All the regulars turned up at the first semi-final press conference at Eurovision 2011: the contestants sweating ambition, the journalists asking stupid questions and the photographers taking pictures of folks obscured by microphones. Wiwi and Vebooboo sat through the madness so you wouldn’t have to. Here are the highlights.

Each finalist fielded two questions: one from a journalist from their country, and one from an international journalist.

Journalists asked Serbia’s Nina some pretty lame questions related to her being a pharmacist, so she didn’t have a chance to showcase how cute she is. What sticks out in our mind is what the host of Eurovision asked her during the live broadcast. “You’re a pharmacy student and this is a nerve-wracking contest. Did you prescribe yourself tranquilizers?” Nina was thrilled when she drew start position #24 for the final.

Elena from Lithuania wasn’t on anyone’s radar ahead of the semi-final. A Lithuanian journalist asked the question all of us had in mind: “What do you want to tell all the people who doubted your chances of advancing?”  It would be rude to give them the finger while cursing, so she simply responded:  “I don’t know what to tell them, but this is what you got!” Elena was in an ecstatic mood….until she pulled out starting position #4, after which she looked like Death.

Greece’s Loucas Yiorkas and Stereo Mike want all y’all to know how hard they have worked. “I gave my soul and did what I could do,” Loucas said.  That was evident afterwards when he couldn’t figure out whether he had picked number 6 or 9 from the Bowl of Fate.

The Azeris know how to keep it PC and keep the crowds happy.  El started out by assuring us that all of the acts were “very very strong” and that “it was a great pleasure to be with them . . .our friendship does not stop now.” (Honestly, can’t he tell us who groped Armenia, or what Albania looks like when she takes off the make-up?). When a journalist asked why Nikki seemed so nervous during her performance, the mother of two tugged heart strings. “I was so excited today to be honest. My two daughters came to support me, so it was really important for me not to fail,” she said, adding that the performance was devoted to them.

Georgia’s Sopho from Eldrine assured the press room that she’s “proud that [her] product is Georgian” and represents the country’s culture. Given the dark nature of her act, Georgia must be located somewhere East of Hell. She went on to explain that “all of us hoped we would be in the final…We just enjoyed ourselves on stage.”  She drew spot #25 and will now close out the show.

The crowd gave Switzerland’s Anna Rossinelli the biggest applause of the night, perhaps because of the huge-ass kiss she planted on her colleague’s lips after hearing her country called out (it’s the first time Switzerland has advanced since 2006).  She admitted that she is “always nervous when [she] goes on stage” and added that “it’s so cool that we are in the final…Thank you so much that you voted for me!”

Hungary’s Kati Wolf received the second-largest applause, and looked like she was on the verge of crying throughout the conference.  She was clearly taken aback by the crowd’s response to her in the Esprit Arena. “When I went on stage I heard a magic voice from the audience,” she said. “I want to thank them because it depends on them that I am here.  I’m dreaming now…We meet again on Saturday!”

Finland’s Paradise Oskar blushed during the entire press conference. “I’m very grateful that people voted me and also very grateful that very good songs were chosen,” he said. “It’s great to be here so young.”  Asked if he thought he had a chance to win on Saturday, he tried to skirt the issue. “Winning might be a possibility.  So far this hasn’t been a competition, just a great way to get people to hear my music and it has been such a great honor.”

Russia’s Alexei Vorobyov gave a rather rehearsed performance. It came off rul rul fake, y’all!  First he ran across the platform waving a huge Russian flag and then posed throughout the conference wearing a tank top and freshly-applied make-up.  Asked why he planned the celebratory Russian Party for Wednesday night (after his Tuesday semi-final) Alexei admitted that it wasn’t an easy decision. He said he’ll be waiting for everyone in the Euroclub.  Wiwi and Vebooboo will definitely be there!

Iceland’s group Sjonni’s Friends closed out the conference by first apologizing for spilling wine on the white carpet when they found out they had advanced.  For the third consecutive year Iceland has been announced last, and the singers admitted that they honestly had no hope that they would advance given that Turkey, Armenia and Norway had not yet been announced.  “We just really hoped that the song would touch everyone…and we are very happy to get to the Final and do it for Sjonni.”

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Chris Painter
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The performance given by Ewelina (Not Elena as you wrote) was for me the greatest positive surprise. The song was not very original but her perfect voice was decisive in making decision about voiting for her. It is rare case when the live performance appeared to be better than the studio performance. I believe she has great future as a singer.

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