Dec, 2007

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!