October 23, 2019

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ESCflashmalta Team

ESCflashmalta Team

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

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

LIVE

01. United Kingdom

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

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

02. Hungary

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

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

03. Albania

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

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

04. Lithuania

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

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

 05. Bosnia & Herzegovina

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

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

06. Russia

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

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

07. Iceland

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

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

08. Cyprus

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

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

09. France

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

10. Italy

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

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

11. Estonia

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

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

12. Norway

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

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

13. Azerbaijan

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

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

14. Romania

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

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

15. Denmark

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

16. Greece

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

17. Sweden

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

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


18. Turkey

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

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

19. Spain

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

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

20. Germany

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

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

21. Malta

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

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

22. FYR Macedonia

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

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

23. Ireland

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

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

24. Serbia

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

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

25. Ukraine

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

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

26. Moldova 

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

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

The Show (Part 2)

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

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

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

Source: Juergen Boernig, Eric Lehmann

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

This evening marks the opening of the Eurovision Song Contest with the very first semi-final of the prestigious music event being staged from Baku, Azerbaijan and as one could have noted from the past couple of days, there is surely a lot of excitement building up as eighteen (18) countries will be competing against each other for one of the elite ten (10) spots which are very much up for grabs. The countries competing this evening are a mixture of East, West, North and even Central and that is why it makes up for an extremely interesting evening. 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 Emil Calleja Bayliss; an upcoming lyricist having just finished as the runner-up in the Għanja tal-Poplu competition, Claudia Faniello; the runner-up in this years' edition of the Malta Eurovision Song Contest and also Raquela; who has taken part in the Malta Eurosong on three occasions thus far with fifth being her best result. 

Good Evening! Welcome to the live report of the very first 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. The rehearsals were very well this afternoon and yesterday and therefore, everyone is ready for the first semi-final. 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 Ronald Briffa who is a special guest.

LIVE 

The hosts are on stage with the ladies clad in beautiful black and red dresses whilst the male is wearing a black suit which really suits him. The staging looks incredible on the television screens. It seems that the English language has improved from the rehearsals and therefore, they have toned it down speaking in German, French, English. They introduce the Eurovision Song Contest and we are off with the performance. Enjoy the evening people!

01. Montenegro

Raquela: The Opening track is shocking and unexpected. The verses are in a jazzy tune and therefore somewhat interesting. I wish the concept was slightly more clear ... but in its complexity it seems like they're bringing euronews on stage. The product is too weird though overall.

Emil: Dark Vadar at the Eurovision Song Contest. If he is trying to be funny he is failing msierably. If I had a buzzer, I would be buzzing constantly as probably the sound of the buzzer is more interesting. A guy sing talking with a giant trojan horse behind is surely not the way to impress. Will probably go down as the WORST song in EUROVISION HISTORY!

Claudia: I just cannot believe this entry and do not know whether to comment or not. I just cannot help but thinking to put this on mute at this stage as this is a track which does make up the numbers this evening. I do admire that he wrote this entry himself. I do believe they could have sent something better.

02. Iceland

Raquela: Beginning with a good and strong orchestration...vocals sound smooth and sleek..Hearing this song...brings Evanescence to mind.. Layout of performers on stage looks good...vocals sound really good in sync! Loved her dress!! Gorgeous!

Emil: A big Eurovision drammatic ballad - an instant Eurovision fan favourite since the day it was chosen. The singers looked a bit scary but they warmed up throughout the performance. The stage movement could have been a little more creative though. Typical Eurovision performance and I loved it.

Claudia: I like the dramatic aspect of the song, I think melody is a bit weak though for my liking. In the begging it reminded me of a well known Irish song known. The vocals are strong and this should do well this evening.

03. Greece

Raquela: The tune is catchy...seems like a candy twist to Greek traditional music and the performer is a sexy lady with an extremely thin voice in my opinion. The overall package of dancers leaves much to be desired although they seemed to pull it off.

Emil: Back in 2005 they found a winning formula so they decided to replicate this Greece. Found a singer who looks like Helena Paparizou and sent her to Eurovision with a similar song and a simlar presentation. Having said that she's HOT and will get a number of votes based on that. The song's catchy and the vocal performance was decent although the backing singer helped her carrying it through. Always fun to listen to this type of music.

Claudia: This is something which we have heard quite a number of times before actually because it is a very typical entry from Greece. I do like this song though, the best thus far even though I do not like the vocals too much.

04. Latvia

Raquela: Desperate housewives goes to Eurovision....but love the glamour! Catchy tune, good vocals and a good combination of voices put together. In it's simplicity it's still catchy and who knows what will happen with this track this evening. Melody line is very strong and can be hummed easily.

Emil: When you think that Desperate Housewives finished, you meet the new Housewives at the Eurovision Song Contest. They seem to be really desperate and the creator of that choreography deserves to either die or else given an award for making the audience laugh their hands off. The song is catchy and kind of sweet but the presentation is LAME. Vocally was good but can't believe what I just saw, I guess when mid-life crisis hits you can go to Eurovision.

Claudia: Like how the performer refers to music as being her oxygen ... I do like the chorus but then again, the act is quite weak and not really a fan of the song. I love her vocals when she does the higher bits but I think it starts low for her voice.

