Well I did not do so well tonight only getting 7/10 , Slovenia failing was the big surprise for me.
Also I felt Georgia would make it but it was crazy so fair enough. Poor Joan from the Netherlands.
I thought its charm would appeal to enough voters to qualify, but sadly the Dutch fail to make the final
now for the last 8 years. Well done to Malta who deserved the place and to Macedonia who were delighted.
Finally I did think Lithuania could go through but did not have the guts to pick it.
Keith is rolling bloggin the draw while I am in the press conference hall for the draw and to take some pics.
After that we will head off to Euroclub for the after show party and the free beer.
Tomorrow hope to have the morning free then head into Press centre for the big 5 conferences.
OK I should be officially sacked as an AKOE predictor. As of next year I am going to take a hat, put all the names inside and get 10 blind nuns to each pick a name out of the hat - I cant do worse surely than my educated guesses after watching all 84 rehearsals.
Luckily we have 2 other bloggers to keep the side up. I am gutted for Joan but have heard that she was not great tonight. My major problem now is it is time to head to Euroclub and I cannot remove my Netherlands wig as I have not done my hair!!!!
Oh well I am quite fickle when it comes to my disappointment - it is nothing a few free beers at the Euroclub wont fix :-)
Delighted to see Macedonia and Malta make it, but disappointed to see Portugal and Slovenia failing to make the cut. I got 8/10 which is probably slightly above average in this field.
Things very slow to get going here, Lithuania, Malta and Macedonia seem to be the most delighted delegations. The Dutch seem to be quite disappointed.
We're getting a live feed tonight so the updates will be instant. The one most people sem to be interested in is Sweden. Ireland will be hoping for an early draw for that one.
In order here's how the qualifiers will draw their positions in the final
Ideally Ireland would like Serbia, Macedonia, Estonia and Bosnia drawn around us.
Lithuania draw number 4
Bosnia draw number 5
Serbia draw 24
Ukraine draw 25
Sweden draw 17
Macedonia draw 22
Norway draw 12
Estonia draw 11
Malta draw 21
Turkey draw #18
Here's a reminder of the running order for the final right now.
4: Lithuania A poor draw but he is the first uptempo song in the final
5: Bosnia-Herz A really slow start to the contest and playing into the hands of Russia?
11: Estonia Helping Cyprus & Italy?
12: Norway A pretty anonymous draw
17: Sweden draw Ireland's lucky position. 4 uptempo female sung songs in a row.
18: Turkey sets up Spain nicely.
21: Malta Fantastic draw coming after Spain and Germany and before Macedonia, but doesn't help Ireland.
22: Macedonia A good draw for them and a great draw for Ireland.
24: Serbia A real contender now and it also helps Ireland
25: Ukraine A really good draw but it does hurt Ireland and Moldova.
The prime draw positions are 21, 22, 24 & 25
Another great but late night /early morning at Euroclub.
More free beer and dancing till beyond dawn.
Up for a spot lunch with some of the lads at Pizza Inn on fountain square
we are all now in the Press Centre ready for the day ahead.
Shortly at 3pm local time the Big 5 plus host conferences begin.
So UK on at 3pm then France, Italy, Azerbaijan, Spain and Germany at
20 minute interval. This should take us up to 5pm then the press dress
reharsal starts at 5.30pm.
I will go into the conferences to get some photos and to give Nina Zilla
an icon t shirt. The I will head into the arena to watch the dress rehearsal live.
I hope to blog my overall thoughts after that then take the rest of the night off.
Well I arrived in the arena just as the rehearsal started and El and Nicki were singing their winning reprise from last year - Running Scared. Unfortunately the live link to the arena has now stopped so currently we are looking at still pictures from last night.
We now have a picture back but have missed The U.K. and Hungary and currently Albania are on screen but we have no sound.
Lithuania - we now have a feed of sorts back and just caught very end of Lithuania, 5th in the running order but still having technical difficulties with the picture. We can at least hear now
Bosnia and Herzegovina - Maya in long black sparkly dress. This song on gets going for me when she stands up from the piano to sing latter part. She looks great on screen and last camera shot. Hard to judge as part of running order as we missed the previous songs. Don't see it doing much.
Russia - the same routine from semi final and still the most endearing thing you will see on screen this year i reckon. Makes a big impact coming on after Bosnia. The close camera work on little granny is genius as she is by far the most sought after and famous of the Babushkie This draw has given Russia a great chance now as it is the first upbeat song of the final in 6th place in the running.
