ESC 2016

Stockholm round-up

Andy on Mon, 05/16/2016 - 14:11

We definitely did not expect it due to a quite low bar set up by Malmö, but Stockholm organization of the show has been almost perfect.

We had a very conveniently located Arena, which was near to the metro station, it almost can't get closer. We had all proper facilities in the Arena, including even interview lists (!, first time ever done prior to our arrival), and also excellent speed wi-fi which was available even in the arena itself. The biggest downpoint probably were the stairs down to the press-center, several of our team members had their legs sprained on it.

The Eurovillage was huge and had everything in it, so hopefully everyone enjoyed the program in it and Tele2 arena. The Euroclub/Eurocafe also seemed a great treat to Eurofans, especially with OGAE accreditations.

For me personally the great highlight of the week was Mamma Mia! the Party which we have reviewed here: http://esckaz.com/new/blog/mamma-mia-party-7155 Euroweek for me was made not only with Eurovision, but with different other events such as Hairspray musical in Tivoli, Copenhagen, heavy metal concerts of Treat, Allegiance of Rock, Abramis Brama and Starlight in Stockholm, a visit to Medelhavsmuseet and several beautiful churches etc.

Remember that you can check a huge video and photogallery from our reports on the links in the right column.

We're looking forward Ukraine next year, and as usually are open for any suggestions which you can mail us to info@esckaz.com , we're also looking for collaborators so if you want to become part of #TeamKaz, send you CVs in English language to the same e-mail as well.

Thanks a lot for staying with us this week and we hope you all enjoyed our production. Great thanks to all the delegations, artists and their teams who have collaborated with us on our coverage, it always is highly appreciated.

Goodbye and see you soon.

Winner predictions from Daniel and I

Mike;

Still calling it for Russia this year, with either Australia or Ukraine in second place

BUT I would love to see Austria do it, that would be simply amazing but unlikely to happen and of course I am totally hoping for a top 10 place for Georgia

Daniel

Think that Russia will still pull this off, with a dark horse as Serbia and France possibly having their best score for years.

Would love to see Russia win this all in the end BUT at the same time Bulgaria should hopefully do well too, good luck to Poli

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.

Semi two predictions from us two.....

From Mike;

Latvia Yes
Poland Yes
Switzerland No
Israel Yes
Belarus Maybe
Serbia Yes
Ireland Yes
Macedonia Maybe
Lithuania No
Australia Yes
Slovenia No
Bulgaria Yes
Denmark Yes
Ukraine Yes
Norway No
Georgia No
Albania Maybe
Belgium Yes

I am really unsure about Ireland so may swop that with Macedonia or Belarus

From Daniel;

Latvia Yes
Poland Yes
Switzerland No
Israel Yes
Belarus No
Serbia Yes
Ireland Yes
Macedonia No
Lithuania No
Australia Yes
Slovenia Yes
Bulgaria Yes
Denmark No
Ukraine Yes
Norway No
Georgia No
Albania No
Belgium Yes

Daniel is unsure about Albania and Belarus and might swop those with Slovenia and Latvia

Live blog second Semi Jury Show

Rolling live blog of Jury Show Second semi

Keep Refreshing this page;

Opening;

Views of Globen and crowd shots and COME TOGETHER. Seem like quite a crowd in the area too which is nice.

Now we have lots of Swedish humour and comedy form the hosts, but this washes over me and leaves me very cold I am afraid. All a bit too much MF for my liking.

Both hosts resplendent in silver jacket for Mans and a dress for Petra....all very sparkly. And now we have a duet from the two of them....very smorgasbord like in Malmo

Latvia

Justs creates this emotional monster on stage as he leaps around and gives everything to the performance. For me it is slightly over doing things. Yes he has a great voice but this is not how to perform an Aminata song. That said the backdrop is just perfect for this. Sure fire qualifier but no winner....
Lots of crowd cheering for this though...
The graphics look amazing too

Poland

Michal always hits the spot for me. Simply effective staging for this seems to work. Nothing none of us have not seen on the promo tour or the rehearsal clips so far. He does seem to come to life on stage with his powerful voice and presence. The real issue is that the song is a bit weak both lyrically and musically. He tries his best but given what he has to work with this is not really doing it for me.
Juries should fall in love with this though.....the emotion in his eyes and connection with the camera is one of the highlights this year.
And words on the backdrop are always a no-no in my world, sorry

