Category Archives: Spain

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!

Una conversación con Lucía Pérez

I do speak Spanish fluently, but it’s really pretty awkward to do the interviewing and the translation at the same time, so major thanks go out to the volunteer who helped us out on this one!  🙂

Updates and Videos and Translations, oh my!

Not sure what’s in the water in Europe today, but today we’re not only officially hearing the songs from the UK and San Marino (although the British song “I Can” was leaked yesterday, I’ll wait until after their official performance on “The Graham Norton Show” to post the clip), but revamped songs from Croatia and Georgia, a translated Dutch song, and the videos from Ireland, Spain, and Italy have all been released!

From Croatia, we have Daria Kinzer’s “Celebrate”, the former “Lahor” and “Break a Leg”:

We have Georgia’s new video with the updated version of “One More Day”, now with Eldrine’s new lead singer Sopho Toroshelidze:

From the Netherlands, the 3J’s “Je vecht nooit alleen” has become the English-language “Never Alone”:

From Ireland, we’ve got the official video from Jedward’s “Lipstick”:

Spain’s “Que me quiten lo bailao” by Lucía Pérez has gotten a minor revamp (with added instrumentation) and a brand new video, filmed in the resort town of Sitges during Carnival:

And finally, Italy’s Raphael Gualazzi has released a new version of “Follia d’Amore”, a bilingual track called “Madness of Love”:

More to come later today, with the official unveiling of Senit’s song for San Marino and Blue’s “I Can” for the UK!

Lucía Pérez – "Que Me Quiten Lo Bailao" for Spain!

After weeks of Eurovision covers from twenty-four different artists, we finally have a winner in Spain. Auryn, Lucía Pérez, and Melissa each sang three potential Eurovision entries, which was then narrowed down to the top song from each artist.  Those three songs then went head-to-head against each other, with the winning song carrying the Spanish flag to Eurovision this year.

Beating Auryn’s “Volver” and Melissa’s “Eos“, the 2011 Spanish entry to Eurovision will be Lucía Pérez with “Que Me Quiten Lo Bailao”!

“Que Me Quiten Lo Bailao” literally means “may they take away from me what I’ve danced”, but it really means something along the lines of “they can’t take away the good times”.  This sunny pop song definitely ticks a lot of boxes…it’s catchy, youthful, and memorable, with a singer who is both sweet and experienced.  (Lucía is a two-time veteran of the Viña Del Mar Festival in Chile, a competition known for not only the quality of the music performed, but also for the passion of its crowd.  If you don’t perform well on the stage of the Quinta Vergara, the audience, known as “El Monstruo”, will let you know!)

Generally, I enjoy “Que Me Quiten Lo Bailao”…it’s very sweet, but it lacks a certain impact.  It almost reminds me of Train’s song “Hey, Soul Sister“.  It was a huge success (in the American market, at least), but yet it still faded a bit into the background (probably why it was used in so many commercials here last year).  What are your thoughts? 

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!

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 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!

Recap: Second Semifinal in Spain

Last night, a dozen more candidates broke out their best Eurovision Song Covers and fought it out in Barcelona for one of only five coveted spots in the Final of “Destino: Eurovision”.  Here’s a quick recap!

Qualifying to the next round via the audience’s vote:
Esmeralda Grao – This seasoned performer was actually a backup singer for Spain’s 1998 entry, and has been working the local scene ever since.  She took on Nina’s “Nacida Para Amar“, the 1989 Spanish entry that ended up in 6th place.
Melissa – Ok…so what we’ve got here is a Spanish singer who took on Vicky Leandros’ “Apres Toi“, a song performed in French by a Greek-born artist and won the 1972 contest for Luxembourg.  Confused yet? 
Sebas – This self-proclaimed Eurovision fanatic lived his dream by not only performing in an ESC Preselection, but making it through to the final by the will of the public vote.  His Spanish-language interpretation of Marija Serifovic’s winning Serbian ballad “Molitva” might not have been flawless, but knowing that a fellow Eurofan made his dream come true makes me feel a bit warm and fuzzy…

Making it through via the jury’s vote:
Don Johnsons (yes, like the “Miami Vice” actor…) – Following the lead of “Da Igual” last week, this band took “Yo Soy Aquel, the 1966 Spanish entry by Rafael, and adapted it for a modern audience.
Mónica Guech – Mónica proved that one can sing Dima Bilan’s 2008 winner “Believe” without having to resort to figure skaters or Stradivariuses!  

Eliminated by the Jury: Alazán (who covered “Bandido“, originally performed by members of their own family), Pau Quero (who might have become Spain’s answer to Josh Dubovie with his cover of “A-Ba-Ni-Bi“), “Sometimes” (who did an acapella cover of Abba’s legendary “Waterloo“), and Valeria Antonella (who came in from Mexico and covered “Save Your Kisses for Me“).

Eliminated by the audience’s vote (or lack thereof): Lorena Rosales‘s cover of “My Number One“, Sergi Albert‘s version of “Hold Me Now“, and Miami-based band “We“‘s rendition of “Enseñame a Cantar“.

Next week, we’ll see all ten semifinalists duke it out for only three spots in the final, where we’ll finally get to hear some of the possible songs that will represent Spain in Germany this year.

Recap: First Semifinal in Spain

Better late than never…This weekend, we also saw the first semifinal in the Spanish quest for Eurovision Domination.  “Destino: Eurovisión” kicked off with twelve acts (either solo singers, duos, or groups) vying for three audience-picked tickets to the next round, or two jury-selected wildcards.  In a fun twist, singers were asked to sing Eurovision classics from yesterday and today.  Some stuck to tradition, while others put modern twists on old favorites.  Acts performed in groups of three, and then the jury immediately eliminated one of the group, and left the rest up to the mercy of the audience.  (The actual pool of songs that might go to Düsseldorf have also been selected, but we won’t get to hear any of them until the finals on February 18th.)

Moving on via the audience’s televote:
David Sancho (who sung a big-band cover of “Estando Contigo“, Spain’s debut entry from 1961.)
Lucía Pérez (who sung the Spanish-language translation of Gigliola Cinquetti’s winning 1964 song, “Non ho l’eta“)
Auryn (who sang a harmonious version of the Olsen Brother’s winning 2000 Danish entry “Fly on the Wings of Love“)

Moving on via the Jury’s Wildcard:
Da Igual (who rocked out a new version of Sergio Dalma’s 1991 song for Spain, “Bailar Pegados“)
Gio (who, in my personal opinion, destroyed Lena’s “Satellite“, and not in the good way…)

The jury eliminated acts covering “Wild Dances“, “Ding-a-Dong“, “Gwendolyne“, and “Tu te reconnaîtras“, and the audience passed on covers of “Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi“, “Fairytale“, and “Vuelve Conmigo“. 

We’ll hear a dozen more covers next week!

ESC 2010 Reviews: Spain

From Norway we move on to Spain, another one of the countries pre-qualified to the Finals at Eurovision (along with the UK, Germany, and France), due to their network’s large contribution to the EBU.  Like France and Germany, it’s been a surprisingly long time since Spain’s last major hit on the ESC scoreboard, despite the nation’s rich musical heritage.  They’ve been competing in Eurovision since 1961, but the most recent of their two victories was in 1969.  They haven’t made the Top Ten since 2004, and they haven’t cracked the Top Five since 1995.  But over the past half-century, Spain has given us some of the most memorable singers and songs that Eurovision has seen.

The year 1968 was pretty momentous in the ESC archives.  The competition was held at the Royal Albert Hall in London, and it was the first competition broadcast in color.  By the end of the evening’s presentation, it came down to two fiercely competitive songs: Cliff Richard’s “Congratulations” and Massiel’s “La La La”.  Cliff was the hometown hero with an Austin-Powers-esque blue suit and charming smile, and was highly favored to win.  “La La La” was presented to Massiel (full name: María de los Ángeles Felisa Santamaría Espinosa) after the original singer, Joan Manuel Serrat, insisted on singing the song in his native Catalan, as opposed to the Casillian Spanish mandated by the Franco regime, which had a notorious intolerance for Spain’s other native languages.  When Serrat refused to budge on the issue, he was replaced with Massiel about a week before the ESC.  When the votes were tallied, “La La La” ended up beating “Congratulations” by a single point.  Even now, allegations of vote-rigging float around  1968’s edition of the Eurovision Song Contest, and even as recently as 2008 the old wounds were re-opened as a result of a documentary featuring the account of a network employee alleging that Franco had dispatched his colleagues to other parts of Europe to buy votes from members of neighboring countries’ juries.  No retroactive measures have been taken, however, and there’s not enough proof still standing to do much about the issue, so Massiel’s victory stands (although “Congratulations” became a bigger hit throughout the continent).

Spain’s next (and most recent) win was the very next year, when Salomé took home the crown with “Vivo Cantando (I Live Singing)” while wearing one of the most outrageous outfits that the ESC has ever seen.  Looking like a cross between a bluebird and a Koosh Ball, Salomé’s outfit kept on dancing even while she was standing still.  Awkwardly, this was the year that Eurovision learned that it had no rules in effect for tiebreakers, so “Vivo Cantando” shared the title with three other nations (France, the UK, and The Netherlands).

The next year, 1970, Spain brought an almost completely unknown young singer to Eurovision, a man who had only learned to play guitar a few years earlier while recovering from a car accident that had cut short his soccer career.  His song “Gwendolyne“, made it to 4th place, a strong start for a man who would eventually sell over 300 million albums worldwide in fourteen different languages.  Sadly, Julio Iglesias rarely speaks about the participation in Eurovision that kicked off his career, but I think he should just embrace it. 

Spain has had a few major successes in the ESC since then, but they haven’t been able to break back into the victor’s spot.  Their silver medal finish in 1973, however, was epic enough that it might as well have won.  “Eres Tú (You Are)” by the Basque act Mocedades has been covered into at least sixteen different languages, including Vietnamese, Korean, and Afrikaans.  It’s one of the few Eurovision songs to crack into the US Billboard Top Ten (peaking at #9), and (according to Wikipedia, anyway, so take this for what you will), they are the only act from Spain to chart in the US with a song sung with no English lyrics whatsoever (the others, Los Bravos, Julio Iglesias, Enrique Iglesias, and Los Del Río, either sung in English or bilingually).  And, just as importantly, it was included in a classic scene in the movie “Tommy Boy“.

Spain might not have won over the past few decades, but that doesn’t mean that they haven’t been sending some fantastic (or, at least, memorable) entries.  In 1982, during the height of the Falkland Islands War between Argentina and the United Kingdom, Spain ended up sending a tango to the UK-hosted event, raising eyebrows with Lucia’s “Él (He)“.  Their song in 1990, Azúcar Moreno’s “Bandido (Bandit)” was nearly derailed by a rebellious backing track in Zagreb, but they ended up battling back to claim 5th place with their Flamenco-inspired sister act.  Five years later, Anabel Conde made it all the way to the silver-medal spot with “Vuelve Conmigo (Come Back to Me)“, her sweet and innocent look hiding one helluva voice…her glory-note at the climax of the song still impresses me, especially when I remember that she was only nineteen when she sang in Ireland.

I would be amiss if I failed to mention one of Spain’s most epic songs…after so many years of perceived failure on the scoreboard, Spanish fans decided to send something truly spectacular to Belgrade in 2008.  Many genres have been represented in Eurovision: rock, pop, ballads, tango, flamenco, folk, new-age…but comedic reggaeton?  That’s where Rodolfo Chikilicuatre came in.  Like Ukraine’s Verka Serduchka, Chikilicuatre was the alter ego of David Fernández Ortiz.  An Argentinean who held the patent for the world’s first dual-action guitar and vibrator, Chikilicuatre swept through the Spanish Preselection with his song “Baila el Chiki-Chiki“.  The song was a success on its own; it topped the charts in Spain and Greece, and charted in France and Sweden.  Despite a modest 16th place finish, Rodolfo Chikilicuatre’s performance was one of the most offbeat and fun of the evening.

This year, Spain has decided to go theatrical with stage performer Daniel Diges’s “Algo Pequeñito (Something Tiny)”.
There are a few things about this song that are definitely NOT tiny.  Diges’s hair, of course…his talent (he’s played the leads in the Spanish productions of “High School Musical”, “We Will Rock You”, and “Mamma Mia”, a musical based on the songs of ESC veterans ABBA), and the spectacle of the song itself.  Waltzes aren’t incredibly common in Eurovision, especially circus-themed ones (it’s probably a good thing that the Netherlands didn’t make it through to the finals, or else we’d have some overlap…).  Spain’s not quite considered one of the frontrunners this year, but I don’t think that’s from any lack of talent or effort on Daniel’s part.  It’s going to be performed second on the night, which is generally not a prime spot.  I can imagine him beating Spain’s recent track record (they haven’t made the Top 15 since 2004), but this one’s really going to be unpredictable, I think.  At the very least, it will be immensely entertaining to watch!  ¡Saludos, España!