18 November 2017
ESCflashmalta Team

ESCflashmalta Team

The first week of the Eurovision Song Contest being held in Baku, Azerbaijan has passed with all of the respective rehearsals covered in the best possible way with pictures and reports being somewhat the basis of a strong team present in the country. I would like to thank our Head of Operations, Garrett Mulhall who has for the second year in a row done Malta proud whilst still keeping his Irish roots intact within each occasion. Apart from him though, I should and will thank the lovely Šira Carolyn Bezalel who has been busy taking pictures and attending press conferences along with the rest of our team members including Juergen Boernig, Lilian Brunell, Patrick Strouk and Eric Lehmann. I believe that the best portal this year goes to escXtra for keeping the people intact through their live chat and videos and for this we thank them and salute all of their team. They will be supporting escflashmalta.com also with the coverage of the dress rehearsals.

In the past couple of days, we have learnt that there have been issues with the correct starting time of the rehearsals and therefore, we hope that we are ready on time to kick off the premier dress rehearsal this afternoon before the evening dress rehearsal takes shape. That will be quite important though noting that it will be the show in which half of the result will be officially decided as the juries put forward by their respective countries will be making their decisions on who should qualify to the final round of the competition. Stay tuned with us as we follow the dress rehearsal live with our commentary about the vocal performance taking centre stage of course. We should have images for the evenings' dress rehearsal based on what the acts are wearing this afternoon. The images provided now might not be the actual outfits they will be wearing. Thanks for all of your support as always!

LIVE

As has been expected, we are running late but we are expecting the first dress rehearsal to commence very soon. It is important to point out that the hosts will be seen on stage for the very first time as will be the opening and interval act so this is going to be quite an exciting show and it should even slicker this evening. I am going to blog each song as they are performed. So stay tuned as I will be posting all of the updates and reviews of this highly important rehearsal and we have started ...


The Show (Part 1)

The hosts are now on stage and they are literally shouting out to the rest of Europe by virtue of introducing themselves, the year of birth and also where they were born. They are speaking in English, French and Azeri as expected. Following the introduction of the pre-qualified finalists, which are the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany and Spain as well as host country Azerbaijan, the postcard are introduced and they are more like tourism advertisements it seems.

 

Montenegro

Marc: Without a doubt, this has to be the worst song of this years' competition even surpassing the likes of the small nation of San Marino which at least is singable and infectious. This is apparently the style that Rambo performs and he has become quite popular performing this type of music. I would never buy this material personally so questionable music tastes for some people. He seems to be clad in the same outfit as he performed in within the last technical rehearsals. The vocals are good but when were they ever troubled, he does not have a lot to perform in. The staging is also the same, quite dark with a wooden donkey behind him as well as a band on stage.

Garrett: This started terribly – we couldn’t hear his opening lines and then he couldn’t put on his guitar. The dancers roll out their messages like giant toilet roll holders. A weak performance of a crazy song. Prediction: Not Qualifying.

 

Iceland

Marc: During the very first rehearsal of Iceland, there were cries of joy over how the staging was shown noting that it was looking amazing with the mountains behind it and also the clear skies. It looked incredible and sounded good and then it all went downhill with the vocals of Jonsi in the second rehearsal. Today, they are wearing the same outfits as shown above and it seems that Greta is carrying the song perfectly. Jonsi is in the meantime, doing a very good job indeed today but still not back to that first rehearsal in my opinion. The chorus behind them is stunning and this is one song which will surely be getting votes from the jury this evening based on such a rehearsal. This evening, I will be pointing out more who will most likely qualify from the semi-finals. This song is really sounding powerful and Iceland has become an outsider for the victory based on the performance that have been putting forward.

Garrett: I had high hopes for this song but there was something wrong with this performance visually. Jonsi seemed nervous and the vocals seemed to be singing behind the track. I had this as a definite qualifier but now I am not so sure. Just relax Iceland and enjoy the performance more. Prediction: Close call on qualifying.

 

Greece

Marc: Eleftheria Eleftheriou is one of the upcoming artists in Greece actually by virtue of garnering success through the local version of the X Factor but nevertheless, she has been gunning to do the Eurovision Song Contest for quite some time. She is on stage and her vocals sound very strained in the beginning, as if she does not really enjoy herself there but the choreography is apparently looking much slicker today and should definitely keep this in the running for a qualification ticket. Greece have done it well without good vocals in recent years. This is receiving a good round of applause in the press centre. 

Garrett: Don’t tell me how Greece have done it but they have managed to pull it out of the bag and actually do a great performance which they have failed to do it all week. Still need to tighten up the dance but looks like Greece are in the final. Qualifying for the final.

 

Latvia

Marc: Anmary is really enjoying any time she gets on the stage in Baku and despite having a fiery scary smile on her face, she does perform the track well. I am just not in love with this song and I just cannot believe the level of disturbing songs that Latvia had in their national selection considering the gems they had in previous years. They did everything possible with the staging in this one including a very colourful backdrop. They are closely knit together and this does not look well on the screen because the stage is enormous. She does manage all of the high notes and the vocals might be just enough to help this qualify but I am not sure.

Garrett: Change of costumes for Latvia. They are no-longer looking like they are women of the night but instead they are looking like they should be working on the cosmetic counter of a large retail store or a Secretary Pool. Vocals were shrill at times and I personally find this a gimmick. This will most likely just miss out on the final.

 

Albania

Marc: The best vocal of the competition comes from Rona who is representing Albania and she is the one who has decided to take the stage all on her own. She sounds immaculate as always and is managing to hit all of the notes especially the ones in the bridge she manages perfectly. The staging is kept very simple in this one. I am not too sure that this will be making it due to the fact that it might be too out there, but then again, I really wish she would make it because she is just amazing and deserves to be in the final. Once more, the media enjoy the performance quite a lot actually and they clap as if there is no tomorrow.

Garrett: My ears are still recovering. This song is sung wonderfully but it is not a song that is ideal for Eurovision. Dressed like a cross between Lady Gaga and a Star Trek character – blue dress with black lapels – it just looks all wrong on stage. The lighting was far to uninspiring and I have found my first toilet break of the night. Unless the Jury saves this then I am afraid Albania are going home early. This is not qualifying actually.

 

Romania

Marc: Great opening beat from Romania with the drums and then the beat. In recent days, this track has become a contender for victory actually and without a doubt, one would definitely note why. Elena is clad in the outfit as seen in the picture above and she is clearly enjoying herself out there. The group are doing a number of funny dance moves as they prance around the stage. This looks great on the monitors and will definitely not need any more help. The vocals are strong and sound very on key as she has managed all week. The chorus of the group is a great help to the performance. This is sailing into the final for sure, without hearing their rendition this evening. It might also trouble the voting board for the victory on Saturday night. 

Garrett: Comes after the tv ad break and a welcomed relief to Albania. One MAJOR shock – Don’t wear a MINI skirt and then have a wind machine blowing. As Monica from “Friends” would say – “You could see her lady garden”. Please tighten up the dress and then add some more red to the lightening as they have changed to primarily a white stage. Great dance routine.

 

Switzerland

Marc: Switzerland are now on and Maltese surely remember them from coming to the national selection back in February and they have been quite the centre of attention at times for their good looks. In the meantime though, the matrix screens are back on in a number of colours and the group is very much smart casual in their outfits for this performance as expected for a pop/rock number. I do not find anything wrong with this except the diction issues where the main artist says 'strim' instead of 'stream' otherwise, this could be a qualifier but because of that, I just cannot see them in the finals. The vocals are on point as well and the performance does work on screen.

Garrett: By far the BEST performance of the night. The guys really rocked the stage and used every inch of it to effect. No pyrotechnics were used which I hope they do in the second rehearsal. This had great camera angles and vocals. It has all come together for Switzerland at the right time.

 
Belgium
 
 
Marc: The sweet vocals of Iris are just lovely and you cannot help but gush watching her perform this simple ballad in the same way that people enjoyed watching Tom Dice sing his entry Me and My Guitar just a couple of years back. Iris is one of the youngest competing performers in the competition but she has not been intimated and she has come a long way to battle her nerves that she faced during her national final when the choice of the song went to Iris. The song is interesting but we believe it is too calm to impress this evening or tomorrow evening unfortunately. The end note is very beautiful and I reckon that this will be the one to qualify instead of Finland as I believe one will do it.
 
Garrett: One cannot believe that Iris is only 16 as she sang with confidence that most other singers would love to have. Dressed in a short white dress thatlooked like it had some bubble wrap on it. Her vocals were amazing and her interaction with the camera was sublime. I really like this song and her performance. Just might qualify as the Jury are bound to like it.
 
 
Finland
 
 
Marc: It seems that Pernilla has been encountered by a case of nerves because she starts off extremely nasal and then she just cannot hit all the notes in the right way. Very uncharacteristic of Pernilla actually noting that she was strong in all of the other rehearsals. The Swedish language when not performed well sounds very wrong and this ballad has just been hit by a troublesome performance. I can see Iris and Belgium walking all over this. How disappointing indeed especially after how beautiful the song really is. One will hope that she gets her act together in time for tonight.
 
Garrett: I personally love this song but I am afraid that it will not have the wide enough appeal to qualify. They have also made the faux pas of shining a red spot light on the singers red hair and then put her in a very unflattering green dress. The dress is an awkard length and has massive coat tails. It all looks wrong. This will go home early.
 
Israel
 
 
Marc: I have always had a soft spot for Israel having presented some of the most beautiful songs in the competition over the years. This will surely be one of the tracks stand out during the evening just for being abysmally crazy and different at times. I absolutely adore the ticking clock background with some of my friends actually thinking it was real. The vocals are strong and the performance does look well on the screens. This is looking very much in the balance at the moment but I believe they have enough help for them to qualify. A well performed entry and should do well.
 