05. Albania

Raquela: Well, as Elaine pointed out, hairstyle is quite over the top. I'm hoping this will turn into something beautiful. She executes a perfect vocal rendition, hitting every single note!!! Simply Amazing! I am literally in awe!Very expressive...I have goosebumps!

Emil: Albania sent the evil queen from Snow White. Her voice is AMAZING and it simply blew me away. I guess my dog doesn't agree with my commets as she was shaking her head throughout. She's very talented and the highly drammatic performance will surely be a hit. I guess the jury might save this tonight.

Claudia: I love love how she sings with so much passion, it's a real pity I can't understand what she's saying! Wonderful vocals! Her voice and passion has stolen my attention and that says a lot... Goosebumps!

06. Romania

Raquela: Positive energy radiates from this group!! I love the cohesive unit of bagpipes, accordian and saxophone and drum. Her dress looks so fresh...and the colours look great. Orange and gold....so sexy..the song brings happiness, good times and joy! Just makes me want to get up and dance!

Emil: I have to confess this is my ringtone and I love this song to bits. I think it can be a massive Summer hit and I won't be surprised if it wins the Eurovision but she needs a stronger vocal performance as tonight's performance left MUCH to be DESIRED as it was quite weak. The choreography is fun and you can dance along to the tune. I guess this will go down quite well with the Maltese.

Claudia: I absolutely love back-pipes. It has a typical romanian sound, I'm not a fan of the vocals. Didn't do much to me honestly because she was someone off beat at times this evening. It is just another song honestly.

07. Switzerland

Raquela: A good vocal rendition, and despite it being a band, the voice is quite defined. Hard to grasp lyrics completely. But the overall scene, loving the laser effect...compliments the song. Seems like a good response from the public.

Emil: Not a fan of this song. Although the tune is strong, the fact that they are singing in English and I can't understand what they're saying is a bit irritating. The crowd's got in it too. I don't think this will have a chance tonight - the jury can save it but I highly doubt it. It's not catchy enough that the public will remember this and vote for it.

Claudia: I love his voice, I think this song could be a hit. It's so modern. Maybe the Eurovision Song Contest isn't the proper stage for it though. I would rather imaging it in another type of showcase though. This was meant to be a radio hit and I would definitely vote for this.

08. Belgium

Raquela: Overall a good song but not for such a stage. The tune does not seem memorable enough and her dress is somewhat cute and girly. The build up was somewhat impressive actually.

Emil: Simply ballad and I guess the inspiration behind her outfit was fom Malta's own Danica Muscat as it looks very similar to her outfit at this year's Malta Eurovision. A sweet love song that few will remember at the end of the night. Simplicity was surely the key for Belgium but I guess it was a bit too simple for my liking.

Claudia: I'm not crazy about her vocals, it has an old sound to it which is very much like the past decade actually. The overall outcome is very forgettable. She is so young though and she must be enjoying this whilst feeling very emotional.

09. Finland

Raquela: Love the dress, colour and style! Good and fresh melody line. Very pleasant to listen to...seems to bring the Corrs back to life noting their hiatus. Despite being a ballad, it has definitely captured my attention...I wouldn't mind listening to this again..

Emil: Back to back ballads and the fact that this is in Swedish gives it an edge. The singer is beautiful and oozes charisma as she sings. She looks like a girl out of a fairytale and although I think it might struggle to make it through it is still classy and atmospheric. It is different and the traditional feel to it makes it special.

Claudia: The very beginning of this song actually reminded me of the track I'm With You by Avril Lavingne. I like the serenity that comes with her facial expression but the song in itself is weak but then again, I have a soft spot for strings, nothing else really.

10. Israel

Raquela: It's got a radio-like effect , playful quality!!! This is a track which reminds me a lot of the seventies. There is something amiably retro to it. 

Emil: Love the rhythm to this song. They all seem to be having fun performing this odd entry. They tried to be funny but at least they presented some decent to our ears. The girls on the piano looks like she's high and the singer looks really odd perhaps like the Mad Hatter from Alice & Wonderland. Still I like this one. I guess it will do well tonight. It will surely be a bordering on whether to qualify or not.

Claudia: Ohh, Israel decides to go boogie this year. It's sounds to me like an opening song of a Japanese cartoon from the 70/80s.

11. San Marino

Raquela: The beginning of this song seems promising and well it suddenly becomes cheesy pop. Seems like a group I'd hire for a kid's party. Brings to mind the Spice Girls!!!! Voices however were in sync and overall catchy tune.

Emil: San Marino thought that whatever they send won't have a chance to qualify and it seems they decided to go for the stupidiest song ever. Pity after last year's strong effort. The girl can sing but this song surely doesn't allow her to show it. They took social networking addiction to a new level. Please don't forget to like our Facebook page we need more LIKES.

Claudia: I hate the subject. How stupid, sorry for being blunt. The act and her outfit are just hideous and her laptop just looks absolutely stupid.

12. Cyprus

Raquela: A lot of energy and I just keep being stunned at her beauty!! Looks like an underwater effect. This does stand a chance to make it through this evening.

Emil: I love everything about this performance except the vocals. Under than that I truly think they everything is perfect. The choreography is fun, the girl is sexy and the backdrop was SPLENDID. One of the fan favourites and I guess the public has to save it tonight after that performance.

