Bulgaria

1st dress rehearsal of the 2nd semi-final at the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest

Željko Joksimović in second semi dress rehesarsal ©  Thomas Hansen, EBU

Last night we found the first ten qualifers for the final on Saturday. Tomorrow evening another 18 songs will compete for the last ten spots. This afternoon it was time for the first dress rehearsal for the second semi-final show and thereby time to tell who stands with the best chances. 

Press Conferences – Day 6

Jedward ©  eurovision.tv

With the first semi-final just days away, the pace in Baku is unrelenting as delegations continue to rehearse and hold press conferences. Today, 13 countries had to go to work in The Crystal Hall in preparation for the big day.

Sofi takes us on a Club 18-30 holiday

Sofi Marinova ©  Thomas Hanses/EBU

Bulgarian temptress Sofi Marinova took the stage today thankfully dressed in something slightly more conservative. Gone is the frightful leopard print worn in the last rehearsal - she has hopefully made the shrewd move to go for something more classy. But how did her vocals hold up?

Press Conferences – Day 3

Željko Joksimović ©  eurovision.tv

The third day of activity in Baku saw the first eight acts in the second semi-final on stage and in the press conference room.

Sofi Marinova will perform alone to get Unlimited Love from Europe

Sofi Marinova First Rehearsal © EBU

We continue with another ethnic sounding club tune. Sofi Marinova from Bulgaria was last to rehearse today in the Baku Crystal Hall with her song which preaches the message of love without prejudice and boundaries.

Winners of the past five Eurovision as interval act in the second semi-final

2007-2001 Eurovision Winners {eurovision.az}

Local and foreign dance groups, singers and DJs will perform during the opening ceremony and interval acts during both semi-finals and the final. Today it was announced that the previous five winners of the contest will perform at the interval act show in the second semi-final.

2012 - 2nd Semi-Final

2012 logo {copyright EBU}
Basic information
Date: 
24 May 2012
Contest type: 
Semi-Final 2
Venue: 
Crystal Hall, Baku, Azerbaijan
Broadcaster: 
İctimai
Presenter(s): 
Nargiz, Eldar and Leyla
Other shows this year: 
About the contest: 

From the moment Azerbaijan triumphed in Dusseldorf in 2011, taking the contest further east than it had ever gone before, there were concerns about Azerbaijan’s suitability to host such a prestigious international event and controversy dominated the months and weeks leading up to the contest. A new venue, the Crystal Hall, was built for the event. The Azeri authorities insist that the plans for the building already existed before it was chosen to host the 2012 contest. They also stressed that those forced to leave their homes to make space for the construction were properly compensated, something denied by the locals whose homes were affected. Azerbaijan’s human rights record was also put under the spotlight. The BBC seemed particularly keen to bring the contest into disrepute, broadcasting what was effectively an anti-Azerbaijan documentary the day before the first semi-final. There is the not unreasonable argument that a song contest should not become a political event and it is worth noting that the Azeri population were delighted to have the opportunity to show their country to the world, something those giving themselves the grand label of ‘human rights campaigner’ would have denied them.   

While the presentation of the show was rightly apolitical, the President of Azerbaijan couldn’t resist influencing proceedings. His wife was put in charge of the organising committee and his daughter, Leyla, was one of the presenters and then there was the interval act. So, the question is; if you’re Azeri and want to show your talent to the world, how can you secure a gig in the Eurovision Song Contest? Hard work? Maybe. Talent? Possibly. Be married to the daughter of the president? Definitely! Ladies and Gentlemen, please be upstanding (or else!) for Emin. He was supported by a cast of thousands (well, that’s what it looked like) but still managed to seem inadequate.

Politics also played a part in the number of participants. Of the two countries withdrawing from the event, one was a significant withdrawal. Armenia has long had its differences with Azerbaijan, but initially said it would take part in the contest. However, after much umming and aahing, the Armenians decided that the organisers couldn’t guarantee the security of an Armenian delegation in Baku and so withdrew from the event. Poland withdrew due to the commitment of co-hosting the Euro 2012 football tournament. Montenegro returned after a two year absence, so a total of 42 countries headed east.

Political interference didn’t stop in the host country. In Belarus, Alena Lanskaya won the final with the ballad, All My Life. Discontent was expressed about the fairness of the result and the public had their way when the President intervened and declared that Litesound, who came second, would go to Baku instead.

As has become the norm, much was made of the alleged neighbourly voting. Of the Scandinavian countries, Sweden won easily while Norway languished at the bottom of the scoreboard. Work that one out!