Switzerland

Sorry but this is going no where fast. No charism, no charm, nothing at all really. Tonight the blue hair is still there and this time it’s curly, but no amount of whacky clothes, designer hair or anything is saving this from being one of the 8 that go home.
3 minutes I will never get back

Israel

Simply perfection from Hovi, great presence, great voice, perfectly suited to this song…the stage really lifts this too, this could really scoop a lot of votes on final night. Yes qualifying and with a good draw on final night who knows?
The earnest emotion that he's given tonight does make me think that Hovi has a lot more to gibe as an artist in the future....and seeing the acrobats on screen for the first time I now get the the inclusion of them on the stage.
Oh and a pyro waterfall.....always love them.....can we have them in every song please?

Belarus

Amazing staging totally distracts from the weak song here, though IVAN does make good use of all the stage and performs the hell out of it. What would have happened if the guy had been given a half decent song to sing? Oh and the baby is still there. Weirdly.
But it's not all about the staging, it's about the song and this is getting totally lost after Israel and before Serbia
Also we have some missed camera angles tonight with his.....but he bring sit back by hitting all those important notes at the end of the song
And he does look amazingly cool on stage

More Eurovision Taxi moments, with some folks that we know.
While this is quite funny the guest appearances from Lordi really give away that this was totally contrived and constructed, which steal the magic for me

Serbia

Great song and great vocal BUT and it’s a small but, the staging is so dark that it loses something for me here. I feel ditched from the performance and slightly distracted by he dancer. But toward the end it starts to lift and when the backing vocalists gather around her it pulls it back a bit for me.
She is giving her all to this tonight though. however like Belarus we do have a few missed camera moments tonight too.

Semi One predictions from Daniel and me

Mike;

Finland No
Greece No
Moldova Maybe
Hungary Yes
Croatia Yes
The Netherlands Yes
Armenia Yes
San Marino No
Russia Yes
Czech Republic Yes
Cyprus Maybe
Austria Yes
Estonia Maybe
Azerbaijan Yes
Montenegro No
Iceland Yes
Bosnia and Herzegovina Yes
Malta Yes

So someone will miss out from my predictions, and sadly I think it will be Austria

From Daniel;

Finland No
Greece No
Moldova Maybe
Hungary Yes
Croatia Yes
The Netherlands Yes
Armenia Yes
San Marino No
Russia Yes
Czech Republic Yes
Cyprus No
Austria Yes
Estonia No
Azerbaijan Maybe
Montenegro No
Iceland Yes
Bosnia and Herzegovina Yes
Malta Yes

Some slight disagreements here, but more or less we agree this year

Anyway what the hell do we know.....though we usually get 7-9 out of 10

Predictions for Tonight's Semi Final

It's hard to believe tonight the first semi final is taking place. How that week of rehearsals has flown by. So time to give predictions on who will qualify and who shouldn't.

Way back in March when Bulgaria released their song, I ended up with a top 42 after hearing each song once. So based on that list, my personal qualifiers would have been:

Azerbaijan, Russia, Armenia, Estonia, Austria, Malta, Czech Republic, Cyprus, The Netherlands and Croatia.

But two months on, guest apperances throughout Europe AND the rehearsals last week, have shifted things around a little bit. So my careful prediction for the countries going through tonight are:

Russia
Armenia
Iceland
Bosnia Herzegovina
Greece
Estonia
The Netherlands
Malta
Azerbaijan
and Czech Republic

We'll find out whether I'm right, later on tonight.

Happy Semi 1 everyone :)

Jury show 1st semifinal

Andy on Mon, 05/09/2016 - 20:04

Refresh the page for live blog.

We start with Mans and kid performing Heroes. The complete kids choir joins them on the stage for the last chorus.

Intro about Sweden and we see hosts entrance. First words: Welcome to the Eurovision Song Contest 2016. Yes, it was really 3 long years, but finally we're back in Sweden again.

Mans thanks Vienna for the wonderful show last year in German.

