Category Archives: Greece

Cheers, Eurofans! “Alcohol is Free” for Greece

On Monday, Greek music channel MAD TV, in conjunction with national broadcaster ERT, hosted Eurosong 2013, the country’s selection show for Malmö.  Featuring appearances by a half-dozen Eurovision champions, 2013 Cypriot performer Despina Olympiou, 2012 representatives Eleftheria Eleftheriou and Ivi Adamou, and a number of Greek National Finalists from years past, the four songs in competition had a lot to live up to. Read the rest of this entry

Advertisements

Greece has decided: it’s Eleftheria Eleftheriou!

The last of the competitive preselections* for Eurovision 2012 took place today in the center atrium of the Athens River West Mall, where four songs competed for the right to represent Greece in Baku.  Whoever won the ticket would have to carry the heavy burden of continuing not only Greece’s streak of qualifying for every Final since the Semis were established, but also placing in the Top Ten every year since 2004. Read the rest of this entry

Eurovision 2011: The Best of the Rest (Part 3)

Skipping France and their internal selection, next on our list is:

Georgia: Eldrine’s “One More Day” was definitely one of the most divisive songs in this year’s Eurovision roster.  People either adored this nu-metal track or despised it with the passion of a thousand suns.  (Lucky for me, I was in the former camp, and relished the moment when Sopho and company held an impromptu acoustic jam session in the Press Center.)  Eldrine was my favorite act from the Georgian preselection, even with their previous lead singer Tako Vadachkoria, but my second favorite had to be Temo Sajaia, who performed “Jarisk’atsis Simghera (Soldier’s Song)”: 

Temo’s stage presence might have been a bit dry, but considering that there was a span of about three months to give his presentation a bit more “oomph”, it could have been a pleasant surprise.  Plus, none of the nation’s entries have ever been sung in Georgian, nor have any entries been performed exclusively by a male vocalist.  It took me until moderately recently to find an English translation for “Jarisk’atsis Simghera”, but it actually has a pretty strong nationalistic bent, with lyrics like “We believe in Georgian immortals/ In the hopes in your eyes and/ We believe in happiness, in beauty/ In no surrender and in victory”.  It’s maybe a bit more subtle than “I Love Belarus”, but not quite as easy to sing along with…


Germany:  With 79% of the final vote during “Unser Song für Deutschland”, there was no doubt that “Taken By a Stranger” would be the song that Lena would use to defend her Eurovision title.  Compared to the eleven other songs in contention, it was truly a standout, both in style and in quality.  While most of the also-rans (all available on Lena’s second album, “Good News”) seemed to be a general continuation of the bubbly and youthful motif we all saw in “Satellite”, “TBaS” seemed to be more of an evolution in who Lena Meyer-Landrut is, both as an artist and as a person.  I know a lot of people were fans of runner-up “Push Forward“, but for me, my second favorite was the sweetly simple “Maybe”, which was actually written by the same team (Daniel Schaub & Pär Lammers):

I was also a fan of the big, brassy “Mama Told Me“, which had Stefan Raab’s signature style written all over it (probably because he co-wrote the song with Lena herself).

Greece: Most devoted Eurovison fans were slightly bewildered when Loukas Giorkas and Stereo Mike’s rap/laiko fusion number “Watch My Dance” was pulled out of the envelope during the Greek National Final.  It even took me a while to warm up to it (although actually hanging out with Mike, Loukas, and the rest of the delegation from ERT, as well as seeing how epic the final staging turned out to be…by the time the semifinals rolled around, I was beginning to really enjoy this one).  Most people had tipped the Canadian-born X-Factor alumna Nikki Ponte to take the night with her song “I Don’t Wanna Dance”:

Looking beyond the two front-runners in this competition, I was also a fan of the bouncy “Hamogela (Smile)” by Trimitonio:

Hungary picked their song internally, so we move on to:

Iceland:  By now, we all know about the tragic story behind Sjónni’s Friends and the song “Coming Home“.  The six gentlemen on stage (as well as Sjónni’s wife Thorunn) were fixtures in the Press Center and Euroclub, and they were truly some of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet.  Their voices were heard harmonizing so often, you could nearly set your watch by it, and I proudly waved the Icelandic flag during the First Semifinal.  This song became such an integral part of my experience in Düsseldorf that it almost feels like a betrayal to even consider that another tune could have been in its place.  But there were, in fact, fourteen other entries in the running to represent Iceland this year, including fan favorite “Nótt (Night)” by 2009 runner-up Yohanna.  My other personal favorites, however, were Magni Ásgeirsson’s “Ég trúi á betra líf (I want a better life)” and Jógvan Hansen’s “Ég lofa (I promise)”:

Coming up next time: Ireland, Israel, Italy, and Latvia!

Follow Up Single Time!

As is customary in the days following Eurovision, many of the artists that we have come to know and love from their participation on the ESC stage realize that there is, in fact, life after the world’s largest musical competition.  (Granted, the same can’t necessarily be said about the bloggers you have come to know and love, who still cling to every fiber of their time in the Press Center!).  Whether an artist is a newcomer on the scene or a professional with an established career, it’s only natural that new singles follow on the heels of the Grand Final.

Italy’s representative Raphael Gualazzi released his album “Reality and Fantasy”, and since its release in February it has reached #1 on the iTunes Jazz charts all over Europe.  (It’s also available on iTunes in the US, and I give it my personal ESCInsider seal of approval!)  Raphael’s keeping the momentum up releasing the follow-up single to “Follia d’Amore/Madness of Love”, “A Three Second Breath”.

We also have a pair of releases from Greece’s artists.  Rapper Stereo Mike is currently working on a radio edit for his song “Μπορώ/Mporo (I)”.  Taken from his new album “Ανέλιξη (Evolution)”, Mike actually decided to release “Μπορώ” after asking his Facebook and Twitter followers what his next single should be.  He’s currently in the studio remixing the track, but here’s the full album edit: 



Not to be outdone, Loukas Yiorkas also has a new single out.  Teaming up again with composer Giannis Christodoulopoulos and lyricist Eleana Vrachali (the pair behind “Watch My Dance”), Loukas has unveiled his next track, “Για Πρώτη Φορά/Gia Proti Fora (For the First Time)”.

Sweden’s bronze-medalist Eric Saade has released the follow up to “Popular”, the highest-scoring Swedish Eurovision song since their 1999 victory.  Eric will be releasing his new album, “Saade Vol. 1” at the end of June, but “Hearts in the Air” will actually be the album’s third single, after “Still Loving It” and, of course, “Popular”.

Romania’s Hotel FM (led by British-born David Bryan) has released their next track, following “Change”.  I had the chance to hear a brief acapella version of “The Gathering” while I interviewed the guys back in Düsseldorf, so hearing the full arrangement was pretty cool.  Judge for yourself:

Finally, Estonia’s Getter Jaani has released a new duet with Koit Toome (a fellow ESC-alum, from 1998).  “Valged Ööd (White Nights)” is a poppy summer song that seems to be a seamless continuation from “Rockefeller Street”.  Getter’s only eighteen years old, and when she was appearing on Eesti otsib superstaari, she performed a pair of songs by Miley Cyrus, so this sort of upbeat pop seems to be just her thing.

I love my life…

Loukas Yiorkas singing “Lane Moje”?  Yes, please!!!

"Watch My Dance"? Watch my Interview! ;-)

These guys couldn’t have been nicer…I’m going to Greece (among other places) after the Final, and everybody had suggestions on places to check out.  I definitely hope to run into these guys at the Euroclub sometime over the next few weeks!

(And yes, if you were wondering, these guys are just as gorgeous in person as they are on screen!!!)

Loucas Giorkas feat. Stereo Mike – "Watch My Dance" for Greece

Tonight, the Greek National final was held (odd that it was a Wednesday, as opposed to a weekend event…).  After a six song national final (all sung by artists who were recent X-Factor or Greek Idol participants), a combined jury and televote came up with a somewhat unexpected winner: Loucas Giorkas and Stereo Mike’s “Watch My Dance”, a song blending a Greek ballad and English rap.

So, if you mixed this year’s Cypriot entry with a slower version of Finland’s “Lose Control” from 2009, I kind of imagine that it would sound a bit like this.  If we just had Loucas or Stereo Mike up there on their own, I think that this could have been a somewhat stronger entry.  But by trying to blend the two together, it feels sort of like somebody sewing a quilt made of silk and burlap.  It just doesn’t sit well with me yet.  (That being said, the Cyprus-born Giorkas, the winner of the Greek “X-Factor” is a pleasure to watch, to say the least!)

In all fairness, however, I hated “OPA!” the first few times I heard it last year, but it grew on me after a few listens (and after the song had been refined and remastered for Eurovision audiences).  I hope that “Watch My Dance” follows that pattern.  It’s Greece, so they’re just about a lock to qualify for the Final, but I think their Cypriot brothers have the stronger song, judging after the first few listens.  At this point, I would be more than happy to “Watch My Dance”…but I’m not sure if I’m so psyched to listen to it in its current state.

The Best of the 2010 Preselection (Part One)

I don’t know about all of you, but all of this talk recently about the 2011 ESC season has really kicked my Eurovision appetite into high gear.  It’s sort of like how a person might say that they’re not hungry when dinnertime is coming up, but once they walk past a kitchen and detect the tiniest wafting scents of meals cooking, they realize that they’re absolutely famished.

Yep, that’s me.  Now that we know where Eurovision 2011 will be held, and we’re getting a better picture of which nations will be participating and how their entries will be chosen, I’m getting really excited to see how Düsseldorf will compare to Oslo (and Moscow, Belgrade, Helsinki, etcetera, before it).  But since it will be another few months before we get to hear the lion’s share of candidate songs, I thought I’d give you all a blast from the not-so-distant past, and serve up a list of a few of my favorite Preselection songs from last year.  These are the ones who didn’t quite make it to Oslo, but they made a bit of an impression on me, at the very least.  (By the way, I’m specifically skipping mention of the fantastic Albanian and Estonian preselections, as I had made pretty heavy mention of them in their nation’s individual postings…but feel free to backtrack and check them out!  Estonia, in particular, put on a fabulous National Selection this year, and there are about a half-dozen songs from Eestilaul 2010 on my iTunes right now.)

Anyway, in no particular order:

From Greece: “Enjoy the Day” by Katherine Avgoustakis.
Katherine, who is actually a Belgian citizen born to a Greek father, was strongly favored to go to Oslo with this danceable summer song, but a clause in the national preselection banned any of the candidate songs from being released to the public before a specified date, or else risk disqualification.  A remix of “Enjoy the Day” was leaked to YouTube early, and Katherine was left out in the cold.  There are rumors that she’s going to try to represent Greece again, and if she can duplicate the popularity of her 2010 song, I wouldn’t count her out of the running to go to Düsseldorf.


Fom Denmark: “Breathing” by Bryan Rice.

Coming in second place in this year’s Dansk Melodi Grand Prix was this modern ballad, which always seems to remind me a bit of Leona Lewis’s “Bleeding Love”.  I personally preferred this entry over Denmark’s eventual winner, Chanée and N’evergreen’s “In a Moment Like This“, but since I can’t vote, I can’t complain!  In a way, it’s almost a good thing that Bryan missed out in 2010, as Denmark’s 2008 and 2009 entry, Simon Mathew’s “All Night Long” and Brinck’s “Believe Again“, respectively were both male-driven, mid-tempo numbers, and maybe it was time to switch things up a bit.

From Malta: “Save a Life” by Wayne Micallef.

Although I know that Malta is more or less obsessed with Eurovision, I am generally not a massive fan of many of the songs that the island nation submits (Sorry!  Nothing personal, I promise!).  However, I really liked Micallef’s entry this year.  It has the hopeful, positive message that many Maltese ESC songs tend to have, without sounding like a track ripped from a 1995 Disney film.  His voice is strong, and “Save a Life” kind of reminds me of something that Snow Patrol or The Fray would come out with, and it might have stacked up pretty well against Tom Dice or Jon Lilygreen this year.  He also gets points from me for performing his own song, as only three self-penned tunes made it to the Maltese final this year, out of 20 songs.  Wayne came in 6th place in the 2010 preselection, and 7th the year before that.  If he keeps writing songs like this one, we might see him on the big stage sometime soon.

From Moldova: “Amintirele Dor (The Memories Hurt)” by Leylla
When I first introduce Eurovision to my friends who aren’t quite familiar with the contest, many imagine imagine a contest full of ethno-techno-disco pop like this.  The Moldovan preselection this past year was packed, with over 80 songs vying for a shot at Oslo.  Those 80-some-odd songs were all released to the public, but only 30 made it to the semifinal level (25 picked by a jury, and 5 by local SMS voting).  When the dust settled, Eurofans from all over were stunned to see that Leylla had missed out, especially considering that crap like this went through.
But, on the bright side, if Leylla had gone to Oslo, the would never would have gotten to know the glory of the saxroll.  Brings a tear to your eye, doesn’t it?

From the Ukraine: “Emotional Lady” by Dazzle Dreams.

Ok, this one is a total guilty pleasure.  I love it when songs in other languages randomly slip in a line or two in English, and combining that with Depeche Mode-inspired synthpop makes me a happy Samantha.  Granted, though…”Dazzle Dreams”?  The band name sounds a bit like something that a five-year-old girl would come up with while trying to name her pink My Little Pony.  Great song, though…


From Russia: “Dlinnaya-dlinnaya beresta i kak sdelat’ iz nee aishon (Long-Long Birch Bark and How to Make a Headdress From It)” by Buranovskiye Babushki  (whew!)

This song is an obvious departure from any other tune in this year’s contest (or almost any year’s contest, for that matter).  It’s sung in Udmurt, which is a minority language more closely related to Finnish and Estonian than Russian, and was performed by the Buranovskiye Babushki (literally, “The Grannies from Buranovo).  Believe it or not, this was a serious contender to go to Oslo, coming in third place in the Russian national final!
And I don’t care what anybody says.  This song makes me happy.  Just try to listen to it and not smile!  I dare you!
…Yeah, that’s what I thought.

(More coming up in the next entry!)

ESC 2010 Reviews: Greece

Ok, dear readers, I need to come clean with you all.

I rarely, if ever, like the Greek entries for Eurovision.

I know, I’m going against the grain here, and I’m probably alienating any Greek readers that I have or will have in the future, but few, if any, have ever made much of an impact on me.  It’s nothing political, I promise (I tend to like what Cyprus serves up!), but the songs that Athens serves up either slip from my memory completely, or they strike me as derivative.  I really want to like these songs; often times, their stage shows are out of this world, and you can’t deny how much of a spectacle they can be.  But, all too often, Greek entries are built on a simple formula: pretty face + danceable melody + bouzouki/lyra or disco break = 12 points from Cyprus.

Here are a few examples, all of which have scored in the Top 10 in the past few years.

2001: Antique, “Die For You“, 3rd place.
2004: Sakis Rouvas, “Shake It“, 3rd place.
2005: Helena Paparizou (formerly the lead singer of Antique), “My Number One“, winner.
2007: Sarbel, “Yassou Maria“, 7th place.
2008: Kalomoira, “Secret Combination“, 3rd place.
2009: Sakis Rouvas (again), “This Is Our Night“, 7th place.
2010: Giorgos Alkaios and Friends, “OPA”
http://www.dailymotion.com/swf/video/xcypp9

…I was trying to come up with something witty and biting to say here, but I was distracted by the cute backup dancers.  What was I talking about again?

Greece will probably sail through to the final, as they always do (especially because they’ll be performing in the less-competitive first semifinal), but this year’s effort has been somewhat hampered by the nation’s dire economic status.  Their sponsoring network will only be paying for a bare-bones music video (the one shown in the above embed was supposedly paid for by Alkaios himself) and a limited promotional tour to neighboring nations, as opposed to a more extensive tour of the continent.  I’m not suggesting that they’re throwing the contest at all, but considering the fact that Greece is going to be receiving a 110 million Euro bailout from the rest of the EU, it might be best that Eurovision 2011 not be held in Athens.  But we’ll see what happens!