Category Archives: Georgia

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  Some of you likely remember last year’s fiasco, when an internally-selected singer and publicly-decided song was retracted after a political transition, and the winner of the subsequent preselection was rejected due to an early release.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!

It’s Eldrine for Georgia!

Next up on the long list of Eurovision decisions was the Republic of Georgia, giving us either their fourth or fifth entry to the ESC, depending on if you count songs that were selected, or songs that actually made it to the competition!  (Check out my entry on Georgia’s history in the contest for more information…)

After seven performances, the eventual winner was the electro-rock group Eldrine and their song “One More Day” (I’m including the studio version of the song along with the live National Final Performance, as lead singer Tamar Vadachkoria was suffering from the flu…)

This is a complete departure from what we’ve seen from the Georgians; instead of reaching for an emotional ballad, it seems that the country has taken the lead of maNga, last year’s runner-up from Turkey, and have selected something completely modern, infusing rock, electronica, and hip-hop into their entry.  Of course, it wouldn’t be Georgia without a big-voiced female lead singer, so we’ve got Tamar!

We haven’t heard the entry from Turkey’s Yüksek Sadakat, but we can expect that to be rock, as well.  Both Turkey and Georgia are performing in the first half of the first Semifinal in this year’s Eurovision…will they cancel each other out, or stand up against one another and both proceed to the Final?  Only time will tell, I suppose…

The Weekend Preview, 2/18

And another big weekend kicks off for Eurofans everywhere!

First, we’ve got the Finals of “Unser Song Für Deutschland”, Germany‘s national final.  Lena will sing the six remaining songs from the two semifinals, and within the next few hours we should know the song that will represent the home country this year.  And the finalists are:
Maybe (Daniel Schaub, Pär Lammers) 
Taken by a Stranger (Gus Seyffert, Nicole Morier, Monica Birkenes) 
What happened to me (Lena Meyer-Landrut, Stefan Raab) 
A million and one (Errol Rennalls, Stavros Ioannou) 
Push forward (Daniel Schaub, Pär Lammers) 
Mama told me (Lena Meyer-Landrut, Stefan Raab)

Also tonight, Spain will select their Song/Singer combination.  Last week, the performers were narrowed down to Lucía Pérez, Melissa, or boy-band Auryn.  Each act will perform three unique songs each, and after a 50/50 jury/audience vote, we will know who will carry the Spanish flag to Düsseldorf!

El sol brillará (Rafael de Alba)
Evangelyne (Kjell Jennstig, Dejan Belgrenius & Kristin Molin)
Volver (Primoz Poglajen, Jonas Gladnikoff, Camilla Gottschalck & Christina Schilling)
Lucía Pérez:
Abrázame (Antonio Sánchez-Ohlsson & Thomas G.son)
C’est la vie! It’s allright (W&M, Nestor Geli, Susie Päivärinta, P. Andersson & M. Lindberg)
Que me quiten lo bailao (Rafael Artesero Herrero)
Diamonds (Nestor Geli, Susie Päivärinta, Pär Lönn)
Eos (Jesús Cañadilla & Alejandro de Pinedo)
Sueños rotos (Primoz Poglajen, Jonas Gladnikoff, Camilla Gottschalck, Christina Schilling)

On Saturday, Georgia will select their entry.  From seven entries,  only one will have the honor of becoming their nation’s fourth official Eurovision entry (fifth, if you count their withdrawn 2009 entry!).  You can listen to the songs here.
Temo Sajaia – Soldier song
Salome Korkotashvili – Love
Sweet Pills – Face to face
Dito Lagvilava and November – New day
Nini Shermadini – Rejected
The Georgians –  Loved, seen, dreaming
Eldrine – One more day

The Final official selection this weekend is expected from Italy, as the annual San Remo Festival will wrap up.  Now, rather than simply having the winner go on to compete at Eurovision, a special jury made up of local dignitaries, network officials, and one of the festival’s hosts will select the nation’s first representative in fourteen yearsSan Remo this year includes two competitions under one umbrella: one contest for up-and-coming artists and another for established stars.  It’s still unclear if the jury will select a new name or a well-known entity for their representative, but hopefully we’ll find out soon.
Anna Tatangelo – Bastardo
Anna Oxa –  La mia anima d’uomo
Luca Madonia with Franco Battiato – L’Alieno
Max Pezzali – Il mio secondo tempo
Roberto Vecchioni – Chiamami ancora amore
Tricarico –  3 colori
Albano Carrisi – Amanda è libera
Nathalie – Vivo sospesa
Modá with Emma Marrone – Arriverá
Davide Van De Sfroos – Yanez
Patty Pravo – Il vento e le rose
Giusy Ferreri – Il mare immenso
La Crus – Io confesso
Luca Barbarossa and Raquel del Rosario – Fino in fondo

(Just for the record, my favorites are Modà feat. Emma, Nathalie Giannitrapani, Giusi Ferreri, and Anna Tatangelo!)

We can also expect semifinals from Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Sweden…phew!

ESC 2010 Reviews: Georgia

Georgia’s another recent addition to Eurovision, only having joined in 2007.  Despite this relatively short tenure in the ESC so far, they’ve definitely made their mark, even beyond the scoreboard.

Their first entry, “Visionary Dream (My Story)” by Sopho Khalvashi, was an almost-hypnotic mix of traditional Georgian folk, pop and electronica.  Highly underrated, it only came in 12th place (although it did make it through a difficult semifinal round in Helsinki, beating favorites from Cyprus, Switzerland, Andorra, and the Netherlands).  Not only that, but its official video could have easily doubled as an advertisement for the Georgian Tourism Board!  After watching it a few times, I was ready to book my ticket to Tblisi, find a supra somewhere, and gorge myself on wine, hospitality, and Khatchapuri (mmm…cheese bread…).

The next year, Georgia enlisted blind singer Diana Gurtskaya to sing “Peace Will Come”.  As a native of Abkhazia, an autonomous republic in Northern Georgia, Gurtskaya was a witness during her childhood to rioting and war in her region.  She fled her hometown of Sukhumi for Tblisi, where she honed her musical ability.  Because of her personal experiences of growing up in the midst of conflict, “Peace Will Come” struck a bit of an emotional chord with viewers, and placed 11th in the 2008 ESC.  (And, on a different note, her mid-song costume change is even more impressive once you remember that Gurtskaya is completely blind!)

After sending a song with a universally acceptable political message in 2008, Georgia decided to play their cards more aggressively for the 2009 Contest, held in Moscow.  In 2008, Russian troops invaded South Ossetia, which, while autonomous, is generally considered Georgian territory.  Needless to say, this didn’t make Tblisi very happy.  They had originally planned on withdrawing from the competition altogether, but after Georgia won the 2008 Junior Eurovision Song Contest (basically, just like the ESC only even more hyperactive…can you imagine?), they decided to give it a go anyway.  However, as a sort of innocuous flipping of the proverbial bird to Russia, they sent a “Disco Inferno”-inspired ditty called “We Don’t Wanna Put In”.  (Evidently, “We Don’t Wanna Med Vedev” or “We Don’t Wanna Rush Ya” didn’t roll off the tongue as easily…)  Although the Georgian broadcaster denied any rule-breaking (as overtly political songs are banned from the ESC), outcry from the Russian hosts prompted the EBU to issue an ultimatum to Georgia: either change the lyrics or bow out.  They took the second option, and withdrew from the 2009 ESC, making headlines all through Europe and beyond.

So what’s Georgia bringing to the table for their triumphant return to Eurovision?

Sopho Nizharadze’s representing Tblisi with “Shine”, one of many big, female-driven ballads that 2010 is offering up.  Almost half of the songs in the second semifinal are ballads (or similar), so this might be a tough sell for Sopho.  However, she’s in the lucky situation that she’s singing second-to-last, so she’ll be fresh in voters’ minds when they pick up their phones.  Out of the traditional ballads this year, this is probably one of my favorites, but it’s not quite as high up there on my personal list as Croatia or Israel.  This one could go either way, depending on how Sopho does on the night of performance.

I first heard this song at the end of February, right as the Winter Olympics were coming to a close.  As I was listening to “Shine” for the first time, NBC was showing one of its usual compilations of the events of the games, with the glowing scenes of victory mixed in with the heartbreaking moments that came along with this year’s Games.  While listening to this song, a clip of the Georgian team walking into the stadium during the Opening Ceremonies played, their members all in black armbands in honor of Nodar Kumaritashvili, the luger who had died the day before in a tragic accident.  There was something about listening to Sopho’s song, all about moving forward through pain towards a hopeful future, while looking at the faces of Nodar’s compatriots while the rest of the athletes and spectators stood and cheered in solidarity…I hate to admit this, but it brought me to tears.

Needless to say, it’s good to have Georgia back in the competition.

Now, if I were a terrible person, I’d put a link here to Georgia’s winning song for the 2008 Junior ESC, “Bzz” by Bzkebi (The Wasps).  But I really don’t want to feel responsible for all of the pain and anguish that would cause you all, dear readers.  So, why don’t you all just watch the video for “Visionary Dream” again, and leave it at that?