It’s that time of year again when we ponder and dream about which artists would be fantastic picks for their countries at Eurovision. And while the 2020 off-season is different than all the ones that have come before, we’re still running our annual “Wednesday Wishlist” series.
Of course, many broadcasters have already selected their 2021 representatives, so consider these lists more as a chance to discover new music rather than 2021 hopes — we’re not proposing for any singers to be replaced.
Who knows, perhaps some of the wishlist names will have a free schedule come 2022?
As this is all fantasy, we’ll also be taking 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 Albania and working through to Bulgaria.
Eurovision 2021 Wishlist (Part One)
Albania: Butrint Imeri
Jonathan: Albanian/Kosovan singers continue to be at the forefront of the global music industry (see Dua Lipa, Rita Ora, Ava Max). There’s no reason Albania can’t be at the forefront of Eurovision as well thanks to the country’s contemporary chart-hitting stars. Butrint Imeri is one such artist. Born in Germany to Kosovan parents, Imeri began his music career in 2015 and quickly became a notable name. One of his earliest hits was “Delicious”, a collaboration with Greek-Albanian singer Eleni Foureira (Cyprus’ Eurovision 2018 runner-up), which reached #5 on Albania’s The Top List chart. Mixing R’n’B and pop into his discography, Imeri has gone on to achieve five number one hits in Albania – the latest being “M’ke rrejt”. Butrint Imeri could help bring a new side of Albania to Eurovision, one that’s more in line with its modern musical output.
Edd: After a promising campaign to bring the principality back to Eurovision, an Andorran comeback is urgently due. And if they’re wanting to return with a bang, look no further than Céline Montel, better known as Nina. The singer spends her time between Paris, Barcelona and her native Andorra – often singing in a mix of both French and Spanish. Her 2018 début “Je te laisse là” is a slice sassy pop perfection, whilst her newest releases follow a more urban theme. Regardless of genre, however, the chanteuse knows how to sell a song, and is in the perfect position to earn the country its first-ever spot in a Eurovision grand final.
Armenia: Masha Mnjoyan
Antranig: Here’s one with a few existing Eurovision connections. Masha won The Voice of Armenia in 2013 as a teenager and was a backing vocalist at Eurovision 2016 for Iveta Mukuchyan’s “LoveWave“. She is currently competing on the Australian version of The Voice, where the Eurovision connections are aplenty. She auditioned with a Celine Dion song, turning all four chairs, including Australia’s Eurovision 2015 contestant Guy Sebastian. Equinox member Johnny Manuel is also competing on the show. Masha joined Kelly Rowland’s team, before ending up on Boy George’s team. She boasts an incredible voice, nailing every note, and has plenty of live television experience. Her repertoire of original music may not be as broad but there’s no doubt that she has the lungs to wow Europe and Australia.
Antony: This singer needs no introduction to our readers. Ricki-Lee is one of the biggest names within the Australian music scene. Best known for competing in Australian Idol, just like Guy Sebastian and Jessica Mauboy, this singer has released hit after hit. Not only that, but she has also had a go at being part of the girl group — The Young Divas. She’s appeared on TV shows like Dancing With the Stars and The Voice and recently had a hosting gig on Australia’s Got Talent. While she made her mark with pop bangers, Ricki-Lee is a versatile performer. “Not Too Late” shows off a more soulful and gentler side to her. A few years back, she even expressed an interest in taking part in Eurovision during an Instagram live Q&A. Australia, look no further!
Austria: Mavi Phoenix
Calvin: Austria always has an eye for up and coming acts ready to offer something a little different than what’s usually seen at Eurovision. One of these young artists is Mavi Phoenix. Despite being only 24-years-old, he has archived some impressive things within the Austrian music scene. Several of his songs have hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. He’s also performed as a support act for groups like Milky Chance and Bilderbuch. In 2019, he came out as a trans man and his current album “Boys Toys” focuses on masculinity and identity. His sound could easily go viral on TikTok and his style would benefit from the new backing track rules.
Azerbaijan: Sura İskenderli
Katie: Sura İskenderli is one of the most exciting stars to emerge from Baku in recent years, and hopefully Efendi will inspire her to have Eurovision in her sights. This Azerbaijani-Turkish diva caught Team Wiwi’s eye with her hit single “Bir Daha Yak” back in 2019 — the music video is nothing short of a soap opera y’all! “Bir Daha Yak” has already racked up almost 175 million views on YouTube and was nominated for Song of the Year at the Golden Butterfly Awards, which is a Turkish alternative to the Grammys. Sura has treated us to a number of follow-up singles and has even released new music during lockdown. Here’s hoping Efendi kicks off a renaissance of fierce, female Azerbaijani divas at Eurovision, and Sura İskenderli can be part of the tradition.
Belarus: Kristina Bazan
Pablo: Named as one of Forbes’ 30 under 30 for spearheading the fashion blog Kayture, this international beauty-turned electropop diva is Belarussian by birth. Without a doubt, she would have what it takes to take her native country to new levels of not just talent, but also glamour. One look at her music videos and fashion would no doubt have you wondering about potential staging, paired with extremely modern production to boot.
Sebastian: Belgium has burrowed itself into a bit of an ambient-jazz sound over the last few years. And while this can sometimes deliver a lacklustre performance (think 2018 and 2020), when done right, it’s unforgettable. Angele combines the delicate sounds of a Madame Monsieur, with a modern, contemporary vocal performance. Despite the delicacy to her voice, she can have some serious fun at the same time with upbeat tracks. She’s a melding of two musical worlds, and we’re here for it.
Bosnia and Herzegovina: Mirza Selimović
Mario: Bosnia and Herzegovina’s most recent Eurovision attempt resulted in a non-qualification. But the one who can save the country on its (hopefully soon) return is Mirza Selimović. This 30-year-old musician from Srebrenik has won the most famous pan-Balkan singing show Zvezde Granda in 2013. Many collabs, an album and millions of YouTube views soon followed – including a Eurovision attempt in 2014. Some would compare his silky voice and genuine presence to Hari Varesanovic of Hari Mata Hari fame – well, the two voices paired for a special performance of Lejla back in 2014! Mirza’s latest release “Nevjerna” is in B&H’s music charts for a 15th week and has peaked at number two.
Barnabas: METALWINGS is a five-piece band that breaks the pattern of our recent pop and hip hop wishes for Bulgaria. Founded a decade ago by vocalist Stela Atanasova, this symphonic metal band might not be the name the fandom would think of as a Bulgarian representative with a good chance of doing well. But with their out of the box musical and vocal style, these folks could really be another step towards a broader musical diversity in the contest. Furthermore, fans of bands like Epica or Within Temptation would also have something to watch.
What do you think of our choices? Who would you choose? Let us know in the comments.