Amongst the roster of West End pros and experienced backing singers announced for this year’s National Final in the UK, one artist immediately caught my eye. 16 year old Asanda Jezile was first introduced to reality TV in the 2013 series of Britain’s Got Talent when she was 11 years old. Videos of her performances show a confident girl with a really strong voice, and of course she’s grown and developed as a vocalist between then and now. In fact, I have no doubt that on stage in Brighton (and potentially Lisbon) she’ll be absolutely great. However, we know that there is more to representing your country at the Eurovision Song Contest than just being a great singer.
Asanda, BBC You Decide 2018 (image: BBC/Joel Anderson)
Asanda’s song ‘Legends’ has been a subject of low level rumours for some time now. It’s the one which will be undoubtedly going into ‘Eurovision You Decide 2018’ as the favourite, but it’s really still anybody’s game. Now that we’ve all heard ‘Legends,’ it’s fair to say it’s a good song but there’s no knowing how it will be received by the voting public. Hearing the studio version now with Asanda’s vocal confirms that she was the right choice of vocalist for the song, but is the song itself strong enough to win the UK ticket to Portugal?
It’s More Than The Song That Matters
Before we all get too carried away with it all there are a few things to remember. Firstly last year we had another 16 year old with the alleged most favoured song. Olivia Garcia with the song ‘Freedom Hearts’. From the studio versions and the general buzz, I think most of us knew this was the favourite and was expected to win, but on the night Olivia missed out to Lucie Jones.
We don’t have a results breakdown from last year’s ‘Eurovision: You Decide‘, so it’s possible that ‘Freedom Hearts’ was only second by a very small margin. However, it’s also possible that ‘Freedom Hearts’ was on the bottom of the pile and picked up very few points, we simply don’t know. But what we do know is that the perception is the ‘favourite’ song was given to the youngest artist and it didn’t make it through.
Probably the biggest of my concerns for Asanda is how she’ll cope with the blanket negativity from the UK tabloids towards the Eurovision Song Contest and especially the UK representatives. Let’s start with Dan Wootton’s Bizarre column in the The Sun. Just a couple of weeks ago a piece appeared in The Sun leaking the name of one of the singers. The language and style of the reporting is part of the reason I’d be super cautious putting a very young artist in the mix in the UK:
“The BBC once again seems determined to consign the UK to near-certain failure at Eurovision – by pinning our hopes on more no-marks. Raya, will battle five other nobodies in the Beeb’s You Decide.
“The Beeb’s signing of Rachel comes after it chose six X Factor flops to battle to represent us last year. They’re kidding themselves though if they think unknowns like Rachel represent a nation that has produced talent such as The Beatles, The Spice Girls, Adele, and One Direction.”
Wootton is probably aware that his calls for the BBC to book big name artists are unlikely to be granted while he provides one of the major reasons why established acts can’t take the risk of negative publicity from being associated with the United Kingdom’s Eurovision entry. This is why the BBC turns to less established artists with experience of live stage vocals to compete. At which point Wootton has fulfilled his own prophecy and the loop of expectation, hype and disappointment begins anew.
This kind of hype and outrage cycle is great for selling papers but has very little to do with improving the BBC’s approach to the contest. At the minute, all the Corporation can do is provide a comforting hand through the hostile atmosphere for our hopefuls.
New Media Has Just As Many Flaws
The collective impact of online commentary may also make it difficult for newer, less protected performers in the Eurovision world. The online response to some Song Contest performers has sometimes not only thrown them off their game at the Contest but caused some to leave the entertainment industry all together.
Take the example of Bianca Nicholas from Electro Velvet, who represented the UK in 2015 with ‘Still In Love With You‘ when she was 26. She came back from Vienna and retired from professional performing. Not because of the result, but because of the constant grinding down effect of months of negative media coverage.
In 2017 Belgium’s Walloon broadcaster selected 17 year old Blanche to represent them in Kyiv. Her haunting, modern electro song ‘City Lights’ garnered many fans, and she went into the pre-season parties as a strong contender. Blanche’s road got decidedly more bumpy when she encountered the full force of social media scorn following a hesitant performance at London Eurovision Party. Her nervousness became visible in everything she did, and it looked like ‘City Lights’ might become one of Eurovision’s great lost masterpieces.
Perhaps the turning point was when her team took Blanche out of the Eurovision bubble to relax by the beach for the weekend… perhaps it was the positive fan experience she had on the EscXtra livestream… or was it the comforting presence of stage manager par excellence Henric von Zweigbergk just offstage throughout her time in Kyiv. No matter her anchor, her velvety vocals and amazing song got her through the Semi Final and into a triumphant Grand Final performance that earned her an excellent fourth place.
