01
April
2018

Sabahudin Kurt, former Eurovision contenstant for Yugoslavia, dies at age 82

Sabahudin Kurt, former Eurovision contenstant for Yugoslavia, dies at age 82

Sabahudin Kurt, who represented Yugoslavia in the Eurovision Song Contest back in 1964, died this morning in Sarajevo at age 82. He was the first artist from Bosnia and Herzegovina entering the contest for Yugoslavia.

Sabahudin Kurt was born in Sarajevo in 1935 as the only child in the family. He started his music career back in 1954, when he released his first song Dim utvojim očima (Smoke In Your Eyes). Kurt recorded many singles and EP’s over the next two decades. After his participation at Eurovision in 1964, he became very popular especially in the former USSR, where he played 17 concerts.

The former Eurovision contenstant Kurt retired from music, and decided to live out the rest of his life in the Bosnian countryside, after suffering a heart attack and having triple-bypass surgery in 2007.

In an interview to the Bosnian magazin Start from 2016, Kurt said that his favourite singer of all time was Frank Sinatra. He also explained that being a good singer is more important than having a good song, as you have to expect that a good songs “will find” a good singer at last. Beside his own Eurovision entry, Kurt’s favourite songs were My Way (Frank Sinatra) and Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong).

Kurt represented Yugoslavia at 1964 Eurovision Song Contest in Copenhagen with the entry Život je sklopio krug, which translates to Life Has Come Full Circle. He finished 13th (out of 16 songs) scoring zero points.

In the video bellow you can listen to Sabahudin Kurt’s performance in Tivoli Garden in Copenhagen back in 1964:

Categories: Eurovisionary

01
April
2018

Timur and Serhiy as Eurovision commentators on each their Ukrainian TV channel

Timur and Serhiy as Eurovision commentators on each their Ukrainian TV channel

For the first time in Ukraine’s history in the contest, two Ukrainian TV channels will broadcast the competition at the same time. UA Pershiy and STB. Vidbir presenter Serhiy Pritula will provide the commentary on the new channel, while Timur Miroshnychenko continues on UA Pershiy.

Today, Ukrainian TV channel STB announced that they would be the second channel to broadcast the Eurovision Song Contest in Ukraine. This is the first time in the country’s history that two channels will broadcast the show at the same time. Thus be competing for the viewers.

Timur Miroshnychenko at Eurovision 2017

During this announcement they declared that popular television presenter and Vidbir host Serhiy Pritula will provide the commentary for STB. He will be competing against UA: Pershiy commentator Timur Miroshnychenko who most of you will recognise as being the green room host of last year’s contest. Timur has been the Ukrainian commentator for 10 years, taking over from Pavlo Shylko in 2006.

Both channels will be broadcasting the competition on the 8th, 10th and 12th of May.

Ukraine will be represented at the Eurovision Song Contest by MÉLOVIN with Under The Ladder. He is competing in the second half of the second semi-final.

Categories: Eurovisionary

30
March
2018
30
March
2018

The London Eurovision Party is Coming Soon!

or How Many Acts can you cram into one Cafe Paris Written by: Stuart Wilders

The London Eurovision Party is Coming Soon!

Next Thursday, the UK’s major pre-eurovision event takes place.  On the 5th April, 700-or-so eurovision fans will flock to Cafe de Paris in London’s Piccadilly Circus, looking forward to hearing a live rendition of their favourite songs of this year and yester-year, in the most intimate of environments, along with the prospect of potentially hearing the winner of the contest, set to take place on the 12th May in Lisbon.

Confirmed acts so far include:
Alfred & Amaia (2018 Spain)
Ari Ólafsson (2018 Iceland)
Benjamin Ingrosso (2018 Sweden)
Cesár Sampson (2018 Austria)
Corinne Hermès (1983 Luxembourg)
Eugent Bushpepa (2018 Albania)
Equinox (2018 Bulgaria)
Felix Sandman (Melodifestivalen 2018, second place in final)
Gromee ft. Lukas Meijer (2018 Poland)
Ieva Zasimauskaitė (2018 Lithuania)
Jessica Mauboy (2018 Australia)
Jessika and Jenifer Brening (2018 San Marino)
Lucie Jones (2017 UK)
Madame Monsieur (2018 France)
Margaret Berger (2013 Norway)
Michael Schulte (2018 Germany)
Mikolas Josef (2018 Czech Republic)
Rasmussen (2018 Denmark)
Ryan O’Shaughnessy (2018 Ireland)
Stella Mwangi & Alexandra (MGP 2018 final , Stella Mwangi 2011 Norway)
SuRie (2018 UK)
Suzy (2014 Portugal)
The Humans (2018 Romania)
Vanja Radovanović (2018 Montenegro)
Zibbz (2018 Switzerland)

