In 2019, Israel will host Eurovision for the third time, after Netta gave her country their fourth victory, with her song “Toy” in Lisbon. There’s a lot of organising to do from both the host country and all the competing countries.
Where is the contest being held and what countries will participate in Eurovision 2019? Here’s all the information you need!
Where is Eurovision 2019 being held?
The Eurovision Song Contest 2019 will take place in Israel and will be hosted by Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation (IPBC). The host city is Tel Aviv and the contest is due to take place at Expo Tel Aviv.
The Eurovision Village will reportedly take place at the oceanside Charles Clore park. Locations such as Euroclub and the red carpet event have not been confirmed yet.
When will Eurovision 2019 be held?
The first semi-final will be held on Tuesday 14 May, the second semi on Thursday 16 May and the grand final will be held on Saturday 18 May 2019.
Who are the hosts of Eurovision 2019?
Eurovision 2019 will be hosted by supermodel and presenter Bar Refaeli, TV and radio personality Erez Tal, TV host Assi Azar and KAN’s radio and TV presenter Lucy Ayoub.
What is the logo and slogan of Eurovision 2019?
The slogan for Eurovision 2019 is “Dare to Dream”. Eurovision boss Jon Ola Sand said the slogan “represents and symbolises everything that the Eurovision Song Contest is about. It’s about inclusion. It’s about diversity. It’s about unity.”
The logo for Eurovision 2019 is a star shape, made up of three overlapping triangles. Broadcaster KAN describes the triangle as “one of the world’s oldest shapes”, and says that “as the triangles join and combine, they become a new single entity reflecting the infinite stellar sky, as the stars of the future come together in Tel Aviv for the Eurovision Song Contest 2019.”
Which countries are doing Eurovision 2019?
41 countries have officially confirmed for Eurovision 2019. All 41 artists and songs have now been revealed.
Broadcasters have until the Head of Delegation meeting on 10 March to submit their entries to the EBU. It is expect that all songs will be publicly released by this date, however it is not guaranteed.
🇦🇱 Albania: Jonida Maliqi – “Ktheju tokës”
After winning the 57th edition of Albania’s long-running song competition Festivali i Këngës, Jonida Maliqi finally won the ticket to Eurovision — after several tries, which started in the 1990s. She will perform the song “Ktheju tokës” in the second semi-final. The song — which roughly translates as “Come back to the land” — discusses immigration and the pain of those left behind.
Fun fact: Jonida runs the most exclusive fashion boutique in Albania. It stocks countless luxury brands, often with exclusivity agreements, making Jonida synonymous with fashion and style. House of Jonida? Let us in!
Read ’10 facts about Jonida’.
Review: “Ktheju tokës” has a very specific audience, aimed at Albanian emigrants. It might seem like the song risks shutting off anyone outside that demographic, but the strength and emotion of the song is far reaching. The driving percussion (with echos of Phil Spector’s iconic “wall of sound” production style) and urgent horns transcend nationalities, and Jonida delivers the message with heart. There’s no doubt “Ktheju tokës” will make an impact. (Robyn)
Memorable lyrics: “Return to your land, you know there is a heart waiting for you”
🇦🇲 Armenia: Srbuk – “Walking Out”
Armenia’s broadcaster bypassed a public competition and selected the singer Srbuk behind closed doors. After an international search for songs, they decided on “Walking Out” — a mid-tempo, rock-tinged number. She portrays a woman done wrong who makes right by moving on.
Fun fact: While attending Armenia’s Komitas State Conservatory for music, Srbuk took up playing the qanun — a triangular stringed instrument somewhat akin to a harp, played horizontally. It is often played throughout the Middle East and is famous for its unique melodramatic sound.
Review: Srbuk managed to surpass my expectations with a track that delivers everything I could’ve hoped for from Armenia. “Walking Out” is a fusion of emotional lyrics, experimental beats, and a classic pop structure, but it’s Srbuk’s raw delivery of the song — which transitions effortlessly from harsh verses to a delicate pre-chorus and bridge — that makes this song special. The eastern instrumentation and blaring horns that perfectly complement Srbuk’s genuine emotional anger and jaw-dropping vocal ability are what give “Walking Out” power and personality. This is a new direction for Armenia and I wouldn’t rule out a top five placing for them. (Jack)
Memorable lyrics: “You’re no more a king, cause I was your crown”
🇦🇺 Australia: Kate Miller-Heidke – “Zero Gravity”
Classically trained singer Kate Miller-Heidke has multiple albums under her diamond-encrusted belt and is known to many as a folk-pop princess. During Australia’s national final she wore a massive dress and stood on a giant platform, transforming into a towering ice princess. But she’s promised to tone it down for Tel Aviv. She will sing “Zero Gravity”. The genre-defying song mixes opera, dubstep and club to tell her personal story of overcoming post-partum depression.
Fun fact: Not only is she a singer, songwriter and actress – she also recently wrote the musical version of one of Australia’s biggest international films, golden-globe nominated Muriel’s Wedding. The film itself heavily features Eurovision winner ABBA’s music.
Review: After four years of respectable entries, Australia has finally sent something that is so much more. There’s personality here — something Australia has lacked in previous years, which has hurt us with the televote. The message is personal yet completely relatable, at least for me. The song structure is extremely clever — the first third whets your appetite, the second third increases the drama and the final third is truly anthemic. Vocally, she’s in a league of her own. I’m so proud of our Kate and this is going to slay! (Antranig)
Memorable lyrics: “You’re so heavy, I have got to let you go”
🇦🇹 Austria: Paenda – “Limits”
Broadcaster ORF has internally selected the singer-songwriter Paenda. Her song “Limits” is a call to know one’s personal boundaries — whether that’s matters of love or work. She preaches that pushing yourself too hard would leave you empty and unable to enjoy whatever success you were chasing in the first place. And yes, her name is pronounced like panda. Apparently it’s because she looks like the adorable black-and-white animal when she wakes up.
Fun fact: Paenda considers her body a living work of art, amassing quite a collection of tattoos. They include a tiny microphone on her right index finger, a compass-like symbol on her upper right arm, three stars on her right shoulder, the inscription “I myself” on her lower right arm, “22” on her right wrist, a sitting woman on her upper left arm, a flower on her right foot, “PÆNDA:STIC” on her upper left arm, and some Asian logograms on her back. You can view most of them here and on her Instagram.
Review: The biggest compliment I can give Paenda is that I genuinely thought I was listening to Ellie Goulding for the first few bars. Unfortunately, “Limits” feels more like Ellie Goulding album track than lead single. Her vocals dance delicately across this subtle number and it creates an enchanting mood. I really enjoy what she is doing but barring an incredible performance in Tel Aviv, this will inevitably be swallowed up in a sea of much stronger entries. (Antranig)
Memorable lyrics: “So, I smile for a while, let the torture begin and the pressure on my chest becomes almost routine”
🇦🇿 Azerbaijan: Chingiz – “Truth”
If you scroll through Chingiz’s Instagram you’ll learn two things very quickly: He likes to work out and he loves dogs. But he’s also a fan of flamenco music, and prior to Eurovision dabbled in the sizzling genre, strumming his guitar (often after a workout or play session with pups). Azerbaijan’s broadcaster Ictimai has internally selected him and decided he should leave the flamenco behind. He will sing “Truth” — a song written by the Bulgarian Eurovision maestro Borislav Milanov — in the second semi-final.
