Vienna Blog Day 1 Monday 11 May

Welcome to Vienna.Words by Hass Yusuf. Photos by David Ransted.

This blog is constantly updated throughout the day so check in when you get a chance for all the latest developments.

Well here we are again! And this time we’re Building Bridges in Vienna. Well, something has to pay for this trip! I am of course jesting. ‘Building Bridges’ is of course the slogan for this year’s Eurovision. That slogan would’ve suited the previous two Eurovisions as a bridge does like link Copenhagen in Denmark with Malmo in Sweden! And last year’s slogan image was a diamond – which would’ve better suited this year as it is Eurovision’s 60th Anniversary! But who ever said Eurovision was logical?

Anyway, as usual it’s a privilege to be here – and as it is for them – we don’t go anywhere y’know! I am of course lying – we’ll go anywhere – who cares about police states or human rights – we’ll go where the action is! The event is paramount! Who can resist these weeks of mirth, merriment, magic, music or other words beginning with ‘m’. And we avoid any miserable, mucky or malice (I’ve been told ‘mass debating’ is too rude).

But there’s nothing negative here in Vienna, Austria. We’ve only been here one day and we’ve had a fab time. Vienna seems very civilized and everyone is very friendly. We’re in for a fab time! As usual I’m here with lots of Brits and Irish fans and journalists. I’m hanging around as usual with David Ransted, David Elder and Robin Scott.

Just waiting now for the first rehearsal… and it’s late…

But we have finally have vision on the big screens here in the press centre.


OK – OMG! This act clearly caters for everyone. The dancers are scantily dressed policemen and policewomen! And singer Eduard Romanyuta, who’s hit the gym, gets his shirt ripped off. This is pure Eurovision – but the song is impressive and modern. You couldn’t really ask for a better beginning… and as the song says I Want Your Love. The close up of a policewoman’s wobbling booty will make many pubescent boys pick up that phone to vote…

If any handcuffs come out, it’s going to be my new favourite.

And next we have ARMENIA.
This is a very stylized act. With six singers (from around the world) each singing their part there’s plenty of opportunity for things to go wrong – but this rehearsal went well. It’s al very goth-like with everyone dressed in robes. The effects are impressive, especially on stage floor – and I imagine that’s an apricot tree swaying in the background. The song is about the country’s sad history a hundred years ago. It’s probably the most political song in the contest. Armenia accuses Turkey of genocide during the First World War (and the collapse of the Ottoman empire), which the Turks adamantly deny. Anyway, good luck to Genealogy with Face The Shadow.

Next is BELGIUM with a modern sound.
Loic Nottet sings Rhythm Inside and it certainly has a lot of rhythm! The stage act is a bit lack-lustre to what we’ve had so far, but the song will appeal to the younger crowd. There’s a lot of bright flashing white lights with the effects. Loic seems like a confident performer. He even has a sit-down. One of our colleagues here says he has hypnotic eyes. He’s obviously instructing us all to vote for him. And we should as this is the sort of song that really needs to be the final to offer diversity.

This seems like a good time to mention the fabulous stage that seems to get in on the act. The Austrians have done a great job.

Next we have the NETHERLANDS.
There’s a lot skin in this year’s contest so far and Trijntje Oosterhuis is revealing the most with her song Walk Along. Trust me, no one will walk past her trying to avert their eyes! Her outfit is quite revealing – one wrong camera angle and it’s nipples galore! The backing singers have unusual outfits, but are fully clothed. But back to song, which I guess is the more important thing (though many would disagree). This is a mid-tempo pop song that’s written by Anouk Teeuwe, who managed a few years ago to get the Netherlands into the final after years of being stuck in the semis. Will Trijntje be as successful? It deserves to be. Unfortunately the outfit will be remembered more than the song.

Just been to the first Meet & Greet from Moldova.
He’s a clever lad – studying for a PhD. Eduard says it’s difficult trying to fit in studies with music, but at the moment his music and Eurovision has to come first. He’s very happy to start off Eurovision, as he performed first at the Moldovan semi-final, so hopes that position will bring him luck and he’ll win the Semi-Final One on Tuesday 19th May!

As for their act with the leather-clad police, he said they wanted to make the act memorable. It certainly did that – “break the ice, fire it up” were his words. It did both!

At the Armenian Meet & Greet, the six singers representing the US, France, Australia, Asia, Africa and Armenia (the Armenian diaspora is spread all around the world) were very careful not to mention the events of a hundred years ago even when some of the questions were loaded. Their song is all about peace and love – and the contest’s theme, Building Bridges, is extremely relevant here. They say while you have to look to the future you mustn’t your past – face your shadow so to speak. The song is also meant to unite all the Armenians around the world – the group are proud that their people are located all around the world. They apparently think that’s unique…

And at the Belgian Meet & Greet, young Loic came across very well. While only 19 years old, everything on stage was his doing. He was discovered a year ago on a talent show, and now a year later he’s representing his country at Eurovision! He was asked about the unique choreography with his dancers performing strange movements. He said he wanted to represent the perfect person – hence a robot!

When he goes on stage he says it’s very important to be yourself. As for his song writing – the songs represents his feelings at the time – either happy or sad.

At the Netherlands press conference, Trijntje revealed that she’s completely focused on her three minutes on stage. She’s amazed at the organizational feat of Eurovision. She says it’s extremely professional – and is getting a good vibe. She’s conscious that the organiers are trying to make each song look “beautiful”.

A Dutch designer called Prince Charming designed her dress by the way, but her whole team had a say in it. I’m sure they did.

Back on stage we have FINLAND.
This act features a four-member band, PKN, who are either autistic or suffer from Down Syndrome. But what makes the act unusual for Eurovision is that they offer a punk song, Aina Mun Pitaa (I Always Have To). As a punk song it’s okay, and offers the contest some diversity. As you would expect, the staging is quite frantic – mist, quick editing and so forth. It has a certain appeal – and after 30 years or so, it’s nice to hear some punk again!

Next on stage is GREECE
Now what is it about cleavage in this contest this year? Not that I’m complaining, but here’s another good-looking single on the verge of a wardrobe malfunction! However, the lovely Maria Elena sings One Last Breath (very apt in that outfit). The song is a somewhat average, but decent ballad – it is however very well staged, with a nice backdrop and good use of the wind machine!

ESTONIA is next on stage.
Now this is one of my favourite songs of the whole contest. It’s a great country-style song with a 1960s beat, Goodbye To Yesterday, sung by Elina Born & Stig Rasta. I have to admit, this first rehearsal seemed quite disjointed – but will no doubt improve with the next rehearsal. At the moment it’s got that hand-held camera look. But the staging idea is impressive.
It’s a bit of a dark song with a message – but sounds great. I really hope it does well.

Next on stage we find the act from MACEDONIA
Daniel Kajmakosk sings Autumn Leaves. It’s an impressive sounding ballad, but the act is a bit distracting with everyone side-stepping each other. The competition is so tough as usual that every acts needs that something ‘special’ to make it stand out. It’s a shame that a song can’t stand on its own merit these days. But then again, a great stage act makes Eurovision such a pleasure to watch!

That was the last act on stage, so back to the Meet & Greets.

The Finnish one with the punk band was real hoot! The band insist that they’re here to win the contest! They do however find the stage to big, so they’ve concentrated their act in a small part of it. Asked about a punk song being in Eurovision, they replied that punk is also music so deserves to be in the contest. They think punk is good old-fashioned fun.

Interesting enough, because members do have learning disabilities, they use colours and shapes to remember things.