ESC Insight

ESC Insight

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #2

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #2

Tucked away in a tiny corner of Oslo is this week’s edition of Juke Box Jury. The sun has set, the candles are lit, and as the rest of the ESC Insight team take over EscXtra’s livestream, the next batch of hits, misses, and maybes are being decided.

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #2
with Ellie Chalkley (Listen Outside) and Wiv Kristiansen (EscXtra).

Greece: Oneiro, by Yianna Terzi.
Germany: You Let Me Walk Alone, by Michael Schulte.
United Kingdom: Storm, by SuRie.
San Marino: Who We Are, by Jessika, ft Jenifer Brening.
Spain: Tu Canción, by Alfred & Amaia.

Don’t miss an episode of the Eurovision Insight podcast by subscribing to the RSS feed dedicated to the podcasts. iTunes users can find us in the iTunes Store and get the show automatically downloaded to your computer.

Categories: ESC Insight


Newsletter: Early Favourites Emerge As Final Songs For Lisbon Go Public

Newsletter: Early Favourites Emerge As Final Songs For Lisbon Go Public

Eurovision betting markets can be a tricky beast – often a great indicator of which entries have momentum heading into The Contest, but never immune to an upset. Remember when Amaury Vassili had it all sewn in 2011, Aram MP3 was the one to beat in 2014 and last year’s contest in Kyiv was going to be little more than an extended coronation for Francesco Gabbani?

In this week’s newsletter, we bring you an update on some of Portugal’s plans for the trio of shows in May, Alexander Rybak’s ambitions to become the new Johnny Logan and details of the final official ticket release for those who are still hoping to see the Contest live this year.

In the meantime, here are some of the favourites to follow in Salvador Sobral’s footsteps according to the bookies…

Israel: Netta – Toy

A frenetic dance-pop workout that takes full advantage of Next Star for Israel winner Netta Barzilai’s tongue-twisting vocal abilities, this thoroughly modern confection is as narrow as 2/1 for victory with some bookies.

Estonia: Elina Nechayeva – La Forza

Elina swept to a commanding victory at Eesti Laul this year, leading to a drastic shortening of her odds to bring Estonia their long awaited second Contest win. Opera entries have had mixed fortunes at Eurovision in the past, but Il Volo won the televote by a considerable margin in 2015. If this catches the same audience – and also wins over the juries – we could be back in Tallinn next year.

Czech Republic: Mikolas Josef – Lie To Me

A victory for Czech Republic would represent a huge turnaround for a country that has only previously made one appearance in the Grand Finals out of six attempts. But Mikolas Josef’s self-penned groove has proven a huge YouTube hit and currently sits at third with the bookies. Will we be in Prague next year – and will the reaction in Czech Republic be one of elation or bemusement?

Australia: Jessica Mauboy – We Got Love

After a vocally shaky interval performance in 2014, Australian superstar Jessica Mauboy has plenty to prove with her return to Eurovision as a bona fide competitor. This uplifting dance-pop song should be a huge hit in the Euroclub, but will it translate into the points required for a win? The bookmakers certainly fancy her chances, with Australia currently in 4th position with odds as narrow as 11/1.

Bulgaria: Equinox – Bones

They made a spectacular comeback in Stockholm and gave Salvador a strong fight for the crown in Kyiv – can Bulgaria ride their upward momentum to their first victory this year? You’d be hard pressed to find a country that wants it more, and while odds have drifted a little since Bulgarian-American collective Equinox presented their song, they’re still top five with most bookmakers.

Stay tuned next week for more updates over the coming weeks, including more details of the Lisbon shows, the inevitable wave of revamps and remixes and reports from the annual pre-concerts in London, Amsterdam, Tel Aviv and more…

The full online version of the ESC Insight newsletter is available here. You can also subscribe here to receive the newsletter 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


Eurovision Insight Podcast: We’ll Always Have Ida

Eurovision Insight Podcast: We’ll Always Have Ida

The National Final season draws to a close. From 10,507 submissions to 696 televised songs, we have our final forty-three songs to take to Lisbon. Let’s round up the last seven days of news, enjoy a momentary pause, and then power through to Portugal!

Eurovision Insight Podcast: We’ll Always Have Ida

The fairytale returns, a rush of edited songs, and we’re off to the Portuguese Ministry of Defence. Ewan Spence and ESC Insight introduce another week of Eurovision Song Contest news as the National Final season ends.

As the 2018 National Finals Season ends and thoughts turn to Lisbon, 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.

Categories: ESC Insight


What Were Your Magical Moments Of The 2018 National Finals?

What Were Your Magical Moments Of The 2018 National Finals?

Ewan Spence

La Notte, by Pierfrancesco Favino

For all the songs that entered the National Final season; for all the introductions, sketches, and interval acts; one performance has absolutely stuck in my mind. It stopped me dead on the night, and it continues to do so.

Lurking inside the marathon that was Sanremo was a moment of perfection, as Pierfrancesco Favino narrated ‘La Notte‘ with a hint of the orchestra and an epilogue from Fiorella Mannoia and Claudio Baglioni.

For me this was the performance of the National Final season. It captures the elements of why I love the Song Contest, how it can transcend borders, and how we can communicate with each other without barriers.

Favino had spent the previous nights playing the role of court jester to Michelle Hunziker’s confident grace and the avuncular guidance of  artistic director Claudio Baglioni. And then he steps up with noting more than a spotlight and his not inconsiderable acting skills. There is no choice, you have to watch him, you have to feel the emotion with him, you have to channel his anger. And you don’t even need to speak Italian.

As I later discovered, this was a soliloquy adapted from Kotles ‘The Night Before in the Forest‘ but there’s no need to look for the reference material.

You know what this performance is.


Lisa-Jayne Lewis

Live Goosebumps

Last year was the first time I had ever been to a National Final anywhere. After all, I only started watching the selection shows thee years ago so attending one never even occurred to me. Then quite out of the blue in 2017 Ellie suggested I should join her in going to Eesti Laul and I thought ‘why not?’.

This year Ellie and Ewan had already booked to go to Oslo for Melodi Grand Priz, so I figured I’d tag along again…

What a show! I had never seen Melodi Grand Prix before, it wasn’t one that had come across my radar, but what a show it turned out to be. Every time I go to any Eurovision related event I get goosebumps and very often have to stop myself from shedding a little tear (I’m very emotional about things now I’m a bit older) yet here I was in yet another venue in Europe and as the sound of ‘Te deum’ introduced the rehearsals for MGP, there I was sat right by the stage ready to ‘Grab the Moment’, really nothing beats those ‘magical moments’ because I still can’t quite believe that I actually get to do this!

John Egan

The French Connection

I was not expecting anything less than a car crash when France2 announced the return of a National Final… this is the country whose public selected ‘Moustache‘.

Yet the panel they recruited gave me a bit of hope: a current pop star, the man who brought France back to the top 10, and one of Canada’s best singers; all of whom understood the Eurovision, the music industry and music as a creative act. But with a televote in the final, with the current ‘La Voix‘ title holder participating with a decent song, it seemed like a fait accompli. That Lisandro Cruxi  was born in Portugal only added to the narrative: a current reality TV star with roots in Portugal representing France in Lisbon.

The jury rankings in the final round were unsurprising: it seemed like Cruxi had received a perfect set-up with his clear lead over Emmy Liyanna and Madame Monsieur. Except Cruxi’s ‘Eva’ finished second in the Melfest format televote: Madame Monsieur massively won the televote, sending ‘Mercy’ to Lisbon. No one saw that coming – not even Madame Merci themselves. That week’s official singles chart in France told the story: Mercy entered at #3 and the rest of the Destination Eurovision were way down the list.

I suspect I was not the only person screaming in shocked delight at the exciting conclusion to Destination Eurovision back in January. Having survived the three-minute chop without being denuded, combined with an excellent official preview video, I have great hopes for ‘Mercy’ in Lisbon.

Monty Moncrieff (OnEurope)

Like A Scandinavian…

I decided to go on holiday smack in the middle of the National Final season this year (and I’m still playing catch up) but some things have stood out.

My highlight has, like Ewan, been my sole live National Final – Norway – which I attended with the ESC Insight team. It was a treat to see the rehearsal of a show with big ambition. As nine of the ten acts will never make it to Eurovision, the Norwegians have decided that departing from the strict rules regarding the number of performers on stage is worth the deviation for a bigger, bolder show at home.

Step up Ida Maria.

I’ve confessed my love for this song (my favourite of the season) whilst exploring some of the factors behind why I suspected it wouldn’t win for ESC Insight last week. Ida backed her presentation with a troupe of sixteen (!) cheerleaders, displaying their acrobatic ability as they formed human pyramids, and flipped one another high into the air. This led into some formation dancing as potty-mouthed Ida delivered her x-rated lines about the temperature of the Scandinavian sea. Having started singing standing amongst the audience before being hoisted onto the stage, Ida once again sought their participation to bounce a couple of dozen candy-striped beach balls above their heads. The whole thing was a hot mess, but so much fun, the scale of which you can never repeat at Eurovision. An absolute treat for the senses; except maybe the ears…

Ellie Chalkley

Back To The Future

With Beovizija, Serbia gave us a perfect evocation of Eurovision in the late noughties and an unbeatable interval act. What better way to spend a Tuesday night in February than enjoying a wildly uneven, creatively spectacular and diverse selection of modern Serbian pop? The songs, staging and general look and feel of the show took me back to when I fell in love with the Eurovision Song Contest, the era before the hyper-polished, hyper-professional Swedish-style festival, when we had something a little bit wonky.

