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!

It was the international women’s day yesterday, and I’m still a bit elated by the wine. What made me even happier though, was the news that more and more winners were picked last week, something I missed noting for lack of time. Anyway, forgive me the small spell of silence and have a look at the most recent winners.

Georgia will compete with Diana Gurtskaya and her song Peace will come. The track is pretty good, though nothing spectacular or surprising. What’s more important in this case, however, is that Ms. Gurtskaya is blind and she sings with power that we cannot witness every day on Eurovision. Still, nothing we haven’t seen on the world’s stage, and I do hope that this will not sway people into voting for this song, unless they like it.

One of the Big 4 also got their winner tonight – Rodolfo Chikilicuatre with his nice song Baila El Chiki Chiki. A guy that first strikes you as Elvis Presley, but when you get to listen to the song… well, I come to think that TVE are not particularly interested in this contest any more. So, baila, amigos! Hasta la vista!

Theatre rules over Eurovision. A handful of countries send stage performances to Belgrade with little musical value. The UK goes off the beaten track of theatre and presents a classic soul track.

Andy Abraham with his charming track Even If won the ticket to Belgrade on 1 March in London. He achieved the success with a merry, cheerful pop-soul / gospel song, and a mighty sweet performance on stage. It is definitely music for special moods and connoisseurs. And we know that there are many people among Eurovision fans who can appreciate valuable music …

Andy AbrahamThanks God, this year, it’s not air-hostesses or any other form of theatre that the UK will send to Europe. Not that we dislike British Airways, but let it be music above all.

Meanwhile, Latvia got its national winner, a downright theatre performance: the band Wolves of the sea with the song Pirates Of The Sea.

More of the stage, as previously known, Bosnia and Herzegovina will be presented by Elvir Lakovic – Laka with the song Pokusaj (Try). The good news is that the song is already available, and as we speculated earlier, the track is purely crazy, more dramatic than musical in its nature, more for the music hall than for the Eurovision stage.

Not to mention Ireland‘s Dustin Turkey and his amazing variety show!

Seems like we are up to a fascinating Eurovision season.

Georgia will have a huge Eurovision show, not just a party, but a cut-throat competition between 12 very professional songs. I can’t decide for my favourite.

Here are some of them, all ready to fight for their right to represent Georgia in Belgrade. To be decided on 1 March.

Salome KorkotashviliCaptaine. That’s by far and away my top favourite, unless it turns out she can’t sing it live. A jolly wee song, which, if combined with a nice show, can go to the Final.

3GI’m free. Oh, yes! Three girls singing like mad, ala-Anastasia, though her voice is muck more hoarse, thus, more effective. An upbeat pop-rock track, very professional and well-performed.

Salome GasvianiShare your love. Salome is talented girl, who could easily convince you that Georgia is the cradle of world music. We’ve seen ballads with a distinct American sound, failing to perform well at Eurovision, but who knows. This time, it might be the year of the ballads. Well done!

Aleko BerdzenishviliThe beautiful girl. People out these seem to be hugely influenced by music from the US. But, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this song amazingly beautiful?! Slightly irritating male vocal, which we can get used to if performed in a huge hall with nice acoustics. And he can for sure sing live.

Tika PatsatsiaNever change. Singer, dancer, TV presenter, Miss Georgia. A bad rock girl! Shall we add – a potential ESC Georgia winner?

The rest are:
Diana GurtskayaPeace Will Come
Irakli PirtskhalavaFreedom
TeatroniGeorgia invites friends
Tako GachechiladzeMe and my funky
Guga AptsiauriDon’t look at me
Tamta ChelidzeGive me your love

Last weekend, more European countries selected their entries for the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest. The list is almost concluded, some more are missing, among them the Big Four.

Here’s a list of the finalists and my humble commentary.

  1. Bulgaria: Deep Zone & Balthazar – DJ Take Me Away
  2. A pop disco track that could easily get you jumping. Yoanna (the vocal) could have done better with the singing, and the dress.. Yet, Bulgaria surprised us with a nice show, the side programme featuring Ukrainian star Ruslana, was much more fascinating than the 12 competing participants.

  3. Croatia: Kraljevi Ulice & 75 Cents – Romanca
  4. Did they call this type of song “old urban songs” (starogradska pesen)?? Well, perhaps there are still people who might well like them, but I doubt it. However, I have to note the high quality of the band and the concept behind the track. Good luck, guys, you might win the “worst song” on Eurovision award!

  5. Greece: Kalomira Saranti – Secret Combination
  6. A truly Eurovision song that can shake up Europe and get it dancing. Ethnic elements combined with disco sound – that’s a universal formula for success. The thing I enjoy most – the ballet ;)

  7. Iceland: Eurobandid – Fulkomid lif (This is My Life)
  8. It’s a cool Eurovision song. A typical Eurovision song, if you ask me. Hope more people vote for Iceland, ‘coz they deserve it simply for travelling on such a long distance from the this northern island.

  9. Ireland: Dustin The Turkey – Irelande Douze Pointe
  10. And that’s the cherry of the cake, the top of the top. A fantastic burlesque, a parody that mocks the original idea of Eurovision. Seems like the ancestors of Saint Patrick are fed up with finishing at final position. This morning, I listened to a French radio, where they had a special 10-minute comment on this song. The French are impressed and are very much looking forward to the result. Just like we all are.

  11. Macedonia: Tamara ft. Vrcak & Adrian – Vo ime na ljubovta (In The Name of Love)
  12. The Macedonian entrant will again go for the local language. An up-tempo track telling about love and passion, perhaps.

  13. Poland: Isis Gee – For Life
  14. Do we need to comment on this song again? A powerful solo female vocal, a touching ballad, a catchy and familiar rhythm. And so very professional! For Life definitely stands every chance to win the 2008 ESC. What do you reckon?

  15. Romania: Nico & Vlad Mirita – Pe-o Margine De Lume
  16. Oh, it sounds so Italian! It’s cool and romantic, and above all, well-measured.

  17. Ukraine: Ani Lorak – Shady Lady
  18. This song is a huge step beyond what we are used to see representing Ukraine at the Eurovision Song Contest. The good news is that Ukraine and Greece are not participating in the same semi-final, which will save us from watching the same (secret) combination twice.

After years of frivolous attitude to the Eurovision Song Contest, the UK are bringing out the heavy artillery. It was high time that the cradle of modern culture and music, where pop artists from all over the world teem and find inspiration, found the right direction in Eurovision. It was high time that London thought of showing the rest of Europe that they know a thing or two.

Six pop stars are taking part in this-year’s UK national preselection. All of them young, perky, and bold, terribly familiar faces to everyone in the UK, and many others oversees.

BBC’s show will be held on March 1st. The official website of the British Eurovision will be updated with the songs tomorrow, 22 February.

Rob McVeighI Owe It All To You: Ex Joseph, he sings a (lyrical) ballad.
Simona ArmstrongChanges: Quite in her style, Simona performs an ardent song.
Michelle GayleWoo (U Make Me): former EastEnder, sexy diva of popular stage Michelle Gayle promises a hot show.
Andy AbrahamEven if : Once an X-Factor participant Andy goes for Eurovision with fresh ideas.
LoveShyMr Gorgeous: Aimee and Emma aim to revive our loved British pop
The RevelationsIt’s You: Annika, Sarah, and Louise enter Eurovision with great expectations.

More are coming, so that by the end of the month we’ll have all the winners of the local ‘Eurovisions’ across Europe. Here’s some of the winners worth noting.

  1. Albania: Olta Boka – Zemrën E Lamë Peng
  2. Albania will compete with a nice ballad in Albanian. It’s a pity I can’t get a word, but there’s no need to: the female vocal is resolute yet mild. Could be better in terms of composition, but I reckon many people will like it.

