Sherlock: Miss me? (Season 4)

I’ve been a fan of ‘Sherlock’ since its first episode (aired back in 2011) and so, I’m desperately waiting for each season for almost 6 years now. Even though the seasons are released not each TV season but every couple of years!

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I really enjoyed season 1 as it was close to the original Sherlock Holmes stories but with an unusual modern twist (mobile phones, Internet etc.) + well played by Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock Holmes) and Martin Freeman (Dr. John Watson), but my favourite season to this day is the 2nd. Not only because there appears Sherlock’s one and only love interest Irene Adler (Lara Pulver), scenes between them are the ones to remember, but most importantly because there we see on the permanent basis Sherlock’s nemesis Jim Moriarty, played by incredibly talented Andrew Scott (in season 1, we meet Moriarty only briefly). The ‘chemistry’ between Ben and Andrew’s characters can’t be described, it should be seen!

rf11 The 3rd episode of season 2 called ‘The Reichenbach Fall’ is considered (at least, by me and everyone I know) the best one ever due to the performance of the actors, great plot, and THAT ENDING! Yeah, it made all ‘Sherlock’ fans wonder in a pleasant shock for a really long time, asking “How did he manage to do that?!

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Season 3 had a nice start with numerous funny moments (John and Sherlock’s reunion, John and Mary’s wedding etc.) and even some ‘wow’ scenes – remember that meeting of Sherlock and Molly (Louise Brealey) at the beginning? 😉 source-pbsbut the ending didn’t leave me as satisfied as it had been after the previous two seasons. Thankfully, the situation saved the final small scene after the end credits with “Miss me?”!

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The Abominable Bride

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Then, on January 01, 2016, we got a gift from the ‘Sherlock’ creators/scriptwriters Mark Gatiss (Mycroft Holmes in ‘Sherlock’) and Steven Moffat in the form of a full-length Sherlock film ‘Abominable Bride’ in which we meet our good old friends (Sherlock, Dr. Watson, Mrs. Hudson, Mary Watson, Molly, and even Moriarty) but in 1890s London. I’ve written a review of this enjoyable movie, you can read it here, so I won’t re-write it in this article.

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And now, at the very beginning of 2017, we are finally able to take pleasure in watching season 4. Ok, my impression is a tough one to describe… While watching episode 1 I thought “I can’t believe that it’s our favourite ‘Sherlock’: too little screen time allocated to solving an intriguing mystery, way too little, something like 15 minutes at most out of 90 minutes! That’s ‘Sherlock’, for heaven’s sake! How can that be? Where’s our sharp-minded detective? And what’s with this John’s cheating thing?!” Those were just some thoughts, so you can imagine my frustration after the episode 1. As for me, it’s the weakest one yet. I understand that it was necessary to somehow show Mary’s (played by Amanda Abbington) death, as it was in the book by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but still, I had a feeling that something important was missing.

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Then, last week, we watched episode 2 and I can’t describe how glad I was to see the ‘Sherlock’ we know and love!!! That was the plot writing we all have been waiting for, those were our favourite funny and exciting scenes, and that was a great ‘wow’-moment at the end! All I can say after episode 2 is that Mrs. Hudson truly ROCKS! Una Stubbs’ character was written brilliantly! That scene with Mrs. Hudson driving an Aston Martin in London as during Formula 1 racing and then having this dialogue: “Do you have any idea what speed you were going at?” – “Of course not. I was on the phone!” Amazing! She is THE BOSS!

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The other thing I was particularly impressed with was the ending of ep. 2. I must confess, I thought that the therapist would take off a mask and that’d be Moriarty! But no Jim, just Sherlock’s sister Eurus! Surprise!!!

The Final Problem

Yesterday, January 15, 2017, I had a strong feeling that we’d see Jim Moriarty in ep. 3. My only wish was to see him not as some Sherlock’s memory or fantasy (as in ‘Abominable Bride’) but as a real character. And my wish was granted. Well, in some way. Moriarty was real…but 5 years ago. Anyway, I liked that typical ‘Sherlock’ twist with return ‘cause Andrew Scott is my super fave in ‘Sherlock’, for sure. That scene with Moriarty stepping off the helicopter to Queen’s ‘I Want to Break Free’ was EPIC! I could watch it on repeat over and over again!

I instantly remembered the good old times during season 2 when he broke into the Tower, his going to the court and the ‘Staying Alive’ roof scene. The moment I saw Andrew on screen yesterday, I knew I want to see more seasons of ‘Sherlock’ with him in them (if any will be)!

What makes ep. 3 better, in my opinion, than the previous two of season 4 is the action: we finally see breath-taking scenes, Sherlock solves ‘riddles’, makes choices, saves the people he loves – he is our Sherlock again, at last! And that is promoted in some way by a thrilling performance by the actress who played Eurus Holmes – Sian Brooke. At times, she seems as crazy as Moriarty.

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The ending sequence was very sweet with some footage of other seasons. But seeing the story closing the circle with season 1 shots, in addition to showing all the important characters of ‘Sherlock’, and even Holmes parents, played by real parents of Benedict Cumberbatch, is a bittersweet moment: on the one hand, you are happy to see that everything is ok now, the story is complete, we have all (or almost all) answers to the show’s secrets but, on the other hand, you don’t want to say goodbye to our beloved show and its actors!

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So, here’s my list of episodes: from WORST to BEST (in my opinion):

#12. The Six Thatchers (s04e01)

#11. The Blind Banker (s01e02)

#10. The Lying Detective (s04e02)

#9. The Final Problem (s04e03)

#8. His Last Vow (s03e03)

#7. A Study in Pink (s01e01)

#6. The Hounds of Baskerville (s02e02)

#5. The Sign of Three (s03e02)

#4. The Empty Hearse (s03e01)

#3. The Great Game (s01e03)

#2. A Scandal in Belgravia (s02e01)

#1. The Reichenbach Fall (s02e03)

Regardless of anything, no matter what season of ‘Sherlock’ we like best or don’t like that much, we will always be glad to see our Baker Street boys, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, in future!

