As the ESC250 2017 countdown was reaching its climax, many of us were settling down to welcome in the new year and get ready for what Eurovision surprises lie ahead in 2018. But Georgia‘s First Channel (1TV) had one more gift for us in 2017. The broadcaster revealed that the jazz group Iriao will represent Georgia at Eurovision 2018 in Lisbon.

Iriao is described as creating “unique music which is a mix of jazz and Georgian ethno folk”. The group’s name comes from the phrase “Iriao-uruao”, which relates to the Georgian yodelling singing style Krimanchuli.

The band was originally founded by David Malazonia in 2013. The band leader is considered to be one of the first Georgian composers to combine the genres of jazz and Georgian folk together. David also has a busy career as a composer. For the past 30 years he has written for artist and bands in both Georgia and Germany, and has composed for TV and theatre productions. And now he will be able to add Eurovision to his resume.

Iriao currently has seven members: David Malazonia (composer, keys, arranger and leader), Nugzar Kavtaradze (Georgian folk instruments), Levan Abshilava (drums, percussion), Shalva Gelekva (bass), George Abashidze (vocals), Mikheil Javakhishvili (vocals) and Bidzina Murgulia (vocals).

Unfortunately, with the six-person limit at Eurovision, this means that at least one member will have to remain off-stage when they reach the Altice Arena.

The artist announcement from Georgia comes as a bit of a surprise. Many fans had assumed the country would host another national final. Even Junior Eurovision 2017 co-host Helen Kalandadze was planning on entering.

The no-frills internal selection comes as a stark contrast to last year’s extravagant national final. Twenty-five acts competed at the event, which was seen as an audition of sorts for the role of hosting Junior Eurovision 2017.

In 2016, indie rock band Nika Kocharov and Young Georgian Lolitaz were internally selected by GPB, but had their song chosen by public vote.

The selection of a jazz-ethno-folk group was perhaps inspired by Salvador Sobral’s win with the gentle, jazz-inspired “Amar pelos dois”, and his victory speech rallying against “fast food music”.

This isn’t the first time Georgia has send a jazz group to Eurovision. In 2014, the jazz fusion group The Shin performed “Three Minutes to Earth” along with the jazz singer Mariko Ebralidze. They placed last in their semi-final, with only 15 points.

Georgia will be hoping that Iriao will be be able to return them to the Eurovision final, after Tamara Gachechiladze’s fiery performance of “Keep The Faith” ultimately stalled in the semi-final in Kyiv.

There are no details on when the group’s song for Lisbon will be released, however it is not expected that Swedish maestro Thomas G:son will be involved with revamping the Georgian entry this year.

What do you think of Georgia’s choice for Lisbon? Are you excited to hear their mix of jazz and Georgian ethno-folk? Do you think Iriao can bring Georgia back to the grand final? Let us know in the comments below!

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Photo Credit: 1TV

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beccaboo1212
Guest

The vocalists aren’t allowed to stay at home because all competing songs need to have lyrics. Maybe their bassist can watch the contest. 🙂

Zebb
Guest
Zebb

Not scared at all. Ok let’s see what they’ll bring.

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

What makes me slightly sad is that, without a Georgian National Final this year, there will be a lot less Wiwi interviews from Rezo! 🙁

William Lee Adams
Admin

🙁

blondboybc
Guest
blondboybc

They’ve a lot of potential and talent, but can we really say much until their song is released? At least we know they can perform well live! Let’s see if they send something in Georgian and if the song is indeed ethnic/jazz! Something different. Things are looking good so for this year! Oh, and happy 2018 wiwibloggs!! 🙂

brunowskii
Guest
brunowskii

#flop
Sounds like the croatian Klara s mora….

Georgia is becoming a real hell or heaven in ESC

brunowskii
Guest
brunowskii

*Klapa

Women, football and rock'n'roll
Guest
Women, football and rock'n'roll

Heaven: 2016, 14, 11, 07
Hell: 2017, 13, 10

🙂

brennan
Guest
brennan

I am worried about how they are going to fit their style into a three minute song
pure jazz doesn’t really… work in a eurovision setting because of the time constraint

M_K
Guest
M_K

It’s different. We’ll see how their style translates to the big Eurovision stage.

beccaboo1212
Guest

Looks like Shalva Gelekva will have to be the Green Room supporter. :/

Geo
Guest
Geo

This will be something like Bulgaria 2005 (Kaffe – Lorraine) which failed to qualify (19th in the semifinal). I do not give a damn about their song, I know this cannot qualify (jazz and stuff like that doesn’t do well in Eurovision, you will see)…

Lanti
Guest

You never really know when someone says “jazz singer” nowadays though; Salvador, Jamala, and Rona Nishliu were jazz singers and did well, but so were Dihaj and Martina Barta. I’m guessing Iriao will score maybe 1 place higher than the Shin, but for now it’s all in the air.

