August 25, 2019

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This evening marks the opening of the Eurovision Song Contest with the very first semi-final of the prestigious music event being staged from Baku, Azerbaijan and as one could have noted from the past couple of days, there is surely a lot of excitement building up as eighteen (18) countries will be competing against each other for one of the elite ten (10) spots which are very much up for grabs. The countries competing this evening are a mixture of East, West, North and even Central and that is why it makes up for an extremely interesting evening. We are definitely vying on making it even more interesting with three individuals signing up to do the live commentary including none other than our very own Emil Calleja Bayliss; an upcoming lyricist having just finished as the runner-up in the Għanja tal-Poplu competition, Claudia Faniello; the runner-up in this years' edition of the Malta Eurovision Song Contest and also Raquela; who has taken part in the Malta Eurosong on three occasions thus far with fifth being her best result. 

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

LIVE 

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

01. Montenegro

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

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

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

02. Iceland

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

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

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

03. Greece

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

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

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

04. Latvia

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

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

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

05. Albania

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

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

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

06. Romania

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

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

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

07. Switzerland

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

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

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

08. Belgium

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

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

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

09. Finland

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

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

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

10. Israel

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

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

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

11. San Marino

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

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

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

12. Cyprus

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

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

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

13. Denmark

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

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

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

14. Russia

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

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

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

15. Hungary

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

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

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

16. Austria

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

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

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

17. Moldova

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

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

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

18. Ireland

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

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

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

The Show (Part 2)

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

Prediction

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

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

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

Qualifiers

01. Romania

02. Moldova

03. Iceland

04. Hungary

05. Denmark

06. Albania

07. Cyprus

08. Greece

09. Russia

10. Ireland

Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan will be hosting this evenings' showcase of the Eurovision Song Contest where eighteen (18) countries will be competing for one of the ten slots which are up for grabs. Over the past couple of weeks, there have been a number of predictions put forth by the bookmakers, by fans of the event and even by well known musicians, songwriters and people in the music industry. The fact of the matter is that we at escflashmalta.com brought together, four well known individuals including none other than songwriters Jan Van Dijck and Knut-Oyind Hagen from The Netherlands and Norway respectively as well as the upcoming songwriting/production team of Max Persson and Salar Gorgees. They spoke about the songs and rated them whilst the people were still rating them up to one o'clock in the afternoon. We allocated a fifty per cent (50%) billing to each and came up with quite an interesting prediction for this evening.

Whilst the votes of the four individuals, three entities were of course based on musical fortes, this might not have been the same with the people but that is what the Eurovision Song Contest is all about at the end of the day. There were some 1200 votes from all over the continent and they are the ones which had to face the consequences in the overall result with one of their selections missing out in the final tally. The qualifiers in no particular order for this evening according to the expert reviewers and the voters in the poll are as follows:

  • Cyprus
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Latvia
  • Romania
  • Switzerland

Amongst the surprises, are surely Russia and Albania who have really impressed during the rehearsals but then again, the reviewers did vote based on the preview videos and not the actual rehearsals and the performances will definitely be impressing a number of people. Another interesting assessment is that Moldova who almost have a perfect record only failing to qualify once did not garner a qualification from the mixture of votes but nevertheless, look as sure fire contenders in this semi-final. Stay tuned to escflashmalta.com for all of the latest news. 

Source: escflashmalta.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81cE3DV_OYE

In the past couple of days, the press centre has been brimming with excitement with people from all over the European and the Oceanic continent taking over to cover what is arguably the biggest non-sporting event to be held in European waters. With coverage of rehearsals, interviews, pictures and exclusive news, many people have to remember that the accredited media have their chance to cast their vote in the press centre and it seems that Malta has been doing quite well in the second semi-final noting that we have managed to keep our place in the top ten in quite a consistent format. The best placing which we have had is our current one, which actually marks sixth noting that there were days in which we had fallen to eight place. Kurt Calleja along with the rest of his entourage gave two astonishing performances of the song This Is The Night during the technical rehearsals and are now therefore looking set to qualify to the final stages.

