ESC Insight

ESC Insight

We Have Our First Ten Qualifiers: Semi Final 1 Results

We Have Our First Ten Qualifiers: Semi Final 1 Results

In addition to qualifying, the countries drew which half of the running order they would perform in.

  • First Half
    Greece, Cyprus, Czech, San Marino, and Slovenia (joining Germany).
  • Second Half
    Australia, Belarus, Estonia, Serbia, and Iceland (joining France, Israel, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom).

Reactions, in-depth analysis and more to follow.

Categories: ESC Insight


Spotter’s Guide: Eurovision 2019 – Semi Final One

Spotter’s Guide: Eurovision 2019 – Semi Final One

Linguistic Diversity

If you’re the kind of Eurovision fan who pines for the pre-1999 days when every country was forced to compete in their national language, tonight should prove to be an absolute goldmine. Performing in your mother tongue is well and truly back in fashion at Eurovision, and in this semi alone you can expect to hear songs in English, Georgian, Hungarian, Icelandic, Polish, Portuguese, Serbian and Slovene. A polyglot’s dream!

Tonal Shifts

You might want to fasten your seatbelt for tonight’s show, because the much discussed running order ‘sawtooth’ – in which songs with dissimilar vibes are paired up to keep the energy levels feeling fresh – is in full effect, resulting in some truly jarring shifts in tone. From Hungary’s mournful folk ballad segueing into a typically manic Belarusian dance-pop effort with kitchen-sink staging to Australia’s airborne fairy queen being practically chased off the stage by Iceland’s terrifying BDSM punks, there’s a lot to take in tonight, and not much time for a breather. Brace yourself for fireworks!

One of these things is not like the other… (

Eye-Catching Costumes

Speaking of those naughty Icelanders, the costumes this year are as delightfully bold and eccentric a batch as we can remember seeing in recent years. In addition to Australia’s Kate Miller-Heidke doing her best impersonation of Glinda the Good Witch from Wicked, Poland, Serbia and Greece are also pinning their hopes on a statement frock, while Portugal’s Conan Osiris is rocking an oversized kimono that wouldn’t look out of place on a Paris runway. Meanwhile, Cyprus are following Iceland’s example with a dominatrix effect, Finland’s Sebastian Rejman is the visual manifestation of a mid-life crisis in his alarming two-tone skinny jeans, and Belgium looks like he’s just been literally parachuted into the arena. It’s one way to skip the airport queues I guess…

Serhat’s Revenge

From Turkish quiz show host to instant Eurovision icon, San Marino’s Serhat went on quite a journey in 2016 – one that was unfortunately cut short when his remixed disco anthem I Didn’t Know failed to qualify for the final. This year he’s back again and fully embracing the camp, with his maddeningly catchy Say Nah Nah Nah receiving the honour of closing the Semi. Can he overcome stiff competition, probable jury drag and a near total lack of stage presence that almost becomes compelling in its own surreal way, to finally get his revenge? Predictions are mixed here in the hall, but even the most hardened cynic would struggle to begrudge him his overdue moment in the sun. Go for it Serhat!

The man, the legend… (EBU/Eurovision)

Eurovision Legends

Madonna’s planned appearance at the Grand Final on Saturday may still be up in the air, but for this Semi final we’re due to be treated to a double helping of groundbreaking divadom, as past Israeli winners Netta and Dana International take to the stage. Last year’s winner will be reprising Toy with an upgraded stage show and a small army of backing dancers, while for reasons best known to herself, Dana International will be performing a cover of Bruno Mars’ ubiquitous chart hit Just the Way You Are. Where’s Charlotte Perrelli when you need her?

Katie Boyle?

Speaking of groundbreaking divas, the old school fans in the Press Centre were delighted last night by the inevitable ‘Eurovision through the years’ montage, which prominently featured the UK’s much missed four-time Contest hostess Katie Boyle. Now, this occurs during the part of the show when the BBC generally tends to cut away to some pre-filmed skits or interviews, so we hope the little tribute isn’t missed by UK viewers. Let us know if you spot it tonight.

Stay tuned to ESC Insight for a thorough post-mortem on the results online and on the ESC Insight podcast. Check out the latest version of the ESC Insight newsletter here, or subscribe here to receive regular updates direct to your inbox. 

