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ESCflashmalta Team

ESCflashmalta Team

Monday, 02 May 2011 00:39

ESC 2011: Day 2 Rehearsals - LIVE

Good Morning Europe and welcome to our second day of live reporting. With team members gearing up in Dusseldorf, some including myself are gearing up for yet another great day of music, rehearsals and news from each of the participating nations. Today, a total of nine acts will be taking to the stage as opposed to yesterday when there was another act with the tally of the semi-final amounting to nineteen. This will be the case within the rehearsals of the second semi-final.



The stage area is buzzing and the press working area is seeing a lot of sleepy people this morning. Things are being worked out to make sure that today will be even better than yesterday if possible noting that very near miss imperfections thus far. The hosts are making sure that they are taken seriously and show that they can be quite competent in presenting. Led by Garrett Mulhall, Juergen Boernig and Keith is the team of ESCflashmalta. They will be carrying out various roles throughout the day whilst I coordinate and plan certain structures. As the logo of this article suggests, Malta will be taken to the stage early on, opening up proceedings for Tuesday.

Malta (through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

Our man Glen is first on stage today bright and early. And for a first rehearsal he is playing a blinder and performing out of his skin! As in the Maltese National Final Glen is joined by his 3 female backing singers who are performing on 3 individual plinths. They are wearing matching black bob wigs and shades and look rather dramatic. Then there are 2 male dancers - who are casually dressed in black clothes which I am sure will be changed for the live show.

The stage begins black with red spot lights highlighting the performers. When the music begins the stage is illuminated with 2 flashing inverted pyramids that are visually electric. Throughout the song there are intermittent horizontal blue, red and white lights across the the screen. Overall it is a very dramatic stage and it suits the song perfectly. For me this is one of the best usages of the full capabilities of the stage and the lighting.

Vocally Glen was on his best game! He was note perfect. There were however some technical problems with the sounds. Twice the song had to be stopped as the sound was either not heard in the arena or by the artist. However this did not phase Glen and his team. They managed to get a full run through after the problems had been rectified. The reaction in the hall was very good for Glen's performance and he is looking good for qualification.

Video Courtesy of the Eurovision.tv

San Marino (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

Next up we have a woman taking to the stage and this is the every so nice Senit actually who has been doing a lot of extensive promotion all over Europe including Malta where she will be making an appearance on the program Xarabank which has been pre-recorded for next Friday. Senit is dressed very casually this morning but what is quite interesting is that she is joined on stage by a number of people including two guitarists of male sexuality and also another three female backing vocals.

The stage is depicted in a very dark purple sort of setting and this works well with the mood of the song in general so no problems there. As the music commences, the stage turns into a mixture of purple and some yellow from the lights as if being on a stage rig in the middle of the ocean. The setting remains the same but as I said, it works well with the mood.

With regards to the vocals, Senit is doing an amazing job and this is her first rehearsal on this stage so it is quite interesting to see her performing so well. Many people had regarded her vocal capabilities and I believe that with a much stronger song, she would have been a contender for a top ten finish. At the moment, I see this making it to the final and this is based also on the fact that the song is performing following an energetic one. She climaxes beautifully actually. Very good!

Video Courtesy of the Eurovision.tv

Croatia (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

Another act which took her promotion tour to our very own tiny nation island of Malta is Daria and her performance on Xarabank will also be shown this coming Friday actually. The extremely long singer with the blonde hair is looking to impress this year. The singer is on the stage wearing a short black dress with a sprinkle of gold in the beginning and this seems like the attire she will be wearing during the show. She is joined on stage by a male DJ as well as four female backing vocals and thus it makes this an all woman show.

Surprise surprise, the lighting used is somewhat that within a disco but what she tries to make special is her costume change as suddenly she goes into a magician like tube and changes her  costume into a glittery light pink one instead before turning into a long silver one at the end. She is pulling out all of the stops for this performance but I still believe there are some missing elements so to speak. We just have to see what the rest of Europe makes of Croatia this year.

In the meantime, the vocals sound way strained during parts of the song but that has been expected because her live performances have never been up to the best possible standard. I did meet her in Malta and she does have a nice voice to talk with but it is not made for full blown singing. The song is not easy and with that choreography it becomes harder. The vocalists do a very good job hiding out some of her most frightening moments. Not a bad start but has to improve.

Video Courtesy of the Eurovision.tv

Iceland (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

The story behind the Icelandic one is surely going to be the one which brings about that tear to the eye and therefore it makes the Icelandic entry a tearjerker. Anyways, one could note that the the group have been doing a fantastic job at this song considering that it was not written specifically for them so to speak. The touches made by them work well and manage to captivate the audience. The camera shots for this one will be quite vital in my opinion.

The staging is simple with all of the five members of the group standing in one position on the stage, all clad in a smart casual suits very similar to those in the video. The backdrop is quite an interesting one as well because it features like mechanics of a clock and they play an important role as one cannot wait for the next day or something of the sort. They received a very warm applause in the audience.

The vocals were spot on from all of them, and it shows that they are experienced singers and musician because their talent just seeps through to the music and it has to be also noted that they have been getting better and better. High hopes from my end especially because they are doing it for their friend, they have the talent and they have a great team of professionals at RUV working really hard in promoting this song. Best of Luck!

Video Courtesy of the Eurovision.tv

BREAK

Hungary (through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

This is the song that had the most people in attendance for the rehearsal today. Kati is stunning in a blue asymmetrical dress and her long flowing blonde hair. It is very hard to judge this song as Kati comes across as a lovely woman and has been extremely charming to all here at Dusseldorf. However the Hungarian delegation really need to tone back the performance as at the moment it is totally hectic and left the hall feeling very cold. Let's start at with the positives.Kati is stunning looking in her electric blue dress. She sings the song note perfect and with her choreographer on stage, Kati looks sultry and plays to the camera well. However when the male dancers/singers come on stage the performance dips. The 3 male performers are all dressed in white - one even in a terrible white track suit.

They all arrive on stage in a blaze of jumping about that is out of sync and looks somewhat desperate on stage. The stage is black and then has blue spots and yellow strobes. As the song hits the chorus the stage erupts into vertical and horizontal lines with multiple spot lights. Then when the song hits the key change the stage dims and then lights on the all of the dancers costumes are illuminated. It is just too much on the camera and leaves the audience not knowing what to concentrate on?

Kati also should play to her own strengths and not do so many moves that are reminiscent of Celine Dion. This is certainly what people were thinking and saying in the hall. Hungary with the performance as it stands should just about qualify but not score well in the final. I would strongly recommend that they tone down the performance if they want to remain a contender.

Video Courtesy of the Eurovision.tv

Portugal (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

Portugal are looking and sounding like they are having a wonderful time on stage. With a dramatic red and black stage this is in stark contrast to Hungary that is before them. Like in their National Final Portugal have gone for the 70's look in their costumes and again it works wonderfully. We have 4 men and 2 women on stage again holding their protest signs. And they have played a wonderful PR stunt and have the title of their song now in 12 languages - stroke of genius.

As I have said the stage is black and red and it is an abstract designs that slowly morphs into flower blooms. Vocally they are so on key and they come across charming on the television. They are really embracing the 1970's ethos and this is working well on the stage. With political unrest across the world this song could strike a chord with both juries and the public alike. This will certainly have the audience on their feet in the auditorium and I think will give Portugal their 4th final qualification.

A small note for all Maltese fans it that one of the pick-it card they are holding is actually in Maltese showing the words 'Il-Glieda hija ferh' which translates into the fight is happiness showing that they have a cause which they would like to adhere to. Please note that Glen had been within their national selection promoting his song 'One Life' and therefore this might have had some impact on them.

Video Courtesy of the Eurovision.tv

Lithuania (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

One of this years' entries which as not really been grabbing the attention that it should have been is surely Lithuania who are represented by the amazing vocals of Evelina Sasenko. The ballad which she will be performing is entitled 'C'est Ma Vie' and it was seen during the nation final that she has quite a nice set of lungs. Today, she took to the stage with just a piano player and this looks amazing actually. She is quite the charmer and manages to get your attention when performing.

The stage is bathed in very dark colours and this was always going to be the case with such a melancholic type of song. The background it itself is also dark but it features short of either shooting stars or alien like beams. In fact, one particular stage I remember with this similar effect was that of Malta in 2009 when Chiara took to the stage with the song of Marc Paelinck and Gregory Bilsen entitled 'What if We'. The background needs to be checked as it is not fully working at times.

The vocals are undoubtedly the best of the day along with those of Senit and this could be the point in which the power of the judges could play a very vital role in getting through to the final. Melancholy is important in a contest and following Hungary and Portugal, this song might stand out and impress even the people at home. She is dressed in a beautiful white gown with touches of black right at the top along with very slight puffy shoulder pads.

Video Courtesy of the Eurovision.tv

BREAK

Azerbaijan (through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

No the song from Azerbaijan this year has been one of my favourites in the run up to the competition but you can imagine my shock when I looked at it in the arena today. It was like looking at a remake of "In a Moment Like This" from Denmark last year but without the charm. The song starts with a black stage a few spot lights with the 4 female backing singers standing in a line in front of Elle and Nikki who stand with their backs to each other and that is a taste to come for the remainder of the song.

You would imagine that a love song would be sung to each other but not if you come Azerbaijan so it seems. Nikki parades about the stage and Ell runs about after her. It looked very strange in the hall.To add to this the 4 female backing singers are parading about the stage for no apparent reason and actually taking up a lot of the camera shots. They should be there to support the main singers and not over power the main performers.

Now what is also strange is that the lighting used seems to be unsure of itself. As I said the stage begins black with a handful of spotlights. This then turns into a plain pink backdrop which has the effect of making the performers look very small on screen. The stage then returns to the very dark screen again where at the end we are treated to a waterfall of fireworks which actually does close the song off nicely.Vocally it is really a tale of 2 stories. Ell is note perfect and he is very charming on screen. However Nikki misses her intros several times in the song and sings behind the track at many points. This needs to be worked upon as the difference in their performances is very notable. I still think that this song could do well if they work on Nikki's vocals and their presentation and lighting of the performance.

Video Courtesy of the Eurovision.tv

Greece (through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

The Greek entry this year is one of those songs which you either love or hate and Europe is quite in a iffy about what to make of it. Many people have criticized the nation on the way the pre-selection was staged but considering the trouble with regards to the economy in the same aforementioned nation, the level of the event was quite right. The introduction of foreign songwriters proved to be successful true but in the end a song which had Greece stamped all over it won.

The main singers in this song are of course, a traditional typical singer who is singing in Greek and the wrapper and that makes up for two people but then they are joined by another four people in terms of dancers who carry the song choreographically. The effect of them works very good to say the least and they do seem somewhat polished. The staging is yet again dark true but the fact of the matter is that they are doing it to promote Greece with the typical columns of the temples there being showcased.

The vocals are good, I mean the only really challenge would come within the refrain when the main artist in the middle of the stage has to perform his higher notes to prove things impressive as the rapper does his bits well. I think the challenge for this song will be in the fact that the camera shots have to capture every detail which they would like to portray on the stage which will be quite difficult changing between two main individuals. A good performance, will it be enough to qualify?

Video Courtesy of the Eurovision.tv

Tuesday, 03 May 2011 06:40

ESC 2011: Day 3 Rehearsals - LIVE

Guten Morgen Europa and welcome to our third day of live coverage from this years' Eurovision Song Contest which is taking place in the city of Dusseldorf, in Germany. Following the first two days of a slick presentation for the participants of semi-final one, the participants of semi-final two are hoping to be impressed by the set of the stage and the rest of the production. Our team of journalists and collaborators is in place to bring you the latest images, rehearsal reports and videos from the day.



