Daily reports from Düsseldorf by Reinhard Fimmers have shown us another perspective of Eurovision madness! Read it and remember all the funny and not so funny stuff that happened in an unreal "Planet Eurovision".

Eurovision 2011 is over. We have a decent winner (as you know, my favourite from the beginning).

Those who were in Düsseldorf not just for the show, returned back home from the unreal "Planet Eurovision" or are on their way back to normal life.

It was a great honour and pleasure for Düsseldorf and this region to welcome so many guests from all over Europe and even from other continents.

Now we have time to discuss the result, be happy with the winner of not, be confused about the unexpected sensational comeback of Italy, to wonder why some favs like Russia and Estonia got a low result, to be angry that some reached the final "undeserved" why other "secure candidates" failed, ask ourselves what HRT can or must do to bring Croatia back on the final's map and sooner than we believe now we will already get the first details for Baku 2012.

Baku - still a name as host city we have to get used to. Song contest starting at midnight. Song contest probably with even more financial efforts than Moscow or Düsseldorf had.

It is for sure that the government of Azerbaijan will offer all resources for a spectacular event, reasonable accommodation prices in order to welcome as many guests as possible and I predict even a new record of participants with 26 countries in the final.

For me it has been a big pleasure to write this diary for you and I hope you enjoyed, specially reading something that was not to be read on the various other sides.


 

Today was a lazy day. Not a single minute in the arena, just giving a guided tour through Düsseldorf center.

At lunch we happened to meet the family of the Austrian singer. They were so surprised about the atmosphere in the city and now they feel, what ESC means, this annual meeting of all Europe, people sharing their passion, their music, they became fans now too. And even they got no tickets for the aftershow-party!!!!

Yesterday OGAE Germany and ESC Germany organized a boat trip with Nicki French, Wind and Igor Cukrov performing. Nice to find out, that Igor recognized me, although having seen me only once for 5 minutes.

Tomorrow all will be over. We will enjoy the show, be happy or not about the result, analyze the voting and then - 1 year without ESC. Time runs sooooo fast.

The diary for May 14 will actually be of May 15 and will be a review about the final evening.

Cross your fingers for your favourite and let's hope it will be somewhere where we all can meet again.

Anyway: Düsseldorf is ready to say to its guests: Thanks for coming. And as the local newspaper writes: Wunder gibt es immer wieder - Miracles always happen - and it will be Germany 2012.

No big surprises in 2nd semi. Maybe except of Ukraine going to the final. I expected this song to be blown away like sand from the wind. Well, better Ukraine in the final instead of the celebration of the Belarusian dictatorship.

Moldova and Slovenia could be expected, I am very happy that our northern neighbours made it after the last disappointing results.

Austria really deserved to reach the final. This made everyone in the press centre very happy. And we feel sorry for Cyprus.

That Israel did not pass through was no big surprise. It is a well known fact that Dana is no singer.

The draw for the final now brings an interesting effect: Ireland, Sweden, Estonia - one show act after the other - visual overdose - who will survive?

Bosnia with unlucky no. 2 - we all would not be unhappy if this will be the first winner with Nr. 2.

The atmosphere in the arena in the area where I was sitting was strange. We could see the artists entering the stage from the left and leaving the arena from the back. So sometimes this block did not watch the stage but instead the artists coming in and out.

And again the thought came: Would it be better watching it on TV?

During many songs it was better to stand instead to sit to see something on stage (no screens in sight) behind me a couple talking all the time, the guy left of me smelled of alcohol, the guy from the right stinked like a tobacco factory.

Today I will go the boat party, organized by the German fan club (I have to work, but I intend to have a lot of fun too). BTW: Igor Cukrov will perform on this boat party. So still at least a bit of "Croatian spirit" in Düsseldorf.

Tomorrow I will tell you more about this party.


Hi friends! Did you recover from last night's shock? I did not yet. I still can't understand how Georgia and Lithuania could qualify.

