Hass Yusuf, editor of vision magazine reporting from Copenhagen. Photographs taken by David Ransted.
Disclaimer: Apologies for any typos, bad grammar, missing words, etc. These blogs are being written live as the action happens.
So today we have the first rehearsals for the last six songs for Semi-Final 1 and the first five for Semi-Final 2. And it’s all getting rather exciting. It seems we’ve been here for ages – but it’s only the second day!
First up today is Moldova. Which should’ve started 10 minutes ago. But in the meantime here are pics from yesterday’s Meet & Greet for Ukraine and Belgium.
Anyway, here are Moldova with Cristina Scarlat singing Wild Soul. Cristina is joined on stage by four dancers, and is pulling her hair a lot. Damn hose split ends. Anyway, the act starts off with the four dancers doing strange things behind her. You really have to be fit to be a Eurovision dancer these days. Pans People would never have managed it. Cristina sings the song with much gusto – and the dancers give it a lot of energy. Moldova have a good record of getting through to the final, but to be honest this performance won’t stand out that much. However, Cristina’s presence will help them into the final.
While we wait for the next act – just a bit more info on Copenhagen. It is very much a green city with lots of developments on the outer edges. There are some lovely designed buildings – the hotel we’re staying at – the Bella Sky is a twin-tower designer with a walkway but at different angles. Looks amazing. And yes we’re extremely comfortable if you’re wondering. Our rooms are on the top floor and the views are amazing. I like Danish design. In fact my specs are Danish design, so I approve.
Anyway, the roads getting to the arena aren’t great – or rather there aren’t many! Those coming over for the live shows should allow plenty of time.
Enough chit-chat – here’s the next act – San Marino with the lovely Valentina Monetta singing Maybe. I like this song a lot – it has an old-fashioned feel to it. But it’s very difficult for this style of song to do well these days – which is a shame. This is Valentina’s third appearance in a row for her country so fingers crossed to get into the final.
On stage Valentina is standing on a glittery platform and behind her is a strange web-shaped drape. Not sure why they need these curtains – especially with the fab background of the stage – but I guess it all adds to the ambience. Actually I’ve just been told by David that it represents a shell – the first line if the lyric being “Maybe there’s pearl in the shell’. Val looks very striking in her long golden locks and white outfit. A pearl indeed! She’s joined on stage by a pianist and a wind-machine. It’s a simple act – but hopefully one that will be remembered.
And here’s another beauty – Suzy representing Portugal with Qeoro Ser Tua. It’s great to see Portugal back after a year’s absence. This is quite a lively performance. Suzy is joined on stage by four dancers, wind machine, two large drums, flags – and a bongo-drummer who keeps on stalking her! This is a bouncy number, which alas won’t win it for Portugal – but one day we’ll get to Lisbon! In the meantime we can just appreciate this hectic offering.
At the Moldovan Meet & Greet, Cristina says her song really is about family – the struggles of life and how to overcome problems. Search for your inner spirit to find solutions. She was asked that the song suggests two personalities – one strong, the other sensitive. Which was she? Obviously she said both. She had to be strong to support a family – and so forth. She’s well known in Moldova for being a succssful singer while still raising a family. It’s called multi-tasking in the UK and everyone seems to do it.
I just caught the tail-end of the San Marino Meet & Greet. Valentina really is one of the nicest people that you will ever meet at Eurovision. She was asked about her musical background and favourite styles. She says she loved all formed of music but specialised in jazz. Her favourite performers includes James Brown and Nina Simone. She sang a bit of a song that she wrote for her mother called Hotel – recounting the fact that a teenager she was brought up in an hotel.
I missed the Purtugalmeet & Greet, but here’s a nice picture of Suzy by David.
The Netherlands are next on stage. The Common Linnets sing Calm After The Storm. The two singers Lise DeLange and Waylon face each other, but beneath them is a moving white line indicating a road. Then the camera pans out to reveal the other musicians and a fantastic graphic backdrop that really suits the mood of the song. The whole performance is very under-stated but extremely classy. The country finally managed to get out f the semis to the final last year – hopefully they can do it again – but a country-style song may struggle to go through. It would be a shame not to see this in the final.
One of my favourites in next – Montenegro. Sergej Cetkovic sings Moj Svijet. I like a tradition Balkan folk song, so I really approve of this. The acts begins with the camera slowly swooping down to reveal Sergej. He’s joined on stage by three other musicians and out of stage left in comes a female skater! Steeling the limelight she performs a short double toe-loop and other ice-skating moves. Those who miss watching that skating with the stars ITV show might be impressed. But it’s actually not a bad performance. Sergej is a great singer, so hopefully the dancing won’t distract too much. Another great graphic backdrop. But hold on – what’s this? They’ve changed the beginning of the act. we’re now starting off with skater with flowers and such appearing under her as she skates across the stage. All very nice. Many readers will of course remember that Russia won the contest with a ice-skater on stage. Will history repeat itself?
