Mysterious and dark. Those are the two best words to describe Belgium’s first rehearsal and soon to be Eurovision performance. The vocals were on key and it would be shocking not to see Belgium qualifying.
1 First rehearsal
2 How Sennek was selected
3 Belgium at the Eurovision Song Contest
Belgium is competing in the first semi-final as start number 4. The country is represented by Sennek and her song A Matter Of Time, which is written by Alex Callier and Maxime Tribeche, together with Laura Groeseneken aka Sennek herself.
When Belgium first announced Sennek as their Eurovision act, the singer promised an emotional song and performance but her ideas did change and the very first rehearsal of A Matter of Time do proof it. With a nice and mysterious dark light in her eyes, Sennek’s face starts being unhidden word by word. By the end of the first verse, the face is showing along with her entire dark outfit.
Dark is the colour of this intimate performance that takes place in the catwalk and easily catches the viewer’s attention as its main focus is the singer itself. Mixed with this mysterious and dark looks and mood, Sennek’s stage presence is fierce and sexy.
Vocals were also on key, yet a little alert should be made for when the second verse kicks in and more elements are brought into the song as Sennek’s vocals can easily be stuffed by the song itself. Nonetheless, it will be shocking if Belgium doesn’t make it through even with such an intimate performance.
How Sennek was selected
Belgium has two broadcasters, Flemish VRT and Walloon RTBF. The Eurovision participation rotate between the two countries. This year, it was VRT’s turn. They have before used national finals to select their participant, but this time, Laura Groeseneken was internally selected. Later it was announced that she would perform under the name Sennek.
Following the presentation of the singer back in September 2017, it wasn’t until March 2018, the song was released.
See alsoDoes Sennek's Bond-style song “A Matter Of Time” have what it takes to win Eurovision?
Belgium at the Eurovision Song Contest
In the 10 years from 2005 to 2014, Belgium failed to qualify for the final a total of 8 times! Since that, things have been different with the country scoring top 10 results ever since. In 2015, Loïc Nottet scored a 4th place performing Rhythm Inside. Blanche repeated that 4th place two years later.
The country is one of the “original” countries as they took part in the very first Eurovision Song Contest in 1956. Over the years, Belgium have won once, in 1986 with Sandra Kim and her J’aime La Vie. Controversy followed as it later was revealed, she was younger than first claimed. Her being 13, makes her the youngest ever winner, a record which can not be broken as now participants must be at least 16 in the year, they take part.
Eugent Bushpepa brings something unique to the Eurovision stage. With professionalism and lots of experience he showed us just that at his first rehearsal today.
Albania is competing in the first semi-final with start number 3. The country is represented by Eugent Bushpepa and his song Mall, which is written by Eugent himself.
1 First rehearsal
2 How Eugent Bushpepa was selected
3 Albania at the Eurovision Song Contest
Third country to enter the stage at the Altice Arena is Albania. Today the Albanian rock singer Eugent Bushpepa had his first rehearsal.
The performance of Mall starts rather dark in blue lights, however, when the song kicks off in the chorus the stage turns red and yellow. The camera work seems a bit confusing though, with several close ups in the beginning of the song of the guitar player. The close ups seem a bit random, but it would probably be fixed for their second rehearsal in the following days.
Eugent Bushpepa himself is wearing a jacket and an open shirt. The jacket turns out to be some sort of straight jacket, when the camera shows him from behind. The members of the backing band are wearing different types of “rock-bad-ass” outfits with leather pants and black t-shirts.
The first rehearsal was good and Eugent Bushpepa made a fine impression. His professionalism and experience can easily be detected, and it was a well delivered pop-rock performance.
How Eugent Bushpepa was selected
Festivali i Këngës is the longest running television show in Albania. It started in 1964, decades before Albania joined the Eurovision Song Contest in 2004. Since it’s Eurovision debut, the Albanian broadcaster has used this TV show to select their entry.
Two semi-finals held on the 21st and the 22nd of December 2017 featured a total of 22 entries. 11 of them made it to the final 23rd of December. A professional jury consisting of five people chose Eugent Bushpepa as winner over, among others, 2006 Eurovision participant Luiz Ejlli.
