Eighteen countries have one goal and that is to make it through to the finals of the 2012 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest which is being staged in the city of Baku within Azerbaijan following the victory of Ell & Nikki with the song Running Scared which won the tele-voting and came second in the Jury prompting it to finish at the top of the board overall. The fact of the matter is that the first semi-final went on last night and it seems that everything except one thing went right, with Romania having some problems in their inner-ear actually but nevertheless, this did not affect their final result with the track getting through to the finals. This evening, the juries from all across the continent will be busy once more or well, they will be busy tomorrow as this performance will be the one taped for the juries standing up in all of the eighteen competing countries as well as those of France, Germany and the United Kingdom who will be voting in this semi-final.
The first week was tense and filled with excitement with our team present in Baku taking up a number of different roles including interviewers, reporters and even photographers. These include none other than Garrett Mulhall, Šira Carolyn Bezalel, Juergen Boernig, Lilian Brunell, Patrick Strouk and Eric Lehmann whom I continuously thank for all their hard work and dedication. The earlier dress rehearsals did not go as well as planned unfortunately noting that there were some camera work issues with Belarus and therefore, had to be restarted twice in the long term but we are sure that things will be fixed for tonight. This is not an easy semi-final to be in and therefore the juries will be quite busy to see which tracks stand out amongst the rest. It is normal that there will be some surprises tomorrow night as the coverage takes place. We will be providing live commentary during the evening with Raquela, Simon Casey and Elaine Camilleri.
The hosts, the two females and the male are on stage introducing the semi-final entries and also refer to the fact that there are already six pre-qualified entries in the final coming from France, Italy, Germany, Spain, United Kingdom and also the host country being none other than Azerbaijan. In the meantime, things are set to commence for this dress rehearsal.
The very first performance of the evening will be coming from Serbia and this year, they are being represented by the wonderfully talented Zeljko Joksimovic. The music of this song is just beautiful and the orchestration just work well as an opening track to the second semi-final especially following the horrendous act that opened the first semi-final. The vocals by Zeljko are spot on and the whole act just looking dapper in their black outfits. The music seems to be somewhat reminiscent of the song Paradise by Coldplay in the beginning but then takes into the form of a mild version of Lane Moje. This song will definitely qualify tomorrow night especially after that performance.
02. FYR Macedonia
This has to be one of the most beautiful songs in the semi-final especially the start which is very much focused on a piano musical background. Kaliopi as you can see in the image above is wearing a very smart black suit and she does look a true professional taking that stage. The staging in itself is quite dark with a lot of purple and blue somewhat being featured along with black and white as the title does imply in the long run. There has been a lot of talk about the future of FYR Macedonia in this years' competition. Kaliopi does give an entertaining performance and is flawless throughout, I am taking a limb out on this and saying that it will qualify.
03. The Netherlands
There is a lot of clapping in the press centre as this song starts to be shown on the monitors and Joan is the first performer of the evening to use fire on stage giving her performance somewhat of an American Indian type of flair as you can see in her outfit noting the headdress. She is clad in a beautiful blue gown and gives a very good vocal rendition but I cannot help but feel that her vocals are somewhat tired this evening. The performance is somewhat weird in itself but then again, who knows what the tele-voters will think when seeing this being performed live on stage. Towards the end of the song, Joan is somewhat losing her voice tonight. I cannot see this qualifying now.
Kurt Calleja is on the stage and he is clad in a grey shirt, a black blazer and tight black pants. He is joined on stage by five members and we all have to note that they have a great uniting element between them. The performance is pretty much as it has always been, very sharp and tight in a number of different parts. I believe that Kurt is performing the song amazingly well this evening and his entourage is really helping him deliver a strong performance. The vocals are good as they have been in the past couple of days. The juries should enjoy this performance especially following Joan because it is fresh, funky and just plain catchy. Things are definitely looking up for Malta and I believe that we will honestly make it through and qualify.
Belarus bring to the stage, a song that has been sent to the Eurovision Song Contest a million times actually noting that they have also gone for this type of song in the past with Ruslan Alenko and unfortunately did not qualify. There were a number of issues with the diction this afternoon but it seems that they have managed to elaborate a few on them and are performing this one better. Nevertheless, this song was never a favourite of mine and I believe that with the draw that they have, they would have done much better with their runner-up entry. The lads are clad in rock type of attire even when they are performing a pop/rock type of track. The lead singer is playing about with his vocals this evening and goes off key. Not good from Belarus and this will not qualify.
Filipa Sousa looks absolutely beautiful in her golden glittery gown but personally, I would have preferred it if she were to go more traditional in terms of an outfit. Nevertheless, she does work the stage well and is performing her ballad to perfection. She is joined on stage by five backing vocals and this is very Eurovision by numbers with the choreography based mainly on the backing vocals' hand movements. Fado has already been in an outing to the Contest and was very successful actually with qualification in second place and also managing a mid-table placing in the final but based on the position it has in this semi-final, it will not qualify to the final.
