Vision editor Hass Yusuf writes the words and assistant editor David Ransted supplies the photos.
So here we are on Day 4. It could be Thursday, who knows? Night and day just merge here in Eurovisionland!
Anyway, time to catch up on the remaining Meet & Greets from yesterday.
Hovi from Israel really took control of the hall making everyone laugh with his views on life, and impersonation of Malta’s Ira Losco (but they’re good friends) and even taking a selfie with the photographers.
Hovi is openly gay, but insists that his song is meant for everyone and it’s a message of finding your inner strength.
He says that he wasn’t too happy with his first rehearsal – he’s a perfectionist – but it will be by the time comes for his semi-final. But he applauded the Swedish technical team for their professionalism.
He feels it is his mission to bring respect to his country and is aiming for an even better placing than last year (when Israel came ninth). He feels everyone is unique so there’s no point in comparing artists.
The video of his song featured drones, but they won’t be allowed on a live stage! A shame as it could’ve been fun – especially if they crashed into the audience! Just joking of course… maybe.
Ivan from Belarus was up next. The white stripes on his face are meant to convey nature and mysticism. Either that or his toothpaste tube exploded!
He was sad that a real wolf – which plays an important part in his act – wasn’t allowed on stage! Again, it would’ve been interesting to see what would’ve happened if it escaped into the audience. That’s the beauty of live TV of course.
He comes from a family of musicians so it was only natural that he became a singer. I asked him if it took a lot of training for him to reach his high vocal notes, or did it come naturally. He says it takes constant high work to get it right.
Winter is his favourite season and loves the effects that snow brings. And of course, there are any mosquitoes.
The wolf seems to the adopted animal of Eurovision these days. Last year we had Hour Of The Wolf by Azerbaijan, and this year both Belarus and Cyprus feature wolves in their acts.
Sanja for Serbia just loves to talk and talk…and talk! She’s having a wonderful experience at the moment – never been on such a big stage before – she’s even too excited to eat. The first thing she noticed were the cameras – and she knows all the ones that she needs to focus on! Very professional.
She’s having fun with her new Eurovision friends. All the performers seem to become good friend as they do all the preview shows together as a build up to the main event. Hovi Star from Israel is her new BFF.
She said she screamed with delight, after a few seconds silence, when she was first rung up to be told that the broadcaster were considering her as Serbia’s representative.
She loves Arabic music and sang a song in that language for the press. Very excellent indeed. Then her backing singers came on stage to perform a medley.
The message of the Come Together theme for her is to cross the borders…
Nicky Byrne from Ireland just oozes confidence and charm. You can tell he’s a presenter these days back home. Nicky has announced the Irish scores for the past few years, but now he’s happy to be on the Eurovision stage.
He could feel that the country have been upset by the lack of success Ireland has had lately, so he suggested to the national broadcaster that he has a song on his album that might be perfect for Eurovision. So he became the first Irish performer to be selected internally. Other Irish acts weren’t too happy about this, but Nicky insisted that something new had to be tried in their selection process.
He says many top artists don’t want to do Eurovision because they’re afraid of failure. He says however that’s it more important – and should be honour – no matter the outcome – to represent your country.
Before he joined the extremely Westlife boy band, Nicky played soccer as a goalie – but his height, ‘only’, 5’ 10” let him down. Though he did play professionally for Leeds United for a number of years, and the Irish youth team.
Nicky performed at the 20th anniversary memorial of the Hillsborough disaster seven years ago, and is very happy with the recent result of the enquiry.
Football and Eurovision. A good mix if you ask me. Though of course the day of the Eurovision final is slotted in only after the date of the European Championship is settled. Both are broadcast by the EBU, so they mustn’t be any conflict.
Kaliopi from Macedonia is one of the nicest people in Eurovision this year. She’s just a fun character. And she really appreciates all the fans and press. She remembered many of us from 2012 when she was last on the show.
The first rehearsal for her was a just like a first rehearsal – something to improve on.
She chose to sing in her native language because the vowels in English are too confusing to fit in with the style of her song.
As the title of her song is Dona, she presented the press a treat – donuts! I didn’t partake, but I actually expected Donner kebabs!
Donny from Macedonia was next. He thought the rehearsals are going in the right direction, but room for improvement.
He was in the show in 2012 and always knew he would return. He thinks he has changed during the past four years.
