Major Monday Updates!
You would think that after a massive weekend like the one we just had, Eurovision nations would let a poor blogger have a break, right? But noooooo…
In the past half-day, we’ve had two official songs revealed (Cyprus and Belarus), one Preselection lineup released (Israel), rumors in Russia, and major shakeups in Georgia and Ukraine. I’ll get to Cyprus and Belarus in depth as soon as I’ve written my pieces on Slovenia and Macedonia, who picked their entries on Sunday, but I can definitely give you the latest news on the Russian, Georgian, Ukrainian, and Israeli news.
Russia has been one of the major Eurovision players over the past decade, not only because of the quality of its songs, but also due to the fact that they are the absolute fulcrum of the Post-Soviet Voting Bloc. Votes from all over Eastern Europe often go to Moscow, due to a shared sociolinguistic history and culture (not to mention the omnipresent allegations of political voting). But despite the massive weight of the Russian Bear on Eurovision, we haven’t heard much in the way of their Eurovision plans for this year…until yesterday. According to rumors, we’ll hear about Russia’s official plans sometime this week. It seems that it will either come down to an internal selection or a small-scale National Final, with certain artists having been approached to submit entries for consideration. One of those artists, much to my delight, are the Buranovskie Babushki! Some of you might remember these singing and dancing grandmas from last year’s National Selection, where their performance (in Udmurt!) of “Dlinnaja-dlinnaja beresta i kak sdelat’ iz nee aishon” made my list of favorite Preselection entries. If they end up going to Germany, I will definitely be making a beeline for the Russian delegation’s cocktail party…instead of vodka and blinis, will they be serving cookies and milk? I just want to hug them all!
Anyway, from Russia, we jump over to Ukraine, who, as per usual, has decided to scrap their preselection after allegations of corruption. Some of you likely remember last year’s fiasco, when an internally-selected singer and publicly-decided song was retracted after a political transition, and the winner of the subsequent preselection was rejected due to an early release. (It all turned out ok, though, as Alyosha’s “Sweet People” ended up in 10th place in the Final.) Confused yet? Anyway, after a juror on this year’s panel stated her dissatisfaction with the results, and Eurofans from all over the country have called, written, and petitioned in complaint, a second National Final will be held on March 3, with original winner Mika Newton, runner-up Zlata Ognevich, and fan favorite Jamala to compete against each other. Furthermore, the decision will be made only by a televote, and only one vote per phone number will be allowed. Let’s hope that that puts an end to this madness, or else I will personally go to Ukraine, grab the Head of Delegation by the ear, and make him pick a random name out of the Kiev Telephone Directory. (UPDATE!: Jamala has suddenly withdrawn from the second National Final, citing her unwillingness to be associated with a possibly fraudulent selection. Excuse me while I bang my head against a wall.) (ANOTHER UPDATE!: And now Zlata Ognevich has withdrawn, too! So, by default, Mika Newton will represent Ukraine in Düsseldorf…it’s still unknown if she’ll sing “Angel” or a replacement entry, but I assume the news will come soon.)
Next, we’ve got a shake-up in Georgia! For reasons still unknown, winning band Eldrine has decided to change their line-up. Lead singer Tamar “Tako” Vadachkoria has been replaced by Sopho Toroshelidze, who sang backup for last year’s entry, “Shine”. According to my calculations, three quarters of all Georgian Eurovision participants have been named Sopho…is there some sort of regional law mandating this? Are little girls named Sopho magically imbued with musical ability? Do Georgian men even sing?! Anyway, they’ll be filming the music video for “One More Day” next week in Tblisi.
Finally, we’ve got the official line-up and songs for Israel‘s 2011 preselection, “Kdam”, scheduled for March 8. Ten artists will duke it out for the ticket to Düsseldorf, including Eurovision legend Dana International. The songs represent a number of genres, and almost all of them are bilingual (either in Hebrew/English or Hebrew/French). The candidates are:
Adi Cohen – “Al Ahava“
KNOB – “Ohev et ze“
Chen Aharoni – “Or“
Idit Halevi – “It’s My Time“
Hatikva 6 – “Hakol Sababa“
Niki Goldstein – “Amri itach“
Sivan Bahnem – “Kach Oti“
Michael and Shimrit Greylsummer – “Tu Du Du“
Dana International – “Ding Dong“
Carmel Ekman – “El Gagoai“
More about Slovenia, (FYR) Macedonia, Belarus, and Cyprus shortly!