Monday, May 28, 2012

The Monday After

Only 351 days to the first semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2013. [Seems a long way away doesn't it?].

Anyway as Loreen starts to climb up through the charts across Europe it's time to start looking at what happened last night and who came where. 

As you just might already know Sweden won the contest, with 372 points and gaining the most number of 12 points ever [18 sets]. Whether you liked the song or not I think that this is a serious win and one that helps the contest as whole. It shows that the best song can win the contest regardless of where it is geographically. Most of all Sweden's is a huge one for fans of the contest.

Russia came second on Saturday, the grannies proving that age is no barrier to success. [Despite what Engelbert Humperdinck might think]. Serbia came third Zeljko proving that a safe Balkan ballad can bring you some success, especially when there isn't many other Balkan ballads in the competition. Azerbaijan came fourth which is a very respectable for a host country and suggests that Azerbaijan will still be a force to be reckoned with in future contests. Albania came fifth, which might raise a couple of eyebrows, but I did say that this would do a bit better than expected. It shows that a technically good song, combined with an outstanding vocal performance can do well in the contest.

Estonia came sixth which was as surprising as when they came sixth in 2009. Definitely Ott deserved his placing, but this was a big surprise. Turkey came seventh which, I do believe was a fair placing for them. Then three of the big 5 came Germany - Roman Lob doing about as well as can be expected. Italy - I'm not sure how Nina Zilli might feel about her placing but I felt it was a bit below where I'd put the song. Spain came tenth, their best result in since 2004, which they should be pleased with. Personally speaking, Spain was the standout performance of the evening, it was the song I voted for and I think it deserved a high place than it got.

Looking down at the bottom of the table, Norway came last [again] which was a big surprise but given that Loreen most likely hoovered up votes from around Europe this is understandable. UK and Engelbert Humperdinck came second last with just 12 points which was a disappointing results for The Hump. I think the running order really went against the UK though. Also for the second year running the UK did a poor jury final performance. This really will raise some questions in the BBC and I also intend to have a post on the UK over the summer.

Hungary, despite being well tipped to come last didn't, which might be seen as a success. Denmark came 23rd which was disappointing for Soluna Samay. I think she did a wonderful song and full credit to her for that. France came 22nd, showing that touring around Europe doesn't really help your chances. Malta came 21st, no big surprises there. Iceland and Ireland both should be disappointed with their results, Ireland especially, where Jedward were hotly tipped to do well.

The only other real surprise was that Greece fell out of the top 10 for the first time since 2003. This might mean that one of the most consistent Eurovision countries may be falling, but also I don't think that the song deserved to come much higher.

I'll have more  analysis of the results during this week.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Congradulations To Sweden

Well that was all a bit surprising wasn't it? Sweden wins the Eurovision Song Contest 2012. Loreen and her song incredible song Euphoria won tonights vote amassing a massive 372 points. 

While this result may not be surprising the remaining top 5 were quite a surprise. In fact they were very close to how the bookies had expected. Russia came second, Serbia third, Azerbaijan fourth and Albania fifth [they're best result yet]. There were no massive records broken but there is quite a lot to be analysed.

The big surprise tonight was the low scoring of the rest of Scandinavia and the UK and Ireland. I haven't seen a full score table yet and once I've had time to process these I'll be better able to discuss the overall  result.

In the meantime, and until Sweden 2013 I wish you all the very best.

Voting Order

The voting order was announced over on earlier this afternoon. Looking briefly over them it would appear that a western European country is being held back as 12 western countries are going to announce their votes in places 25-35. Balkan countries are generally announcing their votes earlier.

Who Will Win Eurovision 2012?

Tonight sometime after 11pm a years worth a speculation, of wonder and projections will all be shown to be either true or untrue. Will 2012 be another 2009? Or maybe a shocking 2000? Well there still is time for a lot more predicting today. So lets look at how the field is shaping up:

Hypothesis 1 - Most Likely

UK - Engelbert didn't have his greatest performance since he arrived in the jury final and I think that this is falling by the wayside at great speeds. Being the first of five slow songs won't help either. Despite earlier predictions of beating Blue, I suspect that this could end up lower than the UK expected. Prediction: 16th-20th

Hungary - This is a song that I really feel is not up to the required standard of the final. I think this will most likely come last but it might do a little better due to a lack of rock in this years final. Prediction: 21st-26th

Albania - Despite what many might say about this song it has a lot of fans out there and is getting quite a lot of views on YouTube. I think this is going to do a lot better than people expect. However the draw will hold it back but I suspect this will be in the jury top 5 and do well on the public televote. Prediction: 6th-10th

Lithuania - I am happy to see Lithuania in the final, however I do suspect that it got there as the 10th qualifier. I think this is just one of those songs that won't standout on the final night. Prediction: 21st-26th

Bosnia & Herzegovina - This is another song which I think shouldn't have made the final as it is really dull. The other Balkan songs will hoover up the votes so I think that this is going to go nowhere and is another potential last place song. Prediction: 21st-26th

Russia - Russia really have a great piece of entertainment in this entry. I suspect though that they will find it difficult to bring this song over the line when the points come in. I think that while there will be some jury support for this I can't really see it making the dizzying heights of the Top 5. However it is sandwiched between a large number of ballads which helps to make it stand out. Prediction: 6th-10th

Iceland - Despite this being a fan favourite and the fact that I do like it as a song, I think this was the one that was saved by the juries from the first semi-final. It is a strong song, and could score reasonably well with juries. However I think that this just isn't going to get enough public televotes. Prediction: 16th-20th

Cyprus - I was impressed with this song in the first semi-final but given the draw and the opposition it is going to come under a lot of pressure. Ivi didn't have the best jury show [vocally] and I think that this will lose out in a high quality show. Prediction: 21st-26th

France - This was another one which could have gone either way. However I think that this song is just to inaccessible to get in one listen and that in the jury final where Auggun would have needed a lot more votes from she didn't sing well enough. Parts of the song were pretty off-key. Overall I can't see this having a huge impact. Prediction: 21st-26th

Italy - Once again Italy and France are beside each other in the final. But this year I think it is very safe to say that Italy will outscore France. Out of Love is a really great song and deserves recognition. I don't believe that this has the oomph to get it over the line but it does have the strength to score well with juries. Nina has given a very consistent performance since she arrived in Baku, there's no reason to suspect that she won't tonight. I think it is a possible winner but an unlikely one. Prediction: 1st-5th

Estonia - I think this is one that is going to do better than expected. I think juries will like this song over other vocally good songs and I think it won't do awfully on the televote. It's not going to win by any stench of the imagination though. Predictions: 16th-20th

Norway - This is a song that I suspected might do well if it got a strong draw. It didn't but it still could do reasonably well for Norway. Tooji didn't give the best performance last night but it wasn't to bad. I think this might come around 10th with the public but about 15th with juries. Prediction: 11th-15th

Azerbaijan - Azerbaijan have definitely sent the typically host country bland song. However it is the host country and it is Azerbaijan who have a short but good track record. There's something in this song for both  juries and public. Prediction: 6th-10th

Romania - If it wasn't for their 2010 entry I'd say this was going to do really well for Romania. This didn't go perfectly in the jury final but it still will score well. This song has a track record so it will do pretty well. Prediction: 11th-15th

Denmark - Despite this being a favourite of mine I think this is not going to do very well. It is a bit of a neutral entry but has some potential. Prediction: 16th-20th

Greece - Tonight is going to be a real test of the strength of the Greek vote. There will be a good number of diaspora votes but I still think this won't get the jury support that it needs. This might well be the first Greek song out of the top 10, but then again di dn't we all say that last year? Prediction: 11th-15th

Sweden - Despite one small mistake in the jury final I think that this is the one to beat. I think that the extra votes that it got at Melodifestivalen, the fact it has been a success in Norway, Finland and Greece shows that it is neither just a fan favourite nor a piece of Swedish music that will only score well in Scandinavia. However if this doesn't win it could come further down the scoreboard. Prediction: 1st-5th

Turkey - After shockingly missing the final last year Turkey are back in a big way, I think that while some think that this is a poor enough song I actually think that it is fairly strong [I still don't like it]. This also works really well on stage. Turkey and Azerbaijan are both very able to score well when both have strong songs and I think that this year will be no different. Prediction: 2nd-5th

