Editorials & Opinion

🇧🇪 Slideback Sunday – Ishtar divides opinion with O Julissi

🇧🇪 Slideback Sunday – Ishtar divides opinion with O Julissi

After last week’s Slideback Sunday took us back to 2010 with Armenia’s “Apricot Stone”, and today we are staying firmly in the late noughties with Belgium’s 2008 entry, Ishtar’s O Julissi.  What do our team of Slideback superstars think of the entry? Ishtar got to represent Belgium after winning Eurosong 2008, succeeding over more established performers, and facing rock group Paranoiacs and Nelson, who had written a modern ballad, in the final.  The song was released as a single on 14 March, entering the Belgian Ultratop at number 7, and proceeding to top the list in the second week.  On the Eurovision stage, the singer does indeed look like a candy cane, and the choreography involves her just walking around her bandmates. Nevertheless, the folk tunes and happy, if in an imagined language, lyrics can and do have us bopping along. Taking inspiration from swing, the song urges to have a little dance-off, blending several voices in beautiful symphonies.  Audiences across the continent didn’t agree, however, and the entry failed to qualify, finishing in 17th place in the first semi-final with 16 points.  Overall, for better or for worse, the performance stands out with the sheer unexpectedness of its sound, …
🇦🇲 Slideback Sunday: Armenia’s special apricots

🇦🇲 Slideback Sunday: Armenia’s special apricots

This week, Slideback Sunday is going back ten years, to the 2010 contest – and as Armenia is the country, that means this week’s offering is “Apricot Stone”. Performed by Eva Rivas, what do our team think of this anthem from the Armenian motherland? Up until 2010, Armenia had been doing very well, having entered four times prior, with all four entries hitting the top 10. Apricot Stone would go on to be their fifth top ten hit in a row, finishing seventh, fully making use of the late 00s/early 10s’ apparent love for pop with eastern influences. Armenia have often gone back and forth among the Eurovision fandom, some years they’ll send a creative and interesting modern masterpiece (“LoveWave”, “Jan Jan”, “Not Alone”), and other times it will be a low energy dirge (“Lonely Planet”, “Qami”). The apricot is the national fruit of Armenia. The song contains the lyric ‘motherland’. And if all you know about “Apricot Stone” is that it is appealing to patriotic symbols, you might expect the latter. Little could be further from the truth. The warm instrumental that starts off the song matches with the singer Eva Rivas’ detailing of her life as a child. …
🇦🇺 Slideback Sunday: Australia flying high

🇦🇺 Slideback Sunday: Australia flying high

Slideback Sunday this week isn’t going all that far back into history. Australia is the country, so further back than 2015 isn’t even possible. But we’ve decided to hop back to 2019, to Tel Aviv and Kate Miller-Heidke. She was flying high in Israel, but what does our team think of “Zero Gravity”? To many fans, Australia has by now become a steady force in the Eurovision Song Contest. There was uproar in 2015, but by now, we’ve managed to get used to them being here to stay – and I, for one, applaud them. That said, I normally don’t really applaud their songs. But then there was Kate Miller-Heidke… After years of sending internally chosen radio friendly pop, Australia decided to take a deep dive last year when they opted for a national final. The show itself was exactly what I think a good national final should be. There was an incredible variety in songs: Electric Fields, Sheppard and the list goes on. And there was Kate Miller-Heidke. Without a proper musical melody to it, Kate decided to showcase her operatic skills for the show. I previously knew her from sweet, poppy ballads like “Last Day On Earth”, which …
🇦🇱 Slideback Sunday: When Albania gambled their hearts

🇦🇱 Slideback Sunday: When Albania gambled their hearts

Last week we took a look at one of Finland’s past entries, and this week we go from the far north to the very south of Europe as we revisit Albania, and their 2008 entry “Zemrën e lamë peng” sung by Olta Boka. Albania debuted at Eurovision Song Contest 2004 with “The Image of You” which finished in 7th place. Their initial success seemed to be a one-off occurrence; in the three years that followed, they failed to qualify from the semi-final twice. Olta Boka brought Albania back to the final with “Zemrën e lamë peng”, a ballad with rock elements with an impressive performance, especially considering that Olta was only 16 years old at the time. The translation of the title is roughly “We gamble our hearts” and while I’m not sure if this song choice was a gamble, I can safely say it won my heart. Europe seemed less impressed – it finished in 17th place in the final and only barely qualified. That’s humbug, if you ask me. Depending on the day, I’d call this my favorite Albanian Eurovision entry, rivaled only by “Ktheju tokës” and “I’m Alive”. I find it to be vastly underrated by the …
My round up of the 2020 Eurovision season

My round up of the 2020 Eurovision season

DISCLAIMER:The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily state or reflect those of the site and its management. With the start of the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest, just around the corner, I thought I would take this opportunity to just reflect about the past twelve months. Writing these retrospective articles, really make me think. It made me think about all of the memories I’ve made, and all of the things myself and the ESCXTRA team have managed to achieve. This has also given me a chance to sometimes reflect, and also find ways to improve, in order to make sure we give you (the readers) the coverage you deserve. Without further ado, let’s look at what I got up to in the past twelve months…. What did I get up to during the 2020 Eurovision season? Despite the 2020 Contest being cancelled, I was able to undertake some activities before this year was abruptly cut. Some of the experiences I was able to undertake, was something I normally did. However, I did undertake some new experiences. I went to Rotterdam It wasn’t a surprise, that this has been a tradition. Ever …
🇫🇮 Slideback Sunday: When Finland went folk

🇫🇮 Slideback Sunday: When Finland went folk

Last week, Angeolos took on a trip down memory lane to Austria in 1990. This week, we go to another decade start, but a little further north and a little more recently to Finland in 2010.  An underwhelming start of the decade Following the grandiose and LED-filled stage of 2009, the 2010 edition may have been a bit of set back for some. But to me, the 2010 edition will always be a special one as it is the first one I watched! Growing up in Italy during the long years of non-participation I never knew about the contest…tragic isn’t it? But finding myself in Norway the year they last hosted, I couldn’t not watch. That year, one of the songs I remembered most (dictated by good Finnish friends maybe) was Finland’s Kuunkuiskaajat and their song “Työlki Ellää“. The decade unfortuntely didn’t start well for the nordic nation, who missed out on a spot in the final for a mere 4 points, just behind Moldova and the charm of Epic Sax Guy. Folk, national language, accordion and strings…everything I like! My favourite Finnish entry of the 2010s is without a doubt “Something Better” by Softengine which was on my top …
🇭🇷 Beyond Eurovision: Severina

🇭🇷 Beyond Eurovision: Severina

Over the summer, we are premiering a new series called ‘Beyond Eurovision’. Every week, we look at what happened to Eurovision stars since they took part in the contest. Next up in the series is Severina, who represented Croatia in the Eurovision Song Contest 2006 with the song “Moja Štikla”, finishing 12th. What many fans don’t know is that she went on to become even more of a regional icon after the contest… Early career A star was born in Split, [modern-day] Croatia in 1972, her name was Severina. Having performed in local theatre and won numerous local festivals, she moved to Zagreb in 1989 to start her national career. That year, she released her self-titled debut album. She made it big fresh out of the gate, with 6 of the 10 tracks becoming singles. A highlight being “Tvoja prva djevojka”, which has a Brat Pack 1980s teen movie vibe to it…but Balkan. Even at this stage in her career, her music is packed with impactful vocals, charm and the same cheekiness that made me fall in love with her watching Eurovision 2006 as a child.  The road to Eurovision  As much as I would love to take you on …
🇦🇹 Slideback Sunday: reviewing “Keine Mauern Mehr” by Simone

🇦🇹 Slideback Sunday: reviewing “Keine Mauern Mehr” by Simone

This Sunday we’ll pay attention to Austria’s entry from 1990 “Keine Mauern Mehr” by gorgeous Simone. The title means “No Walls Anymore“.The song, a mid-tempo, has this typical late 80’s touch, in which Simone sings about the freedom brought about through the fall of the Berlin Wall. The national final The Austrian national final took place on 15 March 1990 in Vienna. The winner was decided through a mixture of televoting (50%) and an expert jury (50%).The winner of the final was, surprisingly not Simone, but Duett with the song “Das Beste”.However they were disqualified after it was revealed they had competed with the same song in the 1988 German National semi-final. The winner was then declared as Simone Stelzer with the song “Keine Mauern Mehr”, since she came in second place in the national final.So Austria sent the song which came second to Zagreb, which used to be my favorite Austrian entry (along with 1989) for a long time. That says a lot about my opinion about Austrian entries in Eurovision, right? “Keine mauern mehr” Simone sings about the freedom brought about through the fall of the Berlin Wall – a current even at the time. A time when Germany finally reunited, the dissolution …
🇭🇺 Slideback Sunday: reviewing “Miért kell, hogy elmenj” by V.I.P.

🇭🇺 Slideback Sunday: reviewing “Miért kell, hogy elmenj” by V.I.P.

This week it is Aline’s turn to give some attention to a song from Hungary. This country debuted in 1994, so we can say that they are fairly “new”. However, they have given us some great entries over the past 26 years. Let’s return to the year of 1997. A little back history During the 90’s, we collectively enjoyed the music of boy bands such as Backstreet Boys, Boyzone and Take That. Hungary has responded very well to this, and so the Hungarian boy band V.I.P. was born. Józsa Alex, Imre Rakonczai, Viktor Rakonczai and Gergő Rácz, four men of which two are brothers, formed the group in 1997. In that same year, they represented Hungary at the Eurovision Song Contest after winning the national selection. Dublin 1997 Viktor Rakoncza, one of the members, composed the song “Miért kell, hogy elmenj” together with lyricist Krisztina Bokor Fekete. Péter Wolf conducted the orchestra during the final on 3 May. In Dublin, the band performed in 19th position out of 25 entries, between Malta and Russia. After the voting sequence had finished, Hungary finished 12th with a total of 39 points. The highest score that night came from winner United Kingdom, giving …
🇦🇿 Slideback Sunday: Show us the right way!

🇦🇿 Slideback Sunday: Show us the right way!

For this week’s edition of ‘Slideback Sunday’, we are travelling to Azerbaijan, a country which has a rollercoaster history in the Eurovision. We will be focusing on its debut song “Day after day” by Elnur & Samir. As the song and the performance symbolises fight between good and evil, this entry has a love or hate relationship among the fans. Life like roller coaster It feels unbelievable, that Azerbaijan is actually one of the youngest Eurovision family members. The Caucasian country debuted in 2008 along with San Marino and the only country who joined the family since then is Australia in 2015. And a line from my beloved Fusedmarc song perfectly describes Azerbaijan’s journey in Eurovision: life like roller coeaster. Azerbaijan actually got off to a good start – the debut got them a place in top 10 and after that they achieved five consecutive top-five results between 2009 and 2013 with, including 1st place in 2011. Unfortunately, since 2014 the Land of Fire lost its fire: 4 years in a row they missed the top 10, but the biggest ‘oops’ happened in 2018 when for the first time country haven’t qualified to the finals. However, in 2019 Chingiz broke the …
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