Meanwhile I heard of course about the sound problems all over Europe, especially during the first 5 songs. Coincidence, that none of them passed to the final?????

I can't wait to find out the full results. Any country where the jury voted instead of 50/50? How should televoters judge f.e. the song from Norway when they could not hear, neither the song nor the huge party mood for "Haba Haba" in the audience.

Now you see, as I always said: Germany is no longer the country where everything is done perfect because of discipline, perfect organisation and technical skills. All these "virtues" are just souvenirs of the past...

Today I watched the first dress rehearsal from the 2nd semi and several songs I saw today for the first time live during these days, f.e. Sweden, Cyprus and Latvia.

After yesterday's experience I would not be surprised if Sweden fails and Belgium gets through. Cyprus was just amazing, Estonia horrible today.

Definitely, secure and totally deserved in the final - Denmark and Bosnia.

So, That's all for today. After the dress rehearsal I left Düsseldorf, no party, no going out with my friends from Zenica. After not a single night of sleep with more than 2 hours since March 13 I feel like "out of order".

My apartment seems to be the archive of a newspaper, dust and mess in all corners and I could need Daria's magician to clear this mess.

Besides I have some family obligations today.

So, the ambassador of OGAE Croatia to Germany resigns until tomorrow evening.

No predictions anymore, never again!!!!

I am running out of words. After that first semi nobody would be surprised if Macedonia, Belgium and Netherlands manage to reach the finals instead of Ireland, Sweden and Estonia.

Why Lithuania? Why Iceland? Why Georgia?

The reaction in the audience after Norway made me sooooo sure that Norway would win this semi. No Turkey, no Armenia - did their diaspora lose their mobile phones????

Probably HRT is just now thinking about another change in selection rules for DORA. We will have to wait for Saturday night to see the exact outcome, but I fear we ended lower than place 14.

At least the fact that Switzerland is in the final, while Turkey and Armenia with their huge diaspora are out, will encourage countries to turn this event into a SONG contest again.

Guess I will need another day to realize that the return of the juries was the best EBU idea since years. Best proof: Armenia. In the recap scenes it was sooooo obvious that Emmys vocal skills were very weak.

As the access to the after party was limited, we left to get some sleep and confused a TV team from Serbia. 2 Bosnians singing a Serbian song accompanied by a German with dressed in the Croatian flag - too much for him.


After yesterday's first dress rehearsal still a lot can happen, a secure qualification as well as a disaster. Only Norway, Turkey, Serbia and Russia were really convincing. Azerbaijan, the favourite, delivered better performances in the rehearsals before.

The post cards between the songs are a copy of those from 2000, presenting people from the participating countries, living in Germany, presenting German landscapes and cities, and it was funny to see first Wuppertal, one of the dirtiest cities here in this region but known for his traffic specialty, the suspension railway.

After the rehearsal we went to city centre to eat something then we left for the Israeli party to honour of their national day. After Dana performed, we left. BTW: Blue was also there and presented their song live without playback.

My actual prediction after that rehearsal for Croatia is position No. 9.

Cross your fingers for Daria and her team - we need it!!!!!

Croatian party was the best party so far - lots of food, lots of drinks, all for free, first party here. Little concert by Daria, a warm up with a very good belly dancer. Everybody liked to be there and certainly Europe is now aware that we Croatians know how to celebrate.

Back to city center for the Greek/Cypriot party. Totally overcrowded, hot like sauna inside and they charged for drinks. But time to dance. When the official part of the party was over, we left, long way back to the car, bringing another person to the train station, then back to Düsseldorf-East bringing home the Bosnians. Staying there for about 1 hour and then 70 km back home arriving at 3.45 a.m. In bed at 4.30 a.m., awakening at 6.50 a.m.

Where are my feet? I do not feel them anymore. And my car drinks petrol like water.

Do you call this stress? Do you call this crazy? Yes, it is, the most crazy and most stressful time of the year. But we fans need it like a drug. ESC-addiction!!!!!

Today at 3 p.m. first dress rehearsal for 1st semi final. Excitement is rising more and more.

