Arash – “Dooset Daram” (ft. Helena)
Before he teamed up with global superstars Nyusha and Pitbull on his world cup anthem, Iranian-Swedish singer, and one half of Azerbaijan’s 2009 Eurovision entry, Arash released “Dooset Daram” (“I Love You”) in January. While perhaps best known for his upbeat songs, this release, featuring the vocals of Swedish singer Helena Josefsson, is a slower and more emotional affair. That’s not to say it’s a bad song. Quite the contrary! The music video has wracked up 44.5 million views in six months, making it the third most viewed video on Arash’s YouTube channel (only behind “OMG”, his collaboration with Snoop Dogg, and “One Day”, a previous release also featuring Helena).
Lyrically, the song sees the “Always” hitmaker searching for a loved one who has left him but that he still loves dearly: “I’m looking for your footprints in my memories every night / Wherever in the world you go to, I’ll follow you closely … I love you, I love you, stay with me”. The video takes this further and we see Arash wandering the forest as he reminisces about the time he spent with his lover, played by Ukrainian model Anna Andres. It’s revealed, however, that the couple went through a bit of turmoil that led to Anna running out of the house and unfortunately getting into a fatal car accident.
Harel Skaat – “Im Nin’Alu”
Still the only Eurovision artist to be awarded all three Marcel Bezençon Awards, Harel Skaat remains a favourite among fans with his 2010 entry ‘Milim’. But outside of helping Israel to pick their Eurovision artist as a judge on The Next Star, Harel Skaat has his own successful music career. Last year he released his fourth studio album Ahava Mesovevet Hakol (Love Turns Everything), a nice mix of pop/dance songs and emotional ballads that showcase his voice, in addition to the singles “Love Is Love” and “Between the Blankets” towards the end of the year.
For 2018 though Harel has decided to mix traditional with modern and released “Im Nin’ Alu”. The lyrics of the song stem from a Hebrew poem by 17th-century Rabbi Shalom Shabazi, which opens with the words “Even if the gates of the rich are closed, the gates of heaven will never be closed”. The poem was first set to music and sung in 1984 by Ofra Haza, Israel’s Eurovision 1983 representative. For his version Harel keeps the traditional/ethnic feel of the song but adds in modern production and a more electronic chorus. The accompanying music video sees the Eurovision 2010 star travelling on horse back to meet six spiritual dancers. They lead him to a river where they remove his shirt, displaying his toned torso, and bathe the singer in a river.
Amaya – “Concrete”
Having re-branded herself as Amaya, Slovenia’s Eurovision 2011 singer (then known as Maja Keuc) returned to the music scene in 2018 with “Concrete”. The song sees the “No One” singer talking to her loved one about how even if they break up she will still consider them perfect partners: “Regardless of the time / Will always call you mine … Cuz even if we’re over / Every time we’re sober / You know nothing’s ever gonna get between us”. Those who watched EMA 2018 will remember that Amaya performed the song for the first time in the grand-final. Shimmering in a green sparkly tracksuit, she brought attitude and choreography (both while standing and lying on the floor) to the infectious bop that would fit well into anyone’s summer track list.
Lea Sirk – “Back To Being Me”
Amaya isn’t the only Slovenian artist who’s been in the studio. 2018 representative Lea Sirk released “Back To Being Me” earlier in the year while on the promo trail for Eurovision. The upbeat number sees Lea wanting to be loved for being herself as that’s all she can be at the end of the day: “Love me, father / Love me, friend / Love me, stranger / For what I am … And it happens then I pretend to be normal / So, let’s skip the point, and try to go back to being me”. At three minutes in length the song may have potentially been another option for Lea to enter into EMA. Whether this song would have performed better for Slovenia in Lisbon is up for debate. But one thing’s for sure: the tune get’s a ‘Hvala, ja!’ from us.
Sevak Khanagyan – “Зеркала”, “Я чувствую кожей” (with Lyudmila Sokolova) and “Amena”
Another 2018 representative who hasn’t wasted any time releasing new music is Armenia’s Sevak Khanagyan. “Зеркала” (“Mirrors”) sees the singer take a more electronic route compared to his Eurovision power ballad. Nonetheless, it’s great to see Sevak show himself as a versatile performer for those who have only just come across him through the contest. In the song the “Qami” singer talks about not being drawn to become the person on the other side of the mirror if that’s not who you are: “You see, I’m not you, you’re just / A crooked reflection of my emptiness … I’m not you, you lost me / Along the way to your own nightfall”.
