The depths of December can be a dark time for Eurovision fans, with only Festivali i Këngës to fill the long winter’s nights. Thankfully light is coming from the influx of new Christmas songs from Eurovision alumni.
So far this festive season we’ve had offerings from Melfest stars, Paula Seling, Cleo, Freddie and Maraaya (plus friends). For our next round-up, we’re travelling from one side of Europe to the other, and taking a listen to some more new Christmas tunes for you to add to your seasonal playlists just in time for the 25th.
Buranovskiye Babushki – “Novogodnyaya”
Starting off in the cold depths of Buranovo, the Buranovskiye Babushki take the ethno-pop sound of their 2012 Eurovision entry and give it a festive spin with “Novogodnyaya” (“A New Year Song”). The music video features Ded Moroz (the Slavic Father Christmas) coming to visit the Babushki and deliver their presents on New Year’s Eve.
But what could they have put on their wish lists? Bread making ingredients? A football? No, it turns out they’re getting more technically savvy. Possibly being inspired by recent Junior Eurovision performances, one receives a hoverboard. Another gets a brand new iPhone X (unfortunately Ded Moroz couldn’t afford the added selfie stick, but the Babushki seem happy to improvise with their rake).
Ovi – “Iernile”
Not to be out done by his Eurovision 2010 and 2014 duet partner, Romanian singer Ovi has released his own Christmas song, “Iernile” (“Winters”). A predominantly upbeat and jolly number, the song has the traditional flourishes of sleigh bells and festive cheer. The lyrics and chorus, on the other hand, are a bit more subdued, with Ovi singing to a lost love who used to warm up his winters: “Nights with lighted stars / Flames of happiness / The winters you stole / Although it’s a new year, I have not forgotten you”. Perhaps he could take his mind off it by joining forces with Paula once again to create the ultimate holiday tune!
NINA – “All I Want For Christmas Is You”
It’s tough to cover Mariah Carey at the best of times, let alone her Christmas classic “All I Want For Christmas Is You”. But NINA, Serbia’s 2011 representative, gives it her best shot. Sat in her festively-decorated house, NINA generally copes with the song, adding a bit of cheekiness through her facial expressions and body movement. Knowing her limits, there’s no attempt at the classic ‘Mariah high note’, but we can’t help wonder if this song is better suited to the likes of Lindita and the other Albanian divas on show at Festivali i Këngës. (Speaking of which…)
Elhaida Dani – “Sugar Wings”
After finishing second and earning the Critic’s Award at Kënga Magjike 2017 with “E Ngrire”, releasing an English language version of the entry (“Amazing”), plus featuring as a special guest at the first semi-final of FiK 56, you could have forgiven Elhaida for taking a rest and starting her Christmas holidays early. But instead she’s giving her fans one more gift in 2017 with “Sugar Wings”.
The “I’m Alive” hit maker takes things down a notch for her latest. The start of the song sees Elhaida only accompanied by a ukulele, making it sound like an acoustic session. The song eventually builds with added strings and percussion, but possibly a bit too late and with not enough impact to help it move away from sounding like Elhaida and friends just recorded a random jam session.
Maraaya – “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”
Maraaya have certainly been getting into the Christmas spirit this year. After covering “Winter Wonderland” and “White Christmas”, they’ve now turned their attention to another classic, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”. The video is a similar affair to the others – Slovenia’s 2015 duo frolicking around their festively-decked abode. Marjetka adds a playful twist to the song with her sultry vocals and glances towards the camera. Meanwhile Ray is once again tinkering away on the glockenspiel and sleigh bells in an appropriately themed festive jumper.
There’s not much to add that hasn’t been said for their previous efforts. But we wouldn’t be against getting a full-length Christmas album from them in 2018.
Martina Bárta – “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”
Maraaya aren’t the only ones taking on the Judy Garland classic, the Czech Republic’s 2017 entrant Martina Bárta is also putting her own spin on it. As with “My Turn”, Martina makes the song a more jazzy affair, fit with flugelhorn solo. But despite the instruments, it’s Martina’s vocals that are the centre of attention, oozing richness and texture.
The music video switches between Martina in the recording studio, on a brown leather sofa and wandering the festively-lit streets of Berlin. A perfect song to warm yourself up with on these cold winter nights; if you like a slightly different approach to your Christmas songs, then this may the one for you.
Emmelie de Forest – “Mary Did You Know?”
Following her musical comeback with “Sanctuary” at the start of December, Emmelie de Forest is finishing the year off by covering Mark Lowry’s “Mary Did You Know?”. Sat at home with her guitar, the Eurovision 2013 winner comfortably tackles the song, keeping it subtle and understated throughout. While the camera motion is slightly distracting at times (with the holder seemingly wanting us to focus on a decorative bearded gnome rather than the performance), Emmelie’s vocals manage to keep our attention throughout. We’re looking forward to what she’s got in store for us in the new year!
