19 November 2017
ESCflashmalta Team

ESCflashmalta Team

Songs in Maltese are well received by the public and some of the all time classics in Maltese are commonly requested on the local airwaves. As time went by though the opportunities of releasing new material in Maltese faded slowly. Things took a turn for the worse, when back in 2002 the last edition of the Festival Kanzunetta Maltija took place. This festival was popular with artists across the border and year after year, every one used to be looking forward for another year of celebration of talent and Maltese music. Although in a competitive spirit, a lot of composers, authors and singers saw this as an opportunity to share their music, share their thoughts and their talents.

The festival used to attract the most popular singers on the island, even those who had represented Malta in the Eurovision Song Contest. The festival was seen prestigious and taking part in such competition was every artists dream – one can dare say it was seen almost as prestigious as the Song for Europe back then. The Maltese language is beautiful in itself and when sung the sound produced it surely magical, the composers and lyricists put in a lot of work in making sure that the melody, the words, the voice as well as the arrangement come together to create the perfect sound. One can say that everyone used to put in that extra effort to make the finals of the prestigious event.

Nowadays, the two main competitions in Maltese are L-Għanja Tal-Poplu and the Konkors Kanzunetta Indipendenza. The former is seen as a festival amongst friends with the singers accompnied live by musicians and although this is a great intiative some artists feel discouraged to participate in such an event whilst the composers and authors are also limited in submitting only three songs which once again limits the amount of submissions. The festival though has seen an increase in popularity but not as much as one would hope for. Whilst the latter, is organized under the helm of a political party and songs with a political message in hindsight seem to do well in it – this again discourages some participants.

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So the Festival Kanzunetta Maltija was seen as the only netural festival which attracted attention across all borders  and the fact that it was shown on TVM and had the backing of the government ensured the neutrality of such a competition. The festival used to bring a number of opportunities itself and helped in regards to networking within the music field both on a local level and also on an international level. Apart from that the festival itself served as a launching pad for a number of artists and since it was always seen in high regard, this was the perfect platform to launch your career. It was simple, if you’re made the finals here, you can compete with the very best within the Maltese industry.

Rumours have been going round for quite sometime that the festival is going to make a  return and a number of composers, authors and singers have pressured different entities for the festival to return. In fact, close sources to escflashmalta.com revealed to us that  last year two different entities were looking into reviving the festival but sadly both fell through. It has come to a point, that if this prestigious festival is going to make a return is has to be now or never, with a new government in the country, one would expect that its return is more possible then before but thus far nothing have been mentioned. Maybe late this year or early next year, we manage to see the revival of such festival, if not, sadly I can bid adieu to a festival which gave birth to some of the most beautiful songs in Maltese in recent years. 

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Thursday, 14 February 2013 20:17

Italy: Third Night of Sanremo 2013 - LIVE

RAI, the broadcaster responsible for the participation of Italy at the Eurovision Song Contest has gained worldwide recognition for hosting the annual Sanremo competition in the Ariston Theatre and this year will be no different. On Tuesday, the 63rd edition officially commenced and all of the artists competing in the 'Campioni' category, now know which song they will be performing on Friday and Saturday, where they will be taking to the stage with their setlist of original songs. Journalists and critics alike have been very respectful of the first two evenings and the song quality has been commented to be far stronger than last year. The show could be watched through RAI 1 on Satellite, although one could find it on Reception Television. Follow the show online through the official website of the competition.

The representative for the Eurovision Song Contest will be selected through the Sanremo competition but it is relatively unlikely that the chosen entry will be the same one performed during these nights which will lead up to Saturday evening. Since their return, Italy have done extremely well at the international showcase, reaching ninth place with Nina Zilli and her entry L'Amore e Femmina (Out of Love) last year as opposed to their first runner-up finish in 2011 with the track Madness of Love (Follia D'Amore) performed by Raphael Gualazzi who took to the stage last night as he is one of the artists in the category 'Campioni'. This years' Sanremo competition is being hosted by Fabio Fazio and Luciana Littizzetto, the former being none other than the producer for this years' proceedings. 

The Show

This evenings' edition of Sanremo is opening up with video footage from the past, presumably a drama series, one of the ever lasting telenovelas that have been known to dominate television throughout the years. The audience is pretty quiet as they await for this evenings' opening act will include but nevertheless it seems that because this is Saint Valentine's Day, they could be a bit romantic and suddenly a well dressed couple walk on stage and wait, seeing the outfits up close, this is not really helping because Luciana is seemingly wearing a plastic skirt as opposed to Fabio is wearing the same suit as he has worn in the past two days. In a romantic gesture, he has given her some flowers but they are too big for her to carry and she drops them. They are having a lovely conversation early on.

Running Order 

Simona Molinari e Peter Cincotti

Following their qualification from the first evening, a big band sound which sounds really good as an opening number this evening. The orchestra is really giving a good vibe to kick off things. Simona's vocals are really impressive but nevertheless, Peter is surely to be congratulated on the effort he is putting into his performance. In Malta, we have an artist who genre is quite similar, Janvil. This looks much more polished today and that is definitely a much more positive attitude to give now that they have managed to qualify with this entry.

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Marco Mengoni

Marco Mengoni takes to the stage and performs a strong powerful ballad as portrayed in the opening night of Sanremo. The emotion of the song is definitely being portrayed through the strong vocals which seem to be much stronger than the first evening to be honest. He is clad in a maroon suit as opposed to the blue which he wore the first time round. He seems to be quite stylish as is expected from a male artist who is predominantly Italian.

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Elio e le Storie Tese

Elio and the rest of his buddies make up his band and they managed to get through with this mad song last night to be honest. At the beginning, the vocals were not so strong unfortunately but nevertheless, did eventually pick up towards the middle of the song. The song in itself is quite catchy and has a ring to it. It is quite intriguing that the gorup has a signature caricature look and are all dressed in vintage suits. The main singer also surprised the audience when he seemingly showed that he had four hands, albeit fake.

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Malika Ayane

Malika takes to the stage and she is still in the running to represent Italy at the Eurovision Song Contest in a couple of weeks time. She has an extremely distinct look, elegant and classy attire as has been the case even during the initial performance. The song unfortunately is not my cup of team and is relatively monotonous, doesn't really show her vocal abilities. Her emotions are definitely running hight though because she is doing her best to show that this is a good song but fails. It lacks a special climax and makes it quite boring.

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Marta Sui Tubi

The song a modern rock one performed by a band, very lively engageing song , vocals quite strong, becomes more mellow towards the middle before reaching the climax. Outfits are extremely casual considering how popular this event has become during the course of history but nevertheless, as expected once more, extremely stylish. I have to say that this has improved for todays' performance and that is good to note especially because I believe that this is a candidate for last place really.

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Chiara

Once more, another female and one has to denote that she indeed has an extremely sultry and romantic look but nevertheless, a mediocre voice whom I never understood how the public selected her as the winner of the X Factor competition. The song does indeed lack the substance for it to stand out and towards the end, the goes off pitch because it was the winning factor require for this particular competition. I am quite surprised how this artist is seemingly one of the favourites to win this years' competition because she lacks quite a lot in terms of a final package.

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Max Gazze

Max Gazze is known to the local audience having performed with the renowned Ira Losco in recent months as she planned her comeback into the local music scene. This song is actually quite intriguing because it seems to have a lot of elements of the material that Malika Ayane and Arisa both brought to the music scene. The stage is extremely colourful and this is really important for the overall outcome on television. It seems that Max is enjoying himself out there and this year, everyone seems much more relaxed knowing that they will not be eliminated.

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Annalisa

Another potential contender for the Eurovision Song Contest is Annalisa and one to start by pointing out that this dress sense is surely mis-represented and mis-understood because I cannot udnerstood how a sheer white top is well aligned with a pink skirt. On the first night, it seemed that Annalisa was not really up to performing but that has all seemingly changed this evening because in a stage lit up by stars in the backdrop, she is giving it her all and the orchestra sounds absolutely wonderful. Another hit in the making from the renowned performer and such a strong addition to Sanremo.

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Maria Nazionale

Maria Nazionale is back on the Sanremo stage and having given the best performance of the competition this year, I will not expect anything less. She is wearing a completely different dress and this one is somewhat well thought of, because there is a melanchonic feel about the whole performance.The song is absolutely beautiful and the vocals are very similar to those provided by Pastora Soler during last years' edition of the Eurovision Song Contest. Maria is showing that she should indeed finish high on the scoreboard on Saturday evening although, I believe she had a much stronger performance on the first night rather than this evening. Sensual, and just beautiful in its own right. Well Done!

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Simone Cristicchi

Simone Cristicchi is clad in a much more suitable suit for the evening and this seems to be an extremely emotional song because he literally pours his heart into the performance. He manages to grasp the people in the best possible way and it has to be noted that everything has worked out in the manner that he wanted. It was rather unbelievable that I barely liked the guy a couple of days ago only to love this performance. This is a much better entry than the one presented back in 2007 in my opinion and that won, so who knows!

