Off-season is tough for Eurovision fans. 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 for months.
Despite the sunshine, summer can be bleak. It would be easy to mope until November, but the wiwibloggs team has a better plan. It’s time to dream!
For the next few Wednesdays our correspondents from across the world will be bringing you their ultimate wishlist for Portugal 2018. And as this is all fantasy, we’ll also be taking a look at absentee countries, both long and short term. Because in our ideal contest everyone comes to the party.
To make sure that no one gets left out, we’ll be going through countries in alphabetical order, so this week we’re starting with Albania and working through to Bulgaria.
Albania: Elvana Gjata
Erdi: Like so many modern popstars, Elvana Gjata’s career began on a TV talent show. In 2005 she appeared on Ethet, Albania’s answer to Idol. Shortly after she released her debut single “Te kam xhan” (You’re My Love), which she also entered into that year’s Kenga Magjike — basically, Festivali i Kenges’ trendier rival. Skip forward almost a decade and she’d reached superstar status as “Puthe” (Kiss) became the song of summer 2014. Just last month she dropped her latest effort “Forever Is Over”. It’s produced by a certain David Guetta, you may have heard of him… Oddly, despite her fondness for competitive singing, Elvana has never tried out for Eurovision. Perhaps 2018 could be the year that changes.
Andorra: Lluís Cartes
Luis: Will Andorra ever come back to Eurovision? As a Catalan speaker, I’ve mulled over the possibility for years. But it doesn’t seem likely. Sigh! In case they ever do, the Andorrans have a considerable range of musicians at their disposal — at least relative to the size of the country. Lluís Cartes is one of them. He actually competed in the microstate’s 2009 national final, finishing second behind Susanne Georgi. He returned to the public eye some years later when his song “El teu tresor” featured on the soundtrack of a popular TV series. Back to today, Lluís (I promise I haven’t picked him because he’s my namesake) has just released a new album. Here’s his latest single “Diuen, diuen…”.
Antranig: For the last two years, Armenia has developed a Eurovision niche with fierce female vocalists and unique songs. Its strength is putting forward performers who can not only sing but can also put on an epic show. Another Armenian female who checks those boxes is Srbuhi “Srbuk” Sargsyan, as demonstrated by her debut single “Yete Karogh Es” (If You Can). The runner-up from the inaugural X Factor Armenia dances across multiple genres and delivers a nostalgic blast from the past music video. No doubt Srbuk would put on an amazing stage show and that’s why Armenia needs to send her to Eurovision.
Australia: Tkay Maidza
Sebastian: Singer, songwriter and rapper. Tkay Maidza is a triple threat. Cut from a different cloth to the vocal powerhouses Australia usually sends to Eurovision, Tkay burst onto the hip-hop scene in 2013 with “Brontosaurus”. She’s since supported Rita Ora and Charli XCX on tour. A versatile vocalist who blends hip hop with electro-ballad sounds, Tkay released her self-titled debut album Tkay in 2016. It peaked at number 20 on the Australian Record Industry Association charts. Last year, Tkay made inroads into the European music scene, featuring on French DJ Martin Solveig’s summer hit “Do It Right” – which charted across nine European countries, reaching 19 in Belgium. This pocket-rocket brings an evolving sound and pure sass seldom seen on the Eurovision stage.
Austria: Anna F
Patrick: The nul points from the televote really dented Austria’s pride in Kyiv. But I’m sure that Anna F would easily avoid a similar fate. The 32 year-old singer songwriter from Styria is in the business a few years now. She first rose to fame in 2009 with “Time Stands Still”. She then travelled to the US to work on songs for her first album. She toured with Lenny Kravitz and later James Blunt. The closest she’s come to Eurovision was in 2015 when she acted as a coach during the national selection. I say it’s now her turn to enter herself and do Austria proud.
Mikhail: He’s rapidly gaining popularity all over the world. But Vugarixx is actually a DJ and music producer rather than a singer. His sound is current, yet he’s not afraid to experiment. Though his inspiration to become a DJ came from listening to Swedish House Mafia, he loves to mess around with different genres and try something new. We’ve already seen guys like this at Eurovision — Raay from Maraaya and JOWST, for instance. With Azerbaijan continuing to mix things up in the contest, maybe it’s only a matter of time before we hear Vugarixx collaborate with an exciting singer.
Belarus: Max Korzh
Dayana: Despite their low placing in the final, Belarus was a pleasant surprise for Eurovision 2017 viewers. What made NAVIBAND’s performance stand out was their vibrant sound and the sincerity of their delivery. And my wishlist choice Max Korzh possesses the same qualities. This Belarusian singer-songwriter quit university in 2012 to focus on his music career. He borrowed $300 from his mom to fund his very first single, which he later posted on the VKontakte social network site. “Nebo pomozhet nam” (The Sky Will Help Us) became a massive hit, not only in Max’ native Belarus, but also in Russia and right across the post-Soviet region. The success continued with each of his follow-up releases, which are all in Russian. He’s racked up millions of YouTube views and won oodles of awards. Could the famous glass microphone be next?
Belgium: Lea Rue
Renske: Belgium has gone from strength to strength in recent years, sending young up-and-coming artists like Loïc Nottet, Laura Tesoro and Blanche. For 2018, the Flemish broadcaster should continue the trend and select Lea Rue. She competed on the third series of The Voice van Vlaanderen, joining Axelle Red’s team. Afterwards, she released her first single “I Can’t Say No” which charted in both Belgium and Norway. Her silky vocals also featured on some tracks and performances with Lost Frequencies (our choice for last year’s wishlist).
Bosnia and Herzegovina: Amel Curic
Jovana: First coming to regional media attention two years ago, Amel Curcic won the second season of X Factor Adria. Amel wowed the Balkan audience with his powerful vocals and ability to perform literally every genre of music. He previously won the OBN Music Talents show back in 2003 and recorded one studio album. Since his X Factor victory, Amel has released several singles, including a duet with the regional pop star Emina Jahovic. His voice and presence are just the right ingredients to create a Eurovision explosion.
Bulgaria: Mihaela Marinova
Jordi: After a sensational silver place in Kyiv, Bulgaria will be hungry to win Eurovision 2018. And Mihaela Marinova would be a great choice to continue the country’s amazing recent record at the contest. Like Kristian, she also comes from the X Factor series, finishing third in 2014. Despite not winning, she rose to instant fame, enjoying many chart hits, including “Stapka Napred” (Step Forward) – the most played song on Bulgarian television and radio in 2015. She’s a woman of many talents: from rap to R&B to dubstep, all in one song. Fresh, young and contemporary, Mihaela screams Eurovision and we’re ready for another Queen Marinova!
What do y’all think? Have we chosen the best of the best? Or would you have chosen differently? As always, let us know below.