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Just about 24 hours to go....

The UK branch of ESCKAZ.com is almost ready to leave for Kyiv. In a little over 24 hours time we will be boarding an airplane to re-visit the 2005 host city, now the 2017 host city for the Eurovision Song Contest

If you cannot wait for the updates to start, possibly on Friday, why don't you check out all the performances and interviews from the promo tour which started on 25th March in Riga and only ended last weekend in Madrid

Some thoughts on the Grand Final line up 2016

I normally do this after watching the press run-through on Friday afternoon but as I'm not in Stockholm here's my thoughts and predictions for Eurovision 2016.
1. BELGIUM: Well styled and performed, great show opener but the draw also kills off any chance of doing well. PREDICTION: 11th-15th
2. CZECHIA: An achievement just getting here, but will be long forgotten by voting time. PREDICTION: 21st-26th
3. NETHERLANDS: Stands out, charismatic performance and is quite memorable. Juries will like it. PREDICTION: 6th-10th
4. AZERBAIJAN: Very clever use of backing vocalist and ridiculous choreography doesn’t disguise a weak song. PREDICTION: 16th to 20th
5. HUNGARY: Off-key in the semi and now struggling to be remembered. PREDICTION: 21st-26th
6. ITALY: Mediocre and monotonous song. The lyrics are nice, but in Italian. May get jury votes. PREDICTION: 16th-20th
7. ISRAEL: Bland flat song made to look better by great staging and sound better with a terrific vocal, but it’s still as dull as ditch water. PREDICTION: 11th-15th
8. BULGARIA: Great energy but messy performance and it’s lacking anything that says “vote for me”. PREDICTION: 16th-20th
9. SWEDEN: After last year’s staging, it’s a major gear-change to “less is more”. Very instant song with a contemporary vide which is unusual this year. PREDICTION: Top 5.
10. GERMANY: The studio version is terrific but it’s transferred very badly to the stage and coming after the host country, it has “last place” written all over it. PREDICTION: 21st-26th.
11. FRANCE: Helped by coming after Germany, but the staging is wrong and it just confirms my suspicion that it never was a contender for victory (apart from biggest fanwank). PREDICTION: 11th-15th
12. POLAND: The most old-fashioned song in the show, but it’s well-performed and dramatic and will get jury and diaspora votes. PREDICTION: 6th-10th
13. AUSTRALIA: I don’t like the rather awkward and clumsy staging, but it’s a terrific vocal and this is the best of the over-blown female mid-tempo songs. PREDICTION: Top 5.
14. CYPRUS: It was lucky to qualify after the dreadful messy staging and now Georgia is likely to walk all over it. It should get some Greek diaspora votes though. PREDICTION: 21st-26th.
15. SERBIA: I was disappointed by the old-style Eurovision staging on this. It would have been better creating a jazz club style vibe, but great vocal and strong melody. PREDICTION: Top 5.
16. LITHUANIA: A perfect example of how to sell a very ordinary song with a slick, professional performance. But it’s now caught between two more memorable entries. PREDICTION: 16th-20th.
17. CROATIA: I love the staging and say what you like about the costume, it makes it memorable. Not helped by coming before Russia. PREDICTION: 11th-15th.
18. RUSSIA: If Eurovision was still a song contest, it would struggle to be Top 5, but in a show where music is secondary and against a poor field it’s hard to see another winner. PREDICTION: Top 5.
19. SPAIN: Coming after Russia is not a disaster (ask Czechia). Being a poor version of the far superior Belgian entry is a far bigger issue. PREDICTION: 21st-26th.
20. LATVIA: Patently unsuited to being a show opener, it still survived but it’s still a male, pale, and stale version of last year’s entry. Mind you that was Top 10 in a much better field and the late draw helps. PREDICTION: 6th- 10th.
21. UKRAINE: I was disappointed by this in the semi, but if Albania can be Top 5 with a similar song in a better year, so can Ukraine. You won’t forget it. PREDICTION: Top 5.
22. MALTA: The late draw and being the only contemporary pop song in a run of five helps this poor song and mediocre performance. But again nothing says “vote for me”. Prediction: 21st to 26th
23. GEORGIA: I can’t stand it as a song, but it’s presented terrifically (in contrast to Cyprus) and it adds variety to the show. PREDICTION: 11th-15th.
24. AUSTRIA: The biggest winner of all in draw, and this twee nonsense will actually come as a relief to many after the Georgian onslaught. PREDICTION: 16th to 20th.
25. UNITED KINGDOM: Apart from Israel, no song has improved as much since March as the U.K. The lads now look confident and it’s a terrific draw. PREDICTION: 6th-10th
26. ARMENIA: Italy won the televote from last position last year but Il Volo were unique and charismatic. This is still a nothing song, but absolutely superbly staged. PREDICTION: 6th- 10th

