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ESC 2015

Review of the second semi-final by Keith Mills

I decided not to hang around for the qualifier press conference tonight as I have a pretty hectic day tomorrow, but I have now caught up with the halves of the draw that the ten countries will perform in. It really has ended up as a show of two halves with most of the uptempo songs in the first half and the ballads and slower moody songs in the second.

Overall I think tonight's show was far better than Tuesday's. The songs were better, the pacing was sharper and there was less of last year's winner, though still far too much. The camerawork was also improved, but the issue with flags blocking the screen is still a major problem and has to be sorted on Saturday.

As for the seven songs that went out, only Switzerland and Ireland can feel hard done by and Poland qualifying was a bit of a shock. Some are suggesting it was a sympathy vote, but it was also helped by the draw so perhaps not totally unpredictable.

My thoughts on the seven that went home;
IRELAND: I think Molly performed well and for once I liked the Irish staging. However I thought we were probably doomed on the day we were given the awful #2 draw and so it came to be. I may sound like a broken record here but once again can I suggest RTÉ looks at its selection process. The current formula is giving is the worst set of results we've ever had in the contest.

SAN MARINO: Dreadful patchwork of a song and no amount of youthful enthusiasm can replace a lack of stage craft. It was always a no-hoper. It deserved to finish last and being honest, if this is the best that they can come up with, San Marino has no place in the contest.

MALTA: A much better performance by Amber tonight but there was far too much going on to distract you in the presentation.It was as if no lessons were learnt from Olivia Lewis in 2007. The song was always too weak for this semi, but might have had a chance in the first semi. No surprise this lost out.

PORTUGAL: The Portuguese chose the wrong song in the Eurovision selection, it's as simple as that. No matter how good Leonor was tonight (and she was very good), the song was just poor. Like Ireland, Portugal needs to re-think its selection process. There's enough talent there to do very well in the contest but RTP are not tapping into it.

CZECH REPUBLIC: Whoever decided to add the ridiculous shoe throwing to the act should never be allowed near the contest again. Until that point the performance was solid, even if the song was always a little dull. I fear that we may never see the Czechs back in the contest.

ICELAND: Not only the worst vocal performance of the night, one of the worst of this century. It was always a big heap of nothing of a song, with basically a repeated chorus and no verses but everything about this was absolutely dreadful from he staging to the costume, but especially the off-key performance.

SWITZERLAND: I really feel sorry for Melanie, because this was a terrific performance and hugely improved on the national final. Switzerland just doesn't have friendly neighbours or a diaspora, but if Austria can win, so can they. Really disappointed not to see this in the final.

The following countries are in the first half;
 United Kingdom

That's a lot of up-tempo and mid-tempo songs. Personally I'd probably open with United Kingdom, then go with Armenia and Sweden, for contrast. I would have Israel at #13

At #14 it's Austria

In the second half you have the following countries;

There's no up-tempo song in there at all, but Georgia, Germany and Montenegro are at least mid-tempo. Hungary, Greece, Russia and Spain need to be kept apart. The director will certainly earn his money tonight.

Tomorrow I will review the running order, as I fly back to Dublin.

Falco grave

Andy on Thu, 05/21/2015 - 23:43

One probably the most must-do task for me in Vienna was to visit grave of my idol Falco.

At 2.5 million square meters and containing 300,000 graves, Vienna Central Cemetery is one of the largest cemeteries in the world. Many prominent figures in music history – Beethoven, Brahms, Strauss, Schubert, Salieri as well as Falco and Udo Jürgens are buried here.

To reach it you need to take tram 71 (which stands for as a metaphor for death in Vienna) or tram 6. The closest underground stop is "Simmering". Central entrance to the cemetery is Zentral Friedhof Tor 2, it's there where you can get map, find info center (nothing in English) and also Funeral museum. But if you're interested in Falco grave only, Tor 3 is closer.

The dedicated bus line for the cemetery runs every half an hour from 9 am to 3:30 pm, and also at 4 pm and 4:30 pm on Saturdays. This saves walking long distances within the extensive cemetery grounds.

You have to prepare yourself in advance. The map you get is very basic and fully in German. But you can read the names of the most prominent figures and the sector they are buried in. There aren't many descriptions on the site, just the sector numbers and sometimes the map showing the location of numbered graves. At info center you can get a more detailed book with the descriptions of cemetery, but again it goes fully in German. Cost 10 Euros.