Yesterday, the press working area was somewhat a little quiet but things seem to be picking up this morning according to our colleagues present there. The German broadcasters are doing their best to make everyone feel at home and this has been the case thus far. Leading the charge of the coverage is the Irishman Garrett Mulhall and Dutch Juergen Boernig whilst a nod goes to a number of collaborators including Liam Whelan for his images, Keith Mills for his rehearsal videos and for the same reason, the team at ESCdaily. Just a small note, we might be slightly delayed in the beginning but only just so hold on to your seats, the first update will be coming to you at just after eleven o'clock.

Bosnia & Herzegovina (through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

I am going to coin a new phrase - Balkan Schlager Music - as that is exactly what is what we have here. Our man Dino was in wonderful mood and performance this morning. Note perfect and full of energy with each rehearsal. Dino himself was in a metallic effect jacket with a white shirt that had 2 love heart broaches on the collar and playing the guitar this time around. He is joined on stage by 3 men - one on the banjo, double bass and trumpet (who multi tasks as a dancer - who said men can't multi task). Also on stage are 2 women - one on the keyboards and one on the tambourine.

Dino stands on his own to the right of the stage performing while his band are to the left on a small plinth. The staging is very simple but totally appropriate and in keeping with the song. The stage is black and then reveals a red curtain effect like that of a theatre. As the song progresses the curtains are successfully pulled back to reveal a succession of curtains and finally a carousel which is turning slowly. There are discrete hearts moving across the stage towards the end of the song.

As for the performance it is very in keeping with the song. It progresses at a very gentle pace and there are some very simple dance steps at key points in the song that are used to good effect. One area that is slightly out of keeping are the few occasions that the trumpet player who doubles as a dancer, leaps around the stage. It slightly detracts from Dino's camera perfect performance. My suggestion would be to curtail the dancing of the trumpet player. The ending of the song sees Dino and the band together engaging the audience to sway their hands with them. This is a strong performance and should see Bosnia progress to the final.

Video courtesy of the team at Eurovision.tv

Austria (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

Yes Nadine is looking very similar to her performance in the Austrian National Final where she was the surprising winner. Nadine is in the classic fashion statement little black dress that has sequences throughout. Her hair is still in her signature split level bob cut - which I actually find a little unusual but she does look very charming on camera. She is joined on stage by 5 female backing singers who are all in black ball gowns.

The song begins acapella with a sole spotlight lighting her from behind and the stage remains dark blue until the song builds as do the lighting effects. The stage builds with blue shimmering stars. In the centre of the back drop there appear large jewels tumbling from the top of the screen. The performance is just screaming out for a delivery of dry ice as it will give the look of the song that extra push that it needs. Nadine's vocals are good and you can tell that she was holding back to save her voice. Singing from position number 2 - is always difficult - and following the very infectious Bosnia - Austria maybe in for a close fight to make the final.

Video courtesy of the team at Eurovision.tv

The Netherlands (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

The Dutch group was an internally selected choice this year actually and this has ended up being a very wise one in my opinion. Taking to the stage for the very first time today, they looked to warm up quite quickly and managed to find the harmonies quite well. Unlike most of the acts that have taken to the stage until now, the group has not decided to turn up in their attire for the actual semi-final or so we hope because they look far too casual performing their lovely ballad.

The group did not decide to take to the stage alone and thus they have called for professional help from three backing vocalists who put in their charm to contrast the band. The start of the song sees a stage bathed in blue with yellowish lighting at times. An utterly impressive and dominant performance with regards to vocals and one must note the fact that the added panache from the females is somewhat very strong as it adds to the build up of the song. According to our colleagues, this is looking very good on the screens and I seriously see this as a definite qualifier this year also owing to the sheer professionalism that the whole team is showing. The only real downside is that the backdrop LEDs are very similar to the starry night shown by Nadine Beiler in the performance just before.

Video courtesy of the team at Eurovision.tv

Belgium (through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

This is the song that seems to be dividing public opinion as to whether or not it is suitable for Eurovision. Well my answer is a resounding "YES". Witloof Bay are sticking to the same formula that won them the Belgian National Song Contest. We have 6 people on stage - the same 4 men and 2 women. And if you have not heard their song they are the only country in the contest this year to perform with no backing track or instruments. Yes Witloof Bay are an acapella act with a beat box artist and as a result there is a lot of emphasis on their voices - and let me tell you that they were stunning vocally!

The song starts with the group in a semi circle performing with the female singers taking central stage. The back drop is a black stage with a small number of vertical green slender lines that begin to revolve. As the song progresses the number of lines on the back drop increases to the point where you have a very impressive 3D effect which looks stunning on camera and in the arena. They have very slick choreography in the performance with good posing at key beats in the song. There is a lot of focus on the beat box performer and rightly so as he is very charismatic. Importantly there is the big Eurovision key change in the song. I think there is an opportunity for the key change to be expressed more with lighting. I so hope this song qualifies as it will be a breath of fresh air in the contest.

Video courtesy of the team at Eurovision.tv

Slovakia (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

Slovakia are yet to make it to the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest since returning just a couple of years ago but their results prior to that were never too good actually so it will be quite interesting to see what this song would do. The two sisters are joined on stage by two backing vocalists, a pianist and a drummer and therefore, they do their best to make the song look as alive as possible maybe echoing their song title.

The visuals behind them are depicting what look to be like discs of sunlight for most of the time but from yellow, the light switches to white during the non-chorus parts of the song. The vocals do not sound strained as people might have expected and thus it sounds good at the moment. It also seems like they are wearing the trousers that they will be wearing during the evening of the semi-final which are tight and of leather. The backing do a stupendous job with regards to harmonies and the musicians look very much realistic as they play the piano. A competent start from Slovakia yet still doubtful of qualification in my opinion.

Video courtesy of the team at Eurovision.tv

Ukraine (through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

Well the Ukraine are not doing a song competition but an Art Exhibition this year. What do I mean? Well you need to look at firstly at this link here. Well yes the Ukraine are doing sand drawings on their performance. We have Mika singing on stage with one male backing singer. The backdrop is a video projection of the sand drawings that Simonova creates. The sequence of the drawings created are firstly of a night screen of the sky that transforms into a pair of faces. These then are morphed into a landscape with a women standing alone. This then is dramatically changed into a scene where there are several faces with a look of impending doom. This then transforms into a child looking out a window at a night sky where she is greeted by an angel. This scene is then moulded into a lone angel flying in the distance with the final words of the song being greeted by the words "Share your heart".

Here is the issue with the concept - In the arena the sand pictures look amazing but on the camera you miss a lot of the drawings as we do have to see shots of Mika performing. What also is the result is that you become engrossed in the drawings that you almost forget about the song. So if that is the intention of the Ukraine then they have succeeded. As for Mika - her vocals were very strong indeed. She hit all of her notes and intros but for me she was not that engaging. We were treated to a view of her dress - which is ivory in colour and has a large feathered collar with jewels hanging down. It is a lot to take in along with the sand drawings. However I think that her vocal abilities will be highlighted by the somewhat weak Slovakian performance before it. I think the Ukraine should easily qualify with this performance.

Video courtesy of the team at Eurovision.tv

Moldova (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

The return of any act to the Eurovision Song Contest is quite interesting and of course many people had high expectations from the group who did bring about a dancing granny on stage back in Kiev, Ukraine. They seemed to become somewhat a little more serious for this years' outing and after finishing second in the jury and in the tele-voting, it was quite interesting to note that the winner of each section only managed so far because of the other section. The group are the only ones who take to the stage and what a presence they have especially the portrayal of themselves within .. hats!

The backdrop LEDs look really amazing with hats flying all over the place in a whirlwind. Green, Orange and yellow are mostly the backdrop colours being used for this performance so to speak. In my opinion, the song is not really that much of a problem to perform and this is because there are no real high notes and therefore the vocals are just fine. The new arrangement within the song features some very interesting sounds which might give off a funny feeling to the overall entry. In fact the melody is very jovial and suddenly I am reminded of their entry back in 2005 especially in a part in which the climax ends up being quite vital. Very energetic and somewhat intriguing, could this be a surprise qualifier in the second semi-final?

Video courtesy of the team at Eurovision.tv

Sweden (through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

Eric has kept his staging pretty much the same as he had it in Melodifestivalen. Eric is joined on stage by 3 male dancers and 2 backing singers (1 male and 1 female) that are not present at first on the stage but they then enter the stage via the side. As for the lighting - well firstly they have taken the ceiling light platforms and place them in a circle around the stage to create a cauldron effect. This is very effective. The back drop is then a series of symmetrical shapes that decrease in size. For the chorus these were replaced by a single giant camera lens.

Erics vocals were not fully used during the rehearsals but at times were not as strong as they could be. When it came to the final rehearsals they were supposed to use pyro techniques which failed to explode and Eric found himself trapped inside his glass cage that he was supposed to break. It became apparent that Eric has injured his shoulder and this hampered his dancing abilities. It remains to be seen just how spectacular Eric's performance will be. As for first rehearsals go - this was not one of the better ones and there was so much expectation placed on his performance today. There are technical issues to solve and work on the vocals to be worked on.

Video courtesy of the team at Eurovision.tv

Cyprus (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

It is actually very nice to see Cyprus performing in their very own language this year as opposed to all of the other years in recent times when they had to resort within the English language in order to prove that they could be successful. This year, the internal choice of the song along with the choice of the artist through a talent show did not prove successful with the people yet they are pulling out all of the stops to make sure that the song is presented in the best possible way. The singer is joined on stage by four male dancers at the main stage and a female dancer on the catwalk.

The lighting is dark for most of the time but the basis is on crystal type of geometric shapes with Chinese like balloons which are enlighten each time. The traditional music works very well following Sweden and the graphics are somewhat eclipsing the beauty of the song. The question in the song were the vocals but they are strong today and I cannot help but congratulate the delegation for putting up such a show. A comment with regards to the clothing, he along with the dance is dressed in skimpy leather wear. Somewhat a very impressive first rehearsal and one which was quite unexpected. Well Done Cyprus, a dark horse!

Video courtesy of the team at ESCdaily

Wednesday, 04 May 2011 09:04

ESC 2011: Day 4 Rehearsals - LIVE

Good Morning, and welcome to the fourth day of live rehearsal reports from the city of Dusseldorf in Germany. The seconds et of participants from the second semi-final are set to take to the stage for the first time today as their premier rehearsal which lasts a total of forty minutes is set to occur. Our team of journalists and collaborators is in place to bring you the latest images, rehearsal reports and videos from the day.

There are quite a large number of countries taking to the stage today actually with ten headlining their presence for the very first time. It has been quite interesting to see some acts flourish and grow whilst some others have literally been set aside. Some of the favourites have also burned and will need a much better second rehearsal in the coming hours with the first semi-final acts set to take to the stage tomorrow morning once more as they aim to put aside their problems and give the best they can.

Bulgaria (through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

One word for this one - STUNNING. Poli is looking and sounding amazing. The 5 people on stage for this one and they are all dressed in brilliant white but with variations on the design. Poli herself is in a white dress with a flowing skirt which reveals her tattooed arms. She also has a red feathered ear ring in one ear. It looks very dramatic set against a dark stage. The stage itself is very reminiscent of Safura's Drip Drop last year where the first verse is set to a rain drop stained window and when we reach the chorus it changes to a more dramatic rain falling screen which suits the song so well. Poli looks very charismatic on stage and hits some very strong poses on camera.

