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Eurovision Insight News Podcast: She’s Playing That Song Again

Eurovision Insight News Podcast: She’s Playing That Song Again

It’s Destination Spain this weekend as the preview tour rolls into Madrid and for many artists its the inal ‘big stage’ time before they arrive at the Eurovision Song Contest, a Contest with a few more guest slots announced this week.

Eurovision Insight News Podcast: She’s Playing That Song Again

The return of the triangles, the remixes of promotion, and the sofa tours across the continent… plus a Eurovision Thought from Forest FM’s Ciaran Urry-Tuttiett. Ewan Spence and the ESC Insight team cover the latest news from the world of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019.

Follow these links to find out more about Moscow’s Eurovision Party, Spain’s Preview Party, and Glasgow’s Ne Party Pas Sans Moi. Follow the M&M Production Diary here.

As May draws ever closer, stay up to date with all the Song Contest news by listening to the ESC Insight podcast. You’ll find the show in iTunes, Google Podcasts, and Spotify. A direct RSS feed is  available. We also have a regular email newsletter which you can sign up to here.

Categories: ESC Insight


10 years ago – What has become of Eurovision’s Top 10 from 2009?

10 years ago – What has become of Eurovision’s Top 10 from 2009?

Alexander Rybak

2009 was a great year for Eurovision. Norway reigned supreme and the United Kingdom ended in top 10 (yes, you heard that right). A decade has passed, there have been deaths, babies and weddings. We take a closer look at what happened to the participants that finished in top 10 in 2009.

10. Inga & AnushJan Jan (Armenia)

Sisters Inga and Anush Arshakyan released a studio album and a tour following their 10th place at Eurovision. It has been five years since they released another album, their 2014 album Sketches. The following year the oldest of the sisters, Inga represented Armenia at the Eurovision Song Contest again, but this time as part of an Armenian super group Geneology. All members of the band were either Armenian or of Armenian descent. Their entry Face The Shadow qualified for the final and finished in 16th place.

9. ReginaBistra Voda (Boznia & Herzigovina)

The rock band released three albums following their time at Eurovision in 2009. Sadly, bass guitarist Denis Čabrić died of a heart attack on holiday in Croatia with his family on the of 16 August 2016. He was just 49 years old. The band continued and their last album U Scru was released in 2017.

8. Patricia KaasEt S’il Fallait Le Faire (France)

Once it was known that Patricia Kaas would represent France in the Eurovision Song Contest 2009 in Moscow her fans took part in an online poll in several countries where they selected their favourite song from her Kabaret album. The song Et ‘il Fallait Le Faire (And if it had to be done) received a clear majority of the votes and was then chosen as the French entry for the Eurovision Song Contest in 2009.

Since Eurovision, Kaas continued to enjoy success, but not just in singing. In 2011 she released an autobiography which was a bestseller and was translated into more than six other languages. Later Kaas starred in a musical show where she performed some of the most popular and successful songs of French cabaret performer and film actress Edith Piaf. The show opened in some of the most prestigious venues in the world such as the Royal Albert Hall in London and the Carnegie Hall in New York. As part of the tour, Kaas also returned to Moscow to perform at the Operetta Theatre.

7. Sakis RouvasThis Is Our Night (Greece)

Sakis Rouvas married his long term love Katia Zygouli

Sakis Rouvas has not let the grass grow from under his feet. Since his time at the contest in 2009, the Greek singer has been a television host, a voice actor, a club & restaurant owner, a film production company owner and a songwriter. In 2010, one of his clubs caught fire sustaining more than four million euros of damage. In 2011, Sakis became a father for a second time, to a son. In 2013, they welcomed another daughter into the world and yet another child in 2016. The following year, Sakis and his long term girlfriend of 14 years Katia Zygouli finally got hitched.

6. Urban SymphonyRändajad – (Estonia)
Urban Symphony brought Estonia there best score since 2002 when they performed Rändajad(Nomads) at the grand final in Moscow. The following year, the band announced a hiatus and lead singer Sandra Nurmsalu used this time to concentrate on raising her child. In 2012, Nurmsalu returned to music as a solo artist and her vocals featured on a song called Sel Teel which went straight to the top of the Estonian charts and enjoyed some success around Europe. Nurmsalu has attempted to represent Estonia in 2014 and 2019, but was unsuccessful in her endeavors.

5. Jade EwenIt’s My Time – (United Kingdom)

Jade Ewen performing as Princess Jasmine in the stage version of Aladdin

After being the most successful Eurovision participant for the United Kingdom in recent years, Jade Ewen recorded a single My Man. The song was released, but was abandoned as Ewen had received an invite to join UK girl group Sugababes as a replacement for the last original member Keisha Buchanan. The band had a couple of singles that achieved moderate success but eventually fizzled out. Since then, Jade has gone back to her roots as a stage performer and has appeared in musicals all over the world as well as appearing in the odd reality TV show and acting in occasional television episodes.

4. HadiseDüm Tek Tek – (Turkey)

Belgian born Hadise focused her attention on the Turkish market after representing the country at Eurovision, making her the most popular celebrity in Turkey that year. In 2011, Hadise released another Turkish album which was a great success and it was followed by other albums in 2014 and 2017. The latter album caused some controversy. One of the singles from the album Sıfır Tolerans was accused by the Radio and Television Supreme Council of being too erotic and as a result, all the media that had broadcast the song, were fined. Hadise hit out at this decision claiming that the decision was sexist against women saying that men can sing about what they like and yet the woman is punished for doing the same thing.

3. AySel and ArashAlways – (Azerbaijan)

Aysel Teymurzadeh and Arash joined forces to bring Azerbaijan their first ever top 3 placement at the contest. Originally solo artists, the duo toured a little following their success at Eurovision before ultimately reverting back to their solo careers. Aysel got married in 2012 and has had three children; two sons and a daughter.

Since his time at the contest, Arash has also walked down the aisle. He married his long term girlfriend in Dubai in 2011 and in the following year, the couple welcomed twin boys into the world. In 2014, Arash released the album Superman which featured duets from T-Pain and Sean Paul. A couple of years earlier he played a part in Iranian movie Rhino Season.

2. YohannaIs It True? – (Iceland)

Yohanna still continues to be the most successful Icelandic artist at the Eurovision Song Contest. In 2010 she returned to Eurovision but as a spokesperson providing the Icelandic votes. Yohanna entered the national selection in the hope of representing her country again in 2011 and 2013, but failed to be selected. The singer moved to Norway and has released a series of non-album singles. In 2015, Yohanna gave birth to her first child.

Alexander RybakFairytale – (Norway)

2018 Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final

Rybak has had a strong affiliation with the Eurovision Song Contest since he won in 2009. He performed during the interval during the 2011 and 2016 contests and returned as a participant in 2018 with That’s How You Write A Song. He has appeared as a contestant in Sweden’s version of Strictly Come Dancing and wrote a song for children’s movie How To Train Your Dragon 2. His voice was also used in the Norweigan dubbing for this same movie.

Alexander has released several singles and albums with many of these being sang in Russian.

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Categories: Eurovisionary


Newsletter: What To Expect From The Eurovision 2019 Stage…

Newsletter: What To Expect From The Eurovision 2019 Stage…

Also in this week’s newsletter, preview party season enters full swing, a Portuguese icon passes away and the official Eurovision 2019 album is released to digital platforms.

You can read the newsletter in full here, or subscribe for a regular dose of Eurovision insight and analysis delivered direct to your email inbox.

Remix Roundup – Alternative Versions Of The Class Of 2019

With the release of the official Eurovision CD this week, it’s easier than ever to hear all 41 of this year’s entries before the shows begin – if you so choose. But in case you’re already craving some alternative twists on this year’s crop, check out this list of some of the best remixes and re-imaginings from the class of 2019…

Armenia | Srbuk – Walking Out (Piano Version)

In its original form, this year’s Armenian entry is a dramatic pop stomper, complete with barnstorming key change and diva wailing. However, Srbuk showcases her range on this delicate Piano cover, released to digital music services this past weekend. Dare we say this classy cocktail lounge cover works just as well as the original?

