Eurovision 2012: First Dress Rehearsal of Semi-Final 2Written by Marc Calleja Bayliss
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.