Category Archives: Latvia

The Weekend Preview, 2/10

We’ve got another busy weekend ahead of us, so let’s dive right into what we can expect from all over the Eurovision world over the next few days!

On Friday, Azerbaijan will finally make their decision on who they’ll send to Germany this year.  Their preselection process started back in mid-November with 77 candidates, and they’ve finally been narrowed down to five final performers: Aynishan Qulieva, Ilgara Ibrahimova, Eldar Gasimov, Ilhama Gasimova, and Nigar Camal.  It’s still a bit unclear how the song will be selected; last year, the top three candidates sang three different songs, and while the winning performer was selected the night of the finals, the winning song wasn’t confirmed until over two weeks later.  Considering Azerbaijan’s penchant for flexibility on their preselection processes (their dates have been moved around many times, for example), who knows what answers we may find tomorrow night, or what questions will remain!

Also on Friday, Ireland will pick the artist and song that they hope will bring the nation to the top of the Eurovision heap for an eight year.  Brief snippets of the songs were released last week, but they were heard in their entirety for the first time just today.

Don Mescall – Talking with Jennifer (written by Ronan Hardiman, Don Mescall)
Nikki Kavanaugh – Falling (written by Christina Schilling, Camilla Gottschalck, Jonas Gladnikoff, and Hanif Sabzevari)
Bling – Shine On (written by Patrick Mahoney)
The Vard Sisters – Send Me an Angel (written by Liam Lawton)
Jedward – Lipstick (written by Dan Priddy, Lars Jensen, and Martin Larson)

Ironically, “Lipstick” is the only song that has been removed from YouTube for copyright reasons.  Why ironically?  Well, first, as its considered the frontrunner in tomorrow’s competition, and second, as a portion of the song was “accidentally” released on Amazon.com too early, prompting RTÉ to make the decision only one third in the hands of the audience’s vote, rather than fifty percent.  The remaining part of the decision will be in the hands of regional juries throughout Ireland.


Malta will hold their semifinal on Friday and their final on Saturday.  On Friday, the 24 candidate songs will be trimmed down to 16 by a 75/25 jury/audience vote decision.  On Saturday, those remaining songs will compete, and the winner will be decided by a 60/40 jury/audience split.  All the songs can be previewed, in their entirety, here.  For Malta fans, there are many familiar faces competing this weekend: Fabrizio Faniello made it to Eurovision in 2001 and 2006, and his younger sister Claudia has tried many times to make it to the event, but often falling just short of the ESC goal.  We also see the return of Wayne Micallef, who presented one of my favorite preselection songs from last year, “Save a Life“.  In fact, out of the twenty-three singers in this weekend’s competition, eighteen have attempted, at some point, to represent Malta in either Eurovision or Junior Eurovision in past years!  Will the victory go to a veteran, or to a new talent?  We shall see…

On Saturday, we’ll see what Belgium has to offer the growing Eurovision field.  In light of the difficult economic times, Walloon broadcaster RTBF came up with an interesting twist on an open call for songs.  Belgians were allowed to submit their songs (in French or English), and the public would be able to pledge money to the entries of their choice.  When a song received €20,000, they would be qualified to go on to the next round (all money donated to non-qualifying songs would be reimbursed).  That money would then go to the further production and refinement of their entry.  Thirty songs ended up making the monetary benchmark, and that was later pared down to fourteen final entries.  A 50/50 jury/televote split will decide the eventual winner.

We will also see Finals in Iceland, Norway, and Finland, continued semifinals in Spain, Lithuania, Latvia, Croatia, and Sweden, and the first semifinal in Estonia‘s Eestilaul.  Of course, I’ll try to bring you updates as often as I can!

Have a great weekend, Eurofans!

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The Weekend Update, 2/6

Another weekend has come and gone, with tons of Eurovision news to report!

Norway:
The Second Chance round, or “Siste Sjansen”, has wrapped up, with eight songs battling against each other in a series of tournament-style knockout rounds.  After all of the carnage subsided, we were left with two songs standing, and going to the finals next week.  And they are…
Sie Gubba – “Alt Du Vil Ha” and
The Lucky Bullets – “Fire Below”
Next week is the Norwegian Final…who are your favorites?

Croatia:
Yesterday, the top twelve contestants (including Daria Kinzer, selected as last week’s Wild Card) returned to the stage, fighting for six places in the next round.  Five of those placements were decided last night, while the sixth will be announced on next week’s show. Daria Kinzer, Mirko Švenda, Jacques Houdek, Katica Marinović, and Ana Eškinja.  Next week, those Top 6 performers will try to make it to the Top 4.

Lithuania:
The first round of Eurovizija 2011 kicked off this weekend in Lithuania.  A total of fourteen songs vied for only three spots in the final, and here are the victors:
Monika – Days go By
The Independent – 7th Bus
Sasha Song – The Slogan of Our Nation  (Eurofans might recognize Sasha from his beautiful, yet undervalued 2009 ESC entry, “Love“)

Latvia:
The past few years have not been easy for Latvia in Eurovision…they came in last place in their semifinal in 2009 and 2010, and haven’t made it into the Top Ten since 2005.  Let’s hope that Eirodziesma 2011 puts them back on the right track.  Out of ten contestants last night three were voted through to the finals by the television audience, while two others made it through with the jury’s blessing.
The audience’s picks:
Evija Sloka – Don’t Stop The Dance
Pieneņu vīns (Dandelion Wine) – You Are
Blitze – Hop

And the Jury’s favorites:
Jānis Stībelis – Let It Be Me
D-Family – Daylight

Sweden:
For many people, Sweden’s Melodifestivalen is the absolute ultimate.  Some even feel that it’s become more stereotypically “Eurovision” than Eurovision itself has!  This is the country that’s brought us ABBA, Carola, the Herreys, and Charlotte Nilsson-Perrelli…schlager in all of its glory!  However, over the past few years, Sweden has fallen further and further down the rankings, and they even missed the final last year for the first time since the 1970s.  This year, I think viewers can expect a mix of the classic Swedish style (glitz, key changes, choreography and wind machines) and more current styles (rock, hip-hop, etc).  We’ll see what lands a spot in Stockholm’s Globen Theater, and eventually, what makes its way to Germany.

Unfortunately, due to the Swedish broadcaster’s rules, once a song has made it through to the next round (or to the Second Chance round, like what we’ve just seen in Norway), those semifinal videos are made unavailable to the public, in order to keep songs that qualified early from having a significant advantage over those songs selected in later rounds.  While irritating for bloggers like myself, I understand where SVT is coming from.  What I can tell you, however, is that the two songs that qualified directly to March’s final are:
Daniel Saucedo – “In the Club” and SwingFly – “Me and My Drum”.

Moving on to the Second Chance round (Andra Chansen, in Swedish) are:
Jenny Silver – “Something in your Eyes” and Pernilla Andersson – “Desperados”

I don’t know about you, but I think I need a weekend to recover from this weekend!

ESC 2010 Reviews: Latvia

So the next stop on our whirlwind tour of the 2010 participants in the Eurovision Song Contest is Latvia.  They were the last of the Baltic States to join the ESC (in 2000), and they debuted with a bit of a splash.  Riga band Brainstorm (also known by their Latvian name, Prāta Vētra) performed “My Star“, a sweet and melodic Brit-rock-influenced song, kicked into high gear by lead singer Renārs Kaupers‘s insane dance moves.  (Latvia must be on the forefront of some major medical research…Kaupers had the bottom half of his body surgically replaced with pipe cleaners and bendy straws!)  Renārs and his crazy legs took Latvia to a bronze-medal finish in their debut entry, and the nation claimed victory in the contest only two years later, with Marie M’s “I Wanna“, a completely standard Latin-inflected number that was honestly only memorable for its fantastic costume change.  (My apologies to all Latvian fans out there…but I preferred Brainstorm!)

Since Marie’s victory, Latvia’s kind of wandered through the Eurovision woods, with a string of generally less-than-memorable performances.  They’ve tried rock, popera, acapella (the first instrument-free song in Eurovision history), and, in a possible moment of pure desperation, piracy.

http://www.dailymotion.com/swf/video/xcqbf5

This year, Latvia’s asking for help from a higher power to get them out of the semifinals, sending Aisha with “What For (Only Mr. God Knows Why)”.  Now, Aisha’s voice isn’t bad by any stretch, and she’s definitely cute enough to garner a few votes from some of the 13-year-old boys watching the contest, but this song just kind of mystifies me.  It’s kind of depressing at times, and confusing at others.  Who the heck is Uncle Joe?  Why can’t he speak?  Does Mr. God have a first name?  Does he need an upgrade in his cellular service?  What the heck is going on here?  I don’t know if I should be taking this song seriously or not, and I doubt it will break through to the finals.  If God’s phone is out of range, can Aisha expect Eurovison voters to have any better luck?