Garrett: They must have been reading my blogs all week as eventually they they decided to smile on stage for once. It looked great and sounded great. It got a great reaction in the press centre. A funy little ditty. This will go through to the final.
 
San Marino
 
 
Marc: Valentina Monetta is one of the nicest performers in the competition this year but it is quite unfortunate that she has been given such an entry to perform. She is wearing what seems to be a sailor outfit but they just happen to be the colours of San Marino. She is keeping the performance very simple actually but it does work on screen except when she is typing on the laptop as it looks extremely stupid. Nevertheless, the vocals are good but still this is competing with Montenegro for last place in my opinion. She is joined on stage by a number of backing vocalists who carry out a simple routine. 
 
Garrett: I love this song but it will not have a wide enough appeal. Some may find it childlike and the Juries will not be over joyed by it. I think it sounds fun and the dance routine is cheeky. The visuals are great but I think they will not progress. This will most likely just miss out.
 
 
Cyprus
 
 
Marc: Ivi Adamou takes to the stage for her dress rehearsal and indeed she does look like she has been wanting to do this for a very long time. She is joined on stage by a number of dancers whose choreography is very slick. The vocals in the beginning of the performance sound extremely strained but they do improve and the performance goes forward. The thing is that Cyprus had somewhat of a lead over Greece in the beginning but this has been overturned despite the commercial success of the Cypriot entry in both nations. This will most likely qualify to the finals of the competition.
 
 
Denmark
 
 
Marc: The people tend to enjoy the performance of Denmark in the Eurovision Song Contest and last year they were saved by the juries but this time round, I think that the tele-voters will enjoy this. The vocal performance is quite strong, this entry is kept very simple in terms of performance but nevertheless thus work very strongly on the screens due to the fact that the band enjoys the performance and looks extremely authentic. They will be hoping to save their record on two consecutive top five placings.  
 
Garrett: This sounds like every other Danish song from the past few years. It brings nothing new to the table. It is a middle of the road sung well but people have liked that from Denmark each year. It will qualify but I can see this in the bottom half in the final and will qualify.
 
Russia
 
 
Marc: The Russian grannies are exceptionally cute actually but I just cannot really imagine them winning the Eurovision Song Contest as it would be a sham to the competition. It will be quite interesting to see how their performance will go this evening when the juries will be voting for the entries in the semi-final. The vocals are still well performed actually but nevertheless the music is still very much stupid. This is the track which also managed to beat Yulia Volkova and Dima Bilan and their song. 
 
Garrett: What happened? This has been great all week but seemed a little flat. Maybe it needs a big audience. The camera angles were a little roaming and failed to capture the smallest of the Grannies – who is the star of the show. This will still qualify easily but will the Juries like it.
 
Hungary

 
Marc: I must say that this is a very current track and the worry was actually actually they could not manage to hold onto their English diction well but they did manage that and this has become one of the most interesting tracks to compete this year. Many people believe they will make it through to the finals. The track is just beautiful when you listen to it and the staging does work. The camera work is very much well staged and one will be hoping that this will make it.
 
Garrett: Hungary just seems like it is making up the numbers. Very forgettable and I think they are in trouble. Not a lot to say about this dreary performance except Good Bye. They will be flying back home.
 
Austria
 
 
Marc: Austria has to be one of those tracks which are very much out there and whilst the people are bound to like it, I am not sure by some of the most conervative juries including countries like Italy. The idea of this performance is to see the asses shaking in very colourful staging. The graphics were not working too well in the final rehearsal but nevertheless, this has not stopped the group from doing their best rehearsal thus far today. I must say this is quite good though not sure it will make it.
 
Garrett: Austria were fantastic. Sounding like fun with a good visual show. The guys know how to put on a show and it looked a lot tighter on the camera angles. People tuning in for Jedward will like this song. I can see this making the final and will probably scrape into it.
 
 
Moldova
 
 
Marc: Moldova went from a non-qualifier to a definite qualifier during their time in Baku actually with a very quirky performance of a very strong entry which features a lot of nationalistic influence. Moldova are well known for their love of the saxophone and the song is very much in cue with what is normally expected. The vocal performance is very strong and the choreography is really funny and works so well on the camera. This could get Moldova their best result thus far which is going a long way if they are to better their sixth place result.
 
Garrett: What a great performance. The vocals are great and the visual effects add to the song and the performance.  The camera angles were spot on and they made a great show. This will appeal to a large number of people. This will qualify for the final with ease. 
 
Ireland 

 

Marc: Jedward have to be the most popular act competing in this semi-final and they are currently on stage performing their entry Waterline. They are clearly enjoying their time on stage and they seem to have really tightened up their vocals this afternoon just prior to the evening rehearsal. Their harmonies along with the backing are working  well and they are being carried by the backing at some parts as otherwise, it would sound horribly round. The song is very catchy indeed and I prefer it to Lipstick. I believe that this is into the final and will reach the top ten whilst there. It is interesting that they are in gold suits and their hair is actually down people! Huge applause in the press centre for them.

GarrettThe time has come and what a lot of changes have come to the performance. First Jedward are in their stage costumes which are like funky gold and silver power rangers. They come onto the stage WITH THEIR HAIR DOWN – like we had predicted all along!!! Vocally they have taken the main vocals and dropped it by half a key and what a difference it has made. It sounds much better and they have also changed the key of the backing vocals which lifts the entire performance. The dancing is energetic and only how Jedward can do. They leap about the stage with such confidence. THE MONEY SHOT – comes at the end of the song. The water feature is much higher and for the end of the song the twins jump into the waterfall and hold their hands aloft. The water comes crashing down and it looks amazing!!! This is what people have been waiting for and it leaves the viewer with the WOW factor. Jedward have done it again and pulled it out of the bag.


The Show (Part 2)

The hosts are back on stage and tell the people that only twenty votes per line are allowed. They also introduce the recap which is making it's first appearance but will be re-worked to include the performances during this evenings' rehearsal which will be for the juries. There is the interval act performing but we are going to focus on the performances and therefore, we will let you know how the mock voting goes.

Fake Qualifiers

01. Iceland

02. Ireland

03. Moldova

04. Montenegro

05. Cyprus

06. Hungary

07. Russia

08. Greece

09. Austria

10. Latvia

Yesterday had to be one of the most intrguing days in the world of the Eurovision Song Contest with many fans and accredited media looking forward to seeing the rehearsals of the prequalified finalists who have all put in a lot of effort with regards to their entry. The day did not run extremely late and kept in tow with the schedule as much as possible and that is why, many had the time to get ready for the Official Opening Party which was of course held with splendour in Baku, Azerbaijan. This is the very last time that people have to wake up early to follow the days' latest ventures noting that as from tomorrow things change and rehearsals become dress rehearsals in the late afternoon when it comes to Central European Time. Amongst the rehearsals which many are looking forward today, there are surely Estonia, Norway, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom and Germany. So stay tuned to escflashmalta.com for all of the latest news live from Baku.

All of our team members have put in a lot of work to make sure that you get the best experience possible when following escflashmalta.com and therefore, a round of applause for our main members including Juergen Boernig, Lilian Brunell and Šira Carolyn Bezalel for the pictures and the interviews as well as to our head of operations in Azerbaijan, Garrett Mulhall who has been busy dealing with the rehearsals amongst other things. Yesterday, there were eleven acts who took to the stage and this will be the same case today with the rest of the countries in the second semi-final perfecting their respective entries whilst the finalists making sure to improve on their first rehearsals yesterday. Everyone might be a little bit a little tired following the official welcome party last night. We are yet to hear how it went but we will be keeping you posted with all of the latest, so as I said before, make sure to stay tuned to escflashmalta.com throughout the day.

Schedule of Rehearsals 

08:30 - Estonia

09:00 - Slovakia

09:30 - Norway

10:00 - Bosnia & Herzegovina

11:30 - Lithuania

13:00 - United Kingdom

13:30 - France

14:00 - Italy

14:50 - Azerbaijan

15:20 - Spain

15:50 - Germany

 

LIVE

Sorry for not being here earlier people but as you can expect, very rough morning it seems for people in Azerbaijan because the rehearsals began extremely late and we are like in the first day where we are somewhat an hour more than originally scheduled. Estonia seems to have concluded their rehearsal just now and we will be reviewing it just now whilst uploading the video of the rehearsal in this article.

 

Estonia 

The baltic nation is the one up today and Ott Lepland is for the second time wearing his blue waistcoat and trousers along with a white shirt and a dark blazer matching his trousers. He is joined on stage by a female backing vocalists whom we have already seen the outfit she will be wearing but has decided to stay casual today. The backdrop is one of the most visually stunning of the competition being yellow and white throughout the first bit before changing in a pink one full of petals. Ott Lepland has decided to start improvising this morning and some of it actually sounded very good. He certainly seems to be enjoying himself on the stage and this song will not only qualify to the finals but once there it can get their best result in years being the only real ballad which stands out this year for just being different. 

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Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Slovakia

Astonishing light show at the beginning which is further more shown on the screens also through a spectrum of lights. Max Jason Mai on stage and in full costume it seems with make up included. He is joined on stage a band as predicted and making sure to show Europe his physique by wearing an open black leather jacket joined by very tight black leather pants. The song is a typical rock song and is the only one in this years' competition. The staging of this is perfect because the performer is not staying in one place but going around the stage for the best possible effect ont he cameras. The vocals are strong but I am not sure that this song will completely appeal to the people even if he is doing everything in his power to interact with the people. I am almost sure that this is not their year to qualify once more this time round.

