Category Archives: Ukraine

“Tick Tock”: Sam’s Awake Too Early for This

I’m going to have to level with you guys.  I am really not a morning person.  During the weekends, I’m more than likely to be fast asleep until lunchtime.  Getting up pre-dawn is akin to torture for me, necessitating an intricate series of alarm clocks and thermonuclear devices in order to get my lazy tush out of my cozy bed.

But for the first official National Final of the year, scheduled to start at 4:15am Central Standard Time (or a perfectly reasonable 11:15am in Kiev), desperate times called for desperate measures.  If the Australian fans have to get up at the arse-crack of dawn to watch Melodifestivalen, I could brew a pot of coffee, force my eyes open, and tune in to a Ukrainian National Final.

Oh, the sacrifices I make for you, Eurovision… Read the rest of this entry

Preview: Ukraine’s National Final

Hard to believe it, but by the time the weekend wraps up, we’ll have our first song for the Eurovision 2014 roster.  While we’ve already heard artist announcements from San Marino, Austria, Macedonia, Montenegro, and the Netherlands, Ukraine will present the first National Final of the year at 11:15am CET this Saturday on NTU.  (So, that’s 10:15am GMT, and 4:15am here in Minnesota.  I’ll put on the coffee.)  Coming on the heels of a silver at Junior (hosted in Kiev) and a bronze in Malmö, will the country’s next representative keep the hot streak going? Read the rest of this entry

JESC 2013 Preview: Part 3

250px-JESC_2013_logoThe moment of truth is just about here!  Tomorrow, November 30th, young talent from a dozen nations will set foot on stage at the Ukraine National Palace of Arts in the hopes of bringing home this year’s Junior Eurovision Song Contest championship trophy.  In our first two previews (viewable here and here), we looked at eight of the acts vying for the title; let’s look at our last group! Read the rest of this entry

JESC 2012: We have a Winner! dozen young singers from a dozen nations (including a trio of newcomers) faced off in Amsterdam, all vying to take home the title of “Junior Eurovision Champion”.  We had ballads, hyperactive pop, Beatle-mania, and numbers that could have been taken straight out of a youth edition of “Glee” (I’m looking at you, Israel!).  After all of the tension, and an often-dramatic, yet ultimately decisive vote, who claimed the victory? Read the rest of this entry

New Videos unveiled for France, Ireland, Israel, Turkey, Ukraine…

As the National Final season winds to a close, often times the biggest news to come from the delegations between their selection and Eurovision itself is the release of their Promotional Video.  They might be a simple edit of live performance footage, or they might pull out all the stops and put together something that would make people wish that MTV hadn’t replaced music videos with “Jersey Shore”.  (Or maybe that’s just me…)

Over the past few days, a number of countries have presented their preview clips, and you can expect many more to follow in the coming weeks.  Let’s take a quick look around Europe, shall we? Read the rest of this entry

Ukraine has decided: it’s Gaitana!

This morning, Ukranian broadcaster NTU held their National Final, where twenty-one songs fought it out for the right to represent the country in Baku this May.  After a jury- and televote, it was Gaitana who stood above the rest, with her upbeat disco number “Be My Guest”:

Read the rest of this entry

Eurovision 2011: The Best of the Rest (Part 8)

Ok, we’re winding down to the end of our country-by-country list of 2011’s also-rans: the songs that should-have/would-have/could-have gone to Germany if the people had voted differently/if the juries had taken their bathroom breaks at a different time/if the networks had been bribed by a different record company (just kidding!  I think…).

Sweden: As almost any self-respecting Eurovision Fan would know, Sweden’s Melodifestivalen is considered one of the biggest events of the National Final calendar.  Its position in recent years as the last of the national selections means that it’s basically the final stop before the big event in May.  It tends to get higher viewership numbers in its homeland than Eurovision itself does, and ESC fans the world over flock to the Globen each year in order to watch the final firsthand.  This year’s Melodifestivalen certainly did not disappoint, with 32 songs competing over four semifinals and an “Andra Chansen (Second Chance)” round for the chance to redeem Sweden’s Eurovision hopes after a tough crash-and-burn last year.  As we all know, Eric Saade not only came out on top this year with “Popular“, but he gave the Swedes their highest placement on the ESC scoreboard since their victory back in 1999.

Eric faced some stiff competition, however.  Danny Saucedo’s runner-up “In the Club” got quite a bit of attention.  The track ended up as #2 on the Swedish Singles Chart, and Danny even got to read out Sweden’s votes this year at Eurovision.  (Eric had that honor last year; maybe it’s an omen of good things to come for Danny?):

Read the rest of this entry

New Videos from Ukraine, Turkey, Moldova and Macedonia

As is customary after the Semifinal Draws, many ESC nations are rolling out their entries’ videos.  Over the past few days, we’ve seen the official debuts of the Ukranian, Turkish, Moldovan, and Macedonian videos…let’s check them out!

The Ukrainians, as per usual, have revamped their entry and officially submitted their song “Angel”.  Who knows if it will continue to evolve by the time it hits the stage in Germany?  I’m half expecting an unfortunate flat tire to hit Mika’s car on the way to the venue, with Zlata Ognevich or Jamala just serendipitously hanging out in the arena…

Regardless, I do prefer this edit a bit to the original, as it has a somewhat stronger beat and isn’t quite as sleep-inducing as the ballad that we originally heard in Kiev.  That being said, it’s still not one of my absolute favorites; Mika’s English is often tough to parse.  I am, however, looking forward to the onstage presentation of “Angel”…with all of the circus themes in the video and the National Final performance, and considering Ukraine’s history of over-the-top staging (Svetlana Loboda, anybody?), things could definitely get interesting. 

Next up, the Turks have presented their video for Yüksek Sadakat’s “Live it Up”:

Not really sure what to say about this one…the song’s fun, with a bit of an 80’s Hair Band throwback feel (despite the lead singer’s baldness) and a touch of an ethnic sound from the string section.  It’s Turkey, so chances are pretty good that it will qualify for the Finals, but there are other pretty good rock songs in this competition that might give Yüksek Sadakat a run for its money if more than one makes it to the show on the 14th.  Turkey has made the Top Ten every year since 2007, and has never failed to qualify for the Finals…it’s a lot for “Live it Up” to live up to!

Speaking of rock, Moldovan ethno-punk rockers Zdob si Zdub have unveiled the video for their second ESC entry, “So Lucky”:

I kind of miss the oversized gnome hats and the unicycle from their National Final performance, but with six members in the band already, they face a quandary: cut a member for the sake of presentation (like they did for “Boonika Bate Doba”), or have the whole band up on stage?  We’ll have to see what happens when they start their official rehearsals.  Anyway, I realize that I’m likely in the minority with this, but I happen to really like this song!  Roman Iagupov reminds me so much of Anthony Kiedis from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and, despite my prep-school exterior, I’m a rocker at heart.  I’ve been known to crank the volume up on this whenever it comes on my iPod, and it’s become one of my go-to songs on the playlist I listen to whenever I go and work out.  I highly doubt we’ll be going to Chisinau in 2012, but at the very least, I’ll be dancing my arse off when they’re playing in the Esprit Arena this May, even if I’m the only one.

Moving on, we’ve got the new video from (FYR) Macedonia.

The clip from Vlatko Ilievski’s “Rusinka” has a pretty cool concept, but it’s a bit repetitive and even a little headache-inducing.  It sounds a lot better than the live version we all saw at Skopjefest, but Vlatko comes off as a bit of a creeper at times, and he might have been better off not miming the guitar playing at all.  Oh, well…can’t win them all, I suppose…

Major Monday Updates!

You would think that after a massive weekend like the one we just had, Eurovision nations would let a poor blogger have a break, right?  But noooooo…

In the past half-day, we’ve had two official songs revealed (Cyprus and Belarus), one Preselection lineup released (Israel), rumors in Russia, and major shakeups in Georgia and Ukraine.   I’ll get to Cyprus and Belarus in depth as soon as I’ve written my pieces on Slovenia and Macedonia, who picked their entries on Sunday, but I can definitely give you the latest news on the Russian, Georgian, Ukrainian, and Israeli news.

Russia has been one of the major Eurovision players over the past decade, not only because of the quality of its songs, but also due to the fact that they are the absolute fulcrum of the Post-Soviet Voting Bloc.  Votes from all over Eastern Europe often go to Moscow, due to a shared sociolinguistic history and culture (not to mention the omnipresent allegations of political voting).  But despite the massive weight of the Russian Bear on Eurovision, we haven’t heard much in the way of their Eurovision plans for this year…until yesterday.  According to rumors, we’ll hear about Russia’s official plans sometime this week.  It seems that it will either come down to an internal selection or a small-scale National Final, with certain artists having been approached to submit entries for consideration.  One of those artists, much to my delight, are the Buranovskie Babushki!  Some of you might remember these singing and dancing grandmas from last year’s National Selection, where their performance (in Udmurt!) of “Dlinnaja-dlinnaja beresta i kak sdelat’ iz nee aishon” made my list of favorite Preselection entries.  If they end up going to Germany, I will definitely be making a beeline for the Russian delegation’s cocktail party…instead of vodka and blinis, will they be serving cookies and milk?  I just want to hug them all!

Anyway, from Russia, we jump over to Ukraine, who, as per usual, has decided to scrap their preselection after allegations of corruption.  Some of you likely remember last year’s fiasco, when an internally-selected singer and publicly-decided song was retracted after a political transition, and the winner of the subsequent preselection was rejected due to an early release. (It all turned out ok, though, as Alyosha’s “Sweet People” ended up in 10th place in the Final.)  Confused yet?  Anyway, after a juror on this year’s panel stated her dissatisfaction with the results, and Eurofans from all over the country have called, written, and petitioned in complaint, a second National Final will be held on March 3, with original winner Mika Newton, runner-up Zlata Ognevich, and fan favorite Jamala to compete against each other.  Furthermore, the decision will be made only by a televote, and only one vote per phone number will be allowed.  Let’s hope that that puts an end to this madness, or else I will personally go to Ukraine, grab the Head of Delegation by the ear, and make him pick a random name out of the Kiev Telephone Directory.  (UPDATE!: Jamala has suddenly withdrawn from the second National Final, citing her unwillingness to be associated with a possibly fraudulent selection.  Excuse me while I bang my head against a wall.) (ANOTHER UPDATE!:  And now Zlata Ognevich has withdrawn, too!  So, by default, Mika Newton will represent Ukraine in Düsseldorf…it’s still unknown if she’ll sing “Angel” or a replacement entry, but I assume the news will come soon.)

Next, we’ve got a shake-up in Georgia!  For reasons still unknown, winning band Eldrine has decided to change their line-up.  Lead singer Tamar “Tako” Vadachkoria has been replaced by Sopho Toroshelidze, who sang backup for last year’s entry, “Shine”.  According to my calculations, three quarters of all Georgian Eurovision participants have been named Sopho…is there some sort of regional law mandating this?  Are little girls named Sopho magically imbued with musical ability?  Do Georgian men even sing?!  Anyway, they’ll be filming the music video for “One More Day” next week in Tblisi.

Finally, we’ve got the official line-up and songs for Israel‘s 2011 preselection, “Kdam”, scheduled for March 8.  Ten artists will duke it out for the ticket to Düsseldorf, including Eurovision legend Dana International.  The songs represent a number of genres, and almost all of them are bilingual (either in Hebrew/English or Hebrew/French).  The candidates are:
Adi Cohen – “Al Ahava
KNOB – “Ohev et ze
Chen Aharoni – “Or
Idit Halevi – “It’s My Time
Hatikva 6 – “Hakol Sababa
Niki Goldstein – “Amri itach
Sivan Bahnem – “Kach Oti
Michael and Shimrit Greylsummer – “Tu Du Du
Dana International – “Ding Dong
Carmel Ekman – “El Gagoai

More about Slovenia, (FYR) Macedonia, Belarus, and Cyprus shortly!

Mika Newton: An Unlikely "Angel" for Ukraine

The next song selected for Düsseldorf was the Ukrainian entry.  After months of preselections, heats, semifinals, rumors, and innuendo, most observant Eurofans had assumed that the golden ticket would fall into the hands of one of three women: Zlata Ognevich, Jamala, or Anastasiya Prikhodko.  Zlata’s upbeat “The Kukushka” was a perfect dance-pop number that fit in nicely with Ukraine’s Eurovision history (think “Shady Lady”, “Be My Valentine”, “Show Me Your Love”, etc).  Jamala’s quirky “Smile” was an imaginative and unique offering unlike any other song in the National Selection (or any other, for that matter).  And the lure of bringing in Anastasiya, who had represented Russia back in 2009, was a pretty big temptation, as well, even if her song “Action” didn’t show off very much of her vocals.

So, did the victory go to Zlata, Jamala, or Anastasiya?

Turns out, it went to none of the above!  In a shock win, Mika Newton’s ballad “Angel” took the maximum points from the jury, audience text voting, and the online vote.  I’m still not sure what to think of this turn of events…I had been rooting for Zlata, in all honesty.  The Ukrainians had a number of unique, catchy, and creative songs that might have landed them at the top of the leaderboard in Germany, but they went for a slow ballad with little standalone personality.  It’s still unclear whether Mika will sing in English or Ukrainian (she’s recorded the song in both, although she performed the English version at the Preselection yesterday).  I personally hope she goes for the Ukrainian, as her English isn’t quite intelligible, and keeping it in her native language might give the song some measure of authenticity.  Regardless, she looks lovely and sings well, it’s just that the song doesn’t make it up to par.

(UPDATE!: Continuing with the longstanding tradition of confusion and possible corruption in Ukrainian Eurovision proceedings, the validity of Mika’s victory as been thrown into question.  Allegations of power-voting from the televote and online poll have arisen, and even one of the jurors wants an in-depth investigation of the weekend’s proceedings.  Complicating matters even further, Mika herself has said that she wants to switch her song “Angel” out for a new one, written by “My Heart Will Go On” producer Walter Afanasieff.  So, will the ticket go to Zlata or Jamala after all?  Everything’s still very much up in the air in Kiev, and I’ll try to keep you all as informed as possible as quickly as possible!)