Saturday, May 31, 2008

Dima 2005: Not that simple

Everybody remembers Dima from Eurovision 2006 when he came second behind Lordi, but who remembers Dima from the Russian selection 2005 where he came 2nd with Not that simple? So, Mr Bilan was third time lucky and has given us three strong Eurovision songs. Here's a reminder: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLV6NMF1-wc

Tonight in London....


Friday, May 30, 2008

Stradivarius - what is that?


Ok, Edvin Marton was playing a Stradivarius on stage. Of course it was play-back but on record it's the real thing. The violin, worth of approx 4 million dollars, is also on Winner's tour with Dima and Edvin. (And you thought all those bodyguards were for Dima? Think again, he has only one, the rest are for the Stradivarius!)

What makes this violin so special? The Stradivarius violins were built between 1666-1737. The one Edvin is playing is from 1697 and is from the so called Golden Era of the violin makers of Stradivari. No one seems to know exactly what makes them so special but what we know these are made out of three different woods: spruce, willow and marple. The wood has been treated with different minerals and vernice bianca, made of arabic gum, honey and egg whites. One explanation given is that during that period Europe was experiencing a Little Ice Age from 1645-1750. The temperatures were cooler all around Europe so the wood grew denser than usual growth rings. Another reason might be the wood came from the Croatian forests, where winters were cold and effected the wood's quality. Whatever the reason, the sound of these violins is the best in the world!

Many items are in collections in museums and musical institutes but some are loaned to artists. Besides Edvin Marton also other musicians play these instruments: Finnish Elina Vähälä, Jonathan Carney, Vadim Glutzman, Elise Båtnes and Leonidas Kavakos for example. In total there are less than 200 violins around and quite many of them are reported missing or stolen: 9.

Go west, Dima!

Dima Bilan with Edvin Marton has been moving towards west in his winner's tour. From Helsinki to Stockholm, further west to Oslo where he performed with the Norvegian entrant Maria (who came 5th). Now he is in Dublin Ireland before tomorrow's stop in London and the big winner's party organized by esctoday.com where also the runner up, Ukrainian Ani Lorak will perform along with Bucks Fizz, Sonia and Nicky French.
After that the busy schedule will still include Belgium where he will meet again the Belgian represantives Ishtar, France and San Marino! In San Marino he will meet Miodio and many OGAE fans from Italy and elsewhere....

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Two new releases in Finland


Two finalist of Euroviisut 2007 have released new albums, in both cases their second one hoping to repeat the success of their debuts that were also re-released for different reasons...


Jani and Jetsetters performed Musta sulhanen in the Euroviisut final and later re-released their debut album with both Euroviisut entries (the other being Etupenkillä). This new release also has Eurovision connection: a cover of Aud Wilken's fantastic Husker du from the Danish final in 2007! The album appeared in the Top40 only for two weeks reaching number 13.


Lovex came only third in Euroviisut with Anyone anymore despite being the favourite. Their debut was re-released in several versions in different markets from Japan to Germany. They hope to make it even bigger with this second album, or at least maintain their status. The start hasn't been very good even in Finland. The album Pretend or surrender debuted at no 13 and has been moving down since. The first single Take a shot made it number 5 on its only week at the charts so it looks like Lovex might just rather surrender than pretend being superstars...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Mr Bilan has left the building!

People started gathering in Stockmann already when it opened at 9am this morning and by 1pm the first floor was packed, so were all the balconies in 2nd and 3rd floor with a view to the stage. I never saw such crowd in there and when Dima & co finally arrived fashionably 15 minutes late it was impossible to move down there. Dima thanked Finland for the 10 points he got and promised he would be back soon. As we know this wasn't his first visit...
Then finally Dima and Edvin with his Stradivarius were on stage and met by hundreds of screaming fans. The screams echoed though building's all 8 floors. After singing Believe he remembered how he was in Helsinki last year doing PR and was met another screams from the girls who surely were there then, too. In Vanha that was. (Oh what fun, remember Stella?)