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Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Norway

The lighting in the beginning is awesome with purple, blue and red being very high featured. Tooji is wearing his costume from the national final this morning with a hood on his head which he quickly removes heading into the first chorus. He is joined on stage by four dancers; two of which are male and the other two are female. There is also some additional vocal help with a male backing singer on the left hand side of the stage. The choreography is exceptionally slick and this is looking very strong on the screens. We had the opportunity to speak to Tooji and he is really nice and shows that he does put in a lot of work in whatever project he takes up. Vocally this sounds almost perfect today but it is visually amazing. Norway are back into the finally and might also finish in the top ten.

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Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Beautiful melody right from the start for Bosnia & Herzegovina who are being represented byt he wonferful Maya Sar who seems to be wearing the dress for the semi-final this morning. She is clad in a dark black sparkling gown with shoulder pads. She starts at the piano playing it to the music whilst performing with a dark background right behind her. It seems that there has been a change in backdrop for this one with the old ruins of a Greek city not appearing anymore. Mid-way through the song, she stands up revealing the dress in it's full entirety. A flawless vocal performance from Maya but despite the beauty of the song, I am just not so sure that all of the Balkans can make it through and I would be sad to see this one go unfortunately. 

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Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Lithuania

The second rehearsal from the second Baltic nation competing in the second semi-final actually comes from Lithuania and Donny Montell is wearing a white shirt with black trousers and a matching blazer. The graphics behind him are kept dark with just blue lighting shining on stage but then, they commences and it shows what seems to be empty void rooms. He is working the cameras well and this could well be a song that qualifies in the manner that is being presented. Mid way through the song, he removes the blindfold which he starts with and carries out with flip as he has always done. The backdrop features people dancing in the uptempo song. The vocals were impressive indeed. I am very uncertain about the result of this song though.

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Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

United Kingdom

A slight change of scenery for the performance of the United Kingdom today with one main spotlight on the guitarist in the beginning before moving onto the main performer, the most popular entertainer to compete in this years' Eurovision Song Contest. The backdrop for this seems to have been slightly altered as well featuring what seem to be magical rays. The dancers are back on the stage although they do seem to be too much on the far left side. The colour scheme is kept dark but the music and the lights work well and suddenly there is some red on stage as they are heading towards the first key change which is whoa, amazing! Engelbert is hitting all of the notes and this is definitely a top ten performance now. I am impressed by this and I hope he can manage to hold it off towards the final later on this week.

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Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

France

Anggun is back on stage for her second rehearsal and the stage is bathed in red lights today and it seems that she might actually be wearing something which she might wear during the final today when it comes to the top although she is still sporting that cape. She is joined on stage by three acrobats who carry out the choreography and also two backing singers who are really putting in a lot to aid the performance. The staging has pretty much everything thrown in it at this stage. The background features several men doing sports as well as musical bars. The choreography is very elaborate as Anggun is even carried like a queen at times. The vocal performance is good but not flawless but I just cannot imagine this track troubling the top eight at this stage.

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Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Italy

Nina Zilli returns to the stage for her second rehearsal and there have been changes such as the fact that the backing singers, three in total have been moved to the left hand side of the stage as opposed to yesterday. Their movements are more coordinated today and they are definitely enjoying themselves. The beautiful Italian singer is clad in a shimmering silvery blue design which looks astonishing on her and she is wearing her hair in a bun although this will most likely be changed yet she does look great. The singing is as it was yesterday, right on key and she is improvising today which is great as she is making the song more personal. The backdrop has stayed the same keeping with the modern black and white touches. This looks great on stage and on the monitor. Sweden be afraid, very afraid as Italy is in the mix!

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Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Azerbaijan

As we reported yesterday, Sabina will be rehearsing in her beautiful white gown in each and every rehearsal due to the special effects that is carries noting that it does change colour along iwth the backdrop. The focus is on the performer with a white spotlight but she is joined on stage by three female backing vocals and one male backing vocalist and this is looking very well on screens. The dress is looking immaculate and the vocals are very strong as they were yesterday. The idea with the dress is a first for the Eurovision Song Contest and whilst it is impossible for Azerbaijan to win twice in a row, I predict a top ten finish, even a possible top five finish because this ballad is just beautiful and has been written to interact with the audience. 

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Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Spain

Pastora has decided to keep her dress for the final night hidden it seems as she dons more casual clothing for her second rehearsal. The backdrop is quite simple but suddenly there seems to be a stream of water going down behind her. She is alone on stage for more of the time actually and just lets her vocal range do most of the performance. She walks to different parts of the stage noting that she is an experienced performer. The vocals are astonishing and as she heads into the chorus prior to the key change, the backdrop becomes a flurry of stars with strobelights all over. She is joined by five backing singers after this and they help her give the song a choir effect. The staging also features a brand new design. Stunning performance from Spain and this is also a contender this year.

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Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Germany

Germany have went from a mediocre entry to a very strong song and Roman is clearly taking in every ounce of this experience with him. In his native country, he has already become quite popular with his entry for the competition charting at number three (3). Once more, focus in this song is on the lights instead of the backdrop as was the case within the preview video. He is joined on stage by a band which includes the piano, drums, bass and also a guitar. Despite this looking very strong on the screens, I am not actually understanding everything that he is uttering and this can be quite problematic actually. Nevertheless, the refrain is catchy and this track is going to be a hit outside of the Eurovision Song Contest. This will most likely finish between eight and twelfth place on the night! A good rehearsal but it has dropped ever so slightly although this will not effect it.

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Video Courtesy of escXtra

The difference in time zones has somewhat affected a number of sleeping patterns for individuals and whilst weekends are normally used for sleeping in, things do eventually look up once one is gearing up for another day of attending rehearsals, press conferences and also shooting interviews with participants. Most of the participants competing in the 2012 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest have already taken to the stage for two rehearsals including the ones of the first semi-final but nevertheless, there are some acts in the second semi-final who will take to the stage between today and tomorrow whilst the very first rehearsals of the host nation and the big five are expected to take place today as well marking a very special element about the days' proceedings. One of the most interesting areas that has been affected daily is the timing which has never been kept well noting late starts and late finishes with some people spending a whole day in the press centre in order to wrap up their daily coverage. Despite the fact that Malta will not be rehearsing today, the interesting rehearsals surely come from Slovenia, SwedenTurkeyGermanySpain and the United Kingdom.

 

The work and promise that our team members in Baku, have shown in the past couple of days has been beyond extraodinary and I thank them daily for their hard work so once more, a shout out to Juergen Boernig, Lilian Brunell and Šira Carolyn Bezalel for the pictures and the interviews as well as to our head of operations in Azerbaijan, Garrett Mulhall who has been busy dealing with the rehearsals amongst other things.Today, eleven (11) countries will be taking to the stage in total but the pre-qualified finalists have forty minutes on stage because it is their first rehearsal actually. Keeping things in mind, when the first rehearsal is staged, there will be a number of issues and therefore, when they take the stage for a second time tomorrow, one will be expecting them to perfect the act therefore, this is to be kept in mind before drawing up a complete opinion of the track. Kurt Calleja did Malta proud yesterday and currently ranks in seventh place, when it comes to the present press in Baku, Azerbaijan. Stay tuned with escflashmalta.com throughout the day for all of the latest updates about the proceedings.

Schedule of Rehearsals

08:00 - Slovenia
 
08:30 - Croatia
 
09:00 - Sweden
 
09:30 - Georgia
 
10:00 - Turkey
  
11:30 - Germany
 
12:15 - France
 
13:00 - Italy
 
14:00 - Azerbaijan
 
14:45 - Spain
 
15:30 - United Kingdom
 
 
LIVE

Only ever so slightly late today but not too bad indeed considering the long day that does lie ahead. Each of the second semi-final participants still have thirty minutes on stage instead of the initial forty minutes. First there is a vocal run to see that everything is working well and then, the rehearsal in full commences.

 

Slovenia

The youngest performer in this years' edition of the Eurovision Song Contest is back on stage and she does not seem to be daunted to perform in front of millions on the night. She is wearing a beautiful white dress with flowers stitched onto it. She is joined on stage by five female backing vocalists also clad in white who have a simple choreography to carry out. The backdrop features a shimmering piece of material along with beautiful white lighting which acts as a form of series of stars. The vocals are perfect from Eva and the accompaniment of the backing vocals is also sounding beautiful. This is going to be in the final hands down coming at the middle of the semi-final and is completely walking over Croatia which comes right after it.

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Croatia

The second rehearsal of the day as mentioned above comes from Croatia and there are a number of similarities between the two tracks. From what I have heard, Nina is very much a star in the Balkans and she does transpire that on stage actually which she is using from the middle. She is clad in a black dress with a white ruffled bow at the back. On stage she is joined by three female backing vocals and two dancers who seem to be holding onto a piece of drape which they use to perform with during the latter bit of the performance. The backdrop features clouds, very similar to the preview video once more. The basis of the lighting is blue and white. The vocals are good but there are some notes which do not sound too well unfortunately. I will hold onto my nerve and say that this will not qualify and leave room for Slovenia to pounce in and take the votes despite her popularity in the Balkans. 

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Sweden

Sweden comes into the competition as the huge favourite with a lot of media attention and many find themselves in the hall for this rehearsal. The initial strobelights work so well with the beat of the song and are coming across so well on screen. Loreen seems to be in much better shape vocally today and she seems to be wearing her semi-final outfit today which features a black dress hidden under a black cape. She is joined on stage by three female backing vocals and also a male dancer who comes in towards the latter part of the performance. They co-ordinate the moves together at one point and this looks stunning but what is really beautiful is the background of strobelights. The people in the hall love it but am I convinced this will win, not entirely sure but it has a fate in the top three definitely sealed given it has already become a hit all over the continent. 

