10
January
2020

Latvia: Who is going to win Supernova 2020 as we review what this years artists have to offer

Katrīna Dimanta

Latvian TV have short listed 26 acts who will have the chance to perform in the televised 2020 edition of Supernova – the show that will decide Latvia’s entry in the Eurovision Song Contest this year.

Amongst the acts we have a returning artist who represented Latvia in 2014. Also back are Latvian favourites Edgars Kreillis, Markus Riva, Aivo Oskis and Samanta Tina, amongst others. X Factor contestants and a host of new comers join the show, but who will follow Carousel on the way to Rotterdam this year. The Supernova final will take place on February 8. Eight artists will be selected on January 18 to head to the final.

The Contestants

Aivo OskisDive Deep

Aivo makes a welcome return to Supernova having finished in 8th place last year with the excellent Somebody’s Got My Lover. As with last year’s entry Aivo has composed Dive Deep with Ruslans Kuksinovičs. Bruce Mendes has also co-written this year’s entry which has a bit of and R and B flavour to it and stands a good chance of making it two final’s in a row for the Season 1 over 25’s X-Factor contestant.

Alekss Silvērs Again

Alekss failed to make the Supernova TV show in 2018 but returned last year with the Aminata penned Fireworks. Unfortunately the Queen of Latvian music did not do the same for Alekss as she had for Justs in 2017, and Alekss missed out performing in the final. This year he is relying on his own composition, which he shared writing duties with Andis Ansons and Uku Moldau.

Alise HaijimaMe Me Song

Alise was another contestant on the first Latvian X-Factor season. She placed fifth. This will be her first shot at representing Latvia with a song composed by the quartet of Lotars Lodziņš, Jānis Kalve, Artūrs Palkevičs and Valdis Čirksts. This is a catchy enough song which has a chorus which sounds a little familiar.

Annemarija MoisejaUndo

The familiar Swedish entry title Undo makes a welcome retrun this year This will be Annemarija’s first attempt at Supernova with a song she composed with Mārtiņš Gailītis, Jans Vavra and Reinis Straume, who also wrote Audiokvartāls entry. The song is a slow paced ballad with Annemarija asking if she can Undo the future and re live the past again.

ANNNAPolyester

With a name that’s always guaranteed to be spell checked ANNNA  is a native of The Netherlands, so she will feel right at home if she wins. This alternative piece of minimalism would stand little chance of winning  most National finals, but we’re talking Latvia here. ANNNA is no fool, indeed she is a DJ and she knows exactly what she’s doing.

Antra Stafecka & Atis Ieviņš-Coming Over

Atis made an attempt at Supernova in 2015 with the son Catfish. Bryan Adams fans will like this entry which also has  a bit of an alternative country feel. Antra who considers herself to belong in the pop genre, is currently sporting a Natalie Imbruglia Torn type haircut. The pair have a good chemistry together and should be one to watch. Atis wrote the song with Jānis Čubars.

AudiokvartālsConnection

This boy(ish) band consists of four members who co-wrote the song with three others, Mārtiņš Gailītis, Valters Mirkšs and Reinis Straume, who some may know as members of The Double Faced Eels who placed 4th last year with Fire. Sadly despite the seven writers the song doesn’t really take off that much. The group have been together since 2014 and are making their first appearance in the Supernova.

Bad HabitsSail With You

This trio has shades of The Pogues and Waterboys and perform a variety of music including country, blues rock and folk. The song would be a great one for singing along at a Riga pub.Kristaps Grīnbergs helped the band compose the song.

See alsoMelodi Grand Prix 2020 – Norway presents first nine acts

DRIKSNAStay

Jānis to his friends has a nice co-composed song here, although you can’t really go wrong with a song called Stay. DRIKSNA hails from Saldus but wrote the song with Irishman Aidan O’Connor. Aidan’s name may sound familiar to Czech Republic fans as he wrote their 2016 entry I Stand. DRIKSNA may also be familiar to Supernova fans as he was a member of MyRadiantU in 2016, changing names to My Radiant You in 2017. On both occasions Radiant made the finals, placing 3rd  both times with We Will Be Stars in 2016 and All I Know in 2017.