And next is my second favourite act of the contest – Hungary! Andras Kallay-Saunders sings Running. If the country are ever going to win the contest then it really should be with this. The acts starts with Kallay sitting on a chair then suddenly running down the catwalk. On stage we see a young female playing the piano – she turns out to be a dancer and the subject of the song. Joining her is a fierce looking male dancer – and together they expertly tell the story of the song – domestic violence. What a powerful performance! This really is a worthy winner for the contest! Perhaps not the usual topic that we have in Eurovision. But life isn’t all about love. UK readers can’t of course vote for the UK – so please feel free to send me to Budapest next year!
Malta are on stage now. They of course start off Semi-Final 2. Firelight sing Coming Home – a very impressive folk-pop song.Originally it was meant to signify immigrant workers, but then video was very much about the 100th anniversary of the start of the first World War. But the performance here on stage is back about immigrant workers. It really is a powerful song – quite emotional with it’s subject matter. The only downside is that with six performers already on stage there isn’t much movement. They just stand there and sing! Nothing wrong with that of course. It’s the song that counts and not the lighting or flashy dancers. Well done Malta!
My favourite song of the contest is on next – Israel. Mei Feingold sings Same Heart. One word to describe the first run-through – wow! Mei seems to be rehearsing in her show outfit and looks very dashing indeed. She’s joined on stage by two female dancers. They have a simple but effective routine – with them even lying on the stage floor. They seems to get up okay. Jealous, or what? They make great use of the stage and the catwalk. Actually, you realise how big the stage is from this performance. Mei and her dancers look quite scary – so don’t mess with them. She also has something in Hebrew tattooed on her arm. I’m sure it reads ‘Vote for me – or else!’ Well, if I were you I would listen to her and vote to send me to Tel Aviv next year. The song is a worthy winner though. It has a great beat and just ticks all the boxes for me. I beat to the same heart as you Mei – I really do! 2′ 53″ of excellence!
I’m being spoilt today with many of my favourites on stage.
Next on stage we have another fan favourite, Norway. Carl Espen sings Silent Storm. A very impressive performance here. Carl is joined on stage by a pianist, four violinists and dry-ce mist. It’s all very subdued – but effective. A bit corny in its styling – but it suits the mood of the pleasant ballad. Carl may look mean and gritty, but he sings the song in a powerful, but soft way. Many think it’s a winner. I’m not so convinced – but it is a serious and worthy challenge from Norway.
At the Hungary Meet & Greet, Kallay came across a very likeable young man. He’s absolutely loving his Eurovision experience and would love to come back every year! His first impressions on stepping on to the stage was “OMG!” – the stage here at the B&W Hallerne is the biggest he’s ever been on. He’s very proud to be representing Hungary. He’s half American, half Hungarian. His father in the States is a well-known record producer – but he never asked for favours from him in regards to entering the music industry. Kallay wants to fall and succeed on his own. He’s very pleased to have fans – and likes to refer to them as more as friends. In the States his only sang R&B songs, but since moving to Europe he’s got into Blues, Rock’n’Roll, Soul, Country, etc. He knows his song has a serious theme, but hopes it something that people can still enjoy and dance to.
Georgia are next on stage. Mariko & The Shin sing Three Minutes To Earth. And here’s a Eurovision first. One of the drummers is standing on his drum while wearing a parachute! He better be careful not to fly off, otherwise it’ll take him more than three minutes to land back on Earth. As a gimmick it’s great fun – but hardly suits the mood of the song. As the song mentions a lonely star he might have been better off in a Buck Rogers outfit with jet-pact and such.Still, this is an unusual folk offering from Georgia – and all credit to them for trying something different, but let’s say that not every act can get through to the final.
Just popped my head around into the Israel Meet & Greet before the last act on stag. Mei seems to be very grounded. She’s really excited about being in Eurovision and didn’t know what to expect. She was pleased with her first rehearsal, but still wants to make some changes – camera angles and some dance movements. She was asked where she got her strong voice. She said it came deep within her soul. Actually she’s a very experienced theatrical performer, so that probably helped. As for her getting through to the final – she’s aiming for the top – as anyone in a contest must do, but as long as she gives it her all, she’ll be happy.
The last act of the day is from Poland – another favourite of mine. Donatan & Cleo singing My Slowianie – We Are Slavic. Donatan is no where to be seen, but Cleo is on stage with three sexy dancers and two rather big-bossomed washer-women. And people ask me why I love Eurovision. This is just a fun and cheeky song – but with a great beat – rap and ethic music meshed expertly together .
And that’s it for today. Be back tomorrow with the rest of Semi-Final 2 acts.