In our never ending bid to overcome PED (Post Eurovision Depression), we continue our Wednesday Wishlist series. If you missed the previous lists click here. The premise is simple – for the next few Wednesdays our correspondents from across the world will be bringing you their ultimate choices for Austria 2015. 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, although after last week’s accidental mix-up, we begin with Moldova instead of Monaco and work through to San Marino.
Moldova: Ionel Istrati
Bogdan: Yes, the Epic Sax Guy may have been a worldwide hit, but Moldova actually tend to be more successful and memorable at Eurovision when they draw inspiration from their traditional music. Whether they send a grandma beating the drum, an invitation to dance the hora, or a sexy man with a trumpet innuendo, the ethnic flare has it all: original sound, joyfulness and infectious rhythms. Six time national finalist Doinita Gherman, immediately springs to mind, but I’d rather see a guy, namely Ionel Istrati, take to the big stage. He is good looking, has a great voice, his English is alright (as attested by his 2014 hit “Wake Me Up”) and a song like “Eu numai, numai (I Only, Only)” would be perfect (And look! Sultry girls washing laundry by the river! Ring any bells?).
Montenegro: Dado Polumenta
Sami: After spending years throwing all sorts at the contest – from cringy political raps to space-age dubstep – Montenegro finally reached the Saturday night show in 2014, with a traditional Balkan ballad. Unfortunately, just like “Moj Svijet”, their march towards victory came to an abrupt halt, as they languished in the lower echelons of the scoreboard. But now that they’ve experienced the thrills of the final, they’ll be seeking something capable of a much higher placing next time. Perhaps some pop? Sung by Dado Polumenta? The 31 year old has been singing for years, starting out in 2000, with the release of his debut album. Since then he’s won many awards in his homeland, and become the Montenegrin King of Youtube; all his videos have racked up millions of views. His deep voice would suit tons of different genres, making him a great choice for 2015. He would undoubtedly continue Montenegro’s new-found success at the contest.
Morocco: French Montana
Liam: Morocco’s time in Eurovision was all too brief. Like a Disney princess they came to the ball for one night only, but with no Prince Charming to award them douze points (and due to some messy political stuff) they ran off into the night never to be seen again. Their 1980 performance is fondly remembered, thanks largely to their representative on the night – the fabulous Samira Said. If they were ever to return they’d need to bring someone capable of leaving just as big an impact. I think the Moroccan born American rapper French Montana would be perfect. Rap may not have the best record in Eurovision, but that would all change if French ended up in Austria. He’s a multi talented entrepreneur, founding his own record label, and is fluent in English, Arabic and French. And in his spare time he even finds time (reportedly) to court Khloé of the Kardashian clan. Granted he would have to tone things down a bit. The clip below is one of his tamer tracks, but is still laden with expletives. Proceed with caution.
Netherlands: Lisa Lois
Daphne: After the great Eurovision successes of 2013 and 2014, the Netherlands have high expectations to live up to. So, what other musical delights do the Dutchies have to offer us? As it turns out a lot! But my choice would be Wageningen born Lisa Lois. Her solo-career started in 2009, when she won the Dutch X Factor with Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”. Her deep, emotion filled voice made her a fan favourite, and that same year she launched her platinum selling debut-album, “Smoke”. She released a follow up in 2013, which spawned the smash hit single “Silhouette”. The Netherlands couldn’t really go wrong with her: a decent voice (check out her a capella version of “Euphoria”) and, most importantly, quality music. Based on recent contests, that’s all they need.
Norway: Astrid Smeplass
Colin: With 11 last places and two non-qualifications, Norway isn’t exactly the most successful country in Eurovision history. But that’s over a period of 54 years – recently they’ve actually performed extremely well! In 2009 “Fairytale” set tons of new records, and for the last two contests they have finished in the top ten. One person who could keep this momentum going is Astrid Smeplass. She became famous on Norwegian Idol. But she doesn’t just sing. One week each contestant had to write and perform their own song. “Shattered” was born, and brought Astrid to the top of the Norwegian charts. She could do the same again at Eurovision.
