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. Even wiwivision is over! 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 Stockholm 2016. 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 Bulgaria.
Albania: Bebe Rexha
Jason: Albania finally jumped into the 21st century this year with Elhaida Dani and “I’m Alive” (which is still my jam) and although the final result was disappointing, this entry represented a massive leap in the right direction. Continuing this trend for fresh, radio-friendly Albanian entries would be Bebe Rexha, the American singer/songwriter of Albanian ancestry. Bebe has penned tracks for Madonna and Selena Gomez, as well as Eminem and Rihanna’s worldwide number one “The Monster”. She’s featured on Cash Cash’s “Take Me Home” and David Guetta’s “Hey Mama”. This girl has some serious musical connections! With her distinctive voice (think Cher Lloyd and Marina Diamandis) and pop-rock-electronica sound, Bebe is very current and very different to Albania’s often out-dated selections.
Last time we chose: Bleona
Luis: Andorra haven’t been around since 2009, but we’re eagerly awaiting their comeback. To lessen the longing, here’s a proposal for the tiny microstate: Madretomasa. They are a garage band with a very American sound who can transport you to an endless road along Route 66. Guitars and melancholic voices, their style is way more laidback than anything Andorra has given us before. Remember the only band Andorra ever sent, Anonymous, got them their best result. So, why not send another one?
Last time we chose: Patxi Leiva
Armenia: Christine Pepelyan
Josh: Christine Pepelyan is serving severe Armenian realness up in this gig, y’all. She is an award winning singer with a huge following on social media. And now she has another accolade to add to her name – the Armenian representative for wiwivision 2015. Christine oozes romance and sexiness. Her voice sounds like the pearly gates from above have opened and the heavenly choirs sing. Someone pass the Harissa with a side of Christine Pepelyan because it’s time to eat it up!
Last time we chose: Iveta Mukuchyan
Australia: Delta Goodrem
Josh: Now I realise that Australia may never return to the contest again, but after the success of Guy Sebastian‘s efforts this year, I’m clinging onto every hope that we may be invited back next year. If you are after an artist that perfectly encompasses the Australian spirit, look no further than Delta Goodrem. Apart from being a very talented singer-songwriter, she is the highest-selling Australian artist of all time, has fought a battle with cancer, overcome public heartbreak, is a coach on The Voice Australia and she is stunningly beautiful. Need I say more?
Last time we chose: N/A
Patrick: After this year’s mishap, maybe Austria needs the help of a strong woman? Perhaps a warrior? Step forward Hannah. She started her career in 2013 with her debut album peaking at number eight in the charts. The folk rock’n’roller is popular for both her crazy style and the language of her songs – she sings in the Tyrolean dialect. Hannah is a fresh face and her music is known across the country. Hannah for Austria – I think that could work very well!
Last time we chose: Andreas Gabalier
Azerbaijan: Aygun Kazimova
Zakaria: This sexy 44 years old singer is the ultimate queen of pop in Azerbaijan! She’s considered one of the founders of the modern Azeri pop scene and is amongst the country’s biggest stars. Her musical career has spanned four decades, she’s released at least seven albums containing many hit singles. She even sang the official anthem of the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup held in Azerbaijan. Besides that, Aygun is renowned for her energetic live performances and eccentric music videos… Don’t you think it’s time for her to do Eurovision?
Last time we chose: Emin
Francheska: Belarus could seriously benefit from a polished act. Its recent entries, even if memorable, haven’t exactly been seamlessly executed. Vintage (or, phonetically, “Vintazh”) would be an interesting answer. With high production values and a heavy electronica influence, this group could whoop some major butt in Sweden. While the ethnic taste and violins are very well-liked, sometimes they’re just a tad too prevalent, and Vintage could bring a truly modern sound to Eurovision.
Last time we chose: Nuteki
Edit: Turns out Vintage are Russian and not Belarussian. Francheska also likes Bianca, who she selected for wiwivision. And Bianca is from Belarus. Apologies for the mix-up.
Belgium: Gabriel Rios
Padraig: In Vienna, Belgium showed us that sending an act that’s a little left-field can pay dividends. Obviously it would be silly to send a Loic clone to Sweden, but Gabriel Rios would fit the bill perfectly. His music is heavily focused on guitar and vocals, think James Morrison or Passenger except edgier. Now we know that formula can get a respectable result at Eurovision (hi Tom Dice). But sprinkle it with some electro beats and you’ve got a magical concoction that could actually win. Take a listen to “Gold”, Rios’ biggest hit, if you don’t believe me.
Last time we chose: Stromae
Bosnia & Herzegovina: Magdalena Bogic
Mario: Bosnia & Herzegovinia’s way to Eurovision may be blocked by some pretty inconvenient obstacles, but whenever the country feels ready to #JoinUs, they should bring Magdalena Bogic. She rose to fame after competing in the 2015 edition of X Factor Adria. Her audition performance of “Molitva” (below) wowed everyone – from the judges, including her mentor Zeljko Joksimovic, to regional and international audiences. Marija Serifovic even praised her publicly. Magdalena may not have won the show (another Bosnian did), but hey, fifth place isn’t bad. She has yet to release any of her own material, but if chosen internally, it’d be very interesting (and a bit risky, dare we say) to see what the state broadcaster has in store for her. Knowing the successful history of B&H in the contest, we wouldn’t be worried at all.
Last time we chose: Neda Ukraden
Bulgaria: Mihaela Fileva
Sinan: Mihaela Fileva is a household name in Bulgaria, having first rose to fame on the 2011 series of The X Factor. Despite not winning, she’s gone on to have a slew of chart hits, including number one single “Opasno Blizki”. The lady is no stranger to international contests, and has been winning them since she was a child. Bulgaria have been missing from Eurovision in recent years, and there’s no better person than Mihaela to bring them back with a bang.
Last time we chose: Preslava
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 Croatia through to Greece.