrett Mulhall. As you saw in the schedule, the first ten countries in the first semi-final are to take to the stage today whilst Malta is set to take to the same stage tomorrow morning with Glen Vella kicking off proceedings with the song 'One Life'. Please check out our photo gallery with the latest updates from the rehearsals being uploaded on here or on the homepage of our site.

Poland

Considering the huge arena, the stage is comparatively small but what is really impressive is the background behind the stage as the LED screens used manage to create a 3D sort of effect which will surely impress during some songs. This mornings' first rehearsal comes from Poland and one has to say that the act looks already very slick. The main singer who is dressed in black leather this morning is joined by three female backing dancers who do their best despite a first rehearsal, and two backing vocals, a man and a woman. The orange and dark lighting is like seen within the official preview video but the vocals are spot on from Magdalena and it seems that the only thing she is still shaky about is the choreography and she almost fell at one point in those extremely high heels.

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Video courtesy of Eurovision.tv

Norway

Well and off we go with one of this years' favourites. Stella Mwangi seems to have changed the choreography of the song for the Eurovision Song Contest performance on the 10th May. She is joined on stage by three backing vocals and also two dancers, all of which do some sort of dance moves at some points. It seems that they have developed a new dance called the 'Haba Haba'. The vocals are not bad this morning but I cannot help saying that she needs much more work in that department to manage to impress. The stage is bathed in a flurry of lights although it seems that those predominant are blue and orange. With regards to clothing, she has decided to keep her Melodi Grand Prix dress for this morning. Despite the vocals, one cannot help sing along to this song especially early in the morning.

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Video courtesy of Eurovision.tv

Albania

The first Balkan feel of this years' festival comes from Albania. Aurela, the singer with the extremely vibrant red hair is joined on stage by three backing vocals, a drummer and a bassist. The stage which is bathed in red and black is depicting wings in the background whilst the lightning is sending spotlights all of the place and this is looking really slick in the hall. The vocals from the singer are spot on most of the time and it seems like she is seriously enjoying herself out there. Amazing job from the people at NDR who have managed to come up with this design this year. A competent first rehearsal and I must say that is has stood out thus far.

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Video courtesy of Eurovision.tv

Armenia

An extremely energetic performance from Emmy who is joined on stage by four male dancers and a female backing vocal. The backdrop looks absolutely amazing with stars jumping up and down making being the cause of a very interesting effect actually. The vocals are not bad considering that this is only the second time in which she is performing this song live. The choreography is already spot on and I must say that this might be the best improvement of a song that I have seen thus far today in comparison to former performances. Very competent and at the moment, a definite qualifier.

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Video courtesy of Eurovision.tv

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Turkey

The lighting for this song is extraordinarily impressive actually as it looks very much like a concert rig in the middle of the ocean of some sort. The band looks a little bit static at times but they are doing their best to move about. In the meantime, there is a dancer in a ball sort of shaped structure on stage and she seems to be trying to get out of there whilst doing acrobatics.The vocal performance has no fault and this is surely going to be one to look out for despite being somewhat underwhelming for most people when chosen.

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Video courtesy of Eurovision.tv

Serbia

You know this song is not being mentioned by many people as a contender and I cannot see why this is so? Nina is electric on the stage. This song is a throw back to the Motown era of the 1960's. Nina certainly knows how to sell a song and she does this in bucket loads. Serbia have embraced the 1960's with the subtle dance moves by Nina and her 3 backing singers. You can't help but think that you are looking and listening to a The Supremes.

The staging is wonderfully psychedelic with bright round coloured shapes on screen. But the charm of this song is amazing. Nina works the camera like a true professional with every inch of her persona. She brings the song to yet another level and I am certain that the viewing audience will warm to her charms. As for her voice - DOUZE POINTS. In all her rehearsals she did not miss a single note and the reaction by the audience was amazing. There are some great close ups of Nina and her singers as well as some well staged sweeping shots of the stage. This is one to look out for.

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Video courtesy of Eurovision.tv

Russia

Alexei is extremely charismatic and provides a faultless performance vocally. The set is black and grows with the song. Vertical white lights provide the staging. And not content with that Alexei and his 3 male dancers have coats that have matching lights on them that beat in sync with the music. Now did we see that before last year with Safura? And not content with flashing jackets they also have the shoes that glow too. Not content with that there is a platform that Alexei jumps up and down on throughout the song. One might say that this is "Blinging" to say the least. A stark contrast to the Russian performance from last year.

One cannot deny that this is a very well polished Russian Performance. The dance moves were very tight and slick and the vocals were spot on. However the new slower start to the song is the talking point of the arena. Why oh Why? Why would you spend 30 seconds of a 3 minute song singing something that bares no resemblance to the main track. Furthermore the song has a great build to it but then finishes abruptly. Why? There really is no need for the slow intro. Better to spend the time on getting to the chorus and finishing the song off more appropriately. However this song will qualify with ease and Alexei will charm the young female vote.

