Greece: Artists confirm national final submissions as ERT asks labels for songs with ‘Greek sound’

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Greece may have won the Eurovision Song Contest 2005, but in recent years it has struggled to match its earlier table-topping results.

But now the land of Eurovision legends — Helena Paparizou, Kalomira and Sakis Rouvas to name a few — is on the hunt for its 2018 entry, with ERT launching a submission process for the country’s top record labels.

INFE Greece reports that ERT sent a letter to Greek labels at the start of October, requesting that they submit songs for a proposed 2018 national final.

However, following Demy’s English-language club banger in 2017, the letter states that songs for 2018 must be “exclusively” in Greek and with a “Greek sound”.

The last time Greece went down a more traditional route was in 2016, when Argo’s “Utopian Land” stalled in the semi-finals — the first and only time that Greece has ever failed to qualify for the Saturday grand-final since the introduction of the semi-final system in 2004.

But with the record labels choosing the songs in contention — rather than ERT going it alone — it seems quality choices are much more likely.

Despite the initial letter stating that all songs must be submitted by the 20th of October, INFE Greece report that ERT have extended this deadline to the 27th, giving record labels an extra week to get their songs in. ERT are hoping for “a strong, quality song, performed by an artist of high vocal ability”. Perhaps the broadcaster hasn’t been impressed with what’s been sent thus far…or maybe they just want to give labels a bit more time to shine and refine.

Although little is known about when the 2018 national final will take place, the letter sent to record labels does provide some details on the selection process. All submitted entries will first be put towards an ERT committee, who will whittle the list down to an unspecified number.

If there are enough high quality entries, those selected will then face a public vote during the national final, from which the Greek entry will be chosen. There is no mention of a jury for the national final, marking the first time that the Greek song will be chosen 100% by public voting alone.

Artists confirm song submissions

While the deadline for songs may have been extended a week, several artists have already confirmed that they have submitted entries for consideration. So who’s spoken out?

Stereo Soul and DJ Koncept

After almost participating in a national final against Demy, Stereo Soul are keen to try again in 2018. In July the group noted that they planned on preparing a song to submit to ERT in the autumn, with a collaboration with DJ Koncept more recently suggested.

However, this was all before ERT’s plans to choose a more traditional Greek-influenced song. Although the song was originally recorded in English, in order to comply with the new rules DJ Koncept says the song must now been re-recorded in Greek. Panagiotis Pallis of Stereo Soul added that “the song is atmospheric mid-/uptempo electronic pop ballad”.

Areti Ketime

Unlike Stero Soul, Areti has a background in singing traditional Greek songs. Having sung at the opening ceremony of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens as a teenager, Areti now has over ten years experience in the music industry. Dimitris Karras, the composer of her 2018 national final submission, states that the song combines both Greek and Balkan elements, and also has a strong social message: “It is generally divided in choral character, Balkan orchestration with Greek rhythm and social lyrics”.

Dimitris also explained in a press release that he was happy with ERT’s announcement on choosing a more Greek-sounding song: “[it] gives the opportunity to think of artists who would not dare it in the past, I am very pleased to see friends who can thus make their dream come true”.

Xorostalites Band

Record label Spider Music have confirmed that they have also submitted a song for consideration, through the group Xorostalites Band. The group, which specialises in Greek traditional music, is made up of six members, each of whom contribute by playing different instruments.

In regards to the submitted song, a press release from Spider Music states it “embraces [Greece’s] map from Thrace to Crete”, adding it is a “musical journey to our tradition, from one end of Greece to the other”.

Vasiliki Stefanou

Musicology student Vasiliki prefers soulful, traditional music over the commercial, putting her in good stead with ERT’s Eurovision 2018 plans. Speaking to INFE Greece, Vasiliki describes her entry as “a love song  framed by the traditional sound of the clarinet, representing the melodic motifs of Epirus, and, at the same time, giving a new impetus to tradition with “ethnic” elements”. For all of you not up to date with your Greek geography, Epirus is a region in the west of mainland Greece.

Having performed in various musical scenes in both Greece and Cyprus, Vasiliki has also collaborated with notable artists such as Giorgos Dalaras, Eleni Vitali and Costas Makedonas.

Panagiotis Tsakalakos

Born in the USA, Panagiotis went on to win the second season of Greek Idol back in 2011. Now with a career in Greece, his usual musical style is more alternative pop/rock.

Although, Panagiotis has not officially submitted a song for consideration, he has confirmed to INFE Greece that he is in discussions with ERT about participating in the national final. He states that “the song with which we are participating is completely different from our past entries in [Eurovision], with ethnic elements, and I think it would offer very good prospects for a high place for Greece in this year’s Eurovision”.

So what do you make of ERT’s proposed plans for Eurovision 2018? Do you think a more traditional sounding song is a good idea? And which of the above artists would you like to see representing Greece in Lisbon next year? Let us know all your thoughts in the comments below!

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