Edgars Kreilis – Tridymite

Currently on Donny Montell’s team in The Voice Lithuania, it’s about time Edgars gets a chance to represent Latvia at the Eurovision Song Contest. This will be Edgars fourth attempt and all of them have been worthy. This song composed along with his friend, Ingars Viļums  must surely make the Supernova final. In the last two years Edgars placed 6th, first with Younger Days and last year with Fire/Cherry Absinthe.

Elizabete GaileFor You

No Latvian final would be complete without an anguished female and this year Riga native Elizabete fills that gap. Edijs Ostapko and Jūlijs Melngailis helped her write this song, which while very pleasant will really struggle to come out on top. Then again in Latvia anything can happen.

Katrīna BindereI Will Break Your Heart

This is another good title for a song but alas the song isn’t as good as the title. This is a self-created song, which DRIKSNA helped compose. He certainly kept the better song for himself. Niklāvs Sekačs, who is a well-known name in the Baltics also gave the song a touch of help. This will be Katrina’s third attempt at representing Latvia, having last tried in 2015 with the song Run To You.

Katrīna DimantaHeart Beats

Katrīna has left her cake out in the rain and is serving up this gypsy style number which has several changes of tempo. Katrīna certainly has a powerful voice but this doesn’t really scream Eurovision winner alas, which is a shame as she should have experience on what makes a winner.  She was part of Latvia’s 2014 entry Cake To Bake with the band Aarzemnieki. Again composed by our esteemed singer along with  her musicians Herberts Blumbergs, Andis Ansons and Jānis Bērziņš

Laika UpeAll My Roads

This quintet got thrown out in last year’s selection with the song Listen To The Way That I Breath. the band members are Guntis Nurža (Vocals), Atis Čamanis (Keys/Effects), Jānis Pastars (Guitar), Reinis Petrovičs (Bass), Edgars Ansons-Tomsons (Drums) Unfortunately despite the co-write by Baltic king of songs Kaspars Ansons, it’s hard to see them progress further this year.

LīvaNot That Important To You

Kaspars had a hand in composing this number too, with first timer Līva, but it’s another plodding non-descript song which will need a good remixing if it;s to make the final.This wouldn’t be out of place in neighbours Lithuania’s Atranka and would have been eliminated in the first round.

MADARAMāras zeme

MADARA was very unlucky to be beaten by Laura Rizzotto in 2018 with her song Esamiba and so good on her for making a return this year with another self composed number.As per last time MADARA plays on her cello, but this time she is accompanied  by a band playing many traditional instruments. Another treasure so we will see what the public think of it.

Maia –Make It Real

Maia has a proper video published for this song, hanging around a bus stop in Riga. This is another song which like so many National Final songs is OK at the time but doesn’t have the impact to be the winning song. Not a bad attempt but will probably need another go next year.

Markus RivaImpossible

Seems like the title of Markus’ song this year is beginning to reflect his chances of representing Latvia at Eurovision. Markus has roped in Aminata to help him write this song, but has Aminata’s golden age passed. This is another of Markus’s entries that are better than most of the competition, but it only needs one song to be better than him, to make him lose out again. What a shame.

Miks Dukurs I’m Falling For You

Miks didn’t quite make it last year with his song Life, but he has made it for 2020 with another of his self composed numbers.  With the constant hype machine behind Markus and Samanta, people may forget that this is Miks sixth attempt to represent Latvia.This is a nice enough concert filler number but it takes a bit of courage to give it repeat listens. Polished up for the TV though it will be interesting to see how it fares.

See alsoSlovenia: Ten acts automatically will take part in the EMA final with two more to be added soon

Rūta Ķergalve Izgaismots

The English translation is illuminated and this is about as eccentric as it gets in this years Supernova. This song could only be self composed and no doubt reflects Rūta’s 27 year old inner soul.

Sabīne Blūma BlūmaneBeauty Will Save The World

Gaitis Lazdāns and Diāna Žukova have composed this song which would have done very well in year’s gone by. Perhaps Latvia want to take us back to a happier time. This is another debutee and she could easily see herself reaching the final.

Samanta TinaStill Breathing

Why this lady has never reached the Eurovision finals is one of life’s greatest mysteries. This is another sharp piece of empowerment from Samanta, who have been in every Latvian final since the day she was born. Co-written with Aminata this is a belter of a tune. An ever-changing chameleon, this could finally be her year. If not, Markus and her need to be internally chosen as a duo next year.

