Tuesday, April 29, 2008

On the spotlight: Switzerland

Switzerland has often borrowed foreign singers to sing for them, most notably Céline Dion who brought them their second victory in 1988, and Estonian girlband Vanilla Ninja in 2005. Despite two victories Switzerland also sports two miserable zero pointers: Gunvor in 1998 and Piero Esteriore, who managed to get zero points in a semifinal with 22 acts! Now they chose another Swiss Italian singer to represant them for the second year in a row but a singer with a solid career and international fame. Last year Dj BoBo was amongst the superfavourites but failed to make the final, let's see how Paolo will do in Belgrade... Paolo Meneguzzi was born as Pablo Meneguzzo in Mondrisio, Switzerland in 1976. He got his first guitar from his grandfather, a multi instrumentalist, before he was big enough to play it. His career started in South America in 1996 when he won the Viña del Mar festival in Chile with Aria, arió. Three albums in Spanish followed (Por amor, Paolo and Emociones) before his Italian debut in Sanremo festival in 2001. Paolo participated in Sanremo for the first time in 2001 in new comer's section and came 7th with Ed io non ci sto piú. When he returned in 2004 he was already a star and his Guardami negli occhi (Prego) came 4th. In 2005 he sung Non capiva che l'amavo but it didn't make the top-3. He was back in 2007 with Musica. Placing only 6th it was however the biggest hit out of that edition. He took part again this year and Grande was again 6th. His other chart topping hits include In nome dell'amore, Lei é, megahit VeroFalso and Baciami. His albums have sold platinum and double platinum each. In November he released a live CD and DVD Musica Tour. The DVD was filmed by TSI, Swiss Italian speaking tv. Paolo comes to Belgrade as one of the favourites and one of the biggest internationally known artists. Self admitted Eurovision fan he is thrilled to represant his Switzerland and be part of all this. He has also stated in many interviews he couldn't be happier if Italy returned, too, and even sing for Italy in the future. Meanwhile, he is promoting his brand new album Corro via and has plans for conquering wider international markets. Is he the new Eros Ramazzotti to fill the European (and not only) radios?

See & hear the promovideo here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqNTuz7yR4s

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Moldova wins Ourvision 2008

Best singers vovally were awarded in last night's Ourvision final. Moldovan Iolanta Savva (18) won the contest and gets a recording deal. Estonian Kadi Vija (22) came second and Norlan Leygonier Santana from Cuba was third. The winner will perform in the Maailma kylässä (World visiting us) festival in Helsinki in May and well as The night of Arts in August. Congrats Iolanta, well done and well deserved!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Esctoday presents a night to remember

esctoday.com with partners made it happen: the biggest Eurovision event in London since 1977! Eleven of this year's entries were present along with the winner of 1981 Bucks Fizz, Iceland's 1997 entrant Paul Oscar and Nanne Grönvall from Sweden (Sweden 1996 with One More Time and countless Melodifestivalens). Based on this success it's not a wild guess this will happen again! Well done, Barry & co! Belarus, Romania, Malta and Poland meeting the press before the show... Scandinavia was represented by Iceland and Norway. The animals were represented by Ireland Armenian and Ukrainian beauties.... Sirosho from Armenia has fun with Bosnian Crazy Sister and Laka....Bucks Fizz, the winner of ESC 1981 reunited for the occasion. Paul Oscar (Iceland 1997) was there, too. Also UK's hopeful Andy Abraham made an appearance... And the good news is the Winner's Tour will include London this year and the same venue! Let's see if it is one of these guests returning?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Ourvision 2008: From Ghana to Canada

