ESC Insight

ESC Insight
18
April
2019

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

Eurovision Insight News Podcast: She’s Playing That Song Again
http://archive.org/download/escinsight_20190417_news_623/escinsight_20190417_news_623.mp3

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: ESC Insight

18
April
2019

Newsletter: What To Expect From The Eurovision 2019 Stage…

Newsletter: What To Expect From The Eurovision 2019 Stage…

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

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

Remix Roundup – Alternative Versions Of The Class Of 2019

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

Armenia | Srbuk – Walking Out (Piano Version)

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

Israel | Kobi – Home (DJ PM Remix)

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

Italy | Mahmood – Soldi (Benny Benassi Remix)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: ESC Insight

11
April
2019

Eurovision Insight News Podcast: Start Counting Down The Previews

Eurovision Insight News Podcast: Start Counting Down The Previews
http://archive.org/download/escinsight_20190408_news_621/escinsight_20190408_news_621.mp3

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

Eurovision Insight News Podcast: Start Counting Down The Previews

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

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

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

Categories: ESC Insight

07
April
2019

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

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

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

Minor Tweaks

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

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

All Change, But Not Quite Yet

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

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

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

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

Shake It Up & Add Spikes

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

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

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

Go Internal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: ESC Insight

04
April
2019

Eurovision Insight News Podcast: A Eurovision Cafe

Eurovision Insight News Podcast: A Eurovision Cafe
http://archive.org/download/escinsight_20190401_news_619/escinsight_20190401_news_619.mp3

Not long until the preview shows begin (Amsterdam’s Eurovision in Concert starts this weekend) so let’s catch up on the world of the Eurovision Song Contest!

Eurovision Insight News Podcast: Where’s The News?

The cafe that never was, the Nordics that always are, and the curtain rises in Amsterdam. Plus a Eurovision Thought from Gateway 97.8’s David Murphy. Ewan Spence and the ESC Insight team cover the latest news from the world of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019.

Follow these links to find out more about Eurovision in Concert, London Eurovision Party, Riga’s Eurovision PreParty, Moscow’s Eurovision Party, Spain’s Preview Party, and Glasgow’s Ne Party Pas Sans Moi.

As the delegations prepare for May, you can 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

02
April
2019

Newsletter: New Rules and Revamps…

Newsletter: New Rules and Revamps…

Also in this week’s newsletter, past Eurovision winners prepare for a special concert in Tel Aviv, Switzerland continue to rise up the bookmakers’ rankings and we round up the best ESC Insight articles from the past month.

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

Revamp Roundup – Perfecting The Entries For Tel Aviv

With National Selection Season now officially wrapped up, the 41 contenders in place to battle for this year’s Eurovision trophy are all in the public domain. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the artists are quite finished tinkering with them. Several entries have been subtly re-worked or entirely re-recorded in hopes of bolstering their chances in Tel Aviv. Here are some of the most recent revamps to be released.

Like It‘, by Zena (Belarus)

The studio version of this year’s Belarusian entry is considerably more polished than the live performance, revealing a surprisingly strong, modern pop song that pundits may just be underestimating. Whatever happens in Tel Aviv, this is one of the most assured entries Belarus has put together since joining the contest.

That Night‘, by Carousel (Latvia)

Latvia’s soulful country entry has received a very subtle re-recording since winning Supernova 2019, giving it a richer and more polished musical backing. The song remains un-fancied by bookmakers, but perhaps its low-key charms will prove more attractive to voters on the night…

Keep On Going‘, by Oto Nemsadze (Georgia)

One of the last songs to be selected this year, Georgia’s entry from Oto Nemsadze received a belated studio release last week. Despite the new English title, the song remains in the Georgian language. It’s still a rank outsider to qualify, but stranger things have happened…

 ‘Kruna‘, by Nevena Božović (Serbia)

The addition of some classic Balkan strings gives Serbia’s 2019 entry a more traditional feel. They tend to do well with this kind of thing, so don’t be surprised to see Kruna in the mix on finals night.

Sebi‘, by Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl (Slovenia)

The ‘Dare to Dream’ mix of Slovenia’s melancholy ballad updates the backing track and brings the runtime down to a Eurovision-friendly three minutes. Fortunately, none of the moody, lovelorn atmosphere has been lost in translation.

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

Categories: ESC Insight

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