Eurovision 2014: By the Numbers

eurovision-2014-join-usWe’ve been here in the Press Centre for two days now, with the first rough rehearsals coming across our screen.  Before the Semifinals next week, let’s take a quick look at who we’ll all see on stage this year and how they got there! Read the rest of this entry

Molly’s “Children of the Universe”: The UK Changes Tactics

molly-smitten-downesAfter years of disappointing results by the United Kingdom at Eurovision, the BBC was forced to take a long, hard look at their process for the Contest.  Veterans like Engelbert Humperdinck and Bonnie Tyler may have brought a dash of notoriety (and, by extension, ratings) to the proceedings, but barely made an impact on the scoreboard.  Bringing in a noted composer such as Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber worked nicely in 2009, but trying to duplicate the formula the next year gave the UK their third last-place finish in a less than a decade.  Dedicated British fans gnashed their teeth in frustration, and established, contemporary artists pooh-poohed the ESC experience.  What was a network (and a nation) to do?

Read the rest of this entry

Azerbaijan: Third Time’s the Charm for Dilara Kazimova

dilara Much like Lithuania, Azerbaijan’s National Selection process, Böyük Səhnə, went for the long haul.  Ten weeks of casting shows and heats led to a three-person final, and even after a winner was declared, we still wait in a holding pattern for a song.  But the process was most definitely entertaining, with well-thought-out stagings and generally strong performances by the final three contenders: Khana Hasanova, Erkin Osmanli, and Dilara Kazimova.

Read the rest of this entry

Vive le “Moustache”! France Selects Twin Twin

Twin-Twin Some National Finals are a single-day affair, while others slowly curate their list of finalists over sets of semis and heats.  France, however, in their first public selection since 2007, decided to go a bit unorthodox.  Three entries were performed on the show Les chansons d’abord, hosted by 2001 Eurovision 4th-place finisher Natasha St-Pier, and the phone lines were opened. And they were kept open for nearly a month. Read the rest of this entry

Pulses race as Can-Linn & Kasey’s “Heartbeat” wins in Ireland

1956862_444793868986813_815800010_o Emotions ran high at RTÉ Studios on Friday night as the Irish public made their choice for Copenhagen.  Of course, the participating singers all had their hearts in throats waiting for their turn to charm the public, but there was just as much drama amongst the panel on “The Late Late Show” as there was for the performers.

Just as there has been since 2011, a mentorship system has been used for the Irish selection.  Mentors select the song, the singer, and help mold the performance at the National Final level.  Of course, as “LLS” is a talk show at heart, a panel of Eurovision pundits were on hand to discuss the entries as they were presented.  Putting those two entities together gave viewers more than they had bargained for… Read the rest of this entry

Tanja’s “Amazing” for Estonia

tanjaAs anticipated, Estonia’s Eesti Laul was a competitive affair, with ten quality entries spanning the breadth of the country’s musical tastes.  From Kõrsikud’s slow, folksy waltz to ballads from Maiken and Lenna to Traffic’s alt-rock and Sandra Nurmsalu’s worldly pop, there was something for everybody.  But even though most fans’ eyes were trained on Eurovision alums Sandra and Lenna, the champion and runner-up both flew more or less under the radar. Read the rest of this entry

Lithuania: Vilja gets some “Attention”

vilija-mataciunaite Some national finals are relatively straightforward.  One night, a handful of acts, a jury, a televote, maybe a superfinal, and you’ve got an act, ready to go to Eurovision.  Bing bang boom, you’re done.

Well, Lithuania doesn’t play by your rules, man.

This year’s “Eurovizijos” was a twelve-week long affair, incorporating two competitions in one.  Rather than having each singer take a song to the National Selection, a pool of twenty singers was slowly whittled down while a separate pool of sixteen songs was also winnowed into one winner.  By the time the Final rolled around, three singers had to perform the same song, “Attention“, whether it was suited to their vocals and personal style or not.  Read the rest of this entry

It’s a “Miracle”: Paula and Ovi return for Romania

paulaoviIt was a long night in the Transylvanian city of Brașov (home of the Cerbul de Aur Music Festival) on Saturday, with a dozen acts performing for a spot on the ESC 2014 roster.  In the end, however, it was fan favorite and Eurovision 2010 alums Paula Seling and Ovidiu “Ovi” Cernăuțeanu who stormed to victory with “Miracle“. Read the rest of this entry

Preview: Romania’s Selecția Națională

romania-eurovision-2014 Live from Brașov, Romania is gearing up to choose their entrant for Copenhagen.  Cezar might be a difficult act to follow (some of our ears are still ringing!), but national broadcaster TVR have their eyes on the prize.  The country has never failed to qualify from the Semifinals, and have a pair of bronze medals (from 2005 and 2010) that they are looking to top.  Can any of tonight’s dozen acts take us to Bucharest next year? Read the rest of this entry

Preview: Eesti Laul 2014

eesti_laul_2014Well, the time has come once more…it’s the ESC Insider’s favorite National Final of the year (sorry, Melodifestivalen!).  Estonia’s Eesti Laul consistently brings a great blend of new artists and familiar faces featuring a wide range of musical genres.  Tonight from the Nokia Convert Hall in Tallinn, we’ll hear pop, ballads, folk, rock, dance, and neo-blues, and it’s a pretty wide-open field to see who will take the journey to Denmark. Read the rest of this entry