December 15, 2019

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Eighteen countries have one goal and that is to make it through to the finals of the 2012 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest which is being staged in the city of Baku within Azerbaijan following the victory of Ell & Nikki with the song Running Scared which won the tele-voting and came second in the Jury prompting it to finish at the top of the board overall. The fact of the matter is that the first semi-final went on last night and it seems that everything except one thing went right, with Romania having some problems in their inner-ear actually but nevertheless, this did not affect their final result with the track getting through to the finals. This evening, the juries from all across the continent will be busy once more or well, they will be busy tomorrow as this performance will be the one taped for the juries standing up in all of the eighteen competing countries as well as those of France, Germany and the United Kingdom who will be voting in this semi-final.

The first week was tense and filled with excitement with our team present in Baku taking up a number of different roles including interviewers, reporters and even photographers. These include none other than Garrett Mulhall, Šira Carolyn Bezalel, Juergen Boernig, Lilian Brunell, Patrick Strouk and Eric Lehmann whom I continuously thank for all their hard work and dedication. The earlier dress rehearsals did not go as well as planned unfortunately noting that there were some camera work issues with Belarus and therefore, had to be restarted twice in the long term but we are sure that things will be fixed for tonight. This is not an easy semi-final to be in and therefore the juries will be quite busy to see which tracks stand out amongst the rest.  It is normal that there will be some surprises tomorrow night as the coverage takes place. We will be providing live commentary during the evening with Raquela, Simon Casey and Elaine Camilleri. 

 LIVE

The hosts, the two females and the male are on stage introducing the semi-final entries and also refer to the fact that there are already six pre-qualified entries in the final coming from France, Italy, Germany, Spain, United Kingdom and also the host country being none other than Azerbaijan. In the meantime, things are set to commence for this dress rehearsal.

01. Serbia

The very first performance of the evening will be coming from Serbia and this year, they are being represented by the wonderfully talented Zeljko Joksimovic. The music of this song is just beautiful and the orchestration just work well as an opening track to the second semi-final especially following the horrendous act that opened the first semi-final. The vocals by Zeljko are spot on and the whole act just looking dapper in their black outfits. The music seems to be somewhat reminiscent of the song Paradise by Coldplay in the beginning but then takes into the form of a mild version of Lane Moje. This song will definitely qualify tomorrow night especially after that performance.

02. FYR Macedonia

This has to be one of the most beautiful songs in the semi-final especially the start which is very much focused on a piano musical background. Kaliopi as you can see in the image above is wearing a very smart black suit and she does look a true professional taking that stage. The staging in itself is quite dark with a lot of purple and blue somewhat being featured along with black and white as the title does imply in the long run. There has been a lot of talk about the future of FYR Macedonia in this years' competition. Kaliopi does give an entertaining performance and is flawless throughout, I am taking a limb out on this and saying that it will qualify

03. The Netherlands

There is a lot of clapping in the press centre as this song starts to be shown on the monitors and Joan is the first performer of the evening to use fire on stage giving her performance somewhat of an American Indian type of flair as you can see in her outfit noting the headdress. She is clad in a beautiful blue gown and gives a very good vocal rendition but I cannot help but feel that her vocals are somewhat tired this evening. The performance is somewhat weird in itself but then again, who knows what the tele-voters will think when seeing this being performed live on stage. Towards the end of the song, Joan is somewhat losing her voice tonight. I cannot see this qualifying now.

04. Malta

Kurt Calleja is on the stage and he is clad in a grey shirt, a black blazer and tight black pants. He is joined on stage by five members and we all have to note that they have a great uniting element between them. The performance is pretty much as it has always been, very sharp and tight in a number of different parts. I believe that Kurt is performing the song amazingly well this evening and his entourage is really helping him deliver a strong performance. The vocals are good as they have been in the past couple of days. The juries should enjoy this performance especially following Joan because it is fresh, funky and just plain catchy. Things are definitely looking up for Malta and I believe that we will honestly make it through and qualify.

05. Belarus

Belarus bring to the stage, a song that has been sent to the Eurovision Song Contest a million times actually noting that they have also gone for this type of song in the past with Ruslan Alenko and unfortunately did not qualify. There were a number of issues with the diction this afternoon but it seems that they have managed to elaborate a few on them and are performing this one better. Nevertheless, this song was never a favourite of mine and I believe that with the draw that they have, they would have done much better with their runner-up entry. The lads are clad in rock type of attire even when they are performing a pop/rock type of track. The lead singer is playing about with his vocals this evening and goes off key. Not good from Belarus and this will not qualify.

06. Portugal

Filipa Sousa looks absolutely beautiful in her golden glittery gown but personally, I would have preferred it if she were to go more traditional in terms of an outfit. Nevertheless, she does work the stage well and is performing her ballad to perfection. She is joined on stage by five backing vocals and this is very Eurovision by numbers with the choreography based mainly on the backing vocals' hand movements. Fado has already been in an outing to the Contest and was very successful actually with qualification in second place and also managing a mid-table placing in the final but based on the position it has in this semi-final, it will not qualify to the final.

07. Ukraine

The Official song of the European Football championships is receiving a lot of applause in the press centre just as soon as it starts and it is definitely getting on my good side as I am dancing to this on my seat. Gaitana is wearing a white dress which seems to have been shredded just before heading onto the stage. She is joined on stage by four dancers who play the trumpets but what looks amazing on stage is the fact that she has four LED screens which depict a large army of people who are all playing their musical instruments. The performance does come across very well and her vocal performance is very strong indeed. The problem is surely her dancing though she does put in a lot of energy. This is so sailing into the final with Ukraine looking to get another top ten result when there.