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P.S. even Kiev underground can be hacked by Moriarty; this is a photo taken there after the 3rd season…“Miss me?

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© Mariana Shevchenko

George Michael. Last Christmas

This year, it was the Last Christmas for an international pop icon George Michael, who passed away on December 25, 2016.

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“And the wounded skies above say it’s much too late
Well maybe we should all be praying for time”

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George Michael has influenced a lot of artists and it’s he who made supermodels of the 90s SUPERmodels and superstars with his music videos ‘Freedom 90’ and ‘Too Funky’.

I’ve been listening to George since early childhood, and two above-mentioned videos (and songs, obviously) have always been my favourites.

ss86gcin3qeI can’t imagine the 80s and 90s without George Michael’s music: ‘Faith’, ‘Father Figure’, ‘I Want Your Sex’… What is summer without ‘Club Tropicana’ and ‘Careless Whisper’ or winter without ‘Last Christmas’?! I must confess, in Ukraine the latter isn’t just a Xmas song, it’s also a New Year’s Eve song. We can’t get enough of it. So, when I heard it at the supermarket in my home city Kiev yesterday several times in a row, it was a bittersweet moment. At that time, I felt that Ukrainians like and remember George, and I’m not the only one who’s missing him.

I’m an old fan of George Michael, so now I’ll cherish all my CDs and DVDs with his songs and videos even more. I particularly like ‘George Michael Twenty-five’. If you don’t have this video compilation, go get it! There are numerous vids, including Wham! ones and with Aretha Franklin, Elton John, Queen, Whitney Houston, and Mary J. Blige. Talking about collaborations, George was perfect during Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert and Live Aid. As has been revealed this week, he spent millions pounds on charity without advertising it, in secret, and that gesture speaks volumes about him! George Michael was a kind person and amazingly talented artist, that’s why so many people liked him and, I’m sure, will continue being loyal fans or, at least, admirers of him and his music.

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Even though it’s been almost a week since George Michael’s passing, I still can’t get enough of his music and I’m also re-reading ‘Older. The Unauthorized Biography of George Michael’ by Nicholas and Tim Wapshott. I recommend this book to all the (old and new) fans of George: a lot of interesting facts and stories + some nice pictures as well.

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Rest in peace, George. You will be deeply missed!

Thank you for your huge music legacy!

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(c) Mariana Shevchenko

M83: Space Magic in Kiev

On Nov. 17, 2016, a French electronic music band M83 visited my home city Kiev for the first time. That was a night to remember!

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If you are a big movie fan, like me, there is a 99.9% chance that you’ve heard some M83 hits. This band’s songs are soundtracks to such box office hits, to name a few, as: Versailles (‘Outro), Kokowääh (‘We Own the Sky’), Warm Bodies (‘Midnight City’), Oblivion (‘Oblivion’), Divergent (‘I Need You’), The Fault in Our Stars (‘Wait’), 22 Jump Street (‘Midnight City’), Insurgent (‘Holes In the Sky’)…

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I’d seen all the above-mentioned movies and series, loved those songs but at that time didn’t know that they were M83’s. But then, in 2015, I decided to watch new TV series called ‘Versailles’ and in just 30 sec. I fell in love with M83: their hypnotizing song ‘Outro’ was, and still is, in the opening credits alongside with beautiful graphics. I’ve written my impression of this song in the post about ‘Versailles’, you can check it out (including the opening credits video) here.

From that moment, I was dreaming of seeing these guys performing live. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait long for my wish to come true. This September, new tour dates appeared and with them tickets for Kiev concert, so I, obviously, bought my ticket to the 1 fan-zone on the first day of sale.

When the day of Nov. 17 came, I was super excited and wondered what it’d be like to hear my fave M83’s songs live.

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When the band walked on stage, the crowd at Stereo Plaza went wild. Taking into account that that was the first time M83 were in Kiev, such a warm welcome showed that we’d been looking forward to meeting them impatiently. I really hope the band saw how happy we were at that moment. They conquered us right from the start. I was standing in the 1st row right in front of Anthony Gonzalez, so could see everyone on stage and every element of a cosmic stage set. It looked like we all were somewhere in space: stars lit up behind the band, lasers shone all over the place changing colours with each song or a part of a song. At times, it seemed like I was at Pink Floyd concert (they also like this kind of special effects).

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The sound was amazing without exaggeration: no bass overload or cut-offs. Just a clear ambisonic sound of instruments and incredible and unique voices of Anthony Gonzalez and Kaela Sinclair.

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Unlike some bands and musicians, who make their fans wait long to hear well-known hits, M83 successfully mixed songs from the new album ‘Junk’ with their songs that have been hits for a while now; so even a person who, for some reason, hadn’t learnt their new songs prior to the concert shared the excitement of the rest of us already at the 4th song – ‘We Own the Sky’. The whole gig was a great mixture of albums ‘Junk’ (2016), ‘Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming’ (2011) and ‘Saturdays = Youth’ (2008), so everyone could find his/her own favourite during the 1.5 hour concert.

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_iwf3rlsafaApart from great sound, special effects and beautiful songs that made us dance or cry, my heart was won over by Jordan Lawlor, who played the guitar, provided back-vocals and even sang one of the songs – ‘Walkway Blues’.