The Official song of the European Football championships is receiving a lot of applause in the press centre just as soon as it starts and it is definitely getting on my good side as I am dancing to this on my seat. Gaitana is wearing a white dress which seems to have been shredded just before heading onto the stage. She is joined on stage by four dancers who play the trumpets but what looks amazing on stage is the fact that she has four LED screens which depict a large army of people who are all playing their musical instruments. The performance does come across very well and her vocal performance is very strong indeed. The problem is surely her dancing though she does put in a lot of energy. This is so sailing into the final with Ukraine looking to get another top ten result when there.
The worst performance of the evening will be coming from the likes of Bulgaria as they have managed to even trump over Georgia now. Sofi Marinova has decided to take to the stage on her own and this was a huge mistake noting that a dance track will surely require choreography. The vocals used to be good but then they were just bundled out completely when the rehearsals commenced. This is a mess and a nil pointer possibly. At least, one knows that things do improve after this once more. Just in case, you have not noticed, I do not believe that this song will qualify which is sad as the country do try their best.
Eva Boto is a beautiful young lady and she does bring about a certain aura of innocence to the stage of the Eurovision Song Contest as she represents Slovenia. She is trying to follow in the footsteps of the wonderful Maja Keuc who represented the country last year and made it to the finals. She is joined on stage by five backing vocals all of whom are clad in white. Most of the performance was in tune and in sync but the second chorus was completely off key unfortunately and that is quite disappointing. Nevertheless, she picks it up quickly and this is a track which will be qualifying tomorrow night leaving people probably stunned that she managed to do it.
You would easily notice that this is a Balkan performance because of the dark blue light in the beginning but then it would develop slightly different than those before them. Just after the opening bit, Nina seems to have gone down a key and it sounded very wrong unfortunately. She does not need a lot of help from Balkans where she is already immensely popular but then again, she does continue like the professional she is and swifts her short black dress. She is joined on stage by a number of dancers who keep the performance very simple and artistic. The vocals continue in a strong manner and she does manage to hit all the notes at the top. This is commendable but I believe that Croatia will just miss out tomorrow night and therefore not qualify.
Loreen comes into the stage as the main favourite for the competition and despite the fact that her performances have been below par at best, it seems that she has really upped the game for this evenings' performance because she sounds absolutely divine. The choreography is artistic and works well on screen with the dark backdrop and the beautiful lighting. She is of course joined on stage by three female backing vocals and mid-way through the song and within the bridge, snow is being shown and this really gives the song a great effect. The choreography near the end is very similar to her performing with the male dancer doing his best to keep up with her. Vocals are strong and Sweden are back in the mix to win this years' Eurovision Song Contest. This will most likely win the semi-final and thus qualify.
Whilst Bulgaria is just plain horrible, this is just plain mad and I just cannot believe that this semi-final has these two songs which bring down the level of the competition completely. Anri Jokhadze is performing this song, the best he has in my honest opinion but will that be enough for him to take it to the next round of the competition. Georgia have a very good record at the Eurovision Song Contest having always managed to pass through but the fact that this is mad just does not help at all. He is somewhat joined on stage by a number of people who do carry off the vocals very strongly. This looks very nice on the screens, and this will qualify in my opinion.
Can Bonomo is looking like the recipient of the maximum points from the tele-voting tomorrow night considering that he made a number of television appearances in the country. He is joined on stage by four male dancers and one has to note that this is looking to be very interesting. Can Bonomo is clad in a white shirt, black trousers and also a black cardigan which seems to have a bird design on the inside. The vocal performance is strong as it has always been and you just cannot help feel excited for the Turkish performer who seems to be an adopted Maltese from all of the times that we have been hearing of him. This will definitely qualify.
An extremely simple setting for this song in the beginning with a black backdrop and just one bright spotlight on Ott. This has been performed immaculately all week but this afternoon, he dipped a little bit in terms of quality as he has decided to vocally improvise his performance. He is clad in a white shirt and also in matching trousers and waistcoat combination. I just cannot believe that he has managed to nail all of the notes this evening. The jury will definitely adore this even though he is trying too hard to impress in my opinion. He receives a very warm applause in the press centre. The draw will be helping him and he will definitely qualify tomorrow night.
This is the only rock song in this years' Eurovision Song contest bu many people believe that it is too much out there to eventually make it through to the final. Max Jason Mai is definitely not bad looking and he tries to impress with his physique in order to garner some votes and whilst this might work in some small numbers, we do not believe that it will be enough to make an impact. The lyrics are actually quite interesting but instead of closing my eyes, I would definitely want to close my ears as this is just too harsh and his vocal is definitely not good this evening with his high notes being way off key at times unfortunately. This is a definite non-qualifier.
Tooji has to be one of the most charismatic performers in this years' Eurovision Song Contest and he brings about the second most energetic performance of this semi-final following Malta. He is joined on stage by four backing dancers and the staging is actually quite interesting with a large number of yellow lights along with spotlights which are vertical on the screen. The clothing is kept very similar to the one there was in his country actually with the vest, tight pants and also leather jacket. The choreography is tight and looks very strong on stage. This will be one to look out for actually and I believe that this will also qualify as it is very similar to Popular by Eric Saade last year.