My prediction for the Big 5:

5. Italy
4. Spain
The other 3 - (France, Germany, UK) - They all we be in top 5 and one of them will be the winner.

 

Düsseldorf's Mayor Welcome Party was held today. That is why „normal" order of todays rehearsals has been changed. We saw Sweden, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Israel from the second semi final and for the first time the „Big 5".

Highlights from the press conferences was that from Israel. Dana was absolutely no diva, just the opposite, friendly, making one joke after the other, flirting with the journalists. This brought her back a lot of lost sympathies after having cancelled her first press conference. She proved being a normal woman by saying that the fact, that one hand was covered with nail polish, the other not, was not that it would be styling by purpose, no - she just could not get ready in time. Her performance on stage was more like, well, a 3rd class drag queen show.

Sweden finally broke the glass, but they are not sure if it could be managed again, if they had to make a winner's reprise on May 14.

Everybody was waiting for the rehearsals from the big 5. When Blue entered the arena, nobody cared about the Italian anymore, who was performing his song. Blue had some minor technical problems, the arrangement of the song is slightly different from the version we know from the CD.

No comment on Germany and Spain, because I had to leave the arena for an appointment in the city.

Now what about France? I know some do not understand the hype about this song. Without any doubt Amaury Vassili has the best male voice of this year's contest, without any doubt „Sognu" is a song that will be called „historical" in the ESC statistics - but can it win? Yes, it can as much as „I can" can. Will it win? I don't think so. The televoters outside of Western Europe will certainly vote for something different so France might face a similar result as 2009 with Patricia Kaas. Although the French delegation saw a lot of omens in a talisman that Amaury got from France's last winner Marie Myriam and the composer first memory of Eurovision was a photo shot in 1977 when he was a little child, a photo of him and Marie Myriam. IF they win, it will probably not be Paris that will host the ESC 2012, but Nizza that can offer a bigger arena. 2011 proves that not necessarily the capital must host the event.

Tomorrow another 10 countries from the second semi final will have their second rehearsal + the big 5 again, and I will see Lena for the first time live on stage. Neither I have been in Oslo 2010 nor did I see any of her preselection shows live. Will I be able to find the charm she seems to spread???

And tomorrow evening you will read my actual outcome forecast and my personal rank list, you will find out, it's different (of course).


All countries from 1st semi final have finished their rehearsal and I dare to give my forecast for the outcome as I see it - in my humlbe opinion:

19. Lithuania
18. Portugal
17. San Marino
16. Malta
15. Switzerland
14. Georgia
13. Albania
12. Iceland
11. Poland
10. Croatia (trying to be objective, still it is very close between 9. and 12. place
9. Greece
8. Serbia
7. Armenia
6. Hungary
5. Turkey
4. Norway
3. Finland
2. Russia
1. Azerbaijan

Anyone who wants to make a bet with me?

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Second round of rehearsals for the six countries that appear on the last six starting positions in the first semi final and the first seven countries from the second semi final. Except from the weird entries from Portugal and Belgium I see them all for the first time live on stage and not only from the screens in the press center. And it is very obvious that sound in the arena and on the screens is totally different.

For example Slovakia and Netherlands sounded quite nice in the press center with low sound volume while in the arena Slovakia sounds annoying, Netherlands totally boring and Moldova just loud.

Also view is of course different, specially concerning the Ukrainian entry. Sitting in the arena you do not pay any attention to the song or the singer, you only watch the pictures in the background which the sand drawer is creating.

So my rank list for the second semi might totally change when hearing the rest of the second semi final songs tomorrow for the first time in the arena. I would like to emphasize that the rank lists you read are my predections for the result and do NOT reflect my personal opinion. THAT you will after ALL rehearsals including those from the „Big 5" are finished. Can't wait for Lena and Blue.

I would like to report also from the OGAE Party tonight with more than 20 artists performing in Euroclub but for several reasons and can only stay there for the beginning. Neither you will read something from me about the reception Düsseldorfs mayor gives tomorrow, because I do not belong to the exclusive circle that will be allowed to attend.