For all the latest Eurovision-related news and analysis, you can also follow ESC Insight on Facebook and Twitter. 

Categories: ESC Insight


Who Are Hatari? What Is Going On? What Are Iceland Doing?

Who Are Hatari? What Is Going On? What Are Iceland Doing?

The big question of the Eurovision 2019 season has been one that I think is both absolutely vital and completely obvious What is the deal with Hatari?

We Are Saying What Everyone Is Screaming

Art reflects the times. And these are wild and upsetting times, where it’s hard to see how we’ll make it through the next few decades without global thermonuclear war, catastrophic climate change, or a deadly outbreak of authoritarian fascism.

So what art do you make to express the fact that complacency is death, silence is complicity, and we’re all chained to a system that degrades and impoverishes us in order to make a small number of people meaninglessly rich?

What art do you make if you were born in the late 90s, and you’ve basically been raised by irony, meme culture and rolling news into a world that is on fire? What lyrics do you write when your biggest influences are Peaches and Noam Chomsky? What does the very last band in the world sound like?

When the world is flooded with images of destruction and chaos, this is the art we make when we fear are about to destroy ourselves.

Artifice And Facade

If you’re reading this because you just saw Hatari perform at the first Semi Final at Eurovision, and you’re confused and troubled by what you saw, let’s settle the basics first:

  • No, they aren’t Satanists.
  • No, they aren’t fascists.
  • No, those two aren’t a couple.
  • No, they don’t really want hatred to prevail.

What you just saw was some performance art, a slice of theatre, a 3 minute musical about how the world could end if we succumb to hatred. It was supposed to be alarming. If you were emotionally perturbed by it, it worked.

Hatari are a multimedia art group, centered on the apocalyptic techno music made by Matthías (the terrifying shouting dictator), Klemens (the short blonde, mulletty singer), and Einar (the masked, hammer-wielding figure of doom at the back) but encompassing visual arts, graphic design, dance, fashion, public relations pranks, fictitious beverages and a great deal of theatre. To name but a few things.

The group have created an alternate reality — a mythos if you like — around themselves. Their world-building is detailed, largely internally consistent, and they are using it for extensive storytelling. That’s how you know it is theatre. What has constantly amused me throughout Hatari’s Eurovision campaign is the lack of willingness to accept that what is being sung in a pop context is not necessarily the opinion of the singer. With Hatari, we’ve got to start to distinguish between the character and the artist. Everyone is acting. Everyone is wearing a mask — not just Einar.

We have seen these tropes before. They are not entirely new. We saw them in acts such as the comedy trio Doug Anthony All Stars from the early 90s and the underground anonymous techno group TISM – both hailing from Australia. We can also see traces of Hatari in group efforts such as Monty Python and The League of Gentlemen: both groups of wide-ranging talents, character and styles of performance all contributing to a greater piece of art.

Being a theatre performance, there’s all sorts of elements involved in making a Hatari show, including the production design, the costuming, the music, and the choreography. For the world building to work, every one of these elements has to be extreme, but also harmonious with the others. It seems like it’s quite an extra way of going about being a cult punk band, but when acts participating in the Song Contest think through the whole package on this level, that usually bodes quite well.

There’s a bit of an onboarding experience for new listeners to Hatari. You’re probably going through an emotional trajectory as described in this page scanned from a copy of the Svikamylla Employee handbook that I found in a bin on Laugavegur.

Onboarding to art (Laugavegur)

If you’re not used to a growled vocal or an extremely tough beat or the aesthetics of BDSM or industrial metal, then we need to go through a few things to get you oriented and relaxed before you can enjoy the world of Hatari. Like all good cinematic universes, we start off with the origin story.

Rule One: Hatari Lies

Hatari constantly lie about their origin story. I have heard half a dozen versions, but my favourite one was ‘Matthias and Klemens were taking a walk around Reykjavik in 2015 at sunset and we were thinking about the rise of populism and we were overcome with emotion.’ It doesn’t actually explain how or why this turned into a band, but it is sufficiently motivating. At least until you think about it.

