September 17, 2019

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The European Broadcasting Union has been pretty adamant about putting off rumours of a mass withdrawal from the upcoming edition of the Eurovision Song Contest and therefore succumbed to releasing the list of participating nations quite early due to the international media coverage which might have had a negative impact on the competition especially noting that Malmö is making several adjustments in order to accommodate a different type of show than what many have seen in recent years. The financial situation around the continent has not been a help and three of the four withdrawals; Bosnia & Herzegovina, Portugal and Slovakia have singled out this decision as the factor behind their pulling out with Turkey on the other hand believing that the recent amendments of the regulations at the event have somewhat put them in a disadvantaged position hence their disappointing results.

The Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest at the European Broadcasting Union, Jon Ola Sand is quite upbeat about the number of participating countries believing that despite the economic situation, public broadcasters are very much committed to the traditional element that the contest has created over time. In fact, since the semi-final system was introduced back in 2004, there have always been between 36 and 43 participating nations and the 39 that will take part in 2013 are similar to the amount that took part in 2010 when the competition was also held in a Scandinavian nation with Oslo, the capital city of Norway playing the role of host. Losing three countries to economic reasons was quite disappointing but nevertheless, Sand is quite 'surprised' by the decision of Turkey noting that they 'never formally objected' the rules as regulations which were brought in back in 2009, a year in which Turkey finished in fourth place.

  • Albania (RTSH)
  • Austria (ORF)
  • Armenia (AMPTV)
  • Belarus (Ictimai TV)
  • Belarus (BTRC)
  • Belgium (RTBF)
  • Bulgaria (BNT)
  • Croatia (HRT)
  • Cyprus (CyBC)
  • Denmark (DR)
  • Estonia (ERR)
  • Finland (YLE)
  • France (France 3)
  • Georgia (GPB)
  • Germany (NDR)
  • Greece (ERT)
  • Hungary (MTV)
  • Iceland (RÚV)
  • Ireland (RTÉ)
  • Israel (IBA)
  • Italy (RAI)
  • Latvia (LTV)
  • Lithuania (LRT)
  • FYR Macedonia (MKRTV)
  • Malta (PBS)
  • Moldova (TRM)
  • Montenegro (RTCG)
  • The Netherlands (TROS)
  • Norway (NRK)
  • Romania (TVR)
  • Russia (C1R)
  • San Marino (SMTV)
  • Serbia (RTS)
  • Slovenia (RTV SLO)
  • Spain (TVE)
  • Sweden (SVT)
  • Switzerland (SRG SSR)
  • Ukraine (NTU)
  • United Kingdom (BBC)

As you can see, the leading European broadcasters including the Big Five featuring; the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain and Italy return for yet another competition noting that their results are improving especially with regards to three in particular. Some countries have already revealed their entries noting that national finals have already taken place in Belarus, Switzerland, Belgium and Lithuania whilst artists have been chosen for The Netherlands, Spain and Montenegro. Despite less countries than last year, the song quality thus far looks to be quite intriguing and this could be a strong edition for the Eurovision Song Contest with Sweden surely organising it to the best ability and letting it known that whoever did not want to participate would have missed out on a great opportunity. Stay tuned to escflashmalta.com for all of the latest news as soon as it becomes available.

Source: Eurovision.tv

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pfo-8z86x80

Some of the competing nations at the Eurovision Song Contest are known to be underachievers because despite sending good material consistently, the results have not really added up and thus, have become somewhat collateral to the rest of the system. Slovenia is a very good example noting that since their initial participation way back in 1993 in Ireland, their best result has been a seventh (7th) place finish, achieved on two occasions; the first being in 1995 with Prisluhni Mi performed by Darja Švajger and the second one being in 2001 when Nuša Derenda sung the track Energy. Since the introduction of the semi-finals, they have only managed to qualify only twice out of the nine entries, the last being thanks to Maja Keuc and the track No One. It seems that following yet another dismal result this year with Eva Boto and the song Verjamem, they might be resorting to an internal artist selection in 2013.

