Thursday, March 30, 2017

AMIR RELEASES AU COEUR DE MOI VIDEO

Last year Amir took France back to Eurovision success and became himself one of the most succesful artists in France in 2016 with his hit album and Eurovision track J'ai cherché and follow up single On direit. The album also includes Oasis. Now it's time to hit another success with the title track of the album, Au coeur de moi. The video gives plenty of images if you happen to have a foot fetish. I don't but I know some you do.... Enjoy!


ESC 2017 REVIEW - LITHUANIA (37): FUSEDMARC - RAIN OF REVOLUTION

Pictured is Lithuania's national flower rue

Fusedmarc won the 11 week long national selection process starting as an outsider but getting better results every time they performed (4th, 3rd, 1st). In the final they won both the televote and the jury vote resulting in a convincing win and leaving the fan favorites home. Their song Rain of revolution is written by Denis Zujev, Viktoria Ivanovskaja and Michail Levin.

Fusedmarc is an alternative electric pop group with a strong visual image made of lead vocalist Viktorija Ivanovskaja, multi-instrumentalist Denis Zujev, and visual designer Stasys Žakas. Their debut album - and the only one so far it seems - was released in 2005 and earned them an award as the breakthrough artist of the year. Other awards have followed and they seem to be considered some kind of pioneers in what's fresh and new in music in Lithuania. Over the years they have performed all over Europe.

The song is a strong contrast to how the band describes itself, as new and fresh and alternative. The song is a retro pop straight from the 80's, nothing new, nothing special. Been there, heard it. In the 80's. It has it's moments and nice rhythm, and Viktorija's experience on stage shows. For some reason I'm thinking of latest Madonna productions and her love revolution propaganda. And I prefer her. 2/10

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

EUROVISION 2017: THE RUSSIA VS. UKRAINE SAGA

Oh boy. Poor EBU. Poor Jon Ola Sand. I'm sure he needs a proper holiday once this drama is over. And I'm sure secretly he's hoping some less demanding country will win in May!

Let's start from the beginning. Russia waited til last minute to reveal their cards and whether they will participate at all in Kyiv 2017 and on March 12 announced it's going to be Julia Samoylova with Flame is burning (my review of the song here

It didn't take long the Eurovision fandome ridiculed Russia's decision to send a fragile girl in a wheelchair with a sugary ballad to avoid possible booing and making Ukraine look bad should they ban her.

And that's exactly what happened on March 22: Ukrainian authorities isssued a travel ban on the Russian artist as she had illegally entered the annexed Crimea (in other words entering without passing via Ukraine) and even apparently posted anti-Ukrainian propaganda in her social medias. According Ukrainian law a criminal act.

Russia was ready to call that decision cynical and inhuman and was ready to boycott the contest and not to broadcast it all unless she's permitted to take part. One can only speculate how well planned this all was as all of sudden Ukraine was the evil and Russia the victim. And hours later they had already planned her a Russian wide tour to promote her ahead of Eurovision 2018! As it seems they are ready to send her there next year if this year isn't working out.

EBU stated they are deeply disappointed but have to respect local laws and said they would continue the dialogue with those two countries to get everyone abroad in Kyiv.

On March 23 EBU proposed a solution "to maintain the non-political nature of the contest" to let Julia perform live via satellite. Soon came the answer from Deputy prime minister Kyrylenko stating that tours and TV shows with persons non grata are not allowed in Ukraine. The only solution is the replacement of the participant from Russia. And now that is not allowed in the EBU rules...

Later the same night Channel One Russia has rejected the offer. "We consider the proposal of remote participation strange and reject it, since it, of course, contradicts the very meaning of the event, the strict rule of which is the live performance on the stage of the Eurovision."

At this point we can only say & hope:

On March 25 Jon Ola Sand  told they have proposed Ukraine to set the ban only after the Eurovision for Julia, and Ukraine promptly declined it but the negotiations go on. Sand also confirmed several national broadcasters have contacted them to get things right and stated:
"The decision is taken by the security authorities, who have to follow the laws as they are, but we will appeal to the Prime Minister and the Government of Ukraine to overturn the decision, so that any travel ban will only come into force after the Eurovision Song Contest. Our main goal remains that the Russian participant comes on stage in Kiev in May. We are working hard."
Meanwhile Director General Carlo Romeo of SMRTV has stated: "As a State broadcaster does not we agree on the behavior of the organizers in Ukraine to the Russian competitor. We do not care if it’s a conspiracy or a Russian provocation, the Eurovision  (Song Contest) should be a neutral ground."
Also the Danish Jan Lagermand Lundme has voiced his concern about the situation and the preparations: "It is practically unbearable. I know that the EBU takes it very seriously, they should take no shit . The justification for that Denmark in the Eurovision Song Contest is of course that we have a place where we can meet across borders and differences, It is clear that I am concerned on behalf of the Danish TV viewers. We must demand to get some decent TV shows. There will certainly be a show, but we do not know how it is. It suggests that things are a bit out of control."

On March 26 Reference Group chairman Frank-Dieter Freiling told to a German newspaper that they are still waiting for the final decision by the Ukrainian government and that the discussion with Russia continues. But then: "One thing we noted before the ban is that the Russian delegation did not take part in mandatory previewing sessions and did not reserve any accommodation, in contrast to all other delegations. Russia has to make its participation clear, just as we make must make it possible for them." This blogger thinks Russia has no intention to take part, they are just playing with all of us..... No further comment.

On March 27 the German Thomas Schreiber, Head of Entertainment for ARD said “The Russian Broadcaster knew too well who they had chosen, and the Ukrainian authorities knew just as well what they were doing. This is a feud on a public stage.” He points out the Russian participation is the main goal and EBU should just keep trying to find a solution.
EBU spokesperson Dave Goodman confirms the dialogu continues to find a way out of this situation. He said the situation is not nice and "Russia’s participation is possible, Russia’s withdrawal is also possible if the two sides can’t come together. It would be nice if the EBU could find a way so that both parties involved can safe face. A solution that makes clear the the Eurovision Song Contest is exactly what the title says: A song contest and nothing else”.

On March 29 EBU's Swiss General Director Ingrid Deltenre, who will step down from her role this summer, appears rather furious in an interview she gave to Swiss Sonntagsblick: "This behavior of Ukraine is absolutely unacceptable," she says while negotiating with the only two men who can let Julia in Ukraine, Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Hrojsman and President Petro Poroshenko. "I deeply regret the fact that the ESC is being abused for political action. The Eurovison Song Contest is supposed to delight and bring together millions of people; it must not be used to incite them against each other." If no solution is reached in the next few weeks, the top TV woman in Europe is already announcing sanctions against Ukraine: a temporary exclusion from the Eurovision Song Contest. This blogger is only asking why not ban Russia? After all it started the whole affair.....

Waiting for the next move....

To be continued....


FRANCE: EUROVISION TO BE SHOWN IN CINEMAS ALL OVER THE COUNTRY

France is living some kind of Eurovision  fever after Amir's success last year and Alma is set to follow her friend's footsteps on the left side of the scoreboard for sure. And French fans can get their pop corn, 8 euro ticket and a souvenir postcard signed by Alma, sit back on cinema's comfortable chairs and enjoy the show on megascreen and great audio in the 39 CGR Cinema Multiplexes all over the country. 
France is promoting this as the first ever "Eurovision in cinema" in the contest 62 years of history but that's not quite true. It's true in this dimension, of course, but some OGAE clubs have been watching the show in a proper cinema before.....

ESC 2017 REVIEW - BELARUS (38): NAVI BAND - HISTORYJA MAJHO ZYCCIA

Pictured is Belarusian national flower Common flax

NaviBand won the Belarusian national final on January 20. They won the juryvote but the televoters only placed them 5th but it was enough to secure their win ahead of Nuteki, who was just behind of them in both votes while the other votes spread all over the place. 

NaviBand aka Arciom Lukjanienka (25) and Ksienija Žuk (26) already tried to get to Eurovision last year but finished 4th in the national final. Now they won and are quite popular in the pre-contest polls. They have been making music together for four years have just released their third album. All their music is performed in Belarusian language and this Eurovision entry makes no difference. 

The song? Well, thankfully it's in native language and it's not some Mello reject. But it's shouty and not the right kind of shouty like Ruslana's Wild dances was. I'm not a fan. I know I'd like to like this a lot more than I do but I can't. I find this a bit messy and irritating, like if they are in a terrible rush to get somewhere but they always lose the way when they start shouting around instead. 2/10

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

EUROVISION 2017: ONLY FOUR NON-ENGLISH SONGS

Obrigazo Portugal, grazie Italia, köszönöm Magyarországon and дзякуй Беларусі! 

Only four countries this year rely on their own national language: Portugal, Italy, Hungary and Belarus. France and Spain both have added English to their song and Croatia some Italian to the otherwise English mix. 
That's quite a drop from 2013 when 17 songs were not in English, but then in 2014 the change came when only four did so (plus four mixed ones), in 2015 five (and two mixed ones) and last year three (and five mixed ones).
I throw in an idea: When Eurovision has its 65th edition let's make it special: Bring back the language rule for one year. If United Kingdom or Ireland wins again, you can then drop it for good, the point is proven for once and for all. No excuses. 
All this said 2017 could be the year when non English song will win for the first time since Helsinki 2007's Serbian Molitva... Maybe. 


*We can't forget that United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and Malta also sing in their official language, only it being English but hey, that doesn't count really in this case, does it?

ESC 2017 REVIEW - THE NETHERLANDS (39): OG3NE - LIGHTS AND SHADOWS

Pictured is the Netherlands national flower tulip

OG3NE aka the sister trio Lisa, Amy & Shelley Vol (aged 21-22) were internally chosen to represent The Netherlands this year. The song Lights and shadows was announced later, it's written by Rick Vol (their father) and Rory De Kievit. 

The trio is no stranger to Eurovision as they already did the Junior Eurovision ten years ago. Later they made themselves known in The Voice of Holland that they won. They have released three albums, the latest released in fall 2016 hitting #1 in the Dutch charts. 

The song is based on various harmonies with their voices and the girls sure can sing well together and have pretty voices. But the song is so 80's American nonsense, they could have done so much better I suppose. I'm bored already after the first chorus and it doesn't get any better and for me it's a very long three minutes. Uninteresting, boring, unoriginal and highly forgettable. With a good staging this could come alive though. Maybe. Propably not. Therefor 2/10

Monday, March 27, 2017

ITALY: OVER 80 MILLION VIEWS FOR OCCIDENTALI'S KARMA

Francesco Gabbani's three official videos have gathered already over 80 million views already. The official video on Vevo is nearing 75 million, the live from Sanremo on eurovision.tv nearing 5,5 million and the 3 minutes Eurovision version on eurovision.tv is over 0,4 million. And the numbers keep growing every day.... one can only wonder what they are in May!
And then there are dozens of parodies, covers, unofficial remixes and the videos from his live performance this weekend in Coca Cola Onstage awards, where he was invited to perform while fellow Eurovision stars Marco Mengoni and Emma picked up awards. While scimmia nuda balla.....
Meanwhile he has added new dates and cities to his summer tour in Italy 
and tickets are selling fast....

06/07 Fontaneto D'Agogna (NO) - Open Air Festival
16/07 Molfetta (BA) - Luci e suoni a Levante - Anfiteatro di Ponente
21/07 Firenze - MusArt Festival - Piazza della Santissima Annunziata
28/07 Palermo - Teatro di Verdura
29/07 Zafferana Etnea (CT) - Anfiteatro Falcone e Borsellino
09/08 Alassio (SV) - Riviera music fest - Porto Turistico Luca Ferrari
18/08 Lecce - Piazza Libertini 
19/08 Caulonia Marina (RC) - Piazza Bottari
25/08 Castagnola Delle Lanze (AT) - Festival “Contro” - Piazza San Bartolome

ESC 2017 REVIEW - CROATIA (40): JACQUES HOUDEK - MY FRIEND

Pictured the national flower of Croatia, iris

Jacques Houdek (36) was internally chosen to represent his country with My friend, a song he co-wrote with Tony Roberth Malm, Siniša Reljić, Arjana Kunštek, Fabrizio Laucella and Ines Prajo.

Željko, who likes to be called Jacques, is a familiar name in Eurovision world and in the Balcan area. He has studied in the Berklee Collage of Music in California, and in France, Italy and Greece. He has tried to get to Eurovision many times before failing to win the national final: 2002-2006 every year. Then again in 2011 when he lost in the final match to Daria Kinzer to sing Lahor/Celebrate. He has also tried his luck in the UK in Open Mic UK and X Factor. He has been recording artist since 2004 and has collected a pile of silver, gold and platinum discs. But music isn't his only interest.
He has been involved in politics supporting conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and later supported a populist mayor candidate. Afterwards he said he's apolitical and those where only work. Ok.
He has also been named The Homophobe of the Year in 2006 and nominated as the Homophobe of the Decade in 2011 for his remarks that gay people cannot be equal to others and saying same sex marriage is sick, earning him the questionable title of "the biggest homophobe in the Croatian showbiz". He has stated later he has nothing against love of any kind and he's very gay friendly. Ok.

Well, what about the song? First hearing I thought it's kinda funny, bizarre but in a good way. The second hearing left we totally irritated. In a bad way. This is bad. But not bad enough to be good. A joke. The singing in two voices is maybe liked by someone but not me. And these fake pop operas with Italian lyrics put together from love letters and pizza menus are so corny and cliché I have no words. Il Volo is art compared to this cheapness. Actually I dare to listen to this only third time now when writing this review and no, it's not getting any better. 1/10 from me.  And yes, it's all Frozen in some lines. A bit too much. Let it go, let it gooooo....


Sunday, March 26, 2017

ESC 2017 REVIEW - ALBANIA (41): LINDITA - WORLD


Pictured above is also poppy, Albania's national flower



Lindita Hamili (28) was the first chosen artist and song this year when she won the Festivali i Këngës on December 23, 2016 with clear numbers. She sung in Albanian of course, and it took months before Botë was transformed into World, but this time the song hasn't gone major changes but the language, refreshed arrangement, mixing and fitting it into the 3 minutes rule. The song is written by Klodian Qafoku and Gerard Xhari.

Lindita was born in Kosovo and has made her career through various talent shows from Albanian Idol to American Idol passing through local Top Fest that she has won twice, and other talent shows. Her first attempt in the Albanian selection was in 2009 and then again two year's ago finishing then third. She has released 15 singles since 2007 but no album yet. 

The song is yet another ballad, like some would say. For once it makes no difference if it's in Albanese or in English, I don't get it either way. The piano in the beginning is wonderful, but when the song progress I like it less and less just like her voice gets louder and the notes longer. Sadly I don't even like her voice particularly even if she does belt out some notes. I think it's very messy from the half way through with the choir and not going really anywhere. If it's a metaphora of today's world that is a mess then she really nails it. But it's not for me. Therefor only 1/10

Saturday, March 25, 2017

ESC 2017 REVIEW - GEORGIA (43) : TAKO GADHECHILADZE - KEEP THE FAITH

Pictured khinkali, Georgian dubling in absense of any national flower

Georgia was one of the first countries electing its represant and song this season. The national final on January 20, 2017 in Tbilisi featured 25 entries chosen from an open call, and the winner was chosen by international jury-televote.

Singer, songwriter and actress Tako Gachechiladze (34) won with the self penned Keep the faith. She already almost got to Eurovision in 2009 being then part of the winning team Stephane & 3G with We don't wanna Put in, the song that was withdrawn/disqualified in the middle of the Russian-Georgian war and Putin being the prime minister at the time. She also participated in the national final in 2008 placing 10th. She kept the faith and is back now - again with some more or less hidden political statements, in the backdrop at least.

The song is a typical Disney ballad with very American style motivated lyrics, apparently aimed at women to be strong, believe in themselves and not hide behind a veil among other things. She's quite a strong performer as well and maybe can really nail it live when it matters but.... I find this bland and boring, it doesn't touch me at all in any level. Forgettable and uninteresting and therefor from me only 1/10 and a yawn.



Friday, March 24, 2017

SAN MARINO: VALENTINA TAKES JIMMIE SIGHTSEEING

Valentina Monetta and Jimmie Wilson are in San Marino rehearsing and not only, Valentina has taken Jimmie around the tiny country showing him the sights. And of course they posed also under the already iconic poster of Miss Monetta anno 2014. 
While rehearsing Ralph Siegel was present via Skype keeping eye on his latest couple. 
Jimmie Wilson has posted a lot of photos on his Facebook, so be sure to follow him 
as well as Valentina
Have a look at SMRTV news piece on the couple (in Italian) here

UKRAINE: WANNA GROW YOUR OWN JAMALAS?


Tulips that is. The new variery of tulips was presented and baptized by Jamala in the Flower Expo Ukraine ealier this week in the International Exhibition center, the very same that will host the Eurovision song contest in less than two months. The red and yellow beauty is created by the Dutch bulb specialists StoKolex. I think I want a bag of those for my garden......
I don't know why but Jamala and tulips made me think of this......

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

ESC 2017 REVIEW - RUSSIA (00): JULIA SAMOYLOVA - FLAME IS BURNING

Pictured Russia's national flowe camomille
In light of today's events I can as well publish this Russian review that was ment to be published in coming days along with the other  country reviews.  I haven't modified the text in any way, this is how it was ment to be published sometime next week. Originally this was my number 42....

Russia chose internally Julia Samoylova with Flame is burning ending speculation whether they will participate at all. But the decision to send a singer in a wheelchair was met with disbelief and outrage abroad as it was seen as an attempt to stop booing and critizism. Then came the news Ukraine might ban her as she has performed in the annexed Crimea in 2015.... Headlines guaranteed and the political soap opera goes on.... And poor Julia in the middle of it all victimized. As that's the overal impression I get. 

