Eurovision 2012: Jury Dress Rehearsal of Semi-Final 1Written by Marc Calleja Bayliss
Baku, the host city of the 2012 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest is currently brimming with confidence as it prepares to host the esteemed competition noting that despite a couple of hurdles along the way, they have managed to host a total of forty-two (42) countries, thirty-six (36) of which are competing in the semi-finals and another six (6) which are already in the final for either being in the elite range of financial backers or being the host country. Earlier this afternoon, the very first dress rehearsal took place in the Crystal Hall, one of the largest venues to ever host such a prestigious event and which was specifically built in the honour of obtaining hosting rights. 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.
In the afternoon, there were no real problems in terms of putting up the show except at the end when some of the qualifiers popped up on the screen before they actually got round to announcing them looking extremely unprofessional but that will surely be fixed for tomorrow night. In terms of performances, it seems that everyone kept slightly back in order to impress the judges during the rehearsal this evening. This means that there will be juries in eighteen (18) countries as well as Azerbaijan and Spain voting in this semi-final. There were some performances which really improved by this morning whilst others went downhill once more and the juries will be hoping that some of the tracks will really stand out amongst the rest as they make their top ten decisions. 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 Claudia Faniello, Emil Calleja Bayliss and Raquela. This evening, we will bring you pictures from the afternoons' dress rehearsal and live comments as the show progresses.
The hosts are currently on stage and they are introducing themselves as they did this morning and it seems that everything is running smoothly and on time. All of them look very smart with suits and dresses all round this evening. It is quite interesting as this afternoon, they were wearing very casual clothing. They are speaking in English, Azeri, French and even German due to the fact that Germany hosted the Eurovision Song Contest last year. In the meantime, they are also speaking about the pre-qualified entries to the final meaning those of the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Germany, Spain and Azerbaijan.
The first entry of the evening will be performed by Montenegro and Rambo Amadeus is wearing a black suit with a white shirt actually. He is joined on stage by two dancers dressed as bodyguards and also another one who break-dances clad in red and white clothing for some reasons. The lyrics of this song are just stupid and I just cannot imagine this to qualify tomorrow night. Behind him, one could notice the wooden donkey and mid-way through the performance, there is also the banner saying Euro Neuro Monetary Break-Dance. There are no issues with the vocal performance because the song is not difficult to perform. Definite Non-Qualifier.
Jonsi is off key during the first few seconds of the performance and he is quickly trounced by Greta who seems to be on shape as she has been throughout all of her respective rehearsals. The stage is bathed in blue for this performance as it has been throughout the rehearsals. In fact, they are clad in beautiful costumes, Greta in a long black ballroom type of gown and Jonsi is in a black suit with a white shirt. The lighting is superb and this song is the best one in terms of creating an atmosphere. The music is just so haunting and the vocals have settled down, with the four backing vocalists really pulling in their weight in terms of performance. This should qualify with relative ease.
Greece has to have the most improved act of the 2012 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest this year having had a terrible first rehearsal and then managing to overcome that to become an endearing entry with a powerful choreography. This track is Greek by numbers and it includes all of the elements which have made the nation successful at the Eurovision Song Contest in recent years. There are elements from both Kalomira and Helena Paparizou. Eleftheria Eleftheriou is wearing a fiery dress with some blue and white elements whilst the dancers are wearing blue ensembles. There is one female backing singer dressed in a white gown. The vocals are good but slightly too screechy at times but they are better than they were in the afternoon. This will definitely Qualify due to being Greece.
Well, it is quite interesting to see Anmary back on stage because she does put in a lot in terms of performance and the people will definitely enjoy the performance. She is wearing a blue gown and it seems that most of the team have co-ordinated well. They have decided to take it up a notch since the afternoon and everything is looking and sounding better for them. The song is quite wrong though and I do not get the point of having such a comical entry. The backdrop has also not changed lately and therefore, it remains to be quite colourful actually. I do not believe that this entry will go down well this evening and therefore, they will not qualify in my honest opinion.
There has been a lot of talk with regards to Rona Nishliu in terms of her vocal performance and this is due to the fact that she sounds absolutely stunning in each and every run that she has given thus far. She is wearing a beautiful blue gown which seems to emphasize modern and classical at the same time. The staging is very dark barring the red lighting. I cannot bring such an astonishing singer down but I believe that she is actually holding back this evening even though she does look brilliant. Nevertheless, I just cannot see the jury not going for this tonight and therefore, I believe that she will appeal to the viewers at home as well. This will be a qualifier tomorrow night.