The Ourvision singing contest, a far cry from ever dreamed Worldvision Song Contest will have its second edition tomorrow night in prestigious Finlandia Hall in Helsinki (where the Welcoming Party was held last year!). Ten acts made it to the final in the continental semifinals over the winter and this time around it's bigger and better: the winner gets a recording contract and a chance to make a music video! Maybe next year we will also hear original songs and turn this from a sort of a karaoke contest into a real thing? Time will tell.... The Asiavision finalists are Lesmana Vilmi (Indonesia) and Adi Subari (Indonesia) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AZE2iTiNg0
The Arabvision finalists are Jawhar Karim (Iraq) and Mounir El-Bentite (Morocco) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E48ieqtD7QY
The Americavision finalists are Pascal Gaudion (Canada) and Norlan Leygonier Santana (Cuba) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUTl-cp2sRQ
The Afrovision finalists are I.T.D aka Jabril Mohammed & Mohamed Isse (Somalia) and Cecilian Naadensua Qaurshi (Ghana) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QybaA-Jp0RU
The Europevision finalists are Kadi Vija (Estonia) and Iolanta Savva (Moldova) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mfq8__Cjal
Quite interesting fact is Latvian Ruslanas Kirilkinas didn't made it to the final here despite making it already to the Finnish Idols final stages....
Last year's winner Samantha Sayegh from Lebanon
The Ourvision singing contest was born last year as one of the many spin offs of the Eurovision song contest 2007 happening in Helsinki. Ourvision is a singing contest organised by The International Cultural Centre Caisa and is aimed at anyone living in Finland with an immigrant background. The judges will be Tidjan from Kwan, Mariska, Kim Herold of Humane and record company Edel Records rep Ilkka Vainio. The final in Savoy Theatre in 2007 was won by Lebanese born Samantha Sayegh. After her victory she was offered two record deals but unfortunately for family reasons she had to return to Lebanon just months after her win. Sofy Kapepula from Congo was the runner up and her career has been on hold as she had a baby after the contest. Eva Wong from Malaysia placed third and is still performing and will be on stage also tomorrow.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Marija is no angel

Last year's Eurovision winner, Serbia's Marija Šerifović has released a new album just in time for the Belgrade experience. Nisam andjeo or I'm no angel is her third album after Naj, Najbolja (2003) and Bez ljubavi (2006). Last year after her victory she released a compilation Molitva - The best of. Naturally, Marija will be on stage in Belgrade in May performing again her winning song Molitva. Listen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtpsqazeihM

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

On the spotlight: Bulgaria

Bulgaria entered the Eurovision family in 2005 and their two first entries didn't make it to the final but last year in Helsinki Elitsa Todorova & Stoyan Yankulov's Water made it to 6th place in semifinal and even better 5th place in the final. The stage show was impressive and in my personal opinion the stage looked the best of them all in the Bulgarian entry. Talk about a great opener for the contest, as they performed first in the semifinal! This year again Bulgaria should make it to the final easily... This time Bulgaria has made yet another different choice by sending a club anthem that includes diffferent music styles - all in 3 minutes. Favourite by many, misunderstood by some DJ, take me away will surely not pass unnoticed in Belgrade!Deep Zone Project was formed in 2000 by three musicians, DJ's and studio engineers: DJ Dian, Rossko and Luybomir Savov with Joanna. Their debut album Ela Izgei in 2002 earned them 5 MMTV Music Award nominations: Album of the year, Band of the year, Best video, Debut of the year and Best song that they won. The year after their Without coffein won the award for the Best Club track. Their biggest international hit so far is Mystika, made famous by Roger Sanchez, and they also remixed Madonna's Ray of light. They also remixed last year's Belarussian entry Work your magic by Dima Koldun. DJ Balthazar started as DJ in 1998 and has become one of the most succesful and respected Bulgaria DJs and producers. He has performed in big raves, radios and TVs in nearly 20 European countries so far and has been DJ'ing with Roger Sanchez and Danny Tenaglia, just to name a few... He's also a party promoter and has his own agency, Renesanz. He often works with JackRock and together they have released more than 50 remixes worldwide with different labels.

Watch the promovideo here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nO23DOc-vBY

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Iceland tributes YouTube

Iceland has revealed its promovideo and it's a hilarious tribute to YouTube homemade vids and EuroClubbing fans in general. And Regina and Fridrik challenge Carola and Isis Gee on teeth bleaching! It's just absolutely fabulous and Iceland just may have passed on top as my main favourite in May! See yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQm7dFO4E1Y

Riki Sorsa granted artist's pension

Riki Sorsa, who did Reggae Ok! for Finland in 1981 has been granted the state's pension for artists (1.199 euros/month). Riki was diagnosed with throat cancer a couple of years ago and is now cured but can't sing anymore. Riki who has been living on music all his life found himself in a bit tricky situation after that but the good news now is he's the new face for the Finnish Cancer association and will work for them in various events and campaigns.