RTVSLO have been rumoured to have already started proceedings in order to make sure that the result that will be achieved in Sweden next year will be positive especially when noting that the country has not finished in the top ten since Nuša Derenda managed the feat back in Copenhagen. The renowned Slovenian artist has always showed her excitement towards the competition wanting to return for a second time putting forth entries such as Prvič in zadnjič in 2003 finishing in second placeNoe Noe in 2005 finished in fourth place as well as Sanjajva in 2010 finishing in ninth place. The results have been quite positive though and she has managed to keep a very high profile in Slovenia. RTVSLO might be doing a good job by selecting her internally noting that the rumours are not coming out of fans of the Eurovision Song Contest with good intelligence coming forth from the broadcaster. Stay tuned to escflashmalta.com as we follow this story in the next couple of days.

Source: HRT Dora Forum, Escnation Message Board

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CpR6874P8k

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

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

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

LIVE

01. Serbia

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

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

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

02. FYR Macedonia

 

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

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

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

03. The Netherlands

 

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

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

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

04. Malta

 

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

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

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

05. Belarus

 

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

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

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

06. Portugal

 

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

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

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

07. Ukraine

 

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

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

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

08. Bulgaria

 

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

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

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

09. Slovenia

 

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

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

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

10. Croatia

 

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

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

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

11. Sweden

 

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

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

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

12. Georgia

 

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

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

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

13. Turkey

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

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

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

14. Estonia

 

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

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

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

15. Slovakia

 

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

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

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

16. Norway

 

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

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

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

17. Bosnia & Herzegovina

 

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

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

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

18. Lithuania

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

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

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

The Show (Part 2)

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

Guest Commentators' Prediction

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

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

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

Qualifiers

01. Lithuania

02. Bosnia & Herzegovina

03. Serbia

04. Ukraine

05. Sweden

06. FYR Macedonia

07. Norway

08. Estonia

09. Malta

10. Turkey

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

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

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

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

Source: escflashmalta.com

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

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

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

 LIVE

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

01. Serbia

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

02. FYR Macedonia

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

03. The Netherlands

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

04. Malta

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

05. Belarus

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

06. Portugal

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

07. Ukraine

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

08. Bulgaria

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

09. Slovenia

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

10. Croatia

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

11. Sweden

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

12. Georgia

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

13. Turkey

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

14. Estonia

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

15. Slovakia

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

16. Norway

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

17. Bosnia & Herzegovina

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

18. Lithuania

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

The Show (Part 2)

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

Fake Qualifiers

01. Bulgaria

02. Croatia

03. Bosnia & Herzegovina

04. FYR Macedonia

05. Malta

06. Sweden

07. The Netherlands

08. Norway

09. Portugal

10. Estonia

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 difference in time zones has somewhat affected a number of sleeping patterns for individuals and whilst weekends are normally used for sleeping in, things do eventually look up once one is gearing up for another day of attending rehearsals, press conferences and also shooting interviews with participants. Most of the participants competing in the 2012 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest have already taken to the stage for two rehearsals including the ones of the first semi-final but nevertheless, there are some acts in the second semi-final who will take to the stage between today and tomorrow whilst the very first rehearsals of the host nation and the big five are expected to take place today as well marking a very special element about the days' proceedings. One of the most interesting areas that has been affected daily is the timing which has never been kept well noting late starts and late finishes with some people spending a whole day in the press centre in order to wrap up their daily coverage. Despite the fact that Malta will not be rehearsing today, the interesting rehearsals surely come from Slovenia, SwedenTurkeyGermanySpain and the United Kingdom.

