Monday 28 April 2014


Wait, no, I mean wild prediction.

I've been on a plane for five and a half hours today (to somewhere warmer than Copenhagen), so have had lots of time to think of my wild prediction (almost) before rehearsals start. I've also been intending to do an actual full prediction ranking, and a new one just before the final to compare, so why not combine the two?

But then, what's considered wild in a year like this? The long flight didn't really enlighten me... Then again, I was preoccuppied with nomsy tapas in nice little trays, drool-sleepage and the likes for much of it. It wasn't until I dived into my purple hotel room I decided what it's going to be:

Belgium is not going to qualify.

Why not? Because he's above medium-sized? No, quite the contrary, I think that's one of the few advantages it has. But because it's dull and overdramatic, because he has a thin, grating voice, and because the lyrics are creepy and awkward. And most of all, does anyone know of anyone (other than Ruslana) that actually likes it?

My main reason for sticking to it as my prediction, though, is that it saves me from the impossible task of deciding where to put it in the final - PJUH! So here's how I think the scoreboard will look in just over 12 days.

1 Sweden
2 Armenia
3 Azerbaijan
4 Denmark
5 Austria (I couldn't find anything to put here, so here's officially my other wild-dances-bonanza-fail prediction)
6 Netherlands (And I keep them coming!)
7 Greece
8 UK
9 Malta
10 Hungary
11 Italy
12 Montenegro
13 Norway
14 Spain
15 Romania
16 Ireland
17 Ukraine
18 Israel
19 Russia
20 Moldova
21 Finland
22 Slovenia
23 France
24 Lithuania
25 Estonia
26 Germany

Looking forward to be able to change this after the rehearsals - and then be even more wrong!

Icelandic Meet and Greet (in photos)

What are they asking us?

Bitch be from where now?
 I will try to answer this in a way which doesn't show I have no clue what you just said.

Thankfully one of us knows what's going on.

OK, so obviously this isn't anything of what actually happened in it, but the sequence of pictures was just too good not to post. LOVE YOU POLLAPÖNK!

Rehearsals1 SF1 (Part 3)

After a quick "coffee with mini mælk" break (I didn't realise it wasn't a longer break) we have the next country in the competition:

Well now! Ok, it's no secret that I have quite a dislike of this song but we have to be unbiased here. The girls have a transparent stick which they are each holding and they do some choreography with it which I still don't really understand but sure they must. One thing that did bring out the "wow pwetty!" screal from me was when thier podium ends up being some kind of giant see-saw. Later on in the song this see-saw opens what could be described as a fan-like paper shape from it and acts as the sun at the last moments of the song "You are my rising sun". First gimmick of the season - even though I think they need much more than that to help them.

Stage wise, lots of reds and oranges and sun-burst warmth. Today they wore a bluish shirt over white t. Do they ever dress differently do you think? Would one of them have a breakdown should the other not be dressed in matching attire? Vocally not that good but that's no surprise. Backing vocals not to be seen on stage. There  is now going to be the full-pyro run so let's see what this adds.

And the answer... not much. It's nice and all, it's falling pyro from the ceiling à-la Ell & Nikki. Nice, but not WOW! Still think the diaspora will be enough to see them through to Saturday. 

Which is which? Well, one of them is the AlfaTwin since she hogs the mic at the Meet & Greet

Simplicity does it justice. A nice ballad without any major gimmicks, well, unless you count the trapeze-artist that seems to be spinning around her. Good use of lighting (seems that most of the songs today have put thought in the set design this year). One effect shows us as if in a gothic church, showing the windows motifs. Beautifully sung. The only thing which seems to not be working is the trapeze artist, which, if the past is anything to go by, may not be included in the actual show should it not be spot on (remember the vanishing backing vocal for Safura?). Definite qualifier without shadow of a doubt.