Johan
Guest
Johan

They will be sound like ABBA if they involve Thomas Gsson for re arrangement of song and production of song.

Women, football and rock'n'roll
Guest
Women, football and rock'n'roll

hehe….don’t give them some nasty ideas! 😀 :-0 However – I am quite sure they won’t go the genric route. I can imagine they are the sort of band why put a lot into musical honesty / own roots. Probably they make their own songs

Pera
Guest
Pera

Sasha Jean Baptiste from Sweden will have so much work to sell this group and their song for televote and juries (she was working on stage perfomance for Georgia 2015,2016,2017).. I predict result like 2013 or result like 2016 (surprise finalist thanks to juries and fenomenal staging of song).

Johan
Guest
Johan

Mistake Georgia 2014 instead 2013

Pera
Guest
Pera

Thanks . I see also mistake in my comment.

Women, football and rock'n'roll
Guest
Women, football and rock'n'roll

2016 was a brilliant song, it qualified because people wanted some more rock music, and the experts recognized it’s strong caracther

vida e alegria
Guest
vida e alegria

vida e alegria

KESC
Guest
KESC

Tbh, I’m disappointed with Georgia’s choice. Tamara was one of my favourties last year, and I was really sad that she didn’t make it to the final, and I really expected something better than her.
I wanted Nina Sublatti to return, or they could’ve organized a better national selection.
This group did not really excite me.
Yes, singing traditional songs is always great, since it’s really rare in Eurovision nowadays, but I have the feeling that they won’t qualify again.

Georgia really puts so much effort on the Junior version of the contest, but they don’t really care about the actual contest.

EnjaESC
Guest
EnjaESC

I know that a lot of people won’t put much trust in them,I don’t care,I ADORE anything ethnical,and jazz is soo lovely…they’re going to bring something different and maybe even more”suited”for Eurovision than other entries :).

Darius
Guest
Darius

Looks like another non-qualification for Georgia, based on this band’s music style (won’t do well). They sent a similar act in 2014: The Shin and Mariko – “Three Minutes to Earth” and it was a total flop (well deserved result that year)

Colin
Guest
Colin

I just love how people claim qualifications and non-qualifications without hearing the actual songs. Good luck, Georgia!

And happy New Year, everyone!

Jo
Guest
Jo

They love drama. Pretty much like “Saara Aalto will win ESC”.

Kris
Guest
Kris

Isn’t she coming 2nd?

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

Again?! :O

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

Happy New Year Colin! 🙂

Briekimchi
Guest
Briekimchi

Definitely one of the more adventurous internal selections so far. I am excited about this! Sure, this has the chance to come last but also, it has the potential to do really well. A much better attitude than certain other countries that opt to play it safe (*Cough*…Finland, Australia…*Cough*).

Women, football and rock'n'roll
Guest
Women, football and rock'n'roll

so true!

Polegend Godgarina
Guest
Polegend Godgarina

It’s always a kii how Georgia puts so much effort into Junior Eurovision but so little into Eurovision.

EUROFAN MEXICO
Guest
EUROFAN MEXICO

ja ja good point

Women, football and rock'n'roll
Guest
Women, football and rock'n'roll

Wow – great choice! When Georgia go for something original, they are great. last year was a major let down. But songs like 2016, 2014 etc…brilliant music! I can easily see them in my top 10 this year. Kudos for a brave effort.

Women, football and rock'n'roll
Guest
Women, football and rock'n'roll

Let me add….it’s quite silly (sorry for sounding harsh) to write it off as “bad” / “non-qualifying” when we haven’t heard the song. Maybe it will surprise you positively. And you never know 100 % what the voters go for.

Kjetil
Guest
Kjetil

I totally agree!

Roelof Meesters
Guest
Roelof Meesters

Their music is good and all, but I don’t want to judge anything beforw the song gets released. Their vocals sound very smooth and soothing, but it all gets by a litlle bit slowly tbh. Let’s all wait for the song.

Leo M
Guest
Leo M

So that’s another non-qualification for Georgia. Very like their 2014 entry which was a disaster.