 

The work and promise that our team members in Baku, have shown in the past couple of days has been beyond extraodinary and I thank them daily for their hard work so once more, a shout out to Juergen Boernig, Lilian Brunell and Šira Carolyn Bezalel for the pictures and the interviews as well as to our head of operations in Azerbaijan, Garrett Mulhall who has been busy dealing with the rehearsals amongst other things.Today, eleven (11) countries will be taking to the stage in total but the pre-qualified finalists have forty minutes on stage because it is their first rehearsal actually. Keeping things in mind, when the first rehearsal is staged, there will be a number of issues and therefore, when they take the stage for a second time tomorrow, one will be expecting them to perfect the act therefore, this is to be kept in mind before drawing up a complete opinion of the track. Kurt Calleja did Malta proud yesterday and currently ranks in seventh place, when it comes to the present press in Baku, Azerbaijan. Stay tuned with escflashmalta.com throughout the day for all of the latest updates about the proceedings.

Schedule of Rehearsals

08:00 - Slovenia
 
08:30 - Croatia
 
09:00 - Sweden
 
09:30 - Georgia
 
10:00 - Turkey
  
11:30 - Germany
 
12:15 - France
 
13:00 - Italy
 
14:00 - Azerbaijan
 
14:45 - Spain
 
15:30 - United Kingdom
 
 
LIVE

Only ever so slightly late today but not too bad indeed considering the long day that does lie ahead. Each of the second semi-final participants still have thirty minutes on stage instead of the initial forty minutes. First there is a vocal run to see that everything is working well and then, the rehearsal in full commences.

 

Slovenia

The youngest performer in this years' edition of the Eurovision Song Contest is back on stage and she does not seem to be daunted to perform in front of millions on the night. She is wearing a beautiful white dress with flowers stitched onto it. She is joined on stage by five female backing vocalists also clad in white who have a simple choreography to carry out. The backdrop features a shimmering piece of material along with beautiful white lighting which acts as a form of series of stars. The vocals are perfect from Eva and the accompaniment of the backing vocals is also sounding beautiful. This is going to be in the final hands down coming at the middle of the semi-final and is completely walking over Croatia which comes right after it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgkZa47mnh0

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Croatia

The second rehearsal of the day as mentioned above comes from Croatia and there are a number of similarities between the two tracks. From what I have heard, Nina is very much a star in the Balkans and she does transpire that on stage actually which she is using from the middle. She is clad in a black dress with a white ruffled bow at the back. On stage she is joined by three female backing vocals and two dancers who seem to be holding onto a piece of drape which they use to perform with during the latter bit of the performance. The backdrop features clouds, very similar to the preview video once more. The basis of the lighting is blue and white. The vocals are good but there are some notes which do not sound too well unfortunately. I will hold onto my nerve and say that this will not qualify and leave room for Slovenia to pounce in and take the votes despite her popularity in the Balkans. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwkEYD457Ns

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Sweden

Sweden comes into the competition as the huge favourite with a lot of media attention and many find themselves in the hall for this rehearsal. The initial strobelights work so well with the beat of the song and are coming across so well on screen. Loreen seems to be in much better shape vocally today and she seems to be wearing her semi-final outfit today which features a black dress hidden under a black cape. She is joined on stage by three female backing vocals and also a male dancer who comes in towards the latter part of the performance. They co-ordinate the moves together at one point and this looks stunning but what is really beautiful is the background of strobelights. The people in the hall love it but am I convinced this will win, not entirely sure but it has a fate in the top three definitely sealed given it has already become a hit all over the continent. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vRQSyrN24A

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Georgia

Anri is clad in a red robe as he performs the operatic bit of the track but he removes it to unvile a very smart suit with a glitter shirt. He is joined on stage by four female backing vocalists/dancers who have a simple choreography task to carry out. The backdrop for this one seems to have been altered just a bit and it seems that the star is now missing. On stage, there is also a white piano which he plays mid-way through the song. At the latter end part of the track, a dancer dressed in red also comes forth. The vocals are good even though crazy and this song might be getting on the nerves of some people but I believe it might actually qualify with this staging. They are enjoying the whole performance, and well this is just mad but I guess mad enough. Just for the record, it is not my personal cup of tea and I would not like it to qualify but hey, the majority speak for themselves.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7qHw58LDY0 