When the song makes it's way to the climax Poli walks into the secondary stage in the middle of the audience where she falls to her knees and removes her skirt to reveal a shoulder less short dress. As the song finishes Poli runs back to rejoin her band mates. This is the only part of the song that looks a little strained and could be worked upon to make the performance complete. Overall this was a very polished performance and will go down well in the hall and on television. 

Video Courtesy of the Team at Eurovision.tv

FYR Macedonia (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

A song which has been going under everyone's radar is surely this one and this is because it's genre is not really that popular with the fans so to speak but what a dramatic entry this is being portrayed to be. The main singer  is dressed in very smart casual attire whilst joined by a five dancers, four males and a female who in turn are dressed as if they are getting ready to defend themselves through the art of Karate. I did not really get the concept of this especially when noting what the lyrics actually say having read through their translation but alas, this might just a way to put on a show.

I must say that the host broadcaster really outdid themselves with these graphics as a huge aquarium is depicted on stage showing a number of letters and numbers. The main colour effects which are being used during the refrain are red but during the rest of the song, a shade of dark blue becomes predominant. The choreography is very strong and they do not seem to be having any problems with it whilst the vocals are in tune and sound well. The problem with this entry is that many wont understand it. At the end of the song, the dancers carry out a very traditional choreography which works well.

Video Courtesy of the Team at Eurovision.tv

Israel (through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

The arena is crowded as I type this message for Dana International's return to Eurovision. And all I can say - was it worth the wait? Where do I start?

Well there are 5 female backing singers who are accompanying Dana on stage and they - like the Eurovision "Diva" - are all dressed in white. The female backing singers are to the left of the stage and they are in a formation of 2 and 3. They have subtle dance movements and do not move away from their mike stands which is actually exactly what supporting acts should do. To be honest they carry the vocals of the song extremely well and should be praised for what they do.

Now as for Dana - well she was in a white short dress with a white coat that had a fur trim. These costumes will not be the costumes for the semi final. Dana saunters onto the stage with some vogue like hand movements. However once she reaches her spot she stays in it for the remainder of the song - and as for a dance song, the entire staging is extremely static and boring. For the climax of the song Dana reverts to more vogue poses. It is all underwhelming and the gathered press did not give her much of a reaction. The backdrop is a black screen with multi coloured circles increasing and decreasing in size with the beat of the song.

Vocally - Dana is not a strong singer compared to many of the other artists in the competition and with some of the notes that Dana has to hold, her limitations are very evident. I fear for Dana this year and it remains to be seen if the returning champion can make it to the final. At the moment with this performance I would say not. You get the feeling that Israel are holding back and that they must be planning to introduce some big gimmick for the live show. Well we hope so.

Video Courtesy of the Team at Eurovision.tv

Slovenia (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

A personal favourite, this was a song that was picked near the end of the selection season this year in a show which was organised in a well produced setting. The young Maja Keuc of Slovenia's Got Talent fame got the ticket and the expectations on her have been quite high being seen as the act who can get the best result for her nation. At the back of the performing area in the middle of the main showcase, there are four female backing singers as an all women act look set to impress. This is looking very good in my opinion in terms of staging. No dancers as seen in the video and this prove to be a much better fit.

In the meantime, the backdrop is seen through a strand a lilac purple which then eases into pink as the song develops but what is really interesting is the choice of clothing for this performance especially when noting that the backing singers are wearing very fashionable black leather dresses. It seems that Maja was going to go through the same line of clothing but ultimately decided that only the trousers would do her justice with a silvery top added to it making the outfit look very trashy and sorry to say but 'hooker' like because she also added a sparkle of long length boots, also of leather. The vocals are spot on in each and every run through but this outfit is definitely a contender for the Barbara Dex award because it is much worse than what Rebeka Dremejl wore back in the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest.

Video Courtesy of the Team at Eurovision.tv

BREAKING NEWS

Today, last year's Eurovision Song Contest Winner Lena will be bringing Jedward to their rehearsals today in her private Limo. She is so in love with Jedward and their song that she wants to be there to support them. I must say that this is very much a nice seal of approval from the reigning champion and fellow competitor. It seems like Jedward are doing pretty well and in the meantime, Dana International for Israel has just canceled her Press Conference for unknown reasons.

Romania (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

The second entry chosen for this years' Eurovision Song Contest comes from the nation of Romania and here they are taking to the stage for the very first time within the Eprit Arena in Dusseldorf. All of the act, meaning Hotel FM are on stage and it seems like they are joined there by two trumpet players who are also dancers. The act are ready to take Germany by storm because they did come out firing this afternoon. There is not a lot one could do with such a performance but it is not looking static and loving the new arrangement live now.

The backdrop looks quite original in this entry because it is mostly based on red visuals with touches of blue at times but in a different to Norway last year when only lighting was impressive, this year, the LEDs manage to depict a story or else make up a story with the lyrics. The vocals by the British lead singer are very good indeed and they have never been a problem. The choreography is flowing and rich and thus this is one of those which is still on a borderline finish because the song might not be that amazing but I think that it will get through.

Video Courtesy of the Team at Eurovision.tv

Estonia (through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

Getter was completely captivating as she sang her song. The stage was truly one of the most beautiful that I have seen so far. They have several prop cartoon cut outs of American Art Deco buildings. Getter starts her performance from on top of one of the buildings and she descends to the stage by walking on the backs of her dancers. She was wearing a short 1950's style dress of black and purple. She is accompanied by 3 male dancers dressed in black and 2 female backing singers - complete with platinum blonde wigs and puff ball skirts in blue and yellow.

The back drop continues the art deco architecture feel with a giant ferris wheel. It looks stunning in the audience and on camera. Getter is truly charming on camera and hits her poses on time all the time. When the song comes to the slow section Getter and team descend the stairs of the stage and engage in some very Jazz like finger snapping that is just so in keeping with the look and feel of the song. Vocally in the first few rehearsals of the song Getter did not sing all of the chorus but for the final few she upped her game and started attempting all of the notes. A few more rehearsals and this Estonian entry is sailing into the final and the Top 5. Job well done.

Video Courtesy of the Team at Eurovision.tv

Belarus (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

Many people believe that this entry will be the third Belarussian entry to qualify because it is very much a guilty pleasure for everyone. The singer and the song were chosen internally and this is actually the second entry that was given to the singer. The main act is joined on stage by two backing vocalists, one male and one female and a female disc jockey who adds a little to the drama of the whole performance.

The fact of the matter is that this song is darn catchy and gets you singing along instantly. The act is surely in costume based on what they are wearing. Anastasia is clad in a silver/black dress the same as her female backing vocalist/dancer whilst the two males are clad in the same colour scheme but of course trousers and shirt. The vocals are not bad maybe they could be a Little bit better but definitely not a bad start for this team. The backgrounds work quite well with the song but it is actually quite similar to the one being used for Malta and their entry. Can this manage to be a hit with the people at home or not? It did get a very good and rousing applause from thee people in the hall so it will be quite interesting to see how things pan out.

Video Courtesy of the Team at Eurovision.tv

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Latvia (through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

Looking and sounding great, Latvia have taken to the stage. The 2 singers of Musiqq took to the stage wearing black trousers and shirts and white waistcoats and red bow ties. They begin their performance with their backs to the audience so you get a full shot of the arena which is impressive. They are joined on stage by 2 male singers dressed in black shirts and red trousers and then 2 female singers in white and black paisley dresses. The stage is black with large green and white vertical strobe lighting. For the rapping part of the song the stage changes to black with Blue effects.

Vocally this was note perfect from both members. The rapping was understated and fitted the song perfectly. Both singers hit their camera shots every single time. You can tell that they have been rehearsing and it shows. As the song finishes the camera raises and takes and ariel view of the stage that reads the words "Angel" in the flooring. This is looking like a strong contender for the final and a Top 10 finish.

Video Courtesy of the Team at Eurovision.tv

Denmark (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

The simple Danish entry is set to take the stage next and they are doing so in comfortable fashion. The song has been said to be a little bit middle in the song with regards to style and following early plagiarism accusations, it seems like this have calmed down and they have come up with a brilliant performance which could look very static but does not due to the backdrop which is set behind them which is also relatively simple.

The band called 'A Friend in London' after a particular individual friend who hosted the band in the capital city of the United Kingdom have very strong vocals for most of the time although sometimes there were some issues with regards to the level of the microphones but this is a first rehearsal and the first time that they are joined by two backing vocalists, a male and a female. A very good start for Denmark who are hoping to better than fourth place finish last year having been predicted as a late dark horse. This in my opinion is one of the better songs that the Eurovision Song Contest this year has to offer and as always, Denmark ranking very high on my list so one has to see what will happen.

Video Courtesy of the Team at Eurovision.tv

Ireland (through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

Ok all. When I say that Jedward were fantastic trust me I am being objective and please believe me when I say that it is not just because I am from Ireland. John and Edward were wearing their military style black and gold jackets but for the live show they will be wearing red glittered jackets. We caught a glimpse of them for the lighting check. Where do I begin with their performance. So much to tell you!

Let's start with the staging. The song starts with John lying on the ground and Edward standing above him. Then Edward pulls John off the floor and they begin their routine. And you will not believe me when I tell you this, but we have over a HUNDRED Jedwards on stage. How is this possible? Well they have decided to take videos from Planet Jedward of John and Edward dancing - yes the videos are the ones of John and Edward in their black polo neck shirts dancing and they have recreated these in multi colours. Also used are of them dancing in suits. As the chorus of the song arrives there are explosions on the screen and we then get hundreds of lipsticks across the backdrop. In the final rehearsal they had dry ice across the stage and an explosion of confetti. I have to say that this is by far the BEST lighting and backdrop used by any country so far.

Their dance moves are slick and you can tell that their time with Brian Friedman has paid off. Also vocally they were so on the money. They did not have any bad notes and the backing singers were supporting Jedward and not overpowering the boys. For a first rehearsal they were so well prepared. The media attention for their performance was huge. It was one of the most crowded rehearsals of the day and the reaction to each performance was greeted by claps and cheers. Well done John and Edward. Amazing first day of rehearsals - keep up the good work!

Video Courtesy of the Team at Eurovision.tv

Thursday, 05 May 2011 08:00

ESC 2011: Day 5 Rehearsals - LIVE

The Eurovision Song Contest is just a mere couple of days away now and the preparations are really going strong as the city of Dusseldorf prepares for the biggest musical event in Europe organised by the European Broadcasting Union. Following four days of rehearsals of acts from the first and second semi-final, the press and the people present have their favourites surely and would not be worried about saying them out to the public.

Today the acts that will be taking to the stage are the first thirteen within the running order actually and they will be doing so from the first semi-final. The adjustments required should be implemented for the second rehearsal and this would make the team prepare for the first dress rehearsal next Monday which will be quite interesting to see noting that it is very much open to the media as has been the case in recent years. Our team led by Irishmen Garrett Mulhall and Keith Mills is working strong to bring you the best possible coverage but would like to thank all of the team ESCDAILY, Irishman Liam Whelan and Juergen Boernig and his team at Radio International for all their help for this years' Eurovision Song Contest.

Poland (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

The Polish act for this years' Eurovision Song Contest takes to the stage for the second time today as the second rehearsal for each act commences. As seen during the first rehearsal, Magdalena is joined on stage by a number of dancers and backing vocals who are clad in a very beautiful white dresses. This is looking quite nice on the monitors but there are still some changes which need change in order to look at its best.