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Georgia

Anri is clad in a red robe as he performs the operatic bit of the track but he removes it to unvile a very smart suit with a glitter shirt. He is joined on stage by four female backing vocalists/dancers who have a simple choreography task to carry out. The backdrop for this one seems to have been altered just a bit and it seems that the star is now missing. On stage, there is also a white piano which he plays mid-way through the song. At the latter end part of the track, a dancer dressed in red also comes forth. The vocals are good even though crazy and this song might be getting on the nerves of some people but I believe it might actually qualify with this staging. They are enjoying the whole performance, and well this is just mad but I guess mad enough. Just for the record, it is not my personal cup of tea and I would not like it to qualify but hey, the majority speak for themselves.

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Turkey

Turkey is getting a lot of attention in Malta with Can Bonomo appearing on the most popular show in the country last night. He is back on stage for his second rehearsal and there have not been a lot of changes with this one actually with the backdrop still showing the cartoonish sea along with a dark storm which lies ahead in the rough seas. The singer who is wearing a white shirt and black jeans is also sporting a long tailcoat cardigan and is joined on stage by five male backing dancers. The choreography is enegetic but very slick indeed. Turkey has returned with what they do best and this song is not only going to qualify to the final, but once there will reach the top ten. I am singing along to this quite easily. At the latter end of the song, the cardigans are put together to form a sailing boat and there level of excitement and enjoyment is very apparent.

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Germany

The very first rehearsal for Germany in thsi years' Eurovision Song Contest and this is the first time that it is actually being fully staged noting that Roman Lob had performed it by himself during the national final. He is joined on stage by a drummer, bassist, pianist and a guitarist. The focus on the stage performance is definitely on the lighting with the spotlights used very effectively as they had been during the preview video. The backdrop seems to be experimental but features a red three dimensional set of spots going round. The vocals are stunning and Germany are sending a typical pop entry which could well be a great radio hit noting that it has managed to peak at number three in Germany, one of the biggest charts in Europe. 

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France

Anggun came on stage with casual clothes and a white train. Three (3) big cubes were brought onto the stage. The French Team consisted of 2 backing singers, one male and one female and three (3) acrobats performing gym movements throughtout the song . A windmachine was used to create a Carola effect. The vocals went perfectly, however the acrobatic part looks far too hectic and is totally distracting the viewers from the singer and the song. On the other hand the blue background with gymnastic effects is not attractive enough. Nevertheless, this did not come across too badly on the screens and it seems that Anggun was not too happy with the performance, stating that there was a lot of room for improvement during the press conference which was very well attended by the media present considering her stardom across the continent. 

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Italy

Nina Zilli takes to the stage for her first rehearsal wearing a white dress very much reminiscent of what they used to dress like way back in the sixties. The backdrop for Italy is a mixture of black and white lines and this is also used as a colour scheme. She is joined on stage by three backing vocals, two are female and the other being male. This song is kept simple and one has to add that her movements are just adorable with her hands kept in the right place during the performance. The backing need to coordinate better in terms of movements though. Mid way through the performance, spots are coming across along with diamonds. The shots are still slightly messy but this will most likely do better with long shots. She owns the stage and Italy are contenders for victory especially after such a strong first rehearsal.

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Azerbaijan

This host country is being represented by the beautiful Sabina Babayeva and my my what an outstanding performance this was. It is important to note that as published earlier on today, the performer is wearing a white dress which changes colour according to the stage background. She is also joined on stage by a male backing vocalist and three female backing vocalists who are also dressed in white.There might be the issue of this being a static performance but we have come to know from our colleagues that this is really looking great on the screen because at the end of the day, the focus of this track is the voice of Sabina and her accompaniment are doing their best to compliment her. I must say, this is another strong rehearsal considering it is the first one. The backdrop was slightly too laid back but they might be deciding on what to put on it.

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Spain

Beautiful backdrop with shimmering lights, sort of like a waterfall before they become more like shooting stars. Pastora takes to the stage alone and as she enters the chorus, there is a new element of a pyramid on stage. The cameras are keeping a lot of track on her and she is enjoying the element of the close ups. Mid-way through the performance, the backing singers, five in total come out onto the stage and they give the song a special touch. Spain seem like contenders for the very first time in years with this song actually and what a performance. Pasotra is flawless vocally and hits the high notes of the song beautifully. I am sure that Spain will be in the top ten but can they pull out a victory? Huge reaction in the hall!

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United Kingdom

Engelbert has got to be the most famous performer at this years' Eurovision Song Contest followed by Jedward and Pastora Soler and his rehearsal has been expected for quite some time noting that he was supposed to perform first due to this running order position but due to a number of scheduling conflicts this was not possible. He is clad in casual clothing today and is joined on stage by a guitarist as in the preview video and also a couple who are dancing along to the beautiful tune. The vocals need a lot of work especially in the upper register as when he changes the tone, it is not really sounding well and that would definitely detract votes from the juries, an element which the United Kingdom should be playing with. This was a first rehearsal and they will have a second one tomorrow but work is definitely required.

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In the last couple of years, Serbia have been encountering a bit of a difficulty when it comes to their performances at the Eurovision Song Contest and the results have not been so encouraging noting that they managed to reach the final in the last two years but nevertheless it was not the brilliant end result due to mid-table performances. This time round they have decided to select both their singer and song internally and the decision by RTS, the Serbian broadcaster went towards someone who already experienced the competition in the best possible way with a number of top five results as well as a compere in the form of Zeljko Joksimovic.

Our team including Juergen Boernig and Garrett Mulhall had the time to catch up with the performer; Zeljko Joksimovic and he spoke about  a number of issues including his performance in this years' Eurovision Song Contest, his former runner-up finish, his role as a composer and a host. He has experienced the competition in a large number of roles and therefore, he clearly enjoys speaking about the past. Serbia of course won the competition in their first year as an independent country with Marija Serifovic and her entry Molitva and the following year, they continued the trend of success by virtue of reaching the top ten. They will be hoping to get the success of the first two years whilst Zeljko also has a record to defend this time round.

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This year, Finland has to be one of the most underrated countries in the Eurovision Song Contest considering the great performance that Pernilla has been giving during her respective runs which have not been too easy considering the nature of her song which might be simple yet is still extremely emotional. The track which she is performing bearing the title När Jag Blundar was written by her brother as an ode to their mother and therefore, the sentimental feeling will surely be astonishing when it is performing following the likes of Belgium on the stage of the first semi-final. It will be quite interesting which ballad will ultimately stand out the most on the night.

Finland have quite the history in the Eurovision Song Contest and until a couple of years back, they were the longest participating nation not to score a victory but Lordi did change that with their track Hard Rock Hallelujah. Pernilla is quite different and following years of rock and metal, the genre that YLE has been represented by has been calmer, different and somewhat enjoyable noting last years' entry Da Da Dam by Paradise Oskar. They kept to the same formula with such a beautiful ballad. In this special interview on the bus of Finland, Pernilla speaks about the message of the song, the rehearsals and how she manages to keep so calm throughout.

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One of the youngest participants in this years' Eurovision Song Contest is surely Iris, who will be representing Belgium with the song Would You? which won a two song national selection earlier this year held on one of the most popular shows in the nation. The track which is a beautiful ballad has been receiving a lot of praise and the artist herself has a brilliant vocal range to carry it off actually. Iris is competing in the first semi-final and will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of her Belgian counterpart Tom Dice who represented the country just two years ago with the beautiful track Me and My Guitar.

 

Belgium does not have the most stellar of records in the Eurovision Sogn Contest unfortunately but nevertheless, have been one of the most consistent competing countries from the Western world continuously participating each and every year except when having been relegated. Since the introduction of the semi-final system, they have only managed to reach the final on one occasion, but Iris will be vying to change that record this year and take the tally to at least two actually. Within this interview, Iris speaks about her song, her rehearsals and her music career in general which has been flourishing even so early in her life.

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The weather at this years' Eurovision Song Contest has got to be one of the hottest in quite some time noting that the temperatures in Baku are soaring with some taking their time in getting used to the climate but nevertheless, the sixth day of proceedings will surely keep on interesting as the rest of the participants that did not rehearse yesterday are set to take to the stage for the second time today alongside the countries in the first part of the second semi-final. As was the case in the past twenty four hours, the second rehearsals are much more of what is expected to be seen on the respective nights of the semi-finals actually with most of the technical issues sorted out and with the camera shots supposedly to the delegations' lighting. If yesterday is anything to go by, then people will also get to see a number of outfits once more today as there is the question of whether the lighting and the backdrop are working accordingly. There is a lot of interest to see how the second rehearsals of Russia, Ireland, Serbia, The Netherlands and of course Malta will look so make sure to keep yourself updated today.

Yesterday, one of core members of the team in Baku, Azerbaijan could not be present in the hall as he was sick and therefore hoping that he will indeed return today, I would like to continue wishing Garrett Mulhall, our head of operations, a speedy recovering. He has been working hard as have the rest of our team which includes Juergen Boernig, Lilian Brunell and Šira Carolyn Bezalel. Together, they have covered rehearsals, press conferences, got interviews and taken pictures and that is why this team works well together. For the second day in a row, this will be the longest day of our coverage noting that for yet another time, there will be thirteen (13) countries who will be rehearsing today but we are ready to bring you all of the latest and more! Do not worry, we are of course, giving special insight to the Maltese Delegation and entry for yet another time in order to keep you adjourned with what Kurt Calleja and the rest of our team is doing with the track This Is The Night which is amongst the top ten qualifiers according to the accredited media who are ranking Malta in seventh place at the moment. 

Schedule of Rehearsals

08:30 - Russia

09:00 - Hungary

09:30 - Austria

10:00 - Moldova

10:30 - Ireland

12:00 - Serbia

12:30 - FYR Macedonia

13:00 - The Netherlands

13:30 - Malta

14:20 - Belarus

14:50 - Portugal

15:20 - Ukraine

15:50 - Bulgaria  

 

LIVE

It must be a miracle actually because Ictimai, the host broadcaster seems to be on time for the very time this week and that is quite important because it shows that they managed to overcome all of their scheduling issues. Nevertheless, the first rehearsal is already ongoing and we will begin our report very soon so we urge you to stay tuned with thirteen countries all hoping to impress in their final run through before going to their first dress rehearsals on Monday. We will be covering the accredited media dress rehearsals through our collaborations with escXtra and All Kinds of Everything who will be on hand to comment on them live as well.