Poland: Sylwia Grzeszczak
Jason: Poland fully utilised its best (ahem) assets this year and achieved one of its best ever results. So what next? We know that Doda, the fan favourite, would undoubtedly impress on the Eurovision stage with a seXXXed-up powerhouse performance. However, if it wants to secure its first win, Poland should change direction, in order to keep things fresh and interesting. Step forward Sylwia Grzeszczak, the talented singer-songwriter who placed second (behind Doda) in a poll over at Dziennik Eurowizynj, which asked Polish Eurovision fans to choose their ideal entry. Sylwia just missed out on the finals of the fourth series of Idol at the tender age of 15, but it was her collaboration on the album “Ona i On (She and He)” with the rapper Liber in 2008 that launched her career. Six years on and four Polish number ones under her belt, her popularity hasn’t waned. With a sound somewhere between Sara Bareilles and Christina Perri, it’s not hard to imagine Sylwia storming to victory for Poland with a raw, stirring ballad.
Patrick: If there was an award for the most underrated country at Eurovision, Portugal would have to win. Every year they send decent songs, but almost always end up in the bottom five, and that’s only if they break out of the semis. Where is the Iberian nation going wrong? A major factor is their insistence on choosing songs sung in Portuguese, accompanied by traditional (and arguably dated) music. Like it or not, that’s not the way to appeal to a mass audience. It’s time to modernise. They need to send Kika. The 17-year old is a major up and coming talent and has the whole package – she’s beautiful, she can dance and, most importantly, she can sing really well. Her first hit was “Can’t Feel The Love Tonight”. If she was to send something similar to Eurovision, Portugal’s woes would soon be forgotten.
Bogdan: Romania has tried almost every recipe under the sun in an effort to win Eurovision – from popera to Latin rhythms, Balkan girls to returning veterans – but so far it has failed to impress judges and audiences alike. In my opinion, the country needs to send not just a great, charismatic singer, but also a good quality song. Inna and Alexandra Stan seem like perfect choices, but their music would not sit well with juries. Antonia, with a song like “Marabou” (originally written for Vanessa Paradis), would be a better option. Not only is she drop dead gorgeous (definitely Eurovision Next Top Model material), but the song, with its vintage sensuality, would be a hit with both the public and music professionals alike. Moreover, unlike Inna and Alexandra Stan, Antonia has failed to really skyrocket internationally and Eurovision would be the perfect launch pad for her.
Russia: Natasha Koroleva
David: Natasha Koroleva is easily the most talented Russian artist from the last 10 years. Her songs are great, her voice is compelling and she owns the screen. She is also incredibly versatile with a wide range of numbers that make you move. What she sings and how she emotes is simply perfect for Eurovision. She may not be a guaranteed win, but she would definitely be a heavy favourite.
San Marino: Michele Perniola
Patrick: Eurovision is a tough gig, especially if you never reach the final. For too long San Marino knew the pain all too well. But then in 2014, Valentina Monetta climbed inside a giant oyster shell and, well you know the rest… the little nation’s biggest dream was finally realised. The microstate tasted success and liked it! But there’s a problem, with such a tiny talent pool, it’s gonna be hard to choose a worthy successor to Val (there’s a reason she was sent three times). But not impossible. The insanely talented Michele Perniola, who represented the country in last year’s Junior Eurovision, will turn 16 in September and become officially eligible to sing with the grown ups next May. Despite the final result, his JESC entry “O-o-O Sole intorno a me” was really strong. Ralph Siegel (he seems to love the place) could even sprinkle a little magic and help produce a song capable of snagging the glass microphone for the San Marinese.
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 for the last post in the series, where we’ll reveal our choices for Serbia through to the United Kingdom.