Seleste Like Me

This has a nice musical introduction before quickly heading into mundane territory. Seleste is obviously a fashion leader for teenage girls and while the song has a bit of a bite, vocals need to improve a lot. Reinis Briģis helped Seleste write the song and she could be a hope for the future.

ShantiVoices In My Mind

This female duo has a song just different enough that it might work, Very flimsy though, they don’t come over like say a Serebro. In fact it looks and sounds as if they’re not really putting that much effort into it. The trio of Liene Matveja, Santa Dzalbe and Linda Ozola are to blame but they have potential.

Signe & JānisInner Light

With a little help from Asnāte Tarvide, this duo from X Factor season two, have come up with a nice little duet that they will probably be able to perform competently on television. The running order will be particularly important for them as they won’t want to get lost with all the other ballads.

Toms KalderauskisBe My Truth

Toms was surprisingly eliminated in the first round in Supernova 2017 with the song We Won’t Back Down. This year he easily has the song most reflective of the current music scene.Liene Atvara and Roberts Memmēns helped Toms write the song.

If you want to listen to the songs head over to the Supernova 2020 youtube site.

Below remind yourself of contestant Katrīna Dimanta and Aarzemnieki’s entry from 2014.

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Categories: Eurovisionary

10
January
2020

From Suriname to Eurovision: Jeangu Macrooy to represent the Netherlands

From Suriname to Eurovision: Jeangu Macrooy to represent the Netherlands

Jeangu Macrooy

“I am indescribably honoured! It’s a dream come true”. With those words, Jeangu Macrooy descibes being chosen to represent the Netherlands on home field at the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest.

In 2014, 21 year old Jeangu Macrooy moved from Suriname, South Americas smallest country, to the Netherlands. He had musical ambitions, and those could easier be met in Europe. Suriname became independent in 1975, but Dutch is still official language and the ties to the Netherlands are still strong.

Jeangu was signed to the label Unexpected Records, has performed at various festivals and TV shows, but he faces his biggest ever audience when he goes on stage in the final of the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest in May. Following Duncan Laurence’s victory from last year, the Netherlands is as host country automatically qualified for the final. As such, Jeangu won’t be facing a tough semi-final knock out competion.

I am indescribably honoured! It’s a dream come true and the most beautiful thing that has come my way so far. My team and I are excited to make the Netherlands proud! Let’s go!

Jeangu Macrooy

The Dutch broadcaster is confident in the song with which Jeangu will represent them in May this year: “The song he delivered touched us right away. We are very happy that Jeangu wants to go on this journey with us”. Those are the words from Eric van Stade, Managing Director of Avrotros. The words are quite similar to those Ilse de Lange said last year about Duncan Laurence and the song Arcade. Time will tell whether or not, Jeangu Macrooy can bring another top result to the Netherlands.

While waiting for the song annoucement, let’s listen to Shake Up This Place released a year ago:

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Support EuroVisionary on Patreon.com

Categories: Eurovisionary

10
January
2020

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Eurovision Castaways with Coinneach MacLeòid

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Eurovision Castaways with Coinneach MacLeòid
http://archive.org/download/escinsight_20200103_662_castawaysS3E4/escinsight_20200109_castawaysS3E4_663.mp3

We’ve had another visitor to the beautiful Île de Bezençon! Coinneach MacLeòid of Eurovision Choir 2019’s Scottish choir Alba joins us to talk about a formative mullet, late 80s video effects, Peak Schlager, singing ‘Spirit In The Sky‘ in Scots Gaelic with Keiino and the role of Going For Gold in European integration whilst commiserating over the Song Contest fortunes of Spain and the United Kindom.

There’s also a Philip Kirkorov/Alla Pugacheva anecdote that may be one of the most piquant ever to grace the Île de Bezençon customs desk. Plus, we talk about how Coinneach and the choir Alba came to represent Scotland as a brand new Eurovision nation.

Eurovision Castaways with Coinneach MacLeòid

What Eurovision songs will Coinneach MacLeòid, the self proclaimed ‘Beardy Viking from the Outer Hebrides’ bring to the Île de Bezençon, and will Ellie Chalkley allow them onto the island? Find out in our latest episode of Eurovision Castaways.

You should 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.

Categories: ESC Insight

06
January
2020

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Kicking The 2020 Song Contest Into High Gear

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Kicking The 2020 Song Contest Into High Gear
http://archive.org/download/escinsight_20200106_662/escinsight_20200106_662.mp3

Although the Eurovision year has been under way since September, the calendar turning to 2020 sees the National Final season gather pace with Norway’s MGP starting this weekend. We now have a non-stop run right through until we have our 41 performers submitted in mid-March. Let’s see where we are up to.

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Kicking The 2020 Song Contest Into High Gear

The latest news and results from the Eurovision Song Contest world; including more National Final names, ones to watch at Sanremo, and a win for Jordan Clarke’s ‘Freaks’. Ewan Spence and the team round up the latest news, dates, and thoughts for Rotterdam 2020.

More details on Eurovision In Concert, ESPreParty, and Ne Party Pas, can be found at their respective websites.

Our Spotify playlists for Qualified Artists, Australian Artists, Estonia Artists, Lithuanian Artists, Sanremo Artists, and Swedish Artists.

As the National Finals for Eurovision 2020 continue, 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

06
January
2020

Melodi Grand Prix 2020 – Norway presents first nine acts

Melodi Grand Prix 2020 – Norway presents first nine acts

Didrik Solli-Tangen

Didrik Solli-Tangen is back in the Norwegian selection! The first acts presented today promise an interesting national selection where it might be tough to pick the one that will represent the country in Rotterdam, the Netherlands in May this year.

On Saturday, the 11th of January, Norway kick of its first heat. A total of 4four acts will compete for just one spot in the final. The procedure will continue the next following weeks with a total of five preliminary heats until the big final on the on the 15th of February.

Five acts have been selected as automatically qualified for the final – picked out by a jury. They will in the final be joined by the qualifiers from each of the five preliminary heats. These five heats represents five regions in Norway. First up is Sør-Norge (South Norway) this coming Saturday.

The acts presented today includes the five for the final and the four taking part in the Sør-Norge competition.

Heat 1: Sør-Norge (11th of January 2020)

  • Kim Rysstad – Rainbow
  • Raylee – Wild
  • Geirmund – Come Alive
  • Lisa Børud – Talking About Us

Melodi Grand Prix final (15th of February 2020)

  • Didrik and Emil Solli-Tangen – Out of Air
  • Ulrikke – Attention
  • Akuvi – Som Du Er
  • Sondrey – Take My Time
  • Tone Damli – Hurts Sometimes

The songs for the first heat has been released today. In each of the five preliminary heats, one of the pre-qualified songs will be performed.

Eurovision news worth supporting?
Support EuroVisionary on Patreon.com

Categories: Eurovisionary

05
January
2020

ESC Insight’s Musical Moments Of 2019: Part Two

ESC Insight’s Musical Moments Of 2019: Part Two

Roy Delaney (Eurovision Apocalypse)

Telemóveis’ by Conan Osiris

Sometimes a few years will pass before you get a new entry onto your all time top ten list. But then, all of a sudden, two will pop up at once to knock your socks off and challenge ideas of the way the Eurovision Song Contest could develop over the next few years. Hatari were the obvious groundbreakers this season, but this understated little slice of marvellousness was the song that really got under my skin and demanded that I quickly absorb the artist’s back catalogue.

Telemóveis’ was always going to be highly divisive. People saw either a complex yet sparse song with dark themes and a eye-meltingly unhinged dance routine, or a pretentious three minutes of twaddle and prat-falling. But the lad Conan had me from the release of his first audio clip, and only filled me with more wonder with each new retelling.

It was never going to end well when presented to the wider European population, but the fact that it even got there is a testament to the artistic leaps and bounds achieved by Portugal since our scruffy boy hero melted the continent’s hearts in Kyiv. And the clip below of the winners reprise from FdC is my favourite performance of the whole lot, as the rest of the 2019 contestants join in the random interpretive dancing with massive honest grins on their faces. For me, one of the very best moments of the year.

Pogledaj U Nebo’ by Lana i Aldo

This one will blow your post-New Years cobwebs off!

A fixture in Balkan song contests for a good quarter century now, Lana and Aldo are nothing if not triers, and this latest performance appears to have crammed an entire seventies hippy space musical into a hectic three minute nugget.

There are big ‘woo’s, strangely timed claps, a girl visibly struggling not to whack the big drums too hard, some communal walking to the front with their arms in the air, and a random bloke leaping about as he fancies. This is Eurovision of the ages condensed, and could have come from any Song Contest from the last 50 year – and it’s what the National Finals at this Contest are all about. Beautifully bonkers and sonically massive, it might be cheesy as all heck, but you’ll have a great big grin on your face as you watch it!

Emily Herbert (Eurovoix)

Superhero’ by Viki Gabor

It was the 24th November 2019. My good friend Anthony and I were sat in our seats at Gliwice Arena, eagerly waiting for the show to start. Going in to the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, our favourites were clear: France, with their energetic and catchy ‘Bim Bam Toi’, and hosts Poland with a song that we predicted would do extremely well from the moment that it was chosen.

Before each act entered the stage, a member of the production team would tell the audience to show their support by cheering and clapping. There was no hesitation, everyone in the Arena were extremely hospitable for all nineteen countries, which was so lovely to see. And of course, once the acts had finished their performance, the crowd weren’t shy in showing their appreciation for the young singers. Two performances, however, received the most cheers. One being Kazakhstan, mentioned by Ben in Part One, and the other being host country Poland. Little did we know that the latter were going to make Junior Eurovision history that afternoon!

Viki Gabor sang her song ‘Superhero’ to the home crowd and to the millions watching across the globe in 11th position that afternoon. With her five backing dancers in colourful suits and Viki centre stage in her two-piece scantly decorated with what seemed to be small mirrors, the crowd were dancing along as soon as the backing track started, and joined in on the “na na na”’s. Once the song was over, I believe the audience members were thinking the same thing as us – “Could Poland win again?”

And they did just that, becoming the first country to win two consecutive Junior Eurovision Song Contests. The arena erupted into huge cheers and people were jumping for joy when the final points revealed that Kazakhstan had achieved 2nd place, meaning that Poland had won again. That moment was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before – to see the host country and its people absolutely ecstatic that they’d deservedly won for the second time was simply amazing. This song will be one that I’ll remember for a long time, not only because it’s a fantastic song by a singer who I think will go very far with her career, but also because of the memories it’s brought along with it.

En Livredd Mann’ by Mørland

Another song that holds a special memory for me this year is ‘En Livredd Mann‘ by Kjetil Mørland.

Eurovision fans may remember Mørland, as he represented Norway at the 2015 alongside Debrah Scarlett with their song ‘A Monster Like Me‘. This year he attempted to represent his country once again, but this time as a solo artist. He entered Melodi Grand Prix with ‘En Livredd Mann‘ (A Terrified Man), written by Mørland himself.

Personally, I think this year’s Melodi Grand Prix was strong. We had D’Sound and their song ‘Mr. Unicorn’ that appealed to the younger audience, Adrian Jørgensen, who had a sweet song penned by Aleksander Walmann (Norway 2017), Hank von Hell, who certainly rocked the Oslo Spektrum, and of course, KEiiNO, who went on to win the National Final with their schlager-tastic ‘Spirit in The Sky’.

However, I think Norway really overlooked Mørland. His performance was dark, but very artistic. I have to say that I was convinced that the competition would be close between him and KEiiNO, but unfortunately this wasn’t the case. Mørland hadn’t made it through to the superfinal round, which was upsetting at the time, although my other favourite did go on to win.

This song is important to me this year as it shows that Norway aren’t scared of considering sending an entry in Norwegian, something they haven’t done since 2006, mind you. Almost every year Melodi Grand Prix features a song in their official language. Even their 2019 entry ‘Spirit in The Sky‘ features Northern Sámi, something which I, and I’m sure many others, would love to see more of at the contest.

I still regularly listen to ‘En Livredd Mann’, and although it’s sad that it didn’t do as well as I’d hoped, I believe it’s one of the best tracks of the year and really showcases Mørland’s musical talents.

Robyn Gallagher (Wiwibloggs)

Your Cure’ by Alen Chicco

He wasn’t even supposed to be there. X-Factor star Alen Chicco had been eliminated from the Lithuanian National Final in the Semi Finals. There his journey would have ended if it hadn’t been for Monika Marija withdrawing one of her two songs from the Grand Final, necessitating another finalist.

While the other acts in the Lithuanian Final were content to trot out slightly more polished staging of their songs, Alen Chicco made sure that he delivered something totally different from previous weeks.

Amid a line-up full of sharp suits and glamorous gowns, Alen and his posse took to the stage in Lithuanian folk costume, aided and abetted by avant-garde makeup and metre-long hair extensions. They blended the traditional with the modern(-ish), vogueing to the classic pop sound of ‘Your Cure‘.

Let’s not forget about the song – the performance wouldn’t have been anywhere near as powerful without a strong song. ‘Your Cure‘ had a 1960s pop swing to it, given an edge with Alen Chicco’s charisma, sass and those rich, soaring vocals.

In the end Alen placed sixth, well behind the non-threatening Jurijus. But regardless of the result, Alen Chicco’s ‘Your Cure’ extravaganza brought thrilling visuals and pop perfection to the Eurovizijos Atranka stage. Something any national final is always in need of.

She Got Me’ by Luca Hänni

It’s no fun when a country isn’t doing well at the Eurovision Song Contest, year after heart-wrenching year. At the past twelve contests, Switzerland had only achieved one decent result (Sebalter’s 13th place for the catchy ‘Hunter of Stars‘ in 2014. The Swiss broadcaster tried hard to remedy this, experimenting with changes to their National Final format. But it turns out the key was to ditch the National Final entirely and go internal.

Broadcaster SRF put the emphasis on finding a good song first and then getting the singer right. Their 2019 search led them to the Swiss winner of German Idol, Luca Hänni. He was paired with ‘She Got Me’, written by a Canadian-Swedish team of songwriters, along with staging by the in-demand Swedish choreographer Sacha Jean-Baptiste.

And yes, in an ideal world, Switzerland wouldn’t have to outsource to foreign creatives, but frankly using local talent hadn’t previously worked out. In the end, Luca Hänni – lit in the bold red colours of the Swiss flag – gave a showstopping performance, complete with a little yodelling. The energetic delivery elevated the last section of the Tel Aviv grand final and gave Switzerland a fourth-place finish — its best result in over 25 years.

And it has to be a good feeling for the Swiss broadcasters. They now know that they actually do have what it takes to do well at the Song Contest (and being a politically neutral country doesn’t count against you).

May this serve as a reset, to discard the awkward years of the online submissions, the National Final where a singer could win mainly from doing a knock-out Sia cover. Despite the fact that ‘She Got Me’ relied on an imported dream team, if the 2019 success can encourage more local Swiss artists, songwriters and other creatives to get involved, it can only be a good thing.

Monty Moncrieff (Second Cherry)

Siren Song’ by Maruv

Some you win, some you, well, win but lose at the same time.

Maruv’s ‘Siren Song’ was already causing quite a stir as we first heard the audio track, and it was no surprise when it won the ticket to Tel Aviv for Ukraine. So far so good. Events began to take a turn shortly afterwards when Maruv began talking about the unreasonable demands being placed upon her by the broadcaster, including concerns about her planned gigs in Russia. It wasn’t long before she put her integrity ahead of becoming the latest pawn in a local geo-political game of Eurovision tit-for-tat.

2019 was the fourth consecutive year to be affected by Russian-Ukranian relationships, ultimately denying Eurovision viewers of a potential classic, and in my eyes a potential winner. Maruv served this bold, brassy and ballsy pop number up with sass and a whiff of lesbian chic. Yes, that chic still had something of the male-gaze about it, but unlike former Eurovision entrants t.A.T.u. you never felt for a moment that Maruv wasn’t completely in charge of her own image on stage. It struck a chord with fans, and with Ukraine’s well-documented ability to choreograph something special could have been an unforgettable Eurovision moment. But some things just aren’t meant to be.

The song has remained close to my heart, and was our chosen Ukrainian representative in our revived Second Cherry Song Contest, a place where we give also-rans a second chance, which this year we relaunched with an accompanying “Almost a Eurovision” podcast looking back at some of the season’s National Finals. The song went on to win this year’s prize. Just like our podcast, it’s not quite Eurovision, but it’s some justice at least for those of us who want music and not politics to dominate in our favourite show.

