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 so, we’re back with our annual “Wednesday Wishlist” series. Over the seven Wednesday Wishlist editions we have done to date, our wishes were granted a total of 17 times. Will any more be granted in 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’re going through countries in alphabetical order. So, in this concluding week, we’re starting with San Marino and working through to the United Kingdom.
Eurovision 2022 Wishlist (Part Five)
San Marino: Sara Jane
Edd: The Eurovision 2021 results proved that nowadays authenticity is everything, and absolutely no genre is dead – so why not mix things up with a little jazz? Sara Jane Ghiotti is a Sammarinese classical jazz singer and long-time friend of Valentina Monetta, offering a smooth, funky sound. She supposedly sent a song in for San Marino’s first-ever Eurovision selection in 2008 and has built an established career, performing at jazz festivals around the world. The last jazz song at Eurovision was Italy’s “Madness of Love” by Raphael Gualazzi in 2011, finishing second in the Grand Finale. Maybe RTV should take advantage of the Eurovision hype in Italy this year and hook these two up?
Katie: If Serbia sent Zoi to Eurovision, there would certainly be no calm after the Hurricane. With Hurricane’s sultry edginess providing an exciting yet rarely-seen-at-Eurovision alternative to the typical bubblegum pop diva, Zoi would be the artist who could build upon this momentum and really slay. The 22-year-old has released a string of hits since she burst onto the Balkan music scene in 2019. Most notably, “Jasno mi je” has racked up almost 16 million views on YouTube. Zoi would showcase the future of Serbian – and European – music, rather than resting on a tried and tested Eurovision formula. Her style is less Nevena Bozovic, and more Sara Jo, Mabel, or even German singer Lune. Serbia has been craving that “Molitva” moment at Eurovision which brought them victory in 2007, but hasn’t quite been found since. Zoi really could be the one to bring it.
Pablo: Mixing traditional folk with modern production is a Eurovision evergreen and a proven standout formula — just ask Go_A. If Slovakia would ever like to return, Prešov-natives Hrdza have all it takes to make that comeback a rousing one. Mixing regional Rusyn-tinted folk with rock and polka elements, this band has all it takes for viewers to engage in that Eurovision familiarity while bringing a credible, solid song that highlights Slovak culture. And the interest of Eurovision is there: they attempted to go in 2010, so it is due time to show how much they have grown and the level they have taken their toe-tapping, high-energy sound.
Slovenia: Nina Pušlar
Jonathan: Some Eurovision fans may remember Nina Pušlar from Slovenia’s EMA 2010 and 2011, placing second in the former. Ten years on from her appearances in the national selection and Nina’s career has only grown stronger over time. The star achieved the year-end best domestic song on the Slovenian singles chart in both 2016 and 2020, with “To mi je všeč” and “Svet na dlani” respectively. It’s about time that Nina put those ten years of experience into another attempt at Eurovision and helps to bring Slovenia back to the grand final.
Spain: Rigoberta Bandini
Luis: Rigoberta Bandini is one of the hottest names in Spain’s music industry. She began her career when she was very young, providing the voice of a cartoon character in a series, and then went on to become an electronic pop producer and hitmaker. Her breakthrough song “In Spain we call it soledad” earned her popularity all over the country and she’s been touring the country this summer. “Perra” is another one of her hits. Her catalogue includes slickly produced, fresh and quirky electronic pop, mixed with spoken word or choir-like interludes. Spain has often been criticised for picking extremely safe and sometimes lame songs for Eurovision. Any song Rigoberta Bandini has produced is anything but safe and lame.
Sweden: Smith & Thell
Padraig: Several acts have come close to taking the folk-pop sound to the top of the Melodifestivalen scoreboard in recent times. But despite the best efforts of Anna Bergendahl and others, Sweden seems to have an insatiable diet for either soul or male pop — and sometimes both! Smith & Thell would certainly be capable of breaking the pattern. The duo of Maria Jane Smith and Victor Thel have been on the go since the early 2010s, but they’ve really come to the fore since 2018. Hits like “Hotel Walls”, “Goliath” and “Year Of The Young” have dominated the radio and streaming charts in Sweden. Now, it’s time Europe got to soak up their anthemic country flavoured bops.
