Malmo Blog DAY 5 Friday 11th May

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

Disclaimer: As this is being written live – as the action happens – there will probably be many typos, bad grammar, missing words, etc. Just go with the flow.

Well last night was good fun. Went to the San Marino party with the usual suspects. It was held in another part of the huge Euroclub (which in its heyday was a cattle slaughterhouse ). Valentina Monetta gave us an impressive mini-concert – she’s an excellent jazz singer. She gave her entry last year (The Social Network Song) a brand new twist. Here’s hoping she gets through to the final – because she and her song this year deserves it.

Today we find ourselves at the official Press Centre, with proper facilities. It’s still half empty at the moment, but will be packed next week. The second rehearsals for semi-final one begins at noon today – we got here at 10.00am when everything opened.

I’ll probably spend most of the day at the press conferences.

And I’ve just come back from the EBU press conference – where they’re promoting their new Eurovision app. It all sounds very fab – you can even vote on it. Check out for details.

I asked the Jon Ola Sand – the executive supervisor or Eurovision if the EBU are going to do anything to bring back Slovakia, Portugal, Turkey – and Poland into the contest next year. He replied that the EBU are always in constant contact with their members and are doing their best to persuade them – and in fact, keep all current participants, in the contest.

Provisional dates for next year are 13th, 15th and 17th May.

It wasn’t entirely STV’s – the Swedish national broadcaster – decision for them to decide the running order. While they suggested it, the Reference Group and the EBU made the final decision to go ahead. The whole idea is produce a better show.Well, we shall see. But ultimately the best song will win regardless.

Just missed watching Slovenia perform on stage, but a quick glimpse revealed nothing had changed from their first rehearsal.

The press centre is huge and impressive with two big screens and smaller ones al over the place. Just a shame they’re not all in synch with each other. Hopefully just teething problems.

Here’s Estonia on stage. Another polished performance from Birgit. Nothing really to add. She looked very nice in white – but will she stand out enough to go through to the final? I hope so – it’s a nice enough ballad.

Austria are now on stage. Good vocals from Natalia – but all very understated. And I suspect it may struggle to progress to the final. It just needs something to give it a bit of a lift.

Just come back from the Slovenian press conference. Their performer Hannah, is also a songwriter – I asked her if she wrote songs for other genres than electro-pop, as she featured in various Disney films (e.g., Hunchback Of Notredam) – but I think she misunderstood the question and just said she was a backing singer in those films. Well I did try.

At the Estonian press conference, it was revealed that the country was breaking EBU by having under-age performers on stage – as Birgit is carrying a little boy inside her. Oh, what wit. Anyway, they do realise that Eurovision isn’t just a song contest – it’s a three minute performance that you have to get right. You only have one chance.

Just got into the Austrian press conference – just as it was ending – Natalia and her backing singers were singing Shine acepella. All very nice.

Anyway, I was late for the press conference because I was having lunch – they’ve actually got a proper restaurant – with pasta and fish & chips! Hurrah. Last year was a disaster in Baku. It’s going to be a long day – we need our energy!

At the Croatian press conference I asked the group Klapa s Mora how they got together – the national broadcaster actually created the band, as they wanted to highlight the tradition singing style of klapa. Their very smart outfits by the way are protected by Unesco – as they represent national heritage. In olden times, only Knights were allowed to wear their outfits, for tournaments and such – they had to get special permission to wear them at Eurovision.

Just watching the Ukrainian second rehearsal — that strange costume we saw getting a colour check turned out to be for the giant and not for Zlata, who wearing a shiny colourful outfit. I approve. It’s good act for a great song.

There’s a lot happening here at the press centre – it’s not easy trying to keep up with everything.

at the Danish press conference, Emmelie did indeed state that the family are related to Queen Victoria, but it’s difficult trying to prove things with children born out of wedlock during that era. She likes to perform barefoot because it allows her more freedom – makes her more grounded. Quote of the day from the press conference host: “So you don’t walk the streets of Copenhagen barefoot?” Things aren’t that bad, are they?