Beovizija had everything. It had a returning artist in Rambo Amadeus, who turned up to do some jazz talking over a lady called Beti who didn’t seem happy about it. It had a pink haired female solo artist (this year’s National Final must have) in Saska Janx, it had traditional vocal troupes with contemporary dancers wafting about, it had a guy singing with someone who might have been his dad, Maja Nikolic as an alien queen, a lead singer who remained hidden under a bed for most of the song, and a bunch of opera goths.

But what got everyone talking was the interval act. While the votes were gathered and counted, RTS gave us a seemingly never ending parade of Eurovision acts from around the former Yugoslavian region, covering everything from ‘Adio’ to ‘Ove je Balkan’, from Bistra Voda to Bojana. They even got Moje 3 to reform especially. The only thing that was missing for me was Igranka. Fabulous.

Now do it again!

John Lucas

Against The Odds

Sweden’s 2018 edition of Melodifestivalen was a decidedly mixed bag. While the quality of songs was generally strong, the focus on introducing fresh blood to SVT’s Contest led to many of the better songs being paired to performers who just didn’t have the presence or experience to fully deliver them.

This was certainly the case in Heat Three, where odds-on favourite Dotter delivered a vocally shaky and poorly staged performance of her ballad ‘Cry’ – which was incidentally also far too derivative of the recent Julia Michaels hit ‘Issues’ – and found herself unexpectedly crashing out in the first round of voting.

Enter Jessica Andersson, one of the last of the class of 2003-2009 so-called ‘Schlager Divas’ who has demonstrated an ability to continue to connect with viewers long after many of her contemporaries have fallen out of favour. Andersson went for an arguably valedictory full-throttle fan service entry, a joyous slice of disco-pop that could just as easily have served as a comeback vehicle for Alcazar (If Alcazar hadn;t already released what they had hoped their comeback vehicle at MF2018 would have been had they got the nod from the selection panel).

The expectation was that Andersson would probably get knocked out in fifth place, or perhaps limp through to AC where she could easily be paired against a more app-friendly entry (presumably pitching her against Felix Sandman would have been a very easy way to end her journey before the Friends Arena). But the joy of Melfest – arguably the joy of the Song Contest and the National Finals – remains that no matter how stage managed certain aspects become, on the night there’s no substitute for performance.

Years of treading the boards onstage and on TV gave Andersson the tools to turn out a show-stopping performance when it counts, and alongside Swedish Idol winner Martin Almgren, she delivered the most polished and engaging performance of the night. Sweden voted accordingly, and the much-ballyhooed death of Schlager was delayed for another year.

Kylie Wilson (ESC Pulse)

Happy Birthday

This National Final season was a big change for me now I’m living in New Zealand, which meant having to get up a couple hours earlier than my normal wake up time to watch whatever Final I was free to watch. I remember after one bout of insomnia I thought it would be a good idea to switch on the final of Ukraine’s Vidbir at 5am… only to be inundated by angry men shouting at each other and singers getting humiliated by certain judges. That is not recommended.

But my highlight was probably the final of Eesti Laul. There was a debate over whether it was going to turn out to be a coronation or a competition. Would the big favourite Elina walk away with the crown or would we get one of the biggest shock results of this national final season? As it turned out, it was very much a coronation as she wiped the floor with her crystal-clear soprano vocals and her light-up dress, all wrapped up in a striking yet elegant package.

Not that her competitors weren’t worth checking out either. We had the weird and wonderful in the form of Evestus; Frankie Animal offering us the kind of effortlessly cool indie pop that should be on the playlists of BBC 6Music as soon as possible, former National Final veterans Iiris and Stig Rästa making well-received comebacks, and ‘Taevas‘ being a welcome reminder of Estonia’s late-90s golden age.

This also happened to be the tenth edition of the competition, may the Laul live on for another wonderfully eclectic ten years!

Over To You

This weekend is the quiet pause of the season, as we gather strength for the run up to Lisbon. What National Final moments from the last few months stick in your mind? Let us know in the comments.

Categories: ESC Insight


Eurovision Insight Podcast: Dr Scandilove

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Dr Scandilove

ESC Insight bring you the highlights of a flipping freezing weekend in Oslo to enjoy Melodi Grand Prix 2018, featuring a happy Kyiv reunion, pre-results analysis and joy in the post-results press scrum. Ellie Chalkley, Lisa-Jayne Lewis and Ewan Spence give us their views, and see their resistance to the insistent poppiness of That’s How You Write A Song weaken with every passing moment.