See alsoRock singer Eugent Bushpepa to represent Albania in Lisbon
Albania at the Eurovision Song Contest
Eugent Bushpepa will be representing Albania in their 15th Eurovision appearance. The country is yet to win, and have a 5th place from 2012 by Rona Nishliu as best result.
It has been a struggle for Albania to gain any consistency as they in average have failed to reach the final every second year. In 2016 and 2017, the country was left out and not even close to qualifying ending 14th and 16th in the semi-finals.
When Albania joined the Eurovision Song Contest in 2004 nothing indicated that things would get tough for the country. Anjeza Shahini sang The Image Of You and finished 7th, after a 4th place in the final.
A slightly underwhelming first rehearsal was what we received from Mikolas Josef and the highly fancied entry Lie To Me from the Czech Republic. This though, is why they rehearse and as of today there’s nothing to worry about yet.
Czech Republic is competing in the first semi-final as start number 5. The country is represented by Mikolas Josef and his self-written entry Lie To Me.
1 First Rehearsal
2 How Mikolas Josef was chosen
3 Czech Republic at the Eurovision Song Contest
The staging for Czech Republic has a white Hollywood style staircase in the centre of the stage, with two white walls on either side of the staircase. There seemed to be an awful time taken getting everything ready. Mikolas is dressed in a white shirt and bow-tie, and white boots. Surrounded by a group of accompanying teenage dancers, the whole performance oozes youthful-ness.
However there seemed to be some issues with some of the vocals, especially from the background singers who seemed a little weak. As the performance continued it all seemed to fall apart a little, as his back pack slipped from his shoulders. The dancers seemed a little off and in places Mikolas looked totally bored. He ends the show with a somersault flip and it too fell flat. This was just the first rehearsal though and it looks as if the group are discussing what needs fixed,
The stage is awash with light blue and lavender lights and that looks very appealing, and on the positive side Mikolas was fine with his vocals. The trumpet playing was fine too, but of course that’s not live and the bass was booming.
The second time around was a bit better and there was some chorography with the back pack. He called out with a Whats Up Eurovision, never a good sign, he should stick with the refrain. Judging by todays rehearsals though, this entry still has a good chance of giving the Czech Republic it’s best result yet.
Third time round and the backing vocals were way turned up, maybe they had them low first two times, so we could hear Mikolas. The poor guy is probably sick of the amount of times he’s had to perform the song lately.
How Mikolas Josef was chosen
The Czech broadcaster, Česká televize, received more than 400 entries in their open submission. Six songs were selected for the final phase of Eurovision Song CZ where the public could vote via an AP. Ten former Eurovision participants representing each their country made up a jury. This included names such as Jalisse (Italy 1997), Dami Im (Australia 2016) and Robin Bengtsson (Sweden 2017).
Mikolas won both the jury and the public vote.
See alsoPoints in Czech Republic national final – this is how convincing Mikolas Josef won
Czech Republic at the Eurovision Song Contest
It has not been easy being a Eurovision fan in the Czech Republic. The country debuted, at the contest back in 2007 representing by Kabát and Malá Dáma.
After three miserable years, the broadcaster pulled out. In 2015, they returned – and have reached the final once, in 2016 where Gabriela Gunčíková came second to last in the final. With that being their best ever result, Mikolas Josef is expecting to become a national hero and improve this.
It’s a love gift we would all love to have: our loved one bringing us on stage of Eurovision. That’s what Ieva Zasimauskaitė will do at this year’s competition. Despite the cute moment, Lithuania is not in the best place to predict a qualification.
Lithuania is competing in the first semi-final as start number 6. The country is represented by Ieva Zasimauskaitė and the song When We’re Old, which is written by Vytautas Bikus.
1 First rehearsal
2 How Ieva Zasimauskaitė was chosen
3 Lithuania at the Eurovision Song Contest
Ieva Zasimauskaitė will probably remain sit when the qualifiers for the first semi final are announced as she will struggle to qualify. Judging from the first rehearsals, Ieva’s pretty romantic ballad will most likely get squeezed by the two giants Israel and Czech Republic.
