October 21, 2019

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

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

LIVE

01. United Kingdom

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

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

02. Hungary

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

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

03. Albania

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

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

04. Lithuania

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

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

 05. Bosnia & Herzegovina

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

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

06. Russia

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

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

07. Iceland

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

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

08. Cyprus

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

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

09. France

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

10. Italy

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

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

11. Estonia

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

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

12. Norway

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

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

13. Azerbaijan

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

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

14. Romania

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

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

15. Denmark

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

16. Greece

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

17. Sweden

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

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


18. Turkey

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

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

19. Spain

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

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

20. Germany

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

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

21. Malta

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

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

22. FYR Macedonia

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

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

23. Ireland

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

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

24. Serbia

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

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

25. Ukraine

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

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

26. Moldova 

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

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

The Show (Part 2)

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

Years of traditions have seen the Eurovision Song Contest grow into the spectacle that it has become in the present times and it is quite amazing to see that such a small country such as Malta can still qualify to the finals of the esteemed event when making sure that there is the right promotion, the right team and of course the right song and that is why, we would like to congratulate everyone who was on stage and behind the scenes during the performance and made sure that it was completely flawless. In the lead up to the competition, there had been a lot of talk that this could really be one of the better years for Malta and Kurt Calleja along with his team got through thanks to a performance of the song This Is The Night written by Johan Jämtberg, Kurt Calleja and Mikael Gunnerås.

The first hurdle is complete and therefore, it will be quite interesting to see which part of the draw, Malta will be performing within at this stage of the competition noting that Malta has been absent from the final since 2009 when Chiara had managed to qualify in sixth place with the song What If We. The reality is that Kurt and his team do not need a lot to improve on the twenty second result achieved that year and we believe that with the same performance, he can definitely place well.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgaX5QuMGR8

The full list of qualifiers this evening included none other than Lithuania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Ukraine, Sweden, FYR Macedonia, Norway, Estonia, Malta and Turkey. We are awaiting the start of the press conference in order to see how the final running order will look like in the long run. We have spoken to Anton Attard, the Maltese Head of Delegation who is delighted that we have qualified to the finals telling us; They deserve it and we will now be working hard for Saturday evening.

Draw for the Running Order

01. United Kingdom

02. Hungary

03. Albania

04. Lithuania

05. Bosnia & Herzegovina

06. Russia

07. Iceland

08. Cyprus

09. France

10. Italy

11. Estonia

12. Norway

13. Azerbaijan

14. Romania

15. Denmark

16. Greece

17. Sweden

18. Turkey

19. Spain

20. Germany

21. Malta

22. FYR Macedonia

23. Ireland

24. Serbia

25. Ukraine

26. Moldova 

It has definitely not been the easiest possible ride to get this far but nevertheless, the preparations have now been concluded and the staging of the second semi-final is ready to take place this evening with eighteen (18) countries competing against each other for one of the elite ten (10) spots that are being offered in order to complete the final being staged on Saturday evening which will also include the Big Five otherwise known as France, Italy, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom as well as the host country of this years' competition being none other than Azerbaijan. This will be quite the evening with Malta in contention and seemingly looking to be the dark horse according to many including the press who have been ranking our country in sixth position. 

We are definitely vying on making it even more interesting with three individuals signing up to do the live commentary including none other than our very own Elaine Camilleri; who is current Head of Press having been in charge of covering most of the local music related items in the past couple of months, Simon Casey; a well known Irish pop star known for his haunting vocals having once tried to represent Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest with a song that would ultimately climb up to number #1 seeing him catapult to fame and last but not least Raquela; who has taken part in the Malta Eurosong on three occasions thus far with fifth being her best result and who joined us for the commentary of the first semi-final earlier this week.

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

LIVE

01. Serbia

Raquela: Hmm pretty great pop ballad...great start to the show....professional performer and performance... sounds great...loving the orchestral instruments on stage and the build up of song is good but I don't know whether it will be memorable though

Simon Casey: Our second semi-final is under way. Nice ballad to start with undertones of Coldplay's 'Paradise', I hope Chris Martin isn't tuned in! Zeljko is a really good crooner. Think this song should certainly qualify tonight.

