June 26, 2019

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

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

 LIVE

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

01. Serbia

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

02. FYR Macedonia

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

03. The Netherlands

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

04. Malta

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

05. Belarus

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

06. Portugal

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

07. Ukraine

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

08. Bulgaria

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

09. Slovenia

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

10. Croatia

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

11. Sweden

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

12. Georgia

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

13. Turkey

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

14. Estonia

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

15. Slovakia

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

16. Norway

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

17. Bosnia & Herzegovina

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

18. Lithuania

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

The Show (Part 2)

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

Fake Qualifiers

01. Bulgaria

02. Croatia

03. Bosnia & Herzegovina

04. FYR Macedonia

05. Malta

06. Sweden

07. The Netherlands

08. Norway

09. Portugal

10. Estonia

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

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

LIVE

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

01. Serbia

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

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

02. FYR Macedonia

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

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

03. The Netherlands

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

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

04. Malta

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

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

05. Belarus

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

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

06. Portugal

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

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

07. Ukraine

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

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

08. Bulgaria

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

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

09. Slovenia

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

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

10. Croatia

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

11. Sweden

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

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

12. Georgia

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

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

13. Turkey

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

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

14. Estonia

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

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

15. Slovakia

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

16. Norway

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

17. Bosnia & Herzegovina

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

18. Lithuania

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

The Show (Part 2)

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

Fake Qualifiers

Bulgaria

Belarus

Croatia

Estonia

Slovenia

Slovakia

Portugal

The Netherlands

FYR Macedonia

Malta

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

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gry6PI82NNY

Published in Interviews

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

In this years' Eurovision Sogn Contest, there are a number of stellar names from the Balkan nations such as that of Zeljko Joksimovic who seems to be the most famous and popular to come out on top in the long run. He will be representing Serbia having already done the honours for the former Serbia & Montenegro back in 2004 with the song Lane Moje which reached the runner-up position just behind Ruslana and her Wild Dances. This time round, he is presenting a song entitled Nije Ljubav Stvar and he finds himself as one of the favourites with the bookies, putting him in fifth place.

Zeljko along his accompanying band have just released an official music video in the run up to the competition including Nenad Mahmutovic, the winner of the Serbian version of Got Talent. His creativity is genius because he does songs in sign language and the outcome of the song is just beautiful. The video carries one general message which says Jezici su razliciti, poruke su uvek iste which when translated into English states The languages may differ, but the message remains the same. Serbia will be competing in the second semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest alongside Malta and Kurt Calleja. Stay tuned to escflashmalta.com for all of the latest news.

Source: RTS

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnrTDS85rC8

The 2012 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest is taking place in Baku, Azerbaijan and it is quite interesting to note that whilst the preparations are going on at full speed, several countries are finishing off their promotional tours noting the visits of the Turkish and Azeri representatives in the Maltese Islands over the past couple of days. In the meantime, many have been keeping an eye on the way that the polls and the betting odds have been developing and it seems that there have been no changes in recent days or weeks apart from  a switch between the second and third position. The leading country for this years' competition is Sweden who are represented by a track entitled Euphoria which has been described as a mixture between dance and pop and performed by Loreen.

Nevertheless, despite the fact that the Melodifestivalen winner seems to be the favourite even in terms of sales noting that it has charted at number #1 in Sweden and Finland whilst also making the charts in countries such as Norway and Malta, there are another four tracks which together make up the top five and in fact these are L'Amore e Femmina performed by Nina Zilli for Italy, then it would be Buranovskiye Babushki with their song Party for Everybody for Russia. In fourth place comes Serbia with Zeljko Joksimovic and his beautiful ballad Nije Ljubav Stvar and then in fifth place it would be the United Kingdom and their represented Engelbert Humperdinck with the classic entry Love Will Set You Free. Other notable names which have kept high positions in this years' betting odds include none other than Ireland who are represented by Jedward and Waterline as well as Iceland whose Greta Salome and Jonsi will perform the entry Never ForgetKeep a close eye on the songs that will be presented in this years' edition of the Eurovision Song Contest.

Source: Oddschecker 

This year, Serbia decided to take up a different route towards success by choosing one of their most popular performers in the form of Zeljko Joksimovic who has already done his deed when the nation was still intertwined with its neighbouring country of Montenegro. The song which he had performed back then was none other than Lane Moje which finished in the runner-up position just behind Ruslana and her track Wild Dances. Many people have commented that this years' entry for the Eurovision Song Contest entitled Nije Ljubav Stvar is as beautiful and could achieve a very strong finish at the end of the evening of the 26th May 2012. 

In the past couple of weeks, the performer has been busy recorded a number of different versions to the track indlucing one in Russian and one in English but now he has decided to work on something completely different in the form of an instrumental which bears the name Summer Mix 15 in 1 with the use of a number of musical instruments which had been posted on the Zeljko Joksimovic Official Greek Fanpage. Apart from this, a brand new Eurovision version has also been recorded within the Kolarc Auditorium in Belgrade alongside the RTS Symphonic Orchestra. Zeljko will not need any introduction when he takes to the stage having performing, written and also hosted on behalf of the event. We would like to wish Serbia and RTS the very best of luck with their endeavours. Stay tuned to escflashmalta.com for more news about the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest.

Source: RTS

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5atfSMDMkU

 

Our critics for the second semi-final of the 2012 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest were announced yesterday and a guest star from the local music scene will also be reviewing the entry for Sweden in the absence of Magnus Kaxe who is of course a leading Swedish songwriter. Kicking off the second evening this year will be none other than Serbia which is quite ironic noting that Montenegro is opening the first semi-final just two night before that. The former Yugoslavian nation has had a much better record than their counter-part but in the past two years, they have had to suffice with mediocre placings despite the submission of great songs to the event. They will be hoping that it will chance this year with Željko Joksimović, an artist who is somewhat of a trump-card. He will be performing the song Nije Ljubav Stvar written alongside Marina Tucaković and Miloš Roganović.