Cyprus - Casual clothes for Ivi and the gang. The main thing that strikes me about her performance is how much she is enjoying herself whilst she performs and this translates through the screen to the viewer and will hopefully encourage people to pick up the phone. I have heard Ivi give a better vocal performance but as long as she is saving it for tonight and tomorrow night I think we can see a very favourable result for Cyprus.
Iceland - Rehearsing in casual clothes. This is still a strong powerful vocal performance - will it's draw after Russia affect it's chances? I hope not as it is still a top 5 contender for me.
France - 2nd of the big 6 entries. Anggun is in dark gold sparkly bodice with chiffon floaty skirt and still has the whispy attachments for the gymnasts to play with during the performance. The slow motion shot did not happen in this rehearsal but the final shot with the wind machines blowing the chiffon scarves up in the air looks good. I just feel this performance has been messed around with too much and there is a bit of overkill. They have concentrated on the performance and not the song.
Italy - Nina Zilli is on stage in her silver sparkly dress and has bright blue hair up on top of her head. I actually think this is some form of setting her hair for tonight's dress rehearsal. Nina is definitely not giving this performance 100% but she doesn't have to. We are still suffering link problems and this has been interrupted several times. I have no doubt Nina will be brilliant tonight.
Estonia - Ott is in casual clothes but I actually think this dark jeans and dark jacket with white t-shirt is a better look than his waistcoat ensemble. Sound has gone again so no idea which one of the 11 versions of this song he is currently singing. Still think this will do well.
Norway - Tooji on stage in casual clothes but we have no sound. I feel he needs to improve his vocal performance but very hard to judge today. This is definitely one of the dance routines that has improved the most since rehearsal day 1. Tooji certainly knows how to work the camera. Some very dreamy looks down the lens to the voting public at home.
I do apologise for the lack of clarity in this blog - i am struggling against a very poor link to the press centre affecting sound and vision
Green Room Break
Azerbaijan - Sabina is in her stage dress. White and floaty with feathered shoulders. Lights are projected onto the dress thus changing it's colour during the performance. She hit a very dodgy top note during this performance but apart from that gives a confident and assured vocal. I am still not convinced that the man singing in the second half doesn't take away something from this song but I am sure Azerbaijan will be very proud of her on the night.
Romania - another good contrast to the ballad from Azerbaijain. Without doubt one of the most upbeat and fun dancy tunes in the contest. This had the arena jumping in it's semi final. All in casual clothes for today's rehearsal. Elena sounds a little bit out of breathe over the microphone today. 14 is a good draw for this song - I want it to do well.
Denmark - Soluna is in a grey casual suit and large neck scarf today and has her hair up in big loose curls. I really like this look for her. Gives the song more of her own personality. First time I have seen her perform without the hat. I imagine all will be as was for toinght's jury final though. She looks relaxed and confident. Perhaps I have just totally let this song pass me by as have never really felt it's appeal but it made it to the final and a good draw in position 15.
Greece - It is definitely the catchy uptempo tune that gives Greece it's appeal this year as the performance I find messy and out of tune in many parts. I can't help but compare it to Cyprus and I think Ivi does it much better. The Greek dance performance is not as tight and the vocal far poorer but they also have a far more favourable draw in the final. May Greece take points away from Cyprus?
Sweden - Loreen gave one of her best performances last night and it got a massive reaction in the arena. She looks far more confident on the stage now than she had done in earlier rehearsals. Perhaps the pressure to qualify when she was the out and out favourite had been affecting her a bit. Looks great today on screen. This still top 5 potential for me.
Break - and the annual wave to Lys Assia in the audience
Turkey - by far the biggest reaction we have seen so far in the arena when they performed last night. The golden envelope was a massive anti climax as everyone in the hall knew it contained Turkey - This song is going to get nearly as much support as the home country of Azerbaijan. I like this ethnic song but the performance is definitely even better than the song and puts Turkey in with a good shout of a top 10 finish. I actually began to wonder last night whether this could be a dark horse for the win???
Spain - gorgeous ballad from Pastora. Stands out greatly against Turkey. We really do get a far better mix and contrast of songs in the latter half of the draw than the beginning and this could really benefit Spain. Pastora is in long pale blue floaty dress. Her long high note is totally stunning. and the yellow/orange lighting really helps build this song to it's terrific climax. Should put Spain in top 5 . Great reaction in press centre.
Germany - Roman Lob wearing brown trousers, white t-shirt and navy shirt. Still has the beanie hat on - a good look I feel. This is such a simple song and performed with ease which i feel is part of it's charm. Roman's eyes are gorgeous and he makes the most of them with his smouldering looks down the camera. This song could quietly pick up points from lots of countries and sneak up past some of the favourites.