Fun fact: Chingiz won an Azeri Idol-style show at 16, before competing in New Wave 2013 and performing a duet with Russian 2015 representative Polina Gagarina in one of the rounds. He also competed in the 2011 Azeri national selection for Eurovision, losing out to Ell & Nikki, who won Eurovision that year.
Read ’10 facts about Chingiz’.
Review: The upside of Chingiz’ “Truth” lies in the blending of the traditional instrumentation and vocals with more modern and driving techno sounds. The opening is something you really feel, and it really gets inside. As the verses progress, you feel the pain of someone who realises he’s been used, and yet still must find a way to move on. However, towards the end of the song, the pre-chorus/chorus/post-chorus structure gets a little too repetitive, and the song stays on one level most of the time. As a result, the song becomes a good standard pop song that doesn’t quite get taken to the highest highs it could have reached. (Josh)
Memorable lyrics: “Gotta remember, she is a killer with that freaking perfume – girl it’s too soon”
🇧🇾 Belarus: Zena – “Like It”
Belarus once again used their national final, Nationalny Otbor, to determine their representative for Eurovision 2019. Ultimately, Zinaida Kupriyanovich, who performed as ZENA, won the selection with the song “Like It”. She began her career as a child singer in 2013, winning international competitions and has dubbed Disney characters including Moana.
An uptempo dance track full of sass and charm, “Like It” will be performed eighth in the first semi final. ZENA isn’t a stranger to Eurovision though – she cohosted Junior Eurovision 2018 in Minsk.
Fun fact: At sixteen years and eight months, ZENA will be this year’s youngest participant. She is also the first sixteen-year-old to participate in the contest since Anita Simoncini in 2015, who represented San Marino with Michele Perniola and “Chain of Light”.
Review: Swedish pop-by-the-numbers and delivered by a teen-something early pop star, “Like It” is exactly that – likeable, safe and friendly. While a hook is there, it doesn’t provide anything revolutionary – more like a B-side track that you’d see by the likes of Zara Larsson or Ava Max. Zena, however, knows how to work a stage and look expensive at the same time. While this won’t win Eurovision, we might be seeing this fast-food pop number do well in light of other non-pop entries which dominate the landscape this year. (Sebastian)
Memorable lyrics: “I feel the flow of energy and you go with me, baby”
🇧🇪 Belgium: Eliot – “Wake Up”
Walloon broadcaster RTBF has internally selected The Voice Belgique singer Eliot Vassamillet as its act for Eurovision 2019. He will perform “Wake Up” in the first semi-final. View his Instagram page and Eliot’s warmth becomes clear. He has approached Eurovision as a chance to build relationships across Europe through music and we salute that spirit.
Eliot hails from Mons near the French border. The song is a call for action regarding climate change. Eliot is passionate about the issue and wants to raise awareness around the issue for the young generation.
Fun fact: Spare a thought for poor Eliot as the concept of free time has almost become a thing of the past – at least until Eurovision ends in May. Because he is still at school, he is only allowed a limited number of days off, and Eliot needs to save them all for his trip to Tel Aviv.
Review: There is a mysterious quality to be had with this song. The song starts off with a dark electronic melody but then the chorus cuts through making it sound rejoiceful. Eliot sings with passion and it shows that he is feeling what he sings. Whilst the song may not have the ability to grab people’s attention, the composition has so much complexity and contrasting features that it should especially be respected by juries. (Antony)
Memorable lyrics: “Someone has the light feeding our fire”
🇭🇷 Croatia: Roko – “The Dream”
Croatia will be represented by 17-year-old Roko Blažević, after he won national final Dora. Roko will perform “The Dream” — co-written by Croatia’s Eurovision 2017 singer Jacques Houdek — in the second semi-final. Roko comes from a musical family. His father is a singer of the Klapa genre and his mother is also a singer.
Roko won the Serbian singing show Pinkove Zvezdice (Pink Little Stars) as a youthful 16-year-old and came second in the Croatian show Zvezdice in 2018. He’s been called the Croatian Michael Bublé and is widely regarded as an upcoming star in the Balkans.
Fun fact: With his boyish good looks and charm, he was soon touted in the media as the Croatian version of jazz singer Michael Bublé. The comparison is fitting — Bublé’s roots are originally from Croatia, with his grandfather Mihovil hailing from Trogir near Split.
Review: The boy can belt! Having heard of Roko before Eurovision, “The Dream” lets him down so much. Perhaps Eurovision came too soon for him and he should have developed a more personal musical style before entering the contest. “The Dream” lacks everything that Roko has an artist: charisma, originality and emotion. Despite all of that, Roko is still able to show off his incredible vocal-range, which is the highlight of this entry. (Renske)
Memorable lyrics: “You are only human, when you’re able to love”
🇨🇾 Cyprus: Tamta – “Replay”
CYBC has internally selected the Georgian-Greek singer Tamta. She will sing “Replay”, written by Greek-Swedish hitmaker Alex P, in the first semi-final. Tamta moved from Georgia to Greece at the age of 22 and has made several attempts to represent Greece and Cyprus in the past, either through national finals or internal selections. In 2007, she sang “With Love” at the Greek national final and placed third.
Fun fact: When Tamta moved to Greece from Georgia, she earned a living by doing housekeeping work. Tamta’s music career in Greece spawned after a recommendation from a family she was housekeeping for, who told the young singer to audition for Super Idol, Greece’s version of Idol in 2003. The show helped Tamta secure a residency permit in Greece. She went on to finish second on the show — an amazing feat.
Review: The digital horns in the final production of “Replay” cradle the drum machine whilst giving it added thrust. Tamta’s self-awareness which manifests itself in lyrics like “You’re stuck on me, darling/Like a love song on repeat” is infectious. At first glance, “Replay” doesn’t appear to have a clear message. Upon closer inspection, you’ll find that it represents a self-assured woman that is fully aware of her potency. Whether you choose to intellectualise this entry or not, there is a strong appeal here: lyrically, musically, visually and sexually. Expect Cyprus to peak in the top five. (Deban)
Memorable lyrics: “My heart beats like an 808, you need my love on replay”
🇨🇿 Czech Republic: Lake Malawi – “Friend of a Friend”
Czechia will be represented by ESCZ 2019 winners Lake Malawi. The three-piece indie pop group, led by Albert Černý will perform “Friend of a Friend” in the first semi-final. Jeroným Šubrt is the bassist and keyboardist while Antonín Hrabal is the drummer. They have toured internationally and supported acts such as Red Hot Chilli Peppers. However, they’ve never been to the actual Lake Malawi.
Fun fact: Why name yourself after a lake in the southern African nation of Malawi, amongst others, when you’re Czech? Well, Lake Malawi chose to have the word “lake” in their band name after a lyric in the Bon Iver song “Calgary”. Lead singer Albert was staying with friends in Prague and saw Lake Malawi on the map whilst the song was a big part of his life at the time, so the name was born.
