Ott Lepland in top shape for Estonia
Estonia are this year represented by Ott Lepland, with the song Kuula. The Estonian team arrived at the Crystal Hall today for their first rehearsal.
Speaking backstage, Ott told us about a holiday he recently went on in order to prepare for the Eurovision Song Contest. He said "It was good timing actually, at the beginning of April I went to Egypt with some of my friends after a very busy period directly after winning the Estonian national selection. We did lots of swimming and relaxing. It was a lot of fun, but also the total rest was good preparation for Eurovision."
Ott has also made some sacrifices in preparation for Baku, he told us "When I got back to Estonia from Egypt, I quit drinking and smoking in order to keep my voice in top shape." His first impressions of Baku were also positive with Ott saying "It's a pretty amazing city, there is a real mix of historic and modern buildings. It's a really beautiful city, and the venue is amazing too."
The stage setting is simplistic, but extremely effective. At the beginning of the performance the stage is totally dark except for a beam of light on Ott himself. There is a female backing singer behind Ott. Beams of light them appear across the stage until the final part of the song, when the LED screens explode in to colour with floating leaves spread across them.
Ott certainly delivered vocally, and the female backing vocalist also helps to enhance the strength of the song. The performances were met by loud applause by those watching in the Crystal Hall.
Duet with the Russian grannies?
At the press conference after Ott's first rehearsal, he was asked about what changes there have been since Estonia last hosted Europe's Favourite TV Show in 2002. He replied "I believe that Eurovision has changed, there are more countries competing than 10 years ago. To my eyes it has become bigger, but I still believe that it would be a big deal to win for Estonia. It's awesome here!."
Ott said he considered himself very lucky to have won the Estonian national selection Eesti Laul 2012, as he believed that the competition was very strong.
Ott was asked about whether he gets nervous before his performances and added "I'm always very anxious before I get on stage, but it's more of a thrill than nerves. When i get on the stage it feels like an adrenaline rush and everything is fine."
Australian radio asked Ott to comment on a show in Estonia where he performed with his grandmother. He went on to say "Performing with my grandmother was the most emotional performance for me, she is a very special person, it was a great honour for me to perform with her on stage. I feel very lucky to have performed with her in front of an Estonian audience." Ott did not rule out performing a duet with the Russian grandmothers Buranovskiye Babushki.
Three versions of Kuula
A journalist asked Ott if it was challenging to shorten the song Kuula down to three minutes. He said "The original of the song was released in November 2011, and it was around four minutes and thirty seconds long. It was a difficult challenge to take it down to three minutes. My vocal teacher did a great job cutting the song, and I think it sounds great now."
"The performance has been deliberately toned down for the Eurovision Song Contest", Head of Delegation Mart Normet explained when asked about the staging of the song. "We want the music to speak for itself, the song is a timeless classic we feel."
Ott told the press about the three different language versions of Kuula. He added "We made a Spanish, Russian and English version of the song in order to let as many people understand the song as possible."
You can hear the three new language versions of Kuula in the links below