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Moda

Another one of my favourites in this years' edition of the Sanremo competition is Moda who were of course the runners-up just two years ago when they performed Arrivera with Emma Marrone who went onto win the competition last year. The lead vocalist is in smart casual attire, and he is really enjoying his time on the stage of the Ariston Theatre. The camera shots are ideal this evening and it seems that they are more sure of the song this time round. The vocals are spot on this evening, much stronger than the first time round and the music has that winning potential. I think this is competition between three including Moda, Maria Nazionale and Daniele Silvestri.

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Daniele Silvestri

Daniele Silvestri has just been mentioned in my previous post and that is to be noted that the running order this evening has been quite consistent with the favourites somewhat placed right after each other.I believe that this one will be walking out of this years' competition with at least one award because it has a distinctive message offered to those who unfortunately cannot hear and have to rely on sign language. The music of this track is almost inexistant but Daniele Silvestri is indeed playing the piano. There is a violin being played by the orchestra but otherwise, relatively silent. One could easily hear a pin fall with such silence, beautiful! The public applaud towards the end, and there you are, a public favourite!

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Almamegretta

Almamegretta have somewhat been increasing their fanbase in recent years but one would have to point out that they are clearly not the typical type of the Sanremo competition and present a pop/rock genre which is infused with Italian tones. Diversity is the key to success and as a matter of fact, it is good to see that such an element is kept and given important at the respective event. I do not really like the song though and thus, I cannot see it do well.

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Raphael Gualazzi

One final performance for the 'Campioni' category this evening and it comes from Raphael Gualazzi who successful represented the nation at the Eurovision Song Contest just two years ago with the track Madness of Love (Follia D'Amore), finishing in second place. This song is somewhat similar but one could say that the genre has somewhat been characterised by him. Sitting down on the piano, he seems to have still not leanred to perform in front of cameras. This is a piano ballad, very typical for Italy but his vocals give it distinction from the rest. He does not seem to be enjoying the performance if just based from facial expressions but this is beautiful just by being different.

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Giovani Category

Andrea Nadinocchi

The very first performance of the evening from the 'Giovani' Category is actually a track which is very typical off the urban charts in Italy a the moment. It seems that Andrea has the same problem that Raphael Gualazzi has because he doesn't seem to want to open his eyes throughout the performance. The lighting is somewhat helping the performance and with a couple of notes thrown into the chorus, in a form of 't-t-t-t', people start singing along. The music is not that catchy and I cannot say that I like this one.

Antonio Maggio

Typically Italian looking bloke takes to the stage this time round and this is a much catchier entry than the predecessor and Antonio is clearly taking the performance in because he looks stunning, a great choice of attire going for a red suit, very modern and loving the bow-tie. In the meantime, the song might get annoying for some people towards the end but nevertheless, I quite like this one and I would not mind hearing it once more tomorrow evening if I am being honest. This was well performed vocally and should do reasonably well this evening.

Paolo Simoni

It seems that the audience in Sanremo has somewhat slept because at the end of the performance, they just forgot to clap and that is not understandable because this song was just beautiful! The vocals were just right for the track but if something was wrong, it was the weird image which the performer decided to take up for some reason. That was a typically Italian sounding ballad and still much better than the first song although I believe that the second song is the one which is safely assured a spot in the final thus far.

Ilaria Porceddu

Being the only female in this evenings' competition will surely be positive for this artist but nevertheless, I just cannot understand why she wore that black & white dress, because this just looks silly at the moment. The song is a mid-tempo ballad which evolves steadily with the aid of vocals. In the background, it seems that rather than strings, there is slight brass. The vocals are really good actually and she might actually be one of the nations' future stars. In a Malika inspired ending, she speaks to the audience and I like this. This along with song two should make it through!

Qualified: Antonio Maggio

Qualified: Ilaria Porceddu

The second  evening of the Sanremo competition comes to an end as Fabio Fazio and Luciana Littizzetto announce the first qualifiers of the 'Giovani' category prior to a commercial break and yet another sing-a-long between the hosts. Tune into escflashmalta.com for another LIVE Report from Sanremo 2013 as Marc Calleja Bayliss has a look at the show tomorrow night whilst reviewing the performances. Thanks for tuning in this evening and a hearty congratulations goes to RAI for putting up a magnificient show.

Thursday, 24 January 2013 19:56

Finland: Arion and Krista Head to the Final

YLE, the broadcaster responsible for the participation of Finland at the Eurovision Song Contest has somewhat taken part for a relatively long time without achieving success but all this changed in 2006 when the group Lordi emerged as the victors with the track Hard Rock Halleluljah. Since then, qualification has almost been assured every year but it seems that luck is not on their side when taking up the past three editions in which the nation has failed to qualify on two occasions including last year when they were represented by Pernilla Karlsson and her track När Jag Blundar. This year, the selection process has been praised by several critics and the song quality in the first heat last week was definitely well received seeing to the qualification of We Could Be True by Mikael and Colliding Into You by Diandra.

This evening, another six entries will be presented, out of which two will qualify directly into the final stage of the competition. The venue chosen is The Circus Nighclub in Helsinki and the result will be decided like last week in a combination of tele-voting and jury voting. The panel of judges on the other hand is made up of Toni Wirtanen, Redrama, Aija Puurtinen and Tomi Saarinen. The male and female duo who are taking care of the preselection process are none other than  Ile Uusivuori and Anne Lainto. The official website of the Eurovision Song Contest will be offering a webcasr of the show as it did last week and this could be accessed through this link. In the meantime, you could denote which entries will be performed this evening through the running order published below. It should be an intriguing set of entries once more.

Atlético Kumpula - Paperilyhty

Atletico Kumpula  presents the song paper lantern. We see six men on stage. They give us a quite traditional song. It reminded me of naplitan style of music. At the begininng the singer just talks to the audience. As a stage presence they give us a traditional view of a band. Actually; there is nothing new in this song; and personally i think that is not a good choice for eurovision. However; it is a sweet song.

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Krista Siegfrids – Marry Me 

Krista presents the song marry me. The singer wears a wedding dress. Three men are wearing as grooms and are dancing together with the singer doing quite a good choreography together with the wedding flowers. Quite an original and different song. It may do well at the Eurovision Song Contest, which is being held in the Swedish city of Malmo.

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Lucy Was Driving – Dancing All Around The Universe

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The band lucy was driving gives us a rock song. The colour used on stage is black. As a set on stage there is a typical band performance. The song reminds me of coldplay style of music. It is a song that is easily forgotten. A good performance.

Arion – Lost

arion gives us a rock song. Omce this song starts, it reminds me of the song fight of natalia barbu for Moldova back in time. Although I noticed this similarity; it is a good rock song. An amazing performance with a very good stage presence. A good contender. 

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Elina Orkoneva – He’s Not My Man 

Elena is wearing a cream glittery dress. She is accompanied with 2 backing vocals that are clapping with the song. There is a drummer and  2 guitarists. As a chaerography the singer and the backing vocalists do the same moves in certain parts of the song. A confident performance and a very different song. A great applaus from the audience.

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Great Wide North – Flags

Great Wide North is another band. This song reminds me a bit of the olsen brothers that won the eurovision in Stockolm for Denmark back in 2000. Three guitarist together with the lead singer and a drummer at the back. It is a pleasent song.

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The Show (Part 2)

Well, the hosts are back on stage and explaining that tele-voting, accountable to 50% of the final result this evening is open and thus a recap is shown reminding the people of the performances witnessed this evening. The level was quite good and Finland might be in for a really good result. Hope that you are also following us on Twitter (@escflashmalta) as our Editor-In-Chief comments on the songs there as well. Interviews with the artists backstage are currently ongoing and one has to look this informal feeling to a selection, making it warmer in terms of production. The jury votes have been announced and Arion was somewhat the clear winner but nevertheless, in second place comes Great Wide North leaving Krista in third place. This should be interesting! WHOA! Surprising result as Krista is the first through to the final with her entry Marry Me followed by none other than Arion with the track Lost. The remaining performers competing for the final slots will take part in a second chance show coined as a semi-final next week.

Thursday, 17 January 2013 19:15

Finland: First Two Finalists Chosen

YLE, the host broadcaster of the Eurovision Song Contest back in 2007 is eager to succeed at the internationally renowned competition following the victory of neighbouring country, Sweden and it seems that this years' preselection process is offering quite an intriguing amount of possible representatives who would definitely do the country proud and would most likely achieve a positive result with the right staging. This evening will mark the official beginning of the live shows noting that six (6) artists will be performing their respective entries live to the public, this time within the new versions that they have presented following consultation with the jury over their demos. Two entries will be going directly to the final whilst another three songs will get the opportunity to qualify to the same show within another show which is set to take place in a couple of weeks time. Marcella Busuttil will be on hand to cover each show on Thursday evenings' as we unravel the participation of Finland in the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest.

