After two days of rehearsals and press conferences featuring the countries in the first semi-final, today those drawn first in the second semi-final rehearsed for the first time.
Iceland kicked things off. At their press conference, they expressed their satisfaction with their rehearsal. When asked why they were singing in English instead of Icelandic, they replied that English is more appropriate for the song. They then entertained the press with the Icelandic version, ‘Fullkomið líf.’
Seasoned veteran and winner of the 1999 contest, Charlotte Perrelli, was next. She told those present that since her victory nine years ago, including marriage and children. She loves her song and naturally hopes the rest of Europe will as well.
The Turkish band Mor ve Ötesi explained the meaning if their name. It means ‘Purple and Beyond’, purple being the last colour visible to the human eye. They are singing in Turkish because they find it easier to express themselves in their own language.
After a successful and confident rehearsal, Ukraine’s Ani Lorak answered questions about her controversial failure to win the Ukrainian selection for the 2005 contest held in Kiev. “It was not an easy decision, in 2005 we had a revolution here and it was a political decision to send Greenjolly. I was then asked every year afterwards, but I refused I’d turned a new page. The president of the TV channel asked me again last year, I didn’t say yes or no straight away, I thought about it for a week, and eventually I threw a coin, and it said yes the first three times I tossed it, so it was my destiny to agree!.” She went on to compliment the whole team behind the project.
In his conference, Jerominas Milius from Lithuania said that he has been a fan of rock music since childhood and was looking forward to seeing more of Belgrade.
One of the youngest performers this year is Olta Boka from Albania. She said it was the first time she had performed in front of an international audience and was nervous. The writers explained that sadness and love were not only part of the Albania psyche, but also part of Mediterranean culture.
From one of the youngest performers to one of the most experienced, Paolo Meneguzzi. The Swiss singer said that he is used to big competitions such as Sanremo. He has often played in charity football matches, football being his other passion.
Tereza Kerndlová has the difficult task of improving on last year’s debut for the Czech Republic when Kabat finished last in the semi-final. The delegation are happy with everything about the performance. At the end of the conference, the media were treated to Tereza and her backing singers performing part of ‘Have Some Fun’.
At the Belarusian press conference, Ruslan Alehno revealed that he has recorded a Russian version of ‘Hasta la Vista’ and it’s receiving good airplay in Russia. The gathered press were told about the filming of the video. As part of the video had to be filmed on a rainy night, Ruslan had to be on set at 6 o’clock on a February morning.
The remaining acts competing in the second semi-final will rehearse tomorrow. Eurovisionary will continue our coverage of the rehearsals and press conferences.
Ukrainian representative Ani Lorak delivered a polished and slick performance of her Eurovision Song Contest entry Shady Lady today during her first rehearsal, and subsequently won over the press with her energetic and warm personality.
Ani Lorak is one of Ukraine’s most popular and well loved artists. She signed her first professional contract at the age of just 14 years old. Since then she has won many awards and recognitions, amongst them Singer of the Year in Ukraine on a number of occasions. Ani was internally selected by Ukrainian broadcaster NTU to represent Ukraine in the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest and a national selection was held, during which Shady Lady was chosen as the overwhelming favourite of the televoters and juries.
Today the assembled press and fans had their first glimpse of Ani Lorak’s stage show during rehearsals, and she did not disappoint. Every performance was vocally flawless and had strong visual effects with carefully considered choreography. As for the staging, there is a glass wall of rectangular shape which is split in to four sections. At the beginning of the song the four male backing dancers are revealed one by one as the individual sections of the wall light up. The dancers then emerge on stage to join Ani. Towards the end of the song, Ani climbs to the top of the wall and is helped back down by the dancers. It seems that we will get more surprises within the performance during the full dress rehearsals.
Following the rehearsals, Ani Lorak attended a busy press conference. Ani first reflected on her previous attempt to compete in the Ukrainian national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest in 2005, and subsequent requests from the media to compete in the following years. Ani remarked “It was not an easy decision, in 2005 we had a revolution here and it was a political decision to send Greenjolly. I was then asked every year afterwards, but i refused i’d turned a new page. The president of the TV channel asked me again last year, i didn’t say yes or no straight away, I thought about it for a week, and eventually I threw a coin, and it said yes the first three times I tossed it, so it was my destiny to agree!.”
Ani Lorak has worked with composer and former Eurovision Song Contest singer/songwriter Philip Kirkorov for over six years, and a question was raised as to how the Shady Lady project was born. Philip replies “When I heard that Ani Lorak was representing Ukraine I called her and said I had an idea for a song. I had wanted to work with Ani for some time, we met and Ani listened to the song, liked it very much and within three days we were recording it in Greece!”.
It transpired that there is another Greek connection in the project, and that is the director Fakas Evangelinos. After agreeing to participate in Belgrade, Ani set about the task of finding a director for the Shady Lady performance, and to assist her in her choice she watched DVD’s of past Eurovision Song Contests. It was the direction within the 2006 Athens edition which impressed her most, and she made a call to composer Philip Kirkorov who knew Fakas and he agreed to be part of the team.
A journalist asked composer Philip Kirkorov why he was last year working with the Belarus team, and this year Ukraine but not his native Russia. He answered “Actually that’s not quite true, two years ago I was in Athens with Dima Bilan in an advisory capacity, it was my team of professional people who came upwith the piano idea, for which we are very proud. And I was born in one country, the USSR so although they are all different nations now they still feel like one to me”.
Ani concluded the press conference by thanking her team, confessing that she has 100% confidence and belief in them and the Shady Lady project. She also made comments about this years competition “This Eurovision Song Contest is full of shady ladies! So many beautiful girls. I hope that a strong melody and a song with good energy will win, as it’s all about music and is a song contest”.
There is no doubt that Ani Lorak completely won over the press and media today with her charisma and performance, all that remains now is to see if the televoters agree. Ani Lorak will compete in the Second Semi-Final of the Eurovision Song Contest on Thursday May 22nd.