Jordan was like the Energizer Bunny! 🙂 OMG, his work with electric drums during ‘Sitting’ while dancing around them should be seen!!! He got us all jumping and dancing like crazies! And then closer to the end of the gig again with ‘Couleurs‘. My friends and I couldn’t stop discussing Jordan’s performance for quite a while after the concert.

*** The videos here and below are not mine, but you can still feel the atmosphere*

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Now, several days after M83’s gig in Kiev, I can proudly say that it was one of the best concerts I’ve been at. I can still feel how songs like ‘Wait’, ‘We Own the Sky’, ‘Intro’ and ‘Outro’ took my breath away, and I still start smiling when remember our wild dancing to ‘Midnight City’, ‘Sitting’, ‘Do It, Try It’. I can’t even say that I didn’t hear some song I wanted to hear or that some song wasn’t that necessary in the setlist. Everything was just right and in the proper order – top notch!

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Highest level of performance: sound quality, light effects, bunch of hits, amazing teamwork (all band members worked as one on stage during each song)! I don’t know about others but we in the 1st fan-zone had the time of our lives! М83 must be seen and heard live, for sure!

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I just want to say, huge thanks, M83! As I wrote on my twitter account,

thanks for a magical concert in Kiev! I couldn’t have had a better time!

And I’m waiting for you here in Kiev again sometime soon! 😉

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© Mariana Shevchenko

Bridget Jones’s Baby: Old flame. New fling. Big problem

On Sept. 19, 2016, just 4 days after the official premiere of the new Bridget Jones movie (‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’), I was sitting in the cinema and totally enjoying every single minute right from the start.

I absolutely love the first 2 parts, so when a year ago I heard the news about the 3rd movie was in works, I got a little nervous ‘cause very often sequels don’t do justice to the original films, and the fans of Bridget were lucky already to have a pretty nice second part, but there we were – offered the third one.

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Fortunately, my worries were proven to be needless just 1 minute into the new movie. That classic opening with Bridget sitting in her favourite red pajamas and listening to Celine Dion’s ‘All by Myself’ made me see – yes, our favourite Bridget is back in all her glory! I won’t write any spoilers in case you haven’t watched it yet, so I just say that it’s the same Bridget but with some new twist in every oh-so-familiar scene (including the one with ‘All by Myself’).

Honestly, when the closing credits started, I realized my cheeks hurt because throughout the whole movie I smiled and laughed so hard. There are lots of hilarious situations, which are allocated evenly in the course of the whole movie. You won’t find a boring moment even in serious episodes.

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Don’t expect too much, the plot isn’t that different from the previous two parts – there’s Bridget (although, way skinnier than before), there’s Bridget’s diary (although, upgraded), there are two men fighting to be with her, there are Bridget’s friends but there is one little detail that makes nice difference – Bridget’s baby! And so, the story is based on the events that led to pregnancy + the events during it + guessing who’s the baby’s father + finding out that secret AT LAST! But be prepared that you may be changing your thoughts/guesses on who’s the daddy of the baby (Jack or Mark? / Mark or Jack?!) throughout the movie and even at the very end! 😉

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It was pure joy to see all the beloved characters/actors from the previous 2 films again: Renée Zellweger (Bridget Jones), Colin Firth (Mark Darcy), Gemma Jones (Bridget’s mum), Jim Broadbent (Bridget’s dad), and of course Bridget’s 3 BFFs: Sally Phillips (Shazzer), Shirley Henderson (Jude), and James Callis (Tom). No Hugh Grant this time, but his cameo (in some way) is still present. The ‘gang’ is back! Seeing all of them made me feel like I’m meeting my good old friends. Such a warm feeling; loved that! Even though it’s been almost 12 years since the second movie, Renée and Colin still got it: they are very well accustomed to their roles, so natural and good looking, still have the chemistry; seems like there weren’t all those years in-between. I bought into the continuation of the story right away. And even though Renée isn’t as young as in the first movie, she is still charming as clumsy but clever, witty and strong in spirit Bridget Jones.

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A great addition to the movie is Emma Thompson, who played Dr. Rawlings! She is wonderful, to be precise! Emma appears only in several scenes but, gosh, she is the star in all of them!!! Trust me, you’ll definitely laugh when you watch those episodes and hear her lines! Now, that’s acting!

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Patrick Dempsey did a nice job playing Jack, too. Before I saw ‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’, I thought he’d play another heartthrob, like on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ while trying to take Hugh Grant’s place, but no, he played a nice and funny guy without any womanizer vibes of Hugh’s character, and there was pleasant chemistry between Patrick, Renée, and Colin.

Another new character that I liked was Bridget’s new friend Miranda (played by Sarah Solemani), who works with her on a TV channel. Bridget and Miranda are the core of 80% of the funny stuff in the movie. Pay special attention to their interaction at work and at a music festival – that is something!

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The soundtrack of ‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’ is also worth special mention. The creators of the movie again keep abreast of the popular music. There are plenty of absolute hits. I really like that all of them are added timely, enhancing the effect of particular scenes. Moreover, there’s even a cameo of a famous singer! And they even managed not only to show him but play up with the advantage of having him in the scene with Bridget and Miranda. That was amusing! Well done!

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Bridget Jones movies are a magical aid when you’re feeling blue, no matter why – being single/unlucky in love, having weight problems or troubles at work. Having watched any of the parts (or all of them one after another), you’ll 100% say “hey, everything is not so bad!” What can I say, the third Bridget Jones movie is a perfect addition to the bunch! I personally can’t wait already to add the DVD (when it’s available) to my collection! And I’m secretly hoping that Helen Fielding (the author of the books about Bridget Jones) will come up with the fourth movie that’s as awesome as all the existing ones!

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© Mariana Shevchenko

Happy 70th b’day, Freddie!

