Keith SP

Reaction to Semi Two result and draw

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
Lithuania
Bosnia-Herz.
Serbia
Ukraine
Sweden
Macedonia
Norway
Estonia
Malta
Turkey

Ideally Ireland would like Serbia, Macedonia, Estonia and Bosnia drawn around us.

UPDATE :
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.
1: U.K.
2: Hungary
3: Albania
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?
6: Russia
7: Iceland
8: Cyprus
9: France
10: Italy
11: Estonia Helping Cyprus & Italy?
12: Norway A pretty anonymous draw

13: Azerbaijan
14: Romania
15: Denmark
16: Greece
17: Sweden draw Ireland's lucky position. 4 uptempo female sung songs in a row.
18: Turkey sets up Spain nicely.
19: Spain
20: Germany
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.

23: 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.
26: Moldova

The prime draw positions are 21, 22, 24 & 25
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Elaine

My Napkin went up in flames!!!!

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 :-)
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Reactions to the result from Andrew

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.
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Keith SP

Thursday in Baku.

I’m back in the Press Area after a day off to explore the city, do some shopping (Eurovision visitors get 15% discount in many shops) and generally chill out, in preparation for tonight’s second semi-final. It was a great opportunity to escape the Eurovision bubble and totally play the tourist. Baku is a fantastic city and probably the prettiest Eurovision host city, that I’ve ever been to. I’d come back in a flash if it was affordable.

It didn't stop me picking up two interesting rumours; the firstr being that Sweden wasn't in the Top 3 in the Jury Final last night and the second is that Belarus are buying votes, in that they are hiring companies in countries with low televote numbers to block vote for Belaus. I have no idea how true either of these rumours are, as you pick up a lot nonsensical fluff at Eurovision.

The same ten jounalists (reprobates) gathered in the City Café for the second “Napkin of Death” this evening. The same format as before, each person puts the name of the ten countries that they predict to qualify on a napkin and throw in one Manat. The person with the most correct predictions wins.  

Tonight’s results;

10 predictions (on everyone’s list)
Serbia
Slovenia
Sweden
Turkey
Ukraine

9 predictions
Estonia (I was the only exception)

7 predictions
Netherlands

6 predictions
Georgia
Norway

5 predictions
Malta

______________________________________________ 

4 predictions
Lithuania
Macedonia

3 predictions
Bosnia-Herzegovina
Croatia

2 predictions
Belarus

1 prediction
Portugal (I’m on my own on this one)

0 predictions
Bulgaria
Slovakia

I’m going into the Arena tonight and coming out to blog and tweet the draw live.

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Semi Final 2 predictions from Andrew

Well after getting 10 out of 10 right in Semi 1 you will all be waiting with baited breath
to stake all your money on my 10 for tonight.
We met up at City Cafe for another napkin of death and there are 10 manats to the winner.
I found it a lot more difficult to call mine this time round and agree with Keith that I think
the standard of performances overall is poorer that Semi 1 hence the difficulty in calling
my last 2. I had to find 2 countries from at least 5 or 6.
My 8 certainties were
Serbia
Ukraine
Slovenia
Sweden
Turkey
All of these had 100% votes in the Napkin of Death.
Then I have 
Estonia
Norway
Netherlands

Then I had to choose 2 more from Belarus, Portugal,Bosnia,Lithuania,Macedonia and Georgia.
After lots of deliberation I have gone for
Bosnia
because the Balkan votes will help it and its performed well.
And finally
Georgia
even though its mad as a box of frogs and is way OTT performance wise
Anri does sing it well and it will pick up just enough Eastern votes to get through.

So will I get all 10 right? Hardly anyone put Bosnia in so if they come out I will be hopeful.
Nobody has ever managed 20/20 in this since we introcuded the 2 Semi format.

I had a night off last night from the Arena and went out with some of the lads
for a bit of partying and one of them suggested the vodka shots at 1 manat were
a bargain, they sure were, but god my head hurt this morning after getting home at 6am.
I was not the only one judging by a few others at dinner tonight.

I will go to  winners press conference after the show to get some pics and to gauge the
feel of the reactions. Enjoy the show folks and may the best songs win.
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Keith SP

The semi two conundrum - Keith's predictions

Having watched the Press Rehearsal in the Press Area and the Jury Final in the Arena, there are two things that I really notice; how poor this semi-final is in comparison to the Tuesday’s first semi and the noticeable difference in audio between the Press Area and the Arena.