Every performance of Romania has been an energetic experience and this evening will not be any different. The main performer, the female who is known as Elena is wearing a short orange dress with black lining. There is a wind machine being used during the performance which much not really needed but it does not take away from the song. The group themselves with the instruments are clad in white attire and they seem to be enjoying carrying out their choreography. The vocal performance is good but I believe that Elena had a better one earlier on today but nevertheless, the early songs are looking like certain qualifiers. This will be another one that will definitely make it with a mediocre score with the juries and a high tele-vote. Pyrotechnics were used towards the end of the song tonight.
The Swiss guys have not been particularly impressive with regards to their performances over the week and this is due to the diction issue but nevertheless, it should not take away from the song but it ends up doing so due to the fact that is a frequesnt line. The matrix backdrop is cool but has got a bit boring now actually. The vocal performance is good as it has always been and the positive news about this is also that they make use of all of the stage. Now, Switzerland did scrape past at the expense of Malta last year but this time round, they will not be making it through to the final as at best, this has been a very mediocre performance.
The small country who won the Eurovision Song Contest on that one lonesome occasion back in 1986 is currently being represented by the sixteen year old Iris who is performing a beautiful country ballad which has a nice guitar sound mid-way through. Iris is wearing a beautiful short white dress with less in the shoulder pads. She is smiling throughout the performance. She is joined on stage by backing vocals and keeps this song as simple as possible actually. The vocal performance is very strong and Iris is definitely not choking this evening in front of the juries. I have a strong feeling that this will qualify. This should qualify tomorrow night.
The first note was extremely sharp in the afternoon and she did take away a lot from the performance but she did actually start on a very good note this time round and that will definitely be difficult competition for Belgium but the Swedish is sounding very harsh in terms of a language and therefore, it will not help the juries make up their mind when they have no clue about what the song actually is. The singer is clad in a green dress, which many seem to find unflattering. The vocals are good but they are still not on par with what they were during the week. This is one of the worst cases of nerves I have seen. Like 2010, Finland will be missing out on the final this time.
There has been a lot of talk on whether Israel can actually make it to the final with a track which is quite a ditty little number in actuality. The song is really working on the monitors and therefore, it gets a lot of points from the audience at home presumably. The fact of the matter is that this is a band which includes a number of middle aged performers doing their thing. The backdrop is very impressive with a number of clocks making an appearance. Hebrew is a beautiful language and the mixture of the two is also endearing. The vocals are quite good although I believe they have also had better rehearsals noting that at times, there is a lot of moaning about by the lead performance. I believe that yes, this will scrape through and qualify.
Valentina is in great form with stunning vocals at the start and once more, I feel so bad for her that she has to perform this song. She is joined on stage by some four to five dancers dressed as sailors, doctors and pilots I believe. I have no clue what the idea behind the staging is but let's say that the people in the press centre are laughing about. Valentina loves performing the song and she is smiling throughout the entire performance. She continues performing well and I just cannot believe this but could her vocals save her performance. Honestly, I am thinking of a scenario in which this does qualify but I do not believe it will. Definite Non-Qualifier.
Ivi Adamou and her backing singers are completely off key in the beginning of the song and it seems that they might be continuing this very difficult twist of fate. They have chosen the wrong night to have the performance completely gone wrong and the question is whether the people will vote in high numbers in order to get this across the finish line. Ivi is a beautiful girl but she clearly has nerves this evening. The song is really catchy and I just cannot help but sing and dance to it. The choreography is extremely slick and looks very strong on the camera. I just cannot imagine myself this but this is a non-qualifier in my opinion by just missing out.
Following that bizarrely terrible vocal performance from Cyprus comes Soluna Samay who not only has the looks but has a very strong voice to accompany her. As always, Denmark have the most middle of the road type of song in the contest presenting a typical mid-tempo track which was one of the early favourites and still finds itself in the first top ten placings. It has been decided that she will wear the same getup that she had during the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix, which was like a sailor meets hero type of outfit. The vocals are strong and the music works well. This type of song will be loved by the juries for being sweet. She will definitely qualify and will reach the final mid-table.
