Then & Now

After wabbling for a while whether or not to participate in the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest, Georgia came up with a fascinating disco way of making up for their political argument with Russia. As we don’t want to mess with politics, we’ll only let you wonder what Stephane & 3G intend to say with their Eurovision song We Don’t Wanna Put In

Here’s the entry itself:

Stephane & 3G will represent Georgia in Russia, after they did not succeed to get the ticket to Belgrade last year, when they came 4th in the Georgian national selection. Now the quartet (Stephane himself and three charming ladies) are happy to go for the victory in May.

No matter what the controversy resulting from the ambiguous meaning of the title, thought to contain reference to the former Russian president Vladimir Putin, the lyrics have not been changed to far. There is still one possibility: at the HoD meeting (mid-March), when all heads of delegation gather in Moscow, they can vote if the song in any way breaches the rules of the Contest. Some may consider that the Georgian entry violates the rule that songs should not express any political messages. If Georgia is pressed to introduce last-minute changes to the lyrics, they might not be able to get back in the show on time. This might practically mean banishing for the Georgian participants. Not that we wish so.

We personally consider that it is a nice peaceful song, which induces happiness and free boogie between nations, rather than anything else. I hope that everyone else will join us in this opinion.

This-year’s band consists of Nini Badurashvili, Tako Gachechiladze and Kristine Imedadze and of course the popular producer, performer and composer Stephane Mgebrishvili. This is the third time Georgia takes part in the Eurovision Song Contest. In 2007, the fantastically talented, flamboyant, and amazingly cheerful Sopho got her country to 12th position with the song “My Story”.

The Finnish hard-rock nation decided to take a considerable turn in their Eurovision taste: this time round they are sending to Moscow a pop band – the famous Waldo’s People. Tampere saw a huge party last Saturday, when the song Lose Control got almost half of the votes of the audience and won the ticket to ESC 2009.

Waldo’s People got really popular across Europe in the late 90s. You will probably remember them with the hits of the time Feel So Good, It’s About Time and Move Your Body, as the band split 8 years ago, to come back together last year. They have four albums under their belt and enough confidence to challenge Eurovision.

Finland’s participation in the Eurovision Song Contest dates back to 1961. For the 48 years of its participation it possessed the trophy only once, in 2006, when Lordi simply smashed the competition with their Hard Rock Hallelujah. These are moments that history remembers well.

How can you never give up participating in Eurovision?! There are people, who are always back in the game, willing to do their best and bring the trophy to their country.

There is such a person (we know he’s not the only one), who cannot leave Eurovision and keeps on producing songs for it. This is the beautiful and well… talented Sakis Rouvas, who will represent Greece at the Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow. The song to be composed specially for the show in Moscow, will be written by the prominent composer Dimitris Kontopoulos, who’s also behind Sakis’s hot summer hit Kai se thelo (I want You).



You will remember that Mr. Rouvas participated in the 2004 Eurovision, when he finished in the top 3, and came back on stage as a host during the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest in Athens. Now, let’s see what’s going to happen in Moscow this spring.

By the way, Greece was the first country to select its entrant this season. Perhaps hoping that the early bird will catch the worm…

Are you ready for a brand new start? At least that’s how the lyrics of the 2009 Dutch entry go. The Dutch boy band De Toppers will try to make it to the top in Moscow with their song Shine. A jolly, typically Eurovision entry, which has nothing to surprise us with, but still, keep an eye on the trio from the Netherlands.

De Toppers consists of Gerard Joling, who’ve already gained some experience with the Eurovision Song Contest in 1988, Gordon, a popular TV presenter and scriptwriter, who took part in the Dutch national selection from Eurovision in Dutch in 1990 and 2003 and Rene Froger. The guys got together in May 2004 and since then have been holding many concerts, including the one i mid-June this year.

The Netherlands joined the show in 1956 with Corry Brokken’s song Voorgoed Voorbij (“Over Forever”), which scored second. The same lady won the contest just two years later with Net Als Toen (“Just Like Then”).

Have you ever thought that Eurovision artists can be or become popular in the US? It is possible only if the music is universal, which electronic music, and the music of DJ Balthazar specifically, is.

So, here he is, the charming and talented DJ Balthazar, a.k.a. in his country DJ Baltazvyar (DJ Balta-beast), going on a long tour across the USA. At the very start of the new year Balthazar is getting ready for his next tour – in mid-January he embarks on a journey to the various US cities, which will be his first tour in North America. His hectic schedule features 6 gigs in some of the hottest night clubs in Chicago, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Mmm, are you thinking of getting the plane to Hollywood?

