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Monday, 21 May 2012 12:47

Eurovision 2012: First Dress Rehearsal of Semi-Final 1

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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

Last modified on Wednesday, 23 May 2012 12:34