Željko Joksimović was appearing for the second time as a singer, as was Jonsi from Iceland and the irrepressible Irish twins, Jedward. Kaliopi had been selected for the contest before, but that was in 1996 when all countries were put to a vote and Macedonia was one of six countries who missed out, so she had to stay at home.

Trivia: 
The song from San Marino was originally called Facebook (Oh Oh – Uh - Oh Oh) but EBU rules don’t permit commercial messages so a change had to be made. A man of Ralph Siegel’s experience would/should have known this, so one is left with the feeling it was all a ruse to gain publicity.
About the songs: 
Serbia Željko Joksimović Serbia - Željko Joksimović - Nije Ljubav Stvar (Serbian)
Music/Lyrics: Željko Joksimović/Marina Tucaković, Miloš Roganović

Željko is a Eurovision veteran! This is the second song he has performed, the fourth he has written and he hosted the contest in 2008. He took no chances when accepting the approach from Serbian broadcaster, RTS, to represent his country. He gave everyone what they expected, an ethnic ballad oozing beauty with an effective string arrangement.  

 KaliopiKaliopi Macedonia – Kaliopi - Crno I Belo (Macedonian)
Music/Lyrics: Romeo Grill/Kaliolpi

The song starts quietly enough but develops into a quality piece of Balkan rock. Kaliopi was always likely to put everything into her performance. In the event, she tried a bit too hard.

 Joan FrankaJoan Franka The Netherlands - Joan Franka – You and I (English)
Music/Lyrics: Joan Franka, Jessica Hoogenboom/Joan Franka

The Netherlands has not had the best of luck in respect of reaching the final. Many thought that Joan would change that and she certainly deserved a place. The song is very pleasant, melodic and hummable. Questions have to be asked about the wisdom of wearing American Indian headdress, it was very off-putting.

 Kurt CallejaKurt Calleja Malta - Kurt Calleja – This Is the Night (English)
Music/Lyrics: Johan Jämtberg, Mikael Gunnerås, Kurt Calleja/Johan Jämtberg, Mikael Gunnerås, Kurt Calleja

Are you ready for more dodgy choreography? Then we’ll begin the Maltese song. Many were surprised when Malta were announced as one of the qualifiers on Thursday night – or very early Friday morning for those in the host country! Kurt’s pop song was spoiled by the playground style dancing which featured at the end of the chorus. This included his two guitarists, possibly making this the most amusing choreography since Liliane St Pierre in 1987. 

 LitesoundLitesound Belarus – Litesound - We Are the Heroes (English)
Music/Lyrics: Dmitry Kariakin, Vladimir Kariakin/Dmitry Kariakin, Vladimir Kariakin

After Presidential intervention helped them get this far, the pressure was on Litesound to deliver. To be fair, they did all they could with their conventional rock song – sometimes the people just don’t like what is on offer enough.   

 Filipa SousaFilipa Sousa Portugal - Filipa Sousa – Vida Minha (Portuguese)
Music/Lyrics: Andrej Babic/Carlos Coelho
The Fado is always a welcome addition to any contest, adding as it does a cultural respectability in these days of the free language rule. Filipa, who won the Portuguese final convincingly, could have done no more, it just wasn’t to be. 
 GaitanaGaitana Ukraine – Gaitana - Be My Guest (English) 64 points 8th
Music/Lyrics: Gaitana, KIWI Project/Gaitana

Oh dear! This is a song better heard on disc than watched live. In her excitement, Gaitana shouted rather than sung the words and the garland on her head looked awful and out of place. 

 Sofi MarinovaSofi Marinova Bulgaria - Sofi Marinova - Love Unlimited (Bulgarian)
Music/Lyrics: Krum Geopriev, Iasen Kozev/Donka Vasileva

If this had been the Eurovision dance Track Contest, Sofi would have been right up there. It’s great if you are happy on the dance floor but as a song, it starts running out of steam before the end. She can count herself the unluckiest person in Baku as she finished in equal tenth, only missing out on the final due to the count back system of separating tied songs. 

 Eva BotoEva Boto Slovenia – Eva Boto – Verjamem (Slovenian)
Music/Lyrics: Vladimir Graić, Hari Mata Hari/Igor Pirkovič

Eva looked a cast iron certainty to reach the final. It’s an excellent but different Balkan ballad which was effectively presented, she sung it well and there were enough neighbours in the same semi-final to help her score enough points to secure a berth in the final. It seems that sometimes, 2+2 does = 5.

