Wednesday Wishlist: Our dream contestants — Hungary to Malta

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 Hungary and working through to Malta.

Hungary: Margaret Island

Judit: Margaret Island is a three-piece pop band founded in the autumn of 2013. Their special and authentic sound has resulted in several hits in Hungary. They’d surely steal hearts across Europe. Lead singer Viki’s voice is lovely, and she always finds a way to create something new. They’re a constant fixture at festivals, and Eurovision would be a natural next step.

Past wishes: Linda Király and Freddie (wish granted)

Iceland: Soffía Björg

Kristín: For the past two years, Iceland has placed all its Eurovision hopes and wishes upon a female soloist. And this Wednesday Wishlist isn’t going to be an exception to the trend. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Soffía Björg. Soffía hails from my tiny hometown of Borgarnes on the southwest coast of Iceland. She is, in my humble opinion, a phenomenal musician. She herself claims to have a melancholic soul, and names Eric Clapton as one of her early musical influences. Her sound is folk with a bit of country. Soffía is also a member of the folkband Brother Grass, and I urge you fine readers to check them out sometime. Meanwhile, feast your ears on “Back & Back”.

Past wishes: Retro Stefson and Of Monsters And Men 

Ireland: Lisa Hannigan

Padraig: After three non-qualifications and a last place finish, Ireland really needs to try something different. So let’s bin the faux-Celtic pop and flashy headline grabbing names and do like the Netherlands — send a slightly alternative singer that’s top of their game. I suggest Lisa Hannigan. Since starting out in Damien Rice’s band, she’s risen to become probably the foremost female singer-songwriter in Ireland. Her debut album Sea Sew was nominated for the prestigious Mercury Prize, while both it and her sophomore record Passenger received Irish Choice Music Prize nods. She performed almost all the songs on the soundtrack for the Oscar nominated Song of the Sea, and her third album is due to drop later this year. Would Lisa ever even consider doing Eurovision? Possibly not, but this is a wish-list. Take a listen to the whimsical “Lille”, the haunting “O Sleep”, the hopeful “I Don’t Know”  or the wonderful “Knots”, and you’ll almost certainly agree that she’d be great choice for Ireland.

Past wishes: Hozier and Sinead O’Connor 

Israel: Roni Dalumi

Jordi: With two qualifications in a row, Israel’s Eurovision game is definitely back on track. In order to build on those great results, it’s time to try something fresh, soulful and authentic. Let me introduce you to Roni Dalumi. The 24 year old mainly sings pop with a traditional flavour. Some of you might know her from season seven of Kochav Nolad, when she became the show’s youngest ever winner at just 17. She released her first single in 2010 and was brave enough to do a Hebrew cover of Gloria Estefan’s “Hoy” (Ten). She’s recorded two albums since then. My suggestion for inclusion on today’s Wednesday Wishlist is Roni’s latest track “A Man Of The Night” (Ish shel’ Layla), taken from her upcoming album. Her sweet youthful voice mixed with an addictive traditional rhythm makes the song a magical and enchanting listen. I would be delighted to hear her bring something similar to Eurovision.

Past wishes: Eden Ben Zaken and The Young Professionals

Italy: Tiziano Ferro

Mike: A lot of you will know Tiziano Ferro for evergreens hit like “Perdono” or “Breathe Gentle”, a collaboration with Kelly Rowland. But this Italian singer’s star is still rising, as evidenced by last year’s “Lo Stadio”. Not just a great singer, Mr Ferro is also an amazing performer who could really rock the Eurovision stage. Tiziano already released a special song for the 2004 Olympics in Athens and recorded several albums and singles in Italian, Spanish, English and even German. I’m actually struggling to think of a reason as to why he shouldn’t represent Italy at Eurovision.

Past wishes: Raffaella Carrà and Malika Ayane

Latvia: Masha

Florian: Masha Shirin is a Latvian-American singer known for her alternative pop and rock covers. In 2015, she released her debut single, the retro sounding “Mr. Presley”. If chosen, she would definitely continue Lativa’s qualification streak. Having gone through the auditions for the CBS Grammy Gig of a Lifetime, she knows how to handle a tough competition — the judges on that occasion included Emeli Sandé and Fall Out Boy. It’s time for her to show off her potential to the European audience!

Past wishes: Fox Lima and Carnival Youth

Lithuania: Alina Orlova

Jason: Donny Montell somersaulted his way into the top ten this year and earned Lithuania its second best result at the contest. This momentum should be kept going (not literally) next year so that Lithuania can finally break into the top five and perhaps even claim its first win. Alina Orlova, the ethereal Baltic folk pop singer, is my suggestion. Orlova writes her own material and sings in many languages, so her participation would bring buckets of authenticity to a contest dominated by glossy (over the top ) productions. With her soft voice and relaxed beats, she could slay all of the divas and LED screens that Eurovision has to throw at her.

Past wishes: Jurga Seduikyte and Simonna

Luxembourg: Seed to Tree

Robyn: In recent months, the fan wish for Luxembourg to return to Eurovision has taken a tantalising step closer to fruition, with the news that the subject will be formally debated by the Luxembourg government. So if the Grand Duchy were to return, who should represent them? As we’ve discovered with previous Wednesday Wishlists, there’s no shortage of good pop/rock acts who could do their country proud. Seed to Tree are an indie folk-rock group who have been around since 2009. Their newest single, “Until it Gets Better”, is an uplifting folk track, with plenty of emotional highs and lows and potential for dramatic staging.

Past wishes: Angel At My Table and Natas Loves You

FYR Macedonia: Tatijana Stefanovska

Antranig: Anyone who knows me knows I have a soft spot for an older Balkan diva. It’s a formula that’s worked well for Macedonia in the past (hey Kaliopi!) and it could be the formula to finally get them into the top ten. Enter Tatijana Stefanovska who brings some Balkan cougar realness — so much so that she was my second choice for wiwivision 2016. Her music represents her country well and she could excel at Eurovision if she sticks to what she does best. Macedonia was one of only three countries to sing entirely in a language other than English in 2016 and Tatijana could continue that trend, which is something that the contest would benefit from.

Past wishes: Natasa Malinkova and Rennata

Malta: Raquela

Patrick: Malta is still buzzing from Ira Losco’s top 12 finish in Stockholm, but there’s no time for rest. A new artist needs to be found! Raquela could fit the bill. Known for her strong voice, she’s participated in the national final three times. She was amongst the favourites in 2011 with “If I Could Do It All Again”, but ultimately failed to secure victory. The singer who hides her age is a teacher now, but still does interviews and gigs, especially at the Rockestra festival. Raquela doesn’t like the spotlight and tries to avoid fame. However, she has the voice and could easily break into the top ten at Eurovision. Oh if she could do it all again…

Past wishes: Kevin Borg and Lauren Aquilina

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 Moldova through to Russia.