Okay, so the national final season is drawing ever nearer, and as various countries have been confirming their participation in Copenhagen, we’ve been taking you through our personal recommendations for twenty countries to date – all of which can be viewed again by visiting our Possible Artists page. Tonight’s instalment is focused on a Mediterranean nation which has one of the strongest Eurovision track records of recent years… the land of Elena Paparizou, Ellada!
Now, before I start, I should really justify this article’s existence a little, owing to the fact that we’re all aware how unlikely it is that Greece will be able to participate in Copenhagen at all. The dissolution and ensuing restructure of the ERT/NERIT broadcaster, discussed by Rory in the linked article, has left Greek television with very few alternatives to a 2014 withdrawal, however as we are still waiting for an official announcement, it could be argued that they are investigating every last available option in the hope that participation is still possible.
So whilst this article may initially seem a little overly optimistic, my primary suggestion, in fact, ties in with the financial obstacles that lie between Greece and Copenhagen 2014. I’m sure you’re already familiar with her, but ladies and gentlemen, have a listen to the fabulous Despina Vandi:
Without doubt one of the most successful Greek artists of all time, 44-year-old Vandi’s formidable career stretches back to the mid-90s, in which time she has released nine studio albums, and countless successful singles and other music collections. Generally alert to popular trends in contemporary music, her stylistic focus has shifted multiple times over the years, with her music having incorporated elements of rock, dance, laïko and mainstream pop over the years. In addition to this, the vast majority of her songs have been written by Phoebus – an equally big name in the Greek music industry, whose past collaborations include 1993 entrant Katy Garbi and local superstar Elli Kokkinou. Despina’s music is almost exclusively composed by this guy, their partnership (strictly musical… Despina is in fact married to a footballer…) has yielded some of the most iconic and successful records in Greek music history.
The above video accompanies the song “To Asteri Mou”, the song which I would describe as the strongest offering from her brilliant 2012 album “Allaksa”. As this is her most recent release, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to argue that a prospective Eurovision entry from Ms. Vandi would come out sounding a little like this – although perhaps this is more down to the style Phoebus is writing at the moment (similarities can be identified with some of the songs he recently composed for Stella Kalli – here and here) One thing is for sure though, regardless of the stylistic qualities of her entry, any Eurovision attempt by Despina Vandi would be almost guaranteed to carry a whole lot of pre-contest clout. Put simply, she is an absolute legend.
2004 saw the international release of the above single “Gia”, an ethnically-infused, ridonkulously catchy powerball of hi-energy dance music, which charted in the USA. IN. THE. USA. A Greek artist. A very Greek-sounding song. And it charted in the USA. That kinda thing does not happen often.
Aside from this, she has amassed a loyal following across Europe which extends well outside the borders of her native country. Now, we’ve had artists like that at the contest before, and whilst it is by no means a guarantee of success, it would make pretty much every listener sit up and listen when she walked onstage simply because “ooh look, it’s Despina Vandi!” Catch my drift? Not only is her music brilliant, she would go to the contest as EASILY the biggest name in the line-up. And that’s GOT to count for something, right?
Now here’s the catch. Despina has been linked to Eurovision multiple times in the past. Sometimes just a rumoured name in fan circles, or – certainly in 2005 at least – officially approached by ERT. But each time, she has declined to participate. Even when it was an internal selection, and she would have pretty much complete creative control. She wasn’t feeling it. Now, a lot has changed in eight years – her career is still going as well as ever, yet perhaps approaching it as a more mature artist, her feelings may have altered somewhat? In 2005, she was still riding high in the wake of “Gia”‘s international success, surely she must have been aspiring to build on that success in some way, and Eurovision wasn’t the platform she needed back then.
Fast-forward to 2013/2014, and it can be inferred that – based on her previous release rate – a new album will be on its way in the coming months. A new album, which will need promoting across Europe… a new album, whose lead single could just possibly serve as the Greek Eurovision entry? Who knows. After she was the host of the 2013 national final, I’d say anything is possible. Her opinion of the contest may be softening… and with Phoebus’ entire record label behind her, with more than enough money to make up for ERT/NERIT’s shortfalls… this is looking like one hell of a solution from where I’m sitting!
Of course, Despina Vandi on the ESC stage is one hell of a pipe dream, and considering the very slim chances of getting her on board, I’ve come up with another suggestion which is perhaps a little more realistic:
Greece have pushed the boat out many a time before, and whilst they achieved phenomenal success with a more formulaic approach in the 2000s, the top 10 placing of the 2011 and 2013 entries stand to prove that thinking outside the box could be just as effective. So, this is where I reckon an act like Slick Beats could come in. These guys are straight down the line euphoric dance music, and unashamedly so. Just listen to how contemporary that sound is. I was first introduced to this song by a friend who is not even remotely bothered about “foreign music”, she simply heard this song, thought it was ph’nom, and sent me the link. And it was only at that point that I did some digging and discovered these guys are Greek.
If they would consider singing – or even just producing – an ESC entry, the resulting song would easily be one of the most up-to-date contributions to the show, and the sort of performance this genre allows for will most certainly appeal to the more generic fans. Catchy, uncomplicated, glittery and fabulous. You may see it as a little cliché, but have Greece ever tried this before? No, they most certainly have not. Add a contemporary style to a pre-existing diaspora vote and what do you have? A bloody good chance of success, that’s what.
Oh my god. Imagine this. Despina Vandi singing a song written by Phoebus and produced by Slick Beats. *dies*
Svana Lístí Agnarsdóttir from Iceland: Despina is a perfect candidate for the Greeks. I love her!
Richard Lee from the United Kingdom: I have been to Greece many times, although I do not understand the words I love this song 10/10
Morten Boldt Hansen from Norway: Despina is GREAT!!!!
Svetlana Andriyenko from Ukraine: I like many Despina’s songs, I hope she sings at Eurovision one day
Aha, I told you she was popular, didn’t I. For what I think is the first time, one of our Possible Artist suggestions has been met with universal approval from the surveyed fans. So, all we need to do now is hope and pray that somehow the Greek television situation can be resolved in time to facilitate a Eurovision entry from Despina Vandi. Realistically, it’s extremely unlikely, but there’s no harm in dreaming, ey?