Thursday, 12 June 2008

Eurovision - Day One

I arrived in Belgrade on the Sunday before the final. By the time I had arrived, the artists and delegations had already been in Belgrade for a week or so. At the Sava Centre (the Press Centre which was to be my home for the week) the buzz of Eurovision was well underway. Press conferences were taking place - Sweden’s Charlotte Perrelli, a former Eurovision winner, described the event as a “circus” at her press conference, and I knew what she meant as there is so much going on. Early favourites at the press centre in Belgrade were Ukraine, Russia, Iceland and Sweden – but it was still very much anyone’s game.

The first night saw me invited to the official opening party at the Royal Palace. Naturally I attended, as I knew it was the perfect opportunity to mingle with the delegations and the artists and hopefully catch up with a few people I had met at the Eurovision Preview Party in London.

My first meeting was with Joanna, the sassy vocalist from Bulgaria’s Deep Zone. When I asked her what she thought the key to Eurovision success was, she replied: “To be yourself”. Joanna was definitely being herself dressed in a very eye catching outfit.

My old friend from Malta, Morena, told me that she was going to “have fun on stage and have a party” and with an infectious song like "Vodka" I was sure she would. Morena also talked about her Euro competition. When I asked her if she had any tips for me, she said: “The competition is always really tough and there are often many good songs”.

Simon Matthew from Denmark told me that a good Eurovision song needed to be an “anthem”, much like his entry this year, "All Night Long". He added that a good Eurovision song needed to be “memorable and sing-a-long”.

Kalomira, the entry for Greece, told me that she couldn’t give away her Secret Combination but that she felt that each Eurovision entry needed its own "gimmick to make it unique".

Later on I was reunited with the lovely Maria, with whom I danced on stage with at the Eurovision Party. Maria was one of the people I was most looking forward to see as along with Iceland's Euroband, as I was supporting both her and them as my two favourites in the competition. I asked Maria if she felt there was any other standout entries in her opinion, she told me that she didn’t feel that there was an “outright winner” this year. I was then introduced to the writer of "Hold On, Be Strong", Mira Craig.

The other artists I was most looking forward to see were my Eurovision favourites, Euroband. Whenever I see Fridrik and Regina they make me smile as there is just something about them that is just so likeable. They are without doubt two of the nicest, friendliest people I have met. In my opinion, Euroband are everything that Eurovision is about - two amazing singers and performers that are doing something that they really enjoy. I know it sounds a bit corny, but whenever Euroband are around they light up the room.

I was lucky enough to steal a moment with last years Eurovision winner, Marija Šerifović who agreed to pose for a photo which I was very happy about as I knew it would be the envy of my friends!!

The biggest acts at the party were Verka and Charlotte Perrelli, who were very much in demand. Unfortunately I was unable to seize my chance to ask them what they thought it takes to win Eurovision and pose for a photo!! I didn't notice Russia’s Dima Bilan, Ukraine’s Ani Lorak and the UK’s Andy Abraham at the party - maybe I was too busy at the bar??

Just as I was leaving the party I caught up with another of the entrants I had met at the Eurovision Preview Party, Isis Gee. The first thing I noticed was how much tanning she had been doing!! With the end of the party at the Palace, I headed off to the Eurocafe with my friends to continue the party elsewhere!! What a fantastic first day it was!!

Squeezy x

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