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All Kinds Of Everything for Eurovision

The build-up to the 57th Eurovision Song Contest in Baku

Semi 2 first rehearsal from Arena
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

Serbia, Netherlands, Belarus, Ukraine, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey, Estonia, Georgia and Lithuania

the close run few are Macedonia, Malta and Norway and could still make an appearance in my top 10 after tonight's Jury Final.

Press Rehearsal for Semi Two - rolling blog
Keith SP
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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.  

Engelbert meets Jedward
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

Much looking forward to tonights run throughs

Plans for today (Wednesday 23rd May)
Keith SP
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.

Reaction to semi one result and draw live -rolling blog
Keith SP
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.



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 

Wow what an amazing show by Andrew
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.

The Voice of Nonsense!!!!
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!!!!

Preview to Semi Final 1 from Andrew
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.

Semi Final One Preview
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

Back in the Press Area - Rolling blog
Keith SP
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);






9 predictions



8 predictions


7 predictions



So we have a clear Top 10


3 predictions



2 predictions


1 prediction



0 predictions


San Marino



Just a reminder that I will be tweeting and doing a rollong blog on the draw after tonight's show.

Monday night and Tuesday's plans.
Keith SP

Getting out of the Press Centre to distribute some tickets and then getting back in was very awkward as they had no shuttle buses and the Press now has to walk a long distance from Flag Square, probably well over a mile in total, but at least I caught all the live show.

OK, I’d decided that I don’t want to over-expose myself to tonight’s show and I also want to do a city tour, so I am going to skip this afternoon’s rehearsal but if you want to catch all the Photos I took in the Arena last night, they are on our Photostream.


And the video of Jedward is here.


I’ll be in the Press Centre before tonight’s show, and giving you the buzz around the Crystal Hall.

Don't let other change your mind. My ten qualifiers and thoughts on the show.
Keith SP

OK that was interesting. There’s no question that in the 20% full Arena, Russia won hands down, with Romania and Cyprus also doing well. I love the postcards, all of which show a different aspect or region of Azerbaijan. The presenters may be a little over-rehearsed and lacking in spontaneity. It was a faultless show technically. As for the reprise I think Romania, Denmark, Latvia and Belgium close their sections poorly.

They now make a big fuss about the 10th finalist and it goes into a “golden ticket” that gets brought on stage.

After this afternoon, I picked eight finalists; Iceland, Greece, Romania, Cyprus, Denmark, Russia, Moldova and Ireland. I am sticking with these although I thought Greece and Moldova were stronger this afternoon. Then perm any two from Albania, Switzerland, Belgium, Israel, Hungary and Austria. I am now going to cut them.

Out go Hungary and Israel; as I think they are visually unexciting and do not engage a television audience properly. Shame, because I think both are great songs. I think that there has to be room for a second ballad so Belgium or Albania are in with a strong chance and I cannot decided which. Based on the audience reaction tonight, I am just about favouring Albania, but it’s “toss of a coin” stuff. Then Switzerland or Austria and again I cannot decide which. I suspect that this may come down to draw and for that reason I’m going for Austria.

Now I have a dilemma because I think a pop/pop rock song has to make it, so one of Hungary, Switzerland or Israel should make it, but I’m sticking to my guns so Iceland, Greece, Romania, Cyprus, Denmark, Russia, Moldova, Ireland, Albania and Austria. However Belgium is very likely to upset the apple cart.

Rolling Blog Semi Final 1 Jury rehearsal.
I am in the press centre and I will do a rolling blog on the jury final.
Keith has gone into the arena to watch it and will take some photos
in his seat in the 2nd row.
Elaine is excused with a night off.

This will be refreshed constantly so please refresh.

The show has started and the presenters are on stage and explain the voting.


The Trogan donkey takes centre stage behind Rambo Amadeus for Montenegro.
The backing dancers unfurl banners. This is totally wacky looks totally crazy on camera.
Vocally fine for what it is but this is not worth even thinking about for the final.


Very dramatic , Greta and Jonsi really deliver this well, Very moody blue ice backdrop.
Greta very dramatic with the violin. Great camera work here. Some pyros at the end.
A fantastic performance , this should make the final.


This is looking much slicker on the screen. The dancers are more in time.
The vocals are still slightly ropey at times. But overall this is a typical 
Greek Eurovision song and usually should still qualify.


Anmary in a lovely blue dress. The backdrop very blue too.
This has a great vibe to it , very well sung by both backing singers
and lead vocals. This has really grown on me this week. Backdrop gets 
more multicoloured. The vocals toward the end are really quite fantastic 
from Anmary she really sells it well. Borderline qualifier.