08. Bulgaria

The worst performance of the evening will be coming from the likes of Bulgaria as they have managed to even trump over Georgia now. Sofi Marinova has decided to take to the stage on her own and this was a huge mistake noting that a dance track will surely require choreography. The vocals used to be good but then they were just bundled out completely when the rehearsals commenced. This is a mess and a nil pointer possibly. At least, one knows that things do improve after this once more. Just in case, you have not noticed, I do not believe that this song will qualify which is sad as the country do try their best.

09. Slovenia

Eva Boto is a beautiful young lady and she does bring about a certain aura of innocence to the stage of the Eurovision Song Contest as she represents Slovenia. She is trying to follow in the footsteps of the wonderful Maja Keuc who represented the country last year and made it to the finals. She is joined on stage by five backing vocals all of whom are clad in white. Most of the performance was in tune and in sync but the second chorus was completely off key unfortunately and that is quite disappointing. Nevertheless, she picks it up quickly and this is a track which will be qualifying tomorrow night leaving people probably stunned that she managed to do it.

10. Croatia

You would easily notice that this is a Balkan performance because of the dark blue light in the beginning but then it would develop slightly different than those before them. Just after the opening bit, Nina seems to have gone down a key and it sounded very wrong unfortunately. She does not need a lot of help from Balkans where she is already immensely popular but then again, she does continue like the professional she is and swifts her short black dress. She is joined on stage by a number of dancers who keep the performance very simple and artistic. The vocals continue in a strong manner and she does manage to hit all the notes at the top. This is commendable but I believe that Croatia will just miss out tomorrow night and therefore not qualify.

11. Sweden

Loreen comes into the stage as the main favourite for the competition and despite the fact that her performances have been below par at best, it seems that she has really upped the game for this evenings' performance because she sounds absolutely divine. The choreography is artistic and works well on screen with the dark backdrop and the beautiful lighting. She is of course joined on stage by three female backing vocals and mid-way through the song and within the bridge, snow is being shown and this really gives the song a great effect. The choreography near the end is very similar to her performing with the male dancer doing his best to keep up with her. Vocals are strong and Sweden are back in the mix to win this years' Eurovision Song Contest. This will most likely win the semi-final and thus qualify.

12. Georgia

Whilst Bulgaria is just plain horrible, this is just plain mad and I just cannot believe that this semi-final has these two songs which bring down the level of the competition completely. Anri Jokhadze is performing this song, the best he has in my honest opinion but will that be enough for him to take it to the next round of the competition. Georgia have a very good record at the Eurovision Song Contest having always managed to pass through but the fact that this is mad just does not help at all. He is somewhat joined on stage by a number of people who do carry off the vocals very strongly. This looks very nice on the screens, and this will qualify in my opinion.

13. Turkey

Can Bonomo is looking like the recipient of the maximum points from the tele-voting tomorrow night considering that he made a number of television appearances in the country. He is joined on stage by four male dancers and one has to note that this is looking to be very interesting. Can Bonomo is clad in a white shirt, black trousers and also a black cardigan which seems to have a bird design on the inside. The vocal performance is strong as it has always been and you just cannot help feel excited for the Turkish performer who seems to be an adopted Maltese from all of the times that we have been hearing of him. This will definitely qualify.

14. Estonia

An extremely simple setting for this song in the beginning with a black backdrop and just one bright spotlight on Ott. This has been performed immaculately all week but this afternoon, he dipped a little bit in terms of quality as he has decided to vocally improvise his performance. He is clad in a white shirt and also in matching trousers and waistcoat combination. I just cannot believe that he has managed to nail all of the notes this evening. The jury will definitely adore this even though he is trying too hard to impress in my opinion. He receives a very warm applause in the press centre. The draw will be helping him and he will definitely qualify tomorrow night.

15. Slovakia

This is the only rock song in this years' Eurovision Song contest bu many people believe that it is too much out there to eventually make it through to the final. Max Jason Mai is definitely not bad looking and he tries to impress with his physique in order to garner some votes and whilst this might work in some small numbers, we do not believe that it will be enough to make an impact. The lyrics are actually quite interesting but instead of closing my eyes, I would definitely want to close my ears as this is just too harsh and his vocal is definitely not good this evening with his high notes being way off key at times unfortunately. This is a definite non-qualifier.

16. Norway

Tooji has to be one of the most charismatic performers in this years' Eurovision Song Contest and he brings about the second most energetic performance of this semi-final following Malta. He is joined on stage by four backing dancers and the staging is actually quite interesting with a large number of yellow lights along with spotlights which are vertical on the screen. The clothing is kept very similar to the one there was in his country actually with the vest, tight pants and also leather jacket. The choreography is tight and looks very strong on stage. This will be one to look out for actually and I believe that this will also qualify as it is very similar to Popular by Eric Saade last year.

17. Bosnia & Herzegovina

This is a very simple performance noting the simple backdrop in fading blue. Maya Sar has twice been a backing performer in the Eurovision Song Contest and has decided to take the stage on her own this time round. The song is just beautiful but I just cannot see all of the countries in the Balkan region making it through to the final and I just fear that this will be the one to miss out on the final stages of the competition. The vocal performance is very strong and Maya has gone from strength to strength but unfortunately, she ranks eleventh in my list of performances this evening and will therefore just miss out on the finals.

