Eurovision 2018 Previews: Portugal

After travelling around Europe and beyond, we have reached our final destination, this year’s host country. It’s the land of port, fado and CR7. It’s Portugal!!!

History

Portugal made their debut in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1964. Prior to last year, their best result was in 1996, when Lúcia Moniz, who you might recognise as Aurelia from Love Actually, came sixth. Last year, Salvador Sobral not got Portugal through to the final for the first time since 2010, but he gave their first top five finish and first win with “Amar pelos dois”, ending their 53-year wait for a win. As such, the contest travels to the Portuguese capital of Lisbon for the first time in history.

Selection

The Portuguese broadcaster Rádio e Televisão de Portugal (RTP) organised the 51st edition of Festival da Canção, which has been used to select almost all of Portugal’s Eurovision entries. RTP invited 22 composers to compete, who then selected the singers for their songs. A further four were selected through different ways, one picked by the radio station Antena 1, two from an open call and one by Salvador and Luisa Sobral, last year’s winning singer and composer. The festival consisted of two semi-finals and a final. Thirteen songs competed in each semi-final, where an in-studio jury (50%) and televoting (50%) sent seven songs to the final. In the final, the winner was chosen by regional juries (50%) and televoting (50%). As there was a tie for first place, the public vote took preference. Having won the public vote, Claudia Pascoal was awarded the right to defend Portuguese colours on home ground in Lisbon.

Artist

Claudia Pascoal was born on October 12 1994 in Gondomar in northern Portugal. The singer rose to fame in 2010, when she took part in Portuguese talent show Ídolos. In 2013, she participated in the first season of Factor X, and a year later she auditioned to become a host of Curto Circuito, finishing in 3rd place. She returned to participate in Ídolos for a second time in 2015, and also went on to compete in The Voice of Portugal.

The song that Claudia will sing in Lisbon, “O Jardim” (The Garden), was written and composed by Isaura, who will join Claudia on stage in Lisbon.

Song Review

What Could Have Been

Boa sorte Portugal!

? Leave your comments below!

Lastly, thank you all again for following the preview journey again this year. I hope you have a fabulous Eurovision week, wherever you are in the world. Até logo!

(Sources: eurovision.tv, RTP, YouTube)

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Eurovision 2018 Previews: Italy

The penultimate preview comes from the land of pizza, pasta and the Renaissance. It’s Italy!!!

History

Italy was one of the seven countries to take part in the first Eurovision Song Contest in 1956. They will send their forty-third entry this year. Italy have won the contest on two occasions: in 1964 with the song “Non ho l’età” performed by Gigliola Cinquetti and in 1990 with the song “Insieme: 1992” performed by Toto Cutugno. They withdrew from the contest a number of times, most notably from 1998 to 2010. Since their return to the contest in 2011, Italy have placed in top 10 four times. Last year, Francesco Gabbani was the pre-contest favourite but could only manage sixth place with “Occidentali’s Karma”.

Selection

The Italian broadcaster, Radiotelevisione italiana (RAI) organised the 68th edition of the Sanremo Music Festival, the inspiration for the Eurovision, to select their artist for Kyiv. The winner of the Campioni or “Big Artists” category would earn the right to represent Italy and first refusal of the offer. After four days of the festival, Ermal Meta and Fabrizio Moro were crowned the winners. Shortly after their victory, they accepted the Italian ticket to Lisbon.

Artist

Ermal Meta was born on April 20 1981 in Fier, Albania, but moved to Italy when he was a teenager. He began his musical career as a guitarist in Ameba4, who competed in the Newcomers’ section of Sanremo 2006. A year later, Ermal became the lead singer and songwriter of the band La Fame di Camilla. The band released 3 albums before splitting up in 2013. From then onwards, Ermal has written songs for many Italian artists such as Marco Mengoni and Lorenzo Fragola, as well as starring as a judge on the Italian talent show Amici di Maria De Filippi. He also took part in Sanremo in 2016, placing third in the Newcomers’ section with Odio le favole (I hate fables) and then returned in 2017, placing third once again, but this time in the Big Artists section of the show with Vietato morire (Forbidden to die). His album of the same name went to number 1 in Italy.

Fabrizio was born in Rome, Italy on 9th April 1975. Kicking off his career in 1996, Fabrizio released his debut single Per tutta un’altra destinazione (For an entirely different destination), and a few years later he participated in the 50th edition of Sanremo, ending in 13th place. In 2007, he returned to Sanremo with his song Pensa (Think), which won the Newcomers’ competition and received a “Mia Martini” Critics’ Award. He competed in Sanremo in 2010, but failed to qualify for the final night of the competition and came seventh in 2017 with Portami via (Take me away). He made his debut as a TV personality in 2011, where he presented Sbarre, a docu-reality about Italian prisons.

The song that Ermal and Fabrizio will sing in Lisbon, “Non mi avete fatto niente” (You did n’t do anything to me), was composed by Ermal and Fabrizio. Andrea Fobo also helped to write the lyrics alongside the duo. The song was written as a response to the Manchester Arena bombing last year.

Song Review

I do appreciate the message behind the song. However, I just can’t seem to like the song for some reason. I find it very monotone and a bit shouty at times. I think that there was so much hype surrounding this song that when I heard it first, I was a bit disappointed. Like Franka from Croatia, I mentioned Ermal as someone I’d like to see at Eurovision during my blogs last year. But I feel he got the short end of the stick as well. I don’t think I’ll ever like this song but if it does well, I won’t cry.

What Could Have Been

Annalisa is one of my favourite Italian artists and she came so close to winning Sanremo this year. Her song “Il mondo prima di te”, (The world before you) got her to second place in this year’s contest. I love Annalisa’s extremely versatile voice and I think it needs to be heard across the continent. If my prediction skills are any good, we may see her representing Italy next year!

 

                             Buona fortuna Italia!

Does this song do anything for you? Leave your comments below. Stay tuned tomorrow for the final Eurovision preview of this year!

(Sources: eurovision.tv, RAI, YouTube)

Eurovision 2018 Previews: France

This day next week, we will know who the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 is! THE EXCITEMENT!!! But we still have a few things to do before then. Our next preview takes us to the land of baguettes, haute couture and eternal strikes. It’s France!!!

History

France was one of the seven countries to take part in the very first Eurovision Song Contest in 1956. This year marks their sixtieth entry in the contest. They have won the contest on five occasions: in 1958 with “Dors mon amour” by André Claveau, in 1960 with “Tom Pillibi” by Jacqueline Boyer, in 1962 with “Un premier amour” by Isabelle Aubret, in 1969 with “Un jour, un enfant” by Frida Boccara as part of a four-way tie and finally in 1975 with “L’oiseau et l’enfant” by Marie Myriam. Amina also tied with Sweden for first place in 1991 with “Le dernier qui a parlé” but lost on a countback tiebreak rule. Last year, Alma came twelfth with “Requiem”.

Selection

The French broadcaster, France Télévisions, organised Destination Eurovision to select their entry for Lisbon. This was the first national selection in France since 2014. 18 entries competed over two semi-finals. In each semi-final, a Francophone jury and an international jury chose four acts to advance to the final. In the final, the winner was chosen by an international jury (50%) and public voting (50%). Despite only finishing third in the jury vote, a win in the public vote was enough to award Madame Monsieur the French ticket to Lisbon.

 

 

Artist

Madame Monsieur are a duo made up of married couple Émilie Satt (born 30 November 1984) and Jean-Karl Lucas (born 22 June 1982). The pair met in 2008, and formed Madame Monsieur in 2013, with Émilie taking the role of vocalist, and Jean-Karl the producer. Their debut album Tandem was released in November 2016. They have composed songs for many French artists including Youssoupha and Lissandro Cuxi, who they beat in Destination Eurovision. Their second album Vu d’ici (Seen from here) was released last month.

The song that Madame Monsieur will perform in Lisbon “Mercy” was written and composed by the duo. The inspiration for the song comes a child called Mercy, who was born on a boat carrying Nigerian refugees across the Mediterranean Sea.

 

 

 

 

Song Review

I was lucky enough to attend the final of Destination Eurovision and see this song performed live at London Eurovision Party. There was a huge reaction from the crowd on both occasions. It’s not hard to see why. The song is a simple but beautifully constructed piece of electropop. It also carries a very important message of survival and hope, which transcends the language barrier for non-Francophone people. France have been putting a lot of effort into their entries over the last few years and I think this is their best chance at victory in a very long time. I predict a top 10 result for France at the very least. (P.S. If you do win France, have the contest in Toulouse, just saying!)

 

 

 

What Could Have Been

Destination Eurovision was a very strong selection and I had a difficult time choosing an entry to put here. In the end, I chose Emmy Liyana with “OK ou KO” (OK or Knockout). Emmy gave a confident, assured performance while serving attitude. The juries loved her but the public not so much, leaving her in third place overall. This was one of the couple of songs that would have made fine French entrants as well. And of course, who better to back you up on stage than yourself?

 

                           Bonne chance à la France!

Are you loving Madame Monsieur or are you saying “Non merci”? Leave your comments below. Stay tuned tomorrow for another Eurovision preview!

(Sources: eurovision.tv, France Télévisions, YouTube)

Eurovision 2018 Previews: United Kingdom

Continuing our preview journey, we move on to the land of tea, queuing and some big wedding. It’s the United Kingdom!!!

History

The United Kingdom first participated in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1957. This year will be their sixty-first participation. Having not missed a contest since 1959, the United Kingdom holds the record for the longest uninterrupted participation in the contest. They have won five times. Their first victory came courtesy of Sandie Shaw with “Puppet on a String” in 1967, then Lulu with “Boom Bang-a-Bang” in 1969 (tied), Brotherhood of Man with “Save Your Kisses for Me” in 1976, Bucks Fizz with “Making Your Mind Up” in 1981 and finally Katrina and the Waves with “Love, Shine a Light” in 1997. They also hold the record for most second places with 12 and most hostings of the contest with 8, as they stepped in when other countries could not host. In the 21st century, they have fared badly, only finishing in top 10 on two occasions. Jessica Garlick finished joint third in 2002 with “Come Back” and Jade Ewen finished fifth in 2009 with “It’s My Time”. Last year, Lucie Jones came fifteenth in the final with “Never Give Up On You”, the United Kingdom’s best result since 2011.

Selection

The British broadcaster, BBC, organised Eurovision: You Decide for the thrid year running to select their Eurovision entry. Six songs competed in the final and the winner was chosen by a jury (50%) and public voting (50%). SuRie was awarded the British ticket to Lisbon.

Artist

Susanna Marie Cork (SuRie) was born on February 18 1989 in Essex, England. At a young age, SuRie learnt to play the piano and oboe, as well as attending singing lessons and writing her own songs. She performed in front of the Prince of Wales as a child soloist and later graduated from the Royal Academy of Music. Most recently she provided backing vocals for Will Young and Chris Martin and teaches at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London.

SuRie is no stranger to the Eurovision Song Contest as she took to the stage in 2015 as a backing vocalist and dancer for Belgian singer Loic Nottet. She returned two years later as a backing singer for Blanche, also from Belgium.

The song that SuRie will perform in Lisbon, “Storm”, was written and composed by
Nicole Blair, Gil Lewis and Sean Hargreaves.

Song Review

I have mixed feelings about this song. It’s very middle-of-the-road and there’s no real wow moment in it. I don’t feel that the revamp improved the song in any way. That being said, SuRie does have this uncanny ability to get an entire crowd on her side. This helped her through when others faltered in the national final. It’s not bad but it’s not extremely good either. I predict a middle-of-the-table finish for the UK.

What Could Have Been

SuRie was not my pick from the national final. For me, it was Jaz Ellington with “You”. This painful love song about someone loving you but you not loving them is heart-wrenching. I remember watching Jaz on The Voice a few years back and being mesmerised by his soulful voice and it still hasn’t lost its magic. I think this would have been a better choice for the UK.

 

                         Good luck to the United Kingdom!

Will SuRie get through the storm or will the elements defeat her? Leave your comments below. Stay tuned tomorrow for another Eurovision preview!

(Sources: eurovision.tv, BBC, YouTube)

Eurovision 2018 Previews: Germany

Next up on our preview is the land of lederhosen, precision engineering and roads with no speed limits. It’s Germany!!!

History

Germany was one of the seven countries to take part in the very first Eurovision Song Contest in 1956. Apart from an absence in 1996, Germany has taken part in every single contest to date. They have won on two occasions, in 1982 when Nicole sang “Ein bisschen Frieden” and in 2010 when Lena sang “Satellite”. Last year, Levina came 25th in the final with “Perfect Life”, one place higher than the previous two years.

Selection

The German broadcaster, ARD, organised Unser Song für Lissabon (Our Song for Lisbon), to select the German entry for Lisbon. Six artists were selected and then took part in a songwriting camp to create their entries. In the final, the winner was chosen by a 100-member Eurovision panel, an international expert jury and public voting. After getting top marks in all three votes, Michael Schulte was awarded the German ticket to Lisbon.

Artist

Michael Schulte was born on April 30 1990 in Eckernförde in Schleswig-Holstein in northern Germany and grew up in Dollerup. As he lived close to the border with Denmark, he attended a Danish-language school where he graduated from in 2009. After finishing school, he went onto complete his civil service. His musical career kicked off in 2008, when he would publish covers of songs onto his YouTube channel. From there, he was signed with a management company, and later signed with Weinstein Media. He made his first TV appearance in 2011, where he participated in the first series of The Voice of Germany, placing third overall. Afterwards he signed with Edel AG, and released his debut studio album “Wide Awake” in 2012. He has released two further albums: “The Arising” in 2014 and “Hold the Rhythm” in 2017.

The song Michael will perform in Lisbon, “You Let Me Walk Alone”, was written and composed by Thomas Stengaard, Nisse Ingwersen, Nina Müller and Michael himself.

Song Review

Germany may end their last-place woes yet! This song is heartfelt, beautifully constructed and full of sentimentality. It was the best of the bunch in the national final. It does come off a bit generic at times though. It’s not something exciting or new that we haven’t heard before. While I don’t think this will win, I think Germany have done enough to avoid the bottom of the scoreboard this time.

What Could Have Been

Another of the standout songs from the German selection was Ryk with “You and I”. Ryk’s soft voice combined with classical flares results in a beautiful song. This finished third in the final but it’s not without its fans. Conchita Wurst even said in an interview that this song was her favourite from the selection and that Germany may have passed up a winning song! Who knows what would have happened?

 

                          Viel Glück Deutschland!

Do you want to leave Michael alone or tag along with him? Leave your comments below. Stay tuned tomorrow for another Eurovision preview!

(Sources: eurovision.tv, ARD, Wikipedia, YouTube)

Eurovision 2018 Previews: Spain

With just a week left until the contest begins, we move on to the countries that are pre-qualified for the final. First up is the land of flamenco, sangria and chiki-chiki. It’s Spain!!!

History

Spain first participated in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1961. This year marks their 58th entry, having participated every year since their debut. They have won on two occasions, in 1968 with “La la la” by Massiel (albeit controversially with accusations of bribery by Franco) and in 1969 as one of the four winners with “Vivo cantando” by Salomé. Their last top 5 result was in 1995 when Anabel Conde came second with “Vuelve conmigo” and they have failed to place in the top 10 in the last 10 contests, except for Pastora Soler in 2012 and Ruth Lorenzo in 2014, who both finished 10th. Last year, Manel Gavarro finished last with “Do It For Your Lover”, their worst result since 1999.

Selection

The Spanish broadcaster, Televisión Española (TVE), used the talent show Operación Triunfo (Operation Triumph) to select their entry for Lisbon. This was the ninth series of the show and the first to be broadcast since 2011. The show was also used to select the Spanish Eurovision representative from 2002 to 2004, giving Spain three consecutive top ten finishes. Sixteen contestants entered the Academy, where they were coached in several artistic disciplines such as singing, songwriting and performance. Viewers could also follow the students’ lives within the Academy. During the weekly galas, one contestant would be expelled. One week before the final, the Eurovision gala was held. The five remaining contestants each sang a solo entry, a duet and a group song. The public chose three songs to move on to the second round, where the public again chose the winner. After getting 43% of the vote in the second round, Alfred and Amaia were awarded the Spanish ticket to Lisbon.

Artist

Alfred García was born in El Prat de Llobregat in Catalonia, on March 14 1997, and started singing and trombone lessons at just seven years old. He also taught himself guitar, drums and keyboard, and has received musical training at the Unió Filharmónica del Prat. At fifteen, he released his self-produced album “Beginning” and went on to record his first single “She Looks So Beautiful” at seventeen, which won an Audience Award at the Festival Cara B. Before participating in Operación Triunfo, Alfred took part in the fourth season of La Voz (The Voice) in 2016. He finished fourth in the final of Operación Triunfo.

Amaia Romero was born in Pamplona in Navarre on 3rd January 1999. Her career started in 2010 at just eleven years old, where she participated in the children’s talent show Cántame una canción (Sing me a song). She later went onto participate in the talent show El Número Uno (The Number One) in 2012 and Operación Triunfo this year, where she went on to win the competition. Currently, she is in the last year of studying for her piano degree. She will be the first Operación Triunfo winner to represent Spain since Rosa López in 2002.

During the competition, both quickly became fan favourites, with Amaia earning the nickname “Amaia de España” (Amaia of Spain), just like season one winner Rosa. They also fell in love with each other. The pair’s rendition of “City of Stars” became the most viewed video on the Operación Triunfo Youtube account.

The song that Alfred and Amaia will sing in Lisbon “Tu canción” (Your song), was written and composed by Raúl Gómez and Sylvia Santoro.

Song Review

Spanish Eurofans have a reputation for defending their entry to the death, even it’s not that good. However, they have good reasons to be excited this year! This song is incredibly beautiful. The lyrics are extremely heartfelt without being corny. The way the instrumentation builds up before the last chorus is like something out of a film score. The marriage of Alfred’s jazzy voice with Amaia’s mature and sweet voice works perfectly. Spain had five months to be enchanted by these two, whereas they will only have three minutes in Lisbon. But you never know, a lot can happen in a short space of time…

 

What Could Have Been

Spanish-language music with reggaeton influences has become very popular around the world over the past few years. The song that embodied that in the Eurovision gala was “Lo Malo” (The Bad Stuff) by Ana Guerra and Aitana, or Aitana War (Guerra means War) as they have become commonly known. With sultry vocals, an upbeat sound and a message of empowerment, it’s no wonder this song grabbed the attention of many. “Tu canción” is great but if Spain wanted to go with trends, this definitely would have been the right choice.

 

                                      ¡Suerte a España!

Is this your song or not? Leave your comments below. Stay tuned tomorrow for another Eurovision preview!

(Sources: eurovision.tv, TVE, YouTube)

Eurovision 2018 Previews: Ukraine

It is time for the last entry from semi-final 2. It comes from the land of sunflowers, bread and Lasha Tumbai. It’s Ukraine!!!

History

Ukraine first participated in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2003. One year after their debut, Ruslana gave Ukraine their first ever win with the song “Wild Dances”. Ukraine then went on to place in the top 10 on eight occasions from 2005-2014, four of those being top 5 placings. Jamala gave its second victory in 2016 with “1944”, making Ukraine the first Eastern European country to win the contest twice. Last year in Kyiv, O.Torvald could only manage 24th place with “Time”, Ukraine’s worst result to date.

Selection

The Ukrainian broadcaster, National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine (UA: PBC), organised the third edition of Vidbir. 18 songs competed over two semi-finals. In each semi-final, an in-studio jury (50%) and public voting (50%) selected three entries to proceed to the final. In the final, the same system was used to select a winner. For the first time in the history of Vidbir, there was no tie for first place and after coming second in the jury vote and first in the public vote, Mélovin was awarded the Ukrainian ticket to Lisbon.

Artist

Kostyantyn Mykolayovych Bocharov (Костянтин Миколайович Бочаров), more commonly known as Mélovin, was born on April 11 1997 in Odessa in southern Ukraine. His stage name is a combination of Alexander McQueen and Hallowe’en. His interest in music came about at a young age as he participated in many concerts at his school, and later he graduated from theatre school. Mélovin came into the public eye when he participated in X-Factor Ukraine in 2015, which he went on to win. Afterwards, he toured Ukraine with the show’s other finalists, and a year later he released his first single “Не одинокая” (Ne odinokaya – Not alone). Although he started out singing in Russian, he soon switched over to English.

Mélovin attempted to represent Ukraine last year with his song “Wonder”. He ended up placing third in the final, receiving the highest amount of televote points but placing second-to-last with the jury. A year later he participated once again, this time placing first.

The song that Mélovin will sing in Lisbon, “Under the Ladder”, was written by Mike Ryals and composed by Mélovin himself.

Song Review

This is just one of those songs I don’t get the hype for. It’s dramatic for no reason, messy and just confusing. I don’t even get what he’s singing most of the time. Still, I can see why this would qualify; Mélovin’s mysterious looks, closing the semi-final, fire and of course, just being Ukraine. This is definitely not one of Ukraine’s stronger entries. Still, I’m happy he set the stairs on fire, rather than the piano.

What Could Have Been

Well, call me a broken record because I want Tayanna to represent Ukraine so bad! This time, she came with the Ukrainian-language 60’s inspired “Leyla”. She wasn’t sick this time, so she delivered a note-perfect performance for the final. She got exactly the same score as last year; first from the jury and third from the public vote, giving her second place again. Tayanna certainly has the vocal prowess to take on Eurovision. Third time’s a charm, as they say…

                                   Успіхів Україно!

Will going under the ladder give Mélovin good or bad luck? Leave your comments below. Stay tuned tomorrow for another Eurovision preview!

(Sources: eurovision.tv, UA:PBC, YouTube)