Russia

Well, this has been one of tracks which people are starting to fall for due to the cute Russian grannies but nevertheless, it is one of those songs which quickly stick into you head. The lighting in the beginning is beautiful with blue spotlights acting as search lights along with the music. The performers are wearing their traditional costumes from the national final which will also be used today. On stage, there is a cooker and suddenly they just starting dancing around with a tray of food. The backdrop looks very good as well because whilst it is kept simple with a couple of designs, it is coming across as very effective. Our team also tells us that the camera work has improved a lot and the vocals from the grannies are not being hindered in any way either so Russia is a definite qualifier and a contender in the final.

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Hungary

This is one of the most comtemporary songs of the year and as soon as it starts, the focus seems to be on the extremely simple yet elaborate background which deals with an outline of the world.  This changes to starts and more outlines in reality. Compact Disco are joined on stage by a female backing vocalist and the vocals were strong in each and every run through today especially when in unison. The problem with this track seems to lie in the camera work because it is looking extremely messy on the screens. I must say that from the first semi-final, this should make it through to the final. A very competent second rehearsal and could surprise if worked out well enough to be honest but there needs to be these slight tweaks that would make it a stronger contender. Hungary were in the final last year so why not.

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Austria

Austria bring to the stage, one of the most diverse entries of the year with the track speaking about shaking your bottom. The staging is once similar to the national final with the group joined on stage by three female dancers clad in yellow/black highlighter dresses which are of course fully lit when the stage goes completely dark mid-way through the performance. It seems that the cameras are not really getting this concept through well though. The boys in th emeantime also have lit up shin guards and should pads. Unfortunately the elment is not coming across that well. The backdrop is showing a mixture of colours inlucindg blue, orange and pink. This does sound great but their chances of qualification hang in the balance I believe because there might be people who would not get in touch with this track.

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Moldova

There are a number of trakcs which can be coined as cheeky in this years' Eurovision Song Contest and this is surely one of them. This has to be one of the most impressive backgrounds in this years' event. There is a lot going on true but what is intriguing is the large pair of red lips. The colour scheme is mostly a mixture of red, orange and yellow. Pasha is still in a white shirt and brown shorts. He is joined on stage by five female dancers, two of which have backing singer roles as well. The choreography is fun and cheerful and one cannot say that this is not working because indeed it is. The vocals are strong and he is enjoying his time on stage, smiling throhgout. It seems that there been a change in choreography within the bridge because of the move that included the singer sitting on a dancer and looking very uncomfortable. Well done Moldova, this is sailing into the final!

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Ireland

Vocally it was better than their first rehearsal. Some sites had been saying that the first verse sounded a little hollow and the harmonies needed to be a little tighter following their performance on Monday. Well it was clear that the team had taken this on board and have been rehearsing since Monday. The song sounded much better and more polished – good work guys. There is still some work just to get the backing vocals 100% in sync with the guys and the track but I have no worries that this will come by the live shows. Linda Martin came onto the stage just before the second performance to have a word with the singers and what ecer she said it did the trick and the harmonies certainly moved up another gear. Jedward themselves were very good vocally. Still some more tightening of the harmonies to do but that is what rehearsals are for but I felt that the guys were much more in control and have faith that they will be ready for the remaining rehearsals.

Again we have the wonderful water backdrop on the screen. The blue colour is very striking both in the hall and on the screen. Jedward wore the white coats with all the European flags on it - The same ones that they wore on the Late Late Show last Friday. Again this will not be their live show costumes as these will be Silver And Gold Suits. What was great to see was that the Water Feature was working much better today and the water was shooting over 20 foot in the air. It was like looking at one of the many fountains that are here in the Baku. It looked wonderful on the stage and again I looked at it on the TV screens and the camera angles showed it wonderfully. I spoke to Liam McKenna (Jedward Road Manager) and he told me that there is still more to come from the Water Feature. It is plain to see that at the end of the song the twins put their mics down and they will be jumping into the water itself. They did not use the pyrotechnics on this performance as I guess they are keeping them for the final full dress rehearsals. Visually this was a much better performance and the guys gave it their all. I like the camera angles and it looks good on screen. The blue water backdrop is wonderful on stage. Overall I am very happy with the improvememt in the performance.

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Serbia

Zeljko is a class act and therefore, he does not take a lot of time to get into his best to rehearse his entry. This is one of my personal favourites and one which has been marked to be a front runner up this years' competition. The dark staging works precisely with this kind of song because of the kind of music, an orchestral background based on violins and a piano. He is joined on stage by a number of people all of which carry instruments, some of which are traditional to the Balkans only. On the backdrop in the bridge, one could note that world going round. The vocals are just perfect in every run and this is still every bit of a contender for the victory. Serbia will finish high in this years' competition and will definitely be in the final despite being the opening act of the second semi-final. The audience in the hall loved it and applauded loudly.

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Exclusive Statement from the Maltese Head of Delegation

Prior to the rehearsal of Kurt Calleja and the rest of his team later on in the afternoon, Anton, Attard, the Maltese Head of Delegation took some time out to speak to us about the rehearsal and this is what he had to tell us: 'We have asked for minor amendments because we were quite satisfied with the first rehearsal. This is good news because the band get to focus on singing rather then technical issues. It's important that they have fun.' Once more, we are very much looking forward for the second rehearsal hoping it will be even stronger than the first one actually.

 

FYR Macedonia

It is unknown what Kaliopi will be wearing on the night of the semi-final but she looks quite chic in just plain casual attire today. The staging for this one has not changed a bit as she is joined on stage by a violinist, a guitarist, bassist, a cellist and a drummer. The key factor here is the vocal of the artist herself who seems to be in best form coming into the competition. Kaliopi also represented her country many years back but this time things are different actually noting that she seems prepared. The spotlights are adjusted accordingly with the music whilst behind her are shots of black and white, something that the song just translate into. This is a good performance but following Serbia, I am not sure whether it will stand out as much nevertheless, this is the best chance for the FYR Macedonia to qualify in a very long time!

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The Netherlands

Joan had decided on her clothing for the semi-final it seems and despite this being a ditty little number, those feathers on her head will definitely put people off but anyways, she is wearing a beautiful blue gown and is in the middle of the stage whilst a band is on another side and her backing singer is on another side. Joan is sounding much stronger than her first rehearsal today and the backdrop is quite enjoyable to look at featuring a look of colour and flames. Could this be the second Dutch entry to qualify through to the finals. I am still not convinced because it is coming too early in the drawn but nevertheless, this will definitely not be boring. Many people are listing this as marginal so it is quite an interesting prospect.

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Malta

One of most intriguing aspects on why there is a lot of attention on Kurt this year is mainly because they find him attractive. The rehearsal today was brilliant from a technical point of view with the backdrop kept the same as it was the first time round meaning that it featured silhouettes of people in a club enjoying themsleves to the music. The band is of course doing a great job supporting Kurt on stage but Amber is the one who is really stealing the show out there. Her vocals mid-way through the track sound incredible and the journalists are really enjoying her bits during the track. Due to the early draw, there is still uncertainty on whether it would stick to the minds of the people but this ia very good rehearsal once more with no trouble. Kurt and his team are doing their utmost and I believe that we will qualify between the seventh to ninth region. It is important to also note that their vocals were great on each run having heard all of the respective performances given today. We are yet to confirm this but it seems that Kurt and his team are in their outfits for the Eurovision Song Contest semi-final featuring a black open jacket and yellow t-shirt whilst the team are all clad in white suits. 

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Belarus

Many people commented that Belarus and Malta are somewhat similar but then again we are coming out on top each and every time in terms of performance. This has not changed too much from the first rehearsal actually. The backdrop is still very artistic and modern featuring shapes. The lighting is predominantly blue na dyellow with slight shades of white. The group are also in their semi-final costumes it seems which are are sleeveless vests in black and metallic attire. This is working on the screens and vocally does not seem to have any issues actually. I believe that this does indeed have a fighting chance to make it but will most likely be the first or second song not to qualify within the semi-final by finishing eleventh or twelfth.

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Exclusive Statement from the Maltese Head of Delegation

Speaking to escflashmalta.com following the rehearsal, Anton Attard, Maltese Head of Delegation and Chief Executive Officer of the Public Broadcasting Services stated 'Overall, this was another good rehearsal. The band are a set of great people to work with.' The Maltese press conference is on in the next couple of minutes, and we will be keeping you posted with what goes on.

 

Portugal

I am very much loving the element of fado in the Eurovision Song Contest noting that it has not been existent for a long time actually. Filipa takes to the stage in fashion wearing a beautiful dress with a stunning immprint. She is joined on stage by five backing vocals and this is clearly a case of being a track known as completely Eurovision by numbers. The fact of the matter remains that there is nothing to fault this track by and when it was chosen in the national final, they made sure to pick a strong entry as they had quite a good selection of songs. The simple choreography is working well on the cameras and the focus of this remains on the strong vocals. They are a strong point and are sounding beautiful. This worked a couple of years ago but not sure whether it will this year. If this qualifies, it will most likely reach a lower end part in the scoreboard.

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Ukraine

Gaitana is back on stage for her second performance and this has clearly improved even visually today noting that the backdrop is showing splashes of water in different colours. She also makes used of four other LED screens like the British representatives used last year. Within them, she makes use of virtual people and this is a good idea noting that in the meantime, she has nother four people on stage who play the trumpets and carry out a stunning choreography. Gaitana is wearing a white gown wit a slit on her right leg. The sreens come together near the end and form a huge flock of people who carry out a flash dance. This is sailing into the final and Ukraine might also surprise in terms of end result as they had done last year.