Spain - I'm not Spanish but unlike most people I think that this is a really, really good song and the vocal performance is simply jaw dropping. I think this could win the jury vote [marginally] but I think while it is a contender to do that anything is possible tonight so I think it might not do all that well as I'm unsure what the public will make of it. Prediction: 6th-10th

Germany - I think that Germany have come up with a song that might do better if it was only the northwest of Europe voting. I also wonder if Germany is going to be able to override their political image tonight. I know they did this in 2010 but I'm not convinced that they can do so tonight. Juries might well give this a couple of extra points  but I don't see it as the dark horse that everyone else seems to. Prediction: 6th-10th

Malta - Malta were a surprise qualifier in my books but now they have a great draw which might help them, especially when they are surrounded by ballads. I suspect though that this scrapped into te final and I think they should be happy with that. However it is a strong song, compared to those around it so it might get a few more votes. Prediction: 11th-15th

FYR Macedonia - Macedonia have quite a strong song relative to the position in the draw. Kaliopi is one of the more well-known Balkan singers and should score well across the region. She has excellent vocals and is another potential jury winner. But I suspect that the song may not have huge appeal outside of the Balkans. Prediction: 11th-15th

Ireland - I can only say that I'm really proud of Jedward and feel that they are great ambassadors for Ireland. I wish them the best of luck tonight. This was good in the jury final and they have scored well with juries before. The big question is can they overcome Eastern Europe? Last year nearly all the points they got came from Western Europe so if they can't they'll most likely not score as well. But I suspect that they may break Eastern Europe and do pretty well. Prediction: 1st-5th

Serbia - Despite this being third favourite I'm not convinced that this song is fresh enough to be a winner. If Lane Moje could not do it in 2004, when Balkan Ballads were popular I find it difficult to believe that a less exciting copy of the song can beat it in 2012. Having FYR Macedonia doesn't help Zeljko's chances either. Prediction: 1st-5th

Ukraine - Ukraine did well in the draw, drawing the well regarded second last slot. Ukraine have a very strong singer with a not-so-strong song. It will pick up a couple of undecided votes in the coming so late. Prediction: 6th-10th

Moldova - This is a song I feel will be lost at the end. After a rake of strong songs this almost pales in comparision. Pasha is a great performer and singer but there is little in this to really bring in a lot of votes. Prediction: 16th-20th

So it's time to get off of the fence. I think that the Top 5 will look like this:
1. Sweden
2. Italy
3. Turkey
4. Ireland
5. Serbia

That's really all that can be said. I wish everyone good luck tonight. It's in the hands of the juries and the public now. May the best song win.

Friday, May 25, 2012

My Favourites!

After a minimum of two months listening to all of these songs suddenly you have to consider all of them together and now that I have seen them all performed live we can start to see just which songs are in my Top 10 for 2012.

This year as with any is difficult to work out exactly which are my favourites. But here we go, (with reasons why). Ireland is always excluded from my favourites due to bias towards our entry which I think you should all vote for and bring the contest to Dublin. As you can see a tiny amount of bias is coming through. So in no particular order my top 10 are:

Sweden - Well it's been one of my favourites since it was picked. I just love this and I think it would be a deserving winner. I'm not convinced that the song was performed as well as it could have been in the semi-final but maybe that's me being picky though. 

Estonia - Ott may not have the best song in the competition but his vocal performance is strong. It is a great relaxing song and came across well in the semi-final. I think this did well in the semi and could score well off the juries in the final.

Romania - Since the rehearsals started I have gone from thinking that this is OK to thinking that it is fairly flat to being one of the most fun entries this year. The song comes across really well and this is hugely thanks to a strong performance from Mandinga. 

UK - Despite some reservations about Engelbert going to Eurovision for the UK I still think that the song he as produced is really really good and is a great one to listen to. Engelbert has come up well in the rehearsals and it should be good on the night.

Spain - Whatever people might say about Spain I think that this is just an outstanding song. It's not a great one for the MP3 player but it is a truely amazing song live. I know how the Spanish fans feel about this entry and I'm not quite sure that it is a winner, but it is a strong song. 

Italy - Of course as second/third/fouth [depends on the bookmaker] favourites they have a really strong song and a really good singer to pull it off. Italy did well last but I don't expect that they will break last years results.  
Largely because it's to safe to do really well. It doesn't have the risk of Raphael last year.

Russia - One of the most discussed songs this year had fallen in my estimation during the run up to the rehearsals. However on Tuesday night I though that this was stunning. Not my favourite and I don't think that it is a winner but I still think that it has hit potential. 

Denmark - I accept that not everyone loves this song. Despite the cute and cuddly image this has come through a seriously tough DMGP and continues to divide fans. The jury rehearsal of this was strong. I don't think it is a winner but it isn't going to come last. Personally it was my favourite in the first semi-final, it has fallen a bit since then but it still is really great. 

Iceland - I've had a soft spot for this song as have many fans. I'm not convinced that this is as good as some people make out based on the semi-final performance and YouTube numbers. I recognise it as a really great song and I acknowledge that.

Albania - This is another song that was simply outstanding in the semi-final. It's a simple performance of a really complex song. Well done Albania.

You're still reading? Great. You skipped down here without reading the above? That's not so good but I'll survive. So I would place these songs in the following order.

12. Sweden
10. Albania
8. UK
7. Italy
6. Spain
5. Iceland
4. Denmark
3. Romania
2. Estonia
1. Russia

I'll put up real predictions either tonight or tomorrow morning once the jury final is over.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Couple Of Surprising Results

While the press gather to fire up live streams and blogs I shall take a couple of moments to discuss the semi-final results. So here is a couple of small points on the contest.

The Qualifiers
Just in case you've forgotten the qualifiers were (In Random Order):
1. Lithuania
2. Bosnia & Herzegovina 
3. Serbia
4. Ukraine
5. Sweden
6. FYR Macedonia
7. Norway
8. Estonia
9. Malta
10. Turkey

The main surprises were the qualification of Lithuania, B+H, Malta and to a lesser extent FYR Macedonia. The biggest losers were Slovenia and Portugal in my opinion. While the names are surprising about 15 songs were in the mix to qualify, no one shocking came out though. My predictions were a bit out - I only got 7/10. 

The Interval Act
I thought that the interval act definitely one of the best we've seen until Ell & Nikki proved that even they thought that their winning song was boring so just sung Waterloo [a bit out of tune] just to confuse people. It was pure car crash television.

Presenters were as good as they were in Semi-Final 1. Which was pretty poor.

The Finalists
Finalists are from all over Europe but they break down as follows. 3 Balkans, 2 Baltic, 2 Scandinavia, Turkey, Malta and Ukraine. Which is pretty diverse. The importance of the running order was clearly shown.  Despite predictions of the 3-5 from the first half and 5-7 from the second half being broken it wasn't and the break down was four from the first half and six from the second.

The Draw will take place in the press conference which is currently ongoing.

The Draw 
The positions drawn is as follows:
Lithuania - #4
B+H - #5
Serbia - #24
Ukraine - #25
Sweden - #17
Macedonia - #22
Norway - #12
Estonia - #11
Malta - #21
Turkey - #18

This is a very interesting draw. I'll be writing about this in more detail over the next couple of hours and days but by this time Saturday. 

Semi-Final 2: The Qualifiers

Predictions Time!

Semi-Final 2 is definitively the better one musically but with 5 Balkan countries, two from Scandinavia and two from the Baltics this becomes a hard one to predict. Looking at my workings theres probably 15 songs that could make the final it is just a question of who. So in the order I expect them to score here are my predictions:

1. Sweden
2. Serbia
3. Estonia
4. Norway
5. Turkey
6. Ukraine
7. Georgia
8. Slovenia
9. Bosnia & Herzegovina
10. Portugal

Just Missing Out
11. Macedonia

I'll try to do as much coverage as I can but in the morning I have my driving test so lets hope that I manage to pass this time.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Semi-Final 2: My Favourites

Before I have to delve into the ins and outs of trying to predict how semi-final 2 will go, I have to put up a favs post. Even though this is a better semi musically there is very little that is really getting me excited. The exception being though my top two in this semi-final.