Elaine Camilleri: Beautiful, classical ballad with a particular twist in the second part of the song. The male voice is stunning ... one of my favourites, I've got to admit it. The intrsuments make it unique.

02. FYR Macedonia

 

Raquela: Starts off with piano again...hmm seems like i've heard this ballad before...not memorable...overall however, the song is not bad.

Simon Casey:  Was thinking this is just another ballad but good tempo change. Undoubtedly Kaliopi has a good voice but I just didn’t enjoy the song. Reminds me a little of Kate Bush..

Elaine Camilleri: Strong female voice, soft start which twist to a 'slight' rockish style.... I particular like the mixture of the violin with the electric guitar. But i still have doubts about it ...

03. The Netherlands

 

Raquela: Oh my! I'm sure everyone would agree...this is a Cher look-alike!! 70's folk pop.....doesn't sound interesing at all...ok next??

Simon Casey: Very quirky and Hippyish. A little unsure as to where the song was going until it hit the chorus, although I did enjoy the performance and there’s a good vibe to it. Love the Warbonnet.

Elaine Camilleri: Particular song, but it will surely fade in this evening's show. The voice seems a tad shaky ... She does remind me a bit of Kate Middleton;

04. Malta

 

Raquela: Might come off as biased, but loved the performance!! and it sounds refreshing after those forgotten ballads!! go Kurt!!! stage performance impeccable! I'm sure the audience enjoyed this one! It should definitely go through!!!

Simon Casey: I think this is Malta’s best entry in a while and can imagine this song being big on the Clubbing scene. Great performance from Kurt. Loving the fancy footwork!! (You should be proud) Go Malta!!

Elaine Camilleri: A single adjective describes this performance ... AMAZING :) His voice is PERFECT and even Amber's, a good mix! The backdrop really makes a great impression and the camera shots are brilliant. It should make a 'hit' after the Netherlands country song ... we'll see, but Kurt and his team should be proud of this! performance! Maybe this will be OUR NIGHT ...

05. Belarus

 

Raquela: Hmm "We are the winners?"....not too sure about that! Not loving the outfits, but that's my opinion! Commercial sounding song and they sound smooth and professional so that's good...

Simon Casey: Good performance but I just found the song a little repetitive. The stage setting reminding me a little of the Mad Max movies! With odds of ten out of eighteen, they should qualify!!

Elaine Camilleri: Mmm ... those microphines ... those outfits ... quite a catchy refrain ... and they already know that 'they are the winners' ...

06. Portugal

 

Raquela: Very traditional song...singer projects an emotional ballad and vocals are spot on...she looks gorgeous on stage and dress is beautiful, but not a fan of the coreography...great overall performance though.

Simon Casey: Found this song a little intense and for me this performance didn’t go anywhere. I don’t think Filipa will be around for the weekend.

Elaine Camilleri: Back to ballads ... it sounds like Zorro's soundtrack 'I want to spend a Lifetime loving youuu' ... though tecnicaly speaking, the vocals sound great ... I love that tangoish feeling and I love her dress.

07. Ukraine

 

Raquela: Coldplay evovling into David Guetta, stunning lady performing an impeccable song definitely designed to get everyone up, both physically and emotionally....great song!!! She executes a flawless performance...I do hope she gets through as I'd love to watch this number again on Final night!! wow! my favourite so far!

Simon Casey: Good dance track and Gaitana put in a great performance. Really catchy chorus. Certain to qualify tonight but possibly because the voters will associate it with 'When Loves Takes Over' by David Guetta and Kelly Rowland

Elaine Camilleri: A big 'NO NO' to that dress and the dancer's outfits ... seems like Donna Summer returned (RIP Donna Summer). I love the backdrop and the song, is in the 'not bad' section, her voice is amazing and frankly, the refrain is quite catchy. It will pass ...

