Wednesday Wishlist: Our dream Eurovision 2018 contestants — Hungary to Malta

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Even if we do know the venue and dates for 2018, off-season is still tough for Eurovision fans. 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 for months. 

Despite the sunshine, summer can be bleak. It would be easy to mope until November, but the wiwibloggs team has a better plan. It’s time to dream!

For the next few Wednesdays our correspondents from across the world will be bringing you their ultimate wishlist for Lisbon 2018. And as this is all fantasy, we’ll also be taking a look at absentee countries, both long and short term. Because in our ideal contest everyone comes to the party.

To make sure that no one gets left out, we’ll be going through countries in alphabetical order, so this week we’re starting with Hungary and working through to Malta.

Hungary: Wellhello

Luis: Mixing modern beats with rap rhymes has proven to be a successful formula for Hungary at Eurovision. So it’s little surprise that they happen to have lots of groups and duos who are experts in the art. One of the finest is Wellhello. These guys first began releasing music three years ago, and their fresh radio-friendly sound would surely secure Hungary yet another great result. Here’s one of their latest singles “Odaút”, complete with a fancy lyrics video featuring both men acting cooler than cool and some unpronounceable verses.

Past wishes: Linda KirályFreddie (wish granted) and Margaret Island

Iceland: Ólafur Arnalds

Kristin: Composer Ólafur Arnalds is a musical wonder. Consisting mainly of soft strings and piano, his music is both hypnotising and rousing. Since the release of his debut album back in 2007, Ólafur has gained recognition the world over. Most famously, he composed the musical score to the crime series Broadchurch, which earned him a BAFTA award in 2014. Late last year, Ólafur set sail towards home, travelling around Iceland for seven weeks, recording songs with various artists along the way. “Particles” featuring Of Monsters and Men’s lead singer Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir is just one of the many amazing results from that tour. If Ólafur should ever consider Eurovision, we might — and probably should — expect slow meaningful melodies with heart and soul. Compositions rather than mainstream pop. Something totally different.

Past wishes: Retro StefsonOf Monsters And Men and Soffía Björg

Ireland: Nadine Coyle

Padraig: She’s the Derry born popstrel who infamously lied about her age on Irish Popstars, before becoming the lead singer with Girls Aloud — one of the UK’s most successful pop acts of the 21st century. Nadine Coyle would go on to enjoy ten years of hits with the group — including “Sound Of The Underground”, “Love Machine”, and “Biology” — before they split in 2013. During a hiatus from the band in 2010, Nadine launched a solo career which quickly faltered. However, all that’s firmly in the past, as only last week she signed a new record deal with Virgin EMI Records. Better still, she’s working with Xenomania the songwriting and production team behind all of Girls Aloud’s biggest songs. Pop belters guaranteed — just what Ireland needs to take it back to the grand final. Northern Ireland has already produced two Eurovision winners in the shape of Dana and Linda Martin. In this post-Brexit world it’s time for a third. And before Nadine poo-poos the idea of Eurovision, she’d do well to tune into Channel 5 and watch her ex-bandmate Sarah Harding on Celebrity Big Brother — she could be at far worse!

Past wishes: HozierSinead O’Connor and Lisa Hannigan

Israel: Static & Ben El Tavori

Raphael: Hakochav Haba — Israel’s current Eurovision selection format — has produced some of the country’s best results for a long time, including a three year qualification streak. This is a wishlist, though, which means that it’s the perfect time to dream big! One duo’s been on Israel’s Eurovision scene all year, making the executive decisions that ultimately led to Imri Ziv representing Israel and breaking us to pieces. But this time the tables have turned, and we’re looking to Hakochav Haba judges Static & Ben El Tavori. They’re the always-smiling pop stars who’ve released some of the most-viewed and infectious music videos in Israel over the last few years. With the country gaining a reputation for sending upbeat pop with an ethnic spin — Middle Eastern schlager, if you will — it only makes sense to send the two reigning kings to Lisbon. Based on Nadav Guedj and Imri Ziv’s success in this genre, Static & Ben El Tavori stand to do Israel proud and get the MEO arena jumping.

Past wishes: Eden Ben ZakenThe Young Professionals and Roni Dalumi

Italy: Fabio Rovazzi

Sebastian: As they say in Italian, non tutte le ciambelle riescono col buco (not all doughnuts come out with a hole) – and Italy, a pre-contest favourite expected to win this year’s Eurovision, was pipped to the post by Portugal. But Francesco and Salvador have both shown that charisma is key — and Italian comedian and YouTuber Fabio Rovazzi has this in spades. He went viral in 2016 with “Andiamo a comandare”, which has amassed over 140 million views and brought upon its own viral dance-of-sorts to rival Francesco’s dancing ape. He’s also proven to be much more than a one-hit wonder, having had two successful follow-up singles. His most recent release, “Volare”, shares the same name as the legendary Eurovision song from 1958, and features Gianni Morandi, who represented Italy at the 1970 song contest in Amsterdam. Rovazzi’s the man to bring the fun and charisma to Eurovision.