But there will be enough left to write about, f.e. will the glass break for Sweden work? What does Dana International have to say to the world? How the Big 5 will sound? BTW: There will be NO press conferences today with the Big 5.


Croatias second rehearsal just ended. Vocally it was worse than on on Monday. THIS will not be enough for final. The dress trick was only shown in the 3rd and last camera rehearsal, this trick could work a bit more fluent, but there is stilll time for "private rehearsals".

Let's wait for the press conference later this evening if the crew around Daria is satisfied and if changes will be announced.

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The Croatian press conference after the second rehearsal was nothing worth to write about it. It was the last of the day and most journalists had left the arena to prepare for the Georgian party. Only probably 30 people attended the press conference and after maybe 5 questions it was finished.

If all those journalists managed to get inside the Georgian party, I will find out tomorrow. During their press conference they invited EVERYBODY to attend the legendary Georgian Eurovision parties, local organizers will probably have allowed only those to enter who had a personal written invitation, so like at the Turkish party the night before the room will probably have been half empty.

Me and some others decided to attend the Macedonian party instead, unfortunately at the other side of the city. The shortest way to come from Arena in West Düsseldorf to the park in south Düsseldorf where the party was held, was temporarily closed because of a parade of thousands of skaters, running - of course - to Eurovision music. That's why I arrived at the site too late for food, too late for wine, but just in time for the musical part of the evening with - except of Vlatko Ilieveski - performances from the Icelandic group, Nadine from Austria (she got the biggest applause), Anastasiya from Belarus and Daria and her backing vocals. Daria presented „Celebrate" as well as „Lahor" and put us into the right party mood.

The most emotional moment of the day happened in the Armenian press conference. Emmy was asked about her late father who died in February 2011. She started to cry, her dancers too and soon many in the audience - including me - had tears in their eyes, especially when the Armenian head of delegation found some very touching words about losing parents. Those of you who know me personally will understand that this were some hard minutes for me and I needed time to recover before meeting our friends from OGAE Serbia. THAT item on the press conference, memories of my mothers death 3 years ago in the Eurovision week while just arriving in Belgrade, and THEN seeing the Serbs again - a bit too much.

Tomorrow - or better said - today we will see the last 6 from  the 1st semi final and the first 7 from the 2nd semi final will make their second rehearsal and I would like to make another forecast about the first semi (in running order, my personal placement will come after all from first semi will have finished their rehearsals.

So here is my first forecast for 1st semi:

Definetely in the final: Turkey, Serbia, Russia, Azerbaijan 

Probably in the final: Norway, Finland

In or out: Poland, Armenia, Croatia, Iceland, Hungary, Greece

Probably not in the final: Albania, Georgia, Malta

Definetely not in the final: Switzerland, San Marino, Portugal, Lithuania

From those „competing" with Croatia in this list for a place in the final it really will depend on the performance on May 10.

Greece and Armenia of course have their big diaspora to rely on, Iceland must rely on juries and „older" televoters, Poland, Hungary and Croatia will be remembered as similar songs so it will really depend who of those 3 is in top form that night - which makes me very curious about Hungarys second rehearsal, neither Poland nor Croatia were very convincing in their second rehearsal.


 

Another 10 rehearsals today, again I was not able to see everything. Missed to see performances from Romania and Latvia.

The highlight of the day was the Irish press conference. If the guys were paid for words per minute, they would be billionaires.

The host of the press conferences managed to find the seconds when BOTH of the Jedward twins were breathing at the same time. Otherwise either one of the brothers was speaking, mostly both said something funny in high speed at the same time.

Their performance was better than expected. Those who like Justin Bieber, will certainly vote for this.

Very impressing Maja Keuc from Slovenia. Live she sounds even better than on the CD.