Petra say she was doing absolutely nothing since 3 years ago, sitting home on the sofa and praying that someone would return contest to Sweden so she can get employed again.

Magic words: Welcome, Europe! show appearance of Europe the Band stand-ins performing Final Countdown. Hosts apologize for misunderstanding.

Bost hosts (Petra with numerous mistakes) impress with their French language explaining the voting. You can not vote more than 20 times from one phone.

We have titles and names of songwriters this year at the end of postcard part rather than during the performance itself.

Sandhja is much better vocally tonight, I'm still not impressed by her outfit, while backing vocalists look too dark as well. This is a good opener, but non-qualifier in my books.

Greece has no problems whatsoever in the performance, it is quite energetic and guys just give it all on the stage. Would love to see this qualifying as it is quite unique, we don't have many songs with national instruments this year.

Lidia is doing OK in her jury performance. The hilarious moment with astronaut appearance is still there, and it just distracts viewers on my opinion. They were not allowed by EBU to bring in French lyrics. The 10 seconds of backing vocals solo is a bit painful. It has minor chances to qualify.

Freddie is OKish vocally though synchronization with backings doesn't work at times. I'm totally not impressed by his outfit - white t-shirt. It gets really strong by the end, and may get enough votes to qualify.

Nina is totally amazing and vocals/outfits combined this is the song to stand out from first part and it's certain qualifier. We have a break after it, with video with Mans and Petra playing Taxi drivers, with special appearance of our friends from Wiwi, Verka Serduchka and others.

Douwe has no problems but I'm completely unsure if the pause works. Public seems confused of what is going on at this moment. It doesn't help to anything, and the song may just get lost among the others around it.

Iveta is great vocally and this is another sure qualifier, and get a big round of applause in the press-center as well. It's perhaps the only one who can challenge Russia in this semi.

Charming yet chanceless San Marino performs well. Serhat is amazing artist and sounds exactly like on the record.

Now to the potential winner of the semifinal Russia. No problems this time for Sergey but it still kind of looks he isn't yet delivering in the full force. Should have zero problems to qualify and there aren't really much candidates to rival him in this semi.

Press-center gets excited for Czech Republic as well. I much prefer Croatia to this even though ballads still kind of lack something. It can be a first qualifier for Czechia but it has a strong competition around. Gabriela delivers at her top vocally.

Cyprus is extremely energetic, quite fine vocally and with impressive staging is another sure finalist.

Zoe still on my opinion can bring the biggest surprise in the competition, I have her sure in top 10 in the final, this is catchy and she is ultra cute.

Juri seem to have some vocal problems through the performance and I'm not impressed enough to say this is a qualifier.

In the break Petra plans to say Douwe's name million times, she also plans to talk to Serhat, reveal her legs, talk to "lovely big boy" Sergey.

Samra is perfectly honest saying: we crush and we burn - this is definitely about her vocals. This will still qualify but only just. They should have hired complete backing choir instead of dancers.

Montenegro, despite confident performance is heading to the last place in this semifinal. There is nothing memorable in this song to a general viewer not called Mike.

Greta is doing quite well, even if she is a bit thin vocally. She gets applause in press-center and the visual part of the performance should help well for it to pass to the finals.

Bosnia should join Croatia in the list of finalists easily, staging is very impressive, they deliver live vocally and it looks really great on screens.

I would have had huge doubts in Malta's qualification if it wasn't performed last. Still it is quite a borderline entry, there is nothing to massively impress viewer and it's destined to get lost in the final.

Hosts mention international superstar to join us in the finals (who we now know is Justin Timberlake), Petra comments that of course she will be appearing in the final too, as she signed for all 3 shows.

After an interval act we're getting performances of Big 5 acts: Spain, France and Frans. Spain looks much more energetic and catchy than France and should do quite well. I'm still puzzled over what Frans result might be.

Serhat got back his hat from the audience. Jon Ola Sand, Dumbledore of Eurovision confirms we have the result.

Winners from tonight are (fake result): Azerbaijan, while Petra fails to name it, Austria, Estonia, The Netherlands, San Marino, Czech Republic, Cyprus. Mans says there are 11 tickets tonight, apologizes saying 11 countries are left. Armenia, Hungary, Russia.