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Big Five press conference

14 May 2011 at 03:59 CEST



The French Head of Delegation Bruno Berberes opened the press conference by praising his delegation and the performers: “I'm very proud because they've been very attentive of you all week.” 

Pierre Sled, a France3 Entertainment Department official, said: “Of course we want to win tonight and tomorrow night. The choice of Amaury took a long time to make because we wanted a song that could be understoood by everyone. Amaury is a young, very good and beautiful singer. He comes from the the Western side of France, from Normandy, and he sings in Corsican. This is a symbol of what we are doing all year to promote our country. He is in good shape and we hope everyone will love this song and love him.”

Bruno: “After our success this year we did very well. Amaury's album has already been a huge success in France, going multi-platinum. We've done Canada, but not Europe yet. We hope people have the privilege to see Amaury on TV in Belgium, Slovenia, UK, and other countries.”

The French delegation then answered question from journalists.

When asked about his early schooling in Rouen, Amaury answered: “My school was important for me because I went there when I was 9 years old and it was fantastic to discover the arts of singing, dancing, and juggling. It was my first experience in the artistic realm. Elizabeth Amsallem, the director of the school, is the woman who helps me. She is very important for me, because she was my first teacher and my first artistic friend.”

Amaury further commented that he was very surprised by the quality of singers in the Semi-Final. He was very happy that many of his friends had qualified. He has heard that he is a favourite to win, but to him this does not matter. All that counts is his performance tomorrow night.

He agreed with a journalist that it would be better to participate in a Semi-Final “because it is a great pleasure to see everybody and receive applause. I am a bit jealous because the Semi-Final is a good rehearsal and I would like a chance to sing”.

It was revealed that Marie Claire Mézerette, the Manager of the Entertainment Department, was responsible for the artistic direction of Amaury's background video: “Amaury is a tenor, so his way of singing is very simple and very clear and everyone can appreciate that we wanted to do something in the background to create a counterpoint between his way of singing and the atmosphere.”

In response to a journalist's question regarding any pressure he might be experiencing: “I  don't feel pressure at all, not for an instant. But I appreciate all the hopes and complements of the public. The only thing I need to do is sing well tomorrow night.”

Bruno added: “And we all believe in him and that he will do well.”

Bruno closed the press conference by affirming that France would have the money to host the Eurovision Song Contest next year if Amaury were to win.



Head of Delegation Nicola Caligiore opened the Italian portion of the press conference by expressing praise for “the fantastic crew in this marvelous production”. He announced that Raphael Gualazzi's album had been released today in Germany after having already been released in France. It reached the top of the iTunes charts both in France and German today.

One journalist asked Raphael to name his most interesting experience from his impressive  career and about his plans for the future. Raphael responded: “I had a great project in the United States with a member of Kool & The Gang on the history of jazz in America. Everyone represented a different period of jazz. I was representing ragtime jazz, which developed between 1910 and 1940. I enjoy performing this genre of music.” He then mentioned a number of artists with whom he would like to collaborate in future, concluding, “much more is possible”.

When asked about the degree of responsibility he felt in defending Italy after 14 years of absence from the Contest, Raphael responded: “Rather than responsibility, I can talk about the pleasure I have in representing my country, having such an interesting experience as this, and the interesting groups we have here. It's a marvelous experience.”

Another journalist asked Raphael about his difficulty in adhering to the 3-minute song duration limit imposed by Eurovision Song Contest rules when he sang the song at the San Remo Music Festival. He answered: “I respect and understand the rules of the competition and we must stick to them, I have been working hard in the studio for the last months on the song, so it was not so difficult to still work within three minutes.”

Regarding his career outside the Eurovision Song Contest: “Our job is made up of different things and experiences and every experience helps us to learn more about our job. There is a time when you have to compose songs staying at home and other times when you can promote what you do. I spent months in the studio working very hard on my project. And now this is a great moment to promote what I created. I had no problem with promotion because I can present my work in many showcases.”

Finally, Raphael was asked his opinion of Austrian contestant Nadine Beiler. His response was directed more toward all of his fellow contestants, rather than Nadine specifically:  “I have to be sincere. All the participants are playing different styles of music. There are differences in performance. Everyone is different from everyone else. It's difficult to choose a favourite. I think they're all good.”



Duncan James of Blue made the opening statement for the UK delegation: “It's our first rehearsal in over a week - the first time we've been on stage. It's surreal - it's so crazy and so big. There's so much to think about, so we need to block it in our heads for the performance tonight.”

The delegation was asked if there were any plans for a 'wardrobe malfunction', as some British Eurovision performers had done in the past. Antony said: “You'll just have to watch - there might be, or there might not. We hope our vocals come across and we just want to do our country proud.”

