ESC Insight

ESC Insight
15
December
2018

Newsletter: A New Season Begins…

Newsletter: A New Season Begins…

In this week’s newsletter, the first artist for Tel Aviv is confirmed, national selection lineups for France, Sweden and Australia are unveiled and Poland prepare to host the 2019 Junior Eurovision Song Contest. 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.

ESC Insight National Selection Playlist

So far, confirmed hopefuls for Eurovision 2019 have been released in Albania, Estonia, France, Hungary, Latvia and more. Here are a few selected highlights from what we’ve heard so far. Could any of them lift the trophy in Tel Aviv?

‘Ktheju tokës’, by Jonida Maliqi [Albania]

As has become tradition, Albania will become the first country to publically choose their song for Tel Aviv when Festivali i Këngës airs from 20-22 December. This moving entry from Jonida Maliqi is a step above the Albanian template for female-fronted power ballads, featuring interesting production choices and plaintive lyrics that reference the human impact of the country’s ongoing struggle with mass-emigration.

‘Soovide puu’, by Sandra Nurmsalu [Estonia]

The voice of Urban Symphony returns to Estonia’s Eesti Laul as a solo artist for the first time since 2013. A delicate ballad that makes the most of Nurmsalu’s crystalline vocal tones, Soovide puu may prove a little too subtle for Eurovision glory, but it’s a perfect soundtrack to a crisp winter’s day, and a welcome addition to one of Europe’s most reliably diverse national selections.

‘Hazavágyom’, by Leander Kills [Hungary]

Metal band Leander Kills have rapidly established themselves as major fan favourites after their previous appearances at Hungary’s A Dal national selection. Hazavágyom represents a change of pace for the group, incorporating a softer delivery and a notably folkier sound, while still retaining the group’s knack for strong, dramatic hooks. Will 2019 finally be their year?

‘Là-haut’, by Chimène Badi [France]

French national selection Destination Eurovision looks set to go from strength to strength in 2019, with a notable uptick in established stars compared to the 2018 edition. One of the biggest names on the list is Chimène Badi, who topped the French charts in 2003 with the ballad Entre nous and has been a reliable presence in the domestic charts ever since, with album sales topping 2.5 million. A midtempo stomper that mixes the classic French ballad style with some Adele-style grit, Là-haut is likely to be a frontrunner when Destination Eurovision airs in January.

‘Tautasdziesma by Dziļi Violets feat. Kozmens [Latvia]

You can always rely on Latvia to provide something completely different in their national selections. Kozmens – he of the moustache and impressive kilt – is probably best known to Eurovision fans as the man behind the iconic ‘Riga Beaver’. He’s shed his furry costume this year to contribute vocals to this oddball effort. It’s probably not competitive for Eurovision, but Latvia have made offbeat selections in the past, and they’d certainly stand out from the crowd with this…

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

12
December
2018

Eurovision Insight News Podcast: Tis The Season Of New Eurovision Songs

Eurovision Insight News Podcast: Tis The Season Of New Eurovision Songs
http://archive.org/download/escinsight_20181211_news_600/escinsight_20181211_news_600.mp3

With short lists, song snippets, and full playlists, the National Final season is gathering steam as the first major selection, Albania’s Festival i Kenges, approaches.

Eurovision Insight News Podcast: Tis The Season Of New Eurovision Songs

Junior Eurovision 2019 has a home, Alligators are out while Riga Beavers are in, and familiar names in Malta. Ewan Spence and the Insight team cover the latest news from the world of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019.

As we work through the first stages of the National Final season to select the performers for the Eurovision Song Contest 2019, remember you can stay up to date with all the Eurovision 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
December
2018

Your Three Minutes: The Wonders Of National Final Season

Your Three Minutes: The Wonders Of National Final Season

A Eurovision song that changed my perception of the Song Contest? With over 1,500 songs spanning well over half a century, how could I choose?

Would it be the prototypical ‘90s bop that I loved as a kid, with no realisation at the time that it was part of a larger, international telecast? How about the first song I heard live from the arena in rehearsals, where the colours seemed so much brighter and the bass so much stronger? The entries that sparked friendships? The ones that made me laugh, cry, or feel wistful?

No, I had to make things hard on myself and pick a song that didn’t even make it to Eurovision Song Contest in the first place.

A Decade Before Logo

As I’ve mentioned in my past writings for ESC Insight, I didn’t grow up with the luxury of watching the Eurovision Song Contest in America, and really only started to follow the Song Contest closely around 2005. My fandom kicked into high gear with the 2008 event, where Mor Ve Ötesi, Miodio, Ani Lorak, and Vânia Fernandes each grabbed my attention (and subsequently broke my heart when none of them took the trophy home). But even despite those brilliant acts, Eurovision was still just a one-week event, a few shows on a laggy live stream.

Moscow Olimpisky, Home of Eurovision 2009 (Image: Ewan Spence)

Moscow Olimpisky, Home of Eurovision 2009 (Image: Ewan Spence)

In preparation for Moscow 2009, I decided that I needed to go deeper. All I knew was that forty-odd nations took to the stage in May, but how did they get there? I had never delved into the world of National Finals, but I knew that there were stories and songs there that would never make it to the international level, and I knew there must have been a few gems hidden in far-flung National Selections.

A New Contest For A New Fan

After a few years of unfortunate results, the news that Estonian broadcaster ERR would be revamping their selection process, from Eurolaul to Eesti Laul, was intriguing. Would a competition to find a song for Estonia that would just happen to be presented on an international stage be more fruitful than a nation’s search for a Eurovision song? After ‘Leto Svet’, the only way forward was up, of course, but how much of an effect would a retooling of a selection process change the fate of a nation at the Eurovision Song Contest?

