Well this rehearsal was far from a good one. It went kinda how I expected the first semi rehearsal to go, but it in comparison to this was brilliant. There were sound issues, time issues, props issues not to mention some dodgy vocal performances. As we always say, this is what rehearsals are for and hopefully these will all be ironed out tonight for the jury final. In a big plus point - it did start on time. Serbia was great and faultless as usual. Should sail into the final. Kaliopi for Macedonia is brilliant but this song still does not appeal to a big demographic i feel. It does however have some voting friends in it's semi so it could qualify. I thought Joan looked great and is having more and more fun in her performances for The Netherlands - she got a great reception in the hall. Kurt from Malta was as good as he always is but for the first time i found myself questioning whether it can qualify and i cant put my finger on the reason. Belarus had 2 false starts which obviously threw Dmitry a little as his vocals were off in bits but it still looks a great stage show and they are all very pleasing on the eye. This has gone back up for me as a possible qualifier. Portugal was great and she sings beautifully. For the first time i saw it as a possibly qualifier but I feel only because Belarus was so messy this time around. I thought Gaitana did a great job for Ukraine but have been told that it did not come across well in the press centre. She should still qualify with ease. Bulgaria is just all wrong for me - she carries a great vocal but why oh why oh why in a dance song would you have 1 solo singer standing still on a stage - is this irony???? Slovenia was stunning in the hall - goosebumps for me and walked all over Croatia that came after it in my opinion. Loreen was fab for Sweden - her face is much clearer and in focus nwo during the first part of the song and the snow looks great on screen. Great dance track and should sail into the final along with Turkey on their boat. Fabulous stage show from them. Ott from Estonia still brings goosebumps in the hall but is still playing around with the melody. This is quite risky as we have no idea what he will do on the night. Hopefully he does, as with a confident performance he could do really really well. Georgia is as flambouyant as ever. Wild wacky and totally bonkers but I love it and don't underestimate just how good a singer Anri is. This is still qualifying for me. Slovakia just seems to be a screech from 2 minutes in. I know there is a space out there for this type of rock music and Max really gives the performance 100%. I just don't see it as a Eurovision song. I felt Tooji underperformed vocally today and it looked really messy in the hall but again this opinion seemed to differ in the press centre. This still could be the shock non qualifier for me but you know what happened when i left out Denmark!!! There was a bad camera shot for Bosnia and Herzegovina. We believe the piano lid is meant to be closed as it hid her face for the whole performance and was really distracting. I never felt that this song went anywhere. Performing last in the semi final is Lithuani and still could be the surprise qualifier I think. It is a great way to end the show with the upbeat disco part of the song and he is vocally great at the slow beginning part.
So when i decipher all this information in my head, I think my 10 qualifiers at present are
I'll go through the highlights (such as they were) of the EBU Press Conference later on. Andrew and Elaine are in the Arena. I am watching from the Press Area
Nice brisk opening to the show again. The first song is on four minutes after the Te Deum.
SERBIA Lots of early focus on the violinist. Zeljko in a dark jacket over a white t-shirt. Lovely calm lighting, with greys and yellow spotlights. Too many camera changes for my liking, but vocally perfect. Certain qualifier.
MACEDONIA Focus on Kaliopi who's in a dark suit until the tempo changes and then there's more of the band. Kaliopi is engaging, vocally perfect and smiles at the end. Likely qualifer for me.
NETHERLANDS Joan in full Indian headress and bright blue frock (and I mean "frock"). She looks like she's having a bit more fun and I still think she's shrill. The backdrop is a bit too busy and having the band coming on stage late is pointless. It's forty years too late for me and an unlikely qualifier.
MALTA Kurt in a dark suit and grey t-shirt. Full of action and a very good use of the backdrop. Kurt looks fantastic and really engages with the camera.The band add life and with the exception of the backing vocalist still singing "This is the Nigh" it's pretty faultless. This one could go either way.
BELARUS Two false starts to this. We finally get going on the third attempt. Industrial chic in the stage costumes and backdrop. Vocally strong. They stick with the trick of the guitars going horozontal. Some dodgy vocals and I keep hearing "we are the weeners" in the vocal. Least impressive rehearsal so far and and unlikely qualifier.
The interval has the presenters giving out flowers to various people involved in the show. Classic Eurovision ad-break stuff.
PORTUGAL has Filipa in a full length silver dress. The backing singers in dark outfits. THe use the Lisbon backdrop beautifully for the bridge . Lots of streadycam shots giving the performance a lot of movement. Filipa's hair iss a bit flat, to my eye and I would give her a more dramatic hairsyle, but it's vocally strong. Another one that could go either way.
UKRAINE Gaitana is a full length dress that looks like it's made for paper that been through the shredder and a head-dress of pink flowers. Gaitana is shouty at times and the camerawork is all over the place. When she goes to her knees it looks awful. A really underwhelming rehearsal. It should stil qualify, but it's not a challenger for the win.