Sevak has also recently teamed up with Russian singer Lyudmila Sokolova on “Я чувствую кожей” (“I Feel the Skin”). Originally released by Lyudmila as a solo song earlier in the year, Sevak’s vocals add another dimension to the song. A fairly standard Russian-style ballad, it’s perhaps more suited for a lazy day in the sun rather than for a summer party playlist.
Sevak’s latest release is “Amena” (“Most”). In the song the Armenian star sings to a lover who he would do anything for: “Every morning I wake up for you … Even if it is raining, I will count the stars countless for you”. However, he knows that his partner’s love is not as unconditional as his, even if he believes he is “the most” he can be for them: “My heart knows that yours is just / Love for my moment / To my heart, I say good-bye / For me, I’m the most”. The song has a nice ethnic feel to it with the use of traditional instruments, and being fairly different to his other recent releases, Sevak once again shows his versatility when it comes to producing music.
Sara Jo – “Lava”
While her time as part of Moje 3 may have been short-lived, Sara Jo’s solo career continues to grow from strength to strength. Following 2017’s hits “Nemam vremena za to” and “Samo Ti”, the Serbian singer is back with the fiery new single “Lava”. Having been told by a boy that he wants to be “just friends”, Sara doesn’t take lightly when he starts to spread vicious rumours about her: “a b**ch, stupid, gold-digger, ugly / I became a hot topic just for your friend!” She’s ready to enact some revenge though and set things straight: “Lava is my lipstick / Lava is on my lips … It’ll burn your heart and only then melt your mind”.
Having gained 1.8 million views since its 30 May release, the music video is definitely worth a watch. Sexy, sultry, confident and ready to get her hands dirty, this Sara is the devil character we saw her as at Eurovision 2013 but turned up to 1,000! She may be having to deal with people throwing names and insults at her, but the “Ljubav je svuda” singer knows how to take control and take down those who dare to stand in her way. Sara is a great example of how a non-qualification/bad result at Eurovision doesn’t have to define your career, and why it’s worth continuing to follow those artists that didn’t make it to the top of the scoreboard.
Slavko – “El Ritmo”
Speaking of non-qualifiers who still have a certain flair, Montenegro’s Eurovision 2017 representative and The X-Factor UK contestant Slavko released “El Ritimo” earlier in the year. An English, Spanish and Serbo-Croatian multilingual number, the song jumps on the Latin-music wave that so many have over the last year. In that vain the lyrics are all about dancing the night away with that one special person in your life (and maybe going a bit further if the feeling is right): “I just want to dance with you / Your navel by my navel / Enjoying the night / Ending up in my car”. Naturally, out of all the songs in this round-up this is probably the best one to include on your summer party playlist — so get out in the sun, put on your ponytail extension and have some fun!
Which of these songs will you be adding to your playlist? Are there any artists that surprised you with their new music? Let us know in the comments below!
Sara Jo was the best! That is on a another level. Very progressive sound for that region. What a talent.
The composition for Im Nin’alu is a traditional Yemenite from hundreds of years ago. It is most identified with Ofra Haza because she was the first to record it.
In 1978, at the age of nineteen, she sang Im Nin’alu for the first time on a TV show dedicated to Jewish-Yemenite culture. Six years later she included a new version in her Album ‘Fifty Gates of Wisdom (Yemenite Songs)’ and on 1988 a new remixed version was released and topped charts all over the world.
https://youtu.be/uAO9GTQf39Y – such an amazing singer she was. Gone but never forgotten.
I definitely believe “Hvala, Ne! is a stronger song than “Back to Being Me.” “Hvala” has the mix of old school beats that made the song magical. It went from a strong New Order-influenced opening to chorus that was total Allayah! “Back to being me can’t compete with that!”
“Back to Being Me” and “Amena” are both great!
Lea Sirk also has a brand new song called “Moj profil”. Go listen to it, it’s really good!
Sara Jo’s song is on a another level. <3
Sara Jo’s look reminded me of Catrina from “Lucha Underground.” Wicked as heck!
Amaya needs to come back to eurovision .. I think she will eventually .. just internally select her now Slovenia .. she should have went to Eurovision this year with concrete
Im Nin’alu is a joke, Honestly.. Moran Mazor also released a new single. And Slavko shouldn’t allowed to sing, I mean..