Category Archives: Slovenia

Slovenia: Hannah Mancini’s “Straight Into Love” released

Contributing to the maelstrom of Eurovision news released on Valentine’s Day, Slovenia released their highly-anticipated song for Sweden, the dubstep-influenced house number “Straight Into Love“, performed by American-born Hannah Mancini.  Even though Slovenia has been competing at Eurovision since 1993, this is the country’s very first purely internal selection.  Let’s see what they came up with: Read the rest of this entry

Advertisements

More Internal Picks: Hannah and Despina for Slovenia and Cyprus

As all eyes were seemingly on the National Finals in Malta and Iceland or one of the Semifinals in Norway, Hungary, and Sweden, two other nations unveiled their representatives for Malmö.  In Cyprus, veteran performer Despina Olympiou was selected by broadcaster CyBC, while in Slovenia, American-born Hannah Mancini will pick up the mantle of her adopted country. Read the rest of this entry

Toe-to-Toe ESC Smackdown!

As I’ve said before, April is typically Eurovision No-Man’s-Land as we wait for rehearsals to start.  Why not fill the time with a bit of friendly competition?

So many of this year’s artists got to where they are today by standing on the shoulders of giants.  Or, at the very least, covering other people’s songs at National Finals or “Idol”/”X-Factor”/”The Voice”-type programs.  By sheer luck and coincidence, many of 2012’s Eurovision performers have either covered the same songs as one another, or simply performed past ESC classics.  So, in order to pass a bit of time, why don’t we figure out whose versions reign supreme?

As the Chairman would (almost) say..."Allez Musique!"

Read the rest of this entry

Slovenia has decided: it’s Eva Boto!

Since their return to the Eurovision Final last year with Maja Keuc’s “No One”, Slovenia seems to have taken a renewed interest in Eurovision.  This year, national broadcaster RTV Slovenia set up an open casting call, “Misija Evrovizija”, in order to find their star for Azerbaijan.  Ongoing since way back in October, we finally have a result: sixteen-year-old Eva Boto will sing “Verjamem” in Baku:

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 7)

Romania: Romania’s National Selection was an hours-long affair that also doubled as a New Year’s Celebration, with 2010 representatives Paula Seling and Ovi co-managing hosting duties. Guest stars Chiara and Niamh Kavanagh even stopped by to join in the fun.  At the end of the night, Hotel FM won the ticket to Germany with the peppy, optimistic “Change“.  (British-born lead singer David Bryan provided quite a bit of fun for my friends and I at the Press Center, whether he knew it or not…David, if you’re reading this, thanks for being so good-natured about all of it!)

The Romanian National Selection was pretty even-keeled, in the sense that none of the songs really strayed too far from the melodic pop mold.  Unfortunately, that means that it’s somewhat difficult to point out a unique entry for the purposes of this blog!  That being said, I consistently smile whenever I hear “It’s So Fine”, the 7th-place finisher from the Blaxy Girls:

…and I was more than a little amused by the country tinge I heard from Dalma in “Song for Him”, which came in 11th place:

Russia and San Marino both had internal selections for their entries this year, so we move on to:

Serbia: Broadcaster RTS sent the impossibly adorable Nina and her Swinging-60s number “Čaroban (Magical)” to Düsseldorf, and the Belgrade-born Pharmacy student definitely made her mark.  In my opinion, the Serbian delegation had the best costumes this year, and anybody who gleefully admits she’s a nerd automatically wins points in my book! 

RTS put an interesting spin on their National Final this year: they pitted three members of the musical Kovac family against each other (father Kornelije against daughters Aleksandra and Kristina), and challenged each of them to compose a candidate entry.  In the end, it was Kristina who won out (getting nearly 15,000 televotes, compared to Aleksandra’s 6,000 and Kornelije’s 4,000), but let’s take a quick peek at what her dad and big sister put together:

Kornelije’s entry, “Ring Ring Ring” performed by The Breeze, was another ’60s-style number, taking more from the early Beatles than from Edie Sedgwick.  However, while “Čaroban” still sounded catchy and fresh, “Ring Ring Ring” seemed oddly stuck in the past:

Aleksandra decided to perform “Idemo dalje (Move On)” herself, and she served up a pretty respectable ballad that wasn’t too far removed from the formula that served Marija Serifovic well when she won Eurovision in 2007 with “Molitva”:

Slovakia chose their song internally, so we turn our attention to…

Slovenia: After missing out on the Final every year since 2007, Maja Keuc’s “No One” was a fantastic return to form for the country that brought us Alenka Gotar and Darja Švajger.  Maja was incredibly confident and capable in her performance, and I spent about half of my time in the Press Center wondering where I could buy her boots…

Coming in second place in this year’s Slovenian National Selection (or EMA) was “Ladadidej”, performed by the Lady Gaga-inspired April.  The song was catchy as anything, but I kept getting distracted by the gold-lamé soufflé perched atop her head:

Another entry taking her style cues from the Mother Monster was Tabu, with “Moje Luci (My Light)”:

After all of that, though, my personal favorite was Nina Pušlar‘s “Bilo lepo bi (It would be nice)”, a well-crafted pop confection from last year’s EMA runner-up:

Spain: This year’s Spanish preselection, “Destino: Eurovisión”, brought in twenty-four artists and had them performing ESC covers until the group was eventually winnowed down to three.  It wasn’t until the candidates had been narrowed down to soloist Melissa, boyband Auryn, and eventual winner Lucía Pérez that the audience heard the possible songs for Düsseldorf.  Each finalist performed three entries apiece, with a professional jury deciding the best song for each performer.  Finally, the top songs were compared against each other, with the public audience deciding the ultimate champion.  

Lucía’s “Que Me Quiten Lo Bailao” was selected for her by the jury, and eventually won the night, but it was almost not to be.  After the jury cast their votes, the song was actually tied with “Abrázame”, which Lucía had called out as her favorite of the night, and closer to the style that she tended to sing (and part of the audience vocally agreed with her).  However, as the jury had given more top marks to “Que Me Quiten Lo Bailao”, the upbeat number was picked.  Here’s what could have been:



It hasn’t been made public who came in second or third (although we know that Lucía won with 68% of the vote that night), but here is Auryn’s “Volver (Return)”:



…and here’s Melissa, performing “Eos”:



The next post concludes ESC Insider’s National Final series, where we take a peek at Sweden, Switzerland, and the always-dramatic Ukraine!

New Videos/Versions for Bulgaria, Russia, Slovenia, Poland, and Belarus

Over the past few days, a number of official videos have been released for some of this year’s entries (and we’re still expecting ones from Israel, the UK, Armenia, Sweden, and Azerbaijan).  Plus, we’ve got new translations for a few entries!  Let’s get right to it:

Starting off, Bulgaria’s Poli Genova released the official clip for “Na Inat (For Spite)”, and I must say that I’m really impressed!

This new video blends the anthemic pop-rock vibe of Poli’s National Final performance with the universal message of “we can change the world together” that is all-so-prevalent in Eurovision.  Those who don’t understand Bulgarian (like me, for example) will be able to hone into Poli’s meaning pretty easily (if Miss Genova releasing a dove at the end doesn’t hammer it home, you might need your head checked). 

Next, Russia’s Alexey Vorobyov (aka “Alex Sparrow”) released his video for “Get You”, although it looks to be a poor re-edit of the clip for his song “Bam Bam!“.

If you’re going to use clips from your previous singles for your Eurovision promo video, an artist had better make sure that it’s a convincing edit.  The best example of this would have to be the Ukraine’s 2009 clip for “Be My Valentine“, which took pieces from Svetlana Loboda’s earlier songs “Ne Macho“, “Postoy, Muschina!“, and “Mishka“, with only little snippets of new footage.  For “Get You”, however, the lip-syncing seems off, and (for lack of a better word), this just seems sleazy.  Ok, Alex, we get it.  You’re good looking, you likely have your pick of any woman in Russia, and you could probably kick the teeth out of someone who would get in your way.  Good for you.  Moving on…

Oh, Slovenia…you had such promise.  I loved the original Slovene version of your entry “Vaniljia”, and even when it was translated into English, I could look past a few pronunciation errors and still appreciate Maja Keuc’s powerful vocals and dramatic flair.  But the official video…

If the cast from “Mission: Impossible” and “Twilight” had a love child and let her run free in a Renaissance Festival, I imagine the result would look a lot like the clip for “No One”.  Maja looks beautiful, as always, but this video just makes me just want to scratch my head and go “huh?”.  If you remember my commentary on last year’s Macedonian video, the same sentiment goes for this clip. 

The Polish delegation has just released the second English-language version of their song “Jestem“.  After “First Class Ticket To Heaven” was panned by Eurovision fans worldwide (it was enough of a disaster that all versions of it have been removed from YouTube, in fact!), their second attempt, “Present“, is a significant improvement.  The song will still be performed in Magdalena Tul’s native Polish, however.

Finally, the Belorussian team working with Anastasiya Vinnikova has just released a Belorussian-language version of their entry “I Love Belarus”, entitled “Мая Беларусь (My Belarus)“.  (That might have set the record for the amount of times that the word “Belarus” has been written in a single sentence.  I expect a statue in my honor to be built in Minsk by this time next week.)  The song will still be performed in English.  Whether that’s a good thing or not still remains to be seen.

More to come!

Maja Keuc’s "No One" presented for Slovenia

After a nice, long, dramatic pause, Slovenia has finally revealed the English version of Maja Keuc’s “Vanilija”, entitled “No One”.  Maja unveiled the translation on the popular Slovenian program “Spet Doma”.

Musically, there are few, if any, changes in the arrangement from “Vanilija” to “No One”.  Lyrically, however, there are some differences.  While the original Slovene lyrics seem to have Maja dealing with her feelings of pain and jealousy over a straying lover, the English lyrics have more of an air of “I’m kicking your worthless ass to the curb, and you’ll be sorry!”  I’m happy to see quite a few songs with this sense of empowerment (similar themes come up in the songs from Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Norway, among others).

Between the Slovene and English versions of the song, I personally preferred the original text.  There are a few errors in pronunciation in the new version that could definitely be smoothed out, but it’s nothing too insurmountable.  As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a language nut, so whenever a song as beautiful as “Vanilija” switches to English, it tends to lose a bit of luster in my eyes.  But in general, “No One” holds up to its predecessor’s standard, and as it’s not being performed right before or after another ballad in the Second Semifinal, it definitely has a strong chance of bringing Slovenia to the Finals for the first time since 2007.

Maja Keuc – "Vanilija" for Slovenia

I had the pleasure of watching Slovenia’s preselection show yesterday (again, thank you to www.eurovision.tv for providing live links and on-demand replays to so many of the National Finals!), and, to tell you the truth, my expectations were somewhat low.  The Slovenes, while known for their beautiful mountains and the stunning Lake Bled, aren’t quite as renowned for their Eurovision selections.  They used to make a fair bit of impact on the scoreboard, but they haven’t cracked the Top Ten in a decade, and they’ve only made it to the Finals once since the Semifinals were established.  Their song last year, the clumsily-titled “Narodnozabavni Rock”, was one of my least favorite songs in Oslo.  I grit my teeth and braced myself for a repeat of last year’s EMA winner, a glass of wine and a pint of ice cream at my side, ready to console me if needed.

I am thrilled to say that my expectations were not only surpassed, but absolutely shattered!  (Granted, I needed the wine and ice cream later that evening to get through the Macedonian selection, but that’s a story for another time.)  Ljubljana really stepped up its game, and gave a great variety of ballads, pop, rock, and comedy, many of which could have been successful Eurovision entries.  In the end, it came down to two superfinalists: the Lady Gaga-inspired April with “Ladadidej” and the eventual winner, Maja Keuc’s power ballad “Vanilija (Vanilla)”.

This might be not only the best Slovenian submission in recent memory (beating even 2007’s epic “Cvet z Juga“), but, in my eyes, it’s the best of 2011’s ballads so far.  Maja’s voice brings just enough of an R&B influence to keep the song fresh and modern, and the arrangement is very dramatic, which I personally like.  Supposedly, Maja and her team are planning to perform “Vanilija” in English in Düsseldorf, which I’m somewhat wary of.  If he translation is good and her English sounds fluent enough, it could work well…otherwise, we might be in for a bit of a letdown.  But this song has the potential to make people sit up and take notice, especially after a few listens. 

Slovenia, as far as I’m concerned, you’ve more than redeemed yourself.

ESC 2010 Reviews: Slovenia

Slovenia is one of those ESC participants who, despite a decently long history in the contest, have only had a small handful of great entries.  Their highest rankings were a pair of 7th place finishes in 1995 and 2001, but out of their fifteen entries, they’ve only cracked the Top Ten three times.  (Although, if you look at entries from Yugoslavia that were performed in Slovene, there were two additional high placements, but those were back in the 1960s.)

I’ll show you all my three favorite Slovenian performances:
1) 1966: Berta Ambrož, “Brez Besed (Without Words)“, 7th place.  Technically performed under the flag of Yugoslavia, Berta brought the Slovene language to Eurovision for the first time with this classic number, who many people feel was later ripped off by the classic Spanish entry from 1973, “Eres Tú”.  But more on that later when we get to Spain.  In the meantime, Berta’s performance was another great snapshot of the mid-1960s.

2) 2002: Sestre (Sisters), “Samo Ljubezen (Only Love)“, 13th place.  This entry actually sparked a pretty big controversy among Slovenians, as Sestre were the first act to perform at Eurovision in drag.  If all of the flight attendants in the skies were like Miss Marlena, Daphne, and Emperatrizz, I think that flying would be a much less stressful experience, don’t you?  Best in-flight entertainment ever…

3) 2007: Alenka Gotar, “Cvet z Juga (Flower of the South)”, 15th place.  Since the semifinal system was put in place, this has been the only Slovenian entry to make it through to the Finals.  Opera rarely finds a home on the Eurovision stage, especially with a pop-rock influence, so Alenka’s relative success was very cool to see, and it fit in well on the stage in Helsinki, where bands like Apocalyptica and Nightwish often reign supreme.

This year, however…we get this:
http://www.dailymotion.com/swf/video/xcq6jx 
Ansambel Zindra & Kalamari with “Narodnozabavni Rock (Popular Folk Rock)”…doesn’t really roll off the tongue very well, does it?  Some nations have mastered the balance between local musical traditions and pop/rock sensibilities.  It feels like Slovenia is still searching for that happy middle ground.  You can’t just take a rock song and add an oompah-band, and you can’t just take a folk song and add a dude in a leather jacket.  I didn’t follow this year’s Slovenian Preselection as closely as I did for Estonia, but if this was the best they could come up with, I worry.  As much as I hate to sound negative, I think we may have found the last-place finisher in the Second Semifinal.