Possible Artists 2015: Iceland

Hey hey guys! So it’s that time of the week where we look at the artists that we wish would put their name forward for Eurovision and now it’s time for my spiritual home of Iceland. The country is rich with new different types of music, but which artists would we love to see in Austria for the 60th edition of the Contest?

Samaris is our top choice for Iceland for next year's Eurovision!
Samaris is our top choice for Iceland for next year’s Eurovision!

Iceland is one of these countries that has tried a lot of different methods to do well at Eurovision, but none of which really worked for them (other than the two times they came second, the most recent time being in 2009). However, the music scene in Iceland isn’t filled with general pop and R & B, it’s instead filled with individual alternative electronica and with most of our recommendations in this article, that is what you’re going to get. It would be good for Iceland to try sending something that they’re proud to show off and this is the best way to show off Iceland’s individuality in terms of music.

Artist #1: Samaris

Kicking off our suggestions for Iceland is the group Samaris. The band is only just over one year old, but has already been signed to record label One Little Indian, which is the label that many Icelandic artists tend to sign to. Samaris is an electronic band which fuses normal instruments (most loudly the clarinet) with very modern technology (i.e. the electronic beats) with a very recognisable voice on top. The lead singer, Jófríður (who looks a bit like Lily Cole with less ginger hair) has only recently turned 19 and already she’s part of an upcoming band which is set to dominate the underground scene.My kind of music indeed!

This is one of their first ever songs – “Góða Tungl” – or “Good Moon” in English. You’ll start to notice that Samaris don’t sing in English, but in their native Icelandic. In my opinion, this is to keep their heritage and to show respect as to where they’re from. The song, and indeed the music video, is very dark and something you’d expect to hear in a horror film right before a big massacre was about to happen. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing – in fact, I think it’s quite charming that they came up with such a dark song. The clarinet, the main acoustic instrument the band plays, features very prominently here and it kinda works well with the all the different electronic beats…it’s almost envelopes you into the song and then you’re hooked..it’s very Lorde-y! The song is 4 minutes and 10 seconds, a bit too long for the Contest, so if they were to send something like this, they’d have to make it a bit shorter..it would be interesting to see how the fandom would react to this getting sent!

This is their most recent single – “Brennur Stjarna” or “Burning Stars” in English. And when I say ‘their most recent single’, I’m talking about today, the 28th of July. This just oozes what Icelandic music is today – fusing modernity and olden times together through music. The song is once again in Icelandic and also, a bit too long to go to Eurovision, but it’s pure “Icelandic” – no other country could come out with a style of music like that. Clash, a music Internet magazine, had said when the song premiered on their website:

The results have a curiously alien feel, yet are immediately engrossing. It’s almost as if through lingering on the fringes of Europe, these Icelandic musicians are able to absorb everything which comes their way, yet reflect it back in a quite unusual fashion.

I would totally agree with that. The music makes you feel like you’re in a totally different world, but you’re hooked from the get-go. The song’s lyrics are based on 19th century Icelandic poetry and the band match it with this very haunting beat that carries the song along and until it reaches its climax, it’s not going to stop. Jófríður’s vocal also provide for a very dark performance and only enhances the aura the song gives off. It’s so characteristic, this song. I’ve already fallen in love with it ❤ .

Artist #2: Ásgeir

Should Samaris feel like Eurovision might not be their sort of thing, I would always put my trust in our next artist – Ásgeir. He’s only 22 years of age, but his first solo album became the biggest selling debut album in Icelandic history. Unlike Samaris, Ásgeir is more influenced by indie music and is therefore an indie artist, but with his own little Icelandic twist on it, with the use of synthesisers and then mixing it with original acoustic instruments such as the guitar, and you can definitely see this in the song below: “King and Cross”

Like I said, this is Icelandic indie music and the music video gives the song a very “Lord of the Rings” feel to it…although did they have guitars like that back in the ‘olden days’. I love the way how he combines both the guitar and other acoustic instruments with modern ones such as the synthesisers and electronic tripboards. If he was to go to Eurovision, it would be nice to see a different side to indie music.. a very individual type of it. Maybe it would do well or maybe it would fail to qualify..it all depends on how open-minded the listener is.

