Malmo Blog DAY 13/14 Saturday 18th/Sunday 19th May

This is Hass Yusuf with his last report from Malmo!

So the favourite won! Well done to Denmark. Much sadness for the UK again. Bonnie Tyler did her best for us – so deserves our thanks. She was a great ambassador for the UK.

A full report from all the activities in Malmo, along with analysis of the voting results,  will appear in the next issue of Vision magazine, out sometime in July.

It’s been a hectic two weeks – Malmo was a great host – finally saw some of the city on Saturday afternoon via a lovely little boat tour. A lovely green and quaint town. Everyone here was friendly and helpful. Only saw one chav spitting and smoking at the central station, but for a city of 300,000, that’s not bad going!

STV put on three great shows. Standing for those three shows is still an issue though. I don’t think it would’ve made for a lesser TV show if the fans were seated – they would’ve all got up and waved their flags when required. The views – for the money we paid – we’re to be honest, lousy (because of all the standing on one level) – but the atmosphere in the arena is the reason why we all go. And I would like to thank my little entourage of friends for making these past two weeks enjoyable/bearable: David Ransted, David Philpott, David Elder and Robin Scott.

Not much sleep was had in our little Eurovision bubble – but well done Sweden. See you all next year – probably in Copenhagen. Start saving the pennies now!

This is Hass Yusuf signing off.

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Malmo Blog DAY 12 Friday 17th May

This is Hass Yusuf, editor of Vision magazine, reporting from Malmo.

Well, wasn’t that an exciting show last night! I got seven out of ten correct as did David Elder, David Philpott got six correct, as did David Ransted, but Robin Scott led the way again with eight correct guesses. A few surprises – most of us thought Macedonia would get through. But we were all delighted that Hungary and little Malta made it through! Much disappointment for San Marino though.

Here is the full running order:

  1. France
  2. Lithuania
  3. Moldova
  4. Finland
  5. Spain
  6. Belgium
  7. Estonia
  8. Belarus
  9. Malta
  10. Russia
  11. Germany
  12. Armenia
  13. The Netherlands
  14. Romania
  15. United Kingdom
  16. Sweden
  17. Hungary
  18. Denmark
  19. Iceland
  20. Azerbaijan
  21. Greece
  22. Ukraine
  23. Italy
  24. Norway
  25. Georgia
  26. Ireland

Before lasy night’s contest, OGAE UK had a gathering at the Eurocafe where we interviewed  live on TV for Swedish – and nit so live for a special feature on ITV’s Daybreak show. Here are some photos of the event. Full report in the next issue of Vision magazine.

HITACHI HDC-1491E

HITACHI HDC-1491E

Today at the Press Centre I’m going to watch the first dress rehearsal for the grand final tomorrow night.

But first, I thought I would present you with a little video diary…

Now, we’ve been given position 15. Not ideal — I was hoping Swedish TV would put an international star like Bonnie near the end of the show to give an fighting chance. Still, never mind – I’m confident the UK will do very well.

As usual, I’m going to do a snapshot of each performance.

And here we go.

Back to Baku. A little caterpillar travels through Europe. Get to Sweden. Turns into a butterfly. How very charming.

Here’s a choir. All the artists appearing one by one headed by flag-wavers. Very Olympics. Superbly done. Europe is one.

Here’s Petra in pink. Still hasn’t done her hair yet. Australian family.

Bit of a hitch at the moment. It’s why they have these dress rehearsals – iron out the problems now. Something’s definitely gone wrong.

Anyway, here we go!

FRANCE
Here’s Amandine.  Drums beating. She’s a vision in black tassels.Purple eyeshadow. Stroking microphone stand. Playimg with tassels. Gold bracket. Waving. She’s drunk. Getting manic. Frantic. she’s going for a walk. waving head. Screaming. Great start.

LITHUANIA

Here he is – in the dreaded number two slot. Looking bored and sleepy. Leather jacket. Four singers in background. Eyes. Arm gestures. Scary shots. Hand gestures. Pleading hands – please vote for me. Tommy Cooper impersonations. I like it.

MOLDOVA

Piano with dancers. Fog. Everyone in white.  Golden red hair. More fog, Dancers can’t keep still. They’re telling a story. Dress turning pink. Lightning. Up she goes! Will she stop? Come back girl! Fire! Piano. Very nice.

FINLAND
Ding dong, Bride. Masked girls dressed as blokes. Two girlie singers. Up she rises. Ding dong. Teeth and smiles. Up she goes again. Marching. Ding dong. Big veil. Wind machine, Fireworks. Blokes turn into bridesmaid in cheap pink C&A outfits. Lesbian kiss. Ding dong.

SPAIN
Bagpipes. Fading in – dressed in yellow.  Here’s the other members of the band. Key change – up goes the beat. Fireworks. She’s barefoot. Going for a walk on the catwalk. Fab.

BELGIUM
Angst singers. Big eyes. Floppy hair. Grey suit.  Dancers behind him. Molesting him? Stroking. Chicken-style dancing. ?????  What are they doing? Backing singers being ignored. Angst dancing. They’re telling some sort of story. Grab! Yes – grab those votes!

ESTONIA
Scenes from Estonia. Socks?
Birds eye view. Here’s the singer in black and white. Long white dress. Very virginal. Fog. Don’t fall over luv!  Backing singers have arrived. Reaching to the sky. More fog.  Very nice.

BELARUS

Dancers in white. Fog, Silver globe. Out she come all in silver and blue tassels. Legs go on forever. Singers appear, Dancers attempting to upstage her. Cha-cha. Let’s al cha-cha. Embracing  arms. Cha-cha. Arms galore. Cha-cha. Flames. Rums.  Flames. Cha-cha. Can you feel the heat? Cha-cha. High jumps. Cha-cha. Fireworks. What’s not to like? Cha-cha.

MALTA
Little guitar. Teeth. Smiles. Eyebrows. Going for a walk. Where’s he going? Leave my hat alone! Drums. Listen. What’s that? I can’t hear you! Catwalk. Touch me! Touch me! Bench. Shift over, I’m the star y’know.