Review: Fun, fresh, fantastic! “Friend of a friend” is a delightful pop song with not many pretentions. It’s got a great vibe: it’s happy-clappy and a bit cheeky, and makes you smile no matter what. Lake Malawi are ultra-likeable, and yes, they may not rock the scoreboard, nor get a top 10, but this entry should easily become the third one to make it to the final for the Czech Republic. (Luis)
Memorable lyrics: “There’s not much between us now, do you know what I mean?
🇩🇰 Denmark: Leonora – “Love Is Forever”
Leonora Jepsen will represent Denmark, after winning the national final Dansk Melodi Grand Prix. She will perform her song “Love Is Forever” in the second semi-final. The ice skater turned singer hails from Hellerup and is bringing the most languages to Eurovision 2019 of all countries, with a whopping total of four. She navigates through English, French, Danish and German in just three minutes.
Fun fact: Leonora was previously a two-time Danish national junior champion in ladies’ singles figure skating (2015-2016), as well as a national junior champion in ice dancing in 2017. She also competed on the international stage, making appearances for Denmark at the ISU Junior Grand Prix at Riga Cup 2015 in Riga, Latvia and the 2016 World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Debrecen, Hungary.
Review: Love is forever — but Leonora’s song is only three minutes. And in that time she takes us on a jaunty, feel-good trip across Europe, skilfully weaving between English, French, German and Danish. The song has a distinct Parisian vibe — there is romance, insouciance and a great deal of heart — yet it somehow feels universal. She speaks in clichés, no doubt, but it’s a language we can all understand. And boy: never has mounting a chair been so magical! The second half of this song feels rather flat visually. But if producers can extend the wonder and intrigue of the opening 90 seconds she may just be a surprise qualifier. (William)
Memorable lyrics: “Why we make it tough? The world has had enough. Don’t get too political!
🇪🇪 Estonia: Victor Crone – “Storm”
Swedish singer Victor Crone will represent Estonia after winning the national final Eesti Laul. He will sing “Storm”, written by Estonia’s 2015 Eurovision singer Stig Rästa, in the first semi-final. Victor is a Melodifestivalen veteran, having performed a duet with Behrang Miri in 2015. They lost their andra chansen duel to Samir & Viktor.
Fun fact: In his spare time, he enjoys playing the classic video game Counter-Strike. It’s a multiplayer first-person shooter, in which two teams play, one plotting a terrorist attack, the other working to counter the attack. Good for sharpening reflexes and thinking strategically.
Review: This screams AVICII, to the point where it could be a cover of an AVICII song. “Storm” is a mix of country/pop ingredients with only a small touch of house and I am totally sold! I can see this song being the big surprise in the final of Eurovision, because it will, without any doubt, qualify for the final. It feels modern, it’s radio-friendly and it is a pretty decent song that I sing along with. Top ten for sure! (Tobias)
Memorable lyrics: “Even if the sky falls down, we can turn it all around”
🇫🇮 Finland: Darude feat. Sebastian Rejman – “Look Away”
Finland’s broadcaster YLE has selected iconic “Sandstorm” producer Darude, along with vocalist Sebastian Rejman. They will perform the UMK winner “Look Away” in the first semi-final. Darude is one of the biggest names of the 2019 contest, thanks to his international hit “Sandstorm”. He has won three Finnish Grammy Awards, released four albums and has two children. Sebastian is a TV host and currently stars in medical drama Syke. The duo first collaborated back in 2015, when Sebastian appeared on two songs on Darude’s album Moments.
Fun fact: Soon after its 1999 release, Darude’s “Sandstorm” became an international, platinum-selling hit. The song held the No.1 spot on the Finnish Dance Chart for 17 consecutive weeks and the single went on to sell more than 2 million copies worldwide – and has even been played at a funeral.
Sebastian is a prolific TV host in Finland. Through the years, he has been involved with Finnish versions of Got Talent, The Voice and Splash.
Review: For us ’90s kids, Darude entering Eurovision was like a dream come true! Although “Look Away” is not quite as powerful as “Sandstorm”, it is a pretty damn enjoyable song nonetheless. It has that undeniable Darude sound, whilst being approachable for those who might not be all that into late ’90s heavy techno music. But it’s Sebastian’s silky smooth voice that brings the song all the way home. I’m super happy with Finland this year. More of this, please! (Kristin)
Memorable lyrics: “When the war has just begun, we look away”
🇫🇷 France: Bilal Hassani – “Roi”
Singer and popular YouTuber Bilal Hassani will represent France after winning national final Destination Eurovision. He will perform his song “Roi”, co-written with France’s 2018 act Madame Monsieur, in the grand final.
Bilal is the child of French-Moroccan parents and performed on The Voice Kids in France as a 15 year-old. He experiments with the blurred lines between gender and has drawn inspiration from the 2018 Top 2 in Netta and Eleni Foureira.
Fun fact: Bilal spent many of his school vacations visiting his father, who works overseas in Vietnam and Singapore. Growing in love with Asian music and culture, it was during these vacations that Bilal challenged his perceptions of the masculine “norm”, including seeing men with makeup without it being associated with sexuality.
Review: An incredibly talented, youthful and exuberant pop star that bends culture, sexuality and image, it’s a little unfortunate that Bilal Hassani has been paired with a track that isn’t more deep or revolutionary in sound or lyrics. While Bilal does provide the star power, “Roi” is not quite royalty status. But it sure is solid and respectable. Here’s hoping Bilal can provide the touch of class that “Roi” really needs on stage — and the revamp will amp this up to what it deserves to be. (Sebastian)
Memorable lyrics: “I never listen to what they say – you will never remove my crown”
🇬🇪 Georgia: Oto Nemsadze – “Sul tsin iare”
Georgia will be represented by two-time Georgian Idol winner Oto Nemsadze, who will sing “Sul tsin iare”. He will perform in the first semi-final. Oto had already won Georgian Idol in 2010 but he came back and won it all over again to represent Georgia at Eurovision. In 2013 he also came second on the Ukrainian version of The Voice and has been in the international spotlight, performing at the World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in Ukraine.
Fun fact: He first came to the public’s attention in 2010 when he competed in and won season five of Geostar (Georgian Idol). In 2019, he returned to Georgian Idol — this time not only for the victory, but also for the chance to go to Eurovision. He is probably among a very select number to have won a version of Idol twice.
Review: In many parts of Eastern Europe, artists have used — and are still using — rock to express their feelings towards cultural and political changes. “Sul tsin iare” is a song that will only be understood by Georgians, but will leave the rest of Europe cold. It doesn’t matter though. This adds to a list of “1944”, “Razom nas bahato” and “Face the Shadow”, which all showed musical expression about local pain. (Renske)
Memorable lyrics: “We heal each other’s wounds with songs”
🇩🇪 Germany: S!sters – “Sister”
Germany will be represented by the vocal duo S!sters, made up of Laura Kästel and Carlotta Truman. They won Germany’s national final Unser Lied für Israel with their song “Sister”, which they will perform in the grand final.
Carlotta was the runner-up on The Voice Kids in Germany in 2014 and also reached the final of Das Supertalent as a 9 year-old in 2009. Laurita has provided backing vocals for Eurovision 2010 winner Lena during her tours.
Fun fact: The duo were a late addition to the ULFI line-up, that’s because NDR struggled to find two singers to fit the song. However, both Carlotta and Laurita were already on their radar. Carlotta had applied for this year’s process with Carlotta & The Truman Show, ranking 53rd out of 1,000 with the Eurovision jury. Laurita had entered the year previously as part of a trio called Diamonds, alongside her sister and another singer. Producers worked with multiple singers, but ultimately felt Carlotta and Laurita were the best match. Thus, S!sters was born.
Review: “Sister” is a smart song for Eurovision. It charts how women — from lullabies as children, to the adult relationships they form — are taught by society to tear one another down instead of celebrating each other’s success. It is a message for our times and one gamely delivered by the S!sters themselves. The staging at the national final was a little dour at times, and the performance appeared a bit aimless, but Germany has the elements here to be competitive in Tel Aviv. (Angus)
Memorable lyrics: “I see flames in your eyes. Damn they burn so bright”
🇬🇷 Greece: Katerine Duska – “Better Love”
Greece has internally selected the Canadian-Greek singer Katerine Duska. She will sing “Better Love” in the first semi-final.
Katerine was born in Montreal in Quebec, Canada and got her break on YouTube with a cover of “Do I Wanna” by the Arctic Monkeys. She released her first LP Embodiment in 2015 and her music has even been used for promotional material by Nescafé.
Fun fact: When Katerine was 16, her family upped sticks from Canada and returned to Greece, where her parents are from. Upon finishing school she started a law degree at the University of Athens. But it wasn’t to be. She didn’t want to work in an office and music’s allure was too strong.
Review: Heaven on Earth, welcome back to the game, Greece! After three not-so-good entries from the Greeks, they are taking us to Olympus with this piece of art. “Better Love” is a sophisticated journey in which Katerine’s voice takes you to the moon and back with her stunning vocals and frills. It’s delicate yet powerful, passionate yet elevated; elegant but also very catchy. Better love this, y’all! (Luis)
Memorable lyrics: “I can’t hide it, I won’t fight this yearning feeling inside”
🇭🇺 Hungary: Joci Pápai – “Az én apám”
Joci Pápai — who previously represented Hungary at Eurovision 2017 — will return after winning national final A Dal. He will perform his song “Az én apám” in the first semi-final.
Joci caught the eye of the public on Megasztár back in 2005. Since Eurovision 2017, he has been releasing his music independently. The formula is working, with Joci racking up millions of views on YouTube. “Origo” has certainly elevated his career to greater heights.
Fun fact: The hitmaker believes that his beard and ponytail hold great power. During his appearance on the Hungarian version of “Your Voice Sounds Familiar”, he had to shave his beard off, saying — “I feel like half a man without it!”.
Review: I am not a fan of “Origo”, though I appreciate its musicality. I am a huge fan of “Az én apám” though. Joci Pápai speaks to my soul despite the fact that I don’t speak a lick of Hungarian. This man is one of a kind — nobody can create an atmosphere the way Joci does. I am absolutely mesmerised by this entry and when I close my eyes, I feel like Joci transports me to a different place and time. He is so talented and this effort is breathtaking. (Antranig)
Memorable lyrics: “I will tell my boy with my head held high: This is my father”
🇮🇸 Iceland: Hatari – “Hatrið mun sigra”
Iceland will be represented by the anti-capitalist BDSM techno performance art group Hatari. The group won Sönvakeppnin 2019 with their song “Hatrið mun sigra”. They will perform in the first semi-final.
The three frontmen are Klemens Nikulásson Hannigan, Matthías Tryggvi Haraldsson and Einar Hrafn Stefánsson. Dancers and backing vocalists Sólbjört, Ástrós and Andrean are also considered to be part of the group. They consider themselves to be an art group rather than a band and their art is about more than just music — they even have a graphic designer and a video editor as part of their group.
Fun fact: Hatari owns the company Svikamylla ehf. (Entrapment Inc.). Its website describes the entity as a “transnational private holding company” whose aim is to “bring an end to neoliberal capitalism as well as managing real estate, loans, imports and exports”. During their national final Söngvakeppnin, the members of Hatari were seen holding bottles of an unknown soda drink, which was revealed to be their own brand called Soda Dream — not to be confused with the controversial SodaStream, the Israel-based maker of home carbonation products.
Review: What’s up with Hatari? Are they an edgy techno group? Leather-clad BDSM hotties? Political provocateurs? Beloved children’s entertainers? Art school kids taking the piss? Or all of the above? The strength of both the group and their song “Hatrið mun sigra” is due to that ambiguity. Hatari is what you need them to be. They promise to be one of the big highlights of Eurovision 2019, both on and off the stage, but at the centre is a really decent song, with a pure schlager core. There’s music in their message. (Robyn)
Memorable lyrics: “Life’s purposeless confusion, the void will swallow all!”
🇮🇪 Ireland: Sarah McTernan – “22”
Broadcaster RTÉ has internally selected Sarah McTernan, who will sing the song “22”. Sarah previously finished third on The Voice of Ireland in 2016, where she was mentored by S Club 7’s Rachel Stevens. After attempting to represent her country at least twice previously, the singer initially entered the Irish selection with a different song. But, RTÉ decided to pair her up with “22” after falling in love with Sarah’s distinctive voice. She will sing “22” in the second semi-final.
Fun fact: Sarah recounts a visit with a psychic from several years ago, who told her that she would have a spike of fame, have a child and by the age of 23/24 she would be on a massive stage. Since that prediction, Sarah appeared on the Irish version of The Voice, had a daughter and now has her sights set on the Eurovision stage in Tel Aviv. That’s one accurate psychic!
Review: “22” is lovely, bubblegum pop music. Unfortunately, “lovely” and “bubblegum” aren’t phrases that tend to result in “spot in the grand final”. Whilst it’s really easy to like “22” and Sarah in particular, it’s hard to see anyone really loving this track. It’s a textbook example of settling for being someone’s 4th or 5th favourite song — which, at least with televoters, is unlikely to be enough to carry Ireland to the final. (Chris)
Memorable lyrics: “I’ve always been afraid to say how I feel, but this’s got to change”
🇮🇱 Israel: Kobi Marimi – “Home”
Vocalist Kobi Marimi will represent the host country at Eurovision 2019. He was chosen through the reality TV show The Next Star for Eurovision. Despite initially being eliminated in Heat 4 of the competition, Kobi was given a lifeline to return and eventually went on to win the whole thing. His Eurovision entry “Home” was then selected internally, before undergoing a revamp just before the rehearsal period. As the host entrant, Kobi will not have to compete in the semi-finals, but gets an automatic spot in the grand final.
Fun fact: Kobi has a colourful CV. In order to fund his studies, Kobi undertook a whole range of side jobs. Whatever job you need done, chances are Kobi is your man. Need someone to watch the kids? He’s worked at a nursery. Fancy some dessert? He was employed by an ice cream shop. Prefer something stronger? He was a host at a cocktail bar. Need a movie recommendation? He was a cinema cashier.