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Video courtesy of Eurovision.tv

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Switzerland

If you were to turn the sound off this Swiss Performance you could be mistaken for thinking that you were looking at Portugal from 2009. The staging is colourful and almost cartoon like with sun rises and bright clouds floating across the screen. Anna was wearing a short red shimmering dress. I really think that if they are going with the sweet innocent staging then maybe a lighter coloured floating dress would be more in keeping. When it came to the third time of singing the song, giant bubbles were introduced into the performance. Now when I say huge I MEAN HUGE! However you really could not notice them on the stage except for the pubbles they left on the floor after they burst. Maybe a health hazard for the next performers on stage - or is that the plan from the Swiss. My suggestion would be to lose the bubbles.

As for the singing - Anna was sweet and charming. Her vocals were good. She did however seem to be a little stage struck and looked a little uncomfortable. However that is why we have rehearsals. They are there for the artist to sort out their teething problems and get comfortable with the stage. At the moment there is still some work to do for Switzerland. Qualification would be borderline with their performance

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Video courtesy of Eurovision.tv

Georgia

Yes - a Marissa Tomei look alike sings for Georgia this year. Georgia are looking so strong for qualification after their performance this afternoon. They did have some problems with their first performance today and this resulted in a time delay before they returned on stage. However when they did it was electric. They are all dressed in very dramatic Black Leather costumes with accents of vivid colours. The backdrop for the performance is a mixture of large Gothic Church Windows and Ruins. The lighting is dark and very moody but it is really in fitting with the song. Eldrine grew in confidence with each performance and she look a lot more comfortable on camera. She has a raw quality to her voice and she really began to sell the song to the camera. Her group are equally dramatic. They are dimly lit but when they have a close up they are certainly present on the screen. This song will certainly go big in the huge Esprit Arena and will be a crowd pleaser. This song certainly looks like a strong contender for qualifying.

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Video courtesy of Eurovision.tv

Finland

Well Paradise is on top of the world looking down on us at Eurovision. This song looks stunning on screen. It is a black screen with an AMAZING blue revolving image of the earth from outer space. It is the same image throughout the song but it is striking visually. And with Paradise standing solo on the stage it is a real contrast to the rock anthem from Georgia before it. However it is a shame that the song is not as stunning as the visual presentation. It is a simple song and it is Paradise and his guitar. However the song starts off at one pace and fails to build or have any light or shade.

His vocals are good but the song is not challenging. Yes the song has a message that is "We all need to be aware of the environment" but the song is presented very literally with the lyrics. I do hope that Paradise does change his outfit for the show as his shirt was rather distracting and was cause for concern with those around me in the arena - it could be a contender for the Barbara Dex Award! Personally I think this is a song with some charm but I fear it may get lost in the Semi Final.

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Video courtesy of Eurovision.tv

Monday, 02 May 2011 02:39

ESC 2011: Day 2 Rehearsals - LIVE

Good Morning Europe and welcome to our second day of live reporting. With team members gearing up in Dusseldorf, some including myself are gearing up for yet another great day of music, rehearsals and news from each of the participating nations. Today, a total of nine acts will be taking to the stage as opposed to yesterday when there was another act with the tally of the semi-final amounting to nineteen. This will be the case within the rehearsals of the second semi-final.



The stage area is buzzing and the press working area is seeing a lot of sleepy people this morning. Things are being worked out to make sure that today will be even better than yesterday if possible noting that very near miss imperfections thus far. The hosts are making sure that they are taken seriously and show that they can be quite competent in presenting. Led by Garrett Mulhall, Juergen Boernig and Keith is the team of ESCflashmalta. They will be carrying out various roles throughout the day whilst I coordinate and plan certain structures. As the logo of this article suggests, Malta will be taken to the stage early on, opening up proceedings for Tuesday.

Malta (through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

Our man Glen is first on stage today bright and early. And for a first rehearsal he is playing a blinder and performing out of his skin! As in the Maltese National Final Glen is joined by his 3 female backing singers who are performing on 3 individual plinths. They are wearing matching black bob wigs and shades and look rather dramatic. Then there are 2 male dancers - who are casually dressed in black clothes which I am sure will be changed for the live show.

The stage begins black with red spot lights highlighting the performers. When the music begins the stage is illuminated with 2 flashing inverted pyramids that are visually electric. Throughout the song there are intermittent horizontal blue, red and white lights across the the screen. Overall it is a very dramatic stage and it suits the song perfectly. For me this is one of the best usages of the full capabilities of the stage and the lighting.

Vocally Glen was on his best game! He was note perfect. There were however some technical problems with the sounds. Twice the song had to be stopped as the sound was either not heard in the arena or by the artist. However this did not phase Glen and his team. They managed to get a full run through after the problems had been rectified. The reaction in the hall was very good for Glen's performance and he is looking good for qualification.

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Video Courtesy of the Eurovision.tv

San Marino (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

Next up we have a woman taking to the stage and this is the every so nice Senit actually who has been doing a lot of extensive promotion all over Europe including Malta where she will be making an appearance on the program Xarabank which has been pre-recorded for next Friday. Senit is dressed very casually this morning but what is quite interesting is that she is joined on stage by a number of people including two guitarists of male sexuality and also another three female backing vocals.