RUSSIA
She comes into focus. Dressed in pink. Not revealing much. Balloons. Globes. Arms. Singers appear dressed in white. Two singers handled balloons – thrown into audience. Calling ambulance. Only kidding. Blue silvery finish. Very nice.

GERMANY
Spotlights. On a glass platform. Don’t fall over luv! Fog. Are you coming down girl? No?  Nice tattoos on arm. Finally coming down. Do join us. Fireworks. Spot on!

ARMENIA
Fog. More fog. Birds eye view. Hair and teeth. Bright lights. Guitar close up. One finger sign – that’s rude.  Up yours too mate.  Guitar. Flames. Flames all over.

Lynda Woodruff is back – very funny.

NETHERLANDS
Silver light. Coming into focus. Dressed in grey and black. Out of focus. Back in focus again. Wind. Silver light. Birds flying off. Wind, Birds. Padlock. Singers in black. Good to see them. Standing still throughout. Fab.

ROMANIA
Fog. Don’t fret – it’s not Gary Glitter. Red sea of waves.  Up he goes a notch. Out come the dancers. All red and black. He’s going for those notes. The fog’s back. This red blanket is covering s multitude of sins. Fireworks. It’s raining glitter all over the place.

UNITED KINGDOM
Here’s our Bonnie. Golden spotlights. Dressed in black.  Going for a walk among the band. All round the stage. Up the catwalk.  Wind machine. And up she rises on an UFO! Brilliant. Go Bonnie!

SWEDEN
The weight of the host nation rests on his shudders. Dressed in magnolia. Frantic dancers. Standing on a platform. He’s not that tall. Meeting his dancers. All together now. Off they go their separate ways. Just him and twin dancers now. Get off the ground chaps. Fireworks.A rainfall of sparkles. Enjoyable.

HUNGARY
Guitarist. Cap. Didn’t wash his hair. Glasses. Guitar. Female singer. Guitarist. Cap. Etc. I can’t be bothered. Listening to song instead.

DENMARK
Flute. Yellow spotlight. Here she is on the floor in white. Silver armband. Drummers. Up she gets. Flute. Staring hard. Hands. Going for a walk. Passionate hand gestures. Big drums. Raining fire. No umbrella for her. Don’t get burnt!

ICELAND

I’m all alone. Like my hair?  My heart is yours. I embrace you all.  I love you all. I’m posing like Jesus Christ. Come and join me backing singers.

AZERBAIJAN
On top of box. Let me out of this box! Upside down. Fog. I can se your bum. Down I go. Sliding down. Come back. Not while there’s this babe in red. Let me out! It’s raining petals in here. Help! Such passion. I still can’t out. I’m stuck her forever. Who’s going to hold me?

GREECE
Little buzuki. Nice kilts. Knees. Slow motion. Here we go. Move it baby! Move it! Teeth. Knock it out. Jump. Accordian. Guitar. Old geezer. Kilts. Running. Old geezer. Accordion. He’s back. Drums. It’s gone dark. Light up!  No, no. Shouting. Trumpet. Dancing. Up go the legs. Not too high lads.

UKRAINE

Giant carrying babe. Ground shaking. Dressed in white. Standing on rock. Fog.  Ooops, she’s stopped. Her ear-piece isn’t working.
Here we go again.
Giant carrying babe. Ground shaking. Dressed in white. Standing on rock. Fog.  Hand fluttering. Lightning. Singers appear. More hand fluttering. Fog’s still there. Following the camera. Don’t fall off your rock sweetheart. Flutter, flutter, flutter. Cheap Fireworks.

ITALY
Here’s Marco – good, he’s had a shave. Wearing a dapper suit. Standing there. Going for a walk. So simple. Great sound. Come on Italy!

NORWAY
A vision in white. Fade out. Drummer in background. Spotlight.  Having a boogie. Nice hair. The world is not enough for her. Though she can’t move far in that dress.

GEORGIA
Fog. He’s all alone. I’m pointing at you. More fog. There she is.  Lights. I can see you now. Let’s embrace. Hello luv. Hold my hand. I’m standing behind you know. Fog blasts. Waterfall of lights. Let’s stretch out together.  Watch where you’re putting your hands – I’m a married woman. Wind.

IRELAND
Drums. Leather.  Tattoes. Oil. Muscles. More drums. Here’s our man all dressed in leather. Big drums. Spotlights. Drums.  Two female singers – with tops on. Just all drums and singing. Drums. Muscles. Oil. Tattoos. Drums. Muscles. Oil. Tattoos. Sweat. You get the drift. All in red and black. Fireworks. What a great ending!

So there you have it. At the beginning of the national final season, there were moans of being  a disappointing year – what rubbish – this is a superb final! It’s going to be be very hard to predict.

Finland stands a good chance – very modern and Katy Perry. Norway just has a great sound. And Denmark offers great drama. There are no ex-Yugoslav countries left in the final, so most f the votes will probably go to Greece – or Romania. All the muslim votes across Europe will probably go to Azerbaijan. Georgia will also demand a lot of votes from all its neighbours.

Personally, the best song in the contest for me is by the brilliant Anouk for the Netherlands, so I would love that to win. For a first-time winner, I would like Malta or Hungary to be recognised.

May come back later on with top ten predictions.

Malmo Blog DAY 11 Thursday 16th May

Hass Yusuf, editor of Vision magazine, reporting from Malmo

Happy semi-final two day everyone.

Time for predictions – who are the ten acts that our small entourage think will get through to the final. You can play his at home.

As usual, we’re voting with our heads, not our hearts – difficult as that may be.

David Philpott
San Marino, Macedonia, Azerbaijan, Finland, Iceland, Greece, Norway, Albania, Georgia, Switzerland

David Ransted
San Marino, Macedonia, Azerbaijan, Finland, Greece, Norway, Albania, Georgia, Switzerland, Romania

Robin Scott
San Marino, Macedonia, Azerbaijan, Finland, Malta, Iceland, Greece, Norway, Georgia, Romania

David Elder
Latvia, Azerbaijan, Finland, Malta, Iceland, Greece, Armenia, Norway, Albania, Georgia

Hass Yusuf
San Marino, Macedonia, Azerbaijan, Iceland, Greece, Israel, Hungary, Norway, Georgia, Romania

A bit more variation this time from us.