After that it was time for some autographs and those who had waited since 9am when the store opened were satisfied, the others not as Dima & co left 15 minutes early and stayed only half an hour instead an hour....











See a video from today by Ilta-Sanomat here: http://www.iltasanomat.fi/videot/uusimmat/1537381

1,200.000 viewers

The viewing figures in Finland remained high this year and Eurovision is IN. More than 800.000 watched the semifinal and 1.200.000 the final, making it the most watched programme of the week and it surely will be one, if not the most, watched programme of the year. Just like last year. Now if YLE would only manage to make people watch and follow also the Finnish semis and final....

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Dima at Stockmann tomorrow

I must have heard Believe today about 48 times at work. The store's loudspeakers were advertising Dima's visit tomorrow every ten minutes. For the strange twist of fate I was not working in my department today but in a Mastercard infopoint that happens to be the same stage where Dima will be performing tomorrow! And judging by the number of (mainly) Russian speaking teenagers asking question Where? When? What? all afternoon it's going to be a chaos unseen at Stockmann's before. I wonder if Teräsbetoni is going to be there, too? And is Jaana presenting? I will try sneake out from my job again and get some pics for you.... if I survive the screaming girls.....

Teräsbetoni vs. Lordi

Teräsbetoni is restarting its tour around Finland and in August they will play with Lordi in Imatra's Jokirock or Rock to the river festival. This is one of Lordi's only two gigs in Finland this summer. They are touring places like New Zealand these days.... :-)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Dima joins the ladies

Many artists have returned to Eurovision, some more than twice. Some winners have returned and failed miserably (Charlotte anyone?) while other with good placing have made it better (Chiara and Katja Epstein for example, third and second). Only Johnny Logan has managed to win twice. Then we have four artists who have made it both first and second:
Swiss Lys Assia was the first winner back in 1956 with Refrain but she returned also in 1957 (8th) and again in 1958 when she came second with Giorgio.

Gigliola Cinquetti won for Italy in 1964 with Non ho l'etá and returned ten years later and came second with Si, only beaten by ABBA.

Irish Linda Martin made it second in 1984 with Terminal 3 and returned to win in 1992 asking Why me?

And now we have Russian Dima Bilan who came second after Lordi in 2006 with Never let you go and returned to win only two years later with Believe.

Teräsbetoni comments

This morning, after a wild night out with booze and well slept night he had come to his senses: "Eurovision was a wonderful experience. Our goal was to make the final and we did. Once in the final everyhting was just an added bonus!" Also guitarist A. Järvinen thought the same "We got into the final with rock, in Finnish! Others are welcome to try that, too!" Teräsbetoni returned home from Belgrade late last night and at the airport the group wasn't very pleased. "After the semifinals things were going so well we believed in better result. When Estonia gave us 10 we were still hoping but soon after realised it's not our evening. And at the last moment even Sweden past us by" tells J.Ahola.
(sources: Ilta-Sanomat and Iltalehti)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Men of fire and wind from Finland

If you wondered who's behind the increasing number of pyros and wind machines and other special effects in Eurovision the answer is Pyroman of Finland. They were in the Eurovision for the third time and after Helsinki 2007 also Belgrade 2008 trusted them. They took care of 14 countries' pyros along with 20 countries wind and smoke effects, the fireworks in the end and the rain of confettis for the winner. In the final over 600 "bombs" exploded and during the two weeks more than 5000 during over 120 performances! Hyvä Suomi!

8th year in a row...