Which delegations are able to coach a very young artist through tremendous and unpredictable ups and downs like this?
Of course, I am not saying that it ought to be taboo to comment on the work of a young artist in case you upset them. Many Eurovision viewers are lucky enough to live in countries where we have freedom of speech, thought and opinion, and without the freedom to like or dislike songs, there’s sort of no point in the whole Eurovision business.
My message is that a delegation needs to do some serious preparation work if they are going to send a very young artist to Eurovision.
This doesn’t necessarily mean avoiding all contact with the press, shielding the artist from their social media or preventing them from performing at preview parties. What it does mean is having the care, support, and backup for the artist built into the team that surrounds them.
A Beautiful Mess Is About Right
Bulgaria in 2017 should be looked at as a good example of how to manage a young artist at the Eurovision Song Contest. Kristian Kostov became the first ever Eurovision artist who was born this side of the year 2000. As a 17 year old, Kris was very much in charge of his own social media, where he would take pictures and share to Instagram and interact with his fans online all the time. Even at 17, he was already in the second decade of his performing career, so BNT knew that they had selected an independent and professional young man. The delegation put complete trust in him, allowinghim to do interviews, and interact with press and fans – but this was balanced by making sure that he had his Mum and Aunt around to give him the support he needed to keep him grounded.
Obviously not all 16 and 17 year olds are the same, because humans vary infinitely. Some young people are equipped to handle the pressures of a career in the entertainment industry and some would not enjoy it at all. Each broadcaster must have a duty-of-care to their artist throughout their time at the Song Contest – from auditions and rehearsals, through National Finals, on to promotion, and getting them home mentally and physically after the Contest is over. Arguably there is a duty to support an artist’s ongoing career, no matter what the result on the big night, but this duty is even more vital when the artist is very young.
To answer my own question, is sixteen too young to be competing at the Eurovision Song Contest? Personally I would say yes. Not because of the stage time, but because of everything that happens around the Song Contest that can impact on an individual.
But the thing is, if I was a sixteen year old being asked that same question, I would be running like a legend towards the big stage.
Eurovision: You Decide will take place on Wednesday 7th Feb at 8pm, broadcast on BBC. Performing for your votes will be be Asanda, Goldstone, Jaz Ellington, Liam Tamne, Raya, and SuRie. You can listen to all six tracks on YouTube.
Who has what it takes to secure the UK a great result at the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest? Today, the six national final entries were revealed. The country has remained faithful to its recent musical identity, but let’s take a closer look at the songs.
It has now been nine years since the last time the United Kingdom has been able to finish in Eurovision’s top 10, but they are not giving up. BBC, United Kingdom’s official broadcaster, has now made the six competing songs available, along with a short description introducing the act and describing the song.
This year’s Eurovision: You Decide has a lot of diversity, talent and identity to offer. From pop to soul, the United Kingdom’s national selection will feature familiar sounds to Spice Girls, Amy Winehouse, Adele or Seal, which have proven to be a worldwide success outside of the Eurovision world.
Inside of the Eurovision world though, we find a few familiar faces as songwriters such as Iceland’s former representative Greta Salóme – who has penned one of the entries or Rune Braager, who has written several songs for the Danish selection through the years. Another one is Jeanette Bonde who took part as singer in last year’s Danish Melodi Grand Prix final with the song Hurricane.
See alsoMelodi Grand Prix 2018 – The ten Danish participants presented
What to expect from each contestant?
The acts and their respective songs can be heard through BBC’s website. Here’s what each of them has to offer:
Asanda – Legends
An infectious beat and chorus is more than enough to conquer Eurovision fans and Legends does mix those two elements perfectly while Asanda claims we can be legends tonight. An Eurovision anthem in the making?
Liam Tamne – Astronaut
Liam ends up bringing that Ed Sheeran flavour into the game with Astronaut even though his vocals resemble Maroon 5’s Adam Levine best. Written with Rune Braager’s help, it’s one of those extremely relatable songs with an extremely modern feeling to it that certainly will conquer a lot of Eurovision fans.
Goldstone – I Feel The Love
It brings in groove, attitude and empowerment. They could follow up on last year’s O’G3NE yet with an upbeat song that will make you stand up and enjoy the moment.
Jaz Ellington – You
If you’re tired of modern sounds, this may be the one for you as it brings soul back to life. While being a less commercial sound, You ends up being catchy and quite touching. A possible winner.
RAYA – Crazy
The Gréta Salóme penned track sounds nothing like what she has served while participating in Eurovision in 2012 or 2016. This upbeat song shares a great touch in production and obviously ends up being catchy and powerful due to its beat.
SuRie – Storm
She was a backing singer for Belgium’s Loïc Nottet and Blanche, and is now attempting her luck with a solo entry to represent the United Kingdom. Her song sounds nothing alike the Belgium entries, ends up sounding current and catchy.
The British national selection will be held in Brighton Dome, the site of ABBA’s 1974 Eurovision win on the 7th of February, and its host – Mel Giedroyc will be joined by the Eurovision 2015 winner, Måns Zelmerlöw, to help her out.
Before we wait, remind yourself of last year’s Lucie Jones performance during the grand final – this time in a special Full Stage View where you can see how the backdrop and the lights were used during the entry:
The opinions expressed in this article belongs to the author, and does not necessarily reflects EuroVisionary.com.
The 21st of January was a very eventful day – Timur Miroshnychenko, co-presenter of Eurovision 2017, got married to his partner, Inna Rudnyk, in the presence of his family and friends in the Ukranian capital. Congratulations, Timur and Inna!
Timur Miroshnychenko hosted the Eurovision Song Contest this year, alongside Oleksandr Skichko and Volodymyr Ostapchuk in the Ukranian capital of Kyiv. After such an exciting year, what better way to start a new one? Timur and his partner, Inna Rudnyk got married yesterday in Kyiv and celebrated at one of the city’s noted restaurants.
His family and friends were there when Timur and Inna exchanged their vows, and among the guests, of course, was Oleksandr and Volodymyr and their own partners, and together they took pictures with the newlyweds.
The couple decided to make a simple and informal little party – with just a couple of friends and both their families, and, in the end, 150 guests attended. We mentioned that his Eurovision 2017 co-hosts Oleksander and Volodymyr were in the crowd, but, this year’s Moldovan Eurovision representatives, SunStroke Project, were also among the guests.
“With the best wishes at wedding day of our friend @timur.miroshnychenko and Inna!!” – SunStroke Project posted.
In an interview with the Ukranian magazine, Viva!, Timur tells of when he first realised that he loved Inna.
‘It was during Oleksandr’s stag party in late July in Odessa that I realised that I loved Inna. And then, in my opinion, not even in a very sober state, at two o’clock in the morning, I wrote on a piece of paper: “I love you. Full Stop. I’ll come and tell you. Full stop”.’ And when he came back to Kyiv, he revealed his feelings to his beloved.
We wish Timur and Inna all the best with this new chapter of their lives! Congratulations!
The Czech Television has revealed the 10 international jury members and also their winner participant of the country’s national selection. The rest is to be released with the final results next Monday.
Two weeks ago, on 8th January, the wait was over as Czech Television published and presented their 6 hopefuls for the online national selection. Now, when the public online voting was finally over, the broadcaster revealed 10 names of the ex-Eurovision artists who formed the professional jury. The jury cast its votes and it was revealed just a few moments ago, that their winner is Mikolas Josef with the song Lie to Me with 68 points out of the possible total of 80 points – every member of the 10 piece jury gave out 8 points to the best song and then 6 to the second and 4 to 1 to the rest.
The rest of the ranking is yet unknown but it is expected to be released next Monday, 29th January, when also the results of the public voting should be out. It was also revealed that a total of 16 000 unique votes were sent through the official Eurovision app.
But who are the members of the international jury? Many are Eurovision stars from the last two Eurovision Song Contests!
Dami Im (Australia 2016)
Iveta Mukuchyan (Armenia 2016)
Jalisse (Italy 1997)
Liora (Israel 1995)
Nathan Trent (Austria 2017)
Naviband (Belarus 2017)
Norma John (Finland 2017)
Robin Bengtsson (Sweden 2017)
Sanja Vučić ZAA (Serbia 2016)
Sunstroke Project (Moldova 2010 & 2017)
According to the interviews with the jury members that were released on the official website of the broadcaster, we know who was also a favourite. Every juror was asked how they are satisfied with the finalists and all of them expressed their satisfaction with the diversity of music styles and also the quality of the songs. They were also asked who got their highest score (8 points). While some of them told that it is a top secret, some were more talkative and let us know part of their results. Mikolas was the best for Dami Im and Sanja Vučić. It may be expected that Sunstroke Project preferred Mikolas, but their highest score went surprisingly to Pavel Callta. Debbi was a favourite of Jalisse. Nathan Trent’s top 2 consisted of Mikolas and Debbi. Iveta Mukuchyan then commented on each of the finalists and then finished with the information that she decided between Mikolas and Doctor Victor when it came to the best one.
