EDITORIAL – The second round of rehearsals conclude and today the first phase of online voting at teh EBU’s official website will kick off. It’s time to review the rehearsals today as we already reviewed the participating entries. It is clear that rehearsals are giving you totally new view on the participating entries and Junior Eurovision 2017 is no exception. This is the main reason why we opened the Junior Europrediction so late in order to avoid pre rehearsal period voting which is always sentimental, fanatic and biased.
My impressions from the rehearsal footage given of course by the official EBU YouTube channel is that Cyprus, Portugal, Serbia are definitely not going to do well in the voting either from the public or the jury as they are not well presented or convincing in their vocals. It is also sad to see songs like Armenia and FYR Macedonia, to have great songs but bad stage presentations. Armenian’s electric rollers and FYR Macedonia’s outfit seem to make them less interesting entries. Belarus, my personal favourite and yours as far I can see in the Junior Europrediction and oikopanel voting, seems to also have a problem with the outfit selection.
Belarus, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Australia are giving outstanding performance and their signers can convince you they can win the 2017 Junior Eurovision Song Contest. On the other hand dark horses like The Netherlands and Malta can surely #shinebright on the Sunday afternoon live and surely they will be cheered by the international audience. Not sure how Albanian and Georgian entries will be received by the audience. They are not bad at all, they are more than great projects and bidders but there is something missing there and that “something” is definitely not the voice. I think that at this point Italy is giving the most coherent and perfect performance.
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EDITORIAL – With the rehearsals underway in the Georgian capital and since oikotimes.com is not following closely the event this year we decided to write a review of the participating entries, vote for them in our annual oikopanel and also gets you in the mood to participate in our annual Junior Europrediction, in which you you can vote here.
Let’s have though an overview of the songs. The first impression created by the official previews first and then the impressions from the rehearsals. Regarding Cyprus the song seem typical Constantinos Christoforou song which could have been the Maltese entry. Unfortunately it’s not convincing enough for me to vote for it. Poland on the other hand shows quality and simplicity in the tune prevails. The Netherlands are giving a great modern sound to the contest and could have easily be an entry by Justin Bieber or the Norwegian M&M. I would love to see them even winning but just like last year I cannot see them voted by the juries. Armenia once again focus on quality and maybe tries to bring the Georgian 2016 spirit to the stage. I am sure it will do well, somehow, especially with that chorus gimmick. Belarus is definitely bringing the modern international sound to this year’s contest. Helena should win the contest for me and the song should be an example for the country in senior Eurovision. Portugal seems to be the biggest disappointment inside our team as it doesn’t appeal to us at all. Though it’s nice to see Eurovision 2018 host country entering the game. Ireland‘s entry is the song that I would love to hear in the radio and I think it’s one of the best entries ever sent to Junior Eurovision. Somehow within its simplicity you can hear the message. FYR Macedonia‘s entry seems to have been the sequel of their 2017 senior Eurovision entry (in terms of sound). It’s more than OK but it requires great vocal performance to convince the public and the juries.
Host country Georgia is attempting one again to bring an artistic performer and quality song. This retro style and maybe the fact that they already won and host the event might not give them the trophy again. But somehow it will go high I guess. Albanian entry is sounding great. Rehearsals will prove if the song can stand chances for victory. It resembles the sound and style with their 2016 entry which was actually my personal favourite. Ukrainian entry is once again the result of good, structural hard work. It sounds great and if the live performance is equal to the preview video then Ukraine can surprise us. But thank God they will not host it next year! The Maltese entry seems to be the “Despacito” entry of this year’s Junior Eurovision Song Contest. If performed well, this cute guy might surprise us. Don’t see him winning but I can see him finishing in the top five. The Russian entry sounds almost perfect to win but somehow I am not yet convinced unlike most of my team members. Surely this song is modern and appealing and the video clip of their entry is simply one of the best. Serbia is definitely a song that either you will vote massively or not at all. It is simple and maybe even too childish for the kids. Though it’s a happy tune and the two singers are lovely together. Australian entry is all about messages and activism. Can this be appealing? Well the idea of one take video clip and the catchy Aussie tune might bring them close to the trophy but it needs great vocal performance first. Last but no least the Italian entry. Unless you are a lover of the Italian music and sound you will never like this song. For me, it’s perfect but the problem with this song is that there are already greater and more Cathy tunes than this. But for sure this entry is one of the best Italian entries in JESC.
Soon I will update my editorial with more team votes for the oikopanel and review of all rehearsals when videos are available.
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EDITORIAL – As has been the case for the last few years, TVE are yet to announce which format will officially select the Spanish Eurovision representative for 2018. This year will be important. Firstly, it’s 50 years since Spain first won at Eurovision with Massiel singing “La, la, la” (1968) and secondly, this year’s Eurovision is being held in Lisbon, Portugal, neighbouring country and one which shares a mutual cultural and political history during the last century. The onus is that TVE may go for selecting a complete unknown from their recently recovered programme “Operacion Triunfo” (Fame Academy) but Spain has an amazing array of talent which due to political and territorial issues are never given an opportunity on the Eurovision stage, something which hopefully isn’t repeated again this year. After the recommendations we have a poll for you to vote in. You can choose up to three of the available choices.
David Civera – He has previously represented Spain at Eurovision in 2001 with the song “Dile que la quiero” (Tell her that I love her) finishing in 6th position which has been the highest positioning for Spain since. David found his big break participating in the 2001 national selection show “Eurocanción” where he was selected by a selection of jury and audience. This year, David has indicated that he would be interested in taking part in Eurovision. His musical style has changed over the years and it’s likely that for Eurovision he would perform something in tune with the contest. He has also formed part of several national juries and has kept in touch with the whole Eurovision format, while also being liked by TVE management.
David Bisbal – He rose to fame in Operación Triunfo, the flagship show which TVE used to catapult people to Eurovision in the early 2000s. David has been involved in music ever since, having only been a backing singer at Eurovision 2002, for Rosa Lopes. He was involved in creating the Spanish football anthem for the South Africa world Cup in 2010 and followed this on with the Spanish anthem for the European Championships 2 years later. His musical style is very pop which tends to bode well in large venues.
DKB – A big hit in recent years with his sounds in reggaeton and rap, having achieved hit songs which have featured in Spain’s Big Brother (Gran Hermano). He was part of the group Santa Fe who participated in the National Final in 2009 and were well received at the time. The artist is capable of various musical styles and performed with Katia Aveiro, Cristiano Ronaldo’s sister and has always been keen to partake in Eurovision if the opportunity was good. Recently he has performed with Spanish stalwart King Africa and also with a former Operación Triunfo graduate, Natalia.
La Oreja de Van Gogh (LODVG) – A Spanish supergroup whose songs have dominated the national charts for years. They were apparently the preferred option before El Sueño de Morfeo were chosen in 2013. They have never actively dismissed taking part in Eurovision but as songwriters of their own material choosing them would involve conditions. However they can perform both rock and pop hits and they are just as successful in neighbouring Portugal where their songs are often played in public venues.
Malú – This Spanish artist comes from a long line of Spanish performers and found success with Alejandro Sanz, at the age of 15. Since then she has carved herself a musical career, regularly obtaining top 10 hits and having amassed a strong fan following. She has produced 11 studio albums and was a judge in the Voice and the Voice kids. Her music makes use of her powerful voice and vocal singularity which bodes well for a live performance and Eurovision could be something which she would be very interested in doing.
UNITED KINGDOM – Our UK editor Darren Tompsett has given us his five hopefuls to represent the United Kingdom in the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest. In the meantime and below his proposals you can find a poll in which you can vote up to three favourites.
In my opinion Steps would be very suitable for Eurovision as they have all the qualities to be successful in the contest. They know how to put on a performance that would definitely wow the whole of Europe and let’s face it they have fans all over the world! Steps have recently celebrated their 20th anniversary with new material and I’m sure they could produce a really good entry. What better way to celebrate their anniversary by joining the euro party in Portugal 2018.
Saara Aalto: This lovely lady is a familiar face, she has had two attempts to represent her country Finland, first in 2011 with her song Blessed with Love and in 2016 with her song No Fear. Unfortunately she ended in second place for both songs since then she has been pretty busy. After her disappointment in 2016 Saara came over to the UK to take part in The X Factor, she made it to the live shows and surprise surprise she came second in the final. Her performances were amazing on the show and she has a huge fan base, she definitely has what it takes to put on a flawless performance in Portugal 2018.
Nadine Coyle: I’m surprised this lady has not been asked to do Eurovision before either by representing the UK or even Ireland (She’s Irish). Nadine is most famous for being in girl band Girls Aloud, they were very successful and she won her place in the band through a reality TV show so she has lots of experience. Recently she has made a second attempted at being a solo artist which has not been successful despite releasing a really good pop song, I feel she would be an ideal candidate for Eurovision.
Slavko Kalezić: This guy is no stranger to Eurovision, as we all know Slavko represented Montenegro this year (2017) but unfortunately didn’t qualify in his semi final with the song Space. He has recently flown over to the UK to appear in The X Factor. His audition was aired last week and he has instantly become very popular with the judges and the British fans. Could he be making a Eurovision comeback so soon after his first appearance in the contest.
Paloma Faith: Highly unlikely but the reason I have picked Paloma is recently she has expressed an interest in representing the UK at Eurovision. She is a unique artist with lots of experience and I feel she would be right for the contest. Her voice and style stands out in the crowd and she would definitely put on a good show in Portugal 2018.
Just today the BBC have opened the song submissions for 2018 and have said that there will be a national final – You Decide is back for a third year.
Who will be representing the United Kingdom in Lisbon 2018?
EDITORIAL – Melodifestivalen is always a pinnacle event in the Eurovision calendar. So the build up to the event is just as important. These are five artists that could very well be in this year’s line up. Below you can have a say on Fred’s wishful list by voting up to three of the artists proposed or another option.
Benjamin Ingrosso: With last year’s 5th place finish, Good Lovin’, Benjamin is riding high from his adult debut last year. He was instantly popular and has released another few singles since then. His last is firstly very appropriately titled “One More Time” is very much in the style of his Mello entry. It’s a summer tinged, Caribbean instrumental with pure pop happiness that would sit well on the Eurovision stage.
Wiktoria: Could this be third time lucky for the country pop diva? After two successive years of placing 4th and 6th in the Melfest final, Wiktoria actually sang and did the voiceover for Disney’s Moana for Sweden. Her latest release is a slow tempo pop number but continues to show off her talent and vocal ability. The contest needs her and hopefully the public and jury final decide to give her that chance.
QUEST: With the announcement of FO&O taking a break as a band, it makes for a new boy band to make their claim for the misplaced attention. QUEST are a very new band to the scene and have just recently released their second single, Color Me Back to Life. They are definitely current and have had some great songwriters behind them. Melfest would a perfect platform to get them a larger audience.
ISA: If selected this would also be ISA’s 3rd entry to Melodifestivalen. She placed 7th in 2015 and didn’t qualify from Andra Chansen in 2016. She has released some great covers and new singles since then. Her latest is “Light On” which is another overlooked commercial friendly pop smash. ISA just needs the right exposure and I think Melfest might be the event for her.
Molly Sandén: Three time participant, Molly, has qualified for the final every single time. Although her best finish has been 5th place. She has a presence on stage and can command an audience. Now engaged to Danny Saucedo, also Melfest royalty, could it be the time she makes a return, potentially with her fiancée? Her latest is a Swedish stomper, Rygg Mott Rygg (Back to Back) which truly shows she knows who she is and what kind of music she should be singing.
EDITORIAL – Our Danish correspondent and member of the 2017 DMGP jury, Morten Kaiser gives us today his five potentials for Lisbon based on his personal favourites. Below you can have a say inn Morten’s five hopefuls by voting up to three of your favourites or another option.
My personal favorite Danish artist! Karen Marie Ørsted – or MØ – got an international career with the song “Lean On” and got the title of the most played song ever on Spotify. Since then MØ has traveled around the world and last year she released the track “Cold Water” together with Justin Bieber. But her own music is awesome as well. I love “Final Song” which is MØ from top to toe and I would love to see her on a Eurovision stage as well.
Frederik Leopold: This is actually an artist I haven’t heard before. I didn’t even know he was Danish. When I first listened to this song “7 Days” I knew I had to have him on this list. I really like it and hopefully he can deliver on a stage as well – a Eurovision stage hopefully. What a nice voice and a nice song!
Lukas Graham: You can’t say Denmark and Eurovision hopefuls and not say Lukas Graham. Every Dane knows Lukas from his role as a child actor in a series of popular family movies in the 90’s. Now he is one of the most successful Danish artists abroad. Lukas Graham is a band that writes and performs songs with passion and energy. It’s hard not to love them!
Jacob Dinesen is only 21 years old but he has a voice like a full grown and experienced man who has lived a long life. But Jacob will. This is a joker and not a typically Eurovision choice for Denmark – but I would love to see him do Eurovision and focus on the music. He owns the stage live and really enjoys performing and making people dancing and singing along. Go Jacob!
One of my favorite artists from Denmark. NOAH is the name of the singer-songwriter Troels Gustavsen and this man is talented! I’ve been to several concerts with him, both acoustic in a church and a big concert in an arena. He nails it everytime. His voice is very special and you can easily hear that this is NOAH. He often sings in Danish – but let’s hope he’ll make an English song for Eurovision?
EDITORIAL – Serbian broadcaster RTS has called on artist to submit their entries for the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest. The network will then shortlist ten of the best and select one behind closed doors. Several popular singers have already expressed their desire to represent the country in Lisbon and here are some of the possibilities. You can vote below tup to three of Luka’s hopefuls or just non of them proposed.
Saša Kovačević – The 31-year-old pop singer Saša Kovačević was among the favourites to represent the country at the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest. Kovačević is a hugely popular singer in Serbia and has released a number singles and albums including a string of hits this summer. Kovačević released his first English language single in 2013 entitled “Nothing but the Faith” . His official YouTube videos are viewed in the millions, with the record holder being his hit “Slučajno” (accidentally) with over 62 million views.
Jelena Karleuša – The polarizing self-proclaimed diva, Jelena Karleuša, has already expressed her wish to represent her country at the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest and has accused RTS of purposely avoiding to select her. Karleuša, who has been present on the Serbian music scene since the 1990,. has a massive following which spans across the former Yugoslavia. The record label which releases her music, Grand, which is also the largest in the country, has requested for RTS to select Jelena, promising to pay the full participation fee and additional staging costs of Eurovision. Jelena Karleuša is known for her big stage productions and is also a fierce advocate for gay rights. She is also regularly in the tabloids and the public eye. For its part, RTS has questioned Jelena’s live singing abilities and generally shuns tubro-folk singers but with Grand offering to cover all the costs, it could prove an enticing choice
Aleksandra Radović – The popular pop singer was asked to represent Serbia at the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest but declined RTS’ offer due to work commitments. However, she has since said she wants to take part in the show in 2018. Aleksandra is considered one of the country’s best singers due to her exceptional vocal abilities. She is also popular across the former Yugoslavia and has released a number of hit singles and albums.
Nevena Božović – She represented Serbia at the 2007 Junior Eurovision Song Contest where she came third and later went to the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest as part of the Moje 3 trio coming eleventh in the semi. However, Nevena has since pursued a solo singing career and become a very popular artist. This summer she released yet another hit, which also features an English version, and could represent the country at Eurovision, with RTS selecting young talent over the past few years.
Luke Black – RTS considered sending Luke Black (aka Luka Ivanović) to the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest but he just missed out. Luke is the first Serbian artist to hold a recording deal with Universal. He records exclusively in English and his contemporary songs and style could appeal to western audiences at Eurovision.
EDITORIAL – After fifty years, after fifty long years since 1964 of waiting for our moment in the spotlight, Portugal had grown very sceptical. Not only of itself as a participant in the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) but of the ESC in general. A strong, doubly negative and defeatist disdain had instilled where, on one hand we could never send any song to the ESC worthy of winning because Europe didn’t appreciate our talent and on the other, we could not win for structural reasons ranging from winner rigging to political and economic interests which excluded us off hand; to the fact that we have only one neighbour, Spain and that ESC was all about neighbour voting. It was commonplace to hear “I’ve stopped paying attention to the ESC. We’re never going to win …” usually followed by one of the reasons above mentioned and that would be the extent of the conversation. OGAE-Portugal seemed ever more isolated and small in numbers as compared with chapters in other countries and my range of people with whom I could have any type of lengthy or at least non-cynical ESC conversation seemed ever more limited to OGAE-Portugal.
However, 2017 seems to be a turning point and one full of curious coincidences. The ESC final was held on May 13th, if you are a devout catholic, then your will probably have heard about the miracle of Fátima, but I will come back to this later. In my case, I was in the International Exhibition Centre in Kiev, Ukraine watching the ESC in anticipation. Whilst happy about Salvador Sobral’s performance, nothing could have prepared me for what came next.
I had gone to the bar in the Exhibition Centre during the interval acts as the votes were being collected, to calm my nerves. While I was ordering, the counting started and I did not hear the first few voting results. When I finally returned to the main hall, Israel was sadly bidding farewell to the ESC and I was stunned and baffled upon seeing that Portugal was at the top of the voting results when the Israeli announcer announced twelve points for Portugal and in Portuguese. I tried to ease the tension by telling myself that this was only the beginning and anything could still happen. Providing temporary relief, to my state of anxiety, the twelve points just kept rolling in from country after country.
The public votes were in, Portugal was ahead, the jury votes were still to come. Terrified of raising my hopes too high and ending up bitterly disappointed, I reminded myself of ESC 2016 when the Ukraine unexpectedly (for me) won. The jury vote could be a game changer and the public votes themselves were not enough to secure victory.
The tension of the jury vote kept me on the edge of my seat as the final points were being attributed. At any time, Portugal could have been called out and other close contenders could have walked away with victory. I kept hearing what sounded to me like a battle cry; the three familiar syllables POR-TU-GAL being cried out as the final result came closer. In the end, only Bulgaria and Portugal had yet to be attributed jury votes. I am no expert in math nor had I done the math but from what I was thinking at the time, victory could have gone either way. I was hoping and praying “My dear Lady of Fátima, please let victory be ours, just this once.” While “POR-TU-GAL” was being cried out ever louder and sure enough, the second highest attribution of points went to “BULGARIA” meaning the highest went to Portugal. At this point I almost lost my voice screaming and cheering for my country. Yes, after 50 years of participating, victory came as a shock.
Meanwhile, Lisbon was celebrating Benfica’s football triumph on the street. Large mobile monitors had been placed for fans to watch and celebrate. Even the football transmission was suddenly interrupted and switched broadcasting to the ESC, at the point when the voting was being announced. For Portugal, this was epic. Nothing, no NOTHING gets in the way of a football celebration … nothing except for an ESC victory.
Unexpectedly and perhaps even miraculously, Portugal, won on the 13th of May, coinciding with the anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady of Fátima where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared on the 13th of May, 1917, to three young shepherds near the town of Fátima in Portugal. Ironically too and please let me highlight the following coincidence, Portugal won the ESC a year after winning the Euro Football League in 2016, in Kiev, Ukraine, as did Greece in 2005 after winning the Euro Football League in 2004, in Kiev, Ukraine.
Today, suddenly and unexpectedly, it is possible to again talk about the ESC to someone you may not know very well. Portugal’s victory has rekindled broader interest in Portugal in the ESC, no longer is perceived as our nemesis. For the first time in a decade, victory was attributed to a song not sung in English to a country which had never sent a song in English to the ESC on year of the start of Brexit negotiations.
EDITORIAL – Can you imagine two regional Eurovision fan clubs collaborating and including another fan club in their organising committee? Well miracles happen only in Germany I guess. The two fan clubs of Germany invited last year’s OGAEvision winner OGAE Malta to co host the event in Berlin.
Eurovision Weekend takes place two month after the contest in Berlin with a weekend full of Eurovision celebration. Every year the partner fan club comes from another country. The programme starts with a party on the Welcome evening on Friday, a Gala night on Saturday with artists from the two inviting countries and closes with a brunch offering specialties from both countries on Sunday. The Eurovision Weekend is open for everyone who loves Eurovision, regardless of being organised in a fan club or not.
The welcome reception included a casual drinking party which ended up to a bunch of friends discussing and catching up since Kyiv and enjoying Eurovision music downstairs at the club or a hilarious karaoke event upstairs. On Saturday things hated up with 12 participants from all over Europe trying to prove they can be Eurovision stars for 3 minutes with the Israeli singer winning the event although Finland got the top jury points.
Sunday morning was a farewell brunch day with friends gathering around to enjoy their last hours in Berlin. Although the party the day before almost never ended we were all there to taste Maltese delicacies which personally I had them in my hotel room as I was a roomie with the OGAE Malta President but he was watching out all the time for me not to touch a slice!
Kinnie was the feature drink in the Sunday brunch and the Maltese meatballs were the highlights. But as I was compiling all the time: there was no ricotta!
What amazed me from this event was that the organisers didn’t put any effort to make it a professional stirred and strict event. They made you feel that they just organised a home party and invited their friends to attend to. No one cares who sings well, who sings playback, who sings awful. No one cared to fix the results. It was all about laughing, dancing and partying.
It was my first ever experience of Berlin. Friday and Saturday Berliners are having blast in the streets of Berlin and you can sense beer everywhere. It feels safe to stay out and the city is alive all night with almost all shops open (especially Berge King). On Saturday noon we had a great lunch at the Vapiano Pizza restaurant and I experienced by personal vibrator there! Well, you order your pizza and you go back to your table and when the pizza is ready your vibrator gives you the signal to go and get it.
Maltese, Czechs and Germans showed me that people can co-exist together. My impressions from meeting again these guys confirmed that I was right about them: Kurt is a guy who has a constant need for evolvement, Glenn is a guy that smiles and laughs all the time (almost humanly impossible), Claudia is the sister we all want to have and she gives tight and big hugs. Martina is a girl with a lot of pain and anger inside her and revealed to me what an idiot father she has. Axel is an artist that we need to have in Eurovision one day. His music (and not the Eurovision music) can work miracles for Germany in the contest.
German organisers welcomed me with warm heart and they made everything possible to feel at home. OGAE Malta’s President Adrian worked his magic so I can make this trip and although we bared with the responsibility of the entire event and his delegation, he made sure that I was always OK and treated me as a king.
Any problems with the event? Well to be honest I didn’t care at all: it was all about friendship. This is what Eurovision should be!