Rona Nishliu in a wonderfully classy blue dress , her hair in a bun
with a strand down round her neck. Very simple presentation
lots of close ups very deep red backdrop to start, lots of spotlights.
Lots of dry ice really effective on screen, her top range is spot on.
This is really really classy. Wonderful performance a definite qualifier.

A break now explaining the voting again.
Then a video about the Welcome Party.


This is so damn catchy. Really good movement from Mandiga lovely
backdrop from black and white drums to colourful hearts.
Vocally really good too from Elena, lots of fire too.
At one point she sits on the drum. Really expect this to qualify.
Could win the Semi Final.


This pop rock song has a good vibe to it.
Sinplus are using the stage well and the catwalks.
Vocally great , this has a really good edge to it.
More fire being used here. This gets a great reaction from the crowd.


Iris is in a cream dress with frills on it. Blue then purple backdrop.
Vocally nothing wrong with this at all, I just find the song a bit 
dull and pedestrian. I dont think it will make it through.


Pernilla and a cello player on screen. She wears a green dress.
This I feel is a classy ballad but comes across as going nowhere
and has no impact on the screen. The vocals are a bit off and slightly
pitchy. This is really struggling to make an impact and I fear is destined to
fail to make it through.


Izabo from Israel take this stage with this rather catchy quirky number.
Lots of clocks on the backdrop. Red and then multicolours.
The backing singer start on the cat walk.
Some fire used in this performance but I dont think this grabs the audience
or the voters. Borderline to qualify.


This is very colourful and tries its best to catch the auidence.
Vocally not the best I have heard from it, but its pretty catchy.
I cannot see this getting through though.


This looks really classy on screen , Ivi looks like a goddess.
Some of the vocals are not as good as earlier today but
still overall a good performance, totally deserves to go through.


Soluna is still in her hat and jacket.  This is very pleasant but a few issues
early on with the pitch of lead vocals. I think this is a bit off tonight and I expect
it to qualify but I am not so sure it will based on tonight.


Its the Russian grannies on now. Vocally this is really poor.
The stove is belching smoke. There is no doubt the camera shots alone will 
pick up loads of votes as it makes it very awwwww cute.
Especially the wee one with no teeth. Its what it is cute and lovely but vocally
as a song its not good, despite that is definetly going to qualify.

Another break now.
A break to the green room.


Compact disco take to the stage. Very dark stage for the electonic pop number.
Vocally its all good here. This is a nice pop song and could actually qualify.


Trackshittaz on now for Austria I really love this song but not sure it
will have the wide appeal of the public. Very much modern rap style
and in your face , vocally fine and cheeky routine with the pole dancers.
The blackout and luminious clothes effect looks good on camera.
This is a borderline qualifier for me.


This is a load of fun and so colourful. Great slick movement almost zany
and slapstick,Charlie Chaplin/Benny Hill. Great vocals and an excellent
rehearsal again from Pasha. Love the parade a at the end.


Last song in the semi and Jedward in the sparkly gold /silver suits.
Hair is again flattened into a fringe. The vocals are really good tonight.
The camera angles all working well, this is really catchy and strong.
Pyros at the rush. They then rush into the water fountain at the ending.
Great rehearsal from Ireland, sure going through I think.

So who are going through?

For me based on tonights 2 rehearsals but with a slight emphasis on the
2nd one due to the Jury vote here is my Top 10.


The next 2 places its tough.
Latvia or Switzerland or Israel or Denmark or Hungary.

I am going to go with
Denmark and Hungary.
I think Finland or Montenegro to finish bottom
and Russia to be top.

Back in the Press Centre
Keith SP
Absolute chaos to get into the Press Centre, I'll explain tomorrow on the Brunch Briefing. I've made it back, but Elain and Andrew are still in transit. My aim is to head into the Arena to watch tonight's show live and maybe take a photo or two. and then, put my thoughts on the show on the blog and finalise my Top 10.

This rehearsal is going out live to the juries in the 18 participating countries and to juries in Azerbaijan, Italy and Spain. They will vote tonight and their votes will count for 50% of tomorrow's national votes.

One titbit while we are waiting. This year the Irish votes will be called in by TV presenter Grainne Seoige.

