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What have you got to say for yourself…Latvia?

Posted by Caroline on April 22, 2012

Not content with singing a Beautiful Song, Latvia’s Anmary now regales Eurovision Blog with some beautiful words. Over to you, lady from a distant 1980…

Introduce yourselves and tell us how you ended up representing Latvia in Eurovision this
year!

I am Anmary and yes, I am representing Latvia in Eurovision Song Contest this year. How did I end up as a representative? Well, Beautiful Song won  Eirodziesma 2012. As easy as that! On the other hand, there was a lot to do to get the ticket to Baku. All the songs were evaluated by the listeners first, and then the Artistic Board had their say, the jury in the semifinal and final made their decisions. I would not be talking to you now if Ivars Makstnieks and Rolands Udris had not written Beautiful Song. And yes, it is in a way the story of my life and dreams, and probably it can draw some parallels with the story of your life as well. How has not and does not dream of becoming famous, doing the things they enjoy the most, meeting their idols?! Tell me about it!

Are you looking forward to going to Baku and what can we expect from your stage show? Will it be similar to that of the national final?

Oh, of course, the whole team is looking forward to going to Baku. We all are excited and working hard to deliver the best performance we can. What regards the stage show… well, I will enter it on a flying carpet… NOT. Just kidding! The performance will be slightly different than you have used to see in the Latvian National selection. I can promise you will enjoy it! I have a good team to rely on. By the way, one of my four back vocalists has already won Eurovision once, back in 2002 when she was supporting Marie N. So, we have our own good luck charm!

Latvia failed to make it out of the semi-final last year, how do you plan to change that this year?

We have a Beautiful Song which has catchy melody and witty lyrics which brings out the hidden sense of humor in anyone who listens to it. It is a song that everyone can easily relate to in their own special way. We promise to spread the good mood and vibes from the scene and we count on the audience to share them with us. Just let the Beautiful song be on your radio, on the tv show and the one that everybody hums. If it goes that way, we will meet on May 26 again!

Which of this year’s other entries do you rate?

There are 42 entries this year. Each and every country has chosen their best song to be their representatives. They have their dreams, hopes and they all are worthy finalists and the winners of the contest. Now knowing what it takes to prepare for the contest, to be the image of the country and to have the responsibility and honor to stand on the big stage in Baku, it would be unfair to point out one or a couple of songs. We all are winners already!

Is your song autobiographical? Were you really born in ‘a distant 1980′, and have you seen the contest from that year featuring Johnny Logan’s winning performance?

Wouldn’t you agree that Rolands Udris has done a great job writing the lyrics? The song is in a way autobiographical. I have been interested in music since I was a child. I studied at the music school, participated in the talent show, and became a vocal teacher herself. And yes, I dare to dream big – and who knows one day you might see me on the same stage with Johnny Logan or even Sir Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger. Every Cinderella knows that with the hard work and positive attitude the expected result will come. Oh, I love What’s Another Year. There is no wonder that song won! Just listen to its lyrics! Such a message!

Here in the UK Eurovision is regarded by many as a bit of a joke, an attitude which a lot of us are trying to change. How is it regarded in Latvia? You had some interesting performances in your national final (am thinking in particular of the Mad Show Boys and the woman dressed as a wedding cake!)

Yes, we had quite a diversity of the performances this year! Everyone was doing their best. People still watch the show, vote for their favorites and comment the result. And most often as in the majority of countries there is a huge discussion if the right song has won. It is good that people talk about it. It just proves that they care.

Why do you think so many people still love it so much even after all this time?

Music makes us feel good. During those three hours of the show every person out of those more than 100 million, can find something for their taste and feel that almost the whole planet share the same heartbeat, the same passion. Latvia is the land that sings. You should visit it when we have the song festivals when several thousands of people gather to sing, and even more watch it and sing along. Music has a magic power of uniting the people, the countries.

Have you heard the UK entry and what do you think of it, and our somewhat older representative? Any chance of some points? (please??)

To my mind, the UK has a great chance to score well this year. Mr Humperdinck has a lovely song, great team behind it, charming stage presence. His voice and the story the song tells are going to open and capture many hearts. Good luck the UK and Mr Humperdinck!

And finally, tell me why Latvia should have the chance to host Eurovision in 2013 and which city would you choose to host it?

Riga is a beautiful city and has already hosted Eurovision once in 2003. There is no doubt that the city and the eventual organizers would be capable of doing it again. But we should not forget that there is a nice town on the coast of the Baltic Sea called Ventspils and it has been an enormous supporter of Eirodziesma and the Latvian delegation at Eurovision for many years already. We could do semifinals in Ventspils and the final in Riga. Oh, daydreaming!