Today is Freddie Mercury’s birthday! 👑🎤🇬🇧 Can’t believe he would be 70 already!!!

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I couldn’t ignore this day ’cause  this man has always been a part of my life: I started listening to Queen when I was even younger than 1 year old – yep, thanks, dad, for teaching me listening to the right music from the very beginning 🙂

There were good days and there were bad days, but Freddie’s unique voice has always been somewhere near cheering me up: through my headphones, DVDs or YouTube vids.

How I wish Freddie were still here with his amazing bandmates – Brian, Roger, John. Seeing him on stage with them during the now-legendary (at least, for me) concert in Kiev in 2012 (details here) would be so great, but even more precious would be the opportunity of attending a concert like the one Queen had at Wembley Stadium in ’86! Wow, that’s just the standard of a rock concert! Freddie’s charisma was all over the place. Nothing could stop him. The crowd was all his. What an evening it must have been!

For me, Freddie will forever stay a true rock star with incredible voice and creativity, style and charisma, power and strong will. There will never be another Freddie Mercury ’cause he was one of a kind. “A Kind of Magic”!

Once again, happy 70th birthday, Freddie, wherever you are!  

You are forever my fave!

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I won’t be a rock star. I will be a legend.

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And here’s my list of all-time faves:

#1. ‘I Want to Break Free’

#2. ‘Breakthru’

#3. ‘A Kind of Magic’

#4. ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

#5. ‘Somebody to Love’

#6. ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’

#7. ‘One Vision’

#8. ‘Radio GaGa’

#9. ‘We will Rock You’ + ‘We are the Champions’

#10. ‘Under Pressure’ = a combination of the legends: Queen + David Bowie

*** ‘The Show Must Go On’: this one can’t be numbered – it’s special and is above everything else! 

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-Are fans ready to celebrate tonight?

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– Ready, Freddie!

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Versailles: sex, drama & rock’n’roll

Have you ever watched TV series you wanted to re-watch straight after watching the last episode? I bet you have. Well, a novice ‘Versailles’ is exactly like that, at least for me: I’m currently re-watching it, and enjoying each moment as I did the first time!

Let’s look into the plot.

France. 1667. 28-year-old King Louis XIV (played by George Blagden) decides to leave Paris and settle down in Versailles, more specifically, in his father’s hunting lodge, which Louis XIV wants to re-build into the greatest palace in the world – Versailles. That period of time at Versailles is full of drama, affairs within the royal court, political plots and intrigues.

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George Blagden as King Louis XIV

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Maddison Jaizani (Sophie), Amira Casar (Beatrice), Evan Williams (Chevalier)

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Alexander Vlahos as Philippe d’Orleans

What to pay special attention to.

 

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Alexander Vlahos

The storyline of the King’s brother – Philippe d’Orléans (played by Alexander Vlahos). That’s one hell of a character!!! Charismatic Alexander did a great job portraying Philippe.

 

 

He’s some kind of a rock’n’roll star of the 17th century – very eccentric, attention-grabbing and astonishingly looking! To be honest, I fell in love with Alex’s character, well, and him, straight away. The role of Philippe is so interesting to be played: there’s drama, fun, humour, passion… Only an all-rounder could play it well. Luckily, the producers TV-Versaillepicked Alex for this job!  So, after episode 1 I was looking forward to his scenes to see what his character was up to next. Taking into account that Philippe is not only married to the King of England’s sister, Henriette (who is also King Louis’ main favourite, by the way) but has a love affair with a guy, too – Chevalier (played by another great actor Evan Williams), things are quite complicated on ‘Versailles’. The relationship of Philippe and Chevalier is so surprisingly natural and compelling that Versailles fans are ‘shipping’ them from episode 1.

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***And a little funny bonus from these two awesome guys (so, that’s what they do behind the scenes):

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Another pleasant surprise for me was when I saw George Blagden as King Louis XIV for the first time. I instantly thought that he was just perfect as Louis. The way George acted – said his lines, behaved, looked at everybody – struck home. George knows exactly how to convey the King’s power and superiority, but at the same time show his human side. I really enjoy his chemistry with his colleagues on the screen: both, women and men, especially with his on-screen brother – Alexander Vlahos. They not only look somewhat similar but also act like they’ve known each other for ages. Amazing!

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Details.

The real Palace of Versailles is often used as the series’ set (you can see the Hall of Mirrors at the beginning). Great choice, producers! There’s nothing better than using actual locations to show the magnificence of that time. And that not only helped to create a good picture on the screen but is really a driving force for tourism in Paris, France. I know it first-hand. Before I watched ‘Versailles’, I’d already had a trip to Paris planned for this past July, but after watching the show I just couldn’t wait to see the palace and its gardens first-hand.

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Versailles, the Hall of Mirrors

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Well, what can I say; it really is breath-taking! To be honest, I didn’t expect that I would be so in love with Versailles!

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Me @ the Hall of Mirrors, Versailles

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Me @ the gardens of Versailles

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Me @ Versailles

Ok, let’s continue with the series’ details…

2014555_021-623x350 Apart from the stunning set, ‘Versailles’ presents beautiful costumes and make-up (both, female and male). I mean, just look at those wigs the male characters are wearing!!! Especially, King Louis and Philippe. They could easily be in some hair products ad with all those flowing wavy locks! lol

The costumes and jewellery are well-thought-through as well: every detail says ‘money’ and shows their belonging to aristocrats.

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Elisa Lasowski (Marie Terese, the Spanish Queen), George Blagden (Louis XIV), Anna Brewster (Montespan), Noemie Schmidt (Henriette)

The music.

Outro’ by M83 is used for the opening titles. The song is futuristic with distinctive electronic sound, so it is really modern but at the same time, it is such a great contribution to the show (just listen to the lyrics: “Now and forever, I’m your king!”) that there’s no doubt that it belongs at the series opening.