Semi Final 1 - 1st Dress Rehearsal from the Arena
Well it has really started now. First semi rehearsal and true to form it never started on time. There was also a little mix up in the postcards to begin but this got ironed out as we got into the performances.
It was very good rehearsal for a first run through. The presenters were very good and did not stop to make too many corny cheesy jokes.
The stand out performance for me was Cyprus. Ivi is so easy on the eye and the dance routine is fluid and suits the song and she sings well through it. It got one of the biggest reactions in the arena. Iceland were once again very powerful and it almost feels like they are the opening to the show after some strange performance from Montenegro.
Latvia listened to their criticisms about costumes and completely changed the outfits all the girls were wearing. I did hear the phrase "from prostitutes to desperate housewives in one costume change" - and this hits the nail on the head - thankyou Mr Dave Goodman. Their new look is far more in keeping with the song and it improves the performance a lot.
Ireland have changed the performance dramatically and the vocal was much better than it has been. The costumes are very OTT silver and gold space type suits but as Jedward are OTT it is completely fitting. They have gone with the flatter hair - a prediction I made several months ago I think - and they end up inside the shower getting drenched. A great way to end the semi.
Moldova is great fun and got a good reaction as did Russia and Romania.
There was a period of 3 songs where I felt almost bored and that was through Belgium, Finland and Israel which saddens me as I really liked the Israel song but I found the performance dull. It says something when San Marino can perk you up ha ha.

From this rehearsal my predictions for the top 10 are


Don't let your indecision take you from behind.
Keith SP

OK having watched the first rehearsal, I have eight certain qualifier, six that are in contention, two that have a very slim chance and two that are out of the game.

Qualifiers (in performance order)



Then it’s likely to be any two from this six.


These two have a very slim chance

San Marino

These two are gone already


I will get off the fence and call my ten qualifiers after I see the show in the Arena tonight.

Rolling blog on Semi One Press Rehearsal
Keith SP
Hi everyone, this will be a rolling blog of my thoughts on the show as I see it on screen. Feel free to ask any questions, as comments please.

The show starts with a flashy trip around the sights of Baku. Then we cut straight to the presenters, who are reasonably good to start. Eldar looks slightly awkward when he's not talking. The rule about how you can only vote after all the songs are performed is explained in English and French.

A postcard featuring polo players and then the Crystal Hall before Montenegro

Rambo in a dark suit and open shirt. He can'r get his guitar on and fumbles around. He's off tempo with the backing track and can't find the cameras. Nice colourful backdrop. The banner is still not working. Car crash rehearsal to start the show.

They appear to be using the same postcard for every song. They may still not have decided which set of postcards to use (see yesterday's Breakfast Briefing).

Because Montenegro is so poor this is where the contest really begins. Greata Salome and Jonso slightly drowned in blue light. Lovely steadycam shots give this great movement. As the lighting changes to red and gold it looks good. There are too many long shots for my liking and I would prefer them to hold the last note for a little longer, but otherwise perfect. Qualifying

Eleftheria is is a beautiful black, red and white dress and they've simplied the routine, takinmg out the very messy lift of the singer. Much simpler, much much better performance. A huge improvement. Greece will be in the final, if she does this tonight. 

Anmary has thankfully changed her outfit, staying in blue but a much more flattering shape. The backing singers also look a lot less tarty. Vocally it's fine until the last 15 seconds when there's a pitching problem. A little work to be done there, but I'm struggling to see it qualify with Greece now being so much better. 

Rona is in a stunning dres with a plunging neckline and a snakelike necklace. The staging is dark, going to bright red. She's had better rehearsal vocally and I would prefer her to interact more with the camera. This is in the mix to qualify and could go either break.

AD BREAK - This will be a video of the opening party, but the video wasn't shown this afternoon.

Looking and sounding great and assuming that coming after the ad break won't be a disadvantage, this should be a contender to win the semi. The singers red dress however is a wrap-around, which needs a little work. No one needs to see that much underwear!

Blue to red and then to green lighting. Almost all the focus is on the singer. There is great movement and it sounds powerful. They are cutting away to a long shot for the instumental passage and dropping the hands in the air clapping request. I think that's a mistake. Otherwise this is faultless. 

Nice pink and blue lighting and Iris is in a short white dress that in some shots looks as if it's made of bubblewrap. A very professional vocal performance from a sixteen year old, really in with a chance of being a surprise finalist. 

They are still lighting Pernilla is an unflattering red light and she's still in that awful aquamarine dress with the tail that gets blown in the wind. Pernilla seems to be trying to find what camera to look into for the first half of the song. It's fine vocally, but another poor reheasal visually. Another one that's out of contention.

The singer is smiling and now everyone looks like they are having fun. The backdrop is zany and suits the song perfectly. This is a contender.

We're not getting a different postcard, but who know what postcard will go before each song.