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Bulgaria

The final rehearsal of the day comes from Bulgaria and she is definitely clad in normal attire for the rehearsal today. I believe there has been a change in colours for the backdrop lighting noting the beautiful purple that is being used this time round. In the meantime, the backdrop in itself still features lines actually as if in a sea but suddenly other structures appear such as a hearts. The vocals are strong as they have always been and despite fact that there are hgih hopes for this song, I just cannot see it qualifying. In fact, there were better songs competing in the national final. Nevertheless, it will achieve a respective non-qualifying position. I do love the lighting mid-way through because it looks as if there are a lot of camera flashes.

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The 2012 Eurovision Song Contest has been quite an interesting ride thus far but the waters will definitely not calm down now as almost all of the participants in the first semi-final will be taking to the stage for their second rehearsal and this time round, things will be less technical and more of a run through sort noting that there have been thirty (30) minutes of allocated time for each participant today. Our nation and our representative who is taking his time off to go through the sites in Azerbaijan is enjoying his time there and will get another free day as rehearsals for him continue tomorrow late in the afternoon, nevertheless, there is a lot of interesting today with some of the acts that will be taking to the stage leaving a very positive mark following their first showing earlier this week. Some of the acts which people will surely be looking forward to are; IcelandAlbania, Romania, Belgium, Finland and Cyprus whilst Greece will be hoping that everything has improved following a shaky start to their preparations.

Good Morning and welcome to our fifth day of live coverage direct from Baku, Azerbaijan thanks to our premier four members of our team including Juergen BoernigLilian BrunellŠira Carolyn Bezalel who have been in charge of pictures and interviews in the past couple of days as well as attending press conferences as well as Garrett Mulhall, our mastermind really who has been leading the team in Baku to the best possible reporting possible noting his long and detailed rehearsal reports as well as his Irish exclusives whilst also giving Malta a role of support by also making himself available to the press conference which has also been recorded and posted in two parts here and here thanks to Juergen and the rest of his extremely reliable team. We are gearing up for the longest day of coverage this year noting that thirteen (13) countries will be rehearsing today but we are ready to bring you all of the latest and more!

Schedule of Rehearsals

08:30 - Montenegro

09:00 - Iceland

09:30 - Greece

10:00 - Latvia

10:30 - Albania

12:00 - Romania

12:30 - Switzerland

13:00 - Belgium

13:30 - Finland

14:20 - Israel

14:50 - San Marino

15:20 - Cyprus

15:50 - Denmark

 LIVE

We believe that people in the press centre has become used to the routine of late starts but it does get on one's nerves especially due to the fact that there should be a tight schedule implemented as from today. Nevertheless, the first vocal rehearsal is expected shortly and then we can commence with rehearsals from thirteen countries.

Montenegro

From the onset of things, it looks as if nothing much has changed from the very first rehearsal when Montengro comes onoto the stage. Rambo is covering his head with what seems to be a sort of a scarf or rather a shall and walks dauntingly across the stage passing the cardboard donky. Today he seems to have included the outfit he will be wearing during the semi-final which just happens to include a white shirt and a smart black blazer. Despite the fact that he is not getting anything right in terms of the song, his wardrobe is spic and span. He is joined on stage by three breakdancers who also have a poster which they open up mid-way through the performance. The poster says 'Euro Neuro Monetary Break Dance'. The vocals are also good as expected. 

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Iceland

I never like to be a stick in the mud about reporting from rehearsals but it seems that Iceland might be facing some daunting trouble for the very time and this is due to the fact that despite the immaculate performance that they gave earlier in the week during their first rehearsal. The addition of some props was included today such a smoke machine which is supposedly being used by Greta although this was to be expected because the Icelandic broadcasting is playing the Eurovision game in this performance. Nevertheless, the problem which we would like to mention is the fact that Jonsi was very much off key during the run through and therefore, did not really sound well. It seems though that the problem might be with the monitors and it is being adhered to at the moment actually. The backdrop featuring lakes, mountains and a smoky setting still looks incredible and this should still qualify even after this rehearsal but it might go down a bit in expectations today.

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Greece 

My My, it seems that the Greek delegation knew that things were very much on the rocks last time round because this has to be the most improved rehearsal thus far noting that the backing dancers are in sync and doing a routine which is very much typical for the Hellenic nation. In the meantime, apart from the smashing routine which is coming across very well on stage, Eleftheria has improved her vocal performance and she seems to be enjoying herself out there as opposed to Sunday when she just could not manage to composer her emotions. Things have also changed in terms of backdrop which now features a blue background with a golden seashell. We have been told that she is also adjusting to the new camera shots and is actually getting a hang of the interaction with the audience at home. It seems that Greece are back in the game, and looking for yet another top ten result.

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Latvia

The second rehearsal for Latvia and it seems that Anmary has also decided to bring out the outfit that she will be wearing on the night of the semi-final, in beautiful sea blue. The staging in terms of colour is somewhat cordinated for her outfit noting that it commences in blue before in a flurry of petals changes in a multicolour format and then just plain orange but wait, some circles are also seemingly appearing and disappearing. Once more, Anmary is joined by her four female dancers whose choreography despite still very silly is slick. The vocals are stronger than the first semi-final but there is nothing extraordinary that would make this a qualifier in less than a weeks' time. It has been noted that there is no element of fun in this song apart from the slightly satirical lyrics. It is coming across very well on screen but there is no real connection. The people present in the hall did not mind it though and they clapped along.

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Albania

I must start off by saying that I am always looking forward to another sublime performance of Rona Nishliu noting that she is magnificient to listen to. The concept of the staging in terms of Eurovision is somewhat highlighted in this entry actually with just a dark background, slight red and a spotlight on the artist. There is nobody else on stage barring Rona and this is what makes the track even more special in my opinion. As the song develops, the lighting is somewhat changed to black, white and red. It is yet unknown about what the artist will be wearing but we believe it will be a dress. Her hair styling though seemed perfect today. Her vocals were beautiful, astonishing and just perfect and she is managing to hold the song together with them. This is a qualifier in my books and deservedly so.

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Romania

The backdrop for this song is one of the most impressive in this years' competition noticing that there are a number of graphical changes including hearts, drums and also a number of sun. The Romanian group are clad in white attire when it comes to the band whilst also noting that Elena is wearing an orange skirt and a black shirt. The vocals are very strong as they were in the very first rehearsal and this might be the surprise of this years' Eurovision Song Contest. The betting odds have put this back up in sixth place despite being extremely just before the rehearsals commenced. Now it has become a definite qualifier for being well performed and catchy. The ending is one of the most interesting in terms of song structure and they are also enjoying themselves out there.

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 Switzerland

This was the first entry to be chosen for this years' Eurovision Song Contest and was actually invited to the Malta Eurovision Song Contest as a guest but nevertheless, this entry is not really sounding that great and the main problem seems to be with the diction of the performer which is not all what is hoped for in terms of pronunciation noting the strim instead of the stream. It is quite interesting to see that the vocal performance on the other hand is quite impressive still and that the main problem lies with the respective diction. The group is joined on stage is joined by a band and the main performers are just jumping around the stage. The backdrop seems to be taken from The Matrix noting that the green is exactly a replica of it. This is a sure non-qualifier in my opinion.

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Belgium

The second youngest participant in this years' Eurovision Song Contest takes to the stage for her second rehearsal clad in a short white dress and high heels. She is joined on stage by three backing vocalists, all of which happen to be women. The backdrop for this one looks much better than the previous one noting that it includes trees and bubbles. The colour scheme features a mixture of blue and pink. The vocals for this one are very strong although the first rehearsal was even stronger as she was less excited. Nevertheless, there are nerves today and this might be problematic as that is why many people wrote her off in the first place. This is still a marginal qualifier but it all lies with Finland on whether they could come up with a better rehearsal than last week. 

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Finland

The second ballad in a row and one which is very similar to the one before it but nevertheless, the issue lies with whether the people would like to listen to a song in English about a relationship with a lover or whether they would like to listen to a song in Finnish dedicated to a mother. The new backdrop features fireworks during the last chorus of the performance and this looks very nice indeed. The vocal performance is powerful and sweet at the very same time and this works well on both the screens and in the hall. One of the issues with this might also be the dark staging but the power of the song is just too good. Whether this will qualify is yet unknown but people believe that one of this and Belgium will make it through to the finals. I am not too sure which one therefore, I would just say that this is marginal.

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Israel

Israel return on stage for their second performance and the backdrop still looks as stunning as it did the first time round with a typical alarm clock going backwards. Actually on other side of the stage, there is also a pocket watch.The colour scehem is a mixture of orange and purple and this works well. All of the group is making use of the stage actually and this is visuall enchanting. The vocal performance is even better than the first time round and this is probably due to the fact that we are on later in the day. This is looking like a strong contender for the final and I believe that it will be making it through by virtue of reaching the top ten in the semi-final. The spotlights are being showcased at the best possible moments and that is why it has become an appeal to the audience visually. 

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San Marino

San Marino are in their outfits today with Valentina in a silver top and blue jacket topping off blue trousers. She is joined on stage by another four individuals who are are doing a number of things including acting as backing dancers and vocalists. There is also a laptop on stage which Valentina uses as a prop to log into her social network. The backdrop is one of the most intriguing in this years' Eurovision Song Contest featuring lyrics of the track itself as well and also pictures of random people. The performance is strong once more but nevertheless, this is not really looking like a qualifer at the moment but hey, it is fun and pretty enjoyable and that is why, no one will really mind this performance especially mid way during the competition.