Kurt Calleja was selected to represent the country with the majority of the public votes as it was the swing that he ultimately needed when winning the competition with just four points over Claudia Faniello, the lady who will be joining us this evening for the live commentary of the first semi-final. Our performer has been consistent with the media and his jovial character has come across very well noting several invitations to delegation parties across the city including those of Slovakia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Russia amongst others. The fact of the matter is that this list constantly updates and therefore, one has to see whether there is a consistent showing before reporting on it but the Maltese entry has garnered more than 300 votes and stands just below Sweden, Serbia, Turkey, Norway and Ukraine who are currently found in that particular order on the scoreboard. The Maltese delegation have to enjoy what could be their real last 'free' day but nevertheless, there are a number of things planned actually including a flash-mob in an Azeri square. Good Luck to Malta, Kurt Calleja, his entourage and delegation and stay tuned to escflashmalta.com for all of the latest news. 

Source: ESCflashmalta.com LIVE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnkKYPzZn7Q

Baku, the host city of the 2012 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest is currently brimming with confidence as it prepares to host the esteemed competition noting that despite a couple of hurdles along the way, they have managed to host a total of forty-two (42) countries, thirty-six (36) of which are competing in the semi-finals and another six (6) which are already in the final for either being in the elite range of financial backers or being the host country. Earlier this afternoon, the very first dress rehearsal took place in the Crystal Hall, one of the largest venues to ever host such a prestigious event and which was specifically built in the honour of obtaining hosting rights. The first week was tense and filled with excitement with our team present in Baku taking up a number of different roles including interviewers, reporters and even photographers. These include none other than Garrett Mulhall, Šira Carolyn Bezalel, Juergen Boernig, Lilian Brunell, Patrick Strouk and Eric Lehmann whom I continuously thank for all their hard work and dedication.

In the afternoon, there were no real problems in terms of putting up the show except at the end when some of the qualifiers popped up on the screen before they actually got round to announcing them looking extremely unprofessional but that will surely be fixed for tomorrow night. In terms of performances, it seems that everyone kept slightly back in order to impress the judges during the rehearsal this evening. This means that there will be juries in eighteen (18) countries as well as Azerbaijan and Spain voting in this semi-final. There were some performances which really improved by this morning whilst others went downhill once more and the juries will be hoping that some of the tracks will really stand out amongst the rest as they make their top ten decisions. It is normal that there will be some surprises tomorrow night as the coverage takes place. We will be providing live commentary during the evening with Claudia Faniello, Emil Calleja Bayliss and Raquela. This evening, we will bring you pictures from the afternoons' dress rehearsal and live comments as the show progresses.

LIVE

The hosts are currently on stage and they are introducing themselves as they did this morning and it seems that everything is running smoothly and on time. All of them look very smart with suits and dresses all round this evening. It is quite interesting as this afternoon, they were wearing very casual clothing. They are speaking in English, Azeri, French and even German due to the fact that Germany hosted the Eurovision Song Contest last year. In the meantime, they are also speaking about the pre-qualified entries to the final meaning those of the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Germany, Spain and Azerbaijan.

Montenegro

The first entry of the evening will be performed by Montenegro and Rambo Amadeus is wearing a black suit with a white shirt actually. He is joined on stage by two dancers dressed as bodyguards and also another one who break-dances clad in red and white clothing for some reasons. The lyrics of this song are just stupid and I just cannot imagine this to qualify tomorrow night. Behind him, one could notice the wooden donkey and mid-way through the performance, there is also the banner saying Euro Neuro Monetary Break-Dance. There are no issues with the vocal performance because the song is not difficult to perform. Definite Non-Qualifier.

Iceland

Jonsi is off key during the first few seconds of the performance and he is quickly trounced by Greta who seems to be on shape as she has been throughout all of her respective rehearsals. The stage is bathed in blue for this performance as it has been throughout the rehearsals. In fact, they are clad in beautiful costumes, Greta in a long black ballroom type of gown and Jonsi is in a black suit with a white shirt. The lighting is superb and this song is the best one in terms of creating an atmosphere. The music is just so haunting and the vocals have settled down, with the four backing vocalists really pulling in their weight in terms of performance. This should qualify with relative ease.