While the first semi had three of the worst entries of the year (Montenegro, Finland and San Marino) a case could be made for any of the others qualifying. In the second semi, at least four songs that wouldn’t have made it on Tuesday, are going to qualify.

I’m going to use my normal formula to make my final prediction, but this is a very open semi, so I have much less confidence in my list, than I had in the Tuesday list. Also with five former members of the Soviet Union and 5 former Yugoslav republics, politics and voting trend play a bigger part in compiling the list.

Step One; identify the certain qualifiers. In this semi, that’s a short list;

SERBIA is there on merit but also because neighbours and diaspora compensate for a ballad opening the show.

TURKEY has a great stage show (although a lot of it was lost in dry ice last night) and a huge diaspora vote in places like France, Germany and Netherlands, to compensate for a poor song.

UKAINE is not coming across well on camera but the song and the performer are strong and it has neighbours.

SWEDEN is getting better with every rehearsal and fans who seem besotted with this run of the mill 1990s dance track play a much bigger part in semi voting.

Step Two; eliminate the no hopers and that’s an even shorter list.

Bulgaria has killed the appeal of their dance song by not having choreography and no amount of pyros (added at the last minutes) can save a dull stage show, especially coming after Ukraine.

Slovakia has no supportive neighbours and the camerawork and performance are under-par, killing the chances of what was always a niche interest song.

So four in and six places from twelve, so the rest are basically 50/50. This is where it is essential to look at who’s voting and to remember that U.K., Germany and France all have a say in this semi.

Let’s start with former Yugoslavia; Serbia is in and at least two more from Macedonia, Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia should make it. SLOVENIA has the least support and inexperienced singer in Eva Boto (above) but a great performance, so I’m calling this as a qualifier. BOSNIA has a lesser-known singer but a lovely ballad, a great draw and a generous diaspora, so that too is in. I’ll hold the other two for a while.

Now move to the ex-USSR, Ukraine is in, so at least two more from Belarus, Georgia, Estonia and Lithuania should make. I’m going to reverse my earlier decision and say LITHUANIA will make it. It has a good draw, a fantastic singer in Donny Montell (above) and a good stage show. Belarus goes out as it's too early and not memorable or instant enough. The other two stay on hold.

Finally, it’s “old Europe” the countries that were in the contest back in the 1970s. Sweden is in and I’ll add their neighbours NORWAY. The song is different from anything else, the routine is slick and while it sounds awful in the arena, it’s not as bad in the Press Area, and that’s the feed that people will here. I’ll eliminate Netherlands at this point, as it has a poor draw, a silly stage performance and little in the way of neighbourly support. Malta and Portugal, stay on hold.

I now have eight finalists and it’s two from Macedonia, Malta, Portugal, Croatia, Georgia and Estonia. This is the really tough part. I’m going to eliminate Croatia and Estonia as neither are really coming across well on camera. The songs are ok, but there are better things for the juries to vote for and not being in English will limit their televote appeal. I could put the remaining four in a hat and draw and two out. I am now going to eliminate Malta. The draw is bad, it has no neighbours and while the rest of the show is fine, I think the backing singer is killing it.

So two from Georgia, Portual and Macedonia and I’m now going to say “yes” to MACEDONIA. An awful draw aside, this has everything going for it. My concern is that it may not be instant enough, but Kaliopi is a fantastic performer and I expect her to clean up in the Balkans.

Portugal vs Georgia for the last place and here I’m going to letm y heart rule my head. Filipa Sousa (above) has been fantastic on every rehearsal. The song is instantly appealing and the backdrop is great. Yes, it’s old fashioned and the draw isn’t great, but if Eurovision is still a song contest, then it should be Portugal over Georgia, despite Anri’s fantastic voice and stage show.

So to re-cap in order of certainty;

Serbia

Turkey

Ukraine

Sweden

Slovenia

Bosnia-Herzegovina

Lithuania

Norway

Macedonia

Portugal

I’m on ticket distribution duty today but I’ll do a scene set for tonight’s live show before I go into the Arena.
Elaine

Rolling Blog for Semi Final 2 - Jury Final

Ooh I have the sole responsibility of blogging tonight's Jury Final rehearsal. I supoose I had better have a wee practice and see if i know how to do a rolling blog - here we go

Well that is roll number 1 done - has it been successful?

Ooh think I have the hang of it - Keith will be pleased - hopefully I will be up to the task whilst Keith is in the arena, hopefully getting some good pics

Ok we are about to begin (I hope) Keith is now in the arena and Andrew is having the night off - sit abck and enjoy the ride

A good start, on time and everything. Lovely pictures and scenes of Baku by night as Te Deum plays, then a swift introduction by the hosts.

