17
October
2018

Video: 10 songs that tell the Bulgarian Eurovision history

Bulgaria leaves the Eurovision Song Contest on the top. Though things haven’t always been easy, the country has given us some memorable performances and they will be missed in Tel Aviv next year. 

With Broadcaster BNT confirming the sad news about their withdrawal from the Eurovision Song Contest, we tell you the story about their participation. 10 songs which shows that Bulgaria hasn’t been afraid to try different styles – and that the country leaves on the top.

What is your favourite Bulgarian entry? Vote in the poll below:

Bulgaria withdraws from Eurovision. Which entry is your favourite?

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Categories: Eurovisionary

16
October
2018

Eurovision Insight News Podcast: From Llandudno To Minsk

Eurovision Insight News Podcast: From Llandudno To Minsk
http://archive.org/download/escinsight_20181016_news_583/escinsight_20181016_news_583.mp3

From the shores of North Wales, across the continent, and beyond. It’s a relatively calm edition of the Insight News podcast this week, with lots of Junior music videos being launched, submission deadlines closing in, and a mix of confirmations and withdrawals from the Adult Contest.

Eurovision Insight News Podcast: From Llandudno To Minsk

New National Finals, departing broadcasters, Melodifestivalen rumours, and more! Ewan Spence reports on the latest Song Contest action with ticket sales, artist selections, and diary dates.

As we work through the first few months of the new season, keep listening to the ESC Insight podcast to stay up to date with Eurovision, Junior Eurovision, and all the National Finals. You’ll find the show in iTunes, and a direct RSS feed is also available. We also have a regular email newsletter which you can sign up to here, and you can support us on Patreon.

Categories: ESC Insight

16
October
2018

Chwilio am Seren: Loving The Search For Wales’ Singing Dragon

Chwilio am Seren: Loving The Search For Wales’ Singing Dragon

Llandudno Station is the end of the line. Originally built with five platforms, two of them have been removed, and the three that remain are ‘bay’ platforms where the tracks run right up to the buffers. The modern four-aspect signals are nowhere to be seen, with semaphore signalling harking back to the St. George’s Harbour and Railway Company which opened the station in 1858.

But if you turn around and look towards Belarus, you see something else. You see the tracks stretch out in front of you, gently curving past Conwy Bay. You see a journey ahead of you that will take you through the United Kingdom, into the mainland of Europe, towards the capital city of Minsk, and into the Junior Eurovision Song Contest under the Welsh flag.

Llandudno Station, S4C's Junior Eurovision National Final (Image: Ewan Spence)

Llandudno Station, on the way to  S4C’s National Final (Image: Ewan Spence)

Welsh broadcaster S4C has already been on quite the journey to get to this point. A journey of determination, discovery, and joy.

The Delights Inside Chwilio am Seren

Last Thursday saw S4C head to the Venue Clwyd in Llandudno for the fourth and final broadcast to find their performer for the Welsh Junior Eurovision song. Unlike the previous episodes, this was going to be broadcast ‘as-live’ not just to Wales, but across the UK and the world through the S4C website.

This was my first National Final for the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, but it’s not my first National Final. Apart from the age of the performers, the production behind Chwilio am Seren rivals that of many selection shows across the continent for May’s Contest for the older generation. There are certain broadcasters that will be looking at S4C’s broadcast and taking some detailed notes.

S4C's Junior Eurovision National Final (Image: Ewan Spence)

Starting in five… four… three… (Image: Ewan Spence)

The goal of this Contest was to find a singer for Wales. Not someone who could dance, not the performer who had the best light show, this was just about the voice. In the first round, the six finalists would be whittled down to three by a jury vote. Along with their mentors, that round was an open book choice of any song to impress the judges (and going with a Welsh version of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’, as Ella did, was a high-risk, high-reward choice).

If you didn’t watch Chwilio am Seren, take a bit of time to watch Ella’s performance. Naturally the singing is live, but perhaps more importantly is the lack of backing singers. There’s no support on tape or in the hall, all the vocals are Ella’s. If you are entering a singing contest, you want to find a singer.

There’s also a lack of backing tape for the music. It’s not highlighted by the camera shots (because the focus is finding a singer), but stage left was S4C’s ‘House Band’ that not only provided the music for the six performances in the first round, but six different variations of ‘Hi yw y Berta’ (the chosen song for Junior Eurovision 2018). Even though only three were broadcast, all six were rehearsed and ready to go, and all six were in different styles tailored for each singer.

