In a slight deviation from our usual countdown format, this weekend, I am going to be bringing you an absolute marathon of an ESC-countdown, ladies and gentlemen. As a special treat (shall we call it that?) I will be posting our first ever ESC Views Top 30 in three parts, this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and it will be focused on our highlights from the extensive back-catalogues of various ESC contestants. Today’s instalment will run through places 30 – 21!
For me, one of the best things about being a Eurovision fan is getting to discover the other amazing music released by artists who have been introduced to me through the Eurovision Song Contest. So, in compiling our favourites for what was originally planned to be a top 10 on this subject, the task of eliminating all but ten of these fabulous songs was just too difficult. Instead, Rory and I have decided to present you would our Top 30 instead, which will be delivered in three instalments this weekend!
To avoid confusion, this countdown will include artists who have competed in the ESC, but will feature other songs from their discographies, rather than their actual ESC entries. We have also limited it to one song per artist (if we didn’t, then I would probably end up including every single song that Helena Paparizou has ever recorded, and Rory would do the same with Lena!) In this way, we hope to bring you a more diverse top 30, and introduce you to some truly awesome songs along the way. Ready to get started, then?
30 – Ivi Adamou (Cyprus 2012) – “Astrapes”
We’ll start off with something that you would pretty much expect from the charismatic singer of 2012’s surprise hit “La La Love“… Ivi Adamou, a graduate of the Greek X Factor 2009, will turn 20 in a couple of weeks, yet she already has two EPs and two full-length studio albums to her name – the second of which has been recorded, but is yet to be released. As I was an unashamed fan of her Eurovision entry, it wasn’t long before I went on the hunt for her other musical projects, and eventually came across this little gem of a song “Astrapes” from her 2011 album “San Ena Oniro”. Perfect pint-sized summery pop music, with an exciting electronic arrangement and a ridonkulously catchy whistle hook to anchor it down. What more could you ask for from Ms. Adamou, ey?
29 – Alexander Rybak (Norway 2009) – “Resan Till Dig”
Now, if anyone here is wondering “what exactly did Rybak do after ‘Fairytale‘?” well… here’s your answer. Whilst none of his recent releases have come within stalking distance of the monster success of his 2009 Eurovision-winner, that’s not to say they haven’t been as enjoyable. This little number, taken from his somewhat alternative 2011 album “Visa Vid Vindens Ängar” is a prime example of his stylistic range post-Eurovision. Maintaining the trademark incorporation of the violin, this soft Norwegian-language ballad trundles along with an aura of unexplainable happiness which, I pretty much guarantee, will either bore you to death or lead you to repeatedly pummel the repeat button as you realise your normal life can’t ever quite match up to the level of pure unadulterated joy you experience with this song as background accompaniment.
28 – Magdi Ruzsa (Hungary 2007) – “Szerelem”
Ah, good old “bus stop” Magdi now. Her Eurovision entry “Unsubstantial Blues” is most certainly a divisive song – you either love it or you hate it. Or – like me – you hated it back in 2007, but then after the old iPod spat it back out on a shuffle one day a few years later, you suddenly realised what a sassy emotional rollercoaster of a tune it is. Anyway. Since then, she’s reverted to her Sunday name “Magdolna” gone down a very contemporary pop-rock route where her music is concerned. I’ve attached the video of the popular Lotfi Begi Remix version of “Szerelem” simply because I think it brings a whole new dimension to what is already a very good song, but of course, the original is worth a listen too. Maybe not what you would expect from her!
27 – t.A.T.u. (Russia 2003) – “Not Gonna Get Us”
You’ve most likely heard this one before. A pan-European success around the same time as their Eurovision participation, “Not Gonna Get Us” was released as the follow-up to what is their most widely-remembered track, the anthemic and controversial “All The Things She Said“. I’ve picked this one out, however, because it offers a glimpse of what t.A.T.u. could potentially have acheived had they never picked up the “Russian lesbians” legacy. It’s a high-energy pop-rock track, infuriatingly catchy, completely impossible to understand, even in “English”, but still an absolutely fabulous showcase for the girls’ distinctive singing style. I defy anyone – after a few too many drinksof course – to be able to listen to this song without feeling some compulsion to join in with an unreserved shout of “THEY’RE NOT GONNA GET US!”
26 – Robin Stjernberg (Sweden 2013) – “Beautiful”
Regular readers will hopefully be aware of our Robin Stjernberg album review, in which I have already professed my undying admiration for this brilliant song. However, such is its power and *excuse the pun* beauty, I needed to give it a spot in our top 30 too. The definite stand-out in Robin’s discography to date, I maintain that if this song was given to an artist like Beyoncé or Leona Lewis, it would be an almost guaranteed international chart-topper. It’s just got that kind of feel to it. Yes, the self-help lyrics are a teency bit contrived at times, but you only realise that after a few months of listening to it. The initial impact of this song is just “wow”. It’s also an amazing platform for Robin’s vocals to really shine, and it’s the kind of thing that his record company should really think of promoting to a wider audience before the album goes stale.