In the meantime, the backdrop used is that of geometric shapes in light blue throughout the verse and then orange within the refrain and the added extra are some laser type of lights as seen within the video for the song Jestem. The vocal performance is good but I think that she had a better time on Monday but on a positive note, she performs well and manages to put her twist on the song as she has wanted to do for quite some time.

Video Courtesy of the Team at Eurovision.tv

Norway (through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

Norway will be the act this year that breaks the bad luck spell of performing in the dreaded second place. Stella will be sailing into the final with her song. As again before Stella is dressed in a golden short dress and her female and male backing singers/dancers are all in vibrant red. The 4 rehearsals that Stella completed were vocally perfect. The Norwegians have raised the key of the song by an octave and this makes the verses sound much better.

The song starts with the backing singers in formation on stage and Stella joins them. The back drop is of stunning tribal/african inspired zig zag shapes in blue and white. This help to enhance the African feel to the song. When the song comes to the chorus the colour of the stage turns to red and this is very dramatic and helps to build the carnival atmosphere of the song. The dance that Stella and her singers complete is fun and easily replicated as has been the case by all of the delegations in the EuroClub every night - I am an expert at the Haba Haba dance myself at the moment. Charismatic and infectious Norway are sailing to the final.

Video Courtesy of the Team at Eurovision.tv

Albania (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

Well Albania are back for second helping and despite me being skeptic of this song during a Eurovision preview show on Maltese television, I must say that this is looking slick. The main singer, Aurela is joined on stage by three female backing vocals as well as a drummer and a guitarist. This all looks very good at the moment and I should point out that it should definitely qualify especially due to it being the best Albanian entry ever in my opinion.

The vocals are very strong, despite the fact that she had shouted her way to victory during the Festivali I Kenges, it seems that the change to English has done nothing but good for her. The harmonies of the backing were also spot on reaching maximum heights near the end. The backdrop despits what seem to be wings as well as other geometric shapes. Stunning, I have just been amazed, seriously!

Video Courtesy of the Team at Eurovision.tv

Armenia (through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

Emmy is fighting for her place at the Eurovision Final - literally. She begins her performance in a giant red boxing gloved shaped chair inscribed with her name in crystals. She is dressed in a red boxing robe under which she wears a simple white short dress. Her dancers are in black trousers and white t-shirts with Boom Boom written on it. The back drop looks like it came out from the opening credits of the 70's show "Wonder Woman" with huge shooting white stars with red and blue trails.

Emmy sings the song well though the song is not vocally challenging. It is simple and she does a good job of it. The most interesting part of the performance is when her dancers create a boxing ring with ropes. It looks very striking on the stage. If this was not Armenia then I would say that this performance would not be qualifying but I think that it will have enough neighbourly votes to take it to the final.

Video Courtesy of the Team at Eurovision.tv

Turkey (through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

A dark screen is the setting for Turkey today. Yuksek Sadakat are dressed in casual rock attire. I doubt this will be their look for the live semi final. Again they are accompanied by the woman in the hamster ball as I like to call it. The vocals for the performance are very good as you would expect for such an experienced band. The staging is black with multiple strobe lights and large flashing spot lights on the backdrop.

Again like last year the Turks have taken a woman on stage to provide some additional artistic value to their performance. This time it is a contortionist in a large caged ball. I cannot see the reason for her to be there at all and she is very distraction especially when the camera is on her in very strange poses. I would remove her form the stage and just let the male lead singer rock out his performance even more. I would say that the staging is very dark and could do with some more variation of lighting and colour. However the band members are charismatic on camera and sell the song well. This will certainly make the final.

Video Courtesy of the Team at Eurovision.tv

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Serbia (through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

Serbia is looking and sounding like the Dark Horse of the competition for me. This is such a charming summer inspired retro song and the stage presentation from Nina just gets better and better by the minute. Our girl Nina is looking like she has stepped off the set of an Austin Powers movie set. She is dressed in a beautiful 60's paisley flowered dress with black and white ear rings and white tights. Her 3 female singers and dressed in similar clothes but they are in different block colours of a more pastel shade.

Their dance moves are still very retro and very in keeping with the feel of the song. Nina is so charming on camera and her interaction with the dancers is amazing. The lighting is still the technicolor circled effect and this is so striking. This song will be grooving into the final and could be the one to surprise a lot of people.

Video Courtesy of the Team at Eurovision.tv

Russia (through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

Well Alexey is still in his Grease the movie attire - black leather biker jacket and jeans and white t-shirt. His hair is giving Jedward a run for their money in the Quiff stakes but Alexey is looking fantastic on camera. He was note perfect on stage for everyone of his performances. The only glitches come from the elaborate stage lighting that Russia have employed in their performance.

The song starts off in Russian and much slower that than main part of the performance. Rumours around the press centre have stated that the reason for the new Russian beginning of the song is to appeal to the former USSR states who may not be familiar with Alexey as he is a relatively new Russian talent. The song begins as before with Alexey surrounded by the 2 mobile video screens that light a tunnel towards him. The stage is black and a sun rise effect in green which grows with the song.

Alexey interacts wonderfully with his dancers and directly with the camera. You know what I have been thinking is that in the male solo singer stakes with have Alexey from Russia and Eris from Sweden, -  who are being matched off against each other - I would have to say that Russia is winning hands down.

There were several technical issues during the performances - most notably the lights on the jackets of all the performers are not fully illuminating when they should. Also there were problems with their shoes also lighting up. These are small teething problems that will be rectified. I am confident that Russia will sail into the final and could sneak a Top 5 placing. Alexey is so well prepared.

Video Courtesy of the Team at Eurovision.tv

Switzerland (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

Rehearsals have fallen way behind schedule for today actually due to some difficulties encountered earlier on today. We now move onto Switzerland whose entrant Anna Rossinelli, a singer from the tiny nation of Switzerland is joined by a bassist and a guitarist. It all looks so easy and simple that you just start getting very good vibes from the performance apart from the fact that it has a hook in the form of a 'na na na na' which quickly stays in mind. Nothing too different from the first rehearsal actually and she seems to building up on the momentum she had earlier on this week.

The staging is kept simple for a purpose because this is a song that does not require any gimmick to get it going or to get people to vote for it. The voice is important and Anna's vocals are pitch perfect. She might not be tested a lot during the song but when she is slightly tested, things do not go wrong and she manages to hold on to things well. The backdrop LEDs show a starry night with a lot of moonlight features so to speak. Another good performance and this might be the dark horse of the first semi-final if all works out perfectly on the night, one to watch out for in my opinion.

Video Courtesy of the Team at Eurovision.tv

Georgia (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

The second rock song of this years' contest comes onto the stage in the Esprit Arena here in Dusseldorf and they manage to put in quite a presence. The lead singer of the group Eldrine is joined on stage by the rest of the band including drums, guitars and all. It is quite difficult to get the camera work done right with so many visuals being carried out by the group but the real treat in this song is surely the rap bits which are coming out quite well today.

The group is clad in their attire for the very first semi-final set to take place next Tuesday, 10th May and I must say that these are some crazy choices with a red and green dress from the lead singer along with the same colour scheme for the rapper. The rest of the band mellow well in the background wearing black. The backdrop LEDs are somewhat very impressive with a lot of ruins from various world temples. The vocals are strong and this nation might qualify and might not based on whether the rock votes could be attracted to it because I believe that Turkey will do those honours.

Video Courtesy of the Team at Eurovision.tv

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Finland (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

Following the nation of Georgia will be beneficial but being calm and emotional is very much a trait of the Swiss entry int his years' Eurovision Song Contest and with only one song to separate them, it might be quite difficult so to speak. The question is whether they will be able to either impress or fail, or whether one of them holds the card to do so. Paradise Oskar takes to the stage alone ready to combat the world and all of it's wrongdoings.

The performance is quite similar to what has been seen on Monday actually with Paradise clad in brown and white attire with the background LEDs showing the globe and all of its surroundings turning round. It transcribes into the lyrics of the song actually in which the singer would like to save the world from all of the wrong doing that is going on. The vocal performance is stunning in each run through and I do not know what to make of this song in general because some people will like it whilst others wont just because they would consider it to be dull or maybe a copy to the song byTom Dice last year.

Video Courtesy of the Team at Eurovision.tv

Malta (through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

Yes Glen has been keeping a secret from us for some time regarding his performance and it is a BIG SECRET TOO!!! Where do I start? Well Glen is wearing light blue jeans and a dark blue hooded denim jacket with a white t-shirt. He is accompanied by his 3 female backing singers who are still all dressed in black dresses and white shades and perched on their individual plinths. Also on stage are the 2 male dancers who are also dressed in black.

They all begin the song with their backs to the audience and then with a flash the backdrop comes alive with the secret that Glen has been keeping from us. Yes Glen is projecting the official preview video of his song on the giant screen in the arena. It looks stunning. Then they super impose the original back drops from the previous day which includes the inverted pyramids and the circular strobe lights over the video in parts. And to top it all off we have some pyrotechnics at the end of the song.

The choreography is far more complex and it looks so professional and slick. Glen's vocals are so on form as are his backing singers. I always thought that Glen/Malta would qualify but now I am certain. Looking and sounding like a worthy finalist. Well done Glen and Team.

Video Courtesy of the Team at Eurovision.tv

San Marino (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

Following the summery tune of Malta which features pop, dance and just a sparkle of disco comes the calm melodic ballad from the small micro-state of San Marino and today Senit who is joined by two guitarists and three backing vocalists, two female and one male are all clad in their attire for the first semi-final. The lead artist who has removed her glasses for the performance is wearing what seems to be a grey/blue strapless gown whilst the backing keep the same colour scheme. Seriously, I am in love with these classy outfits looking like the nation is trying to hard to make an impact.

The song is now starting off with the backing singers who do a couple of harmonies together making the song even more romantic. They all face one side of the stage as Senit sings the verse before going into a moving stance which gives them a little bit of that ballad like choreography. The vocals from Senit are very strong but many people see the song as too calm and boring although I think that it is simple and melodic. Charisma seeps through all cracks and the voice of Senit echoes through. This is another competent rehearsal from San Marino but the bookmakers have them set to finish last at this moment but then again considering their only participation in 2008, that might have a lot of effect.

Video Courtesy of the Team at Eurovision.tv

Croatia (through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

One of the contenders for the dark horse title came out and performed very disappointingly during the first rehearsal but Daria has come back for some more and she is looking to get a better review this time round. She is not alone on stage as she is joined by four female backing vocal and a Disc Jockey who also acts as a 'dancer' moving the lead singer around the stage. She is ready to change dresses on the night but she does not try it out during each run today.

She starts off the song clad in a black dress with only a small hint of gold and takes to the catwalk following her premier dress change. The background LEDs are very nightlife like actually and really bode well with the ambient of the song. The vocals are OK today not too amazing but at least she is holding the tune quite well and wherever she might have a bum note, it is quickly covered by the backing singers who are doing a fantastic job.

Video Courtesy of the Team at ESCDAILY

Friday, 06 May 2011 07:50

ESC 2011: Day 6 Rehearsals - LIVE

Guten Morgen Europa and welcome to our sixth consecutive day of live coverage from the city of Dusseldorf in the nation of Germany which was last year the one which Lena Meyer-Landrut represented and won for during the Eurovision Song Contest held in Oslo, Norway. We have been keeping you posted with all the latest updates as they take placce and we will continue to do so for the next couple of days as we prepare our schedules for the coming days.



As stated within the schedule, a number of acts from semi-final have rehearsed twice whilst some of the acts from semi-final two will also take to the stage today. I would like to thank all of the team working so hard in bringing you the coverage especially our men within the press working area including Garrett Mulhall, Juergen Boernig, our very own International Relations Officer, Keith Mills from All Kinds of Everything and Liam Whelan from local Irish radio amongst others. Keep refreshing the page to get the latest information only here at ESCflashmalta.