12 points - Sweden
10 points - Portugal
8 points - Netherlands
7 points - Estonia
6 points - Norway
5 points - Slovenia
4 points - Ukraine
3 points - Lithuania
2 points - Serbia
1 point - Malta

I'll but up a predictions post either late tonight or tomorrow morning when I've got reports from the jury rehearsal.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

OMG That Was Just A Bit Close!

So tonight from the Crystal Hall the first semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest was held. Ten Qualifiers made it through to the final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2012. They are (in order revealed).

1. Romania
2. Moldova
3. Iceland
4. Hungary 
5. Denmark
6. Albania
7. Cyprus
8. Greece
9. Russia
10. Ireland

This means that Montenegro, Latvia, Switzerland, Belgium, Israel, Finland, Austria and San Marino. 

This blog post will be updated as more information comes in and I compose my thoughts. We are awaiting the winners press conference and the draw for the final running order.

The presenters tonight were pretty poor and probably gave the lowest standard of presenting in recent years.

No Surprises: 
Russia, Ireland and Romania were all seen as sure qualifiers. I was impressed with Russia's performance but please pardon my bias, Ireland had a really strong performance but I would say that Jedward did a really good performance.

Denmark and Iceland were also both seen as qualifiers. Denmark won got my vote simply because as I had said before, Denmark still is a stand out entry for me. Iceland was my second favourite. I was somewhat less impressed with the general performance on actually on my TV but I was still very happy with the overall package.

Albania was a little more surprising than the above entries. I've previously mentioned that I suspect that they won the jury vote being vocally really really strong. Greece was a not surprise, though it would be difficult to see them not making the final no matter what they send.

Cyprus was surprising for me, as I didn't expect that both Cyprus and Greece would get through given the similarity of their songs, Ivi also had a fairly poor jury rehearsal. But the song did look good on stage and I was impressed. Moldova though was seen as a bit of an outsider for many but some [like me] did see it as a qualifier. It had a strong vocal for the song so I suspect that it did well with both the jury and the public as it was a lot of fun.

The big surprise really was Hungary, which was the point where I started to worry about our chances. They're song really did nothing for me during the show.

The Draw
The starting positions of each of the following countries is as follows:

Romania - #14
Moldova - #26
Iceland - #7
Hungary - #2
Denmark - #15
Albania - #3
Cyprus - #8
Greece - #16
Russia - #6
Ireland - #23

Running Order Analysis
So far this is shaping up to be an interesting draw. The show will have a dull enough start with UK, Hungary and Albania opening. The UK should be happy enough with this. Hungary will struggle to survive in slot number two - the death slot. So far the songs in the middle of the show should complement each other fairly well.  Azerbaijan is in slot 13 then Romania in #14, Denmark in slot #15 and Greece in slot #16. Cyprus might not be over happy with the draw and I suspect that they will be in the 20th-26th position in the final. Particularly as it is followed by France and Italy, even though Ivi's song is different to Cyprus I still think it is not a good draw for them. Russia also won't be too pleased with their draw but at they are followed by Iceland who will be a complete change from the Russian grannies. 

Ireland should be very pleased with their draw, now while some have jumped the gun just a little, I would not say that this is a pretty good omen for Ireland and they should be able to launch a successful entry from this position. Really if we were going to do very well a couple more things [such as the qualifiers from semi-final 2] will impact on that. We just don't have the information yet. Probability though would say that it is unlikely that Ireland will get all of these favorable conditions together. If you want more info on the importance of the running order we did a theoretical paper earlier this year which can be found here

And one more thing.....
My family who was watching Eurovision with me really liked the clip played of the German entry. I think this could be a dark horse but until Thursday evening I'm still going with Sweden as the most likely winner.

Eurovision Semi-Final 1 - For Non Eurovision Super-fans

So today sees the first real tangible signs of Eurovision 2012 with the first live show. While most of my posts are aimed at fans of the contest who follow ESC either all year round or for the national final seasons this one is aimed that those for whom Eurovision is only an annual event.

What's on tonight?
Tonight is the first semi-final, 18 countries from around Europe will compete for 10 spaces in the final, which will contain ten songs from semi-final 1, ten for semi-final 2 and six automatic qualifiers. Jedward will be competing for Ireland tonight. The second semi-final is on Thursday and the final is on Saturday.

Who votes tonight?
A 50/50 combination of expert jury votes and public televotes will decide the ten qualifiers.

What can we expect from juries?
Juries tend to be more conservative in their voting and do support countries that have stronger vocal performances. However they also do recognize a strong song when they see it.

When do Juries vote?
Contrary to what many people believe the juries vote based on the video tapes of the second rehearsal, which is done 24 hours in advance of the final. Today juries across Europe will decide their votes in the morning/early afternoon of the main event.

Does the winner of the semi-final matter?
The winner of the semi-final is not announced until after the final. While a song that wants to win Eurovision probably should win tonight, many songs that have won Eurovision recently came second or even third in their semi-final. The last person to win the semi-final and the final was Alexander Rybak [Norway] in 2009. Last year Greece won their semi-final but only came seventh overall. So no, winning is not essential tonight.

What performances should I be looking forward to tonight?
Montenegro have brought us one of the most bizarre songs ever to grace the stage. The song is called Euro-Nuero and is actually a massive anti-EU song. But most will not understand it, however you also can look forward to the Euro-Nuero monetary break dance.

For those who actually believe that Eurovision can actually produce a couple of hits Iceland is definitely one to watch. Greta Sálome & Jonsi have a big dramatic Icelandic ballad.

Things might seem to be getting a little boring but Romania are sixth up and should fix that with their song "Zaleilah". Hetrosexual males may want to watch for their lead singer.

San Marino have a really catchy but strange song about Social Networks. Once she starts talking about Cybersex you might want to note that she is 37.

Russia have the so called "Russian Grannies" coming to perform their song Party For Everybody. These are performers of various ages ranging from 47-76. They are really cute and definitely worth a watch.  They are one of the favourites to win the whole contest.

Austria have sent their song Woki Mit Deim Popo [shake your ass] which is really entertaining.

Finally Ireland have Jedward and their massive fountain to try and convince Europe to vote for them. Jedward are widely seen as likely qualifiers tonight.

Semi-Final 1: The Qualifiers

Now that the reports from the jury semi-final is in I have pretty much as much information as I'm going to get so it prediction time. As promised I have the ten songs which I believe will qualify to the final but unlike most bloggers and press I also will list them in order of where I think they will place.

These predictions were arrived at by aggregating [fancy word for adding, makes me look really intelligent] my predictions for the juries top 10 and the public top 10. There are problems that can arise by doing this but overall I'm happy with these ten. So here we go, in order of their predicted placing in the final the Top 10 are:

1. Denmark
2. Iceland
3. Russia
4. Romania
5. Albania
6. Greece
7. Moldova
8. Ireland
9. Israel
10. Belgium

Just missing out
11. Cyprus

Obviously these are no more correct than anyone else's guess but it is my best guess.

Other Info: 
Jury Vote Winner: Albania
Public Vote Winner: Russia
Amount of money I'm willing to bet on these 10 qualifying: €0

Monday, May 21, 2012

What A Week!

So as the technical rehearsals draw to a close we now have had a really fun week so I'm going to use this post to look back on that as well as to tell you my top 10 for semi-final 1 and to look to the week ahead.

Rehearsals Week 2012
Sunday (last week) saw the beginning of the rehearsals with the first half of semi-final 1 starting. The big winners here were Iceland and Romania who both went from being likely to definite qualifiers. Belgium also perked themselves up as possible qualifiers. There was one car crash which was Greece who raised a couple of eyebrows with their performance, particularly vocals.

Monday saw people actually consider that there was a mild chance that San Marino could qualify. Denmark and Russia both gave us performances that leads me to believe either could win the first semi-final. Moldova seems to have come across well on stage and Pasha showed us he had some vocals. Ireland managed to underwhelm everyone but everyone still thinks that it is sailing through to the final. Austria was Monday's car crash.

Tuesday saw the rise of Macedonia and the fall of Bulgaria but was by far the dullest day we had.

Wednesday was Sweden's day as their march to victory began. Loreen certainly has her critic's though and there is certainly an anti-Sweden vibe coming through from Baku. It's in many blogs but it seems especially prevalent in the press reports from Baku. Other highlights included Norway's off key rehearsal [well if your like me and don't like Tooji]. Bosina & Herzegovina also fell in many peoples expectations.