Julia (27) was born in Republic of Komi and started losing the function of her legs after an unsuccesful poliomyelitis vaccination it seems. At 13 she was diagnosed with spinal amiotrofiya. She's been in wheelchair since childhood and has been getting treatment and operations in Finland lately to better her conditon. She started performing for oil workers in her hometown, later founded a band TerraNova where she sung alternative heavy music (!!!) and studied psychology. She has also taken part in many conpetitions since childhood winning some along the way. In 2013 she took part in the Russian X Factor in Alla Pugatsova's team and finished runner up. 

The song is written by Leonid Gutkin, Netta Nimrodi and Arie Burstein and it's an inspirational ballad of sorts.Very sugary and filled with clichés though, in lyrics and in arrangement. The recording of Julia's voice is also rather irritating with the very broken English. Politics and the fact this is Russia aside, and the wheelchair and all that should make me be more tender with this song... I just don't like it. This leaves me cold in all its standardism, this one is plain bad. The melody is kinda beautiful but heard a million times before, the standard arrangement works but one can't but wonder if Russia is deliberately sending this mediocre nonsense? And is poor Julia only used as a vehicle for who knows what plans they have?  1/10 from me. 


RUSSIA: UKRAINE BANS JULIA SAMOYLOVA

Several new agencies are reporting today that Ukraine’s security service has banned Russia’s contestant from this year’s Eurovision song contest because she performed in Crimea. Samoylova has toured in Russia-annexed Crimea without entering it by going through the border with the Ukrainian mainland. Under Ukrainian law, that allows authorities to block her entry into Ukraine.
Ukrainian Security Service spokeswoman Olena Gitlanska said that the service has banned Samoylova from the country for three years “on the basis of information received about her violation of Ukrainian law”.
Therefor she won't be able to participate in the Eurovision song contest in Kyiv in May. What about Armenian Artsvik?
Russia calls the decision "cynical and unhuman". What about their decision to send her in the first place? Pure provocation. They also promise to boycott the future contests if the organizers don't stand up for the singer. Is that a promise? :-)

UPDATE: EBU has just confirmed the news too.  Can we just now move on and forget Russia exists?

SAN MARINO: THE MAKING OF SPIRIT OF THE NIGHT

Have you wondered how the magic was done in a few days short of the deadline for submitting the entries for the Eurovision song contest 2017 in Kyiv? Here's a Making of the Sammarinese entry featuring the backstage and insight to the project featuring comments from Valentina, Jimmie and others. Enjoy!
And here's the final result:

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

SAN MARINO: LIA FIORIO AND GIGI RESTIVO MAKE EUROVISION HISTORY

The Sammarinese commentators Lia Fiorio and Gigi Restivo are making history this year by becoming the ones who have commentated the Eurovision song contest in Italian the most times beating all the Italian commentators and the legendary Swiss one, Giovanni Bertini, who did it 21 times from 1961 to 1983. Lia and Gigi has done it 24 times after this year's season is over, or rather all three nights the eight year's San Marino has taken part.
And as an icing on the cake they will be also this year's spokespersons for the tiny nation!

SAN MARINO: EBU OPENS TO VOTING CHANGES

Alessandro Capicchioni, Sammarinese hesd of delegation, tells eurofestivalnews EBU's Executive Supervisor has apologized how they have handled the proposed voting changes by San Marino (or rather not considering them at all). He says EBU and SMRTV are now talking and when both sides know what the other one thinks and expects some solution will be found in the end. The talks will continue in Kyiv and EBU has provised to consult and inform SMRTV for eventual changes in the future. 
San Marino also candidated itself for the Reference group to look after the other small nations but as we know the three big ones were revoted in for another period. San Marino would have also stressed the economical side of the contest. The big countries and broadcasters manage but the small ones struggle and in the recent years the absenses have been caused just because of the economical problems. Small stations close while the big ones just adjust and make some cuts and survive......
Capicchioni doesn't want to reveal too much about his opinions on the other songs this year but he thinks Italy has all it takes to win: it's joyful, entertaining without being trash. And most of all universal. 

EUROVISION 2017: A VINYL BOX TO BE RELEASED

After several Sanremo artists, including Francesco Gabbani, released their entries as old good 7" limited edition vinyl single, the Eurovision song contest 2017 will be released on a limited edition, numbered box sets! 
For the first time in history of the Eurovision Song Contest, we are presenting a Limited Collector’s Edition ESC 2017 Vinyl Box Set! 
The box set gives you the chance to dive into the music and the artists from the Eurovision Song Contest 2017. Here you get hours of entertainment, and for the first time ever you get the chance to listen to the Eurovision songs on your record player as all 43 songs come on 24-bit vinyl of the highest quality. If you prefer CD or download, that’s included too. The set also gives you the possibility to read all about the 43 artists, and dwell on gorgeous photos, while you flip through the beautiful coffee table book. Sounds cool, ha? Get it here. 
Also the Bluray makes a return along with the usual CD and DVD, poster but the annual guide book seems to be missing!? Has it been sacrificied for the coffee table book in the vinyl box?

EUROVISION 2017 REVIEW ROUND UP PAGE



FRANCE: ALMA AND AMIR HAVE AN ACOUSTIC REQUIEM

It's no secret last year's French participant Amir - who brought France back to success after an eternity - and this year's Alma are friends and have been working together since forever. Time will tell if she will better Amir's 6th place. And now they deliver us a lovely acoustic version of this year's entry Requiem. S'il vous plait.....

Monday, March 20, 2017

EUROVISION 2017: QUITE A FEW COMEBACKS BESIDES VALENTINA MONETTA

Eurovision bubble is something many artists tend to return, or at least try. This year again in various national finals we have several previous participants trying again, including winners. But the sad fact is that usually the comebacks aren't so succesful. Previous winners in recent years from Dana International to Niamh Kavanagh and Charlotte Perrelli have tried and failed. But sometimes it works, like Poli Genova last year. In May we will know how it will go for these lucky ones who are back at it:

Omar Naber from Slovenia returns to Eurovision, and even to Kyiv where he represented his country for the first time in 2005. Back then he failed to make the final placing 12th in the semifinal.

Koit Toome and Laura from Estonia have both represented their country separately in the past. Koit placed 12th in 1998 and Laura as a member of Suntribe also did Kyiv 2005 but the girlband failed to make the final placing only 20th in the semifinal.

Moldova's Sunstroke Project did Eurovision 2010 with Olia Tira narrowly making the through from the semifinal and finishing 22nd in the final. Now the Epic sax guy & co are back with mamma instead.

Then we have Georgia's Tako who already was supposed to do Eurovision 2009 with Stephan & 3G and We don't wanna Put in, the song that never made it all the way to Moscow for obvious reasons. Now she's back as solo and is not disqualified nor withdrawn.

Besides them we have various backing singers stepping to the spotlight this year, like Israel's Imri and Serbia's Tijana.
And then we have Valentina Monetta returning for the 4th time after 2012, 2013 and 2014. She has done better every time she participated so this time she needs to make the final again and place better than 24th to keep up with the trend :-) 

But besides these lucky (or let's see if they are "lucky" after the final in May...) ones we have a long list of names that tred and failed.

In Sweden we had two previous winners and two other participants taking part and hoping for the ticket to Kyiv. But both double winners of the past Roger Pontare (ESC 1994 and 2000) and Charlotte Perrelli (ESC 1999 winner and 2008) didn't survive the semifinals placing 5th and 7th. Finland's 2013 entrant Krista Siegfrids also came 7th or last in her semifinal and that was it. The previous winner and pre-contest favorite Loreen (ESC 2012) managed only access to second chance round and failed there to make it to the final.... Such a statement.
In Slovenia previous entrant Maja Keuc withdraw even before the semifinals and opted for other career moves..... Maybe a wise decision?

In Spain Javi Soleil of D'NASH from Helsinki 2007 Eurovision didn't make the cut and access even to the second round.

In Estonia among the participants were three previous winners. Ivo Linna (5th in ESC 1996) placed 6th, Elina Born (7th in ESC 2015) placed 12th and last, and Lenna Kuurmaa (from Sunstribe in ESC 2005) placed 10th, but as said before, two other previous winners did win it.

In Hungary András Kallay Saunders with his band (5th in ESC 2014) scored zero points in the national final and placed in the shared last place.

In Malta Richard Edwards of Firelight fame (23rd in ESC 2014)  managed only 13th.

In Italy's Sanremo festival Eurovision double veteran Al Bano  (7th both in 1976 and 1985) was knocked out before the final.

Lithuanian Sasha Song (23rd in ESC 2009) managed only to the semifinal stages. Even worse for Vilija who was kicked out after the first performance. She narrowly missed the final in ESC 2014 placing 11th in the semifinal.

In Norway Wig Wam's Åge Sten Nilsen (9th in ESC 2005) with his new band Ammunition finished 2nd in the national final. 

In Romania MIHAI in his zillionth attempt to get back to Eurovision lost to the yodelin couple clearly and stays home yet another year. 

EUROVISION 2017: FROM KRISTIAN TO VALENTINA - IT'S A VERY YOUNG CLASS OF ´17

This year the Eurovision song contest is a very young one what comes to participants ages. Bulgaria's Kristian Koslov is the youngest, and the very first Eurovision song contest artist born in the 2000's. He just turned 17 on March 15. But the oldest one isn't old at all: San Marino's Valentina Monetta just turned 42 on the March 1 and seems to be the oldest of them all proving the fact age is just a number! 
Divided in decades we have 2000's one, 1990's 22, 1980's 23 and 1970's two (Svala besides Valentina). *
The most populated years are 1991 (Levina, Lucie Jones, Demy, Imri, Alex and Navi band's Ksienija)* and Carola won Eurovision song contest in Rome....
... followed by 1989 (Hovig, Lindita, Julia, Dihaj, Jowst, Salvador)* with six each. Now no more existing Yogoslavia won the contest that year....
1995 comes next with five artists born .(Timebelle's Emanuel and Miruna, O'G3NE's Shelley and Amy, Anja) (*When writing this i I miss the dates of the guys in Triana Park, most of O. Torvals, Fusedmarc and Jimmie Wilson but it seems they are in their 30s anyways)

It's also a very even year what comes to division between female and male artists: 17 female soloists versus 14 male soloists. I wonder if it has ever been this even? Then we have 5 female/male duos, one female and one male trio, two trios with a female and two males, one male duo and two groups only. If we listen to the singing only it's 22 female voices versus 17 male voices plus 4 mixed duets.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

FINLAND: WATCH KRISTA SIEGFRIDS ALMOST UNPLUGGED ON TV

Krista Siegfrids stars in one episode of YLE's Swedish speaking part's series Almost unplugged, where the artists perform in an intimate setting at Alexander's Theater in Helsinki, and tell about their life and other things. She performs a lot of covers but also her Eurovision 2013 entry for Finland, Marry me - in a totally different version though - and her first Melodifestivalen entry, Faller. And most of all her touching tribute to  her father, Can you see me.
Watch the highly entertaining performances here. She proves once again she's so much more than the blond ding dong bimbo. A true artist with a great flexible voice that delivers us touching ballads and roaring rock'n roll and anything in between.
Oh and look, it's Norma John's Lasse as the musical director playing the piano!

ARMENIA: ARTSVIK FINALLY PRESENTS FLY WITH ME

Last but not least, the very last entry for the Eurovision song contest 2017 has been presented to us common mortals. Was it worth the wait? Yes and no. She's not Ofra Haza (bless her soul) for sure, nor Madonna (as in Frozen). The song promises a lot with good interesting ideas but fails to deliver going nowhere. Maybe it's the production that fails? Have they focused too much on the stage presentation? This said, it's still better than about two dozen other songs perhaps, simply not being the pop tune created by Eurovision clichés and attemps to please the fans (Serbia comes to mind...). Yet there's no danger we will end up in Yerevan next year. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

ITALY: FRANCESCO GABBANI RELEASES THE EUROVISION VERSION OF OCCIDENTALI'S KARMA

Here it is finally, the 3 minutes Eurovision version of the Italian entry for the Eurovision song contest 2017. Originally the song run more than 3 minutes 30 seconds. Gone is the while second verse and other bits here and there, but it works. Of course the fandom has divided some saying it's a massacre, some taking less dramatic approach. This blogger thinks it works and most of all concentrates on the most catchy part, the refrain. 

How it all works live will be judged by the fans in the three promotional events he has already confirmed participation:

April 2 - London Eurovision Party
April 8 - Eurovision in Concert, Amsterdam
April 21 - Moscow Eurovision party

Thursday, March 16, 2017

PORTUGAL: SALVADOR SOBRAL HAS SERIOUS HEALTH ISSUES?

Portugal is riding high in the odds, better than ever I can remember of, and well deserved. Salvador Sobral's Amar pelos dois is a fantastic song. Maybe the most autenthic and real one in the whole contest this year, or even in years. It's not powing or written for Eurovision standars and clichés, it's heart felt, real piece of musical art, masterfully performed. They might be closer than ever to break the spell of 6th place, their best since 1964 and Portugal holds the longest run of no win in the contest's history, beating Finland already by a decade. But there are dark clouds in the Portuguese Eurovision success in the making. 
It was already reported during the Portuguese national final season, that Salvador Sobral performed with serious hernia problems and basicly went from the semifinal straight to the operation. Before the final he had two hernia operations and we thought that was it......
Now it emerges that isn't all of it at all. He has also a severe heart condition, and is in line for a transplant. He needs a new heart as soon as possible, before the end of the year. If his maybe akward movements on stage were due to the pain he was in, the baggy jacket covers the external pacemaker and its batteries he carries in his back. Or so the tabloids tell. For once I am really hoping they are esaggerating. UPDATE: And so it seems. Phew.
We won't be seeing Sobral doing any promotional events before Kyiv and he will concentrate only on his health and being at his best in those two weeks in Kyiv. And I don't think he needs to. The song speaks for itself. He only need to show up on stage when it matter in Kyiv and do the magic. And the rest will follow....


ITALY: FRANCESCO GABBANI HITS THE ROAD... AND THE SUCCESS CONTINUES...

Where to start? Occidentali's Karma is the clear favourite by both fans and betting odds still after all songs (except Armenia) have been revealed. 
The single has went double platinum in Italy. 
The video has been seen already by 60,7 million times. 
The video on eurovision.tv clicks at 4,5 million at the moment. 
The special autographed limited edition of the cd single with a gorilla t-shirt sold out in a couple of hours.... 
The parodies and more or less serious covers of the entry keep coming up on Youtube.... like this. Or this. Or this:
While he's giving finishing touches to his third album to be released just in time for Eurovision, on April 28, he's already planning his summer tour and will be attending the fan events in both Amsterdam and London. Meanwhile he keeps his fans updated with the video messages.....
His tour curiously starts from Verona, a city that Estonia sings about this year, and next stop is Torino, the city that very well could be the host of Eurovision 2018 at this rate.....

June 19 - Verona (VR) - Teatro Romano
June 20 - Torino (TO) - Gru Village
June 25 - Sogliano al Rubicone (FC) - Piazza Matteotti
June 27 - Carpi (MO) - Carpi Summer Fest
June 28 - Brescia (BS) - Piazza della Loggia
June 29 - Milano (MI) - Carroponte
July 7 - Lignano Sabbiadoro (UD) - Arena Alpe Adria
July 15 - Roma (RM) - Parco della Musica, Cavea
August 2 - Pescara (PE) - Teatro Monumento D'Annunzio
August 11 - Forte dei Marmi (LU) - Villa Bertelli
September 9 - Napoli (NA) - Arenile


FINLAND: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO SANDHJA!

Sandhja turns 26 today and surely sings it away!
Congratulations!
As life goes on she has released recently a new video from her forthcoming album:

FINLAND: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO AWA!

Lordi's Eurovision keyboard player Awa's alter ego Leena Peisa has her 38th birthday.
Congratulations!
She has left the monster family in summer 2012 but will always remain in our hearts as the wonderful Lady Awa from Athens 2006.....

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

RUSSIA: JULIA SAMOYLOVA TREATED IN FINLAND

Finnish media reports the controversial Russian Eurovision song contest artist Julia Samoylova is in Finland at the moment and will stay until the end of the week. Apparently she wass operated here already last fall, and in undergoing further treatments and check ups. She chose Finland because the doctors here are better than in Russia.

"Finland has the best statistics in these kind of operations, and people don't die after them. They don't take unnecessary risks. I have talked to other people with similiar conditions and thought it over for a long time and chose them in the end" she tells. "I have a lot of spare time here so I will listen to the other songs."

As for her participation EBU stated yesterday they have no problem but understand Ukraine has its laws. However the final decision to let her into the country depends on Ukraine alone. Their decision. Samoylova could be fined and let in. Or let's see how this ends....

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

EUROVISION 2017: NEWS FROM THE HOD MEETING IN KYIV

The Heads of Delegations and other bosses have met in Kyiv and handed over the entries for EBU, that includes the Armenian one we common mortals are yet to hear, as well as the 3 minute version of Italy's Occidentali's Karma. Among other things. Italy's Nicola Caligiore along with Alexander Radic (Slovenia) and Emilie Sickinghe (The Netherlands) were re-elected in the Reference Group. 
 
Euroclub will be situated in the Parkovy Convemtion and Exhibition Center
The Eurovision Village will be on Khreschatyk street
The Red Carpet will take place on Sunday May 7 at Mariyinski Palace and streamed live on Youtube, while the Opening Party will be at Euroclub

Pavlo Hrytsak is confirmed as the new Executive producer, He did this already back in 2005. He replaced Victoria Romanova and Olexandr Kharebin who resigned with several other team members earlier this year. 

Ukraine was drawn  to perform at 22nd in the final, where also Jamala and Ruslana will perform. The running order for the semifinals will be desiced later by Christer Björk... I mean the host broadcaster and EBU. 
More than 220 Ukrainian and foreign professionals are working day and night now to make the magic happen in May and there will be 1000 volunteers helping the delegations and other guests during the Eurovision week, selected out of 12.000 applications.

Gadget

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