 Nina BadrićNina Badrić Croatia – Nina Badrić – Nebo (Croatian)
Music/Lyrics: Nina Badrić/Nina Badrić

The Croats sent a big name in Nina. She had been waiting many years for her moment having been in the Croatian ‘Dora’ contest more than once. Her passionate yet understated ballad, which she performed professionally, seemed another one destined for the final but caused gasps aplenty when Nina wasn’t among the lucky ten. 

 LoreenLoreen Sweden – Loreen – Euphoria (English)
Music/Lyrics: Thomas G:son, Peter Boström/Thomas G:son, Peter Boström

Euphoria indeed as Loreen not only won, but came close to scoring the highest number of points in contest history. Her freestyle dancing led to comparisons with Kate Bush. Her song, which is perhaps unworthy of such a victory, will be a club anthem in Scandinavia for years to come. She also achieved chart success in many other European countries, making Euphoria the most commercially successful Eurovision song for many years. 

 Anri JokhadzeAnri Jokhadze Georgia - Anri Jokhadze - I'm A Joker (English)
Music/Lyrics: Rusudan Chkhaidze/Bibi Kvachadze

Anri, like Montenegro’s Rambo Amadeus, seems to have swallowed a rhyming dictionary! What results is a rock-fuelled mish mash of nonsensical babble.  

 Can BonomoCan Bonomo Turkey - Can Bonomo – Love Me Back (English)
Music/Lyrics: Can Bonomo/Can Bonomo

Can didn’t receive the warmest of receptions when he was announced as the Turkish choice. Turkey missed out on the final last year and can consider themselves lucky to be back on stage in the Saturday extravaganza this time. Cheap gimmick alert! Can’s backing dancers form the shape of a boat from the cloths they had previously been waving around while accompanying Can’s ethnic Turkish song, which also has hints of Greek music – controversial!

 Ott LeplandOtt Lepland Estonia - Ott Lepland – Kuula (Estonian)
Music/Lyrics: Ott Lepland/Aapo Ilves

An example of how to nearly turn virtually guaranteed success into disaster! Pre contest, Kuula was a beautiful, heartfelt ballad that went big at exactly the right moments. Whether pre-planned or not improvised, Ott used a different vocal arrangement in the semi-final whose only effect was to lose the neatness of the song. Anyway, it worked so the same vocal arrangement was used in the final as well. 

 Max Jason MaiMax Jason Mai Slovakia - Max Jason Mai - Don't Close Your Eyes (English)
Music/Lyrics: Max Jason Mai/Max Jason Mai

Far and away the rockiest song of the whole contest. Max isn’t the most convincing rock star and only fans of heavy metal were likely to support it.

 ToojiTooji Norway – Tooji – Stay (English)
Music/Lyrics: Tooji, Figge Boström, Peter Boström/Tooji, Figge Boström, Peter Boström

Many were sure that Tooji’s pop/dance track would qualify but no-one foresaw how narrowly it would do so – only beating Bulgaria on the count back system after a tie. It’s therefore not surprising that he propped up the scoreboard in the final.

 Maya SarMaya Sar Bosnia and Herzegovina - Maya Sar - Korake Ti Znam (Bosnian)
Music/Lyrics: Maja Sarihodžić/Maja Sarihodžić

Jolly or straight-laced is what we usually get from Bosnia. Korake Ti Znam falls firmly into the latter category. Maya starts her soft and gentle song at the piano before, somewhat predictably, she walks away from it towards the end for the big finale.   

 Donny MontellDonny Montell Lithuania - Donny Montell – Love Is Blind (English)
Music/Lyrics: Brandon Stone/Brandon Stone, Jodie Rose

How this came third in its semi-final is a mystery! The sparkly blindfold (this is Eurovision, it couldn’t possibly be a plain blindfold) gimmick looked ridiculous, his dancing was worse than a drunk uncle at a wedding and the song, which starts promisingly, descends into a disorganised mess!

Sofi Marinova - Love Unlimited - Bulgaria 2012 - 3D & 2D

See video

Sofi Marinova will be trying to bring Bulgaria into the final of the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest with the song Love Unlimited. Here you can see her performanance a few weeks earlier in Amsterdam. 

23 participants performed their entry at the 2012 Eurovision In Concert - 3D videos now available

Sinplus performing at Eurovision In Concert ©  Charlotte Jensen, EuroVisionary

More than half of this year's Eurovision Song Contest participants made their appearance at the 4th edition of Eurovision In Concert last night. A sold out crowd had a great party to 23 of the entries that will soon compete in Baku. See or re-live it via our 3D videos. 

2012bg Sofi Marinova - Love Unlimited

See video

Sofi Marinova will be representing Bulgaria at the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest with the song Love Unlimited. Sofi will have to work harder as this country couldn't qualify to the final last year.

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