25 – Mandinga (Romania 2012) – “La Vita E Bella”
Mandinga, in my personal opinion, have never produced a piece of music which *quite* matches up to the infectious brilliance of their Eurovision entry “Zaleilah“. Sigh. However, in trawling through their back-catalogue in search of such an elusive number, I have come across a few which aren’t far off… one of which is this, their latest release “La Vita E Bella”. This one takes a couple of listens, I must admit. At first, I was like “ugh, they’re trying too hard to be Latin again”, but it is most certainly a grower. It wasn’t long before I was prancing up and down my room gleefully joining in with the “La vita e BEEEE-LA-LAAA-LA-LAAAAA”s to my heart’s content. It does what it says on the tin, this one.
24 – ABBA (Sweden 1974) – “Money Money Money”
On pain of being lynched for not appreciating the contributions of Eurovision’s most renowned alumni, we have of course devoted a spot in this countdown to the discography of ABBA. We could quite easily have picked out any one of their most famous songs – “Gimme Gimme Gimme“, “Lay All Your Love On Me” and “The Winner Takes It All” were particularly close to being selected, I can tell you – however, in situations like this, it’s best to revert to good old personal preference. Hence why the clip of “Money, Money, Money” is above this little paragraph. Not much more to say about this, as I’m sure you’re all familiar with this particular 1976 gem, however I will point out that – perhaps more than any of their other songs – for me, it’s this ABBA song which highlights the absolute songwriting genius of Benny & Bjorn. Very simplistic in essence, but their trademark interesting chord progressions and unorthodox lyrical constrction lift it out of the realms of the ordinary.
23 – Ruslana (Ukraine 2004) – “Hutsulka”
Easily one of my favourite contest-winners of all time, and of course, hailing from my favourite ESC-country ever, Ruslana is another artist whose boundary-pushing fusions of pop, rock and folk render her a musical genius in my estimation. It is unfortunate that she appears to have settled into a routine of releasing an album every four years, meaning “new” songs from her are few and far between, however, in selecting a stand-out track from her career to date, I would always hark back to her 2004 album “Wild Dances”, and to two songs in particular: “The Same Star“, which she performed during the interval of the 2005 contest in Kyiv, and this one “Hutsulka”. If you want a song which epitomises her style, then this is it. Energetic, bouncy and powerful, with traditional instruments and “hey hey”s aplenty. I defy you to not want to dance to this, even just a little. Go on.
22 – Sirusho (Armenia 2008) – “PreGomesh”
*please don’t slaughter me for only ranking this one 22nd* .. I appreciate that many a Eurovision fan who heard this song when it was released last December desperately wanted to see Sirusho take it to the Malmö stage. Whilst I agree it would have been leagues ahead of Dorians’ lacklustre 70’s rock number, I also think that a return to Eurovision is not something that would be good for Sirusho right now. Just listen to this track. All the hallmarks of “Qele Qele” that we know and love are present and correct, however it is clear that her style is developing, and she is incorporating more contemporary Western influences into her music. It is most certainly paying off, for “PreGomesh” is undoubtedly one of the best songs to come out of Armenia in a loooong time, but it also hints that Sirusho herself is aiming for bigger things than Eurovision. Put this into English, and it *might* be the kind of thing that captures more international attention than she has so far enjoyed. “PreGomesh” proves that she, as an artist, can go places. Just need a similar quality follow-up now…
21 – Charlotte Perrelli (Sweden 1999 & 2008) – “Addicted”
There are a few Charlotte Perrelli songs which I would class as worthy of inclusion in this list, however it is “Addicted”, the first track from her 2008 album “Hero”, which I would say is my favourite. Typically Swedish, of course, and I’m sure it could have been shipped off to Azerbaijan and dragged down into mediocrity by a second-rate Milli Seçim Turu winner. But that’s beside the point. What I’m getting at is that it is Charlotte’s interpretation here which makes this song amazing. The strength of her voice, particularly in her lower range, is spectacular, perhaps even more so than in her two Eurovision entries. And once you’re over that, you can fully appreciate the construction of the song, the dark piano runs, the anthemic chorus, the dramatic strings in the middle-8… It all fits into place. A stonking Swedish ballad, pretty much made to order and delivered to you on a plate.
Soooo, they were places 30 – 21 in our countdown. Hopefully you have enjoyed the music presented in tonight’s article, but what we are really looking for is your opinion – which other songs by ESC artists do you enjoy the most??
Svetlana Andriyenko from Ukraine: My country send many great singers to Eurovision, I love the songs of Loboda “Na Svete” and “Ne Macho”. I love also Ani Lorak, I grow up with her songs “Zerkala” and “Ya Vernus'”.
Michael Romano from Australia: “Pyromania” by Cascada and “Ahava Ktana” by Shiri Maimon
Bessa Halimi from Albania: It has to be this one – “Shpirt I Shpirtit Tim” by Aurela Gaçe
Անտոնի Գրիգորյան from Armenia: most of the Greek artists from 2004 to 2013
A range of very credible suggestions there, and in the two coming articles, we will of course discover if any of these fan selections will win a place in our top 20! The next instalment will be posted tomorrow, with the top 10 itself on Sunday, so do check back to find out which song and artist emerges victorious!
Until then, do you have any opinions on the songs featured today? If so, feel free to leave us a comment below!