Thursday and Friday saw second rehearsals begin. Austria and b redeemed themselves a little, and Ireland got the fountain working. Russia proved that everyone still loves the Grannies and Greece showed they can make marginal improvements to a vocal performance.

Saturday and Sunday saw Sweden take to the stage and finally nail the performance [depending on whether you think she mumbles the song or not]. Norway also managed to get the vocal performance back together. The Big 5 and Azerbaijan also showed us that they are able to take the lead at Eurovision. Italy showed they might not have cared about Eurovision but that they can still do there best to try to win it. Italy now in moved as a strong favourite, probably second to Loreen. Germany showed that Stefan Raab can still produce a good entry and Germany has exceeded expectations to become one of the potential winners of the contest. The UK left us all a bit worried after the first rehearsal but we all calmed down a bit after the second rehearsal. Clearly Engelbert can pull this off live.

My Top 10 [Semi-Final 1]
So that was rehearsal week, but how do the songs stand now? Well I will publish my thoughts on the semi-final 1 qualifiers on Monday Night/Tuesday Morning after I get reports for the dress rehearsals and more importantly the jury final. But for now my Top 10 favourites [and my votes are]:

  • 12 points - Denmark
  • 10 points - Iceland 
  • 8 points - Finland
  • 7 points - Austria
  • 6 points - Romania 
  • 5 points - Russia
  • 4 points - Belgium
  • 3 points - Albania 
  • 2 points - San Marino 
  • 1 point - Greece
So that's my Top 10 I expect some of you might disagree with it but unfortunately you cannot change my music tastes.

Though the will be no live shows tomorrow, it is an important day. At 3pm CET the first full run through of the dress rehearsal will begin and, more importantly, at 9pm CET tomorrow evening the jury final will take place. I will have a blog post assessing what happened in that. See you all tomorrow.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Reaction To Rehearsals: Day 8

So today might be the last day of rehearsals but that doesn't mean there are a lots of second rehearsals to get through today.

Estonia - Ott had a great rehearsal today but he is playing around with the notes in the song a lot which might be a little risky. I haven't seen this on the screen but it does look very static on stage, unless camera work is really good this could be a bit dull looking on stage.

Slovakia - Some corrections were made which is a relief. I'm not sure if this is a qualifier but I'd say it still has a chance.

Norway - Vocally this is back on track. He is using a backing singer to get him over the harder notes though, which is something that don't agree with. Tooji is really going to have to make sure he doesn't over perform this.

Bosnia & Herzegovina - This does remind me of Eurovision entries of old. I hate the dress though and I'm not hearing anything overly positive from Baku though.

Lithuania - This song is growing on me (well the last 90 seconds anyway).  This was a good rehearsal but the blindfold really must be dropped.

UK - There have been some very good changes in aspects of the performance but most importantly this was vocally good today. This is looking like a strong entry from the UK.

France - This still looks messy today but it is vocally good again which is a massive concern dealt with.

Italy - This was done as a full dress rehearsal and all is looking perfect on stage, there are very few faults in this entry.

Azerbaijan - All very similar to yesterday's performance but they are deliberately trying to lose this by throwing in the wailing man in the middle. Bit dull but anyhow.

Spain - This is as good as yesterdays performance, which was excellent. In spite of people claiming there is no major connection I think that this is the best vocal at Eurovision.

Germany - After Germany's great rehearsal yesterday all that they would need to be able to do, they held their own today and I think that they should be pretty pleased to be able to do that.

So that's all the technical rehearsals done for 2012. Tomorrow evening dress rehearsals kick off in Baku, with the jury final later that night. I'll put up a post later tonight looking back on this week.


Last Day Of Rehearsals!

Today is the last day of rehearsals and people who are unfamiliar with the way the Eurovision fortnight works will notice a definite change in the mood of the contest from the bouncy, friendly, sure-we'll-do-an-interview atmosphere to something that is a far more competitive atmosphere. Things strangely get a little quieter than they are this week. But anyhow that's tomorrows problem, today we have another bag of second technical rehearsals to go through.

Estonia - 11:30-12:00
Slovakia - 12:00-12:30
Norway - 12:30-13:00
Bosnia & Herzegovina 13:00-13:30
Lithuania 13:30-14:00
Lunch Break 14:00-15:00
UK - 15:00-15:30
France - 15:30-16:00
Italy - 16:00-16:30
Break 16:30-16:50
Azerbaijan - 16:50-17:20
Spain - 17:20-17:50
Germany - 17:50-18:20

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Eurovision QuizUp!

The good people over at Plain Vanilla Games asked me to let you know about their lastest free app called Eurovision QuizUp. Put simply it is a Eurovision quiz and the game runs on iPhones and iPods and you can log on and play against your friends or other Eurovision fans all around the world. You can even see how you rank against your friends and other fans in your country.

Plain Vanilla Games decided to have the game free and with no advertisements so they are not doing this for profit, they just wanted to give something to the Eurovision community.

As I don't own I an own an iPhone/iPad I haven't been able to try this out. I also have to put in the disclaimer not because I have had any problems with the game but only on account of my legal obligations! I have no problem with giving some blog space over to anyone who has anything not-for-profit that is directly linked to Eurovision. A direct link to download the app is here.

This is an information post only and neither The Best Eurovision Blog or the editor accepts no liability whatsoever for any damages cause to you or your equipment through playing the game. The Best Eurovision Blog is not in any way affiliated with the development of this game. This post is purely for information purposes. 

Rehearsals: Day 7 - I Think

Even though the press claim that you lose track of time in Baku I also have the same problem to report. Despite being here in Dublin rehearsals have started to morph into one long day. However today we have a lot of excitement to look forward to as the big 5 and Azerbaijan take to the stage for first rehearsals. Anyway how are things shaping up?

Slovenia - This rehearsal seems to have gone well, those who have been listening to the ESCInsight podcast this morning may have heard parts of it in the background. All in all Slovenia should be very pleased with this. However the high number of balkans in this semi-final will be a serious problem.

Croatia - This does not seem to be working perfectly on stage. Somethings are going wrong and now we have two Balkan ballads together. This looks like a non-qualifier unless Nina can bring it all together.

Sweden - Sweden appear to have had a great run through. While some might claim that this is looking messy on stage the performance is broadly the same as the one that won Melodifestivalen and that was fairly amazing.

Georgia - Anri is a good performer and had a really good first rehearsal. Today he seems to have really come across well and looks like a possible qualifier, after being previously written off. Typical Georgia.

Turkey -  Turkey did a full dress rehearsal today and it appeared to be really, really strong, which has changed many peoples attitudes to the song. It all has come together really well. So we should be happy with that. BUT I don't think that the song is that great.

Then there was lunch and then started the Big 5 and Azerbaijan rehearsals.

Germany - Rehearsal Video
Despite having a fairly poor song this year Germany has really come up in terms of the staging and performance of this entry. Having come through Unser Star Fur Baku Roman certainly appears to be a competent performer on stage. Vocally this was impressive and the band style performance looks good and makes up for Roman's fairly static performance - but then again could you really start dancing during a song called "Standing Still"? While the performance is good, if it was surrounded by ballads it could struggle.

France - Rehearsal Video
Auggun took to the stage with five dancers who are used a lot throughout the performance. The performance is done with a wind machine and when you combine this with the dancing it all looks a bit weird. Vocally this was not good given that this shouldn't be a problem for an experienced artist. All in all it looks a bit messy on stage. The backdrop is strange and might be to fast moving to look well on the cameras. We shall see what they change tomorrow but I suspect that not much will change. A disappointing rehearsal but there is still a lot of scope to change this.

Italy - Rehearsal Video
I would say that based on what I am reading on the blogs Italy is definitely the favourite of the press over in Baku. Personally I think it is one of the best out there but I see it as a third to fifth place song rather than a winner. Vocally this is excellent, as rehearsals go this was probably one of the best that we have seen however I do think that backdrop is poor and jars badly with the song. I would be aiming for a more Lena-esque performance if I was producing this song. I also think that there is an argument for this song if you compare it to Lena in 2010. However Lena was a more charismatic singer and for this to do well it needs to have charisma thrown in and I'm just not getting this at the moment. But it still is the second most likely song to win. I'll give it that.