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Philippe and Henriette

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Henriette

 

 

Aton’ by NOIA can be heard during the end credits. Love it, too! Such a tender melody. To me, it associates with Henriette (played by beautiful and talanted Noémie Schmidt). Especially to the point it sounds after the last, 10th, episode. If you have watched it, you know what I’m talking about. And if you haven’t, you’ll understand…

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not a historian but I guess the combination of all the above-mentioned details gives the perfect feel of the 17th century France: you don’t think about the present, 2016, even for a moment while watching ‘Versailles’.

I’d recommend watching ‘Versailles’ to

everyone who loves historic series/movies and who deeply misses another amazing series ‘The Tudors’.

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Sarah Winter (Louis de la Valliere), George Blagden (Louis XIV)

Don’t be put off just because one of numerous racy sex scenes of ‘Versailles’ is shown already at the 2nd minute of the show (come on, like you haven’t watched Game of Thrones or/and The Tudors!). At first, it is unexpected and shocking but then you’ll get used to it and will see them as a part of the show. Sex isn’t the most important on the show, what is much more significant is the relationship of Louis XIV and Philippe. That’s, basically, the backbone of ‘Versailles’. And that’s the source of drama and humour.

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My personal rating is 10/10!

I’ve been waiting for quite a while for a show that is so addictive and makes you thirsty for more with each episode. Gorgeous and talented young actors. Interesting plot. Breath-taking set! I highly recommend ‘Versailles’ to everyone if you want to spend time with pleasure!

 

©Mariana Shevchenko

INXS at Wembley Stadium (25th anniversary)

Today is the 25th anniversary of one of the best live gigs ever, if not THE best, – INXS’ ‘Live Baby Live’ at sold out Wembley Stadium, London (approx. 72,000 fans)!

This concert means a lot to me and it has set the highest bar for the quality of concerts. Ever. Each time I attend a gig, I subconsciously compare it to this concert of INXS. At that time, in 1991, I was waaaay too young, so obviously I didn’t attend the gig but I watch it every single year on this day (July 13) ever since I watched it on VHS (yes, VHS). And you know what, I’ll never get tired of this tradition!

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If you haven’t watched the ‘Live Baby Live’ DVD, you really should. Trust me, you won’t regret it! But you should find the DVD with bonus features (there is so much to see, especially if you like / will like INXS frontman Michael Hutchence 😉 )

Every single aspect of the day of the gig was filled with luck: the weather was superb (warm, no wind), so the sound was top notch everywhere at the stadium and perfect for video recording, the concert was sold out, which means INXS were a band powerful enough to easily gather 72,000 fans that day to share a couple of happy hours with them, and the guys of INXS pulled out an AMAZING show! 6 members of the band played like one – they knew exactly when to jam = extend a song (like with ‘Original Sin’ and ‘What You Need’), when to play to Michael’s actions (like during ‘Suicide Blond’ when Hutch teased the crowd first and only after started

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Andrew Farriss & Michael Hutchence

singing: “You know what?”… “What what, I said you know what?”… ”This is a song about…”  (from me: the song is about Kylie Minogue, whom he dated at the time of writing it) *and Andrew Farriss starts to play harmonica* – mmm, my fave song since childhood), and when to make the crowd jump or excited (making a quite noticeable pause in the middle of ‘Never Tear Us Apart’ – another super fave of mine, written by Michael and Andrew – before Kirk’s sax solo).

 

 

These 6 guys on stage weren’t just bandmates; Michael, Andrew, Jon, Kirk, Garry, and Tim were the whole, and they stayed the whole throughout their long career. Other rock bands can only dream about that unity!

Jon, the INXS drummer, was drumming throughout the whole gig with such ease and professionalism that I still have goosebumps watching that crowd jumping to the rhythm he set from the very first song (‘Guns in the Sky’) and, especially, during ‘New Sensation’ – just watch that part – WOW! Every time I watch the concert on DVD, I wish I were there in the 1st row jumping and singing with the crowd!

***P.S. oh, by the way, Jon thanks so much for remaining such a great person, all your birthday wishes on Twitter on my birthday, likes and replies really make my day!***

***… and thanks, Chris Murphy (INXS manager) for your book! I still can’t believe you presented it to me AND signed a personalized message! ***

(if someone missed it, you can read about that story here in the post about Michael Hutchence on his birthday)

10398567_10153963439299192_5899047210247660986_nMichael worth a special mention. That day he showed the best rock performance ever! He was an image of charisma and a true rock god throughout his life (no wonder somebody said Michael was “the last rock god”) bearing a strong resemblance to the sex appeal of Jim Morisson on and off stage but still never copying anyone and being the one and only Michael Hutchence. He knew for sure how to entertain people, his fans, and how to make them like him from the second they met or seen him, and even more, make them love him from the first sight. There will be no one like Hutch ‘cause he was unique! Just cab2b395ab7d8877a353f9d454d4ab27check out some recent and old  Kylie Minogue interviews in which she constantly says that she still loves him, after all these years. Now, that’s influence! By the way, on July 13, 1991, Kylie was at Wembley too (even after breaking up with Michael) along with a Danish supermodel Helena Christensen, his then girlfriend, for whom he left Kylie! You can see KM meeting Hutch backstage in the DVD bonus materials.

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Kylie Minogue & Michael Hutchence

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‘Live Baby Live’ setlist is impressive – 21 songs, and no mediocre one – they all are perfectly picked out and ordered. Great balance between earlier hits and new songs and between fast and slow ones. After hearing (and seeing) ‘Know the Difference‘ (wow, Michael was on fire!), ‘Disappear‘, ‘Need You Tonight‘, ‘Suicide Blonde‘ and ‘Never Tear Us Apart‘ no one will be able to get these songs and INXS out of their heads!

