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 Moldova and working through to Russia.
Moldova: Nicoleta Nuca
Edd: I’m sorry to all you fans of quirky Moldovan trumpet-pop, but this is someone I need to share with y’all. Young, beautiful, and possibly the best vocalist in the whole of Moldova, here is Nicoleta Nuca. She burst on to the scene during last year’s X Factor Romania, emerging as a frontrunner to win the whole thing. Alas, she finished a disappointing fifth. Despite that, her debut single, “Nu Stunt” (which was Moldova’s wiwivision entry), became a mega-hit. What’s most important, though, is that you watch the video, which boasts an impressive 10 million plus hits. The vocal experimentation, striking image, euphoric violins – who does it remind you of? That’s right ladies and gentlemen, we may have just found ourselves a Moldovan Loreen. Get in there quick Thomas G:Son!
Last time we chose: Ionel Istrati
Monaco: Josh Stanley
Robyn: Monaco might be a tiny principality, but they’re really into music. Monaco won Eurovision in 1971, Princess Stephanie had a pop career in the ’80s, and the seaside nation hosts the annual World Music Awards. Despite this, the country doesn’t exactly have a thriving local music scene – but there are still artists out there. One is young singer Josh Stanley. He’s a cross between Leonard Cohen, Rambo Amadeus, Justin Bieber and Serge Gainsbourg (yup), with a distinct husky sprechgesang style. He’s not afraid to tackle political issues or just have a good time. “First Kiss” pairs him up with young singer Omara for a more successful go at a Michele-and-Anita style twosome. Give him the right song, and the time could be right for the Monacan magic to return to the ‘Vision.
Last time we chose: Vlad Scala
Montenegro: Anita Popovic
Dayana: Montenegro has been quite successful recently, with Sergej Cetkovic and Knez finally getting the country into the final. With seven entries in total, only two ladies have had the honour to represent the Balkan nation at Eurovision – Andrea Demirovic and Nina Zizic (with Who See). Maybe it’s time for another female singer. Montenegro definitely has a woman capable of the job – Anita Popovic. She’s not hugely famous compared to other Montenegrin artists, but gurl is talented! All her singles have that unique Balkan feel, which is always a points magnet at Eurovision these days. Maybe Anita could break her predecessor’s record (13th place) and take Montenegro even higher?
Last time we chose: Dado Polumenta
Morocco: Saad Lamjarred
Zakaria: If Morocco ever returns to the contest, it would undoubtedly send one of its biggest names. And if this comeback is to happen in 2016, Saad Lamjarred is the country’s biggest star. His songs could be described as a mix of pop and Moroccan-Arabic sounds which make them instantly catchy and very different from what we are used to hearing. He was first introduced to the public thanks to a show called Superstar, where he earned second place and superstardom across the Arab World. Back in 2014, he was nominated for a MTV Europe Music Award and lately he has received a Guiness World Record for garnering more than 100 million views on a single video. Actually, I can’t think of a more popular and appropriate possible representative for Morocco… should we ever come back.
Last time we chose: French Montana
Mike: Doton is one of the Netherlands’ biggest artists right now. His single “Home” reached number two in the charts, and his latest release, “Hungry”, was a massive hit too. Later this year he will sing in the Ziggo Dome, one of the Netherlands’ biggest concert halls – the show is completely sold out. That could be good practice for a certain song contest! And he’s already a pro at the media game. He’s always top of the annual rumour mill, maybe 2016 is the time he’ll hop off it onto the actual Eurovision stage.