Claudia: This track could easily be a club summer song for students and I believe that the track is just too low for her voice. She's the best up-tempo song so far and could be a dark horse this evening. I did dance to it!

13. Denmark

Raquela: Good voice...lost for words..maybe reminds me of natasha bedingfield? I didn't get the overall theme. This is very middle of the road and it is a maybe qualifier this evening.

Emil: Nice, simply and catchy. A radio hit and since it contrasts really well with the one before it, it will do well. The whole group looks relaxed and they all look cute. I guess this will sail into the finals tonight and will secure another good result for Denmark. Nothing else to add. Simplicity is the key and it works.

Claudia: Breathe of fresh air... Very radio! It's modern and I love how she uses her voice. I like this a lot actually.This my favourite this evening. I love the bass in the song.

14. Russia

Raquela: Now we've got a folk experience....seems fun to watch, and there is strong applause from the public...mmm I wonder what's coming! Its a risk! Evolves into an unexpected beat...seems like a dance beat! surprise surprise. I wonder what will pop out of that oven.....hahaha......maybe a Christmas tree? and...its they are...fresh out of the oven...BUNS.

Emil: How can you make a Eurovision crowd go crazy!? Get six grannies from an old people's home and they will all go mad. The song is catchy and somehow their vocal performance tonight is much better in comparison to their performances throughout the week. The song is catchy and I can't believe I'm saying this but they have a STRONG chance to win this. Never thought I would end up loving this but I kind of do. It's my guilty pleasure.

Claudia: The melody is very catchy and it gets you going but it wouldn't be a song I'd vote for. Pero if I was there I'd dance to it and I would definitely wave my flag. This could do well ...

15. Hungary

Raquela: Strong melody line. The modulations are excellent.Love it love it love it. Rhythm is strong, catchy. Wish it never ends........Finally a tune to look forward to.. This is my favourite so far. Very very good feedback from the audience.

Emil: I guess this is going to get lost tonight. It's a radio friendly song and Eurovision isn't the place for such a song. It seems something was missing but I cannot figure out what it is. Pleasant but that's it.

Claudia: What a beautiful instrumental beginning. I like the music but it does not really go anywhere special. It's modern, I wouldn't mind listening to it on the radio while driving my beloved smart.

16. Austria

Raquela:  Not liking the dance...party anthem. Too repetitive for my liking...

Emil: HAHAHAHA - Call me weird but I like this song. It's very tongue in cheek and different to what we've seen before. Don't know on its chances tonight. Perhaps some of the viewers are going to find the booty shaking a bit too much but it's cool, fun and the crowd seem to be dancing to this tune. It was very well presented and probably a number of people would be shaking their booty in Paceville to this song.

Claudia: I just cannot believe this song. I am sorry but I prefer to mute and not comment on it.

17. Moldova

Raquela: Ahh love the costumes and contemporary dance!! In fact, I love the movement in the song. My favourite overall stage performance and setting!! Vocals are spot on, especially backing vocals!!!

Emil: Love Love Love it! Love the music, the crazy choreography and all that makes this song. It's very entertaining. Different and FUN! We need more songs like these. Fresh and funny yet not over the top. The backing dancers/singers look crazy in a fun way and I really feel like getting up to sing and dance along with them. I seriously hope they MAKE IT! Fingers crossed. GO MOLDOVA!

Claudia: I can't understand a word this guys is saying. It's a cute song but didn't impress me much.

18. Ireland

Raquela: Seems like they followed the concept of the song..... but nothing more to add. That's all folks.

Emil: Saving the best for the last. Such a catchy song. I felt myself singing a long and doing their fist pump. The performance was strong and it looked great on screen. JEDWARD's energy is unbelievable and this transmits well. Not a fan of the outfits though - they look like they came out of a Star Wars movie but I guess that's the only down point to an overall strong performance.

Claudia: It is quite a pity that Ireland sent them to Eurovision this year noting the many classics that they have sent over the years.

The Show (Part 2)

The hosts are back on stage to say that the songs have come to an end and to open up the tele-voting noting that a person can phone up to twenty votes from a land-line. In the meantime, the recap of the tracks is currently being shown on screens. Not too much time in order to vote, some fifteen minutes but remember, Malta does not vote in this semi-final.

Prediction

Claudia's Qualifiers:  Albania, Cyprus, Denmark, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Romania, Russia, Switzerland

Emil's Qualifiers: Albania, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Moldova, Romania, Russia

Raquela's Qualifiers: Albania, Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Moldova, Romania, Switzerland

Qualifiers

01. Romania

02. Moldova

03. Iceland

04. Hungary

05. Denmark

06. Albania

07. Cyprus

08. Greece

09. Russia

10. Ireland

The first week of the Eurovision Song Contest being held in Baku, Azerbaijan has passed with all of the respective rehearsals covered in the best possible way with pictures and reports being somewhat the basis of a strong team present in the country. I would like to 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.

In the past couple of days, we have learnt that there have been issues with the correct starting time of the rehearsals and therefore, we hope that we are ready on time to kick off the premier dress rehearsal this afternoon before the evening dress rehearsal takes shape. That will be quite important though noting that it will be the show in which half of the result will be officially decided as the juries put forward by their respective countries will be making their decisions on who should qualify to the final round of the competition. Stay tuned with us as we follow the dress rehearsal live with our commentary about the vocal performance taking centre stage of course. We should have images for the evenings' dress rehearsal based on what the acts are wearing this afternoon. The images provided now might not be the actual outfits they will be wearing. Thanks for all of your support as always!

