With off season fully in motion, what better than to start speculating about internal selections? As a Cypriot, I have a vested interest in Cyprus’ ongoing strategy for the contest, especially considering how close they were to winning in 2018. I fully believe that a Cypriot victory is still on the cards, however, there are some pitfalls as well as opportunities ahead. To help out the motherland, I have devised a list of recommendations that I believe could bring Cyprus their first win, or at least back into the top 10.
Note: I have absolutely no influence over CyBC/RIK, just great taste. Also, Cyprus’ participation for Eurovision 2022 hasn’t even been formally confirmed yet, so I am massively jumping the gun here.
Let’s start with some ground rules…
- NO RETURNING ARTISTS – Look, I love Eleni Foureira, Ivi Adamou, Helena Paparizou and Kalomira. But there are SO MANY Greek and Cypriot artists, so why drag a returning artist into the mix? Last year we got an awful lot of near-misses and I would be gutted if they miss the chance to launch one of the many excellent high-potential emerging/non-ESC artists to send an artist whose career peaked years ago.
- Greek language – This is the big one for me. Cyprus has not sent an entry in Greek since 2013 and I think it’s time that CyBC take the risk. While I understand that so far, the switch to English has correlated with the country’s longest qualification streak to date, I fear that with each year they are straying further away from the local music scene, which overwhelmingly comprises of Greek language songs.
- Less generic production – These last two are connected, because both speak to how generic Cyprus’ recent entries have been in an attempt to create ‘global’ hits. Note, I love “Replay” and “El Diablo”, and both have proven to be streaming hits and widely-loved bangers, but I think these successes can be achieved without compromising identity. Surely the success of entries like “Shum”, “Zitti e buoni” and “Voila” this year will encourage the team to reconsider their definition of ‘commercial’?
With the ground rules established, here are my recommendations…
Josephine: The IT girl of Greek pop
While I back the idea of mixing it up for 2022, if Cyprus are gonna send another pop girl, they might as well send THE pop girl of the moment. Anyone and everyone who even vaguely follows Greek pop music will know Josephine. After a rather lacklustre showing at the 2014 Greek national final (to put it politely) , Josephine has had one hell of a glo-up. Over the last couple of years, she has released a series of hits, all of which are Greek language and feature folk instrumentation. She released her debut album 110% earlier this year, and it’s basically wall-to-wall bops. Her song “Magia” is currently the second-most-viewed video on Panik’s channel, with 32 million views. Surely this suggests that a Greek-language pop song could have appeal outside of the diaspora?
While songs like “Magia” or “Ti” feel very ‘Eurovision-ready’, I would actually push for an entry similar to her latest single “Paliopaido”, which would be an exciting change of pace for Cyprus AND could appeal to a wider Southern European, and specifically Balkan, sensibility.
Andromachi: Folk with a modern flair
While I would happily see Cyprus send dance bangers for the foreseeable future, I would be just as happy to see them switch it up completely. The last time we had a Laïko-influenced entry was Yianna Terzi’s “Oneiro Mou” back in 2018, and I think it’s time she was avenged. For me, the artist to bring about this change would be Andromachi Dimitropoulou. Andromachi combines traditional folk vocals and production with a fresh, whimsical aesthetic, which I believe would make for a standout Eurovision package.
I posted her biggest hit to date “Na ‘soun psema” on Twitter recently and was surprised to see how many non-Greeks/Cypriots were receptive to the song. I regard her as one of the biggest young talents in the Greek music scene, both as a writer and vocalist, and I would be fascinated to see what she would come up with for Eurovision. I would also support her collaborating with DuoViolins again to bring a sweeping dance-folk-ballad to the contest.
Make “Athina Mou 2.0” the new “Fuego 2.0”
I’ll level with you all, I’m not the biggest fan of male vocals UNLESS they are backed with spectacular production or an artsy aesthetic (see: my continual simping for Conan Osiris). For this reason, I wasn’t particularly enthused by Sandro’s selection and was secretly relieved that he didn’t return for 2021.
HOWEVER, even *I* like the song “Athina Mou” by Konstantinos Argiros, which was one of the biggest Greek hits of 2020. Something so powerful and unmistakably ‘Greek’ would, in my opinion, be a very competitive choice for CyBC. While he is signed to Panik, I think it’s highly unlikely that Konstantinos would ever go to the contest. So instead, I would get another talented male singer like Anastasios Rammos or Giorgos Kakosaios and stage the hell out of it. Notably, the former was one of the recommendations that Elena Tsagrinou gave me when I asked her who she would like to see succeed her during our interview last month.
Evangelia: ‘Diaspora Pop’
This is an outside bet considering the depth of CyBC’s collaboration with Panik Records, but since Tamta was signed to Universal/Minos EMI, there is still a chance of a non-Panik artist. If they were to send an artist from another label, my pick would be Evangelia. Growing up between New Jersey and Crete, singer-songwriter Evangelia feels like a voice of the diaspora, blending ‘Western’ pop melodies with Greek influences to create a fresh take on Med pop.
I may be biased because she responded to me on Instagram once, but I think Evangelia would be the perfect candidate to usher in a new era for Cyprus at the contest. Being a songwriter in her own regard, I would welcome a departure from Alex P/Laurell Barker/Panik/Dream Team formula that ERT and CyBC seem to be opting for. Also, considering she only has two songs out to date (both bangers, both reaching over 1 million views), I believe the opportunity is there to launch a future star.
What a concept. Cyprus haven’t sent a Cypriot artist since 2017 (Hovig), so I could also make a case for the 2022 entrant being someone who is actually from the island. It would be a good opportunity to address some of the criticisms that Cypriot celebrities have voiced about the ticket to Eurovision being a missed opportunity to champion Cypriot talent, rather than popular Greek singers. Unfortunately my favourite Cypriot artists have already done Eurovision (Anna Vissi and Ivi Adamou), and I refuse to break my own rules. As a British-born Cypriot, I would also love to see an artist from the Cypriot diaspora, like Kara Marni or Antigoni, for example.
Originally, Panik had said that they would only be putting forward Cypriot candidates for 2021…only to put forward a Greek artist in the form of Elena (who I adore, but still). Besides Ivi Adamou, Panik’s roster also includes Charis Savva and Nearchos Evangelou. As both are rather green, I cannot vouch for their performance abilities, but someone needs to bide the time until Junior Eurovision icon Sophia Patsalides completes her studies in the UK…
Who or what would you like Cyprus send to Eurovision 2022? Let us know! Be sure to stay updated by following @ESCXTRA on Twitter, @escxtra on Instagram and liking our Facebook page for the latest updates! Also, be sure to follow us on Spotify and YouTube to see our reactions to the news in the run up to the 2022 national final season!