Azerbaijan - Rehearsal Video
After watching Italy this pales in comparison. Azerbaijan have done an awful lot right here. The performance is simple and straight forward. The guy in the background is a bit creepy. Overall though this is fairly bland song. However it is Azerbaijan and they are the host country so this will not do to badly. The bridge sounds dire though. This is solid, a safe bet and should give Azerbaijan a reasonable placing.

Spain - Rehearsal Video
Pastora Soler had a great first rehearsal. However it is not personal enough and it needs to make a much great attempt to connect with the cameras. Vocally though this is jaw droppingly good. I think that the overall performance is great but it reminds me of Niamh Kavanagh's in 2010.

UK - Rehearsal Video
The highly anticipated performance by Engelbert Humperdinck, finally took place today. The rumours about the Strictly Come Dancers in the background were correct. The backdrop was an interesting choice and might be just a little moody for the opener to the competition. Engelbert though is giving a really great performance. Although there is a problem with the last notes it is looking well overall and I think that the UK should be able to just about beat last years result.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Rehearsals: Day 6: Friday: Second Rehearsals

Once again we are cutting through songs at speed today so we'll keep this fairly brief. Today we have the second part of semi-final one and the songs from semi-final two that we heard on Tuesday.

Russia - Nothing huge has changed, but I've heard that they brought meat pies for the press today. Apparently one of the grannies was off key but all in all this is doing well. People (the press) really seem to love this.

Hungary - It hasn't changed much since the first rehearsal. It seems a little messy on stage but all in all this is shaping up to be a little mediocre.

Austria - After a very disappointing rehearsal on Monday, this is shaping up to be a great performance on account of today's rehearsal. According to those in Baku the camera work has greatly improved. As I have previously mentioned this really needs to be live with a crowd to make it stand out.

Moldova - This was a stand out entry in the first rehearsals and today they seem to have been able to hold that high standard. This is probably going to qualify but being sandwiched between the Trackshittaz and Jedward won't make that easy.

Ireland - Vocally today saw an improvement and more importantly the fountain is now going up to the full height. People are talking about Jedward jumping into it and I think that is definitely going to be the case, if you look at the rehearsal video Jedward's dancing does seem to get very disjointed towards the end. i.e. something is going to happen here and they're just filling in these spots with some dancing until they do it live.

Serbia - Somewhat better than the first rehearsal. No big changes to report though.

Macedonia - this song is dividing people but the performance is good enough to unite them again. This is an on the fence qualifier but today the performance was as good as ever.

Netherlands - This is a very joyful entry and has improved a lot since the first rehearsal, this is going to be a contender to qualify. The blue dress is not the most suitable particularly when she is wear the American Indian headdress.

Malta - Everything seems to be working well on stage but despite what the Eurovision press are saying I don't think of this as a qualifier. Once again the shadows in a background are really effective and should draw a few extra people into the performance.

Belarus - Belarus have got this performance down to a fine art and everything is now working well. The movements of the guitarists is really interesting and looks pretty cool even on the rehearsal tapes.

Portugal - This has really improved since the last rehearsal but it could still struggle to qualify. The dress that Filipa wore today might not be her one for the semi-final [I'd go back to the red one from the national final].

Ukraine - Since the first rehearsal Ukraine have done their best to change the performance and it does look a lot less messy. The dancers are being used less and I believe that the whole think looks well on stage, maybe with the exception of the way they use the four screens at the end.

Bulgaria - This has been a bit disappointing since the start. Without a doubt Sofia is going to be vocally very strong. But still this is all that is working in this entry. The backdrop is more likely to cause epileptic fits than votes at this stage.

Second Rehearsals!: Day 5

Nothing massive has occurred today so I'm just going to wrap this up quickly. Rehearsal Videos can be found anywhere on YouTube or here.

  • Montenegro: No major changes to report here. This setting itself up to be one of the stangest entries that we've ever seen on the stage. Unless Bjorn Ranelid.
  • Iceland: There are some reports that Iceland were a little off key today but I reckon they will be back on form by Monday. They are after all very strong and consistent performers.
  • Greece: Reports would suggest that this has made some marginal improvements. However overall it is still looking like an unlikely qualifier but I cannot rule Greece out of the final
  • Latvia: All is working really well on stage but the dress is dire. No seriously, worse than that. Looks like something that would seem out of fashion in the 1970's
  • Albania: Truly great song and performance. I'm looking forward to this more and more. I think this should qualify on a strong jury vote. Simple really is the aim of the game here and after Latvia this just works so well. 
  • Romania: Like Iceland and Albania this is one of the stand out songs in this semi-final. You cannot really fault this song on anything and it is really starting to grow on me. I just wish she'd bring back the outfit from the national final.
  • Switzerland: It's working really well on stage, but still not a qualifier in my books but I can't fully rule it out. 
  • Belgium: Say what you want about this entry, it really is vocally strong. I think this is a dark horse for qualification.
  • Finland: It definately now looks we are going with the green dress which I don't like personally but then again my mother makes out I have no sense of fashion. This is finally working for me but at this point in time it looks like it could get lost in a sea of more memorable songs. This song always makes me smile though.
  • Israel: A little more movement would be welcome but overall this is looking well but its still a borderline qualifier.
  • San Marino: OMG where did she get the outfit. (Awful...just awful). The run through looks good. The question is now can a Raphel Sigel song make the final. Sadly, I think not.
  • Cyprus: Vocally this is a bit of concern but even though it seemed a little flat I think overall this is starting to add up to a nice little package. I still don't see this qualifying though. 
  • Denmark: Well Denmark is Denmark, I'm think that this could very well in this semi, but that may be me being biased towards my favourite song. But still this is well worth watching and should surprise people on the night.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Few Words On

This morning fans both in Baku and away from Baku were shocked to hear of the hacking of EscToday. They were attacked through what is rumoured to be a denial of service attack, conducted by anti-gay protesters.

When I was only starting to use the internet as a media for my interest in Eurovision EscToday was a key Eurovision website for me. Almost all fans use it regularly and they are the largest Eurovision website after [the official one]. EscToday above all other Eurovision fan sites have been the most reliable and has been the longest serving website, having been run for over 10 years now.

It is a terrible shame that within a couple of minutes the entire website can be taken down but it is one of the disadvantages of the modern age in which we live. In statement EscToday have confirmed that they will do their best to get back up and running but there has been no indication about how long this will take.

Eurovision websites of any size are run almost exclusively by volunteers who give their time and money to get to Eurovision and to keep their sites up and running. It is not fair that this should happen to EscToday or any website for that matter. But Eurovision is not simply meant to be simply for gay fans. As a heterosexual I do believe that the contest the contest contains something for everyone, not just for the gay community.  While hetrosexual fans are probably in a minority there still are many fans out there who are not gay. This is what Eurovision is about, bringing people together. I dislike this whole idea that Eurovision is for a particular group in society or for a particular group of countries. We must strive to overcome this, in doing so attacking Eurovision will not just be about attacking one group, it will be attacking society as a whole.

When I wrote this post originally I had some awkward phrasing which I was unhappy about. I have corrected that now but I would like to acknowledge that this attack does show that there is some people out there who are very much against the gay community, especially on this International day against homophobia. Though at times I am afraid to say something controversial, I do think that even though I come from a Christian family, that the number one thing that Christianity teaches us is Love Thy Neighbour. This above all else should be the basis on which we form our moral codes, before all other teachings. I apologise to anyone who feels offended by this post, this can be a very tricky issue for some.

I wish EscToday all the best in these challenging times.

Today's Schedule

Over the last couple of days things have not changed very much as regards routine. Rehearsals have begun at 11 (ish) [7:00am Irish time] and have finished around 7 or 8 [depending on how late things have ran]. Today we move onto the second rehearsals meaning that the schedule has changed as well as the number of entries that are done each day. So here is today's schedule [all times local].