  3. Andorra: Gisela – Casanova
  4. Wonder if this is the present state of the Eurovision Song Contest?! Andorra seems to be a million years away from Eurovision. This year’s representative of the small principality is Gisela – a cheerful girl – and I guess she’ll offer a “fairy-tale” show in Belgrade telling us about romance and the historical lover Casanova. But haven’t we heard this type of song many times already…

  5. Azerbaijan: Elnur Guseynov and Samir Javadzadeh – Day After Day
  6. There’s been a huge support for Azerbaijan’s debut in Eurovision: Eurovision stars, like Ukrainian diva Ruslana and Serbian winner Maria Serifovic, from across Europe joined in to say “Welcome” to one of three new-comers this year. In Belgrade we’ll see a male duet who, with heavy odds against them on part of the other two competitors, managed to grab the trophy. As for the song – pop-rock supported by high vocals, correct me if I’m wrong, influenced to a degree by the Russian school.

  7. Belarus: Ruslan Alenho – Hasta La Vista
  8. Does he stand a chance to win this-year’s ESC? Who knows, but Belarus has always been capable of surprising the audience. Yes, it’s good. Yes, he sings like a god, and yes – there are people in Minsk who can write good songs.

  9. Cyprus: Evdokia Kadi – Femme Fatale
  10. Cyprus can’s stop experimenting. Not even after a series of losses for one of the countries who’ve invested so much in Eurovision. Evdokia Kadi sings in Greek, for a change, what’s really notable having in mind what we’ve heard from Aphrodite’s island recently (in 2006, Annet Artani performed a typically American song, which sounded truly out of place, at least to me. Last year, Evridiki with her experiment in French – Comme ci comme ca did not even qualify to the Final). The traditional music that Evdokia has to offer seems to be much less annoying.

  11. Czech Republic: Tereza Kerndlová – Have Some Fun
  12. Prague sends to Belgrade a lift-me-up song. It does sounds like Nellie Furtado, doesn’t it? It strikes me as one of the few songs selected so far that can become a European hit, if nothing else. Keep it going, Tereza!

  13. Denmark: Simon Mathew – All Night Long
  14. Purely European sound, party atmosphere, cool looks, a naughty cheeky band – the recipe for good mood, if not for anything else. For me, this song embodies the spirit of Eurovision. Sing along:
    “The sun is up
    I’m feeling great
    I’m just enjoying life
    Right here in the shade…”

  15. Estonia: Kreisiraadio – Leto Svet
  16. Verka Serduchka in a mock pop-jazz-seventies-ridicule version, multiplied by three. Okay, it can be fun, it can be a show, but where’s the music gone? It packed and embarked on a long journey? Of course many people will vote for them, and why not :) But it’s not surprising in its goal to shock us with its “craziness”. Have a look at the British entries recently for inspiration, and you’ll get what I mean.

  17. Hungary: Csézy – Szívverés
  18. This is an ultimate romantic song. I can’t keep looking at Csézy’s dress though, it’s so distracting. I do hope she’ll make up to put on something simpler during the show ;) Well done on the language front!

  19. Lithuania: Jerominas Milius – Nomads In The Night
  20. One thing is for sure – Lithuania keep surprising us.

  21. Malta: Morena – Vodka
  22. Well, if there is anyone who can help Malta out of trouble and bring it to the Final, that’s Vodka. Cheers :)

  23. Norway: Maria Haukaas Storeng – Hold on be strong
  24. Scandinavia again offers a little piece of valuable music. Miss Storeng knows what and how to sing it – a track that appeals to all tastes. It can make you picture the Aurora Borealis though it’s not terribly romantic.

  25. Slovenia: Rebeka Dremelj – Vrag Naj Vzame
  26. Rebeka won Ema 2008 and here she is, representing Slovenia. She did it thanks to a pop song, a couple of backing vocals and.. good (to some) looks. Yet another song in a native language. Great!

  27. Turkey: Mor ve Ötesi – Deli
  28. A melodic rock track won the Turkish national selection and is eventually going to Serbia. What more can we want after years of typically traditional music mixed with modern elements that Turkey had to offer to the Eurovision audiences in recent years? A nice sensual male vocal supported by an energetic band – it can turn out to be a nice show.

Eurovision journalist Georgios Kalpakidis, aka Gorgi, whom the Eurovision community know as a highly influential, pushy, capable, and charming member of the OGAE Greek club, has decided to compete as composer at the Spanish national preselection with his song Destiny (Nuestro Destino). Teh song is performed by popular Spanish star Crystina Maez. Destiny is an uptempo track with lively charge and atmosphere. Sounds like a successful attempt.

Here is what Gorgi has to say about the new venture:

Right after Lithuania, I am giving it another shot for Eurovision 2008, this time for Spain! My song “Destiny” with lyrics written by José J.Santana and Miguel Loredo is taking part in the spanish preselection [...] We hope it will find a way to your hearts and finally a place in the country’s final to come! Keep your fingers crossed for us guys! The battle starts once more!
Besos a todos

Spain – one of the Big Four in Eurovision – participates in the Eurovision Song Contest every year by rule. Whatever they decide to do, however famous stars the Spanish broadcaster invites, Spain has rarely managed to achieve any serious success on the Contest.

There’s always this group of people, who are up against all holidays, but we want to make it clear now that we do NOT belong to this mob. We’d love to have a glass of wine anytime for any reason and parties keep us very much alive and kicking.

However, there’s this notable exception! What’s really the fuss on St. Valentine, we often wonder? Why does the world go mental on this day and embarks on a huge quest across seas of flirty, fluffy, feathery, and fleecy gifts painted in red? For my short experience on this planet, I’ve come up with a list of reasons why not to join in the common commotion and refuse to accept that day February 14 has anything to do with the red rivers of candies, chocolate, flowers, vibrators, underwear, and red(!) polar bear key-chains – all shaped like hearts or in heart-shaped boxes.

So here’s my six and a half reasons why I’d love to stay in bed on Saint Valentine’s:

  1. It’s February, people! Unless you live in the Southern hemisphere, it’s winter up here, and it’s snow and frost everywhere. So, I prefer to tuck myself under my crazy quilt and try to catch some more sleep.
  2. Those who are in love are so cheerful and merry, that those who are not look even more sulky and miserable. For this reason only, I’d love to stay at home and have my glass of wine contemplating the sparks of my imaginary fireplace.
  3. Pubs are packed as if they were giving away beverages for free. The waitress is never coming and she’s always forgotten something. Everybody’s shouting and kissing loud that I feel as if I were in the jungle.
  4. Waitresses and taxi drivers are human beings too: they have feelings, they love and are loved! And we should consider these facts! That’s why be understanding and stay in bed, so that waitresses won’t have to work till late and can meet the taxi drivers (who won’t have to drive till late) and enjoy the night together :)
  5. Staying at home means, above all, listening to your favourite music. Anywhere you go, they’ll play exactly what you don’t like, even if you’re in the pub you frequent (of course, if you can hear any music at all, given the noisy crowds in the paragraph above). Pubs get massively changed to attract people of all tastes, and this can pose a real threat to your ear and good mood.
  6. Staying in bed, you won’t have to buy one of these presents that face the inescapable fate – buried in a drawer, gathering dust for ages, forgotten by next Valentine. Better get a bottle of red wine in a jiffy and enjoy the effect of spirits on your and your partner’s good spirits.
    6 1/2. If you’ve been reading so far, you already know that the bed is the perfect place to spend Saint Valentine’s day. It guarantees a great time with your loved one, and can well be a kick-off of a fresh member of the gang. So, beware, too.