This is only just a taster into the Icelandic music scene and there’s a plethora of many other artists that you can have a listen to. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a very intricate entity…and it’s entirely individual..in no other place would you find people making such “alien-like” music. From the modern indie to alternative electronica, Iceland is a place to go to get a completely different perspective of things. Icelandic music is filled with an “Arctic passion”, in my opinion and it doesn’t burst quite easily into the open, so you have to find it yourself and if you do, you end up opening up a world you never thought you knew. That’s why we’d love these artists to go to Austria..and some others as well!

Other Artists:

As well as Samaris and Ásgeir, we’d also recommend the fabulous:

Sin Fang – “Young Boys”

Múm – “Green Grass Of Tunnel”

Björk – “Vökuró” (OF COURSE I’D PUT BJÖRK IN, SHE’S THE MOST FAMOUS ICELANDIC EVER AND SHE HAD TO BE RECOMMENDED AGAIN!!)

Sigur Rós – “Sæglópur”

Your views:

Who would you like to see represent Iceland next year?
Who would you like to see represent Iceland next year?

Luma Lional from the Netherlands: I like Samaris’ kind of music and you’ll never know….. so why not!!!??!!!

Svana Lístí Agnarsdóttir from Iceland: Please send Emilíana Torrini! She is one of the artists we have on offer that could actually make us look good, pleaaaaaase!!!

Ilias Kozantinos from Cyprus: I’d like Bjork to go to Eurovision – I love her song “Declare Independence” and that would be a great song for Eurovision!

Frederik Ulriksson from Sweden: Can Iceland please send Sigur Rós to Eurovision? It’s an obvious choice!

Well it seems that we all have a different opinion on who should represent the westernmost country in Europe and until they reveal who’s in the national final, we’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed for one of our recommendations to go to Austria! So what do you think? Would you like any of our recommendations to go to Eurovision or do you have another artist that you’d like to see in Austria? Be sure to tell us what you think by commenting below!! 🙂

 

 

 

Advertisements

What if…Spain had sent “Más”?

Well another weekend finishes and we’re getting ever closer to the start of the 2015 National Final Season (thanks a lot FYR Macedonia…), but until then, we’re going to keep reflecting on what could have been if different scenarios were put in action instead of the actual train of course.After James’ article regarding the amount of Balkan withdrawals, we’re going to have a look at what might have happened if Spain had sent Brequette, the absolute favourite of the Spanish national final this year. Would she have done any better than Ruth in Copenhagen?

Would Brequette have done any better if she went to Eurovision instead of Ruth?
Would Brequette have done any better if she went to Eurovision instead of Ruth?

There’s no doubt in saying that in the lead up to ‘Mira Quien va a Eurovision’ – the Spanish national final – two ladies were the big favourites to win the selection and represent Spain at Eurovision in Copenhagen; Ruth Lorenzo and Brequette. Both had overshadowed the other three competitors – La Dama, Raúl and Jorge Gonzales – with their power-ballads in both a mixture of English and Spanish and their flawless voices. Both were used to competitions such as these, as Ruth was on the British version of the X-Factor and Brequette had taken part in the Spanish version of The Voice. So you could get why the two were big favourites and come February 22nd, we were all expecting for there to be a huge battle between the two ladies. And my god, it most certainly was a hard decision!

This is Brequette’s performance…now I’m not sure why she’s stumbling around the place like a drunk person trying to get home, but her voice was incredibly stunning. Ruth’s performance was also very intimate and brought the viewer into the performance as well, what with the staging and the vocals she gave, so it left the Spanish public with a hard decision to make. After the jury, it was looking like Brequette was going to take the title but then the public vote brought Ruth and Brequette to equal scores. However, in that tie situation, the person with the most public votes would win the ticket to Denmark…so Brequette, despite leading for most of the way just missed out of representing Spain at Eurovision. Now I’m not saying that she should have won, but when you have a song like “Más” that’s to be performed on such a big stage, it takes a lot of camerawork to make a song like that look good for the viewer at home. With Ruth, however, she had the ability to make the song look great on such a big stage – so much so, that she was the runner up in our top 10 for the best stagings of the entire Contest!