LIVE

As has been expected, we are running late but we are expecting the first dress rehearsal to commence very soon. It is important to point out that the hosts will be seen on stage for the very first time as will be the opening and interval act so this is going to be quite an exciting show and it should even slicker this evening. I am going to blog each song as they are performed. So stay tuned as I will be posting all of the updates and reviews of this highly important rehearsal and we have started ...


The Show (Part 1)

The hosts are now on stage and they are literally shouting out to the rest of Europe by virtue of introducing themselves, the year of birth and also where they were born. They are speaking in English, French and Azeri as expected. Following the introduction of the pre-qualified finalists, which are the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany and Spain as well as host country Azerbaijan, the postcard are introduced and they are more like tourism advertisements it seems.

 

Montenegro

Marc: Without a doubt, this has to be the worst song of this years' competition even surpassing the likes of the small nation of San Marino which at least is singable and infectious. This is apparently the style that Rambo performs and he has become quite popular performing this type of music. I would never buy this material personally so questionable music tastes for some people. He seems to be clad in the same outfit as he performed in within the last technical rehearsals. The vocals are good but when were they ever troubled, he does not have a lot to perform in. The staging is also the same, quite dark with a wooden donkey behind him as well as a band on stage.

Garrett: This started terribly – we couldn’t hear his opening lines and then he couldn’t put on his guitar. The dancers roll out their messages like giant toilet roll holders. A weak performance of a crazy song. Prediction: Not Qualifying.

 

Iceland

Marc: During the very first rehearsal of Iceland, there were cries of joy over how the staging was shown noting that it was looking amazing with the mountains behind it and also the clear skies. It looked incredible and sounded good and then it all went downhill with the vocals of Jonsi in the second rehearsal. Today, they are wearing the same outfits as shown above and it seems that Greta is carrying the song perfectly. Jonsi is in the meantime, doing a very good job indeed today but still not back to that first rehearsal in my opinion. The chorus behind them is stunning and this is one song which will surely be getting votes from the jury this evening based on such a rehearsal. This evening, I will be pointing out more who will most likely qualify from the semi-finals. This song is really sounding powerful and Iceland has become an outsider for the victory based on the performance that have been putting forward.

Garrett: I had high hopes for this song but there was something wrong with this performance visually. Jonsi seemed nervous and the vocals seemed to be singing behind the track. I had this as a definite qualifier but now I am not so sure. Just relax Iceland and enjoy the performance more. Prediction: Close call on qualifying.

 

Greece

Marc: Eleftheria Eleftheriou is one of the upcoming artists in Greece actually by virtue of garnering success through the local version of the X Factor but nevertheless, she has been gunning to do the Eurovision Song Contest for quite some time. She is on stage and her vocals sound very strained in the beginning, as if she does not really enjoy herself there but the choreography is apparently looking much slicker today and should definitely keep this in the running for a qualification ticket. Greece have done it well without good vocals in recent years. This is receiving a good round of applause in the press centre. 

Garrett: Don’t tell me how Greece have done it but they have managed to pull it out of the bag and actually do a great performance which they have failed to do it all week. Still need to tighten up the dance but looks like Greece are in the final. Qualifying for the final.

 

Latvia

Marc: Anmary is really enjoying any time she gets on the stage in Baku and despite having a fiery scary smile on her face, she does perform the track well. I am just not in love with this song and I just cannot believe the level of disturbing songs that Latvia had in their national selection considering the gems they had in previous years. They did everything possible with the staging in this one including a very colourful backdrop. They are closely knit together and this does not look well on the screen because the stage is enormous. She does manage all of the high notes and the vocals might be just enough to help this qualify but I am not sure.

Garrett: Change of costumes for Latvia. They are no-longer looking like they are women of the night but instead they are looking like they should be working on the cosmetic counter of a large retail store or a Secretary Pool. Vocals were shrill at times and I personally find this a gimmick. This will most likely just miss out on the final.

 

Albania

Marc: The best vocal of the competition comes from Rona who is representing Albania and she is the one who has decided to take the stage all on her own. She sounds immaculate as always and is managing to hit all of the notes especially the ones in the bridge she manages perfectly. The staging is kept very simple in this one. I am not too sure that this will be making it due to the fact that it might be too out there, but then again, I really wish she would make it because she is just amazing and deserves to be in the final. Once more, the media enjoy the performance quite a lot actually and they clap as if there is no tomorrow.

Garrett: My ears are still recovering. This song is sung wonderfully but it is not a song that is ideal for Eurovision. Dressed like a cross between Lady Gaga and a Star Trek character – blue dress with black lapels – it just looks all wrong on stage. The lighting was far to uninspiring and I have found my first toilet break of the night. Unless the Jury saves this then I am afraid Albania are going home early. This is not qualifying actually.

 

Romania

Marc: Great opening beat from Romania with the drums and then the beat. In recent days, this track has become a contender for victory actually and without a doubt, one would definitely note why. Elena is clad in the outfit as seen in the picture above and she is clearly enjoying herself out there. The group are doing a number of funny dance moves as they prance around the stage. This looks great on the monitors and will definitely not need any more help. The vocals are strong and sound very on key as she has managed all week. The chorus of the group is a great help to the performance. This is sailing into the final for sure, without hearing their rendition this evening. It might also trouble the voting board for the victory on Saturday night. 