The first recorded transmission from Planet Hatari was actually back in 2015, but the core trio in have known each other a long time – Matthias and Klemens are first cousins and grew up together in Reykjavik. At some point in the noughties, Klemens and Einar’s civil & diplomatic service-connected families both relocated to Brussels, where they studied at the International School. As far back as 2011 (they were 17 and 19  at the time) they were making music together in a project called ‘Far From Sea’ – no material has survived from this project. With their international baccalaureates complete, eventually Klemens & Einar both went back to Iceland and continued their musical collaboration with Kjurr, a moderately successful indie trio. Musically, it’s okay but not earth-shaking. It’s what everyone’s first bands sounded like in 2013.

With drummer Sólrún Mjöll Kjartansdóttir completing the line-up, Kjurr went through many of the rites of passage for members of the Icelandic music scene, including playing Iceland Airwaves and taking part in Iceland Music Experiment.

At some point in 2014, Kjurr stopped being a going concern. Klemens and Einar moved on to form Hatari with Matthias. While they’d been away in Brussels, Matthias had been studying Education and Drama and had started reporting for RÚV and Morgunblaðið. Nothing much happens in the Hatari-verse until the end of 2015, when they play a couple of small gigs and Odyr appears on a doom-laden compilation album Hid Myrka Man.

It’s not until Iceland Airwaves 2016 when things start to catch fire. This video captures what is supposedly their 6th ever gig, where the band are giving it full intensity in the lounge of the KEX Hostel, even as confused punters enter the venue from behind Einar’s drum setup. The early Hatari look played much more into a pseudo-fascist uniform aesthetic and there’s only really Einar’s mask that continues on from here.

Haukur Valdimarsson of up-and-coming Icelandic band Blödmor says:

“I remember when I saw HATARI for the first time. It was at a festival back in 2017. At first they looked very strange to me. Loud and heavy techno with growls was not exactly the thing I was expecting. But after seeing them multiple times I began to love the whole idea about the band and their awesome sound. When they released their EP ‘Neysluvara’ I completely fell in love.”

Neysluvara‘, or ‘Consumer Products’ is an EP of 5 songs, and was released on the band’s own Svikamylla (‘web of lies’) label. At this point, they’d started to appear on cultural segments on RÚV. Check them out in a shopping mall being deliberately weird and unhelpful, but setting out the key tenets of the Hatari plan: to dismantle capitalism from inside if possible, to expose the relentless scam of everyday life, and to draw aside the veil of irony and ambiguity in art.

So far so pretentious, you might think. But why can’t political music be danceable? Why can’t we use humour to send a serious message? Why can’t you do satire in an apparently shoplifted adidas tracksuit?

Sex, Contrast, And Balance

Talking to old school pre-Eurovision Hatari fans, and looking at archive footage, it seems like Hatari only really became Hatari when Klemens started getting sexy. Punters at their gig at Iceland Airwaves 2017 recall instant, magnetic fascination with him. That’s not to say that Matthias’s posturing and Einar’s mysterious presence don’t feature in people’s sensory memories, but there is a sense that when Klemens started really feeling himself and leaning into that subby and unconventionally masculine vibe, some sort of a balance was formed.

Hatari are made of contrasts. Matthías and Klemens are a study in duality – one dances, one remains stiff, one is dominant, one submits, one is harsh-voiced and one floats high and smooth. In Tel Aviv, they’re complying with the Eurovision process but bristling and pushing against it. They’re adjacent to pop but they’re also very, very much not. They’re spiky on the outside and soft on the inside. With the addition of Astros, Solbjorts and Andrean as dancers and backing singers, they’ve got someone for everyone to look at with hearteyes. They are the living embodiment of ‘get you a band that can do both’.

The Poem Is A Dead Art Form

So you just got into Hatari – let’s take a look at the components of their sound so you can expand your playlist beyond the seven officially released Hatari songs. Part of the joke of Hatari is that they’re hard to categorise sonically (to the extent that Reykjavik Grapevine never describes them the same way twice) but there are some elements that we can definitely pin down.

The synths and beats used in Hatari’s records lie somewhere between industrial music (sounding like clanging metal, machines grinding and sparks flying) and electroclash (sexy, decadent but lo-fi dance music from the early noughties). It seems like Einar is responsible for the production of these beats, and you can hear a cleaned up version of his electronica on the most recent album by his other band Vök. Without the vocals, the Hatari sound isn’t actually too far from more mainstream Nordic staples like Robyn and The Knife.

Klemens gives a post-rock vocal –  a high falsetto drenched in reverb and delay to allow him to create harmonies and suspensions with his own vocal line. You’d definitely hear something like this in Sigur Ros, but this has got a bit more oomph to it. Matthías’s vocals are a barked metal growl. I’ve heard things just like it from extremely heavy bands like Rammstein, Napalm Death, Electric Wizard and a hundred Nordic nihilist metal bands of varying microgenres.

In terms of melodic hooks and the key change they brought in especially for ‘Hatrid mun sigra‘, the band claim to be following on in the tradition of ABBA. Maybe that’s not too far off as each of their songs has hooks throughout, even if they’re growled or shouted, but their semitone up keychange for Eurovision is certainly not lifted from ‘Waterloo’ which definitely starts and ends in the same key. When challenged, Klemens says ‘It’s a very subtle key-change’ and smiles winningly. Klemens distorts the truth, of course. The key-change is not subtle: it comes with a massive pyroblast and a dramatic drop to his knees, and the band has certainly used that semi-tone lift on the last chorus as a signifier that this song is for Eurovision. Adding in a keychange is quite a good way for a genre act to say ‘we know of your customs’ to a Eurovision audience. AWS went for it to great effect in 2018.

As far as Hatari’s overall musical attitude, you can also detect traces of Peaches (transgressive genderfucking electro) Depeche Mode (80s synth favourites occasionally playing with BDSM imagery) and Laibach (sarcastic, dead-eyed, highly political industrial music)

But what draws me to them is how closely they appear to be sticking to a plan for pop success laid out in the 1980s by The KLF – an art/novelty pop/rave/sinister happenings group formed by Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty. Most of what that band did was designed to attract attention, annoy people and get people asking the question ‘What is the deal with the KLF?’. The KLF story culminates with Drummond and Cauty burning £1 million, deleting all their records and appearing at the Brits in an extremely noisy and terrifying collaboration with Extreme Noise Terror.

I’ve often wondered how the KLF would have tackled Eurovision. I guess now I know.

Euroblindness And Complicity

So how do we get from a deliberately difficult cult band to Eurovision provocateurs? Going back to Haukur Valdimarsson:

“Back in December HATARI announced that they were going to quit so I was quick to get a ticket to their final show. A long time had passed since the last time I saw them. It is safe to say that they fulfilled my expectations. Their whole show had improved a lot since the last time I saw them. I was a bit skeptical about the whole idea of them calling it quits, so I was not very surprised when I saw that they were competing at the Icelandic Eurovision qualifiers.”

For a while, it looked like the creative community were dead set against Iceland sending a representative to compete in a contest hosted by Israel. With a small and interconnected music scene, a significant boycott of Songvakeppnin could have reduced an already limited pool of artists for the Icelandic broadcaster to pull from. It seems like Hatari’s participation in Songvakeppnin was already a done deal during their much-publicised farewell gig. The artists competing against them weren’t able to commandeer as much publicity as Hatari during the run up to Songvakeppnin. The Hatari stunts included announcing they’d signed up a conservative Christian figure who’d been loudly critical of them as a spokesperson, baking cakes in what can only be described as a deliberately normal manner, dancing with the enchanted children of Reykjavik, and passive-aggressively turning up to the Laugardalshöll Arena with a trailer twice the size of their nearest rival’s.

Hatari are trying to solve the problem of participation and protest within a contest that strongly believes that it is an apolitical event. The stunt of disbanding Hatari for failing to dismantle capitalism by a reasonable deadline marked a turning point. If you’re going to sell out, sell out for an idea, don’t sell out for money. Part of the Hatari plan leans into their increasingly extreme aesthetic: to use the juxtaposition of shocking counter-cultural imagery against banal pop to alarm and discomfort. They are using their credibility and constructed personas to test the limits of the rules and reveal the absurdity of insisting on the apolitical nature of an event laced with geopolitics, soft politics and historical score-settling disguised as innocent songs about family history.

If you are an artist of conscience participating in a contest held in a country that has practices you find abhorrent, you know you can’t sit and say nothing, but do you know what you can say? The rules are pretty clear: you cannot politicise or instrumentalise the contest. But we’ve had songs in favour of equal marriage, songs raising awareness of genocide, and from Israel themselves, songs about ending the conflict between Israel and Palestine. What we need to know is where do we draw the line? What constitutes politicisation? And does that line have more to do with what would embarrass the hosts or the EBU than a specifically quantifiable rule.

Artists like Hatari have realised that the line in the rules about politicising and instrumentalising the contest is porous. Provided you’re compliant and entertaining in other ways, you can push things quite far in terms of political messaging. And also a well-timed slap on the wrist from the EBU can get you into the headlines on the day of competition, which might be crucial. I think that stopping Salvador from wearing his SOS REFUGEES jumper backstage was a poor move on the part of the EBU – and that it allowed the Portuguese delegation to capitalise on their singer being censored when trying to raise awareness of an issue that shames all of Europe.

The Icelandic and international pressure to withdraw from the competition is real and understandable. It’s incredibly uncomfortable to have the contest adjacent to the occupation of Palestine but it’s outrageous not to be able to talk about it. By bringing along their own semi-independent and possibly-previously-fake media outlet ‘Iceland Music News’, Hatari have been able to amplify messages from activists on behalf of Palestine in between contributing to their own myth-making.

A Question Of Lust, A Question Of Trust

As a delegation, you can only walk a tightrope like being political at Eurovision when everyone trusts one another. One of the things that people don’t often realise about BDSM is that it’s about trust and interdependence in action. You trust each other with your bodies, trust in each other’s vulnerabilities and needs. You acknowledge that you’re dependent on each other and that interdependence is what unlocks the experience.

While the band aren’t actually lifestyle BDSM folks, something that is very obvious is how much the whole Hatari ensemble trust and rely on each other. In their media clips, they behave like a very close and long-running improv troupe. There are levels of trust – Matti and Klemens trust each other physically and artistically, otherwise their effortless stage interplay and offstage demeanour wouldn’t work. Einar trusts that Matti and Klemens will hold the front of the stage so he can menace people from the back, and they trust that he’ll continue to supply the rhythm. Astros, Solbjort and Andrean trust in the music and the band trust in their physical commitment to the piece.

What’s been interesting to see throughout the Icelandic campaign is how much the wider delegation trust in the plan. Everyone all the way up to the Head of Delegation is part of a secret gameplan – and they’re enjoying themselves tremendously. They’ve all spent most of the Eurovision fortnight wearing Team Hatari tracksuits. How do you get that level of buy-in from a team? How does a delegation achieve this?

Eurovision has also given the group a platform to complete onboarding of delegations into the narrative, from Australia’s Kate Miller-Heidke proclaiming on video that she is drawn to and repelled by the group in equal measure, to Darude from Finland freely admitting the political nature of his entry to the contest.

Yeah, But What Does It All Mean?

What does any of this mean? Life is a relentless scam. Escape from the system is impossible. But revolution starts with imagining another way.

Selling Out, Then What?

Regardless of the result, participating in Eurovision has given Hatari an opportunity to go from a critically acclaimed and award-winning cult band in a highly concentrated local scene to a phenomenon playing their game on a much larger scale while gathering seriously committed international fans.

What remains is how far this game now develops – both for the rest of the contest week and for the future.  What does selling out look like when it takes you 4 years to get round to selling merchandise on your website? What will the outcome of their promised documentary filmed in Israel be exactly? Will the promised album release come in September? Will they do the worldwide festival circuit? Or will they just simply vanish and reappear in 18 months as children’s TV presenters?

We are on this journey, along for the ride with Hatari in the driver’s seat, and it’s going to be a lot of fun arriving at the final destination.

Categories: ESC Insight


How To Win Eurovision 2019: The Paths To Victory

How To Win Eurovision 2019: The Paths To Victory

Who’s going to win this year’s Eurovision Song Contest? Although opinions are consolidating, there is still no clear front runner in the community. How will the leading songs gather enough points to win the Song Contest? What strengths can be magnified, and what weaknesses can be hidden to reach the winning post.

Where Is The Winning Post?

A quick recap of the basic principle of winning the Eurovision Song Contest: you score more points than anyone else, and it is yours. With the Jury scores and Televote scores no longer connected, both the Semi Finals and the Grand Final are effectively two legs of a competition. A point in the jury is the same as the point in the televote.

Last year I theorised that the winning mark was fifty percent of the available points .. plus 1. Since 2009, only one winner (‘Running Scared’) has fallen below this mark. Interestingly, 2012-2017 saw the second-place songs also passing this winning line. Last year saw ‘Toy’ sneak past the winning line of 505 with 529 points.

Following the same rule of thumb, I’ve set this year’s winning line at 481 points.

Paths To Victory, Margin of Victory

Paths To Victory, Margin of Victory (2009-2017)

Now we have the mark, where are countries looking to gather their points?

Looking For Balance

If you want a straightforward strategy, then look for 240 points on each night as the way forward: that works out at 6 points per jury and 6 points per televote (televoters have a maximum of 20 votes to dole out). An entry that has something memorable, that makes very few mistakes, will capture enough attention in people’s personal rankings that both jury members and televoters will give it something in the mix.

For me that country is Switzerland’s Luca Hänni and ‘She Got Me’. This entry has just the right mix of engagement and hook-laden melody for the jury, and a modern sound and clean staging for the televoters. The big problem with this strategy is that if another entry blows away either the jury or the televoters but also picks up enough votes from the other side, then the balanced approach has no way to counter this.

The Traditional Jury Approach

Up until 1996, the only approach to scoring your points was to appeal to the juries more than any other song. Strictly speaking, winning every douze from a jury is not enough in 2019 but it will bring in around seventy percent of the winning line – around 340 points this year – and that leaves you needing 140 or so from the televote.

Juries tend to listen more to a song than watch the spectacle, so a strong voice is vital – but so is a voice that can do more than just sing the lyrics. The juries respond to a voice that can tell the emotional story behind the song.

There’s one 2019 song that is clearly going for the jury votes: the haunting melancholy of Duncan Laurence and ‘Arcade’. Yes he still has to look down the camera on the night to get that final connection, but if Duncan can manage the right level of puppy dog eyes and still sing like a fragile hero, then the jury points will roll in with enough backup from the televoters to push him over the line.

The Traditional Televote Approach

Generally speaking, televoters will look for spectacle and emotional connection. The easiest way to create an emotional connection is with a known quantity and a star name that viewers are going to vote for almost automatically.

This year there is no bigger star power in competition than Russia’s Sergey Lazarev. He is a widely known quantity, with multiple albums sold, countless downloads, and many TV appearances. The audiences and his fan base in Eastern Europe are primed to support him and producer Philipp Kirkorov. All that and an ambitious multi-mirror staging suggest that the delegation are chasing hard for televotes.

But if you’re relying on gimmicks to swing you into first place, let’s look elsewhere.

Flying Off The Gimmick Handle

For many delegations, the ‘vision’ in Eurovision means putting on a three minute visual feast that simply cannot be forgotten. The delegations hope that this sensory overload is so memorable that the jury and the televoters will feel struck by a sense of such overpowering awe that they feel compelled to give the entry a high mark. In a sense this is a mix of the balanced approach and the televoter approach. Get ready for something that will show up in clip shows for decades to come alongside the phrase ‘that’s so Eurovision’.

Step forward, Australia’s Kate Miller-Heidke and ‘Zero Gravity’. You’ve got the technicality of popera mixed with the visual assault of Cirque Du Soleil. You can’t help but remember it. The trick is to convert that jaw-dropping moment to points.

Aim Low & Achieve Your Goals

Never forget that the Eurovision Song Contest is still a competitive event despite its lofty public service goals. While many of the approaches outlined work the ‘score as many points as you can’ approach, there is another way to achieve victory – assuming that you have already scored all the points you can and make no mistakes during the presentation. The Aim Low & Achieve Your Goals strategy requires a country’s delegation to perform at its best for multiple years, to have an aura of ‘champion’ around it, and to actually have the songwriting and visual skills to pull this off.