And it starts with a gimmick - a hottie in a hamster wheel (where most of them should be if you ask me). He is very fit and needs to keep on running for the whole three minutes! The wheel also moves accross the stage to ensure there is no staticness in it. Vocally though, Mariya could be saving herself since it is not the best rendition I heard. Maybe because I mentioned it earlier, but this seems to be the first song which the lighting does not seem to have much of a story to tell to the audience, guess they are relying on the gyrating guy to do that for them. Obvi there is some connection between Mariya and the guy and she is waiting for a wind machine! which does not happen in rehearsal one run one. "Pochemy, where was the wind? I was waiting for it!"

This is another song I believe will be seen on the Saturday night. Need to be careful, soon enough all 16 will be there (well, apart from the ones we all know have no real chance in sweetness of making it). 

Well, he is dressed in his suit and bow-tie so the question would be is this his suit of the night or not? If it is, when will it be dry-cleaned? "Mother" is back to scare European children and impressionable adults alike! Like with Sweden, the staging is quite like that of the national final, mostly dark with elements of blue and purple. Granted, there is an element of grandure in it which was not availabe at the Sportspaleis in Antwerp but in essence it is the same. Good volcals, meh song - but again, I see people voting for it. It will get points from the Netherlands for sure. Will it be enough though to secure a spot in Saturday?

After the next couple of runs, we will see if we will be staying or going to catch the bus to get ready for the opening parties of the 2014 season - EuroCafé and Euroclub are opening today and all have special guests (ooh!). Pictures will naturally follow tomorrow morning(ish).

Rehearsals1 SF1 (Part 2)

Well, after a reasonably-priced lunch of pasta with green pesto and chicken (yes! I forgot to take a pic of it - AMATEUR!) we're back for part 2.

Surprise surprise, basically take the exact same thing as you saw in MF and apply the Copenhagen stage to it. And there you have it - noting more to say.

There's been voices going around of "do you think Sanna could do a Bergendahl?" to which the "yes" camp seems to have a majority - but lots of people seem to be against the Swedish entry not so much due to the song, but due to it not being represented by Ace Wilder whom many appear to believe should have had the blue and yellow crossed flag this year.

In my humble opinion there is very little chance that this will fail to give Sweden their fourth consecutive qualification. What it will do on the final night is another question (I still don't see it fairing badly - just maybe not greatly).

In the meantime, let's enjoy the sunshine!


Side note: I've just noticed there is a camera shot counter on the screen next to the camera number, and Sanna has 9 in the first minute, 9 in the second and a total of 30 by the end of the three minutes.

Love it or hate it there is something about this song which makes you want to watch it. They are dressed in the same tracksuits they were wearing in their preview video. The stage is lit up a bit like you would have expected it - 70s colours and groovy patterns. In the beginning it seems there is a wall that is breaking bit by bit into colours - those of the rainbow obvi! This will go down well in those pinnacles of openness of Eastern Europe (not) but hopefully the Western nations will enjoy it. Not sure it will be enough to give Iceland a qualifier so it could be the first time since 2007 that they will not be seen on Saturday but still hoping it will go far.

At the end of the song, the camera zooms out to show that they have spelled "LOVE" with their bodies. Yes, I know I could put this better but don't really know how to explain it. Think of dancing to YMCA - that!

 Pollapönk during "Meet and Greet"

And while waiting for Albania...

Aram MP3 during his interview session

Joran from Aarzemnieki

Tanja in her "Meet and Greet" session.
Hersi is really sweet but as much as I would like this song to be a "oh don't worry you'll get through no problem" song, it is ... well, not. The staging has had much more thought put into it than her music video ever had even though in some moments the distance between the singer and the instrument-players seems to make the whole group not unite. There is mainly pastel colours used in the backdrop which lull you into a suggestion of calmness in the beginning. Hersi is standing on some pedistal which is in centre stage, not sure how tall it is but I would doubt she should jump off it. There is also a smoke machine involved - this time real smoke, not the cost-cutter digitally-enhanced variety.
Ooh, we're having a run through now and it is only instrumental. Hersi is on stage but is not really doing anything. Maybe some tech prob? She does not look happy! Seems like it's nothing major and they will be getting ready for another run through shortly.