17. Bosnia & Herzegovina
This is a very simple performance noting the simple backdrop in fading blue. Maya Sar has twice been a backing performer in the Eurovision Song Contest and has decided to take the stage on her own this time round. The song is just beautiful but I just cannot see all of the countries in the Balkan region making it through to the final and I just fear that this will be the one to miss out on the final stages of the competition. The vocal performance is very strong and Maya has gone from strength to strength but unfortunately, she ranks eleventh in my list of performances this evening and will therefore just miss out on the finals.
The final performance of the evening comes from Lithuania and they are being represented by a performer who actually looks very young performing on stage. He is wearing a black suit and a white shirt and starts the song blindfolded and performing a ballad. Mid-way through the song though he removes the blindfold and does a back-flip to which he starts performing an uptempo number. The shots actually look very good on the cameras and whilst this remains to be quite borderline, I just cannot include them in my personal list as they would finish twelfth in my opinion. Nevertheless, a very good performance and he is quite better than the song.
The Show (Part 2)
The performances have just finished and the hosts are back on stage to introduce the recaps and also the voting period which is a total of fifteen minutes this year as opposed to having voting possible throughout the whole show. There is a lot of interesting comments going round round and it seems that Malta is dividing people this year, noting that Kurt Calleja and his team have done their best thus far. The juries tend to like Malta but then the problem lies with the tele-voting so we will be hoping to attract the people from over Europe tomorrow night as the semi-final is staged. Another recap is now being shown before the interval act featuring Marija Serifovic, Ell & Nikki, Lena, Alexander Rybak and Dima Bilan come on stage. The pre-qualified six entries are shown on screen at the moment.
03. Bosnia & Herzegovina
04. FYR Macedonia
07. The Netherlands
The official journey for the 2012 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest started yesterday with the host broadcaster of the music competition putting up a sublime show for the first semi-final which saw a total of eighteen countries competing for the ten coveted spots. Unfortunately, eight countries did not make it through last night and were therefore sent home. There were no major surprises actually with many people still wondering about how Hungary managed to qualify even though the song is one of the most current in terms of music. Nevertheless, that is over and done with now and with sixteen finalists now officially known, preparations for tomorrow commence as the dress rehearsals for the second semi-final are set to take place today and tomorrow, even just before the show itself.
As has been all the case during the week, I would like to sincerely thank our Head of Operations, Garrett Mulhall who has for the second year in a row done Malta proud whilst still keeping his Irish roots intact within each occasion. Apart from him though, I should and will thank the lovely Šira Carolyn Bezalel who has been busy taking pictures and attending press conferences along with the rest of our team members including Juergen Boernig, Lilian Brunell, Patrick Strouk and Eric Lehmann. I believe that the best portal this year goes to escXtra for keeping the people intact through their live chat and videos and for this we thank them and salute all of their team. They will be supporting escflashmalta.com also with the coverage of the dress rehearsals. We would like to remind everyone that Malta is competing in this semi-final.
Clearly it seems that they are doing the introductions very much the same way that they did them during the first semi-final last night. I must say that the hosts are not as bad as they were earlier on during the week but nevertheless, they are definitely not winning the award for the best hosts ever. Yet another time, they are telling the rest of Europe about the fact that the Big Five and also Azerbaijan, the host country are already competing in the final alongside the qualifiers from the first semi-final.
Marc: This is a great opener to the second semi-final of the 2012 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest and will definitely give the viewers the excitement that this will be a much better show than the first one they witnessed. Zeljko is very much still clad in the same outfits that they were in the last rehearsal meaning, very smart black outfits. In the meantime, the lighting is very much blue and dark. The vocals are very strong from Zeljko and one just cannot help thinking that this song is still in the running to finish in the top five although I am not sure that it can manage to win at the moment. With the right draw though, anything can happen!
Garrett: This is a well crafted song and sung well. I have never been overly excited by this song as I think it would have made a wonderful entry 5 years ago or so but the Eurovision has moved on since then. Saying that you cannot deny the song is good (not a winner) but a certain qualifier. It will though clear up on the votes from the Balkan countries. Will qualify and will be between 14-8 in the final
02. FYR Macedonia
Marc: Kaliopi is literally rocking the stage mid-way through the song but one has to commend the stunning vocals which she brings about to each and every performance. Today is no different and I am sure that the jury will love listening to her vocals tonight. The song is very much a pop/rock track which indeed starts out slow and then develops as it goes along. The guitar in the song is what makes it identifiable along with the perfect vocal screech that she gives away during the bridge. Many people did also like this track in English and I believe it would have had more impact in such a language.
Garrett: This was electric. She gives an amazing performance. A great rock song with that big high note. This for me is better that Slovenia who is also in the same Semi Final and could be a fight for the final qualifying spot. A Strong Edgy performance. Battle Royale for the 10th qualifying spot.
03. The Netherlands
Marc: Joan Franka is one of the nicest people in this years' edition of the Eurovision Song Contest and she has a great accent in English. The song which she brings about to the stage is a simple pop/country type of track which might not be identifiable all across Europe. She is wearing this beautiful blue dress as seen above along with the American Indian headdress. She has never had any issues in performing this track and is not having any of them now either. On stage, she is joined by a band who seem to be carrying mostly native type of instruments. This is just a ditty little number and I must say, the best song from The Netherlands in quite some time.