Malta - probably the surprise qualifier from last night and one of the favourite qualifiers of last night. This was definitely his Night and a great song to have in the final. Kurt has definitely provided us with the dance routine of the contest and many press and fans can be witnessed doing it in the Euroclub every night. A draw towards the end of the final is great for Malta coming after 2 ballad type songs. Let's hope this picks up points and gives them a good result. Deserves to. I am still not keen on the small solo for the female backing singer - never seems to be in tune but a good relaxed performance in casual wear for Kurt.
Macedonia - delighted for Kaliopi and Macedonia. First time in the final for 5 years and what a draw they have been given. 22nd out of 26 - they must be in dreamland. Kaliopi is a tremendous performer and deserves a good result. I just wish the song appealed to a wider demographic as she really could figure highly in the top 10 with cracking performance.
Ireland - well the boys got a cracking draw. On near the end of the final with the best finishing shot in the competition. Jedward are performing in their final costumes. They are still performing with hair down. This definitely gives the fun element to the end of the draw. There was no fountain involved today and it shows how important to the performance it is as the routine looks messy and disjointed without it. Hard to judge this afternoons performance as it is about the effects and the energy. Will give 100% on the night be in no doubt!!!
Serbia - Zeljko could not have asked for a better draw. Position 24 after the madness and chaos of Jedward with a stunning Balkan ballad. One of the biggest contrasts in the competition weighing heavily in Serbia's favour. This performance is in casual wear today and still looks stunning. Will be amazing on the night - may have to provisionally book my room in The Park Hotel, Belgrade again. I would be delighted to head back there.
Ukraine - big dance number now with Gaitana. Full of energy and colour. Hr dancers also give 100% which adds to the appeal and performance of this track. Singing better rather than shouting today too. Casual clothes for this performance. I imagine this will be in the top 10 on Saturday night.
Moldova - what a draw for this over the top fabulously camp number. Great song to end the final. I just wish one of these last uptempo numbers was in positions 2 or 3 just to split up the slow beginning to the final. Moldova could do really well due to being on last. I hope so as Pasha is a great performer.
Now i seem to have about 8 predictions for the top 5 which poses a problem. As there were so few in stage costumes today and no special effects, and add to that the technical difficulties we had, my top 10 could be way off and change later in the day but at present in no particular order I see the following 14 countries vieing for top 10 places
Russia, Serbia, Ukraine, Iceland, Spain, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Sweden, Romania , Cyprus, UK, Ireland, Azerbaijan
Watched the songs all the way through in the Arena and felt it was a great selection
of songs and lots of variation and contrasts in the running order.
UK was really good today vocally but I dont think the draw does it any favours.
Hungary is a good contrast to the UK but its a bad draw on so early
Albania is simply stunning and stands out big time.
Lithuania is great vocally and the disco part helps it stand out a bit.
Bosnia is a lovely song but fear it could get a bit lost in the mix.
Russia stands out a mile, so cute and endearing on camera.
Iceland is a good contrast after Russia, a strong performance.
Cyprus is a great confident performance, and stands out as the first decent uptempo.
France started badly on the first note and proves to be too messy, Cyprus before kills this off.
Italy stands out after France and is very upbeat and sung well, Nina in blue hairpiece.
Estonia WOW this was stunning, total contrast to Italy and coud do very well.
Norway started with a malfunction when one dancer lost all his battery pack etc on the flips
and it was off vocally, I think it has no chance of doing well.
Then we had a break which isnt such a good thing for Azerbaijan. However the performance
is stunning both vocally and visually. A strong contender.
Romania sounded fine today but I dont see it doing really well.
Denmark was a refreshing change down in tempo and is a bright song.
Greece is very busy performance with a nice beat and ok vocals today.
Sweden was a fab performance and could win from this position.
Another ad break does Turkey no favours. But it was a good bouncy performance.
Spain WOW I was in tears at the end of this. Big stand out now for Spain, could win.
Germany is still good but is now lost after a stunning Spain song.
Malta is standing out after Germany a good contrast.
Macedonia is fab , this could do really well too.
Ireland was a great competent performance with no water.
Serbia was simply fab too another serious contender.
Ukraine was another great stand out song and may get the late uptempo votes.
Moldova was good really love the simple routine.
I'm back in the Press Area after a lovely meal in a Lebanese resteraunt back in the city. I managed to get from Fountain Square to the Press Area in 20 minutes, a new record.
Expect a full house for the show tonight, every bus we passed was full of people heading out to the Crystal Hall. So as not to have tickets wasted I gave Andrew's (who's taking the night off) and my tickets for tonight's show to a couple of members of the wonderful volunteer team as a "thank you" for the help and friendliness that have shown in the last two weeks. They seemed delighted and I can only imagine what they'll think when they find themselves three rows from the front of the centre of the stage!