Most of the famous graves are in special groups known as Ehrengräber (honorary graves). There are four main sections dedicated to Ehrengräber, labelled group 32A, group 32C, group 33G and group 40. Aside from the Ehrengräber, it's also worth noting the Präsidentengruft (Presidential Crypt). This is where all the post-WWII Austrian presidents are buried.

Vienna Central Cemetery is the second largest cemetery in Europe. It covers a total area of 2.5 million square metres and is home to around 330,000 graves, approximately 1,000 of which are honorary graves. Viennese joke that the Zentralfriedhof 'half the size of Zurich and twice as much fun', as the cemetery is half as large as the city of Zurich. Zentralfriedhof has a dead population of almost twice the present living residents of Vienna. Between 20 and 25 funerals take place at Vienna Central Cemetery every day.

The complete information about:
Falco grave:

Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna Building Bridges Special

Andy on Thu, 05/21/2015 - 23:06

As part of Trip For Free program offered by the host city of Vienna, today we have visited Kunsthistorisches Museum (Art History Museum)

The Kunsthistorisches Museum was built by Emperor Franz Joseph to house the splendid imperial collections, and they make it one of the world’s most important museums. Artefacts from five millennia – from ancient Egypt to classical antiquity to the late 18th century – document the patronage and connoisseurship of the art-loving members of the House of Habsburg.

Celebrated masterpieces by Rubens, Rembrandt, Raphael, Vermeer, Velázquez, Titian and Durer, as well as the world’s largest collection of works by Bruegel, make a visit to the Kunsthistorisches Museum an unforgettable experience.

Daily till May 23rd 2015 on offer is a special program of guided tours at the Kunsthistorisches Museum for all fans of the Eurovision Song Contest! Check the details at:

For example, tomorrow, on 22 of May at 16:30 fans can visit "Once I'm transformed, once I'm reborn" tour - Drama, triumph and eternal life.

Today we had a short appr. 1 hour tour that included visits to Kunstkammer Wien and Picture gallery halls of museum. The modern thing was that all tour guests were equipped by special portable set, allowing to move a bit away from the guide and go on exploring neighbouring stands on your own, at the same time still listening to guide speech right in your ear. Very helpful.

Eurovision highlights of the tour included: first recognized painting of Conchita, statue of Phoenix and painting parodied at Belgian postcard in ESC 1979.

The tour was really nice, with experienced English speaking guide and tongue-in-cheek commentary, even though probably a bit rushed. Since we have not visited Egyptian part of museum I mostly was interested in, I continued touring on my own after the end of the official tour.

It is also worth to note that the museum features huge shop where one can find numerous books and memorabilia.

And we're off....semi two is underway....

The Irish Jury is ready we have Daniel, Donal, John, Mairead, Emma and Myself....

The parade starts.......and I am totally missing being in the arena right now......

Go POLAND!!! Love you Monika!

Initial reactions from the Irish jury is "where is the wine" ?
Looks like the audience is having fun there right now....tsk without us there!
Love the Marty Whelan commentary, first for me...
Daniel like the host,.....Mairead wants to know where are the male hosts!!!
Oh voting numbers...yay

Test the pyros and wind machine....whiel we talk more wine1

Lithuania....Irish Jury thinks, we like this, catchy and memorable.....we didn't get to the kiss yet. Ireland is in shock at the kiss!!! Love it:-D 8/10 for this, older ones like it more than this younger ones!

Ireland.....obvs they love it here....but seriously they think it;s all a bit dire to be honest....no connection at all with the camera....not great not working, seems like she's trying to Ellie Golding and Lana del Rey and it's not working at all.....5/10

San Marino....humm wonder what they will think of this.....OMG she's found some new notes there!!! Irish jury are not impressed at all with this....Donal says "like something out of Charlie and the chocolate Factory" Mairead likes the dress, and not much else, Daniel says this is last place.....2/10

Montenegro with Adio!!!! not too sure how the Irish homebirds will take to this....Daniel and I love it totally. No impressions so far....Mariead is not impressed, Donal is in Shock!!! Emma went a shower....opps! Daniel and I are singing along :-D Split votes here, Irish rellies give it 2/10 M+D give it 8/10

Malta.....never won, and sorry but not gonna this year either :-( Amber is in good voice mind you, just gonna get lost in this car crash semi.....and she lost the interest with the Irish jury :-( Shame really 5/10