Now with a song like “Dancing in the Rain”, it doesn’t take much to make song look big, it mostly falls down to the staging and the vocals. When we’re talking about Brequette with “Más”, it’s very hard to captivate the entire arena when you’re looking at the floor while screaming “PROMETO VOLVEEEEEEEEEEEER“. Plus, with such a big song, her stage presence may have almost shrunk the song onstage, if you get what I mean. If she was to go to Eurovision, she would have to utilise the stage a bit more than she did with the Spanish Strictly Come Dancing floor. Therefore, considering the vocals she had, combined with the staging altogether and the camerawork, I doubt that Brequette would have equaled Ruth’s tenth placing. In fact, I would say that she would have come a bit lower than we all expected her to do, possibly within the regions of 15th to 20th. However, if they got the staging and camerawork, I’d say we’d be looking at around eighth or ninth place, because the top 10 was incredibly talented this year…but what’s your opinion?

Your views:

Would Brequette have gotten a higher or lower placing for Spain?
Would Brequette have gotten a higher or lower placing for Spain?

Ricardas Petrauskas from Lithuania: Brequette would have been top 5, tbh.

Nick van Lith from the Netherlands (who works for our great friends at escXtra):  Difficult question. Ruth did everything right. Staging, vocals, stage persona. Brequette just looked awkward on stage and was a bit out there with the vocals. I however assume that Brequette’s song would have had a more general appeal… About the same result I guess then?

Ian Mack from the United Kingdom: Don’t think she would have bettered Ruth’s result. As Nick said Ruth got everything right.

Adrián Valiente Magán from Spain (who works at ESC+Plus.com): Lower, vocals are… well, PROMETO VOLVEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEER!!

So it seems we all have a different opinion as to where Brequette would have finished and who knows what might have happened if she actually represented Spain in Denmark, maybe we would have been in Madrid next year or maybe she would have finished last! So what’s your opinion on this? Should Spain have Brequette to Eurovision and if they did, where would you think she’d finish? Feel free to tell us what you think by commenting below!

What if… there hadn’t been so many Balkan withdrawals?

Evening Eurovision fans! 🙂 Tonight, in the latest of our 2014 “What If” series, I’m going to be exploring an aspect of the Copenhagen contest which has been mostly overlooked, but stood out to me as a potential game-changer pre-contest… Would things have been any different without the notable absence of so many Balkan countries in 2014? I’m on a mission to find out!

Sergej Cetkovic reached Montenegro's first final without much Balkan help... but could he have done even better?
Sergej Cetkovic reached Montenegro’s first final without much Balkan help… but could he have done even better?

I am, and pretty much always have been, a self-confessed devotee of anything Balkan. Thus, it should come as no surprise that I was distraught to learn that 2014 would see the withdrawal of Serbia, Croatia and Bulgaria, to add to Bosnia-Herzegovina, who were already M.I.A. as of Malmö! However, Copenhagen wasn’t such a disaster in the end, as the remaining countries brought a few awesome entries to the table, restoring my faith in my spiritual home for another Eurovision year.

However, with so many missing Balkan nations in Copenhagen – from the former Yugoslavia and elsewhere on the peninsula – I always wondered whether their absence would perhaps influence the results somewhat. So, this got me thinking: with just four traditional Balkan countries this year, as opposed to the usual seven or eight we’ve been used to in the past, what exactly did we miss in Copenhagen? Without diving too deep into the ‘political voting’ stereotypes, there are a few things we can generally expect from a Eurovision featuring many Balkan countries:

  • One or more of them will send a MEGA-FAMOUS established artist
  • One or more of them will send a typical Balkan ballad
  • They’ll all be… um… ‘generous’ with their votes for each other (this is for cultural reasons, not political ones, before anyone bites my head off…)
  • They’ll very likely feature their national language to some degree
  • They’ll be split between the semi-finals, though as 2012 proved, not always equally
  • There’ll be that one Balkan entry that will overshadow all the others from the region, hoovering up the lion’s share of neighbourly votes, and a lot of the external ones too. [see. Bosnia 2006, Serbia 2007, Bosnia 2011, Serbia 2012 etc.]