General

Our colleagues at Radio International have notified us that the typical OGAE Press Voting is currently ongoing in the Press Working Area and in fact the leader in the first semi-final is currently Azerbaijan who will be rehearsing today whilst the leader of the second semi-final is none other than Sweden who will take to the stage later on today for an extra rehearsal according to our other colleagues at All Kinds of Everything, this is yet to be confirmed by the European Broadcasting Union. In the meantime, Malta is only predicted to come in eighteenth (18th) place within the scoreboard, let us hope that this is not the case.

Iceland (as seen through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

The Icelandic entry in this years' Eurovision Song Contest is quite a calm one but it has a lot of sentimental value for the artists performing it because of the story that lies beneath. The first rehearsal earlier this week was actually very strong and this is somewhat very similar actually as nothing was needed to make this entry look or sound stronger. The write of the song, the wife of the late Sjonni Brink is very happy with the way things are going and this might be going through to the final at this moment in time.

All of the group members are dressed in very smart country casual like attire and this works very well with the music of the song which delves into country sort of pop that is. The vocals are very good and it is to no wonder that a fan site recently rewarded Matthias with the best male singer award because he is doing a fantastic job. In the meantime, the backdrop LEDs depict a time spear sort of or a factory wheel to depict the time and the actual message of the song.

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCDAILY


Hungary (as seen through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

It seems that Kati Wolf has been reading some of the comments that she has received from the internet forums and websites around Europe because suddenly she has come alive in the best frame of mind. She is joined on stage by two female dancers and this is enough to get her going it seems. Clad in very tight attire, it seems like Kati might be making dress amendments but this is not confirmed with her press team announcing weeks ago that she would be wearing a teal dress made exclusively for her.

The performance is bathed in pink and blue whilst there are spotlights in each and every moment of the refrain. Midway through the song, the two female dancers become backing vocalists as another three dancers come on stage to continue headlining the choreography. The vocals are not strained and she manages to hit all of the notes today, stunning, seriously, just stunning and this should qualify with relative ease if she manages to hold it in this manner. She received a rapturous applause in the hall.

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCDAILY


Portugal (as seen through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

One of the groups that has been causing controversy leading up to the event is surely this one representing Portugal with their song being branded as a political song supporting a revolution against the government in support of the workers getting ample coverage on news stations just for this matter. They are on stage for their second rehearsal ready to get the ball rolling once more. It seems that everything has been kept in place from last Monday.

All of the six members are on stage and are clad either very smart of just casually in working labour type of attire. They are holding picket cards in which on them they have messages on support towards the workers. What is very interesting is that there is also a card in the Maltese language which states 'Il-Glieda Hija Ferh' (The fight is happy). The LEDs are showing flowers, carnations in red and green, the colours of Portugal. The vocals are good but the problem here is definitely the song. Following years of success, Portugal is not predicted to do well and I would not rule out the dreaded nil points for this entry. Sorry!

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCDAILY

Lithuania (as seen through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

As has been the case within the last couple of years, the nation of Lithuania is underrated and this year is no different. The singer, Evelina Sasenko was the winner of the national final, Eurovizija yet the European crowd have no warmed out to her at this moment in time. She takes to the stage with a pianist and not on her own and it seems that she is enjoying every moment she can shine on the stage, as she does perform the song to perfection in every run through.

The stage is bathed in very dark lighting wiht an atmosphere being created for the song in itself. This is very intriguing becuase the LEDs are depicting a night with stars as the artist wearing a beautiful white gown with touches of black performs to sheer perfection with the voice of an angel. The song, a melanchonic ballad is very typical but I would not mind seeing this go through to the final and I believe that the judges will have something to say about this one. The fact of the matter is whether the song will stand out as much as it should.

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCDAILY

Azerbaijan (as seen through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

The chosen artists for this years' competition came through an audition process which took place over a long period of time. The nation is aiming for their first victory at the annual musical event being held in Dusseldorf, Germany. The song was selected internally and it is written by Swedish songwriters. This is actually very noticeable within the song itself. In the meantime, the duo are joined on stage by four backing vocals.

Eldar & Nigar are on stage within their attire for the semi-final which includes a white suit and a white gown. The vocals are much better this time round I must say and it seems that things are looking up for Azerbaijan as they vie to compete for victory in this years' competition. The choreography is looking good because it is kept simple. This was a much better rehearsal and they will be hoping to improve on this.

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCDAILY


Greece (as seen through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

Over the year, the nation og Greece has been building quite the reputation at the Eurovision Song Contest managing successive top ten finishes. This year, with a tight budget, the broadcaster stayed back on production costs and many say that this has not had the positive effect on their entry which is different yet very traditional at the same time. Combining two genres together like traditional Greek music with Rap is something that is being somewhat very ordinary in the present music scene but even in the event itself with Georgia fusing Rock with Rap.

What is quickly eye catching about Greece is their intense choreography as suddenly you see people jumping as if there is no tomorrow before going in a flurry of break-dance. The rapper carries out his part well but this element of Greek music is very beautiful in my opinion and this is the time where it all looks quiet on stage. The background LEDs depict the typical Greek columns within this entry apart from the dark blue lighting. Another solid rehearsal from Greece and this is qualifying not only because they have enough diaspora help but because this is looking good.

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCDAILY

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Bosnia & Herzegovina (as seen through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

The choice from this nation seems to be in everyone’s' tastes because for yet another year, many people list this as their outsider for victory. The act who is carrying the flag for Bosnia & Herzegovina is former representative Dino Merlin and following his first rehearsal last Wednesday, it seems that things look very polished. Dino is joined on stage but a band made up of a cellist, a pianist, a banjo like player and a female backing vocalist who does the harmonies.

Dress in a very colourful shirt, Dino holds a guitar and plays as if there is no tomorrow whilst coordinating some of his movements. What is not seen in the beginning is that there actually is a dancer on stage who goes around doing practically nothing. This has a very interesting effect though but mid-way through the performance, he stars playing the trumpet as heard within the instrumentation. The vocals are spot on once more and Bosnia & Herzegovina are sailing to the final with this song.

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCDAILY


Austria (as seen through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

Austria is taking things very seriously as they return to the Eurovision Song Contest for the very first time since 2007 actually. The victory of Germany has enlightened the return of the nation and they are doing it in spectacular fashion. Winning the national final on the same stage which Nadine Beiler had won the Idol show in the same aforementioned nation. She takes to the stage in amazing fashion actually as she is joined by five backing vocals who very much seem like a gospel choir.

Dressed in a black dress which is short, she takes to the stage with a spotlight donned on her only and she commences acapella. The vocals are once more brilliant as they were earlier on in the week. The harmonies of the backing vocals are also strong and this is clearly the ballad entry of the evening. Many people are not sure how to make this entry and thus it will be one of those which we call as a dark horse. The press have fallen in love with this particular song it seems as they rank high in the press voting. Well, clearly this is a love it or hate it but at the end of the day this is Eurovision.

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCDAILY

 

The Netherlands (As seen by Marc Calleja Bayliss)

Years and years of underved low rankings, it seems that the former winners of the Eurovision Song Contest have decided to try a different formula and that is by getting a successful local act to represent the country. The trio known as the 3Js are very popular in their country and yet here they are trying to restore the nations' pride within the event. They are not alone on stage as they are joined by three backing vocalists, two females and a male.

This song could have really looked static especially with the chosen effects on the LEDs mostly focusing on some shooting stars coming up the screen within the chorus and then heavily on yellow lights and blue background lighting. The vocals from the lead singer are superb yet he is backed up very strong by the rest of the team on stage. The addition of two female backing vocals is quite nice because during the refrain you get that extremely warm feeling. Competent, strong and most probably, yes wait for it, a qualifier!

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCDAILY

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Belgium (as seen through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

This is a group which has been getting a lot of criticism especially from back home actually because they did not believe that the song matches the typical Eurovision standard especially following last years' sixth place finish within the final thanks to Tom Dice and his song 'Me and My Guitar'. The group representing the nation this year goes by the name of Witloof Bay and they are on stage wearing very smart attire which suits the mood of the song the actual lyrics so to speak. They presence is quite impressive.

One more the vocals are good and there are no apparent problems with the setting. It is just a matter of what the people actually love or hate and thus it is quite important that the Jury will be voting because I am sure that their talent wont be wasted. This is looking good on screen and many people think that it sounds good but boring at the same time. Bathed in blue and white, the stage looks very impressive. Can Belgium do well for a second successive year? I don't think so.

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCDAILY


Slovakia (as seen through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

The TWiiNS have been internally selected by the broadcaster and many people are growing to like them. They are now going through their second rehearsal following a very successful one earlier this week. The question of doubt here was whether they were able to perform live and this was answered quite quickly so to speak. The TWiiNS are not taking to the stage alone and they have been joined by a drummer, a pianist and also a backing vocalist.

The vocals as already stated are strong and the girls are dressed in what looks to be slim like sheer curtains and they look very sexy and impressive so to speak. The performance is looking very strong on the monitors and this might qualify for the final stage with the way that it is looking at the moment. A very competent second rehearsal for the nation as they try to make it to the finals for the very first time.

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCDAILY

 

Ukraine (as seen through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

Clad in a summer like dress which features lemons on the skirt and a white shirt, the blonde singer takes to the stage for her second rehearsal. Despite the initial problems when the song was chosen to represent the nation, it seems that this has become a strong contender. The fact of the matter is that this song is currently looking a bit dull in terms of choreography noting a male backing vocalist and also what looks to be a circus member.

The impressive thing about this performance is the backdrop LED actually which is showing figures being made in the sand. It is a very beautiful art and one could note that it has been personalized for the song depicting the lyrics. The vocals from the singer are very good and it seems like she has been controlling her voice better now because she did not shout at all. The backing manages to mix in well and this is looking strong, another definite qualifier.

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCDAILY

 

Moldova (as seen through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

The final rehearsal of the day comes from another set of former participants actually noting that Zdob Si Zdub have already represented their nation back in 2005 when the country took part for the very first time. Here, the song is very much different but they are trying to give it the character that they know Europe will love by adding some sort of gimmick. I must say, this song does not really captivate me but they do keep me very closely careful to what they are doing.

The band are managing to keep my attention with their choice of attire especially those long point hats which look like coming out from Santa's Elves or something. A minute into the song, a female comes out on a uni-cycle in the same hate and playing a trumpet. She does leave it to the side and takes a standing role at the back. The vocals are spot on and the way it is being performed might prove to be very successful and then two minutes in, another refrain and the girl is back dancing along. Could this entry actually defy the odds and qualify?

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCDAILY

Saturday, 07 May 2011 08:37

ESC 2011: Day 7 Rehearsals - LIVE

Good morning and welcome to our seventh day of live reporting from the city of Dusseldorf in Germany where the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest is set to take place within the next couple of days. We have been following all of the semi-finalists take to the stage twice and today the last set of countries from the second semi-final will do so once more before the Big Five, the highest financial contributors of the contest do the honours and take to the stage for their first forty minute rehearsal. Another intriguing day for sure awaits so keep refreshing this page for more information.

The press working area is buzzing with the finalists performing for the very first time today and therefore everyone is a little bit on edge. The coverage of the day will be mostly brought to you by Garrett Mulhall but I will also be conducting some of the reports. Videos and pictures as always courtesy of ESCdaily and All Kinds of Everything and other help being brought forward by Juergen Boernig of Radio International. We would like to thank all of our collaborators and others who have pitched in to help us out because we would have never managed without their help. Alas, he we go .. Enjoy!