The Russian grannies are back on stage and they do seem to enjoy every second of their time on stage. They are wearing their traditional clothing and this is just not any different than the national final when they did manage to beat none other than Yulia Volkova and Dima Bilan. The performance is quirky and funny and it will definitely not appeal to the juries this evening but it might win the public tele-vote and therefore I believe that this will qualify tomorrow night because they are Russia at the end of the day. It is quite an interesting performance and they will love it at home. I still cannot believe that this is competing in one of the most well known competitions.
I just keep on pointing out that Hungary are bringing the most competent track to the Eurovision Song Contest this year being very much a radio hit which should appeal to all of the respective countries competing in both semi-finals and the final and this is because of the very sentimental lyrics which speak about the general discrepancies of the people when it comes to being poor or being rich. The backdrop is kept dark but Compact Disco make use of most of the stage and that is why it actually looks so good on the screens. There is fire in each chorus. This is currently a borderline qualifier in my opinion as I am not sure how the juries will be ranking it this evening.
This has to be the track which is very much out of this world, different and would not really bode well with any of the older generations which watch the Eurovision Song Contest. For the people that do not know the title translates into shaking your backsides actually and that is the reason why I do not think the juries will go for it but by the same margin, the people would definitely go for it just for the sake of being different and innovative. I just cannot fault them on the great performance with the glow in the dark lighting on the backsides really having a nice effect. I believe that like the song before this, it will be borderline and that is why I have not made a choice but personally, I would go for Hungary.
This has comfortably become one of my favourite entries because it has a great routine and will definitely get points just for the performer being good looking. The track is absolutely catchy and you will instantly starting singing along as well as moving with the music just before the chorus. The girls on stage do enjoy their time up there and now they are clad in traditional clothing along with Pasha reminding the people that they are from Moldova in an idea taken from former representative Nelly Ciobanu. This track is definitely qualifying to the final and considering the draw, they might actually win it if played right. This was perfect tonight and should up a lot of points.
The final performance of the evening comes from Jedward and clearly from the onset, they just fail to hit the first note but that has become characteristic of the twins actually. Nevertheless, they have flat hair once more and are wearing outfits which are being said to resemble more the power rangers than star performers. The track is much catchier than Lipstick in my opinion and they are definitely performing better this evening noting that they did do well with the judges last year. The people will definitely be on their side noting that they have become stars of this competition. Their backing vocalists are definitely keeping the performance together but good camera work, a strong backdrop and the use of the fountain is what ties this performance together making it special. Huge applause in the hall for the high fountain water and also the fireworks. The vocals are much stronger in the chorus and the backing are really helping this evening. This will definitely qualify and is looking more and more like a possible top five contender in the finals. They finish the performance standing in the fountain and therefore completely wet.
Review by Garrett Mulhall
Ok people – It is past 2am here in Baku and I have just come out of the final dress rehearsal for Semi Final 1. This is the semi final that the Jury vote on. I can say that Jedward gave their best performance of “Waterline” to date. The vocals were even better than this afternoon’s and the water feature went down wonderfully with the audience. There was nothing that the guys could have done better.
Rumour Mill – The guys wore the same silver and gold costumes and had their hair DOWN. So that is what you will see tomorrow evening on the live show. Surprises were that the crowd really loved Albania. The audience cheered when Rona hit the high notes in her song and she actually cried at the end of her performance. This could actually just get into the final.
Russia were a favourite of the crowd and they had people dancing in the hall. Cyprus also got an amazing reaction in the hall to the delight of Ivi. Overall it was an amazing show and it will be a nailbiter. Just as an FYI - Jedward were in the green room in Leopard Print Dressing Gowns!!! So look out for them tomorrow night!
The Show (Part 2)
This years' hosts which have been said to be so-so are back on stage to introduce the recaps of the first acts of this years' Eurovision Song Contest. They also speak about the fact that everyone can get up to twenty calls from each phone-line therefore, keep that in mind. They are now speaking about Azerbaijan and I must say that things really ran smoothly this evening. Well done for Ictimai for putting up an amazing show and one will be hoping that it goes as good as it did this evening tomorrow night. Voting has stopped. Performances of the finalists are currently being shown on the screen.