The stage is depicted in a very dark purple sort of setting and this works well with the mood of the song in general so no problems there. As the music commences, the stage turns into a mixture of purple and some yellow from the lights as if being on a stage rig in the middle of the ocean. The setting remains the same but as I said, it works well with the mood.

With regards to the vocals, Senit is doing an amazing job and this is her first rehearsal on this stage so it is quite interesting to see her performing so well. Many people had regarded her vocal capabilities and I believe that with a much stronger song, she would have been a contender for a top ten finish. At the moment, I see this making it to the final and this is based also on the fact that the song is performing following an energetic one. She climaxes beautifully actually. Very good!

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Video Courtesy of the Eurovision.tv

Croatia (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

Another act which took her promotion tour to our very own tiny nation island of Malta is Daria and her performance on Xarabank will also be shown this coming Friday actually. The extremely long singer with the blonde hair is looking to impress this year. The singer is on the stage wearing a short black dress with a sprinkle of gold in the beginning and this seems like the attire she will be wearing during the show. She is joined on stage by a male DJ as well as four female backing vocals and thus it makes this an all woman show.

Surprise surprise, the lighting used is somewhat that within a disco but what she tries to make special is her costume change as suddenly she goes into a magician like tube and changes her  costume into a glittery light pink one instead before turning into a long silver one at the end. She is pulling out all of the stops for this performance but I still believe there are some missing elements so to speak. We just have to see what the rest of Europe makes of Croatia this year.

In the meantime, the vocals sound way strained during parts of the song but that has been expected because her live performances have never been up to the best possible standard. I did meet her in Malta and she does have a nice voice to talk with but it is not made for full blown singing. The song is not easy and with that choreography it becomes harder. The vocalists do a very good job hiding out some of her most frightening moments. Not a bad start but has to improve.

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Video Courtesy of the Eurovision.tv

Iceland (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

The story behind the Icelandic one is surely going to be the one which brings about that tear to the eye and therefore it makes the Icelandic entry a tearjerker. Anyways, one could note that the the group have been doing a fantastic job at this song considering that it was not written specifically for them so to speak. The touches made by them work well and manage to captivate the audience. The camera shots for this one will be quite vital in my opinion.

The staging is simple with all of the five members of the group standing in one position on the stage, all clad in a smart casual suits very similar to those in the video. The backdrop is quite an interesting one as well because it features like mechanics of a clock and they play an important role as one cannot wait for the next day or something of the sort. They received a very warm applause in the audience.

The vocals were spot on from all of them, and it shows that they are experienced singers and musician because their talent just seeps through to the music and it has to be also noted that they have been getting better and better. High hopes from my end especially because they are doing it for their friend, they have the talent and they have a great team of professionals at RUV working really hard in promoting this song. Best of Luck!

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Video Courtesy of the Eurovision.tv

BREAK

Hungary (through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

This is the song that had the most people in attendance for the rehearsal today. Kati is stunning in a blue asymmetrical dress and her long flowing blonde hair. It is very hard to judge this song as Kati comes across as a lovely woman and has been extremely charming to all here at Dusseldorf. However the Hungarian delegation really need to tone back the performance as at the moment it is totally hectic and left the hall feeling very cold. Let's start at with the positives.Kati is stunning looking in her electric blue dress. She sings the song note perfect and with her choreographer on stage, Kati looks sultry and plays to the camera well. However when the male dancers/singers come on stage the performance dips. The 3 male performers are all dressed in white - one even in a terrible white track suit.

They all arrive on stage in a blaze of jumping about that is out of sync and looks somewhat desperate on stage. The stage is black and then has blue spots and yellow strobes. As the song hits the chorus the stage erupts into vertical and horizontal lines with multiple spot lights. Then when the song hits the key change the stage dims and then lights on the all of the dancers costumes are illuminated. It is just too much on the camera and leaves the audience not knowing what to concentrate on?

Kati also should play to her own strengths and not do so many moves that are reminiscent of Celine Dion. This is certainly what people were thinking and saying in the hall. Hungary with the performance as it stands should just about qualify but not score well in the final. I would strongly recommend that they tone down the performance if they want to remain a contender.

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Video Courtesy of the Eurovision.tv

Portugal (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

Portugal are looking and sounding like they are having a wonderful time on stage. With a dramatic red and black stage this is in stark contrast to Hungary that is before them. Like in their National Final Portugal have gone for the 70's look in their costumes and again it works wonderfully. We have 4 men and 2 women on stage again holding their protest signs. And they have played a wonderful PR stunt and have the title of their song now in 12 languages - stroke of genius.

As I have said the stage is black and red and it is an abstract designs that slowly morphs into flower blooms. Vocally they are so on key and they come across charming on the television. They are really embracing the 1970's ethos and this is working well on the stage. With political unrest across the world this song could strike a chord with both juries and the public alike. This will certainly have the audience on their feet in the auditorium and I think will give Portugal their 4th final qualification.

A small note for all Maltese fans it that one of the pick-it card they are holding is actually in Maltese showing the words 'Il-Glieda hija ferh' which translates into the fight is happiness showing that they have a cause which they would like to adhere to. Please note that Glen had been within their national selection promoting his song 'One Life' and therefore this might have had some impact on them.