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Turkey

Turkey is getting a lot of attention in Malta with Can Bonomo appearing on the most popular show in the country last night. He is back on stage for his second rehearsal and there have not been a lot of changes with this one actually with the backdrop still showing the cartoonish sea along with a dark storm which lies ahead in the rough seas. The singer who is wearing a white shirt and black jeans is also sporting a long tailcoat cardigan and is joined on stage by five male backing dancers. The choreography is enegetic but very slick indeed. Turkey has returned with what they do best and this song is not only going to qualify to the final, but once there will reach the top ten. I am singing along to this quite easily. At the latter end of the song, the cardigans are put together to form a sailing boat and there level of excitement and enjoyment is very apparent.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iYHM4Ivmyw

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Germany

The very first rehearsal for Germany in thsi years' Eurovision Song Contest and this is the first time that it is actually being fully staged noting that Roman Lob had performed it by himself during the national final. He is joined on stage by a drummer, bassist, pianist and a guitarist. The focus on the stage performance is definitely on the lighting with the spotlights used very effectively as they had been during the preview video. The backdrop seems to be experimental but features a red three dimensional set of spots going round. The vocals are stunning and Germany are sending a typical pop entry which could well be a great radio hit noting that it has managed to peak at number three in Germany, one of the biggest charts in Europe. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_pNP99BGT0

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

France

Anggun came on stage with casual clothes and a white train. Three (3) big cubes were brought onto the stage. The French Team consisted of 2 backing singers, one male and one female and three (3) acrobats performing gym movements throughtout the song . A windmachine was used to create a Carola effect. The vocals went perfectly, however the acrobatic part looks far too hectic and is totally distracting the viewers from the singer and the song. On the other hand the blue background with gymnastic effects is not attractive enough. Nevertheless, this did not come across too badly on the screens and it seems that Anggun was not too happy with the performance, stating that there was a lot of room for improvement during the press conference which was very well attended by the media present considering her stardom across the continent. 

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Italy

Nina Zilli takes to the stage for her first rehearsal wearing a white dress very much reminiscent of what they used to dress like way back in the sixties. The backdrop for Italy is a mixture of black and white lines and this is also used as a colour scheme. She is joined on stage by three backing vocals, two are female and the other being male. This song is kept simple and one has to add that her movements are just adorable with her hands kept in the right place during the performance. The backing need to coordinate better in terms of movements though. Mid way through the performance, spots are coming across along with diamonds. The shots are still slightly messy but this will most likely do better with long shots. She owns the stage and Italy are contenders for victory especially after such a strong first rehearsal.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZKIyE1TmTY

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Azerbaijan

This host country is being represented by the beautiful Sabina Babayeva and my my what an outstanding performance this was. It is important to note that as published earlier on today, the performer is wearing a white dress which changes colour according to the stage background. She is also joined on stage by a male backing vocalist and three female backing vocalists who are also dressed in white.There might be the issue of this being a static performance but we have come to know from our colleagues that this is really looking great on the screen because at the end of the day, the focus of this track is the voice of Sabina and her accompaniment are doing their best to compliment her. I must say, this is another strong rehearsal considering it is the first one. The backdrop was slightly too laid back but they might be deciding on what to put on it.

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Spain

Beautiful backdrop with shimmering lights, sort of like a waterfall before they become more like shooting stars. Pastora takes to the stage alone and as she enters the chorus, there is a new element of a pyramid on stage. The cameras are keeping a lot of track on her and she is enjoying the element of the close ups. Mid-way through the performance, the backing singers, five in total come out onto the stage and they give the song a special touch. Spain seem like contenders for the very first time in years with this song actually and what a performance. Pasotra is flawless vocally and hits the high notes of the song beautifully. I am sure that Spain will be in the top ten but can they pull out a victory? Huge reaction in the hall!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5E35-GMwB6U

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

United Kingdom

Engelbert has got to be the most famous performer at this years' Eurovision Song Contest followed by Jedward and Pastora Soler and his rehearsal has been expected for quite some time noting that he was supposed to perform first due to this running order position but due to a number of scheduling conflicts this was not possible. He is clad in casual clothing today and is joined on stage by a guitarist as in the preview video and also a couple who are dancing along to the beautiful tune. The vocals need a lot of work especially in the upper register as when he changes the tone, it is not really sounding well and that would definitely detract votes from the juries, an element which the United Kingdom should be playing with. This was a first rehearsal and they will have a second one tomorrow but work is definitely required.