Women, football and rock'n'roll
Guest
Women, football and rock'n'roll

Disaster? Maybe for some…It was very accomplished song, and they were great at what they did. I personally found it one of the best songs of 2014. I can understand it was not so commerical for mainstream appeal, but it doesn’t mean it’s bad. More disappointing that the experts (who are supposed to vote for originality) also wrote it off

Darius
Guest
Darius

Really, it was an atrocity. Everybody agreed! If a song is good it gets votes, simple as that (take Georgia’s example in 2010 and 2013…those were amazing songs and performances)

Women, football and rock'n'roll
Guest
Women, football and rock'n'roll

That just how different music taste can be. 2013 / 2010 (or 2016) are the only songs from them I don’t like. Generic, unoriginal, boring ballads. Hear so many times before in ESC. I can understand a song like 2010 is not badly structured / nice lyrics. But it just leaves me cold

But otherwise – Georgia have original, daring quality songs. And they mostly think quality over results. Kudos for that

Bgc
Guest
Bgc

“Really, it was an atrocity. Everybody agreed!”

No, everyone did not agree. I most certainly don’t.

“Three Minutes to Earth” is one of my 3 favourtie Georgian ESC entries, along with “Visionary Dream” and “Midnight Gold”. It wasn’t a song that had commercial appeal but in terms of musicianship The Shin & Mariko were among the very best acts of ESC2014. A million times more accomplished than the (imo) painfully dull and unoriginal “Waterfall” from 2013.

Goes to show that good music is subjective.

Kjetil
Guest
Kjetil

Everyone agreed? I don’t think so. Three Minutes To Earth was a great song and it would’ve deserved to qualify!

Mony
Guest
Mony

You all must be real High while listening to that song and call it a great song, otherwise…the majority had decided (both televote and the juries) that the song was a pure crap, one of the worst song I had to endure listening in my whole life…

Thespb01
Guest
Thespb01

Sounds interesting, but hopefully it won’t be another “Three Minutes To Earth”, which was quite possibly the worst song ever written.

Eurovisionfan12
Guest
Eurovisionfan12

Interesting. I just hope the song won’t be as bad as that one in 2014

Kimak
Guest
Kimak

First interesting choice for Lisbon. Austria can be great too. The worst choice made Finland to this time.

Women, football and rock'n'roll
Guest
Women, football and rock'n'roll

Yep, Finland sounds like a disaster in the making….hopefully they can surprise in a nice way. usually they have good songs

TACV
Guest
TACV

OMG I love this! Best of luck Georgia from Portugal

kitty
Guest
kitty

A smart, wise choice. Most countries will send poppy songs or ballads like they do every year, i can see Georgia in the final.

Tony
Guest
Tony

OMG!! The intro from this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tG_bMcSibiw is actually them right? They used it for the JESC promo from this year!! :O

Robyn Gallagher
Editor

It sounds like their style! Well spotted! 😀

SauleRiet
Guest
SauleRiet

Tony, yes they are and here is the song. :)))
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhm1g3aTpLw

Joe
Guest
Joe

I’m still waiting to hear of another competitor I have as good a gut feeling about as Jessica Mauboy, Laura Groeseneken, or Saara Aalto, all of whom are singers who, if presented good enough material, could bring their countries a rare victory. I’d love to be surprised by Iriao.

SauleRiet
Guest
SauleRiet

Tony, yes they are and here is the song. :)))
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhm1g3aTpLw

kenna
Guest
kenna

Interesting choice, but I’m afraid Europe won’t vote gor them no matter how great their song will be. Yet, I have a small ray of hope: Salvador did touch a lot of hearts and manage to win the contest.

Robyn Gallagher
Editor

Ewan from ESC Insight has noted this will mean the return of “Sad Tony” – when a seven-piece band goes to Eurovision and one unlucky member has to stay home. The original Sad Tony was Mandinga’s trombone player who had to stay behind n 2012. Who will be the Sad Tony of Iriao?

Kjetil
Guest
Kjetil

Probably the composer

Pandaman
Guest
Pandaman

Hey, they can also disguise one of them as a turkey and put him into a shopping trolley. I’ve heard that then people don’t count as being on stage!

Gorilla716
Guest
Gorilla716

They remind me a lot of Croatia 2013, which crashed out of the semis, so I am not feeling very optimistic about this.

Denis
Guest
Denis

I’m not hoping for much. Georgia “inspires” by what was fresh last year, thinking it will work again. It rarely works. Winners don’t follow the trend, they create the trend. Winners and runners-up bring something new, not something inspired by last year.