Last time we chose: Lisa Lois
Norway: Alejandro Fuentes
Renske: Considering it holds the record for the most nil points, Norway has done quite well of late. Their most successful representatives in recent history were Margaret Berger, Alexander Rybak and Maria Haukaas Storeng. And those three have one thing in common: they all started their careers on the Norwegian version of Pop Idol. So did Alejandro Fuentes. Born in Chile in 1987, he grew up in Norway. Sounds alot like the story of the guy with the similar name, right? In 2005 he competed on Idol, coming third. His debut album “Diamonds or Pearls” achieved gold certification and the single “Stars” topped the Norwegian charts. Together with World Idol winner Kurt Nilsen, Espen Lind and Askil Holm he scored a massive hit with a cover version of “Hallelujah” (not the Milk & Honey song, but Leonard Cohen’s one). And he keeps making good music to this day. Just take a listen.
Last time we chose: Astrid Smeplass
Jason: Apart from its 1994 debut with the fantastic “To nie ja“, Poland hasn’t exactly dominated Eurovision. Only two of its eighteen entries have made the top ten and six have failed to qualify. Boo! But as always, I have another amazing suggestion (*cough* Sylwia Grzeszczak, Michal Szpak) for TVP, the Polish broadcaster. Could I make it any easier? Marta Markiewicz – aka Sarsa – is a singer/songwriter best known for her participation on season five of the Voice of Poland. Unfortunately, she was forced to withdraw just two weeks before the final due to health reasons. This year Sarsa smashed back onto the music scene with the single “Naucz mnie (Teach Me)” which stayed at number one on the Polish airplay chart for six weeks and boasts over 23 million views on YouTube. It’s blindingly obvious that this girl is bursting with creativity, just check out the funky video for her newest single “Indiana” (somebody please think of the goldfish!). Poland needs to bring something totally fresh and unexpected to Stockholm. Sarsa is the perfect choice! Is it too early to think Warszawa 2017?
Last time we chose: Sylwia Grzeszczak
Portugal: Amor Electro
Luis: Portugal isn’t exactly the luckiest country when it comes to Eurovision, but there are ways in which they can take advantage of the unfortunate statistics. When you’ve got nothing to lose, you can be as experimental as you want. And that’s what Amor Electro, one of Portugal’s main indie bands, are all about. Their music is intense, and might even seem aggressive, although that’s the source of their appeal. Lead vocalist Marisa provides a very personal yet familiar voice, like a lower tuned Marjetka from Maraaya. Plus, to all devoted Portugal fans, with each of their compositions, we get plenty of coração, a spoonful of accordion and synthesizers blended with strong percussion which, all together transports you to Lisbon’s Vasco Da Gama bridge on a cloudy day at dusk, while you saudadely stare at the Atlantic Ocean. Toma-me, ó noite eterna…
Last time we chose: Kika
Romania: Alina Eremia
Max Edwards: Unless Paula and Ovi decide to return to the Eurovision stage for a third time (which I would wholeheartedly recommend), I’d advise that Romania send 21-year old Alina Eremia to Stockholm. She finished fifth in the 2005 Junior Contest with “Turai”, so has some valuable experience of EBU contests. In the years since, she has accumulated a large fan base in her home country with a string of popular singles (including last year’s “Cum se face” which has over 25 million YouTube views) and an appearance on Romania’s Dancing with the Stars in 2014. Her recent releases demonstrate that she is ready for the adult contest. Stockholm 2016 offers the perfect opportunity for her to re-acquaint herself with the Eurovision stage and broaden her audience. A song like the recently-released “You” should do the trick.
Last time we chose: Antonia
Russia: Sergey Lazarev
Mikhail: Sergey is one of the most famous artists in Russia. Compared to other artists from the country, he’s in a league of his own. His songs are modern, while his music videos are effectively short films. The fact that he sings in both Russian and English, is the cherry on top. Lazarev is an amazing performer, and it seems he was born for the stage. Back in 2008, he entered the Russian national selection with “Flyer”. Of course, Dima Bilan beat him and the rest is history. But maybe 2016 is his time. He has the interest, the voice, the passion… everything! What are you waiting for Russia? Send him for the win!
Last time we chose: Natasha Koroleva
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 San Marino through to the United Kingdom.