Category Archives: Latvia

A Sweet Surprise in Latvia: Aarzemnieki

Aarzemnieki This weekend saw the finale of 2014’s Dziesma, the Latvian national final for Copenhagen.  Held once again in the Baltic coastal town of Ventspils, this year’s theme was “Made in Latvia”, with the stipulation that only residents of the country were permitted to send songs to the contest.  A dozen songs duked it out for the chance to go to Denmark, and hopefully bring the country its first ticket to the Finals since “Wolves of the Sea” in 2008. Read the rest of this entry

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Preview: Dziesma 2014 Finals in Latvia

dziesma-2014After two semifinals whittled down the competition from 24 entrants to 12, Latvia will host the Final of Dziesma 2014 this Saturday live from the Juras Varti Theatre in Ventspils.  Latvia has had a run of hard luck, failing to make it out of the Eurovision Semifinals every year since “Wolves of the Sea” in 2008, and coming in last place in their semifinal three out of the past five years.  That being said, this year’s National Final actually contains a number of talented and interesting contenders, many of whom have the potential to bring the country their first Top Ten placement since Walters and Kazha in 2005.

Let’s take a look at the roster, shall we? Read the rest of this entry

Latvia has chosen: it’s PeR!

At least once a year, an act finally makes it to Eurovision after years of failed attempts.  Donny Montell, Litesound, and Pasha Parfeny all made it to the show in Baku after years and years of swinging and missing.  This year, Latvian pop duo PeR (short for Please Explain the Rhythm) finally grabbed the ticket to the ESC with their fifth submission to the National Finals.  Ralfs and Edmunds will take the stage in Malmö with “Here We Go”: Read the rest of this entry

Preview Video Mania!

Like I said a few days ago, now that most of the 2012 Eurovision entries have been released to the public, their official preview videos tend to follow nipping at their heels.  Now that the official Eurovision YouTube channel is getting in gear, we’re beginning to see tons of these new promotional clips from all over the continent, with many more to follow.  Let’s take a little audiovisual jaunt through Europe, shall we? Read the rest of this entry

Latvia has decided: it’s Anmary!

Saturday marked the final of Latvia’s “Eirodiezma”, their national final to determine who would carry the maroon and white to Baku.  After ten songs were performed, a split jury/televote determined that Anmary’s “Beautiful Song” would have the honor:

Read the rest of this entry

Latvia picks their Second Five Qualifiers

The second semifinal of Latvia’s National Final, Eirodziesma, was held today, and only half of the ten songs in the running were going to make it through to the Final on February 18, so the competition was fierce.  After a 50/50 Jury/Televote split, we have the five lucky winners: Read the rest of this entry

The Weekend Round-up, January 8

It’s been a busy week in the world of Eurovision, with preselections, song announcements, and other news from Cyprus, Slovenia, Latvia, and beyond.  Let’s take a quick look at the past weekend, shall we?

Cyprus: On Friday, CyBC officially unveiled Ivi Adamou’s three candidate songs for Baku.  “Call the Police”, “La La Love”, and “You Don’t Belong Here” have all been pretty well-received by fans, and we’ll find out which song Ivi will perform on January 25th.  More information (including the songs themselves) is available here.

Latvia: The first of two semifinals took place on Saturday, January 7th, and ten songs were whittled down to the five that will make up half of February 18th.  The qualifying performances are:

The second semifinal will be held next week, but considering that the only song performed in Latvian was eliminated this week, it’s a pretty safe bet that Latvia will be sending another song in English in 2012.  (The only time they’ve dipped into the Latvian language pool was with 2004’s “Dziesma par laimi“, which failed to qualify for the Final.  LTV has also sent songs in Italian and Russian, but the vast majority of their submissions have been in English.)

Slovenia: After months of heats aired by the program “Misija Evrovizija”, the final two acts have been confirmed.  Eva Boto and sister act Nika & Eva Prusnik will go up against each other on February 26th, when RTVSLO will hold “EMA 2012”.  Both Eva and the sisters will perform three songs each, and the winning song will be chosen out of those six performances.

Read the rest of this entry

Eurovision 2011: The Best of the Rest (Part 4)

Ireland: Like them or not, you simply can not deny that Jedward were an unstoppable force at Eurovision.  Even if they didn’t take top honors this year with “Lipstick“, they were really the talk of the Press Center.  From their knee-high Converses to their now-iconic hair, you couldn’t resist this year’s Irish entry.  Even I fell victim to their charms:

But despite the Grimes Brothers’ popularity and infectious energy, they only made it to Düsseldorf by the slimmest of margins; only two points separated them from runner-up Nikki Kavanagh’s R&B ballad “Falling”:

Nikki sang backup for last year’s Irish entry, and “Falling” was written by a team that included Jonas Gladnikoff, who was the composer of “Et Cetera” and “It’s For You“, Ireland’s 2009 and 2010 Eurovision submissions.  Sadly, Jonas and Co. were unable to pull off the three-peat, but who knows what 2012 will bring?

Israel: Speaking of return performances, Dana International was one of five lead artists coming back to Eurovision this year (the others being Dino Merlin, Lena, Zdob si Zdub, and Gunnar Ólasson).  Sadly, she was also the only one of those five to not qualify for the Finals.  “Ding Dong” might have not have been the triumphant return Dana might have been hoping for…

For me, there were two other true standouts in this year’s Kdam.  The first was Chen Aharoni’s “Or (Light)”, which may have had everything but the kitchen sink thrown into it:

Pretty face?  Check.  Slow, moving opening?  Check.  Tempo change?  Check.  Panflute?  Check.  Costume change by an unnecessary dancer?  Check.  A highly entertaining three minutes?  Check!

My other favorite from that night had to be Michael and Shimrit Greylsummer’s sunny French-Hebrew folk jam “Tu Du Du”:

My knowledge of French is pretty rusty, and my Hebrew is even worse (even though I’m pretty sure I hear the words “bottle of rum” and “Bob Dylan” somewhere in there…), but this song never fails to make me smile.  It’s this perfect blend of Middle Eastern tonal structure, danceable club beats, Rybak violins, and Woodstock joy!

Italy: Ok, so any devoted reader of mine probably knows by now that Raphael Gualazzi’s “Madness of Love” claimed the top spot on my own personal 2011 scoreboard, as well as a soft spot in the cockles of my heart.  If you haven’t read my post-Eurovision interview with Raph yet, by all means, check it out!  It’s ok, I’ll wait.

Raphael was chosen by an internal jury during the San Remo Festival to carry the Tricolore for Italy’s return to Eurovision, so we can’t really say who would have gone in his place had he refused.  That being said, San Remo 2011 was full of fantastic songs that would not have seemed out of place for Eurovision.  For example, there was Emma Marrone’s stirring collaboration with the rock group Modà, “Arriverá (It Will Come)”:

I was also a big fan of Anna Tatangelo’s “Bastardo (Bastard)“, Nathalie Giannitrapani’s “Vivo Sospesa (I Live Suspended)“, and Giusi Ferreri’s “Il Mare Immenso (The Immense Sea)“.  I don’t know what it is about these dramatic, female-led numbers, but Italy seems to have cornered the market on them.  Knowing the quality of the entries at San Remo, and seeing the high benchmark set by Raphael this year, I really can’t wait to see what RAI sends us in 2012 (assuming they don’t wait another thirteen years…).

Latvia: Hmmm.  Compared to the National Finals from Italy and Israel, Latvia doesn’t stick out to me as much.  It’s not that it was a bad preselection by any stretch, it’s just that the songs didn’t grab me by the heartstrings and eardrums in the same way that the Kdam and San Remo did.  That being said, Musiqq’s “Angel in Disguise” was a fun number, and possibly my favorite Latvian song since 2005’s “The War is Not Over“.

Speaking of “The War is not Over”, songwriter Mārtiņš Freimanis submitted an entry for this year’s National Selection, but passed away about a month before “Hop” could be performed.  Unlike Iceland’s Sjónni Brink, Freimanis was not going to be performing the song itself (rather, deferring to the group Blitze), but it was still a sudden and tragic loss to the Latvian music community.

“Angel in Disguise” was not the odds-on favorite to go to Düsseldorf; most people were betting on Lauris Reiniks’s “Banjo Laura”:

“Banjo Laura” is definitely enjoyable, but I do have to say that the line “La-la-la-la-Laura the banjo girl/ Who was she? What did she play?” bothers me to no end.  Lauris, you just answered your own question.  She’s Laura, and she plays the banjo.  ‘Nuff said, end of story.

In our next installment, I’ll pick out the best from Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, and Moldova…stay tuned!

New Videos from Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Latvia (plus, new versions for France and Croatia!)

Over the past week, a number of new videos have been released for this year’s Eurovision hopefuls.  Let’s have a look, shall we?

First up, Armenia has revealed the official clip for Emmy’s “Boom Boom”, featuring German-Armenian boxer Arthur Abraham:

Well, at least the Armenians are probably realizing just how kitschy their song is…having Emmy and her pals dance around in a ring, wearing bedazzled boxing gloves and randomly turning into comic book characters is a pretty decent sign that they’re taking “Boom Boom” with a grain of salt (and I, for one, could use a margarita after watching it.  Oy…)

Next up, we’ve got Armenia’s cross-Caucasus neighbors (and perpetual rivals) Azerbaijan, who released a second clip for Eldar and Nigar’s “Running Scared”:

Compared to previous years’ entries from Baku, “Running Scared” is elegant, subtle, and sweet.  The video is visually beautiful (not only because of the landscapes, but also for the copious shots of Eldar and Nigar!).  I’m not quite sure why Azerbaijan insisted on recording a second video for “Running Scared”, as their first version was definitely not unpleasant, but considering the country’s penchant for Eurovision excess, they probably just figured that any money spent was money well spent.
We’ve also seen the premiere of Latvia’s “Angel in Disguise”, by pop duo Musiqq:

Another simple, straightforward song with an equally straightforward video.  My only concern is that by putting the chorus’s lyrics right up on screen, the fact that Musiqq is singing in so-called “Eurovision English” is put front and center.  It’s not grammatically perfect, and it becomes more noticeable when lyrics like “stare me with candy eyes” are repeatedly displayed.  Marats and Emīls are definitely easy on the eyes, though, and “Angel in Disguise” is the only ESC entry this year where I actually like the random rap-break.

Croatia’s Daria Kinzer has just released translations of “Celebrate” in Russian, French, and German, bringing the number of versions released to this point up to six (including the original Croatian and the first English rendition, “Break a Leg”).  I’m personally still waiting on Esperanto, Swahili and Hawaiian, but maybe that’s just me…

Finally, French tenor Amaury Vassili has recently re-released his second album “Canterò” with “Sognu” added to the track listing, as well as a new, English-language version of this year’s Eurovision entry, entitled “I Would Dream About Her“.  I personally prefer the original Corsican version, but as Amaury will not be using this new translation on stage in Düsseldorf, it’s a bit of a moot point.

Latvia sends Musiqq – "Angel in Disguise"

Continuing on with the theme set by Ukraine’s “Angel” and Cyprus’s “San Aggelos S’agapisa (I Loved You Like an Angel)”, Latvia also chose a heavenly theme for their representative to Germany this year: “Angel in Disguise” by Musiqq. 

Musiqq, formed by Marats Ogļezņevs and Emīls Balceris, formed back in 2009 and had a hit album last year back in Latvia.  They beat ten other songs to get the ticket to Düsseldorf, including “Banjo Laura” by Eurovision alum Lauris Reiniks and the disco-tinged “You Are” by Pieneņu Vīns (Dandelion Wine).

Compared to Latvia’s offerings from 2009 and 2010, “Angel in Disguise” is a marked improvement.  For the past two years, the nation’s come in last place in their respective semifinal, and they haven’t made it into the Top Ten since 2005.  Will Musiqq make it out of the Semis?  It’s tough to tell at this point, but it’s entirely within the realm of possibility.  At the very least, they can likely leave their last-place days behind them, as there are definitely weaker entries in their division.