I’m not going to write them off directly but I will say they will have to work a lot to get somewhere.

Jo
Guest
Jo

It worked for them in 2011 with Eldrine, inspired by maNga, I think. But who knows…

Kjetil
Guest
Kjetil

I wouldn’t say Iriao is Salvador 2.0. Jazz is a genre with many possibilities and much variety. And the ethno-folk elements will definitely make it unique.

Polyna
Guest
Polyna

I was looking forward to Georgia sending something unique and non-Eurovisiony, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Waiting for the actual song, hopefully it will be in the glorious Kartuli language and they won’t dumb down their style to Eurovision.

EscAU
Guest
EscAU

The third internally selected jazz act yay 2018 is going to be a snooze fest, trying to copy the previous winner never works like how everyone sung in their native language after 2007 and sent rock songs after 2006.

Robyn Gallagher
Editor

Don’t write off Azerbaijan’s song as a snoozefest jazz entry. Word is that Aisel will definitely not be performing a jazz number! 😀

EscAU
Guest
EscAU

bring the heat! hopefully they’ll turn up and turn out 😉

SebastienXavier
Guest
SebastienXavier

Actually it is great to hear more countries singing in their own language… all the countries should be encouraged to do that.

EscAU
Guest
EscAU

of course- just an example of how others copy the winner’s characteristics

SebastienXavier
Guest
SebastienXavier

Yeah. Another example is that everyone sends a duet in 2015

Women, football and rock'n'roll
Guest
Women, football and rock'n'roll

Jazz is nice music 🙂 Nothing wrong with some jazzy efforts. Another nice conquence of Salvador’s great victory?

geeGa
Guest
geeGa

Lol you mean another bad consequence esc is fun not a retirement party

Kjetil
Guest
Kjetil

I thought we only had one jazz singer so far (Aisel)? And apparently she will sing a Kirkorov song. He’s definitely not a jazz composer. Anyway, jazz doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be a ballad so I wouldn’t call it a snoozefest, at least not before hearing the songs.

geeGa
Guest
geeGa

Laura aisel Georgia and their previous stuff isn’t hard hitting

Jo
Guest
Jo

I thought they were like that group from 2014, but they are actually great!!

The success of the non-English songs last year* (*finally we can say this ^^) is encouraging other countries to do the same, which proves that these nations actually want to send something more culturally related to their people. I don’t expect this trend to last for too long, but at least we will have an edition similiar to 2009 or 2012.

Of course we need the song to judge this entry better.

Kjetil
Guest
Kjetil

Georgia almost never fails to bring some diversity and originality to the contest. Jazz with ethno elements sounds really interesting and who knows – maybe they will sing in Georgian? That would be absolutely amazing as it’s a beautiful language. I’m really looking forward to their entry!

Joe
Guest
Joe

I WAS thinking that this was another non qualifyer, but when I heard them I got happily suprised. Gorgeous music that can actually do great in Eurovision, but it can also be bad. Hopefully they will come with a cool modern, and beautiful song. Love this choice atm. In my top 5 when it comes to artists so far!

irish esc
Guest
irish esc

non qualifer again sad that georgia always chooses a weird song or act to reprensent them at esc : (

Kjetil
Guest
Kjetil

Oh, I guess you already heard their song then?

irish esc
Guest
irish esc

no but i know what to expect from georgia and i never like ther acts except for 2014

Kjetil
Guest
Kjetil

In 2016 most people said the Lolitaz wouldn’t qualify (me too, even though I loved their song) and look what happened. You should wait at least until their song is released to judge their chances in May.

irish esc
Guest
irish esc

i will wait for the song of course but i am expecting to be underwhelmed
p.s it was nice chatting with you

Women, football and rock'n'roll
Guest
Women, football and rock'n'roll

2016 was underrated by fans…thankfully they surprised the rock haters, and qualified. Actually, their qualifcation in 2016 was the highlight that year for me. I love this song 🙂

Pandaman
Guest
Pandaman

So… there’s seven of them. How are they going to fit in on the stage? D:

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

Very interesting choice from Georgia. Good point from Jonathan about the response to Salvador’s 2017 victory – expect to see this create more “waves” in 2018.
A bit annoying about the limit on band members – don’t know what they’re gonna do about that. Looking forward to the song.

john
Guest
john

Propably we have first non-qualificers 🙁

Joe
Guest
Joe

Lol. Not a bad group, by any means, but it could take a lot to give them that extra push. If they do badly, I’m guessing they’ll go back to a national final for 2019.