Greece

Greece has to have the most improved act of the 2012 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest this year having had a terrible first rehearsal and then managing to overcome that to become an endearing entry with a powerful choreography. This track is Greek by numbers and it includes all of the elements which have made the nation successful at the Eurovision Song Contest in recent years. There are elements from both Kalomira and Helena Paparizou. Eleftheria Eleftheriou is wearing a fiery dress with some blue and white elements whilst the dancers are wearing blue ensembles. There is one female backing singer dressed in a white gown. The vocals are good but slightly too screechy at times but they are better than they were in the afternoon. This will definitely Qualify due to being Greece.

Latvia

Well, it is quite interesting to see Anmary back on stage because she does put in a lot in terms of performance and the people will definitely enjoy the performance. She is wearing a blue gown and it seems that most of the team have co-ordinated well. They have decided to take it up a notch since the afternoon and everything is looking and sounding better for them. The song is quite wrong though and I do not get the point of having such a comical entry. The backdrop has also not changed lately and therefore, it remains to be quite colourful actually. I do not believe that this entry will go down well this evening and therefore, they will not qualify in my honest opinion.

Albania

There has been a lot of talk with regards to Rona Nishliu in terms of her vocal performance and this is due to the fact that she sounds absolutely stunning in each and every run that she has given thus far. She is wearing a beautiful blue gown which seems to emphasize modern and classical at the same time. The staging is very dark barring the red lighting. I cannot bring such an astonishing singer down but I believe that she is actually holding back this evening even though she does look brilliant. Nevertheless, I just cannot see the jury not going for this tonight and therefore, I believe that she will appeal to the viewers at home as well. This will be a qualifier tomorrow night.

Break

Romania

Every performance of Romania has been an energetic experience and this evening will not be any different. The main performer, the female who is known as Elena is wearing a short orange dress with black lining. There is a wind machine being used during the performance which much not really needed but it does not take away from the song. The group themselves with the instruments are clad in white attire and they seem to be enjoying carrying out their choreography. The vocal performance is good but I believe that Elena had a better one earlier on today but nevertheless, the early songs are looking like certain qualifiers. This will be another one that will definitely make it with a mediocre score with the juries and a high tele-vote. Pyrotechnics were used towards the end of the song tonight.

Switzerland

The Swiss guys have not been particularly impressive with regards to their performances over the week and this is due to the diction issue but nevertheless, it should not take away from the song but it ends up doing so due to the fact that is a frequesnt line. The matrix backdrop is cool but has got a bit boring now actually. The vocal performance is good as it has always been and the positive news about this is also that they make use of all of the stage. Now, Switzerland did scrape past at the expense of Malta last year but this time round, they will not be making it through to the final as at best, this has been a very mediocre performance.

Belgium

The small country who won the Eurovision Song Contest on that one lonesome occasion back in 1986 is currently being represented by the sixteen year old Iris who is performing a beautiful country ballad which has a nice guitar sound mid-way through. Iris is wearing a beautiful short white dress with less in the shoulder pads. She is smiling throughout the performance. She is joined on stage by backing vocals and keeps this song as simple as possible actually. The vocal performance is very strong and Iris is definitely not choking this evening in front of the juries. I have a strong feeling that this will qualify. This should qualify tomorrow night.

Finland

The first note was extremely sharp in the afternoon and she did take away a lot from the performance but she did actually start on a very good note this time round and that will definitely be difficult competition for Belgium but the Swedish is sounding very harsh in terms of a language and therefore, it will not help the juries make up their mind when they have no clue about what the song actually is. The singer is clad in a green dress, which many seem to find unflattering. The vocals are good but they are still not on par with what they were during the week. This is one of the worst cases of nerves I have seen. Like 2010, Finland will be missing out on the final this time.