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Cyprus

This is the second rehearsal for Cyprus as it is for all of the other performers but one of the main differences is that Ivi has lost some of her spark today and it seems that it is very different to the first rehearsal especially vocally noting the fact that she has lost some of the high notes that were making this better. The real problem does not lie though within her capabilities which had already been shot down initially but more due to the issue of whether she can manage a decent performance live. This type of song has been debatable on whether it could be given a clear decent showing but the fact remains that it is a great visual spectacle for all to enjoy especially with the strong lighting patterns and also a great backdrop which give this song a clear edge over some of the others. Another positive point is the outfits which are being used, which featuring a shimmering silver lining. I believe that this song will qualify.

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Denmark

The final rehearsal of the day comes from Denmark and Soluna Samay and this comes into the competition as one of the favourites although it has not really done anything for me in the past couple of weeks losing all personal hopes of success. Nevertheless, there is not a bad point to disagree and I will be pleasantly looking forward for this in order to see the backdrop grapihcs which features a particular setting in different weather and seasonal conditions. The main artist along with the rest of the team is in clad in the clothing that they will be performing in on Tuesday. The vocal performance is strong once more but it does not really appeal to me. Another reason for this might also be the fact that it is looking too static on the cameras. This will qualify even though it is not to my liking but it will be the worst result for Denmark in quite some time.

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The problem of lack of sleep might actually lead to oversleeping the following day but nevertheless, the interest continues with today being the most exciting day yet for several fans due to the fact that a number of strong songs will be taking to the stage of this years' Eurovision Song Contest for the very first time. Everything has gone smoothly thus far actually in Baku, Azerbaijan with Ictimai and the European Broadcasting Union doing a great job when it comes to the organizations aspect. Whether you have left for work or school, we would like to wish you Good Morning and welcome to the fourth day of LIVE coverage. In the previous three days, thanks to several individuals, we have managed to bring about the best possible coverage and we hope to continue more of the same in the next couple of days especially this week when things are more hectic than they will be next week.

For the fourth day running, I would like to thank this years' team for escflashmalta.com which features newcomer; Šira Carolyn Bezalel as well as Juergen Boernig, Lilian Brunell and Garrett Mulhall, the latter of which is is Head of Operations in Baku and is leading the team to such positive coverage. The rehearsal coverage will be as prompt as possible as soon as videos are put up when they are not being reported on location and even faster when people on location are covering them. Yesterday members of our team were present during the Maltese rehearsal first hand and had only words of praise to say whilst they also made it to the press conference where Kurt thought his apple jack move to the media present. Today is quite special due to the fact that the runaway favourite Sweden will rehearsal but there will also be rehearsals by strong entries coming from Turkey, Estonia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Slovenia and Croatia.
 
Schedule of Rehearsals
 
08:00 - Slovenia
 
08:45 - Croatia
 
09:30 - Sweden
 
10:15 - Georgia
 
11:55 - Turkey
 
12:40 - Estonia
 
13:25 - Slovakia
 
14:25 - Norway
 
15:15 - Bosnia & Herzegovina
 
15:55 - Lithuania 
 
LIVE
 
Things improve day by day as they say and timing is very important. It seems that we are just behind by not too much today and that is why, progress is important. Forty minutes have been allocated to each performer for the last time today as tomorrow marks the beginning of the second rehearsals, with half an hour each instead of the longer forty minutes. The first sound check for Eva is on and it seems we are ready to commence quite in spectacular fashion this morning.
 
Slovenia

 
The fourth day of rehearsals open up with a Balkan ballad whose backdrop is kept extremely simple showing what seems to be a black cape flowing in the wind. The colour scheme is a mixture of black and red and there is this misty feeling going along. It might be that everyone is in their costume actually with several white dresses on show. Eva is joined on stage by the five female backing vocalists who were with her in the national final. They are not standing far away though and a warm effect is created with a very simple choreography. In Europe it is very early but it is not in Azerbaijan and the vocals by the young performer are strong and have no trouble. In the final chorus, the backdrop changes and features sparkles in a golden brown colour. I think the song in itself did not come across as powerful as it shoul but still a good start. It is unknown whether Croatia with a same sound can actually kill it's chances out there.
 
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Croatia

 
Following Slovenia, come their neighbours Croatia with a similar kind of sound and this is the very first time that Nina is performing the Eurovision version of her song live. She is clad in a back dress and is joined on stage by three female backing vocalists and two male dancers. The bacdrop is as expected features shots from the video which for those who have not seen it includes a lot of fog and clouds. The spotlights play a pivotal role in brigning out the best elements of this song and it seems that the choreography despite quite simple is very much polished. The vocal range of Nina is incredible and considering her recent surgery, she is still performing very well. The music of this song is just beautiful and mesmerizing. Mid way through the performance, the two dancers stretch out a banner and dance with it whilst Nina continues improvising with her voice. This is very strong and in my opinion has become a qualifier.
 
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Sweden

  
The media attention that was in the hall for Loreen was staggering. People were climbing over each other to get a good vantage point. However - was it worth it? Well being the firm favourite you know that people will be expecting more from you tehn other countries. They will also expect your First Rehearsal to be note, camera and dance perfect which is not the case. Regearsals are there to iron out any problems and Loreen had some issues. We all know the song "Euphoria" and their is even a store in Baku called Euphoria - how strange. The song is a huge Electro Euro Pop anthem that only Sweden know how to do. Loreen is singing on stage with 2 female backing singers. It was clear that she was holding back on her voice but the backing vocals need some work - but that is what the rehearsal is for The song still sounds wonderful and that is hard to say when you have been listening to it for months now. The local people who have not seen or heard the song were very excited from Loreen's performance.
 
This bodes well as the majority of people looking at Eurovision and voting in it will be looking at the songs for the first time when the show airs so your song needs to have impact and this does. Again this is same performance that took place in the Swedish National Final. Loreen is dimly lit with just spotlights on her face which is highly dramatic. The stage is dark with some intermittent flashes of lighting There is the same dance routine as she used in Melodi Festivalen and guess what - yes you are right - she uses the same male dancer again here in Baku. When the key change takes place in the song - YES the same again - we have snow on the stage. However the backdrop of the stage turns into a massive snow blizzard which looks stunning. So as for today's theme for the performances - we are doing "Cars" - so Loreen's performance would be "A pimped out Volkswagen" - Highly reliable but looking and sounding great. What do you think? 
 
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Georgia

 
It seems that this rehearsal started quite problematic as the microphone was not working and he is not using a hand held one due to the choreography which seems to be quite busy. The main singer is joined on stage by four ladies and everyone is dressed in black. The backdrop features what seems to be the star of Britain's Got Talent actually before being altered to more designs further on. In the meantime, the colour scheme for this one is a mixture of black, red and white. It is quite funny how he is trying to look like a Casanova but comes across as too fake and disinterested at times. Nevertheless, the vocal performance is mostly good until he tries to reach the higher register of the falsetto which fails miserably. Mid-way through, a female dancer comes on as well and adds more to the meaningless performance. Now that was a car crash, a devastating one. This is surely a definite non-qualifier.
 
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Turkey

 
It is no surprise that the Turkish rehearsal was very busy as Can Bonomo is a well known star in Azerbaijan. Personally I like this song. It has a great Turkish Ethno/Pop vibe to it. Can is a very likable character and has good vocals. He reminds me of Ben who was the lead singer of the 80's British pop band Curiosity Killed the Cat. Can's vocals were very strong as were his backing singers. His pronunciation was also very good - and you know how I like that! The back drop to the stage is extremely vibrant and colourful. We start with blue lighting on the stage. For the chorus the colour is bright red. There is a strong nautical theme where we see animated scenes of the ocean with anchors, boats and lighthouses.
 
This is interwoven with scenes of anchors through animated scenes of mountaintops with love hearts. Can is accompanied by 5 men on stage with him who provide the backing vocals and dancing. For the actual climax of the song the dancers physically align themselves in a formation to replicate a ship with Can as the captain. It looks very effective. The staging of the song is wonderful and Can is a likable character with a relaxed presence on stage. As he is performing after Georgia this will be to his advantage as the Georgian song and performance has divided the press conference. Turkey will be sailing into the final. I think this could bring Turkey into the Top 10 in the final. If this was a car it would be a stylish cheeky little Mini. It is classic with a little twist. 
 
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Estonia


My close friends know how much I adore the Estonian entry as soon as he took to the stage for his rehearsal, I must say that I was somewhat in a trance over what the performance could look like. It seems like the Ott Lepland might actually be clad as he will be in the semi-final in a black, blue and white outfit featuring a waistcoast and tight jeans. He is joined on stage by one backing vocal who is wearing a beautiful white shimmering gown. The backdrop graphics are just beautiful and feature three dimensional objects but as soon as the bridge kicks in the colour switches from dark red and black to pink with a number of rose petals being used for the backdrop. It also finishes in complete darkness and you could hear a pin drop in such a quiet setting once he finishes but the audience present awaits for him to finish before clapping. Stunning, this could be the surprise of this years' Eurovision Song Contest. A ballad performed with poise and perfection which will stand out from the rest and will surely shine in between the likes of Turkey and Slovakia.

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Slovakia

 
This is a song which has been flying way below the radar due to the fact that Slovakia have never made an impact at the Eurovision Song Contest but nevertheless, it might be that change can come for everyone because Max Jason Mai who is joined on stage by a band is not only only enjoying himself but looking every bit of a qualifier at the moment. The fact of the matter is that this is the only soft metal type of song in the competition and features an extremely catchy refrain. As expected, the focus of this song lies in the lighting which is superbly orchestrated. One problem though might be that the stage is too much based on one particular point and therefore, the interaction lies with just that end. The music is quite beautiful and for all of the first time listeners, this might stand out. The vocals are good and the diction is understandable considering that English is not a first language for people in Slovakia.22

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Norway

 

The Norsk Melodi Grand Prix just happens to be one of the competitions which we followed in full detail within each respective semi-final and the winner was none other than Tooji who seems to be following in the footsteps of his Scandinavian counterpart Eric Saade. The colours used during the backdrop are red and black but nevertheless there also seems to be a tinge of organge. He is joined on stage by four dancers, two of which are male and two of which are female. The vocal performance is strong as it has always been and one would never actually note that this is the very first time that Tooji is actually performing noting that prior to this he was a model and also works with children who are battling physcological issues. I believe that this will be one of those songs which will surely make it through to the finals especially after last years' disappointment. 
 