18. Lithuania

The final performance of the evening comes from Lithuania and they are being represented by a performer who actually looks very young performing on stage. He is wearing a black suit and a white shirt and starts the song blindfolded and performing a ballad. Mid-way through the song though he removes the blindfold and does a back-flip to which he starts performing an uptempo number. The shots actually look very good on the cameras and whilst this remains to be quite borderline, I just cannot include them in my personal list as they would finish twelfth in my opinion. Nevertheless, a very good performance and he is quite better than the song.

The Show (Part 2)

The performances have just finished and the hosts are back on stage to introduce the recaps and also the voting period which is a total of fifteen minutes this year as opposed to having voting possible throughout the whole show. There is a lot of interesting comments going round round and it seems that Malta is dividing people this year, noting that Kurt Calleja and his team have done their best thus far. The juries tend to like Malta but then the problem lies with the tele-voting so we will be hoping to attract the people from over Europe tomorrow night as the semi-final is staged. Another recap is now being shown before the interval act featuring Marija Serifovic, Ell & Nikki, Lena, Alexander Rybak and Dima Bilan come on stage. The pre-qualified six entries are shown on screen at the moment.

Fake Qualifiers

01. Bulgaria

02. Croatia

03. Bosnia & Herzegovina

04. FYR Macedonia

05. Malta

06. Sweden

07. The Netherlands

08. Norway

09. Portugal

10. Estonia

The official journey for the 2012 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest started yesterday with the host broadcaster of the music competition putting up a sublime show for the first semi-final which saw a total of eighteen countries competing for the ten coveted spots. Unfortunately, eight countries did not make it through last night and were therefore sent home. There were no major surprises actually with many people still wondering about how Hungary managed to qualify even though the song is one of the most current in terms of music. Nevertheless, that is over and done with now and with sixteen finalists now officially known, preparations for tomorrow commence as the dress rehearsals for the second semi-final are set to take place today and tomorrow, even just before the show itself. 

As has been all the case during the week, I would like to sincerely thank our Head of Operations, Garrett Mulhall who has for the second year in a row done Malta proud whilst still keeping his Irish roots intact within each occasion. Apart from him though, I should and will thank the lovely Šira Carolyn Bezalel who has been busy taking pictures and attending press conferences along with the rest of our team members including Juergen Boernig, Lilian Brunell, Patrick Strouk and Eric Lehmann. I believe that the best portal this year goes to escXtra for keeping the people intact through their live chat and videos and for this we thank them and salute all of their team. They will be supporting escflashmalta.com also with the coverage of the dress rehearsals. We would like to remind everyone that Malta is competing in this semi-final.

LIVE

Clearly it seems that they are doing the introductions very much the same way that they did them during the first semi-final last night. I must say that the hosts are not as bad as they were earlier on during the week but nevertheless, they are definitely not winning the award for the best hosts ever. Yet another time, they are telling the rest of Europe about the fact that the Big Five and also Azerbaijan, the host country are already competing in the final alongside the qualifiers from the first semi-final.

01. Serbia

Marc: This is a great opener to the second semi-final of the 2012 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest and will definitely give the viewers the excitement that this will be a much better show than the first one they witnessed. Zeljko is very much still clad in the same outfits that they were in the last rehearsal meaning, very smart black outfits. In the meantime, the lighting is very much blue and dark. The vocals are very strong from Zeljko and one just cannot help thinking that this song is still in the running to finish in the top five although I am not sure that it can manage to win at the moment. With the right draw though, anything can happen!

Garrett: This is a well crafted song and sung well. I have never been overly excited by this song as I think it would have made a wonderful entry 5 years ago or so but the Eurovision has moved on since then. Saying that you cannot deny the song is good (not a winner) but a certain qualifier. It will though clear up on the votes from the Balkan countries. Will qualify and will be between 14-8 in the final

02. FYR Macedonia

Marc: Kaliopi is literally rocking the stage mid-way through the song but one has to commend the stunning vocals which she brings about to each and every performance. Today is no different and I am sure that the jury will love listening to her vocals tonight. The song is very much a pop/rock track which indeed starts out slow and then develops as it goes along. The guitar in the song is what makes it identifiable along with the perfect vocal screech that she gives away during the bridge. Many people did also like this track in English and I believe it would have had more impact in such a language.

Garrett: This was electric. She gives an amazing performance. A great rock song with that big high note. This for me is better that Slovenia  who is also in the same Semi Final and could be a fight for the final qualifying spot. A Strong Edgy performance. Battle Royale for the 10th qualifying spot.

03. The Netherlands

Marc: Joan Franka is one of the nicest people in this years' edition of the Eurovision Song Contest and she has a great accent in English. The song which she brings about to the stage is a simple pop/country type of track which might not be identifiable all across Europe. She is wearing this beautiful blue dress as seen above along with the American Indian headdress. She has never had any issues in performing this track and is not having any of them now either. On stage, she is joined by a band who seem to be carrying mostly native type of instruments. This is just a ditty little number and I must say, the best song from The Netherlands in quite some time.

Garrett: Charming as always. Joan still in her sky blue dress and Indian head dress. Her band are charming and Joan's vocals are childlike. Nothing that a great guitar stomper to get the crowd going. The Netherlands are surrounded by a whole lot of cowboys as far a song quality. This has to make the final. The Netherlands will qualify.

