09
March
2019

Russia 2019: Sergey Lazarev’s Eurovision entry Scream finally revealed

Russia 2019: Sergey Lazarev’s Eurovision entry Scream finally revealed

Sergey Lazarev

He has been the bookmaker favourite to win ever since Sergey Lazarev confirmed his Eurovision comeback about a month ago. He finished third in 2016 so expectations were high for him to return with another smash hit.

Rumoured had listed Sergey as the 2019 Russian participant for quite a while, when the Russian broadcaster finally confirmed his comeback on the 7th of February. As many fans have a hard time picking their favourites for this year’s contest, many turned towards Russia hoping to find a real gem here. Did they get that?

If they expected a You Are The Only One Part 2, they will be disappointed as for the 2019 contest, Sergey goes in a different direction. As often with the Russians, we can probably still expect an outstanding stage performance, but song wise this is slower and a lot more quiet than his previous entry. It’s however also well produced so it will attract a lot of fans still not able to find any top contender entries this year.

The 2019 entry is written by Dimitris Kontopoulos and Philipp Kirkorov. It’s lyrics have been provided by Mary Sharon Vaughn. Fokas Evangelinos will be Stage Director, while Ilias Kokotos functions as Project Manager.

In the video below, listen to Sergey Lazarev’s Eurovision 2019 entry:

Kontopoulos and Kirkorov’s previous Eurovision entries

In case the songwriters behind Lazarev’s 2019 entry sounds familiar it might be because the two have quite some Eurovision entries behind them – of which several scored well. Kirkorov himself did also participate as a singer in 1995 representing Russia, but he not mentioned as songwriter on that one.

SongwriterYearCountryResult
Kontopoulos & Kirkorov2007Belarus6th place
Kontopoulos & Kirkorov2008Ukraine2nd place
Kontopoulos2009Greece7th place
Kontopoulos2013Azerbaijan2nd place
Kontopoulos & Kirkorov2014Russia7th
Kontopoulos & Kirkorov2016Russia3rd place
Kontopoulos2017Greece16th place
Kontopoulos2018AzerbaijanDid not reach the final
Kirkorov2018Moldova10th

Although not officially credited, Kontopoulos is said to be co-writer on Moldova 2018. This was mentioned at a press conference in Lisbon.

Russia at the Eurovision Song Contest

In 1994, Youddiph represented Russia in their Eurovision debut. She finished 9th in the final and is a part of Russia’s impressive 12 top 10 results in just 20 appearances. In the five years from 2012 to 2016 included, the country never did worse than a 7th place.

Since the introduction of semi-finals in 2004, Russia never failed to qualify from the semi-final to final – until last year.

They won the Eurovison Song Contest once, in 2008 with the song Believe where Dima Bilan represented the country for a second time. The country however four times ended up in second place; first in the year 2000 where Alsou’s Solo only lost out to Denmark’s Olsen Brothers. In 2006, Dima Bilan came second, and the same happened to Party For Everybody in 2012 and to Polina Gagarina’s beautiful A Million Voices in 2015.

Last year, Russia lost their “perfect strike“. With the song I Won’t Break, Julia Samoylova finished 15th in her semi-final and thus weren’t near reaching the final.

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Categories: Eurovisionary

08
March
2019

North Macedonia: Tamara Todevska release Eurovision entry Proud

North Macedonia: Tamara Todevska release Eurovision entry Proud

Tamara Todevska

Today, Tamara’s entry for the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest was released. The song is titled “Proud” and it will be the fourth experience experience for Tamara – but first time as a solo artist.

Back in 2004, Tamara Todevska was backing vocalist for Toše Proeski at the Eurovision Song Contest. Four years later, she returned to the contest as part of a trio together with Rade Vrchakovski and Adrian Gaxha. In 2014, she provided backing vocals for her sister Tijana Dapčević at the contest in Copenhagen, Denmark.

In 2018, Tamara returns to the Eurovision Song Contest for a fourth time – but for the first time all attention is on her as a solo artist. She was presented back in January being internally selected. We had to wait until today to hear the song which is titled Proud. It was originally scheduled for release Monday the 4th, but was postponed to today for release on International Women Day. Listen to it in the video below.

Back in December, Tamara gave birth to her second child – a little boy, so in Tel Aviv she is likely to have small children with her.

North Macedonia at the Eurovision Song Contest

A pre-selection kept North Macedonia (recently changed name from FYR Macedonia) away from their intended debut in 1996. As they withdrew for the 97′ contest, it wasn’t until 1998 we saw Vlado Janevski as the first representative for an independent North Macedonia. Up until 2014, the country would take part ever second year only.

Late Toše Proeski represented North Macedonia at the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest, he came 14th in the final and since that, the country has been a regular participant, despite quite poor results recently.

In 2006, Elena Risteska ended 12th with the song Ninanajna. That is to date the country’s best result at the Eurovision Song Contest.

From 2008 and up, North Macedonia only reached the final once, that was by Kaliopi and her song Crno I Belo in 2012. Last year, Eye Cue finished 18th and second to last in their semi-final with the entry Lost And Found.

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08
March
2019

Power To All The People: Understanding Melodifestivalen’s Voting System

Power To All The People: Understanding Melodifestivalen’s Voting System

Voting In Melodifestivalen Finals

Melodifestivalen’s voting system is one that is very comfortable to the modern Eurovision fan, after all it is the model that the Eurovision Song Contest uses nowadays.

It is a split of juries and televotes, with the number of points split between the two 50/50. Each of the juries presents their votes first, and the tension is kept high while we wait for the televotes to appear at the end of the broadcast.

A slight nuance between Melodifestivalen and the Eurovision Song Contest is that voting is open not just during the performances, but lines are also open for five minutes after the jury results have been revealed. Perfect for your last minute tactical vote.

Each of those juries will vote just like in the Eurovision Song Contest. 12 points to their favourite, followed by 10, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. This means only two songs will get zero points from each jury.

The televote has been in recent years a proportional system, the percentage of votes received was translated into a score so both juries and televoters gave our equal number of points. One major disadvantage of this system was that it led to very equal televote scores between the competing songs. This is especially true in Sweden as by using SVT’s app with free votes many viewers vote for more than one song. Nano won the 2017 public vote, but wasn’t close enough to challenge for victory then.

However that app this year has had a radical makeover, and that makeover has transformed the voting system. The people of Sweden will no longer be subordinate to those international juries – they will have the power to decide.

Power To The People

Melodifestivalen’s new app has the same interface as before, with viewers being able to cast up to 5 free votes per competiting song. What is different for 2019 is that on signing into the app you have to give your age. This puts you into one of seven different groups – with the youngest being from 3 to 9 years old and the oldest 75 and over. Members of each group cast their votes, but rather than a proportional result each group votes 12, 10, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. There is also a phone vote option, which is worth the same as one of those seven juries.

According to SVT, if this system was in place for last year’s competition it would have resulted in the same 8 songs qualifying directly to the Friends Arena final. This means that we can assume the difference in song taste is marginal at best between those different age categories. A song scoring high points from the 3 to 9 year old block is likely to score high not just from the 10 to 15 year old group, but each and every group.

In 2018, the public voting spread from a low of 37 to a high of 67. This year I can predict a more ruthless public voting – perhaps multiple songs will have only single figures from the public while at the top end of the leaderboard many songs may comfortably score more than last year’s winner. The maximum number of points a song can score from the public voting is 96 (12’s from all eight groups), and a uniform favourite could hit the mark.

The voting sequence will feel more like that of older Melodifestivalen’s from before the App first existed in 2015. While Melodifestivalen Final voting has been mathematically 50/50 since the 6 week tour started in 2002, App voting gave significantly more than 50% of the power to the juries. Now the power of the 50/50 is almost certainly back in the hands of the televote. Miraculous escapes to victory, such as Malena Ernman’s comeback victory in 2009, are now back in the realms of possibility.

International Juries From Australia to the UK

To make it 50/50 voting – the eight public voting groups are matched up with eight international juries. They come from the following countries for 2019:

  • Portugal, Austria, Australia, Cyprus, France, Finland, UK, Israel
  • Many commentators have discussed how this spread of countries is very Western in background. This is a comment Christer Björkman, competition producer for Melodifestivalen, is well aware of, saying he hopes ’it will not make much impact.’

The issue is that the number of international juries has decreased from 11 to 8, so a geographical spread is harder to achieve. Personally, I don’t consider this to be a huge concern. Previous studies on jury groups has concluded it is who you watch the show with, rather than where you are from, which is a bigger factor in the overall result.

However, what is a concern in terms of finding the best quality winner is that we only have eight juries this year for Melodifestivalen. Jury voting is usually is far more random than it is uniform – which is not a surprise when juries are only made of the opinions of a handful of people compared to millions of Swedes. Christer Björkman is aware of this – and has described the increased statistical risk as ’scary’.

Putting both the juries and public voting together means there is an increased sense of the unknown when it comes to predicting this year’s Melodifestivalen winner. We have an incredibly strong odds-on favourite currently in John Lundvik, but with a jury vote and televote potentially harder to predict there are certainly no foregone conclusions at this point.