Even though he’s out to win Eurovision, it’s not all about winning – it’s more important to be a winner within yourself, but he’s going to do his utmost best for Eurovision. Though he admits that while Lithuania would love to win Eurovision, basketball is the event that brings the whole country together.
The last Meet & Greet of the day was for Australia, Dami Im is certainly a stand out character – of course being an ethnic Korean makes it easier! She came over to Australia aged nine and has loved living there ever since. Twelve per cent of Australians are of Asian origin, so she’s getting a lot of support from them, as well as the general public, as Australia, like the UK is a very multi-cultural country.
In 2013 she won the Australian X Factor and is big in K-Pop (Korean pop music). She started off being a gospel singer and can also play the piano and violin. Such talent! Makes you sick, doesn’t it?
Anyway she was blown away by the stage here in Stockholm, but felt everything happened so quickly.
Her song is all about loneness, which could explain why she spends most of the performance on a box – just looking glamorous of course.
Unlike last year, Australia has fight for its place in the final, and Dami thinks that is a good thing. It gives her a powerful feeling that she has to give her best and nothing is taken for granted.
The first rehearsal of the day is from Slovenia with ManuElla singing Blue And Red. It’s a lively Country & Western tune with ManElla is in fine form. She’s dressed in a white outfit that is very tight up top (very bondage-like). If she’s not careful her boobies might pop out! She’s on her own on stage for most of the time, then a half-naked male gymnast (he’s behind you luv!) comes along to distract everything. Even more distracting are the pyrotechnics at the end of the act. They really aren’t needed. This excellent song is good enough without any gimmicks.
Next up is Bulgaria with Poli Genova performing If Love Were A Crime. And to keep up the crime-fighting theme Poli is dressed in a rather impressive black, white and cream coloured super-hero outfit. It’s difficult to take your eyes off her – and why would you want to? This up-tempo song is one of the best in the contest, so hopefully do well for the country.
Poli spends most of the time on stage alone, but is joined by her backing singers (her side-kicks?) near the end of the performance. Excellent stuff.
Time for Denmark now. Lighthouse X sing Soldiers Of Love. It’s a typical boy band act. The three lads just stand in a row and sing and ten go on a tour around the stage, trying not to bump into each other. And there’s nothing wrong with that. The only gimmick of t their microphone stands all lit up is effective, but the pyros at the end aren’t really needed. The song is a decent up-tempo number, but not sure if it’ll stand out enough to get into the final though.
Jamala from Ukraine is next. She sings 1944, a somewhat sombre tale of the forced extradition of the native Tartar people from the Crimea by Stalin in that year. You can tell that Jamala really sings this song from her heart. It’s obviously very special to her.
The special lighting effects help tell her story of hope perfectly. This song is expected to well among certain countries in Europe.
Agnete from Norway is next on stage. She was a popular singer from her national final, and sings Icebreaker. Personally, I don’t like it, but can understand it’s appeal. Agnete is actually quite ill, but you wouldn’t know it watching her rehearse.
She’s joined on stage with a dancer – but she definitely has a fuller figure. Well done to Norway! Who needs size zero dancers all the time?
Georgia is on next. Nika Locharov & Young Generation Lolitaz sing Midnight Gold. This is a good effort of a Brit-rock song – a decent electro-rock offering.
They’ve been given the split-screen treatment that looks very effective.
Next up is a very understated performance from Eneda Tarifa from Albania singing Fairytale. Laura just stands there and sings helped along with her backing singers in the background. This act really relies on Eneda’s’s voice and the lovely redhead definitely delivers.
As a tribute to Ovidiu Anton of Romania, and to show him the Eurovision family is missing him and his country from the contest (Romania were thrown out of this year’s contest for not paying their bills for the past few years despite repeated warnings), a little sing-song of his entry Moment Of Silence was organised by a few websites in the press hall. Leading the singing was Lidia Isac from Moldova. Myself and David Elder were standing in the back singing along. Neither of us are thinking of entering next year’s UK section though.
The last act of the day is from Belgium. Laura Tesoro sings What’s The Pressure. This isn’t my favourite song of the contest, but this should sail through into the final. The whole performance is full of energy and the style is definitely funky. Laura and her team dance around the whole stage. A perfect end to this semi-final. It’s nice to end on feel-good song.
And that’s it for tonight. An earlier finish than usual. Back in the morning with the Meet & Greets from today.