Welcome to the Kyiv! Words by Hass Yusuf, images by David Ransted. This blog will be constantly updated throughout the day.
We had a few technical problems end of play last night, so if abruptly end again, that’ll be why.
Anyway, today we have first rehearsals of the second half of Some-Final 1. But before that, let’s talk about the rest of the Meet & Greets from last night.
Tamara from Georgia: Tamara says she’s a positive person and feels a lot of support from Kyiv. She comes from a musical background – her father is a composer and plays in many jazz concerts. Her inspiration is Michael Jackson, who she considered a ‘alien’. The message of her song is to stay strong. There may be tough moments in your life, but keep the faith and carry on. She enjoyed her first rehearsals, but want to make changes for the next set.
Lindita from Albania: She’s loving the whole experience of being in Kyiv – everyone looks like a model she says. Well looking around in the press conference we may have to send to Spec Savers. Anyway, Lindita was actually born in Kosova and now lives the US – where she likes to keep fit by weight lifting. Her inspiration is her mother, who has had to struggle in life. It was always her dream to enter Eurovision which she says is a great platform for her career. One of her most memorable moments was singing with the great Stevie Wonder (where she couldn’t stop crying of joy).
Isaiah from Australia: The young man hasn’t seen much of Kyiv yet expect for the inside of a McDonalds. It was a massive dream of his to enter Eurovision after seeing Jessica Mauboy perform in the interval act a few years ago. He actually supported her on tour. Being a member of the Australian ‘First Nation’ , he’s breaking a few stereotypes being famous for being part of the arts rather than sports. He wants to inspire young people to aim for their dreams.
Blanche from Belgium: Blanche actually smiles and is actually very engaging talking away – very different from her stage persona. She said she had a good rehearsal (don’t think so) and wasn’t nervous at all. She was inspired to sing by her brother. She was asked why her act on stage was so bright when the song is a bit dark. She replied the act wanted to show the bright lights of the city. Personally I don’t think it sorted the mood of the song – but we shall see.
Slavko from Montenegro: Slavko says there was a problem with his audio on stage, so that will need to be fixed by the next set of rehearsals. He’s a very talkative person which explains his very positive demeanour. He’s very much an artist – actor, singer, dancer, name it – he’s done it (or will do). The braded ‘pony-tail’ he wears is meant to symbolise power. He’s very much into spiritualism – he likes to draw in the life energy from the universe. In his personal life he says he very ‘normal’, but on stage he becomes a different person. He wants to write a book on his experiences in Eurovision – he adores the mixes of religion and culture. Over all he’s a very cosmopolitan person. I would say more cosmic…
Norma John from Finland: Leena and Lasse revealed the original of the name of the group. It comes from Marilyn Monroe – real name Norma Jean, and her supposedly affair with US President John F Kennedy. There’s always a reason. I asked them if they were hopeful of a good result as in their national final they scored highly from the international juries. Obviously they said yes! They didn’t really expect to win their national final, but thought Blackbird must’ve struck the right mood on the night. The duo have been friends since college days but also perform outside of the group. They often present songs to other people if it doesn’t feel right for Norma John. The really believe that Eurovision is all about diversity. They think the Belgian song is super-cool.
Dihaj from Azerbaijan: The Azeris presented a video before their Meet & Greet. Dihaj now lives in London but is a regular visitor to Kyiv. She came across as a very interesting person. She explained the concept of her act. The box signifies her inner world and the horse-head guy is the bad boy mentioned in her song. He’s on a ladder to signify the distance between their destructive relationship. It’s all very surreal of course. Hopefully it won’t distract from a very impressive song.
Luisa from Portugal: Represent her brother, Luisa explained that Salvador isn’t allowed to be away for more than one week from his medical team due to his heart condition. But he will be around for the second set of rehearsals. She and Salvador grew up singing together. She edged more towards composing while he became more of a singer. The song explains that he has enough love for his ex-lover even though she doesn’t feel the same. She knows that Salvador is expected to do well and would love to see the song in a good spot in the Grand Final. Personally I would so love it to win.
