•   days until the Eurovision Song Contest Final in Rotterdam!

Liam does Eurovision*

  1. Liam Esterran.

    *In a non-sexual way (so far)

    This year as I am sure you all know I am spending a year living in Europe! So in conjunction with my work for escXtra, I am attending several of the national finals! And at jw's request, I will be chronicling my opinions of stuff as I see it!

    EVENT 1: :ee: Estonia semi-final 1 taping :ee:

    So the first event was the taping of Estonia's first semi final. We arrived into the stage and it was really small, like tiny. I guess they're saving money on the semi anyway. We got to see each song twice, so here are my thoughts on each of the songs!

    Song 1: Janne Saar - Fight for Love.
    Not too bad, she can't do the high notes very well though. I thought it was awful initially but after the next few songs...

    Song 2: Erasmus Rotterdamist - Kuu Pääle
    Awful, the song is just terrible and his voice is not great at all, he looks like he's from Final Fantasy 9.

    Song 3: Mia - Bon Voyage
    There is so much going on here, except with Mia herself. Her dress is nice but the whole thing is gimmicky as hell, ending in possibly the stupidest gimmick I've seen in a long time: Right at the end of her song, the male backing dancer pulls a dove (which looks terrified) out of the back of her dress.(Highlight the text to see spoilers) I pretty much lost my shit after both repetitions.

    Song 4: Milky Whip - My Love
    Or "Milky Wipe" as the host called her. Wow. Traaaaaainwreck. I really have no words to explain this one. To put it in the words of one of my flatmates "I didn't find any of the songs that offensive, except maybe Milky Whip".

    Song 5: POP Maniacs - I Don't Know
    Prior to this show I thought Rolf and his rag tag group of adventurers might struggle to qualify from this. However they really have the luck of the draw. Any people still watching after the first four songs will be hit with a well sung, well rehearsed and fun performance and the only performance that has any pyrotechnics. It looks good and it sounds good.

    Song 6: Ott Lepland - Kuula
    This song is the favourite to win and honestly, I'm on the bandwagon particularly after seeing it live. It's the only ballad in this semi final and it builds well and Ott has a fantastic voice. It also has some nice simple staging that works well.

    Song 7: August Hunt - Tantsulõvi
    I was worried for the chances of these guys until I saw it live. Not the strongest vocals, but they looked like they were having the most amount of fun of anyone there! Jumping around/off each other, dancing crazy and generally having a blast. It looked great in the studio, Hope it works on TV too!

    Song 8: Soundclear - A Little Soldier
    Conversely to the last song, These guys look a combination of bored and terrified, the lead singer is a tiny little guy and he just doesn't have a very strong voice. Sorry guys.

    Song 9: Birgit Õigemeel feat. Violina - You're Not Alone
    Liis Lemsalu is song 9 in the semi-final but for some reason they swapped spots in the rehearsal schedule so we were treated to Birgit's song instead (much to the disappointment of my friends who love Liis). Great vocals, simple performance with some minimal but slick choreography and extremely pink dresses. Good song.

    Song 10: Loss Paranoias - Valedetektor
    I had the pleasure of seeing these guys live in Tartu shortly after I interviewed them and I actually think they're a bit better when the guitars are live too. Nevertheless it surprised a lot of my friends who didn't rate it at all and now quite like it.

    Who do I think will qualify?
    Ott Lepland
    August Hunt
    POP Maniacs
    Loss Paranoias
    Liis Lemsalu (Even though she wasn't here, she's a shoo in)

    That's all for now, however on Sunday I'm going on an adventure to Belarus to see them pick their song! Catcha soon kids!
  2. Mina Member with a "past"

    Mina doesn't do eurovision but likes Kuula :up:

    Ljupco and Liam like this.
  3. Julio STRANGLES

    we all know what Mina actually does :P
    Luis DLC likes this.
  4. Mina Member with a "past"

    Shame on you :P
    Julio likes this.
  5. Liam Esterran.