Garrett: Comes after the tv ad break and a welcomed relief to Albania. One MAJOR shock – Don’t wear a MINI skirt and then have a wind machine blowing. As Monica from “Friends” would say – “You could see her lady garden”. Please tighten up the dress and then add some more red to the lightening as they have changed to primarily a white stage. Great dance routine.

 

Switzerland

Marc: Switzerland are now on and Maltese surely remember them from coming to the national selection back in February and they have been quite the centre of attention at times for their good looks. In the meantime though, the matrix screens are back on in a number of colours and the group is very much smart casual in their outfits for this performance as expected for a pop/rock number. I do not find anything wrong with this except the diction issues where the main artist says 'strim' instead of 'stream' otherwise, this could be a qualifier but because of that, I just cannot see them in the finals. The vocals are on point as well and the performance does work on screen.

Garrett: By far the BEST performance of the night. The guys really rocked the stage and used every inch of it to effect. No pyrotechnics were used which I hope they do in the second rehearsal. This had great camera angles and vocals. It has all come together for Switzerland at the right time.

 
Belgium
 
 
Marc: The sweet vocals of Iris are just lovely and you cannot help but gush watching her perform this simple ballad in the same way that people enjoyed watching Tom Dice sing his entry Me and My Guitar just a couple of years back. Iris is one of the youngest competing performers in the competition but she has not been intimated and she has come a long way to battle her nerves that she faced during her national final when the choice of the song went to Iris. The song is interesting but we believe it is too calm to impress this evening or tomorrow evening unfortunately. The end note is very beautiful and I reckon that this will be the one to qualify instead of Finland as I believe one will do it.
 
Garrett: One cannot believe that Iris is only 16 as she sang with confidence that most other singers would love to have. Dressed in a short white dress thatlooked like it had some bubble wrap on it. Her vocals were amazing and her interaction with the camera was sublime. I really like this song and her performance. Just might qualify as the Jury are bound to like it.
 
 
Finland
 
 
Marc: It seems that Pernilla has been encountered by a case of nerves because she starts off extremely nasal and then she just cannot hit all the notes in the right way. Very uncharacteristic of Pernilla actually noting that she was strong in all of the other rehearsals. The Swedish language when not performed well sounds very wrong and this ballad has just been hit by a troublesome performance. I can see Iris and Belgium walking all over this. How disappointing indeed especially after how beautiful the song really is. One will hope that she gets her act together in time for tonight.
 
Garrett: I personally love this song but I am afraid that it will not have the wide enough appeal to qualify. They have also made the faux pas of shining a red spot light on the singers red hair and then put her in a very unflattering green dress. The dress is an awkard length and has massive coat tails. It all looks wrong. This will go home early.
 
Israel
 
 
Marc: I have always had a soft spot for Israel having presented some of the most beautiful songs in the competition over the years. This will surely be one of the tracks stand out during the evening just for being abysmally crazy and different at times. I absolutely adore the ticking clock background with some of my friends actually thinking it was real. The vocals are strong and the performance does look well on the screens. This is looking very much in the balance at the moment but I believe they have enough help for them to qualify. A well performed entry and should do well.
 
Garrett: They must have been reading my blogs all week as eventually they they decided to smile on stage for once. It looked great and sounded great. It got a great reaction in the press centre. A funy little ditty. This will go through to the final.
 
San Marino
 
 
Marc: Valentina Monetta is one of the nicest performers in the competition this year but it is quite unfortunate that she has been given such an entry to perform. She is wearing what seems to be a sailor outfit but they just happen to be the colours of San Marino. She is keeping the performance very simple actually but it does work on screen except when she is typing on the laptop as it looks extremely stupid. Nevertheless, the vocals are good but still this is competing with Montenegro for last place in my opinion. She is joined on stage by a number of backing vocalists who carry out a simple routine. 
 
Garrett: I love this song but it will not have a wide enough appeal. Some may find it childlike and the Juries will not be over joyed by it. I think it sounds fun and the dance routine is cheeky. The visuals are great but I think they will not progress. This will most likely just miss out.
 
 
Cyprus
 
 
Marc: Ivi Adamou takes to the stage for her dress rehearsal and indeed she does look like she has been wanting to do this for a very long time. She is joined on stage by a number of dancers whose choreography is very slick. The vocals in the beginning of the performance sound extremely strained but they do improve and the performance goes forward. The thing is that Cyprus had somewhat of a lead over Greece in the beginning but this has been overturned despite the commercial success of the Cypriot entry in both nations. This will most likely qualify to the finals of the competition.
 
 
Denmark
 
 
Marc: The people tend to enjoy the performance of Denmark in the Eurovision Song Contest and last year they were saved by the juries but this time round, I think that the tele-voters will enjoy this. The vocal performance is quite strong, this entry is kept very simple in terms of performance but nevertheless thus work very strongly on the screens due to the fact that the band enjoys the performance and looks extremely authentic. They will be hoping to save their record on two consecutive top five placings.  
 
Garrett: This sounds like every other Danish song from the past few years. It brings nothing new to the table. It is a middle of the road sung well but people have liked that from Denmark each year. It will qualify but I can see this in the bottom half in the final and will qualify.
 