So, let’s get back to today. From the Press Centre we’re viewing all that is happing in the arena via loads of screens.
First off today is Demy from Greece singing This Is Love. It’s a lively performance with Demy is standing on a raised platform (dressed like a Greek Goddess) – and in small pool below her are two male dancers swishing and splashing away. No, it’s not camp at all… Very nice backdrop though – all based on a water theme. The effects will definitely be remembered. This is very much a decent generic pop song, but there’s nothing Greek about it at all which is a shame. Still, it should do well for them, though Demy just needs to tighten up her vocals – which is what all these rehearsals are all about.
Kasia Mos from Poland is next on stage singing Flashlight. Kasia is dressed in white and has a good voice where she belts out the mid-tempo ballad. She’s joined on stage by a violinist. There isn’t really much more to add. The act isn’t going to set the world on fire. The song is decent enough and well performed, but that’s about it. It may struggle to stand out, but should do well enough if it gets through to the Grand Final.
And now we have Moldova. SunStroke project perform Hey Mamma! This is a lively jazzy ditty with the three singers and musicians joined on stage by three white-gowned female vocalists. It’s a good act, with lots of foot-tapping, but the song isn’t doing much for me. Mind you in Oslo in 2010, the group did qualify for the Grand Final
Time for Svala from Iceland singing Paper. The lovely Svala is dressed like a super-hero with a bodice, leggings and flowing white cape, and a neat hair-do to boot. This a decent enough act sung well by Svala. Paper is a sort of indie-electro pop number that should do well. The act so far is a bit under-whelming, but the laser props haven’t arrived yet. Something to look forward in the second rehearsals.
Next we have Martina Barta for the Czech Republic singing My Turn. She’s dressed in a silver one-piece. The stage has turned nice and purple while her graphic backdrop is of images from her video featuring people in their skin-coloured underwear. Martina is a fab singer and the ballad is impressive, but it may struggle among to get through to the Grand Final – but it deserves too as this is a classy song.
Hovig from Cyprus is on next singing Gravity. Like other male performers in this year’s contest, he can’t afford socks. He’s joined on stage by two male dancers who can. The act very much mirrors the lyrics of the song – walking a tightrope, leaning on each other and ankle grabbing – so top marks from a story-telling point of view. Personally I like it a lot – it’s a decent act, but will it stand out enough to get the viewers to vote for it?
And next we have another favourite of mine, Armenia. Artsvik performs Fly With Me. It’s a good performance with Artsvik joined by two female dancers. The only thing I find disappointing is that there aren’t more dancers as like her video. I presume the other members of the team are her backing singers behind the stage. Still, those on stage put on a good show. It’s all very kinetic and will definitely stand out. Armenia is on a great roll with their entries. They really should win the contest soon. Fly With Me would make a worthy winner.
Now it’s time for Slovenia. Omar Naber sings On My Way. And boy does he sing it! I could hear the first rehearsal while I was in the press conference hall! Omar is all alone on the stage but his presence can be probably be felt in the entire arena. He definitely owns the stage. He really knows how to engage with the camera as well. It’s a really powerful ballad that has the potential to put Omar through to the Grand Final. The graphic effects are also very interesting involving mirrors/windows.
The last song of the day is from Latvia. Triana Park sing Line… I have to admit I never rated the song much – but this was the performance of the day! What a great way to end Semi-Final 1. The whole act is well presented and full of psychedelic images – so bright and colourful. And you see the professional of Triana Park. The band are obviously used to playing live. Line is very much a contemporary indie sound and will offer some diversity to the Grand Final if it gets through – which on today’s performance it really has to!
And that’s it for today. Back tomorrow with a report on today’s Meet & Greets and the first rehearsals from Semi-Final 2.