This was very tough – I had to leave out my favourite song of the contest – Switzerland. I would much rather have that go through instead of Romania. And surely Malta deserves to go through as well – at the expense of Israel – but Moran Muzor produces a great performance. And I’m taking a risk by ignoring Albania – great rock sound. That might go through instead of San Marino. It would be fab to see tiny San Marino in the final.

Oh well, we shall see.

Enjoy the show. Not long until the final now. And by the way, the UK will be singing in the second half of the final – position 24, 25, or 26 would suit us fine! Fingers crossed.

Malmo Blog DAY 11 Thursday 16th May

Hass Yusuf, editor of Vision magazine, reporting from Malmo

Happy semi-final two day everyone.

Time for predictions – who are the ten acts that our small entourage think will get through to the final. You can play his at home.

As usual, we’re voting with our heads, not our hearts – difficult as that may be.

David Philpott

San Marino, Macedonia, Azerbaijan, Finland, Iceland, Greece, Norway, Albania, Georgia, Switzerland

David Ransted

San Marino, Macedonia, Azerbaijan, Finland, Greece, Norway, Albania, Georgia, Switzerland, Romania

Robin Scott

San Marino, Macedonia, Azerbaijan, Finland, Malta, Iceland, Greece, Norway, Georgia, Romania

David Elder

Latvia, Azerbaijan, Finland, Malta, Iceland, Greece, Armenia, Norway, Albania, Georgia

Hass Yusuf

San Marino, Macedonia, Azerbaijan, Iceland, Greece, Israel, Hungary, Norway, Georgia, Romania

A bit more variation this time from us.

This was very tough – I had to leave out my favourite song of the contest – Switzerland. I would much rather have that go through instead of Romania. And surely Malta deserves to go through as well – at the expense of Israel – but Moran Muzor produces a great performance. And I’m taking a risk by ignoring Albania – great rock sound. That might go through instead of San Marino. It would be fab to see tiny San Marino in the final.

Oh well, we shall see.

Enjoy the show. Not long until the final now. And by the way, the UK will be singing in the second half of the final – position 24, 25, or 26 would suit us fine! Fingers crossed.

In the meantime, here are some interviews by Peter Devine and Paul Marks-Jones.

Azerbaijan:
Germany unplugged:
Quick cascada interview:
Sweden unplugged:
Interview with Latvia:
Interview with Moldova:

Big Five and Sweden pics

Here are some pics from David Ransted from the first rehearsal of the Big Five and host country.

Spain

Smooth Spain

Frantic France

Frantic France

Gesturing Germany

Gesturing Germany

Swishing Sweden

Swishing Sweden

Impressive Italy

Impressive Italy

Underrated United Kingdom

Underrated United Kingdom

Malmo Blog DAY 10 Wednesday 15th May

This is Hass Yusuf reporting from Malmo, home to this year’s Eurovision!

Usual disclaimer: Expect typos, missing words, etc.

Well – that was a exciting show last night!

A shame one of my favourites didn’t get through – but at least another favourite, the Netherlands, did!

Through to the final were:
Estonia
Denmark
Russia
Ukraine
Netherlands
Lithuania
Belarus
Moldova
Itreland
Belgium

From our little entourage, David Phillpott and Robin Scott got eight out of ten, while myself, David Elder and David Ransted got seven out of ten. So happy that Belgium and Lithuania got through, instead of Serbia and Montenegro.

Lithuania was probably the biggest surprise – but it is nice been surprised. Have to be more analytical  with semi-final two predictions.

After the show, we headed down to the Eurocafe for the Macedonian/Bulgarian Party.

The performers from both countries gave great performances. The lovely Esma gave us a mini-concert. I trust you all noticed that none of the ex-Yugoslav countries made it through. If Macedonia get through on Thursday, they’re going to lap up most of the Balkan vote. They could easily make the top five – or even win! Nothing is impossible! I would love for them to win.

All very quiet in the press centre today. We’re usually the first to arrive. Such dedication for you all.

Anyway, today we have second rehearsals for the Big Five and host country – followed by first dress rehearsals for semi-final two – where I’ll be giving snapshot comments for each song. There’s the Jury Dress Rehearsal in the evening, but I think one viewing is enough for one day.

Anyway, Spain are up for their second rehearsal.  And here they are. This is a straightforward performance. Another barefoot dancer. Nice effects with rising lights. We only saw one run-through – the link wasn’t up in the press centre. Tut, tut. So much for Swedish efficiency. Anyway, I really like the Spanish song.  It’s all very understate – just has a great melody.

While we wait for the French song – in the press centre they’re offering free tomato soup – to advertise the fact that in Sweden all school children are served nutritious lunch free of charge. They have an option of two meals – one being a vegetarian dish. How very civilised. They’re trying to give School children organic produced food as much as possible. The city of Malmo aims to reduce greenhouse gases originating from food by 40% from 2002 to 2020.

Anyway, here’s the fRench singer, adjusting her ear pieces and looking a bit out of it. She’s wearing a dark grey tasseled dress – she’s got the look of a sultry sex kitten about her. All very nice – as is the song. But she looks very awkward walking across the stage in those high heels. She’ll topple over any minute now if she’s not careful. But no – she made it. Mission accomplished.

Don’t really want to mention it, but she looks a bow-legged, so that short dress probably isn’t a good idea. She looks like she’s fallen out of the Euroclub at 4.30 in the morning worse for wear! It’s probably a deliberate look for the rock chick.

Here’s Germany with Cascada. All blonde and gold.The beat goes on. She’s standing on a glass staircase. She’s wearing one of those outfits that’s short at he front and long at the back. She looks exhausted after that first rehearsal. Those late nights at the Euroclub are not a good idea sweetheart! Not that I have any evidence that she was dancing the night away at the Euroclub – but then I could be right.

At the Spanish press conference I asked the group, El Sueno de Morfeo, if they felt privileged getting a free ticket into the final, rather than going through the whole Eurovision experience of the semi-finals. I got the answer I expected, they believed in the song to get through, the best song will win, etc. I only asked it because these press conferences can be pretty inane, with tumbleweed floating all over the place when the floor is opened up for questions.