My duty tonight is a rolling blog of the Jury Final which will make up 50% of the votes in tomorrow night's show. Five music experts from every country are seeing tonight's show live, each one will pick their Top 10 songs in order and from these a Top 10 Jury vote will be compiled and this will be added to tomorrow's televote.
I'm also going to make predictions as to where I think each song will finish tomorrow night. and the latest betting odds.
There is a Press Area poll but it's totally useless as it basically just shows who has the greatest number of accreditations here (Azerbaijan is first and Spain second). The Press Area is very empty tonight as there are a couple of parties going on.
THE SHOW BEGINS
Monday night's firwork display over Baku and the Crtystal Hall open the show before we have some traditional Azeri music mixing with some modern dancers with men flying through the air and then back to some local dancers in some beautiful ethnic costumes. The we get the drummer from Tuesday's interval act back again. We end with a firework wall and Ell & Nikki reprising last year's winning song. Nikki is in a short silver and white dress while Eldar is in a white suit.
The two female presenters start their introductions, seven minutes into the show. We then get a 60 second reprise of the building of the Crystal Hall. The 60 seconds give Eldar a chance to join the two female presenters on the satellite stage.
1. UNITED KINGDOM (20/1 - fifth favourite).
Nice art based postcard for the U.K. before Engelbert sings in a spotlight dressed in a dark suit and shirt. Engelbert's vocal sounds a little raspy to my ears. The backing dancers making fleeting appearances. The colour-scheme is green and purple then going to blue before we have another firework shower and pyro spirals. Rather suspect vocally throughout and I'm now predicting this to finish 16th to 20th.
2. HUNGARY (250/1)
The lead singer of Compact Disco now wears a black PVC coat with red lining and there seems to be more red in the stage lighting. Very similar to the Tuesday performance. Vocally fine and could do well with juries but it's doomed from the #2 draw. Prediction : 21st to 26th
3. ALBANIA (150/1)
Rona is her black and blue dress and that now famous hairstyle. Red backdrop. The crowd go wild for those amazing high and sustained notes. Totally OTT and operatic and it will be remembered, but I suspect that there is a limited audience. Prediction 21st to 26th.
4. LITHUANIA (250/1)
I suspect that being performed last had a major part in Lithuania qualifying last night. Donny is still performing this song amazingly and he seems more confident tonight, perhaps because his aim of qualifying has been achieved. Best backdrop of the year and a virtuoso performance, but is the song strong enough to do well from an early draw? Prediction 21st to 26th.
5. BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA (150/1)
Lovely long spotlight shot that gradually closes in on Maya to open the song. Like Lithuania, virtually identical to last night's semi-final show. This is another song that benefitted from a late draw in the semi and now has to be performed early. I still think that this would benefite from a falautist on stage for the instrumental part, but Maya is singing well and I like the subtle use of the wind machine. Prediction 16th to 20th
6. RUSSIA (13/2 - second favourite)
Still off-key to my ears in the firsat 30 seconds. The audience go wild for this and for the first generally uptempo song it really standds out after what went before. I still think it's a cute novelty act selling a second rate song but it's bound to do well, very well. Prediction 1st to 5th (I'll spit these at the end).
7. ICELAND (80/1)
I'm not sure why Jonsi has opted for a lower key at the start. It does sound more dramatic but it means that the voices blend less smoothly. Nice staging, but far from their best performance of the week. PREDICTION 11th to 15th.
8. CYPRUS (50/1)
Personally I'd prefer this in a higher key but vocally it's fine and Ivi and her team are very tight and the camerawork is great. Ivi looks stunning but the instrumental break is not getting the reaction I'd have hoped for. It's not got a great draw either. PREDICTION 6th to 10th
9. FRANCE (150/1)
Dreadful vocal by Anggun who's off key and no amount of gymnastics, shiney bodies can compensate. Worst performance so far. PREDICTION 16th to 20th.
10. ITALY (12/1 - Fourth Favourite)
So it was "product" that Nina had on her hair this afternoon. Looking great in her silver dres and really delivering the song down the camera. The backing singers now look like they know what they're doing. Really helped by France being so Poor. PREDICTION 1st to 5th
11. ESTONIA (100/1)
Ott is a lot more smily and not closing his eyes as before, he's still putting in swirls and holding notes that are not in the original version and I suspect this is getting lost, despite Ott's photogenic appeal. PREDICTION 21st to 26th
12. NORWAY (66/1)
The vocals in the verse are just totally under-par and it's only the chorus that saves it. Some very nice camerawork. The pyros are amazing and it's far more attractive to the eyes than to the ears. PREDICTION 16th to 20th.