Oh look first time ever that I have witnessed a break in the TV show.....this is a bit weird to be honest....kill the ads in Eurovision please

Back now....missed Conchita in the Green room...:-(

Norway.....will be very interesting to see this on the screen now....huge fav of mine....please let this be good....and please let the Irish rellies love it too.....Morland's vocal is perfection, Don't let me go!!! Deborah looks a million dollars to be honest....AND YES THE IRISH JURY love's it 10/10

Portugal....well this is going no where fast.....especially after the perfection of Norway before....but she is great vocally....meanwhile the Irish Family Jury lost totally interest here.....definite first non-qualifier....Mariead gives this a big fat NO!!!! Can she sing in English please??? Donal is yawning...oh dear....Daniel os rowing with his sister now.....hilarious I am ROTFLMAO off here, 1/10

Czech Republic now....all very gothic....but I have highly recommend it so they are glued to the screen, watching avidly....there is much silence though....I am hearing this sounds like a James Bond theme form the Irish Jury......never seen that before....Marta and Vaclav giving it their all now....10/10 from me and 7/10 form the Irish.....this is getting all my text votes tonight

Israel was not impressive for the Irish jury.....we think it will sail through but hime crowd here so not impressed

Lativa....this is getting a lot of WTF moments from the Irish Jury.....she has an amazing voice and it looks great on the screen......probably the most current song so far

Big Fav now, Azerbaijan, the Voice of Turkey winner, Elnur.....Mariead is still disappointed Denmark did not make it. Anyway Elnur now. Avid attention now form the Irish at the big fav. OH DEAR the Irish just do not get the dancers here....and I have to agree with them.....is adds nothing to the song at all, in fact takes attention away from it....and Mariead agrees totally with me....real shame cos the song is great....9/10 for the song 0/10 for the dancers :-D

Iceland. the little angel that is Maria Olafs. She has sprayed her feet gold??? WHAT???? The vocal is awful on the TV....this is just not working. Irish lost attention after about 30 seconds....and what's all these new notes she has found??? This is all too way JESC for the adults sipping wine here!!! Next please.....if this was X-Factor she'd be going home for sure :-( 4/10 and that's for Hera Bjork

New break here, Azerbaijan, Lithuania, Norway and Czech Republic are the most impressive so far.....interesting.....

SWEDEN.....could this win??? Lets see what real people think here.....
Well so far this is VERY VERY impressive to the locals gathered round the Irish hearth in Cavan....VERY impressive, and these are folks that would not normally like Swedish songs.....10/10 8/10 9/10 9.5/10 Humm could this really do it now???

Switzerland is going down very well with the Irish rellies, much more accessible than the Latvian song, they think she is beautiful and the sing is pretty fantastic too. Mairead in particular likes this a lot…..Donal is very quite I think he’s in awe :-) 9/10

Cyprus…..c’mon John you can do this for them, Lisa Andreas might lose here top place slot for Cyprus in the final on Saturday…..Emma came back from the shower just in time, and she likes this….breathtaking even :-D Donal….is just taking all in….Daniel is singing along and swaying. This is getting a 9/10 too.

Pizza is coming….we need food!!!

Slovenia….last of the nights big favs….Mariead is still talking about Cyprus….this is bombing with the Irish….OH NOES!!!!n Daniel and I are sad now :-( Donal piped up and said she’s got a fantastic voice though……don’t think this will win now but should get through to the final easily…..7/10 seems to be the summation here

Poland…..sadly the song is not good enough for me, but Monika I will always love you, so give this all you have…..not going down too well the Irish jury either, but they are full of love for her now they know the back story…..and Mariead now just said this is not a bad song at all….and should go through tbh! 8/10


Round table summary;

Lithuania HIT
Ireland MISS
San Marino MISS
Montenegro HIT/MISS
Malta MISS
Norway HIT
Portugal MISS

Czech Republic HIT
Azerbaijan HIT (lose the dancers)
Iceland MISS
Sweden HIT

Switzerland HIT
Cyprus HIT
Slovenia HIT/MISS
Poland HIT (surprise)

Now the interval act, filled before the votes is on it's time for a ciggie break

Finally results...
Missing out the finals are:
San Marino
Czech Republic

Prediction- 2nd semi!

