We continue to look at all the countries currently competing in the Eurovision Song Contest and why we love them. And today we will be crossing the Mediterranean Sea straight to this year’s runner-up, Cyprus.
Cyprus debuted in 1981. Their early years in Eurovision were quite good, having reached fifth and sixth places in their first two appearances. Their record afterwards was mixed, with some songs that were ranked amongst the top ten (mainly between the mid-’80s to the mid-’90s). Since the introduction of the semi-finals, Cyprus had been struggling, having failed to qualify four times in a row between 2006 to 2009. But during the last few years, their qualification rate has improved dramatically, and last May they were very close to a win with Eleni Fouriera’s “Fuego”.
With a unique and interesting series of songs and artists in the history of Eurovision, let us sail to the lovely island of Cyprus and highlight the 10 reasons of why we love Cyprus at the Eurovision Song Contest.
1. They have competed for the longest at Eurovision without a victory
Cyprus joined Eurovision 37 years ago and has missed it only three times (1988, 2001 and 2014). This means that Cyprus now holds the record for the most number of times competing in Eurovision without a single victory. But 2018 may have changed Cyprus’s fortune at the contest. After their amazing show in Lisbon and their best result ever, it looks as if it is now only a matter of time until they win. We hope that Cyprus will not have to wait much longer before they finally take the trophy!
2. Yeah yeah, fire!
From the fierceness of the performance to the emotion and tension of the televote — Cyprus brought the drama to Lisbon (not to mention the epic Wiwi Jam performance). Eleni Fouriera’s performance and charisma set the arena ablaze – serving that fiery realness. “Fuego” has since become a huge hit, with around 50 million views on YouTube for the music video and the live performances. It can still be heard in clubs and on radios around Europe.
3. The Greek–Cypriot connection and the Vissi dynasty
It is no secret that Greece and Cyprus’ bonds are unbreakable, probably due to their cultural closeness and shared language. As we’ve seen in our article regarding why we love Greece, the exchange of points between the countries speaks for itself. But the bonds between the countries are also demonstrated in their selection of artists. Many artists who represented Cyprus are Greek or with Greek origins. The most interesting ones to mention are the Cyprus-born sisters Anna and Lia Vissi. Anna, who represented Greece in 1980, returned in 1982 with her legendary “Mono I agapi” (“Only Love”) as a performing artist for Cyprus. Sister Lia represented Cyprus with “To Katalava Arga” (“I realised it too late”) and six years earlier as a backing singer for Greece in Jerusalem 1979.
4. They put their own twist on Greek
Back in the era of the national-language rule, Cyprus knew how to use Greek to create a modern sound. In 1987, they sent “Aspro Mavro”, which used a catchy rhythm. Ten years later they sent the unforgettable “Mana Mou”, which used a similar structure and ensured the equally catchy song could be a huge success.
5. You can predict their songs by their title
It’s the oldest trick in a songwriter’s book — choose a song title that evokes a key lyric from a song and you’ll get people humming along just from the title alone. Cyprus has raised this to an art form. Try to read “Ela Ela (Come Baby)”, “Anna Maria Lena”, “La La Love” and – of course – “Fuego” and not get triggered!
6. Their songs age very well
Take “Mono i agapi” as an example – it is almost 40 years old but it still sounds like a modern ballad. “Genesis” from 1998 is another example. The song is a powerful pop tune which still sounds relevant despite its age (alongside with his handsome performer, Michalis Hatzigiannis, who has since become famous in Greece and Cyprus).
7. Some of their songs were overwhelming underrated
In 1999, Cyprus had huge expectations with their song “Thane Erotas” (“It will be love”), performed by Marlain. It was also ranked very high in the betting odds. But on the night of the show, the song finished second last. Fans were devastated.
Evridiki is another example of a great singer who brought two masterpieces to the Eurovision stage which weren’t appreciated. In 1994, she sang the unforgettable “Eimai anthropos ki ego” (“I am also a human being”), which only reached 11th place. Evridiki came back in 2007 again but this time with a French up-tempo number, “Comme ci, comme ça”. It was a hot favourite going into the contest, but it failed to qualify from the mammoth single semi-final.
8. They change their numbers and never stick with one style
Over the years, their songs were very diverse: from quiet ballads like “Stronger Every Minute”, to cheery performances such as “Gimme”; from hymns addressing the universe like “S.O.S” and “Genesis” to ethno-pop and dancing such as “Gravity” and “Fuego”. Cyprus takes Eurovision very seriously and always finds a way to be original and bring something new.
9. Without Cyprus’ points, Turkey would not have won in 2003
Since its Eurovision debut, Cyprus has never normally given any points to Turkey — nor has it received any. Except for one very interesting year. In 2003, Cyprus broke the cycle and awarded Sertab Erener eight points for “Everyway That I Can”. It was enough to give Turkey a two-point lead over Belgium and earn them their first Eurovision victory. Curiously, Turkey gave one point “back” to Cyprus a year later — also for the first time — when the contest was held in Istanbul.
10. They know how to rock out
Cyprus excels when it comes to sending glamorous divas to Eurovision, but in 2016 they proved they could go in the opposite direction. After making a mark in the 2015 national final, rock band Minus One was internally selected with the song “Alter Ego”. They brought their Cypriot rock to Stockholm, where it sailed into the grand final.
Bonus! They work their hairography
Whether it is a straight and smooth style like a femme fatale (Evdokia Kadi and Evridiki), wild like a lioness (Eleni Fouriera) or sleek-but-relaxed (Despina Olimpiou), Cyprus females’ singers simply have a very chic style when it comes to their hair!
Bonus 2! Alex Panayi
Building on those Greek-Cypriot connections, we just have to mention Alex Panayi. The Nicosia-born singer sang with Helena Paparizou in 2005 when she won the contest with ‘My Number 1’. But he’s also had plenty of success at Eurovision on his own — he came ninth with fan favourite “Sti fotia” in 1995 and placed 21st in 2000 as part of the duo The Voice with the song “Nomiza”. And let’s not even get into all the amazing artists he has coached, including Sergey Lazarev and Aisel. A man of the people, and a huge supporter of the Eurovision community, he also performed at the inaugural Wiwi Jam in Stockholm in 2016!
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