Garrett: Charming as always. Joan still in her sky blue dress and Indian head dress. Her band are charming and Joan's vocals are childlike. Nothing that a great guitar stomper to get the crowd going. The Netherlands are surrounded by a whole lot of cowboys as far a song quality. This has to make the final. The Netherlands will qualify.
Marc: Great thumping opening beat in the beginning as has been the case for quite some time since the new arrangement was brought forward. Kurt is in a great shape this afternoon as he has been for quite some time and he is clearly enjoying his time on the stage in Baku. He is joined on stage by Kevin, Rebecca, Warren, Amber and Christian, all of whom have roles during the performance. Kurt has been getting a lot of attention in the media for his dashing good looks. One has to point out that Amber is doing a great job with her bits and she sounds flawless at times. This is another strong performance and I just cannot find anything to fault today. I do hope that he will give his utmost during the jury dress rehearsal this evening. Well Done to the Maltese Team!
Garrett: Kurt oh Kurt oh Kurt. This is the night you take Malta to the final. As always Kurt sings this perfectly and he is just so good on camera. He is really electric and his interaction on the stage with the rest of the band is wonderful. The dance routine still has people hooked and is visually wonderful. This has to go through. Malta will make the final.
Marc: There are problems with the Belarussian performance and in fact, they manage to kick off with the third run noting that the cameras were not switched on for this entry and therefore the shots were not appearing. The lead singer is clearly an energetic lad and the rest of the people on stage do compliment the performance well. The vocals are strong but then again, that will surely not be a positive when the diction is all over the place and I just cannot understand a word which he is saying. The performances over the week were not all good from Belarus but this is one of their worst unfortunately. They clearly need to up their game for the jury dress rehearsal this evening if they want to have at least a hope of making it through.
Garrett: Major problems. you knew from the first few seconds of the song starting that the lead singer was not happy – like myself as I am not a fan of the remix of this song. But it became clear that he could not hear the song in his ear monitor so the dress rehearsal was stopped not one not twice but 3 times until the band could hear their backing track. This certainly threw their confidence and they were pitchy and out of key in places. I am also opposed to hearing “We are the WEINERS” instaead of “Winners”. They have a big fan base in Eastern Europe that might help them get through. For me it is like a Madonna Song – “Borderline” for me.
Marc: Should have Portugal been in the other semi-final, I would have been sure that they would have made it easily bring about what seems to be their best chance of doing well in this competition. Fado has just been recognized as a heritage type of music and it is so beautiful. Filipa does enjoy her time on stage because her smile does say it all. This track is staged in a way that is very Eurovision by numbers but that does not take anything from it. She is wearing a long shimmery dress and the backdrop seems to be featuring the sights in Lisbon. The vocals are flawless and it could definitely surprise at the end of the evening.
Garrett: Filipa sings the song well and it is presented well. Simple and elegant which is what you need to do with a song like this. Unfortunately this is not really the contest for a “New World” track. I fear that Portugal will not score well with the televoters at home. Will miss out on the final.
Marc: The Eastern nation has been quite a successful competitor in the Eurovision Song Contest over the years and this year they have decided to send about the official track of the Euro competition. Gaitana is wearing the dress as seen above, meaning a ruffled white one and she is joined on stage by four trumpet players who also act as dancers. In the meantime, this is becoming one of the most visually appealing tracks this year noting that she does bring about some four LED screens which show a large amount of people. The vocals are good although I do not believe that they are at their best this afternoon.
Garrett: One of my favourites in the contest and it pains me say this but the week of rehearsals have taken it’s toll on Gaitana’s voice and she was very pitchy and hoarse. Overall this was the weakest that the song has been performed over the entire week’s rehearsals. No I am wondering if this is a sound issue following on from Belarus. Overall this should get through but not as comfortably as it should have. In the final though.
Marc: Bulgaria have been trying to send the best possible track that they could over the years although they have not managed to interact well with the European audiences it seems. This year, they have decided to send what is a smashing dance track which they still managed to ruin due to the fact that she is performing the song on her own instead of having a full fledged choreography as the song really deserves. She looks very lost on stage and I just cannot see any thing positive about the staging. They are surely competing for one of the lower end spots in the semi-final unfortunately for yet another year.
Garrett: What is heavens name are they thinking?? The vocals were dreadful which makes me think that that the ear pieces are not fully working. But this was the worst performance so far. Off key – makes you think of Gemini from the UK – it was that off key. Now where do I start as to the styling. Content to make a dance track static with no dancing in it – they have put her in a white pvc tight jacket and ULTRA short skirt and thigh hih matching boots. It makes her look like she is Julia Roberts from Pretty Woman – the curb crawling scenes. Dreadful and certainly going home!! Last in the Semi Final
Marc: Eva Boto is officially the youngest performer in this years' Eurovision Song Contest and without a doubt, she manages to bring class and elegance despite her extremely young age. The vocal performance this afternoon goes without a hitch as she has managed each and every time. The backing vocals look very angelic actually and this is coming across very wlel on screen. A sublime rehearsal and I believe that this will be making it through although will reserve my predictions for tonight when it will really matter. If they do manage to make it, they will be quite happy noting that Slovenia is one of those countries who do not make it to the final consistently.