    And I'm back from Belarus' EuroFest! For those of you who don't know, my trip to Belarus was paid for entirely by the Belarussian TV station after I made a request for assistance for visas, and they decided to just pay for everything, flights and hotels and all! We were told prior to leaving that we would have someone with us "almost all the time" of our trip and were initially concerned we were going to be followed by a government official throughout the whole thing, but in the end it turned out this was actually a team of English speaking students from the local universities who were just around to assist us with getting around, sightseeing and translation and were refreshingly honest about how things really are in Belarus.

    EVENT 2: :by: EuroFest Final :by:

    EuroFest itself was much grander than I expected a national final to be, with loads of invited guests and a massive stage, and the whole production felt bigger than Junior but with less time organised, so it was on Monday morning, learning that immediately we were behind schedule. The first two acts (Alyona and Gunesh) seemed to work okay despite Gunesh's video not syncing up properly, however there were such technical problems with the hoisting of Victoria's backing singers (and it seemed that they hadn't even decided at what point to do it) that the rehearsal for song 3 went on for nearly two hours. So for two hours we sat and listened to her sing Dreams over and over, by the time it was over, we were all singing along and doing the choreography in the hall. Litesound came out and were brilliant, however they had to rehearse other things so Uzari's rehearsal was missed by us.

    We attended a heap of press conferences (Alyona, Litesound, Uzari, Victoria, Koldun, Lys Assia) and interviewed Litesound and Koldun before the show and of course Alyona after and made a bunch of new friends.

    I was quite disappointed Litesound didn't win, and it was heavily suggested prior to the contest that it was all set up for Alyona to win, and based on everything that happened it seems to be true, but as some of the Belarussians said "Well, I am disappointed too, but that is just how things are here"

    Lukashenko was going to be present at the final initially, but in the end decided not to attend, and in a fun twist, I got to take his seat! Many people have said that they thought the cheering from the audience was fake, but I can assure you it was not, people were going nuts a lot of the time, however they might have turned the volume up on the cheers.

    Overall it was a fun experience!
    matthewbell32 and jw like this.

    Hoisting? Were they flying? Angels on high?
  7. Liam Esterran.

    Basically they had them attached to cables and pulled them up into the air towards the end of the song, but they were having trouble getting the timing right.
  8. James ... and his things xD

    Great story and nice to read through someone else's eyes.
  9. Liam Esterran.

    Personally I think the fact I stole Lukashenko's now vacant seat the funniest :D
    matthewbell32, James and NickEmpel like this.
  10. Liam Esterran.

    Also, I have to add that as childish as it sounds, I get a little thrill every time I see someone getting turned away from a door and then I flash my accreditation and I can enter. I'm not used to being anything other than general public, the fact that I'm allowed in to areas that not everyone else can go is pretty cool! :D
    NickEmpel likes this.
  11. Mina Member with a "past"

  12. Liam Esterran.

    Apparently 5/5 for Eesti Laul predictions! Woo!

    Event 3: :lv: Eirodziesma Final :lv:

    As some of you were aware by either me saying so, or by my drunken appearance post-after party I was in Ventspils this weekend for Latvia's National Selection. The reason 'Why is it in Ventspils?' was raised, and little known fact is that it has been in Ventspils every year since 2002. ETV can't really afford much and Ventspils as the richest city in Latvia pretty much pays for the whole event so it can promote it's town in the process. Boring talk aside, lets talk about the show!

    I rocked up in Ventspils at about 3pm, giving me just an hour to piss about before the dress rehearsal, I got my accreditation (aka one of those paper wristbands you get at a school formal to show you're old enough to drink or not). Then I was asked who I wanted to speak to. Sinplus? No. (We've spoken to them once already), Marie N? YES! Azeri Ambassador? Uhhh, we'll see... After that it was time to watch the dress rehearsal.

    Aside from some minor technical problems with Elizebete Zargorska's performance (which she had to change two days ago due to arriving and finding out the fire was banned) involving the lighting up of the drums affording her a second go, and the fact that Roberts Petersons nearly slipped on the water left on the stage when he ran on stage it all went rather smoothly. The vote reveal didn't go so smoothly since there were no votes to count and it was all very awkward and I fell asleep, waking up when Marie N sang and walking out after that.