In 2008, DJ Balthazar has eventually become one of the most popular Bulgarian DJs, thus one of the missionaries of Eurovision across the Atlantic. He managed to export the Bulgarian electronic music industry to countries such as Egypt, the UK, Portugal, Malta, Slovakia, Greece, Turkey, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, and Macedonia.

Yesterday, at a special ceremony in Moscow’s GUM shopping mall, the mayor of Belgrade Dragan Dilas handed over the symbolic keys to the «Eurovision» Mayor of Moscow Yuri Luzhkov. “Heavy burden!”, Mr. Luzhkov said assessing the weight of the Eurovision symbol. “But, we will keep it!

The mayor of the Serbian capital, Dragan Dilas handed Moscow’s mayor the symbolic key emphasising that he was pleased to bring the key to a congenial city, which Moscow is. The ceremony of handing over the key first took place in Belgrade, and was initiated by Helsinki, the 2007 host city.

The final of one of the oldest European music contests will take place from 12 to 16 May in the capital’s Olimpiyskiy Sports Complex. The Russian government already assured the city of Moscow that it will make sure to fix the potholes on the roads in the capital till May next year. Twenty-two hotels in Russia’s main city have already been booked for the Eurovision week.

One of the strongholds of Eurovision, Sweden, has already hit the pace of the contest. Eight artists out of 32 to compete for the ticket to Moscow have already been announced by the Swedish broadcaster SVT. This year the competition is dominated by many popular names, such as BWO, who participate for the fourth time. The complete list is as follows: Jennifer Brown, Alcazar, Emilia, Lasse Lindh, Caroline af Ugglas, BWO, Måns Zelmerlöw and Sarah Dawn Finer.

  • Alcazar — Stay The Night
  • BWO — You’re Not Alone
  • Caroline af Ugglas — Snällä, Snälla
  • Emilia — You’re My World
  • Jennifer Brown — Never Been Here Before
  • Lasse Lindh and Band — Jag Slåss I Dina Kvarter
  • Måns Zelmerlöw — Hope and Glory
  • Sarah Dawn Finer — Moving on

In an interview for the official website of SVT, Martin Rolinski from BWO say: “We saw Dima Bilan winning and thought hell, we can make it so much better. And we will certainly do much better with this song.” Caroline af Ugglas participated in last-year’s Melodifestivalen with her song “Think for yourself.” In 2009, she embarks on a long journey with “Please, please.” Alcazar has already been part of the big Swedish Eurovision show twice. Lasse Lindh made his debut in Melodifestivalen in 2007 with a sad ballad “Du behöver aldrig mer vara rädd” (“You needn’t be afraid ever again”). Unlike last year, Lasse will try his luck with an up-beat punk track this time.

You must have noticed that the Swedish people know how to make Eurovision. They always send songs that stand every chance to win the Eurovision trophy. But before that, six weeks will see a grand Melodifestivalen show – six weeks of competitions, second chances, tears and entertainment.

Four amazing hours of Ukrainian party, and so many other participants performing during it: last night saw a massive Eurovision show at Euroclub, Sava Centre, Belgrade.

A show that we don’t get every day in Eurovision – this was last-night’s Ukrainian party within Eurovision 2008. Most delegations had come to the event marking it as one of the most significant nights withing the Contest.

Ani Lorak had invited the entrants of more than 10 other countries. On stage, we saw Sirusho (Armenia), Dima Bilan (Russia), Kalomira (Greece), Deep Zone (Bulgaria), Pirates of the Sea (Latvia), Boaz (Israel), Geta Burlacu (Moldova), Miodio (San Marino), Charlotte Perrelli (Sweden), Ruslan Alehno (Belarus), Morena (Malta), Diana Gurtskaya (Georgia), all coming out with mighty performances.

Special focuses of the night were Dana International, who wished good luck to Boaz, and most impressive last-year’s Ukrainina entrant Verka Serduchka. Verka gave a fantastic show singing 3 tracks, among them last-year’s cult hit “Dancing Lasha Tumbai” which reached position number 2 in the Final ranking, and two fresh hits. The new tracks follow the old path of her magesty Eurovision Queen’s art.

Ani sang her own interpretations of many world evergreens, such as Tina Turner’s “The Best”, Bon Jovi’s “My Life” to name but a few. The author of the lyrics of Shady Lady, the imminent composer Fillip Kirkorov attended the event, and supported on stage his newly-found hope, wishing her the best of luck.

Another fascinating moment was the presentation of a prototype instrument, which will be used by the Bulgarian entrants Deep Zone and DJ Balthazar. The Bulgarian band uses a Japanese Vesatax DJ guitar, which will be available on the market in not less than two years and promises to change the DJ image completely.

Seems like we are in for a terribly curious Eurovision year.

Now, I really have to add this after hours of fight: the net connection in my hotel is, unlike anything else in Belgrade, so impossibly bad, that you will have photo coverage of the event a bit later.

I know you’ve been waiting for an interview with a Eurovision winner. It’s not this-years winner, of course :) In 2005, a lovely girl from Ukraine touched the hearts of the Eurovision audiences and won the European contest with her amazing wild-dance performance. Today, three years after her victory, Ruslana looks back (definitely not in anger!) at her career and very much into the future. She was very kind to steal some of her time, so precious during the preparation of her new album.

What is the greatest success in your career so far? And if you think you haven’t reached the top yet, what do you aspire for in the near future?

I hope that my greatest success will be in the nearest future. Now I work a lot for it. It has been more than 3 years since I won Eurovision and was named World Best-Selling Ukrainian Artist at the World Music Awards ceremony in Las Vegas in 2004. Just about time for my fans to demand something new and special from me. I’m very happy that my new album is finished. I really worked hard for it. In February, we had a great premiere of the Wild Energy show in Baku. Then came the Bulgarian National Selection for ESC in Sofia, the first Eastern European country that saw this new show. I am happily planning to come to Sofia again in the near future with the full version of Wild Energy.

Slavyanskii Bazaar was a considerable springboard for you as a serious artist. What, then, does Eurovision mean to you as an artists and as a person?

Eurovision for me was a “window on Europe” and a “window on the world” and to the world. Thanks to the Contest, Europe got to know me.

The “Eastern bloc” has been very active at Eurovision recently. For the last seven years, six winners came from Eastern Europe. How would you comment such a tendency?

I think, it’s because Eastern Europe reveals to the world the graceful and beautiful style it has. That style had not been typical for other countries. Eurovision every year sees a lot of pretty girls and handsome boys, but it’s not enough. If you want to win – you have to be special, stand out from the crowd, but also be special in a very sincere way.

Let’s have a look at your latest album. Listening to the tracks in “Wild Energy” makes me think of elemental energy and feelings. With your new album you seem to be moving away from Wild Dances in terms of style, despite all common motifs. What is the main idea of your fresh album?

My new album presents a completely new Ruslana. The main idea is to show the character of the Amazon. She can be a girl–wind, girl–fire, girl–water, girl–rock, but she falls in love and becomes vulnerable. She doesn’t know what to do, how to live with those feelings. This is a story of the all-conquering love, in a pop-fantasy style. This is especially prominent in my new song Moon of Dreams, a duet with the Grammy-winning American r’n’b singer T- Pain, who’s also worked with Kanye West, Bow Wow, Akon, Chris Brawn and others.

Wild energy – do you wish to harness and master it? Or perhaps you prefer to be submitted to its force, totally controlled by the wild energy?

My Wild Energy is always with me, no mater what I do. So it’s, I guess, both.

What type of character is Lana? What does she dream of and yearn for?

She is a real Amazon – beautiful, smart and independent woman. She knows what she wants for sure and she fights to get it. Lana dreams of love. That magic feeling that gives us inspiration and wings.

In fact, how did it all start? When did you realise that you were born for music?

I’ve been in since I was four. When I was a little kid, I studied at an experimental music school and sang in a band. My parents joke that microphone was my first toy and that I learned the notes before letters. I graduated from the conservatory with two educational qualifications in the field of music – as a piano player and a symphony orchestra conductor. Music has been in my heart throughout my life. I have realized that I was born for music since early childhood.

There are millions of wannabes who wish to become stars overnight, but their time in stardom is usually short. What, do you reckon, makes a star? What do you have to sacrifice or risk to stay on top?

The first thing that comes to my mind – be honest with yourself and with people. It’s very important. I’m always honest with my fans. If you work only for money and you sing a song that you must sing but you don’t feel it by your entire heart and soul – you will be a singer for one day.

And finally, wishing you good luck with your future career, I’d like to ask you, Ruslana, what do you pray for?

I pray for health of my parents, of my husband, friends. I sometimes pray for peace. I pray for a good future of Ukraine. I would like to live with music in my heart and wild energy in my eyes for the rest of my life.

Dima BilanNow this got me extremely excited… Hold your breath because Moscow has decided and sends hugely, massively successful star Dima Bilan to represent Russia again, this time in Belgrade.