The jury who have also served as consultants are renowned experts in the music industry and include Toni Wirtanen, Redrama, Aija Puurinen and Tomi Saarinen. The hosts for the whole selection process will be Ile Uusivuori and Anne Lainto. The Finnish broadcaster is offering a live webcast through their official website which you could access here, whilst the official website of the Eurovision Song Contest is also offering a steam of the show through this link. Two of the main contenders, regarded as the best hope for Finland in this years' Eurovision Song Contest will be competing in this heat and therefore, it is going to be remotely difficult to get through this evening considering their strength in terms of entries and fan bases. The show is set to being at 20:00 CET but there will be a behind the scenes sort of format added to the show which thus makes it commence at around 19:40 CET. Marcella Busuttil from the editorial board of escflashmalta.com will be covering the show LIVE.

Participants

 01. Iina Salin - Last night

Lina Salin wears a gold dress that matches well with her blonde hair. she is accompanied with three (3) men; completing a band. As a performance is quite strong and I see this on the Eurovision stage.

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02. Last Panda - Saturday night forever

Now it' time for a rock song. last panda uses a blue background on stage. the lead singer is playing the guitar, and reminds me of Roman Lob of Germany 2012. He is wearing a red cap. They give quite a good performance and a good response from the audience.

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03. Mikael Saari - We should be through

Mikael Saari sings a ballad  The stage colour is blue. He is wearing a brownish suite. He is accompanied with a pianist and 3 violinists. This song is very well produced and the piano has the most important role in this song. An amazing performance that leaves you speechless. An amazing song.

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04. Ilari Hämäläinen -  Sytytä mut vaan

Ilari gives us another rock song. The first one in Finnish. The stage is red. Three of the members of the band have long hair. quite a heavy rock song. I am not sure if this will do well at the Eurovision Song Contest.

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05. Rautakoura - Ilmalaivalla

Pekka Pysalo gives us an old style of song but still nice. four men are set at the front of the stage; one plays the guitar; a smaller guitar; a drum and viola. The sound of this song is quite interesting and this song is another amazing one.

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06. Diandra - Colliding into you

Diandra is wearing a black suite with gold sleeves. she is accompanied with 2 dancers. The background of the stage is blue. She reminded me of Rihanna; in the way she presented the song. As a performance she had strong vocals. A good song.

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The Show (Part 2)

The entries have all been presented this evening and therefore, it is time to await the results. The hosts are seeming bringing the first part of this show to an end as they introduce a recap of the respective entries. All of the artists are currently being interviewed in the greenroom as they await to know their faith. Following the votes of the juries which left Mikael and Diandra in the first two positions, we have a special guest in the form of Ansi Kela. The tele-voting results should be rather interesting. It has just been announced that We Should Be Through by Mikael Saari is through to the final alongside Colliding Into You performed by Diandra. In the meantime, Ilari Hämäläinen head out of the competition completely.

Celebrating successful representatives of the country has become an extremely important role in Malta and this was the cast last night when several individuals from the world of sport were recognised for their talent and success abroad. With the aid of Norman Hamilton, the Malta Olympic Committee organised an event last night in which music and sports were intertwined together for the pleasure of the present audience. In fact, it is worth noting that the star studded line-up included; Claudia Faniello who most notably finished in the runner-up position at this years' Malta Eurovision Song Contest, Kurt Calleja who represented Malta in the Eurovision Song Contest, Joseph Chetcuti who is part of the group Baklava who have been in the Malta Eurovision Song Contest on three occasions, Deborah C who most notably won this years' edition of the Konkors Kanzunetta Indipendenza and Janvil who of course was the second runner-up of the Malta Eurovision Song Contest back in 2005. Nevertheless, the final performer of the evening was none other than the Greek/Cypriot Eleftheria Eleftheriou.

Eleftheria Eleftheriou represented Greece in this years' edition of the Eurovision Song Contest which took place in Baku, Azerbaijan. She managed to reach the finals with the song Aphrodisiac where she achieved a mid-table placing. At this point in time, the renowned performer has worked her way up in the music industry in Greece, first starting out from her homeland of Cyprus where she also tried to represent the nation at the prestigious European event before then moving to the neighbouring country of Greece where she took part in the X Factor competition eventually signing a record deal with Sony Music Greece. Following some creative agreements, Eleftheria signed a brand new record deal with Universal Music Greece who ultimate proposed her to represented the Hellenic nation in the Eurovision Song Contest and as she states in our exclusive interview just below, she felt that it was the right time for her to do it. escflashmalta.com had the opportunity to chat with Eleftheria Eleftheriou following her performance at the Malta Olympic Committee Sports Awards and would like to thank Norman Hamilton and Olivier Vanhoutte for making this possible.

Source: escflashmalta.com

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Saturday, 01 December 2012 20:01

JESC 2012: Ukraine Crowned Winners

Good Evening! Welcome to the 2012 edition of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest which is being hosted in Amsterdam, the capital city of The Netherlands. This is actually the second time that the nation is hosting the event having even taken up the responsibility back in 2007 when the group Cute had represented Malta with the track Music. The competition has changed quite a while since then though noting that from seventeen participants, the European Broadcasting Union has managed to lure a total of twelve (12) ultimately keeping the dream for several young artists alive. The quality of the songs is quite good from what the editorial team has heard based on the studio versions but the dynamic will surely change this evening during the live performances of each of the respective nations.

The Public Broadcasting Services, the only member in the European Broadcasting Union had the rights to compete in the event but ultimately withdrew following our participation in 2010 in order to ensure that there was more financial support towards the senior edition of the Eurovision Song Contest. Nevertheless, our coverage continues and we have with us this evening, the last individual who flew the flag for Malta, that being Nicole Azzopardi whose song Knock Knock .. Boom Boom! remains a significant part of the local heritage. This evenings' show which you could follow on the official website, is being hosted by Ewout Genemans and Kim-Lian van der Meij within the Heineken Music Hall and it seems that the host broadcaster; AVRO will be putting on a spectacular showcase. 

LIVE

Intriguing opening for this years' Junior Eurovision Song Contest as the European Broadcasting Union is giving the people what it means to prepare for the big day whilst keeping to showing the people in the hall and their enthusiasm. This does indeed seem like the most organised  showcase for young children in recent years. In the meantime, just a couple of minutes left before we actually commence. Compliments to the host broadcaster on astonishing graphics and a brilliant theme song for this years' edition of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest. The opening act has just begun and it seems to feature several teenagers playing the drums. Once more, spectacular lighting as the children break out into an electronic dance creating a visual spectacle and well, as expected, the winning entry of the last Eurovision Song Contest, Euphoria is being played.

http://www.junioreurovision.tv/page/videos?id=69863

Each nation is introduced by virtue of a Good Evening in their respective language. Suddenly, someone is performing Euphoria and it seems to be none other than Rachel, last years' runner-up of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest. Despite the fact that she did not win, The Netherlands ended up winning the bid to host. The hosts come onto the stage from beneath and receive a huge reaction from the present audience in the hall which is ecstatic. Kim-Liam is wearing a sparkling block of ice, or so it seems whilst Ewout is wearing a black shirt and a silver jacket complimenting her perfectly. The tele-voting process is being explained and it is noted that Kids Rights will benefit of each call and therefore, people will support a great cause this evening. We are also going to post the preview videos as received by the European Broadcasting Union earlier this year.

Belarus

Marc: Egor is wearing a white outfit and he is joined on stage by four dancers, a male and three females and it is to be noted that the first note is extremely off key but nevertheless the music is quite interesting featuring elements of pop, dance, and jazz at times. The visuals for this track are featuring water and bubbles but you manage to keep an eye on the staging for the simple reason that the choreography is really catchy. Not a bad start, but definitely not the best entry to come from Belarus!

Nicole: I must say that it was indeed a very spectacular show and i really enjoyed watching and listening to the track even though I believe there were things which needed to be improved.

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Sweden

Marc: The first ballad of this evening is on and Lova looks absolutely stunning this evening, seemingly representing what is left of Scandinavia in this competition. She is wearing a pink, silver outfit and is joined on stage by two female backing vocalists. The female performer has a very beautiful vocal and they are managing to capture all the essence of the track through the camera shots. The song unfortunately is slightly boring if I am being honest and does not really go anywhere. It needed that oomph and unfortunately, it just never came about.

Nicole: Lova Sonnebro has a very beautiful voice actually and this is a track with a lovely beginning. The vocals continue in a mellow manner making this somewhat stand out from the first.