04. Malta

Marc: Great thumping opening beat in the beginning as has been the case for quite some time since the new arrangement was brought forward. Kurt is in a great shape this afternoon as he has been for quite some time and he is clearly enjoying his time on the stage in Baku. He is joined on stage by Kevin, Rebecca, Warren, Amber and Christian, all of whom have roles during the performance. Kurt has been getting a lot of attention in the media for his dashing good looks. One has to point out that Amber is doing a great job with her bits and she sounds flawless at times. This is another strong performance and I just cannot find anything to fault today. I do hope that he will give his utmost during the jury dress rehearsal this evening. Well Done to the Maltese Team! 

Garrett: Kurt oh Kurt oh Kurt. This is the night you take Malta to the final. As always Kurt sings this perfectly and he is just so good on camera. He is really electric and his interaction on the stage with the rest of the band is wonderful. The dance routine still has people hooked and is visually wonderful. This has to go through. Malta will make the final.

05. Belarus

Marc: There are problems with the Belarussian performance and in fact, they manage to kick off with the third run noting that the cameras were not switched on for this entry and therefore the shots were not appearing. The lead singer is clearly an energetic lad and the rest of the people on stage do compliment the performance well. The vocals are strong but then again, that will surely not be a positive when the diction is all over the place and I just cannot understand a word which he is saying. The performances over the week were not all good from Belarus but this is one of their worst unfortunately. They clearly need to up their game for the jury dress rehearsal this evening if they want to have at least a hope of making it through.

Garrett: Major problems. you knew from the first few seconds of the song starting that the lead singer was not happy – like myself as I am not a fan of the remix of this song. But it became clear that he could not hear the song in his ear monitor so the dress rehearsal was stopped not one not twice but 3 times until the band could hear their backing track. This certainly threw their confidence and they were pitchy and out of key in places. I am also opposed to hearing “We are the WEINERS” instaead of “Winners”. They have a big fan base in Eastern Europe that might help them get through. For me it is like a Madonna Song – “Borderline” for me.

06. Portugal

MarcShould have Portugal been in the other semi-final, I would have been sure that they would have made it easily bring about what seems to be their best chance of doing well in this competition. Fado has just been recognized as a heritage type of music and it is so beautiful. Filipa does enjoy her time on stage because her smile does say it all. This track is staged in a way that is very Eurovision by numbers but that does not take anything from it. She is wearing a long shimmery dress and the backdrop seems to be featuring the sights in Lisbon. The vocals are flawless and it could definitely surprise at the end of the evening.

Garrett: Filipa sings the song well and it is presented well. Simple and elegant which is what you need to do with a song like this. Unfortunately this is not really the contest for a “New World” track. I fear that Portugal will not score well with the televoters at home. Will miss out on the final.

07. Ukraine

Marc: The Eastern nation has been quite a successful competitor in the Eurovision Song Contest over the years and this year they have decided to send about the official track of the Euro competition. Gaitana is wearing the dress as seen above, meaning a ruffled white one and she is joined on stage by four trumpet players who also act as dancers. In the meantime, this is becoming one of the most visually appealing tracks this year noting that she does bring about some four LED screens which show a large amount of people. The vocals are good although I do not believe that they are at their best this afternoon.

Garrett: One of my favourites in the contest and it pains me say this but the week of rehearsals have taken it’s toll on Gaitana’s voice and she was very pitchy and hoarse. Overall this was the weakest that the song has been performed over the entire week’s rehearsals. No I am wondering if this is a sound issue following on from Belarus. Overall this should get through but not as comfortably as it should have. In the final though.

08. Bulgaria

Marc: Bulgaria have been trying to send the best possible track that they could over the years although they have not managed to interact well with the European audiences it seems. This year, they have decided to send what is a smashing dance track which they still managed to ruin due to the fact that she is performing the song on her own instead of having a full fledged choreography as the song really deserves. She looks very lost on stage and I just cannot see any thing positive about the staging. They are surely competing for one of the lower end spots in the semi-final unfortunately for yet another year.

Garrett: What is heavens name are they thinking?? The vocals were dreadful which makes me think that that the ear pieces are not fully working. But this was the worst performance so far. Off key – makes you think of Gemini from the UK – it was that off key. Now where do I start as to the styling. Content to make a dance track static with no dancing in it – they have put her in a white pvc tight jacket and ULTRA short skirt and thigh hih matching boots. It makes her look like she is Julia Roberts from Pretty Woman – the curb crawling scenes. Dreadful and certainly going home!! Last in the Semi Final

09. Slovenia

Marc: Eva Boto is officially the youngest performer in this years' Eurovision Song Contest and without a doubt, she manages to bring class and elegance despite her extremely young age. The vocal performance this afternoon goes without a hitch as she has managed each and every time. The backing vocals look very angelic actually and this is coming across very wlel on screen. A sublime rehearsal and I believe that this will be making it through although will reserve my predictions for tonight when it will really matter. If they do manage to make it, they will be quite happy noting that Slovenia is one of those countries who do not make it to the final consistently.

Garrett: Well at least this was the first in several songs to be sung in tune so thank the Lord. Not my personal cup of tea as it sounds too much like “Molitvia” which is another song that I found highly overrated. All dressed in white and all so safely staged I can now see this qualifying despite this not being my cup of tea. Looking like they are dressed as Cream Deserts it should still qualify. Now looking like it will qualify.