Sweden (as seen through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

Firstly - Sweden had an additional rehearsal yesterday evening after all of the countries had finished their rehearsals. This was due to their technical problem on their first day. Eric was looking to smash his glass for the first time. He actually did not break the glass on a few attempts and he was very annoyed. He also was wearing a hooded top and shades - as a precaution but he eventually did break the sheet of glass.

Now today's performance we had sound problems and the song had to stopped on several occasions. The staging is the same as before but there are some additional strobe lighting which is effective. In the final run through today Eric attempted the breaking of the glass and to his delight the one pane of glass did break which is the one to the rear of the cage. Strangely the camera actually follows Eric out of the cage which looks somewhat strange.

One other small item for discussion would be the 2 backing singers. They are good vocally but they are very static on stage which is not in keeping with the song. They should have some movement in order to maintain the momentum of the performance. One cannot help but feel that Eric's performance is not as fluid as it could be as he is worried about the glass not breaking. Having said that Eric was much improved today and should make the final for sure.

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCDAILY

 

Cyprus (as seen through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

Moving on to the second rehearsal of the day, one which is looking extremely professional in terms of staging. The lead singer, Christos is joined on stage by four backing dancers who are also singers and another one at the end of the catwalk. Despite the fact that Cyprus has not looked as one of the contenders of qualification, I have this running as a dark horse because it is performed to perfection and this might give it extra points.

It seems that all wnet smoothly for Cyprus in their second rehearsal, the drama is being emitted well both in the hall and on the screens and what is even far more impressive the second time round is his crystal cut vocals which have been perfected so much since winning the talent show 'Performance' late last year. The choreography is simple yet dramatic at the very same time and that is why, this looks slick. The backdrop LEDs feature a dark background with metallic silver balls making an appearance. A very good rehearsal yet I am not too sure about qualification.

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCDAILY

 

Bulgaria (as seen through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

Bulgaria are keeping the same staging of their performance. It is striking on camera with the rain drops on the large screen. What we once thought were tattoos on Poli's arm is actually a flesh coloured sleeve with dark embroidery that looks like tattoos. She has her striking white dress on again and she is sounding wonderful. She is selling the song to the camera amazing well.

One change in the performance is that Poli does not fully go down to the secondary stage to remove her longer skirt. She just walks off the main stage onto the runway - does some great camera angles and then returns to the main stage where she falls to her knees and removes her long skirt to reveal the shorter white dress. This song is growing vocally and visually and I think stands a strong chance of making it to the final as it is a strong rock song in this semi final. Good Work Bulgaria.

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCDAILY


FYR Macedonia (as seen through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

This entry has not been highly ranked by many people and it is mostly due to the song being such a weird mixture of languages and genres at the very same time. I cannot help but note the people that are joining Vlatko on stage actually in the form of five dancers, who seem to be dressed in attire which remind me of the late Tose Proeski, maybe a lobbying point who knows. Still, with all due respect, this looks very good in terms of staging again.

The lead singer clad in a suit looks very dashing and the background LEDs have been made to look very professional in a three dimensional like manner. The vocals are good but again, the countries within the Ex-Yugoslavian block will get to understand this song. FYR Macedonia have not been in the final for quite some time yet I seriously cannot see this going to the finals because the melody is just not that catchy.

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCDAILY

 

Israel (as seen through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

Dana International has her second dress rehearsal just now. The big talking point was what was she going to wear. Well she is in a green dress which is a bodice with a stringed skirt. To be honest it looks like she is wearing a wicker basket that is coming undone. It is really not flattering at all. The dress is supposed to be designed by French designer John Paul Gaultier. The money could have been spent more wisely. The staging is the same as it was in the last dress rehearsal with the increasing and decreasing circles on the back drop. For me it looks too static for a high energy song.

Vocally Dana is so off key that it is becoming even more obvious with every rehearsal and with strong performers from other countries around her this is accentuated. One change of note is that Dana comes off the main stage and struts down the catwalk to the secondary stage where she certainly works her camera angles to maximum effect. However the vocals on the song are so off key that no support from her 5 backing singers can mask the poor performance. Will Dana's reputation save her from not making it to the final - it is questionable.

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCDAILY

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France (as seen through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

I am looking at Amaury sing in the hall and I have goosebumps on my arms. This song is attracting a lot of attention and if you look at the number of fans and press in the audience, this is a crowd pleaser. Firstly Amaury's vocals are truly STUNNING. This vocally is one of the best stand out rehearsals of the competition so far.

As for the stage - it is beautiful and simplistic and enhances the performance wonderfully. It is a night sky backdrop with the moon, stars and billowing clouds drifting across the screen. With Amaury dressed in a black military style jacket and black jeans with a white shirt - he looks stunning in front of the back drop. As the song progresses the night sky backdrop moves to a sun rise scene with golden shades breaking through the clouds. When the song then comes to the climax the screen reverts to a thundery sky with flashes of lightening.

Then we have dry ice billowing across the stage which sets the scene for the end of the song where it is a sun set scene which gradually brings us back to the night sky with shooting stars. On the final run through of the song there will be a pyro effect on the final note. We were not treated to what it will be but it will be shown on the next rehearsal. The reaction from the press and fans alike was amazing. This will be France's best result in the Eurovision for a long time. Bravo La Belle France.

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCDAILY

 

Italy (as seen through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

The return of Italy to the Eurovision Song Contest has really been publicized in all of the countries taking part in this years' event. The comeback of RAI has proved to be quite a hit with the European Broadcasting Union who have given them direct qualification status in to the final stage of the competition as a member of the elite 'Big Five' as they are a high financial contributor. The chosen act is Raphael Gualazzi, the winner of the Giovani section at this years' San Remo competition which was staged just days after the Maltese national selection.

The lead singer is joined on stage by a piano which he plays to the tune of the half-playback as well as a number of personnel playing various instruments including a saxophone, a drum-kit, a trumpet and a cellist. This looks a little bit cramped in my opinion but it might be looking well on screen but I did not manage to catch a glimpse of it. The act is clad in a very smart casual attire which is usually done quite well with regards to Jazz tunes. It seems that the singer is really enjoying himself and it is so beautiful to hear the Italian language back in the Eurovision Song Contest after 14 years of absence. The vocals are strong but I do not know whether Europe will warm up to it within the way that I have, nevertheless, a competent first rehearsal and a massive applause in the hall.

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCDAILY

 

United Kingdom (as seen through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

Well we have the 4 members of Blue on stage in matching metallic dark blue suits where each of them have their own variations. Duncan is in a classic Tom Ford cut suit with waistcoat and no shirt, Anthony is wearing a loser suit with a black t-shirt, Lee is in a Morning Dress Coat with tails and finally Simon is wearing just trousers and a waistcoat. They are accompanied by 2 backing singers to the side of the stage who are dressed in black.

Vocally there were a few problems with the feed through to their ear pieces. The arrangement of the song has been slightly changed and it adds to the performance. Due to the sound problems they were slightly singing behind the track at parts and the backing singers were slightly raised. This is what rehearsals are all about. Tweaking out all the problems.

Visually the song was very good. They were hitting their camera angles all the time. They have 4 screes on the stage with them. These were used to great effect by projecting videos of each of the band members and the words "I CAN". The ceiling lights were lowered for the song to create a cauldron effect. The backdrop had florescent green squares that then were replaced by black and white strobes. It was all very visual and I am sure with more rehearsal this will get there. But the guys are looking great and their vocals will be too once the technical issues are resolved.

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCDAILY

 

Germany (as seen through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

Lena is looking and sounding like a potential winner yet again. She is dressed in a black trouser suit with a matching black feathered headpiece. She is accompanied by the dancers/singers from the German National Final. They are dressed in the grey one piece lycra suits and it looks very dramatic on the stage.

The vocals were fantastic from Lena and the backing singers and it helped create the 80's inspired feel of the song. The setting is very striking. The stage is black with several blue/white spot lights creating a pyramid effect on the stage. Then there are videos of the backing singers across the backdrop that look stunning. When the song finishes there is the sound of shattering glass that is accompanied by the images of the dancers being smashed to pieces. This looks amazing! Could we be back in Germany for another year? A strong possibility based on Lena's performance?

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCDAILY

 

Spain (as seen through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

The final act to take to the stage for the day and for this years' Eurovision Song Contest is none other than the Galician Lucia Perez who is not joined on stage by dancers and backing vocalists at the very same time, females and males. This is looking very impressive to say the list. She has made a lot of changes from the national final as you can note through the video below. Many people believe that Spain is not a contender for the victory and whilst I also think that, I still believe that this might hit the top ten.

The choreography is much more elaborate as it is now actually as they manage to create that fun filled moment through it. The backing vocals as well as the dancers are probably clad in their attire for the final wearing white suits and clothing suiting the mood of the song but the singer has not come out in her attire, or so we hope. The vocals are good, having no absolute trouble bringing out her best, some thinking that she could be tested. This looks very good and I would not mind seeing this do well because it just put me in an extremely cheery mood.

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCDAILY

Sunday, 08 May 2011 09:33

ESC 2011: Day 8 Rehearsals - LIVE

The first week of Eurovision rehearsals will be coming to a close today as all the nations including the finalists would have done their performance twice, have had two individual press conferences and would therefore be on an equal scale so that everything would fit in accordingly to schedule. Today, we have not published the schedule as a separate article as we are going to move as always according to the official schedule.

Yesterday evening was the night of the welcoming party where all the delegations were present in order to introduce themselves within he presence of high ranking political individuals. According to our friends and colleagues who were some of the privileged few to be a part of the event, it was a success indeed. Alas, the thirty minute rehearsals and the thirty minutes press conferences have now begun and off we go with out report.

Slovenia (as seen through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

The presence of the Slovenian singer is also impressive this morning as she takes to the stage for the second time for the rehearsal this morning. She has opted against wearing semi-final attire going very casual, the same goes for team of backing dancers and vocalists. This song is reminding me a lot of Maria Haukaas Storeng's 'Hold On Be Strong' even in terms of staging. Many people have been quite skeptical about what to make of this song but I believe that this is qualifying with relative ease.

The backdrop LEDs are depicting thorns and falling flowers and this puts you within the frame of the official preview video which was shot within a forest. The vocals are very good but it seems that Maja is not performing all of her higher notes today probably because she would like to conserve her energy. The backing vocalists are doing a superb job though as the harmonies are well tuned as their simple choreography kicks in as well. A nice round of applause in the hall meaning that this has been another good rehearsal.

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCDAILY

 

Romania (as seen through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

Romania are looking and sounding like a qualifier after their rehearsal today. The staging is very dramatic. The have gone for a red base on the stage and then on the backdrop they have circular rings in blue and green. It looks very striking and compliments the performance as opposed to detracting from it.

The lead singer is wearing a tartan backed waistcoat that is black to the front. This is accompanied by black and white striped trousers. The drummer and piano player are wearing clothes with accents of the tartan print. There are also 2 female dancers dressed in black jackets, trousers and hats and they perform with trumpets. This looks great on stage and the vocals on every taking were fantastic. The lead singer hits his camera marks but he is not fully engaging and as a result it loses some of the impact. But this will surely qualify.

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCDAILY

 

Estonia (as seen through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

Getter is putting in a performance that is worthy of a Top 5 finish in my opinion. Dressed in girly pink with black buttons and hem line she looks completely charming. She is accompanied by her 2 female backing singers in yellow and blue respectively and her 3 male dancers in black. As before she descends from the cardboard building cut outs on stage of the Art Deco buildings by standing on the backs of her dancers.

