Wiwibloggs continues to look at the countries currently competing in Eurovision and the reasons why we love them. Next up, we head to Sofia and take a look at the history of Bulgaria.
Bulgaria debuted at Eurovision 2005 and have competed 12 times. They have qualified for the grand final four times, three of which were in the last three years. From their difficult early years, they have now gone on to be a strong performer at Eurovision. We take a look at 10 reasons why we love Bulgaria in the Eurovision Song Contest.
1. The joy of Poli Genova
In 2011, Poli Genova represented Bulgaria with the rock song “Na inat”. It didn’t qualify for the final, but Poli made her mark as a talented, charismatic performer that many fans wanted to see back at Eurovision. And that wish came true. In 2016, both Poli and Bulgaria came back to Eurovision, with the feelgood pop song “If Love Was a Crime”. Europe fell in love with Poli and the song placed fourth in the grand final and set Bulgaria on a course for success.
2. They got fans involved with selecting their act
Most of the time, when a broadcaster selects a song internally, it’s done behind closed doors and is a surprise until the confirmed act is revealed. But in 2018, BNT did things differently. They selected fans to be part of a jury involved in assessing the candidate songs. In a year dominated by hype, it was a nice gesture from BNT.
3. Sofi Marinova’s multi-lingual love fest
Most countries enter songs that use only one or perhaps two languages. In 2012, Sofi Marinova‘s song “Love Unlimited” was primarily sung in Bulgarian but it featured phrases in ten other languages. Along with the folk-influenced synthpop, Sofi said “I love you” in those different languages of Europe. Obichame te, Sofi!
4. They are the comeback kings
Things hadn’t been going so well for Bulgaria. In their first nine years in the contest, they had qualified only once. Their future at Eurovision seemed doomed. But they took two years off, came back with a whole new game plan and have emerged as a power player of the late 2010s, never missing the grand final — and almost winning in 2017.
5. The power of Elitsa & Stoyan
In 2007, Bulgaria sent Elitsa Todorova and Stoyan Yankulov, who brought their unique blend of folk, electronica and percussion sounds to Eurovision. Their song “Water” came with a bold performance that won over viewers and gave Bulgaria a fifth-place finish in the grand final. The dynamic duo returned in 2013 with “Samo shampioni”, but sadly history was not about to repeat and the song placed only 12th in its semi-final.
6. The common framework of Equinox
Rumours had been circulating around just who would be singing “Bones” — at one point it was even suggested that Loreen was the group’s female vocalist. But it turned out that Bulgaria had put together Equinox, a “common framework” of singers from Bulgaria and the United States — and they all got along really well. Together they delivered the mysterious electropop of “Bones”. The song placed 14th in the grand final, Equinox proved to be hilarious in the press centre and they slayed at the Lisbon Wiwi Jam.
7. Their very laidback debut entry
A lot of countries like to make an impact when they debut at Eurovision. Bulgaria took the opposite route and sent Bulgarian jazz band Kaffe as their first act, with the super smooth “Lorraine”. The song was an evocative lament for a lost love, with the chorus “I can still remember Lorraine in the rain”. Sadly the song only placed 19th in the single semi-final.
8. The Symphonix hit factory
One of the driving forces behind Bulgaria’s renaissance is the work of the songwriting and production house Symphonix. It’s headed by Vienna-based Bulgarian maestro Borislav Milanov, and they have been behind the last three entries from Bulgaria. Symphonix aren’t just restricted to Bulgaria — they have written Eurovision entries for other countries, most notably with frequent collaborator Cesár Sampson who gave Austria a third-place finish in Lisbon with “Nobody But You”.
9. Kristian Kostov’s very beautiful mess
Bulgaria had been working hard since their 2016 comeback. Starting with an open submission call, they used an international panel to help select the best candidate. The chosen artist was X Factor Bulgaria runner-up Kristian Kostov with the emotional ballad “Beautiful Mess”. He may have only been 17 years old, but he brought a maturity and sensitivity to the performance which took Bulgaria to a second-place finish — its best result yet.
10. They entered an almost totally instrumental banger
Until Bulgaria’s 2016 renaissance, Deep Zone & Balthazar‘s 2008 song “DJ, Take Me Away” was the country’s second-best result. The song was largely instrumental — Joanna Dragneva’s vocals didn’t start until almost a minute into the song, and they were based around the repetitive but catchy hook “When the night falls down, I want you / DJ, please take me away”. The chaotic but enjoyable staging featured a breakdancer, turntable-guitars, Joanna’s 19th-century showgirl look and FLAMING TURNTABLES. Bulgaria narrowly missed out on qualifying, with an 11th place semi-final finish.
What are your favourite moments from Bulgaria at the Eurovision Song Contest? Tell us what you think in the comments section below!