08. Bulgaria

 

Raquela: This is an unexpectedly enchanting Saxo-beat-like song.  The opening riff makes this track memorable. An enlivening upbeat number...

Simon Casey: Don’t like being too critical but this was another weak song entry. Would have preferred hearing Sofi singing something not so dancy, as she has a very decent voice. A very big stage for a small girl to fill, there should be an act behind her, even someone pretending to be a dj!

Elaine Camilleri: Hello 'Saxobeat' song, nice to meet you in Eurovision again ... and yes, I love this song loads ... great voice, great music ... all the attention is surely on her voice. Pity, I'm not understanding the lyrics heh ... A finalist for sure. Big like. Very modern in her outfit.

09. Slovenia

 

Raquela: It’s a sweet melody and singer . She’s incredibly pretty. Not a bad number and song is expressive and emotional. Song, singer and backing vocals sound pretty professional. Loving the build up of the music towards the end....

Simon Casey: An enjoyable performance from the ladies. Quiet a haunting song and Eva has a very powerful voice. Surely should qualify tonight. Although a few tuning issues between them!

Elaine Camilleri: An intense vocal moment again. Maaaaa I love those outfits ... again, pity we don't understand their language but the voices and the music are great. A good chance to qualify ... really the year of ballads eyyy .

10. Croatia

 

Raquela: After watching a consecutive number of ballads, I'm appalled by their much improved quality...and this is definitely one of them!! Gorgeous! The video of this song complements its style...Highly artistic, musical and expressive....Another professional performance..Can see it making it through..

Simon Casey: A singer songwriter from Croatia, I didn't really like the song, although she has a great voice. Perhaps if she had someone write a song for her things might have been better. A very forgettable performance for me.

Elaine Camilleri: Wonderful backdrop, wonderful outfit and another intense vocal moment. Again ... the language factor! I also like the choreograph and those 'bells' ... a possible qualifier too ... would like to listen to it next Saturday.

11. Sweden

 

Raquela: ah was looking forward to this one!Loreen delivers a good performance. Her moves might come off as somewhat weird but I simply love her and her simplicity, as well as that of the stage! I am most certain that she will make it to finals!! She deserves it!! Great performance and great song!! Loved it!!!

Simon Casey: My favourite performance tonight. Loreen should place very high in the final on Saturday night. Catchy and instant. A song you could see doing well in the single charts in any European Country.

Elaine Camilleri: And here's this year's favourite ... Ehh the audience are really enjoying this number. Great interpretation. Nothing to add more. The choreography always left me impressed ... a Definite qualifier.

12. Georgia

 

Raquela: Love his confidence!!! song doesn't do much for me but I appreciate it for it's difference and unexpectedness! There seems to be too much going on...but overall it was a good performance!

Simon Casey: Anri has a good range but that’s that. This song is going nowhere. Very like a musical number, a bad musical number. Bad costumes, bad choreography, bad song. Certainly not going to follow up on last years result.

Elaine Camilleri: Georgia's Janvil hehe ... different style at last with a misture of styles (not particularly sure about this) ... although this kind of song without the choreography = nothing in my opinion. He's truly a 'womenizer' with those 4/5 cabarret ladies ... may qualify thanks to the neighbour thingy ... stands out after all those ballads.

13. Turkey

Raquela: He bounces around to the beat and the coreography is simple and cute. He has a cute and sometimes cheeky smile. It has a cheeky dark melody... Song is good....emm....ok it's a boat! hehe overall good song...

Simon Casey: One of the better performances tonight. A song with a sample of the Country's traditional music can do well. Very individual, certainly one we will remember in the morning..

Elaine Camilleri: Traditional (seems like a Moldovian style) ... mmm I'm not a particular fan of this song I must admit it ... I'm seeing seagulls or what?

14. Estonia

 

Raquela: A beautiful opening melody! Love the his vocal timbre....and very handsome..Staging is simple.. Loved the modulation ..not sure it's memorable but I think it might make it through...