Israel

There has been a lot of talk on whether Israel can actually make it to the final with a track which is quite a ditty little number in actuality. The song is really working on the monitors and therefore, it gets a lot of points from the audience at home presumably. The fact of the matter is that this is a band which includes a number of middle aged performers doing their thing. The backdrop is very impressive with a number of clocks making an appearance. Hebrew is a beautiful language and the mixture of the two is also endearing. The vocals are quite good although I believe they have also had better rehearsals noting that at times, there is a lot of moaning about by the lead performance. I believe that yes, this will scrape through and qualify

San Marino

Valentina is in great form with stunning vocals at the start and once more, I feel so bad for her that she has to perform this song. She is joined on stage by some four to five dancers dressed as sailors, doctors and pilots I believe. I have no clue what the idea behind the staging is but let's say that the people in the press centre are laughing about. Valentina loves performing the song and she is smiling throughout the entire performance. She continues performing well and I just cannot believe this but could her vocals save her performance. Honestly, I am thinking of a scenario in which this does qualify but I do not believe it will. Definite Non-Qualifier.

Cyprus

Ivi Adamou and her backing singers are completely off key in the beginning of the song and it seems that they might be continuing this very difficult twist of fate. They have chosen the wrong night to have the performance completely gone wrong and the question is whether the people will vote in high numbers in order to get this across the finish line. Ivi is a beautiful girl but she clearly has nerves this evening. The song is really catchy and I just cannot help but sing and dance to it. The choreography is extremely slick and looks very strong on the camera. I just cannot imagine myself this but this is a non-qualifier in my opinion by just missing out.

Denmark

Following that bizarrely terrible vocal performance from Cyprus comes Soluna Samay who not only has the looks but has a very strong voice to accompany her. As always, Denmark have the most middle of the road type of song in the contest presenting a typical mid-tempo track which was one of the early favourites and still finds itself in the first top ten placings. It has been decided that she will wear the same getup that she had during the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix, which was like a sailor meets hero type of outfit. The vocals are strong and the music works well. This type of song will be loved by the juries for being sweet. She will definitely qualify and will reach the final mid-table

Russia

The Russian grannies are back on stage and they do seem to enjoy every second of their time on stage. They are wearing their traditional clothing and this is just not any different than the national final when they did manage to beat none other than Yulia Volkova and Dima Bilan. The performance is quirky and funny and it will definitely not appeal to the juries this evening but it might win the public tele-vote and therefore I believe that this will qualify tomorrow night because they are Russia at the end of the day. It is quite an interesting performance and they will love it at home. I still cannot believe that this is competing in one of the most well known competitions.

Hungary

I just keep on pointing out that Hungary are bringing the most competent track to the Eurovision Song Contest this year being very much a radio hit which should appeal to all of the respective countries competing in both semi-finals and the final and this is because of the very sentimental lyrics which speak about the general discrepancies of the people when it comes to being poor or being rich. The backdrop is kept dark but Compact Disco make use of most of the stage and that is why it actually looks so good on the screens. There is fire in each chorus. This is currently a borderline qualifier in my opinion as I am not sure how the juries will be ranking it this evening.


Austria

This has to be the track which is very much out of this world, different and would not really bode well with any of the older generations which watch the Eurovision Song Contest. For the people that do not know the title translates into shaking your backsides actually and that is the reason why I do not think the juries will go for it but by the same margin, the people would definitely go for it just for the sake of being different and innovative. I just cannot fault them on the great performance with the glow in the dark lighting on the backsides really having a nice effect. I believe that like the song before this, it will be borderline and that is why I have not made a choice but personally, I would go for Hungary.

Moldova

This has comfortably become one of my favourite entries because it has a great routine and will definitely get points just for the performer being good looking. The track is absolutely catchy and you will instantly starting singing along as well as moving with the music just before the chorus. The girls on stage do enjoy their time up there and now they are clad in traditional clothing along with Pasha reminding the people that they are from Moldova in an idea taken from former representative Nelly Ciobanu. This track is definitely qualifying to the final and considering the draw, they might actually win it if played right. This was perfect tonight and should up a lot of points.