Review: An emotionally stirring melody serves as this year’s host entry. Impactful, appropriately titled, and fitting with this year’s theme of “Dare To Dream”, Kobi Marimi’s theatrical leanings may appear exaggerated at times, but the strength of his voice shuts down any doubt. At the Israeli national selection, he was invited to return to the competition after losing a spot. He came, sang and conquered under that pressure. With him singing “Home”, expect a decent finish for Israel this year. (Deban)
Memorable lyrics: “You pulled my heart, I took it in – It made me someone, I am someone”
🇮🇹 Italy: Mahmood – “Soldi”
R&B singer Mahmood will represent Italy after winning the prestigious Sanremo Music Festival. After competing in the newcomers section of the festival in 2016, and placing fourth, the singer returned to the ‘Big Artists’ section this year. Fending off 23 other singers, Mahmood emerged as the underdog, eventually winning a super final against much more established artists. As a member of the Big 5, Italy gains an automatic spot in the grand final, where Mahmood will perform the Eurovision-edit of his Sanremo-winning song “Soldi”.
Fun fact: Mahmood is obsessed with Pokémon, which has become an important part of his artistic expression. On the cover of his first album “Gioventù bruciata” the singer wears a shirt with a picture of Rayquaza, a legendary Pokémon from the third generation of the video game series. Pokémon also appears in the lyrics of “Gioventù bruciata“. Mahmood sings: “Giocavo in macchina con la Nintendo e i Pokémon / E ti lamentavi se non volevo più parlare” (I used to play in the car Nintendo and Pokémon / And you complained if I didn’t want to talk anymore).
Review: Musically, linguistically, emotionally — there is nothing else like this at Eurovision. Mahmood takes us on a proper journey. There’s heartache and sorrow and a bit of anger. But there’s also a strange sense of joy and the sense of a young man on the move. Classical but contemporary, structured yet structureless, this is a unique song with a very big heart. It deserves to do well. (William)
Memorable lyrics: “I’ve got no time to clear things up because only now I found out what you are”
🇱🇻 Latvia: Carousel – “That Night”
Latvia will be represented by folk group Carousel with “That Night”. The group, made up of vocalist Sabīne Žuga, guitarist Mārcis Vasiļevskis, double bassist Stanislav Judins and drummer Mareks Logins, won the Latvian national final Supernova against 15 other songs. Mārcis also earned the bronze medal in this year’s national final, as he was also the guitarist for the band Laime Pilnīga, who placed third with their song “Awe”. Carousel will perform their song in the second semi-final of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
Fun fact: If you hadn’t guessed from their onstage chemistry, Sabīne and Mārcis are a couple. But don’t expect to see their love story splashed across the gossip pages, as they want the focus to be on their music. However, the band has two French bulldogs between them, one belongs to Mareks and Sabīne and Mārcis own the other.
Review: This is a tough one. As much as I can see the beauty with this song, I do feel like the Eurovision stage is not where it belongs. To make a song stand out, it’s all about choosing the right forum and this is not the right forum for this kind of song. The spectacle of Eurovision will make this song come out as boring compared to the others. That’s is a shame because there is an audience who will appreciate a song like this but it is not the Eurovision crowd. This is a song I would play on a grey rainy day while snuggled in front of the fireplace. (Tobias)
Memorable lyrics: “Please come to me til sunrise and take me back to my paradise”
🇱🇹 Lithuania: Jurij Veklenko – “Run with the Lions”
Jurij Veklenko will represent Lithuania after winning the national final Eurovizijos Atranka with his song “Run with the Lions”. Juirij has previously been to Eurovision twice as a backing vocalist, in both 2013 and 2015. As part of the latter, he was involved with the iconic three-way “one kiss” and the first male-on-male kiss seen at the show. After three previous attempts to represent his country, the fourth time was the charm. Jurij will perform in the second semi-final of this year’s contest.
Fun fact: When Jurijus isn’t on stage, he can be found working at an IT company, in what he describes as his dream job. He believes that “IT and music make up for a perfect combination, where monotony is being replaced by music and vice versa.” We’ll know who to call if the wifi goes down in Tel Aviv.
Review: Jurij has been to Eurovision twice before — but both times as a backing singer. And I think that’s where the problem is. He is used to blending in in the background and is less convincing as the charismatic frontman the performance needs. But there is potential. If Jurij can get comfortable on stage and bring some swagger to his performance this bold pop anthem could be another qualifier. It really needs to feel like he’s running with lions, not tiptoeing with kittens. (Robyn)
Memorable lyrics: “This kingdom is yours and this kingdom is mine”
🇲🇹 Malta: Michela Pace – “Chameleon”
Matla will be represented by Michela Pace and the song “Chameleon”. After ditching their national final for 2019, the Mediterranean island launched X Factor Malta, with the winner being given the opportunity to represent the country at Eurovision. After bringing Maltese superstar Ira Losco to tears during her first Audition, Michela made it all the way to the final, where she was crowned the winner. She will sing “Chameleon” in the second semi-final.
Fun fact: Singing for Michela is a full-body experience. She says that when she starts singing “it’s as if my voice takes over my entire being… Aretha Franklin once said that you sing soul with your whole body. I know exactly what she means”.
Review: My first reaction was “Holy (expletive)! Is this really Malta? Malta?!” This song is incredible, not going to mince words. It feel like it’s the first time in a long while that the Maltese artist has a song both modern and age-appropriate. From a quirky and fun pop drop to a Margaret-style breakdown, “Chameleon” offers a lot of different flavours in little time, sometimes dissonant, but that’s its key charm for it never becomes boring. Combined with Michela’s known great live performances, all I can say is welcome back to the final, Malta. (Pablo)
Memorable lyrics: “When they try to hold me down, inside a box, I’ll find my way out”
🇲🇩 Moldova: Anna Odobescu – “Stay”
Moldova will be represented by Anna Odobescu following her win at the national final O melodie pentru Europa with the song “Stay”. It’s a classic Eurovision ballad showing off some clear vocals as Anna yearns for a departing lover. Placing second in the Slavianski Bazaar music festival for young performers in 2016, and then fifth in last year’s national final, Anna has honed her musical ability over the year. She will compete in the second semi-final of this year’s contest.
Fun fact: Anna graduated from the Faculty of Pop-Jazz Vocal at the Pridnestrovian College of Music in Tiraspol. She went on to do another course in pop-jazz vocal, but this time at the Academy of Music, Theatre and Fine Arts in Chisinau. In total, she has ten years of music education.