2013 proved that none of this will guarantee success, of course, but (excluding 2013 and 2014) in the years since Yugoslavia split into multiple participating nations, there have only been six contests which didn’t feature an ex-Yugoslav nation in the top ten. If we extend this statistic to include nations from across the peninsula such as Romania, that figure drops to just three. The Balkans are an undeniable powerhouse at Eurovision, and in missing so many of them this year, it was always going to be interesting to see how those remaining would fare. As Montenegro, Slovenia and Macedonia all entered big-name artists with (in my mind anyway) very credible songs, one may think that additional Balkan participants would simply boost the results of all three. I’m not so sure this would be the case.

Of course, any discussion in this article can be nothing more than speculation at best, since there’s no way we will ever know how ESC 2014 would have panned out with more Balkan nations involved. Even looking at the precedent from the last few years, it would still be dependent on which artists and songs the missing nations potentially selected, which semi-finals they were allocated to, and a whole host of other factors besides. However, there are a few notable differences I personally think would have been very likely, had we not had so many Balkan withdrawals…

1. San Marino would not have qualified.

Whether we liked the song or not, I think it’s fair to say we were all shellshocked and delighted in equal measure when San Marino’s flag emerged from one of semi-final 1’s ten virtual envelopes. Valentina Monetta FINALLY brought her country into the Saturday night final, however she did so by the smallest of margins – squeaking into tenth place by just one point over Portugal’s Suzy. As a result, I am pretty confident that one more Balkan country in that semi-final would have been enough to stop this from happening. Either by qualifying themselves, stealing votes that San Marino actually managed to pick up, or giving Portugal that crucial two points to leapfrog ValMon into tenth, I believe more Balkan countries would have prevented San Marino’s historic qualification.

2. Montenegro would have finished higher than 19th.

This year, the leading Balkan song was Sergej’s archetypal “Moj Svijet”, a Balkan-ballad-by-numbers which ticked all the boxes and came complete with a Lane Moje key change, a Lejla final-chorus-unison-walk and … and it came from the most luckless Balkan nation of them all: Montenegro! Now, they’re surely pleased with their first qualification and everything… but with the support of a few neighbouring countries who are already fans of Sergej’s music, surely they could have done a lot better?

  • IF “Moj Svijet” had still been the ‘top’ Balkan song (that is, assuming any prospective Serbian/Bosnian/Croatian entry wasn’t more favoured in general), one could almost guarantee 8/10/12 points from five or six nations. That’s a theoretical sixty points basically in the bag right there. In reality, Montenegro got a total of 37, 25 of which were from Balkan countries. Playing it safe, and saying Sergej picked up an 8 and two 10s from the three absentees, he would finish with a total of 65, just enough to overtake Sebalter for 13th place. Three twelves would put him on 73, just one point shy of the top ten. And this is overlooking the odd point which Bulgaria might have awarded too…
  • Alternatively, if Montenegro’s song played second fiddle to a theoretically superior Balkan neighbour, the result would likely have been improved, but not by as much. The example I’d give here is Kaliopi in 2012: even in other Balkan results, her entry was often ranked below Zeljko Joksimovic’s Serbian song, however she managed to garner enough support to finish a joint 12th/13th with Mandinga from Romania.
  • Or… imagine one of the absent nations sent a similar Balkan ballad that was also drawn in semi-final one? Would we see a repeat of the “Verjamem” effect; whereby all the support for a particular genre goes behind one song and the other similar song is left floundering towards the bottom of the scoreboard? I find it hard to believe that could have happened to Sergej’s spectacular entry, but there’s always room for doubt where Eurovision is concerned…

3. Greece would probably have done a little better

Bulgaria and Serbia in particular have thrown a fair few points Greece’s way since their respective débuts, so it follows that Freaky Fortune would have potentially picked up a few more had these two countries both participated – nothing that would drastically improve their result, but maybe enough to leapfrog Elaiza and/or Molly. A similar thing could be said for Malta, judging by the past voting records of the absent Balkan nations.