I rate the gig 10 out of 10 for the perfect quality of sound and live performance, awesome co-operation of the band members on stage, great video recording capturing INXS and the crowd from every possible angle (cameras were even moving behind Michael when he jumped off the stage to walk along the 1st row during ‘Wildlife’!), and for overall exciting feeling of presence at the rock concert even watching it all happening on DVD at home – just forgetting for 2 hours who you are, where you are, and becoming a fan at the concert of his/her favourite band – INXS!

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You can watch the full concert here:

Elton John + Queen + Adam Lambert in Kiev

Have you ever been at a concert, which you can name the best concert in your life with 100% certainty? 

Now, I’ve been.

The concert that takes the top place on my list of the best concerts I’ve been at is a charity Anti-AIDS Elton John + Queen + Adam Lambert concert in Kiev, the Independence Square, June 30, 2012 (one day before the Euro-2012 final in Kiev).

Well, actually, it all started the day before the gig. On June 29, I was lucky enough to meet Brian May, the one and only lead guitarist of Queen, after his and Roger Taylor’s press conference. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Brian standing right in front of me even closer than at arm’s length, chit-chatting, giving the autograph and then, after he had already got into his car to drive to the soundcheck, he saw me and stepped out so we could have a picture of us taken! That was just insanely cool! Such a world-famous guy, musician, songwriter, PhD, stepped out of his car for a fan! At that moment, I was feeling amazed and proud. That’s the memory I’ll cherish forever! And to make the level of awesomeness even higher, by sheer accident, I found on YouTube a video made by some magazine reporter capturing that moment.

 

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Brian May + me (Kiev, June 29, 2012)

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The day of the concert couldn’t be better: the weather was great, I had a great company for the gig, and I was super-excited to see the people I was growing up listening to and watching music videos of – first, Elton John and then Queen + Adam Lambert.

My friends and I arrived at the Independence Square (also known as Maidan now) approx. 4 hours before the security started letting people past checkpoints to the fan zone. It was a free-of-charge concert (both for people with invitations in the fan zone near the stage, like my friends and I, and for people without invitations, who had a chance to watch the concert behind the fan zone and all the way down the main street of Kiev – Khreshchatyk – on big screens installed specially for Euro-2012), so a huge crowd was gathering behind us, but my 2 friends and I were happy that we had a chance to get closer to the stage as long as we had got there earlier than the rest of people, who had invitations too.

When the security let us entry the fan zone, we ‘warmed up’ running to the stage, and how surprised I was when, after I reserved me a place in the first row, I saw that that was a spot I wanted to stand on all along! As it turned out, that was a place right in front of Brian May. What a coincidence!

The concert started approx. 2 hours later with 2 great musicians 2Cellos, a Croatian cello duo, consisting of Luka Šulić and Stjepan Hauser, playing covers of many famous bands like AC/DC, Nirvana, U2, Guns N’ Roses and Michael Jackson. I guess, that was the best opening act I’ve ever seen at gigs.

2Cellos later that evening continued on to play alongside Elton John and his band on the stage and were a great addition to the show!

So, when all the people gathered (as it was calculated, around 200 000 people showed up that evening!!!), hundreds of TV reporters and cameras got ready, waiting full of excitement, Elton John went on stage. The crowd greeted him with huge applauds, screaming and waving. And the magic began.

AwrUG3kCQAACIabCheck out the crowd! Yes, those are all people way back along the street (where the lights are). The stage is barely visible on the left and that place with seats under the round roof is where the organizers and other VIPs were sitting (including Elton John’s husband).

Elton played all his hits of different years (by the way, there was voting on the organizers’ website to find out which Elton’s and Queen’s songs people wanted to hear at the concert, and the results were given to the performers).

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My faves are highlighted, so you can see that 90% of Elton’s gig got me jumping with joy!

01. Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting
02. Bennie and the Jets
03. Levon
04. Tiny Dancer (if you love movie ‘Almost Famous’ too, you know why I like it so much)
05. Philadelphia Freedom
06. Candle in the Wind
07. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
08. Rocket Man
09. Hey Ahab
10. I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues
11. Sacrifice (my all-time fave!)
12. Sad Songs (Say So Much)
13. Nikita (Solo)
14. Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me (just imagine if George Michael was there too that day performing this song together as they used to!)
15. I’m Still Standing
16. The Bitch Is Back (this one was so much fun)
17. Crocodile Rock (I really danced off to it at the concert, see me @ 1:32:22)
Encore:
18. Your Song

I had such a great time! If you watch the video recording of the concert, you’ll see a lot of me (some of my friends wrote me on social networks after the gig, which they were watching on TV that day, that the camera men liked me, so they showed me during almost each song of Elton and Queen, lol). Here’s the full show of Elton John, enjoy:

I really liked all the songs – old and new – but the most precious to me was ‘Sacrifice‘, which I enjoyed listening to and watching the video when I was little. I could have listened to it non-stop.

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But the most exciting moment at the concert was when I caught 3 guitar picks of Elton’s long-time guitarist! You can see that moment in the video 1:25:54.

I still have those ‘trophies’ on display in my room.

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After Elton John, there were Queen. I couldn’t believe that my dream came true and I was standing at Queen concert, listening to them, seeing them, singing along with them! Ever since I saw a record of Queen concert at Wembley Stadium when I was a child, I dreamt of seeing them live. And so, many years later, it happened. Sadly, there was no Freddie, but when he was shown on screens before Queen walked on stage and during the ‘Bohemian Rhapsody‘, ‘Somebody to Love‘ and ‘Love of My Life‘, every single person had goosebumps! I did, for sure! At that moment, he was with all of us there.

cULRk7aAy1YCheck out the concert:

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And here’s ‘Love of My Life’ separately (you can see me there too @ 2:39)

 

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I was really surprised to see Roger’s son Rufus as one of the musicians at the concert. As I could see, he’s as talented as his dad – musical talent is in the family.