Garrett: Well at least this was the first in several songs to be sung in tune so thank the Lord. Not my personal cup of tea as it sounds too much like “Molitvia” which is another song that I found highly overrated. All dressed in white and all so safely staged I can now see this qualifying despite this not being my cup of tea. Looking like they are dressed as Cream Deserts it should still qualify. Now looking like it will qualify.
Marc: This could have not been a worse draw for Croatia, coming back to back with Slovenia who have opted to send a similar type of Balkan Ballad. The issues lies with the fact that Nina is very popular whilst Eva is still a newcomer but based on the song, I believe that Slovenia trumps her easily. I am not sure which one of them will qualify but I am sure that not both of them will. She is the black dress as seen in the picture above whilst her backing vocalists are wearing white. The vocal performance is flawless, and daresay the best that she has given thus far. Croatia have not been in the final since 2010 and will be hoping that this is their year.
Marc: The expectation of Sweden tomorrow night is inevitable and one cannot help feel like you have entered a completely different world with this track which is already dominating the digital charts all over the continent. Loreen is clad in black attire with what seem to be tassels on the arms. The backdrop features snow as it was materialized during the Melodifestivalen. She is joined on stage by three female backing vocalists, also in black who do absolutely remarkable harmonies. For the last chorus, she is also joined by a dancer who along with the performer carries out a similar routine, very modern in presentation. This is visually stunning and sounds amazing! Sweden might still be the ones to beat when it comes to this years' Eurovision Song Contest.
Garrett: Oh this was so underwhelming it was scary. The stage is far too dark and at times Loreen could hardly be seen on the screen. Why have the Swedish delegation taken this decision. You cannot get the emotion that we all know that Loreen portrays as you clearly cannot see her!! Furthermore when it came to the snow scene it was not so much a blizzard but someone shaking their dandruff over Loreen. The entire performance needs more lighting and passion. Sorry but this is not looking like a winner at all and if the changes are not made then Sweden will be heading for a disappointing vote. Will scrape into the final
Marc: I dread having to comment for this song because Anri is actually a very good singer with a ridiculous type of song unfortunately. He is wearing a black outfit with a sparkling silver shirt underneath. He is joined on stage by four female dancers who seem to be coming out of a burlesque movie. The overall outcome of this song is not that good and I just cannot believe that they decided to send this track to Azerbaijan but then again, they did not have anything better in the national selection. The camera shots though are very good and it does come across well in terms of performance.
Garrett: This I have always thought was a very poor song but coming after the dark and dreary set of Sweden – Georgia looks fun and fresh and got a huge reaction in the hall. This was high high energy funk/pop/rock/camo and I can see qualifying. A surprise qualifier!
Marc: The Turkish entry in this years' Eurovision Song Contest is one of the most noteworthy tracks actually but then again, aren't they always on top of things at this competition? They will be hoping to remove the bad memories of last year when they did fail to qualify to the finals but this time round things are different as they do bring on a different type of track. Can is on stage alongside four other men and they look much slicker this time round with leather jackets, in what seems to be a traditional format. The vocals are spot on and the performance is very quirky indeed. This will be one to watch out for in my opinion.
Garrett: Can is dressed in a black leather cap and jacket and looking more Village People. His dancers are in blankets and this is all looking somewhat dark on stage. The vocals were suspect and weak in parts. If they are going to stay with the blankest as part of the act them they need to make them in a vibrant colour. With enough friends in this final this should qualify.
Marc: Ott Lepland takes to the stage and it seems that he is clad in the same outfit which he wore for the last rehearsal prior to today meaning the one which is seen in the picture. He is joined on stage by a female backing vocalist who is wearing a long white dress. This is coming across so beautiful on the screen. He has decided to include a number of different vocal ranges for the performance and he is playing around with the notes which whilst sounds beautiful might not be as effective. This should definitely qualify with relative ease though and despite me holding my predictions until tonight, I just cannot help but share my love to this song.
Garrett: If it isn’t broken then don’t change it. What have the Estonian Delegation done with their presentation. They have completely changed the melody of the song and it is ridiculous. The bridge from the verse into the chorus they have changed. They increase it up a key and it seems forced!! Please Estonia revert to the original as it was the simple presentation that made this song special and stand out from the crowd! If they do not revert to the original then Estonia will fail to qualify.
Marc: This track is the one which is very much out there in this semi-final due to the fact that it has to be the only rock song in this years' Eurovision Song Contest with Belarus having coming close in their first version of the song. Max Jason Mai is trying to show off his body in order to impress with his physique and as you can see in the picture above, he is wearing a black leather jacket and black leather pants. The vocal performance is very good and there is nothing which I would definitely change but this type of music is just not for the music competition and Slovakia might have to sit out of the finals for yet another year.
Last year, Norway did not manage to make it through to the final even though they brought about what was the most energetic song in the competition and also being a favourite. This time round though, they seem to note have that kind of problem because they bring a track which despite being full of energy, has already been successful. The track si very similar to the one which represented Sweden last year but it is coming across so well on the screens for having a very tight choreography. The vocals are very strong in this one and I just cannot believe that they came so far.