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Video Courtesy of the Eurovision.tv

Lithuania (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

One of this years' entries which as not really been grabbing the attention that it should have been is surely Lithuania who are represented by the amazing vocals of Evelina Sasenko. The ballad which she will be performing is entitled 'C'est Ma Vie' and it was seen during the nation final that she has quite a nice set of lungs. Today, she took to the stage with just a piano player and this looks amazing actually. She is quite the charmer and manages to get your attention when performing.

The stage is bathed in very dark colours and this was always going to be the case with such a melancholic type of song. The background it itself is also dark but it features short of either shooting stars or alien like beams. In fact, one particular stage I remember with this similar effect was that of Malta in 2009 when Chiara took to the stage with the song of Marc Paelinck and Gregory Bilsen entitled 'What if We'. The background needs to be checked as it is not fully working at times.

The vocals are undoubtedly the best of the day along with those of Senit and this could be the point in which the power of the judges could play a very vital role in getting through to the final. Melancholy is important in a contest and following Hungary and Portugal, this song might stand out and impress even the people at home. She is dressed in a beautiful white gown with touches of black right at the top along with very slight puffy shoulder pads.

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Video Courtesy of the Eurovision.tv

BREAK

Azerbaijan (through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

No the song from Azerbaijan this year has been one of my favourites in the run up to the competition but you can imagine my shock when I looked at it in the arena today. It was like looking at a remake of "In a Moment Like This" from Denmark last year but without the charm. The song starts with a black stage a few spot lights with the 4 female backing singers standing in a line in front of Elle and Nikki who stand with their backs to each other and that is a taste to come for the remainder of the song.

You would imagine that a love song would be sung to each other but not if you come Azerbaijan so it seems. Nikki parades about the stage and Ell runs about after her. It looked very strange in the hall.To add to this the 4 female backing singers are parading about the stage for no apparent reason and actually taking up a lot of the camera shots. They should be there to support the main singers and not over power the main performers.

Now what is also strange is that the lighting used seems to be unsure of itself. As I said the stage begins black with a handful of spotlights. This then turns into a plain pink backdrop which has the effect of making the performers look very small on screen. The stage then returns to the very dark screen again where at the end we are treated to a waterfall of fireworks which actually does close the song off nicely.Vocally it is really a tale of 2 stories. Ell is note perfect and he is very charming on screen. However Nikki misses her intros several times in the song and sings behind the track at many points. This needs to be worked upon as the difference in their performances is very notable. I still think that this song could do well if they work on Nikki's vocals and their presentation and lighting of the performance.

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Video Courtesy of the Eurovision.tv

Greece (through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

The Greek entry this year is one of those songs which you either love or hate and Europe is quite in a iffy about what to make of it. Many people have criticized the nation on the way the pre-selection was staged but considering the trouble with regards to the economy in the same aforementioned nation, the level of the event was quite right. The introduction of foreign songwriters proved to be successful true but in the end a song which had Greece stamped all over it won.

The main singers in this song are of course, a traditional typical singer who is singing in Greek and the wrapper and that makes up for two people but then they are joined by another four people in terms of dancers who carry the song choreographically. The effect of them works very good to say the least and they do seem somewhat polished. The staging is yet again dark true but the fact of the matter is that they are doing it to promote Greece with the typical columns of the temples there being showcased.

The vocals are good, I mean the only really challenge would come within the refrain when the main artist in the middle of the stage has to perform his higher notes to prove things impressive as the rapper does his bits well. I think the challenge for this song will be in the fact that the camera shots have to capture every detail which they would like to portray on the stage which will be quite difficult changing between two main individuals. A good performance, will it be enough to qualify?

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Video Courtesy of the Eurovision.tv

Tuesday, 03 May 2011 08:40

ESC 2011: Day 3 Rehearsals - LIVE

Guten Morgen Europa and welcome to our third day of live coverage from this years' Eurovision Song Contest which is taking place in the city of Dusseldorf, in Germany. Following the first two days of a slick presentation for the participants of semi-final one, the participants of semi-final two are hoping to be impressed by the set of the stage and the rest of the production. Our team of journalists and collaborators is in place to bring you the latest images, rehearsal reports and videos from the day.



Yesterday, the press working area was somewhat a little quiet but things seem to be picking up this morning according to our colleagues present there. The German broadcasters are doing their best to make everyone feel at home and this has been the case thus far. Leading the charge of the coverage is the Irishman Garrett Mulhall and Dutch Juergen Boernig whilst a nod goes to a number of collaborators including Liam Whelan for his images, Keith Mills for his rehearsal videos and for the same reason, the team at ESCdaily. Just a small note, we might be slightly delayed in the beginning but only just so hold on to your seats, the first update will be coming to you at just after eleven o'clock.

Bosnia & Herzegovina (through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

I am going to coin a new phrase - Balkan Schlager Music - as that is exactly what is what we have here. Our man Dino was in wonderful mood and performance this morning. Note perfect and full of energy with each rehearsal. Dino himself was in a metallic effect jacket with a white shirt that had 2 love heart broaches on the collar and playing the guitar this time around. He is joined on stage by 3 men - one on the banjo, double bass and trumpet (who multi tasks as a dancer - who said men can't multi task). Also on stage are 2 women - one on the keyboards and one on the tambourine.