Step forward Sweden, the ultimate ‘no mistakes’ countryWith the final of Melodifestivalen so close to the ‘submit your song and staging’ deadline set by the EBU, you have 28 songs that have completed staging concepts for the big night in May (although realistically you have to think that six or so songs are regarded as main contenders and have an extra file marked ‘Eurovision’).

Sweden steps up every year, declares that it is ready to win, and presents a fully realised vision, daring people to find something wrong with it and mark it down. Many do not. This year John Lundvik’s ‘Too Late For Love’ could snatch the trophy – almost by default.

The Alternative Submarine

Now then we come to one of the trickiest strategies to pull off: sit quietly in the background and build up a story that will ignite in the mainstream media in the days before the Grand Final. When that happens, and every news editor asks what the story of Eurovision will be, the answer will be this delegation.

In previous years much of this has been in plain sight – the story of Jamala’s grandparents, Salvador’s ‘reality TV show’ styled journey, or the empowerment of Netta’s ‘Toy’ paired with the #metoo movement. Capture the world’s attention at just the right moment before the start of the Contest, and you’ll explode through the surface and rocket to the top of the leaderboard.

This is where Hatari comes in. The Icelandic band is one of the few entries that is feeding the press machine every day during the two weeks on the ground in Tel Aviv. Assuming they qualify from Tuesday night’s first Semi Final, every photo editor needing an establishing image is going to pick Hatari, every columnist looking for the performer addressing the politics of holding Eurovision in Israel is going to quote Hatari, and anyone wanting to know which is the ‘utterly bonkers’ act is going to be told Hatari.

And that’s before we get to the rising tide of support in the underground music forums and alt magazines that are reminding everyone that ‘our team’ needs help on Saturday.

Path To Victory

There is still no consensus on who will lift the trophy on Saturday night. This year’s competition in Tel Aviv has become one of the most open contests this decade. There are many paths to victory but only one will be successful. Which delegation will get it right this year?

Categories: ESC Insight


Eurovision Insight Podcast: Semi Final 1 Commentary 2019

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Semi Final 1 Commentary 2019

The first big live show of the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest is almost here, which means its time for the ESC Insight Alternative Commentary ‘Riff’ Track for the show. Having spent the 2019 Season with ESC Insight, why not join us for the final step as seventeen countries sing for the opportunity to appear in Saturday night’s Grand Final.

You’ll be able to watch the show on your national broadcaster (or head over to for the free live stream without a commentator).

For a million reasons, legal, technical or otherwise, we can’t automatically sync up with the live broadcast, so  you need to do a little bit of work. Grab the MP3, cue it up in your audio player of choice, be it portable on headphones, or on your computer or tablet. Feel free to start listening whenever you want, but starting five minutes before show starts is just about enough – more makes it comforable.

I’ll remind you in the show, but when you hear the beep, you pause the track, and start up again when our hosts say “let the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 begin!” 

Enjoy! And you can still follow me real time on Twitter for updates direct from Tel Aviv and the Contest.

Eurovision 2019 Podcast: Semi Final 1 Commentary

Ellie Chalkley take you though the first semi final of Eurovision 2098. Press play before the show starts, and don’t forget to pause when you hear the beep!

You can stay up to date with The ESC Insight Podcast by subscribing to the RSS feed for all the shows, or use iTunes to get the show automatically downloaded to your computer if that’s your thing.

Categories: ESC Insight


Eurovision Insight Podcast: Daily News From Tel Aviv, Tuesday 14th May

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Daily News From Tel Aviv, Tuesday 14th May

Its definitely too early to win the Eurovision Song Contest, but after the Jury Show of the first Semi Final, it could be we’ve seen the best scoring chance for some songs pass them by and they are already half way to Tel Aviv airport. Let’s look back over the first seventeen countries looking for points in 2019.

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Daily News From Tel Aviv, Monday 13th May

Looking back at the jury show for  Semi Final One with the ESC Insight team discussing the first time we kept score in Tel Aviv.

With Ewan Spence and Sharleen Wright.

With the live shows ready to rock and roll, stay up to date with all the Eurovision discussions by listening to the ESC Insight podcasts. 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

<<  1 2 3 [45 6 7 8  >>  
SSL Certificate