This years London Eurovision Party is expected to be one not-to-be missed event and the #escSocial team including James Sheen, Stuart Wilders, Andrew Brook and Rachel Dutton will be in attendance.  

Stuart Wilders commented ‘This year is shaping up to be one of the most diverse Eurovisions in years.  It’s really difficult to predict a winner.  One fan might choose one country they believe will win and another will have that same country in last place.  It really feels like an open race, which can only be a good thing for the contest and of course the fans.  I think it will ultimately come down to the live performance and I have faith in the U.K. entry this year.  SuRie is an excellent ambassador and deserves to be successful in Lisbon.  I think Bulgaria, Norway, Sweden and Israel will do well and I also believe Cyprus, Slovenia and Lithuania, who are current rank outsiders will surprise!  The London Eurovision Party is an excellent event in a very intimate venue.  The artists are so close you can almost touch them, without fear of getting arrested.  Congratulations to the London Eurovision team for organising another excellent event!’

London Eurovision Party takes place on Thursday 5th April.  Visit London Eurovision for more information.  Tickets can still be purchased @ TicketWeb

Categories: ESC Social News

28
March
2018

Why Iceland Is The Cutest Eurovision Nation Ever

Why Iceland Is The Cutest Eurovision Nation Ever

I’ve been in plenty of odd Eurovision related events in my time, but on Saturday morning I trekked across the igneous rock covered pavements of Reykjavík into an out-of-town shopping district. I was meeting the President of the Icelandic branch of OGAE, FÁSES, for a round of Zumba to warm up for the evening’s final.

Now I was expecting a small corner office room for such a particular combination of two niche interests, but the music was blaring well into the shopping centre for all to hear. Inside the sports hall was rammed from end to end with a mass of sweaty bodies busting their moves to ‘Kizunguzungu’.

A room full of sweaty men and women in mid-Zumba action (Photo: Ben Robertson, ESC Insight)

The President of FÁSES, Flosi Jón Ófeigsson, wasn’t just getting involved; he was leading the entire group. With being a hotel manager as his day job, Flosi has also been running the Eurovision Zumba sessions at EuroClub the last two years, but here in Iceland there was a whole magnitude more people than in Kyiv or Stockholm. That post-workout euphoria filled the room with collective glee as everybody demolished the fridge full of help-yourself skyr.

Only in Iceland could they love Eurovision so much.

This Is My Life

It is a well known fact in the Eurovision community that Iceland is officially the country that loves Eurovision the most. Statistically speaking no country comes anywhere close to Iceland’s TV audience share with 95.3 % of people watching television tuning into the Grand Final. That number is from 2016, a year when Iceland didn’t even qualify to the Saturday night show. The bonkers ratio can be partly explained by the lack of competition from other channels in the country of 350,000, and part to the dark Scandinavian winters, but these don’t account for the full nature of Iceland’s loyal viewers.

One unique factor of geography also works in Iceland’s favour is lying on the west of the European continent. That means Iceland is in a time zone one hour earlier than London in May, and two hours ahead of Paris or Berlin. Starting Eurovision at 19:00, with the sun only just setting as the credits roll, very much shifts Iceland to a prime time viewing audience. A family audience at that.

I spotted that later that afternoon in the basement of a different Reykjavík office block at the fan club pre party. Almost everybody in attendance was either a child or with a child. Fizzy pop was flowing, the cute party dresses getting plenty of twirls and some were putting finishing touches on their very handmade signs for the evening’s show. Most Eurovision fan club events across Europe are impossible for children to attend with all the late night dancing and alcohol consumption – but here I had stumbled into the most unique of family celebrations.