Easy does it? Obviously Dima Bilan can wait and came back aiming to conquer the Eurovision peak again. His song Believe simply blew the rest 26 competitors away, although it was a tight victory! A dynamic, yet soft song, with strong catchy rhythm that keeps your attention. But it’s not the rhythm that is the most notable in this track. The romantic lyrics make you listen again and again. Bilan’s vocal skills are indisputable. Lots of thinking has been put into this project and I’m so very curious to find out what the Russian team keep in store for the hungry audience this May. Dima’s performances and compositions are text-book examples of how to gain success not only at Eurovision, but in the severe music industry.

Let me briefly remind you that it was Dima who was the runner-up at the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest in Athens, as the Finnish monsters Lordi did not let him go first with his Never Let You Go.

Well done, so, young man!

Baku ready to rock: Eurovision debutant Azerbaijan prepares a grand bombastic show for the selection of the first Azerbaijani ESC entrant in history.

On 2 February, one of the novices in Eurovision, Azerbaijan, will hold its National final – part of a huge campaign celebrating the first ever participation of the country in the Eurovision Song Contest. The event will be webcast live on the official ESC website at 17.30 CET.

The two-hour show will be followed by a press-conference, webcast at 19.45 CET, when journalists and fans will have the chance to ask the first Azerbaijani Eurovision entrant questions. The presser will feature three more former Eurovision participants – playful Sertab, who represented Turkey in 2003 with Everyway that I can, Ruslana, who brought the victory to Ukraine in 2004 with the song Wild Dance, and last-year’s Serbian entrant – Maria Serifovic, who bewitched Europe with her Molitva.

Azerbaijan Eurovision 2008 Three contestants will compete in the first edition of the National Selection in Azerbaijan: Elnur Gusseinov with If You Never Back – a pop song in English, with amazing opera solos and some traditional elements, Aynur Iskenderli with Don’t Forget My Love, an up-tempo pop song with traditional elements and music instruments, and the rock band Unformal with The End. I like the third one best – an experimental rock track, performed by a fascinating female vocal.

It all comes in a moment, when Azerbaijan music industry faces hardships: post-Soviet influence, severe piracy, and little appearance opportunities. That’s why the Eurovision Song Contest is seen a life-saving measure. Anyway, the country is full of talents, as experts say, and hopes.

The Ukrainian star Ruslana, who won the 2004 ESC, held in Istanbul, Turkey, is releasing her new album “Wild Energy” later this year. The album will be sold in most European countries, Middle East and China, Yuriy Melnyk at International Communications, Agency of Ruslana said in a press release. “Wild Energy” will also be distributed all over the world on the Internet.

As a significant part of the album’s promotion, Ruslana is planning a world premiere of her Wild Energy show, a mystical and magnificent performance. Ruslana’s visit of some European countries has been scheduled for not later than next months. “Among other things, the album and show, based on an elaborate and philosophical fantasy plot, promote a new philosophy of energy production and consumption and a gradual shift towards more renewable energy,” Melnyk said.

Ruslana is a typical example of a successful Eurovision artist, just like ABBA, Johnny Logan, Keti Garbi, Helena Paparisou, t.A.T.u., and Dana International, to name but a few.

Macedonian 2007 ESC participant Karolina (Karolina Goceva) took part in the Bulgarian national selection EuroBGvision for the Eurovision Song Contest, to be held in Belgrade in 2008. She performed three songs: Sladka Gorchina, Se Lazam Sebe and the 2007 ESC entry: My World. Karolina’s next stop was Zagreb, where she participated in other concerts to promote her songs further on the Balkans.

EuroBGvision is the Bulgarian show, whose aim is to select a representative of the Eastern-European country in the 2008 ESC. The show took off autumn this year and has already led to the selection of 9 songs, which will compete at a national semifinal with 9 other songs, selected this Saturday by a professional jury. Three wildcards will joint them only then. During the final, the audiences shall selected the winner out of 12 competitors.


Do you remember Silvia Night? The bold carnival-like girl representing Iceland with a noisy show at the ESC held in Greece last year… So, Silvia has her own mega show on the Swedish channel TV 400, which has been a grand success in Scandinavia. But it has finally come to an end. The last episode features Silvia at last getting over her failure to go to the Final of the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest, as she is getting more and more successful in LA.

Miss Night competed with the song “Congratulations”, which, unlike Cliff Richard’s song of the same name performed in 1968, didn’t enjoy the same fame. But for sure, the Icelandic beauty provoked the audiences in Athens with her behaviour and outfit.