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Azerbaijan

Marc: The very first entry from Azerbaijan and everything has somewhat been painted in red and white and very reminiscent of our performance from Junior Swing. The boy and girl that were internally selected are really astonishing together and have great chemistry. I cannot understand most of the lyrics they are performing but nevertheless, I just want to stand up and dance along. The choreography is tight and works well. The vocals are spot on and this is definitely the best track to be presented thus far and I do think that it would be amongst the top three at the end of the evening. 
 
Nicole: original, powerful and up-beat, of course my favourite kind of music! the backing vocals are strong and the choreography is amazing, really suits the song!
 
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Belgium
 
Marc: The second western country of the evening and it seems that he has plenty of support in the arena from Belgium's neighbouring country. Fabian is wearing a red outfit, very fashionable actually and its joined on stage by three dancers carrying out magic tricks and a drummer. The vocal performance is good but nothing home to write about. Mid-way through the performance, everyone is seemingly playing an instrument except for Fabian. The shots this year are stunning and they are capturing the essence of each performance, making the outcome intriguing. Following the bridge, Fabian makes use of the short catwalk and the spirit of the Junior Eurovision is alive. A good performance.
 
Nicole: Really enjoyed their appearance the colour red really caught my eye very stylish, and also the entertainment they did, very original! the vocals were not bad I think the key was low for his voice but never mind the show was great !
 
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Russia
 
Marc: Lerika has already been to the Junior Eurovision Song Contest having represented Moldova but nevertheless, she is back with a far better song this time round. She starts on the catwalk and presents a stunning effect. She is joined on stage by an all female crew of dancers and the backdrop is depicting a huge speaker. I am seriously impressed with the choreography and the improvement that this song has gone through since the selection. Russia are the favourites this evening and I think that they will be fighting with Azerbaijan for a position within the top three.
 
Nicole: This song is great, she has a really strong voice, very capable of both singing and dancing! She really seems to be enjoying herself up there! for me it was breathtaking!
 
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Israel
 
Marc: The sixth entry of the evening, and we are already half way through. Israel are debuting this evening and they have chosen the type of song which I absolutely adore. Hebrew is a beautiful language and they feature five female artists along with one male artist. The choreography is just perfect and towards the end, the boy does come forward and they are using re verb to create more of an operatic voice. This does indeed work well and it is coming across extremely well on camera. The audience in the hall is really enjoying this and I believe that despite being a top three contender, they will not win because I think it was slightly stronger in rehearsal.
 
Nicole: Oh my! They are very cute! It was a surprise for me the music changed from ballad to dance. the vocals are good.
 
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Albania
 
Marc: Well, another country which is appearing at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest. The female artist is clad in a black ballet sort of dress which is extremely in fashion at the moment. This track begins in a jazz format and does evolve in a dance manner. The vocals are good but they are not spectacular nevertheless, this song has undergone a lot of changes it seems since winning the national selection because it has become very international. The use of the guitar mid-way through is really good and I must say, that I am growing to like it. The performance is kept simple with the singer going round the stage and making full use of it.
 
Nicole: Pretty young lady, she was able to handle everything by herself, although alone on stage, she gave a good show, and her voice was great too !
 
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Armenia
 
Marc: This has to be one of the worst songs to ever grace the stage of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest and what seems to be quite weird is that they seem to be a younger version of the Belarussian representatives at this years' Eurovision Song Contest. The way that the language is performed is actually sounding off-key but I cannot be too sure that they are or aren't if I am being honest. The staging is well planned but they are trying to look and sound older than they should be. This is definitely not my cup of tea but what I did like was the guitar solo.
 
Nicole: Very good-looking! love their style of music. I love it, really exquisite and their voices suites the song. I liked it.
 
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Ukraine

Marc: Throughout the week, there has been a lot of talk with regards to this little girls' vocals from my friends and colleagues who were covering the event in depth and it seems that they were quite right because at her age, she does indeed reach some inexplainable amount of notes. The staging is impressive with clouds behind her adding to the drama of the chosen outfit. She is alone on stage and leaves me speechless. The camera work, slowing down at key moments in the key chance is stunning. I am impressed, that was amazing! I just could not find anything else to write because this was perfect.
 
Nicole: Although she's young her voice is amazing! she knows the techniques. don't know why but I liked the background animation! she was gorgeous
 
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Georgia
 
Marc: Georgia have been relatively successful at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest and once more, they have decided to select a silly entry which makes much more sense musically than most of their tracks. The vocal performance is really strong and the boy does add to the performance with that little bit of beat boxing every now and then. Their weird choice of attire comes across as very cool. The addition of English lyrics in this years' entries is sounding very good because one could understand what the song does mean. The performance is really good and this should finish in the higher places tonight and surprise!
 
Nicole: As always they are the best in the originality! Bewitching music, really superb scenery, splendid work with the voices and also with their clothes really trendy!
 
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Moldova

Marc: Another track which I have really grown to like by virtue of the performances given this week and in fact, Denis is on stage clad in white and is joined by male and female backing dancers. What makes this song stand out amongst the others is that it has a catch chorus which one would easily start humming along instantly. The vocals are strong although, I think the excitement got to him a bit at certain points in the performance. Nevertheless, this was a stunning rendition.

Nicole: Really well organised team, the flags at the end were nice, very neat clothing and good voice.

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The Netherlands

Marc: It is always difficult to perform in front of your home crowd but nevertheless, it does seem relatively obvious that she is performing on her own soil because the camera work and the staging is just fantastic. Femke is wearing clothes appropriate for her age and is joined by four female dancers. Her vocal needs to be toned down a bit at times and it seems to be that nerves are getting to get at times. The song itself is refreshing and sounds like a true gem in the rough. The Netherlands were close to victory last year and it seems that they could actually be amongst the contenders this evening. She did lose her breathe towards the end and it did become a little bit of a screaming match but I still believe that the song itself deserve merit.

Nicole: Very catchy and inspiring song. the voice is good, i liked the clocks on the floor but if the backing vocals were a bit louder i think it would have sounded stronger

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The Show (Part 2)
 
The hosts are back on stage and they open the tele-voting portion which will amount to 50% of the final vote this evening with the other 50% being given to the juries whose decision was made during the evening dress rehearsal yesterday. Sietse Bakker, the supervisor for the Junior Eurovision Song Contest says that the result is quite exciting and until we get to the close of the tele-voting, we are getting some interval act performances, the first coming from all of the participants of the evening as they perform the song We Could Be Heroes for Kids Rights, the charity which will benefit this evenings' tele-voting.
 
A second recap of the performances of the evening is being shown as the tele-voting portion of the competition is coming to an end. In celebration of the tenth anniversary, performances from the previous winners are being shown on stage. Former winner; Ralf with the song Click Clack is the second interval act of the evening and it seems that the young performer of three years ago is quickly becoming a teen noticeable growing quite a lot. Following the first result of the International Kids Jury, Kim-Lian is back on stage to perform the theme song of this years' Junior Eurovision Song Contest entitled Break The Ice. Well a feature of all the finalists going round The Netherlands follows.
 
Results
 
International Kids Jury: 12 points go to Georgia
Belarus: 12 points go to Ukraine
Sweden: 12 points go to Ukraine
Azerbaijan: 12 points go to Albania
Belgium: 12 points go to Ukraine
Russia: 12 points go to Ukraine
Israel: 12 points go to Ukraine
Albania: 12 points go to Sweden
Armenia: 12 points go to Ukraine
Ukraine: 12 points go to Armenia
Moldova: 12 points go to Ukraine
The Netherlands: 12 points go to Ukraine
Georgia: 12 points go to Armenia

Winner
 
Ukraine - 123 points
 
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Sunday, 05 August 2012 19:15

Malta: Grecia Bezzina Heading to Maiori

Representing your country in any event is something that each and every person should cherish and do it proudly. It happens on a number of occasions in different events and different showcases. In the music business one has become accustomed to different people representing one’s country abroad in various festivals. During the next weekend upcoming artist Grecia Bezzina will be carrying the Maltese flag in Italy where she will be taking part in the festival Canzoni Dal Mondo.

It is not the first time that a local artist is taking part in this contest as in previous years Malta was represented by Rosman Pace, Kaya formely known as Priscilla Psaila, Geordie and Corazon Mizzi; in actual fact Rosman Pace and Kaya managed to emerge victorious. The Grand Final night this year will take place on the 13th of August in Piazza Raffaele D’Amato in Maiori. She will be participating in this festival with a song penned specifically for this festival by Philip Vella. Grecia will be competing against ten other singers.

On this venture Grecia Bezzina will be accompanied by her brother Dario Bezzina and Noel D’Amato who happens to be one of the members of WAFA and the committee behind ‘L-Għanja Tal-Poplu’. Her participation came about thanks to her runner up finish in the aforementioned festival where she sang the song ‘Tal-Komma Twila’ penned by Emil Calleja Bayliss, to the composition of her brother Dario Bezzina. The song was well received by the people in the hall and also by the judges who after Grecia’s heartfelt interpretation the song got awarded 2nd Place.