Spirit in the Sky’ by Keiino

They told us schlager was dead. Even it’s biggest exponent, Sweden’s Melodifestivalen, spoofed its decline with a pastiche by the singer of 2008’s schlagerfiasko Charlotte Perrelli delivering a comedy cover of German schlagerista Helene Fischer’s classic ‘Atemlos durch die Nacht‘. It’s a moment of genius from the pen of Edward av Sillen. But dead it remained.

What they didn’t tell us was all it needed was for somebody to give schlager a good old joik.

Spirit in the Sky’ is pure, unbridled Eurovision fun. It’s as old-fashioned as hell, yet the simple addition of some traditional Sami lines made this feel fresh. So fresh in fact that it topped the public vote, only to be pegged back to sixth place overall by the enormous chasm between televoting and jury results: viewers gave it 291 points, whilst jury members only 40. Such a difference only reignites the arguments over the respective merits of each system.

But Keiino sensed their moment, and have spent the remainder of 2019 firmly seizing the mantle of “The People’s Champions”. Rather than waste valuable opportunity to build on their Eurovision momentum with an album they’ve played the modern music industry incredibly cannily, releasing a string of songs to streaming platforms and travelling the world, making the most of Eurovision’s three-minute equivalent of Warhol’s famous fifteen.

They’ve done it by resonating with the disenfranchised, speaking out about the discrimination each group member has experienced based on their identity; a resonance that has also seen them tie up indigenous music via Fred’s Sami to the native Australian of Sam’s pick yesterday of Electric Fields. Whether the trio has enough to sustain a longer career, or ends up as a one-season project they have already left an indelible mark in Eurovision’s rich history.

Plus we don’t have to fork out for a fortnight in Norway.

Matt Baker (EscXtra)

Nadie Se Salva’ by Miki Núñez & Natalia Lacunza

Having had the enviable / unenviable task (delete as appropriate) of having to watch and review pretty much every National Final of the 2019 season for the “Almost at Eurovision” Second Cherry podcast with Monty, I thought I might highlight the two somewhat surprise packages for me. The first comes from the Spanish national final and Operación Triunfo. The show was an X-Factor-styled competition, the format of which we are all very familiar with. Once the winner of the main show was announced, however, there was an additional special edition show… The Eurovision Gala.

It was here that Miki was selected as Spain’s representative for Tel Aviv, but Miki had a second song duetting with fellow contestant Natalia. ‘Nadie se salva‘ was a fun bit of Spanish pop that benefitted, much like Miki’s winning performance of ‘La Venda‘, from being in a small studio with a low roof so the audience were picked up through the microphones. Miki’s somewhat awkward dancing with Natalia notwithstanding, every stomp, hair toss, hip thrust and glance into camera was met with boisterous cheers and applause. It elevated what was an already strong song and finished in 3rd place.

As a National Final, Operación Triunfo really delivered. It’s a shame Spain have gone for an internal selection this year, but Operación Triunfo has certainly given me a new favourite Eurovision party banger in ‘Nadie se salva‘.

Mr. Unicorn’ by D’Sound

The Norwegian national final, Melodi Grand Prix, was one of my favourite pre-selection shows of the 2019 season. The standard of songs and artists, the production, and the seemingly purposeful decision to situate a younger crowd at the front of the stage area, all contributed to a lively show. What can I say about KEiiNO that hasn’t already been said? Worthy winners of Melodi Grand Prix and as we came to learn last May, the people’s champion!

But I must confess that it initially took me a while to get my head round the fact that there were two groups with a boy-boy-girl setup. D’Sound were the other group with their catchy electronic funk pop ditty, ‘Mr. Unicorn‘. The surprise was the way in which the song grew on me over the 2019 season and quickly became one of my most played tracks of last year.

The performance of the song is quirky and ever so slightly jarring, but in an engaging manner. I say bravo to D’Sound and bravo to NRK for an excellent national final. More of the same in this year please!

Phil Colclough (On Europe)

Too Late for Love by John Lundvik and ‘Bigger than Us‘ by Michael Rice

You don’t get anything for a pair… Not in this game. Bruce Forsyth might no longer be with us, but the Eurovision Song Contest certainly gave us a look into precisely what his catchphrase meant, all in glorious technicolour.

