ESC 2010 Reviews: Cyprus
Cyprus, more than possibly any other nation participating in the Eurovision Song Contest, has felt the sweet sting of Bloc Voting. As the language and culture of Cyprus is so inextricably linked to that of their Mediterranean colleague Greece, votes between the two are almost always high. Since the start of audience televoting (as opposed to a vote dictated by national jury) back in 1998, the two nations have exchanged maximum points with each other whenever possible. (However, Cyprus hasn’t actually qualified for the finals since the 2005 Contest, where Greece ended up winning, so over the last few years, this point has been somewhat moot.) Thanks to the magic of YouTube, here’s a video showing just a few of the recent 12-point scores given from Cyprus to Greece (be sure to listen up for the boos and groans from the audience and commentators!)
Cyprus has felt the negative side of bloc voting, however. The island nation entered the ESC in 1981, about seven years after a Turkish invasion of the northern portion of the country. The nation is still somewhat divided, with a Greek southern half and a semi-independent Turkish northern half (although the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is only officially recognized by Turkey itself, and the “Cyprus” that participates in Eurovision is exclusively the Greek-speaking portion). Because of this sore spot between the two nations, no points had ever been exchanged between Ankara and Nicosia until 2003, when Cyprus gave Turkey a then-astonishing 8 points, securing them a win over the Belgian entry that year. The next year, Cyprus sent Turkey 4 points, Turkey returned the favor with one point, and, having apparently gotten the goodwill out of their systems, they’ve never voted for each other again.
Cyprus’s results have been middling, at best. They’ve only come in last place once (in 1986), and their highest placings were a trio of 5th-place finishes in 1982, 1997, and 2003. My two favorite Cypriot entries, although radically different and from two different decades, were actually sung by the same artist, Limassol native Evridiki. Her 1994 entry, “Ime Anthropos Ki Ego” (“I’m a Person, Too”) was a powerful, melancholy ballad featuring a traditionally Greco-Cypriot instrumental break. In 2007, Evridiki was back with an upbeat techno-pop song sung entirely in French, “Comme Ci, Comme Ça“(“So-So”). It’s amazing to think that such divergent songs came from the same singer (she also sang the 1992 entry, “Teriazoume”, which was more of a standard love-ballad). Unfortunately, both “Ime Anthropos Ki Ego” and “Teriazoume” only made it up to 11th place, and “Comme Ci, Comme Ça” didn’t even qualify for the finals, but I have them in my iTunes playlist anyway, and listen to them both more often than I care to publicly admit.
This year, Cyprus has decided to go a bit out of left field. Instead of taking a home-grown singer (or going back to Evridiki for a fourth time), their national selection yielded a victory for an unknown Welsh singer named Jon Lilygreen and his backing group The Islanders, singing “Life Looks Better in Springtime”, written by two natives of Cyprus educated in the UK.
Jon’s song shares some vague similarities with Belgium’s Tom Dice. Both are decently attractive guys in their early twenties, strumming on their guitars. However, Jon’s production feels a lot more fleshed out and lush, as if it were the winner’s song on American Idol, while Tom’s feels more organic and “coffeehouse”. All in all, it comes down to a matter of personal taste. I tend to prefer Tom’s, but as “Life Looks Better in Spring” is being performed in the second semifinal, while “Me and My Guitar” will be in the first round, they might not even go head-to-head against each other. We’ll just have to wait and see, but it might just take a Welshman to take the Cypriots out of the semifinals for the first time in four years.