Montenegro 11:30-12:00
Iceland  12:00-12:30
Greece 12:30-13:00
Latvia 13:00-13:30
Albania 13:30-14:00
Break 14:00-15:00
Romania 15:00-15:30
Switzerland 15:30-16:00
Belgium 16:00-16:30
Finland 16:30-17:00
Break 17:00-17:20
Israel 17:20-17:50
San Marino 17:50-18:20
Cyprus 18:20-18:50
Denmark 18:50-19:20

Hope you enjoy the day!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Rehearsals: Day 4: Part 1

Today is the last major day of first rehearsals - tomorrow it moves over to seconds rehearsals which are usually don't tell us all that much extra, but anyhow today there are 10 songs taking to the stage, so we have to keep moving forward. First up was Slovenia

Slovenia - Rehearsal Video
Slovenia are definitely a strong contender but looking at this today all I can think of is Croatia and Feminmen who were considered a shoe in to the final. One stage the white is looking very effective, and the general tone of the song is coming across well. Apparently they are trying out a lot of different backgrounds in today's rehearsal. There are Molitva comparisons going on but I think that that might be overrating the song.

Croatia - Rehearsal Video
Croatia are very unfortunately just after Slovenia, the song is rather like Slovenia's but it does lack something. The performance is certainly interesting to watch, given all of the dancing with lots of moody lighting in the background. This is unfortunately not as accessible as Slovenia and could struggle. I'm also hoping that she intends to change her dress and that that one will not be worn at live show.

Sweden - Rehearsal Video
Sweden have been the most anticipated rehearsal. I didn't review Sweden but along with Denmark, Iceland and Italy it is among my favourites. The performance has not changed hugely since the national final but at the end the background does light up with snow. In the rehearsal video that I saw the was no actually snow falling but they do run that prop sometimes. Overall I think that this was an extremely solid rehearsal and this probably is the start of Sweden's march to victory. There has been a general movement against Sweden in the press center and this is very noteworthy as these factors do influence media a lot. Sometimes it is good to be here is Dublin away from all that.

Georgia - Rehearsal Video 
As I have previously discussed I feel that this is one of the weakest songs in this years contest. No doubt though that the performance will be able to lift it a little and today showed that Anri is a very strong performer.  There are a lot of props involved in this entry. There is also the addition of backing singers also helps this entry. The overall presentation is a bit camp and I am really unconvinced on this as a qualifier. Apparently he has a drum and some pyros as well.

Turkey - Rehearsal Video
This is going to go down a storm in Baku, obviously because of the close links between Azerbaijan and Turkey. For Can this really will help to get him to stand out just a little more. Can has decided to keep this performance in line with the ship theme. However the backdrop starts with a sea and lighthouse but then develops into something different which might just be a boring, personally I'd keep the lighthouse all the way through. Vocally this was fine, with no major hiccups, so at the moment it should bring Turkey back into the final after last year. Strangely this reminds me of a Greek entry more than a Turkish one but I don't know why that is.

Estonia - Rehearsal Video
Estonia have a very divisive entry, I think that it is a possible qualifier though. I think that based on today's rehearsal this is a real contender, vocally it was spot on and the backing singer really helps the song. The intense colour really adds to the song. This is not a definite qualifier in my books but it is getting  very close.

Slovakia - Rehearsal Video
I do like this entry but the performance is doing nothing for it. In short: Soften the band image, improve the harsh vocals [i.e. with Lemsip], lose the sunglasses and lose the hat. More eye contact with the camera is required. The song does seem to end very suddenly though which is a little concerning. Eldrine slipped into the final last year and ended up 9th which was a big surprise so there clearly is a market for this out there and these people do actually watch Eurovision.

Norway - Rehearsal Video
Eric Saade Mark II I mean em, Tooji, stepped up for rehearsals today. Visually and in terms of dance moves this is excellent and a very strong visual close to the end. Vocally though it is quite off the mark. I will be waiting for the second rehearsal before I cast aspirations over how this will do. I expect it to qualify but not with ease. Many are suggesting that this could be the surprise non-qualifier of this semi-final but I suspect that the combination of a great draw and the dance show will mean it will go down a storm with the female televoters.

Bosnia + Herzegovina - Rehearsal Video
As expected Maya Saar has delivered a fairly understated performance of her song. The most outstanding thing about this song is the very strange choice of backdrop. Looking at the large number of steady cams on stage this will definitely be an up close and personal performance. Vocally this was good, but that doesn't take from the dull song. While some in the press center are suggesting that this might be the first non-qualifier from Bosnia + Herzegovina. I'm unconvinced, I think it is going through but I'm very hesitant to say that. I'll wait and see what further rehearsals bring.

Lithuania - Rehearsal Video
As usual I cannot understand the logic behind using a blindfold. The performance starts similarly to the one in the national final. Vocally this was spot on, but I still am unconvinced by the song. I think the last 90 seconds work really well on stage. The last 90 seconds backdrop is really interesting, again with the dancing figures in the back ground. This would normally be a non-qualifier but coming at the end of a fairly dull [for the non-Eurovision public] semi-final this might slip through.

Reaction to Rehearsals: Day 3: Part 2

So this afternoon 4 more entries took to the stage. Belarus, Portugal, Ukraine and Bulgaria. There has been a lot of discussion around these so once again here we go:

Belarus - Rehearsal Video
I never got a chance to review Belarus's entry to Eurovision (It would have graded as a B-) but I was uncertain about which version of the song that they would sing. They've gone with the disco version which unlike many people online I think that this is a very good interpretation of the song. The yellow and black background really helps this song and this looks set to have some very dramatic staging. I still believe that the song is lacking something and I'm on the fence about this qualifying.

Portugal - Rehearsal Video
Say what you like about the Portuguese entry this year I think that they have hit the nail on the head with this one. This is working as well as it could at the moment on the stage. Vocally this was good. The background is really fantastic and the whole performance makes for a lovely break between Belarus and Ukraine. This may not qualify but I will look forward to this.

Ukraine - Rehearsal Video
Vocally this was a joy to watch and to listen to. The song might not be the best we've had from Ukraine and the performance might have looked better if you never heard of Shady Lady but overall it looks and sounds really good and should qualify with ease.

Bulgaria - Rehearsal Video
This rehearsal was fine bar her often missing her cue. Some people have mentioned that as a result of having nothing else on stage with her the visual on the screens is really dull as a result of a lack of variety on stage. Vocally it was good. I cannot see this as a qualifier though.

More tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Reaction To Rehearsals: Day 3: Part 1

Today seems to be a bit dull and given that the songs that have been on stage in the first half this does not surprise me. However there is much to discuss.

Serbia - Rehearsal Video
Without a doubt Zeljko is more than able to perform on stage. The performance is awfully similar to the 2004 performance and based on the number of steady cams on stage there will be a lot of close ups of instruments. The background is very blue. Zeljko is going to walk out onto stage as the instrumental starts [reminds you of anything].

Macedonia - Rehearsal Video
Once again I was not sure what to expect here. I don't like the song particularly. Vocally this is spot on and people are very impressed with the vocals but that is not surprising. The background is blueish and fairly unremarkable. All in all this is getting positive feedback but really am unconvinced about this song in a very vocally strong.

Netherlands - Rehearsal Video
This is the highlight of the start of this semi-final for me. As I have previously mentioned I never really liked what she wears but I think overall this is working really well on stage. It hasn't really lifted itself immensely but it is a song that is really dividing people. While I cannot look at this without thinking that Lesley Gore is going to jump out and launch into a verse of Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows. The background is not to different from the national final. I can't call this at the moment.

Malta - Rehearsal Video
I'm not a massive fan to this song but at the same time the remix has done a lot for it. Vocally it is risky particularly that note at the end which might have to be dropped after a couple of nights at the Euroclub. The shadows of people dancing in the background is something that I'm surprised that they have not been used before. Vocally though risky the rehearsal was good. The backdrop is fairly unremarkable, being very similar to the one from the entry before.

Reaction To Rehearsals: Day 2: Part 2 Russia - Ireland

So unfortunately due to other commitments I missed most of the last ten hours meaning that I have missed a lot of rehearsal time. Anyhow here is a quick look at the last five rehearsals which I managed to miss.

Russia - Rehearsal Video
This has been flagged as one of the most interesting performances to watch in this years contest. Personally I never had put Russia down as a potential winner but after today's performance this has come roaring into the competition [albeit on a Zimmer frame]. This was vocally spot on and the performance is effective but still fairly simple relatively speaking.