... when a country wins Eurovision for the first time! Russia follows Serbia, Finland, Greece. Ukraine, Turkey, Latvia and Estonia with this trend that started in 2001. But do these wins have something else in common? Serbia won with their first attempt, Finland with its 40th. Greece and Russia been close there the previous years while Finland and Turkey came from nowhere. So, maybe not....
Estonia won back in 2001 with its 7th try. It was in the air as Estonia made it top-10 four times the years before the win but when Tanel Padar & co won, it was a huge surprise to everyone. After their win Estonia has collapsed completely doing well only at home in 2002 (3rd).
Latvia took the honors in 2002, another song no one expected to win, with their 3rd try. They debuted in 2000 with 3rd place but haven't really been so succesful afterwords either (with the exception of 2005 (5th).
Turkey was one of the favourites and won in 2003 with their 25th entry. It was a close call, top-3 was within 3 points! Before they win they only had one top-10 placing but they have managed to keep the good wave up and finished in top-10 3 times since!
Ukraine debuted in 2003 and came to win in 2004. They have kept rather unmatched score ever since: 3 top-10 placings with two runner ups! The only drop down was at home in 2005. Greece was ready for the victory in 2005 and already finished 3rd in 2001 and 2004. It was their 26th try and have kept the top-10 placings since. They really have found the secret combination for now. How long it will last? Or will it end up with another victory soon?
Finland came out of nothing in 2006 and got a record and point breaking victory in Athens. 45 years in the contest and 4oth entry. Only 10 miserable top-10 placings before that, the best being 6th place. After that it's been back to normal, or maybe not. Finland was in the final this year for the 3rd year in a row. That didn't happen since the change of rules of skipping years and semifinals and so on...
Serbia, formerly part of Yogoslavia and formerly known as Serbia-Montenegro debuted and won in Helsinki with their first entry as an independent country. As Serbia-Montenegro they scored a 2nd place as a debut in 2004 already so it was coming. When part of Yogoslavia they had four entries (1974, 1982, 1991, 1992) and none of them made the top-10.
Russia, like Greece has been up and coming and hungry for victory already for years. It came with their 12th entry after 4 top-3 places and 7 top-10 places. Their way to victory has been well made: Dima himself 2nd in 2006, Serebro 3rd in 2007 and again Dima the winner in 2008.

How did I predict?


Well, I didn't got it all right but at least I got the Top-2 (Russia, Ukraine) right, along with Turkey, Israel, Iceland, Germany and UK. That makes 7 out of 25. Also I got it very close Serbia (6th, I predicted top-5), Armenia and Greece (4th and 3rd, I predicted 6-10), Bosnia-Herzegovina and Azerbaidjan (10th and 8th, I predicted 11-16), Albania and Croatia (17th and 21st, 16-20) and Finland (22nd, 16-20). That's 8 more so 15/25. I got it all wrong for Portugal, Sweden, Romania and Poland that did much, much worse and Norway, Latvia and Denmark that did much better than I believed or they deserved!

Semifinal 1 results

Funny how everyone thought the 2nd semifinal is the stronger one but here we see all the top places except Ukraine came from this one! And Russia was only third... Slovenia's Rebeka can have a little consolation with that, had she been in semi 2... The order otherwise remained pretty much the same except Bosnia-Herzegovina that jumped up a lot in the final. In this one the televoters and back up juries ageed on the Top-10.

01. GREECE 156 (final 3.)
02. ARMENIA 139 (final 4.)
03. RUSSIA 135 (final 1.)
04. NORWAY 106 (final 5.)
05. ISRAEL 104 (final 9.)
06. AZERBAIDJAN 96 (final 8.)
07. ROMANIA 94 (final 20.)
08. FINLAND 79 (final 22.)
09. BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA 72 (final 10.)
10. POLAND 42 (final 24.)
11. SLOVENIA 36
12. MOLDOVA 36
13. THE NETHERLANDS 27
14. MONTENEGRO 23
15. IRELAND 22
16. ANDORRA 22
17. BELGIUM 16
18. ESTONIA 8
19. SAN MARINO 5

Semifinal 2 results

So, Sweden was the back up juries highest scoring entry not to make Top-9 of the televoting! And televoters didn't like it in the final either that much... Portugal, Denmark and especially Croatia dropped a lot in the final while Turkey did a lot better in all...