„Special treatment" - of course - for Dana International. There was no Israeli press conference today. The Diva cancelled it, due to the delegation's late arrival. Did they arrive that late on the airport? Was she too late because she needed too long for her make-up or her hair? Well, there are other divas who need the same time - or even more - and nevertheless manage it to arrive at work in time. We knew in advance that Dana would attract special attention somehow. It already was announced that there will not give any interviews, no promo actions, nothing. If this is the way to bring the press to positive comments about her entry? I doubt. On stage she presented the revamped version, not the one we know from the official CD-sampler. Not only in my opinion the wrong choice.

The big favorite performing today was Estonia. Just perfect! When you watch their performance you will concentrate on the light effects in the background, specially the Ferris wheel and the skyscrapers. The melody is catchy, the show suits to the song and is not - in contrary to other choreographies - too much - a potential winner.

Another potential winner is Denmark - my „dark horse", although more people will be watching the guys haircuts instead of listening to the song.

No comment on Belarus. But it could not be expected that in the press conference the country's image would be discussed. Of course there were questions about „promoting the only left dictatorship in Europe" but we also heard excuses - from journalists, not from the delegation like : „If you do not complain about songs like „Amsterdam" (Netherlands 1980) or „Les jardins de Monaco" (Monaco 1978), you can't complain about „I love Belarus". Strange attitude - would this „excuse" also have been used if Lena would sing „I love Germany"? I doubt!

After - at least hearing - all entries of 2nd semi, here is my first prognosis/forecast: (order in running order, not as place in the semi)

Definetely in the final: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Austria, Sweden, Romania, Estonia, Denmark

Probably in the final: Slovenia, Ireland

In or out: Netherlands, Slovakia, Ukraine, Israel, Belarus, Latvia

Probably out: Moldova, Cyprus, Bulgaria

Definetly out: Macedonia, Belgium

Tomorrow I will dare you give a forecast for the 1st semi.

No party comments today. The only party yesterday was the Turkish. Entrance only allowed on personal invitation or after waiting for hours till someone leaves. Or that doorguard sees you „worth entering". In that case I prefer to miss a party instead of begging to come in. If the organizers use the argument „security reasons": Well, their fault, they got offered bigger rooms which could offer same or even more security and did not choose them. Thank god the Croatian party will be somewhere else.

Strange day. Not for a single second I have been to the arena itself. Only on the TV screens there I could watch the rehearsals.

Everybody was enthusiastic about the Bosnian song and absolutely overwhelmed by the Austrian entry. From those artits who rehearsed yet Nadine Beiler had absolutely the best voice.

Another surprise: After the comments in the past months on internet everybody excepted a bad vocal performance from Christos Mylordos from Cyprus. Just the opposite! If it is enough to qualify for the final? I still have my doubts about this.

As it could be expected the by far biggest attention got the rehearsal from Sweden. The press conference from Ukraine taking place at the same time and the press conference room was almost empty. Of course when Sweden had its press conference the room was almost full. Difficult to judge this performance because the gimmick with the breaking glass does not work yet and Eric had to save his voice after beeing in the studio for several days to prepare his next album being released in summer.

Tomorrow we will have heard all semi finalists and it will be time for a first calculation who will and who can qualify for the final and who has no chance.

Some favs, like Estonia and Denmark, will be heard for the first time and everybody is waiting for Dana International and the crazy Jedward twins from Ireland. Not to forget our neighbours from Slovenia.

Those who have made the experience of Eurovision atmosphere live may understand that this can only happen at ESC parties. You stand there, just talking, and within seconds everyone freaks out, the room becomes a dance floor and you stand there with Stella Mwangi waving her flag right into your face and Glen Vella dancing with you hip to hip to „Haba Haba". Obviously the staff in Euroclub did not expect the atmosphere being like this.



Croatia just finished its press conference. Audience liked Daria a lot. Daria is the first artist that uses the full size of stage facilities and walks over the large catwalk into the middle of the arena. "Magic" effects of course have not been fully revealed yet, as she did not wear her final dress on stage. That makes it difficult to judge HOW the reaction in the audience might be. I think we have to wait until the next rehearsal on Thursday.  
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Seems we saw the first falling favorit today. Hungary still has a good song, the singer is charming, but they should have left away light effects for the dancers and should have chosen better backing vocalists. They ruin the main part of the song. Thank God there is still time left for improvement.