Hungary - Rehearsal Video
Hungary today have produced a credible vocal performance which was a huge concern in the national final. The general staging is petty good but at the same time I think that this might be a bit dull to qualify.

Austria - Rehearsal Video
This was very much as expected. For me this is one of the strongest songs in the contest this year but many people are somewhat disappointed with the general the rehearsals today. They feel that the staging is too messy for the song. I really do not agree with them but I am disappointed with the lack of a tractor onstage. I think that one of Trackshittaz strengths is that they are not you common or garden rap duo and I think they should play that up a bit.

Moldova - Rehearsal Video
Moldova had been in doubt in up until today's rehearsal as being unfortunately sandwiched between Austria and Ireland in what would have to be the maddest end to a semi-final yet. But today Moldova really is standing up vocally and in general the song is looking like a very strong one in this semi-final.

Ireland - Rehearsal Video 
Ireland, well their is less to talk about than I had hoped but all the same this is still working really well onstage but I am going to join many other bloggers in saying that this needs something extra onstage to really lift it. Jedward are about as good as they can be vocally, however there appear to have been some mixing problems with the backing vocals. All the same though Ireland look like near certain qualifiers at this point in time.

Monday, May 14, 2012

My Thoughts On Our Own Entry

We have just a small number of entries left to review for Eurovision 2012. This means though that we have come  my own country, home to green hills and leprechauns and Jedward. I might say though that despite all I say here I am not a real Jedward fan, I'm the bog standard hetrosexual Irish male (think farming type). But I do love it when Jedward come to Eurovision.....

Once again Ireland has decided to send the dynamic duo/the Haribo boys to Eurovision. Having been one of the most successful acts that Ireland has sent to the contest in the past ten years as well as the extra revenue that it  brought in for RTÉ it was decided that Jedward should return to the contest. Surprisingly Ireland held a national final which in retrospect seemed completely unnecessary, as many serious Irish acts declared from the outset that they were not going to go up against Jedward.

Jedward's song Waterline, is a very interesting one. More because it is not exactly the style that we have come to expect from Jedward. This is a far cry from Lipstick. Equally though I have argued for them since well before January and I have no interest in stopping now. The song Waterline may not have played as well with Eurovision fans as may be expected. I think this song is far more what we would expect from something like One Direction or those other Boybands that I know absolutely nothing about. (I really mean that). I think though that Jedwards song last year did require a little listening and may have been a bit to hard to get into on the first go. Waterline is much better at catering for this. It probably will attract votes from non-Jedward fans too.

I really cannot tell how this will play with the juries. Last year Jedward bet off stiff competition to come 6th with the juries. It is difficult to fully understand what it is about Jedward that got them such a score and though it is impressive, I'm not entirely sure as to how they will repeat that. The other problem is that I'm slightly unnerved by the fact both of my parents saw it on the Late Late Show last Friday and they both thought that it was a good song. While this may sound like a good thing my parents are both getting on in their lives and really the music that they are into is not Jedwards music.

Having said all that all I am saying is I don't think that this is my absolute favourite in the contest this year and I also do not think that it is a perfect entry. Like entries it has faults. However these faults should be somewhat offset by the great running position that Ireland got in this years contest. Last is a great place to be singing from.

Verdict: I could go on and on but I am sure that I will have a lot more to say about Jedward this evening after they have their rehearsals and I see how they are going on stage. Personally speaking Jedward at Eurovision are a guilty pleasure for me. They are almost disestablishmentratrian in the way they roll through Eurovision and I think they are excellent ambassadors for Ireland. The very best of luck to them.

Grade:  As it is my own country I will not given them a grade.

Reaction To Rehearsals: Day 2: Part 1 Israel-Denmark

A very good morning to everyone! (Or Afternoon if your in Baku). It is time to start viewing the tapes again and go back to the rehearsals in Baku and see what is coming out of the Crystal Hall. This post will be updated as the day goes on.

Israel - Rehearsal Video
There has been a definite lift in support over the last month for Izabo, who have gone from being a marginal qualifier to a likely qualifier on some peoples lists. While the song might be good I think that the performance might just be lacking the killer blow to push this into the final. It remains a very strong song but there is something more that the performance needs. That said the staging is still good with lots of strange clocks in the background and the backing singers are very strangely positioned which might aid the entry.

San Marino - Rehearsal Video
No one is expecting San Marino to really improve their odds of qualifying drastically. The song is still pretty poor, but the general reaction to her first rehearsal is that it was rather strong, it still was not quite to the standard that we've seen from Iceland and Romania yesterday but overall I think that this vocally good. This song is 7/1 to qualify to the final - surely those odds will shorten just a little today. The problem I felt that was there today was I wondered would people really "get" the song if they are not told explicitly that it's about Facebook?

Cyprus - Rehearsal Video
Vocally I think that this has certainly proved us wrong. Vocals are still a bit lat but it is certainly not the car crash that was expected. The backdrop does have echos of their 2007 entry. I don't fully understand why people are so into this entry and I think that it is one of the weaker entries in this semi-final however there does seem to be a broad expectation that this will qualify. I'm unconvinced though. I haven't seen the camera angles and when there is so much choreography involved you really need to see how it looks on camera. I'm going to sit on the fence for a bit on this entry.

Denmark - Rehearsal Video
There is a very interesting choice of background here and it is a good improvement on the national final. Vocally I think that this is great. The whole package has come together really, really well and I suspect Denmark are most likely going to win this semi-final at this point in the rehearsals. Some have complained that there is too much going on onstage but I think that this is a spectacular performance. Anna Bergendahl comparisons might be on the rise but I think that they are totally out of place here. 

Day 2: Rehearsals

So today sees the continuation of rehearsals in Baku from 11:00am local time (or 7:00am Irish time if your up early enough). Like yesterday I most certainly am not, I'm writing this yesterday evening [strange sentence]. The most notable part of today will be Ireland's rehearsals. Anyhow the schedule for today is as follows (all times local):

Israel - 11:00-11:40
San Marino - 11:45-12:25
Cyprus - 12:30-13:10
Denmark - 13:15-13:55
Break - 13:55-14:55
Russia - 14:55-15:35
Hungary - 15:40-16:20
Austria - 16:25-17:05
Break - 17:05-17:25
Moldova - 17:25-18:05
Ireland - 18:10-18:50.

I hope you enjoy today. Hopefully I will be a lot happier about Ireland's chances.

The Most Artistic Song This Year!

Portugal this year decided to send Filipa Sousa to Eurovision to represent them, which was interestingly one of the few times in Festival Da Cancao that the public agreed with the juries, known for their conservative nature. Filipa will sing the song Vida Minha in Baku.

Without a doubt I love this song despite it breezing over me completely during the national final season. However soon enough I came back to it and found that the relaxed style is really interesting to listen and I like the almost Balkan influences in a piece of music that is undeniably Portuguese. The backing singers and arrangement of the song really help to make it a memorable song and it builds from a simple Portuguese ballad to a rather complex one while remaining relatively easy to pull off on stage. Overall though this has to be the most artistic song in Eurovision 2012.

This will need to be well staged in Baku for this song to stand out and in moving to the Eurovision stage it means that Portugal will have to lose two backing singers or else the two dancers. I suspect that they will cut the latter two. While this might not jump out at you on TV with some clever staging work it cut. But this is not something that we have seen from Portugal before so I suspect that we may not see it again.

I can't really see this as a qualifer as it is running early in a semi-final full of ballads. Portugal is also lacking neighbours to get them through to the final.

Verdict: This is probably going to be the best Eurovision entry to get left behind in the semis but I really hope that it doesn't.

Grade: A

Sunday, May 13, 2012

One Of The Few Rock Songs

Slovakia is awfully like San Marino when it comes to Eurovision management and planning. Neither have entered good songs since they debuted (well maybe Slovakia was good many years ago when it first entered, but that's history). It seems that in the case of both countries that trend is not going to be changed this year either.

This year after much huming and hawing about whether they would even go to Baku, Slovakia announced that Max Jason Mai was to represent them at the Eurovision Song Contest, with his song Don't Close Your Eyes. This is a rock song. In my opinion as a rock song it falls very short in terms of quality of song. It's a fairly dull song with little to interest the listener. The overall song appears to be anthemic but it does not build at all from the start of the song to the end. The verses don't do anything to lift the song up a gear and the general thrust of the song is not upward, it just slides sideways.