Serbia - Zeljko in black suit and white shirt, soft dark lighting with yellow soft spots for mood bursting into red as the song begins to lift - vocals superb as always - sure finalist for me.

Macedonia - Kaliopi is all in black and a striking figure under the spot light, stage then bursts into blue and the band come into focus as the rock element kicks in. I think I have heard her sing it better - she does not sound as powerful as she has in the past but still a great performance. Gives Macedonia a chance for the final..


The Netherlands - Joan in bright blue dress and headress - I love this look. The flame buckets are lit and it gives the performance a kinda campfire feel to it. Joan appears to be struggling a little vocally. I have heard it better. Joan works the camera well and is enjoying herself. The band joining her on the stage gives a friendly feel to the end of the song. Still a qualifier for me.

Malta - Kurt in black suit with white t-shirt. Still one of the best backdrops with crowd scene. There was a very long distant camera shot that did not look good. Backing singer solo was not good. Great dance routine when all dancers do the feet in unison. Have heard that song a lot better - definitely a borderline qualifier now.

Belarus - much better than this afternoons rehearsal. Looks great with the metallic rough and rugged suits. A great looking boy band here with a rock/pop edge. Dmitry's vocals were better. He hits his camera shots well with eyes to die for. Greatly improved performance and better than Malta i feel

Portugal - Filipa is in floor length split to the thigh silver dress. Lisbon city scape in the background with pink and red mood lighting. 5 backing singers in black ad depth to this beautiful vocal. This is the first time i have really "felt" this song. She has chosen a good night to give her best performance - will it be memorable enough? I am not sure. Beautiful though.

Ukraine - This uptempo dance number is a great contrast to Portugal before it. The dancing jelly babies on the screens behind Gaitana look really good. Her dress looks like it is made up from all the bills i shredded in my front room before leaving for Baku but she really is a stunning lady. Backing dancers are dancing with instruments but she is still sounding a bit shouty. Hit the long high note well though. Flashmob scene on back screen is really effective. Should qualify without too much trouble

Bulgaria - Sofi is in thigh high boots and a white short dress with gold belt. Her hair is scraped right abck giving a really strange look to her face. There are fireworks and pyros going off but no amount of effects will make up for the lack of dancers on the stage for this modern dance track. My mum moves more on the dancefloor than she does. Cannot see this qualifying.

Slovenia - Eva in a white floral dress and lead backing singer in a hooded white full length number. Dark blue lighting as this song builds up to the chorus - you can not get away from the Molitva comparison but I think it is a better song. It has a haunting quality to the backing vocals and a strength and determination in Eva's vocal performance. There are elements of Portugal 2009 in the performance with the strong choral backing girls all in white. Powerful and moving. This deserves to be in the final.

Croatia - Nina is in a black dress. All the way through this I am expecting there to be a dress change or gimmick but nothing comes of it. Do not really understand what the white sheet routine is all about. I think it is greatly overshadowed by Slovenia. Could struggle to qualify although her vocal is great.

Sweden - Dramatic performance of the night has to go to Loreen. It is difficult to take your eyes off the screen as so much is going on. It certainly is wild interprative dance but I find it facinating. The snow scene looks great and the slow mo shot at the end is stunning. Good vocal performance - cannot see this not qualifying.

Georgia - Anri inred monks outfit at beginning of song hitting some amazing operatic notes. Completely OTT and I don't mean as in Lepland from Estonia but facinatingly OTT. 4 girls in skimpy black outfits and Anri struts around the stage banging drums and a girl with flame red long hair shakes her booty - would not be out of place in a brothel but utterly fabulous. No one flounces wuite like Anri and he heads over to the piano. You will definitely love or hate this. If there was not already enough thrown at it there are some pyros at the end. I love it - many will hate

Turkey - great stage performance. Very clever using the caped backing dancers to form the ship mentioned in the lyrics of the song. Much more ethnic song from Turkey than we have had for a few years and good vocals. Thsi should be a certain qualifier.

Estonia - white t-shit and waistcoat for Ott gives a very casual look to this song. I think a suit would have been more appropriate but he gives a stunning vocal. His long note is still different to how it was this afternoon. No idea what he will do with it in the final now. Must admit some of his changes almost do change the origional tune from what it was but still can not deny how well this is sung and it brings goosebumps out in many. Far too many long loud notes in this for me now. Still a qualifier I think but I am quite disappointed in this now as it was stunning in it's origional simpler form.

Slovakia - wild shaggy hair on Max Jason Mai. Gives this performance 100% energy but the vocal is really off key tonight. It certainly stands out as the only song of it's type in the competition but don't see there being enough of a market out there for this to qualify and cant see juries voting for it. Really painful vocals at times. This is performance over tuning and quality but a good rock performance. Helping keep me awake more than the coffee at present.

Norway - Tooji and co are all in dark colours with red and yellow lighting and back drop. The vocal still sounds quite hollow on this. Almost feels like there is someone missing in the backing vocals. Dance routine is tight and looks good on screen. I think Tooji's vocal is off tonight. Under par performance in my opinion - not a sure qualifier for me although I know most will disagree with me.

Bosnia and Herzegovina - this Balkan ballad is a great contrast to Norway who precede it. They have sorted the piano lid error from this afternoon's rehearsal as it had been left up this afternoon and hid half of her face. It is now down and the camera shots look great. Great performance which I cannot fault - just don't know if it packs the same punch as Slovenia and Serbia in the ballad stakes

and finally Lithuania - Donny Montell is still in his pimped up blindfold at the beginning of the song. He sings this part well and the camera focusses right in on his face during this segment. Then the disco kicks in and the blindfold is ripped off and a quick cartwheel starts the club scene on the backdrop. This is equal to MAlta in the effective backdrop stakes. It probably could do with a few more dancers at this point rathen than just the dancing figures in the backgroud but a good performance nonetheless. It's 18th place in the draw may be enough to see it over the line.

I think after tonight's jury performances my top 10 will remain the same as my earlier predictions. Norway andMalta did not do enough for me to persuade me that I should drop other songs from my own top 10. Macedonia is the one song that is sitting in 11th and I would give it a place if i could see where I could remove another song from my list but just too difficult.
Am I allowed a top11 please?

So it's  Serbia, The Netherlands, Belarus, Ukraine, Slovenia, Sweden, Georgia, Turkey, Estonia and Lithuania for me

Macedonia and Portugal are the 2 on the cusp for me - Norway and Malta need much better performances tomorrow night to be in the mix in my opinion.


Wow that is a relief - hope i just about managed to keep up with the action for you all. Now hoping for a little action of my own at the Euroclub later - a little "cultural exchange" as we like to call it in the press centre ;-)
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Keith SP

EBU Press Conference / Azerbaijani Pilaf Ceremony

Next year's Eurovision Song Contest is 14/16/18 of May.

Last night had the biggest arena audience for a live semi-final.

The idea that each country will have an open selection and that no country will do a totally internal selection is under serious consideration.

Complaints that people in the Arena couldn't see the screens, so more screens are being added.

Apparently the public and juries agreed an 8 of the 10 qualifiers last night and one jury favourite and one public favourite filling the remaining two places. 

A few scattered questions on Human Rights, but really nothing of any significance.



While we wait for the Semi Two jury final, there has been an Azerbaijani Pilau Ceremony, a very elaborate way of feeding the Press Area with a lovely lamb and rice dish complete with apricots.

Here's the latest Press Area vote. As a matter of interest, the poll, the poll in the first semi got 9 out of 10 correct, with Switzerland being in and Hungary outside the Top 10.





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A joint UK/Ireland meeting and my thoughts on the dress rehearsal by Andrew.

Another late night at Euroclub meant another short sleep, so am a little bit tired today.
I got up and went for lunch with Keith before heading over to the Hilton for a 
press conference for Englebert meets Jeward. A small gathering of international
as well as UK/Irish press were present. The interaction between them was fun and casual
and I managed to get a few photos which are on the Photostream.

Went into the arena with Elaine to watch the 1st dress rehearsal of Semi Final 2.
There were quite a lot of technical problems during the run through with timing and cameras.
Also a major malfuntion of props at Bosnia, camera angles of Maya  on close up had her
face cut in half by the raised piano lid. 

Rather than go over each performance individually I will only mention my highlights
and lowlights.The best performances were from Serbia,Macedonia,Portugal,Slovenia
and Lithuania. Netherlands, Malta, Ukraine, Sweden, Turkey and Estonia were adequate.
Bulgaria was awful, Georgia was a mess but proably could qualify, Slovakia was just a noise.
Belarus, Croatia, Norway and Bosnia were all rather underwhelming.
Overall I always considered this the stronger Semi Final but now think not.
Tuesdays show was great but I was a bit underwhelmed with this one, possibly a 
combination of tiredness and the technical issues.
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