Dino stands on his own to the right of the stage performing while his band are to the left on a small plinth. The staging is very simple but totally appropriate and in keeping with the song. The stage is black and then reveals a red curtain effect like that of a theatre. As the song progresses the curtains are successfully pulled back to reveal a succession of curtains and finally a carousel which is turning slowly. There are discrete hearts moving across the stage towards the end of the song.

As for the performance it is very in keeping with the song. It progresses at a very gentle pace and there are some very simple dance steps at key points in the song that are used to good effect. One area that is slightly out of keeping are the few occasions that the trumpet player who doubles as a dancer, leaps around the stage. It slightly detracts from Dino's camera perfect performance. My suggestion would be to curtail the dancing of the trumpet player. The ending of the song sees Dino and the band together engaging the audience to sway their hands with them. This is a strong performance and should see Bosnia progress to the final.

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Video courtesy of the team at Eurovision.tv

Austria (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

Yes Nadine is looking very similar to her performance in the Austrian National Final where she was the surprising winner. Nadine is in the classic fashion statement little black dress that has sequences throughout. Her hair is still in her signature split level bob cut - which I actually find a little unusual but she does look very charming on camera. She is joined on stage by 5 female backing singers who are all in black ball gowns.

The song begins acapella with a sole spotlight lighting her from behind and the stage remains dark blue until the song builds as do the lighting effects. The stage builds with blue shimmering stars. In the centre of the back drop there appear large jewels tumbling from the top of the screen. The performance is just screaming out for a delivery of dry ice as it will give the look of the song that extra push that it needs. Nadine's vocals are good and you can tell that she was holding back to save her voice. Singing from position number 2 - is always difficult - and following the very infectious Bosnia - Austria maybe in for a close fight to make the final.

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Video courtesy of the team at Eurovision.tv

The Netherlands (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

The Dutch group was an internally selected choice this year actually and this has ended up being a very wise one in my opinion. Taking to the stage for the very first time today, they looked to warm up quite quickly and managed to find the harmonies quite well. Unlike most of the acts that have taken to the stage until now, the group has not decided to turn up in their attire for the actual semi-final or so we hope because they look far too casual performing their lovely ballad.

The group did not decide to take to the stage alone and thus they have called for professional help from three backing vocalists who put in their charm to contrast the band. The start of the song sees a stage bathed in blue with yellowish lighting at times. An utterly impressive and dominant performance with regards to vocals and one must note the fact that the added panache from the females is somewhat very strong as it adds to the build up of the song. According to our colleagues, this is looking very good on the screens and I seriously see this as a definite qualifier this year also owing to the sheer professionalism that the whole team is showing. The only real downside is that the backdrop LEDs are very similar to the starry night shown by Nadine Beiler in the performance just before.

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Video courtesy of the team at Eurovision.tv

Belgium (through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

This is the song that seems to be dividing public opinion as to whether or not it is suitable for Eurovision. Well my answer is a resounding "YES". Witloof Bay are sticking to the same formula that won them the Belgian National Song Contest. We have 6 people on stage - the same 4 men and 2 women. And if you have not heard their song they are the only country in the contest this year to perform with no backing track or instruments. Yes Witloof Bay are an acapella act with a beat box artist and as a result there is a lot of emphasis on their voices - and let me tell you that they were stunning vocally!

The song starts with the group in a semi circle performing with the female singers taking central stage. The back drop is a black stage with a small number of vertical green slender lines that begin to revolve. As the song progresses the number of lines on the back drop increases to the point where you have a very impressive 3D effect which looks stunning on camera and in the arena. They have very slick choreography in the performance with good posing at key beats in the song. There is a lot of focus on the beat box performer and rightly so as he is very charismatic. Importantly there is the big Eurovision key change in the song. I think there is an opportunity for the key change to be expressed more with lighting. I so hope this song qualifies as it will be a breath of fresh air in the contest.

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Video courtesy of the team at Eurovision.tv

Slovakia (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

Slovakia are yet to make it to the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest since returning just a couple of years ago but their results prior to that were never too good actually so it will be quite interesting to see what this song would do. The two sisters are joined on stage by two backing vocalists, a pianist and a drummer and therefore, they do their best to make the song look as alive as possible maybe echoing their song title.

The visuals behind them are depicting what look to be like discs of sunlight for most of the time but from yellow, the light switches to white during the non-chorus parts of the song. The vocals do not sound strained as people might have expected and thus it sounds good at the moment. It also seems like they are wearing the trousers that they will be wearing during the evening of the semi-final which are tight and of leather. The backing do a stupendous job with regards to harmonies and the musicians look very much realistic as they play the piano. A competent start from Slovakia yet still doubtful of qualification in my opinion.

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Video courtesy of the team at Eurovision.tv

Ukraine (through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

Well the Ukraine are not doing a song competition but an Art Exhibition this year. What do I mean? Well you need to look at firstly at this link here. Well yes the Ukraine are doing sand drawings on their performance. We have Mika singing on stage with one male backing singer. The backdrop is a video projection of the sand drawings that Simonova creates. The sequence of the drawings created are firstly of a night screen of the sky that transforms into a pair of faces. These then are morphed into a landscape with a women standing alone. This then is dramatically changed into a scene where there are several faces with a look of impending doom. This then transforms into a child looking out a window at a night sky where she is greeted by an angel. This scene is then moulded into a lone angel flying in the distance with the final words of the song being greeted by the words "Share your heart".