Blue, silver, gold and white and fancy dress costumes. It's bright and bouncy and sung well be Valentin and her backing singers but I think this is too cheesey to have wide appeal. 

Better camera angels but I think Ivi was in slightly better voice in the earlier rehearsals. Really slick routine and instantly likable. Another finalist I think.

Possibly too familiar to me as it's more or less the same as it was in the Danish final. I'm not sure that it's a good idea to get rid of the hat half way through. Nice camera work makes the stage look less cluttered and it's vocally fine. Another finalist.

The first slow section is way off it's off key and someone is off tempo.The hand movements are off it parts as well and this is a quite poor rehearsal. There's a lot (perhaps too much) concentration on the smallest granny. It's qualifying, but it needs to be a hell of a lot better to win.

Break to the Green Room to chat to San Marino.

Very worthy performance by Compact Disco in the dark grey clothes and swirlling colourful background. This is so much better than it was in the national final and it could well be in the Top 10.   

The girls in the luminous greed edged dress and Trackshittaz is their clothes that light up. Some camera angles need a little work. It's totally different from Hungary and late enough to be remembered. Could qualify.

This is a mess of zany dancing and psychedelic lighting. Pasha in a yellow top over dark jodhpurs. Fun with a capital F, and this is qualifying. 

Where to begin? Totally transformed from earlier. Jedward haave changed their high hair into flatter big fringes. Their outfits are like startrooper uniforms in silver and gold with big boots. The chorus has been brought down a key but the backing singers are now going to their higher register, transforming how it sounds. The routine now involves the boys rushing back into the shower at the end, to get completly soaked. I still don't like how some of the shots on the pedestal with the backing soingers around them are shown on screen but much improved on what we've seen in earlier rehearsals and I see it in the final.   

Israeli Party at Euroclub and a day off in the City of Baku.
After the last open rehearsals last night , Keith Elaine and I went off for some dinner.
Then a quick change at the hotel we headed over to Euroclub for the Israeli party.
This was a vast improvement to the welcome party , plenty food being handed around
although I wasnt hungry, but drinks were payable. We were entertained to wall to wall
Israeli and Eurovision hits all night by DJ Ron Cohen. Then we also had some live
sets by Sofi from Bulgaria, Loreen from Sweden, Trachshittaz from Austria, Safura
fromAzerbaijan, Mandiga from Romania, Anri from Georgia and of course Izabo from Israel.
Great fun watching and chatting and drinking and dancing. Left at a  reasonable hour to 
try and get some sleep. 
Had a bit of a lie in on our first lazy day since arriving in Baku more than a week ago.
Today is the start of the first set of dress rehearsals for semi final 2.
But before we headed out to the press centre, Keith and I had a lazy lie in
then headed out for a walk through the old city, then past the Eurovision Village
and along the seafront boulevard. We had a lovely light lunch at a cafe there
and bumped into many of our Eurovision friends from the UK.
Also bumped into Pastora who was walking in the old city near Maiden Tower 
and gave her a icon pin badge and got some photos.
Keith and I also had an ice cream and iced coffee in Fountain Square before 
doing our brunch video blog outside the walls of the old city.

Now we are in the press centre refreshed and relaxed for 2 sets of rehearsals tonight,
the first starts at 6pm local time and the 2nd which will be the jury rehearsal is at midnight.
Really looking forward to it all, the OGAE tickets for the midnight show have only now been
handed out around the press centre for those with accreditation. We can go into the arena
for the 6pm show on on P and F passes. Keith is going to blog that one from the Press Centre
watching it on the big screens. Elaine and I are most likely going into the arena to hopefully 
watch it live and take some pictures.

I hope to then post some of those between shows.

Germany as seen by Keith
Keith SP

Roman is trying different shirts over a white t-shirt, otherwise it's identical to yesterday. Interesting that they've and a two second instrumental section at he start rather than starting with the vocal (which can be hard to sinchronize). Still very strong vocally and nice ensamble feel from the band. If you want a surprise contender, this could be it, after Spain it's lovely and calm and genuine.

Pastora looks great in a bright white top and tan/browny skirt that is long at the back and short at the front. She also has a brown belt separating the two. I love this song and her performance. The choir backs up her already great vocal and the lighting is dark to begin with and turns bright when she hits the crescendo and the wind machine kick in also. This looks dramatic and is performed with passion. Should be Spain's best placing in years.

Well what can we say. 84 rehearsal watched and commented on. Now we head to the semi final dress rehearsals where anything could happen. As we have yet to have a day that has run to time who knows how the semi final rehearsals will go - watch this space!!!