Russia
 
 
Marc: The Russian grannies are exceptionally cute actually but I just cannot really imagine them winning the Eurovision Song Contest as it would be a sham to the competition. It will be quite interesting to see how their performance will go this evening when the juries will be voting for the entries in the semi-final. The vocals are still well performed actually but nevertheless the music is still very much stupid. This is the track which also managed to beat Yulia Volkova and Dima Bilan and their song. 
 
Garrett: What happened? This has been great all week but seemed a little flat. Maybe it needs a big audience. The camera angles were a little roaming and failed to capture the smallest of the Grannies – who is the star of the show. This will still qualify easily but will the Juries like it.
 
Hungary

 
Marc: I must say that this is a very current track and the worry was actually actually they could not manage to hold onto their English diction well but they did manage that and this has become one of the most interesting tracks to compete this year. Many people believe they will make it through to the finals. The track is just beautiful when you listen to it and the staging does work. The camera work is very much well staged and one will be hoping that this will make it.
 
Garrett: Hungary just seems like it is making up the numbers. Very forgettable and I think they are in trouble. Not a lot to say about this dreary performance except Good Bye. They will be flying back home.
 
Austria
 
 
Marc: Austria has to be one of those tracks which are very much out there and whilst the people are bound to like it, I am not sure by some of the most conervative juries including countries like Italy. The idea of this performance is to see the asses shaking in very colourful staging. The graphics were not working too well in the final rehearsal but nevertheless, this has not stopped the group from doing their best rehearsal thus far today. I must say this is quite good though not sure it will make it.
 
Garrett: Austria were fantastic. Sounding like fun with a good visual show. The guys know how to put on a show and it looked a lot tighter on the camera angles. People tuning in for Jedward will like this song. I can see this making the final and will probably scrape into it.
 
 
Moldova
 
 
Marc: Moldova went from a non-qualifier to a definite qualifier during their time in Baku actually with a very quirky performance of a very strong entry which features a lot of nationalistic influence. Moldova are well known for their love of the saxophone and the song is very much in cue with what is normally expected. The vocal performance is very strong and the choreography is really funny and works so well on the camera. This could get Moldova their best result thus far which is going a long way if they are to better their sixth place result.
 
Garrett: What a great performance. The vocals are great and the visual effects add to the song and the performance.  The camera angles were spot on and they made a great show. This will appeal to a large number of people. This will qualify for the final with ease. 
 
Ireland 

 

Marc: Jedward have to be the most popular act competing in this semi-final and they are currently on stage performing their entry Waterline. They are clearly enjoying their time on stage and they seem to have really tightened up their vocals this afternoon just prior to the evening rehearsal. Their harmonies along with the backing are working  well and they are being carried by the backing at some parts as otherwise, it would sound horribly round. The song is very catchy indeed and I prefer it to Lipstick. I believe that this is into the final and will reach the top ten whilst there. It is interesting that they are in gold suits and their hair is actually down people! Huge applause in the press centre for them.

GarrettThe time has come and what a lot of changes have come to the performance. First Jedward are in their stage costumes which are like funky gold and silver power rangers. They come onto the stage WITH THEIR HAIR DOWN – like we had predicted all along!!! Vocally they have taken the main vocals and dropped it by half a key and what a difference it has made. It sounds much better and they have also changed the key of the backing vocals which lifts the entire performance. The dancing is energetic and only how Jedward can do. They leap about the stage with such confidence. THE MONEY SHOT – comes at the end of the song. The water feature is much higher and for the end of the song the twins jump into the waterfall and hold their hands aloft. The water comes crashing down and it looks amazing!!! This is what people have been waiting for and it leaves the viewer with the WOW factor. Jedward have done it again and pulled it out of the bag.


The Show (Part 2)

The hosts are back on stage and tell the people that only twenty votes per line are allowed. They also introduce the recap which is making it's first appearance but will be re-worked to include the performances during this evenings' rehearsal which will be for the juries. There is the interval act performing but we are going to focus on the performances and therefore, we will let you know how the mock voting goes.

Fake Qualifiers

01. Iceland

02. Ireland

03. Moldova

04. Montenegro

05. Cyprus

06. Hungary

07. Russia

08. Greece

09. Austria

10. Latvia

Yesterday had to be one of the most intrguing days in the world of the Eurovision Song Contest with many fans and accredited media looking forward to seeing the rehearsals of the prequalified finalists who have all put in a lot of effort with regards to their entry. The day did not run extremely late and kept in tow with the schedule as much as possible and that is why, many had the time to get ready for the Official Opening Party which was of course held with splendour in Baku, Azerbaijan. This is the very last time that people have to wake up early to follow the days' latest ventures noting that as from tomorrow things change and rehearsals become dress rehearsals in the late afternoon when it comes to Central European Time. Amongst the rehearsals which many are looking forward today, there are surely Estonia, Norway, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom and Germany. So stay tuned to escflashmalta.com for all of the latest news live from Baku.