    A few minutes later I was prepped and ready in the press centre and headed over to where I was told Marie N would be, and then there she was! A very nice woman, good humoured and very down to earth, I was quite surprised. My friend Aija (Latvian HoP and esctoday editor) explained some stuff to her in Latvian, to which Marie N quipped "You know she's making fun of you, right?" before laughing and assuring me she was joking. We had a nice interview which is on the site of course! After that, not a lot happened until the show.

    The show was again pretty smooth, I was the only person with a Latvian flag which Valters pointed out and I was one of the few people cheering loudly in my section. They fixed the water problem with Elizebete by taking an add break straight after her song. The biggest reactions from the audience were for PeR, Mad Show Boys and Roberts Petersons. Everyone was convinced that it was going to be MSB, when we heard a rumour from the press centre that "everyone would be in for a surprise". This suggested to us that the juries were going to throw things in the mix, and did they ever! In the end two of my least favourite songs and Beautiful Song were in the superfinal, and at that moment I knew that Anmary was going to win and I just started giggling. Sure enough that is what happened and it was just really surreal.

    At the afterparty I busted in and got a quick interview with Anmary, got it uploaded and went back to the party. Where I hung out for a few minutes with Ruta Duduma where we discussed Eurovision (she's a big fan) and then I chatted to Roberts Petersons (Who was really excited to meet someone from Australia, since he thought I was Estonian) after that the party turned into a 90's megamix and slowly singers left until there was about a third left.

    I had met Sinplus in Minsk and they'd met people from our site a few times, so they were happy to see a familiar face so they came over to chat with me and we drank and did some shots and got in a conversation about how Baltic women seem to be disproportionately more attractive than the men, I got caught laughing at Andris Abelite as he grinded pretty seriously on some girl, and drunkenly confessed to Olga Rajecka (The Latvian music veteran who sang that Robots song in the show) that I thought she was fabulous and she lost her shit when I told her I was Australian. After another beer with Sinplus we decided we were bailing and that was pretty much it.

    Interestingly I spoke to Gabriel (lead singer from Sinplus) about the fact that Switzerland has a lot of trouble qualifying and was he prepared for the fact that it could go wrong, he said they were aware that it was quite possible they might not qualify, so they were just going to enjoy everything as much as they can in case. Good attitude!

    Right, thats it for now, this weekend I'm off to Uuden Musikiin Kilpailu in Finland, neat!
    NickEmpel and jw like this.

    I didn't ask why it was in Ventspils, I said I didn't know Ventspils was a place. I thought it was the sponsor's name! :oops:
  14. Liam Esterran.

    Don't worry Merj other people have asked me why it was in Ventspils, so it was directed at more than just you.
  15. Liam Esterran.

    Ooops, lagged a bit here!

    Event 4: :fi: Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu Final :fi:

    The day before this I tuned in to YLE 2 in the hotel I was staying with avec colleague Emma Backfish in Tallinn and was horrified to learn that my two favourite songs were up for elimination. In the end we lost Freeman. Sad, however I was happy since I was looking forward to meeting Kaisa a lot.

    We got the the arena and finally I met their press lady Aila who I have been emailing for two years to get my Finnish stuff did. It turns out Aila is a very short woman in her late 50's or early 60's and reminded me a lot of someone's adorable Finnish grandma. We settled in to the press room, which was nothing more than a private booth for people to watch Ice Hockey from and got ready. There wasn't much that needed doing here, I met and introduced myself to the singers during the "press conference" (aka they lead us and the singers all into a bar for a chat) and we recorded an interview with Paradise Oskar which was weird because I've never had to interview someone I'm actually friends with before. As some might know, I live blogged the show from the arena and knew my favourite three would miss out, as they did and then when Pernilla won we did an interview and headed to the afterparty.

