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 Moldova and working through to Russia.
Moldova: Dan Balan
Barnabas: He is one of the biggest pop acts to ever emerge from Moldova. In 2009, Dan Balan became the first Moldovan ever to be nominated for a Grammy, as a co-writer on Rihanna and T. I.’s “Live Your Life”. But the rest of Europe probably knows him best as the man behind O-Zone and their worldwide hit “Dragostea Din Tei”. Not only was he a founder and member of the group, he also wrote and produced many of their songs. On his latest single “Allegro Ventigo” — which has already racked up more than 32 million views — he serves slick summer pop with Latin vibes. Moldova was close to the win with its quirky dance number in 2017. Could their hottest act snatch the crown?
Monaco: Shirley Bassey
Robyn: It doesn’t seem right that Dame Shirley Bassey hasn’t already done Eurovision, but it’s a notable omission in her already impressive CV. Dame Shirl has lived in the Mediterranean principality for decades and is far and away their most talented diva. She’s recently spoken out about being horrified by today’s pop stars, so it’s obviously time for the Welsh diva to show them how it’s done.
Montenegro: Šako Polumenta
Padraig: Donald Trump might consider the nation to be “very aggressive” but gentle ballads seem to be Montenegro’s forte. Anytime they’ve qualified for the final, it’s been with the genre’s heavy hitters. And when it comes to hits, they don’t come much bigger than Šako Polumenta. Born in the north of the country, the 57-year-old is a huge name right across the Former Yugoslav region. With more than a dozen albums to his name, Šako continues to turn out the hits. His latest effort from May has already amassed more than eight million views. If Montenegro could convert these views to votes, they’d be well on their way to a record result.
Antranig: If you’re looking for some French-Morrocan-Italian realness, look no further than Bouchra. Born in Tiznit, Morocco, she grew up in Livorno, Italy. Singing in Arabic, English, French and Italian, she provides something for everybody. Her 2016 single “Blanc ou Noir” was arguably her best work but a look through her music shows that she can slay in any tongue. Morocco haven’t competed at Eurovision since 1980 and Bouchra would make for a memorable return, potentially taking advantage of some friendly votes from France and Italy. Her music would be right at home on the Eurovision stage and she could also be a contender for Eurovision’s Next Top Model. Morocco returning to the contest may seem unlikely but Bouchra would be a phenomenal choice if they do come back. If not, perhaps she can try her luck representing Italy or France instead.
Sebastian: Maan de Steenwinkel, known professionally as Maan, has over the last three years developed an artistic style that puts her beyond the ballads and big voice that won the The Voice of Holland in 2015. In the contest, she impressed with covers of songs by Beyoncé and Alicia Keys. More recently, she’s gone from amazing vocalist to pure artiste. Her recent hit “Spijt” (meaning “Regret” in English) has amassed over 2 million views on YouTube with an easy-Indie sound that captures Maan’s dulcet tones beautifully. She’s also soon to release her EP, collaborating with top Dutch producers and Eurovision alumni Anouk. Not only can she sing, she’s also a confident dancer — her dancing cover of Sia’s “The Greatest” cements her as just that. Keep an eye and an ear out for Maan — because man, she’s going places.
Kristín: Damn right, I’m picking Ylvis! After an amazing streak through the past few years — dreamy melodies, strong electro-pop and a sizzling duet — Norway has proven itself to be a force au nature at Eurovision with four top ten placing in five years. But why not turn it up a notch and bring in everything mentioned above as well as wacky sense of humour tied together in a brotherly bond? Meet Bård and Vegard Ylvisåker, one of Norway’s most successful comedy duos ever. They’ve been active since the beginning of the millennium, and are currently the hosts of the popular talk show I kveld med Ylvis. You may recall when they broke the internet in 2013 with their general wondering of what exactly the fox says. Some say it’s annoying, others (me) say that it’s a joke — lighten up, people!
But Ylvis don’t just dress up in fox costumes. They are also pretty good musicians. Soon after their foxy success, they released an album with ten songs they’d written in the past, including the all time masterpiece “Stonehenge” and the ever so romantic dub step anthem “Someone Like Me”. But if Ylvis would consider Eurovision as another platform, they might enter with something like their ode to the Norwegian humanitarian leader and political scientist Jan Egeland. Or not. Whatever floats their boat. Those two can make any music style work. Ylvis to Eurovision!
Poland: Natalia Nykiel
Cinan: When I was searching for artists that I think should represent Poland at Eurovision next year, I was looking for someone exactly like Natalia Nykiel. Her music style is one of my favourites — electric pop. One of her two albums — Lupus Electro — is certified Gold in Poland, while several of her singles have achieved Diamond status. Natalia was nominated at the Best Polish Act category at the 2015 MTV Europe Music Awards. I only found her a few days ago, but I’ve already become a bona fide fan. Maybe she is the next one to represent Poland? Why not?
Portugal: David Carreira
Jordi: From winning Eurovision 2017 with record points to this year’s last place in the final, Portugal is serving proper rollercoaster vibes. But in order to see the Iberian nation keeping spreading its fire, let me introduce you to David Carreira — a 27-year-old multi-talented Portuguese artist born in France. From modelling to acting to singing, David simply has it all! And that also includes a number one album which was actually his debut “N1”. Singing in Portugese, French and English, his styles go from pop to R&B with a true international sound that can deliver the modern flare Portugal seems to lack. With several singles, five albums and millions of streams on Spotify and YouTube, David truly rocks the music scene in Portugal — and worldwid. His songs go from tender ballads to upbeat hits to dancefloor bangers, as with “Domino”. One of his latest offerings “Já Ñao Te Sinto” mixes pleasantly contemporary soul and R&B with mucho gusto. The overall composition is electrifying, serving proper darkness and intriguing beats. Plus, the sensuality in his tone is worth mentioning. Without a doubt, it’s a “Yassssss Portugal”!
Romania: Moonlight Breakfast
Pablo: Romania is the birthplace of many a great pop act. But not many, if any at all, bring exactly what Moonlight Breakfast offers. Self-described as “an urban, rough style mix of Soul, Electro, Beat, Nu-Jazz and Swing”, their doo-wop sounds are decidedly very now, and the electro-swing genre deserves more time in the Eurovision spotlight. Lead singer Christie’s innocent voice brings a depth and a very natural factor to the mix, ready to please professional jurors and the public alike. Romania has never been afraid to make the audience dance and have a good time, but this act would do so in a way not done before. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and, after their first ever non-qualification, this country needs some musical nourishment.
Mikhail: It’s been a long time since we had something truly Russian at the contest. The country’s culture is immense, yet we often hear them taking inspiration from abroad. But Pelageya could come in and change that. She is one of the most well known and influential folk singers in Russia, even serving as a judge on the local edition of The Voice. Her live performances are captivating. It is unbelievable the amount of energy one single individual can exude on stage. She puts her all into her performances and she doesn’t need any fancy special effects — her soul is all it takes. Pelageya’s music is typically folk with rock elements. She can sing some playful uptempo songs like “Vishnya Belosnezhnaya” or “Kazak“, but also touching ballads like “Ptashechka”. Pelageya would be an amazing representative for Russia.
What do you think? Have we chosen the best of the best? Or would you have chosen differently? As always, let us know below.