Ireland

The final performance of the evening comes from Jedward and clearly from the onset, they just fail to hit the first note but that has become characteristic of the twins actually. Nevertheless, they have flat hair once more and are wearing outfits which are being said to resemble more the power rangers than star performers. The track is much catchier than Lipstick in my opinion and they are definitely performing better this evening noting that they did do well with the judges last year. The people will definitely be on their side noting that they have become stars of this competition. Their backing vocalists are definitely keeping the performance together but good camera work, a strong backdrop and the use of the fountain is what ties this performance together making it special. Huge applause in the hall for the high fountain water and also the fireworks. The vocals are much stronger in the chorus and the backing are really helping this evening. This will definitely qualify and is looking more and more like a possible top five contender in the finals. They finish the performance standing in the fountain and therefore completely wet.

Review by Garrett Mulhall

Ok people – It is past 2am here in Baku and I have just come out of the final dress rehearsal for Semi Final 1. This is the semi final that the Jury vote on. I can say that Jedward gave their best performance of “Waterline” to date. The vocals were even better than this afternoon’s and the water feature went down wonderfully with the audience. There was nothing that the guys could have done better. 

Rumour Mill – The guys wore the same silver and gold costumes and had their hair DOWN. So that is what you will see tomorrow evening on the live show. Surprises were that the crowd really loved Albania. The audience cheered when Rona hit the high notes in her song and she actually cried at the end of her performance. This could actually just get into the final.

Russia were a favourite of the crowd and they had people dancing in the hall. Cyprus also got an amazing reaction in the hall to the delight of Ivi. Overall it was an amazing show and it will be a nailbiter. Just as an FYI - Jedward were in the green room in Leopard Print Dressing Gowns!!! So look out for them tomorrow night! 

The Show (Part 2)

This years' hosts which have been said to be so-so are back on stage to introduce the recaps of the first acts of this years' Eurovision Song Contest. They also speak about the fact that everyone can get up to twenty calls from each phone-line therefore, keep that in mind. They are now speaking about Azerbaijan and I must say that things really ran smoothly this evening. Well done for Ictimai for putting up an amazing show and one will be hoping that it goes as good as it did this evening tomorrow night. Voting has stopped. Performances of the finalists are currently being shown on the screen.

Fake Qualifiers

01. Ireland

02. Iceland

03. Israel

04. Romania

05. Switzerland

06. Belgium

07. Cyprus

08. Greece

09. Albania

10. Austria

The first week of the Eurovision Song Contest being held in Baku, Azerbaijan has passed with all of the respective rehearsals covered in the best possible way with pictures and reports being somewhat the basis of a strong team present in the country. I would like to thank our Head of Operations, Garrett Mulhall who has for the second year in a row done Malta proud whilst still keeping his Irish roots intact within each occasion. Apart from him though, I should and will thank the lovely Šira Carolyn Bezalel who has been busy taking pictures and attending press conferences along with the rest of our team members including Juergen Boernig, Lilian Brunell, Patrick Strouk and Eric Lehmann. I believe that the best portal this year goes to escXtra for keeping the people intact through their live chat and videos and for this we thank them and salute all of their team. They will be supporting escflashmalta.com also with the coverage of the dress rehearsals.

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

LIVE

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


The Show (Part 1)

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

 

Montenegro

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

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

 

Iceland

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

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

 

Greece

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

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

 

Latvia

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

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

 

Albania

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

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

 

Romania

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

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

 

Switzerland

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

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

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

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

 

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

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


The Show (Part 2)

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

Fake Qualifiers

01. Iceland

02. Ireland

03. Moldova

04. Montenegro

05. Cyprus

06. Hungary

07. Russia

08. Greece

09. Austria

10. Latvia

In the past couple of weeks, there has been a lot of scheduling appointments in order to make sure that the best possible coverage of the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest is given so that our readers would find it interesting and ultimately stay with us during the journey. We have called on a number of individuals who will be joining our team as guest reviewers during all of the live shows, namely the first and second semi-finals as well as the final night. 