On 23 February, Warsaw will dance in the rhythms of its Eurovision Song Contest selection. Three wild cards, and a bunch of other popular names fill in the picture. Here is the final list advised by the local organisers from TVP:

  1. Zywiolak – the first wildcard in the show.
  2. Kasia Nova’s The Devil is a typical dance track, but not particularly special. Let me go on with the rest of the songs.
  3. Edi Ann’s song LOVEn’U is a tender and delicate, very much in the style of Mariah Carey, especially as Ms. Ann is very good at the high tones. Not bad indeed.
  4. Izabela Kopec – wildcard
  5. Starnawski & Urban Noiz – It’s not a Game one of the few men in the Polish Eurovision. Smacks of the States again, but with a good ballet on stage it could do quite well. I fancy the guy’s voice.
  6. Queens – I Say My Body
  7. Isis Gee – For Life: listening to a third soft ballad in Poland’s selection makes me wonder how the director of the show will deal with so many slow songs. But Gee’s song is so much worth listening to again and again as it’s extremely powerful and balanced. The white-dominated video enhances the effect as well. For me – the best, and very promising in Belgrade.
  8. Man Meadow – Viva la Musica is lacking in imagination and everything else..
  9. Afromental – Thing we’ve got – sounds so much like Justin Timberlake that I can’t stop listening to him. A soft melodic song that reminds one of the American tradition, especially combined with the reggae-like backing vocals. I’m sure if this is a winning combination at Eurovision, but it’s definitely worth noting.
  10. Plastic – Do something. Always look on the bright side of life, Plastic seem to be telling us. An upbeat merry and light track. Could go well with a curious choreography, though it’s not terribly potential.
  11. Sandra Oxenryd – Superhero that makes me think of the Scandinavian tradition in Eurovision. A bit like Carola, a bit like everything we’ve already heard. But give it an ear if you’ve got the chance. People might well like it.
  12. Natasza Urbanska – wildcard
  13. Margo – Dlatego walcz. A nice surprise in Polish, a song about love, strong and cheerful. Well, why not?

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.

ESC Belgrade 2008
Have you already bought your ticket for the Eurovision Song Contest in Belgrade? No?! Just an hour ago internet sales opened up. So, brace yourself up and click your way to the ticket point.

Do you remember the long wait? It seems to have been worth it. This time the organisers have said ‘no’ to individual tickets, and up until mid-Match you will be able to only buy a ticket package for a number of events. That would come in very handy.

So, waste no time and get your package. See you there!

The end of January seems to be rather tempting for holding national finals for the Eurovision Song Contest. And it will become even busier at the end of February, and beginning of March. Keeping track of all the songs that get selected to represent their country is fun, but can be a bit difficult given the great number of pre-selection and selection stages in every country and the even greater number of ESC participants this year.

A variety of styles, a motley of music genres, vocal skills, choreographies, tempos, and lyrics – that’s what we’ve had so far at the national finals. Last week saw a number of finalists, who already won their tickets to Belgrade. Who are they?

So much fuss around the national selection in Malta! Just like every year, right! Severe competition on the part of distinguished and venerable local Eurovision artists and an unclear end of the story were just part of the picture. Eventually, Morena, with her cheerful, up-tempo, and upbeat song Vodka managed to win the credit and hearts of most of the Maltese people and so they sent her to Belgrade.

In the Czech Republic Tereza Kerndlová became first in the national selection with the song Have Some Fun – a jolly up-tempo composition, reminding me of Nelly Furtado’s recent style. After last-year’s first and not particularly successful participation of the Czech Republic, this year, they haven’t given up and offer us a Slavic beauty with a fantastic disco hit.

Ruslan Alehno won Eurofest 2008 and will compete for Belarus with a song in English with the melodious Spanish title Hasta La Vista (Good bye). Mr. Alehno does not sound like Arnold Schwarzenegger, but his song can surely be a ‘terminator’ for most of the competitors during the Contest in Belgrade.

Otherwise, earlier in the Eurovision selection period, Albania chose its 2008 Eurovision entrant during Festivali i Kenges: Olta Boka with a touching and vigorous ballad in Albanian, Zemren e lame peng (We Gambled with our Hearts). 20-year-old pop star Sirusho will go to Belgrade for Armenia. She is currently working on a couple of songs, one of which will be selected to represent the country in Serbia in May. Her voice seems to be able to easily take on amazingly complex performances with an Oriental tinge, so typical for this part of Eastern Europe.

Women this year seem rather obsessed with grand names from history. Andorra, for example, will go for Eurovision with Gisela‘s Casanova. One of Morena’s, song was called Casanova as well. And Claudia Faniello, (aka Fabrizio Faniello’s sister), who also competed in the Maltese national selection, performed a song dedicated to the great painter Caravaggio.

Back to the Balkans, Bosnia & Herzegovina will be represented at Eurosong 2008 by Elvir Lakovic Laka and his song Pokusaj (Try). Nobody knows what the song is like because it won’t be aired until 3 March. Having checked out his crazy style, however, we can only expect the unexpected. This year for Eurovision, Turkey will rely on the unconventional sound and vision: TRT have charged the alternative rock band Mor ve Ötesi with the mission to defend Turkey’s Eurovision honour.

More on recently-selected Eurovision artists is yet to come.

The Draw for the Semi-Finals in Belgrade has decided.

The Draw today allocated the positions of each country participating in the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest in one of the two Semi-Finals. 19 countries will participate on 20 May, and the rest will follow on 22 May. Only 20 of the 38 semifinalists will survive till the Final, to be held on 24 May, where the Big 4 and the Host Broadcaster will join them.

Semi-Final 1: Tuesday, May 20

  • Andorra
  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Belgium
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • Greece
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Moldova
  • Montenegro
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • San Marino
  • Slovenia

Semi-Final 2: Thursday, May 22

  • Albania
  • Belarus
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • F.Y.R. Macedonia
  • Georgia
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Malta
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Portugal
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine

Mind you, this is not the running order during the Semi-Finals. It will be drawn only on the HoD Meeting, mid-March.

Give me a reason to watch the Finnish national selection for the 2008 Eurovision, and I’ll give you twelve of them. Not that all twelve participants in the Finnish concert are outstanding artists, but the combination of musical styles and rhythms is amazing!

So, here it is, the list of Finnish artists, who will fight like Vikings for the ticket to Belgrade.

  1. Kari Tapio – Valaise Yö – Mr. Tapio is known for performing the Finnish music, popular in the 70s.
  2. Hanna Marsh – Broken Flower – Ms. Marsh is famous for her tender compositions dominated by rock style. Her lyrical ballads are usually in English. Hanna is known for Chameleon Girl and Silence, More of her here
  3. Movetron – Cupido – you can say the style is techno disco, what we used to listen to back in the 90s in night clubs. Movetron are best known for their tracks Romeo and Juliet and VoodooMan but don’t be deceived by the similarity to Prodigy’s Voodoo People. They sing now in Finnish now and English.
  4. Crumbland – Pleasure – typical American-inspired rock, very melodic and a bit garage-like. I managed to find their In Your Head, which impressed me with nice balance and vocal performance.
  5. Mikael Konttinen – Milloin – very much smacks of the 80s, very much for my mum and dad’s generation rather than for young people, but it’s up to the people, who’ll be up all night to watch the show.
  6. Jippu – Kanna Minut – ahh, that’s music for special moments! Melancholic, guitar-dominated, very pleasant ambient music, which I’d like to enjoy alone. Eurovision fans might estimate it highly, no doubt.
  7. Ninja – Battlefield Of Love
  8. Kristian Meurman with the song Jos En Sua Saa participated in the 2007 Finnish Music Idol. His harsh voice seems to be made for singing rock ballads. Very delightful music, and if he stands no chance on Eurovision, he can definitely rely on good looks among teenagers.
  9. Jenna – Sinua Varten
  10. Vuokko Hovatta – Virginia – What more can we say!
  11. Cristal Snow – Can’t save me – worth noting if only for the number of hits on the Internet. They are a duet with modern sound; not too aggressive though; Dance Electro Pop Punk and Rock can easily be ticked off against their name.
  12. Teräsbetoni – Missä Miehet Ratsastaa – they are representatives of Finnish heavy metal wave, with a martial air to it. I don’t think that Lordi’s success will ever be repeated, but why not have a go?

The national Final will take place on 1 March, after three rounds of competition. It’ll be shown on TV and streamed on the Internet. You can find previous credits of most of the participants on various websites, but for the time being this-year’s Finnish entries are veiled in mist for the general audience.

A feel of the Apennines in the Eurovision Song Contest: the original host of the ESC sends an Italian-speaking singer to the event in Belgrade.