While it’s not an orchestra that a subset of Eurovision fans like, the idea of a house band for other National Finals, and perhaps even at the main Contest itself, should not be discounted.

S4C's Junior Eurovision National Final (Image: Ewan Spence)

Chwilio am Seren’s house band at S4C’s Junior Eurovision National Final (Image: Ewan Spence)

The Secrets Of Live-To-Tape

There are two things I want to highlight. The first is that the artists were given space to get it right. The mentor system wasn’t a token effort to have three voices pass judgement on the live show; there was a genuine bond between everyone. That came across on-screen, but in the moments between the songs it was clear for all to see that nobody was being forced, everyone was enjoying the chance to perform at the highest level, and it was a positive experience.

From a production point of view, the show actually started around thirty minutes before the broadcast slot. In essence this was ‘live to tape’ and as the night progressed, the ‘studio’ time caught up with ‘broadcast’ time so by the time the phone lines closed, everything was in sync.

S4C's Junior Eurovision National Final (Image: Ewan Spence)

S4C’s Junior Eurovision representative, Manw Lili Robin (Image: Ewan Spence)

That meant that after the big opening number the tape was paused, all six performers had a chance to rest, get changed, and be in the best possible condition to sing in the first round. It also meant that if there had been any minor technical issues in the Venue Clwyd, then it was an easy enough matter to call for a second take.

Although the performers were all told ‘you get one go’ I suspect that if there had been any major issues, with time in hand the producers would have made the smart call. In the end, no performer needed the safety net, but it was there. Did anyone else use it? I couldn’t possibly comment.

The second is that S4C is hungry for success. That may not necessarily come from the final leaderboard – Junior Eurovision is heavily biased towards eastern European entries and that means more votes are coming from audience and jurors used to an eastern pop sound – but success can be measured in many ways: the commitment to the whole process, the promotion of Wales and the Welsh language across Europe and the world, and the ongoing success of all of the performers involved in the process.

S4C have also laid down a yardstick to the BBC. Yes, Junior Eurovision in November is not the same Contest as the Song Contest in May, but Chwilio am Seren has provided a yardstick that Eurovision: You Decide can be measured against. With a live band, no backing tracks, and a focus on the singing capabilities, S4C has brought a new focus and renewed energy to the process. The contrast between the approach of the two broadcasters will be clear.

What would be interesting is if the EBU receives entries from two broadcasters looking to enter Junior Eurovision in 2019 – one from S4C and one from the BBC. Strictly speaking, the BBC is seen as the ‘national’ broadcaster and would be expected to get priority, but S4C have previously built up a reputation at Eurovision Choir of the Year and now at Junior Eurovision.

That would be a tough decision for Geneva…

Don’t Stop Believing

Which leads me back to Platform 3 at Llandudno. There are times that covering the Eurovision Song Contest is like a train service. There is a timetable to follow, everyone knows the regular stops along the route, and for the most part everything stays the same.

Llandudno Station, S4C's Junior Eurovision National Final (Image: Ewan Spence)

Leaving Llandudno, Next Stop Minsk (Image: Ewan Spence)

It’s not always about where the track goes. It’s about the people you meet along the way, it’s about making new friends and expanding horizons. It’s about showcasing the infectious joy of discovering something new, showing it to the world, being proud of your home but also the delight of sharing.

S4C, welcome aboard. You’ve earned your seat reservation, get yourself something from the trolly, and enjoy the ride. Minsk is just around the corner.

Categories: ESC Insight

15
October
2018

Video: 10 songs to tell the Bulgarian Eurovision history

Bulgaria leaves the Eurovision Song Contest on the top. Though things haven’t always been easy, the country has given us some memorable performances and they will be missed in Tel Aviv next year. 

With Broadcaster BNT confirming the sad news about their withdrawal from the Eurovision Song Contest, we tell you the story about their participation. 10 songs which shows that Bulgaria hasn’t been afraid to try different styles – and that the country leaves on the top.

What is your favourite Bulgarian entry? Vote in the poll below:

Bulgaria withdraws from Eurovision. Which entry is your favourite?

Eurovision news worth supporting?
Support EuroVisionary on Patreon.com

Categories: Eurovisionary

15
October
2018

Emmelie de Forest leaves Danish Strictly Come Dancing half way

Emmelie de Forest leaves Danish Strictly Come Dancing half way

Emmelie de Forest in Vild Med Dans

After six dances, Emmelie de Forest no longer had the TV viewers on her side. She leaves Strictly Come Dancing after an emotionel slowfox, which actually was her strongest performance in the show.