    I had a drink there with Kaisa and Axel (Paradise Oskar) and met Mica Ikonen's wife where we all joked and had fun. Mica is pretty much the most hyperactive 40 year old I've ever met and this prompted hiswife to say "This is pretty much what the last 16 years of marriage have been like" as he picked our head editor Luke off a step and put him on the ground because "he was too tall". Crazy fun.

    The next day we hung out with Axel again and I had noodles, then came back to Tartu. Oh! I also stole a sign that said where the press room is and stuck it to my bedroom door! yay!

    EDIT: I forgot to mention that during the "press conference" Kaisa, Jaani (Iconcrash lead singer), Mica and Pernilla all asked me if I was going to the afterparty. Clearly a popular option.
    matthewbell32 likes this.
  16. Liam Esterran.

    And now I'm up to date!

    Event 5: :ee: Eesti Laul Final :ee:

    After rendez-vousing with my colleague Emma Backfish who had visited Tartu for a few days after UMK, gone back to Finland and come back to Estonia again we went for a bit of a shop before we went to check out the dress rehearsal of Eesti Laul. Only thing of note here is that I found the Russian release of Diggi Loo Diggi Ley on vinyl and immediately snapped it up for €2.50. We rocked up to the Nokia Concerthall around 4:30pm (show started at 5) and I was immediately met by ETV's head of press Uko Urb who I had been emailing back and forth for months. He turned out again to be a very nice guy and the situation I had been panicking about with not knowing what to do was immediately resolved as the Estonian efficiency kicked in. We saw the show and the frankly very irritating post cards and then left before the fake voting started and went back to the press centre (which was a bar in the lobby that had been divided in two, half press, half greenroom) to watch the fake voting. In the end it was declared that Teele Viira and Traffic were in the superfinal (Including a very amusing moment when Ott Lepland stormed out of the press centre after being declared 7th) and then Teele Viira won which lead to a very amusing sequence where she ran back to the stage pretending to be incredibly emotional. Girl has a sense of humour!

    We massed back around 8:30pm after some food and I gave some friends the tickets I originally bought for myself and went to do the customary "ask people their favourite song segment". I'm always a big fan of doing that, and this time it was exciting because I actually knew how to ask that question, as it was one of the few things I learnt in Estonian class. After that we settled in to the press room for the show where I promptly got drunk and spent the other half of the night trying to sober up enough to interview the winner. About this time I entered chat so most of y'all heard my "gossip" but here we are again.
    • Most of August Hunt drank a lot and were constantly at the toilet.
    • Violina all went at the same time and were in the toilet for a collective 10 minutes or so.
    • Stig Rästa (Traffic, Outloudz) walked in on me in the toilet and saw me urinating because I forgot to lock the door.
    • Ott Lepland ordered a coffee with four sugars about 5 minutes before his performance and was shaking so hard he spilt at least a third of it.
    • Rolf waved at me several times *eeeeee*
    I voted 4x for Ott, Loss Paranoias and POP Maniacs in the first round, and 10x for Ott in the second round. Ott won, most of the artists ran off to get changed and I lined up for my interview. Ott was in a rush but gave us a great interview (and has a great English accent too!) I got my photo and then I wasted 15 minutes trying to upload it only to have the wifi turned off at 83%.
    So then we went to the afterparty where most people had already left. Fortunately Tartu band and perhaps the people I was closest to, Loss Paranoias were still around. So I hung out and got drunk with them (except the drummer Andres who was designated driver). I hit up the bar and got to apologised to Stig when he also went for a drink and we had a good laugh and a chat about what he's doing next (moving to the woods for 4 months to work on a solo album) and then drank more with Loss Paranoias until the party ended. Vilho (guitarist with the glasses) gave us some passes to the after-after party as they were all going back to Tartu (which pissed off the friends I'd given the tickets to who wanted to party with us) but in the end that party sucked and we all just went home.

    End result: Favourite song won, Got to meet Ott, got to hug Rolf, Got to drink (again) with Loss Paranoias and had an amazing time at my favourite NF of the season. Ma armastan Eesti Laul! :ee:
    matthewbell32 likes this.

    Yeah, right :sneaky:
    Luis DLC likes this.

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