The trio thought their rehearsal went well and can’t wait for Saturday’s final. They’re finding their Eurovision experience full of energy. They recorded the song in the USA and tried to get Irish and SCottish influences into it. The message of the song is all about finding true love. They are all romantics.

Missed the french press conference. Have to eat at some stage.

I feel guilty for taking the piss of the German song, as Natalie from Cascada is such a nice person – or that’s the impression she gave off from at her press conference. She was in Germany but to English parents – and sounds like she comes from Essex. (The posh part – only kidding Towie fans.) Even though she’s an experienced singer, she still has many fears – the biggest is Eurovision turning into a let down in her career. Well that certainly isn’t going to happen. She really considers the whole Eurovision experience as a milestone in her career. She hopes the song is accessible to everyone – young and old.

At the Swedish press conference, Robin was describing his white outfit on stage. He said it offered him a lot of freedom – made him feel like a prince (though a slip of the tongue he actually said “princess” to much amusement. He actually trained as a wrestler, so is fit enough to perform an energetic act on stage. He was the first act to win melodifestival from the Second Chance slot. Apparently he used to be quite chubby bit lost a lot weight through a good diet.

at the Italian press conference Marco said he felt a bit sleepy, but had a good rehearsal. It looked quite laid-back to me. As for what he would change for the final: his hair, his face, his eyes, his song. He was only kidding about the last part. But he could do with a good shave. He thinks Eurovision is a cool event – and Italy missed out for 13 years by not being in it. His musical influences started from an early age – he says everything in life influences everything. When growing up, his parents introduced him to music from great Italian stars, then he discovered Billie Hoilday, Michael Jackson and David Bowie to name a few. Before he took up his singing career – winning Italy’s X Factor and then this year’s San Remo festival – he was a sound engineer, and even worked in a bar.

You’ll be pleased to know that Bonnie had a great rehearsal. At her press conference she proved to be a great ambassador for the UK. She’s very realistic life. She had a new album to release, so as business woman, she couldn’t refuse to do Eurovision. She was asked in 1983 to represent the UK in Eurovision, by she was too busy with her international career then to find the time for Eurovision. She says her rehearsals aren’t perfect yet – but that’s the way she likes it, so on the night it will be perfect! She got quite emotional about talking her parents – her mother gave her a great motto – believe in yourself and always aim for the top.

The UK are singing the second half of the final, so hopefully that will spur her on to give the performance of her career – a top ten placing is on the cards!

SEMI-FINAL TWO SNAPSHOT PREVIEW

And here are snapshot reviews from the first dress rehearsal for semi-final two.

Eurovision theme. Dancing. Robotic dancing. All very post-modern. Skating. Cycles. Acrobatics. Keyboard. Buffing. Heartbeat.

Here’s Petra Mede again introducing the show. She’s dressed in black and gold and showing a lot of leg.  Oops. Something’s gone wrong already.  It’s all okay again. Let’s carry on.

LATVIA
Here we go. Practicing. On the way. Giraffes.
Shaved chests and navels. Up and down they dance. Rap. Jumping. Here we go. More shaved chess. Guitar. Rap. Bending knees. Flashing lights. Walking in a row – slow motion. Jump. Run. Falling into crowd. Back on stage. Worn out.

SAN MARINO
Mountains. Jogging. Sunglasses. Hairspray.
Bright globe.  Widow in black.  Embracing globe. Legs up. Rising up. Red outfit. Red capes. Red bat-dress. Flying like a butterfly. A vision in red.

MACEDONIA
Mountains. Esma in green. Lake.
Back view. Come back camera. Heart. Here’s Esma in red. Tour de Force. Two singers in black.  He’s back. Fade out. She’s back.  Together. All four now.

AZERBAIJAN
Fence. Sea. Baku, Mountains. Skiing. Falling.
On floor. On top of box. Let me out of this box! Upside down. Fog. I can se your bum. Down I go. Sliding down. Come back. Not while there’s this babe in red. Let me out! It’s raining petals in here. Help! Such passion. I still can’t out. I’m stuck her forever. Who’s going to hold me?

FINLAND
Ice. Ice, Knitting, Dancing, Bright lights.
Ding dong, Bride. Masked girls dressed as blokes. Two girlie singers. Up she rises. Ding dong. Teeth and smiles. Up she goes again. Marching. Ding dong. Big veil. Wind machine, Fireworks. Blokes turn into bridesmaid in cheap pink C&A outfits.

Ding dong

Petra in Green Room.

MALTA
Sea front. Boat ride. Wheelchair. Sea, Waves. Picnic.
Little guitar. Teeth. Smiles. Eyebrows. Going for a walk. Where’s he going? Leave my hat alone! Drums. Listen. What’s that? I can’t hear you! Catwalk. Touch me! Touch me! Bench. Shift over, I’m the star y’know.

Ding dong

BULGARIA
Drums, Train. Road. Bells.
Drums! More drums. Bagpipe. Look at me or I’ll smash you over the face. Bagpipe. Outfits.Drumming tether, Drums.  Who wants these drum sticks? They can kill y’know. Yellow drum sticks. Drums galore! This way everyone. Follow me. I’m the Queen bee.

Ding dong

ICELAND
Sea. Sharping. Cattle. Mountains. Autographs. Texting.
I’m all alone. Like my hair?  My heart is yours. I embrace you all.  I love you all. I’m posing like Jesus Christ. Come and join me backing singers.

Ding dong

GREECE
Flag. Meat. Fog. Fire. Picnic.
Little buzuki, Nice kilts. Knees. Slow motion. Here we go. Move it baby! Move it! Teeth. Knock it out. Jump. Accordian. Guitar. Old geezer Kilts. Running. Old geezer. Accordion. He’s back. Drums. It’s gone dark. Light up!  No, no. Shouting. Trumpet. Dancing. Up go the legs. Not too high lads.

Ding dong

ISRAEL
Piano. Walking. Sea. Moon. Happy,
Piano. Reflecton. Horrible outfit. Rings. Glasses. Zip. I’m pointing at you. Grab me. All of you.  I’m pointing art you again. Earrings. Backing singers. I can’t move because of this outfit. Passionate performance.