Simon Casey: A great vocal from Ott, really good singer. I have no idea what he’s singing about but a good ballad is a good ballad. I think he’ll qualify the final.Simple stage production for this song just goes to show the right singer can fill the stage.

Elaine Camilleri: ehhh I adore this male ballad ... he sings his heart out and puts pure emotion in the interpretation. I was definetely 'listening' to you beautiful Estonian hehe ... he gives me goosebumps :) I really do  hope this qualifies ...

15. Slovakia

 

Raquela: Musically, not something I'd listen to. But for it's style, I guess it's a pretty good track, but lead vocal was slightly off at times...well seems to get a good response from audience...ah! there he goes, dad's just lowered the volume!

Simon Casey: Nice to hear something heavy, decent song. A good voice, reminiscent to American Idol runner up Adam Lambert with some bum notes thrown in!!!

Elaine Camilleri:  This song really doesn't 'leave you to close your eyes'! Hard rock hits the stage, I particularly like this song although I'm not a rock fan at all, but I like most the 'refrain' part ... may qualify ...

16. Norway

 

Raquela: Ah Norway and its dazzling male singers....It’s a crowd pleaser and he's a very good dancer!! Overall a very cool performance...but song doesn't 'STAY' in my head...

Simon Casey: Another instant hit. Good song and will easily qualify tonight. Intro straight out of Benni Benassi's 'Touch me' which continues throughout the whole song, shame because the rest of the melody is extremely catchy.

Elaine Camilleri: Norway; I was really looking forward to this number! I definetely like it! Feels like you're in a club ... wowww ... 'start moving to the beat' ... I like the choreography and his voice is ok. A qualifier in my opinion. I want him to 'Stay' in the competition! plus, he's a handsome guy! God Bless Norway! ;)

17. Bosnia & Herzegovina

 

Raquela: a fresh ballad with a sweet opening melody, but doesn't do much for Eurovision in my opinion....she is very expressive..and loving the violins' part in the song...overall a good performance but not memorable!

Simon Casey: Another nice ballad but nothing special from Maya. I think I've heard something like this in a hotel elevator somewhere..

Elaine Camilleri: Another ballad ... another song which lyrics are understandable unfortuantely ... but ... it gives you goosebumps ... I think it was the best female ballad of the evening. Her voice is so pure and clear ... & 'the piano and the singer' theme is perfect ... with a touch of flute ... beautiful. Will qualify.

18. Lithuania

Raquela: the slow ballad is beautiful to listen to but chord progressions have been heard before...i quite like the surprising up-tempo section that swings in action...pleasant to listen to...

Simon Casey: The blindfold!! Normally the interpretation of a song is left up to the listener..This could've found it's way onto a Bros album. Dodgy Michael Jackson dance moves. This years second semi final finishes on a low..

Elaine Camilleri: It's like I've ended up in a musical, wuwww I like it and it feels good! and yes, I would like to listen to this again on Saturday. The last position may be an advantage to him! He seems so young, yet so confident and his number reminded me of an 80's song. A perfect ending.

The Show (Part 2)

We have just had the time to speak with the Maltese Head of Delegation who was very happy with the performance telling us 'A brilliant execution by Kurt and the Band. Nothing Short of Excellent' and with that, we move onto the hosts who introduce the tele-voting. Here comes the recap of this evenings' competition. Make sure to vote for the favourite track of the evening by calling on 522020XX or sending a text on 506157XX. Remember that people from Malta cannot vote for Kurt Calleja but we can definitely wish him the very best of luck! The interval act features all of the last five winners together under one roof.