 

 

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Among so many Queen songs I heard that evening ‘A Kind of Magic‘, ‘I want to Break Free‘, ‘Somebody to Love‘ and ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love‘ were my particularly _AK_8803_1_1000favourite as long as I loved them since childhood (how can you not like that work of art of the former 2 – those videos were awesome!)

_AK_9381_1_1000It was great to hear live ‘The Show Must Go On‘ because it was never performed by Freddie live. The performance was so powerful but really emotional (for me, at least). And ‘Bohemian Rhapsody‘ was just OMG! Epic!

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The only song I missed deeply that evening was ‘Breakthrough‘. Its music video is in my top 5 of the best Queen videos!

Queen’s setlist:

I won’t highlight my faves ’cause they all are my faves!

01. Seven Seas of Rhye
02. Keep Yourself Alive
03. We Will Rock You
04. Fat Bottomed Girls
05. Don’t Stop Me Now
06. Under Pressure (Roger & Adam)
07. I Want It All
08. Who Wants to Live Forever
09. A Kind of Magic (Roger on lead vocals, Rufus on drums)
10. These Are the Days of Our Lives (Roger on lead vocals, Rufus on drums)
11. Love of My Life (Brian on lead vocals)
12. ’39 (Brian on lead vocals)
13. Dragon Attack
14. Drum Solo (by Roger and Rufus Tiger Taylor)
15. Guitar Solo (by Brian May, incl. “Brighton Rock”)
16. I Want to Break Free
17. Another One Bites the Dust
18. Radio Ga Ga
19. Somebody to Love
20. Crazy Little Thing Called Love
21. The Show Must Go On
22. Bohemian Rhapsody
Encore:
23. Tie Your Mother Down (Brian on lead vocals)
24. We Will Rock You (with Victor Romanchenko – winner of the Ukrainian X-Factor)
25. We Are the Champions

DSC_0102To sum up, the atmosphere of the concert was absolutely amazing! We relaxed and danced to Elton John’s songs and rocked to Queen songs. Adam Lambert did a nice job, he isn’t Freddie, of course, but performed well, even though it could be seen that he was a little nervous at the beginning (well, sure, hundreds of thousand people were watching). But we, the 1st row, tried to show him everything was great and that we liked his performance, so he cheered up, turned on his charisma and pulled off a great show!

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Everything finished off with amazing fireworks, which was a perfect representation of our feelings that night. The crowd just couldn’t get enough! That day was a true holiday that will forever be in my heart!

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Depeche Mode in Kiev. Part 2

On this day, June 29, 2013, was one of the best concerts I’ve ever been at:

Depeche Mode in Kiev

at the NSC Olympic (Olimpiiskyi) Stadium

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1st row: me in the centre (between 2 girls wearing white t-shirts/tops)

That wasn’t my first DM concert (they visited my home city in February 2010; see my blog post here) but that was a day to remember! This gig is on my top 5 list of my best concerts, for sure.

Everything started quite scary from the point of view of a concert-goer. The evening before the concert, there was a pouring rain in Kiev, and yes, the lightning was there too! So, I was really anxious that it’d continue on the following day as long as Depeche Mode were to play at the Olympic Stadium, which doesn’t have the roof! Just the image in my head of me waiting in the pouring rain for approx. 4 hours near the Stadium gates and then for another 3.5 hours of the gig freaked me out! But… The magic does exist! When I woke up the following day, the rain was over, puddles dried up, the sky was grey but the weather didn’t show the slightest hint of the ‘apocalypse’ of the night before. So, I crossed my fingers, packed my raincoat and went to the Stadium, praying for better weather, at least better than on the day before.

While I was waiting in line right by the gates among other people with whom I’d be entering the venue first, I met some great people, who were big Depeche Mode fans too, and we didn’t even notice how the sun came out and the time flew.

I will never forget those stairs, which led to the top of the Stadium (the gig organisers were big jokers – how could they make people of the VIP fan-zone, like me and my new friends, run across the square in front of the Stadium, up the stairs to the top of the Stadium outside and then down to the stage inside?!?).

Well, anyway, my friends and I got to the point of destination somehow – the spot right by the stage. With some huge luck, I managed not only to run around the Stadium and then down the stairs in the sectors with seats but even to find myself a spot in the 1st row right in front of Dave Gahan! I was in heaven!

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At first, there was warming-up, as always, which, frankly, I really enjoyed. An American DJ Matthew Dear gave the great and stylish performance (and even replied to my tweet afterwards, which was very nice of him).

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me – 2nd from the right

But when half an hour later, Dave, Martin and Andy went on stage, I quickly forgot about tiredness and thirst because I was standing at arm’s length from them, the people I grew up listening to and admiring! I saw every single Dave’s tattoo, every single Martin’s spangle (which he had all over him – on the face, clothes, guitar…) and every Andy’s funny face expression during the performance.

Oh, and when Dave looks you right into the eyes, winks and sends you a kiss, it’s just something unspeakable!!!

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The day after the concert, June 30, I was lucky to meet Andy Fletcher and have a little chit-chat. What a nice guy!

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Depeche Mode played an astonishing amount of songs: 23! Everybody was having so much fun that we even didn’t notice how the time flew. I’d say that about 80% of the setlist were their hits, and that was great ’cause that means that DM know what their fans like and would like to hear – the songs they grew up to or just time-proved hits, unlike some bands and performers who want to advertise their new songs so much that drop the most part of famous songs from their setlists.

