Jan, 2008

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