Israel | Kobi – Home (DJ PM Remix)

Israel’s home entry for 2019 has received a fairly mixed reception from fans. A mournful, theatrical ballad, it’s a world away from the feel good likes of Toy, Golden Boy and I Feel Alive. Fortunately, this remix kicks a bit of energy into proceedings. Too late for a Serhat-inspired petition?

Italy | Mahmood – Soldi (Benny Benassi Remix)

The massive domestic success of Italy’s entry has led to a number of high profile remixes, including this excellent reworking from electro pioneer Benny Benassi. It’s fairly low-key as these things go, retaining the song’s propulsive structure and underpinning it with a burbling club backing.

Norway | Keiino – Spirit In The Sky (Acoustic Version)

As one of the most agreeably silly entries in this year’s lineup, you wouldn’t think there was much call for an acoustic mix of Norway’s folk-pop banger. However, this campfire-ready version works surprisingly well, particularly when it comes to Fred-René Buljo’s joiking segments, which sound genuinely powerful and authentic in this setting.

San Marino | Serhat – Say Na Na Na (Wideboys Feel The Rainbow Remix)

Rapidly emerging as one of the major fan favourites from this year’s Contest, San Marino’s comeback kid Serhat has served up a whole EP’s worth of remixes for Say Na Na Na. This mix adds a smattering of house piano that suggests shades of 90s Pet Shop Boys. At this point, it’s not even the guilty kind of pleasure any more.

You can stay up to date with all of the latest Eurovision news and analysis right here on ESC Insight. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Categories: ESC Insight


Eurovision Insight News Podcast: Start Counting Down The Previews

Eurovision Insight News Podcast: Start Counting Down The Previews

Mark Amsterdam off your preview checklist. Next up is Riga, then London. Get that stage time in, you’ll need it or Tel Aviv!

Eurovision Insight News Podcast: Start Counting Down The Previews

Concerts, confirmations, and curiously missing triangles. Plus a Eurovision Thought from 58 Points’ John Egan. Ewan Spence and the ESC Insight team cover the latest news from the world of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019.

Follow these links to find out more about London Eurovision Party, Riga’s Eurovision PreParty, Moscow’s Eurovision Party, Spain’s Preview Party, and Glasgow’s Ne Party Pas Sans Moi. Follow the M&M Production Diary here.

As May draws ever closer, stay up to date with all the Song Contest news by listening to the ESC Insight podcast. You’ll find the show in iTunes, Google Podcasts, and Spotify. A direct RSS feed is  available. We also have a regular email newsletter which you can sign up to here.

Categories: ESC Insight


Madonna set to cause a commotion in Tel Aviv

Madonna set to cause a commotion in Tel Aviv

Earlier today, the European Broadcasting Union confirmed that Madonna will perform at the final of Eurovision 2019. The confirmation comes after weeks of allegedly trying to come to an agreement with the ultimate global superstar.

It is expected that Madonna will perform two songs during the interval of the Grand Final. One of them will be a well-known hit and another a new track – one would assume from her eagerly anticipated 2019 album. This comes after deliberations on the choice of songs between the artist and the show’s producers, the latter trying to stay away from political controversy.

The American singer is expected to be accompanied by a personal team of 160 people and her performance is expected to cost around $1 million. The champion of Madonna appearing at Eurovision has been Tel Aviv-based billionaire businessman Sylvan Adams, who will also be footing the bill.

This will be Madonna’s fourth performance in Israel, having previously performed in the country in 1993, 2009 and 2012. The connections between the artist and Israel appear to go further than that however – not only has Madonna visited Israel on other occasions due to her interest in the ancient Jewish tradition of Kabbalah, her manager, Guy Oseary, is also of Israeli descent.

Madonna will be following in the footsteps of fellow American megastar Justin Timberlake, who provided the interval show for Eurovision 2016 in Stockholm. Indeed, the Eurovision Song Contest sounds like an apt event for the Material Girl to perform – one would intuitively expect that her European fan base overlaps to a considerable extent with the Eurovision fan demographic.