All of our team members have put in a lot of work to make sure that you get the best experience possible when following escflashmalta.com and therefore, a round of applause for our main members including Juergen Boernig, Lilian Brunell and Šira Carolyn Bezalel for the pictures and the interviews as well as to our head of operations in Azerbaijan, Garrett Mulhall who has been busy dealing with the rehearsals amongst other things. Yesterday, there were eleven acts who took to the stage and this will be the same case today with the rest of the countries in the second semi-final perfecting their respective entries whilst the finalists making sure to improve on their first rehearsals yesterday. Everyone might be a little bit a little tired following the official welcome party last night. We are yet to hear how it went but we will be keeping you posted with all of the latest, so as I said before, make sure to stay tuned to escflashmalta.com throughout the day.

Schedule of Rehearsals 

08:30 - Estonia

09:00 - Slovakia

09:30 - Norway

10:00 - Bosnia & Herzegovina

11:30 - Lithuania

13:00 - United Kingdom

13:30 - France

14:00 - Italy

14:50 - Azerbaijan

15:20 - Spain

15:50 - Germany

 

LIVE

Sorry for not being here earlier people but as you can expect, very rough morning it seems for people in Azerbaijan because the rehearsals began extremely late and we are like in the first day where we are somewhat an hour more than originally scheduled. Estonia seems to have concluded their rehearsal just now and we will be reviewing it just now whilst uploading the video of the rehearsal in this article.

 

Estonia 

The baltic nation is the one up today and Ott Lepland is for the second time wearing his blue waistcoat and trousers along with a white shirt and a dark blazer matching his trousers. He is joined on stage by a female backing vocalists whom we have already seen the outfit she will be wearing but has decided to stay casual today. The backdrop is one of the most visually stunning of the competition being yellow and white throughout the first bit before changing in a pink one full of petals. Ott Lepland has decided to start improvising this morning and some of it actually sounded very good. He certainly seems to be enjoying himself on the stage and this song will not only qualify to the finals but once there it can get their best result in years being the only real ballad which stands out this year for just being different. 

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Slovakia

Astonishing light show at the beginning which is further more shown on the screens also through a spectrum of lights. Max Jason Mai on stage and in full costume it seems with make up included. He is joined on stage a band as predicted and making sure to show Europe his physique by wearing an open black leather jacket joined by very tight black leather pants. The song is a typical rock song and is the only one in this years' competition. The staging of this is perfect because the performer is not staying in one place but going around the stage for the best possible effect ont he cameras. The vocals are strong but I am not sure that this song will completely appeal to the people even if he is doing everything in his power to interact with the people. I am almost sure that this is not their year to qualify once more this time round.

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Norway

The lighting in the beginning is awesome with purple, blue and red being very high featured. Tooji is wearing his costume from the national final this morning with a hood on his head which he quickly removes heading into the first chorus. He is joined on stage by four dancers; two of which are male and the other two are female. There is also some additional vocal help with a male backing singer on the left hand side of the stage. The choreography is exceptionally slick and this is looking very strong on the screens. We had the opportunity to speak to Tooji and he is really nice and shows that he does put in a lot of work in whatever project he takes up. Vocally this sounds almost perfect today but it is visually amazing. Norway are back into the finally and might also finish in the top ten.

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Beautiful melody right from the start for Bosnia & Herzegovina who are being represented byt he wonferful Maya Sar who seems to be wearing the dress for the semi-final this morning. She is clad in a dark black sparkling gown with shoulder pads. She starts at the piano playing it to the music whilst performing with a dark background right behind her. It seems that there has been a change in backdrop for this one with the old ruins of a Greek city not appearing anymore. Mid-way through the song, she stands up revealing the dress in it's full entirety. A flawless vocal performance from Maya but despite the beauty of the song, I am just not so sure that all of the Balkans can make it through and I would be sad to see this one go unfortunately. 

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Lithuania

The second rehearsal from the second Baltic nation competing in the second semi-final actually comes from Lithuania and Donny Montell is wearing a white shirt with black trousers and a matching blazer. The graphics behind him are kept dark with just blue lighting shining on stage but then, they commences and it shows what seems to be empty void rooms. He is working the cameras well and this could well be a song that qualifies in the manner that is being presented. Mid way through the song, he removes the blindfold which he starts with and carries out with flip as he has always done. The backdrop features people dancing in the uptempo song. The vocals were impressive indeed. I am very uncertain about the result of this song though.

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

United Kingdom

A slight change of scenery for the performance of the United Kingdom today with one main spotlight on the guitarist in the beginning before moving onto the main performer, the most popular entertainer to compete in this years' Eurovision Song Contest. The backdrop for this seems to have been slightly altered as well featuring what seem to be magical rays. The dancers are back on the stage although they do seem to be too much on the far left side. The colour scheme is kept dark but the music and the lights work well and suddenly there is some red on stage as they are heading towards the first key change which is whoa, amazing! Engelbert is hitting all of the notes and this is definitely a top ten performance now. I am impressed by this and I hope he can manage to hold it off towards the final later on this week.

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

France

Anggun is back on stage for her second rehearsal and the stage is bathed in red lights today and it seems that she might actually be wearing something which she might wear during the final today when it comes to the top although she is still sporting that cape. She is joined on stage by three acrobats who carry out the choreography and also two backing singers who are really putting in a lot to aid the performance. The staging has pretty much everything thrown in it at this stage. The background features several men doing sports as well as musical bars. The choreography is very elaborate as Anggun is even carried like a queen at times. The vocal performance is good but not flawless but I just cannot imagine this track troubling the top eight at this stage.