17. Bosnia & Herzegovina
Marc: I have just made my mind that Bosnia & Herzegovina is surely not qualifying and I am so sad to actually say that because Maya Sar is a beautiful woman and she is an amazing performer but this is looking too bland on the screens and I just cannot see the tele-voters going for this. My opinion might change this evening but the dark setting, the black dress, the piano, it is just too simple. The positive point is that it is coming after Norway and might relax the audience and put them in a good quiet mood heading into the final performance of the evening. I am still not sure about the outcome. We'll see.
Marc: Donny Montell looks like a young boy in terms of appearance but he does bring about a great vocal range to this performance. This performance is kept very simple as he does take to the stage on his own but at the end of the day, this is one which really works and it is also a borderline qualifier in my opinion. He is enjoying his performance quite a lot actually and the fact that he changes the rhythm is quite interesting indeed. This track goes from a ballad to a dance song in just a couple of minutes into the track. It is different but funnily enough works well on the cameras and that is what they wanted in the long term.
The Show (Part 2)
There are a number of recaps being shown as the televoting window is opened and following the fifteen minutes, it does indeed close as what happened last night. The interval act is now rehearsing for the very first time and the hosts do look really stiff today once more. Hoping that they will loosen up for tomorrow evening as it looks too staged at the moment. Dima Bilan is the first on stage performing Believe and the others following him immediately with Lena performing Satellite. It is important to note that all of the last five winners are performing the song with traditional Azeri music accompaniment.
The difference in time zones has somewhat affected a number of sleeping patterns for individuals and whilst weekends are normally used for sleeping in, things do eventually look up once one is gearing up for another day of attending rehearsals, press conferences and also shooting interviews with participants. Most of the participants competing in the 2012 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest have already taken to the stage for two rehearsals including the ones of the first semi-final but nevertheless, there are some acts in the second semi-final who will take to the stage between today and tomorrow whilst the very first rehearsals of the host nation and the big five are expected to take place today as well marking a very special element about the days' proceedings. One of the most interesting areas that has been affected daily is the timing which has never been kept well noting late starts and late finishes with some people spending a whole day in the press centre in order to wrap up their daily coverage. Despite the fact that Malta will not be rehearsing today, the interesting rehearsals surely come from Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom.
The work and promise that our team members in Baku, have shown in the past couple of days has been beyond extraodinary and I thank them daily for their hard work so once more, a shout out to Juergen Boernig, Lilian Brunell and Šira Carolyn Bezalel for the pictures and the interviews as well as to our head of operations in Azerbaijan, Garrett Mulhall who has been busy dealing with the rehearsals amongst other things.Today, eleven (11) countries will be taking to the stage in total but the pre-qualified finalists have forty minutes on stage because it is their first rehearsal actually. Keeping things in mind, when the first rehearsal is staged, there will be a number of issues and therefore, when they take the stage for a second time tomorrow, one will be expecting them to perfect the act therefore, this is to be kept in mind before drawing up a complete opinion of the track. Kurt Calleja did Malta proud yesterday and currently ranks in seventh place, when it comes to the present press in Baku, Azerbaijan. Stay tuned with escflashmalta.com throughout the day for all of the latest updates about the proceedings.
08:00 - Slovenia
Only ever so slightly late today but not too bad indeed considering the long day that does lie ahead. Each of the second semi-final participants still have thirty minutes on stage instead of the initial forty minutes. First there is a vocal run to see that everything is working well and then, the rehearsal in full commences.
The youngest performer in this years' edition of the Eurovision Song Contest is back on stage and she does not seem to be daunted to perform in front of millions on the night. She is wearing a beautiful white dress with flowers stitched onto it. She is joined on stage by five female backing vocalists also clad in white who have a simple choreography to carry out. The backdrop features a shimmering piece of material along with beautiful white lighting which acts as a form of series of stars. The vocals are perfect from Eva and the accompaniment of the backing vocals is also sounding beautiful. This is going to be in the final hands down coming at the middle of the semi-final and is completely walking over Croatia which comes right after it.
Video Courtesy of escXtra
The second rehearsal of the day as mentioned above comes from Croatia and there are a number of similarities between the two tracks. From what I have heard, Nina is very much a star in the Balkans and she does transpire that on stage actually which she is using from the middle. She is clad in a black dress with a white ruffled bow at the back. On stage she is joined by three female backing vocals and two dancers who seem to be holding onto a piece of drape which they use to perform with during the latter bit of the performance. The backdrop features clouds, very similar to the preview video once more. The basis of the lighting is blue and white. The vocals are good but there are some notes which do not sound too well unfortunately. I will hold onto my nerve and say that this will not qualify and leave room for Slovenia to pounce in and take the votes despite her popularity in the Balkans.
Video Courtesy of escXtra
Sweden comes into the competition as the huge favourite with a lot of media attention and many find themselves in the hall for this rehearsal. The initial strobelights work so well with the beat of the song and are coming across so well on screen. Loreen seems to be in much better shape vocally today and she seems to be wearing her semi-final outfit today which features a black dress hidden under a black cape. She is joined on stage by three female backing vocals and also a male dancer who comes in towards the latter part of the performance. They co-ordinate the moves together at one point and this looks stunning but what is really beautiful is the background of strobelights. The people in the hall love it but am I convinced this will win, not entirely sure but it has a fate in the top three definitely sealed given it has already become a hit all over the continent.