Interval acts Robin Bengtsson and Emmelie de Forest meet young fans at the pre party (Photo: Ben Robertson, ESC Insight)

This leads to a second quirk about Eurovision fans in Iceland. According to Flosi FÁSES is the only OGAE member club to have a majority female membership. Part of this may be attributed to the family viewership attracting mothers and daugthers to actively sign up, but also this reinforces what we know about Iceland’s love of Eurovision.

The Eurovision Song Contest is no fringe interest here in these northern reaches. Eurovision dominates the gossip columns, news clips and radio stations many days before and after. Everybody has an opinion.

And also, in a country this small, everybody seems to know somebody involved in some way with the show. That personal connection just amplifies everything above to crazy heights.

Hear Them Calling

Flosi is keen to showcase how much the fan club in Iceland is different for having such a good working relationship with so many influential people. Artists flock to them for interviews and promotion, rather than the other way around. Newspapers are bombarding their members for interviews and on the day of the Söngvakeppnin final a one page spread in the Icelandic paper Visir covers just what FÁSES are doing to celebrate.

However the real relationship Flosi was most proud to talk about was with Icelandic broadcaster RÚV.

“RÚV are realising that we are a great asset. We have now a much bigger arena and they realise we are the people who support all the acts and wave our flags. We love the balloons and spectacle of Melodifestivalen and they listen to our comments.”

In conversation with Flosi before the final of Söngvakeppnin (Photo: Alison Wren, ESC Insight)

“They approached us after the semi final and told us how great an idea bringing the Icelandic flags were.  Hopefully in the future we will be in a position where we (OGAE Iceland) can be a part of the decision making process of who to send to Eurovision as is already happening in Denmark and Slovenia.”

There are a few things to point out here. The much bigger arena gives Iceland the highest ratio of live audience members to population anywhere in Europe, with over 1 % of the country able to squeeze in Laugardalshöll, an arena most commonly used for handball. Secondly that Melodifestivalen comment is not just a throwaway response from a Eurovision fan, it is a direct part of Icelandic culture too. RÚV have a history of actually broadcasting the Swedish extravaganza, and the year both finals were on the same night Melodifestivalen was recorded to broadcast straight afterwards.

That explains the room full of Zumba dancers knowing the moves to ‘Håll Om Mig Hårt’.

Finally is it the exact nature of that co-operation that is helping give Iceland a Eurovision boost. FÁSES get not just reduced price tickets to the show but also ones in a prime location for all that jubilant flag waving to be centre stage. In recent years Iceland has dotted National Finals around various locations, with budget a decisive factor to move out of the sparkling new Harpa Concert Hall in downtown Reykjavík. This year though ticket sales for even the Semi Finals were sold out weeks in advance and Söngvakeppnin is back as Iceland’s premier TV event once more.

The same sadly can’t be said for Iceland’s Eurovision results.

All Out Of Luck

From 2008 to 2014 Iceland made every single Eurovision final, a stat punctuated by Johanna’s stunning performance of ‘Is It True?’ giving Iceland 2nd place in 2009.

Since then though Iceland have stuttered badly, missing the Grand Final by a distance the last three years. Greta Salóme was closest in 2016 with a disappointing 14th place.

The man in charge of trying to steer Iceland back is Felix Bergsson, Icelandic Head of Delegation. He’s been with RÚV since those good old days of 2011 as a press officer, commentator and assistant Head of Delegation before taking the full reigns in 2016.

Despite the viewing figures, Felix feels ‘a lot of pressure’ on his goal to qualify to the Grand Final.

“I thought we deserved to be in the final the past two years and sadly the tide turned. The party will be better and we want to do it for the artist.

Our challenge is in getting noticed, we don’t have many friends and Scandinavia doesn’t vote for us automatically.”

Felix has been on numerous international juries this year, as the Melodifestivalen trend of being bringing in fellow Eurovision voices from overseas because increasingly popular. Countries like France and Germany alongside Sweden show the extra level of difficulty in trying to compete side-by-side. Not only do they have closer borders than the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean to the nearest neighbouring country, but also the record labels and professional contacts that stream into their respective competitions. In Iceland foreign collaborations are often limited to those perennial songwriters who turn up in National Finals wherever they may be.