Review: Structurally this song is built on two pillars: key changes, of which there are many, and clichés — from “hold on” to “be strong” to “a fire burning inside.” And that might explain why I absolutely love it. There’s something comforting about the predictability of this — like the rhyming of “now or never” with “forever”. While it may have come a decade too late to make an impact at Eurovision, Anna really sells it with her powerhouse vocals and undeniable stage presence. Now crank up the wind machine and let’s party like it’s 2009! (William)
Memorable lyrics: “Never let me down, if I fall, I’m nothing at all”
🇲🇪 Montenegro: D mol – “Heaven”
Montenegro will be represented by six-person vocal group D mol, after winning national final Montevizija. They will perform the song “Heaven”, which talks about the insatiable moment of falling in love in its lyrics. Formed specifically for the national final, the group consists of Tamara Vujacic (16), Rizo Feratovic (21), Mirela Ljumic (17), Zeljko Vukcevic (18), Ivana Obradović (18) and Emel Franca (18). The group will perform in the first semi-final of Eurovision 2019.
Fun fact: All six members of D mol attend the D-Moll Singing School founded by 2005 representative Danijel Alibabić. The school is located in Montenegro’s capital Podgorica and has around 40 to 50 students. The student body consists mostly of children and teens. They receive lessons in all type of singing styles, along with media, camera and technical training.
Review: This is like the final soundtrack from a straight-to-DVD Disney film. Does anyone remember The Little Mermaid 2? No? Well, good, ’cause “Heaven” is the tune you’d hear in that! D mol are very accomplished singers and together they harmonise perfectly, but this song does them no justice. It’s dreary, sappy and forgettable. Montenegro has left the building. Thank you, next. (Kristin)
Memorable lyrics: “I was ready to give up, but now you came into my life”
🇳🇱 Netherlands: Duncan Laurence – “Arcade”
Broadcaster AVROTROS has internally selected the Dutch singer-songwriter Duncan Laurence and the song “Arcade”. Born Duncan De Moor, he competed on The Voice of Holland in 2014, joining Eurovision alumni Ilse DeLange’s team. Duncan and Ilse stayed in contact during the following years, and it was Ilse who suggested he send “Arcade” to be considered for Eurovision. She is also acting as an advisory for Duncan through his Eurovision journey. Duncan will perform in the second semi-final at this year’s contest.
Fun fact: While his song “Arcade” is slowly gaining traction in the Dutch charts, Duncan can already call himself a number one songwriter… in South Korea! He co-wrote a song called “Closer”. It was recorded by the K-pop duo TVQX and featured on their album New Chapter #1: The Chance of Love. The record debuted at the highest position in the South Korean charts.
Review: “Arcade” is just perfect! Now I will try to find some more words to describe it… This song feels like a piece of art, yet it is so accessible. You can feel it, it’s full of emotions. “Arcade” feels so genuine and we know it wasn’t written for Eurovision — that’s perhaps one of its strengths. The verses are so soft and touching and the choruses are so strong and powerful with those anthemic beats. Duncan’s voice is so beautiful and precise. He manages to almost touch you with his vocal cords in each word and each note. I watched his recent stripped-back live performance and literally got shivers. I don’t think I have ever felt that way from a performance in or outside of Eurovision. Game over! See y’all next year in Amsterdam! (Ron)
Memorable lyrics: “Small town boy in a big arcade. I got addicted to a losing game”
🇲🇰 North Macedonia: Tamara Todevska – “Proud”
North Macedonia has internally selected singer Tamara Todevska. She will sing the song “Proud”, which discusses female empowerment and speaks to anyone who was told to put their head down. Tamara has stated that her daughter is the inspiration behind the song, as she doesn’t want her to grow up in a society where girls are expected to “put something sexy on” or aren’t girly enough. Tamara will perform “Proud” in the second semi-final.
Fun fact: Tel Aviv won’t be the first time Tamara has hit the Eurovision stage. In fact, it will be her fourth appearance at the contest. Although this will be her first attempt as a solo artist. Aged just 18, she provided backing vocals for Toše Proeski in 2004, finishing 14th. In 2008, she was part of Tamara, Vrčak & Adrian and ended up tenth in the semi-final. However, a now obsolete rule allowed the juries to select the last qualifier. Tamara & Co. were ditched in favour of Sweden’s Charlotte Perrelli. In 2014, she provided backing vocals for her sister Tijana.
Review: North Macedonia should be proud of their entry. After trying the big pop production for two years and failing miserably, they took a step back and thought of a new strategy. “Proud” perfectly walks the thin line between being considered an actual female empowerment ballad and just tokenism. An incredible message to support a movement that should have started long ago. Tamara boasts a strong vocal delivery and the track has some nice production. You can see there is time invested in it. (Bernardo)
Memorable lyrics: “Have no fear, the power lies in you. Shine your light, go and break the rules”
🇳🇴 Norway: KEiiNO – “Spirit in the Sky”
Norway will be represented by the trio KEiiNO, who won Melodi Grand Prix 2019. They will perform “Spirit in the Sky” in the second semi-final. Their name comes from the Norwegian municipality Kautokeino and the group consists of Tom Hugo and Alexandra Rotan, as well as joiker Fred-René Buljo. Tom and Alexandra both competed at MGP 2018 and Tom wanted to collaborate with Alexandra in the aftermath of that contest.
Fun fact: The song tackles the issue of people fighting for the right to be respected and loved for the person they are. KEiiNO’s fight for equal rights doesn’t begin and end on stage. Fred-René Buljo has a longtime involvement with Sami rights. He was formerly a member of the Sami Parliament, first as a deputy from 2013 to 2016 and then as an MP from 2016 to 2017.
Review: This was my favourite in the national final and it shall take that spot in the main contest too. KEiiNO and “Spirit in the Sky” is everything that I have dreamed from Norway: a modern pop song enthused with Sami elements. Everything about this entry is perfect in my books — the verses, the pre-chorus, the chorus, joiking: everything. It is fantastically produced with excellent transitions between each section of the song and to top it all off, it is performed by three impeccable vocalists. What could be better? (Oliver)
Memorable lyrics: “He lå e loi la. Show me the light!”
🇵🇱 Poland: Tulia – “Fire of Love (Pali się)”
Broadcaster TVP has internally selected the vocal group Tulia. They are known for performing rock songs in their traditional vocal style. They will sing “Fire of Love (Pali się)” in the first semi-final. The quartet consists of Joanna Sinkiewicz, Dominika Siepka, Patrycja Nowicka and Tulia Biczak and the group is named after the latter. They won a Fryderyk award for Debut of the Year — that’s a Polish Grammy.
Fun fact: Tulia rose to fame after their cover of “Enjoy The Silence” by the iconic electronic group Depeche Mode. The clip is now closing in on four million views on YouTube. They have also covered Metallica’s rock ballad “Nothing Else Matters” in their own unique style. That has over six million hits!
Review: High impact and in your face, Tulia unleash a tsunami of sound from beat one. The aggressive tonality doesn’t relent, creating a sense of urgency and thrust as these in-tune and on-point women sing of neglected hearts coming back to life through love. The sparse production has a playful, old-school feel. Paired with the traditional elements it creates a thoroughly likeable and somewhat playful package with major heart. Tulia sing that one small spark can become a flame. Well, these four sparks are strong enough create a bonfire. It’s the most surprising earworm of the year. (William)
Memorable lyrics: “A fire of a promise can melt this ice – the heart will be set free by the voice of love”
🇵🇹 Portugal: Conan Osíris – “Telemóveis”
Conan Osíris will represent Portugal after winning the national final Festival da Canção 2019. He will perform “Telemóveis” in the first semi-final. Conan is an unconventional performer who draws inspiration from washing dishes, loves stuffed animals and Pokémon. He loves his anime, even taking his stage name from Japanese series Future Boy Conan.
