Belgium: Eliot to live up to

Several months after we were expecting it, the French-language broadcaster in Belgium finally revealed the act they will be sending to compete in Tel Aviv this year. Sticking to tradition, they have internally selected The Voice Belgique alumni, Eliot Vassamillet.  I fucking called it.

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Czech Republic: They’re not that gr8 but here’s my top 8

On January 7, the eight entries competing to represent the Czech Republic in Tel Aviv were officially revealed. Hoping to do even better than their best ever sixth-place finish from last year, the Czech broadcasters have allowed any fans at home to function as a jury member and vote for their favourite entry using the official Eurovision app. This is something that has been known for a while and I never gave it much thought. Then I found out one of the entries was called Space Sushi and I thought fuck it, I have to listen to them all now. So here it is, my ranking of all eight competing entries from ESCZ 2019! Click on the song titles to Czech out the respective music video (warning: I use the term music videos very lightly).

Continue reading “Czech Republic: They’re not that gr8 but here’s my top 8”

Armenia: Going Sr-back to basics

It’s finally happened! After what feels like an eternity, we finally have our first confirmed act for Eurovision 2019. On 30 November, it was announced on everyone’s favourite Armenian TV show, Lav Yereko, that Srbuk will represent Armenia in Tel Aviv this year. I don’t care that I can’t even pronounce her name, I’m just so excited I finally have something to write about.

Continue reading “Armenia: Going Sr-back to basics”

42 for Tel Aviv: Bulgaria watching from the Sofia

On 7 November, a good month later than in recent years (honestly you’re slacking EBU), the full list of participants for Eurovision 2019 was finally released. With the devastating news that Bulgaria won’t be partying in Tel Aviv (I knew someone would have fucked up their finances), we must now focus on the positive and look at what the other 42 nations from 2018 who did get their money in order will be sending to the weird and wonderful competition that is Eurovision. Let’s have a gander and what we know and what we can expect from each of the competing nations this year:

Disclaimer: When I say ‘this year’ I mean 2019. It’s after 1 September, I’m allowed to call it that.

Albania – With the final of Festival i Këngës set for just three days before Christmas, Albania will once again be the first national final of the year. However, they’re actually shaking it up for 2019…or 2018 rather? It’s confusing. Anyway, this year there will be a jury vote coming from secondary school children (because they have such good taste in music) and one night will feature Eurovision-style staging. Just the one night though – they can’t handle too much change in Albania.

Armenia – It looked like the nation was heading for a regular and long-standing national final, but after the winner of the second season of Depi Evratesil failed to even make it the final, it’s future seems somewhat uncertain. Although we’ve not heard a peep from the Armenian broadcaster, they were killing it with internal selections so maybe the public shouldn’t be trusted with having their say.

Australia – Not unlike herpes, Australia just keep coming back. Fresh from their worst-ever placing earlier this year, the land down will be hosting its inaugural national final this February to help select who (from an inevitable list of Australian Idol contestants) will take that 20-hour flight to Tel Aviv to sing a song the juries will love and the public will completely hate.

Austria – As the completely unexpected winner of this year’s jury vote, Austria clearly know a thing or two about internal selections. Although they’ve also opted for a national final in recent years and nothing has been confirmed either way, if Austria wish to keep their incredible run of high placings they may be better off sticking to the internal decisions of some music producers in Vienna because they clearly know their shit.

Azerbaijan – After failing to qualify for the first time ever (poor Aisel having to carry that burden), the land of fire hasn’t revealed anything at all on their selection process for 2019. They could pick anyone at all but let’s be honest it’ll no doubt be another pretty girl singing an uninspired pop song. Remember when Azerbaijan was actually good at Eurovision? Good times.

Belarus – Our elected hosts for Junior Eurovision 2018 probably won’t be thinking about Tel Aviv 2019 just yet. Here’s hoping they still have enough budget left to put together a half-decent national final. National final or not, the selection process is guaranteed to be rife with controversy. Corruption, technical issues, rule infringement – that’s just how they roll in Minsk.

Belgium – It’s the French-speaking broadcasters turn to choose the Belgian act, and if recent trends are anything to go by we should be expecting that announcement any day now. It should also be pretty easy to whittle down who it could potentially be though simply by seeing who was on the latest season of The Voice Belgique – it’s guaranteed to be one of them.

Croatia – Taking the term ‘going back to basics’ a little too literally, Croatia will be reviving Dora, the national final that got them their best results in the late 1990’s – or rather their only good results. This is quite exciting news because I wasn’t crazy about their internal selection for 2018 (see what I did there?).

Cyprus – Despite almost winning the whole thing earlier this year, we know fuck all about the Cypriot selection for 2019. This is not unusual for Cyprus though and they tend to release their internally selected banger towards the start of March. Best just leave them to it then and see what happens.

Czech Republic – After the floss dance and dabbing brought the nation its best-ever result, Czech Republic will be continuing to use their online vote national final, now branded with the very catchy name, ESCZ (hopefully not pronounced esch?) Bringing Eurovision to the 21st century, votes can be cast via an app with international voters counting as one jury member. Who’d have thought Czech Republic would actually get their shit together?

Denmark – On 23 February, an already established Super Saturday, Danks Melodi Grand Prix will be back as standard. This year however it will be hosted in Herning, same as in 2013, the year when Emmelie de Forest brought the nation Eurovision glory. Because that’s the only reason Denmark’s songs have been a bit shit lately, the national final hasn’t been hosted in the correct city.

Estonia – Despite blowing their entire annual budget on one dress earlier this year, the Estonian broadcasters are still somehow able to expand the national final that we all know and love. Eesti Laul will feature 24 songs this year for no real reason and the fee to participate (I didn’t even know there was one) is double for non-Estonian language entries. Incidentally, the number of song submissions has dropped massively for this year. I can’t imagine why….

Finland – As 25th is embarrassingly Finland’s best result in four years, YLE are sticking with the UMK format of having just one artist sing multiple potential entries. The thing is I can’t think of any Finnish acts apart from Saara who are big enough to do this. Darude, maybe? I don’t think he’s got much on at the moment.

France – I probably won’t subject myself to watching an evening of countless unnecessary duets and a confusing voting sequence again, but Destination Eurovision will indeed be back for a second series but with a twist! The semis will actually be broadcast live – fancy that.

Georgia – Georgia just can’t stick at anything for more than a year. For 2019, they’re trying something completely different (to them at least, it’s hardly original this year) – the winner of Georgian Idol will represent the nation with a song also selected as part of Georgian Idol. No clue how that works but I can’t wait to see how this mess turns out.

Germany – After a run of really piss poor entries, Germany put a bloody lot of effort into their 2018 entry and it actually paid off. Unfortunately that means they’re going to have to do it all again this year – but even better. Living up to the organised stereotype, NDR have already got song-writing underway and have been busy churning out names of candidate artists, only to later publically reveal who from them hasn’t made the cut – talk about savage.

Greece – We might not know anything about their selection process beyond rumours of an artist selection that died months ago, but the fact Greece still has enough budget to keep competing in Eurovision is big enough news as it is. It’s no secret that their entries have been declining in quality over the last few years but at least they’re showing up to the party, albeit broke as fuck.

Hungary – The most consistent qualifier of the decade and they owe it all to their regular national final. A Dal will of course be back for 2019 and I don’t know how Hungary can keep this streak going. Every year I feel they must drop the ball at some point but this simple format just keeps churning out songs that are just good enough to qualify but then not really good enough to place highly once they’re there – that’s Hungary for you.

Iceland – There was huge calls from the mere 300,000 people in Iceland to withdraw this year in protest of Israel’s political engagement but it turns out everyone was just chatting shit and the dates for Söngvakeppnin 2019 have already been set. After failing to qualify for four years in a row, the island will be keen to return to the final – but in order to do that they’ll need a damn-sight better selection than what they had for 2018.

Ireland – Going one step further, Ireland are still threatening to boycott if Jerusalem host the contest. It’s not as if Tel Aviv was announced as the host over two months ago or anything. So, Eurovision’s most decorated nation will indeed be back for 2019 and are looking for “accomplished songwriters and performers” to help get them back to the glory days. So unless appearing on Celebrity Big Brother twice is an accomplishment, it looks like Jedward won’t be back at Eurovision.

Israel – Our controversial host nation for 2019 has opened a tender for how their entrant will be selected but let’s be honest, they’ll probably just do Rising Star again. Unless they think it has been too successful for them and they don’t want another victory of their hands. We’ve seen the hosts do pretty poor over the last few years, and after the faff that has been this year’s host selection, I’m expecting nothing but a Father Ted from Israel.

Italy – Surprising absolutely nobody, Italy was one of the last countries to confirm participation this year and will be using Sanremo again to select their entry. This classy national final has brought the nation so close to victory on many occasions and if Italy actually seemed to give a toss about Eurovision, I’m sure they’d find that fact very frustrating.

Latvia – Here comes the Riga Beaver! Supernova 2019 submissions are already open but with an exciting catch this year – you can enter a song for Latvia and still be doing your GCSEs! The minimum age to enter has been lowered to 16 which given that that’s the minimum age to enter Eurovision anyway, why on earth has it been higher in the past?

Lithuania – Hopping right next door, we have the home of the longest national final in Eurovision. We don’t know when Eurovizijos Atranka will kick off but more importantly the end is already in sight, with a final date set for a surprisingly early February 23. That’s my next dozen Saturday nights sorted then.

Macedonia – After failing to qualify for an unbelievable six years in a row, Macedonia are back at it again, most likely with an internal selections (mainly because they don’t have the budget for anything else). Although let’s be honest, they could select the best song ever written and Macedonia would still find a way of fucking it up live and failing to qualify.

Malta – Talent shows really are sweeping Europe – a good decade after the fever seemed to hit the UK but there you go. Instead of the traditional MESC, the inaugural winner of X Factor Malta will win the right to represent the tiny island nation in Tel Aviv. However, given the population is just 475,000 it’s no surprise half of the auditionees have already performed at MESC at one time or another. It’ll basically become pick your favourite national final reject and we’ll write them a song – but with extra steps.

Moldova – Absolutely taking the piss year, not only have Moldova not revealed any information of their 2019 selection process, they haven’t even technically confirmed participation. Being listed amongst the 42 participants is the first news we’ve heard from them. Talk about sackless.

Montenegro – Rumours that Montenegro were going to be sore losers and withdraw due to their recent shit results have been brushed aside by the broadcaster. Despite taking song submissions, there’s not been any mention of whether they’ll return to the national final from 2018 or not. Imagine if they packed it in after just one bad result – then they really would be sore losers.

The Netherlands – Despite this format completely changing their fortunes in Eurovision for the better, the Netherlands will no longer be selecting an artist who will then write a song. Now, the priority is the song and then finding someone who could sing it, which seems like an instantly worse idea. One thing’s for sure though, it will no doubt still be either a country-western singer or a contestant from The Voice who represents them – a country-western singer from The Voice would be peak Netherlands.

Norway – You know exactly what you get with Norway every year. Over 1000 songs will be submitted to MGP, someone then has the labourious task of whittling it down to ten songs, all are then performed in the Oslo Spektrum one Saturday night in March, there’s two rounds of voting and boom you have a Top 10 finish. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it I guess.

Poland – Another country that has revealed bugger all about their 2019 selection process. However, Poland will probably still select their act using their now-regular national final, Krajowe Eliminacje, despite not making it to the final this year. Whatever song they pick the juries will hate and the public will love – that’s Poland!

Portugal – Our hosts from last year are sticking to the formula that finally brought them glory…but also a rather deserved last place the year after. Festival da Canção puts more emphasis on the composers rather than the singers and producers which I guess is a nice change, but it may also explain why Portugal always sends arty farty entries when all I really want is a dirty banger.

Romania – Last year the Romanian national final was spread all across the country, with a different heat hosted in a different city to commemorate 100 years of Transylvanian and Romanian unity. However, the broadcaster seemed to like the idea so much they’re doing it for the 101st anniversary as well. This rings bells of Australia participating for the 60th edition and then never leaving.

Russia – Sticking to tradition, Russia waited to the last minute to confirm participation and are waiting even longer to put plans into motion. You would’ve thought after two years of Channel One being in control, VGTRK would be buzzing to get back at it, but they’re waiting until their ever so important New Year’s programming has been organised before looking into their selection process for the biggest song contest in the world.

San Marino – Without question the worst-performing nation in Eurovision this year, San Marino have sacked off 1in360 but have yet to reveal what will replace it. Whatever they opt for, it can’t be worse than online voting with bizarre heats, culminating in a final held in Slovakia which sees a German and a Maltese singer represent San Marino.

Serbia – Despite allegations of corruption and bias, Beovizija will be back for 2019. Surprisingly though, the organisers have actually listened to these complaints and updated the format accordingly. Imagine that! Submissions will now be judged anonymously…or so the broadcaster is claiming.

Slovenia – Although nothing has been confirmed, I can’t see any reason why EMO won’t be back for 2019. After all, it helped the nation reach the lofty heights of 22nd this year. The nation even got 14th back in 2015. Unbelievable scenes – keep the ball rolling, Slovenia.

Spain – It seems the popularity of Operación Triunfo outweighs how much of a crap job it did of picking an entry in 2018 as Spain are sticking to that selection method. Hopefully this time round the Spanish public won’t be completely blinded by a shitty romantic subplot and sleep on an actual banger.

Sweden – Is there any national final that is bigger and more successful than Melodifestivalen? Two months, a shit ton of songs, pretty much the same old faces every year. Tune in 9 March to see which guaranteed Top 10 entry they send this year.

Switzerland – This is much overdue but Switzerland are finally mixing up their selection process, and what a right fucking mix-up it is. It’s an internal selection but potential songs have already been released online but only from Italian-speaking Switzerland and there was an online vote so it’s not really an internal selection but there’s still another 400 songs being judged by a massive jury behind closed doors so it is an internal selection? Oh and Sebalter is there. It’s a mess but at least it still beats Die Entscheidungsshow.

Ukraine – Taking keen to a whole new level, we’ve had confirmation not only of Vidbir 2019, but also that the national final is here until 2021. I guess when you’ve got fuck all money you have to plan that far ahead. Thank god Ukraine are doing everything they can to not pull a Bulgaria (or Romania, or Bosnia and Herzegovina for that matter).

United Kingdom – Despite being a crappy little national final that gets broadcast midweek on BBC Four, Eurovision: You Decide has seemingly been getting the most online hype of all the 2019 national finals so far. So much so, they can even afford to reject three separate submissions from Norway’s JOWST – the geezer got tenth at Eurovision for Christ’s sake. This means we’ve either received an immense number of even better bangers from established artists…or the song committee are fucking idiots. Please don’t let it be the latter.

Now Before I Leave, Let Me Show You The Host City

Yes, I know I’m late to this and that I’ve made the obvious reference that everyone has already made but it seems Nadav Guedj did indeed predict the future back in 2015. On September 13 – two weeks after Eurovision New Year – the EBU announced that Tel Aviv had been selected as the host city of Eurovision 2019. The Israeli broadcaster, KAN, and the EBU have somehow done an excellent job of dealing with the absolute shit-storm that was this year’s selection process to arrive at the best possible decision. Move over Jerusalem, there’s a new Israeli Eurovision host. Tel Aviv 2019! Continue reading “Now Before I Leave, Let Me Show You The Host City”