Guest Commentators' Prediction

Raquela: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine

Simon Casey: Estonia, Malta, Norway, Serbia, Slovakia, Sweden, Slovenia, The Netherlands, Turkey, Ukraine

Elaine: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Estonia, Lithuania, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Serbia, Sweden, Ukraine

Qualifiers

01. Lithuania

02. Bosnia & Herzegovina

03. Serbia

04. Ukraine

05. Sweden

06. FYR Macedonia

07. Norway

08. Estonia

09. Malta

10. Turkey

The adventures of the Eurovision Song Contest began quite abruptly this year noting that the very first rehearsals for Malta were on the third day of proceedings despite competing in the second semi-final of the prestigious competition but nevertheless, the delegation was ready and found their ground in Baku, Azerbaijan easily with the team having been there before for a number of promotional activities. The time has come and this evening, Kurt Calleja, Rebecca Mifsud, Warren Bonello, Kevin Paul Calleja, Amber and Christian Calleja will be flying the flag for Malta with the song This Is The Night which has been written by Kurt himself alongside the music stylings of Johan Jämtberg and also Mikael Gunnerås.

The track has grown to become a well known song in Azerbaijan with a number of people humming along to it in the streets apart from making sure it receives ample promotion, a case in point being the flashmob organised earlier this week. The rehearsals have move swiftly and the team has been confident throughout, hoping to secure Malta a place in the finals for the very first time since Chiara had done way back in 2009 with the song What If We which was also written by foreign songwriters. Glen Vella was quite close last year with his track One Life, failing to garner that one point which would have been enough to secure us qualification. Tonight, I would like to call on the Maltese people to support our representatives during the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest as Kurt and the rest of his team take to the stage in the position #4 within the running order following The Netherlands and prior to Belarus.

I would like to commend everyone for their hard work including the team behind it all which includes, the Artist Manager; Peter Carbonaro, the Head of Press; Daniel D'Anastasi and also the Head of Delegation; Anton Attard who have done as astonishing amount of work to make sure that whatever happens, Kurt would have made the right contacts to kick start a career. We spoke to the Head of Delegation and also the Chief Executive Officer at the Public Broadcasting Services about tonight and he gave us a set of very nice words saying 'I just want to praise the band, the team and the media like escflashmalta.com who collaborate with us.' The band have shown great chemistry between then and whatever happens tonight, they will remain to be Maltese and we should support them unconditionally throughout without saying that we could have done anything better. Let's keep positive though and remember that the Eurovision Song Contest is a great stepping stone for upcoming artists with millions of viewers all over the world.

Source: escflashmalta.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjhBsCop3Ys

This evening, the city of Baku in Azerbaijan will be hosting the second semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest with eighteen (18) countries amongst them Malta competing for one of the ten slots which are up for grabs. The bookmakers think that they have a tail end on what should be qualifying this evening but based on the rehearsals, this has to be the most open semi-final in years with the press centre having no clue on what can qualify from places five to ten despite being seemingly convinced of the first five placings and very much borderline on the sixth which just happens to be our very own Malta which have a thirty point lead over the rest of the field. In the meantime, escflashmalta.com organized a set of a reviews which included well known personnel such as Tobias Larsson, Marion Welter, Magnus Kaxe and special guest Brooke Borg who come from Finland, Luxembourg, Sweden and even Malta. They commented about the songs, rating them out of ten before making their selection of who should qualify in typical Eurovision Song Contest point system.

In the meantime, the public votes were also closed earlier this year, and for this semi-final, we are pleased to announce that we managed to get some 1,500 votes in total and therefore, it could be a more clear result that it was for the first semi-final which was some two hundred (200) votes less. We allocated a fifty per cent (50%) billing to each and came up with quite an interesting prediction for this evening. It is important to point out that the votes came from all over Europe and the rest of the world and therefore, we know that they could prove to be quite a different bunch in the long term. The qualifiers in no particular order for this evening according to the expert reviewers and the voters in the poll are as follows:

  • Bosnia & Herzegovina
  • Croatia
  • Estonia
  • Malta
  • Norway
  • Serbia
  • Slovenia
  • Sweden
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine

Honestly enough, this is a very sensible billing and could very much be realistic when the qualifiers are revealed this evening because many people do not have a clue over who will ultimately make it through. The surprises at this stage would be none other than Georgia who have sent in their worst song this year but hold a 100% qualification record thus far, FYR Macedonia who despite having not qualifying for quite some time look to be garnering a lot of support and with Kaliopi being a popular artist, might actually take someone else's spot from the Balkan region such as that of Croatia or Bosnia & Herzegovina and Portugal whose ditty Fado number might actually impress following two uptempo songs from Malta and Belarus. Stay tuned to escflashmalta.com for all of the latest news and follow the live report this evening with our very own Elaine Camilleri, Irishman Simon Casey and performer Raquela.

Source: escflashmalta.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLuL0Hh9sak

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

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

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

Source: Juergen Boernig, Eric Lehmann

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

Published in Interviews

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

It has become somewhat of a tradition that the European Broadcasting Union host a special press conference, the day following the first semi-final and that was seemingly upheld actually with Jon Ola Sand, the Executive Supervisor; Sietse Bakker, the Event Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest, Annika Nyberg Frankenhaeuser; the new Media Director and also Adil Kermu who is representing the host broadcaster, Ictimai. The main revelation made is that the 2013 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest will be staged on Tuesday 14th May, Thursday 16th May and the final being on Saturday 18th May 2013.

The press conference dealt with a number of issues this year but ultimately proved that mostly the result was positive last night. The fact that Azerbaijan had to build a brand new venue was intriguing and it was finished just a couple of weeks ago. The tele-voting returned back to the fifteen minute slot as people were still voting during the recaps. The sound and the visuals came across well but then again there was an issue with the Romanian performance even though, Mandinga still managed to qualify with their song Zaleilah. The voting was very diverse in terms of how it came about and whilst both the jury and the viewers at home agreed on eight countries, they did not agree on the final two, one which qualified by merit of the tele-voting and one which made it through because of an astonishing jury placing. 
 
There was a lot of buzz on social media last night with five trending topics about the Eurovision Song Contest all night and some half a million followers on Facebook. The European Broadcasting Union is also working on an archive project of each edition of the Eurovision Song Contest and the first phase is to be completely very soon. The use of this will be made most likely in 2015 when the competition will be reaching it's sixtieth (60th) anniverary. Discussions with various broadcasters are currently taking place over how a special show could be organized. One other interesting thing is that future contests might be organized on a more smaller scale than they are at the moment in order for each country to be given the chance to host with schedules shortened to have room for economic space as well.
 
Source: Eurovision.tv

The first semi-final of the 2012 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest has just come to an end and for the very first time in years it seems that the people are somewhat happy with the outcome in terms of qualifiers with ten (10) nations passing through to the next stage of the competition which will be held on Saturday evening where a total of twenty-six (26) countries will be competing to take home the honour of winning the prestigious music event which is the most followed non-sporting celebration in the world. From our standpoint it seems that our reviewers of the evening got most of the qualifiers right with Raquela managing to predict seven, Claudia managing to predict eight and Emil managing to get nine right. In the meantime, the experts and the readers of our website correctly predicted seven entries through this evening with Switzerland, Latvia and Finland put through instead of Russia, Albania and Moldova.

Just a reminder that this evenings' qualifiers were announced in no particular order. In the meantime, we would like to point out that the final envelope which has become the 'golden envelope' does not hold any special significance but they just wanted to add the suspense in general for the last qualifier which this year were none other than Jedward and their entry Waterline for Ireland. Here comes a reminder of the qualifiers this evening in the order that they were announced whilst we await the draw for their final starting positions to take place. The press conference is now being shown on the official website which you can follow here. The announcements will be made in the way that they were announced this evening.

Running Order in the Final

01. United Kingdom

02. Hungary

03. Albania

06. Russia

07. Iceland

08. Cyprus

09. France

10. Italy

13. Azerbaijan

14. Romania

15. Denmark

16. Greece

19. Spain

20. Germany

23. Ireland

26. Moldova