The staging has not been changed with the cityscape complete with Ferris wheel. Getter is completely charming on the stage and hits her camera angles all the time. She is captivating and engaging and I am sure that people on the juries and the tele-voting will be voting for this song in their droves. One to watch out for in the final.

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCDAILY

 

Belarus (as seen through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

Anastasia Vinnikova is back on stage for a second time and she is joined on stage by four backing vocals clad in black/white short dresses who are singing with shining podiums for their microphones. No changes from the first rehearsal and I believe that this song will be making it through to the final based on merit because the nation has not really been lucky with regards to their geographical position.

The lead singer who is standing on the forefront and in the middle of the stage is dressed in a very smart looking outfit. The backing singers do their best with regards to keeping the song flowing and suddenly during the key change, they move forward and fist pump a number of times. The backdrop LEDs are showing tiles and different shorts of shapes. The vocals are very strong this morning from all of the team and this looks very good. No pyrotechnics today but that it to relieve the country of some of the costs, it is expected that they will be used during the semi-final.

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCDAILY

 

Latvia (as seen through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

Latvia still sounding like it is going to the final. They are not wearing their costumes from the other day but have gone for casual attire with jeans and t-shirts. They again begin their song with their backs to the audience and this still looks very effective. There were some technical issues and there were long pauses between the takes of the songs. However when they got to sing they were note perfect yet again and Emil's vocals have a wonderful raspy quality to his voice.

The staging of the song is still the same as before. Black background with blue and white rectangular shapes that rotate. They hit their camera angles every time and are very charismatic on camera. The rapping is sounding great and appropriate for the song. This is surely going to the final.

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCDAILY


Denmark (as seen through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

The second rehearsal for the group 'A Friend In London' has just commenced and it seems that it is being performed with the same intensity that it was performed the very first time. There is nothing wrong with this and that is why it has been receiving rave reviews from fans and experts alike. The group is joined on stage by a backing vocal to add to some of the fuller harmonies that are being emitted on the studio version of the song.

The act is dressed in skimpy attire within a leather frame but this bodes well within the pop/rock scene with that feel of indie. The vocals are once more spot on but it seems that the act is severely holding back on some of the run throughs. The backdrop is dark basing with black and white and that is why it is made very similar to that within the video. Another impressive rehearsal from Denmark and this middle of the road song is surely going to go to the final and get a mid table result whilst there.

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCDAILY

 

Ireland (as seen through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

Yes Jedward have just had their second dress rehearsal and they were AMAZING! Dressed in stunning Red Glittered jackets that have double lapels and black jeans with their red high top trainers - they were in Top form at their dress rehearsal. With energy that could light up the city of Dusseldorf itself they commanded their performance. There were a few changes to the performance today that worked amazingly well.

The change in this performance is some slick new choreography for the chorus of the song. They have obviously been working on this for some time and their dedication shows as the performance was very polished. There are a few little glimpses of the unpredictable Jedward but they are only fleeting and show their true energy. It really is coming together extremely well on camera.

The backing singers were now in their new costumes which were as follows. The female singers were in stunning black short dresses which also have a hood on them too. They are very inspired by the Kylie Minogue video - "Can't get you out of my head" video. The male singers were in very smart slim black well fitted suits with white t-shirts. Visually and vocally this looked extremely professional and with the stunning backdrop of the Brothers dancing replicated in giant format - this looks truly spectacular. Possibly one of the best uses of the stage from any country in this years Eurovision. If there is any justice then Jedward and Ireland should qualify for the final.

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCDAILY

 

France (as seen through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

My colleague Garrett Mulhall was blown away by the rehearsal of France yesterday and it seems that the same has took place from my end because this is looking perfect from every angle. Amaury is on stage alone, with just one main spotlight and he is clad in what looks to be a white shirt, black trousers and a very French looking blazer. His signature hair is also vital for the appearance in this case. He is doing what he does best and that is to make people emotional as he sings.

The backdrop LEDs are the most impressive during this performance because suddenly there are the morning sky with the sun and the clouds but as the refrain kicks in, it has become dark, night and story with lightning shuddering out of the clouds. The background continues conflicting night and day and thus it becomes stunning. During the climax one could note a high point within his vocal performance and two minutes in you can feel him performing and not singing but performing. The exuberance of the entry is beautiful and I just cannot see this not winning, it would be a travesty to the contest. As like yesterday, a huge response from the hall, this is our winner for 2011.

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCDAILY

 

Italy (as seen through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

The returnee of the competition comes back to the stage of the event for a second day in a row and it seems that there have been some changes made within the visual performance. Raphael Gaulazzi, the man who is always within a suit is joined on stage by a very small version of an orchestra with a cellist, guitarist, trumpeter and a saxophone player. This all looks very Italian and classy which definitely does not do anything wrong.

The backdrop LED is yet again very nice because apart from the flames in red and blue sort of a promotional campaign for a leading company is facial haircare products, there are hands playing the keys of the piano such as what Raphael is doing and this is done in order to keep the feel of the video as alive as possible. The vocals are good but it seems that sometimes Raphael is stressing a little bit too much and this does not really sound well especially that longer note which could get on someone's nerves but there is no technical fault with this and people think it will do well.

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCDAILY

 

United Kingdom (as seen through the eyes of Marc Calleja Bayliss)

The comeback of the boy-band Blue has sparked so much debate in the media but they seem to be loving the attention that they are getting at the Eurovision Song Contest. Today has been miles better than yesterday according to our colleagues at the arean. The lads are joined on stage by two backing vocals of male nature continuing to add to the power of the song in itself.

The stage is bathed in emerald like green actually and I have no clue but they made this choice in general because I would have used a pun and made use of the blue but still it does not look bad on the monitors. The British delegation which is very much on the radar this year is making use of four extra LED screens which are like mirrors and they depict the members in all of their glory without any shirts on. Their picture changes to the title of the song and then also changes to compromising choreography positions. The vocals are good and this will be heading into the top three, and a possible winner.

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCDAILY


Germany (as seen through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

ena gave a stunning performance again this afternoon of her song. She is again dressed in her black trouser suit but without the floured hat. Her backing singers and dancers are in their iconic silver bobsleigh suits. Again Lena gives an amazing vocal performance and she is have lots of fun on the stage here in Dusseldorf. In between her takes she was having such fun with the audience and the production staff.

The staging of the song is still the same as it was perfect from the first time that we saw it yesterday. The replication of the backing singers on the big screen looks sensational in the hall. The set is atmospheric and the close up shots of Lena are wonderful and add to the intensity of the performance. This could be a winner again for Germany.

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCKAZ


Spain (as seen through the eyes of Garrett Mulhall)

Spain is a ray of sunshine on stage. With each performance the smile on Lucia's face seems to grow wider and happier. And it should be. She is absolutely playing a blinder with her performance. This song is strongly becoming a firm favourite in the hall. The simple melody is so easy to enjoy and the massive audience that attended the Spanish rehearsal were overjoyed with the performance of Lucia.

She is accompanied by her 3 male and 2 female backing singers and dancers who are all dressed in white. They look and sound wonderful. This song is catchy and the staging is bright and summery and you just can't help but clap and dance along to this song. What a firm favourite in the hall and could look like the surprise hit on the night.

Lucia hits her camera angles with ease and she sells the song so well in the arena. With choreography that is die to get the audience at home and in the arena on their feet Spain should be in for their best result in the past decade with this year's entry.

Video Courtesy of the team at ESCKAZ

Good Evening Europe and welcome to the second dress rehearsal of the first semi-final which is set to take place tomorrow evening. The nineteen acts will be vying to give their best performance this evening and this is because this is the show in which the jury will be giving their verdicts meaning that 50% of the result tomorrow night will be decided on the performance that the acts will be giving over the course of this evening.

We would like to thank Garrett Mulhall for his report on the first dress rehearsal earlier today and we would like to thank the team of All Kinds of Everything who will be making a live running commentary of the show this evening. With a feed from within the press centre, I might also be writing some of the reviews myself but considering that I will doing the live report tomorrow evening along with Irishman Simon Casey, the hit pop sensation who has agreed to do the commentary for the second year in a row.

Introduction

Opening credits go straight to the 3 presenter who introduce the show and explain what will happen. The are treating it almost like stand up comedy with many tongue in cheek moments. They then explain the voting and where you can phone comes up on screen. Then they open the phone lines before it all begins.

01. Poland

So we start  with Poland. Each postcard introduces someone from the country who live in Germany. Poland are all in white and this looks pretty good on screen. Magdalena sound very good vocally. There is use of smoke plumes throughout the performance. Much slicker this is moving up in estimations again.

02. Norway

Next up is Stella Mwangi from Norway. Backing singer all resplendent in red. Stella wearing gold dress.   Visually very colourful backdrop here. Very bouncy and a happy feelgood song. Stella sound better vocally than this afternoon. She knows how to work the crowd near the end red sprays of glitter go off all over the front area. I still think this will go through.

03. Albania

lbania on with Aurela Gace next. Lots of red in the lighting with wonderful graphic wings in the backdrop in white. Use of  Fire columns in this. Aurela looks good in this with a white sparkly long dress which is nice. Vocally this is really powerful, fantastic in fact. Great performance and definite qualifier.

04. Armenia

Along comes Emmy from Armenia now and the main prop the boxing glove seat is still centre stage. Dressed in red hooded boxing gown with white trim. Lovely short white dress with sparkly motif in the centre underneath this. Her dancers are in white top, black trousers. The vocals are off key and sound hideous at times very screechy and forced. Based on this performance it wont qualify for me.

05. Turkey

Turkey on next and Yuksek Sadakat are a real band and look very comfortable. Great use of smoke and pyros in this one. Great camera angles and the lady in the globe is prominent. Great vocal this is a really good performance. Lots of pyro towards the end. The girl girl end up out of globe with wings.

BREAK

A break here with a look at the welcome party. Various singers are singing a German folk song. Hilarious.

06. Serbia

On after the break we have Nina for Serbia. Very very colourful indeed and a great retro feel to this song. I love the dance routine of the 3 girl singers/dancers very kitsch. This is visually stunning, very Austin Powers and 60's chic. Its a sweet song and Nina vocally sound fine tonight. I still fancy this to go through.

07. Russia

We are seeing live looks at the artists before they go on stage now. Next up is Alexej Vorobjov of Russia. Technical problems here one of LED screens is not working which is ruining some of the camera shots. Shiny white LED shoes here on all artist on stage. 2 backing singer off camera throughout behind the screens. Vocally not perfect by any means. Should still get through though.

08. Switzerland

Now we have Anna for Switzerland. Lovely setting in this one colourlful stars and clouds. This is a very sweet simple song just simply performed. Anna is still in the sparkly red dress which I think looks fine. Bubble machine sends lots of bubbles into the backdrop area. Looks nice. Vocally was perfectly good. Cute and sweet but plods a bit for me. Borderline to qualify I think .

09. Georgia

Georgia next on stage, a lovely cathedral windows backdrop in this. This has stepped up on what they achieved in the previous run through. Vocally strong and quite powerful. All costumes are with coloured dayglo squiggles. Her dress is hideous. This is actually surprisingly good, they are belting it out and giving their all. Fireworks at the end note. Could go through.

BREAK

Another break now and the hostess (the funny one) introduces Finland next.

10. Finland

Paradise Oskar is on stage by himself with a guitar(remember that idea ?) a lovely backdrop of the planet emerges. He looks very confidant and polished with his performance tonight. The graphic in this show are really quite breathtaking. This is really really lovely. It will definitely go through and could win the semi.