Fun fact: Conan’s first job was working in Lisbon’s oldest sex shop. It may seem like an irrelevant curiosity about Conan’s profile and personality, but it’s one of the most interesting. Working in a sex shop allowed the Portuguese star to study and understand humanity’s deepest and most private desires. It also taught Osíris how to eradicate judgement from his life.
Review: The revival of Portugal at Eurovision has been a wonder to behold — and “Telemóveis” keeps the momentum going. Conan serves up something completely different, from look, to performance, to the track itself. It’s certainly a risk, and there’ll probably be quite a few people who won’t get “Telemóveis”. But like Salvador in 2017, it’s all about making the right people fall in love with you and your song. This could still very much be the dark horse of the contest. (Chris)
Memorable lyrics: “If life doesn’t stop and you don’t have the courage to pick up, you already know what will happen”
🇷🇴 Romania: Ester Peony – “On a Sunday”
Romania will be represented by the Canadian-Romanian singer Ester Peony. She will perform “On a Sunday”, which won Selecția Națională 2019, in the second semi-final. Ester emigrated to Canada in 2001 where the foundations of her career were born. She used to go by her first name alone, before adding Peony to her stage name, drawing inspiration from the peony flower.
Fun fact: She is the proud owner of two cats — Juicy and Grizon. Juicy was named after the game Candy Crush while Grizon should be pronounced with a strong French accent. Juicy was a rescue cat, which she found on the street when he was no more than a month old.
Review: Sunday is meant to be a day of rest, but listen to “On a Sunday” one too many times and a sleepless night lies ahead. Romania has a whole world of good things going for it this year. Ester, for starters, is entirely captivating and has a killer vocal at her disposal. Add on top “On a Sunday” — itself at different times an ethnic ballad, electropop banger, flush with stuttering synths and entrancing beats — and you have a powerhouse package on your hands. Normally I turn in the opposite direction of darkness, but in this instance I want to embrace it. (Angus)
Memorable lyrics: “Watching the smoke rise from the ashtray, filling the room with pain. It’s still in my veins”
🇷🇺 Russia: Sergey Lazarev – “Scream”
Russia’s Eurovision 2016 star Sergey Lazarev will return to represent Russia at Eurovision 2019. He will sing “Scream” in the second semi-final. Sergey was the televote winner in 2016, placing third overall. Sergey also tried to represent Russia in 2008 and finished fourth behind Dima Bilan in the national final, who went on to win the whole contest. He was foermerly a gymnast but was forced to quit the sport after a leg injury.
Fun fact: We all know that this year is Sergey’s second attempt at winning Eurovision since his last participation in 2016. But Sergey Lazarev also had his sights set as a champion gymnast. From 1988 until 1993, he participated in and won several local competitions as a child. Shortly before taking to the international stage, he suffered a leg injury and was forced to quit the sport.
Review: After hearing that Sergey decided to have another go at Eurovision, it sounded like a risky move following his third-place finish in Stockholm. But he made a flawless transition from the poptastic “You Are the Only One” to ballad with “Scream” and it’s an absolute screamer. Could Sergey follow Dima Bilan and win for Russia on his second attempt? (Anthony)
Memorable lyrics: “Echoes, rivers of loneliness hitting the walls of my heart”
🇸🇲 San Marino: Serhat – “Say Na Na Na”
Broadcaster SMRTV internally selected the Turkish crooner Serhat Hacıpaşalıoğlu, who previously represented San Marino at Eurovision 2016. He will perform “Say Na Na Na” in the first semi-final. The former dentist went on to host the Turkish version of Jeopardy. His repertoire includes a duet with Eurovision 2005 winner Helena Paparizou.
Fun fact: In 2017, Serhat released a remix of his first Eurovision song “I Didn’t Know”, with guest vocals from disco diva Martha Wash. The song went on to reach No.25 in the United States on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart. The chart isn’t based on sales, but it is a sign that “I Didn’t Know” was being played in the nightclubs and discotheques of the US.
Review: There’s all these songs about kings, queens and crowns this year but make way, the real king has entered the building. “Say Na Na Na” is such a feel-good anthem — this is bound to put a smile on your face when you listen to it. This is by far the best song San Marino has ever sent and since Serhat almost qualified with “I Didn’t Know” in a stronger semi-final, I have genuine hope this could creep into the grand final in Tel Aviv. (Antranig)
Memorable lyrics: “Who cares if you’re outta love? It happens every day.
🇷🇸 Serbia: Nevena Božović – “Kruna”
Eurovision 2013 star Nevena Božović will return to Eurovision after winning Beovizija 2019. She will perform “Kruna” in the first semi-final. He will perform in the second semi-final.
Nevena is a talented pianist in addition to her singing acumen. Her music has been featured on Serbian movie soundtracks and she came second on the Serbian edition of The Voice. She has snatched the crown on many other occasions though, having won a Junior Eurovision pre-selection and two national finals for Eurovision.
Fun fact: 2019 will be Nevena’s third time on a Eurovision stage. Nevena was part of Moje 3, the girlband who represented Serbia at Eurovision 2013 in Malmö. She, alongside Sara Jo and Mirna Radolovic, finished 11th in the semi-final with the iconic “Ljubav je Svuda”. In 2007, Nevena represented Serbia at Junior Eurovision in the Netherlands with the song “Pisi Mi”. She finished third, Serbia’s best result at the contest.
Review: The writers of “Kruna” have done a masterful job of blending traditional violin sounds with more modern guitar, with a little bit of electric charge thrown in thrown in by Nevena’s incredible vocal. Stirring that all together, they’ve somehow magically created a song that sounds all at once like a throwback folk-and-rock-tinged ballad, and yet one that is taken next level modern with all the layering of instrumentation. One can peel back each layer and appreciate how each component stands strongly on its own, yet combines to form a song that is a complete heart-tugging vision from beginning to end. This song is a gift, plain and simple. (Josh)
Memorable lyrics: “Just let everybody know that I am yours forever”
🇸🇮 Slovenia: Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl – “Sebi”
Vocalist Zala Kralj and instrumentalist Gašper Šantl will represent Slovenia in Tel Aviv. They will perform their EMA-winning song “Sebi” in the first semi-final. In 2018 they won the Zlata Piščal Award for best song of the summer and their burgeoning careers have taken off since, amassing hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube.
Fun fact: The duo first met on Instagram where Gašper stumbled across Zala and her covers. At the time, Gašper was searching for a vocalist for the song “Valovi”. Upon hearing Zala’s soft ethereal voice, he knew he had found the right singer. At first, Zala was credited as a featuring artist. However, as of April 2018, the duo as we know it today formed and signed a contract with Universal Music Slovenia.
