Stockholm blog, Day 2, Tuesday 3rd May

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Reporting live from the press centre in Stockholm are Vision magazine editor Hass Yusuf and assistant editor David Ranted who provides the photos.

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Before we start reporting on today’s rehearsals – the remaining acts for Semi-Final One, let’s talk about the last few Meet & Greets from last night.

I missed watching the rehearsal for the Dutch performance, but at the Meet & Greet questions were asked to Douwe Bob about the ten seconds of silence during his song, Slow Down. Bit of a brave thing to do – I’m sure most viewers will think there’s a technical error – especially if you don’t understand English nor the message of the song.

If Douwe Bob thinks we can really slow down, we’ll have to give him a slap! We’re here to work for OGAE UK not putting our feet up! We haven’t got time for parties! Though we did go to the EuroClub last night.

Anyway, true to his word, Douwe looked nice and relaxed. The theme of his song is to take it easy and put things into perspective. Apparently he had the best cocktail of his life in Stockholm. (I could do with a mojito actually.)

Take it easy Douwe!

Take it easy Douwe!

He did a duet with Anouk (ESC 2013) who advised him to keep it cool and enjoy the experience. Which he appears to be doing.

Growing up his family didn’t even have a TV so wasn’t too aware about Eurovision, but listened to his father’s records from the 1960s and 1970s, which is why his music has a retro feel to it.

He loves Morocco by the way. He went over there to write his album.

Next we had Armenia. Ivata was a real hoot. She’s a very confident young lady and tells it like it is – very forthright and down to earth!

The talk even mentioned sex, where of course I had to cover my sensitive ears!

Iveta wants us to wave to her!

Iveta wants us to wave to her!

But she says the solution to most troubles around the world is a bit of love. As the title of her song suggests, a LoveWave can cure you. A nice sentiment, but I wouldn’t go around hugging strangers if I were you!

I asked her about her ‘super-hero’ outfit – she was wearing a fancy swimsuit and long cape on stage. Apparently that was just to tease us – her actually outfit for the show won’t be revealed yet. Personally I would keep the same outfit – but she promises to add a bit sparkle to her act.

Mr Cool dude, Sherhat, representing San Marino came off as a very likeable person. He took the time to give long answers and seemed very accessible. He’s had a very long and eventful career – trained as a dentist, but instead entered show business as a TV presenter, producer and entertainer. He had lots of international success, which is how he caught the attention of the Sammarinese broadcaster.

Mr Cool Dude - Serhat!

Mr Cool Dude – Serhat!

His entry, I Didn’t Know, was actually written for him ten yeas ago, but he suggested to his producer – just a joke – that they should put the song away for now and enter it for Eurovision one day! Some things do come true!

He also reveals that in 2000 he was in the audience in Stockholm watching the live show and now years later he’s on the show! His first Eurovision was in 1974 – the first show broadcast in Turkey, and he’s been hooked ever since.

His performance on stage by the way was full of lovely ladies on stage and on the LCD backdrop. I love it because of its retro feel. Definitely a guilty pleasure.

The biggest audience for the Meet & Greets was naturally for Sergey of Russia. And what a pleasant surprise to see that stardom hasn’t gone to his head! He came across as a very down-to-earth character. He says he sees himself as an ordinary person and not a ‘star’. A very refreshing attitude from other Russian stars that shall remain nameless, but rhymes with Diva Banal.

During his rehearsal he actually slipped off his special scaffolding, but wasn’t harmed. He found the first rehearsals very exciting and can’t wait to practice on the stage again. Joining him at the Meet & Greet was the legendary Philip Kirkorov who seemed to have taken over the conference – but it was he who persuaded Sergey to enter the Eurovision project. And his entry, You Are The Only One was specially written for him for Eurovision.

Sergey believes in peace and victory...

Sergey believes in peace and victory…

He was asked if he would host Eurovision if Russia wins the contest. He replied that he couldn’t concentrate on that at the moment – as he has a semi-final to pass through first. Though he relises he is expected to do well – but isn’t taking anything for granted.

