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What have you got to say for yourself…Latvia?

Posted by DINRIL 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!

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

What have you got to say for yourself…Slovakia?

Posted by DINRIL on April 9, 2012

He’s the first Slovakian representative ever to tackle the Eurovision Blog interview! So let’s all say ‘hi’ to Max Jason Mai…

Introduce yourself and tell us how you ended up representing Slovakia in Eurovision this year!

I am a rock musician trying to conquer the hearts of the rock fans. The fact that I should represent Slovakia came from RTVS and I accepted their offer. I recorded my song Don´t Close Your Eyes in USA with one of the best producers in the business Micheal Elvis Basquette. My aim is not only to represent my country. The aim is to represent all the rock fans from wherever they are. I am a MAXimalist and believe in maximal success!

Are you looking forward to going to Baku? What can we expect from your stage show?

Of course I am looking forward! I heard it was a wonderful city. I am sure I will enjoy my
stay there. We are working hard to set up a great stage performance. But let me keep it secret
for now.

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

My plans are simple. To do my best. To try to make viewers´ hearts beat faster. If that is enough or not will be decided by people and the jury.

Why do you think it took Slovakia such a long time to make a return to the contest after its initial appearance in the 90s?

To answer this question you have to ask the management of RTVS. I dont know much about the reasons. Most probably it is a matter of money.

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

Any easier question? (er, no……:))

There a lot of ballads this year; do you think from that point of view Don’t Close Your Eyes will stand out from the pack?

Totally! And I hope in a positive way. Always!

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  Slovakia?

Slovakia doesnt have a large ESC history so the Slovaks are just building up their relationship
with ESC 🙂

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

ESC is a world apart and ones you taste that world, u are captured by it.

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

Mr. Humperdinck sounds like Tom Jones to me. I like the fact that he is still travelling, promoting the song…music makes him happy and that is a great thing. Music is a powerful fairy. Isn´t that wonderful? Regarding the points… I am not a jury member so I am not giving any points.

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

Hosting ESC next year would be a big challenge for us. That would be a quite unexpected situation 🙂 Because honestly…how big is the chance for such a small and unknown country like Slovakia to win?

Posted in Eurovision 2012, Slovakia | 1 Comment »

(Almost) the last round-up, Part 2….

Posted by DINRIL on March 29, 2012

Mopping up the last few songs of the year, it looks like we’re set for an almighty battle of the ballad birds in Baku. Or at least between Azerbaijan and Bosnia and Herzegovina that is. The host nation are fielding this effort, When The Music Dies, by Sabina Babayeva, which is OK in a sort of ‘we REALLY don’t want to win this again’ kind of way. We confidently predict a triumphant seventh place finish. Or something:

And here’s Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Maya Sar, weighing in on the big and dramatic front with Korake Ti Znam. It’s epic, it’s beautiful and….we wish we liked it more. If it’s any consolation, we do actually feel bad about not liking it more. And she will undoubtedly qualify for the final where Eurovision Blog estimates Slovenia will wipe the floor with all the other Balkan ballads:

Speaking of ballads, look here comes another one! It’s Belgium’s Iris, performing her entry Would You in a hall of mirrors which looks like a set nicked from Munich 1983:

But enough of all this balladeering, along come Greece now to pick up the tempo, with Eleftheria Eleftheriou (a name which we just know is going to give us no end of spelling problems in the run-up to the contest) and her song Aphrodisiac. Which sounds pretty much like every bit of Greek ethno-pop which has dominated their Eurovision track record since the dawn of time. We hereby predict Eleftheria will wear a short, sparkly skirt, probably be joined on stage by carefully co-ordinated dancers and sail through to the final for a slightly underwhelming mid-table finish. Yawn. Word to the Greeks: we realise you’re on a budget at the moment but seriously, originality costs NOTHING:

Posted in Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Eurovision 2012, Eurovision News, Greece | Leave a Comment »

What have you got to say for yourself….Israel?

Posted by DINRIL on March 29, 2012

Oh yes, it’s that time of year again when we ask Eurovision acts across the continent very nicely if they’ll talk to us. While some take no notice, issue a hollow laugh of derision and then take no notice, or demand a fee for their troubles (er, no) others actually quite like the idea, and do indeed take the time to answer our nosy questions. And first out of the bag this year are Israel’s Izabo, who not only deserve a big round of applause for being generally fab, but also for being the first Israeli act ever to face the Eurovision Blog interrogation. Over to the band’s keyboard player Shiri Hadar:

Introduce yourselves and tell us how you ended up representing Israel in Eurovision this year!
We are Izabo! A four piece band including Ran Shem Tov and Myself, Shiri Hadar, we are also husband and wife and just had our new baby girl 4 months ago, called Eli! Ran is the creator of the Music, he produces and Mixes everything aswell as playing Guitar and lead locals. I play keyboard, Jonathan Levi the redhead is our bass player and Nir Manzur is the crazy drummer. we all sing aswell. we are not really sure how we ended up representing Israel this year in the Eurovision to be honest, since its a very suprising choice to take us, being a left field band that are known to be more alternative Musicians. but we were very happy to hear that we were chosen, we believe Eurovision doesn’t have to mean you’re not a good musician. Remember Abba started there!!!! 🙂

Are you looking forward to going to Baku? What can we expect from your stage show?
We are looking forward, and working towards this trip. I think you can expect on the stage show that we will stay Izabo. We are a funk rock band and that is not going to change, we won’t be dancing dressed like clowns, I think being authentic is the most important thing, I hope people will relate.

Israel failed to make it out of the semi-final last year, how do you plan to change that this year?
I can’t say that it will change this year, all i can say is that we are doing our best for that to happen. all we can do is put on the best performance of the song on stage, and again, hope that people will relate to what we are doing.

Which of this year’s other entries do you rate? Since we’ve been working so hard, we didn’t have too much time to go over all the songs.. we really like the Turkish entry. and we know he loves Izabo aswell as he wrote us. England is interesting!

How have your fans reacted to your impending appearance in Eurovision? Have you also found that you now have a lot of new ones? Our fans were like us, suprised at the beginning, but everyone are loving it! everyone loves the song and being so supportive. all the “Music Lovers” around here are supporting us bringing something good to this show.

Ran mentioned in a previous interview that part of his family is from Azerbaijan. Did that influence your decision to represent Israel and will you be getting in touch with your roots while you’re there?
We didn’t know where the Eurovision is this year when we sent the song (hehe we’re not news type of people as you can notice) but when we realized it was amazing. I think it will be very interesting to see what the place looks like and even try and locate the area where Ran’s family grew up in.

You came over here in 2004 after the release of the Morning Hero EP, do you have any plans to play in the UK again?Yes most definitely!!!! We signed with 100% Records over in the UK last year. and a few months ago we released a free 3 track EP, which you could download in our facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/IzaboPage

Our first Single in the UK “I Like It” will be out this May! very excited about it. you can already check out the new video for the song over here:

The whole album “Life is on my side” will be released in the UK May 24th. After that we are planning to be in the UK as much as we will be wanted for!

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 Israel? It’s pretty much the same over here in Israel. it’s a shame really. because Eurovision could be a huge celebration of great music from all around the world. I think it used to be that years ago.. but nowdays it’s less about the music…thats what we understand. This is why we believe we are bringing something different to this year’s ESC. Crossing figures that it will stick out and do a great job.

Have you heard the UK entry and what do you think of it, and our somewhat older representative? Any chance of some points? (please…..:)) Well, I don’t think that we will have too much input on the votes from Israel hehe…but i’m sure it will do great this year! We give your our personal vote 🙂

And finally, tell me why Israel should have the chance to host Eurovision in 2013 and which city would you choose to host it? Cause the weather here is the best in Europe? Great food? Amazing beach? All we can do is do our best and hope for the best outcome. either way, we are happy with the experience and with every new Izabo fan that it’s bringing along. it’s all about spreading your Music!!!

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

Rock Me Amadeus! On second thoughts don’t bother….

Posted by DINRIL on March 27, 2012

Question: Is this the worst song ever in the history of Eurovision? Answer: Yes. Well possibly not but it sure is a contender. Montenegro, bring it ON:

Posted in Eurovision 2012, Montenegro | 1 Comment »

Is there a dislike button?

Posted by DINRIL on March 19, 2012

Poor old San Marino. Not only do they have to contend with being the smallest country on the Eurovision stage (and all the endless jokes about finding it on the map underneath a biscuit crumb), but they’ve yet to actually reach the final – and this year even their passage to the semi-final is proving to be a rocky one. Having announced late last week that San Marinese singer Valentina Monetta would sing the Ralph Siegel penned number Facebook  Uh Oh Oh (can’t imagine for one moment what it’s about), they have since been told that the lyrics of the song contravene rule 1.2.2.g of the contest. Whatever that is. Well actually it has something to do with the fact that mentioning Facebook in the song is tantamount to advertising.

So what to do? Well they could change the words of the song, but since it’s basically about Facebook and features the word Facebook approximately 48,000 times (together with the occasional not-so-subtle mention of Mark Zuckerberg) we have no idea how they would go about it. In other words, it looks as if they’ll have to scrap the ditty and come up with a new song instead. But that said, given just how utterly ridiculous said ditty is, are we sure they didn’t just make this rule up in order to allow them to find something better? Seriously San Marino, we know you’re the size of the editor’s thumbnail but is this REALLY the best you could do….?

Posted in Eurovision 2012, San Marino | 4 Comments »

Love Will Set You Free? Yes please!

Posted by DINRIL on March 19, 2012

So after much speculation, gnashing of teeth and general dischord about the choice of Engelbert Humperdinck to represent the UK in Baku (to the point when we actually had visions of some of you marching down to the BBC wearing medieval costume and holding flaming torches), the veteran crooner’s song for the contest has finally been unveiled. Love Will Set You free, penned by ace songwriters Sacha Skarbek (OK, he co-wrote James Blunt’s You’re Beautiful, but nobody’s perfect) and Martin Terefe, was revealed on the BBC’s official Eurovision website this morning – and the reaction has been as divided as you might expect. Some think it’s a potential winner, others aren’t so keen. There are of course others who have clearly branded it the worst song in the entire history of music simply because it’s a UK Eurovision entry and we all know how clever and fashionable it is to knock those. But our thoughts on what they can go and do are not reprintable on a family blog.

And as for our thoughts? Well, we’re so glad that we decided to wait until we’d heard the song before we passed judgment on whether Engelbert was the right man for the job – and sure enough, our patience has been rewarded. For Love Will Set You Free is the kind of simple, gentle, back-to-basics ballad the UK should have sent years ago – and in a contest where ballads are two a penny, it stands out as one of the best (frankly if we were Zeljko from Serbia we’d be quaking in our boots at the thought of pensioner power). Of course the ‘nul points’ naysayers have been out in full force since it was revealed – but since a) most of them have embraced the Russian grannies while continuing to denounce our own singing pensioner, and b) would be fawning over this song like flies around a bun if it had hailed from the Balkans or Eastern Europe, we’re not listening to them either. The fact is, this is simply one of the best efforts the UK has fielded in years – and even if it doesn’t win (and against the likes of Sweden we’ll be honest it has an uphill task), at least we won’t be the laughing stock of the continent this year. And in case you have yet to hear what all the fuss is about look no further:

Posted in Eurovision 2012, United Kingdom | 4 Comments »

How very dare you!

Posted by DINRIL on March 18, 2012

Much as we respect the right of anybody to change their minds about the song they have entered for Eurovision (otherwise known as ‘doing a Belarus’), we were shocked to learn this week that Italy had done just that. Yup, they’ve ditched the majestic ballad Per Sempre – which was one of our favourites this year – in favour of this effort, L’Amore e Femmina. Now this is a more upbeat tune, with more than enough uses of the phrase ‘boom boom boom’ to satisfy all those lovers of the ridiculous Eurovision lyric – and yes, we do quite like it (we sense if Amy Winehouse had decided to sing in Italian the result might have been something like this), but it’s just – well we think Per Sempre had top five potential, and we’re not so sure about this one. Still when Nina Zilli emerges triumphant from Baku on May 26 clutching the winner’s trophy feel free to tell us we were wrong:

Posted in Eurovision 2012, Italy | 1 Comment »

See anyone you recognise?

Posted by DINRIL on March 14, 2012

Well you should do if you’ve been watching Eurovision for a while because this chap, Zeljko Joksimovic, finished in second place for the country once known as Serbia and Montenegro in 2004, singing the hauntingly beautiful Lane Moje. Since then he’s gone on to write the hauntingly beautiful Leilja for Bosnia and Herzegovina, which came third in 2006 – but we’re getting the impression he’d quite like to come first for once. As such he’s back for Serbia this year with this little number, Synonym, which was presented on a special show on Serbian TV the other night which featured Zeljko singing a back catalogue of his greatest hits before he finally got around to presenting his entry for Baku – and do we really need to tell you what it’s like? Just see above, basically.

The only main difference this time is he presented the song in English, and we’re still not sure if he’ll be going for that in the contest or sticking to his native tongue. Bit of advice here? We’d stick to Serbian if we were you, unless you really want the song to sound like something out of an overblown West End stage musical. Because in all other respects – and while we’re not entirely sure this will do as well as its predecessors – this is really very good indeed:

Posted in Eurovision 2012, Serbia | 1 Comment »

Ladies and gentleman, your winner. Maybe……

Posted by DINRIL on March 14, 2012

So Melodifestivalen came and went with all its attendant hysteria, and when all was said and done the hysteria just continued apace, because there are an awful lot of people out there who seem to think that after choosing this song, Sweden have yet another Eurovision victory in the bag. And Loreen’s song Euphoria certainly has everything going for it – for one thing it’s super-credible, the sort of bangin’ club anthem which would doubtless have contest naysayers shocked to learn it’s actually a Eurovision entry and secondly it’s already topping charts all over Europe which mean it’ll be firmly entrenched in everybody’s minds a la Satellite when the big night comes. Plus we are kind of liking the fact that it looks like what might happen if Kate Bush decided to sing a Faithless track.

But is it really a sure thing? Well in any other year we would be saying yes, quite possibly, but let’s inject a note of caution here – this is one of the strongest song line-ups in years, and as such Loreen is facing a lot of stiff competition in her quest to bring the contest back to la Suede – and besides, let’s not forget how many of their songs have seemed like runaway winners only to then limp into fifth place, or similar (Friends in 2001, Lena in 2004, Carola in 2006, Eric Saade and his stupidly catchy nursery rhyme in 2011 – and let’s not forget the even worse fates dealt out to the likes of Charlotte Perelli and Anna Berghendahl) Besides, there is always the possibility that her funky dance moves may pale in comparison to the Russian grannies. But all things considered – and provided she actually makes an effort on the night and doesn’t just assume she can phone in her performance and automatically get 4000 points – then yes, we would say this is a contender. Now if only we could stop singing it:

Posted in Eurovision 2012, Sweden | 1 Comment »