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 bring you their ultimate wishlist for Israel 2019. 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: Anxhela Peristeri
Erdi: She is one of Albania’s best known singer songwriters. And like so many artists from the country, Anxhela Peristeri has Festivali i Kenges experience, taking part in the 40th edition in 2001. Yet, despite enjoying an award-winning music career, Anxhela went on hiatus in 2007. Thankfully, her retirement proved to be temporary and she returned in 2014. Besides her one foray into FiK, Anxhela has also competed in Kenga Magjike and Top Fest. She won last year’s edition of the former, beating out Albania’s Eurovision 2015 representative Elhaida Dani. Earlier this summer, she published an Italian reworking of her winning song “E Cmendur”. This new version was entitled “Insanely In Love” and became a duet with Kastriot Tusha. Outside of Albania, Anxhela is also somewhat known in Greece, where she went after completing her studies in Tirana. While there, she entered the local edition of The X Factor.
Andorra: Marta Knight
Luis: Born near Barcelona, 19 year-old Marta Knight moved to Andorra at a young age. And it’s in the tiny principality where she has developed her music career. She’s the girl next door, your friend who learnt how to play the guitar and you’ve always thought she should become a star. Marta serves moody pop and folk tracks, delivering them with maturity in her smooth and slightly raspy voice. Her first EP Peterloo Heroes is proof of that. Think of her as Andorra’s answer to Molly Sterling (Ireland 2015). This rising star could bring Andorra their most suitable representative ever: why would a tiny landlocked country in the mountains go for an over the top show? When you visit Andorra, the feelings you get are serenity, simplicity and cosiness. And that’s exactly what Marta conveys through her music.
Armenia: Iskuhi Hovhannisyan
Antranig: After debuting in 2006, Armenia recorded five consecutive top ten finishes at Eurovision. But, despite the memorable efforts of Aram MP3 and Iveta Mukuchyan, their results this decade have been less than stellar. In 2018, Armenia failed to qualify for the grand final for only the second time. If Armenia want to find fresh success, they need to return to what they do best — good old Armenian folk-dance-pop. With the creation of the Depi Evratesil national final, Armenia have a huge pool of talent to draw upon in search of securing its first win — from the likes of Egine in 2017 to Asmik Shiroyan and Tamar Kaprelian in 2018. However, there are plenty of smaller names in the Armenian music industry capable of delivering a respectable result. One such individual is Iskuhi Hovhannisyan, who came fourth on the first season of The Voice of Armenia in 2012-13. With fierce vocals and plenty of sass, she could be starting a fuego in Israel. Her 2016 single “Hima Herte Imna” (It’s My Turn Now) demonstrates her repertoire well and would be a great way to change the formula for Armenia at Eurovision.
Australia: Anthony Callea
Sebastian: Australia’s recent entries in Eurovision have taught Australia an important lesson — a strong vocal gets you to the top. Someone who could give Dami Im a run for her money (vocally-speaking) is veteran and Idol alumni Anthony Callea. Australians and Italian-Australians have been singing his praises since 2004 with good reason (as did we in 2015). He holds several music records under his belt, with his cover of “The Prayer” being the fastest ever selling single in Australian music history. Let’s not fool ourselves — Anthony doesn’t boast the same recent chart success of previous Eurovision alumni like Guy Sebastian and Jessica Mauboy. But he’s on their music label, and his current Australian tour is getting rave reviews as he covers number one songs from the Australian music charts. Pair the singer with a carefully crafted Zeljko Joksimovic-esque ballad and Australia might just have their prayers answered.