Past wishes: Raffaella CarràMalika Ayane and Tiziano Ferro

Latvia: PYØR

Jordi: Their recent non-qualification in Kyiv brought Lativa’s two-year streak to an abrupt end. Triana Park – known for their anything-goes attitude and punk styling – failed to convince Europe with their rebellious form of acid pop. However, it’s time to draw a new line for Lisbon 2018. Let me introduce you to PYØR. Not just a singer-songwriter, she’s also a musical producer, social media fanatic and meme lover. Born Taronuhi Khachyan, PYØR comes from Riga, but she’s based in New York. Living by the motto — “What keeps me alive? I breathe music. Oxygen seems useless without musical impulses” – she oozes funk and jazz. “Broke My Rules” – a delightful introduction to her electronic sound – hit the top spot on Vodafone’s Big Top 40 and reached number five on Spotify’s UK Viral 50. That’s what you call slayage! Best of all, her participation in Supernova 2016 – she didn’t continue to the live shows – proves she has some interest in representing her country at Eurovision. Gurl! We’re waiting for you!

Past wishes: Fox LimaCarnival Youth and Masha

Lithuania: Moniqué

Renske: Monika Pudziute first rose to fame upon winning the third season of Lithuania’s X Factor. She quickly signed to Sony Music, dyed her hair turquoise and changed her stage name to Moniqué. Eurovision fans possibly know her best for “Dviese”, her duet with Vienna 2015 alumn Vaidas Baumila. Her latest release “Palauk dar” has already clocked more than a million YouTube views since June, which is hugely impressive for a singer singing in Lithuanian. Moniqué has plenty more to offer. Here’s hoping Eurovision is included in her future plans.

Past wishes: Jurga SeduikyteSimonna and Alina Orlova

Luxembourg: When ‘Airy Met Fairy

Robyn:  The imaginatively named When ‘Airy Met Fairy is a Luxembourgish-Icelandic trio — a collaboration between two of the biggest little countries in Europe. The group is known for their dreamy pop, with delicate vocals from singer Luxembourg-born Icelander Thorunn Egilsdottir. She made it to the live shows of The Voice of Germany in 2013 — the series that Andreas “no thanks” Kümmert won. The trio are also extremely mindful of optics. They collaborate with a film-maker and an art director to create a strong visual identity — something that’s essential for a good Eurovision performance. Luxembourg’s national broadcaster might not be bothered about a Eurovision comeback, but perhaps there could be a place for When ‘Airy Met Fairy on the Söngvakeppnin 2018 line-up.

Past wishes: Angel At My TableNatas Loves You and Seed To Tree

Macedonia: Viktorija Loba

Erdi: Born in the Russian town of Taganrog, Viktorija Loba moved to Macedonia with her family at the age of eight. The blonde beauty already has plenty of exposure to the Eurovision bubble, first experiencing it at the tender age of 15. Along with Marija Arsovska she represented Macedonia at the inaugural Junior Eurovision in 2003. The duo may have only placed 12th, but Viktorija went on to become a fully fledged pop star afterwards. She’s picked up awards across the Balkans and Russia. She even made a bid to enter the adult contest in 2015, but finished seventh behind Daniel Kajmakosk at Skopje Fest 2014. Maybe 2018 could be her year?

Past wishes: Natasa MalinkovaRennata and Tatijana Stefanovska

Malta: The Travellers

Patrick: Fancy a break from the wavy haired powerhouse divas? Want something different? I give you The Travellers. These purveyors of indie pop are unavoidable at the moment in Malta. The six person band doesn’t do generic music. They proudly sing in Maltese, awakening a sense of national pride in those that listen. Their easy playful sounds will enter your ears and remain lodged in your brain for a long time to come. Their recent hit “Xemx u Xita” (Sun And Rain) charted well and dominated the island’s airwaves, as did “Semplicità” (Simplicity) beforehand. Plus, they shared the stage with Ira Losoco — perhaps Malta’s most iconic Eurovision star — at last month’s Beland Music Festival. Bands often fail at Eurovision, but I’m sure that success would almost be guaranteed for this group.

Past wishes: Kevin BorgLauren Aquilina and Raquela

What do you think? Have we chosen the best of the best? Or would you have chosen differently? As always, let us know below.

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