Bulgaria’s love story with Eurovision is full of ups and downs. After they failed to qualify six times in a row from 2008 to 2013, the beloved Balkan nation said goodbye to the contest. But it wasn’t long before they came back — and boy did they come back strong. With three consecutive grand final appearances and two top 4 results, Bulgaria seemed ready to win. And yet they waved goodbye again after their bottom-half finish at ESC 2018. But last week Sofia delivered good news that shook the Eurovision bubble: they’re back again! As we all look forward to their November 25th artist reveal, let’s take a look at some of our dream representatives from Bǎlgariya!
Cinan: Petya Koleva Ivanova, best known by her stage name, Preslava, is one of Bulgaria’s foremost singers, and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that she is the queen of both pop and folk. Ever since she released her debut album in 2004, she has dominated the Bulgarian music scene. She has released six albums, and in the process won countless awards, multiple times. Her award cabinet contains 11 Female Singer of the Year gongs, a Music Idol award and six Song of the Year titles. Surely it’s only a matter of time before she enters and wins Eurovision too. Her husband Pavel Lazarov is a wealthy Bulgarian businessman. Could he be the secret BNT sponsor? And is he ready to fund his wife’s adventure so that she has complete creative control rather than ceding it to the broadcaster? One data point working against this theory is that she only gave birth to her daughter Paola a year ago, so may not want to hit the road just yet.
Katie: Could Bulgaria bounce back with such a bang that they finally snatch their first victory? Just maybe — and especially if they send Preyah — a seasoned artist who is everything we need in a Eurovision diva. Preyah rose to fame through features on songs by renowned Bulgarian artists Grafa, Billy Hlapeto and Mihaela Fileva. Her debut single “Malkite Neshta” became the most played video on Bulgarian TV in its debut week of release in 2014. The video for her single “Lo6 Navik” (Bad Habit) is fluorescent, dubstep-tastic and shows off Preyah’s sultry vocals perfectly. Now that Preyah runs her own record label, rather than being tied to a bigger one, could we see her signing the dotted line and bringing Bulgaria back to the Top 5 of Eurovision in Rotterdam? We sure hope so!
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 is a real 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). She also took part in the country’s most popular music show Your Face Sounds Familiar. Her take on Loreen’s “Euphoria” (the Eurovision 2012 winning song) became one of the most memorable performances from the entire series.
Jordi: Mihaela Marinova would be a great choice to continue the country’s amazing recent record at the contest. Like Kristian Kostov, she also comes from the X Factor series, having finished third in 2014. Despite not winning, she rose to instant fame, enjoying many chart hits, including “Stapka Napred” (Step Forward) – the most played song on Bulgarian television and radio in 2015. She’s a woman of many talents: from rap to R&B to dubstep, all in one song. Fresh, young and contemporary, Mihaela screams Eurovision and we’re ready for another Queen Marinova! Just two months ago Mihaela told Bulgarian media that she is ready to sing for Bulgaria at the Eurovision Song Contest 2020.
Cinan: Okay everyone, fasten your seat belts. I’m presenting you my dream Bulgarian contestant for Eurovision — Gery-Nikol! At just 21, she’s already topped the charts. She shot to fame at 15 and her music videos have amassed more than 100 million YouTube views. She is easily the most successful young artist in Bulgaria, despite having only released a handful of songs. Her single “I’m The Queen” (FACT) became the most watched video premiere in Bulgaria with nearly 400,000 views in one day. She knows how, when and what to give to music lovers. She would literally slay the pack at Eurovision. In a 2016 interview with Darik Radio, the 18-year-old stunner said that she’d likely say yes if broadcaster BNT extended her an invitation to sing for the Balkan nation.
Cinan: A household name in Bulgaria, she first rose to fame on the 2011 series of The X Factor. Despite not winning, she’s gone on to have a slew of chart hits, including number one single “Opasno Blizki”. The lady is no stranger to international contests, and has been winning them since she was a child. Mihaela has a sound for Europe. Easy-listening, uplifting music – this girl can get the continent out of their seats in Rotterdam. Mihaela channels urban but throws a bit of class in to offer some very appealing tunes like this “Edno Naum”. She manages to look flawless through the tones of dancing in her video, so that’s extra points, especially if she can translate it on the stage in The Netherlands. Most recently she’s buffeted her profile as a judge on The Voice.
William: Nadezhda’s cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” led all four judges on The Voice to turn their chairs in 2019. The video has amassed nearly two million views and is regularly featured on playlists focused on the best auditions from reality TV. And while she ultimately placed fourth on the show, her vocals suggest she’s got what it takes to slay and slay hard if paired with an original song.
William: This 25-year-old from Varna turned to music rather late: He only discovered his talent after a friend invited him to sing at a bar. But that didn’t stop Atanas from wowing the judges during his audition on The Voice earlier this year. Singing the Stevie Wonder song “Master Blaster”, he displayed a quiet confidence and some very gritty vocals. He went on to win the entire series. He brings a completely different flavour compared to the other artists on the list. Besides being male, he’s a bit more understated. He’s less about showing off and more about feeling the rhythms and sounds that emanate from his killer voicebox.
William: Grafa — real name Vladimir Kirilov Ampov — coached Atanas on The Voice. It’s fitting: one of Bulgaria’s most renowned producers and artists is known for helping launch the careers of others. He collabed with Preyah on “Zakusniavam, chovek”, bringing her to a mass audience, and co-wrote Bulgaria’s Junior Eurovision 2016 song for Lidia Ganeva. He’s also worked with established stars like Poli Genova. Their 2016 single “Sluhove” (Rumours) showed off his many talents including writing, singing and producing. He’s won countless awards — including Artist of the Year and Album of the Year at the BG Radio Awards. A quick scan on Wiwibloggs shows our readers have been dropping his name for years. Could his time be now?
Maria Ilieva burst onto the Bulgarian music scene in 2001 with her album Moon Dream. The Bulgarian press instantly dubbed her a “phenomenon in Bulgarian pop” and two of its tracks — “Moon Dream” and “Nothing” — went straight to No. 1 on the charts. She just kept on rolling from there. She’s opened for artists including George Michael, Dannii Minogue and Atomic Kitten; won countless awards including Best Song and Best Female Artist at the BG Radio Music Awards; and even judged three seasons of X Factor Bulgaria. And how about this for a Eurovision connection: She presented Bulgaria’s points at the 2011 song contest!
If there was one time when Bulgaria touched the throne but didn’t grab it, it was in 2017. Kristian Kostov’s “Beautiful Mess” was the bookies’ favourite on the night, but the final result let Bulgaria down. Since then, the Russian-Bulgarian has been asked by fans all around the world to return. It’s not happened yet, but there’s no reason to give up hope — Kostov is still an option. In 2013 the country chose Elitsa & Stoyan for a second time. Sadly they failed to improve upon their Top 5 finish from Helsinki.
Equinox and Poli Genova, the nation’s other two finalists from this decade, also come to mind. Genova barely failed to qualify in 2011, but five years later she slayed her way to fourth. Her result was a pleasant surprise for many, as the bookies didn’t see her as a contender. Equinox, on the other hand, were expected to do far better than they did. Many fans blamed staging.
Who do you think should sing for Bulgaria? What option did you like best? Should it be a newcomer or a veteran? Tell us what you think in the comments!