June 25, 2019

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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

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

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

Schedule of Rehearsals

08:30 - Russia

09:00 - Hungary

09:30 - Austria

10:00 - Moldova

10:30 - Ireland

12:00 - Serbia

12:30 - FYR Macedonia

13:00 - The Netherlands

13:30 - Malta

14:20 - Belarus

14:50 - Portugal

15:20 - Ukraine

15:50 - Bulgaria  

 

LIVE

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


Russia

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLywI4ITVu0

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Hungary

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3JMkSQoclc

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Austria

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNape0AwoVc

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Moldova

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaNeJnFW5Dw

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Ireland

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

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEz0PotlwuA

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Serbia

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBRwmf6Xgts

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Exclusive Statement from the Maltese Head of Delegation

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

 

FYR Macedonia

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6jI2nwE-sQ

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

The Netherlands

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Malta

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DttAZx_kEw

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Belarus

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8osbFBR1Cw

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Exclusive Statement from the Maltese Head of Delegation

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

 

Portugal

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=002y3TJ7rXY

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Ukraine

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IWxRT9kfl8

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Bulgaria

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRV2Bpe9AxQ

Video Courtesy of escXtra

Lack of sleep due to the levels of excitement which are quickly rising up due to the fact that the Maltese Delegation will be taking to the Crystal Hall in Baku, Azerbaijan for their very first rehearsal on what seems to be the most spectacular stage of the Eurovision Song Contest in recent years. The first rehearsals in which each country is allocated forty minutes are very much a technical run through in general. Anyways, as you get ready for work, school or even maybe an exam, Good Morning and welcome to the third day of LIVE coverage from this years' music competition. In the previous two days, thanks to several individuals, we have managed to bring about the best possible coverage and we hope to continue more of the same in the next couple of days especially this week when things are more hectic.

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

Schedule of Rehearsals

08:00 - Serbia

08:45 - FYR Macedonia

09:30 - The Netherlands

10:15 - Malta

11:55 - Belarus

12:40 - Portugal

13:25 - Ukraine

14:25 - Bulgaria 

LIVE

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

Serbia

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

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

Video Courtesy of Eurovision.tv

 

FYR Macedonia

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zzK8ovS9xk

Video Courtesy of Eurovision.tv

 

The Netherlands

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZoD854qbTw

Video Courtesy of Eurovision.tv

 

Malta

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

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6j7dkqoJQ8E

Video Courtesy of Eurovision.tv

 

Belarus

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pcPPdZ1E5A

Video Courtesy of Eurovision.tv

 

Portugal

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yk_3West-E4

Video Courtesy of Eurovision.tv

 

Ukraine

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

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

Video Courtesy of Eurovision.tv

 

Bulgaria

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aELzPRJSYo

Video Courtesy of escXtra

The dreaded draw in the running order has always been that of number #2 and this is due to the fact that no country has ever managed to win from such a starting position but then again, the rule does not seem to apply to qualification numbers as there have been a number of songs to have made it through therefore the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia do not really need to worry as they send what seems to be their best entry in a very long time actually by virtue of sending one of their most popular performers in the country. Kaliopi does not require an introduction to the people of the Balkan block and she enters the event with the song Crno I Belo to which she has penned the lyrics to the beautiful music of Romeo Grill who is a longtime collaborator.

Kaliopi started her career when she was only 9 years old, winning the first place at a childrens song festival. She gained success and recognition with the band Kaliopi, originally in the former Yugoslav nations. The band became established and guided by Romeo Grill who was also the author of most of the songs. In a short period of time, they published two albums, and participated in some of the biggest festivals and shows in their homeland. Kaliopi moved to Switzerland for a period but announced her comeback as a solo performer by winning the first place at the Skopje festival in 1996.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kINdUog9_04

In 1999 she moved back to FYR Macedonia, with her new album Oboi Me which had been recorded in Switzerland. This album was her last cooperation with Romeo Grill as producer. Kaliopi has recorded nine albums in total, six of them with herself as writer. Each of them won Album Of The Year recognition. She has become one of the leading music artists in the region. She also works on other creative projects such as composing for Theatre and Ballet. She played the lead role in the first Macedonian musical Cija Si.

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

She has had many collaborations with big artists such as Sting, Renee Fleming, Andreas Scholl and world famous lute player Edin Karamazov. Kaliopi has been given the title of Honorary UNHCR Ambassador, Honorary Ambassador of the Macedonian Economy in the World. Also, among the many awards and recognitions over the years, she was awarded with the Mother Theresa statuette for her distinguished and dedicated humanitarian work. Kaliopi imprints her work as a high standard in the Macedonian and Balkan music and art, remaining the favorite of her own people, the Macedonian and Balkan pop-diva.

The Critics Voice Their Opinion

Magnus Kaxe

  • One of many ballads this evening. Underneath the poor music production and the mediocre female singer performance, it’s pretty well written song. Unfortunately it’s almost impossible to hear the melody and the potential of the song. Due to such criticism, I cannot give this song more than two (2) points.

Marion Welter

  • Unfortunately there is nothing much to say in this case, I am not a fan of such music unfortunately as it does not match my taste, therefore I just don't like this song. Nevertheless, no song deserves less than one (1) point in my opinion.

Tobias Larsson

  • Captivating and convincing piece of eurovision rock, well performed by a star with a rare stage presence. The arrangement and production are blocking the view a bit, but the melody line is one of the better in this semi. I do not agree with my colleagues, and will be the diversified one to give it eight (8) points.

Entry Background

Performer: Kaliopi

Composer: Kaliopi

Author: Romeo Grill

Song: Crno I Belo

Language: Macedonian

Broadcaster: MKRTV

History of the Nation

The Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia is one of the most unlikely countries in the Eurovision Song Contest especially since the introduction of the semi-final system which in the beginning proved to be successful for them having managed two tenth places and two ninth places but when the juries had the pick of the last entry from the semi-final, their was a shift and two tenth place finishes could not cut it for them to be in the final and hence they have not managed to qualify for the past four years. Their most successful result is surely the twelfth place achieved by Elena Risteska back in 2006 with the song Ninanajna followed by the fourteenth place achieved by both the late Tose Proeski and his song Life as well as Karolina Goceva and her track Mojot Svet which was one of the most talked about tracks in 2007 especially with the nation having done well in the previous year.

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

Published in Editorials

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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