The question intrigued me.

Estonia takes to the stage at Eurovision 2009 (image: Ewan Spence)

Estonia takes to the stage at Eurovision 2009 (image: Ewan Spence)

Listening to the songs in contention that year, I had braced myself for an onslaught of pop much like what I had heard from the country at recent Eurovisions. ‘Let’s Get Loud’, ‘Through My Window’, and ‘Partners in Crime’ were… fine, I suppose, but certainly not in my personal wheelhouse, and not particularly innovative.

But as I queued up the list of songs on the roster for 2009, I saw the beginnings of some incredible things to come: a wide variety of genres, an equal split between English and Estonian, and some songs of truly great quality. As we now know, in the decade since Eesti Laul came on the scene, it’s not only created some impressive results for the country (including four Top Ten placements), but it’s gained a reputation for being one of the most innovative, diverse, and well-loved National Finals on the Eurovision calendar.

Reality-show winners, veteran acts, Eurovision alumni, cartoons, spirit animals, singlet-wearing hirsute punks…it all kicked off with a change in 2009.

While all eyes were on Urban Symphony’s stunning ‘Rändajad’ that year (and with good reason), it was that year’s runner-up, Traffic’s ‘See Päev‘, that really got to me. I loved ‘Rändajad’, and still listen to it often, but ‘See Päev‘ ticked all of my boxes. It reminded me a bit of all of the reasons why I loved ‘Deli’ in Belgrade the year before. A mid-tempo rock track, great vocals, an anthemic, yet accessible chorus… the song soared and swelled over its three minute run, opening up like a decanted wine.

Much like Mor ve Ötesi, it inspired me to research Traffic’s back catalogue, and even now, they’re one of my favourite Eurovision-tangential discoveries. Seeing them pop up in subsequent Eesti Laul shortlists (with 2012’s ’NASA’ and 2014’s stunning ‘Für Elise‘) is like reuniting with an old friend. Knowing that their songwriter and guitarist, Stig Rästa, has risen to the level of Eurovision royalty is nothing short of gratifying, especially considering that the first images I had of him were of a guitarist in the shadows, face barely visible under a mess of shaggy hair and a knit cap.

For me, ‘See päev’ is not only a great song, but it symbolizes a turning point in my own Eurovision journey. My first National Final experience, my first “if only it had made it to the Big Show” heartbreak, the first act that I followed from a domestic level to eventual Contest success (at least for Stig), and the first program that made me think about the inner workings of the show, how experimentation in formats can lead to changes in fortune. It was the pot of gold at the end of the exploratory rainbow in my first year of diving deeper into the Eurovision process, and set me on the path that I find myself on today, in terms of my relationship with the Contest.

As we move forward into the National Final Season for 2019, I hope the old guard and the new recruits to the Eurovision Song Contest can find their own ‘See päev’, and I hope it brings as much joy and enthusiasm to them as it has to me.

Categories: ESC Insight

03
December
2018

Eurovision Insight News Podcast: On The Road To Tel Aviv

Eurovision Insight News Podcast: On The Road To Tel Aviv
http://archive.org/download/escinsight_20181203_news_599/escinsight_20181203_news_599.mp3

Well Tel Aviv, Minsk has set a really high bar for you, what have you got? Over the next few months we’re going to find out, so let’s get started on the road to Eurovision 2019 with our first performer, more details on the National selections, hints about the tickets… and one other musical change in our latest Insight News podcast.

Eurovision Insight News Podcast: On The Road To Tel Aviv

The names for Melodifestivalen, the songs for Eesti Laul, and the kiss of death for Sanremo. Ewan Spence covers the latest news from the world of the Eurovision Song Contest and Tel Aviv 2019.

As we work through the first stages of the National Final season to select the performers for the Eurovision Song Contest 2019, remember you can stay up to date with all the Eurovision 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

26
November
2018

Eurovision Insight Podcast: The Final News From Minsk, Monday 26th November

Eurovision Insight Podcast: The Final News From Minsk, Monday 26th November
http://archive.org/download/escinsight_20181126_daily_598/escinsight_20181126_daily_598.mp3

Twenty songs… More than twenty stories… points… votes… implications…. complications… tension… excitement… and a very tired Ola Melzig. Junior Eurovision 2018 had it all. As we leave Minsk, let’s look back on a great Contest.

Eurovision Insight Podcast: The Final News From Minsk, Monday 26th November

That was the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2018. But before we all board our flights and head around the world to go home, let’s looks back with Ewan Spence, Sharleen Wright, Ben Robertson, and Richard Taylor.

As Junior Eurovision draws to a close, remember to stay up to date with all the Eurovision news by subscribing to the ESC Insight podcast. 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

26
November
2018

The Winner Of The Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2018…

The Winner Of The Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2018…

A record twenty participants gave the performance of their lives over the last two nights, but only one could claim the title!

After each countrys’ jury declaring their votes from 1 to 12 points, and the release of the combined public vote made by the official app, the 2018 Junior Eurovision Champion is Roksana from Poland.  The entry won the contest with an amazing final result of 215 points.

Rounding out this year’s medal podium are France for Silver and Australia with the Bronze.

Let the celebrations begin in Warsaw – congratulations to Poland!

Now we just await news of where we shall be heading for Junior Eurovision in 2019.  Stay tuned to ESC Insight for all the details once released.

Categories: ESC Insight

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