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1044684_537127249685084_1812547617_nWhat I still remember vividly, even 3 years after that Depeche Mode concert, is standing in the first row, when ventilating fans blow cool air, the staff hand around bottles with water, and I enjoy my favourite Depeche Mode songs with the rest of the crowd throughout the concert, and then closer to the end, when the sun had set down, all of us, approx. 70 0000 people singing ‘Home‘ along with Martin. Pure magic that just can’t be forgotten! As well as that sea of hands during ‘Never Let Me Down Again‘! And never, not for a single moment, did I feel any pressure of the crowd on the 1st row, as it happens rather often.

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The concert was just us, 70 000 people + 3 very special ones (Dave, Martin, Andy), having the best time of our lives!

If you’ve never felt anything like that, I highly recommend going to Depeche Mode concert when they are on tour next time!

Depeche Mode in Kiev, June 29, 2013, Kiev Olympic Stadium. Setlist (my personal super-faves are highlighted with blue colour):

1.    Welcome to My World
2.    Angel
3.    Walking in My Shoes
4.    Precious
5.    Black Celebration
6.    Policy of Truth
7.    Should Be Higher
8.    Barrel of a Gun
9.    Higher Love (Martin)
10.  But Not Tonight (Acoustic) (Martin)
11.   Heaven
12.  Soothe My Soul
13.  A Pain That I’m Used To (Jacques Lu Cont’s Remix)
14.  A Question of Time
15.  Secret to the End
16.  Enjoy the Silence
17.  Personal Jesus ultimate classic!
18.  Goodbye
Encore:
19.  Home (Acoustic) – we were singing like the one…
20.  Halo (Goldfrapp Remix)
21.   Just Can’t Get Enough that was a HUGE surprise!!! DM blew us way with this one!
22.   I Feel You from my all-time favourite album ‘Songs of Faith and Devotion’; I could listen to this song non-stop!
23.   Never Let Me Down Again the hands!!!

P.S. the songs that were missing, as to me, – ‘Behind the Wheel‘, ‘In Your Room‘ and ‘Wrong‘ (in 2010, I had goosebumps listening to it)

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Eurovision 2016. Ukraine wins!

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This year’s Eurovision Song Contest goes down in the history of Ukraine as one of the most memorable, for sure.

We won Eurovision for the 2nd time!!!

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Our 1st victory was in distant 2004 after Ruslana performed her ‘Wild Dances’, and so we were waiting for long 12 years for this moment, but it was so worth it!

This year, in Stockholm (Sweden), Ukraine was represented by our beloved Jamala with a song 1944′ about the deportation of Crimean Tatars under Josef Stalin.

The song itself is very strong and in combination with Jamala’s amazing powerful voice and passionate performance, the effect was incredible. Every single time I saw that tree growing on screen during the chorus in Tatar, I had goosebumps! And so did everyone I know.

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It was obvious from the very beginning that Jamala deserved the victory, obvious not only to us, as it turns out, but to many people around the world who voted for her and gave the highest scores in the grand final.

Even famous J.K. Rowling, the author of ‘Harry Potter‘, wrote on her twitter account:

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The World, that means a lot to us – Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars!!!

We would have been happy for any talented performer if he/she had won yesterday, but to know that people in so many countries around the world support Ukraine is incomparable! THANK YOU ALL, EUROPE and AUSTRALIA!

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My post wouldn’t be full without mentioning some of the very talented contestants representing their countries during Eurovision 2016.

1.I’d like to say that Michał Szpak from Poland impressed me a lot (and many people in the world – he was 3rd of 26 according to the televoting results in the grand final)! He really stood out against the rest of amazing performers this year due to his great voice showed in full in his song ‘Color Of Your Life‘ and his style! I dare to call Michał the most stylish artist at Eurovision 2016! So, congrats to our neighbours in Poland with entering the top 10 in the final! Check out Michał’s performance:

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2. Another contestant I liked was Israel – stylish Hovi Star with a song ‘Made Of Stars‘. Great voice!

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3. My another favourite was Lithuania – Donny Montell performing ‘I’ve Been Waiting for This Night‘. Such an energetic performance!

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4. I really loved the song and the voice of the contestant from Australia! Dami Im, you were GREAT! And what an amazing result – 2nd place, congrats! For some time during results presenting, I thought you’re going to win and I was so happy for you! I have many friends in Australia and I know they were rooting for you so much (and Europe, too). Check out Dami’s ‘Sound Of Silence‘, it should be seen and heard!

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5. Such a feel-good song from Bulgaria was this year. Loved it! It was clear that everybody in the concert hall was having so much fun, and so was the TV audience! Check out Poli Genova with a lively ‘If Love Was A Crime‘:

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6. Georgia‘s Nika Kocharov and Young Georgian Lolitaz contrasted so nicely with others, performing their rock song ‘Midnight Gold‘. Great job!

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And last but not least, I can’t skip these 3 contestants:

7. I loved the song ‘Slow Down‘ of Douwe Bob from the Netherlands. Such a nice chill-out song! Douwe’s style somewhat reminded me of Johnny Cash’s – with a guitar behind his back.

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8. Great performance of Justs from Latvia with a song ‘Heartbeat‘. Such a rock-ish husky voice!

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and…

9. Of course, a fresh and funky song ‘What’s The Pressure‘ of Laura Tesoro from Belgium fit well!

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Thank you all – organizers, hosts (Måns and Petra), contestants, voters and supporters all over the world and, especially, Jamala – for such a great show this year! I really enjoyed Eurovision 2016! 

Welcome to Ukraine for Eurovision 2017!

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