In any case, Eurovision 2019 has just officially acquired an extra element of excitement and memorability due to Madonna’s confirmation.

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Categories: Eurovisionary


The Panic List: How To Bounce Back From Non-Qualification

The Panic List: How To Bounce Back From Non-Qualification

During the Semi Finals of the Eurovision Song Contest 2018, we saw a series of shocking but not entirely surprising non-qualifications, including the loss of 100 percent qualification records for Russia, Azerbaijan, Poland and Romania. The ups and downs of individual delegations in the Song Contest make up quite an interesting multi-year musical soap opera, so let’s take a look at how some broadcasters are bouncing back from last year’s disappointments, starting with those whose approach has changed the least.

Minor Tweaks

Over in Romania, the very protracted 2018 National Final process produced the ‘wrong’ result and The Humans incurred the country’s first ever non-qualification. The 2019 selection was no less operationally complex, and started off controversially with the addition of two wildcards in the shape of Bella Santiago with one of 2019’s most enjoyable Fuegalikes in ‘Army Of Love‘ and Linda Teodosiu with ‘Renegades’. The last minute addition of these wildcards caused Mihai to protest at favouritism and threaten to take his ball over to Belarus. Also present in the selection lineup was America’s Got Talent alumnus Laura Bretan with a very traditional paean to her father.

In the end, Bella’s live version of ‘Army of Love’ didn’t quite live up to the studio version and Laura Bretan was mired in controversy over some comments she’d made against the idea equal marriage in Romania. The unusual weighting of  jury scores with the Romanian televote resulted in Ester Peony’s very cool modern electro-country ballad ‘On A Sunday’ emerging from the chasing pack to win out. I think that however Ester performs in Tel Aviv, many people would suggest that the Romanian delegation at least take a look at how their competition is structured and presented to ensure that future results are beyond reproach.

All Change, But Not Quite Yet

Belarus has been plugging away at Eurovision with varying degrees of success since 2004. The usual mode of selection is focused on the local Belarussian music scene, and has rewarded them with reasonable results. However, the 2018 selection was turned upside down by the sudden appearance of Alekseev, who ditched the Ukrainian selection at an early stage to come and take the always statistically curious Belarussian televote by storm. The beautiful boy with the biggest smile in Ukraine took his melodramatic goth stageshow to Lisbon, where it didn’t make a comfortable transition to the screen, resulting in giggles and non-qualification.

You would think that this approach would have burned the Belarussian delegation, and caused the focus to switch back to its local music scene, especially given the logistical complexities of having the same team running the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in the first half of the selection period. Instead, this year they went the long way round to come up with a result that should probably just have been an internal selection.

The notorious Belarussian live audition round had a widely international flavour this year with entries from Spain, the US, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Italy, Sweden, Portugal and the UK amongst their 35 candidates. Romania’s Mihai threatened to compete (but in the end, he didn’t), Daz Sampson made his return to the Eurovision family alongside Nona Pink with the song ‘Kinky Boots’ and we missed out on the infectious nonsense of ‘Potato Potato Acapulco’ by frequent audition round prankster Vitalij Voronko.

In the end, the 100 percent jury final was made up of eight dull but serviceable songs, one worryingly militaristic song, and sparky Junior Eurovision host Zena singing a nice pop song. It didn’t massively surprise anyone when the young singer with the existing relationship with BRTC won out. Whatever the result for Zena, we already know that Belarus will be changing their approach for the 2020 ESC season – no more live auditions (so no more Voronko?), but instead a shortlist of songs that will be worked on to ensure the highest quality national selection possible.

Shake It Up & Add Spikes

For Iceland, the quality of songs entering their selection had been steadily diminishing, even though the community of Icelandic artists generally love the Eurovision Song Contest. This ended up with super-enthusiastic Ari Olafsson taking a musical theatre ballad to Lisbon in 2018 and getting absolutely nowhere. But the good news for 2019 is that RUV have finally remembered that safe is the enemy of good, as far as competitive Eurovision songs go.