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Dr Scandilove, Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying & Love That’s How You Write A Song

The ESC Insight team travel to Norway’s Melodi Grand Prix with quite a lot of Rybak-related emotional baggage in tow. We speak to Ida Maria about rock stagecraft, JOWST and Aleksander Walmann about where they’re going on holiday and Alexander Rybak about aiming for that second win.

As the 2018 National Finals Season ends and thoughts turn to Lisbon, 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.

Categories: ESC Insight


Remembering Katie Boyle: Eurovision’s Definitive Host

Remembering Katie Boyle: Eurovision’s Definitive Host

Katie Boyle was a towering presence who stepped forward in the early days of television to help shape the medium and define what it meant to be a presenter, before moving on to a long and distinguished career in journalism and radio.

She moved to the United Kingdom in 1946, and began to make a name for herself first through modelling and small roles in British cinema before being invited to be a guest on the BBC’s magazine show ‘Quite Contrary’. It was clear that she understood what was required in the new medium of television and was promoted to hosting duties shortly afterwards.

From that starting point she worked tirelessly across BBC and ITV, becoming a comforting presence on many panel-based entertainment shows including ‘What’s My Line’, ‘I’ve Got A Secret’, and ‘Juke Box Jury’, and a familiar voice both on BBC Radio and as a continuity announcer on BBC TV.

At which point her path meets the Eurovision Song Contest.

Thanks to formative years spent in Italy, Boyle was multi-lingual, speaking English, Italian, and French fluently. Her multilinqualism, along with a highly respected reputation in the live television environment, made her the first choice when the BBC took on hosting duties for the 1960 Contest.

Boyle was there when the BBC stepped up again in 1963 to host after French TV had to pass on hosting. The music and fashion may have changed but the evolving role of Eurovision Host can be seen through the four editions that were helmed by Boyle. You can see Eurovision flourish from a tiny radio-focused theatre production in 1960, through the unique multi-studio approach in 1963 and the first colour Eurovision in 1968 at the Royal Albert Hall, to the mythical 1974 Contest that saw the international success of Abba forever tinge the Song Contest.

Shepherding the viewers across the world, was Katie Boyle.

As well as becoming one of the ‘go to names’ for both the panel shows of the day and for presenting duties on live broadcasts, she was the voice of European music not just on the BBC, but across many radio stations in continental Europe.

Before Podcasting Over Eurovision There Was Pop Over Europe

Picked up by the BBC in 1963 as ‘Music Has No Frontiers” and rebranded the following year as ‘Pop Over Europe’, Boyle took over hosting duties on the EBU’s monthly radio show that showcased the biggest chart sounds and pop music hits from across the continent for the next twenty-seven years. Producer Edward Nash wrote about the show in the Radio Times:

…When we meet in Broadcasting House each month the initial greetings to and fro across Europe, in a bewildering assortment of languages, have to be heard to be believed! Gunter Krenz, who holds the reins of the whole enterprise in West German Radio’s studios in Cologne, thrives on the challenge of this multi-lingual programme and is always seeking to extend the radio circle – latest newcomers to the chain being the BBC and, from last month, Radio Ljubljana, Yugoslavia.

The object is simple – a top pop song of the month, introduced and played from each of the eight stations taking part, adding up to a programme which gives a cross-section of the European pop scene.

There’s no doubt that picking up this show in 1963 was in part due to her second successful hosting of that year’s Song Contest.

While the Eurovision Song Contest kept her in the limelight during the sixties and seventies, her panel-show format bookings continued into the eighties. Her ‘Dear Katie’ Agony Aunt column in the TV Times further established her as a public figure; it was, however, radio where Boyle was most comfortable over a near forty-year career.

Boyle left ‘Pop Over Europe’ in 1980, and stepped back  from broadcasting for many years, allowing her journalism and writing careers to flourish. She returned regularly to the airwaves in the nineties, holding down the mid-morning Radio 2 slot, and presenting ‘Katie and Friends’ a show for “animal lovers of all ages”, drawing in part on her role as a director at Battersea Dogs home.

A Lasting Legacy

Would the modern-day Eurovision Song Contest fan recognise Boyle and her achievements? Perhaps not… the Song Contest has a long history but a short memory. Yet… although the Song Contest is in constant flux its shape was defined in its first decade. In that shape we can find the echo and the memory of one of the pioneers of the art of television presenting.

As we look forward to Lisbon 2018 and a Song Contest that defines what it means to be authentic, what it means to be empowered, and what it means to be honest, there can be no better matriarch for the modern Contest than Katie Boyle.

Katie Boyle

Katie Boyle, 1926-2018

Katie Boyle, Lady Saunders (born Caterina Irene Elena Maria Imperiali di Francavilla; 29 May 1926 – 20 March 2018).

Categories: ESC Insight

<<  1 2 3 4 [56 7 8 9  >>  
SSL Certificate