Live - Jury Final (Rolling Blog)

Welcome to our rolling blog of the jury rehearsal.

The contest kicks off with a lively haute couture catwalk featuring all finalists. The songs used are all dance anthems by some of Sweden's most popular dance djs (Avicii, Swedish House Maffia, Axwell, Ingrosso).

Mans and Petra have now appeared on stage, introduce themselves. They are also explaning Europe is going through dark times and hope tonight will unite Europe once more through music. The new voting system is being announced as well.

The running order for tonight:

Belgium: The last will be the first. Very slick performance from Laura, though she's sounding rather nervous tonight. The crowd however, are loving it. Let's hope Laura is back in form tomorrow.

Czech Republic:

The nerves seem to be taken over a little. Gabriela is not sounding as strong as she did in the semi earlier this week. Bit dissapointing, especially when the key change kicks in.

Netherlands:

Solid performance from Douwe Bob. The pause has remained,,, and the muttered I LOVE YOU words are going to swoon many viewers tomorrow evening. Could surprise!

Azerbaijan:

Oh dear... This had such potential before the rehearsals started, and while there was improvement Tuesday evening, Samra's vocals are all over the place tonight... she's sounding much worse than she did on Tuesday. Not even the backings can save this.

Hungary:

Again the vocals are pretty ropey tonight. Has everyone been out partying last night? Adequately enough, and one of the better acts we've seen tonight.

Italy

Francesca sings adequately and better than some of her predecessors. The act is nice enough to convey the message. Not entirely sure how does will do. Met with cheers from the press centre and audience in Globen.

Israel:

Italy could be a trouble though. Hovi from Israel completely outshines Francesca, with his vocals and staging. I would even say, the best vocals of the night by far too.

Bulgaria:

Poli needs to make sure she keeps her voice under control in the verses otherwise superb energetic entry which is going to do extremely well.

Sweden:

The home entry is met with a huuuuuge response of course. Not entirely sure about his vocals though, but Frans works the camera oh so well. Difficult to predict what this will do. For the first time it feels like If I Were Sorry drags on much longer than the 3 minutes it is.

Germany:

Jamie-Lee still has problems finding the cameras by the looks of it... Vocals are also sounding pretty nervous tonight.

France:

Amir's letting us down a bit. vocally it sounded okay but once the key change starts, the vocals are completely losing control. The empty staging is however the main point of concern.

Poland:

Michal Szpak on the other hand is giving flawless vocals tonight...well until the last chorus, then it gets a little shouty. Don't over do it, Michal...

Australia:

Dami Im... what a voice... Ok yes, there is some freestyling going on, but Dami's voice is strong and confident. Has pretty much blown everything in the competition away.

Cyprus:

Very shouty vocals for Minus One, out of breath as well... but a great reaction from the audience. Can't see this doing extremely well.

Serbia:

Easily the best vocals of the night so far. Literally wiped the floor with everyone so far... will be showered with points by the juries, and again tomorrow night.