The first semi-final on Tuesday which does not feature Malta will still see a total of eighteen (18)participants with Azerbaijan and Spain given the honour to vote for the competing acts apart from the countries which are of course participating in this semi-final. The live report will be carried out by seasoned journalist Emil Calleja Bayliss who most recently penned the runner-up entry at the Għanja tal-Poplu competition entitled Tal-Komma Twila composed by Dario Bezzina and performed by Grecia Bezzina. He will be joined during the show by two great female artists, being Claudia Faniello, the runner-up at the 2012 Malta Eurovision Song Contest with the song Pure and also Raquela who is well known for her debut at the Malta Eurosong back in 2009 with the track Crossroads. Both have performed on an international platform and having them on board is astonishing.

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

The second semi-final to be held on Thursday will feature Kurt Calleja, the Maltese representative as one of the eighteen (18) entries in contention for those ten (10) spots. The countries drawn to vote in this semi-final are France, Germany and the United Kingdom. The live report will be carried out by the lovely Elaine Camilleri who is our Head of Press on the website. Nevertheless, she will not be on her own doing what most likely will be the most important evening for Malta noting that it will be a time to see whether we will ultimately qualify fromt he semi-final. The man joining her is the Irishman Simon Casey, known for taking part in the Irish national selection back in 2003 with the track A Better Plan. Since then he has released two albums with Universal Music Ireland, both of which have been certified gold or better. He knows the industry inside out and it is great to have him on board for the third year running.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gg40bL2N68U&feature=plcp

For the final night, things will definitely be different with twenty-six (26) countries competing for victory and with some already looking strong than the others. I will be stepping in to carry out the live report but as my colleagues, I will not be alone having enlisted the aid of singer/songwriter Sophie, well known for representing Malta in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest a couple of years back with the track Extra Cute. Following this experience, she also took part in the 2011 Malta Eurovision Song Contest with the track Love to Love You which has also made it to iTunes. Apart from her though, there will also be Swedish songwriter Magnus Kaxe who is known to the Maltese for writing the music to Autobiography, the track which Dorothy Bezzina competed in within the final of the Malta Eurovision Song Contest 2012 but he has also worked with the likes of Clay Aiken, Celine Dion, Gareth Gates, Aqua and Benny from Abba. I am pleased to work with such talented individuals. 

Source: escflashmalta.com

Published in Editorials

The pre-qualified entries for the final of the 2012 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest have already had their technical rehearsal, spread over a period of two days, the first being on Saturday where they had forty (40) minutes of allocated time and the second being on Sunday where they were allocated another thirty (30) minutes in total as were all of the other competitors in the competition. One of the main features prior to each semi-final is that we will be releasing the results of the polls and the reviews combined in order to see whether they were close to the actual results, nevertheless, we can now also reveal the comments put forth for the six finalists which include the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Azerbaijan, Spain and Germany. The reviews were carried out by none other than Valerie Vella.

 

The female host on local television does not need a lot of introductory notes and this is because she is well known with the fans of the Malta Eurovision Song Contest and also around Europe having occupied the role of spokesperson, commentator, national final host and also as the Head of Press during the actual competition. She has exclusively decided to voice her views with us and of course with you our readers about the tracks which have already qualified to the final due to their respective status when it comes to finances along with the honour of the previous winner and therefore host country. We would like to make it a point that these views are not those of escflashmalta.com but are personal views of an individual with years of experience within the field.