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

The problem of lack of sleep might actually lead to oversleeping the following day but nevertheless, the interest continues with today being the most exciting day yet for several fans due to the fact that a number of strong songs will be taking to the stage of this years' Eurovision Song Contest for the very first time. Everything has gone smoothly thus far actually in Baku, Azerbaijan with Ictimai and the European Broadcasting Union doing a great job when it comes to the organizations aspect. Whether you have left for work or school, we would like to wish you Good Morning and welcome to the fourth day of LIVE coverage. In the previous three days, thanks to several individuals, we have managed to bring about the best possible coverage and we hope to continue more of the same in the next couple of days especially this week when things are more hectic than they will be next week.

For the fourth day running, I would like to thank this years' team for escflashmalta.com which features newcomer; Šira Carolyn Bezalel as well as Juergen Boernig, Lilian Brunell and Garrett Mulhall, the latter of which is is Head of Operations in Baku and is leading the team to such positive coverage. The rehearsal coverage will be as prompt as possible as soon as videos are put up when they are not being reported on location and even faster when people on location are covering them. Yesterday members of our team were present during the Maltese rehearsal first hand and had only words of praise to say whilst they also made it to the press conference where Kurt thought his apple jack move to the media present. Today is quite special due to the fact that the runaway favourite Sweden will rehearsal but there will also be rehearsals by strong entries coming from Turkey, Estonia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Slovenia and Croatia.
 
Schedule of Rehearsals
 
08:00 - Slovenia
 
08:45 - Croatia
 
09:30 - Sweden
 
10:15 - Georgia
 
11:55 - Turkey
 
12:40 - Estonia
 
13:25 - Slovakia
 
14:25 - Norway
 
15:15 - Bosnia & Herzegovina
 
15:55 - Lithuania 
 
LIVE
 
Things improve day by day as they say and timing is very important. It seems that we are just behind by not too much today and that is why, progress is important. Forty minutes have been allocated to each performer for the last time today as tomorrow marks the beginning of the second rehearsals, with half an hour each instead of the longer forty minutes. The first sound check for Eva is on and it seems we are ready to commence quite in spectacular fashion this morning.
 
Slovenia

 
The fourth day of rehearsals open up with a Balkan ballad whose backdrop is kept extremely simple showing what seems to be a black cape flowing in the wind. The colour scheme is a mixture of black and red and there is this misty feeling going along. It might be that everyone is in their costume actually with several white dresses on show. Eva is joined on stage by the five female backing vocalists who were with her in the national final. They are not standing far away though and a warm effect is created with a very simple choreography. In Europe it is very early but it is not in Azerbaijan and the vocals by the young performer are strong and have no trouble. In the final chorus, the backdrop changes and features sparkles in a golden brown colour. I think the song in itself did not come across as powerful as it shoul but still a good start. It is unknown whether Croatia with a same sound can actually kill it's chances out there.
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXgEGMS2jhA
 
Video Courtesy of Eurovision.tv
 
Croatia

 
Following Slovenia, come their neighbours Croatia with a similar kind of sound and this is the very first time that Nina is performing the Eurovision version of her song live. She is clad in a back dress and is joined on stage by three female backing vocalists and two male dancers. The bacdrop is as expected features shots from the video which for those who have not seen it includes a lot of fog and clouds. The spotlights play a pivotal role in brigning out the best elements of this song and it seems that the choreography despite quite simple is very much polished. The vocal range of Nina is incredible and considering her recent surgery, she is still performing very well. The music of this song is just beautiful and mesmerizing. Mid way through the performance, the two dancers stretch out a banner and dance with it whilst Nina continues improvising with her voice. This is very strong and in my opinion has become a qualifier.
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoCgx3QemRc
 