Emmelie de Forest won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2013 with the song Only Teardrops. She was asked to take part in “Vild Med Dans” (Crazy about Dancing), which is the Danish edition of the famous British TV format “Strictly Come Dancing” back then, but it didn’t fit into her busy schedule. She was however still interested, and with more time for it now, she said yes to the 15th edition, which started airing on Danish TV2 six weeks ago.

She has been paired with professional dancer Frederik Nonnemann. Each week, they danced a new dance. One pair has to leave the competition each week – and Emmelie de Forest made it half way into the show.

In the first episode, she and her partner Frederik danced a quickstep to the tune of George Michael’s I’m Never Gonna Dance Again. The four judges, Nikolaj Hübbe, Anne Laxholm, Britt Bendixen and Jens Werner were quite positive. They called it a good programme, they had put together and predicted that Emmelie can go far. After that first quickstep, Emmelie went through dances like Paso Doble, Wiener Vals, Samba, Cha Cha and finally Slowfox, which became the end for her.

Slowfox was Emmelie’s favourite dance so far, and she also did better than before. In the second round, after ending in bottom two, she let go of her nerves and it showed. The beautiful dance was however not enough to convince the TV viewers, who, let’s face her, have never been on Emmelie’s side in this programme. They have always scored her lower than the professionel judges, and after three times in the bottom two, she was voted out.

While saying goodbye to Emmelie de Forest as our Friday evening entertainment, let’s just make one thing clear, if you read online that Emmelie de Forest is 1,60 metre tall, you’ve read the same wrong information as her dancing partner Frederik Nonnemann! At their first meeting, he was surprised to realise that she is actually 1,67.

No Eurovision participant as winner

With Emmelie de Forest taking part in the Danish edition of Strictly Come Dancing, she follows the footsteps of several other Eurovision participants who test their dancing skills in this TV format. In Denmark, none of them however won.

Birthe Kjær (Denmark 1989) took part in the second edition. Simon Mathew reached the final and came second in the third edition in 2007, the year before he represented Denmark at the Eurovision Song Contest. Basim (Denmark 2014) was a part of season six, and triple Eurovision participant Kirsten Siggaard (Denmark 1984, 1985 and 1988) took part in season 13 in 2016.

To remind yourself of Emmelie’s Eurovision entry, watch in the video below clip from an acoustic version of Only Teardrops.

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Support EuroVisionary on Patreon.com

Categories: Eurovisionary

12
October
2018

Men, step back – in Ukraine only women succeed in Eurovision

Men, step back – in Ukraine only women succeed in Eurovision

Ani Lorak, Ukraine

Slavic women have a certain charm, at least when it comes to women representing Ukraine in Eurovision. It seems the country only do well when they are represented by a woman, so after two years of disappointing results from men, should Ukraine select another woman to bring them Eurovision success?

Making their debut in 2003, Ukraine has one of the best result records at the Eurovision Song Contest. They have achieved two victories and have been in top 10 a total of 9 times. 8 out of these 9 times Ukraine were represented by women – with the only time a man scoring Ukraine a top 10 place was when he performed as a woman! In fact, Ukraine’s bottom 3 results were all done by men.

Ukraine first won the contest a year after it’s debut when Ruslana brought her Wild Dances to the Eurovision stage in Istanbul. Europe were enthralled by Ruslana, her energetic routine and leather costumes inspired by ethnic hutsul dress. It took just 12 years for Ukraine to win again with Jamala’s controversial song 1944 pipping Russia’s Sergei Lazarev and Australia’s Dami Im to the top spot. In between these wins Ukraine have finished in 2nd place with Ani Lorak and Verka Serduchka, 3rd place with Zlata Ognevich and several other top 10 places thanks to Alyosha, Tina Karol, Mika Newton and Mariya Yaremchuk.

Ukraine have had a difficult time at the contest the past two years. In 2017 when Kyiv hosted the contest following Jamala’s win the previous year, the eastern European country was represented by all male rock group O.Torvald whose song Time earned just 36 points in the grand final. This placed them at 24th out of 26th, Ukraine’s worst result to date. This year Melovin, despite faring well with the public televote, came in last position with the juries. This caused his position on the leader board to slide down to 17th place in the final. The third worst result in their history at the contest.

So what can Ukraine do to turn this around? Will Ukraine send a woman to Eurovision next year to bring success back to the nation? Only time will tell. In the video you, you can take a look at Melovin’s Under The Ladder – this time in a performance from this year’s Eurovision Song Contest:

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Categories: Eurovisionary

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