United Kingdom

The last time the UK came up with something decent in recent years was with Andrew Lloyd Weber’s composition ‘It’s My Time’ in 2009. Actually, they gave me the feeling they had given up on the contest altogether. I must say that the UK pleasantly surprised me this time round. Love songs rarely come more classic and soothing than this. Meaningful lyrics combined with a perfect diction and technique make it a surefire hit ….at least for me….but I must confess that I’m a big fan of good ballads, so I might be slightly biased here!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFNv9pjqZkk

France

For France this year we’ll see the diminutive but very shapely Anggun. Famous in the 90s for her song "Snow on the Sahara", the Indonesian-French singer's entry is a sprightly pop entry. Whether it catches the imagination of European audiences remains to be seen however….I must say it hasn’t grown on me yet, but I like the whistling sound all throughout the song. Its interesting to note that songs in French have repeatedly failed to garner any significant placings in recent years, but that could well change this year if she manages to put up a good show. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SnSmB7uBo-Y

Italy

A quite unusual song that grabs you from the very first note. Nina oozes style with her stage presence and impeccable voice. I must say I’m surprised the Italians chose to sing in English after the romantic Italian language to have worked wonders last year as they placed second. It seems that after the 14 year absence from the ESC, the Italians are doing their utmost to keep away from the stereotypical Italian ballad. All in all … Like!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coqLVynejo8

Azerbaijan

Although this is the only the 5th appearance of Azerbaijan in the ESC , they seem to be on the right track year after year. Strong entries, spectacular stage performances, and, let’s face it, big budgets, have landed them top ten placings every year. They seem to strike the right note whatever the style of the song. This year’s ballad has potential, but what are the chances of winning twice in a row? Besides, polished as it may be, it’s not really a winner to me. 

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

Spain

Where do I start? I like her voice and I don’t mind the melody line, but that’s just about it for me. It’s an average classical ballad. I doubt it will stand out, especially when faced with other, stronger ballads in this year’s festival. Had Spain not been one of the Big Five, I’m pretty sure the chances of seeing them in the final would be close to zero….yawn!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fL-s0eRRYTE

Germany
 
A young cool male after 2 years of cute Lena. A chill out song that tends to bore me by the time its over. A repetitive chorus which lacks creative lyrics....but usually that goes down well with viewers. I believe that a potentially winning song is one that people can hum or sing through parts of it the first time they hear it, because let's face it, most of the people voting on the day would have never heard the songs before even though they are widely available on the various media. Hopefully he will keep up his unwavering voice when singing live.
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxA6TWLttZo
Published in Editorials

Earlier this year, Germany had decided to come back to the Eurovision Song Contest with the same format that created a star in the form of Lena-Meyer Landrut ending up finishing in the top spot back in Oslo, Norway with the song Satellite and then managing a second top ten position with the song Taken By A Stranger when competing in her home country. This time round though, a man has been chosen over a woman and Roman Lob came into the competition with the belief that he could do well even though pundits where playing his entry down placing it within a mid-table position although that has all seemed to change now following two rehearsals.

The song which is representing the country bears the name Standing Still written by Steve Robson, Wayne Hector and Jamie Cullum. The three are synonymous to the world of music actually having penned a number of hits for the likes of One Direction, James Blunt, Carrie Underwood, Leona Lewis, Faith Hill, Blue, Westlife and Take That amongst others. Roman has been doing a great job in terms of performance and the simple staging is doing the track wonders. Earlier today Roman was taking interviews with the media actually and therefore, our team present in Baku, Azerbaijan also spoke to him about his performance and career thus far. We believe that Germany has truly become a contender amongst the six or seven entries that seem to be able to make a name for themselves this year.

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

Published in Interviews

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

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

Schedule of Rehearsals 

08:30 - Estonia

09:00 - Slovakia

09:30 - Norway

10:00 - Bosnia & Herzegovina

11:30 - Lithuania

13:00 - United Kingdom

13:30 - France

14:00 - Italy

14:50 - Azerbaijan

15:20 - Spain

15:50 - Germany

 

LIVE

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

 

Estonia 

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Slovakia

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Norway

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Bosnia & Herzegovina

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Lithuania

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

United Kingdom

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

France

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Italy

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Azerbaijan

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Spain

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Germany

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

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

 

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

Schedule of Rehearsals

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

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

 

Slovenia

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Croatia

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Sweden

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Georgia

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Turkey

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Germany

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

France

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Italy

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Azerbaijan

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

Spain

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra

 

United Kingdom

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

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

Video Courtesy of escXtra