Felix reading out the Icelandic points in the French National Final this year

One possible attributing factor is the complicated language rule in Söngvakeppnin. For the Semi Finals all songs must be performed in Icelandic, with artists having a free choice of what language to sing in the Final. However that language choice in the final will be the language the song goes to Eurovision with.

“The reason is that we are making new Icelandic pop music,” Felix justifies. “We want Icelandic songwriters and RUV is the Icelandic broadcaster.”

“For children too, everything being in Icelandic makes it easy to understand.”

The extra barrier in preparing a song for both languages might be offputting for some songwriters or performers to take part. Furthermore this could arguably make the contest decidedly uncool to those who are looking for an international platform with an awkward backward step in the middle. Certainly a critical eye amongst the six competing songs in the Söngvakeppnin Final would struggle to classify any of the six as hip and trendy.

On the flip side though, the majority of acts who reached the final this year were young fresh talent which Iceland is constantly a good breeding ground for. For 16 to 20 year olds at college a competition called Söngvakeppnin Framhaldsskólanna – pitching schools against schools – has cultivated much Icelandic talent. It is no surprise the alumni roll call is basically a who’s who of anybody you’ll recognise from Icelandic Eurovision history. ‘Í Stormi’, eventually toppled in the Super Final after winning both jury and televote in round one, was created from a collaboration of two former winners of said competition.

Iceland Needs That Je Ne Sais Quoi

There is an awkward paradox in Icelandic Eurovision. On one side it is promoting new Icelandic talent and growing the brand locally to never seen before heights anywhere in Europe. However the flip side has led to performances internationally faultering. Ari Ólafsson is the 19 year old artist heading to Lisbon this year after charming the camera lens with tear-jerking emotion from the Green Room, coming from behind to win a tight superfinal. His song, ‘Our Choice’, is a ballad belonging to a Eurovision era before his birth and is currently seen as a very unlikely qualifier where the chance to charm viewers back home will be limited.

However, as family friendly entertainment it is little surprise that those puppy dog eyes stole the crown in the last few minutes of voting on Saturday night. This is a country of family parties and barbeques on sunny May evenings. A country where the fan club pub quiz isn’t held in a pub at all but the conference room of the capital’s LGBT organisation just behind the main square – welcoming all. A country that last qualified with a bunch of multi-coloured pre-school teachers singing about how bad bullying was.

There is a word that defines what the Eurovision Song Contest is to Iceland. That word is cute. It is the kind of entertainment that everybody gets a warm glow inside from. Sadly cute alone might find it hard to qualify in a modern Eurovision of professional juries, PR machines and pop music increasingly defined by expensive production values.

However if they do qualify the celebrations in Iceland will be so joyous only their football team this summer in Russia could beat it.

And for that passion alone, I for one simply wish every country could be a little more Iceland.

Categories: ESC Insight

28
March
2018

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #2

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #2
http://archive.org/download/escinsight_20180314_538_JJBJ2018_2/escinsight_20180314_538_JJBJ2018_2.mp3

Tucked away in a tiny corner of Oslo is this week’s edition of Juke Box Jury. The sun has set, the candles are lit, and as the rest of the ESC Insight team take over EscXtra’s livestream, the next batch of hits, misses, and maybes are being decided.

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #2
with Ellie Chalkley (Listen Outside) and Wiv Kristiansen (EscXtra).

Greece: Oneiro, by Yianna Terzi.
Germany: You Let Me Walk Alone, by Michael Schulte.
United Kingdom: Storm, by SuRie.
San Marino: Who We Are, by Jessika, ft Jenifer Brening.
Spain: Tu Canción, by Alfred & Amaia.

Don’t miss an episode of the Eurovision Insight podcast by subscribing to the RSS feed dedicated to the podcasts. iTunes users can find us in the iTunes Store and get the show automatically downloaded to your computer.

http://archive.org/download/escinsight_20180314_538_JJBJ2018_2/escinsight_20180314_538_JJBJ2018_2.mp3

Categories: ESC Insight

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