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).
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.