01. UKRAINE 152 (final 2.)
02. PORTUGAL 120 (final 13.)
03. DENMARK 112 (final 13.)
04. CROATIA 112 (final 21.)
05. GEORGIA 107 (final 11.)
06. LATVIA 86 (final 12.)
07. TURKEY 85 (final 7.)
08. ICELAND 68 (final 14.)
09. ALBANIA 67 (final 17.)
10. FYROM 64
11. BULGARIA 56
12. SWEDEN 54 (final 18.)
13. SWITZERLAND 47
14. MALTA 38
15. CYPRUS 36
16. LITHUANIA 30
17. BELARUS 27
18. CZECH REPUBLIC 9
19. HUNGARY 6

The results


01. RUSSIA 272
02. UKRAINE 230
03. GREECE 218
04. ARMENIA 199
05. NORWAY 182
06. SERBIA 160
07. TURKEY 138
08. AZERBAIDJAN 132
09. ISRAEL 124
10. BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA 110
11. GEORGIA 83
12. LATVIA 83
13. PORTUGAL 69
14. ICELAND 64
15. DENMARK 60
16. SPAIN 55
17. ALBANIA 55
18. SWEDEN 47
19. FRANCE 47
20. ROMANIA 45
21. CROATIA 41
22. FINLAND 35
23. GERMANY 14
24. POLAND 14
25. UNITED KINGDOM 14

And the big loser is....


Also this one was on the back of my head since the beginning. I like the song but I never believed she would win. I never believed she would do this bad either though.... This year's Kate Ryan is Charlotte Perrelli.

And the winner is.... Russia!


Well, it was clear from the beginning even if I tried to convince myself with other choises. Two years ago I was a huge Dima fan, and I have been predicting Russia's win the past 3-4 years and now when it happens, with Dima I should be very happy. Yet, I feel a bit disappointed.... Why?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

One hour to go...




Eurovision.tv has published a backstage video from the final dress rehearsal to get you in the mood so check it out! It's rather clear how different the silver ladies are if you watch it: one is chewing gum ignoring everyone, the other is signing autographs.... And they have completely overshadowed other far more interesting ladies this year: Laka's crazy sister and the Spanish hooligans! Enjoy the show and do comment the result afterwords!




Lordi's greetings to Jaana or Life in the commentator's box

As we all know Jaana Pelkonen, last year's charming host in Helsinki is the TV commentator for YLE again this year. She has been in Belgrade with the Finnish delegation since the beginning and has been the center of attention most everywhere she went whether she wanted or not. We know she speaks fluent Spanish and no wonder she is a fan of Spanish Rodolfo this year and has seen dancing El Chikichiki with him already. We also know she is a fan and spontaneous. Her yelling and screaming at the commentator's box in Athens is already legendary when the votes for Lordi came in and Mr Lordi himself has SMSed her after Tuesday's semi when Jaana got a bit excited when Teräsbetoni qualified. "Rauhoitutaanpas" or "Let's calm down" was all it said, in true Mr Lordi style. She reveals Mr Lordi is at home and watching also tonight...
Jaana has believed in Teräsbetoni since the beginning (like she did with Lordi telling everyone they will win when no one even dreamed such thing!) and thinks the ladies in silver dresses will eat each other out and make way to someone like Teräsbetoni. She also thinks this year's hosts are doing a great job, especially the greenroom ones.
Tuesday's first semifinal was a success for ratings in Finland with over 800.000 people. Tonight surely more than one million will tune in, and maybe hear Jaana scream again....
Mikko Leppilampi, her side kick in Helsinki will announce the Finnish votes so his fans will get to see him, too.
Oh by the way, did you think working as a commentator is fancy, and the boxes great? Think again. Jaana, Peltsi and Asko can hardly see the stage from theirs! They hardly fit in there in three, it's hot and the walls are like paper (poor neighbours if and when Finland gets 12 points tonight...)

