Baku Blog Day 13

Vision magazine editor Hassan Yusuf reporting from Baku, Azerbaijan – home to Eurovision 2012.

It’s Friday May 25th! Nearly there! I’m nearly Eirovisioned-out!

Yesterday afternoon, before setting off to get ready for the live performance of the Semi-Final Two, David Elder and myself had a five-minute interview with Italy’s singer, Nina Zilli. An article based on the interview and press conference will appear in the post-Eurovision issue of Vision, out in July. I’m hoping she’ll turn out to be winner, if it’s not Engelbert. She came off as very down to earth, has a good idea how the contest should progress – and has an interesting history.

So last night we had the live performance of Semi-Final Two. Those of us who gave predictions all got seven out of ten. For my predictions, I was surprised to see Malta and Lithuania get through. Pleased for Macedonia though. But so sorry to see Netherlands out. But pleased any more the viewing public won’t have to endure this year’s Georgian entry.

Anyway, those that got through:

Lithuania (to sing in position 4)
Bosnia (5)
Serbia (24)
Ukraine (25)
Sweden (17)
Macedonia (22)
Norway (12)
Estonia (11)
Malta (21)
Turkey (18)
Back to today, the Big Five and Azerbaijan are having their second press conferences. Just had time to hear Engelbert again. He states that he was very proud to have been asked to represent his country. If he had been asked in the past, he would said ‘yes’ immediately. He thinks the contest is great – but there’s no let up in rehearsals – everything is being tweaked to make it perfect.  He had a meeting with the Azeri singer, Sabina – and thought she was a great singer. He also met Jedward, who are destined to a bright future. Elvis Presley was a good friend of his – and showed us a lucky charm that the King gave out to his close friends. Someone asked if Elvis learned anything from him – he replied he learned from Elvis, not vice-versa!

I also attended the meeting of Presidents and representatives from the OGAE organisations. A few new countries became official members. The problems with all the fan seats were explained to us – basically one big screw-up from the authorities. Big headaches galore. All names and passport numbers have to be printed on the ticket for the grand final for security reasons. Naturally – loads are incorrect so have to be reprocessed. What fun.

A large number of UK members were seated right behind the stage last night. Interesting view actually seeing things from ‘reverse’. The hall looks great from that angle.

I hear lots of shouting in the press conference – it must be Spain. The Spanish fans are a loud lot – but enthusiastic. If the UK or Italy doesn’t win – then the prize must go to Spain.

The first dress rehearsal for the grand final will begin shortly. I’ll be watching it in the press hall on the big screen. As usual, just a few quick words as the action happens.

And we’re off! Dance act to start things off. Lots of fluorescent jackets. Someone’s flying. Female traditional dancing.  Drummers. Blokes dancing. It’s Ell & Nikki from last year singing their winning song. Oh dear, break down. We have audio – no vision. No audio again.

United Kingdom: Engelbert Humperdinck. The screen went dead. But probably fab.

Hungary: Compact Disco. Still a dead screen. But probably fab.

Albania: Rona Nishliu. Part vision. No audio. She looks great though. Fab.

Lithuania: Donny Montell. And we’re back. Just as he’s finishing.

Bosnia: Maya Sar. Bosnia always get through to the final – but many were surprised to see this go through – as it a very understated performance. Good ballad though. She looks elegant in black.

Russia: Buranoskiye Babushki. It’s those grooving grannies. All in their red outfits. It’s a load of rubbish of course, but you can’t but cheer along.

Iceland: Great Salome & Jonsi. Something sensible now. An Icelandic folk song. Greta knows hows how to handle a fiddle. Fab,

Cyprus: Ivi Adamou. Time for a bletter. Table dancing. Great Amazon dancers. Best Cypriot song in ages. Ivi is the only non-Brit Cypriot that has managed to get Cyprus into the final. Fab.

France: Anggun. It’s those bare-chested gymnasts now. Anggun looks good and sounds fab. She’s wearing a gold bodice. Very nice. Everyone’s leaping over her. Get down girl! Fab.

Italy: Nina Zilli. Pure class. Italian styling at its best. The 1960s are back. It must win. Send me to Italy next year! (Or Manchester of course.) Fab!

Estonia: OttLepland. Time for another great ballad. Great moody and powerful performance – but the audio is off again. So much for new technology and camera links. Still fab.

Norway: Tooji. No sound – but frantic dancing with back-flips galore. Sound is back. Nice Middle East tune.

Interval/Green Room/commercial break.

Azerbaijan: Sabina Babayeva. The ballad isn’t bad, but all eyes might be on that dress. It’s that strange seated bloke again. Great rid of him – she doesn’t need him. Singing in position 13, won’t be unlucky for her.

Romania: Mandinga. A favourite. Great salsa sound. And great dancing. nothing more to add really. Fab.

Denmark: Soluna Samay. She’s done her hair. Simple routine on stage with her band.

Greece: Eleftheria Eleftheriou. Time for something uptempo. Ethnic pop sound. Ele knows how to wriggle it. Aphrodite personified. Fab.

Sweden: Loreen. More manickness. Apparently this is a runaway favourite. Sweden is fab. I’m sure they won’t block book hotels. She does give a great performance though. Not your ‘usual’ Eurovision performance. Fab.

Interval/Green Room/commercial break

Turkey: Can Bonomo. It’s the batman sailors. Clever routine. Can’s got a great personality which helps the song along. Fab.

Spain: Pastora Soler. More class again. Best Spanish song in, well, decades probably. She in light powder blue – looking like an ancient greek goddess. What a voice! The press hall start applauding. Out comes the wind machine. Perfect performance. Could win it. Fab.

Germany: Roman Lob. Another favourite – written by Brits, hence it’s Britpop sound. Would be better without the band on stage – but Roman knows how to deliver. Great facial expressions. Fab.

Malta: Kurt Calleja. This is a pure pop number. Dated pop number. Still, it is good fun – and Kurt knows how to groove it. Eurovision in Malta would be great – but maybe another year.

Macedonia: Kaliopi. She certainly knows how to rock it. The key change makes the song. Fab.

Ireland: Jedward. Shower-porn.

Serbia: Zeljko Joksimovic. This man can do no wrong. Great ethnic Balkan sound. Fab.

Ukraine: Gaitana (Giganta). Another favourite. Just a great football anthem. So much movement and energy. Roll on Euro 2012! Fab.

Moldova: Pasha Parfeny. What a great ending to a great Eurovision. Pasha is a great character. A nice mash of a showtime tune with a bit of ethnic Moldovan sounds mixed in. A happy ending for all. Fab

So, who is going to win? So many songs can do it.

In with a good chance: Sweden, Spain, Italy, Ukraine, Serbia, Russia, Romania.

Could also do it: UK, Turkey, Greece, Moldova, France, Germany, Estonia, Cyprus, Norway, Azerbaijan, Denmark.

Probably won’t do it: Hungary, Albania, Lithuania, Bosnia, , Malta, Macedonia, Ireland.

Maybe back later with the predicted definite winners from the team.