Many who did not like the song from Iceland at all so far, now found the charm in it.

As a surprise Greece sounds good in the arena as far as the part sung in Greek is concerned. By the way, Croatians can feel with 25 % patriotic with this song, Stereo Mike's mother is Croatian (from Rijeka).

The new nr. 1 for first semifinal is Azerbaijan. Convincing performance, good voices, good singers, nothing to criticize. And together with the guaranteed block votes this should be enough not to be topped by some other song from 1st semi final.

At the moment I would say: for Croatia it is too early to lose hope for a qualification, there are still - let me say - 2 places left and maybe 5 candidates for these 2 places.

My final personal and predicted 10 qualifiers (of course not identic) you will get to know after the 2nd rehearsals.

Tomorrow I unfortunately will only be able to see the first 4 songs from Bosnia, Austria, Netherlands and Belgium on the screen, because I have morning shift at the OGAE fan desk.


Today the first 10 countries had their rehearsal. I will not write something about each country, how many dancers are on stage and if the dresses are inblack, white, yellow or whatever, you can read this on many other pages - and quicker.

Instead of this I would like to give you a general impression of the day, how the atmosphere in the arena is, how favorites rise and fall.

The biggest disappointment was the rehearsal of Armenia. Those who like performances with athletic male Greek dancers, ribbons and Helena Paparizou copies, will be satisfied. But here the choreography seems made to distract from lower vocal power.

Russia put so much efforts in light effects and its sportive singer, that it is just not enough to make this a winning song.

Very refreshing between this overstyled number and the noise from Georgia is the Swiss entry. Here you see artists making music on the street, not in studio with all technical help.

And the singers from Serbia and Finland are just charming.

Nevertheless I feel that today we saw no country able to get a top 5 position.

Something I would like to say about the organization. We see an attitude, that normally is not supposed to be „typically German".

I was told that foreigners are astonished how friendly and helpful the stuff is, even security is relaxed. And - most significant: The German punctualityseems to have disappeared. Press conferences with 45 minutes delay, Serbs complaining that they had to order a coffee 5 x before they get one (not the sort of coffee that they ordered) - no German working discipline anymore. (Yes, Goran P., we are turning into North Balcan).

Tomorrow will be dominated by the first rehearsal of the big poll favorit from Hungary, the wanna-be-favorit from Azerbaijan, the last-place-favorits from Portugal and Lithuania - and of course, most interesting for us - the first Croatian rehearsal.

Tension is growing!!!!!!!!!!!

Hi my dear Croatian friends! I am very happy to have the honor to write for my some daily impressions about what is going on and I hope you like it.

As it has to be, after a very rainy day with thunder and lightning today Düsseldorf welcomes everyone in bright sunshine.

Today the presscenter was opened. I could not see everything because my presscard was not yet printed so for today I got only limited access. But what I saw was huge, the biggest press center I saw in my 15 years of Eurovision live.

Some minor problems still have to be solved, f.e. what about parking places? Security measures have been increased because yesterday 3 Al-Quaida-Terrorists have been arrested in this region, 2 of them in Düsseldorf. They were planning an assasin attempt , but they did not confess details yet.

This is the reason that our plan to hand over a basket with different regional gifts after each press conference to each delegation had to be cancelled (no permission to bring the baskets inside), so these gifts will be waiting for them in their hotels.

The city center was very crowded. Of course, this is normal on a very sunny Saturday so no Eurovision fever visible or feelable on the Boulevards.

Eurocafé in Old Town also is not really prepared yet for the big fan crowds but I guess everything will be ready right in time and I can't wait to see Arena from inside, the stage, all of press center and - of course - watch the first rehearsals, starting tomorrow 10 a.m. with Poland.

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