Wednesday Wishlist: Our dream contestants — Albania to Bulgaria 28

Off season is a strange time of year for a Eurovision fan. The PED (Post Eurovision Depression) cloud is just beginning to lift, but the contest is still the guts of a year away. The nearest national final is in December and the junior equivalent won’t be on for ages. Even wiwivision is over! Despite the sunshine, the summer months can be bleak. It would be easy to mope until November, but the wiwibloggs team have a better plan. We’ve decided to dream.

For the next few Wednesdays our correspondents from across the world will be bringing you their ultimate wishlist for Ukraine 2017. And as this is all fantasy, we’ll also be taking a look at absentee countries, both long and short term. Because in our dream contest everyone comes to the party! To make sure that no one gets left out, we’ll be working through countries in alphabetical order, so this week we’re starting with Albania and working through to Bulgaria.

Albania: Era Istrefi

Andy: Albania needs to climb back into the final y’all! And they could have Eurovision 2017 in the bag with R&B phenom and our wiwivision 2016 pick — Era Istrefi. At close to 98 million views on YouTube, Era’s latest single “Bonbon” is a Balkan force to be reckoned with. She brings R&B and reggae tones reminiscent of Rihanna and even Polish pop star Margaret. We all still remember how well “Cool Me Down” was received across both the fandom and the European pop charts, and Era Istrefi would bring us some modern chart-topping realness in the same vein. She not only sings and looks hot on a snowy mountain-side road — but she also writes her own music!

Past wishes: Bleona and Bebe Rexha

Andorra: Nami

Luis: Andorra might be one of the tiniest countries in Europe, but their music scene offers a considerably wide range of artists. Amongst them is Nami, a progressive metal rock band with a pretty interesting sound. Their music is current, deep and powerful, and their music videos are on point. Nami are everything you could want from a progressive metal band, if you’re into that kind of music. Is it a suitable genre for Eurovision? Who knows. But I’m totally sure that these guys are more than suitable to represent Andorra if the principality ever comes back.

Past wishes: Patxi Leiva and Madretomasa

Armenia: Lilit Hovhannisyan

Antranig: Armenia’s most memorable entries all have one thing in common — beautiful fierce females with traditional ethnic elements in their songs. From Sirusho to Iveta Mukuchyan, they’ve done it countless times and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! That said, the stage is all yours Lilit Hovhannisyan. With tens of millions of views on YouTube, Lilit is a seasoned performer and there is no doubt she’d get everyone dancing with a catchy number. “Qele Qele” did so well in 2008 and Lilit has the ability to bring just as much energy to the Eurovision stage. Bring out the hairspray, fire up the wind machines and get ready to party.

Past wishes: Iveta Mukuchyan (wish granted) and Christine Pepelyan

Australia: The Veronicas

Ramadan: The Veronicas have long been favourites to sing for Australia. Last month the twins released their new single “In My Blood”, which was co-written with the DNA duo Anothony Egizii and David Musumeci. They previously worked with the sisters on their comeback smash “You Ruin Me”, as well as Delta Goodrem’s “Dear Life” and Dami Im’s Eurovision hit “Sound Of Silence”. The Veronicas are definitely open to the idea of Eurovision, so why not give them the opportunity? Their hits include “4ever” and “Untouched”, which charted in Australia, the United States, Canada and all over Europe. The ARIA Award winning pair are known for their energetic shows and avant garde costumes, which would be perfect for Eurovision.

Past wishes: Delta Goodrem

Austria: Denise Beiler

Patrick: Austria is a relatively small country and certain names are quite common. But Denise Beiler doesn’t just share the same surname as the country’s Eurovision 2011 singer Nadine Beiler, she is actually her sister. However, compared to the angelic Nadine, 28 year-old Denise has rock in her blood. Her sound and image is completely different to that of her younger sibling. She rose to fame while participating on The Voice of Germany in 2015, when she made all four chairs turn. In the end she made it to the semi-final, becoming the pride of Austria in the process. Since then she’s kept busy gigging with her band. Austria has a reputation for sending sweet and innocent girls — Nadine, Natalia Kelly, Zoe — but Denise could successfully change all that.

Past wishes: Andreas Gabalier and Hannah

Azerbaijan: Latifa Soyuoz

Zakaria: Azerbaijan’s approach to Eurovision has been so predictable in recent years. And it hasn’t proven very successful for their last three attempts. Maybe it’s time for ITV to take a break from the Swedish productions and place their bets on a 100% Azeri production instead. The land of fire needs to rekindle the Eurovision flame and Latifa Soyuoz might be exactly what they need. With her mesmerising voice and insanely wide range, Latifa can sing anything — rock, pop or ballads, but flavoured with an Azeri folk sound. The combination works perfectly. In 2013, she was selected as Azerbaijan’s representative in the OGAE Song Contest with her song “Hedef”, finishing twelfth.

Past wishes: Emin and Aygun Kazimova

Belarus: SHUMA

Mikhail: Shuma is a relatively new band, but they’ve already gained notoriety in Belarus. Their music style is quite unique — it combines traditional Belarusian folk with modern electronic sounds. Overall, their songs create a mystical atmosphere, with their fascinating mixes enchanting listeners. Their new album “SONCA” won the main prize at the recent expert.by music awards. They also won awards for best folk album and best album in the Belarusian language. This combination of folk and modern sounds succeeded in Belarus and it could conquer Europe too. Shuma would easily bring Belarus back to the final or even the top ten. Not even Alyona Lanskaya could stop them!

Past wishes: Nuteki and Vintage

Belgium: Lost Frequencies

Mike: If there is one kind of music the low countries know how to produce, it’s house. The genre is popular right across Europe and even formed part of the opening ceremony for this year’s final in Stockholm. Sadly, it never got the chance to compete in the actual contest itself. DJ and producer Lost Frequencies (aka Felix de Laet) is probably one of the best purveyors of the genre in Belgium. He’s already had success with “Are You With Me” and “Reality”. And this year he’s back with “Beautiful Life”, the first single off his new album. Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was a three minute track on the record due to be released in September?

Past wishes: Stromae and Gabriel Rios

Bosnia & Herzegovina: Dubioza Kolektiv

Edd: One genre that seems to guarantee Eurovision success is ska (Turkey 2004, Greece 2013). For over a decade, Dubioza Kolektiv have been making organic, humorous, quality ska music and in that time released seven albums. I say enough with the prosthetic drama at Eurovision — let’s stand out and have some fun! Granted the group’s line-up would need to be trimmed to meet the EBU’s six person rule — but then that didn’t stop Mandinga or Argo.

Past wishes: Neda Ukraden and Magdalena Bogic

Bulgaria: Gery-Nikol

Cinan: Okay everyone, fasten your seat belts. I’m presenting you my dream Bulgarian contestant for Eurovision 2017 — Gery-Nikol! At just 17, she’s already topping the charts. She shot to fame at 15 and her music videos have amassed more than 30 million YouTube views. She is easily the most successful young artist in Bulgaria, despite having only released three songs. Her lastest single “I’m The Queen” became the most watched video premiere in Bulgaria with nearly 400,000 views in one day. She knows how, when and what to give to music lovers. She would literally slay the pack at Eurovision.

Past wishes: Preslava and Mihaela Fileva

What do y’all think? Have we chosen the best of the best? Or would y’all have chosen differently? As always let us know below. And check back next Wednesday to read our choices for Croatia through to Greece.

CHECK OUT OUR PREVIOUS WEDNESDAY WISHLISTS.