10. Croatia

Marc: This could have not been a worse draw for Croatia, coming back to back with Slovenia who have opted to send a similar type of Balkan Ballad. The issues lies with the fact that Nina is very popular whilst Eva is still a newcomer but based on the song, I believe that Slovenia trumps her easily. I am not sure which one of them will qualify but I am sure that not both of them will. She is the black dress as seen in the picture above whilst her backing vocalists are wearing white. The vocal performance is flawless, and daresay the best that she has given thus far. Croatia have not been in the final since 2010 and will be hoping that this is their year.

11. Sweden

MarcThe expectation of Sweden tomorrow night is inevitable and one cannot help feel like you have entered a completely different world with this track which is already dominating the digital charts all over the continent. Loreen is clad in black attire with what seem to be tassels on the arms. The backdrop features snow as it was materialized during the Melodifestivalen. She is joined on stage by three female backing vocalists, also in black who do absolutely remarkable harmonies. For the last chorus, she is also joined by a dancer who along with the performer carries out a similar routine, very modern in presentation. This is visually stunning and sounds amazing! Sweden might still be the ones to beat when it comes to this years' Eurovision Song Contest. 

Garrett: Oh this was so underwhelming it was scary. The stage is far too dark and at times Loreen could hardly be seen on the screen. Why have the Swedish delegation taken this decision. You cannot get the emotion that we all know that Loreen portrays as you clearly cannot see her!! Furthermore when it came to the snow scene it was not so much a blizzard but someone shaking their dandruff over Loreen. The entire performance needs more lighting and passion. Sorry but this is not looking like a winner at all and if the changes are not made then Sweden will be heading for a disappointing vote. Will scrape into the final

12. Georgia

Marc: I dread having to comment for this song because Anri is actually a very good singer with a ridiculous type of song unfortunately. He is wearing a black outfit with a sparkling silver shirt underneath. He is joined on stage by four female dancers who seem to be coming out of a burlesque movie. The overall outcome of this song is not that good and I just cannot believe that they decided to send this track to Azerbaijan but then again, they did not have anything better in the national selection. The camera shots though are very good and it does come across well in terms of performance. 

Garrett: This I have always thought was a very poor song but coming after the dark and dreary set of Sweden – Georgia looks fun and fresh and got a huge reaction in the hall. This was high high energy funk/pop/rock/camo and I can see qualifying. A surprise qualifier!

13. Turkey

Marc: The Turkish entry in this years' Eurovision Song Contest is one of the most noteworthy tracks actually but then again, aren't they always on top of things at this competition? They will be hoping to remove the bad memories of last year when they did fail to qualify to the finals but this time round things are different as they do bring on a different type of track. Can is on stage alongside four other men and they look much slicker this time round with leather jackets, in what seems to be a traditional format. The vocals are spot on and the performance is very quirky indeed. This will be one to watch out for in my opinion.

Garrett: Can is dressed in a black leather cap and jacket and looking more Village People. His dancers are in blankets and this is all looking somewhat dark on stage. The vocals were suspect and weak in parts. If they are going to stay with the blankest as part of the act them they need to make them in a vibrant colour. With enough friends in this final this should qualify.

14. Estonia

Marc: Ott Lepland takes to the stage and it seems that he is clad in the same outfit which he wore for the last rehearsal prior to today meaning the one which is seen in the picture. He is joined on stage by a female backing vocalist who is wearing a long white dress. This is coming across so beautiful on the screen. He has decided to include a number of different vocal ranges for the performance and he is playing around with the notes which whilst sounds beautiful might not be as effective. This should definitely qualify with relative ease though and despite me holding my predictions until tonight, I just cannot help but share my love to this song.

Garrett: If it isn’t broken then don’t change it. What have the Estonian Delegation done with their presentation. They have completely changed the melody of the song and it is ridiculous. The bridge from the verse into the chorus they have changed. They increase it up a key and it seems forced!! Please Estonia revert to the original as it was the simple presentation that made this song special and stand out from the crowd! If they do not revert to the original then Estonia will fail to qualify.

15. Slovakia

Marc: This track is the one which is very much out there in this semi-final due to the fact that it has to be the only rock song in this years' Eurovision Song Contest with Belarus having coming close in their first version of the song. Max Jason Mai is trying to show off his body in order to impress with his physique and as you can see in the picture above, he is wearing a black leather jacket and black leather pants. The vocal performance is very good and there is nothing which I would definitely change but this type of music is just not for the music competition and Slovakia might have to sit out of the finals for yet another year.

16. Norway

Last year, Norway did not manage to make it through to the final even though they brought about what was the most energetic song in the competition and also being a favourite. This time round though, they seem to note have that kind of problem because they bring a track which despite being full of energy, has already been successful. The track si very similar to the one which represented Sweden last year but it is coming across so well on the screens for having a very tight choreography. The vocals are very strong in this one and I just cannot believe that they came so far.

17. Bosnia & Herzegovina

Marc: I have just made my mind that Bosnia & Herzegovina is surely not qualifying and I am so sad to actually say that because Maya Sar is a beautiful woman and she is an amazing performer but this is looking too bland on the screens and I just cannot see the tele-voters going for this. My opinion might change this evening but the dark setting, the black dress, the piano, it is just too simple. The positive point is that it is coming after Norway and might relax the audience and put them in a good quiet mood heading into the final performance of the evening. I am still not sure about the outcome. We'll see.

18. Lithuania

Marc: Donny Montell looks like a young boy in terms of appearance but he does bring about a great vocal range to this performance. This performance is kept very simple as he does take to the stage on his own but at the end of the day, this is one which really works and it is also a borderline qualifier in my opinion. He is enjoying his performance quite a lot actually and the fact that he changes the rhythm is quite interesting indeed. This track goes from a ballad to a dance song in just a couple of minutes into the track. It is different but funnily enough works well on the cameras and that is what they wanted in the long term.

