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.
For the fourth day running, I would like to thank this years' team for escflashmalta.com which features newcomer; Šira Carolyn Bezalel as well as Juergen Boernig, Lilian Brunell and Garrett Mulhall, the latter of which is is Head of Operations in Baku and is leading the team to such positive coverage. 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. Yesterday members of our team were present during the Maltese rehearsal first hand and had only words of praise to say whilst they also made it to the press conference where Kurt thought his apple jack move to the media present. Today is quite special due to the fact that the runaway favourite Sweden will rehearsal but there will also be rehearsals by strong entries coming from Turkey, Estonia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Slovenia and Croatia.
Schedule of Rehearsals
08:00 - Slovenia
08:45 - Croatia
09:30 - Sweden
10:15 - Georgia
11:55 - Turkey
12:40 - Estonia
13:25 - Slovakia
14:25 - Norway
15:15 - Bosnia & Herzegovina
15:55 - Lithuania
Things improve day by day as they say and timing is very important. It seems that we are just behind by not too much today and that is why, progress is important. Forty minutes have been allocated to each performer for the last time today as tomorrow marks the beginning of the second rehearsals, with half an hour each instead of the longer forty minutes. The first sound check for Eva is on and it seems we are ready to commence quite in spectacular fashion this morning.
The fourth day of rehearsals open up with a Balkan ballad whose backdrop is kept extremely simple showing what seems to be a black cape flowing in the wind. The colour scheme is a mixture of black and red and there is this misty feeling going along. It might be that everyone is in their costume actually with several white dresses on show. Eva is joined on stage by the five female backing vocalists who were with her in the national final. They are not standing far away though and a warm effect is created with a very simple choreography. In Europe it is very early but it is not in Azerbaijan and the vocals by the young performer are strong and have no trouble. In the final chorus, the backdrop changes and features sparkles in a golden brown colour. I think the song in itself did not come across as powerful as it shoul but still a good start. It is unknown whether Croatia with a same sound can actually kill it's chances out there.
Following Slovenia, come their neighbours Croatia with a similar kind of sound and this is the very first time that Nina is performing the Eurovision version of her song live. She is clad in a back dress and is joined on stage by three female backing vocalists and two male dancers. The bacdrop is as expected features shots from the video which for those who have not seen it includes a lot of fog and clouds. The spotlights play a pivotal role in brigning out the best elements of this song and it seems that the choreography despite quite simple is very much polished. The vocal range of Nina is incredible and considering her recent surgery, she is still performing very well. The music of this song is just beautiful and mesmerizing. Mid way through the performance, the two dancers stretch out a banner and dance with it whilst Nina continues improvising with her voice. This is very strong and in my opinion has become a qualifier.
The media attention that was in the hall for Loreen was staggering. People were climbing over each other to get a good vantage point. However - was it worth it? Well being the firm favourite you know that people will be expecting more from you tehn other countries. They will also expect your First Rehearsal to be note, camera and dance perfect which is not the case. Regearsals are there to iron out any problems and Loreen had some issues. We all know the song "Euphoria" and their is even a store in Baku called Euphoria - how strange. The song is a huge Electro Euro Pop anthem that only Sweden know how to do. Loreen is singing on stage with 2 female backing singers. It was clear that she was holding back on her voice but the backing vocals need some work - but that is what the rehearsal is for The song still sounds wonderful and that is hard to say when you have been listening to it for months now. The local people who have not seen or heard the song were very excited from Loreen's performance.
This bodes well as the majority of people looking at Eurovision and voting in it will be looking at the songs for the first time when the show airs so your song needs to have impact and this does. Again this is same performance that took place in the Swedish National Final. Loreen is dimly lit with just spotlights on her face which is highly dramatic. The stage is dark with some intermittent flashes of lighting There is the same dance routine as she used in Melodi Festivalen and guess what - yes you are right - she uses the same male dancer again here in Baku. When the key change takes place in the song - YES the same again - we have snow on the stage. However the backdrop of the stage turns into a massive snow blizzard which looks stunning. So as for today's theme for the performances - we are doing "Cars" - so Loreen's performance would be "A pimped out Volkswagen" - Highly reliable but looking and sounding great. What do you think?
It seems that this rehearsal started quite problematic as the microphone was not working and he is not using a hand held one due to the choreography which seems to be quite busy. The main singer is joined on stage by four ladies and everyone is dressed in black. The backdrop features what seems to be the star of Britain's Got Talent actually before being altered to more designs further on. In the meantime, the colour scheme for this one is a mixture of black, red and white. It is quite funny how he is trying to look like a Casanova but comes across as too fake and disinterested at times. Nevertheless, the vocal performance is mostly good until he tries to reach the higher register of the falsetto which fails miserably. Mid-way through, a female dancer comes on as well and adds more to the meaningless performance. Now that was a car crash, a devastating one. This is surely a definite non-qualifier.