Who didn’t make it to the final 6?
The Czech finalists – Mikolas Josef, Eva Burešová, Pavel Callta, Debbi, Eddie Stoilow and Doctor Victor – are now impatiently waiting for next Monday. EuroVisionary already informed you about the messages of their songs last week. Before the announcement of their names, many names were rumored to be taking part. Most frequently it was Jakub Ondra with the song Reasons To Love You, who revealed himself that he is among the shortlisted artists. This was confirmed by the delegation after the press conference. But Jakub wasn’t the only one hoping to represent the Czech Republic in Lisbon. There was also Elis (Eliška Mrázová) who is not only a singer but also a composer of her own songs. And last but not least, Annabelle, who usually sings in French, had her song Septembre in the selection. Unfortunately, all these three artists were not lucky enough to get into the final 6, but, if the national final had more places, they would probably have made it, too. Hopefully, we will see them competing for the Czech Republic in the following years.
You can remind yourselves of the six finalists of the national selection, Eurovision Song CZ, in the recap video below.
Amazing and fantastic, or just simply the world’s most annoying song ever. People might disagree about the song, but yesterday we all talked about Whigfield, and it looks like it will take a while before Whigfield turns into Sannie, if ever.
Yesterday 10 acts were presented as participants for the 2018 Danish national selection, but a 47 year old woman who hasn’t had a hit for quite some years stole the show.
She is not even using the same name you once knew her as. And she splits us. Half of us thinks she is amazing, and probably just what Eurovision needs, while the other half is praying the world doesn’t once again fall for her singing what some describes as ‘the world’s most annoying song ever’.
If you are very young, you can be excused, but otherwise there is no way you haven’t heard Whigfield’s Saturday Night, unless your planet was outside our solar system, and even that might not have been far enough away. The song became an international smash hit of a size, very few Danish artists reach, or very few artists at all.
Whigfield earned a place in the Guinness book of Records as she with that same hit went straight into first position on the chats in the UK – as first female ever. And the Brits weren’t the only ones. 11 weeks as number one in Spain, and all over Europe, in Asia, in Australia, South America and Canada people felt the air getting hot on Saturday evenings.
Saturday Night is fantastic, or is it the world’s most annoying song ever? That depends on who you ask. Both opinions could be heard from fans reacting to her taking part in Melodi Grand Prix 2018. Yesterday almost everyone talked about her, many even listened to the song once again – and sang along to it. Aren’t you glad it is winter in Europe so your neighbours probably didn’t hear you during the “Da ba da dan dee dee dee da Nee na na na, be my baby”?
It will be Sannie in the Danish final, but for most of us it will take a lot more than a few weeks to see her as that, and not Whigfield. And it will require something really extraordinary to make sure it isn’t Saturday Night, we will also associate her with in the future.
Recently, she has released house music under her name Sannie, and though her Melodi Grand Prix entry is more pop, it felt natural for her to make the Danes see as Sannie, which is her name given by birth. But Sannie is Whigfield, and Whigfield is Sannie. The two are closely connected, and not even an Olympic sprinter can run fast enough to get away from Saturday Night.
So what’s the song Boys On Girls about? At the press conference yesterday, Sannie told in an interview to Eurosong.dk that the song was basically fully produced within five hours on what she describes as a magic day in the studio. It has been ready for a few years just waiting for the right moment – and the right platform to be released on. When she was asked to take part in the Danish final this years, she said, that she had just the right song ready.
To Good Evening Europe, Sannie revealed that the song is a sexy song, and that we will see a performance from her which is very different to what she have done before.
We are all looking forward to hear the ‘new’ song, but until then it we’ll keep singing along to Saturday Night, whether it is amazing, or simply plain annoying.
With more songs and performers released by delegations, line-ups and running orders set for National Finals, and the first details of the Semi Final draw coming out, it’s been a busy week for the Eurovision Song Contest.
Eurovision Insight Podcast: The Greatest Song Show On Earth
Another seven days of Eurovision action reported in the weekly Insight News podcast. This week memories of a caption, dreams of Duran Duran, and no Hugh Jackman; plus music from Conchita.
As the 2018 season builds up momentum, keep listening to the ESC Insight podcast for more Eurovision news, fun, and chat. 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.