The Show (Part 2)

There are a number of recaps being shown as the televoting window is opened and following the fifteen minutes, it does indeed close as what happened last night. The interval act is now rehearsing for the very first time and the hosts do look really stiff today once more. Hoping that they will loosen up for tomorrow evening as it looks too staged at the moment. Dima Bilan is the first on stage performing Believe and the others following him immediately with Lena performing Satellite. It is important to note that all of the last five winners are performing the song with traditional Azeri music accompaniment. 

Fake Qualifiers

Bulgaria

Belarus

Croatia

Estonia

Slovenia

Slovakia

Portugal

The Netherlands

FYR Macedonia

Malta

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. 

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ClAio1OICM

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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvcyLfROsdU 

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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtwg8QPyFXE

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. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agoIlfNRXDw

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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HrHQ9gIKJ8

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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxx6u75q0nk

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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzskcA5btto

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!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riru99O1iVk

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. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7l-6mSo474

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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySybV3anTqs

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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pacrXD4A_Xc

Video Courtesy of escXtra

It as been yet another interesting day in Baku, Azerbaijan wit the final acts competing in the second semi-final taking to the stage for the very first time with the hope of representing their country in the best possible way. Some acts ave a tendency to warm up in front of a huge and this might have been the case for Estonia, a nation which has been written off on quite a hefty amount of occasions including with bookmakers who have put the track in a disappointingly low position nevertheless, despite being well below the number twenty in the overall scoreboard, they have started their rise and will most likely continue to do so when they give another rehearsal, one which will certainly pull in votes from both judges and the viewers at home. Estonia this year are being represented by Ott Lepland and his track Kuula which translates into Hear Me actually with the English version released just a couple of days back.

The fact of the matter is that the performer did not do anything special on the stage of Baku, the host city of the 2012 Eurovision Son Contest. He took to the stage wearing very smart casual attire and belting out the notes as he should. He could have taken the son on his own actually but decided he would like some company and that is why the female backing vocalist from the national final marks er return on stage, this time wearing a beautiful white gown. The vocals were out of this world and if he can manage to keep this going, Estonia will be achieving their best result in years, most likely better tan the one they managed back in 2009 with the group Urban Symphony and the song Randajad which finished in sixth place at the end of the evening. Remember that Estonia is competing in the same semi-final as Malta and would therefore be eligible to receive your vote on the evening. View the first rehearsal below and judge it yourselves. It is the kind of song which the Maltese pretty much like actually. Stay tuned for more news on escflashmalta.com in the coming hours.

Source; Eurovision.tv

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Pvi3lMee5c

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.
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXgEGMS2jhA
 
Video Courtesy of Eurovision.tv
 
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.
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoCgx3QemRc
 
Video Courtesy of Eurovision.tv
 
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? 
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wLqR0AOeSc
 
Video Courtesy of Eurovision.tv
 
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.
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvOfVk6NpWY
 
Video Courtesy of Eurovision.tv
 
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. 
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ip-jmK-SwcI
 
Video Courtesy of Eurovision.tv
 
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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Pvi3lMee5
 
Video Courtesy of Eurovision.tv
 
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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jDTb1hZc7w

Video Courtesy of Eurovision.tv
 
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. 
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eafjl6bssSY
 
Video Courtesy of escXtra
 
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!
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Popb0c2g54Y

Video Courtesy of Eurovision.tv
 
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.
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpEobAARgbE

Video Courtesy of Eurovision.tv

One of the countries which seems to have become a dark horse for many is surely Estonia and their first rehearsal later this week is very much expected by both fans and journalists alike noting that the beautiful ballad was performed impeccably during the national selection in which Ott Lepland managed to cruise to victory based on a final round of televoting. In the Eurovision Song Contest, the version of the song that he will be performing is the one in Estonian bearing the name Kuula but nevertheless he has recorded a number of different versions showcasing the beauty of the entry on more than one language showing that indeed music is a universal language.

The three languages which have proven to be the most popular for Ott Lepland include the English one to which the song has been remodeled into Hear Me, the Spanish one which has been given the title Escucha and the Russian version in which it bears the title Слушай. When the track was initially chosen, the reaction to it was somewhat mixed but these types of ballads always have a place at the Eurovision Song Contest and with the focus being on the vocals, it will surely shine on the night for sounding different than the Balkan entries that will be previewed during the second semi-final, which happens to be the same one in which Kurt Calleja and the rest of his team will be competing with the track This Is The Night. Stay tuned to escflashmalta.com for all of the latest news as soon as it becomes available.

Source: Ott Lepland Facebook, ERR

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1P_tozhfV8

Wednesday, 09 May 2012 11:49

Estonia: Reviewing the track 'Kuula'

The latter part of the second semi-final has to be one of the most intriguing spectacles noting that the variety of genres is very much reflected especially following an array of Balkan tunes which will become somewhat synonymous. Despite their beauty, it is somewhat extremely important that they all relate to each other and some of them might be left out and that is why the next ballad is different because it has a different sound, more notable which will be respected by a number of people around the continent. The country that is being referred to is none other than Estonia who this year have decided to send the crooning Ott Lepland with the song Kuula which he composed alongside Aapo Ilves. 

