Eurovision 2017 Entry: Malta — Claudia Faniello — Breathlessly

July 3, 2017 0

“Breathlessly” by Malta’s Claudia Faniello is a lovely entry for Eurovision, but is that enough? Country: Malta Song Title: “Breathlessly” Artist: Claudia Faniello Second Semi-Final: Position 5 Last year’s entry: “Walk on Water” – Ira Losco (12th Place) Malta is repping for the powerful ladysinger ballads at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest with “Breathlessly” by Claudia Faniello. How is the execution of this track? This song hasn’t made much of an impression on me, and I’ve been trying to figure out why. There’s nothing to dislike about the track: the lyrics are fine, the pace could be a little faster but it certainly isn’t plodding, and Faniello’s voice is perfectly pleasant to listen to. It’s taken a few listens in preparation for this piece to finally figure out what isn’t working for me: this should be a country song. Imagine if the strings in the orchestration were replaced with a guitar. This could easily be a hit song on this side of the Atlantic and an instant karaoke staple with even a slight hint of a twang. I fully understand why “Breathlessly” isn’t a country song: Country isn’t Claudia Faniello’s lane. Granted, I don’t think she would have to change much vocally with a […] [Read more…]

Cyprus 2017: Who the Heck is Hovig?

July 3, 2017 0

Cyprus kicked off Eurovision selection season for 2017 by internally selecting Hovig. We don’t know his song yet, so let’s learn more about him. Who the heck is Hovig? Hovig Demirjian is a 28-year-old singer who will be representing Cyprus at the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest.1 How did Hovig become a known quantity? Hovig first gained notoriety in 2009 when he competed on the second series of Greece’s version of The X Factor. He made it to week 11 of the live shows, finishing in seventh place. He was knocked out of the competition by Ivi Adamou, who went on to represent Cyprus at Eurovision in 2012. <iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/Ei_o2SzeZg0″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe> Does Hovig have any previous Eurovision connections? Along with Ivi Adamou, Eleftheria Eleftheriou (Greece 2012) also competed on the same season of The X Factor. After competing in Greece, Hovig entered Cyprus’ national selection for the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest. While his entry “Goodbye” received a middling score from the jury, it ranked second in the public vote. <iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/49mYrdXqWi0″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe> In 2015, Cyprus held the contest Eurovision Song Project to find its representative. Hovig was one of six finalists with the song “Stone in a River.” Though […]

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Eurovision 2017 YouTube First Rehearsals: Semi-Final 1

July 3, 2017 0

If YouTube provides a clue as to who will qualify from the first Eurovision Song Contest semi-final, there could be some major surprises in store. Rehearsals for the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest kicked off Sunday, with the first half of the first semi-final taking the stage in Kyiv. On Monday, the second half of the first semi-final got their turn on the stage in the International Exhibition Centre. As has been customary for the last several years, Eurovision has released teaser snippets of each rehearsal, giving home viewers a glimpse into what is in store for next week’s competition. You know what that also means? MORE DATA TO SPECULATE UPON! We have been tracking the viewership of these snippets and have discovered some surprises that may reveal some potential shakeups to previous expectations for this year’s Contest. As of this writing1, here are the Top 10 first rehearsal videos from the first semi-final: Greece Belgium Finland Poland Montenegro Portugal Sweden Azerbaijan Iceland Latvia There are quite a few countries on that list that haven’t been part of the conversation this season, including Greece, Finland, Poland, and Iceland. Noticeably absent from the list are Armenia (11th) and Australia (13th). It’s possible that […] [Read more…]

Lucie Jones Will Never Give Up on the UK

July 2, 2017 0

No word yet on whether she’ll let you down, run around, or desert you. The United Kingdom has had a … rocky? … relationship with Eurovision the last two decades, mostly sending entries that probably wouldn’t have qualified if required to compete in the semifinals. After a short run of internal selections in the early 2010s, they’ve returned to a public voting process. This year’s “Eurovision: You Decide” television special has resulted in the selection of X Factor alumna Lucie Jones and her song, “Never Give Up On You.” My first thought, never having heard of Jones, was to wonder whether she had theater experience. Sure enough, after she was booted from X Factor early in the 2009 season (the same one that spawned personal Eurovision favorite Jedward), she played Cosette in Les Miz, Molly in Ghost the Musical, Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, and Maureen Johnson in Rent. That is a ridiculous / amazing lineup, and explains my instant affinity for her voice quality. In case that wasn’t enough, this song was written by 2013 Eurovision winner Emmelie de Forest, with whom I share a birthday. And so I’m in the strange position of liking — nay, loving — […] [Read more…]

NaviBand Shares Historyja Majho Zyccia for Belarus

July 2, 2017 0

In case you don’t speak Belarusian, that’s “Story of My Life.” Belarus hasn’t had much success with final placements in the last few contests, but they do seem to have taken the baton from Moldova in terms of the delightfully weird. This year’s entry, “Historyja majho zyccia” (Story of My Life) by NaviBand, was selected by a combination of jury and public vote, and seems like a natural successor to 2014’s twerpy hamster date and 2016’s naked wolfman. This song reminds me of what Three Minutes to Earth (Georgia 2014) might have achieved if it hadn’t been such a musical hot mess: upbeat, high-energy without being manic, and unfailingly positive. I caught myself grinning like a fool the first time I listened to this entry, which is really something considering I’d just been trudging through the muck that is USian news these days. Both performers have great voices (just one or two minor pitch issues), and they do an amazing job of selling the emotion. I’m having a hard time finding fault, honestly. I have only two requests for NaviBand and their team. First: please, for the love of god, do not translate the lyrics for the main contest. The […] [Read more…]

Latvia Gets in “Line” Behind Triana Park

July 2, 2017 0

Latvia continues to experiment with electronic pop at Eurovision, selecting Triana Park’s “Line” as their entry for Kyiv. Finally, I get to take my turn to gush about Latvia’s selection process Supernova. To put it into perspective: my favorite song so far of the 2017 selection season–Franco Franco’s “Up”–didn’t even make it out of the semi-final and I’m not mad. I don’t know who convinced LTV to take a more experimental/college radio route in its approach to Eurovision entries, but I am here for it. Case in point: this year’s Supernova winner “Line” by the electronica group Triana Park. After five previous attempts1 to represent Latvia at Eurovision, the group finally found success with this track: Similar to “Love Injected” and “Heartbeat”, there’s a slow build behind palpable restraint, eventually bursting through to a moment of rocking out. Although the lyrics are repetitive and not all that complex, the delivery reminds me of “Heads Will Roll” by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Also, since the band has been together for so long, they have a clearly developed aesthetic and stage presence that shines through in this performance. I will be curious to see how Triana Park will heighten the performance for the stage […] [Read more…]

#tbt: “Refrain” (1956)

July 1, 2017 0

Switzerland's Lys Assia performs "Refrain" at the first Eurovision Song Contest in 1956. (Screen: YouTube)As we look forward to the next edition of the Eurovision Song Contest, let’s take a look back at how all the craziness began. Background Song Title: “Refrain” Artist: Lys Assia Country: Switzerland Year: 1956 Back in the mid-1950s, the European Broadcasting Union wanted to test out the live capabilities of television and radio across Europe. Italy’s Sanremo Music Festival, which began in 1951, was instantly popular and had a format that seemed adaptable for an international audience. This led to the first iteration of what became known as the Eurovision Song Contest. In 1956, representatives from seven countries gathered in Lugano, Switzerland to present a total of 14 songs. The first Eurovision winner was Lys Assia of Switzerland with her song “Refrain”:   Legacy This edition of the Eurovision Song Contest was like no other, and not just because it was the first edition. Each country submitted two songs for consideration, making this the only Contest with multiple entries from a single country. Of the seven countries, Switzerland and Luxembourg were the only ones to have both of their entries performed by the same singer—Lys Assia and Michèle Arnaud, respectively. That’s not the only thing Switzerland and Luxembourg had in common […] [Read more…]

#tbt: “Refrain” (1956)

July 1, 2017 0

As we look forward to the next edition of the Eurovision Song Contest, let’s take a look back at how all the craziness began. Background Song Title: “Refrain” Artist: Lys Assia Country: Switzerland Year: 1956 Back in the mid-1950s, the European Broadcasting Union wanted to test out the live capabilities of television and radio across Europe. Italy’s Sanremo Music Festival, which began in 1951, was instantly popular and had a format that seemed adaptable for an international audience. This led to the first iteration of what became known as the Eurovision Song Contest. In 1956, representatives from seven countries gathered in Lugano, Switzerland to present a total of 14 songs. The first Eurovision winner was Lys Assia of Switzerland with her song “Refrain”:   Legacy This edition of the Eurovision Song Contest was like no other, and not just because it was the first edition. Each country submitted two songs for consideration, making this the only Contest with multiple entries from a single country. Of the seven countries, Switzerland and Luxembourg were the only ones to have both of their entries performed by the same singer—Lys Assia and Michèle Arnaud, respectively. That’s not the only thing Switzerland and Luxembourg had in common […] [Read more…]

This Week in Eurovision: Israel’s Rising Star and Lithuania’s Marathon

July 1, 2017 0

Happy 2017! Now that we can start saying “this year” when referring to Eurovision 2017, let’s see what’s happening this week. Israel: HaKokhav HaBa Israel will be kicking off its selection to find this year’s Eurovision Song Contest representative for Kiev. HaKokhav HaBa (known internationally as Rising Star) will begin its fourth series Monday with the first of 10 heats, with the finale expected to air March 6. The format has proved to lead to Eurovision success for Israel: the country’s four-year qualifying slump ended in 2015 with series two winner Nadav Guedj landing in ninth place with “Golden Boy.” Last year’s champion Hovi Star also reached the Eurovision final with “Made of Stars,” finishing in 14th place. Lithuania: Eurovizijos 2017 Over in Lithuania, the marathon known as Eurovizijos 2017 will start Saturday. This year, 51 participants have been shortlisted to compete for a ticket to Kiev. Among the participants are Eurovision alumni Vilija Matačiūnaitė (2013) and Sasha Son (2009). The format has been tweaked this year so that participants won’t have to compete every single week. The first four episodes will feature a quarter of the entrants singing, with only a handful advancing to the second round. The marathon runs until March […]

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