This was Grecia Bezzina’s major triumph although one can say that for a nineteen year old she has managed a number of achievements as she made it through ‘L-Għanja Tal-Poplu Żagħżagħ’ three times, once alongside her brother and twice as a solo artist, she also made it to the semi-finals of the Malta Eurovision back in 2009 and twice in the finals Festival Kanzunetta Indipendenza in 2009 and 2012; all alongside her brother Dario Bezzina. In 2010, she made the finals of the Malta Hit Contest and earlier this year she was a backing vocalist for Annalise Ellul and Francesca Borg in the finals of the Malta Eurovision.

Back to ‘ L-Għanja Tal-Poplu’ one must note that the top three winners of the festivals were all given the right to represent Malta abroad in a musical showcase. This prize came about thanks to Robbie Cefai and all the board members of WAFA who have a number of contacts abroad. The sole aim of WAFA is to connect different countries, so different artists can share their music in different festivals and showcases. Events like these make artists more comfortable as it helps them gain more confidence and exposure. The editorial team of escflashmalta.com would like to wish Grecia Bezzina the very best of luck in Maiori and for her future career.

Source: Press Release

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The Eurovision Song Contest is a music competition which brings about the whole continent together, even when it comes to countries who have not always seen eye to eye in other matter but nevertheless, this week showed how performers from several nations interacted together to see themselves garner the most out of this experience. We head into the day knowing who the twenty (20) qualifiers from the respective semi-final actually are for the very first time in three years, we have made it into the final with our song This Is The Night performed by Kurt Calleja and his band made up of Warren, Kevin, Amber, Rebecca and Christian. This also marks the very first time since escflashmalta.com was established that we are in the final and we are proud to be covering the event once more with our team present in Baku including none other than Šira Carolyn Bezalel, Juergen Boernig, Lilian Brunell, Patrick Strouk and Eric Lehmann and of course, last but not least, our respective Head of Operations in Baku, Garrett Mulhall.

Good Afternoon and welcome to the very first dress rehearsal of the final of this years' Eurovision Song Contest which is taking place in Baku, Azerbaijan having won the competition last year thanks to the song Running Scared by Ell & Nikki. There are a total of twenty six (26) performers taking to the stage this afternoon and this will be the first of three dress rehearsals, the one this evening being the most important noting that the jury will be basing their votes on what will be staged this evening. In the meantime, everything seemed to have gone smoothly during the first two semi-finals actually with just a small issue with Romania having not heard sound through her earpiece within the first semi-final. It should be quite an interesting final so make sure to follow all of the proceedings through escflashmalta.com

LIVE

01. United Kingdom

Marc: The British representative at this years' Eurovision Song Contest happens to be the most famous one in the competition with Engelbert's career spanning decades. He takes to the stage wearing a suit performing the track Love Will Set You Free and this sounds much stronger than it did back in the initial rehearsal. He has dropped the higher notes a key and this sounds much better now. There are also two dancers and a guitarist on stage and they add to the ambient. A great opener and this could very well put the United Kingdom in the top ten.

Garrett: We couldn’t see or hear the show on the video link but from our colleagues in the arena Englebert performed excellently and hit the high notes of the song. The dancers on stage were subtle and it came across well. Good Job The Hump.

02. Hungary

Marc: Hungary might have the most contemporary song in this years' Eurovision Song Contest especially with the track sounding like it came out of a radio station. The vocals are good as they have always been but one just cannot help that this song seems to be taking up someone elses' space in the final. This is a very strong performance but this draw will definitely not help with the dreaded number #2 position never managing to really put anyone in a good final placing.

Garrett:  I really cannot get excited about this song. Sounding like a B-Side Depeche Mode Song it was performed well but lacks any real impact and following The Hump it will get lost in people’s minds.

03. Albania

Garrett: Rona puts on a stunning performance of her song. Passionate and the same wonderful vocal abaility that brings cheers from the audience as one could easily listen to now.

Marc: Without a doubt, Rona is still one of the very best performers in the 2012 edition of the competition and she is clad in the same attire that she donned during the semi-final. This is just flawless vocally and she really puts the emotion into the  track.

04. Lithuania

GarrettThe surprise qualifier for some people – Donny gets his trade mark blind fold entrance to the song and when the upbeat element to the song kicks it makes a lot of impact. As my friend Roy Delaney said – this is 2 different George Michael songs sandwiched together. Not a contender but good to see them in the final.

Marc: Last nights' surprise qualifier shows that this type of song can still be appreciated by the masses although we have a sneaky suspicion that the jury were the brains behind this qualification. This is a strong performance though and he is definitely trying to show he belongs here.

 05. Bosnia & Herzegovina

Garrett: Simple staging but we are back to another ballad. A cute song sung well but I can only see this doing well with the Blakan countries. Not a winner in my opinion though because it could get lost.

Marc: This was one of those entries which no one expected to make it through last night because it was somewhat too calm for the general liking but the juries might have had a say in the qualification of the song. Maya is an incredible singer and she uses her vocal skills in her black gown this afternoon as well. A good performance but quite forgettable so early in the draw.

06. Russia

MarcRussia remains one of the most popular acts in this years' competition but the draw is once more too early for them and it seems they have some sound problems in the beginnings. Nevertheless, this is a fun entry and one could not see it failing at this stage. The grannies might be heading for a surprise top five finish unless the juries put them down completely which could be the case actually as they are definitely not the best vocalists.

Garrett: Thankfully a fast song that really gets this Eurovision Final started. The cameras focussed in on the Pin Up Granny aka the smallest Babuschka. This had the whole stadium on their feet chanting. There is no doubt that this is going to score HUGE with the televote but how will the Juries like it. So far Russia walking all over the competition.

07. Iceland

MarcIceland return with an extremely improved performance of their entry and this is actually looking more like a contender after Russia at this stage. We have no clue why they have decided not to go with their outfits today but nevertheless, this is looking very strong on screen and Iceland may just manage to crack the top ten the way things have developed. The vocal harmonies sound very strong and one just cannot help noting that things are really positive for the small country.

Garrett: Back to a ballad but this is a quality ballad. Jonsi and Greta performed excellently and now looking good for a Top 10 place. The Juries will like this a lot and is visually stunning. Job well done Iceland.

08. Cyprus

MarcIvi Adamou has to be one of the worst singers in the competition with her vocal performance being terrible once more noting that she is shouting through the song today. Once more, they have decided to go without their outfits for the actual final as this is a rehearsal for the media. Things will definitely change this evening when the juries come into the fray. The song is very catchy and has to be one of the best ones this years' but nevertheless, I just cannot see this bothering the top ten positions in the scoreboard even though the left side is guaranteed.

Garrett: This is one that we have a close affinity to as we have befriended the Cypriot delegation. Ivi gave a stellar performance. Her vocals were spot on and we know that the delegation were having difficulties with the mixing of the vocals from the stage but they managed to get that sorted. Ivi was electric on stage. The camera angles were spot on and the choreography was slick. Ivi is having great fun and this comes across on the camera – We might be heading to Limasol next year is Cyprus wins – and this is their best chance in a long time

09. France

MarcAnggun is a celebrity and today, she took the stage with the cape ready to perform her entry and it seems that things have really improved since the first two rehearsals. The choreography is still very much like something coming out of the circus but it is definitely not looking bad on the monitors. The vocal run is very good and one has to note that she has really upped her game but nevertheless, she needs to keep things going for this evening. 

10. Italy

Marc: Nina Zilli is one of the most notable performance in this years' Eurovision Song Contest and she is definitely enjoying her time on the stage. She is joined on stage by three backing vocalists and they could be found on the left hand side of the stage. The performance is kept very simple with a number of hand movements but there does not seem to be a lot needed to make this look or sound great because Nina is really performing the song well especially the English parts. She does interact with the audience and the people will like this come Saturday night. Italy is definitely a contender and I believe that they could win.

Garrett: Well you could not have 2 contrasting performances. Nina from Italy is sensational and following the circus routine from France this looks even stronger. Nina is dressed as a Silver 60′s Diva and sounding sensational. The Boom Boom Boom’s are captured on the cameras and are striking. This just gets better every time you hear it. Italy 2013 anyone? Turin I hear is the preferred choice of the Italian Delegation should they win.

11. Estonia

Marc: The Estonian entry was the first song that I have voted for in years actually and I believe that it is the most beautiful ballad in this years' competition. I have to be completely honest in saying that I preferred it when it was staged in a simpler way when it comes to vocal acrobatics but nevertheless, it still sounds perfect but the way that he is performing it could actually go wrong. Ott just happens to be one of the most popular names in the Estonian music industry and performing in the Eurovision Song Contest is an event which he has been hoping to do for quite some time. He took his first chance and he managed bringing about a great vocal, a great song and a stunning performance.

Garrett: Ott as usual puts in a passionate performance of this simple ballad. Less is more for this song and I think this could do better than people are expecting. Keep an eye on this one.