Loïc Nottet – “Go To Sleep”
After going on a Halloween rampage in “Doctor”, Loïc Nottet has regained sanity for his latest holiday-themed song. “Go To Sleep” sees the Eurovision 2015 star comforting his loved one and singing a gentle Christmas lullaby: “I know the dreamer lies within / Let’s wish to fly / Just you and I / So close your eyes to stop your cries / Baby go to sleep”. The song has the Sia flairs so often seen in Loïc’s work, being reminiscent of songs such as “Snowflake” off the Australian’s recent Christmas LP – yet it is still pure Loïc.
The music video sees the “Rhythm Inside” singer putting the dancing skills that won him Danse avec les stars to good use – tastefully dancing with his lover in front of a simply decorated Christmas tree. If you’ve got some hyperactive kids in your family who’ve had too much sugar this Christmas, then this could be the perfect song to help them get off to sleep, as well as for you to relax too at the end of a busy Christmas Day.
The Fizz – “Home For My Heart” (ft. Rick Wakeman)
Finishing off the year of their (latest) comeback, Eurovision 1981 winners
Bucks Fizz The Fizz have teamed up with English songwriter Rick Wakeman for “Home For My Heart”, the latest release off their LP The F-Z of Pop. Lead singer Jay Aston is hoping to place her heart in the care of her lover, singing: “Where is my home, where’s my safety? / I won’t sit around and wait / for this lonely heart to break / I need commitment from you”.
While the song itself isn’t specifically Christmas related, the music video puts a more festive spin on it. We see Jay decorating her Christmas tree, before heading outside wrapped in a (hopefully faux) fur hat to sing in front of an array of LED lights. The other members of the group are also on their own, apart from Cheryl Baker, who we see glimpses of practicing for her stint on ITV’s newly revamped Dancing On Ice, and was obviously too busy to film any additional scenes for the video.
Lucie Jones – “A Place Called Home” (with Freddie Tapner)
Returning to the musical theatre she was known for before Eurovision 2017, the United Kingdom’s Lucie Jones keeps her festive cover short and sweet with “A Place Called Home” from Alan Menken’s musical-adaption of A Christmas Carol. Lucie played the roles of Emily and the Ghost of Christmas Future in the production at London’s Lyceum Theatre earlier in December, starring alongside Robert Lindsay as Scrooge, and the London Musical Theatre Orchestra.
Before the show, however, the “Never Give Up On You” singer gave us a sneak peak of her song as Emily. Singing alongside pianist Freddie Tapner, Lucie’s flawless vocals shine through and, like with her Eurovision entry, she’s able to capture the emotions of the song with ease. If we only have one Christmas wish, it would be that Lucie puts her vocals towards a full Christmas album, as no doubt it would sound stunning.
Greta Salóme – “Síðustu jól” (ft. Sverrir Bergmann)
Finally reaching the west side of Europe, Iceland 2012 and 2016 fan-favourite Greta Salóme has joined forces with Sverrir Bergmann on “Síðustu jól” (“Last Christmas”). The song begins with Greta working her violin skills, before going into a slightly dark and mysterious Christmas ballad, with Greta and Sverrir singing about sharing Christmas with each other last year: “Last Christmas / Then in the dark sun was burning / in the frost we found / a warm place we stood two / and stumbling blocks in questioning eyes / about last christmas”.
While perhaps not reaching the heights of “Af álfum” – possibly one of Iceland’s best Christmas offerings by Eurovision alumni – “Síðustu jól” still has a charm to it, and would sit nicely on any Christmas playlist.
Páll Óskar – “Jólin alls staðar” (with Katrín Halldóra)
Greta’s not alone in bringing us some Christmas cheer from Iceland. Eurovision 1997 representative Páll Óskar has teamed up with Katrín Halldóra to bring us their take on the Icelandic classic “Jólin alls staðar” (“Christmas Everywhere”), originally composed by Jón Sigurðsson and Jóhanna G. Erlingsson in 1964.
Singing from Reykjavik’s Borgarleikhúsið theatre, where Páll will be playing Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Show in 2018, the duo take us back to the 60’s with their styling and character. A simple and beautiful ballad, “Jólin alls staðar” is a truly festive piece – perfect for after the shenanigans of Christmas Day, and when you’re ready to settle down with a blanket and a good book.
Special Mention – Sirusho
Although Sirusho hasn’t released her own Christmas song, she’s still been out spreading some Christmas joy. The video below sees Armenia’s 2008 diva travelling across the country to deliver presents to her unsuspecting fans. While this is partly in aid to promote her Pregomesh jewellery line, we’re willing to look past the product advertising due to the pure delight that she puts on each individual’s face by taking the time to go and distribute the presents herself – this is what Christmas is all about y’all!
The song playing underneath the video is Syuzan Margaryan’s “Dzmer Pap”, which was written by Sirusho.
So, what do you think of these latest Christmas offerings? Will you be adding any to your festive playlists? Are there any other holiday songs from Eurovision alumni that we’ve missed? Let us know everything in the comments below!