Posted in Eurovision 2012, Eurovision News, Interviews, Latvia | Leave a Comment »

Go East? Er, no thanks….

Posted by Caroline on February 23, 2012

Why are we beginning to get the distinct impression that the Eurovision crown may be heading back westwards this year? Could it have something to do with this trio of not-quite-so-lovelies which were chosen over the weekend perchance? Let’s start with the Ukrainian entry this year, Gaitana’s Be My Guest which swept to a blindingly obvious victory last Saturday during a national final in which the judges greeted all the other entries with polite applause and slightly bored expressions, only to break into a rapturous standing ovation when our winner had finished her song. Anyway, Be My Guest is an anthemic little dance number aimed at welcoming visitors to the country for the forthcoming Euro 2012 championships (as in those which Poland is co-hosting, and which resulted in them saying they were too busy to take part in Eurovision this year. Yes. That’ll be it. Not even partially a discreet flounce based upon the fact you came LAST IN THE ENTIRE CONTINENT IN 2011.). And Gaitana is part Ukrainian, part Congolese. Hang on a second. Football anthem? Part Congolese? Didn’t France do this in 2010? Oh whatever. It’s not their finest hour, but this is Ukraine, who as we all know could sneeze in a bucket for three minutes and still make the final:

 

 

Probably the less said about the next two the better. Latvia came up with an utterly bizarre final on Saturday night which made us almost long for the ridiculousness of UK rap acts and, er, Scooch as a cavalcade of mad people dressed in Willy Wonka costumes, medievally dressed bands playing the lute and a woman wearing a giant wedding cake took to the stage. But the eventual winner was this, the slightly tongue-in-cheek Beautiful Song by Anmary. Bit of a divisive effort this one, with some actually quite liking it and others failing to see the irony behind lyrics which include ‘I was born in a distant 1980, the year that Irish Johnny Logan won’. (what, not 1987?) Er, yes, and I was born in 1971, the year that Monaco scored their one and only victory, what of it?? On this basis, we are already looking forward to Eurovision 2042, which may well feature a song that begins, ‘I was born in 2012, the year that Latvia single-handedly failed to make it out of the semi-final yet again:

 

And then we have Georgia’s effort, in which Anri Jokhadze informs us ‘I’m A Joker’. You are indeed, aren’t you? Ahem.

 

Still, there was one redeeming feature over the weekend, and that was the lovely Nina Badric from Croatia revealing her entry Nebo, aka Heaven. Not a lot to say about this since we didn’t have the added entertainment of a national final to sit through but this is a nicely stirring ballad which may yet redeem the Eastern Bloc. And we bet she’ll belt it out on the night.

And on that note we are off for a nice lie-down…..

Posted in Croatia, Eurovision 2012, Eurovision News, Georgia, Latvia, Ukraine | Leave a Comment »

Just talk to us already: Latvia

Posted by Caroline on April 4, 2011

Every year about this time we set off on a mission to ask nosy questions to  as many Eurovision participants as we can in the hope of getting a few answers. And this year is no exception.  First out of the 2011 interview starting gate are those lovely lads from Latvia. Over to you, MUSIQQ…..

Introduce yourselves and tell us how you ended up representing Latvia in
Eurovision this year!
We are MUSIQQ from Latvia. Marats Ogleznevs – the author of the song and responsible for the
rapping part of the song, and Emils Balceris – the nightingale ;) We have been on the Latvian musical stage for less than two years already, but managed to gain the popularity, different Latvian awards, so, Eurovision was like a natural next step. Marats penned ANGEL IN DISGUISE especially to enter the Latvian selection for Eurovision Song Contest… and the rest you know already! We are packing for Düsseldorf!

Are you looking forward to going to Dusseldorf? What can we expect from your stage show?
Of course, we are excited about the given chance to participate in Eurovision Song Contest! And
Düsseldorf, here we come! It is an incredible challenge and adventure!

What regards the stage show… well, we are not changing it much from the one you already know
from Eirodziesma. Our Latvian fans considered it as a powerful combination of a song and a stage performance, so, why not to trust their opinion? We respect and appreciate it!

Latvia failed to make it out of the semi-final last year, how do you plan to change that this year?
We believe in our song! We have put our hearts and work in it. In addition with Emils vocal capacity we think we should do well!

Which of this year’s other entries do you rate?
We like the Dutch, German, Swedish, Russian and, of course the British entries!

Which is your favourite Eurovision entry of all time and which is your favourite from your home country?
Emils’ all time favorite is ABBA, but Marats’ – Alexander Rybak. Latvian entries? Hmm… Well, we like Brainstorm, Marie N, Valters&Kaza.

Here in the UK Eurovision is regarded by many as a bit of a joke (something we are aiming to change this year with our entry). How is it regarded in Latvia?
Well, it might depend on a final result. If the song is good and does well in the Eurovision Song
Contest, then it is a respectable event, but when the song fails… oh well, you should know the rest as Latvia and the UK have been almost side by side in the last places recently.

Why do you think so many people still love it so much even after all this time?
We think that the contest we used to watch on TV is a nicely produced show, which is rather
entertaining and evokes patriotic feelings and as well as it is uniting Europe.

What will be the first thing you do if you win?
Well, believe us or not – we would rather sit somewhere in the silence to contemplate on what has just happened.

Have you heard the UK entry and what do you think of it? Is it a bit better than our recent entries or are we going to come last again?
It is among our favorites. I can is certainly better than other recent entries the UK has presented. And actually, Blue and Elton John are to be blamed or thanked for that we two started Musiqq. I, Marats, noticed Emils singing “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word “ on TV. Each song is good in its own special way, but this year, well, let’s say, we think that the UK will be far away from the last place.

And finally, tell me why Latvia should have the chance to host Eurovision in 2012. (I have never been to Latvia so this is your chance to tell me how fabulous it is…..:))
Firstly, Latvia is the land that sings (it is one of our tourism promotion motos) – we bet you have noticed it in the course of those 12 years Latvia has participated in Eurovision. Secondly, people are beautiful, friendly and stylish in Latvia. Thirdly, Riga is a city offering almost everything your mind can think of – entertainment, history, good food, shopping… You can even try flying on your own, without wings in an Aerodium! You name it, we have it! And we would like to finish the list that could actually contain some more points, Latvia has already hosted Eurovision once and according to fans and officials, our creative and professional team did a really impressive work.

Posted in Eurovision 2011, Latvia | Leave a Comment »

My Big Fat Weekend Round-Up (Part 1)…..

Posted by Caroline on February 27, 2011

Phew, what a weekend it’s been so far! Snacks have been consumed, drinks have been drunk and songs have been chosen by the bucketload.  And it all kicked off on Friday with Turkey revealing its entry for Dusseldorf. Now the law of averages dictates that since the Turks fielded a hairy man-band last year, 2011 should have been their year to send some winsome coiffeured diva singing a spot of ethno-pop – and as such, they have, er, fielded another hairy man-band. Yuksek Sadakat have come up with a decidedly retro sounding rock anthem entitled Live It Up, complete with guitars, bleepy keyboard breaks and somewhat dated lyrics which make lots of references to rock’n’roll and the radio. An acquaintance of ours claims to be ‘obsessed’ with this song, and while we wouldn’t go that far we do rather like its anthemic sound and pleasingly nostalgic feel, and we have no doubt it will breeze through to the final and stay there. But let’s be honest, the Turks could send a flatulent donkey playing the nose-flute for two and a half minutes and they would still make it to the final:

Also making a welcome return to the fray on Friday were Austria who bypassed the option of choosing a song by Sting’s son Joe Sumner in favour of  Nadine Beiler and her big ballad The Secret Of Love. There aren’t a lot of ballads around this year (well there’s Lithuania but the less said about that the better – more of that later however….) – possibly because so many were entered and flopped dismally last year – so this one could potentially stand out from the pack, particularly since Nadine has a strikingly good voice. But the song is as cliched as they come, right down to harmonies and appropriate key changes, and for all the world sounds as though it could have walked straight out of any mid-90s contest. Could be a popular one with the juries though, even if it does inspire fans across the continent to dash off for a toilet break:

Moving on to Saturday, the first of six countries to make their choice for L’Allemagne was Moldova, who in a ‘stick with what you know’ kind of way have once again chosen Zdob si Zdub to perform their song (you may remember them as the nutters who gave the country a smashing debut result in 2005 with Bunica Bate Toba, featuring a random pensioner playing the drums). This time around there’s no sign of grandma, and in her absence their song, So Lucky, doesn’t have nearly as much charm as their previous entry – but it’s not a bad little ditty nonetheless:

Estonia have once again come up with a fairly decent, contemporary sounding, could-do-very-well-indeed type of tune in the shape of Rockefeller Street by Getter Jaani. We promise to like this even more than we do already as long as she solemnly swears not to wear that dress in the semi-final:

Ukraine, meanwhile, provided an interesting viewing experience with an oddly subdued national final (where were the shrieking, appreciative studio audience?) which also featured a simultaneous English translation, at least on the bit that we saw. We particularly enjoyed the bit when the presenter, looking a bit lost and puzzled, told viewers, “We’re going to take a break for the news now…we’ll be back in less than 20 minutes.” Eh?????? HOW many minutes exactly?? And these people managed to organise and screen an entire contest? Or possibly they just fell victim to a spot of bad translation….but anyway it makes no difference because the winner, Mika Newton’s Angely, is about as dull a song as they could have chosen, and matters aren’t improved by the fact that she is engulfed by bizarre acrobatic dancers as she performs. Come on, this is Ukraine! We want to see mad glossy-haired divas cavorting about the stage or some other general weirdness, not this….!:

Serbia’s final featured a family of songwriters competing against each other for the Dusseldorf ticket – and eventually Kristina Kovac’s track  Caroban, performed by the elfin -haired Nina (is it just us or does she look a bit like a female Milan Stankovic?) triumphed. And actually we love this, with its distinctive 1960s tone, eye-strainingly colourful costumes and general goofiness. One for the final, we think – and anybody who complains it ‘doesn’t sound very Serbian, does it?” can bog right off this minute…..

Next up we have Latvia, whose voters bypassed the hot favourite Banjo Laura in favour of this little oddity, Angel in Disguise by Musiqq – or as we like to refer to them, Diva Fever of Riga. This isn’t actually a bad little song but the presentation is just baffling – you have a dance track on your hands, chaps, so why are you just sitting there? Either this is that trademark Latvian quirkiness that permeates every entry of yours, or you just don’t want us to know that you actually dance like a geography teacher at a sixth form disco:

And finally, we come to Denmark, and once again the Scandinavians have come up trumps with a corker of a song. New Tomorrow by A Friend In London pushes all the right buttons – big, scarf-waving harmonies, a chorus that sticks in your head and stays there, plus it’s very commercial and radio-friendly – and, we might add, one of our favourites so far. The only slight problem – from our point of view at least – is that A Friend In London just happen to be a four-piece boy band. Er……haven’t we come up with that idea already? We don’t want to put a dampener on the UK’s chances but if Blue don’t come up with something equally as good as this we fear that the Danish quartet just might wipe the floor with our boys…….

And on that note, we’re off for a long lie-down. Or at least until it begins all over again this evening with Slovenia and FYR Macedonia…….

Posted in Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Moldova, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine | Leave a Comment »

We Asked, They Answered: Latvia

Posted by Caroline on May 12, 2010

Will you do an interview with us, we asked Aisha from Latvia? What for, she said? Actually she didn’t really, we just wanted to get a cheap laugh out of the introduction. But she spoke to us anyway…..

Introduce yourself to our readers and tell us how you ended up being Latvia’s Eurovision representative this year!
Dear Eurovisionblog readers, I am Aisha from Latvia. I will represent my country at Eurovision Song Contest 2010 in Oslo with a song “What For? (Only Mr God Knows Why) penned by Guntars Racs and Janis Lusens. It was my third try to compete for the Eurovision ticket in Latvia, and seems to be really lucky.

What are you most looking forward to about taking part?
First of all, I am looking forward to giving the best performance I can during our semi-final on May 25. Also, I look forward to meet the fellow participants – some of them I already got to know during the Latvian final where, for instance, the Swiss singer Michael von der Heide was the guest, and as well from Eurovision in Concert where it was a great opportunity to meet the performers.

Latvia seems to have a track record of giving slightly quirky but memorable
performances at Eurovision (Cosmos, Pirates Of The Sea etc.) What can we
expect from your stage show at the contest?

Yeah, do not forget about F.L.Y., Brainstorn or even Intars Busulis! We have the slogan – Latvia, the land that sings, you know! Anyway, at the moment we are working on the stage performance – that much I can tell. The result is to be seen on the stage during the semi final.

Which is your favourite all time Eurovision song and your favourite from
your home country?

To be completely honest, I have not followed the course of Eurovision very much. My most impressive memory connected with the contest comes from the time when Lordi won thus proving that there is no recipe how a Eurovision song should be. No matter the quirkiness, Latvia has presented some really good songs to the European audience each an every of them had been special in their own way, so it is not that easy to pick only one pure favourite.

Which of the other entries this year do you rate?

Personally, I like both Sweden and Ukraine songs at the moment. I must admit, I have not listened to all of 39 songs yet.

Many Eurovision fans have said it isn’t a great year for songs, what do you
think about this?

To give a proper opinion about it, I would need to have listened to all the songs. Speaking generally, it might be the mood people have globally. Who knows?  But Eurovision fans still have a great chance to influence the situation by choosing the best song out of those 39.

Latvia hasn’t won Eurovision in a while, do you have a strategy to try and
reverse this trend and bring the contest back to Latvia?

My main aim is to sing as good as I can at the semi final and hopefully the final as well. Whether the contest would be brought back to Latvia depends on my performance, televote and jury’s decision.

Eurovision always suffers from accusations of political/neighbourly voting.
Do you think the new voting system with the re-introduction of juries has
gone some way to changing people’s minds?

I think it is hard to tell it yet if letting also the juries to decide the winner is changing people’s minds and keeping them from voting for their neighbours. It will be clearer on May 29 already when we see the results.

And finally….have you heard the UK entry this year and if so what do you
think of it? Any chance Latvia could give us some points (if we asked
nicely, since frankly we need all the help we can get……?)

It sounds good to me! ;) I wish the best of luck to Josh and hope that Latvian voters would send some points his way, too!

Posted in Eurovision 2010, Eurovision News, Interviews, Latvia | 1 Comment »

Party Of Five….

Posted by Caroline on March 1, 2010

The national final season continues apace, and while we are having slight palpitations at the thought of next weekend, when songs are being chosen by the fistful, this weekend brought us another five to wine, dine, get to know and then invite back to our place for a nightcap. Let’s start with the Slovakian entry – and while we are the first to admit our hopes weren’t high after the long-absent central Europeans made one of the worst comebacks in contest history in 2009, we have to admit this one’s come as quite a pleasant surprise.  Horehronie by Kristina might come across as Ruslana-lite, and it’s not exactly world-class, but it’s still a damned sight better than we were expecting, and we might even venture to suggest this one has a chance of putting the Slovakians back in the final:

And so to Latvia. Now we’re convinced that one day the Latvians, the people who have in recent years brought us singing pirates, accapella singing accompanied by stick puppets,  Italian cod-opera and, er, that bloke who jumped up and down a lot last year, will at some point just enter a nice normal song and we’ll all be really disappointed that they have lost their ‘wacky’ edge. This year is not that year. What For (Only Mr God Knows Why) isn’t exactly a bad song as such, but the execution is so wondrously bizarre – singer Aisha (and you’ll note we use the word ‘singer’ in the loosest possible sense here) stands atop a giant podium initially in a dress that makes her look about nine feet tall, while a man playing an accordion wanders amid women in togas doing their washing. And that’s one of the more straightforward moments.  The whole thing reminded us curiously out of something from the musical Annie (only with slightly more grown-up orphans) and as such we can’t quite decide whether we like it or not. Still, if they don’t do well then the laundry ladies are more than welcome to come round to Team Eurovision HQ, since the washing machine is currently broken:

Then there’s the Bulgarian entry, Angel Si Ti by Miro, which in a shock move is a 2010 Eurovision entry which actually sounds like it was composed in 2010. It’s a bangin’ dance tune of the type we’ve come to expect from the Bulgarians in recent years, and the kind they seem to do so well, and if we’re being honest Miro is more than easy on the eye, with the kind of dazzling dental excellence that is seen on the Eurovision stage all too rarely. But of course we want him to get through to the final because of the quality of his music. Oh yes of course we do:

Belarus, meanwhile, slipped their entry in quietly with very little fuss and bother (are you listening, Malta??), so much so we almost forgot about it. Far Away by boy/girl group 3+2 is pretty standard Belarussian rock of the sort we’ve come to expect from them year after year after year after year (yawn. The magnificence of Koldun is beginning to look like a hazy memory), but it’s still a considerable improvement on last year’s effort.  Just one thing though, how weird is the audience for this one? Half of them look as if they’d rather be anywhere but watching yet another Eurovision entry which is likely to be on the next plane back to Minsk the second the semi-final is over, the other half just look a tad lost and puzzled:

And last but not least, we have the return to the contest of Georgia, following their controversial withdrawal from last year’s proceedings. This year’s effort is called Shine (we’re trying not to think about the Netherlands’ horrendous, similarly-titled effort from last year), a big epic ballad by the winsome Sofia Nizharadze. And we have just two words: potential winner. End of:

Posted in Belarus, Bulgaria, Eurovision 2010, Eurovision News, Georgia, Latvia, Slovakia | 4 Comments »

Words fail us….

Posted by Caroline on March 2, 2009

And so to Latvia, which beggars the question: can you remember the last time they entered a remotely serious song? No, nor can we. Thus we give you Intars Busulis, occupying the slightly manic and rather scary spot taken by Bosnia’s Laka last year. Yes, yes, very, er, quirky, Latvia. Now stop it…..

Posted in Latvia | 1 Comment »

 
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