Anyway, they gave out a few flutes – not a good idea — as we completely ruined the song – but luckily, that idea was soon given up for a proper performance by Emmelie and her musicians. But what a hoot – literally!

At the Russian press conference it was stated that Dina was compared to Adele and Susan Boyle. She says she was happy with the comparison s both are great singers. She hopes Eurovision will continue to improve her career. She even sang us a brief song in her native Tartar.

At the Ukrainian press conference, the American/Ukrainian actor, Igor (I didn’t catch his surname) who plays the giant said he jumped at the chance to perform with Zlata and for ukraine. He said he connected with the song as it reminded him of the challenges he’s had in life because of his height. Zlata said she changed 50% of the song since the national final – and feels it is a much better song now. Well I rate it highly, so well done her.

Anouk of the Netherlands appeared on her own at the Dutch press conference. She says she’s used to it. She says she was waiting for an invite to represent the Netherlands at Eurovision for years, but she got tired waiting so decided to invite herself. She’s very happy with her rehearsals so far. I have to admit she came across very humble and laid-back. She also entered Eurovision to spread her music beyond the borders of Holland and Belgium, but has no desire to be an international superstar as she’s got four kids to raise. She sounds well-rounded to me.

I finally made it to the arena – just a few minutes walk from the press centre. Looks fab to me. And very small compared to the large arenas of recent years. Reminds me more of Riga and Istanbul – nice and compact. You’ll get a good view no matter where you stand or sit. And the stage looks modern and well thought out. So far this is turning into a great Eurovision. Hopefully all the standing most of us will have to do will be worth it.

At the Montenegro press conference, I told them that even their style of music wasn’t really my thing – I loved their performance involving astronauts and cyborgs. The theme of the song is about dancing and having fun – and you can have more fun in space.

Ah…Lithuania. He was hard work. I got the impression that he really didn’t really want to be there. He’s not entirely happy with his rehearsals and would like to have a few more – well only Dress Rehearsals left now Andrius. These press conferences are a bit sparse – depending on who it is, so I thought I would ask him if he wrote Something especially for Eurovision, or was it a song he had written some time ago. Well, it was better than nothing. He did in fact write it especially of the contest. He seemed too laid back – definitely needs a good slap to wake him up. I really like his song, but at the moment it’s missing something.

Belarus were next. I asked Alyona why her song has so many Latin and Greek influences, but nothing Belarussian about it. I think I got back an answer stating that she wanted a fun song that had popular appeal. It probably will – it’s pure cheesy Eurotrash. Hope it gets through to the final.

Moldova canceled their press conference. Never mind.

Ireland… well I had to do it. I asked: “Leather, naked torsos, oil, tattoos – could you get more homo-erotic?” Yes, I ask all the serious questions. Apparently, it’s meant to be more show business than homo-erotic. Yeah, pull the other one – so to speak.

I don’t get a chance to ask Despina of Cyprus any questions, but the country is suffering badly at the moment from economic woes. In fact she gave a few concerts recently where the entrance fee was food donations.

Belgium had a fun press conference. Roberto came off as a very charming young man. He was born to Italian parents in Belgium – but to a football mad family. He was expected to become a footballer, but Roberto opted for music instead. And it was a great decision as he won Belgium’s version of The Voice, becoming their Eurovision entrant. He only learned English a few months ago because he felt the lyrics sounded more powerful n that language. Roberto’s idol is Celine Dion. Hmmm….

The Serbian beauties were asked what their biggest challenge was. Heels. One of the singers actually represented Serbia t Junior Eurovision some years ago. There was a surprise guest to their press conference — Marija of  Molitva fame, who’s now living in Malmo.

That’s it — been here for nearly 13 hours. Back tomorrow with second rehearsals for semi-final two.