Video Courtesy of Eurovision.tv
 
Sweden

  
The media attention that was in the hall for Loreen was staggering. People were climbing over each other to get a good vantage point. However - was it worth it? Well being the firm favourite you know that people will be expecting more from you tehn other countries. They will also expect your First Rehearsal to be note, camera and dance perfect which is not the case. Regearsals are there to iron out any problems and Loreen had some issues. We all know the song "Euphoria" and their is even a store in Baku called Euphoria - how strange. The song is a huge Electro Euro Pop anthem that only Sweden know how to do. Loreen is singing on stage with 2 female backing singers. It was clear that she was holding back on her voice but the backing vocals need some work - but that is what the rehearsal is for The song still sounds wonderful and that is hard to say when you have been listening to it for months now. The local people who have not seen or heard the song were very excited from Loreen's performance.
 
This bodes well as the majority of people looking at Eurovision and voting in it will be looking at the songs for the first time when the show airs so your song needs to have impact and this does. Again this is same performance that took place in the Swedish National Final. Loreen is dimly lit with just spotlights on her face which is highly dramatic. The stage is dark with some intermittent flashes of lighting There is the same dance routine as she used in Melodi Festivalen and guess what - yes you are right - she uses the same male dancer again here in Baku. When the key change takes place in the song - YES the same again - we have snow on the stage. However the backdrop of the stage turns into a massive snow blizzard which looks stunning. So as for today's theme for the performances - we are doing "Cars" - so Loreen's performance would be "A pimped out Volkswagen" - Highly reliable but looking and sounding great. What do you think? 
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wLqR0AOeSc
 
Video Courtesy of Eurovision.tv
 
Georgia

 
It seems that this rehearsal started quite problematic as the microphone was not working and he is not using a hand held one due to the choreography which seems to be quite busy. The main singer is joined on stage by four ladies and everyone is dressed in black. The backdrop features what seems to be the star of Britain's Got Talent actually before being altered to more designs further on. In the meantime, the colour scheme for this one is a mixture of black, red and white. It is quite funny how he is trying to look like a Casanova but comes across as too fake and disinterested at times. Nevertheless, the vocal performance is mostly good until he tries to reach the higher register of the falsetto which fails miserably. Mid-way through, a female dancer comes on as well and adds more to the meaningless performance. Now that was a car crash, a devastating one. This is surely a definite non-qualifier.
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvOfVk6NpWY
 
Video Courtesy of Eurovision.tv
 
Turkey

 
It is no surprise that the Turkish rehearsal was very busy as Can Bonomo is a well known star in Azerbaijan. Personally I like this song. It has a great Turkish Ethno/Pop vibe to it. Can is a very likable character and has good vocals. He reminds me of Ben who was the lead singer of the 80's British pop band Curiosity Killed the Cat. Can's vocals were very strong as were his backing singers. His pronunciation was also very good - and you know how I like that! The back drop to the stage is extremely vibrant and colourful. We start with blue lighting on the stage. For the chorus the colour is bright red. There is a strong nautical theme where we see animated scenes of the ocean with anchors, boats and lighthouses.
 
This is interwoven with scenes of anchors through animated scenes of mountaintops with love hearts. Can is accompanied by 5 men on stage with him who provide the backing vocals and dancing. For the actual climax of the song the dancers physically align themselves in a formation to replicate a ship with Can as the captain. It looks very effective. The staging of the song is wonderful and Can is a likable character with a relaxed presence on stage. As he is performing after Georgia this will be to his advantage as the Georgian song and performance has divided the press conference. Turkey will be sailing into the final. I think this could bring Turkey into the Top 10 in the final. If this was a car it would be a stylish cheeky little Mini. It is classic with a little twist. 
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ip-jmK-SwcI
 
