Editorials & Opinion

The new Eurovision has arrived: armchair audiences, chosen tribes and digital engagement

The new Eurovision has arrived: armchair audiences, chosen tribes and digital engagement

You might have noticed that Costa made mention of rewatching all the contests since 1956 with a group of like-minded friends during the first lockdown in the United Kingdom. We are both a part of this group, along with some former ESCXTRA faces and some new friends from across the European continent. In fact, it was another of our group that inspired us to write this piece.  Before we undertook this ‘journey’, and trust us… it was a journey, we had only ever met sporadically for Eurovision-related adventures across the country, the continent and beyond! Some of the group had, of course, formed friendships aside from the contest but it was the contest which had united us all in the first instance.  Why is this important now? Tonight, we begin our mammoth journey across the continent to find our entries for Eurovision 2021. The contest will go ahead this year, this much we know. In which format? We aren’t sure. However, this is the new Eurovision. No matter what happens after 2021, in which we will regain live audiences and a real sense of togetherness at an event, armchair audiences, chosen tribes and digital engagement will persevere as the new …
🇸🇪 Slideback Sunday: When Roger Pontare celebrated indigenous culture in the land of pop

🇸🇪 Slideback Sunday: When Roger Pontare celebrated indigenous culture in the land of pop

The ’90s were a successful decade for Sweden in Eurovision. A couple of top 10 placings, two 3rd places and two victories, one of which brought us back to Stockholm. Following, Charlotte Nielsen’s victory, the contest was hosted in the Globen Arena for the first time. Roger Pontare had the honour of representing the host nation on home soil. The singer had already won Melodifestivalen back in 1994, with a duo with Marie Bergman. However, on 10th of March 2000 Pontare scored 227 points and by quite a large margin won Melodifestivalen with “När vindarna viskar mitt namn”. Like many many Swedish songs during the first half of the decade, the song was later translated into English for the contest – in this case Roger Pontare ‘s song was called “When Spirits Are Calling My Name”. The song is a celebrates the indigenous culture and people who are protecting their old culture and traditions. During the performance Roger Pontare wore traditional Sami costume and he was accompanied on a stage by a Cree Indian dancer, a Thule Eskimo and a Norwegian Sami. Finally, after revealing the results Sweden managed to score 88 points and finished 7th. A feast to the …
🇵🇹 Slideback Sunday: Portugal’s struggle with the Homens

🇵🇹 Slideback Sunday: Portugal’s struggle with the Homens

Portugal have a variety of weird, interesting, and arguably ill-advised entries in their history. This week, Slideback Sunday takes a look at one from 2011, “A Luta é Alegria” by Homens Da Luta. Portugal have a lot of rather unique entries to talk about. It’s like no other Eurovision country in that sense, a fact made apparent to everyone with their record-breaking winner. But outside of Salvador, they don’t get much success; this entry is from 2011, and it certainly didn’t see much success. An improvisational comedy group known as Homens da Luta, or “Men Of The Struggle” performed “A Luta é Alegria” (translated as “The Struggle Is Joy”). The main members of the group are two brothers. However, their stage performance at Eurovision consisted of many more performers taking part in the experience and providing harmonising vocals. The idea behind their song is pretty simple, give Europe a protest track. This is not about any protest movement in particular. Rather it is a positive anthem that sings of the joy of protesting and fighting against oppression. It is non-specific because of the rules against political songs, but part of the idea of Homens Da Luta is that their songs …
🇲🇩 Slideback Sunday – Fighting for a refund

🇲🇩 Slideback Sunday – Fighting for a refund

It’s always a delight to be given an opportunity to revisit Moldova’s treasure trove of entries. It’s easy to forget when just looking at their last two uninspired efforts, but Moldova were once THE generators of wacky and fun entries at the contest. However, today I will be discussing their successful foray into pop rock, courtesy of Natalia Barbu. Just to say upfront, I maintain that Moldova’s ultimate form was Nelly Ciobanu’s ‘Hora Din Moldova’ from 2009, but that’s already been covered in a previous feature. So on a completely different note, we’ll turn back the dial to 2007, in which Natalia Barbu presented the very of-the-time violin-based metal soft-banger “Fight”. Interestingly, she beat out debuting Moldovan representatives Zdob si Zdub by a clear margin in the 2007 selection. The latter were rumoured to be the winners on the basis that they were the only entrants who could afford to pay their own expenses. This is notable because unlike more financially-abundant delegations like Sweden and the UK, states like Moldova often rely on sponsorships and financing from labels or the artists themselves to pay for the staging of the performance. Even better, according to ESC folklore, it was agreed that …
🇮🇱 Slideback Sunday: The Shiru Group brought the ultimate Israeli choreography to Eurovision ’93

🇮🇱 Slideback Sunday: The Shiru Group brought the ultimate Israeli choreography to Eurovision ’93

Last week we looked back to the distant past of 2019, when Tamara Todevska brought her country their first taste of the Eurovision top ten in Tel Aviv, Israel. This week we stay in Israel, but turn back to clock to 1993, when the country sent a group of performers to sing their song ‘Loud and High’ in the small Irish town of Millstreet. How did the Shiru Group come to be? Brace yourself for some Israeli drama! Like most years, Israeli broadcaster IBA held a national selection, Kdam Eurovision, to select their representative for Eurovision 1993. Among those competing were future Israel entrant David D’Or and also the composer of the 1998 winner ‘Diva’, Svika Pick. The winners were the ‘Shiru Group’ accompanied by TV personality Sarah’le Sharon, with the song titled ‘Shiru’. ‘Shiru’ was composed by Shaike Paikov, who previously composed the 1989 Israeli entry. His involvement came after being contacted by Sarah, who begged him to compose a song for her to enter the national final. Originally hesitant due to Sarah not being a singer, Shaike eventually accepted upon the premise that he could select a group of singers to perform with her, becoming known as ‘Shiru …
🇲🇰 Slideback Sunday: when Tamara Todevska made us all ‘Proud’

🇲🇰 Slideback Sunday: when Tamara Todevska made us all ‘Proud’

After Georgia kept on going last week, this week we are using a technicality to celebrate Tamara Todevska and her song ‘Proud’ which made North Macedonia a frontrunner last year. The country had previously participated in the song contest as F.Y.R. Macedonia since 1998, and its best place had been in twelfth place. The year 2019 was meant to be a debut of sorts – and what a debut it was. Tamara Todevska and ‘Proud’ did indeed do her country proud, qualifying in the semifinal and surprising everyone with winning the jury vote at the final and taking seventh place. ‘Proud’ in the 2019 final On the stage, Tamara Todevska doesn’t need an exciting backdrop. Directed by Mari Forsman Ryberger and Tine Matulessy, the staging focuses on her, zeroing our attention in on the singer and the beautiful voice. She puts us in a trance for three minutes, lifts our spirits, and inspires us to do better and be better. And for those three minutes we can’t do anything but focus on her. The vocals are amazing, so it comes as a pleasant and well-deserved jury vote win. There are certain songs that don’t necessarily stand out when the studio …
🇬🇪 Slideback Sunday: Can Georgia ‘Keep On Going’?

🇬🇪 Slideback Sunday: Can Georgia ‘Keep On Going’?

Georgia’s Eurovision journey Georgia could be considered a ‘new’ country in Eurovision, debuting in 2007 with ‘Visionary Dream’. They managed to qualify right away, getting an 8th place in the largest semi-final in Eurovision history: 28 participants in total! Their good luck streak continued in 2008, when ‘Peace Will Come’ got an impressive 11th place in Belgrade. Moscow 2009 is the only year the country missed out on the contest, due to the controversy surrounding their selected entry ‘We Don’t Wanna Put In’. The caucasus country thankfully returned in the following years, qualifying 5 times between 2010 and 2019. Georgia always manages to bring a surprising mix of music to the contest! They are not afraid to experiment with different kinds of music and staging, like 2014’s ‘Three Minutes To Earth’ and 2016’s ‘Midnight Gold’ proved. However, they also do not shy away from classic Eurovision ballads, as fans are sure to recall their most successful entry ‘Shine’ in 2010. From dark performances like ‘Warrior’, to rock music with ‘One More Day’, to ethno-jazz with ‘For You’, Georgia has something in store for every Eurovision fan! Varada varada In 2019, Oto Nemsadze provided Georgia with their second Eurovision song sung …
🇪🇪 Slideback Sunday: Maarja-Liis Ilus sings about her “Forbidden land”

🇪🇪 Slideback Sunday: Maarja-Liis Ilus sings about her “Forbidden land”

When I was assigned Estonia for “Slideback Sunday” I felt that I had so many options and great Estonian songs to choose from that I didn’t know where to start from. Estonia is undoubtetly one of my favorite countries in Eurovision and one of those that I am looking forward to every year. I chose “Keelatud Maa” from 1997 because it’s one of those songs that have aged well and that I enjoy listening to til today, 23 years later. I remember clearly Eurovision 1997 from my teens, it’s one of my favorite Eurovision years ever with so many wonderful songs that have survived on their own, despite so many years having passed.Maarja-Liis Ilus had competed for Estonia the year before and had achieved a respected 5th place in 1996, it was Estonia’s second attempt. So I was really excited what then 16 year old Maarja-Liis Ilus would come up with (solo this time).“Keelatud Maa” (Forbidden Land, in English) is soft, atmosphearic and melodic ballad performed in Estonian. The song starts slowly with a piano, and then is growing into a beautiful timeless ballad performed flawlessly by Maarja-Liis ilus. It’s sung from the perspective of a woman whose lover is …
🇧🇾 Slideback Sunday: “Help You Fly”

🇧🇾 Slideback Sunday: “Help You Fly”

For this episode of “Slideback Sunday”, I got to choose a song that got to represent Belarus in Eurovision. The song I went for is not the most popular choice, but I think it deserves a bit more attention. I am talking about “Help You Fly” by Ivan, the Belarusian entry of 2016. About “Help You Fly” In February 2016, Ivan participated in the national selection of Belarus. His goal: representing his country during the Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm. He made the attempt with his song “Help You Fly”. The song speaks about helping somebody overcome life’s obstacles and supporting them, with lyrics such as: “I will help you learn how to fly, how to fly, free, leave all the madness behind, far behind”. After Ivan revealed the idea of performing fully naked with two wolves joining him on stage, EBU refused that as it wouldn’t follow the rules. Personal thoughts At first listen, my impression was not as negative as other eurofans’. I kinda liked that rocky sound and the rough in Ivan’s voice, kind of like a wolf! Eurovision 2016 was, as we all know, a really strong year. Ivan performed in semi final two, so I already took …
🇪🇸 Slideback Sunday; slow dancing together

🇪🇸 Slideback Sunday; slow dancing together

1991 is one of my very favorite Eurovision years. There are 3 songs in this edition of the contest that would have been my favorite winner *ever*, had they only won. (I probably don’t have to add that the actual winner is not among them, but there I said it.) “Bailar pegados” My 1991 “winners” are Iceland, France and Spain, and I always struggle really badly when having to rank them. Today I have decided to slide back to Sergio Dalma, and his beautiful “Bailar Pegados”. I’m not sure what it is with this song, but ever since the first time I heard it, it has touched my heart. Back in 91 I had no idea what the lyrics meant, but I still loved it. Some years later I realized the Eurovision version was missing a verse, and the full version only made me love it even more. Verás la música despuéste va pidiendo un beso a gritosy te sube por los piescomo algo que no veso que nunca se ha escrito (You see, music then starts clamouring for a kiss, and it climbs up through your feet, like something you can’t see and that has never been written) Even …
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