As for the performance itself, it’ll probably be uneventful for people at home. In her performance, the Lithuanian singer remains sit until the song’s second chorus which may lose people by then. While she is sitting, there are holograms of couples holding hands and showing love which may not be a benefit the performance as it overall doesn’t look that good.
The performance is, nonetheless, saved by a cute moment towards the end, when Ieva’s husband meets her in the Eurovision bridge and share a cute lovely moment, it’ll melt people’s hearts at home if they’re still watching. Nothing to critique when it comes to vocal performance.
How Ieva Zasimauskaitė was chosen
After six heats, an online wildcard rounds, two semi-finals and a final, Lithuania had a long selection. They reached the end of the process on the 11th of March where the final of Eurovizijos took place.
In the final, the jury points placed Jurgis Brūzga ahead of Ieva Zasimauskaitė, but as tele voting placed Ieva first and Jurgis only fourth, Ieva is representing Lithuania at the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest. This was Ieva’s fifth participation in the national selection of Lithuania.
See alsoIeva Zasimauskaitė wins Eurovizijos Atranka 2018 and heads to Lisbon to represent Lithuania
Lithuania at the Eurovision Song Contest
Back in 1994, Lithuania joined the Eurovision family, but their first representation by Ovidijus Vyšniauskas placed the country last with zero points. After that, it took another five years before the country returned to the 1999 contest. Aistė did do a little bit better with her song in the Samogitian dialect, but the country did once again pull out. The same thing happened in 2003, but since then, Lithuania has been a steady participant.
In 2006, LT United scored a 6th place with We Are The Winners. To date, that entry is Lithuania’s best Eurovision result.
Over the years, the country has shown that they aren’t afraid to try different styles, and that has given mixed results. Since the introduction of semi-finals in 2004, Lithuania has failed to reach the final on six occasions.
Attention was high as bookmaker favourite Netta today rehearsed on the Eurovision stage for the first time, and just as expected, she delivered, though the chicken sounds were muted a bit.
Israel is competing in the first semi-final as song number 7. The country is represented by Netta and the song Toy, which is written by Doron Medalie and Stav Beger.
1 First rehearsal
2 How Netta was selected
3 Israel at the Eurovision Song Contest
Standing in front of two walls of yellow lighted toy cats, Netta ouches and clucks as she gets herself warmed up to start the song. Dressed in a costume of purples, pinks and reds its not long before she gets the vocals started. Totally in-tune but for some reason the song doesn’t have the same impact as it does on the video .Her three female dancers are up there on a bridge behind her.
On her second run through she got a lot of laughs when she said she couldn’t hear mid song. After standing behind her looper for a good portion of the song, she comes forward, microphone in hand. A stage hand comes on and he’s treated as a stupid boy, while Netta gets down to some kind of beat. The last note is a high light.
The word Toy, it can now be seen is flashed on the looper in various colours. On the last rehearsal things were turned up a notch with explosions of purple smoke bellowing from the stage. The dancers actually started to become a distraction now. A good rehearsal, leaving Netta in with a good chance, but now leaves the competition more open.
How Netta was selected
In Israel, HaKokhav HaBa L’Eurovizion (The Next Star for Eurovision) was used as selection method. It is based on the talent show format Rising Star. After a long season, they had reached the final on the 13th of February. All through the competition, Netta stood out, and up against three other acts, she won the final, and as such the right to represent Israel at the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest.
Netta was then matched with the song Toy, which she recorded, and in March, it was presented to the public. Soon after its release, Israel went to the top of the bookmaker lists making her the favourite for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
See alsoIsrael 2018: Netta's Eurovision Toy officially released
Israel at the Eurovision Song Contest
40 appearances, 34 finals and three victories, such are the facts on Israel who joined the Eurovision Song Contest in 1973.
Very few countries have won the contest twice in a row, but Israel is one of them. They first won in 1978 by Izhar Cohen & the Alphabeta’s A-Ba-Ni-Bi, and again the year after with the now classic entry Hallelujah. In 1998, Israel also got a lot of attention. Dana International, born a man, now a woman, won with the song Diva.
Since the introduction of semi-finals in 2004, Israel has failed to reach the final a total of six times, though it has not happened since Mei Finegold in 2014.