Back again and trying to notice what has improved. Well, seems the pastel has already gone. The first couple of verses seem to now have a simple dark background with the blue-lighting - quite similar to Sanna ony without the encircling bit. She does sing quite well but will her nerves hold on the night? She already seemed to have some 'oops' moments and this is just rehearsals. I know that there is a lot of pressure on her from the nation to qualify but could it be that it is this which will make her fall on Tuesday?

Another break now, and in Part 3 we will have Russia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Belgium.

Rehearsals1 SF1 (Part 1)

After a flaky start from the technical side, we are pleased to announce that the press room can now watch and hear the rehearsals as you would expect us to.

Starts off quite simple with just Aram MP3 on a darkened stage. Gentle blue light starts shining down on him, encircling him from above. This appears to be the design for most of the first part of the song, adding small amounts of ligt to the stage over the course of the song. Nothing amazing for stage concept for the time being but it works - the playfullness of the lighting on his one-man show is working well already.

And then you have it, you move into the rock part of the song and the lighting is used amazingly well, at one point the whole person is immersed in flashing light and even (if I was not mistaken) I see a crusifix of light to which he appears to be 'nailed to'. But that could just me seeing things which are not actually there.

Singing on the other hand, I think he is saving himself since I know he can do better than the performance this morning but there could be multiple factors as to why it sounded the way it did - unfortunately one of them not being the impromptu 90s karaoke session myself and Danny from were having last night at the apartment.

Well, what did you expect really from these guys?! They use the first verse of the song to nonchalantly walk on stage and then its just a case of performing the song. In one chorus (haven't counted which one) we have the use of the catwalk. Unlike Armenia, I don't think they are saving themselves vocally and unfortunately the sound does not seem to be coming across that good. Stage could also do with a bit more "oomph!" but again, it's not one of those songs which lends itself to big flashy shows. Not sure of what will happen to it, but wouldn't it be fun to see this on the Saturday night?!

Oh, and on the second run, the "piece of cake" line just sounds scary - I wouldn't want to take any cake from anyone that offered it to me like that - and don't get me wrong, cake is never refused in normal circumstances. I've asked if the guy singing is Raitis or Guntis ... yes, they are names, but unfortunately no one around me knew.

Third run through and this is starting to sound better than it did in the first round, but maybe it's more to do with getting accustomed to the sound rather than it actually being better.

Starting off laying on thir backs on the stage, the song begins quetly in the background. Even though there are double the people on stage of Armenia, there are a couple of shots which just make the performers look like tiny ants on a massive stage - and althouh the lighting for these was quite nice, the smallness of the artits was all you could really focus on. These seem to have been altered slightly in run two but still there. There is a shot however in the bridge which uses the audience and stage really well - zooming out at just the right speed to fit quite well with the song.

Performance wise it doesn't really change much from what we've seen in the national selection. Why is that? Maybe they are thinking on the lines of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" or maybe it's just a case of no time to learn more complex dance routines from the time between Eestilaul and Eurovision. Whichever the reason may be, it's not a bad thing, but for us who have seen this time and time again it's got a bit "samey". Vocally however quite good - but you could have made that comment even before she stepped foot on stage, this is someone who does deliver her song well even when having to wake up at stupid o'clock to get ready for it.

I believe now it is time for a spot of luncheon and a coffee - and then back again for Sweden, Iceland and Albania.

Three, two, one aaaand ... we're delayed.

Morning one of... well, better not think of it sinceotherwise you'd end up giving up already.

We're already late by ten whole minutes and some people are starting to complain already! I think we have been a bit spoilt from Malmö on that part. Let's hope thisis just the tech issues of day one.