CostasP on Thu, 05/21/2015 - 07:21

Good morning!Semi Final Two is on today and this is my prediction on who goes through...Just like Keith,my dilemma was between Ireland and Switzerland,i found the other nine to be able to distinguish themselves from the others in different grades.

So...here it goes:


Ireland ( hope this isn't just wishful thinking)

Enjoy the Semi Final tonight!

Semi Final Two- First Dress Rehearsal

CostasP on Wed, 05/20/2015 - 15:49

The song performances in the First Dress Rehearsal of Semi Two came to an End. I have to say that I enjoyed them a lot, much better than Semi One. Here are some short comments on all the songs:

Lithuania- Perfect opener, charming, a bit camp, a kiss! Vocals could have been better, still ok.

Ireland- Very good backdrop, love the voice, a bit static, not sure if it will stand out.

San Marino- Shaky vocals, comes across amateur, even if the stage work is professional.

Montenegro- Zeljko school of staging, looks really dramatic, flawless vocals, sailing through.

Malta-Conchita backdrop meets Paparizou outfit. Vocally good enough, seems a bit "empty" and not special in my opinion.

Norway-Simple, more chemistry than previous rehearsals, some awkward moments (walking around the stage!), amazed by the voices.

Portugal- Did the best out of it, still forgettable. The kind of "decent" that's rarely appreciated.

Czech Republic- Amazing voices, over-dramatic performance, not a televoting grabber, will the jury vote be enough?

Israel- Stands out by a mile, lifts up the mood, choreography a bit disjoined, vocals decent enough. Don't think the juries will prevent it from qualifying.

Latvia-Performance lifts it up even if a bit odd, some fantastic camera angles with the dress and the floor.

Azerbaijan-The mix of the vocals isn't really good, comes across shouty. Awful choreography. Probably the best backdrop.

Iceland-Really off tune, worst vocals so far. Unspectacular performance. Doesn't look good for Iceland.

Sweden-Mans nails the whole thing visually and vocally from the first rehearsal. Still looks impressive. Obvious winner imo.

Switzerland-Really like the way it comes across on camera, good voice, still not sure about its chances.

Cyprus-Some camera angles look magical, lights in the crowd, great vocals, simplicity.

Slovenia-Doesn't come across powerful enough, lights get better towards the end. Song itself stands out.

Poland- The bright colors are a wise choice, holds back vocally, borderliner.

Semi One is History, time for Semi Two!

CostasP on Wed, 05/20/2015 - 14:05

Greetings from me as well from the After-Day of Semi One! I have to say I wasn't really surprised by the result which was generally fair . Got 9 qualifiers right yesterday, had Denmark to go through and Albania to miss out. I guess Denmark was punished for following the same recipe this year, hope that that may shake things up and see a more interesting selection from them next year...As for Albania...well, there's always place for surprises.

So...Semi One is history,now it's time for Semi Two...the first Dress Rehearsal is starting as we speak and watching it from the Press Centre. I won't be making long threads with descriptions today, after all you've watched and read about the performances many times...i'll try to give a very short review at the end of the Rehearsal about the impression and the feeling I got from each entry.

Let Semi Two begin!

Amber supports education for Refugees in Vienna

Andy on Wed, 05/20/2015 - 12:32

Amber and the Maltese Delegation have visited the Learning Café in Vienna.

The Learning Café (Lerncafe), set up by Caritas Vienna, is a free of charge service for kids and teenagers coming from refugee families.

Amber adores children. She was particularly keen to make this visit in Vienna, having previously worked for charity in Tanzania and having helped young kids in need in Reggio Calabria in Italy. Indeed, her plan is to go back to Tanzania this summer. Amber’s plan is to become a primary school teacher. She is completing a Bachelor of Education Degree in early childhood.

The Maltese singer was shown around the facilities. The environment is very colourful and child friendly. The Centre offers assistance to children to carry out their school homework, including reading practice, and provides the necessary tools to improve their computer skills. The Learning Café also provides educational guidance for parents with the help of volunteers.

Amber played with the children, taught them about Malta and sang them the song Warrior. Though the children could not communicate in English, Amber managed to build a bridge with big smiles and warm hugs. She also distributed Eurovision memorabilia.

Twenty four NGO’s and other institutions in Austria are calling for an end to unfair politics related to refugees in the EU. Amber signed a petition promoted by the NGO’s and the Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu.