Hass Yusuf, editor of Vision magazine reporting from Copenhagen. Photographs by David Ransted.
Day 3? Is that all. It feels as if we’ve been here three weeks! But we’re loving it.
Anyway before the first act of today, let’s briefly talk about a few Meet & Greets last night.
At the Norwegian one we discovered that Carl Espen has had a varied career – carpenter, doorman as well as performing music on the side. A true grafter! He’s also a big fishing fan.
At the Georgian one the performers say they tried to mesh jazz and folk into their song. It’s all about coming home to a green Earth. Well not if you land outside the B&W Hallerne and its industrial wasteland! Luckily the shuttle bus from our hotel avoids all the obstacles that the organisers have laid out for us. We’re British y’know – we always find a way.
At the Polish one they revealed the country was glad to back after a two-year break. They were delighted with the great stage and arena. Their song is all about ‘inner strength’ apparently. But what about the heaving bosoms they were asked. Is the song sexist. Donatan & Cleo insist not. It’s all jolly good fun – and it’s what Slavic girls do – work and toil! “It’s the way we live!” says Cleo.The traditional outfits of the backing dancers/singers is meant to remind the young not to forget their past. Well I like it all.
Okay – on stage now we’re off with the remaining countries for Semi-Final 2. Austria is first on. Conchita Wurst sings Rise Like A Phoenix. This is a favourite of mine as I love James Bond themes – and this could easily be a classic Bassey number. The stage starts off dark with a silhouetted figure among dry-ice mist. Slowly a face appears… a bearded lady. But with a great voice! Conchita is standing on a small platform dressed in a glittery number. This is a very stripped-back act – she just stands there and sings – perfectly! She has a spotlight from above focussed on her – but the graphic backdrop revealing the Phoenix is excellent. It really suits the mood of the song. If Europe can get past the beard, this really is an excellent ballad that deserves to do well. Hopefully she can rise proudly to the final.
And we go to classy act to a rather noisy one. Yes, it’s time for Lithuania. Vilija Mataciunaite sings/shouts Attention. The acts has Vilija wearing a black tutu fending off a hunky dancer. He won’t listen to her – and she’s not having it! Get on the floor with you! “On your knees!” I wouldn’t dare say no. But stop looking up her tutu you dirty swine! The acts ends with them both giving the finger. How charming. (It’s not.)
More noise now – but in a nice way from Finland. Softengine sing Something Better (and it certainly is). Softengine are comprised of five clean-cut young men. They just stand there and perform beautifully. Wonderful spotlight effects. If you like Britrock/Indy music – then this is for you. Not much more you can say really. I think it’s excellent, but these rock-style don’t always make it through to the final – but this certainly deserves to.
Bit of a break now. The press centre is slowly filling up with more accredited journalists. And we now have free tea and coffee – and loose nuts! Plus apples and pears. I like a juicy pear. Hopefully they’ve all been washed.
At the Austrian Meet & Greet, Conchita was on top form. She got a bit cheer when she came on to the stage. She says she’s overwhelmed by the whole Eurovision experience. Why waiting in between each rehearsal she finally realised that she “was here” – and had to stop herself from tearing up. The song is important for her because it signifies a new beginning after going through hardship. She says you only have one life so use it to make yourself happy. By the way she is a drag artist and not a transsexual.
Next up are our nearest neighbours, Ireland. Can-Linn feat. Kasey Smith sing Heartbeat. My, it’s a busy stage. Kasey looks glamorous in a long golden frock. The rest of the group consist of two backing singers, a drummer/fiddler and two male dancers in kilts (I guess they must be Can-Linn). And the backdrop is very much Celtic – which looks great. Quite nice really and the song is pleasant enough – but there’s a lot going on. And Kasey just seems to wander off on a little stroll. She doesn’t look to happy either. The director isn’t sure what to show!
Missed the Lithuanian Meet & Greet, but here’s a nice picture instead.
At the Finnish Meet & Greet – there were too many sunglasses for my liking.
I guess they’re young and like to pose (only three of the band shown here). The band have just signed up with Sony Music, so they’re very delighted with that. Also happy with their Eurovision experience so far as well. They just want to change a few camera angles for the next set of rehearsals. The song tells a story of an old man who looks back on life and feels he has missed out – but on reflection the years with his now deceased wife makes him realise that he actually had it look. So, be satisfied with what you have! Well, I’m very satisfied being here.
Well – for most of the time. Sometimes you have to sit through stuff that might not be too your liking. Oh, here’s Belarus on stage. Teo sings Cheescake. Hmmm… rather eat it than listen to it think. But it is a fun song – though the act on stage isn’t that inspiring. Teo is joined by stage by four backing singers. The graphic background is more impressive. Not more to add really. Not sure if Teo’s personality comes across that much.
