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Live Report: The Second Semi-Final dress rehearsal

23 May 2012 at 17:04 CEST

At this moment, the Second Semi-Final of the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest is being rehearsed in full length for the first time, presented by Nargiz, Eldar, and Leyla. As in the First Semi-Final, the postcards introducing each song show impressions from Azerbaijan, covering all eras of history up to the contemporary life in modern Baku, the capital of the Caucasian country. 

First on stage was the Serbian representative Željko Joksimović, who sang his powerful ballad Nije Ljubav Stvar in a warm setting of yellow spotlights in front of a dark blue and purple backdrop. He and his backing artists were all dressed in elegant black outfits.

The next singer on stage came from neighbouring F.Y.R. Macedonia, where Kaliopi is one of the biggest stars. She presented Crno E Belo, a ballad that turns into a rock song, in a professional and artistic way. Also here, all artists on stage were dressed in elegant black clothes.

Joan Franka from the Netherlands performed again with an Indian headdress made of feathers, which symbolizes her beautiful childhood memories. Her song, You And Me, has influences from country music, and she confidently performed it with her small band.

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The fourth entry was the Maltese one, sung by Kurt Calleja. He and his band wore black outfits, and Kurt was interacting well with the public and the cameras while dancing to his uptempo pop song This Is The Night.

Leather biker outfits with chains and nets attached were the stage costumes of the Belarusian rock band Litesound. With specially designed microphone stands and technical items displayed on a blue LED backdrop, and pyrotechnical effects in the end of the song, the visuals fit the song We Are The Heroes very well.

After a short break it was time for the sixth entry, which comes from Portugal. Filipa Sousa sang her fado-influenced song Vida Minha in a long black dress, shimmering in golden colour. She delivered a fabulous vocal performance in front of a backdrop showing images from Lisbon.

One big LED backdrop was not enough for the Ukrainian representative, Gaitana - she brought four more smaller LED walls with her on stage, displaying dancers making similar movements like her backing artists. She wore a white fringed dress and a floral wreath while singing Be My Guest, a true football hymn!

Sofi Marinova from Bulgaria presented her dress for the Semi-Final for the first time today - it was a white leather dress, combined with a golden belt and white boots, and she was wearing her long hair in a ponytail. Pink was the main colour of the backdrop, and the gypsy artist showed a splendid vocal performance of Love Unlimited, even though she was alone on stage.

The youngest artist of the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest, Eva Boto from Slovenia, was next to perform her song Verjamem, and despite her age, her vocals were flawless, and she worked well with the cameras and the audience. All artists on stage wore long white dresses, and Eva's had flowers attached.

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From Slovenia, the show went on right to neighbouring Croatia, whose representative Nina Badrić sang her self-written ballad Nebo in an elaborately designed black dress. With a dark blue backdrop displaying clouds and landscapes, the melancholy of the song came accross very well.

One of the favourites with the bookmakers this year is Loreen, the Swedish representative, who made extensive use of the wind machine during her performance of Euphoria. The flickering spotlights, the camerawork and the snow effects used towards the end of the song gave the song a very special appeal, and the audience rewarded Loreen with a big applause.

Georgia was next, with Anri Jokhadze and one of the most entertaining stage acts this year. With him on stage were four backing artists in skimpy dresses, supporting him vocally during the performance of I'm A Joker. During the song, Anri is changing his outfit, playing drums and piano, dancing, and singing.

Can Bonomo's song Love Me Back is all about ships and seamen, a fact that can easily recognized already from the LED backdrop, displaying waves, and from the sailor costumes of the artists on stage. Later on, they formed a figure resembling a ship with their capes.

Kuula is the title of the Estonian entry, sung by Ott Lepland, and the charismatic artist delivered a heartwarming performance of his piano ballad. The stage was kept dark, and only towards the climax of the song, bright red images were displayed on the LED backdrop.

After another break, it was time for the only hard rock song in the contest, Don't Close Your Eyes by Max Jason Mai from Slovakia, so rock fans - listen up now! With a charismatic performance and strong vocals, the versatile artist and his performance came across very well on the screens.

Norway's intoxicating act - Tooji singing Stay - got a warm welcome from the audience in the Baku Crystal Hall. Warm colours, red and yellow, dominated the LED backdrop and the lighting, and the song doesn't hide Tooji's Iranian roots.

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Maya Sar from Bosnia-Herzegovina wore an elegantly designed black dress while singing her ballad Korake Ti Znam and playing the piano along with it. In the middle of the song, she stood up and walked to the front of the stage, and from then, a wind machine was used as well.

Another ballad was the last entry of this Semi-Final - the Lithuanian song Love Is Blind by Donny Montell. He was wearing a blindfold which he took off in the very moment his song picked up tempo and turned into an uptempo pop song. He didn't only show that he's got a strong voice, he also proved his dancing abilities!

The interval act of the Second Semi-Final was the so-called "All Star Band", where the last five winners of the Eurovision Song Contest performed together: Marija Šerifović, Dima Bilan, Alexander Rybak, Lena, and Ell & Nikki. Each of them was accompanied by traditional Azeri instruments - a tar, a kemancha, a naghara, a saz, and a balaban. In the end, the five acts teamed up to sing Waterloo together, the song which brought the victory to Sweden's legendary ABBA in 1974.