Russia tops the bookmakers top 10


Russia is still leading the bookmakers list while Serbia is losing ground and Finland has rocketed up. Here is the Top 10 with the best odds:

01. RUSSIA 3/1
02. UKRAINE 7/2
03. GREECE 9/1
04. SERBIA 14/1
SWEDEN 14/1
FINLAND 14/1
07. ARMENIA 16/1
08. BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA 28/1
09. PORTUGAL 40/1
TURKEY 40/1
SPAIN 40/1

Portugal wins delegations vote


The ones with the accreditation hanging from their neck have been voting Eurovision style the past couple of days and the results have been announced just before the final dress rehearsal for tonight started. The winner is Portugal! I wish all the best for Portugal and will be happy as a bee if they win tonight but I can't help thinking back 2002 when Finland's Laura was the chosen one. And we all remember how that ended.... :-(

Here's the delegations top ten:
01. PORTUGAL
02. SERBIA
03. UKRAINE
04. SWEDEN
05. GREECE
06. ISRAEL
07. ICELAND
08. RUSSIA
09. GEORGIA
10. TURKEY

Friday, May 23, 2008

75 Cents celebrates the qualification


75 Cent commented on going on to the final: "Aight, new teeth, new suit, new walking stick. And a Eurovision final. This is one hellofa good week we’ve got going right here! Gimme a flag, let’s wave this thing!" Priceless, this man is adorable!

Final prediction


If picking up the qualifiers from the semifinals was difficult (especially semi 2) it feels almost impossible to try to make out the final prediction. I have a sneaky feeling we will be in for some major surprises. The final is very strong and if we only could replace Latvia and Denmark with Bulgaria and Switzerland, and Norway with Slovenia or San Marino this would be perfect for me.
Here are my votes: (in no particular order)
***** Israel, Croatia, Iceland, Portugal, Sweden
**** Albania, Germany, Armenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Poland, Ukraine, Azerbaidjan,
Serbia, Russia
*** Turkey, France, Romania
** United Kingdom, Finland, Greece, Norway
* Latvia, Denmark, Georgia, Spain

And here's a wild prediction how they will end up:
01-05 Portugal, Sweden, Ukraine, Serbia, Russia
06-10 Armenia, Israel, Turkey, Greece, Spain
11-15 Romania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Poland, Iceland, Azerbaidjan
16-20 Albania, Finland, Croatia, Georgia, Norway
21-25 United Kingdom, Germany, Latvia, Denmark, France

Tomorrow we will see how wrong I was....

EBU press conference: Global song contest

EBU had another press conference today and there were some news. Eurovision for Europe has been going on since 1956 and soon there will be one similar contest for the Middle East and one in Far East in Singapore. South Africa is planning one for Africa and as we all know there is one coming up in the US as well. As I cannot make myself getting so excited about the Junior Eurovision or the Eurovision dance contest I doubt I will go crazy for these either. The European one keeps me busy enough almost all year around already! (Bloody Icelandic semis in September!)
The Big4 status seems to be under review (good!) and the Eurovision movie production starts early next year. There are also plans for a musical featuring Eurovision stars....
Apparently there's no hope Italy would return but Slovakia and Austria should make it back to family next year.

The winner at Stockmann

The Winner's tour will kick of on May 28 when the winner(s) will be at Stockmann in Helsinki at 1pm-2pm performing and giving autographs. A visit to YLE is in the program. Avid readers of this blog know Charlotte is already familiar with Stockmann. Will she return and be guest of Teräsbetoni? Now that would be interesting, ha ha!

War between Teräsbetoni and Charlotte

After Teräsbetoni's qualification Sweden's Charlotte Perrelli commented she doesn't get it. Then the Swedish media followed and wondered how it could happen. Last night Teräsbetoni's guitarist V. Rantanen commented back saying the Swedish song is so kitch and easy anyone can "compose" it during the lunch break.

Finland won the first semi? Again?

The Finnish press is speculating the rumours circulating in Belgrade that Finland won the first semifinal, just like Lordi 2 years ago. EBU says it won't reveal the results until after the final, but in 2006 by Saturday morning most everyone knew Lordi's semifinal win already. Could it be?

How the final is made of?