Here is the issue with the concept - In the arena the sand pictures look amazing but on the camera you miss a lot of the drawings as we do have to see shots of Mika performing. What also is the result is that you become engrossed in the drawings that you almost forget about the song. So if that is the intention of the Ukraine then they have succeeded. As for Mika - her vocals were very strong indeed. She hit all of her notes and intros but for me she was not that engaging. We were treated to a view of her dress - which is ivory in colour and has a large feathered collar with jewels hanging down. It is a lot to take in along with the sand drawings. However I think that her vocal abilities will be highlighted by the somewhat weak Slovakian performance before it. I think the Ukraine should easily qualify with this performance.

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Video courtesy of the team at Eurovision.tv

Moldova (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

The return of any act to the Eurovision Song Contest is quite interesting and of course many people had high expectations from the group who did bring about a dancing granny on stage back in Kiev, Ukraine. They seemed to become somewhat a little more serious for this years' outing and after finishing second in the jury and in the tele-voting, it was quite interesting to note that the winner of each section only managed so far because of the other section. The group are the only ones who take to the stage and what a presence they have especially the portrayal of themselves within .. hats!

The backdrop LEDs look really amazing with hats flying all over the place in a whirlwind. Green, Orange and yellow are mostly the backdrop colours being used for this performance so to speak. In my opinion, the song is not really that much of a problem to perform and this is because there are no real high notes and therefore the vocals are just fine. The new arrangement within the song features some very interesting sounds which might give off a funny feeling to the overall entry. In fact the melody is very jovial and suddenly I am reminded of their entry back in 2005 especially in a part in which the climax ends up being quite vital. Very energetic and somewhat intriguing, could this be a surprise qualifier in the second semi-final?

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Video courtesy of the team at Eurovision.tv

Sweden (through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

Eric has kept his staging pretty much the same as he had it in Melodifestivalen. Eric is joined on stage by 3 male dancers and 2 backing singers (1 male and 1 female) that are not present at first on the stage but they then enter the stage via the side. As for the lighting - well firstly they have taken the ceiling light platforms and place them in a circle around the stage to create a cauldron effect. This is very effective. The back drop is then a series of symmetrical shapes that decrease in size. For the chorus these were replaced by a single giant camera lens.

Erics vocals were not fully used during the rehearsals but at times were not as strong as they could be. When it came to the final rehearsals they were supposed to use pyro techniques which failed to explode and Eric found himself trapped inside his glass cage that he was supposed to break. It became apparent that Eric has injured his shoulder and this hampered his dancing abilities. It remains to be seen just how spectacular Eric's performance will be. As for first rehearsals go - this was not one of the better ones and there was so much expectation placed on his performance today. There are technical issues to solve and work on the vocals to be worked on.

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Video courtesy of the team at Eurovision.tv

Cyprus (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

It is actually very nice to see Cyprus performing in their very own language this year as opposed to all of the other years in recent times when they had to resort within the English language in order to prove that they could be successful. This year, the internal choice of the song along with the choice of the artist through a talent show did not prove successful with the people yet they are pulling out all of the stops to make sure that the song is presented in the best possible way. The singer is joined on stage by four male dancers at the main stage and a female dancer on the catwalk.

The lighting is dark for most of the time but the basis is on crystal type of geometric shapes with Chinese like balloons which are enlighten each time. The traditional music works very well following Sweden and the graphics are somewhat eclipsing the beauty of the song. The question in the song were the vocals but they are strong today and I cannot help but congratulate the delegation for putting up such a show. A comment with regards to the clothing, he along with the dance is dressed in skimpy leather wear. Somewhat a very impressive first rehearsal and one which was quite unexpected. Well Done Cyprus, a dark horse!

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Video courtesy of the team at ESCdaily

Wednesday, 04 May 2011 11:04

ESC 2011: Day 4 Rehearsals - LIVE

Good Morning, and welcome to the fourth day of live rehearsal reports from the city of Dusseldorf in Germany. The seconds et of participants from the second semi-final are set to take to the stage for the first time today as their premier rehearsal which lasts a total of forty minutes is set to occur. Our team of journalists and collaborators is in place to bring you the latest images, rehearsal reports and videos from the day.

There are quite a large number of countries taking to the stage today actually with ten headlining their presence for the very first time. It has been quite interesting to see some acts flourish and grow whilst some others have literally been set aside. Some of the favourites have also burned and will need a much better second rehearsal in the coming hours with the first semi-final acts set to take to the stage tomorrow morning once more as they aim to put aside their problems and give the best they can.

Bulgaria (through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

One word for this one - STUNNING. Poli is looking and sounding amazing. The 5 people on stage for this one and they are all dressed in brilliant white but with variations on the design. Poli herself is in a white dress with a flowing skirt which reveals her tattooed arms. She also has a red feathered ear ring in one ear. It looks very dramatic set against a dark stage. The stage itself is very reminiscent of Safura's Drip Drop last year where the first verse is set to a rain drop stained window and when we reach the chorus it changes to a more dramatic rain falling screen which suits the song so well. Poli looks very charismatic on stage and hits some very strong poses on camera.

When the song makes it's way to the climax Poli walks into the secondary stage in the middle of the audience where she falls to her knees and removes her skirt to reveal a shoulder less short dress. As the song finishes Poli runs back to rejoin her band mates. This is the only part of the song that looks a little strained and could be worked upon to make the performance complete. Overall this was a very polished performance and will go down well in the hall and on television. 

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Video Courtesy of the Team at Eurovision.tv

FYR Macedonia (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

A song which has been going under everyone's radar is surely this one and this is because it's genre is not really that popular with the fans so to speak but what a dramatic entry this is being portrayed to be. The main singer  is dressed in very smart casual attire whilst joined by a five dancers, four males and a female who in turn are dressed as if they are getting ready to defend themselves through the art of Karate. I did not really get the concept of this especially when noting what the lyrics actually say having read through their translation but alas, this might just a way to put on a show.

I must say that the host broadcaster really outdid themselves with these graphics as a huge aquarium is depicted on stage showing a number of letters and numbers. The main colour effects which are being used during the refrain are red but during the rest of the song, a shade of dark blue becomes predominant. The choreography is very strong and they do not seem to be having any problems with it whilst the vocals are in tune and sound well. The problem with this entry is that many wont understand it. At the end of the song, the dancers carry out a very traditional choreography which works well.

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Video Courtesy of the Team at Eurovision.tv

Israel (through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

The arena is crowded as I type this message for Dana International's return to Eurovision. And all I can say - was it worth the wait? Where do I start?

Well there are 5 female backing singers who are accompanying Dana on stage and they - like the Eurovision "Diva" - are all dressed in white. The female backing singers are to the left of the stage and they are in a formation of 2 and 3. They have subtle dance movements and do not move away from their mike stands which is actually exactly what supporting acts should do. To be honest they carry the vocals of the song extremely well and should be praised for what they do.

Now as for Dana - well she was in a white short dress with a white coat that had a fur trim. These costumes will not be the costumes for the semi final. Dana saunters onto the stage with some vogue like hand movements. However once she reaches her spot she stays in it for the remainder of the song - and as for a dance song, the entire staging is extremely static and boring. For the climax of the song Dana reverts to more vogue poses. It is all underwhelming and the gathered press did not give her much of a reaction. The backdrop is a black screen with multi coloured circles increasing and decreasing in size with the beat of the song.

Vocally - Dana is not a strong singer compared to many of the other artists in the competition and with some of the notes that Dana has to hold, her limitations are very evident. I fear for Dana this year and it remains to be seen if the returning champion can make it to the final. At the moment with this performance I would say not. You get the feeling that Israel are holding back and that they must be planning to introduce some big gimmick for the live show. Well we hope so.

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Video Courtesy of the Team at Eurovision.tv

Slovenia (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

A personal favourite, this was a song that was picked near the end of the selection season this year in a show which was organised in a well produced setting. The young Maja Keuc of Slovenia's Got Talent fame got the ticket and the expectations on her have been quite high being seen as the act who can get the best result for her nation. At the back of the performing area in the middle of the main showcase, there are four female backing singers as an all women act look set to impress. This is looking very good in my opinion in terms of staging. No dancers as seen in the video and this prove to be a much better fit.

In the meantime, the backdrop is seen through a strand a lilac purple which then eases into pink as the song develops but what is really interesting is the choice of clothing for this performance especially when noting that the backing singers are wearing very fashionable black leather dresses. It seems that Maja was going to go through the same line of clothing but ultimately decided that only the trousers would do her justice with a silvery top added to it making the outfit look very trashy and sorry to say but 'hooker' like because she also added a sparkle of long length boots, also of leather. The vocals are spot on in each and every run through but this outfit is definitely a contender for the Barbara Dex award because it is much worse than what Rebeka Dremejl wore back in the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest.

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BREAKING NEWS

Today, last year's Eurovision Song Contest Winner Lena will be bringing Jedward to their rehearsals today in her private Limo. She is so in love with Jedward and their song that she wants to be there to support them. I must say that this is very much a nice seal of approval from the reigning champion and fellow competitor. It seems like Jedward are doing pretty well and in the meantime, Dana International for Israel has just canceled her Press Conference for unknown reasons.

Romania (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

The second entry chosen for this years' Eurovision Song Contest comes from the nation of Romania and here they are taking to the stage for the very first time within the Eprit Arena in Dusseldorf. All of the act, meaning Hotel FM are on stage and it seems like they are joined there by two trumpet players who are also dancers. The act are ready to take Germany by storm because they did come out firing this afternoon. There is not a lot one could do with such a performance but it is not looking static and loving the new arrangement live now.

The backdrop looks quite original in this entry because it is mostly based on red visuals with touches of blue at times but in a different to Norway last year when only lighting was impressive, this year, the LEDs manage to depict a story or else make up a story with the lyrics. The vocals by the British lead singer are very good indeed and they have never been a problem. The choreography is flowing and rich and thus this is one of those which is still on a borderline finish because the song might not be that amazing but I think that it will get through.