The 2008 Eurovision Song Contest will again celebrate a little piece of Italy through this-year’s Swiss entry. A song that opens up as a ballad and develops into a dynamic, why not, dance track. 31-year-old Paolo surprises us with a powerful performance, immaculate vocal skills, and (does it sound frivolous?) a cute face. Era Stupendo (It Was Great) stands every chance for a decent final position in one of the Semi-Finals in Serbia.

[Just for the record, last year, DJ Bobo entered the competition with a flying start - everyone believed that his Vampires are Alive will bring the early age of techno back and revive it in the ESC. Unfortunately, he finished twentieth and did not make it to the Final in Helsinki.]

Again in Helsinki last year, it was Bonaparte from Latvia who acknowledged the Italian language with the canzonetta Questa Notte. Seems like the interest for the Italian culture is not yet forgotten in the ESC.

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.

Situation with ticket purchase for Eurovision Song Contest, Serbia, 2008 turns out to be Waiting-for-Godot-like.

Picture you’re an average Eurovision fan. You usually plan your trips to the Euro extravaganza well in advance. Buying a ticket is a task number one, once you’ve decided to visit the event. You don’t sleep for days on end waiting for the sacred day, when the host TV will open up the ticket sale.

What is your surprise when neither of the well-known sources refer you to any place where you can buy the cherished piece of paper!

Just like you, I was searching for tickets. As a Eurovision “expert”, I promised my friends to find tickets, “at least for the Final, please”, so that’s how my venture took off: I visited the official website of the venue, the website of the host TV, all the vendors I know. None!! The selling points remained silent till the end of the day, and I remained awaiting their answer.

Anyway, rumours have it that tickets for the 2008 ESC will be available soon. Lets wait and see.

Update: Tickets are now available for package purchase online.

After months of heated debates and hard work for the juries, here is the final list of the participants in the semifinal of THE GO – MALTA SONG FOR EUROPE 2008. The semifinal will be held on 24 January.

  1. Loved by you, Glen & Pamela
  2. Caravaggio, Claudia Faniello
  3. Give me a chance, Eleanor Cassar
  4. My last Encore, Mary Spiteri
  5. Casanova, Morena
  6. Throw your stones, Daniela Vella
  7. Love is just the way, Rosman Pace
  8. GO, Klinsmann
  9. Vodka, Morena
  10. Whispers, Pamela
  11. Superhero, Klinsmann
  12. Contradiction, Jean Claude Vancell
  13. All Right, Chris u Moira
  14. Tangled, Jessica Muscat
  15. If you Believe, Mary Spiteri
  16. Street car of desire, Petra Zammit
  17. Sunrise, Claudia Faniello

The popular names of the Maltese show business are present again: Gerard James Borg is author of Casanova , Throw your stones, Vodka, Superhero and Tangled working in collaboration with Phillip Vella, who composed all these songs; Fleur Balzan wrote the lyrics for Loved By You, Give Me a Chance and Whispers.

MaltaSong FestivalSome of the most famous Maltese artists will try their luck at this-year’s forum again: Fabrizio Faniello’s sister Claudia will perform two songs, one of them a catchy modern pop song, dedicated to the Italian painter Caravaggio. Glen and Pamela will try to impress the audience with their up-tempo Loved by you, which smacks of the 80s, but is a typical festival song; Eleanor Cassar will compete with a touching ballad, charged with power and vocal skills, but nothing surprising as far as composition and lyrics are concerned.

Klinsmann introduces a very positive and fresh note in the festival with his Superhero – something of a college rock and English pop rock. I can’t help picturing how Morena’s song Vodka would be staged in Belgrade in case it has the chance to win the Maltese national selection – it’s a fascinating and energetic blend of styles and national traditions, but definitely worth seeing, though not brilliant in vocal aspect.

The Final of Maltasong will be held on Saturday 26 January. I’m very curious who will win the Maltese national selection.

Kalomoira Saranti, Kostas Martakis and Chryspa will fight for this year’s ticket to the Eurovision Song Contest. All of them are young and sexy and yearn to go to Belgrade. The Greek audience must choose among three very charming and above all talented artists, which is never an easy choice.

Chryspa’s (aka XRISPA) most popular song last year was “Mou Kanei Plaka O Theos” (God Must be Kidding Me). She’s only 22 and has already gained the notable experience of releasing three albums. She performs mainly traditional and popular Greek songs.

Kalomoira has the same prominent number of albums – already three for her 22 years. She often sings traditional Greek music, although she experiments with popular world hits as well.

23-year-old Kostas comes from the catwalk. He started his artistic career as a fashion model, but was soon tempted by the music stage. He’s released one album so far. A true lyrical artist, for sure appealing to ladies of all ages.

The National Final is scheduled for Wednesday, February 27, a bit earlier than last year, and will be held at the Athinon Arena. This is exactly where last year Sarbel came, said “Yassou, Maria” and won himself the chance to represent Greece in Helsinki last spring.

Again the Eurovision Song Contest sees a record number of participants – 43 countries will compete at the 53rd edition of the contest. Two new members will join the event this spring: Azerbaijan and San Marino. So, here it is, final and definitive, the participants’ list of the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest, to be held in Belgrade between 20 and 24 May:

  1. Albania
  2. Andorra
  3. Armenia
  4. Azerbaijan
  5. Belarus
  6. Belgium
  7. Bosnia & Herzegovina
  8. Bulgaria
  9. Croatia
  10. Czech Republic
  11. Cyprus
  12. Denmark
  13. Estonia
  14. Finland
  15. France
  16. FYR Macedonia
  17. Georgia
  18. Germany
  19. Greece
  20. Hungary
  21. Iceland
  22. Ireland
  23. Israel
  24. Latvia
  25. Lithuania
  26. Malta
  27. Moldova
  28. Montenegro
  29. Netherlands
  30. Norway
  31. Poland
  32. Portugal
  33. Romania
  34. Russia
  35. San Marino
  36. Serbia
  37. Slovenia
  38. Spain
  39. Sweden
  40. Switzerland
  41. Turkey
  42. Ukraine
  43. United Kingdom

The European Broadcasting Union seems to be up to a fresh idea. The Union has come up with a new Eurovision format: a Talent Contest. The ETC will feature participants displaying unusual abilities. The purpose is to present a non-verbal trick, so that people all over Europe can understand you. The EBU are also opening up the application procedure by introducing online application.

And a quick reminder: another fresh show, hosted by the BBC, took off this autumn. The Eurovision Dance Contest enjoyed great interest and is expected to grow in the years to come. The first edition featured dancing couples from 16 countries across Europe – Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Ukraine and, of course, the UK. And the winners came from Finland – Jussi Väänänen & Katja Koukkula, who, with their fiery Rumba got the biggest vote from the audiences in all the participating countries.

The Eurovision Talent Contest will be the forth pan-European format produced by the EBU along with the Eurovision Song Contest, the Junior Eurovision Song Contest and the recently launched Eurovision Dance Contest.

We never met, just exchanged a couple of emails, sharing a common interest. Half a year later, I already knew that Matteo is a serious and irrevocable lover of the Eurovision Song Contest. He comes from Italy, and although the country hasn’t participated in the European competition for 10 years, he cherishes a great zest for it. “Informed” is too weak a word to describe Matteo’s opinion of the ESC. So, small wonder that I turned to him for enlightening us on Eurovision.

  1. What is Eurovision to you? How long have you been engaged with the Eurovision idea?

    Eurovision Song Contest for me is a way to know new artists, new sounds and new Cultures. When I was a Child I used to watch yearly the “Zecchino d’Oro”, a tv programme for Children similar to the Junior Eurovision Song Contest. Foreign Songs were performed partly in foreign languages with traditional sounds. This led me to know new Countries, new words…. When I grew up I felt that the Eurovision Song Contest could be the ideal following of my interest in different Cultures: several Countries competing fully in their national language with their home-land sounds.

    My serious interest in the Eurovision Song Contest started back in 1990 when we won for the second time, but I became a huge fan only in 1997… when Italy took part for the last time :(

    Nowadays I’m the president of Ogae Italy, the Official Eurovision Song Contest Italian Fan Club since 2003.

  2. Matteo AldrovandiItaly was one of the original countries to join in Le Grand-Prix Eurovision de la Chanson Européenne. What happened for 50 years so that Italy is not at the ESC today?

    Ah! This is a question that several persons ask me. There are some stupid stories about it, but the truth is only one. RAI used to broadcast the Contest very late in the night. Never “live”, only in 1991. So people, year by year, lost their passion for the Contest. People couldn’t stay up to watch it at 2 am or 3 am to watch it on Tv…. slowly also newspapers stopped writing about it… and the interest in this competition decreased in Italy.

    As You know in Italy we have the San Remo Festival, Italian Music Festival which appeals to around 15.000.000 people in front of the Tv yearly. Sponsors pay so much money to advertise their products and San Remo Festival is sold to foreign televisions worldwide. You can now imagine how much money and efforts RAI TV puts in organising this contest which is held in March every year, too close to the
    Eurovision Song Contest.

    When we asked RAI why not competing to the Eurovision Song Contest, RAI replied us: Why shall we have to take part in a Music Competition totally unknown in Italy, like the Eurovision Song Contest, while we have our San Remo Festival to sell worldwide and we earn so much money from it? As Ogae Club, we are trying to let people know and “remember” the Eurovision Song Contest to the Italian Press and Singers. Many Italian artists would be interested in taking part, but RAI said again a strong NO: Few Audience, High Costs, too near to San Remo Festival.

  3. I know people who say that the East “stole” the Contest from the West and turned it into something different. How would you comment the division East / West?

    I never cared about East and West inside the Eurovision Song Contest. This year this “division” was very strong as only “east” Countries ended in TOP10, but I have to admit that their songs were the Best. I still believe that people at home vote for the Song, not for the Country. Western Countries should learn to send decent songs, with something different and unique, not the same photocopied song.

  4. What I’ve noticed from my practice with Eurovision is that fans are very important. However, when a common viewer watches the show, they vote for a song they hear for the first time, and with some luck – a song they’ve been listening to on the radio. But very few of them have followed the ‘warm-up’ period. So, my question is, to what extent are the fan clubs important for the promotion of the ESC participants beyond the fan club?

    It depends how the Fan Club is working… There are some fan clubs who work in cooperartion with WebSites, with National Television and with Newspaper. Those media report the Fan Club activities and when these Clubs invite a eurovision singer these media cover the event. It’s a great way to be familiar with other Eurovision artists’ names. As for my Club, we work in cooperation with Radio, suggesting them songs to airplay, forwarding addresses to request promotional material to get Eurovision Music. Every single act made by a Fan will be important to make a singer or a song known to several people.

  5. What is your opinion of the introduction of the second Semifinal and the huge number of countries willing to join in the ESC?

    I’m not against new Countries at the Eurovision Song Contest, but only if those bring something “national” to the Contest. If a new country should perform a song in English, with an anonymous sound, I can really live without it in the Contest. For me the Eurovision Song Contest is discovering new sounds, new traditions, folklore in the Songs. So I’m always against using the English Language in songs representing a non-english-speaking Country.

    Ok, I could say: Yes to a song performed half in English and half in national language, but please use also Your national language, it’s something a Country shouldn’t be ashamed to use. A Country should be proud to perform in its language, it’s its heritage to share with Europe.

  6. Christmas and the New Year are coming. Would you be so kind a wish something to our readers?

    Ok, Two Wishes… First: to the Italian readers, that Italy will be back in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2009… but probably this is too much. For the other readers that Your Country will win the Eurovision Song Contest in 2008 so that You can experience what I felt back in 1990 when Italy won for the last time. Now It seems that I won’t experience that feeling anymore, but with the help of all of You, I hope to be able to bring Italy again in the Competition.

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.


A year of debuts and love: Sweden takes off with a massive national selection for the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest in Belgrade.

Here is a list of artists and towns, hosting the two semifinals, the second-chance show, and the grand final of the Swedish Eurosong:

Göteborg, 9 February 2008
Face-84 — Alla gamla x
Velvet — Deja vû
Christer Sjögren — I Love Europe
E-type and the Poodles — Line Of Fire
Brandur — Lullaby
Michael Michailoff — That’s Love
Suzzie Tapper — Visst finns mirakel

Face-84 are four girls, all born in 1984, hence the name of the band. Velvet is not new to the Eurovision stage. She participated in 2006 Melodifestival with “Mi amore” with little success. Hope that this year she won’t have a “deja-vu”.Christer is famous Swedish dance and rock singer. He is mostly known as lead vocal singer in the Swedish dance-band Vikingarna, where he sang between 1978-2004. E-type and the Poodles can safely be called the Swedish DJ Bobbo, and Michael Michailoff is famous for recording an acoustic version of ABBA’s Lay All Your Love On Me

Västerås, den 16 februari 2008
Alexander Schöld — Den första svalan
Lasse Lindh — Du behöver aldrig mer vara rädd
Sanna Nielsen — Empty Room
Rongedal — Just A Minute
Andra Generationen — Kebabpizza Slivovitza
Ola — Love In Stereo
The Nicole — Razborka

Had it not been for the stars Christer Sjögren and E-type & the Poodles, the 2008 would have been the year of debuts. Of the 28 candidates, there are 17 new artists, which is an exceptionally high figure. Also, this seems to be the year of bands – more than half of the candidates participating for the trophy are bands. The artist who fits in both the categories is the debutant band Andra Generationen that participate with the song “Kebabpizza Slivovitza”. They mix Swedish lyrics with typically Balkan music – a fascinating combination to listen to.

There are some other artists with previous experience at the Eurovision. One of them is Sanna Nielsen with the song “Empty room” – a ballad that, according to the singer, goes straightly into the heart.. She participated with the song Vågar du, vågar jag at last-year’s Melodiafestival.

Linköping, den 23 februari 2008
Mickey Huskic — Izdajice
Ainbusk — Jag saknar dig ibland
BWO — Lay Your Love On Me
Caracola — Smiling In Love
Patrik Isaksson — Under mitt tunna skinn
Frida — Upp o hoppa
Thérèse Andersson — When You Need Me

Karlskrona, den 1 mars 2008
Charlotte Perrelli — Hero
Linda Bengtzing — Hur svårt kan d va
Nordman — I lågornas sken
Calaisa — If I Could
Fronda — Ingen mår så bra som jag
Daniel Mitsogiannis — Pame
Sibel — That Is Where I’ll Go

Here are the dates, when you need to watch SVT closely:

Semifinal: 23 February, 2008 in Cloetta Center, Linköping
Semifinal: 1 March, 2008 in Telenor Arena, Karlskrona
Second Chance: 8 March, 2008 in Arena Arctica, Kiruna
Final: 15 March, 2008 in Globen, Stockholm

Eurovision Sweden Selection

Melodifestival is a four-part competition. The final will be held in the early spring of 2008. Two of the stages will be held in Kiruna and Vasteras – two towns that had not hosted the competition before. The towns of Linköping and Karlskrona are not so fresh in the Contest, but for Gothenburg it will be the sixth time to host the show. Stockholm, is naturally the most experienced: it will be the final city of Melodiafestival for a seventh time.

It’s so great to be part of the show, and to be in Sweden during the Melodiafestival. The atmosphere in the town in party-like, and it gives glitter to the streets and entertainment to the inhabitants and guests of the Scandinavian country. Enjoy it!

It takes a lot of time to think all over the events that poured on me during the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, held in Rotterdam at the beginning of December. In a cliché – a magnificent show that takes your breath away. Clichés aside, when you’re part of this dreamy getaway, the excitement is all the more serious.

Upon arrival, I enter a hotel full of mad kids – a wave of colours and joy floating from corner to corner, no rest. The week starts with make-up, shooting of postcards, recording of a joint song “One World”, and interviews for the co-producer UNICEF. The kids are excited, sing running up and down the corridors of the hotel, pose for the cameras patiently, and enjoy every moment of their stay.

All 17 delegations have worked hard get to Rotterdam. Everybody is very friendly despite the tension. Every child has been trained to smile, sing, give interviews and behave. Kids who are more adults than I am. And still you can see their infantile psychology in their lovely childish smiles, in their failure to hide envy or suppress irritation with people trying to cajole them.

Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2007 I can’t wait to see the hall. Ahoy Arena doesn’t strike me as an amazingly beautiful building from the outside, but it has a surprise for me inside. The kids love it from first sight, and they start walking around it as if they were born on the stage and there is nothing intimidating in it. During the rehearsals, the cameras work hard to capture all their movements and happiness and it’s so much fun to see how the juniors flirt with them. Everybody is pleased with the results. Wherever problems there are, you have to solve them immediately and move on as the concert night is knocking on the door.

Tens of rehearsals, hours of dancing and singing… the ice is already broken, also after a day at the ice rink that the organizers have prepared for the young artists. It’s amazing how all children sing the songs of their ‘competitors’. I meet the kids from Romania, who ‘breath in, breath out’ the Dutch song, Lithuanian juniors who mumble the romantic rhymes of the Portuguese song, the charming representative of Cyprus, who sings refrains of the joint song “One World”, the girls from Bulgaria, singing the Swedish song “Nu eller aldrig”. It’s the ultimate non-competition.

But it is a contest after all. During the Dress Rehearsal on Friday, all kids are mega excited, you can see their hearts beating wild, but still there is nothing like tense silence hanging in the air. Some of them channel the tension playing at PlayStation, others lie round the floor on colourful cushions, others hug the presents they’ve received from other participants, still others exchange emails, clutching at their precious notebooks containing tens of contacts, some ever cry with thrill.

The Dress Rehearsal itself goes smoothly. The kids are already tired after a week of rehearsals, and they’re quick to go to bed. No disco tonight.

But the Contest itself is much more entertaining for the audience, and much more stressful for the participants and their delegations. No technical problems cast a gloom on the event – all 17 songs are performed with zest and energy. All kids are dressed in their Sunday bests, they smile and take pictures and again I have to note how calm and cheerful they are. No trace of competition. The Green Room is a sea of flags and smiling faces. It’s next to the stage and it’s made of the benches the children painted earlier during the week. They give a huge applause for their favourite songs – and it seems like not a single song is out of the “Favourite List”. It’s fascinating how the kids know the lyrics of all the songs, all of them in a foreign language, and they sing along with infinite artistic commotion no matter if the lyrics are correct or not. The mood is hyper cheerful. And everyone is happy when Alexey Zhigalkovich from Belarus with the song S Druzyami (With Friends) wins the 2007 Junior Eurovision Song Contest. No one thinks there is anything unfair or corrupt in the competition. They take it as grown-ups, but in a better way.

You can leave everything behind after you’ve seen 17 teams joining together in such a show. Noble is not a good word to describe their attitude. It’s just so very natural, lacking in posture. I bet the kids miss a lot from their childhood – we can argue on this issue day in day out. But we can’t disregard the facts that they enjoy it, and that the JESC is a grand chance for their future; nor can we ignore the fun, the incessant medley of various languages, the bubble of friendship and sympathy, and the precious memories dressed in glamour and gloss the event in Rotterdam must have left in everyone.

Meet you next year in Lemasos!

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.

17 countries will compete for the trophy at the fifth anniversary Junior Eurovision Song Contest, to be held on 8 December in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Here is the final running order:

  1. Georgia – Mari Romelashvili – Odelia Ranuni
  2. Belgium – TRUST – Anders (Differently)
  3. Armenia – AREVIK – Erazanq (A Dream)
  4. Cyprus – Yiorgos Ioannides – I Musiki Dini Ftera (Music Gives You Wings)
  5. Portugal – Jorge Leiria – Só Quero É Cantar (I Only Want To Sing)
  6. Russia – Alexandra Golovchenko – Otlichnitsa (An Excellent Pupil)
  7. Romania – 4KIDS – Sha-la-la
  8. Bulgaria – BON-BON – BonBolandia (Land Of Candy)
  9. Serbia – Nevena Božovi? – Piši Mi (Write To Me)
  10. Netherlands – Lisa, Amy & Shelley – Adem In, Adem Uit (Breath In, Breath Out)
  11. FYR Macedonia – Rosica & Dimitar – Ding Ding Dong
  12. Ukraine – Ilona Galitska – Urok Glamuru (Lesson Of Glamour)
  13. Sweden – Frida Sandén – Nu Eller Aldrig (Now Or Never)
  14. Malta – CUTE – Music
  15. Greece – MADE IN GREECE – Kapou Mperdeftika (Confused)
  16. Lithuania – Lina Joy – Kai Miestas Snaudžia (When The Town Is Asleep)
  17. Belarus – Alexey Zhigalkovich – S Druzyami (With Friends)

JESCThe hosts from Holland have come up with an environmental topic, which involves everyone on the Planet. The song of the Belgium band tells about the stormy life of teenagers and how they manage through the difficult emotions the teenage age brings. The Cypriot, Maltese, and Portugal songs are inspired by the artists’ desire to sing and how important music is in their lives. Some of the songs are about friendship, loved ones, or school. The elder kids, naturally, sing about love, such as the Serbian, the Swedish, and the Greek songs.

One cannot but notice the hard core of the Contest: Belgium, Cyprus, Romania, the Netherlands, Sweden, Malta, Belarus, FYR Macedonia, and Greece are among the loyal participants in the “Kids’ Eurovision”, who have been on the JESC stage since the very beginning. Others like Armenia, Georgia, Bulgaria, Lithuania have just joined the show.

Still others, such as Croatia, Latvia, Poland, Norway, Switzerland, France, Denmark, the UK and Spain have given up participating in the JESC for various reasons. We hope they are coming back. Obviously, the ebb of participation on the part of these countries has not affected the popularity of the Contest, as this year we have 17 countries again. Has it not been for the last-minute withdrawal of Spain, the number would have been 18.

All children at the 2007 JESC are professionals: they go to piano, dance, singing, etc classes, study at music schools and their lives are fully focused on a future music career. Up till last year the kids couldn’t be professionally involved in a music career, but this year, the EBU has decided the other way round, which in my mind, makes the Contests all the more interesting.

The EBU finally announced that because of the huge number of countries (by preliminary information, already breaking the record of 42) there will be 2 Semi-Finals. The fresh piece of news is that the Semi-Finals won’t be held in the same day, but in two different days – on 20 and 22 May respectively. The Final is planned for 24 May.

A draw held at the end of January will determine the Semi-Final every country will be participating in. Your local broadcaster will have to air at least one of them, but depending on the local management, you might be able to enjoy both Semi-Finals.

Apart from this, again we’ll be able to view a couple of Countdown shows, which warm up the audience for the Grand Final. Again – it’s up to national decisions.

Seems like it’ll be a huge Eurovision week in May.

Warming up for the next Eurovision Song Contest, I decided to talk to the fans – the people who have turned the Contest into what it is today. Collectors’ items, merchandising products, promotional materials, small gifts… fans are always eager to get them, with their interest sometimes making completely unknown singers great music stars.

That’s why I called an eminent specialist in the sphere of Eurovision mania, who can be trusted to give a reliable, competent and well-informed opinion.

Chris Zavos is one of the first people in Greece to whom it occurred to draw to the idea others sharing the same love for the Contest.

  1. Sarbel and Chris ZavosHow long have you been involved with the Eurovision idea?

    My first Eurovision Song Contest was in 1979 when I was still a little kid, and as the time passed on that night my parents decided that I could not watch the show until the end because I had to go to bed; the next day they told me that Israel had won (Hallelujah). For the following years of my life I was involved in classical music, and I rediscovered Eurovision in 1987 when Greece was represented by a boy band named Bang. After many obscure years, there was again hope in Greece that we would achieve a good result, which was eventually the 10th place. In those years we only had National television in our homes, so there was a lot of publicity given to the event. I still keep in my collection my first ever official National tv magazine featuring Bang in its cover. However, it was only in 1990 that I became a member of an organized Eurovision Society.

  2. You are one of the greatest fans of Eurovision I know. I also know you as a person who likes classical music and jazz, and adores classic theatre – elite, high art as a whole. How would you explain this mixture of tastes, that some people would find unusual? What do you think it comes to say about the “Eurovision” art?

    Indeed, I love quality art, mainly because I was raised in a conservatoire ever since I was a little child, and I played the violin in a classical symphony orchestra. Still, I cannot explain even myself how I contracted the “Eurovision virus”. There have been times that I was embarrassed to admit in certain artistic cycles this side of me, because there is a general misconception that Eurovision is meant for certain people who lack good taste. This is absolutely not true. Throughout the years I have met many real professionals involved in the event and have become good friends with journalists, musicians, fans, singers, and tv people from around the world. It is exactly this idea of intercultural relations that fascinates me, the feeling that I belong in a wider world; Eurovision was originally conceived to serve these ideals. After all, I adore travelling and meeting with new mentalities and life styles. This is why people like me are the greatest supporters of the songs that keep their traditional National elements.

  3. I know that you are one of the most important and influential people in the Greek OGAE. How would you comment the importance of fan clubs on people’s attitude to the Eurovision Song Contest? How important your work is for the promotion of the contest?

    Thank you for your kind words. Although I am currently the oldest active member in OGAE Greece, I have recently left the administrative board for professional reasons, because I had to move to Crete for a few years. However, I fully trust our new board in Greece, and I am always pleased to offer my views and suggestions whenever asked.

    Fan clubs are very important because they keep the Eurovision candles lit. They hold reunions and song contests throughout the whole year, not only during the Eurovision period. Moreover, every fan has their own archives of collector’s items, such as newspapers, magazines, books, records, videos, posters, autographs, stamps, photos, etc. OGAE international has a fanzine produced in Germany and distributed to all affiliated National clubs.

  4. Do you tend to work in cooperation with ERT, the Greek public broadcaster, and in what respect do you work with them?

    When we organized the event in Athens in 2006, all the Greek fans put together their own pieces of the puzzle, and the result was a unique deluxe illustrated publication with information about the past Greek Eurovision entries, which was offered as a gift to all the fans that came from all the participating countries. We were also responsible for hosting the foreign fans by providing help with tickets, accommodation, and transportation through a hospitality initiative. I think this has saved a lot of effort, time and money to our National broadcaster. We are keen on participating in every aspect of the contest just for the honor of participating. During the live show, we create a unique atmosphere supporting our National entries, and it is not strange that the EBU trusts the front seats to the OGAE network.

  5. The EBU decided to introduce a new format for the ESC – the two semifinals. Many countries protested against this decision with little effect. How would you comment this innovation and its influence on the interest to the show?

    I only know that this innovation will not have any impact on the ardent fans. We are of the opinion that “the more countries, the more fun, the more collector’s items”. It may sound crazy to someone who hasn’t got the Eurovision virus, but for those who have it and read these lines will certainly accord with them. Besides, it has been shown that the new participating countries are more interested in the contest that the traditional ones, thus I see no reason why anyone should be excluded from the show. Whenever a change happens, there are certainly many people who are ready to foresee a catastrophy. It is not bad to try new formats as long as you later recognize if they have worked or not and try something different the following year.

  6. What are your expectations about this-year’s entries at the ESC? What kind of song do you think Europe wants to hear in order to grant the trophy to it?

    Eurovision is undoubtedly unpredictable. One year it’s ethnic, another it is hard rock, the third it is a ballad. It’s really risky to tell who is going to win. Personally, I truly wish quality songs and musicians could win the contest more often, although it seems that the show presented on the stage becomes more and more important than the songs and voices themselves. Even so, the contest is an excellent means for singers to present their work to an international audience, and the trophy itself seems less important than the exposure someone gets through this event.

  7. I’m now playing advocate to the Devil… but I have to ask you this question: Do you think that the end of the ESC is close? That is, leaving the most ardent fans alone, do you think that people are fed up with Eurovision?

    I think that the end of the ESC is close for some of the Big4 countries and some of the traditional countries, and that in the future we will see a few of those countries opting not to submit an entry, like Italy did some years ago. But I see a lot of enthusiasm from the newcomers and this alone is encouraging that the end of Eurovision is yet to come. In Greece, ERT obtains a share of over 90% in the last 4 years, mainly because striking names have decided to participate. It’s amazing that so many people criticize the quality of the Contest, yet the share in Greece remains breathtakingly high.

What more can I say after these words! Let’s enjoy together the next Eurovision Song Contest.

Busy as he might be, Dmitry Koldun will next go to Sofia, Bulgaria as a special guest in the national selection show EuroBGvision. Koldun will have a mini-gig as he’ll be singing for like a quarter of an hour, presenting the best of his musical art.

EuroBGvision show is the Bulgarian national broadcaster’s attempt to draw more fans to the Eurovision idea, explaining the basis of the Contest, providing some history, starting up furious discussions between the commentators, and giving the floor to the crowds. The stage is given to singers from all over the country and Bulgarians living abroad, who want to try their luck to qualify for the grand stage in Belgrade. Most of them are way below the average, but this doesn’t seem to bother those with no ear for music.

Koldun is the best qualifying artist for Belarus, since the country’s first participation in 2004. After his grand success in Helsinki this spring, he’s been quite busy, filming videos all over the place, mostly in Moscow. Seems like Russia’s enjoying the miracle from Minsk more than anyone else.

The beginning of this week saw the opening of the Belarusian national selection. State TV of Belarus, along with most broadcasters whose artists finished in the top 10 in this-year’s ESC, protested against the introduction of the new format. Still, the country will continue participating in the Contest with a fresh artist. Who will they be? We’ll know in a couple of months.

Yesterday, I saw a Dutch film on a Middle-Eastern country, featuring the way people there organise music and entertainment contests. The only thing that participants are allowed to do by way of choreography, is to snap their fingers. Any form of outspoken excitement is banned. Women are not allowed to the stage at all.

Never mind what this image might make you think – the cultural difference is fascinating and definitely worth seeing.

In this sense, I was interested to read that Abulfas Garayev, Azerbaijan’s Culture and Tourism Minister, said that they are working more and more on the country’s joining the Eurovision Song Contest not later than 2008. For more information, visit http://en.apa.az/news.php?id=36706

Wonder where the boundaries of European music can be posed? Are we facing here the phenomenon of music that has no borders..? If Israel, Georgia, Moldova, and now Azerbaijan participate in a European music forum, shall we expect the US joining in shortly? Or Australia, where indeed Eurovision enjoys huge popularity. And why not? For one thing, last year Georgia’s ESC entrant Sopho with her Visionary Dream was amazing with the combination of ethnic and European, a blend between national folk and world-wide house music.

The ESC is not necessarily reserved for European countries only. The only thing that worries me is that in a couple of years, we’ll end up with 10 instead of 2 Semi-Finals.

It took me two weeks or so to read and reread the suggestions for a new format for the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest. I read what Mr. Stockselius said,

“We are convinced that the introduction of a second Semi-Final contributes to a more stable future for the Eurovision Song Contest..”

I went on to see how important commentators viewed the news, and finally got the nerve to have a say myself.

The facts:

  1. From next year on, we will have two Semi-Finals (something we expected to become a fact only after 2008). All participants must go through a Semi-Final, except for the “Big 4″ (or BIG $, if you keep the Caps Lock on all the time), who qualify directly for the Final… That is, the results from ESC 2007 will (except for the winner) have no meaning for the 2008 edition in Serbia.
  2. The two Semi-Finals will take place at the same time, the night of 22 May. Rumours have it that even a separate Semi-Final was discussed for Eastern Europe, having in mind top 10 from ESC 2007 (all 10 countries are from the Eastern bloc). If this happens, you will watch only one part of Europe at Eurovision… If you come from Russia, you will only watch the songs of the former Russian republics, the Yugoslavian satellites, and a few more… Okay, what if you want to watch the Danish songs, or the Norwegian one, or.. hm, wonder where Hungary goes?
  3. The results will be announced live for both Semi-Finals, while the artists are in the Green Room. Picture this… we have two Green rooms, or what?
  4. Some said that there should be a wild card for each Semi-Final, which will be granted to the song, preferred by the back-up juries.

I reckon the whole thing takes a lot off the flavor of the Contest.

No, I’ll start in a different way. When I first watched the ESC, years ago, I though “blah, it’s so unfair to have last-year’s results reflecting this-year’s edition.. Let all countries compete on a fair ground and see who’s the best THIS YEAR.” As I was growing up with Eurovision, I grew to like this rule. Indeed, it gave the event an interesting side – all countries wanted to perform better so that in the following year they could go directly to the Grand Final, or the finale grande… And then the problem with ‘neighbor’ or ‘gastarbeiter’ vote appeared, and it all was corrupted.

And we remember the good old times, when the winner would be chosen by the vote of an international jury. But today, there are the major international telecommunication corporations, which will never of earth let loose the pan-European crowds of zealous voters.

The ESC Reference group, as we get to know who pulls the strings, must agree on Rules that do not present the European pop scene one-sidedly. I can see that they want to make the Contest modern and fascinating for everyone. But I cannot see how two Semi-Finals will help solve the matter. Because this will mean more money, more flash, and less value of the true song.

Ever thought of becoming a great music star? Impossible? Read on, and you’ll see that a music career is not a mission impossible today.

What follows is an offer of 5 top spots where your music talent, even though you might be unaware of it, can be recognized by specialists.

  1. Frequent the bathroom, not necessarily to take a shower. The acoustics of the pipes and the ambiance of the place guarantees fast fame.
  2. Go camping in the mountains. Encountering a bear can change your life for good, but it can also be the beginning of a glorious career in opera.
  3. Use any chance to line up with a crowd of strangers. Never mind why, queuing to get the best seats for tonight’s gig, or waiting for your hot meal in the canteen, make sure you shout loud. You never know if anyone’s looking for partners for their new band. Local gigs are the best first source of income…
  4. Flood the Internet with your last single. You’ve got nothing to lose. Only those, whose mobiles are off all the time, never end up with a flat battery. But.. never get the crucial calls…
  5. Finally, try singing while bungee-jumping. Improvisation in show biz, I tell you, is what’ll keep you way ahead of the mobs.

Wondering where it all starts, and how one gets successful at Eurovision, I decided to try asking Maltese sisters Natasha and Charlene, a huuuge example of Eurovision spirit.. They were so kind to spend some time on my queries. Have a look at what they have to say on music, Eurovision, and…

  1. You are one of the most successful duets in the history of Eurovision. You are among the most popular names in the music industry in Malta and across Europe. Is it only the family link between you two, and love for music that keeps you on top, or there is something else?

    Well, being sisters we think helps a lot because when working on new material we have no problem speaking our minds out or complaining to each other J nobody gets offended, and if we do, it will soon pass because we’re used to arguing and making friends again in no time! The other thing is that we’re always up for new ideas and always ready to experiment with new styles, and of course we are both very determined and find a lot for support from our family and that gives us the strength to get up again after each fall and be stronger for whatever is yet to come!

  2. Charlene and Natasha ESCYou come from a country where Eurovision is almost a cult. What are your latest projects released or to be released on the music market and are they related ONLY to Eurovision?

    As regards Eurovision this year, yes, we have been working on some very good new material! J and this summer we’ve also been busy creating something more which is due to be ready very soon!

  3. You are absolutely successful on the TV, your faces are familiar to everyone in Malta. Where can international fans see you and listen to you these days, if they come to Malta?

    We are back on Net TV as from the first week of October, “Sas-Sitta” which is an afternoon entertainment program, live every Saturday from 2pm till 6pm. Then of course we have our private functions in various hotels and different localities around Malta. We will be taking part in various concerts these coming days and will be very busy throughout Christmas with a very big show which is also a production of Spiteri Lucas Entertainment. For more info visit www.charleneandnatasha.com

  4. Last year, we saw you on the Bulgarian National Final as part of an international project with Swedish and Irish as well as Bulgarian participation. What can motivate you participate for a country which is not your native?

    First of all, we would like to say that our participation in Bulgaria last year was an experience we shall never forget! We were approached by Jonas Gladnikoff and later on also by Niall Mooney to work on the song Open your Eyes, as we listened to it the first time we immediately agreed it would’ve been a good song for the Eurovision. Bulgaria gave us the opportunity to enter our song in the competition and as we are always up for new opportunities we decided to try our luck in your festival as well J

  5. How far do your plans go to international participation, no only related to the ESC?

    We have worked with different composers as we like to experiment new styles, and since music is something platonic the more ideas from different people of different backgrounds and from different countries, the better it gets. Presently we are working on more material with new artists and composers from different countries as well as from Malta.

  6. This year you are taking part in the National selection of Malta. What are your expectations given the competition for the up-coming Eurovision season? Who are your most serious competitors?

    Every year is a very tough competition here in Malta, we have a lot of talented singers as well as composers, and everybody is very determined to win! There are a few popular names which have been in the scene for some years now and everybody is waiting for his time to come plus you never know about the new faces. I just hope the best song wins!

  7. And finally, Open Your Eyes, the song performed in Sofia during the national Contest, carries a wonderful message. I cannot imagine it performed in any other language but English. This is not the case for Malta, but what do you think of artists performing in English, for whom English is not native.

    Well, I guess the most important thing in a song is that you are able to communicate your message, you want people to understand what your song is about, so they can relate to your feelings and make it their own song.. so it would really have to depend on who’s listening J

Wish you good luck in your future participation on Eurovision and hope to see you soon, maybe in Belgrade!

The popular Irish folk band Dervish, also Ireland’s entrant at the Eurovision Song Contest 2007, will release their tenth album on October 26. Travelling Show promises to reach record peaks in sales. It will come out during the Sligo Live festival, running from 25 to 29 October, a long Bank Holiday Weekend…
Keeping up with the Celtic tradition, Dervish enjoy huge popularity across Europe and in the United States. This year Dervish did not manage to defend the fame of all-time winner Ireland (Ireland has won the ESC trophy the record seven times). Even so, the band have continued their successful carrier, especially on the folk music front.

Among the popular names at the Sligo Fest are Buena Vista Social Club, Alabama 3, Duke Special, At First Light and others. I can only envy those who’ll go to the the gig! Check out the official website: http://www.sligolive.ie/

This-year’s ESC winner Marija Serifovic visited the Serbian Parliament, first thing in the morning after she came back to the country with the Eurovision trophy. The MPs of the Serbian Skupstina applauded the singer hugely for her great success in Helsinki two days ago.

“I repeat what I already said in Helsinki – I hope that this award will open new doors to new Serbia,” Serifovic said.

The news of Molitva’s triumph on 2007 Eurosong Extravaganza in Hartwall Areena was met with great enthusiasm all over the country.

Source: Eurovision Srbija

Poll for the worst dressed artist in the contest. :)
Vote at Eurovision House!

Here you can find more info about the Barbara Dex award and the winners for previous years.

The Eurovision Song Contest 2008 will be hosted by Belgrade, Serbia. There are speculations that “The Beogradska Arena” will be the venue for the 2008 ESC.

Speculation about the location of the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest has already begun, and the first eyes to look towards Belgrade are looking straight at the Beogradska Arena, with a capacity of up to 20,000 spectators.( esctoday.com )

Here is the list of entrants that have already qualified for the Grand Final:


The Big Four:
United Kingdom

A minute ago Serbia won the Eurovision Song Contest.
Congratulations Serbia!!!

Winners- Serbia

The final ranking is as follows:

  1. Serbia – 268
  2. Ukraine – 235
  3. Russia – 207
  4. Turkey – 163
  5. Bulgaria – 157
  6. Belarus – 145
  7. Greece – 139
  8. Armenia – 138
  9. Hungary – 128
  10. Moldova – 109
  11. Bosnia & Herzegovina – 106
  12. Georgia – 97
  13. Romania – 84
  14. Macedonia - 73
  15. Slovenia - 66
  16. Latvia – 54
  17. Finland – 53
  18. Sweden – 51
  19. Germany – 49
  20. Spain – 43
  21. Lithuania - 28
  22. France – 19
  23. United Kingdom – 19
  24. Ireland – 5