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Bosnia & Herzegovina

 
The penultimate performance of this years' second semi-final at the Eurovision Song Contest actually features a Balkan ballad which has become somewhat very typical in this showcase. Bosnia & Herzegovina are represented by the beautiful Maya Sar who is standing in the middle of the stage playing a piano. This looks beautiful on screen actually especially when the backdrop is featuring an old city.with Roman columns. The vocal performance is stunning as expected and she does not miss a single note noting that she did give the performance of a lifetime during the song presentation a couple of months back. Following the upbeat entry from Norway, this sounds great and calm and should entice viewers to vote whilst the jury will surely like the transition as well. A masterful performance, well done!
 
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Lithuania

 
The stage is bathed in blue for the final rehearsal of the day featuring Donny Montell who beings about a different type of track to the Eurovision Song Contest as it is a ballad turned pop song mid way. The down side of this live performance is that the main performer has decided to take to the stage on his own. There has been a lot of comparison between Donny and Sasha Song, which is quite interesting especially when they have performed together in the past. The spotlights are working wonders during his song and fill up the stage when there is no backdrop but when the backdrop does indeed come forth, it features miniature black silhouettes. It seems there might have been some problems with it. The vocals were good but not amazing unfortunately.
 
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Lack of sleep due to the levels of excitement which are quickly rising up due to the fact that the Maltese Delegation will be taking to the Crystal Hall in Baku, Azerbaijan for their very first rehearsal on what seems to be the most spectacular stage of the Eurovision Song Contest in recent years. The first rehearsals in which each country is allocated forty minutes are very much a technical run through in general. Anyways, as you get ready for work, school or even maybe an exam, Good Morning and welcome to the third day of LIVE coverage from this years' music competition. In the previous two days, thanks to several individuals, we have managed to bring about the best possible coverage and we hope to continue more of the same in the next couple of days especially this week when things are more hectic.

For the third day running, I would like to thank this years' team for escflashmalta.com which features newcomer; Šira Carolyn Bezalel as well as Juergen Boernig, Lilian Brunell and Garrett Mulhall, the latter of which is is Head of Operations in Baku and is leading the team to such positive coverage. The rehearsal coverage will be as prompt as possible as soon as videos are put up when they are not being reported on location and even faster when people on location are covering them. In the past two days, this has been the promise and it has been kept and today, the team will be more attentive to bring about the latest news about Malta and the song This Is The Night which will be performed on the stage for the very first time. Apart from Malta, there should be plenty of interest today especially for the songs of Serbia, Ukraine, The Netherlands and also outsiders Portugal.

Schedule of Rehearsals

08:00 - Serbia

08:45 - FYR Macedonia

09:30 - The Netherlands

10:15 - Malta

11:55 - Belarus

12:40 - Portugal

13:25 - Ukraine

14:25 - Bulgaria 

LIVE

In the past couple of days, there have been a number of issues with regards to getting started on time actually and it is quite interesting that despite starting a bit late, this is the day in which they were closest to being on schedule. As you can see within the schedule above, the first eight participants in the second semi-final will be taking to the stage and the first vocal run through of Serbia has just finished meaning that the full run through will commence in just seconds of minutes. Stay tuned for all of the updates, throughout the day.

Serbia

Opening to the beautiful sounds of the violin this morning with a dark setting in what seems to be a pink and later a blue starry setting. Zeljko Joksimovic is joined on stage by his 'orchestra' wo are clad in a mixture of black and white, a scheme which would definitely work in the final. As expected, the setup is just astonishing for this entry and the backdrip only changes during the lead up to the birdge. The band moves in different directions momentarily leaving the focus of the performance on Zeljko himself who is giving a masterful vocal interpretation. The addition of the female backing vocal works wonders. As always, this is one song which could be a surprise and win the competition. A superb start and a huge reaction in the hall from the audience present.

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FYR Macedonia

The second rehearsal of the day featrues Kaliopi and the popular singers from the Balkans is very fashionable in a male like suit this morning actually, very suitable as well. The stage is bathed in dark colours once more and the backdrop features revolving images which show a piano at times. She is joined on stage by a band including a guitarist, a bassist, drummer and also a violinist. The vocals from the main performance are very strong and this was somewhat ecpected considering the long career that Kaliopi has had. She literally enjoyed being out there and took it in her stride. This was the best rehearsal from FYR Macedonia in years and this might actually be heading into the final.

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The Netherlands

The Dutch are yet to really make an impact on the Eurovision Sogn Contest since the semi-final system was introduced and they are hoping to do it this year when they are presenting a different kind of song bearing the name You and Me. The lead performer of this track is still wearing the tribal hat it seems but what is spectacular is the fiery red backdrop which features a lot of shapes. Joan is joined on stage by a number of people but then again, she does not look completely sure of the performance and it is worrying that she does not move at all and keeps her place in the middle of the stage. The vocals do not need any work because she is not tested in any way. Whilst there is not a lot which can be done, I am not sure that will actually qualifier to the finals. It seems that a new orchestration has been worked and that is something which actually works very well. At the end of the performance, the five people joining her on stage, all playing instruments come full circle.

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Malta

Kurt and his band came on stage today with a smile and energy that just lit up the room. Kurt asked you to believe that "This is the night" and I think it could well be for Malta on May 24th. What a summery upbeat song . People watching the rehearsal were all clapping and getting into the groove of the song Kurt's vocals were on key all the time and his diction was perfect - which is a welcome change from some of strange English that we have heard. The band that are supporting Kurt sounded wonderful too. There is one female backing vocalist who blends in with Kurt very well. There are 2 male guitarists, a DJ and a female drummer all of which interact with Kurt vocally well to create a strong wall of sound. This performance just blasted out of the blocks. The backdrop has a sea of people dancing on the video wall which is highly impressive. It adds to the carnival atmosphere of the song.

The colours used are red and orange with strobing lights. Again this is visually strong. Kurt and his band have their great dance routine that we are all trying to learn in the press hall now. I have had a few mishaps!! Kurt works the stage and interacts wonderfully with his band members. The camera angles are spot on and Kurt knows how to work the screen. When the climax comes in there is a great dreakdown and the lights on the stage gone from the red to black and white which is highly effective The DJ comes out from behind his booth and does some really slick break dancing while Kurt hits some really high notes. Everything came together on this first rehearsal and the view across the press centre is that Malta are going to the final. If Malta was a fruit they would be a "Passion Fruit" - fresh, fruity and very tasty. 

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Belarus

Malta was followed by a lunch break and I must say that despite the fact that most people do not like the brand new version, I absolutely love the new opinion and the backdrop is quickly transformed into a blue version of the matrix whilst the blue and yellow lighting is also somewhat predominant. This performance does not need a lot of staging due to the fact that the group already features four members in total, and another three which join the proceedings. The interesting thing is that all are male and therefore, this is one of the few songs which does not have the inclusion of a female. The vocals by the lead singer are good but the problem is the diction which is not fully understood but in defense, this is the best song that Belarus has sent since Work That Magic by Dmitry Koldun. A good rehearsal indeed but will it be enough to qualify? That is yet to be seen.

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Portugal

Just as the music starts, the colour scheme is quick transformed into a mixture or pueple and blue with the backdrop showing a typical setting of a small seaside town, most likely on in Portugal. Filipa is performing one of the most traditional songs in this years' competition. She is joined on stgae by five backing vocals, giving the song the feel of a true ballad. The vocals by the main performer do not need any work and the backing are resoundingly amazing as well. This is looking well on screen especially due to the very slow movements by everyone on stage. In the chorus, the backing builds a gospel like feel and the anthemic sound is given a lot of importance. Filips herself is enjoying her time on the stage and in the bridge, she pours out all of her emotion. Whether this song will qualify is another issue, I think it is somewhat borderline at the moment as I cannot see it doing overwhelmingly well but nevertheless, everyone knows what happened back in 2008.

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Ukraine

This song is a chant for the European Football Championships. Instantly catchy and full of wonderful hooks that anyone can easily identify with.The voice on Guitana was absolutely amazing. Her vocal range is stunning and amazed the crowd that had congregated for the rehearsal. It is hard to believe that she is the only set of vocals that are on the stage.The Ukraine are always assured to put an amazing show on every year at Eurovision and this year is no exception. A stunning backdrop of paint being thrown in slow motion of different colours. There are port movable 4 screens on the stage that begin the performance in a boxed formation from which Guitana and her 5 male dancers emerge. The screens then also display various eye catching images from dancing male dancers to crowd scenes of computer icons. It is a busy stage performance - almost like a traffic junction in Baku at rush hour - but I love that!

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Bulgaria

The final rehearsal of the day comes from Bulgaria who are actually being represented by Sofi Marinova who won the right to represent the country in a national final. I believe that this is the first time she is wearing her hair down but nevertheless, the focus on the performance is surely based on the backdrop which is a flurry of lines and bubbles. I believe that this song is missing out on a lot in terms of performance just by opting not to use any backing dancers which could have aided it a lot. Nevertheless, the vocals of Sofi are impressive and I beleive that she can carry it off alone. I still cannot see this song qualifying though unfortunately which is somewhat of a pity in reality but there is nothing extremely special about it that could take it past eleventh place.

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