Video Courtesy of Eurovision.tv
 
Estonia


My close friends know how much I adore the Estonian entry as soon as he took to the stage for his rehearsal, I must say that I was somewhat in a trance over what the performance could look like. It seems like the Ott Lepland might actually be clad as he will be in the semi-final in a black, blue and white outfit featuring a waistcoast and tight jeans. He is joined on stage by one backing vocal who is wearing a beautiful white shimmering gown. The backdrop graphics are just beautiful and feature three dimensional objects but as soon as the bridge kicks in the colour switches from dark red and black to pink with a number of rose petals being used for the backdrop. It also finishes in complete darkness and you could hear a pin drop in such a quiet setting once he finishes but the audience present awaits for him to finish before clapping. Stunning, this could be the surprise of this years' Eurovision Song Contest. A ballad performed with poise and perfection which will stand out from the rest and will surely shine in between the likes of Turkey and Slovakia.

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

 
This is a song which has been flying way below the radar due to the fact that Slovakia have never made an impact at the Eurovision Song Contest but nevertheless, it might be that change can come for everyone because Max Jason Mai who is joined on stage by a band is not only only enjoying himself but looking every bit of a qualifier at the moment. The fact of the matter is that this is the only soft metal type of song in the competition and features an extremely catchy refrain. As expected, the focus of this song lies in the lighting which is superbly orchestrated. One problem though might be that the stage is too much based on one particular point and therefore, the interaction lies with just that end. The music is quite beautiful and for all of the first time listeners, this might stand out. The vocals are good and the diction is understandable considering that English is not a first language for people in Slovakia.22

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

Video Courtesy of Eurovision.tv
 
Norway

 

The Norsk Melodi Grand Prix just happens to be one of the competitions which we followed in full detail within each respective semi-final and the winner was none other than Tooji who seems to be following in the footsteps of his Scandinavian counterpart Eric Saade. The colours used during the backdrop are red and black but nevertheless there also seems to be a tinge of organge. He is joined on stage by four dancers, two of which are male and two of which are female. The vocal performance is strong as it has always been and one would never actually note that this is the very first time that Tooji is actually performing noting that prior to this he was a model and also works with children who are battling physcological issues. I believe that this will be one of those songs which will surely make it through to the finals especially after last years' disappointment. 
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eafjl6bssSY
 
Video Courtesy of escXtra
 
Bosnia & Herzegovina

 
The penultimate performance of this years' second semi-final at the Eurovision Song Contest actually features a Balkan ballad which has become somewhat very typical in this showcase. Bosnia & Herzegovina are represented by the beautiful Maya Sar who is standing in the middle of the stage playing a piano. This looks beautiful on screen actually especially when the backdrop is featuring an old city.with Roman columns. The vocal performance is stunning as expected and she does not miss a single note noting that she did give the performance of a lifetime during the song presentation a couple of months back. Following the upbeat entry from Norway, this sounds great and calm and should entice viewers to vote whilst the jury will surely like the transition as well. A masterful performance, well done!
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Popb0c2g54Y

Video Courtesy of Eurovision.tv
 
Lithuania

 
The stage is bathed in blue for the final rehearsal of the day featuring Donny Montell who beings about a different type of track to the Eurovision Song Contest as it is a ballad turned pop song mid way. The down side of this live performance is that the main performer has decided to take to the stage on his own. There has been a lot of comparison between Donny and Sasha Song, which is quite interesting especially when they have performed together in the past. The spotlights are working wonders during his song and fill up the stage when there is no backdrop but when the backdrop does indeed come forth, it features miniature black silhouettes. It seems there might have been some problems with it. The vocals were good but not amazing unfortunately.
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpEobAARgbE

Video Courtesy of Eurovision.tv

Thursday, 03 May 2012 03:09

Slovenia: Reviewing the track 'Verjamem'

The tenth entry on the evening of the second semi-final is actually more of a taste of what was to be expected following the opening of Serbia because it seems that most of the Balkan countries kept to the style and touch and one is somewhat sure that they will most likely all turn out to be successful especially those which have been put in different and opposing sides of the draw. The nation in this case though is Slovenia, a nation that is yet to reach a top five placing at the event but ultimately one which has mediocre results throughout the years. This year they will be represented by the young and charismatic Eva Boto with the song Verjamem composed by Vladimir Graić and Hari Mata Hari with the lyrics penned by Igor Pirkovič.