The new two semifinal format with the voting division has worked, one can think by looking at the map of qualified countries. It's more evenly spread than for a long time. Besides the Big4 (UK, Germany, France, Spain) we can add Portugal and Israel from the "old countries". Three countries from the ex-Yogoslavia made it: Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia besides Serbia. Two countries from the Baltics: Latvia and Poland. Four countries from the Balcans: Turkey, Greece, Romania and Albania and also four countries from the ex-USSR: Russia, Georgia, Latvia and Ukraine. Add new comer Azerbaidjan and relatively new Armenia. Surprisingly the strongest block comes from the Nordic countries: all of them (Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland) made it to the final for the first time since 2000! Now let's see on Saturday how they will spread up on the scoreboard....

The full running order for the final 2008 (updating)

01. Romania
02. United Kingdom
03. ALBANIA
04. Germany
05. Armenia
06. Bosnia-Herzegovina
07. Israel
08. Finland
09. CROATIA
10. Poland
11. ICELAND
12. TURKEY
13. PORTUGAL
14. LATVIA
15. SWEDEN
16. DENMARK
17. GEORGIA
18. UKRAINE
19. France
20. Azerbaidjan
21. Greece
22. Spain
23. Serbia
24. Russia
25. Norway

What a funny way it was the numbers came up. The first semi and Big4 already filled the endings and then 2nd semi started filling up from the bottom and top towards the center, too...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

And the finalists are...

As I predicted this time I didn't score so well but yet 8/10. Bulgaria, Switzerland and Hungary sadly missed the final when Denmark and Latvia qualified. The finalists are

Ukraine, Croatia, Albania, Iceland, Georgia, Denmark, Sweden, Latvia, Turkey and Portugal. Worth mentioning is this is the first time all five Nordic countries are in the final since centuries (that is in 2000. And before that in 1993 when Eurovision was still the "old" one) and for the first time Macedonia didn't make it. The division works?

J Rantanen + Morena = true?


Stop the press! Teräsbetoni's guitarist J Rantanen and Morena are in love! Stay tuned for details...

Eurovision 2008 Semifinal 2 seen by me

In general it seemed a more colorful and better show, but I still tend to think there were better average of songs in the first one, or is it only an impression?
Iceland kincked the show off to good reaction from the arena. Happy, relaxed performance and Regina's shoes deserve a special mention. What's her size? 45? Sweden followed with bad camerawork. I was left a bit cold by Charlotte's performance. I don't think she clicked so well or was it the amount of mascara hiding her eyes? Turkey was very convincing proving less is more and simple is beautiful. Good pyros in the right places where they fitted. Ani from Ukraine started maybe a bit shakily but got going very soon in 200.000 dollar dress. Perfect! Lituania was like bad karaoke. Even he looked like he was suffering... Albania's Olta gave a very convinving, very Laura Pausini like performance. Very good! Switzerland's Paolo also started very nervously but once the tempo was put to high gear he also found his smile and the right look in his eyes and ended with a smash to a very loud response. Czech Republic's Tereza should do a duet with Lithuania's guy, what a nightmare! Belarus was surpringly good. Latvia was light and jolly but nauseating like eating too much candy. Croatia with 75 Cent followed and was absolutely fantastic. He's got temper and character! Bulgaria was 3 minutes of fireworks and intense staring at the screen. Did you know she used to live in Finland as kid for two years? Denmark turned into boredom after 2 minutes despite good vocals. Georgia was over dramatic nonsense even if the sheet gimmich was good! Malta gave a very energetic Shakira like show but it didn't hide the horrible song. Morena is very good though! Cyprus went by without much attention I realize. Macedonia got their act together was eas rather enjoyable yet forgettable. Portugal was sensational. I was already dreaming of Lisbon 2009 and the people in Arena seemed to agree. It would be wonderful if Portugal won!
Oh and the interval act was a perfect toilet break....

Look who I found?

Friends & Finns having fun in the opening party. Photos happily borrowed from www.viisukuppila.fi


Jaana baila el chiki chiki con Rodolfo!






Eerr... Barry?










Jaana & Peltsi






What are you up to, Rene?


