BULGARIA has sofy in an awful out fit of tea coloured leggins, short shirt and boob tube. She's also off key at times. Her worst rehearsal of the week. Certain non-qualifier.
SLOVENIA The run of female singers continues with Eva is her big white dress anmd floral gardland. It's all very Molitva-lite but it's sung well and the colourful background sets off the whites dresses nicely. Nice use of wind machine. Likely qualifier.
CROATIA Nina looks much better today in her black gown and the routine looks better. Good camerwork. Back in contention. Possible qualifier.
SWEDEN has brought in lighter shades or blue and pink light and there's more concentration on Loreen's face in the first minute. Loreen is vocally better than before but by no means perfect. Still some poor camerawork. Vastly improved, but still not totally there. Certain qualifier.
GEORGIA Anri in full flow. Some really shaky camerawork and far too many camera changes but it's vocally fantastic. I could do with some ethnic elements in the backdrop rather than the anonymous pink and blue shapes. This could go either way.
TURKEY Best stage show of the yearand Can has now added a sailor style peak hat. This is Turkey doing what it does best, hiding a mediocre song in staging and choreography. Vocally it's fine and this is a virtually certain qualifier.
ÈSTONIA Dreadful rehearsal as Ott goes walkabout on some notes. He's still wearing that awful t-shirt and waistcoat combo and the lighting is most unflattering. Unlikely qualifier.
Green Room break.
SLOVAKIA and Max Jason Mai is back to his former shaggy dog hairstyle. It's too much focus on the back of his head and the drummer, in my opinion. Is the market for this big enough to push it over the line? Unlikely qualifier.
NORWAY and Tooji and his team are in black and gray with the lighting in red and yellow. The female vocalists are now carrying more of the song but Tooji is vocally ok and the routine is fine although the camerwork could be better. Competant, if a little underwhelming. Likely qualifier.
BOSNIA-HERZ. Maya is her fabulous black sparly dress and the lighting has hugely improved making her stand out on stage. Best use of a wind machine this year. Sweet vocal. Likely qualifier.
LITHUANIA and Donny is vocally strong and smiling. This is another lesson is how to transform a very average with a great stage performance. This could go either way.
This is a MUCH harder semi to call than semi one. Interval with former winners coming up.
The winners' interval is a thoroughly mixed bag. Dima Bilan, Maria Serifovic, Alexander Rybak and Lena all get to do their winning songs with the addition of traditional Azeri instrumental and each of their performances are very interesting takes on the songs. However when Ell & Nikki come on stage we switch to all six singers doing "Waterloo" and this is absolutly dreadful.
Well after a late one (early one) last night and getting in at 7am I was on the airwaves to Scotland at 9.20am BST. I then headed off to the Hilton hotel to join the joint pressconference between the UK and Ireland as Engelbert Humperdinck caught up with Jedward. It was a really fun informal press conference with Engelbert giving the boys advice on their career and the boys giving him advice on his hair. I managed to get a question in asking "With the big difference in final draw numbers and the big difference in age and experience what did they think would prevail on the night A big opening form an experienced legend ot a great late draw from 2 young lads with youthful energy. Jedward, ever the diplomats, said they felt that the draw number was not important and what was important was that they both gave good performances on the night and the votes would decide their fate. They also mentioned that they saw me dressed up as them last night :-)
I am now in the press centre. I will be in the arena for dress rehearsal 1 and will be blogging the jury final - dress rehearsal 2 from the press centre on a rolling blog. I am about to update my own personal blog at www.eurononsense.blogspot.com and then join in a podcast with our friends from escinsight.com
Because of the time diference none of the AKOE team got home until 7am this morning. Elaine has done a radio link back to Scotland and she and Andrew are off to the Hilton for a "Engelbert meets Jedward" photocall.
I am about to head out around the old town record today's Brunch Briefing at Maiden Tower of nearby. Then we should all be in the Press Centre for the 18:00 Press rehearsal (that's 14:00 Irish time) of Semi Two. I will do a rolling blog from the Press Centre and Elaine and Andrew will watch it in the Arena.
Then tonight, I will go to the Arena and Andrew or Elaine will do a rolling blog.
Never had a doubt we would qualify. In fact when I saw the "Golden Ticket" yesterday I told people here that I thought that that would be us. After 7 drawn I was convinced it was Greece, Ireland and Russia.
I predicted 9 of the 10 qualifiers, but congratulations to Andrew who got 10/10.
As Ireland was last to be drawn, we will be the last country to draw our slot in the final. If you believe in the power of prayer, start praying for either #17 or anywhere from 20 to 26.
Two memebers of each delegation are taking the stage in the Conference Hall. Romania will be the first to answer two questions and draw their final position. Here's the order they will perform draw their positions.
ROMANIA GETS NUMBER 14 MOLDOVA GETS NUMBER 26 ICELAND GETS NUMBER 7 HUNGARY GETS NUMBER 2 DENMARK GETS NUMBER 15 ALBANIA GETS NUMBER 3 CYPRUS GETS NUMBER 8 GREECE GETS NUMBER 16 RUSSIA GETS NUMBER 6 IRELAND GETS NUMBER 23
Here's a recap of the final as it is right now; 1: U.K. 2: Hungary - the position of doom, now a good bet for last. 3: Albania - Still no uptempo song at the start of the show. 6: Russia - This is not a good draw, but it hurts Iceland more than Russia I think. 7: Iceland - Not a great draw for a ballad 8: Cyprus - The first of three uptempo females in a row, won't help any of them. 9: France 10: Italy 13: Azerbaijan 14: Romania - Nice contrast to Azerbaijan, but it may come after a break. a mixed draw. 15: Denmark - I can't see that winning from that position 16: Greece - Another non-descript draw. 19: Spain 20: Germany 23: Ireland - FANTASTIC draw, we now want two Balkan ballads drawn at 24 & 25 26: Moldova - Fantastic draw for Pasha and his team. Watch this one Top 10 now
That was fantastic in the arena. As each country was revealed it dawned on me that I had predicted each one in turn. I got all 10 right for the first time perhaps ever. I am so chuffed for Cyprus and Ireland and Albania especially. I also called that Ireland would come out last and my feeling based on previous years that its never totally random, the last country out always has done well possibly finishing top 3 in the Semi, we shall see. All we need now is some cracking draw numbers for some of my favourites. I would love to see Russia draw number 2 though, on after the Hump.
I am now waiting in the Winners Press conference for the winners to come in and to then each draw their position in turn.
Well once again guys I am probably the worst at the predictions. I only got 7 and apparently if you couldn't predict 8 out of 10 then you are rubbish. What can I say? I new leaving out Denmark would be a risk but I also never called Hungary or Albania. Oh well I love that Romania, Moldova and Cyprus came out reasonably early. They kept Ireland waiting until the end and my highlight was after their performance, they had to be wheeled off stage as they were dripping wet, they came right past me and I was in full Jedward costume - they pointed and pissed themselves laughing!!! - the result was never in doubt lol Poor old Latvia, I am gutted about it but hey ho that is life. I suppose there were no real major shock although Hungary over Switzerland may have surprised some people. It is now time to party at the Euroclub and see what acts that failed to get through still turn up for a drink or 2!!!!
Had a lovely day resting and walking round the city again and had to collect our OGAE tickets this afternoon. Then onto the napkin of Death dinner at our favourite City Cafe with some of our friends from UK and Ireland. WE managed to get over to the Press centre really quickly tonight despite the crowds and did a spot talking to Paddy O'Connell from the BBC. The Centre is buzzing tonight , lots of tension and excitement. I bumped into Luke from Trackshittaz and gave him his Icon T shirt that I promised him one drunken night in Euroclub. Also gave a pack of Icon pin badges to Frederick Omar from the Icelandic delegation to give to them all. Russian Grannies and Mr Georgia also in the Press working area. So the show is about to commence. My predictions in the napkin of death were Iceland Ireland Cyprus Greece Romania Albania Denmark Moldova Hungary and Russia.
Hope you all enjoy the show and I will go into the winners conference after to take pictures and watch the draw.
OMG the excitement starts. We have just had a lovely meal and handed in our napkin of death predictions. My final decision; probably quite controvertial is Iceland Greece Latvia Romania Switzerland Cyprus Russia Austria Moldova and Ireland hence I am leaving out Denmark. Possibly a big mistake but I just feel there is a shock waiting to happen and it could be that. I am currently sporting the colours of Latvia but I am waiting for my partner in crime to join me in our Jedward outfits - should cause a bit of a scene!!!
I can actually feel tension in the air as no on e really knows what is going to happen. I just want to give my support to my good friends from Ireland, Cyprus and Latvia and hope to goodness they all get through. I do not envy the nerves that they have to sit through. All that is left to say is "May the Best Songs go Through"!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Will be back with the results later on in the early morning for us - evening for you guys xxx
I'll be here for about an hour before heading into the area. I'll be running around getting titbits befor the show. Just filmed a section for the BBC, with my friends as we came inro the Press Centre. The buzz here is amazing.
Results from tonight’s “Napkin of Death”, a dinner that AKOE has with bloggers from other websites when we all put our ten predictions on a napkin and 1 manat, the most accurate prediction wins.
Tonight we had ten people making predictions;
10 predictions (predicted by everyone);
So we have a clear Top 10
Just a reminder that I will be tweeting and doing a rollong blog on the draw after tonight's show.