John Lundvik decided to not only to submit his better song for Sweden but he also decided to throw one of his alternates to feed the BBC’s seemingly increasingly desperate attempt to find a winning formula. Or at least something that could garner some points. This is a risky strategy because the Song Contest has a nasty habit of biting people in the behind to those who it thinks are not treating it with the reverence it deserves.

As we all know, both of the songs went to Tel Aviv (despite my level best to kick John’s Diet Coke can over after his exuberant celebrations spilled out of the Green Room into the corridor of the BBC’s Media City) and for two months the Contest’s self awareness bubbled away, letting John think that he could be the seventh Swedish winner and he, and many so-called fans bought into the hype.

However, those of us who know, and detach themselves from fandom, we realised something far darker as the rehearsals went on. Looking smug in performances is a recipe for failure (see Sergey Lazarev) and the Contest’s conscience kicked in massively when John was set up for the big win on the night….

Only for the Contest to have left him with not enough points to win, let him think he’d won, and then spectacularly deflated his pumped up ego in front of a hundred million people. That look on his face will be etched in my memory for as long as I am a fan because it confirms what I already knew. Eurovision has a way of bringing everyone back down to earth. Fans, Press, organisers, televoters and even broadcasters have no way of knowing what’s going on but if you treat her right, the Contest rewards you.

His other song? – Predictably predictable. If you throw the chaff out to someone desperate enough, they’ll take it – even if their singer is talented enough to carry off what some call a typical BBC Staging, the fact that the song is wafer-thin and held up by one word (“Bigger!”) will show in the end.

In a final twist of the Eurovision knife, the UK lost six of it’s sixteen earned points on the night due to a counting error. John Lundvik angered the gods of Eurovision, they take swift retribution.

Laura Clay

Say My Name’ by Sigmund

I’m as guilty as anyone else of overusing ‘That act was robbed!’ in Eurovision qualifier season, but in these two cases I’m defending my frenzied yelling at the TV.

First up, I firmly believe that the Danish police should have been called on Leonora’s sickly advert-friendly tweefest. The moment Sigmund rose from his sci-fi coffin like some queer saviour, resplendent in a low-budget tinfoil spacesuit, I knew we were in for a treat. Sure, the lyrics won’t win any awards and the vocals are so-so, but Sigmund’s boyish Troye Sivan good looks and funky beats a la Years And Years would get me on the dancefloor. And that beats pining after an overpriced artisan tagine while a manic pixie dream girl warbles about love on a health-and-safety-defying giant seat.

So, what would I rather have.. a John Lewis advert reject or a camp space Jesus? Do you even need to ask?

Parmumäng‘ by Cätlin Mägi & Jaan Pehk

Nobody could argue that Caitlin Magi’s performance was forgettable. A small man trapped in an instrument rack, duetting with a woman twanging a Jew’s harp and performing looper magic, jostled for attention in a semi-final that included an Alice In Wonderland cosplayer dancing with furries and asking after her cats in German. It was so disappointing, then, to see a by-the-numbers song represent Estonia, after such a fun mix of genres in the Semi Finals.

I was lucky enough to see Caitlin live at Tallinn Music Week in March. Despite a heavy cold, she wowed the audience at the folk strand with a set that included an improvised song about Tallin Music Week itself. Barefoot, she had us in the palm of her hand with her blend of traditional folk instruments and modern tech. Mesmerising stuff.

Caitlin, for me, embodies the diverse spirit of Eurovision. Quirky folk can find its niche alongside schlager and hard rock, and the contest is all the richer for it.

Over To You

Don’t forget you can read the Editorial Team’s Musical Moments of 2019 here on ESC Insight.

And that, pretty much locks in our coverage of the 2019 Season. We’ll look back on it, just as we do with other Contests, but now it’s time to take a closer look at the Eurovision Song Contest, bring you our regular podcasts, and to look forward to Rotterdam. We look forward to you joining us on our journey.

If you want to give us a little bit of support as we cover the Song Contest, please visit our Patreon page, patreon.com/escinsight, where you can make a small monthly contribution to our running costs in exchange for some exclusive content.

Categories: ESC Insight

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