Next we have Macedonia. Tijana Dapcevic sings To The Sky. Not really sure to make of this. She’s comes across as a fun personality and I certainly like the song – but the act on stage isn’t really that memorable. It may get lost among the more effective competition. However it does have great graphic backdrop effects. Makes me remember my old spirogyra set… But if we remember that this is a song contest, then it deserves to go through to the final.
On stage now is another favourite of mine – Switzerland. Sebalter sings and whistles Hunter Of Stars. Sebalter and his group make full use of the stage having a bunch of drums set along the cat walk. Sebalter seems to look like the happiest person the planet. He certainly has a captivating personalty which really comes across this fun and bouncy song. He also plays the fiddle – but isn’t as annoying as a certain previous Eurovision winner. The bad news for Switzerland of course is that whenever I’ve really liked a Swiss song over the past few years, it’s always failed to get through to the final. I really hope this isn’t the case this time. Break my curse Sebalter, break my curse!
The next act on stage will definitely qualify for the final – Greece! Freaky Fortune feat. RiskyKidd sing Rise Up. The Greeks are well-known for some of their props in the past – and this year they brought along a trampoline to have a bounce around on. It looks like great fun. I’m not a great fan of rap, but it works really well here. There was a danger that Greece wouldn’t allowed to complete this year due its national broadcaster shutting down, but the EBU in their infinite wisdom bent the rules to allow them to enter. Well done them! As mentioned the Greeks have deployed an old trampoline from the Athens Olympics along with a trampoline acrobat. It’s a bit silly really – but it does go well with the song. After making good use of the catwalk, the two singers end up bouncing around on the trampoline. The finish on their backs all exhausted. That’ll teach them. (It’s just jealousy talking.)
Missed the Irish Meet & Greet, but here’s a pic of Kasey.
At the Belarus Meet & Greet, Teo was in good form. He’s a friendly and likeable chap. Apparently he wrote three songs that featured in the Belarus national final. He’ll be more than pleased to write songs for other countries as well. Someone of course asked him if he was eating cheesecake when he thought up the song. It actually has nothing to do with cheesecake (could do with a slice right now with a bit of strawberry sauce – the food here isn’t much to write about), but tells the story of a young man who hates the nickname his girlfriend has giving him – ‘cheesecake’. He’s lucky she didn’t choose Spotted Dick.
Moving on, Slovenia are next on stage. Tinkara Kovac sings Spet (Round And Round). It’s another pleasant entry from the country. The act is enough to make you giddy though – with a whirlwind effect on the stage below her. Tinkara looks elegant in blue and is joined on stage with three backing singers. And that’s about it really – she plays the flute at the beginning and end of the song. It’s always difficult to predict how well this sort of song will do. It’s good enough for the final – but will it stand out in the semi?
Romania are the last act on stage. They always get through the final and will do so again. Pauls & Ovi sing Miracle. The last time this duo entered the contest a few years ago they came third. This performance again features them both shouting at each other. The act starts with a hologram of Paula – but the real one is on stage with Ovi. The prop of this semi is a circular keyboard that Ovi seems fond of. He wears it like a necklace – perhaps it’ll be this year’s fashion trend in Romania. After all the shouting, the couple walk hand in hand along the catwalk. All very nice. The country will win the contest one of these years. This year? You never know.
Missed the Macedonian Meet & Greet, but here’s a nice pic of her.
At the Swiss Meet & Greet, Seabalter was excited and happy about his time at Eurovision. He’s an experienced performer so tries hard not to get too nervous. He’s quite fond of Ukraine’s Tick-Tock being a bit of a whistler himself. He states that he only has himself to blame if his performance isn’t up to scratch. He’s going to try and keep a high standard. He came across as very genuine and likeable.
At the Greek Meet & Greet, the two Greek chaps were put in contact with RiskyKidd (originally from the UK) by their record company. When they composed Rise Up – they didn’t do so for Eurovision – until the song got entered for the Greek national final. The audience sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Nikolas and in return the chaps sang a melody of Eurovision hits. All very nice. The trampoline in the act is meant to be a metaphor to rise up for the challenge – be positive and creative. Rise above your problems and all that. Nothing to do with having a bit of fun on stage then.
They’re just giving Nikolas the birthday bumps here…
I only got to the Slovene Meet & Greet to see Tinkara give a quick lesson in the different ways of producing sounds from the flute. She also sang a quick lullaby – being a mother, she says it’s usually the first form of music a child hears.
And finally tonight the Romanian Meet & Greet. Paula and Ovi are both delighted to back on the Eurovision stage. They have a great working relationship – both are married, but obviously not to each other. They wanted a connection to their previous act at Eurovision – hence the piano keyboard. They want to iron out a few camera angles here and there, but they very happy with everything so far.
There are no rehearsals tomorrow – some sort of May Day holiday – but might be back with any comments or photos.