Teräsbetoni










Tonight: Semifinal 2

Somehow I find it much more difficult to predict this second semi's outcome. Now that there were no major surprises in the first semifinal (well, some of you think about Finland making it and Ireland not making it but after seeing the performances was it really so surprising?). Will we have the big surprise tonight, will one of the superfavourites fail to make it? Sweden, Ukraine, Switzerland or Turkey? Or Portugal? Who's going to be Kate Ryan 2008?

ICELAND opens the show with a bang. Fridrik and Regina have been very good in all rehearsals and have strong vocals, right look in the eye and seem to enjoy the moment as real Eurovision fans they are. Perfect europop song. Eurovision perfection. Needs to be in the final. My votes ***** Chances of qualification *****
SWEDEN follows in this explosive start for the 2nd semifinal. If Iceland is perfection in a good homely way Charlotte delivers perfection in an Ice queen way. She also has the pressure of the supermegafavourite. My votes ***** Chances of qualification *****
TURKEY comes in with rock in between these pop divas and will stand out. Simple good vocally strong performance that worked for Finland, why not for Turkey that can also count on immigrant votes? My votes **** Chances of qualification *****
UKRAINE is Sweden's worst enemy. I think Ani wins with coreography and looks, has equally good voice but loses out with the song. But she can count on many Eastern votes so between these two I suspect she will do better in the end. My votes **** Chances of qualification *****
LITHUANIA is painful to hear and watch as I may have noted before. I wonder who can honestly say this is good? One can like the song but good it isn't! My votes * Chances of qualification *

ALBANIA has a good song and sweet and young Olta as a singer. This deserves a place in the final. My votes **** Chances of qualification ****
SWITZERLAND is also one of the favourites but it seems Paolo has not been at his best in the rehearsals. Also the staging was rather boring and unfitting. If they pull their act together and Paolo delivers anything is possible. My votes ***** Chances of qualification ****
CZECH REPUBLIC offers long legs, miniskirts and bad singing. Visually stunning. Sound off. My votes ** Chances of qualification **
BELARUS is "nice" with a "nice" singer and "nice" performance. "Nice" never won Eurovision or scored high. He may well end up 11th everywhere. My votes *** Chances of qualification ***
LATVIA hopefully follows the lead of Estonia and Ireland (thus making way to Spain in the final) with this annoyingly bad effort. Yet, most voters may hear this for the first time and like it... My votes * Chances of qualification ***


CROATIA brings on stage three generations and a song that should appeal to the elderly as well as younger ones who like Gotan Project and stuff like that. Well staged with the added charm of 75 Cents rapping. Wonderful. My votes ***** Chances of qualification *****
BULGARIA brings on stage a full show with DJs, foxy leading lady, a very flexible breakdancer and a very weird song with the longest ever intro in Eurovision. And it all just comes together in an undescrible good way! My votes ***** Chances of qualification *****
DENMARK offers easy radiopop with good vocals but is it enough? Good relaxed performance could make it stand out... maybe. My votes *** Chances of qualification ***
GEORGIA is favoured by many. I find it boring and dull on stage. My votes ** Chances of qualification ****
HUNGARY is pure elegance, perfect warm vocals and maybe a bit of Hollywood, Celine Dionesque glamour. Good simple staging. My votes **** Chances of qualification ****



MALTA gives a strong contrast after Hungary and may benefit from it. The staging is kept rather simple for a change (for Malta) and Morena has the voice and the looks. The song itself is very annoying and noisy, hysterical even. Will go either way. My votes * Chances of qualification ***
CYPRUS follows Malta in bringing a different entry, and almost as annoying one. The whole act is rather enjoyable cabaret after a few drinks (of Vodka?) but who would vote for this now that Greeks can't? My votes * Chances of qualification *
FYROM isn't at its best on stage and even if the song is quite nice when you hear it you just forget it the moment it ends. Tamara sings well though. And this is Macedonia with 100% qualification so far, so... Hmm... My votes ** Chances of qualification ***
PORTUGAL is a favourite by many, including me, and no wonder. Very strong vocalist, good and easy enough melody with a bit of real Portugal but with a Slavic undertones so this should appeal both East and West. Could Portugal finally make it this year? My votes ***** Chances of qualification *****




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