Ding dong

ARMENIA
Road. Church. Pic in camera.
Fog. More fog. Birds eye view. Hair and teeth. Bright lights. Guitar close up. One finger sign – that’s rude.  Up yours too mate.  Guitar. Flames. Flames all over.

Ding dong

HUNGARY
Train. Gym. TV show. Horses.
Guitarist. Cap. Didn’t wash his hair. Glasses. Guitar. Female singer. Guitarist. Cap. Etc. I can’t be bothered. Listening to song instead.

Ding dong

NORWAY
Boat. Books. Ice hockey. Disco.
Lights! A vision in white. Fade out. Drummer in background. Spotlight.  Having a boogie. Nice hair. The world is not enough for her. Though she can’t move far in that dress.

Ding dong

Here’s Petra again.

Lynda Woodruff. Second part of her Welcome to Sweden documentary.

Ding dong

ALBANIA
City. Smoking! Stairs. Watcha.
Drums. Flames. Fog. This had got it all. Olive from On The Buses. Guitar. Drums. Keyboards. Roger Daltry.  Drums. Electric guitar. Having a jump. Going for a run. Fireworks from guitar. It’s hard rock man. Fog. Fireworks.  Wow and fab.

Ding dong

GEORGIA
Sea front. Hello. Sound studio. Bowling.
Fog. He’s all alone. I’m pointing at you. More fog. There she is.  Lights. I can see you now. Let’s embrace. Hello luv. Hold my hand. I’m standing behind you know. Fog blasts. Waterfall of lights. Let’s stretch out together.  Watch where you’re putting your hands – I’m a married woman. Wind.

Ding dong

SWITZERLAND
Hmmm…. chocolate. Yummy.
Hey! Hey! Hey! Another one giving a finger sign! Old geezer. Are you really playing that Chloe? All lined up n a row. You and me. Let’s embrace like the act before.  Best song in the contest with the most boring act. Sniff.

Ding dong

ROMANIA
Stairs. Haircut. Do up my tie please. Having a cup of coffee.
Fog. Don’t fret – it’s not Gary Glitter. Red sea of waves.  Up he goes a notch. Out come the dancers. All red and black. He’s going for those notes. The fog’s back. This red blanket is covering s multitude of sins. Fireworks. It’s raining glitter all over the place.

Ding dong

And there you have it – semi-final two in a snapshot.

Predictions to come!

Malmo Blog DAY 9 Tuesday 14th May

Happy semi-final one day everyone!

This is Hass Yusuf, editor of Vision magazine, reporting from Malmo.

So, last night our little entourage went along to the Israeli party. Definitely one of the best. Great atmosphere, great entertainment and great food!

This year’s Israeli performer, Moran Muzor, gave us a mini-concert – she is a great singer! Guest acts included the performers from Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Greece, Latvia, Armenia and Malta. Very impressed by some of the songs by the Greeks – Koza Mostra. Might even get their album.

Also in the crowd, but not performing, were the singers from Italy and Sweden. And talking about Sweden, I’m going to give my colleague, Robin Scott a hand today checking the camera as he interviews Robin Syjernberg.

And due to time-lapse photography – here a few pics from the interview. You can view the full interview on esctoday.com. Robin Syjernberg was an extremely nice young with a very laid back attitude and great sense of humour, as these pics show. I hope he does Sweden proud!

As Robin was being interviewed as another Robin, the Swedish one showed us his chest hair in the shape of a Batman symbol.

As Robin was being interviewed by another Robin, the Swedish one showed us his chest hair in the shape of a Batman symbol.

And here's Robin (the Swedish one) doing a handstand for us - he's been practicing with his dancers.

And here’s Robin (the Swedish one) doing a handstand for us – he’s been practicing with his dancers.

 

SEMI-FINAL ONE PREDICTIONS

Anyway, prediction time! Who do we think the ten acts from semi-fonal one will go through to the final? Here are our thoughts – but w’re voting with our heads, not our hearts.

In order of appearance:

Robin Scott
Estonia, Croatia, Denmark, Russia, Ukraine, Netherlands, Belarus, Ireland, Belgium, Serbia.

David Phillpott
Croatia, Denmark, Russia, Ukraine, Netherlands, Belarus, Moldova, Ireland, Belgium, Serbia.

David Elder, David Ransted, Hass Yusuf
Croatia, Denmark, Russia, Ukraine, Netherlands, Montenegro, Belarus, Moldova, Ireland, Serbia.

As you can see, three of us had identical views, and the two views didn’t differ that much. Personally I would rather see Cyprus, Lithuania and Belgium go through at the expense of some of the others, but I doubt it. Hopefully I won’t get ten out of ten — it’s always good to get a surprise.

Enjoy the show!

Malmo Blog DAY 8 Monday 13th May

This is Hass Yusuf reporting live from Malmo where all the Eurovision action is.

Disclaimer: As this is being written as events happen, please expect typos, missing words, bad grammar, etc.

So today we have two dress rehearsals for semi-final one. One in the late afternoon and the Jury dress rehearsal in the evening. The evening Jury one, as suggested, is the show that the juries will give their votes to. So, it’s very important for all the acts to be perfect as possible.

I’m going to be watching and blogging while watching the afternoon show. Don’t really want to watch the show twice in one day!

Last night we had the Opening Party at the Opera House. There wasn’t room for the journalists, but the party continued in the Euroclub. We got there a bit early, so watched the red carpet treatment on the cinema screen instead. It was something out of the Oscars. Out came the stars from their cats onto a red carper catwalk with cheering fans and photo-journalists. All very OTT. The Finnish delegation milked every second second to.

But here’s Margaret Berger from Norway to give you a taste of things.

Bet you wish you were there.

And here’s Margaret performing at the Nordic Party the night before. I’m not being biased here towards Norway, but as they sent me the links, I may as well enjoy them with you! We like to spread the luv here at Eurovision.

SEMI-FINAL 1 PREVIEW

Anyway, here we go. I’m going to do snippet descriptions of all the acts as they happen. Keep up now. It’s going to be a bumpy ride! I’ve got coffee, biscuits, chocolate and a banana  (as well as good company) to keep me going. Listen, after a week here you need something to keep you going!