Unusual place for a break but it helps the build up to the home country's entry.
13. AZERBAIJAN (66/1)
A few dodgy notes from Sabina at the start of this and her pronounciation is way off at times but visually the "dress of many colours" is fantastic. The little "genie on a box" warbling over the last minute of this song really adds nothing to non-Azeris, but it gets the locals go wild. Rather under-par for me. PREDICTION 11th to 16th.
14. ROMANIA (33/1)
Initially much more assured performance than in Tuesday's semi but then the singer drops a line and it all goes to pieces for the last minute. They are still missing the impact of the passge into the last chorus. Disappointing. PREDICTION 11th to 16th
15. DENMARK (40/1)
Same as it ever wa, Soluna smiles a bit more and her hair looks better, otherwise identical to every previous performance. PREDICTION 11th to 16th
16. GREECE (50/1)
Sounding aful as there is a clear split between the lead and back-up vocal. The routine still looks too simple and not polished enough. There are so many better Europop songs in the contest. PREDICTION: 16th to 20th
17. SWEDEN (11/8 favourite)
With so many songs being underpar tonight, things could be moving in Sweden's direction. Loreen was very poor this afternoon, but was clearly holding back, but this goes badly off the rails when she appears to swallow some of the snow effect and never fully recovers. Very disappointing. PREDICTION: 6th to 10th
We get told about Switzerland's first victory and the annual Lys Assis in the audience shot before there's a special introduction to "our neighbours, Turkey".
I really think this is a nothing song being sold by a brilliant stage show, but Turkey are masters at this (remember 2007?). The crowd support is as strong as for the home entry. Like it or not, I can see this doing well. PREDICTION 6th to 10th
19. SPAIN (40/1)
Another underwhelming song being sold by a good performance but at the opposite end of the spectrum to Turkey's floor show. Pastora in a duck egg blue gown which is rather old fashioned but catches the wind machine well. By God is she delivering it in buckets. I still don't see the need for a choir, which only break the intimacy of the performance. What a shame that she doesn't have a stronger song. PREDICTION 6th to 10th.
20. GERMANY (40/1)
I'm not sure what the instumental lead-in add to the song bar making synchonisation easier. Romanis in a plain black shirt over a white t-shirt. Fantastic stage lighting. Really sweet charming ;performance and vocally fine. Juries are likely to lap this up. PREDICTION 6th to 10th.
21. MALTA (150/1)
Again a lovely contrast to what went before. Best backdrop and lighting and if this could qualify from #4 in a tough semi, what can it do from this draw? I still don't like the backing vocal but Kurt is playing the audience for everything and they are paying him back. PREDICTION 1st to 5th
22. MACEDONIA (150/1)
Another one that qualified from an awful draw and now gets one of the better places in the running order. Kaliopi is a master craftswoman in action. She really delivers this song and with so few rock flavoured songs this could do very well with juries, but is it instant enough? PREDICTION 11th to 16th
23. IRELAND (33/1)
There's a long pause before the backing track kicks in, suggesting a problem with getting Macedonia off stage and Ireland on in time. The fountain which wasn't used today is now in full effect. Vocally fine, and they are using more overrhead shots which add variety. The boys havce to drop their mics before jumping in the shower. It's well performed and has a good draw, so anything is possible. PREDICTION 1st to 5th
24. SERBIA (10/1)
No question that this has been the big beneficiary of the draw. A solid song, well staged and performed and likely to hoover up votes from those that like songs with an ethnic twist. It's vocally perfect. PREDICTION 1st to 5th.
25. UKRAINE (40/1)
The camerawork is better tonight and the draw is great. Why does she have to thump her chest to get a vibrato effect? PREDICTION 11th to 16th.
26. MOLDOVA (100/1)
This look to have the best draw until Ukraine got number 25. It's fun, slick, well performed, but I think many people will have chosen their favourite before we get to this. PREDICTION 16th to 20th.
So time to split the Top 5 of Russia, Italy, Malta, Ireland and Serbia.
I only just put Malta and Ireland in there so I call Ireland 5th and Malta 4th.
Then it gets tricky. Italy is my favourite song and singer, but I'm not sure it has enough going for it to be a big televote getter from an early draw, so I'm putting that 3rd.
Then it's Russia vs Serbia. Very tough to call, but I think Serbia may stuggle for televotes in the west and Russia will not do well with juries, so I give the win to Russia as I think this will hoover up televotes everywhere.