He has always beaten the competition by an impressive margin. In the final of Eesti Laul, for example, he received 67% of the votes. Ott was already well known in Estonia when he was still a child. He released four albums of children's songs and performed in the theatre, but left the limelight when he became a teenager and focussed on his studies of music. The result is here: he is one of the most respected vocalists in Estonia, an excellent pianist, and the author of some of the biggest radio hits of recent years.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omZU90BMi0w

His vocal coach Maiken has this to say about Kuula: "This song has the potential to be the I Will Always Love You of this century – it is a powerful and simple balance with the potential to become an international hit." Ott's strengths are his powerful voice and down-to-earth demeanour. He is not a show-off, but a true and serious artist. He may be a little reserved, but it is this trait that makes people take him seriously and gives him the charm that has brought him the love of his audiences. Yes, that's what a true Estonian man is like! Get ready, Eurovision – here he comes!

Ott was born on 17 May 1987 in Tallinn. He has released two albums that were aimed at the Estonian market and contained many songs he had written himself. The first book about Ott, Lubage mul olla. Ott Lepland (Let Me Be. Ott Lepland) was published at the end of 2010. A part of the sales revenue is transferred into a grant fund, which helps young people study singing. The grant recipients are picked by Ott Lepland himself. He also donated the 20,000 euros he won on Laulupealinn to Kärdla Town for charity.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lMOEpv0_Pk

It seems that taking one victory after another has come easy to Ott so far. Only time will tell whether his success will continue on the Eurovision Song Contest stage. Ott himself has said: "I feel that I've been lucky. I believe that the reason why I've been so successful is that I've done my own thing and remained true to myself."

The Critics Voice Their Opinion

Magnus Kaxe

  • Back to ballads. This time a musical piece sung in Estonian. The song slowly builds up to the grand finale. The singer has a great voice and the song is beautifully written. I would have loved to hear it in English because the Estonian language sound a little bit hard for my taste. Nevertheless, well crafted and deserving of six (6) points.

Marion Welter

  • Without a doubt, this is more of a song to my liking. The music of this ballad is astonishing, it is just wonderful and his voice is amazing, somewhat beyond what I was expecting. This is a maximum points kind of entry therefore ten (10) points.

Tobias Larsson

  • One of the best ballads in the line-up, leaving you wonder how tiny Estonia can come up with so many really good songs. Very good singing, powerful and controlled at the same time, complete with very soft and tender lyrics. Nine (9) points from my end.

Entry Background 

Performer: Ott Lepland  

Composer: Ott Lepland  

Author: Aapo Ilves

Song: Kuula

Language: Eesti  

Broadcaster: ERR 

History of the Nation

This year will mark the eighteenth participation of Estonia in the Eurovision Song Contest and one can remark that there have been a number of positive results especially due to non-consecutive top ten finishes from 1996 until 2002 with the nation finishing at the top of the scoreboard in 2001 thanks to Dave Benton and Tanel Padar and the song Everybody. The following year, they were close but still far by virtue of finishing in third place with Runaway performed by the Swedish singer Sahlene. Since the introduction of the semi-final system, things have been far bleaker unfortunately though and the country has only managed to turn their luck around since 2009 noting that Urban Symphony and their song Randajad finished in sixth place before the country failed to qualify again in 2010 and then reaching the final again last year before failing to make an impact with Rockefeller Street ending in the last place. Ott Lepland will hope to restore some pride in his country with his entry which is doing well in polls and betting odds putting it in sixth place to qualify.

Source: Eurovision.tv for the Biographical Information and all respective media 

Published in Editorials

The 2012 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest which is going to be staged in Baku, Azerbaijan draws closer and many artists are preparing to switch on a number of alarm clocks as they brave the different time zone nevertheless, many are looking to perfect their performance off stage prior to even thinking about being there as the preparations for each representative continue. In the past couple of days, one of the acts that we managed to speak to was none other than Ott Lepland, the man who will be honouring the colours; blue, black and white, those that best represent Estonia, the winning country of the 2001 music competition and then of course, host of the 2002 edition, one which the Maltese will surely remember with the birth of a star, that is Ira Losco. Within this interview, Ott speaks about his emergence as an artist, his career and his upcoming preparations for the event.

There are many sides to Ott Lepland as an artist with humble beginnings coming through musical theatre, having performed the lead role of Troy Bolton in an adapated version of High School Musical but then again, as the years progressed, you made a decision to go slightly more mainstream by tackling the Estonian music market and thus signed up for the Estonian version of 'Idol' which was were selected for with the backing of the judges and not only making it to the live shows but finishing at the top of the competition without ever languishing at the bottom two. What can you tell us about your early years and how did this competition make you the artist you are today? 

Before Idols I was a simple boy who went to school and liked music. I had studied music in school: both piano and singing. When Idol show came, my friends urged me to take part. I didn’t have any expectations but everything went very well. It made me a lot more self-confident and gave me the possibilty to present my music to Estonia and leave an input to music as such in Estonia.

Skimming through your career achievements, one would notice that the very first time that you made a public debut in terms of recordings was back in 1995 and 1996 having worked with the likes of Seafarm Records and BG Muusik to release four albums but then again, the first major platform in terms of music making came following your stint on 'Idol' wheareas you released a self-titled compilation with Crunch Industry in 2010 and then another album entitled 'Laulan Ma Sing' in 2011. You have been at this for quite some time but then again end up learning new things everyday. What could you tell us about the meaning behind the two albums and do you have general creative control over the songs you publish?