Eva Boto was born on December 1st, 1995. She lives in the small town of Šentjanž pri Dravogradu which lies in the North Eastern part of Slovenia, 120 kilometres from the capital Ljubljana. She is now a second-year student attending the Ravne na Koroškem High School, but she is already thinking about continuing her studies in Graz, Austria, or London where she would like to study soloist singing. She has been singing since a very early age and practices daily in her specially designed music room at her home. At 10 years of age, Eva entered an international singing competition in Austria and won. Later, she performed several times at the FENS Youth Musical Festival, where she won twice.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUxIAflTnk0

Eva Boto was only 15, when she applied to audition for the Mission Eurovision contest. The national broadcaster RTVSLO produced this series of programmes, which started on October 2nd, 2011 and ended this February, with only one goal in mind, to choose the singer who would represent Slovenia at the Eurovision Song Contest. Convincing renditions of songs from Mariah Carey, Shaina Twain, Irene Cara, Leona Lewis and Darja Švajger made a huge impression on the members of the jury and audiences alike.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55PHFPtXibI

In the end, Eva Boto won a landslide number of votes with the song Verjamem (I Believe), one of the three she sang on the final night of Mission EMA 2012. Eva's favourite singer is Beyonce, but she likes 1980s and 1990s music as well. In her spare time, Eva plays guitar, plays with her dog and cat and, as every teenager loves to hang out with her friends. She's no stranger to computers and make-up, either. Eva enjoys cooking, especially baking. She is very emotional and sometimes shy. Her biggest bad habit is laziness. Eva's best friends and supporters in life and in her music career are her mother, father and elder sister Sanja. Eva describes her participation in Baku as her greatest life experience and challenge so far.

The Critics Voice Their Opinion

Magnus Kaxe

  • Good-looking, vocally decent singer in a nice song with a powerful chorus that gets stuck in my head. The verse melody goes too low in key for the singer to be able to sing it properly and the song loses a bit there. But still one of my favorite ballads this evening! But please let go of the ugly hat on the backing singers! They deserve a six (6) points for that entry.

Marion Welter

  • This is a completely different track than the one before it but I am not too fond of these kind of ballads even though, I have to compliment her on a beautiful set of vocals. She has a good range and will most likely impress. Unfortunately one (1) point from my end. 

Tobias Larsson

  • Like Serbia but weaker - another Balkan ballad that wants to be overwhelming but that doesn't quite nail it. The singer has an excellent voice, but the chorus just isn't convincing enough. Hmm, like my colleague, I agree on six (6) points.

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

Entry Background

Performer: Eva Boto

Composers: Vladimir Graić and Hari Mata Hari

Author: Igor Pirkovič

Song: Verjamem

Language: Slovene

Broadcaster: RTVSLO

History of the Nation

The eighteenth entry from Slovenia and hopefully continuing a trend that was built last year when they managed to overcome a number of disappointing years to reach the finals and also reach a decent position. This year, they have decided to take up a brand new route by looking for the performer first and foremost, a system that was used well by Germany to find both Lena and Roman actually. In the final, the finalists performed three songs and ultimately this was chosen. The best results that the country have achieved amount to a seventh place in 1995 when Darja Svajger took to the stage for the first time with Prisluhni Mi and then also a couple of years later in 2001 with Nusa Derenda and her entry Energy. Since the introduction of the semi-final system, Slovenia has only been in the final twice, missing out very closely on two other occasions. Eva Boto will be hoping to be the third woman to take the country to the final.

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

Published in Editorials
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