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Estonia (through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

Getter was completely captivating as she sang her song. The stage was truly one of the most beautiful that I have seen so far. They have several prop cartoon cut outs of American Art Deco buildings. Getter starts her performance from on top of one of the buildings and she descends to the stage by walking on the backs of her dancers. She was wearing a short 1950's style dress of black and purple. She is accompanied by 3 male dancers dressed in black and 2 female backing singers - complete with platinum blonde wigs and puff ball skirts in blue and yellow.

The back drop continues the art deco architecture feel with a giant ferris wheel. It looks stunning in the audience and on camera. Getter is truly charming on camera and hits her poses on time all the time. When the song comes to the slow section Getter and team descend the stairs of the stage and engage in some very Jazz like finger snapping that is just so in keeping with the look and feel of the song. Vocally in the first few rehearsals of the song Getter did not sing all of the chorus but for the final few she upped her game and started attempting all of the notes. A few more rehearsals and this Estonian entry is sailing into the final and the Top 5. Job well done.

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Belarus (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

Many people believe that this entry will be the third Belarussian entry to qualify because it is very much a guilty pleasure for everyone. The singer and the song were chosen internally and this is actually the second entry that was given to the singer. The main act is joined on stage by two backing vocalists, one male and one female and a female disc jockey who adds a little to the drama of the whole performance.

The fact of the matter is that this song is darn catchy and gets you singing along instantly. The act is surely in costume based on what they are wearing. Anastasia is clad in a silver/black dress the same as her female backing vocalist/dancer whilst the two males are clad in the same colour scheme but of course trousers and shirt. The vocals are not bad maybe they could be a Little bit better but definitely not a bad start for this team. The backgrounds work quite well with the song but it is actually quite similar to the one being used for Malta and their entry. Can this manage to be a hit with the people at home or not? It did get a very good and rousing applause from thee people in the hall so it will be quite interesting to see how things pan out.

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BREAK

Latvia (through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

Looking and sounding great, Latvia have taken to the stage. The 2 singers of Musiqq took to the stage wearing black trousers and shirts and white waistcoats and red bow ties. They begin their performance with their backs to the audience so you get a full shot of the arena which is impressive. They are joined on stage by 2 male singers dressed in black shirts and red trousers and then 2 female singers in white and black paisley dresses. The stage is black with large green and white vertical strobe lighting. For the rapping part of the song the stage changes to black with Blue effects.

Vocally this was note perfect from both members. The rapping was understated and fitted the song perfectly. Both singers hit their camera shots every single time. You can tell that they have been rehearsing and it shows. As the song finishes the camera raises and takes and ariel view of the stage that reads the words "Angel" in the flooring. This is looking like a strong contender for the final and a Top 10 finish.

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Denmark (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

The simple Danish entry is set to take the stage next and they are doing so in comfortable fashion. The song has been said to be a little bit middle in the song with regards to style and following early plagiarism accusations, it seems like this have calmed down and they have come up with a brilliant performance which could look very static but does not due to the backdrop which is set behind them which is also relatively simple.

The band called 'A Friend in London' after a particular individual friend who hosted the band in the capital city of the United Kingdom have very strong vocals for most of the time although sometimes there were some issues with regards to the level of the microphones but this is a first rehearsal and the first time that they are joined by two backing vocalists, a male and a female. A very good start for Denmark who are hoping to better than fourth place finish last year having been predicted as a late dark horse. This in my opinion is one of the better songs that the Eurovision Song Contest this year has to offer and as always, Denmark ranking very high on my list so one has to see what will happen.

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Ireland (through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

Ok all. When I say that Jedward were fantastic trust me I am being objective and please believe me when I say that it is not just because I am from Ireland. John and Edward were wearing their military style black and gold jackets but for the live show they will be wearing red glittered jackets. We caught a glimpse of them for the lighting check. Where do I begin with their performance. So much to tell you!

Let's start with the staging. The song starts with John lying on the ground and Edward standing above him. Then Edward pulls John off the floor and they begin their routine. And you will not believe me when I tell you this, but we have over a HUNDRED Jedwards on stage. How is this possible? Well they have decided to take videos from Planet Jedward of John and Edward dancing - yes the videos are the ones of John and Edward in their black polo neck shirts dancing and they have recreated these in multi colours. Also used are of them dancing in suits. As the chorus of the song arrives there are explosions on the screen and we then get hundreds of lipsticks across the backdrop. In the final rehearsal they had dry ice across the stage and an explosion of confetti. I have to say that this is by far the BEST lighting and backdrop used by any country so far.

Their dance moves are slick and you can tell that their time with Brian Friedman has paid off. Also vocally they were so on the money. They did not have any bad notes and the backing singers were supporting Jedward and not overpowering the boys. For a first rehearsal they were so well prepared. The media attention for their performance was huge. It was one of the most crowded rehearsals of the day and the reaction to each performance was greeted by claps and cheers. Well done John and Edward. Amazing first day of rehearsals - keep up the good work!

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