1995-96, as i was a child, i sang children’s songs. Now,15 years later after the Idols i had a possibilty to release my own record. My first album had two of my own songs but mainly songs from other auhtors. My second album has songs from other auhtors too, but half of it contains songs from me as an author. My goal is to move towars releasing more and more music written by myself and i can be only happy that my management allows me to do so.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfNvmbRDMDs

The very first time that Estonia entered the Eurovision Song Contest was back in 1994 with the song 'Nagu Merelaine' performed by Silvi Vrait which did not fare well at all finishing in twenty four position with just two points to it's name but the broadcaster; ERR took a new musical directiton starting two years later ad the results would ultimately flourish managing to reach the top ten on six of the next seven occasions, with songs that have been noted to be timeless. Amongst such songs was the victory of Tanel Padar, Dave Benton & 2XL with the song 'Everybody'. What do you remember of the first entries sent on behalf of Estonia and what do you remember from winning the esteemed music competition?

I have followed the Eurovision from since I was very young. As I come from a very musical family (my mother is a music teacher) I know pretty much all the songs that have represented Estonia in Eurovision. Now, as an active musician, I have the honor of knowing most of the artists who have represented Estonia as well. What I can recall is Silvi Vrait, then Maarja Liis Ilus, Koit Toome and others. I have followed and I have only positive recollections of the whole thing.

The 2012 edition of the Eesti Laul as has been the case in the past couple of years proved to be a selection of astonishing talent with many unconventional music genres, all representing the nations' music scene in the best possible way. Following each performance, the acts were treated to two votes; one of the jury and one of the public and whilst you managed to finish at the top of the latter each and every time, the professional people were putting you in second place, the first time to Liis Lemsalu with 'Made Up My Mind' and in the final to the popular Lenna with 'Mina Jään' who you got to beat in the Super Final stage with 67% of the vote. What were your initial thoughts when submitting the song and did you reach your personal expectations when it comes to presentation?
 
As the song was submitted very spontaniously, there were no real expectations and i rather took this as a new experience. The song did very well, what was somewhat surprise for me too as well, one might say.
 
 
In the past, many performers came to the Eurovision Song Contest in order to commence their musical career and establish themselves as stars in their country but then again it seems that you are already popular in Estonia with many people commenting that this was their choice, one which sees both the artist and the song representing the country as it should be each and every year. One could easily note that such elements were surely going through your mind when coming into the competition but when it actually started to be promoted on television, did you believe that you would garner such support or was it surprising to know how much the people had actually wanted to see you represent Estonia with the possibility of bringing back an extremely good result?
 
It’s a very difficult question. I’d like to think that they voted for the song and thought it would do well, not that people decided to send me, as an artist. Or that’s what I’d like to think. I think they chose the song rather than an artist Ott Lepland.
 
In the past couple of weeks, the European Broadcasting Union was quite busy with uploading the final versions of the tracks along with their respective preview videos to the offcial YouTube channel which was opened a couple of years back and it seems that the song that you will be presenting at the 2012 edition of the music competition is receiving a lot of positive acclaim and is being heard quite a numerous amount of times. The simple yet effective video with the embossed lyrics works wonders with the new orchestration of the track. The song has been slightly altered but maybe you can explain to the readers what actually happened and is the message getting across through such a promotional motion picture?
 
The song was changed into more symphonic. Some instruments were added to make the song sound bigger. As for the video and will it get the message more across... i dont know, to be honest. The emotoion will come through live, most probably, I think.
 
 
The song that you will be taking to the stage in Baku, Azerbaijan translates into 'Listen' and the actual depiction I got from the performance during the Eesti Laul which I covered was that even a pin drop could be heard because the absolute silence from the crowd whilst performing the song was stunning in itself. Normally, there might be some figgiting but the clear production in the song along with the silence of the audience put you in the best position to send out the message. Have there been any discussions on the way that you will be presenting it on stage during the actual showcase where millions of viewers from all over the world will be tuning in?
 
As I have said earlier – less is more. Many participants will use a lot of visuals and effects and so.. we’ll make the best of the situation there but nothing too much, the song will speak for itself.
 
Would you like to say anything to your fans and our readers at escflashmalta.com
 
Take care and thanks for your support!
 
Published in Interviews

Like in the previous years, SVT is making four preview shows featuring all the 39 countries participating in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest which will be held on the 25th, 27th and 29th of May respectively.

These shows started on April 27th till May 18th. There are five experts reviewing the songs weekly. The show is hosted by Melodifestivalen producer Christer Björkman. Last April 27th and last night, these five experts voted for all of the 17 songs participating in the first Semi-final.

These are the results:

19 Points to Latvia
18 Points to Portugal
18 Points to Albania
16 Points to Iceland
16 Points to Moldova
16 Points to Malta
13 Points to Greece
13 Points to Slovakia
13 Points to Belgium
13 Points to Belarus
--------------------------------
12 Points to Russia
09 Points to Bosnia & Herzegovina
09 Points to Finland
09 Points to Poland
08 Points to Serbia
04 Points to Estonia
03 Points to FYR Macedonia

The five experts are none other than: Lena Philipsson (2004 Swedish Eurovision representative), Kayo Shekoni (singer, former member of Afro-dite, 2002 Swedish representatives), Rennie Mirro (musician), Thomas Lundin (Eurovision expert, TV host ) and Marie Serneholt (singer, former member of A-Teens). You can watch the latest show here.

Note that the reviews for the second semifinal will start as from May 11th and will take up till May 18th.

Source: SVT

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