Having said all of that the song does lack any stiff competition against it. This is an interesting trend in the contest this year. Rock songs did frequently appear in the national finals but this year they just could seem to cleanly break out of the national finals. Other than Switzerland (who I suspect have only a slim chance of making the final) there are no other rock songs in the competition this year. Which is a real shame as, though I am not a rock fan I do like the odd rock song just to add to the diversity. I also don't mind listening to a rock song, even though they would not feature majorly on my MP3 player.

Slovakia have a great position in the running order this year and this is what I suspect might just drag Slovakia into the final with. In the past Slovakia have lacked a good number of neighbours to push them into the finals. But the juries do tend to vote for something that is vocally strong and this can come in the form of a rock song. So it boils down to whether the vocal performance is good. We haven't seen Mai perform live before with this song so it shall be interesting.

Verdict: I'm in two minds about this song. On one hand I want a rock song in the final, on the other I think that it is only an ok rock song. The grading was difficult to come up with.

Grade: C+

Euphoria - Now In Spanish

Every year there are no end of Eurovision fan videos about this, that, or the other but every so often you come across something that is just jaw droppingly good. This is a version of Euphoria by Loreen made by Alberto Bertuchi. Well done to him, but I really recommend listening to it.

And Now We Know...(Day 1)

So as the sun sets over Paris [Only place I could think of where the sun might be setting right now]. But the day has come to an end and having looked at at least 100 photos of Eurovision Taxis as well as hours of rehearsal videos, we now know a lot more about Eurovision 2012. But in a nutshell what have we learned?

  • Based on everyone's blog posts we now know it is not very easy to get to Baku, especially if you travel through Istanbul.
  • Montenegro is as bad on stage as we first thought, however no one knew quite what to expect all the same.
  • Iceland and Romania are the big winners from today, they are now much more favoured to win in the betting odds and reports from Baku about them are impressive.
  • Greece has a very typical Eurovision entry. She is not able to sing it well enough live.
  • Latvia continues to divide people between lovers who think it is a marginal qualifier and haters who think it is still a very bad song still and she is a good vocalist.
  • Albania was as impressive as ever but I think it might be something that the ney sayers have to see live to believe. I really like this though.
  • According to my friend the ESCInsider Switzerland far better looking in real life. As a hetrosexual I have no opinion but as they say - know your target market. Their diction as also improved.
  • Iris from Belgium has a great pair of lungs. She really came up to the mark in rehearsals today.
  • Finally Finland have dropped the dancer which is a great move on their part in my opinion.
Up until now I have avoided making predictions but I think at this stage that Iceland and Romania are the definite qualifiers and Albania is a very likely qualifier. My guess is that there will be one qualifier from either Switzerland, Belgium or Finland and since the rehearsal I am inclined towards Belgium, but that's very difficult to call. I think that Greece is the only other possible contender but if the vocals don't improve it could go the way of Turkey last year.

If you missed our earlier posts they are here:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Rehearsals: Day 1: Part 3 Switzerland - Finland

Rehearsals continued today in earnest and videos have now appeared for them all. But now onto the last three.

Switzerland - Rehearsal Video
Switzerland have come on in leaps and bounds since the national finals in December [then again they've had since December]. The staging is really well done, the vocals and more importantly diction have stepped up to the mark and the whole thing is looking rather polished. The general consensus is that this has indeed improved but no matter what I read today I still think that this just screams non-qualifier. I don't fully know why that is though.

Belgium - Rehearsal Video 
Despite some peoples arguments this is a song I have a soft spot for. I think that this has really come up in the rehearsals. The staging of the whole song is wonderfully understated and I think that Iris has the voice to carry this song off. Interestingly there is a very little we learned today. The rehearsal has been very similar to the national final performance. Possibly the closest so far today.

Finland - Rehearsal Video
Finland were the last to take to the stage for rehearsals today. The song is vocally good but coming after Belgium this is a lot less dramatic. To be honest this song was one that I have really loved but today I felt that it stopped short of actually coming up to the mark. Many acts have impressed me today but Finland really has not. This might come up a bit in second rehearsals but at the moment I'm not feeling it.

Rehearsals: Day 1: Part 2 Latvia - Romania

Unfortunately due to my usual Sunday routine I was not in a position to stay in live mode for the afternoon. Anyhow here's how the rehearsals look to be going for the first half of the the first semi-final.

Latvia - Rehearsal Video
Those who have followed the blog will know that this is far from one of my favourite entries. Anmary's vocal performance today is really, really good but I don't like the display behind her. I think it lacks a strong colour. This is as close to my lovely horse as you can get and I suspect that it will stay this way. Anmary still is a very strange performer onstage too. This needed something really special to stand out onstage and it has not delivered on this. I cannot see this qualifying.

Albania - Rehearsal Video
Without a doubt I am really delighted by how well this is working onstage. Vocally this is just outstanding. The only issue that could be a problem is that Rona needs to make far more contact with the camera for this song to really score well on the public televote, but otherwise it has been a great performance. The extra drum towards the end should lift it and make it a little more anthemic. This does mean though that sound mixing will need to be very, very good for this all to work. Media reaction to this song has been equally positive but no one seems to be predicting this as either a qualifier or not.

Romania - Rehearsal Video
Romania has impressed me today. I found this a bit boring up until now but the extra bass in the song is excellent. If it doesn't come across on TV this will flop. Up until now I have felt that it is just a bit soft. But no, instead it is more like something from a club which I would listen to. This is well listened to and liked by the press and people seem to have a soft spot for this. Vocal concerns were also knocked today with a strong showing from the lead singer. After the first five songs this really should stand out to the televoters.

Rehearsals: Day 1: Part 1 Montenegro-Greece

Rehearsals today are running about an hour and a half late, and based on previous ESC's this is unlikely to change. As I am not actually in Baku I will be blogging here as videos and opinions come through. I will be updating this page as the day goes on. I don't embed videos onto the blog as I find it slows it down but if you click on the link you should get a video of the rehearsal. I'll try to use videos but they take a while to appear so you may notice some videos from escXtra who look to be shaping up to have the best coverage so far this year.

Montenegro - Video of rehearsal
No one really knew what to expect from Montenegro as it was never on live TV. This is one of the few songs where vocals really don't matter. I would say though that the overall staging of the song looks very messy and this seems to be the general view.No expects this to qualify and that is my view also but there is a little voice in my head asking me if I'm right in saying that.

IcelandVideo of rehearsal
I had forgotten just how amazing the Icelandic entry was. The rehearsal was really strong and seems to have cleared up any doubts about the song. It is just a pleasure to listen to it live. The back drop is Icelandic mountains which really impressive and keeps in tune with the Icelandicness of it all. The backing singers really lift this and it all looks like the usually excellently produced Icelandic entry. Most people seem to be identifying  this as a definite qualifier.

Greece - Video of rehearsal
Well at least it's not in a shopping center. When I first saw the video of the rehearsal I have to say that I though it now fits so much into the standard Greek entry. Yes this does remind me a lot of other Greek entries. But it still lacks anything tangible that will push it on. In my opinion My Number One would not do very well in this day and age. Lead vocals are fairly poor. This was a problem which I had flagged earlier but the general consensus is that Greece needs more backing singers. But then again remember the shock we all got when we saw Greece won last years semi-final?

Latvia's rehearsal is running a bit later than expected and I have to pop out for a while. More reaction later this afternoon.

1st Day of Rehearsals

Today is the first day of rehearsals and for those of you who either are up in Azerbaijan to head over to the rehearsals or your up early to hear about rehearsals. If you are actually reading this though, it means that the delayed posting system worked and we are now only an hour or two from the start of rehearsals however I am about three or four hours from getting up.
 Anyhow the rehearsal line up for today is as follows (all times local).

  1. 11:00-11:40 Montenegro
  2. 11:45-12:25 Iceland
  3. 12:30-13:10 Greece
  4. 13:15-13:55 Latvia
  5. Break
  6. 14:55-15:35 Albania
  7. 15:40-16:20 Romania
  8. 16:25-17:05 Switzerland
  9. Break
  10. 17:25-18:05 Belgium
  11. 18:10-18:50 Finland