This year’s Songvakeppnin was also an informal referendum on how Iceland were going to deal with a Eurovision that a large sector of its creative industry would have preferred to boycott. The Icelanders were offered a choice between beloved but safe returning artists Hera Bjork and Friðrik Ómar, new faces Tara Mobee and Kristina Skoubo Bærendsen, and the novel joys of Hatari. The critically acclaimed anti-capitalist electronic noise act represented a way for Icelanders to gesture towards protest whilst also sending something creative and possibly even competitive. The combination of the dangerous aesthetic, overwhelming beats and deadpan interview antics that teeter on the brink between hilarious and irritating made them the overwhelming choice of the Icelandic people.

By the day of the Songvakeppnin final, the returning artists weren’t under any strong illusions that they were going to the Song Contest, but they certainly added a bit of maturity and gravitas to the procedure. The prestige of a National selection needs returning names, even if they don’t go to Eurovision. Booking Eleni to bring ‘Fuego’ to the final also shows a level of ambition present within the producers of the show.  RÚV are aware that improving your performance at the Contest in May is a process. Who knows what’ll happen in Songvakeppnin next year, when (hopefully) the location of Eurovision will not be a matter of contention. I’d certainly like to hear a Daði Freyr ft. Ari combination at some point.

Go Internal

Poland probably feel extremely hard done by. Their 2018 selection delivered them an upbeat dance song that aped a successful formula started by JOWST the year before. However, as I write this I note that the only thing I can remember about the song is that the creepily-behatted Gromee did a snake gesture at the camera. I cannot even remember the title. The lesson surely is, if you’re going to put acts in your National Final that follow successful formulas, you have to actually make sure that they are memorable and have some measurable level of stage charisma. Otherwise you end up with nothing but a lukewarm grombus.

For 2019, Poland have the curious advantage that the delegation has just won and agreed to host Junior Eurovision. This gave them a fantastic excuse to ditch the national selection show and make an internal selection. They also experienced some personnel change at the musical level that might make continuing as before more tricky – songwriting camp wrangler Greig Watts, who was involved in gathering together the songs –  has gone to do a similar job for the BBC and the United Kingdom.

By selecting somewhat viral alt-trad indie band Tulia, Poland have made a statement that they’re stepping away from something that the public might choose in favour of something a bit aurally challenging that also reflects a sense of Polish identity. Whether the sense of Polish identity that Tulia represent is something that chimes with the wider Polish community is unclear.

After toying with a National Final in 2018 that sent ‘Qami‘ to Lisbon, where they finished 15th in their semi-final, Armenia have returned to an internal selection that is a bit more in line with their traditional Eurovision identity.

Srbuk was the first artist officially announced for the Song Contest, way back in November 2018, but the last song to be released. The anticipatory pressure caused by the long delay led to a hope that Armenia would be serving us some hyper modern pop with traditional echoes – the very essence of Future Sound that I occasionally bang on about. So when it was released, ‘Walking Out‘ was a bit confusing. A downbeat song about how you should just leave when in an abusive relationship? Written by a man? Presented in a really odd way? Not what we had hoped for and not actually what we really want. (By the way, if you want a good Eurovision performance about surviving an abusive relationship, go straight to Shelter from Serbia in 2016)

The really unusual thing about Azerbaijan in the 2019 season was how quiet they were. We heard barely a peep from a delegation that normally announces an artist very early until March. The failure of Aisel to qualify with ‘X My Heart’ should have told the Azeri delegation that they can’t just push the button marked ‘competent pop’ any more and be rewarded with a grand final spot. It has to have something else. This year they’ve beefed up their approach with the thirst-friendly looks of Chingiz Mustafayez and the songwriting talents of Borislav and Trey from Symphonix. So it’s still competent pop, but with a bit of extra pizzazz, which is a fairly considered response to losing a 100% qualification record.

How will last year’s non-qualifiers are in Tel Aviv? Have the delegations missed a trick? Were you expecting more? And will these choices lead to success?

Categories: ESC Insight

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