Trying To Model The Voting Sequence

To end this article, I’ve had some fun to try and create some ’fake’ voting using proxies to simulate both the jury voting and televoting.

First the jury voting. What I have done is found points from different fan forums across the internet. I have taken different 1-12’s from different websites, with different fans voting on them, and used that to create a jury score for that country. By searching for English language websites I hope to get an international opinion to the songs. I also used SVT’s Twitter poll as part of these pretend results – they had filtered for an international fan opinion and this gave Wiktoria the top ranking.

Model of the Melodifestivalen 2019 Jury Vote using data from international fan forums

For the public voting, I have combined different proxies in different amounts to create a suitable score. For younger audiences I have used YouTube views or Instagram followers, and as the voting group gets older I have used data from sources such as newspaper polls, Spotify streams or iTunes.

This would give a public vote as follows.

Model made by using different proxies to predict the public vote in Melodifestivalen 2019

The combined result of this is therefore the jury result plus the public vote.

The result of this mock voting combining the jury and public vote scores

Now, you are probably looking at these numbers and wondering how X could be high and Y could be low – and I agree. However the numbers here look like what the Melodifestivalen vote will appear as – it is a great example for how spread the final result may be.

I included the standard deviation here to show just how spread the data is. The larger standard deviation for the public vote shows how the public 50% now is more powerful than the jury 50%. There is more chance of a climatic finish to Melodifestivalen 2019 than recent previous editions.

What is important for ESC Insight readers is to be aware of what the results will look like because of the voting system. For a start there is zerochance of a record score on Saturday night – the low number of juries means simply less points are on the table. However the chance of seeing a song come close to a full televote from all ages would make big headlines. That’s a headline Frans couldn’t achieve in 2016 – he scored 50% more votes than 2nd place that year but so many app votes were cast viewers such a whopping televote still only took 14.4% of the total. Frans’ huge landslide barely made a dent on the scoreboard. A landslide on Saturday night could catapult an artist all the way up the leaderboard.

With this voting system we are going to get unpredictability, we are going to see drama, and we are going to see a song popular across all of the Swedish population winning the trophy. Let the best song win.

Categories: ESC Insight

08
March
2019

Azerbaijan 2019: Listen to Chingiz’s Eurovision Truth

Azerbaijan 2019: Listen to Chingiz’s Eurovision Truth

Chingiz

27 year old Chingiz will sing the song “Truth” at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. He was internally selected though the songwriter was worried that he didn’t fit the song as his style was different.

Last year, Azerbaijan failed to reach the Eurovision Song Contest final for the first time. It came as quite a surprise to many that it was possible for Azerbaijan to miss qualification. This year, the broadcaster chose Chingiz as their representative. He is not unknown to the Azeri population despite having lived quite some time in the US, and actually being born in Russia. His family and him moved to Azerbaijan when he was six years old.

In 2006, he won Pop Idol in Azerbaijan where he also took part in the national selections in 2010 and 2011. In 2016, he appeared in the Ukrainian edition of The Voice, so Chingiz are quite familiar with competitions.

At the Eurovision Song Contest, Chingiz Mustafayev will sing the song Truth. It was selected through more than 350 possibilities. It is written by Bulgarian-Austrian Borislav Milanov.

Initially, I was a little nervous about how Chingiz would perform the song, since he comes from a different musical background. But meeting him totally changed my mind. He’s so passionate about music and his own culture. We even added some unique elements of traditional Azerbaijani music, which worked brilliantly to make the song an authentic fusion of Azerbaijan and the West.

Songwriter Borislav Milanov

Azerbaijan at the Eurovision Song Contest

11 appearances, 10 finals and five times in Top 5. The numbers speak for itself. Azerbaijan is one of the most successful countries at the Eurovision Song Contest.

They won the contest in their only 4th participation in 2011 with Running Scared and in their first six years of taking part, they never finished outside top 10.

In recent years, things have become more difficult for Azerbaijan starting in 2014 where Dilara Kazimova finished as 22nd. Last year, the country lost their perfect strike failing to qualify for the final for the first time.

For this year’s contest, Azerbaijan has been drawn into the second half of the second semi-final.

Lyrics for Truth

In the press release we can read that “Truth is about a dishonest, toxic relationship. The song explores the story of one partner who betrays the other, leaving them with a difficult choice: accept deceit or break free from false illusions”.