It is no surprise that the Turkish rehearsal was very busy as Can Bonomo is a well known star in Azerbaijan. Personally I like this song. It has a great Turkish Ethno/Pop vibe to it. Can is a very likable character and has good vocals. He reminds me of Ben who was the lead singer of the 80's British pop band Curiosity Killed the Cat. Can's vocals were very strong as were his backing singers. His pronunciation was also very good - and you know how I like that! The back drop to the stage is extremely vibrant and colourful. We start with blue lighting on the stage. For the chorus the colour is bright red. There is a strong nautical theme where we see animated scenes of the ocean with anchors, boats and lighthouses.
This is interwoven with scenes of anchors through animated scenes of mountaintops with love hearts. Can is accompanied by 5 men on stage with him who provide the backing vocals and dancing. For the actual climax of the song the dancers physically align themselves in a formation to replicate a ship with Can as the captain. It looks very effective. The staging of the song is wonderful and Can is a likable character with a relaxed presence on stage. As he is performing after Georgia this will be to his advantage as the Georgian song and performance has divided the press conference. Turkey will be sailing into the final. I think this could bring Turkey into the Top 10 in the final. If this was a car it would be a stylish cheeky little Mini. It is classic with a little twist.
My close friends know how much I adore the Estonian entry as soon as he took to the stage for his rehearsal, I must say that I was somewhat in a trance over what the performance could look like. It seems like the Ott Lepland might actually be clad as he will be in the semi-final in a black, blue and white outfit featuring a waistcoast and tight jeans. He is joined on stage by one backing vocal who is wearing a beautiful white shimmering gown. The backdrop graphics are just beautiful and feature three dimensional objects but as soon as the bridge kicks in the colour switches from dark red and black to pink with a number of rose petals being used for the backdrop. It also finishes in complete darkness and you could hear a pin drop in such a quiet setting once he finishes but the audience present awaits for him to finish before clapping. Stunning, this could be the surprise of this years' Eurovision Song Contest. A ballad performed with poise and perfection which will stand out from the rest and will surely shine in between the likes of Turkey and Slovakia.
This is a song which has been flying way below the radar due to the fact that Slovakia have never made an impact at the Eurovision Song Contest but nevertheless, it might be that change can come for everyone because Max Jason Mai who is joined on stage by a band is not only only enjoying himself but looking every bit of a qualifier at the moment. The fact of the matter is that this is the only soft metal type of song in the competition and features an extremely catchy refrain. As expected, the focus of this song lies in the lighting which is superbly orchestrated. One problem though might be that the stage is too much based on one particular point and therefore, the interaction lies with just that end. The music is quite beautiful and for all of the first time listeners, this might stand out. The vocals are good and the diction is understandable considering that English is not a first language for people in Slovakia.22
The Norsk Melodi Grand Prix just happens to be one of the competitions which we followed in full detail within each respective semi-final and the winner was none other than Tooji who seems to be following in the footsteps of his Scandinavian counterpart Eric Saade. The colours used during the backdrop are red and black but nevertheless there also seems to be a tinge of organge. He is joined on stage by four dancers, two of which are male and two of which are female. The vocal performance is strong as it has always been and one would never actually note that this is the very first time that Tooji is actually performing noting that prior to this he was a model and also works with children who are battling physcological issues. I believe that this will be one of those songs which will surely make it through to the finals especially after last years' disappointment.
The penultimate performance of this years' second semi-final at the Eurovision Song Contest actually features a Balkan ballad which has become somewhat very typical in this showcase. Bosnia & Herzegovina are represented by the beautiful Maya Sar who is standing in the middle of the stage playing a piano. This looks beautiful on screen actually especially when the backdrop is featuring an old city.with Roman columns. The vocal performance is stunning as expected and she does not miss a single note noting that she did give the performance of a lifetime during the song presentation a couple of months back. Following the upbeat entry from Norway, this sounds great and calm and should entice viewers to vote whilst the jury will surely like the transition as well. A masterful performance, well done!
The stage is bathed in blue for the final rehearsal of the day featuring Donny Montell who beings about a different type of track to the Eurovision Song Contest as it is a ballad turned pop song mid way. The down side of this live performance is that the main performer has decided to take to the stage on his own. There has been a lot of comparison between Donny and Sasha Song, which is quite interesting especially when they have performed together in the past. The spotlights are working wonders during his song and fill up the stage when there is no backdrop but when the backdrop does indeed come forth, it features miniature black silhouettes. It seems there might have been some problems with it. The vocals were good but not amazing unfortunately.