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Italy

Nina Zilli returns to the stage for her second rehearsal and there have been changes such as the fact that the backing singers, three in total have been moved to the left hand side of the stage as opposed to yesterday. Their movements are more coordinated today and they are definitely enjoying themselves. The beautiful Italian singer is clad in a shimmering silvery blue design which looks astonishing on her and she is wearing her hair in a bun although this will most likely be changed yet she does look great. The singing is as it was yesterday, right on key and she is improvising today which is great as she is making the song more personal. The backdrop has stayed the same keeping with the modern black and white touches. This looks great on stage and on the monitor. Sweden be afraid, very afraid as Italy is in the mix!

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Azerbaijan

As we reported yesterday, Sabina will be rehearsing in her beautiful white gown in each and every rehearsal due to the special effects that is carries noting that it does change colour along iwth the backdrop. The focus is on the performer with a white spotlight but she is joined on stage by three female backing vocals and one male backing vocalist and this is looking very well on screens. The dress is looking immaculate and the vocals are very strong as they were yesterday. The idea with the dress is a first for the Eurovision Song Contest and whilst it is impossible for Azerbaijan to win twice in a row, I predict a top ten finish, even a possible top five finish because this ballad is just beautiful and has been written to interact with the audience. 

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Spain

Pastora has decided to keep her dress for the final night hidden it seems as she dons more casual clothing for her second rehearsal. The backdrop is quite simple but suddenly there seems to be a stream of water going down behind her. She is alone on stage for more of the time actually and just lets her vocal range do most of the performance. She walks to different parts of the stage noting that she is an experienced performer. The vocals are astonishing and as she heads into the chorus prior to the key change, the backdrop becomes a flurry of stars with strobelights all over. She is joined by five backing singers after this and they help her give the song a choir effect. The staging also features a brand new design. Stunning performance from Spain and this is also a contender this year.

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Germany

Germany have went from a mediocre entry to a very strong song and Roman is clearly taking in every ounce of this experience with him. In his native country, he has already become quite popular with his entry for the competition charting at number three (3). Once more, focus in this song is on the lights instead of the backdrop as was the case within the preview video. He is joined on stage by a band which includes the piano, drums, bass and also a guitar. Despite this looking very strong on the screens, I am not actually understanding everything that he is uttering and this can be quite problematic actually. Nevertheless, the refrain is catchy and this track is going to be a hit outside of the Eurovision Song Contest. This will most likely finish between eight and twelfth place on the night! A good rehearsal but it has dropped ever so slightly although this will not effect it.

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

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

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

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

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

This year, Finland has to be one of the most underrated countries in the Eurovision Song Contest considering the great performance that Pernilla has been giving during her respective runs which have not been too easy considering the nature of her song which might be simple yet is still extremely emotional. The track which she is performing bearing the title När Jag Blundar was written by her brother as an ode to their mother and therefore, the sentimental feeling will surely be astonishing when it is performing following the likes of Belgium on the stage of the first semi-final. It will be quite interesting which ballad will ultimately stand out the most on the night.

Finland have quite the history in the Eurovision Song Contest and until a couple of years back, they were the longest participating nation not to score a victory but Lordi did change that with their track Hard Rock Hallelujah. Pernilla is quite different and following years of rock and metal, the genre that YLE has been represented by has been calmer, different and somewhat enjoyable noting last years' entry Da Da Dam by Paradise Oskar. They kept to the same formula with such a beautiful ballad. In this special interview on the bus of Finland, Pernilla speaks about the message of the song, the rehearsals and how she manages to keep so calm throughout.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAV0vhzMMF4

One of the youngest participants in this years' Eurovision Song Contest is surely Iris, who will be representing Belgium with the song Would You? which won a two song national selection earlier this year held on one of the most popular shows in the nation. The track which is a beautiful ballad has been receiving a lot of praise and the artist herself has a brilliant vocal range to carry it off actually. Iris is competing in the first semi-final and will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of her Belgian counterpart Tom Dice who represented the country just two years ago with the beautiful track Me and My Guitar.

 

Belgium does not have the most stellar of records in the Eurovision Sogn Contest unfortunately but nevertheless, have been one of the most consistent competing countries from the Western world continuously participating each and every year except when having been relegated. Since the introduction of the semi-final system, they have only managed to reach the final on one occasion, but Iris will be vying to change that record this year and take the tally to at least two actually. Within this interview, Iris speaks about her song, her rehearsals and her music career in general which has been flourishing even so early in her life.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2DMpdo3268

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

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

Schedule of Rehearsals

08:30 - Russia

09:00 - Hungary

09:30 - Austria

10:00 - Moldova

10:30 - Ireland

12:00 - Serbia

12:30 - FYR Macedonia

13:00 - The Netherlands

13:30 - Malta

14:20 - Belarus

14:50 - Portugal

15:20 - Ukraine

15:50 - Bulgaria  

 

LIVE

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


Russia

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Hungary

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Austria

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Moldova

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Ireland

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

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Serbia

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Exclusive Statement from the Maltese Head of Delegation

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

 

FYR Macedonia

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

The Netherlands

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Malta

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Belarus

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Exclusive Statement from the Maltese Head of Delegation

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

 

Portugal

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Ukraine

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Bulgaria

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra