LISTEN: New music from Zlata Ognevich, Cleo, Sanna Nielsen, Sakis Rouvas and Anggun

New Eurovision music is still a long way off, so until then we’re making do with new music from past stars of the contest. In our latest round-up, we take a listen to offerings from Poland’s Cleo, Sweden’s Sanna Nielsen, Greece’s Sakis Rouvas and France’s Anggun. But we begin with Ukraine’s Zlata Ognevich.

Zlata Ognevich “Za litom, Za Vesnoyu”

Zlata Ognevich did anodyne balladry so well at Eurovision 2013 that it’s easy to forget that the Ukrainian singer is capable of doing anything else. But as she proved with “Pray For Ukraine”, Zlata is well accustomed to punchier fare. For her latest track “Za litom, Za Vesnoyu” or “Pass The Summer, Pass The Spring”, Zlata returns to the dance genre in her quest to snag the man of her desires. It’s a chilled out piece of music. The repetitive backing track hypnotises rather than annoys, possessing the same ’90s/early ’00s vibe we heard on Serebro’s “Chocolate”. Purists may baulk at the moments where Zlata’s voice is computerised, we say the autotune gives the track an edgy appeal.

Cleo “Wole Byc”

She may be best known for her hip hop beats and milkmaid acquaintances, but Poland’s 2014 singer Cleo is no stranger to slowing things down from time to time. She went serious for both “Sztorm” and “Zabiore Nas”, and she’s done it again with “Wole Byc” or “I Would Rather Be”. The track might just be her most personal release yet. It tells the true story of Cleo’s great-grandmother, a woman who fell in love with a much younger man. But the love could not be and she decided to leave him. The lyrics tell of pain and unanswered questions, and even non-Polish speakers can feel the emotion through Cleo’s vocals. The music video fleshes out the story. Set in the run-up to World War Two, we see the “Slavic Girls” singer play the role of her ancestor. She flees a grand mansion in the countryside. Dressed from head to toe in high-end period fashion, she departs to an unknown destination on a train filled with menacing soldiers. Meanwhile her young lover is left teary-eyed on the platform. The subject matter might be tough, but the song itself is likely to be much more accessible to those who’ve yet to acclimatise to her usual sound.

Sanna Nielsen “Dansar Bort Med Någon Annan”

She’s currently gracing Swedish TV screens on SVT’s Allsång på Skansenbut Sanna Nielsen remains focused on her day job. The Eurovision 2014 singer has been in the music industry for an impressive 20 years, and to mark the anniversary she’s due to drop a special celebratory EP later this year. In May she gave us a taste of what to expect with the release of “Dansar Bort Med Någon Annan” or “Dancing Away With Someone Else”. Despite the title, the song is resolutely mid-tempo. The mildly stimulating track plays it very safe, and doesn’t come close to challenging the “Undo” hitmaker vocally. Still, it’s likely to sate Sanna fans for now.

Sakis Rouva “Ola”

Sakis Rouvas is another Eurovision alum who’s no stranger to TV studios. He hosts the Greek X Factor and, of course, he compered the contest itself in 2006. In between everything, he still manages to squeeze in time in the recording studio. “Ola” or “All” is the latest fruit of his labour. The ethnic flavoured dance track is easily Rouvas’ best effort for years. It makes for a rousing call to the dance floor and, despite the use of traditional instruments, it sounds truly modern. Even more surprisingly, unlike “Shake It” and “This Is Our Night”, there isn’t the slightest whiff of cheese. According to local media, #CantStopDancing trended on Greek social media upon it’s release in May. It doesn’t take a genius to work out why.

Anggun “Face Au Vent”

Anggun is a mistress of many musical genres. At Eurovision 2012 we saw her represent France with dance-pop. Since then she’s given us full on EDM, Disney show tunes and even a touch of folk. For her latest effort, “Face Au Vent” or “Facing The Wind”, she returns to the smooth balladry that made “Snow On The Sahara” a global hit. The song details a complex breakup. At first the atmosphere is cold. Then the ice cracks, giving way to unrest — “wind”. Anggun doesn’t want to lose her lover but she knows she must face their problems head on. Despite the lyrical angst, we don’t hear much emotional turmoil in Anggun’s vocals. The delivery is pleasant, but ultimately forgettable. The video also whitewashes the message somewhat. After an opening shot of a dressing table full of some not so subtle product placement, we find our favourite Indonesian singer trapped between a giant parachute and a wind machine. If we didn’t know better, this could easily be an advert for one of her Pantene campaigns. At the same time she has to deal with the attentions of a handsome silver fox. One moment she wants him, the next she’s pushing him away. This inoffensive package features on her sixth French language studio album. It’s unlikely to resurface on any future Greatest Hits collection.

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