Review: Slovenia is serving cinematic, spellbinding contemporary electronica this year. At first glance, you may think that this unassuming couple aren’t competing — they appear to be a glimpse into the “Dare to Dream” musical programme. Introspective in delivery whilst unpacking a wide range of sensory emotions, “Sebi” is undoubtedly 2019’s dark horse to peak in the top quarter of the Eurovision Grand Final. (Deban)
Memorable lyrics: “You can’t always see the stars, just stay true to who you are”
🇪🇸 Spain: Miki – “La venda”
Spain will be represented by Miki Nuñez, who won the Operación Triunfo Eurovision Gala. He will perform “La venda“ in the grand final. Miki was formerly part of a Catalan cover band called Dalton Bang. He was also the first OT singer to sing in Cataln across all its seasons. Miki started music at an early age, taking guitar and piano lessons. His parents never denied him the chance to pursue his dreams in music and it has all paid off.
Fun fact: Prior to Eurovision, Miki was a singer in Dalton Bang, a six-piece Catalan cover band. They perform hits all the way from the seventies to the present day and have toured most of Miki’s home region of Catalonia.
Review: I love this! Without a doubt my favourite song this year. I have so much praise about “La venda” and Miki that I don’t even know where to start. But I’ll try. This is fun, this is upbeat, this is pure happiness through and through, Miki is amazing and I would not mind going to Madrid next year. Pass me the Margaritas, por favor, I’m off to the club to do some serious Latin-influenced cardio! (Kristin)
Memorable lyrics: “The blindfold fell and you will be just as you wanted to be”
🇸🇪 Sweden – John Lundvik – “Too Late For Love”
Melodifestivalen 2019 winner John Lundvik will represent Sweden. He will perform “Too Late For Love” but is also a co-writer of the UK entry. Sweden will compete in the second-semi-final. John has competed in the Swedish selection several times before. He placed third in 2018 with his song “My Turn” and has previously been a songwriter for artists including Anton Ewald.
Fun fact: Back in the day, John was a competitive runner, winning a total of eight gold Swedish-national medals. But singing was always his dream. Thus, he gave up on athletics and pursued a music career instead.
Review: Sweden took a slight detour from overproduced male pop songs, and infused a bit soul and gospel flavor into their selected song. Even though many people might remind last year’s Austrian entry when hearing “Too Late For Love”, it still sounds fresh and dynamic. John is a great vocalist and seriously the only challenge for the Swedish team will be to have the same gospel choir effect of the backing vocalists with the given limitations of the six-person rule. And since Austria hasn’t had problems with this, Sweden will probably secure another good result. (Barnabas)
Memorable lyrics: “I could be the sun that lights your dark. Is it too late for love?”
🇨🇭 Switzerland: Luca Hänni – “She Got Me”
Swiss singer Luca Hänni has been internally selected to represent Switzerland. He will perform “She Got Me” in the second semi-final. He won Season 9 of German Idol and has since scored two Number One albums in his native Switzerland. Luca’s Instagram page is flush with beautiful pictures of Switzerland.
Fun fact: After finishing school, Luca began an apprenticeship for bricklaying. When things didn’t work out so well on the labouring front, he turned to music as a passable backup plan. He gave up bricklaying for good in 2012 following his success on German Idol, which he won.
Review: She got me? He got me is much more appropriate in this case; Luca has pulled one of the best produced songs out of his hat and won us all over. Oozing charisma, Luca is able to hold your attention for the entirety of the song and stand at the centre of all of it without seeming overwhelmed. There is an undeniable international quality about this song, allowing it to appeal to the masses all across Europe — a factor which should definitely help it with both the televoters and the jury. Luca is a seasoned performer with a plethora of talents but in all honesty this song is a winner as a standalone studio cut for me. (Oliver)
Memorable lyrics: “When she poured out a little spice, she got the whole place on a vibe”
🇬🇧 United Kingdom: Michael Rice – “Bigger Than Us”
Singer Michael Rice will represent the UK after winning the national final Eurovision: You Decide. He will perform the song “Bigger Than Us” in the grand final. Michael rose to fame winning the first series of UK talent show All Together Now. He’s since received praise from international stars including Jamie Bell of Billie Elliot fame.
Fun fact: When handed £50,000 after his win on TV show All Together Now,he decided to launch The Waffle & Crepè Shack on Oxford Road in Hartlepool. On opening his business, Michael said “It was just a spontaneous idea, I went to bed after seeing a video on Facebook of someone making a crepe on a food stall and I just thought I could do that”. Not just an extremely talented singer!
Review: Holy power ballad, Batman! We have a fab British entry being sung by someone who really loves the contest through and through! As soon as the songs for Eurovision: You Decide were released, it was pretty clear Michael Rice would walk the competition and go to Telleraveev. “Bigger Than Us” is emphatic, stirring and is sung so well by Michael. His voice has similar qualities to James Arthur’s but has a bigger (…bigger, biggerrrrr) appeal to a wider audience – it’s less gravelly and has a more instant impact. The fact he is so ridiculously likeable is a bonus. Is he going to win Eurovision? Probably not, but the UK have a good track record of staging in recent years and with the best song the BBC have dealt out in a decade or more, a top five could be possible. And hey, the UK could use something like this right about now. (Lucy)
Memorable lyrics: “Cause I can feel the universe, when I’m feeling you breathe”
Which countries aren’t doing Eurovision 2019?
Every year fans are hopeful that these countries will make a return or debut, but sadly these countries won’t be appearing at Eurovision 2019.
- Andorra: Despite rumours of a planned comeback, RTVA has confirmed that Andorra will not return to Eurovision 2019, due to financial reasons.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina: Broadcaster BHRT is currently unable to participate in Eurovision due to sanctions against them from high levels of unpaid debt with the EBU.
- Bulgaria: The modern Eurovision power national had provisionally confirmed, but later withdrew. Broadcaster BNT cited financial issues as the reason for Bulgaria’s withdrawal.
- Kazakhstan: With Kazakh broadcaster Khabar Agency invited to Junior Eurovision, this stirred up speculation that both Kazakhstan and Australia may get a guest invitation to Eurovision 2019. The EBU has clarified that it has “no plans” to invite Khabar Agency to participate in Eurovision 2019.
- Liechtenstein: While the microstate’s broadcaster has previously expressed an interest in participating, it is not currently a member of the EBU and therefore unable to participate in Eurovision. The EBU has confirmed that the broadcaster has not made a membership application.
- Luxembourg: Broadcaster RTL Télé Lëtzebuerg has confirmed to reputable fan media that Luxembourg will not return to Eurovision in 2019.
- Monaco: Broadcaster TMC has confirmed to reputable fan media that the principality will not return to Eurovision 2019
- Morocco: While the Moroccan broadcaster has not yet confirmed their status for 2019, it is extremely unlikely that the one-time participant will make a comeback in Israel.
- Slovakia: Broadcaster RTVS has confirmed to fan media that Slovakia will not return to Eurovision in 2019 for financial reasons.
- Turkey: Turkish broadcaster TRT has not confirmed Turkey’s non-participation, however, the country’s prime minister has said Turkey will not compete in 2019.
- Ukraine: After previously confirming for Eurovision and holding their national final, broadcaster UA:BPC withdrew from Eurovision 2019 after being unable to find an act willing to go to Eurovision.