Austria: Poptracker and ArianA
Patrick: It was the big summer hit of 2017. And 12 months on, Austria is still in love with ArianA and Poptracker’s “Hold”. The song charted in the Ö3 Austria Charts for weeks. Peaking at number two, it turned everyone’s summer into a rhythmic adventure. Ariana Schirasi-Fard is a trained stage singer and well known for playing roles in musicals like Mama Mia and West Side Story. Originally, ArianA was only recruited by Martin, one half of Poptracker, to do a demo version of “Hold”. But in the end, the demo became the single. And ArianA isn’t just a demo-singer anymore. After the success of Cesár Sampson this year, another Poptracker and ArianA collab would be the perfect entry to keep up Austria’s streak. Poptracker proved it already, when working together with Nathan Trent on his single “Won’t Let You Go”.
Chris: After their first non-qualification, Azerbaijan could look towards an experienced hand for their future participation. And there’s not many people with more experience than Manana. Born in Georgia, Manana moved to Azerbaijan in 1999 and has made a huge name for herself in the country. She’s won countless awards over her career, and also took a starring role as a judge on The Voice Azerbaijan — where she coached Azerbaijan’s 2016 entrant, Samra. More importantly for Eurovision, Manana’s music has evolved constantly throughout the years; she’d certainly be well suited to whatever style she wanted to throw at the contest.
Mikhail: They’re a band that started off in Belarus, but it was too small for them. So IOWA set their sights on somewhere bigger — Russia. They went on to have huge success reaching the top spot in the Russian charts and winning many regional music awards, including New Wave in 2012. Their music is simple but memorable. A current electronic sound mixed with guitar. Their tracks tell stories based on the band’s own experiences, but everyone can relate to them. All their songs are insanely hummable — “Ulibaysya”, “Mama“, “Prostaya Pesnya“, “Marshrutka” and “Byot Bit” — and they are definitely capable of taking Belarus to Eurovision victory.
Belgium: Emma Bale
Padraig: As any Eurovision fan worth their salt knows, the French-language broadcaster RTBF will pick Belgium’s entry for 2019. And if the network’s recent form is anything to go by, they’ll pick a young up-and-coming former Voice singer with indie leanings. Step forward Emma Bale. Aged just 18, Emma ticks all these boxes and more. She first found fame aged 15 with her cover of Kodaline’s “All I Want”. In the short few years since then, she’s matured into a multi-layered artist with a sound that belies her age. She’s reached the top of the charts with “Run” and “Fortune Cookie”, while “Worth It” and “Curaçao” also cracked the top 30. Her most recent single “Cut Loose” landed in May. But there’s one hitch… Emma is from Flanders. Maybe 2020 might be a more realistic possibility?
Bosnia and Herzegovina: Armin Malikić
Jovana: Armin Malikić first made a name for himself back in 2013 when he auditioned for the series one of The X Factor Adria. His audition with James Morrison’s “Wonderful World” remains one of the most memorable from the show. Armin did not proceed to the live shows as a solo act, instead reaching the final as a member of the short-lived boy band Doktori. He has since released several solo singles, which have been well-received. With his vocal abilities, onstage presence and with a good song, Armin could be the next Mikolas Josef.
Cinan: Bulgaria has become one of the most successful countries in the competition, consistently sending quality songs since 2016. After three years of success, maybe it’s time for a victory? This could become a possibility if they send Nadia — a former vocalist with Deep Zone Project, Bulgaria’s Eurovision 2008 act. Born in the seaside resort of Varna, Nadia studied at the local music school. In 2008, while participating in the music reality show called Sing With Me, she met DesiSlava (a famous Bulgarian pop-folk singer and Eurovision Bulgaria 2012 finalist) and started working with her. Her first single was called “Virtual Game“. She joined Deep Zone Project in 2011. She spent four years with the group, making hits such as “Made For Loving You”, “Niama Ne“, “Zig-Zag“, and “I Love My DJ“. She re-started her solo career in 2016 with “Samo Teb” (Only You). A year ago, she took part in the country’s most popular music show Your Face Sounds Familiar. Her take on Loreen’s “Euphoria” (Eurovision 2012 winner song) became one of the most memorable performances from the entire series
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.