12. Norway

Marc: There has been a lot of comments in recent hours on whether Norway deserved to qualify but nevertheless, I believe that he did his utmost in order to make sure that the Scandinavian country makes it through to the final. He has taken to the stage in same attire he did last night and with many saying that he is good looking, this might surprise on Saturday night. The staging for this one is incredible especially the tight choreography. The vocals are very good and somewhat better than last night but he has to manage to keep this up.

Garrett: This is a strange one. In the hall it sounds as if the vocals are off key but on the video feed it came across great. A complicated dance routine that executed with military percision. This has gone up in my expectations.

13. Azerbaijan

Marc: It is coming across that Azerbaijan would not mind winning two times in a row because Sabina Babayeva is performing this song in the very best possible way that she could. She is joined on stage by four backing singers; three of which are females and another one being a male. She is definitely enjoying performing for her country and the fact that she is wearing what seems to be a dress co-ordinated with the lights is just impressive. I believe that this could be another top five finish for Azerbaijan especially if they can manage to keep up this performance. The ballad is one of many this year but it should still impress.

GarrettThe host nation comes on. Sabina looks amazing and it is a very difficult song to sing but Sabina was almost 100% perfect – just one big note that was pitchy but I am sure she will be fine on the night. This song has really grown on me and I like it and expect a good Top 10 finish.

14. Romania

Marc: Romania is the only song which faced problems during their initial performance in the first semi-final with the main performer failing to listen to the sound of the song from her earpiece but today clad in a completely different outfit, she does not seem to have any problems and the group is definitely helping her get the morale up. The performance is quite energetic and fun especially when it comes after Azerbaijan which will surely be a different change than how the evening will ultimately play out. This is still a possible contender in my opinion especially after such a strong performance.

Garrett: A good upbeat song that is going to stand out from Axerbaijan’s ballad. Summer summed up in 3 minutes. Romanis is looking and sounding great. Not sure if it is a winner but heading for a Top 10 again for Romania.

15. Denmark

Marc: This has never really been my cup of tea but the issue with this song has always lied with the amount of times that one listens to it because it does become quite boring after a few listens. The staging for this one is somewhat kept similar to the very first semi-final where it is predicted that it has done quite well. The vocals are very strong but nevertheless, coming after Romania, this is sounding somewhat quite dull. Denmark have a middle of the road kind of song as they have presented on numerous occasions and they will most likely reach another mid table position quite disappointing after the past two years. 

16. Greece

Marc: This song has always been impressive in terms of staging and visuals and therefore there is not really too much of an issue going on with this one. Eleftheria Eleftheriou is actually Greek as we confirmed during the press conference for the qualifiers for the first semi-final but nevertheless, she does have better, if marginally better, vocals than Ivi Adamou. The song is catchy but then again it is quite typical especially coming from Greece. They have thrown everything into this performance and they really want to impress but I believe that Greece might just be scraping through a top ten result this year, if they manage it.

17. Sweden

Marc: Loreen clearly gave the best performance of her life during the semi-final last night noting that she managed to qualify with relative ease we would imagine. The staging for this song is kept simple with three female backing vocalists on stage along with a male dancer who comes on later on into the performance. She is enjoying the time on stage once more and she is performing her heart out. This is the track which has already been very successful all across the continent but will it be possible for her to win the competition being the main favourite ahead of Russia and even Italy coming within this draw.

GarrettLoreen is doing it when it is necessary and getting the great performances in. She was holding back on the full performance but it is coming together. The lighting of Loreen is getting better with each take and Sweden are getting themselves back into contention. A great reaction in the hall.


18. Turkey

Marc: It seems that Turkey and Malta have worked to build very close relations and we were extremely happy that Can Bonomo managed to qualify from the semi-final last night. Can Bonomo is once more back on stage without changing any of the performance as he is clad in a leather jacket and leather trousers with his backing vocalists acting also as dancers clad in black capes. The track is somewhat very catchy and easily to sing and hum to especially the bits where he says 'hope onto my ship baby, I'll make you fly' and then he also adds a 'na na na'. This will most probably be on the left hand side of the scoreboard. Very good rehearsal.

Garrett: Well this is almost like having 2 home singers performing as the local audience love Turkey. Can is singing well and his English is better than some of his European counterparts. Visually strong and with the reaction it will get in the audience it may sway televoters and bring Turkey hig in the leaderboard. Still not convinced on the capes and the boring grey colour of them but we are stuck with them now.

19. Spain

Marc: Pastora Soler is also one of the most popular artists to compete in this years' edition of the Eurovision Song Contest and therefore, one could definitely see the many Spaniards who have come to support their artist who very much looks like she could win the competition.She is pitch perfect when it comes to her vocal performance the choir that comes towards the end is just immaculate. This is definitely the best chance that the country has had in a very long time and one could see this causing an upset and ultimately finish within the top spot but will the people really go for this type of song.

Garrett: One word – “Sensational”. Dressed in pale blue, Pastora delivers a song full of passion and emotion. She commands the stage and the camera. As she was singing the press were claspping for her. She is really the true professional. A beautiful performance and simply staged this has to be a contender if there is any justice.

20. Germany

Marc: Roman Lob is said to be one of the most good looking performers in this years' Eurovision Song Contest and he brings about another contemporary track which has already set the charts alight in a number of countries including his native Germany and also Austria. The performance is very much simple with a band performing the track just behind him but the lighting and the backdrop is what give this track an edge. He is enjoying every bit of the performance and he has crystal clear vocals whilst singing. Well done Germany for a very strong first dress rehearsal. Could they managed to finish in the top ten? I'd think so!

Garrett: Roman performs adequately but for me this is a very average song and sounding like it should be on a Coldplay album. I cannot get excited about it at all and do not see all the hype about it. Feeling this will be in the bottom part of the leader board.

21. Malta

Marc: Kurt Calleja is next on stage and honestly, the people are excited that we will be competing in the final for the very first time since 2009 when Chiara had made it to the finals with the song What If We. At this stage, we can notice that the performance is very strong with everyone doing their best to make sure that it does come out well in the long run. The vocals from Kurt are just perfect this afternoon and he seems to be continuing what he managed to do last night. There is a lot of buzz going around that the female vocal could be even stronger and we believe that this is the case as well. Nevertheless, glad to see Malta back in the final and let's hope for a good result in the end.

Garrett: WOW I have been banging the drum about this song for a long time and there is a buzz growing for Malta and that they could be in for a good result here in Baku. They are looking and sounding amazing. The dance routine is capturing the imagination of people and Kurt looks wonderful on camera. Watch out for Malta.

22. FYR Macedonia

Marc: The Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia have not been in the finals for quite some time and their biggest star, Kaliopi has managed to do just that. The song is quite an interesting pop/rock number which is performed to sheer excellence. This will be one of those songs which will reach the mid-table on Saturday night and this is because there are just two many songs of a very high quality this year because such a track would have done much stronger last year.

GarrettKaliopi was looking and sounding great. Passionate performance and a rocky look to the song. We really like her and this is going to do well for FYR Macedonia. She knows how sell a song and does this wonderfully

23. Ireland

Marc: Jedward are back to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest for the second year in a row with what appears to be a much stronger song entitled Waterline. The staging of this track is just incredible with a fountain making an appearance despite not being operational along with a beautiful backdrop which is depicting a stream of water. The vocal performance is good but I believe that they did perform much better during the semi-final on Tuesday. This is one of the most visually enticing performances of the evening and one could definitely see them doing better than they did last year in terms of result.

Garrett: Well Jedward were on the stage now. Vocals were on the money and thge balance between Jedward and the backing singers was better that others that performed today. They did not use the water feature for this rehearsal but were in their costumes and their hair was down. Looking and Souinding great – and I am not being biased. This will be a good crowd pleaserperformance. JOB WELL DONE!!

24. Serbia

Marc: Zeljko Joksimovic has become one of the legends of the EurovisioN Song Contest having been here on so many occasions, either as a performer or as a songwriter. This is definitely a beautiful song with a lot of orchestration which definitely picks it up as a track. I do not believe that he can improve on his result achieved in Istanbul but one has to keep in mind that he is performing very late in the draw and therefore, he could definitely place high in the final with a possible victory looming as well.

Garrett: Well this is a song that I have never really felt brough something new to the table for 2012. If this was bak in 2008 then I would have been raving about it but as it has been done before so I personally would not have it as a winner HOWEVER the International press are calling this as a potential winner. It is sung wonderfully and the stage performance is very good but I am not a huge fan of the song. Still this could be a winner.

25. Ukraine

Marc: The European Football Championships are not too far away now and things are somewhat looking good for Ukraine for the second year in a row noting that they did finish in fourth place last year with a song that was not predicted to do well. Gaitana is a great vocalist but sometimes, I just cannot get the hype because she does tend to shout in certain bits of the song. The idea of having the LED screens on stage is interesting and created an ambient of a football match or a flashmob. This could also scrape into the top ten.