4. Slovenia…

Oh, Slovenia. Here’s the real sticking point in my speculation – I honestly have no idea what would have happened to Tinkara from Slovenia in our hypothetical situation. She scraped into the final in tenth, and despite a really strong live performance, she languished in 25th place by the end of the night. Here’s what I think may have happened with a few more Balkan countries…

  • IF she still qualified… then I believe she would have finished a little higher in the final. Her total of 9 comprised of 8 from Montenegro and 1 from Macedonia. As ever, we’re talking about adding Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Bulgaria into the mix here, all of which could potentially award anything from 0 to 12. Even if Tinkara only managed low scores from all four, say 1,2,3 and 4 points, she would finish with a total of 19 in 24th place. Unfortunately, there was a huge gap between ValMon’s score of 14 and Firelight’s score of 32 above her, so in all honestly, I doubt Tinkara’s final position would have been particularly improved.
  • However, do remember that Slovenia only JUST made it into the final. One or two additional nations in semi-final two (which, since it only had 15 participants, would likely have been the primary receptacle for extra countries) would have potentially been enough to push Tinkara down to 11th. I believe this is the most likely situation in the question of Slovenia, unfortunately.

5. Macedonia and Albania probably still wouldn’t have been able to qualify

Assuming that extra Balkan countries equals extra Balkan points is fair enough, but in some cases from Copenhagen, a few extra countries still wouldn’t have been enough. Hersi needed an additional 30 points to reach tenth place; Tijana Dapcevic needed 20. Given that they would be competing against a couple of potentially more popular new songs, I doubt even four extra Balkan votes would have boosted their scores enough to reach the Saturday night :/

6. The winner?

One final thing to consider would be, of course, the winner. Unfortunately, I don’t think even four additional Eastern European countries could have stopped Austria from taking the victory. In fact, I think the extra points would have just made Conchita’s lead even bigger – judging by what little past data we have to go on, Austria would be slightly more likely to pick up Balkan points than its nearest rivals The Netherlands. The only plausible situation whereby our missing Balkan nations could have altered the 2014 winner would be if one of them sent an entry with more winning potential than Austria. A big ask when you’re competing against a bearded drag queen with a flaming backdrop and a simply stunning voice.

Some may say of these Balkan nations that if they didn’t change the winner, then their absence was not felt in the 2014 contest. I beg to differ. Besides the fact that they always bring unique and interesting pieces of music to the contest, I believe the effect they can have on others was sorely missed this year, and I really hope we can welcome most if not all of them back to the 60th anniversary edition in 2015!

Your Views:

What do you think would have happened if we hadn't had so many Balkan withdrawals?
What do you think would have happened if we hadn’t had so many Balkan withdrawals?

Mariusz Wadowski from Poland: Well,I fear that the results could have been a bit different. I’m almost sure that San Marino wouldn’t qualify because of Some Serbia or Bosnia. 😛

Nick van Lith from the Netherlands: It’s difficult to say, but we could say that all except Croatia would’ve done well. Slovenia only got points from Macedonia and Montenegro in the final, Montenegro got most points from the region. They would’ve done better. And I’d say there would’ve been a chance for Macedonia to qualify. It’s always guessing to think how Serbia/Croatia/Bosnia would’ve done, as nothing would save Ljubav Je Svuda or Celebrate…

Tim Mathieson from Norway: No change. Europe had decided to vote politically correct.

Gijsbert Groenveld from the Netherlands: I’m sure Serbia would have won!

Of course, this is a very difficult question to try and conclude upon, and we will never really know how much of a difference – if any – the Balkan withdrawals had on the 2014 contest. The fans here seem to agree that some qualifiers may have been a little different, and some of the results in the final could have been too, however beyond that, it seems there’s very little we can realistically conclude. One thing’s for certain though: we missed the musical contributions of the region this year, and I’d love to see them all back next time!