11. Malta

Glen Vella from Malta on next with One Life the girl backing singer are on round platforms and dressed in all black and dark glasses, cionsidering the backdrop to this is quite dark with flashing spots they tend to get lost sometimes. Backdrop does become more colourful through the song though, Glen's vocally absolutely fine really. Not a lot wrong here but I am not convinced that people will love this enough to put it through.

12. San Marino

San Marino on now and Senit is dressed in a lovely  silvery off white dress. Lots of smoke effect at the beginning. Her hair is up on one side tonight and looks stunning. The smoke gives this song a very moody feel and sounds really much improved. Wow this actually much much better than any previous rehearsal, she has really stepped up to the mark now. Juries will love this and the public might too. Moving from no hoper to serious contender for me.

13. Croatia

Now up comes Croatia and Daria with her disco stomper. Dress changes galore here From black dress with gold strip to pretty pink patterned dress. She also goes for a walk down the catwalk and back. Vocally this is quite good tonight.  Last dress change at end is hidden by a pyro effect. Ends up in flowing silver gown. Cleverly done in fact. Still borderline for me though.

14. Iceland

Iceland on now and Sjonni's Friends are really lovely. Great harmonies together and vocals. Lovely backdrop too. This has a jazz feel and is a very sweet feelgood song. All in grey waistcoats and white shirts with jeans on. Drummer sitting on horse saddle never noticed that before. This is more like it for Iceland , back in the game here. Its so going to qualify.

BREAK

Another break now and we cut to the green room where we get a chat with Stella Mwangi. The green room looks pretty funky diamond shaped pods for seat with pink and white.

15. Hungary

Now its time for Kati Wolf from Hungary. Kati has done her hair  and still wearing the tight short blue dress. Huge blue brooch and ring on too. I love some of the lighting effect especially the spotlights in time to the beat of the song. Vocally this is so much better now far far stronger and she is going for for her high notes with gusto. WOW this hugely better . From borderline to qualifier in one easy lesson.

16. Portugal

Portugal on now and this is the funniest bonkers song in the contest. Homens La Luta are a parody band very very bold and colourful. Amazingly its quite catchy , if your not careful. The characters in this are so funny and have turned a weird song into a possible qualifier .

17. Lithuania

Evelina Sasenko is up next for Lithuania. Very dark staging with moody blue lighting sets the scene for the mood of this song. White piano accompanies her on stage. Her dress is flowing long and white with black bodice trim. She is still doing the sign language part way through which is pointless. Vocally its lovely very polished but its a very dull sort of song. She has done as much with it as she can. It wont qualify but also wont finish bottom as some seem to think.

18. Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan on now and they are all dressed in white. Very white staging too. His vocals are a little and her vocals are very off and flat at time. Together they are struggling with this performance. Its not powerful as it should be. A lovely pyro waterfall at the end is really beautiful and finishes the act. I hate to say it but based on that it would not qualify but it is Azerbaijan and will make it.

19. Greece

Greece are last up and this is as good as it was in this afternoons rehearsal. Dramatic, passionate and very Greek. It is a great way to finish off the semi final and it will make people sit up and notice. The flames are now bursting from the stage and wow it looks good. Best reaction in the press centre saved for Greece and they saved their best performance for the jury.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011 12:54

ESC 2011: Semifinal 2 - Dress Rehearsal 1

The second semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest is set to take place within the next twenty-four hours and we are now gearing up for the live show with regards to its respective dress rehearsals as the first one is set to commence within the next couple of minutes. All of the nineteen acts will be taking to the stage for the third time for a run-through, it will be the first time in which certain aspects are seen.

Introduction

The presenters are on stage but we have no sound just now. Anke in Lumo Orange, Stefan in his suit and Judith in Canary Yellow - can not hear the banter that is going on. It would appear they were just setting up as the Te Deum has just played and they starting again. They announce that there were 10 countries who qualified last night and scan to show them in the audience. Then they explain the voting system again. Anke has just treated us all to a rap - she is bonkers but quite amusing to watch on screen. More slap stick whilst reading the rules then then they do the countdown and Anke does an impression of a firework going off.

Bosnia & Herzegovina

So first up at last is Bosnia & Herzegovina. Dino is in a checked jacket. This is such a lovely feelgood song. Backdrop starts like a velvet curtain. Turns in to merry go round horses. The vocals sound pretty good a few shaky notes from Dino. A decent start overall though.

Austria

Next up is the lovely Nadine from Austria. Starts in darkness with a single spotlight on her. Black dress quite lovely. First 20 seconds with no music. We get some blue spotlights in the background. Which turn into stars. She is also standing a round mini platform. Backing vocalists come to join her on stage. Power  vocals kick in. This is amazing. Brilliantly strong vocals and harmony. Simple setting and stunning . Sure fire qualifier.

The Netherlands

Now we have 3JS from The Netherlands. They are wearing White and Black in various ways , each different. Another simpler backdrop with spots lights in white. A simple production of this song could do it some favours. Vocally it sounds pretty good.  Not sure it will have a huge impact though.

Belgium

Belgium on next and its the acapella group Witloof Bay. All dressed in various styles and colours. Tuning forks in the backdrop flashing in white. This sounds a bit flat today which doesnt help it one bit. It has no energy and is really really dull. I am sure for the genre its great but for Eurovision its truly awful.

Slovakia


Twiins on now for Slovakia.Lovely spotlighted stage. The girls look lovely one in white the other in peach flowing dresses. The harmonies are ok and the vocals a bit flat at times. Its a pleasant enough song that plods along going nowhere. If this is as good as they can be then its goodnight  Bratislava.

Ukraine

Next up we have Mika from Ukraine. She is stunning in a white dress with feather effects on the shoulders. The sand artist is in a purple dress with a ming collar and stands behind a counter thing where she draws in the sand. This gets displayed on the backdrop as an ever changing story to go with the song. It fails the first time so they stop. Start again and now its working. It looks amazing and is quite good to watch the skill here. Mika has a good vocal range and a nice strong voice. She is looking lovely and if she sings as good as this tomorrow. I can see this will qualify. The sand backdrop ends with the message. Share your heart.

Moldova


Next we have Moldova and Zdob si Zdub. They have their long pointy hats on in black. Amazing backdrop of figures in red and black pointy hats. Fairy on Unicycle in white playing trumpet comes on in slow bit. Flashing strobe light at the bonkers bit , its as mad as a box of frogs but I love it. So refreshing after the ballads before. Backdrop very red orange stripes later on too. End with a close up of lead singer and fairy he pops a monocle in his eye.

Sweden

Now here we go with Eric Saade from Sweden. Box and glass screens on stage. Vocals sound a bit dodgy. He is in black with dark brown leather jacket. Lots of white flashing lights. Usual slick dance routine. No glass breaking trickery today the back glass was missing. Strong finish though. Still possible to get through.

Cyprus

Now its Christos from Cyprus.She is on the satellite again They on stage in fixed boots all in black. Lovely backdrop starts rolling diamonds and then sperm like balls on stalks that sway in direction with the guys on stage, very effective. The female singer swings a lit white ball around her head while she wails(nicely). Brilliantly done and very classy indeed. The vocals were very steady.

Bulgaria


Now after a short break we have Poli from Bulgaria. She starts crouched stage front. Black jacket and white dress underneath and black leggings. Rest of group in all white. Lovely splashing water effect in the background. Very strong rocky vocals which suit the song. She goes off along the catwalk half way and back onto stage. Back to crouching at the end and takes her jacket off and swings it around. Very strong for this kinda genre.

FYR Macedonia

Now we have F.Y.R. Macedonia and Vlatko. Interesting white costumes with red flashes on the dancers. He is in black suit and white shirt. Backdrop is tumbling box with lettering inside , very colourful. A few above stage shots here highlight the dancers. A loudhailer vocal at some stage. Russian dancing too. Vocally this is gruff but its his style and actually sound ok for me today. Surprisingly this is better than I have seen before.

Israel

The infamous return of Dana International now for Israel. She starts out of position and has to run to her spot. A greenish hew to her dress which splits into strands below the hip. Backing singer all in white figure hugging dresses. The  backing track has a lot more oomph and for me seems to be a slight remix. You want to know how her vocals are dont you? Wellllllllll they are awful. Off key and flat as pancake on Shrove Tuesday. I think there will be no chance with this. Dreadful.

Slovenia


Slovenia up next  and its the lovely Maja. She has a rally lovely dress that has silver and gold in it in thin strips. Its just below the waist and becomes tassely with long above knee black leather boots. Very fetching. The backdrop is blue and moody. This is a slow builder of a song. But once it kicks in its tremendously effective and powerful. Vocally brilliant and faultless. Brilliant rehearsal.

Romania

Hotel FM up now for Romania. Blue stripes and shapes on the backdrop for this. David is in tripey black and white trousers black waistcoat and white shirt. All the rest in mainly black. This is a lovely catchy little pop song with a confidant credible singer. His waistcoat has a tartan back to it seen during the camera sweeps. Thats Scotland's vote sorted. Very singalong and happy, nice rehearsal.

Estonia

Now its Estonia and Getter Jaani. This is another fan favourite that needs to up the game. She has a pink dress on with black trim. Nice backdrop of skyscrapers and big wheel. Oh dear it started fine then once it oomphs itself up she seems to go a bit flat and struggles with the vocal. The camera shots and the dancing is combined is a bit messy. Not a nice look here and its a pity as i love the song. Not a good rehearsal I am sorry to say.

Belarus

Belarus on now and its Anastasiya. Mic stands like boxes. with stars in white. Backdrop all red and white and black. Her vocals are quite dreadful today. This is a complete mess and is car crash at its best without any movement. That was quite painful Ow!!

Latvia


Latvia and its the guys from Musiqq. Opening shot they have their backs to arena audience then we cut to camera that has the crowd behind them quite literally, will look fab with a flag waving crowd in the arena. They are in black and white outfits. Quite a simple setting for this that concentrates the mind onto the singing. The rap part is not bad either , fits in nicely. Vocally this is as good as I have heard. Could do rather well.

Denmark


Denmark are on next and its A Friend In London. Wonderful opening backdrop white stripes in haphazard fashion. Lots of white up spotlights. The light canopy above stage is lowered looks like spaceship on long shots. They are dressed in black. He kicks a white balloon into crowd and runs full length of catwalk and onto satellite and back a bit messy. Vocally its fine though. Quite a strong rehearsal.

Ireland


Finally we have Jedward from Ireland. The camera work is slick and fast and really really good. The ever changing backdrop is phenomenal. They are in red sparkly jackets with high shoulder pads with stars on. Backing singer in black. They have loads energy and lots of quirky looks to camera. Vocally the male backing is managing to cover up any Jedward failings. As an overall package vocally it has plenty positives and little wrong with it. Should do very well as many now feel here.

Two times participant in Russian National Final Alexey Vorobyov has been appointed as the Russian representative in the forthcoming Eurovision Song Contest in Düsseldorf. He will be performing the song 'Get you', a composition from Swedish-Moroccan Red One who wrote previously for big stars such as Lady GaGa, Sharika, Enrique Iglesias and Jennifer Lopez.



The song was supposed to be presented exclusively at the premier of the show 'Star Academy', but already an amateur recording of the performance of the pre-recorded show was leaked on youtube. It seems a very good uptempo song which could bring Russia high in the final in May i would say. The song can be heared and watched below and remember that Russia will compete in the first semi-final together with Malta on Tuesday 10th May.

Source: Channel 1