And here’s our host, the talented, amusing and lovely Petra Mede, famous Swedish comedienne.

Okay – here we go. The opening sequence. Lots of scenes from across Europe. What a wonderful continent we are.

Across the bridge linking Denmark and Sweden.

Young lad singing.  A group of children start singing last year’s wining somg, Euphoria. There’s a message here – We Are One probably. And here’s Loreen – last year’s winner – the reason we’re all here today in Sweden. She’s dressed in red to stand out.

And here’s our host, Petra, in a vision of silver bacon foil.

AUSTRIA
Scenes from Austria. The first butterfly.
Spotlight on singer. White top and smart jeans – high heels. Supeman’s Fortress of Solitude. Singers in a circle. Off they go around the stage. Wind machine. Hurrah.  Hair blown away to reveal earrings.

ESTONIA
Scenes from Estonia. Socks?
Birds eye view. Here’s the singer in black and white. Long white dress. Very virginal. Fog. Don’t fall over luv!  Backing singers have arrived. Reaching to the sky. More fog.  Very nice.

SLOVENIA
Lemon tea?
Manic lights! Men in masks! She’s in leather and chain-mail. Robotic dancing of sorts. Keep the masks on lads.  On the floor giving worship. Hands and legs everywhere. She’s wandered off on her own. The lads are frantically calling her over. Happy feet. Vogue posing.

CROATIA
On the sea. Food.
Coming into focus. Baldy singing.  Then hairy-top. Nice outfits. Out come the other singers. They all want their turn. All in a row. Baldy again. Hairy-top. Semi-circle. Standing in a row just singing. Baldy and hairy-top finish it off nicely. Fab.

DENMARK
Horse and carriage. Statues.
Flute. Yellow spotlight. Here she is on the floor in white. Silver armband. Drummers. Up she gets. Flute. Staring hard. Hands. Going for a walk. Passionate hand gestures. Big drums. Raining fire. No umbrella for her. Don’t get burnt!

Back to Petra. Big cards.  Yep, it is more expensive in Norway.

RUSSIA
It’s cold. Nice art.
She comes into focus. Dressed in pink. Not revealing much. Balloons. Globes. Arms. Singers appear dressed in white. Two singers handled balloons – thrown into audience. Calling ambulance. Only kidding. Blue silvery finish. Very nice.

UKRAINE
Photo taken.
Giant carrying babe. Ground shaking. Dressed in white. Standing on rock. Fog.  Ooops, she’s stopped. Her ear-piece isn’t working.
Here we go again.
Giant carrying babe. Ground shaking. Dressed in white. Standing on rock. Fog.  Hand fluttering. Lightning. Singers appear. More hand fluttering. Fog’s still there. Following the camera. Don’t fall off your rock sweetheart. Flutter, flutter, flutter. Cheap Fireworks.

NETHERLANDS
Boxing. Sound studio.
Silver light. Coming into focus. Dressed in grey and black. Out of focus. Back in focus again. Wind. Silver light. Birds flying off. Wind, Birds. Padlock. Singers in black. Good to see them. Standing still throughout. Fab.

MONTENEGRO
Keyboard. Waking up. Cheap car. Fishing. Basketball – this has got it all.
Lights! Fog! Astronauts. Rapping (ugh). Fog blasts. Here’s the cyborg rising from the fog blasts. More rapping. Let’s have more of the Cyborg. Camera speeding around. Fog blasts. All dancing together. Camera can’t keep up. More fog blasts.  Space walking. Never mind. But I like it.

LITHUANIA
Tram. Plane. Hello mum. Fishing with dad. Busking.
Silver spotlights. Here he is. Looking bored. Leather jacket. Four singers in background. Eyes. Arm gestures. Scary shots. Hand gestures. Pleading hands – please vote for me. Tommy Cooper impersonations. I like it.

BELARUS
Snow. Hoodie. Cheers.
Dancers in white. Fog, Silver globe. Out she come all in silver and blue tassels. Legs go on forever. Singers appear, Dancers attempting to upstage her. Cha-cha. Let’s al cha-cha. Embracing  arms. Cha-cha. Arms galore. Cha-cha. Flames. Rums.  Flames. Cha-cha. Can you feel the heat? Cha-cha. High jumps. Cha-cha. Fireworks. What’s not to like? Cha-cha.

Cha-cha

MOLDOVA
Mountains. Horse. Church. Chinese lanterns.
Piano with dancers. Fog. Everyone in white.  Red hair. More fog, Dancers can’t keep still. They’re telling a story. Dress turning pink. Lighting. Up she goes! Will she stop? Come back girl! Fire! Piano.

Cha-cha

IRELAND
Hoodie. Butcher. Number plate. Pub.
Drums. Leather.  Tattoes. Oil. Muscles. More drums. Here’s our man all dressed in leather. Big drums. Spotlights. Drums.  Two female singers – with tops on. Just all drums and singing. Drums. Muscles. Oil. Tattoos. Drums. Muscles. Oil. Tattoos. Sweat. You get the drift. All in red and black. Fireworks. Gay vote secured.

Cha-cha

Here’s Petra. Report from Australia. No, you can’t join Eurovision!

Cha-cha

CYPRUS
Fishing. Hiya mum. Cooking. Kite.
Blue spotlight on singer – dressed in black catsuit with stilettos. Thank you. Purrrrr.  Fade-aways galore. Arms. Just passionate singing. Reaching for the top. Nice ring. All very fab on her own.

Cha-cha

BELGIUM
Lighthouse. Coach. Theatre. Subway.
Angst singers. Big eyes. Floppy hair. Grey suit.  Dancers behind him. Molesting him? Stroking. Chicken-style dancing. ?????  What are they doing? Backing singers being ignored. Angst dancing. They’re telling some sort of story. Grab! Yes – grab those votes!

Cha-cha

SERBIA
Cosmetics. Lips  Party girls. Friends.
Dolly birds. Evil and Good. Devil and angel is the theme here.  Leave me alone. No, listen to me. No, ignore her, listen to me. You know you really want to. This way girl. Leave me alone. No, we both want you. Just walk this way. Don’t tap me on the shoulder you bitch! Well, you won’t listen to me! I’ll show a great time in Essex. Hmmpp!!