Video Courtesy of escXtra
Anri is clad in a red robe as he performs the operatic bit of the track but he removes it to unvile a very smart suit with a glitter shirt. He is joined on stage by four female backing vocalists/dancers who have a simple choreography task to carry out. The backdrop for this one seems to have been altered just a bit and it seems that the star is now missing. On stage, there is also a white piano which he plays mid-way through the song. At the latter end part of the track, a dancer dressed in red also comes forth. The vocals are good even though crazy and this song might be getting on the nerves of some people but I believe it might actually qualify with this staging. They are enjoying the whole performance, and well this is just mad but I guess mad enough. Just for the record, it is not my personal cup of tea and I would not like it to qualify but hey, the majority speak for themselves.
Video Courtesy of escXtra
Turkey is getting a lot of attention in Malta with Can Bonomo appearing on the most popular show in the country last night. He is back on stage for his second rehearsal and there have not been a lot of changes with this one actually with the backdrop still showing the cartoonish sea along with a dark storm which lies ahead in the rough seas. The singer who is wearing a white shirt and black jeans is also sporting a long tailcoat cardigan and is joined on stage by five male backing dancers. The choreography is enegetic but very slick indeed. Turkey has returned with what they do best and this song is not only going to qualify to the final, but once there will reach the top ten. I am singing along to this quite easily. At the latter end of the song, the cardigans are put together to form a sailing boat and there level of excitement and enjoyment is very apparent.
Video Courtesy of escXtra
The very first rehearsal for Germany in thsi years' Eurovision Song Contest and this is the first time that it is actually being fully staged noting that Roman Lob had performed it by himself during the national final. He is joined on stage by a drummer, bassist, pianist and a guitarist. The focus on the stage performance is definitely on the lighting with the spotlights used very effectively as they had been during the preview video. The backdrop seems to be experimental but features a red three dimensional set of spots going round. The vocals are stunning and Germany are sending a typical pop entry which could well be a great radio hit noting that it has managed to peak at number three in Germany, one of the biggest charts in Europe.
Video Courtesy of escXtra
Anggun came on stage with casual clothes and a white train. Three (3) big cubes were brought onto the stage. The French Team consisted of 2 backing singers, one male and one female and three (3) acrobats performing gym movements throughtout the song . A windmachine was used to create a Carola effect. The vocals went perfectly, however the acrobatic part looks far too hectic and is totally distracting the viewers from the singer and the song. On the other hand the blue background with gymnastic effects is not attractive enough. Nevertheless, this did not come across too badly on the screens and it seems that Anggun was not too happy with the performance, stating that there was a lot of room for improvement during the press conference which was very well attended by the media present considering her stardom across the continent.
Video Courtesy of escXtra
Nina Zilli takes to the stage for her first rehearsal wearing a white dress very much reminiscent of what they used to dress like way back in the sixties. The backdrop for Italy is a mixture of black and white lines and this is also used as a colour scheme. She is joined on stage by three backing vocals, two are female and the other being male. This song is kept simple and one has to add that her movements are just adorable with her hands kept in the right place during the performance. The backing need to coordinate better in terms of movements though. Mid way through the performance, spots are coming across along with diamonds. The shots are still slightly messy but this will most likely do better with long shots. She owns the stage and Italy are contenders for victory especially after such a strong first rehearsal.
Video Courtesy of escXtra
This host country is being represented by the beautiful Sabina Babayeva and my my what an outstanding performance this was. It is important to note that as published earlier on today, the performer is wearing a white dress which changes colour according to the stage background. She is also joined on stage by a male backing vocalist and three female backing vocalists who are also dressed in white.There might be the issue of this being a static performance but we have come to know from our colleagues that this is really looking great on the screen because at the end of the day, the focus of this track is the voice of Sabina and her accompaniment are doing their best to compliment her. I must say, this is another strong rehearsal considering it is the first one. The backdrop was slightly too laid back but they might be deciding on what to put on it.
Video Courtesy of escXtra
Beautiful backdrop with shimmering lights, sort of like a waterfall before they become more like shooting stars. Pastora takes to the stage alone and as she enters the chorus, there is a new element of a pyramid on stage. The cameras are keeping a lot of track on her and she is enjoying the element of the close ups. Mid-way through the performance, the backing singers, five in total come out onto the stage and they give the song a special touch. Spain seem like contenders for the very first time in years with this song actually and what a performance. Pasotra is flawless vocally and hits the high notes of the song beautifully. I am sure that Spain will be in the top ten but can they pull out a victory? Huge reaction in the hall!
Video Courtesy of escXtra
Engelbert has got to be the most famous performer at this years' Eurovision Song Contest followed by Jedward and Pastora Soler and his rehearsal has been expected for quite some time noting that he was supposed to perform first due to this running order position but due to a number of scheduling conflicts this was not possible. He is clad in casual clothing today and is joined on stage by a guitarist as in the preview video and also a couple who are dancing along to the beautiful tune. The vocals need a lot of work especially in the upper register as when he changes the tone, it is not really sounding well and that would definitely detract votes from the juries, an element which the United Kingdom should be playing with. This was a first rehearsal and they will have a second one tomorrow but work is definitely required.