His performance on stage by the way is full of impressive special effects – but some we’ve seen before last year to be honest. Still, it’ll make everyone shut up and listen.

OK – now it’s time for the rehearsals again.

First up is Gabriela Guncikova from the Czech Republic looking radiant in a white gown singing I Stand. And stands she does. She just relies on her voice and the LCD special effects. Though how she manages to stand with a massive crystal necklace is beyond me. Pearls might have been better.

Doesn't Gabriela look fab?

Doesn’t Gabriela look fab?

Cyprus are next on stage – Minus One are in my top three of favourite songs this year ­­– this Brit pop/rock offering, Alter Ego, is brilliant. Some of the lads are performing in cages – hopefully no one’s throwing away the keys. The wolf from their video makes an appearance in the act.

Minus One are A grade!

Minus One are A grade!

The lead singer fits the bill – he really owns the stage. And he’s definitely a bit of a wolf man. Sheer brilliance! If the UK or France can’t win the contest, then this must! And this is coming from a Turkish Cypriot!

Following the Cypriots is Austria. Zoe sings Loin D’ici – a very charming love song. Zoe is on the stage on her own, but the LCD effects are most effective. And what really makes the song is that it’s sung in French – which sounds fab.

Zoe is extremely charming!

Zoe is extremely charming!

Only managed to see a quick screening of the Estonian song, but Juri Pootsman sung it quite well – loved his specs. The act seemed quite impressive with a Casino Royale deck of cards theme. There’s also a hint of a magic treat.

Juri looks happy enough

Juri looks happy enough

Azerbaijan has toned things down this year – no gimmicks. Just a singer with two backing singers and two dancers. Samra has fine vocals, but they need a bit of polishing. Still, the song is impressive and she looks fab. This should do well for the country.

Samra looks stunning!

Samra looks stunning!

Just managed to catch a bit of the act from Montenegro. And that was probably enough. Not really my cup of tea, but it is good to see this electro-rock act in the contest. The performance was very loud and brash – with interesting camera angles, ie, al over the place!

Highway on the right direction

Highway on the right direction

Onto Iceland. Greta Salome sings Hear Them Calling – and it’s a very spooky and haunting act with some nice special effects. Greta, dressed all in black is in fine voice and conveys the theme of the song well.

Greta can hear you calling!

Greta can hear you calling!

Bosnia & Herzegovina are making a political statement! The act features four performers – singers Dalal & Deen, rapper Jala and cellist Ana Rucner. The title of their song is called Ljbav Je (Love Is). The acts starts with the female performers wearing foil blankets – similar to those given out to immigrants, coming over to Europe, to protect them from the cold. But all they find are barbed wire fences – and that is what divides Dalal and Deen. But once the statement is made, it’s back to the song. I think the whole mixture of different genres – rap, classic and ethnic sounds really make this a unique entry.

The Bosnian act all in black

The Bosnian act all in black

Malta is on next. Ira Losco sings Walk On Water. This apparently is one of the favourites to win the contest. The act is impressive enough, with some nice special effects and Ira is an extremely experienced performer. There’s also a costume change to look forward to.

Ira flying the flag for Malta

Ira flying the flag for Malta

So that ends the first rehearsals for Semi-Final One – however there is one more act to go – Sweden. Even though this entry is actually in the final they’re fitting in this rehearsal early.

And what an understated performance it is. Frans sings If I Were Sorry with a lot of teenage angst. Many think that is another winner for Sweden. And why not –it’ll be well deserved. It’s just a gentle ballad with a great message.

Frans from Sweden shouldn't be sorry!

Frans from Sweden shouldn’t be sorry!

And that’s it for today. A report on today’s Meet & Greets will be up tomorrow morning. It;s been another long day here in the press centre. Tomorrow we’ll also have first rehearsals for the first half of Semi-Final Two (Latvia, Poland, Switzerland, Israel, Belarus, Serbia, Ireland, Macedonia, Lithuania and Australia). Hope you’re all enjoying David’s photos.

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