In response to a question about the lack of air time for I Can on UK radio, Head of Delegation Graham Norton answered: "Without much radio play they still charted quite well, so it means that people still want to buy it." And Simon Webbe added: “Sometimes you don't want to get burnout and thanks to the BBC, we got an opportunity to do this and we're very grateful.”

One journalist asked if Blue, as a band with years of experience, could learn anything from new and younger artists. Lee Ryan answered: “Sometimes you can become complacent when you take for granted the love you receive from your fans. But being away and coming back as we did, we feel like new artists. I'm excited about our new album. We feel fresh and new!”

The band also expressed interest in helping with next year's Eurovision Song Contest. Lee : “We've already asked the BBC if we can be part of the picking process. It's a great competition. We didn't realise how much fun it would be, you guys being here. We could never have dreamed of being welcomed like this, coming back after six years. This Contest brings Europe together and it brings people together. And that's the reason I went into music.”

Asked about the UK's love/hate relationship with the Eurovision Song Contest, Graham responded: “Well, as Blue are here this year it shows that the UK are taking it seriously. They're a seriously good pop band with loads of hits.”

Finally, the delegation was asked to describe the elements of the Eurovision Song Contest that can't be seen on television. Simon answered: “The crazy parties, just the atmosphere of everything that goes on, the vibe in Düsseldorf. We know from past experience that the Germans really know how to put on a good show. For sure, even with ten years of experience, it still gets to us.” Graham added: “You don't see the scale of it, how it takes over the entire city. Eurovision is the Olympics of song.”

The UK delegation exited the press conference as their entry song I Can played over the loudspeakers.



Upon entering, Spain's Head of Delegation Federico Llano was asked how he felt about today's dress rehearsal: “We have been working on the sound. We are working with German television and had our last rehearsal on Sunday. We expect a huge improvement,  with changes in graphic designs and improvement in the sound and that is what we are doing at this moment.”

Lucia was asked if she had a special memory of Eurovision from her childhood: “When I was a very little girl, I was with my family at home - with my mother, mainly - and we would watch it on TV, write down points, and guess who would be the winner. My friends said to me that one day I'd be up on that huge stage in front of the European audience!" 

The singer also revealed that she does not dwell on rumours about her chances: "To be honest, I'm not into the betting odds or any comments regarding rankings for the contest, as many times they fail to predict correctly. I'm concentrating on giving my best tonight and tomorrow."

Regarding her expectations for her career after Eurovision, she remarked: “I am young and have been working on my career for 7 - 8 years now. At this point I expect that this will open many doors in the future, regardless of the position I score tomorrow.”

Lucia closed by saying that her most cherished memory of Düsseldorf would be “the   support of the fans. I also feel very lucky to be on such a huge stage.”



After introducing Torsten Amarell, the Head of the German delegation and her backup vocalists Angie and Maja, Lena kicked off her Big Five press conference by relating how her dress rehearsal went today: “Very, very nice. I enjoyed it. It was also a kind of nervous feeling - everything felt like on the live show. Other delegations walked on and off the stage. And the week was totally crazy and full of events.”

When asked to elaborate, she said: “The Eurovision Song Contest is the kind of thing where you don't have a minute to yourself. I did so many interviews, boat trips, and things like that and it was amazing.”

At that moment, Lena was delighted to receive a surprise visit from her 'diary team', dressed in the silver full-body outfits featured in her performance. She agreed with a journalist that it would be a good idea to sell the outfits to fans.

Mentioning some commercials that she had made, another journalist asked Lena whether she felt like a marketing product or whether she still felt she had artistic control over her career. Lena appeared irritated by the question and replied: “I can still decide on what I want to do. I wanted to make that commercial. I'm a person of the media world and everybody has an opinion about me and what I'm doing, what I'm saying and what I'm not. I didn't see a reason not to do it.”

One journalist asked if she was in danger of losing her voice by giving so many interviews and whether this placed pressure on her. Lena objected: “I don't feel any pressure. I'm not putting any pressure on myself. I'm very happy and lucky and I decide if I feel pressure or not.  I'm trying to have fun here and I'm doing this as an entertainment show. I haven't lost my voice. I talk a lot on the job and at home - there's no big difference, so everything's cool.”

Lena was also asked if she wanted to leverage her entry song Taken By A Stranger into an international career and become a superstar like Lady Gaga. Her succinct reply: “No, I dont want to be like Lady Gaga. I want to be like me.”

Finally, Lena was asked for her insight into why Europe attached such importance to the Eurovision Song Contest and whether the rest of the world could take part. She mused: “I don't know why it's so important for Europe. lt's kind of like a thing where many, many people can have as much fun as they want to, to have entertainment, to be happy, to see some things and some happenings. It's not serious. We're supposed to be happy and enjoy it. Maybe the rest of the world can do a 'Worldvision Contest' - just sing and have fun.”