Cha-cha

Interval act looks like fun, Lots of drums and dancers.

The sequence with Lynda Woodruff is fab.

And there you have it. Semi-final one in a snapshot.

Back later with predictions….

Cha-cha. Time to stop. I’m worn out with all that dancing.

Malmo Blog DAY 7 Sunday 12th May

This is Hass Yusuf, editor of Vision magazine, reporting live (more or less) from the Press Centre in Malmo.

Disclaimer: as this is being written live, please expect typos, missing words, bad grammar, etc, Just go with the flow.

So, nearly one week down! Today we have the first rehearsals for the host country and Big Five. It’s going to be a closed set with a quick Meet & Greet, just like they did for the semi-finals. But we’ll be able to watch our Bonnie on the big screens here.

Went to the Belarus party at the Euroclub last night. Nice food and drink – and entertainment – featuring guess stars such as representatives from Serbia, Moldova, Estonia, Croatia and Macedonia – where I had my pic taken with the lovely Esma. She’s the only performer that I really want a photo with (see below).

Hass Yusuf and Esma Redzepova Teodosievska: Separated at birth?

Hass Yusuf and Esma Redzepova Teodosievska: Separated at birth?

Okay folks – the website enters the 21st Century: Here’s a link to an interview with the Russian performer Dina Garipova conducted by Paul Marks-Jones and Peter Devine.

Spain, with their performers El Suerio e Morfeo (ESDM) performing Contigo El Final (With You Until THe End) have just started their first rehearsal. Some unusual camera work – the cameraman obviously had too many vodkas last night. It’s a lovely song – very Celtic like (I think from north west Spain). But it does seem to get a bit lost on stage. But I approve of the song – something different from Spain this year. It’s in my top ten songs for this year.

Their second run-through is much better. The female singers make full use of the stage and catwalk. Very nice – but maybe to subtle compared to other acts. But on the other hand at least we have a decent song from the first of the Big Five. Oh, we’ve just got pyros and dry-ice mist at the final rehearsal. You can’t go wrong.

France are next. Amandine Bourgeois sings L’enfer Et Moi  (Hell And Me). A great start for Amandine. A simple but effective rehearsal.She really owns the stage. She’s dressed in leather and stilettos – always a good combination. Amandine has got that sultry look that really suits this passionate song – a real rock chick. The graphic back drop with stylised flames is perfect for the song.

Next we have last year’s winning song….oops I mean Germany. I’m just being bitchy. Cascada is a good singer and she pertorms Glorious with much gusto. She starts off on a glass platform then goes on to dominate the stage and catwalk. There are a lot of happy Germans in the press centre here. They obviously expect to do well – and Cascada may well deliver the trophy back to Germany. As uptempo electro-pop songs go, this fits the bill. Just a shame we’ve heard it all before. Must stop saying that! But we have. Last year. From Sweden. She’s even gone barefoot for the last rehearsal. Like Loreen from last year. Who won it for Sweden with the song Euphoria. Which sounds like Glorious. Or vice-versa. My colleague, Robin Scott, has just come out with a good pun – the votes will come cascading in for her…. Like they did for Loreen. Last year.

Sweden are now on stage. Robin Sjternberg is singing You. Robin is dressed in white and cream  – you can’t go wrong with magnolia. They’ve built him a little red platform to give him a bit more lift. It’s all the basic stuff – dry-ice mist, a pyro waterfall dancers trying to upstage him. Usual Swedish stuff. Enjoyable fluff.

And here’s….the UK with Bonnie Tyler! Bonnie of course is singing Believe In Me. We start off with a gold backdrop. To the side of Bonnie we have a band. Very subtle. Bonnie walks over to them, then across to the catwalk onto a little platform – which then raises up in a sea of blue. Throughout the whole performance, she really looks the part. You can tell she’s a rock chick. I like it. We won’t come near the bottom with this.

Just saw the second run-through – better than the first sound check. Brilliant. A real step up just from a few minutes ago. Everyone relax. We’re not coming last.

The third rehearsal worked just as well. The raising of the platform really adds an uplifting element to the song.

The Italian singer, Marco Mengoni, is apparently a bit ill – and he does look it, but his song, L’Essenziale (The Essential) is still a great composition. He’s the only male performer to be alone on the stage. It’s all rather subdued with a very blue backdrop.

Time to catch up with yesterday’s press conferences.

At the Georgian press conference, Sophie & Nodi performed a lovely song together. I told them they had perfect chemistry together when singing. The host asked them if they were love – a bit awkward as Sophie is already married!

At the Albanian press conference we found out that one of the singers, Adrian – the one that doesn’t look like Olive from On The Buses, is actually a lawyer. The group entered the annual Albanian music festival – Festivali I Kengers – sometime ago and came last., Things are a lot different now, especially as the contest went live in recent years and the winner goes on to represent the country at Eurovision. Olive didn’t say much (though he and his wife wrote the song), but Adrian would give top marks to Ukraine and Greece in this year’s contest.

At the Norwegian Press conference, Margaret told us that she was born on a small island  where her father started up a gospel group to stop her from getting bored. She actually came runner-up Norway’s Pop Idol  – and had been approached to feature in Melodi Grand Prix for a while now – but she always refused until she was presented with a good song. Before she goes on stage she always has a little boogie with her drummer to settle the nerves or relax.

At the Hungarian press conference. ByeAlex revealed how he got his nickname. People just keep on saying ‘hi’ and ’bye’ to him., hence ‘ByeAlex’. Well that was interesting. His sister drew the illustrations in his video. He actually wrote a Swedish version of his song, which he performed for us. Good fun, but it definitely sounds better in Hungarian.

At the Israeli press conference Moran and the delegation had some frank views. She spent two years doing her military service in a military band where she was able to tour all over Israel. She met her backing singers while on duty. Her song, Rak Bishvilo (Only For Him) is about an old ex – “Who didn’t come back!” His lost, as Moran comes across as a lovely confident person.

She’s one of the few stars that have prepared to wear glasses on stage. “I’m blind without them”, she said – and has bought along six pairs.