I’m in the mirror

So freaking bitter

But I’ve gotta get through

I’m gonna get through

Keep it together

Be cool under pressure

Cause she wants to break you

She wants to break you

Drink till I forget

She’s on to the next

And when the ghost starts screaming

Right when they resonate

Hear my heart confess

It’s been so hard to bear

So shut up about it

shut up about it

It’s just to hard to hear

So shut up about it

shut up about it

Oooooo

So shut up

shut up about it

Out of the mirror

It’s getting clearer

Then out of the blue

She crashes the room

Gotta remember

She is a killer

With that freaking perfume

Girl, it’s too soon

It’s been so hard to bear

So shut up about it

shut up about it

It’s just to hard to hear

So shut up about it

shut up about it

Oooooo

So shut up

shut up about it

Oooooo

So shut up

shut up about it

I don’t need I don’t need the truth

I don’t need I don’t need the truth

It’s been so hard to bear

So shut up about it

shut up about it

It’s just to hard to hear

So shut up about it

shut up about it

Oooooo

So shut up

shut up about it

Oooooo

So shut up

shut up about it

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08
March
2019

Folk music with a modern touch: Tulia’s Eurovion entry released

Folk music with a modern touch: Tulia’s Eurovion entry released

Tulia

Expectations were really high for the release of this year’s Polish Eurovision entry. A lot of it though, coming from fans who had, based on the outfit of the band alone, predicted something in the style of the milkmaids from 2014. This isn’t that.

Unless the band Tulia takes off part of their clothes on stage, some fans are sure to be disappointed when they see the four girls on stage at the Eurovision Song Contest. A lot of won’t be related to the song though, but just the fact that when the band were announced as representatives of Poland, many fans immidiately drew associations to Donatan & Cleo’s 2014 entry – and the famous milkmaids appearance.

This year’s Polish entry was released today, and nothing point towards another sexy performance, which will create headlines around the world – for all the wrong reasons. The song is pretty much in the usual style of the band; traditional folk music with a modern touch. Check it out in the video below:

Tulia is a band consisting of the four women Patrycja Nowicka, Dominika Siepka, Joanna Sinkiewicz and Tulia Biczak. The band is, as you can probably, guess named after the latter. They founded the band in 2017 and last May, they released their first album, simply titled Tulia. It sold more than 30,000 copies and reached platinum level in Poland.

Poland at the Eurovision Song Contest

21 appearances since their debut in 1994, and 11 finals. No win yet and only three top 10 results. Poland haven’t always had it easy at the Eurovision Song Contest though they got off with a fantastic start when Edyta Górniak sang To Nie Ja! to a second place.

When semi-finals were introduced to the contest, it took a while before Poland would join the Saturday party. They failed to qualify for the final in 2005 to 2007. In 2008, Isis Gee just made it on the last ticket in her semi-final. She finished 24th in the final – and in the following three years, Poland would again miss out. As a result of the poor results, the broadcaster took an absence from Eurovision in 2012 and 2013 – and then returned with the now famous milkmaids in 2014.

Donatan & Cleo reached the final, and so did the country’s representatives in the following three years. Poland were back on track. Last year, Light Me Up by Gromee feat. Lukas Meijer however failed to qualify.

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08
March
2019

Sarah McTernan to wave the Irish Eurovision flag in Tel Aviv

Sarah McTernan to wave the Irish Eurovision flag in Tel Aviv

Sarah McTernan

The silence have been broken. Ireland finally presented Sarah McTernan as their artist for the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest. This follows a period with very few rumours, a fake story and no official news – until today.

It has been almost worrying waiting for Ireland’s entry this year. As we got closer and closer to the deadline for submitting entries for Tel Aviv, we still lacked Ireland. No song, no participant and not even a date for publication came out from the broadcaster. Did they still intend to participate? We assumed so, but the lack of guesses from the fans told the same story about everyone waiting impatiently. Finally, an Irish newspaper had been given the exclusive story that it was Janet Devlin to represent them. Many seemed to believe this exclusive until Janet herself went out denying it. We were back to the beginning with no information – aside from that we now knew of an Irish media who brought a fake story as their exclusive!

Today, we now also know that it will be Sarah McTernan to represent Ireland at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv, Israel in May. The participating entry is titled 22. You can listen to it in the video below:

Ireland at the Eurovision Song Contest

With seven wins, Ireland still holds the record as the most winning country, although they must be able to feel Sweden breathing at their neck. Ireland haven’t won since 1996 – while Sweden won three times since then and is now at a total of six wins. With Ireland’s latest results, it seems obvious that if they don’t pull home a victory very soon, Sweden will soon equalise their 7 wins.

Last year, Ryan O’Shaughnessy finished 16th with the song Together. For Ireland, just reaching the final was important as their acts had failed to do so in the previous four years. In fact, since 2005, Ireland reached the final seven times and failed just as many times.

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