See Riki in action here: Haaveissa vainko oot mun (Euroviisut 1985/2.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOOY3kPa3To , Reggae Ok! 1981/2006 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbYX19De8mQ

On the spotlight: Hungary

Hungary sends in their 9th entry this year, since their first participation in 1993. Andrea Szulák didn't survive the pre-qualification that year so the first real entry came a year later when Friderika Bayer charmed Europe and took 4th place. The year after they were second last and were out of the 1996 contest. Since then it has been a roller coaster and Hungary stepped down for 6 years until they returned in 2005. NOX was a big favourite beforehand but managed only 12th place. Last year Magdi Rúzsa won awards and gained points to take her to 9th place (2nd in her semi) and was just the loveliest of all artists in Helsinki. After Magdi's jeansy blues we get a classy lady indeed... Csézy released her debut album last year and its first single was a smash hit, helped with the visually stunning video. Earlier this year she was chosen by the Hungarian public out of 15 artists and songs to represant the country in the Eurovision. Csézy (28) has a strong musical training behind her. Besides her vocal talent she is also a classical pianist. She has also been a group that performed local folk music and Csézy is proud to preserve the Hungarian folk music tradition, being the last descendant of the worldfamous Matyó dynasty. Csézy's song has been translated into English for Belgrade and is titled Candlelight from the original Hungarian Szivverés. There is also a bootleg dance version of the song on YouTube. The composer Viktor Rakonczai has been already to the Eurovision back in 1997 as a member of V.I.P. boyband and co-writer of their song Miért kell, hogy elmenj? that gained a respectable 12th place. He will be on stage with Csézy in Belgrade, too, playing the piano. Csézy's backing vocalists on stage will be accapella group Fool Moon. They have won several awards on various international accapella gatherings.

See the wonderful video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8s0Q-O5gHgE

Euroviisut artists going up again in charts

Jippu drops to no 2 on the album chart as metal rockers Children of Bodom enters the chart at no 1. Also Kari Tapio drops to no 5 while the other Euroviisut artists climb back some positions: Teräsbetoni to no 7, Movetron to no 9, Vuokko Hovatta to no 11 and Cristal Snow to no 24.
In singles Missä miehet ratsastaa returns to Top-5 again but there's no longer trace of any other singles.In compilations both Euroviisut 2008 and Melodifestivalen 2008 have left the Top-5.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

On the spotlight: Andorra

Andorra entered the Eurovision in 2004 but is yet to reach the final. They have even managed to come last in the semifinal already despite decent songs in general. Last year they were the shock drop outs as Anonymous was amongst the favourites and considered rather safe qualifier. This year Andorra tries again something new and different for them: a rather Scandinavian sounding poptune sung by a Spanish artists who actually does have a career already: Gisela! Spanish Gisela from Barcelona will represant Andorra in the Eurovision this year. She already backed up Rosa in 2002 as a member of the Operación Triunfo finalists. She was studying journalism when she was accepted to OT and the rest is history. Disney soon picked her up to sing in Peter Pan, The Beauty and The Beast and Enchanted. She has also done musicals and represanted Spain in Viña del Mar festival in 2003 that she won. She remains the only one who has won both the best singer and the best song awards. In 2008 she hopes to bring Andorra to the final in Belgrade. Gisela's recording career includes 3 solo albums: Parte de mi in 2002 (triple platinum and re-released in Chile in 2003 and selling double platinum), Mas allá in 2003 (double platinum) and Ni te lo imaginas in 2006 produced by Jordi Cubino. She's also featured on several soundtracks has been dubbing cartoons as well sings a Brazilian soap opera's title song.The composer and producer Jordi Cubino (40) is amongst the best selling composers, if not the best selling composer in this year's contest. His million sellers singles include Latin Grammy winning Corazón latino by David Bisbal and FIFA World Cup 2006 theme song The time of our lives performed by Il Divo with Tony Braxton. He started his musical career at the age of 17 and has since made it big in the advertising world winning awards and composing songs and jingles as well as soundtracks for films, especially cartoons.

Watch the promovideo here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t32IK0T3aXk

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Charlotte at Stockmann

Charlotte from Sweden is on her promotour and was in Finland this week. Between photoshoots, autographs and interviews a girl needs to shop! And when in helsinki where else to go but Stockmann.... See the full video here: http://charlotteperrellivideo.blogg.se/

Does it pay off to return as a previous winner?

Does it pay off to return to Eurovision after you have already won it once? Generally previous winners do well. Some acts have returned over and over again without winning and with variable results. Honorable mentions go to Peter, Sue & Marc from Switzerland, Katja Epstein and Wind from Germany... but let's have a look at the winners: The very first winner Lys Assia returned again in 1957 and 1958 (were there no other singers in Switzerland back then??) but the victory didn't struck her again, even if she came 2nd in 1958. Isabelle Aubret, the French winner in 1961 returned in 1968 and came third. Italy's Gigliola Cinquetti was close to win twice, too. In 1964 as sweet 16 and ten year's later a grown up woman came 2nd behind ABBA. In 1991 she was back on Eurovision stage in Rome, trying to keep Toto Cutugno making a complete disaster of the final in Cinecittà. The we have Ireland's Johnny Logan, the only one to win twice (or rather 3 times as Linda Martin's song in 1992 was written by him): in 1980 and again in 1987.Elisabeth Andreasson represented Sweden once (8th in 1982) and returned for Norway as Elisabeth Andreassen and won in 1985. She returned again for Norway in 1994 (6th) and yet again in 1996 when she was a solo act for the first time and nearly won coming 2nd. A very good score for her! Carola tried Eurovision for the first time in 1983 (3rd) and returned to win in 1991. Her third try in 2006 ended a disappointing 5th place. Ireland's Linda Martin also nearly won it twice but in reverse order: 2nd in 1984 and 1st in 1992. So, this year Charlotte Nilsson, winner of 1999, returns as Charlotte Perrelli as any former winner is a superfavourite. Will she follow Johnny Logan's footsteps or will she do La Cinquetti or Carola-esque "fiasco"? Or will Russia's Dima Bilan rise from the 2nd place in 2006 to victory in 2008? Time will tell...

On the spotlight: Turkey

Turkey used to struggle in the Eurovision but the televoting changed it all and the first victory came in 2003. They have also been in Top-4 three times: 1997, 2004 and again last year in Helsinki. Turkey is one of the few countries that tend to send songs with a real flavour like Eurovision should be but this year the song is not very Turkish but it is in Turkish. And once in final they can again relay on their votes from Germany, France, Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland to place well. But then, they do deserve it. Again.This year Turkey trusts in rock and being the only one besides Finland (and in a different semi) they should make it to the final. Mor ve Ötesi (Purple and beyond) was founded in 1995 and has since released 5 albums, 18 singles and 12 videos. Their albums have sold over 350.000 copies so far. The year 2006 has been so far the most successful for the band. They won both the Best Rock Album and the Best Album of the year awards for Dünya Yalan Söylüyor and also the Altin Portakul Film Festival's the Best song from a movie award.The band has been an active member in both anti-nuclear and anti-Iraq war campaigns. They have played over 400 concerts over the years and headlined numerous open air festivals. They have also played 15 sold out concerts in Germany in 2004-2007. The current line up of the band is: Kerem Kabadayı (drums), Harun Tekin (vocals/guitar), Burak Güven (bass) and Kerem Özyeğen (guitar). Fresh from being nominated the Band of the Year 2007 in Turkey they are going to Belgrade.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

On the spotlight: Iceland

Iceland participates in the Eurovision for the 21st time. They debuted back in 1986 and have since gathered some good placings and also last places and zero points. They have four top-10 finishes (4th in 1990, 7th in 1992, 2nd in 1999 and 9th in 2003) and this year they are amongst the (fan) favourites again. This is my life should be a sure qualifier for the final, Iceland's first since the semifinals were introduced... Euroband was formed two years ago after the Icelandic final where Regina came 2nd and Fridrik 3rd. For fun they started singing Eurovision songs and last year Fridrik tried his luck again and came 2nd. The most natural step was then to try as Euroband... Fridrik Ómar (26) started playing drums at the age of 5, composed his first song at 10, and by the age of 18 he had already released 2 albums. He also plays guitar and piano. Since then he has done musicals, sung in different bands and one of his albums has sold gold, another one platinum. Regína Ósk (30) started singing before she could talk as well. In her teens she won teo talent contests, sung with her school choir and studied classical singing. She has also sung in several bands and performed in musicals. She has already been the backing singer in the Eurovision in 2001, 2003 and 2005 and now steps on the front line. She has released 3 solo albums so far.

Paul Oskar (38), the lyricist is one of the biggest stars in Iceland. He already represanted the country in the contest in 1997. His coreography and performance included a sofa on stage and set a new standard for the show factor in Eurovision. He started his musical career very young and has recorded several albums, scored numerous hits, works as a DJ and also hosted radio shows. British Peter Fenned helped him with the English lyrics and will also be in charge for the staging of the entry for Belgrade.

The composer Örlygur "Öggi" Smári (37) already wrote the Icelandic entry Tell me back in 2000. He's from Reykjavik and has been in the music business since early 1990's. In 2000-2005 he was working in Sweden as music producer, sound engineer and songwriter. In 2005 he moved back to Iceland and opened his own recording studio and has worked with many Icelandic artists. Recently he has produced the platinum selling album for Paul Oskar, including it's three Number One hits.
Watch the original Icelandic version here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1EwgG4olZw&feature=related and how it transformed for Belgrade here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dwj7EbwA08w

Jippu straight to number One!

Jippu made it! She debuts with her second album Kuka teki minusta tän naisen at number One! One can only wonder where her fans were those Euroviisut nights? Or did they NOT vote her on purpose as stated on some chatrooms? Diehard fans thought Euroviisut is not the right forum for her and voted some other artists instead.... Hmm... Maybe there's a tiny little bit of truth there after all...? Other wise Kari Tapio stays at number 2, Teräsbetoni drops to no 9 and Movetron to no 12. Vuokko Hovatta is on the way down, too, at no 15. Last year's Kilpi debuts at no 16 with IV. Also from last year Johanna Kurkela re-enters at no 17. Christal Snow drops 16 places to no 26 this week. Aikakone completes the Top-40 at no 40.
In singles Teräsbetoni's Missä miehet ratsastaa on its 6th week clibs back to no 8. Melodifestivalen 2008 from Sweden climbs one spot to no 3 in its 2nd week in Top-5.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

On the spotlight: Moldova

Moldova entered the Eurovision family in 2005 when they sent the unforgettable drumming granny and gained 6th place. The year after they flopped to 20th place and considered withdrawing but "by public demand" they sent Natalia Barbu who was one of the surprises in Helsinki 2007 reaching 10th place (well deserved though!). This year Moldova challanges the viewers by sending a soft laidback jazzy tune, not exactly a genre that would set the televoters on fire... Geta or Georgeta Burlacu (33) is a mother of two and has also studied music, especially jazz for years. She has been doing a lot of TV shows presenting various Karaoke Shows, TV-Jazz-Club and others. She also sings in various bands and combinations. She's also a veteran of many international festivals in Moldova, Belarus, France, Romania and Germany. She has released one album. Ce n-as da... was released in 2005 and is "ethno-jazz"! Lyricist Viorica Demici is a language teacher and fluent in several languages including English, Russian and Romanian. She's working in the US Embassy in Chisinau as consolar assistant. She also teaches the medical terminology both in English and French and has studied also in the USA and Germany. The composer Baraliuc Oleg (40) has studied music since he was a kid and has previously worked as Alla Pugatsova's music leader and musical director in Moscow at Philipp Kirkorov's studios. Since 2004 he has been back to Chisinau continuing his career in music.

Watch the national final performance here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Te6B6T9Dmxg

Special thanks to Lilia Gavrilita for the material

Monday, April 07, 2008

Hanna Pakarinen nominated for Iskelmä-Finlandia

Hanna Pakarinen becomes the youngest Iskelmä-Finlandia nominee, and quite a controversial one. The award is ment for real Schlager artists and previous winners include Jari Sillanpää, Marion Rung, Paula Koivuniemi and Kari Tapio. Hanna singing rock-pop in English isn't really what the nominees usually are! But then not are the other nominees either: Muska (Kirka's sister) who made her career in the 1970's being more rock than pop, Olli Lindholm (of rockband Yö), jazzy Maarit Hurmerinta and rocker Timo Rautiainen. The winner will be announced in July and gets 10.000 euros. Is schlager crossed over to pop and rock, or what is schlager in the 2000's? Heavy took over Euroviisut and now rock takes over schlager....

Mietta: Con il sole nelle mani

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