Forgotten, overshadowed and often, sneakily hidden, the backing vocalist at Eurovision has seen their profile remorselessly reduced on the Contest stage to the point where by 2013, fully hiding the backing vocalists altogether is an accepted part of the Contest. While there’s nothing wrong with having a backing vocalists, there’s something rankling about hiding them and trying to give off the impression that a singer is more vocally impressive than they actually are. Unfortunately for the delegations, you can’t avoid backing singers getting caught in some camera angles, wherever you stash them. Not content with this shameful state of affairs, WiwiBloggs is about to name-and-shame the Top 10 hidden vocalists since 2008, whether they carried the song, offered little to it, or supported singers you didn’t realise even had the help.
10: Ani Lorak, ‘Shady Lady’ (Ukraine, 2008)
The shame! A personal darling of Team Wiwi is guilty of one of Eurovision’s ultimate crimes. Positioned stage-left, next to the light-up box that was the centrepiece of Ani’s staging is a backing vocalist who bears more than a passing resemblance to Esma from Macedonia’s 2013 entry. Relegated to offering her voice to the chorus, and singing the alternate lines in the bridge, you can’t help but feel sorry for her being outshone by the tour de force that was Ani Lorak that night in Belgrade.
9: Eric Saade, ‘Popular’ (Sweden, 2011)
These two poor sods weren’t even allowed to make eye contact with the rest of the action going on, on stage! At about the 1:30 mark they actually get to turn forward, but for most of the song they get absolutely nil attention for carrying Eric through it vocally, while the leather-clad backing dancers take all the credit for the backing vocal and Eric looks pretty and smashes glass. Be ashamed Mr Saade, be very ashamed.
8: Blue, ‘I Can’ (United Kingdom, 2011)
Oh dear lord. The vocal difficulties of Blue in Dusseldorf, mainly centring on Anthony Costa having been incapable of singing for the entire three minutes, have been much commented on the blog already, but even more embarrassing is that they had help! Two backing singers on the left-hand side that got completely ignored were clearly flailing under the weight of vocal challenge and eventually buckled under the weight of Lee Ryan’s failed high note, Simon Webbe’s incessant yelling and Duncan James’s croaky voice. Why did I ever think they were going to win in 2011…
7: Sirusho, ‘Qele Qele’ (Armenia, 2008)
She seemed so vocally perfect. Yerevan’s shining Eurovision star. The hold up example of how Armenia can do well at Eurovision. Their fantastic fourth place femme fatale. Except she’s a fraud. Towering vocalist she might be, but she wasn’t doing it without help in Belgrade. Off to the left, skulking out of sight is a couple of backing singers. She has an excellent pair of lungs on her, but they aren’t excellent enough to pull of ‘Qele Qele’ solo. Fortunately she has a trio of hunky backing dancers to distract us from those shadowy backing singers.
6: Anggun, ‘Echo (You and I)’ (France, 2012)
The gymnasts were there to distract for a reason – Anggun had two lovely ladies hidden behind her helping her through the song! The staging was definitely not fab, but Anggun I don’t know why you felt the need to hide the backing vocalists girl: we know you can sing. You also delivered a pretty confident vocal – you didn’t see Nina Zilli or Pastora Soler shying away from admitting they were getting help on the stage, you ought to have followed the Big 5 example and flagged them up to us honey!
5: Sakis Rouvas, ‘This Is Our Night’ (Greece, 2009)
There was no way anyone was going to steal Sakis’s renewed thunder in Moscow in 2009, even if it meant putting his backing singer off to stage right to vocally carry the song. Busy moving his arms like an octopus, leaving us all wondering why he was riding a giant stapler like it was some majestic beast and who in Athens thought an all white outfit on a man was good idea, Sakis didn’t have time to actually bother singing – he was being far too energetic for that. So thank goodness for that man tucked away to the side. I shudder to think what things would have sounded like if we’d deprived Sakis of it.
4: Ivi Adamou, ‘La La Love’ (Cyprus, 2012)
Ivi didn’t match up to the recorded version, and none of us really thought she would as we approached Baku. But her vocal wasn’t actually half bad. It was lower and less vocally…flawless, but the only truly bizarre thing was how manly she sounded at the end of the bridge when she yelled, “HEY, HEY, HEY!” The real reason Ivi turned into a werewolf and her voice plummeted a few thousand octaves? Her backing singer was a guy y’all!
3: Dustin The Turkey, ‘Irelande Douze Points’ (Ireland, 2008)
Ah, thank goodness for Irish insanity! This doesn’t strictly fit the theme since these are possibly the most visible backing vocalists ever, but they are more than deserving of a mention. If only Dustin had actually made it to the Grand Final. The year’s novelty act, while Dustin’s rapping was hilarious, his backing vocalists really carried the song, adding to the high camp and general chaos of the staging. The tasteful carnival decorations are possibly the greatest part of their outfits, and you have to commend the backing vocalists for actually delivering a fairly competent and well put together vocal, considering the insanity and ridiculous nature of the act they were supporting.
2: Nodi & Sophie, ‘Waterfall’ (Georgia, 2013)
Alongside their most notorious crimes of ripping off Pastora Soler’s song, stealing Ell & Nikki’s staging and delivering a dreadful duet, Nodi & Sophie also roped in backing vocalists that aren’t quite hidden on the Malmö stage. For what was meant to be such a classy entry and well executed, it’s a cheap trick to stash backing vocalists off stage. This should have been a glorious return to the final. If Georgia were so intent on emulating Ell & Nikki and Pastora they should have followed their example and let your backing vocalists share in the spotlight.
1: Eleftheria Eleftheriou, ‘Aphrodisiac’ (Greece, 2012)
It is genuinely impossible to tell how much Eleftheria is actually singing. The backing vocalists microphone is turned up so loud that Eleftheria’s basically lip-synching, as she did at the National Final, for the whole time she’s on stage. That’s not to say Eleftheria’s doing nothing on stage. She has the head-shaking cranked up a few notches from Kalomira’s performance and there’s a lot more choreography to master, but we should at least be able to tell when the singer’s actually…you know…singing.
So what do you all think? Are there sneakier backing vocalists out there that have appeared since 2009? Don’t see someone you think should be shamed? Since my familiarity with entrants pre-2008 is ropey, if you can go back further please do offer suggestions. Comment away peeps!