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. 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 Vienna 2015. 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 Albania and working through to Croatia.
Padraig: When it comes to Eurovision entries Albania seems to be stuck in a time warp. While they regularly send extremely talented singers, their song choices are rarely cutting edge, or even of this century. If Albania want to succeed they’ll need to spice things up and take risks. Step forward Bleona. Nicknamed the “Madonna of Albania”, she is one of the country’s biggest musical exports. Her music career began in 2003, with the release of her debut album “You Weren’t Man Enough for Me”. It was an instant best seller and spawned a European-wide tour. Further albums followed, earning her several awards. In 2009, she waved goodbye to her homeland and set up base in the US, working with some of music’s biggest names, including Timbaland. She has also headlined Las Vegas Pride, so she’s well prepared for the high campery of Eurovision should she ever choose to go.
Andorra: Patxi Leiva
Robyn: From the mountaintop microstate of Andorra comes musician Patxi Leiva. As an introduction you should take a listen to his charity single “El Ritmo (Rhythm)”. The song does indeed bring some sunny Mediterranean rhythms, and the Spanish lyrics feature a multilingual chorus – all in the best Eurovision tradition. Furry hunk Patxi is a good songwriter and performer and would be a perfect match for the Eurovision stage, should Andorra fancy returning. And I think they should.
Armenia: Iveta Mukuchyan
Loosine: The 2014 contest may have only finished two months ago, but already Iveta Mukuchyan’s fans want to see her in Vienna next year and have even set up a dedicated Facebook fan page. Her first foray with fame came in 2010, when she particiapated in the fourth season of the “Hay Superstar” competition, coming fifth. She was also a contestant on the second season of “The Voice of Germany”, where she performed a cover of Loreen’s “Euphoria”. The lady doesn’t just sing. She’s got the looks too and in December 2012 she was named the sexiest Armenian by El Style magazine. As for the Eurovision rumours, last May she wrote “perhaps I’ll go next year ………….”
Austria: Andreas Gabalier
Patrick: When we hear Austria and Eurovision in the same sentence we think about a bearded lady who brought the Song Contest back to the Alpine country after 48 years. But who should they send when they host the event? I think the best choice would be Andreas Gabalier. The Styrian singer is one of Austria’s most successful artists, with several music prizes to his name. He’s known as the folk-rock’n roller and with his rocky voice and traditional influences he really invokes the spirit of the country. Andreas has had a lot of funky number ones over the years but his song “Amoi seg ma uns wieda”, which is based on the tragic story of his dad and sister, who both committed suicide, is a wonderful slow song which lets you dream. Listen and enjoy!
Padraig: If anything is to be learnt from Dilara’s poor showing in Copenhagnen, it’s that Azerbaijan thrive on spectacle. When they pare things back, the Land of Fire fails to light up. And so who better to restore some Azeri pride than Emin? The man is already familiar with the contest, having performed during the 2012 interval in Baku. On that occasion he proved to be no stranger to pageantry and extravagance as he entered the arena via the roof. Since then, he’s kept himself busy releasing several hits and winning a World Music Award. He even managed to tame the notorious Ukrainian singer Svetlana Loboda – if he can handle her he’s definitely ready for Eurovision.
Francheska: I would love to see Nuteki rock the Eurovision stage. The band has been a strong contender in the Belarussian National Finals, placing 4th in 2014 and 2nd in 2013. The only problem is that Belarussian rock bands have not had that much luck at ESC (cough cough Litesound). Yet, Nuteki has a sound which is more sophisticated, with an ability to break out of the standard pop-rock genre. They went more EDM in 2013 and heavy rock in 2014, showing versatility. With a proper song and staging, they could have a great deal of potential. Eurovision may not be the most rock-friendly place, but it can be very accommodating (see: Finland this year and 2006) when the right song comes around.
Katie: We put him forward as a potential Eurovision artist in 2013, and one year on we still want him. Paul Van Haver, or as he’s better known, Stromae, first achieved European success with his 2010 single “Alors on Danse” and trust me, it’s a good one. He’s collaborated with the likes of The Black Eyed Peas and Kanye West and been nominated for a load of awards. After a few quiet years, Stromae came back with a bang last summer with “Papaoutai”. The dance anthem and the unique music video became one of the biggest hits of 2014. Wouldn’t he be perfect for Eurovision? He’s unique, he’s successful and he knows how to make a bloody good tune! If any of the Belgian broadcasters are reading… Please make this happen!
Bosnia & Herzegovina: Neda Ukraden
Mario: During the seventies and eighties Neda Ukraden was a big name all across the former Yugoslavia. And her career is still going strong today, mostly because her recent releases are extremely club friendly. Although she’s 64 next month, she has a unique style and attitude which would shame many of her younger rivals. Her music style is pop with folk and/or techno elements, which could work well at Eurovision if performed with quality production. She was born in Croatia, and currently resides in Serbia, which would be a big plus for Bosnia & Herzegovina if these countries announce their comeback.
Sinan: Petya Koleva Ivanova, best know by her stage name, Preslava, is one of Bulgaria’s foremost singers, and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that she is the queen of both pop and folk. Ever since she released her debut in 2004, she has dominated the Bulgarian music scene. She has released six albums, and in the process won countless awards, multiple times. Her award cabinet contains 11 Female Singer of the Year gongs, a Music Idol award and six Song of the Year titles. Surely it’s only a matter of time before she enters and wins Eurovision too.
Croatia: Franka Batelic
Mario: Franka Batelic first rose to prominence after winning the “Showtime” talent show. She’s a genre-hopping diva, and throughout her career she has gone from pop to teeny booper to house. She’s also famous in the Eurovision world; she won the OGAE festival in 2008 with her song “Ruža u Kamenu”. And according to recent polls, she is a fan favourite to represent Croatia at Eurovision. She was approached by HRT in 2013, but they ditched her in favour of Klapa S Mora (Why HRT? Why?). She’s also an LGBT ally, which is never any harm at Eurovision. The song below was released during the marriage equality referendum in Croatia.
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 Cyprus through to Hungary.