Video Courtesy of escXtra
The problem of lack of sleep might actually lead to oversleeping the following day but nevertheless, the interest continues with today being the most exciting day yet for several fans due to the fact that a number of strong songs will be taking to the stage of this years' Eurovision Song Contest for the very first time. Everything has gone smoothly thus far actually in Baku, Azerbaijan with Ictimai and the European Broadcasting Union doing a great job when it comes to the organizations aspect. Whether you have left for work or school, we would like to wish you Good Morning and welcome to the fourth day of LIVE coverage. In the previous three days, thanks to several individuals, we have managed to bring about the best possible coverage and we hope to continue more of the same in the next couple of days especially this week when things are more hectic than they will be next week.
Video Courtesy of Eurovision.tv
The second semi-final fo the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest has always proven to be more interesting based on the previosu results obtained by the countries that are competing in it as well as the songs that are normally presented by the same nations. The main favourite has been noted to be Sweden but then again, there are a number of other countries which are quickly rising to a new status and one of them is surely the song representing Turkey entitled Love Me Back performed and written by Can Bonomo who is also a rising star in his homecountry. Last year, Turkey failed to make it through to the final round and therefore, there is a lot of expectation this time.
Can Bonomo started playing guitar at the age of 8, when he was introduced to music with the inspiration of his neighbour. Throughout his secondary school and university years, Bonomo, together with amateur music bands, staged several concerts in Izmir and Istanbul. Finally he said, “I’m ready”, stepped up to the plate and started working on his first album. Following two years of hard work, in January 2011, Can Bonomo's first album, “Meczup”, was released.
Can Bonomo, who is a native of Izmir, has been involved with music since his secondary school and high school years. At the age of 17; Bonomo decided to move to Istanbul and entered into the music business as a sound engineer. Bonomo studied at the Department of Film and Television in Bilgi University, during which he dj’d at Radyo Klas, Number One FM and Radio N101. After working on the radio, Bonomo moved into television and produced TV shows at Number One TV and MTV.
Can Bonomo's music changed dimension when he wrapped up his demo cd into the cover page of a book and sent it to Can Saban. Can Saban, who is the producer, musical director and arranger of the album “Meczup”, is also the director of the video clips from the album. Bonomo and Saban, continuing the friendship built during the first album, are still working together, now as the founding partners of the company “Can Biraderler”.
The Critics Voice Their Opinion
- Balkan music from Turkey. Danceable rhythms and a catchy simple song. Charismatic young man singing “We need a little bit of rock’n’roll”. No you don’t, what you’ve already got is enough. At least to reach the finals. Seven (7) points from me.
- I must say that the track is quite good and he sings it well but unfortunately, he is not singing in Turkish and that is a pity because it is such a beautiful language. My assessment would see it get three (3) points.
- A very likeable song performed by a very likeable performer. This is happy, clappy and really engaging from the word go. Maybe not a winner, but a personal favourite and thus the very first maximum points from my end, a full rounded ten (10).
Performer: Anri Jokhadze
Composer: Rusudan Chkhaidze
Author: Bibi Kvachadze
Song: I'm A Joker
History of the Nation
Turkey have been competing in the Eurovision Song Contest for quite a large amount of time actually with this year marking their thirty-fourth participation thus far. Their debut was way back in 1975 with Semiha Yankı with Seninle Bir Dakika which finishing in last place and hence saw the country halt their participation. Their returned some three years later to a more successful finish. Nevertheless, their first glimpse of a positive result would be in 1986 when Klips ve Onlar performed the track Halley finishing in ninth place, remaining their best finish until 1997 when Şebnem Paker and Etnik tried their luck with Dinle finishing in third place. This would be the beginning of the future as Turkey would win with Sertab Erener and Every Way That I Can in 2004 and continue reaching positive results throughout the decade before failing to qualify just last year.
One of the most successful countries in the Eurovision Song Contest over the last couple of years has surely been Turkey making it to the top ten of the competition each and every year since 2006 whilst their first and only victory came back in 2003 thanks to Sertab Erener and her song 'Everyway That I Can' which won a nailbiting affair with Belgium over in Riga, Latvia. This year, they have decided to keep the style which saw them do well last year with a pop/rock influence clearly noticeable.
Last year, the Turkish broadcaster, TRT, called upon the winners of the MTV Award winners for the best European Act to represent the nation and maNga along with their song 'We Could Be The Same' managed to finish in second position which was their best result since their victory back in 2003. Thus, they have called upon an up and coming band called Yuksek Sadakat who will be presenting the song 'Live It Up' in the first semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest taking place in Dusseldorf, Germany.
The promotional tour for the act commenced today and the destinations which have been included in their tour include Bosnia & Herzegovina, Azerbaijan, Germany, The Netherlands, Albania and our very own nation of Malta. During this promotional tour, the group are set to be making radio and television appearances as well as magazine interviews. We will be doing our best to let you know of their schedule here in Malta.
Source: Yüksek Sadakat's Twitter, Official Website