A question about security was asked. The Israelis always have a strong police presence, and no doubt their secret service is all over the place. There was actually a bomb scare in the hotel they were staying at. She said she felt perfectly safe and put her safety and trust n God.

Apparently there’s going to an anti-Semitic demonstration against Israel being in Eurovision. The world is full of bigots and idiots.

To end her press conference Moran sang last year’s winner Euphoria in her unique style.

At the Greek press conference, a big thing was made about their kilts. The lead singer, Ilias Kozas of Koza Mostra, said the kilts were his idea because he wanted a sense of European tradition for the band, and Scottish kilts fitted the brief.

Their song Alcohol Is Free is actually a metaphor for freedom; our soul is free; a great feeling of satisfaction.

Most of the band listed their favourite Eurovision song as For Real sung by Turkey’s Athena – well it is ska song. But how nice to see that two old enemies are slowly getting on better with each other. That’s what Eurovision is all about.

Bonnie has just had her Meet & Greet – and it was by far one of the best attended press conferences. I didn’t realise he sounded so Welsh! She came across really well and thoroughly entertained everyone – many years she was asked to rest her voice for six months – “Me – keep quiet for six months?!” It never happened.. She realises that the UK haven’t done to well in recent years, but hopes her legion of fans across Europe will vote for her. Fingers crossed.

It’s the Opening Party tonight. No room for journalists, so we’re all off to the Euroclub. Report on that tomorrow.

Bonnies galore! Wearing Ben Morris's  MiniPop Icon t-shirts of Bonnie we have Juha Repro, Jude Habib, Paul Jordan, the real Bonnie, Elaine Dove and David Elder. All proud OGAE UK members!

Bonnies galore! Wearing Ben Morris’s MiniPop Icon t-shirts of Bonnie we have Juha Repro, Jude Habib, Paul Jordan, the real Bonnie, Elaine Dove and David Elder. All proud OGAE UK members!

Malmo Blog DAY 6 Saturday 11th May

Just experimenting loading pics. Here's Despina from Cyprus

Just experimenting loading pics. Here’s Despina from Cyprus via eurovision.tv from her second rehearsal last night

And here's Ryan from Ireland doing his bit

And here’s Ryan from Ireland doing his bit

This is Hass Yusuf, editor of Vision magazine, reporting live from Malmo.

Disclaimer: As this is being written live as the action happens, please expect typos, bad grammar, missing words and the like. Just go with the flow.

It’s going to be another long day together – 17 rehearsals – all the second ones for semi-final two.

I think I must have gone to every press conference yesterday. That won’t be the case today. I’ve got to man the OGAE International desk for a few hours today, but if there’s anything remotely to report from any press conference missed, I’ll find out and let you know.

Latvia are the first on today. Too much jumping around for my liking on a Saturday afternoon. But they set a nice happy mood for the day. At their press conference was a hoot. PeR are a bunch of happy chappies. They sang a great version beatbox version of Bob Marley’s No Woman No Cry.

Right – three hours have passed since I wrote that bit about Latvia, I’ve been manning the OGAE organisation desk. I seemed to have persuaded about 50 people passing up to vote on who they think will get through to the finals. Just to give you a snapshot of things: The top five songs from semi-final one are: Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Ukraine and Russia/Ireland. From seem-final two: Azerbaijan, Norway, Greece, Finland and Iceland/San Marino.

Anyway, I’ve got back to watching on the screens a bunch of Greeks in skirts having a lot fun.

While I was at the Fan Desk, I got interviewed by two TV crews – from Estonia and from a Swedish crew producing an interview. I think that’s enough media whoring for today.

Covering for me at some of the press conferences was Paul Marks-Jones, our OGAE UK President. his is what Paul had to say:

Macedonia’s’s second rehearsal was better – they are happier with the stage and the sound. They described their entry as youth and experience coming together –  Lozanos youth and Esmas’s 55 years of stage experience. Lozano described Esma as a national treasure and is so happy to be singing with her. Our very own Schlagerboys asked Esma about her dress – it’s designed by Helan Luca and in encrusted with Swarowski Crystals – so now you know! And apparently Esma brought up 48 Children….so maybe that is what she’s hiding under her dress 😉

The Azeris are very happy now, even though they are on the fourth glass box! Farid said Sweden was his favourite country and he is loving being here. When asked about the Greek composer he told everyone Eurovision brings everyone together, so why should songs not be collaborative. As for his plans after Eurovision – well he’s concentrating on this project right now so he does not know if he’ll continue with music or sport.

The Finns stomped in wearing pink onsies! They were very happy with rehearsal, and treated us to a rendition of Fangad Av En Stormwind before showing her party trick of a somersault. When questioned about the lesbian kiss, Krista stated it’s 2013, so she can kiss who she likes and is fine with that!

Thank you Paul. Sounds like I missed a lot of fun. Wish I could do a somersault.

At the Icelandic press conference we were treated to a superb rendering of their song in acapella. Eythor misses his three kids while he here’s in Malmo. The host of the press conferences said he had an image of Jesus about him  – as he did star on stage in Jesus Chris Superstar – and if he was religious. He replied that religious should be personal to each person. As for his memories of Eurovision – he remembers watching Paul Oscar’s rather naughty song – and wanted some of that! It was extremely cold when shooting his video as the sea was at least minus three degrees.

Due to timelapse typography, it’s been many hours since I wrote the above. It just seems more hectic today, rushing around trying to do two things at once.

Just come back from seeing Georgia perform on stage – excellent. Also watched the first run-through for my favourite song – Switzerland. Oh dear. Great song and performance – but they just stand there. It’s not a sort of song that you stand still for. I’m afraid it’s just going to get lost among other acts who utilise the stage more effectively. Oh well, hopefully I’m completely wrong.

Anyway, back to the press conferences. both Paul and myself managed to miss both the Maltese and Bulgarian ones. And I’m going to miss the last two tonight – Switzerland and Romania (they start at 10.0pm), as they really finish too late and I want to go the Belarus party at the Euroclub which starts at 11.00pm.

Romania are on the screen now. Cezar seemed to have shaved his chest (but not deep enough). That won’t help him much.

Anyway, I shall call it a day and come back tomorrow with a few words about some of the press conferences not mentioned.