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 take 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 Hungary and working through to Malta.
Hungary: Paddy And The Rats
Barnabas: Hungary always treats us to some musical diversity. And Miskolc-based band Paddy And The Rats would definitely bring yet more fresh flavour to the contest with their Celtic punk sound. Paddy O’Reilly & Co. mix violin, bagpipes, accordion, mandolin and Irish whistles with the punk rock genre made famous by acts like Green Day. Formed in 2008, the six-piece band gained popularity two years later with their debut album Rats On Board. It was voted the second best Celtic punk album of 2010, while they became the most downloaded Hungarian band on iTunes. Their songs are mostly sailor and pirate themed, and their repertoire ranges from pub party anthems to soulful ballads to punk bangers. In 2017, they released their fifth album Riot City Outlaws, on which they worked with Grammy-winning producer Cameron Webb. Then in January this year, they signed with Napalm Records, one of the foremost rock/metal recording companies in Europe. The Eurovision grand final awaits, lads!
Iceland: Moses Hightower
Steinunn: Iceland’s track record hasn’t been that impressive in recent years. But as the island’s music scene is pretty much a smörgåsbord of musicians, there really shouldn’t be any difficulty getting out of that Eurovision slump. Moses Hightower is one of the courses on that smörgåsbord and the band has been making its mark on the Icelandic music scene for some time now. The group’s mixture of soul, R&B, pop and jazz creates a uniquely fresh sound. We’ve gotten a taste of all these musical genres at Eurovision before, pop being the dominant one, but we’ve never had the pleasure of hearing them all in one package. And that’s why Moses Hightower might be just the right act for Iceland to send to Eurovision. The band sings mainly in Icelandic which boosts my wish for this band — we haven’t had the pleasure of hearing Icelandic since 2013. And yes, the band is actually named after the super tall and super strong character from the Police Academy franchise, which makes them extra cool.
Padraig: She’s been bubbling under for the last year or two, and it seems like only a matter of time before LYRA hits the mainstream. And while she might not be a household name just yet, most of Ireland will already be familiar with her track “Emerald”. It’s been featured on TV dramas such as the Irish-made Striking Out and the American hit series Teen Wolf. She’s also performed the song on chat shows and during the Irish edition of Dancing With The Stars, while in recent months it has become the soundtrack to Guiness’ latest advertising campaign. Ireland has struggled to convey its “Irishness” at modern Eurovision, often veering into the twee or camp. There would be no such problems with LYRA. Simultaneously modern and old-world, the up-and-coming star would bring something that only Ireland could bring. And she’d also save us from the conveyor belt of earnest male soloists.
Israel: Ori Ben Ari
Chris: We all know at this point that being the home nation’s act is mostly a poisoned chalice at Eurovision. So why shouldn’t Israel use that lack of expectation to change up their recent successful formula? Ori Ben Ari is an upcoming singer-songwriter, who recently scored a considerable hit with his latest single “Lifamim”. On the track, he blends traditional Hebrew and laces it with modern references to things like Instagram. He also introduces different sounds to what you’d expect: “Lifamim” is Eastern-inspired, whilst his 2017 release “Basof Haparparim Metim” is more akin to Western-pop. There’s obvious meaning and a cleverness to his work, and he could very well inspire a new sound for Israel at Eurovision.
Pablo: Listen clear now baby! It’s no secret Italy has a pretty wide array of iconic established artists, but we’re going to focus on rising stars. Måneskin found success in the latest edition of Italy’s X Factor. Unlike Francesca Michielin and Marco Mengoni before them, this four-piece band didn’t win but that hasn’t stopped them. Their latest singles, “Chosen” and “Morirò da re”, have gathered a lot of views. But it’s their style that seals the deal. Their stirring performances and risqué sense of fashion would make even the most eclectic Eurovision act blush. Combine that with Damiano’s glam rock voice and retro-yet-contemporary melodies and you have a winning formula. Italy has sent fun, poignancy and class to the contest. When it’s time to send something risky, don’t look any further.
Latvia: Kautkaili (formerly Du Duo)
Lucy: Indie-pop with a chilled edge is what is being served by Kautkaili — formerly known as Du Duo until they debuted under their new name at Latvia’s Positivus Festival in Salacgrīva last week. Lead singer Kristīne Pāže started the project solo, however instrumentalists Didzis Bordo and Kaspars Vizulis joined later on to create lounge-style works. Kristīne is currently heading up Latvian charts on a duet with fellow compatriot Ansis, on a similar themed track called “Zemes Stunda”. It showcases her soaring vocals, proving she could create magic at Eurovision. Whilst this isn’t a typical genre for Eurovision, recent editions have shown that something out of the norm can be top five, and even win.
Lukas: Beatričė Pundžiūtė — who goes by her stage name Beatrich — is still a new voice on the Lithuanian music scene. But she’s already achieved so much since her debut in 2017. Signed to Warner Music, Beatrich has released several hits which have remained in the Lithuanian music charts for quite some time. She’s already getting industry recognition, winning two awards at the M.A.M.A.s — Lithuanian biggest music award ceremony. She took home the gongs for Breakthrough Star of the Year and Song of the Year for “Superstar”. If Beatrich were to enter the national selection in Lithuania she would definitely be the fan favourite to win it all. With Beatrich, Lithuania could easily get its best result so far and maybe its first victory.
Robyn: The Grand Duchy has taken a pass at Eurovision since 1993, but should they ever decide to make a comeback, there is no shortage of local talent. Amid all the classical ensembles and jazz combos, it turns out that Luxembourg also has a really solid indie rock scene. Austinn delivers strong indie pop/rock, mixing American and Britpop influences to create their own sound. Their recent single “Olivia” shows a knack for catchy pop hooks, lush layers of pop perfection and a hearty chorus. And — just like all good Eurovision songwriters — they know that shorter is better.
FYR Macedonia: Menil Velioski
Antony: It’s fair to say FYR Macedonia has had a bit of bad luck at Eurovision — the last two years alone have given us great radio hits yet they failed to qualify on both occasions. It might be a good idea to change strategy and send young folk singer Menil Velioski. Menil rose to fame in the Balkan region by participating in the Serbian show Neki Novi Klinci. He has a strong and bold voice, quite advanced for his age. This combined with Balkan music (like in the below music video) could be just what FYR Macedonia needs to return to the Eurovision final.
Malta: The New Victorians
Patrick: Malta is having a little bit of a crisis lately at Eurovision, so for 2019 the inaugural season of X Factor Malta will decide. But for the purposes of this wishlist, I’ve put the show to one side as I send The New Victorians instead. Sisters Philippa and Bettina Cassar form the contemporary duo which took the Maltese music industry by storm with their 2015 debut album Seeker Seeker. Their indie-pop influenced sound creates haunting musical pieces where classical instrumentation meets technological beats. Their latest song “Lie Liar” is all over the radio and is full of summery flair. They’ve performed at practically every major festival and concert on the island — recently opening for international superstar Anastacia. Listen up Malta, The New Victorians are ready to slay and could surely bring you some long-awaited Eurovision glory.
What do you think? Have we chosen the best of the best? Or would you have chosen differently? As always, let us know below.