Garrett: Well I am not sure why but Gaitana has taken the song up a key and it has lost some of the power from the vocals. I am not sure if this is because of a problem with her ear monitor but I cannot see the reasoning for going up a key. She had to pull out of the high note in the song and it just sounded all wrong. I hope they revert to the original key. Still a potential Top 5 for me.

26. Moldova 

Marc: This is the final performance of the evening and one has to add that this a very classy performance with a twist. Pasha Parfeny seems to be the Moldovan version of Colin Farrell but that does not seem to bother him in reality. The choreography is still as quirky as it had been before hand and the performance is still very strong. The vocals are spot on and I just believe that this could be the best result for Moldova with the possibility of finishing in the top five if they are quite lucky with the outcome. 

Garrett: This was a fun performance and a great way to round off a great show. Visually and vocally strong and a dance routine that is very Benny Hill. You cannot help but be caught up in the feel good factor of this song. Not a winner for me but will score well and if the rumours are right – Moldova may have won Semi Final 1.

The Show (Part 2)

The hosts are back on stage and they are still quite dull unfortunately but nevertheless they are doing the job in the best way possible and hence they open the tele-voting and also announce the recap which of course seems to still be very much in tatters during the first run but then is fixed for the second run of the recap. This is the most open Eurovision Song Contest in  years and people believe it is quite a strong edition. They will now be rehearsal the interval act and also the voting segment to make sure that all is going well, therefore, we will be returning to commentate on this evenings' dress rehearsal which will be much more crucial as the jury will be casting their vote.

One of the countries that has not been lucky in the Eurovision Song Contest since the introduction of the semi-final system has surely been The Netherlands who have only managed to get through this hurdle on one occasion, being back in 2004 when their entry entitled Without You ended up garnering a disappointing result in the finals of that years' edition held in Istanbul, Turkey. Since then the outlook has been bleak and in recent years, they even changed their broadcasters in an effort to bring back a fresh sound. For this years' edition of the music competition, they went for a huge national selection which was professionally organized by John Del Mol, known for creating hit shows such as The Voice and in the long run, Joan Franka and her track You and Me ended up being the final.

Joan Franka is not a complete newcomer to the music scene actually having participated in her nations' version of the ever popularity growing competition known as The Voice although she did not win finishing as the runner-up. The track that she is presenting in this years' edition of the Eurovision Song Contest which is being staged in Baku, Azerbaijan is one which she wrote with Jessica Hoogenboom and despite being an underdog in the final and even failing to garner the most amount of jury votes at last part of the selection process, she managed to convince the viewers that she was the choice. Our team in Baku including Juergen Boernig and Eric Lehmann caught up with the performer prior to the first dress rehearsal and spoke to them about the experience.

Source: Juergen Boernig, Eric Lehmann

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This evening marks the opening of the Eurovision Song Contest with the very first semi-final of the prestigious music event being staged from Baku, Azerbaijan and as one could have noted from the past couple of days, there is surely a lot of excitement building up as eighteen (18) countries will be competing against each other for one of the elite ten (10) spots which are very much up for grabs. The countries competing this evening are a mixture of East, West, North and even Central and that is why it makes up for an extremely interesting evening. We are definitely vying on making it even more interesting with three individuals signing up to do the live commentary including none other than our very own Emil Calleja Bayliss; an upcoming lyricist having just finished as the runner-up in the Għanja tal-Poplu competition, Claudia Faniello; the runner-up in this years' edition of the Malta Eurovision Song Contest and also Raquela; who has taken part in the Malta Eurosong on three occasions thus far with fifth being her best result. 

Good Evening! Welcome to the live report of the very first semi-final of this years' edition of the Eurovision Song Contest which is taking place in Azerbaijan following the victory of Ell & Nikki with their song Running Scared, the ballad which soared and impressed the tele-voters and the juries putting it in first place overall. Tonight, ten (10) countries will continue their journey on hoping to win the competition, some of which for the very first time. The hosts this evening are two extremely beautiful women known as Leyla and Nargiz as well as the charismatic Ell who was one half of the winning team last year. The rehearsals were very well this afternoon and yesterday and therefore, everyone is ready for the first semi-final. In Malta, we would like to remind you that the commentator for the evening will be none other than Elaine Saliba, a formidable hostess in this years' Malta Eurovision Song Contest and last years' Konkors Kanzunetta Indipendenza as well as Ronald Briffa who is a special guest.

LIVE 

The hosts are on stage with the ladies clad in beautiful black and red dresses whilst the male is wearing a black suit which really suits him. The staging looks incredible on the television screens. It seems that the English language has improved from the rehearsals and therefore, they have toned it down speaking in German, French, English. They introduce the Eurovision Song Contest and we are off with the performance. Enjoy the evening people!

01. Montenegro

Raquela: The Opening track is shocking and unexpected. The verses are in a jazzy tune and therefore somewhat interesting. I wish the concept was slightly more clear ... but in its complexity it seems like they're bringing euronews on stage. The product is too weird though overall.

Emil: Dark Vadar at the Eurovision Song Contest. If he is trying to be funny he is failing msierably. If I had a buzzer, I would be buzzing constantly as probably the sound of the buzzer is more interesting. A guy sing talking with a giant trojan horse behind is surely not the way to impress. Will probably go down as the WORST song in EUROVISION HISTORY!

Claudia: I just cannot believe this entry and do not know whether to comment or not. I just cannot help but thinking to put this on mute at this stage as this is a track which does make up the numbers this evening. I do admire that he wrote this entry himself. I do believe they could have sent something better.

02. Iceland

Raquela: Beginning with a good and strong orchestration...vocals sound smooth and sleek..Hearing this song...brings Evanescence to mind.. Layout of performers on stage looks good...vocals sound really good in sync! Loved her dress!! Gorgeous!

Emil: A big Eurovision drammatic ballad - an instant Eurovision fan favourite since the day it was chosen. The singers looked a bit scary but they warmed up throughout the performance. The stage movement could have been a little more creative though. Typical Eurovision performance and I loved it.

Claudia: I like the dramatic aspect of the song, I think melody is a bit weak though for my liking. In the begging it reminded me of a well known Irish song known. The vocals are strong and this should do well this evening.

03. Greece

Raquela: The tune is catchy...seems like a candy twist to Greek traditional music and the performer is a sexy lady with an extremely thin voice in my opinion. The overall package of dancers leaves much to be desired although they seemed to pull it off.

Emil: Back in 2005 they found a winning formula so they decided to replicate this Greece. Found a singer who looks like Helena Paparizou and sent her to Eurovision with a similar song and a simlar presentation. Having said that she's HOT and will get a number of votes based on that. The song's catchy and the vocal performance was decent although the backing singer helped her carrying it through. Always fun to listen to this type of music.

Claudia: This is something which we have heard quite a number of times before actually because it is a very typical entry from Greece. I do like this song though, the best thus far even though I do not like the vocals too much.

04. Latvia

Raquela: Desperate housewives goes to Eurovision....but love the glamour! Catchy tune, good vocals and a good combination of voices put together. In it's simplicity it's still catchy and who knows what will happen with this track this evening. Melody line is very strong and can be hummed easily.

Emil: When you think that Desperate Housewives finished, you meet the new Housewives at the Eurovision Song Contest. They seem to be really desperate and the creator of that choreography deserves to either die or else given an award for making the audience laugh their hands off. The song is catchy and kind of sweet but the presentation is LAME. Vocally was good but can't believe what I just saw, I guess when mid-life crisis hits you can go to Eurovision.

Claudia: Like how the performer refers to music as being her oxygen ... I do like the chorus but then again, the act is quite weak and not really a fan of the song. I love her vocals when she does the higher bits but I think it starts low for her voice.

05. Albania

Raquela: Well, as Elaine pointed out, hairstyle is quite over the top. I'm hoping this will turn into something beautiful. She executes a perfect vocal rendition, hitting every single note!!! Simply Amazing! I am literally in awe!Very expressive...I have goosebumps!

Emil: Albania sent the evil queen from Snow White. Her voice is AMAZING and it simply blew me away. I guess my dog doesn't agree with my commets as she was shaking her head throughout. She's very talented and the highly drammatic performance will surely be a hit. I guess the jury might save this tonight.

Claudia: I love love how she sings with so much passion, it's a real pity I can't understand what she's saying! Wonderful vocals! Her voice and passion has stolen my attention and that says a lot... Goosebumps!

06. Romania

Raquela: Positive energy radiates from this group!! I love the cohesive unit of bagpipes, accordian and saxophone and drum. Her dress looks so fresh...and the colours look great. Orange and gold....so sexy..the song brings happiness, good times and joy! Just makes me want to get up and dance!