Željko Joksimović was born on the 20th of April, 1972. in Belgrade, Serbia. At 12 years of age, he won the prestigious First Accordion of Europe award at the music festival in Paris. He attended the University of Musical Arts in Belgrade and is one of rare musicians who knows how to play 14 different instruments. His professional music career has continuously been on the rise. During the 1990's he achieved consecutive success at the Belgrade Spring festival as a composer. In addition to performing, Željko also composed music for theatre productions. The defining year in the career of Željko Joksimović was 2004. when he won the national song contest for Serbia and Montenegro with the song Lane Moje.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7OvpjplJ_8

After many years, Serbia and Montenegro got their representative at the prestigious Eurovision Song Contest, where he finished in second place in the Final. The success at the Eurovision Song Contest changed the direction of Željko's career. This is proven by the results that he achieved in the following years. In December of 2005 Željko's fourth album sold over 500.000 copies. In terms of quality, this album represents a big step forward in his career - during this period Željko also ventured into composing music for films.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tes_NzOF7U

The Eurovision success repeated once again in 2006, when his composition Lejla for Hari Mata Hari, the representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina won third place. September of 2007 was marked by the sixth regional Balkan radio festival in which 22 pop stars from the region competed. The Grand Prix was won by Željko for his hit song Devojka. At the most prestigious music festival in Serbia, Beovizija in 2008, he composed the winning song Oro, performed by Jelena Tomašević. It was this song that represented Serbia, the host of the Eurovision Song Contest in 2008.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uMiGxK7NVc

Serbian Broadcasting Corporation and the EBU gave Željko the role of the host of the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest, held in Belgrade along with Jovana Janković. Jelena Tomašević and the song Oro Finished in sixth place in the Final. Serbian broadcaster RTS revealed the exciting news that Željko Joksimović would once again represent his country on the 57th Eurovision Song Contest in Azerbaijan 2012. Željko has been given complete control over the Serbian entry. He will both compose and perform the entry, which was presented to the public for the first time in a show on Serbian television in early 2012. This will be Željko's fourth attempt at winning the competition.

The Critics Voice Their Opinion

Magnus Kaxe

  • A 4:30 minute song compressed into 3 minutes. The ethnic and orchestra sounds remind me a little bit of the soundtrack from “The lords of the rings”. Interesting arrangement structure which nicely builds up to the triumphant ending. The artist has a great voice and the Serbian language fits well to the song. A very good start indeed, hence eight (8) points.

Marion Welter

  • Beautiful song with so much feeling, I love his voice and this song will make me cry.....the harmonies are wonderful, full of strength and power, I think one of the best songs of this years contest...I believe that the maximum ten (10) points are in order.

Tobias Larsson

  • This is yet another bombastic and close-to-perfect Balkan ballads, and we have heard a few of them in the last few years. Coming from Željko, I would have expected a bit more here. It is good, but not Lane moje-good, still thought eight (8) points.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75weifR47m0 

Entry Background

 Performer: Željko Joksimović

 Composer: Željko Joksimović

 Authors: Marina Tucaković and Miloš Roganović

 Song: Nije Ljubav Stvar

 Language: Serbian

 Broadcaster: RTS

History of the Nation

Since the dissolution of the nation known as Serbia & Montenegro, it seems that the former has managed to take away some of the priceless gems in a numerous amount of industries including music and tennis for example but let's stay on the music side. The culture seems to have been transcended well onto Europe. Upon their initial participation as an independent country, they managed to finish at the top position with Marija Serifovic and her track Molitva. The positive results would go on even onto the following year in fact with Jelena Tomasevic taking up the role with yet another beautiful Balkan ballad written by Zeljko himself finishing in sixth position. Their luck seemed to be running out especially when they failed to qualify from the semi-final in 2009 with Cipela performed by Marko Kon & Milan Nikolic but then performances from Milan Stankovic in 2010 and also Nina in 2011 saw them make the finals and reach decent mid-table positions.

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

Published in Editorials

Željko Joksimović enters the 2012 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest with the tendency to achieve a strong result and most of the fans of the event expect him to do so especially after presenting his entry Nje Ljubav Stvar in a specially designated show aired on RTS earlier this year featuring a number of tracks which he co-wrote including a number of former entries for the Eurovision Song Contest including those for Serbia & Montenegro in 2004, Bosnia & Herzegovina in 2006 and also Serbia in 2008, the same year in which he had hosted. This time round, he is ready to take the nation back to the top and is receiving ample support for a number of former participants.

In recent weeks, escflashmalta has been working very closely with RTS having presented an exclusive interview with Željko Joksimović, the first which he gave to an online foreign media and honestly it was an honour. We spoke about a number of issues but the idea that struck most is the fact that he is so proud to be doing the event once more with a song which he truly believes in. The language barrier does not seem to be an issue to most people who have now also heard it in English under the title Synonym. Nevertheless, the promotional campaign continues as he has just recorded a brand new version in Russian with the name Lyubov Ne Veshch (Love Is Not a Thing) and also plans to record more versions in the coming days. We would like to wish Serbia and of course Željko the very best of luck as he competes alongside Malta in the second semi-final of this years' Eurovision Song Contest to be held in Baku, Azerbaijan. 

Source: ESCDaily

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMmCngg5NVM

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