Switzerland: Caroline Alves
Calvin: After two years of successful results, another solo artist seems like the logical step for Switzerland. One promising prospect is the 2021 SRF 3 Best Talent-winner Caroline Alvez. She names Amy Winehouse, Erykah Badu and Massive Attack as her main musical inspirations and you can hear that in various songs. Born in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, she moved with her mother to Switzerland in 2008. She describes her most successful song – “Sticks and Stones” – as a “melancholic, dark electro-soul song in a jazzy gown.” She released her debut album in 2020 in which she demonstrates how she is able to create variety while sticking to a coherent mood. Despite being so early in her career, she found a unique sound that deserves the attention of more ears. Switzerland has a history with talented artists unknown to big audiences. Caroline Alves would definitely bring a new side to the main stage.
Turkey: Hande Ünsal
Jonathan: We’ve never been this close to having Turkey back at Eurovision. And when they do, there’s a lot of extraordinary musical talent that can bring the country back with a bang. Simmering in the mix is Hande Ünsal, who serves up a delectable slice of Turkish pop. After releasing her first single in 2016, Hande has kept the momentum going and since topped Turkey’s MusicTopTR airplay chart with four songs – “Seni Sever miydim”, “Nerdesin?”, “Daha İyi” and “Sözüm Söz”. Turkey’s absence from Eurovision has been sad, particularly in view of the LGBT-phobia that is often stated to have led to their withdrawal. But considering the music video for Hande’s latest single, “Gönder Gelsin”, features a Pride flag (albeit for a very, very split second at 1:13), perhaps she can help bring a more colourful and inclusive Turkey to the forefront once again.
Ukraine: Artem Pivovarov
Jordi: Ukraine seems to have made a habit of mastering Eurovision. The Eastern European country has never missed a Final and boasts two victories, two second places and ten top ten performances from almost two decades of participation. This success has frequently been demonstrated by offering flairs of dynamism and originality, without losing modernity. Artem Pivovarov is here to prove no less. The just-turned-30 artist from Ukraine’s Vovchans’k knows like no other what it is to be a trendsetter while delivering formulas that carry uniqueness and appeal to the masses. “Дежавю (Deja Vu)” is an exciting example of Artem’s philosophy of creating without limits. The song – winner of the Yearly Ukrainian National Award (YUNA) for Song of the Year 2021 – accumulates almost 60 million views on YouTube (combining all versions, including a French one) and mixes forward-looking sounds with enduring beats. In the same steps as Go_A, Artem Pivovarov is here to bring Ukraine’s exciting music scene to the attention of the world.
United Kingdom: Estelle
Oliver: Estelle is a superstar. You’d be hard-pressed to find anybody in the country who hasn’t heard her name — or at least, her 2008 smash hit “American Boy”. But the London-born songstress has evolved dramatically since her days collaborating with Kanye West. Her R&B pop-centric stylings shifted closer to reggae, as heard on her 2018 album Lovers Rock. The record didn’t achieve the same commercial success as its predecessors, but it’s a shining example of everything the British music industry has to offer. Tracks like “Ain’t Yo Bitch”, “Better” and “Sweetly” capture Estelle’s aesthetic and artistic vision brilliantly. Sultry, sexy, and slick expertly-crafted music, with just a tinge of grit. Elsewhere, Estelle enjoys a fruitful acting career, featuring in Netflix’s Fatal Affair and voice acting in Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe — also appearing on the soundtracks of both. She’s got countless accolades and claims to fame. Perhaps Eurovision could be her next chapter.
What do you think of our choices? Who would you choose? Let us know in the comments.