Emil: I have to confess this is my ringtone and I love this song to bits. I think it can be a massive Summer hit and I won't be surprised if it wins the Eurovision but she needs a stronger vocal performance as tonight's performance left MUCH to be DESIRED as it was quite weak. The choreography is fun and you can dance along to the tune. I guess this will go down quite well with the Maltese.

Claudia: I absolutely love back-pipes. It has a typical romanian sound, I'm not a fan of the vocals. Didn't do much to me honestly because she was someone off beat at times this evening. It is just another song honestly.

07. Switzerland

Raquela: A good vocal rendition, and despite it being a band, the voice is quite defined. Hard to grasp lyrics completely. But the overall scene, loving the laser effect...compliments the song. Seems like a good response from the public.

Emil: Not a fan of this song. Although the tune is strong, the fact that they are singing in English and I can't understand what they're saying is a bit irritating. The crowd's got in it too. I don't think this will have a chance tonight - the jury can save it but I highly doubt it. It's not catchy enough that the public will remember this and vote for it.

Claudia: I love his voice, I think this song could be a hit. It's so modern. Maybe the Eurovision Song Contest isn't the proper stage for it though. I would rather imaging it in another type of showcase though. This was meant to be a radio hit and I would definitely vote for this.

08. Belgium

Raquela: Overall a good song but not for such a stage. The tune does not seem memorable enough and her dress is somewhat cute and girly. The build up was somewhat impressive actually.

Emil: Simply ballad and I guess the inspiration behind her outfit was fom Malta's own Danica Muscat as it looks very similar to her outfit at this year's Malta Eurovision. A sweet love song that few will remember at the end of the night. Simplicity was surely the key for Belgium but I guess it was a bit too simple for my liking.

Claudia: I'm not crazy about her vocals, it has an old sound to it which is very much like the past decade actually. The overall outcome is very forgettable. She is so young though and she must be enjoying this whilst feeling very emotional.

09. Finland

Raquela: Love the dress, colour and style! Good and fresh melody line. Very pleasant to listen to...seems to bring the Corrs back to life noting their hiatus. Despite being a ballad, it has definitely captured my attention...I wouldn't mind listening to this again..

Emil: Back to back ballads and the fact that this is in Swedish gives it an edge. The singer is beautiful and oozes charisma as she sings. She looks like a girl out of a fairytale and although I think it might struggle to make it through it is still classy and atmospheric. It is different and the traditional feel to it makes it special.

Claudia: The very beginning of this song actually reminded me of the track I'm With You by Avril Lavingne. I like the serenity that comes with her facial expression but the song in itself is weak but then again, I have a soft spot for strings, nothing else really.

10. Israel

Raquela: It's got a radio-like effect , playful quality!!! This is a track which reminds me a lot of the seventies. There is something amiably retro to it. 

Emil: Love the rhythm to this song. They all seem to be having fun performing this odd entry. They tried to be funny but at least they presented some decent to our ears. The girls on the piano looks like she's high and the singer looks really odd perhaps like the Mad Hatter from Alice & Wonderland. Still I like this one. I guess it will do well tonight. It will surely be a bordering on whether to qualify or not.

Claudia: Ohh, Israel decides to go boogie this year. It's sounds to me like an opening song of a Japanese cartoon from the 70/80s.

11. San Marino

Raquela: The beginning of this song seems promising and well it suddenly becomes cheesy pop. Seems like a group I'd hire for a kid's party. Brings to mind the Spice Girls!!!! Voices however were in sync and overall catchy tune.

Emil: San Marino thought that whatever they send won't have a chance to qualify and it seems they decided to go for the stupidiest song ever. Pity after last year's strong effort. The girl can sing but this song surely doesn't allow her to show it. They took social networking addiction to a new level. Please don't forget to like our Facebook page we need more LIKES.

Claudia: I hate the subject. How stupid, sorry for being blunt. The act and her outfit are just hideous and her laptop just looks absolutely stupid.

12. Cyprus

Raquela: A lot of energy and I just keep being stunned at her beauty!! Looks like an underwater effect. This does stand a chance to make it through this evening.

Emil: I love everything about this performance except the vocals. Under than that I truly think they everything is perfect. The choreography is fun, the girl is sexy and the backdrop was SPLENDID. One of the fan favourites and I guess the public has to save it tonight after that performance.

Claudia: This track could easily be a club summer song for students and I believe that the track is just too low for her voice. She's the best up-tempo song so far and could be a dark horse this evening. I did dance to it!

13. Denmark

Raquela: Good voice...lost for words..maybe reminds me of natasha bedingfield? I didn't get the overall theme. This is very middle of the road and it is a maybe qualifier this evening.

Emil: Nice, simply and catchy. A radio hit and since it contrasts really well with the one before it, it will do well. The whole group looks relaxed and they all look cute. I guess this will sail into the finals tonight and will secure another good result for Denmark. Nothing else to add. Simplicity is the key and it works.

Claudia: Breathe of fresh air... Very radio! It's modern and I love how she uses her voice. I like this a lot actually.This my favourite this evening. I love the bass in the song.

14. Russia

Raquela: Now we've got a folk experience....seems fun to watch, and there is strong applause from the public...mmm I wonder what's coming! Its a risk! Evolves into an unexpected beat...seems like a dance beat! surprise surprise. I wonder what will pop out of that oven.....hahaha......maybe a Christmas tree? and...its they are...fresh out of the oven...BUNS.

Emil: How can you make a Eurovision crowd go crazy!? Get six grannies from an old people's home and they will all go mad. The song is catchy and somehow their vocal performance tonight is much better in comparison to their performances throughout the week. The song is catchy and I can't believe I'm saying this but they have a STRONG chance to win this. Never thought I would end up loving this but I kind of do. It's my guilty pleasure.

Claudia: The melody is very catchy and it gets you going but it wouldn't be a song I'd vote for. Pero if I was there I'd dance to it and I would definitely wave my flag. This could do well ...

15. Hungary

Raquela: Strong melody line. The modulations are excellent.Love it love it love it. Rhythm is strong, catchy. Wish it never ends........Finally a tune to look forward to.. This is my favourite so far. Very very good feedback from the audience.

Emil: I guess this is going to get lost tonight. It's a radio friendly song and Eurovision isn't the place for such a song. It seems something was missing but I cannot figure out what it is. Pleasant but that's it.

Claudia: What a beautiful instrumental beginning. I like the music but it does not really go anywhere special. It's modern, I wouldn't mind listening to it on the radio while driving my beloved smart.

16. Austria

Raquela:  Not liking the dance...party anthem. Too repetitive for my liking...

Emil: HAHAHAHA - Call me weird but I like this song. It's very tongue in cheek and different to what we've seen before. Don't know on its chances tonight. Perhaps some of the viewers are going to find the booty shaking a bit too much but it's cool, fun and the crowd seem to be dancing to this tune. It was very well presented and probably a number of people would be shaking their booty in Paceville to this song.

Claudia: I just cannot believe this song. I am sorry but I prefer to mute and not comment on it.

17. Moldova

Raquela: Ahh love the costumes and contemporary dance!! In fact, I love the movement in the song. My favourite overall stage performance and setting!! Vocals are spot on, especially backing vocals!!!

Emil: Love Love Love it! Love the music, the crazy choreography and all that makes this song. It's very entertaining. Different and FUN! We need more songs like these. Fresh and funny yet not over the top. The backing dancers/singers look crazy in a fun way and I really feel like getting up to sing and dance along with them. I seriously hope they MAKE IT! Fingers crossed. GO MOLDOVA!

Claudia: I can't understand a word this guys is saying. It's a cute song but didn't impress me much.

18. Ireland

Raquela: Seems like they followed the concept of the song..... but nothing more to add. That's all folks.

Emil: Saving the best for the last. Such a catchy song. I felt myself singing a long and doing their fist pump. The performance was strong and it looked great on screen. JEDWARD's energy is unbelievable and this transmits well. Not a fan of the outfits though - they look like they came out of a Star Wars movie but I guess that's the only down point to an overall strong performance.

Claudia: It is quite a pity that Ireland sent them to Eurovision this year noting the many classics that they have sent over the years.

The Show (Part 2)

The hosts are back on stage to say that the songs have come to an end and to open up the tele-voting noting that a person can phone up to twenty votes from a land-line. In the meantime, the recap of the tracks is currently being shown on screens. Not too much time in order to vote, some fifteen minutes but remember, Malta does not vote in this semi-final.

Prediction

Claudia's Qualifiers:  Albania, Cyprus, Denmark, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Romania, Russia, Switzerland

Emil's Qualifiers: Albania, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Moldova, Romania, Russia

Raquela's Qualifiers: Albania, Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Moldova, Romania, Switzerland

Qualifiers

01. Romania

02. Moldova

03. Iceland

04. Hungary

05. Denmark

06. Albania

07. Cyprus

08. Greece

09. Russia

10. Ireland

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