Lithuania:

Donny Montell is very much in his element here. Vocals are being a little bit compensated but that's pretty normal considering there's a lot of dancing going on. Great staging for this too.

Croatia:

Shaky vocals which aren't as clear as we know from Nina. She hits the high notes in the key change though but then the freestyling goes a little bit wrong. Don't do the freestyling Nina...

Russia:

Great vocals and not a foot set wrong... Sergey may just have snatched the game back from Australia... Can anyone still take it from him?

Spain:

The build up for Spain to that first chorus is incredibly but that fall just ruins it... Barei also sounds out of breath and the whole production sounds really rushed... Slow down Barei.

Latvia:

You can not fault Justs for his vocals. He just sounds incredible. Whether that is enough to get him through, is another question though.

Ukraine:

Visually very strong and flawless vocals from Jamala. Spine tingling and full of drama. A contender for top ten, but not a winner.

Malta:

Adequate singing from Ira, but her song doesn't really have that extra push to go all the way. Radio friendly, which viewers at home will most definitely compare to the Naughty Boy and Emeli Sande sound.

Georgia:

Absolutely bonkers performance from Georgia... Deliciously alternative...

Austria:

Zoe from Austria has become an absolute fan favourite with her song Loin D'Ici... Even for me. I like everything about it. Confident sweet singer, who's come to Stockholm with a fairytale... Eurovision and Disney have always had a soft spot for each other.. I don't see any reason why this would be different.

United Kingdom:

Still some work on finding the cameras for Joe & Jake. Vocals get better as the song progresses. Lots of pyros in the performance too at the end. Sounds great in the hall, but doesn't really leave much impact on screen.

Armenia:

Iveta's staging and vocal capabilities are simply divine. Huge reaction in the hall and press centre. Keep an eye out of for this one.

This is where we end the our live blog roll for tonight's rehearsal.

Have a great night.

Fake voting.....on the screen in the press centre now.....

The whole of the press centre is watching is rapt attention....
GUYS....it's fake :-D
It really does not mean anything
BUT
It look like Armenia might win :-P

8/10 for both Daniel and I this evening....

Boo for Ireland
Yay for Georgia and Yay for Belgium

WiwiJam debut a success!

For the first time in Eurovision history, fellow Eurovision community Wiwibloggs organised a spectacular, star studded event with appearances from Melodifestivalen candidates, Eurovision veterans and participants in the 2016 class.

Hosts of the night, Deban and William, got the crowed eating out of their hands with their witty introductions and shared enthusiasm, Ant and Dec, watch out for these two.

There were plenty of performances, which we listed below:

Suzy - Quero Ser Tua

Suzy - Quedate Conmigo

The Hungry Hearts ft Lisa Dillon - Laika

Isa - Ego

Lidia Isac - Falling Star (Acoustic French Version) (Moldova 2016)

Lisa Ajax - My Heart Wants Me Dead

Lisa Ajax - Give Me That

Robin Bengtsson - Constellation Price

Iveta Mukuchyan - LoveWAve (Acoustic Version) (Armenia 2016)

Maja Keuc - Close To You

Maja Keuc - No One (Slovenia 2011)

Gabriela Gunčíková - I Stand (Czech Republic 2016)

Gabriela Gunčíková - Highway To Hell

Greta Salome - Hear Them Calling (Iceland 2016)

Greta Salome - Never Forget (Iceland 2012)

Deen - In The Disco (Bosnia Herzegovina 2004)

Alex Panayi - Sti Fotia (Cyprus 1995)

Krista Siegfrid - Like A Virgin/Marry Me (Finland 2013)

Krista Siegfrid - Faller

Serhat - Je m'Adore

Serhat - I Didn't Know (San Marino 2016)

Sergey Lazarev - You Are The Only One (Russia 2016)

Sergey Lazarev - Take It Off

Amir - J'Ai Cherche

Amir - Golden Boy

What a great event. Thank you Wiwibloggs for having us!

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