Focus 2016: Örnsköldsvik

Hi guys! So, Eurovision 2016 is on its way and while there is a lot of rumours flying about the place that City A or Arena B will be the favourite to get the chance to host Europe’s favourite TV show, we here at ESC Views prefer not to get bogged down in those said rumours – others though do peak our interest! So, instead – like with previous years, we’re going to take you through each candidate city that is in the running to win SVT’s approval to host the 61st edition of Eurovision. And who better off to start with than the northernmost city in the running – Örnsköldsvik!

I’m assuming that you guys have literally no idea where this city with an unfathomable and unpronounceable name is – and yes, I’m just like one of you; I am learning while I write this, so it’s a win-win situation! Örnsköldsvik is relatively small city located in the West-Norrland region of Sweden, with a population of just under 29,000 people as of 2010. The city is rather quaint, as it designed as a small market town that has just managed to flourish into the rather small business center it is today. If you want to have a look at where Örnsköldsvik is, here is its location on the map!

Here's where Örnsköldsvik is on the map - rather high, no?
Here’s where Örnsköldsvik is on the map – rather high, no?

So…Örnsköldsvik was pretty much the last city to come into the Eurovision 2016 race, and at least initial reactions from fans were quite along the lines of “…….wait, where?”, so in a way this can only be a good thing for the city, as they can win us fans over in all its….snowy charm! Örnsköldsvik’s Eurovision 2016 venue would be the Fjällräven Center, which has a capacity of 9,800 people for concerts. Now, you might think that this arena is the smallest venue on offer from all of the potential cities, but you’d be pleasantly surprised that it’s not – just wait till we get to Stockholm, käre! The arena – formerly known as the Swedbank Arena (just like the Friends Arena!) – is home to Örnsköldsvik’s local ice hockey team, which is a part of the Swedish Hockey League. If this arena is selected to host Eurovision, it’s almost certain that there’ll have to be a separate area for the journalists completely, as there are definitely not enough resources for the organisers to hold so many people at the one time – perhaps, they might be able to do what Malmö did in 2013 i.e. have all the journalists in a cinema-esque area where they can document the rehearsals while not causing a fuss. However, the chances of Örnsköldsvik actually getting the Eurovision is – to put it lightly – going to be an uphill battle.

Örnsköldsvik is quite off the beaten track when it comes to transportation, but at the same time it’s also kind of easily accessible…if you have a car. The city has an airport roughly about 24 kilometers northeast of the city centre; however, it only really is for domestic and small international flights – but one of the very few routes it offers is to Stockholm, so Eurofans can make their way to Örnsköldsvik through a flight change..if they want to fork out an extra couple of hundred or so SEK. If you would rather drive to Örnsköldsvik from Stockholm, which is the best form on transport for getting up to the High Coast Area, the city is located on the European route E4, which means that if you’re travelling there from either Helsingborg in south Sweden or Tornio in Northern Finland, you’re already set!!

As for recreational activities and sightseeing, Örnsköldsvik is really unfortunate to have Lady Luck frowning upon the city. Hiking is a very popular hobby in the city and it wouldn’t be uncommon to see people walking about in their hiking boots. Nordic skiing is also really popular and there are several places that will rent skis out for you to use, so we here at ESC Views recommend you give that a go! There really aren’t any other sights that have been recommended to see in Örnsköldsvik. SVT have their work cut out for them!

In conclusion, while the city has some pros and many cons, Örnsköldsvik has sent in a very valid and modest bid to host Eurovision 2016! However, seeming as the Fjällräven Center and its facilities are rather…shall we say…”few and far between”, it’s a city that does offer a lot of charm and to see Eurovision finally go to a place where it’s not a major city for the second time in its history. SVT have a lot of offers to consider and while it would be foolish of me to rule it out entirely, the chances of SVT deciding that Örnsköldsvik should host Eurovision 2016 are rather small…But best of luck Örnsköldsvik! We’re keeping our fingers crossed for you!!

So guys, what do you think? Should Örnsköldsvik host Eurovision 2016? Do you think Europe’s favourite TV show should be going u-u-u-up faster than Loreen can shake a stick? Or do you think that the city is an outsider and would never get the chance to get the Contest? Keep us in your loop by commenting below and stay tuned to ESC Views, as we take on the other cities in the running to host Eurovision 2016!!

Album Review: Aminata – “Inner Voice”

Can you believe that it’s been nearly a whole month since Eurovision 2015 happened, and while news on competing countries has been…well, rather slow – we have had a plethora of new music being released from artists from this year’s Contest; we’ve already covered Ann Sophie’s new album “Silver Into Gold”, and now we’re moving on up to Latvia and Aminata, who released her new album in March, around the same time as the Eurovision Pre-Party in Aminata’s hometown of Riga. So, what can we say about this new album, and what to expect from it? Keep reading to find out, as you listen to her Eurovision entry with a brand-spanking-new video!

*Yeah, I didn’t really get why she set herself on fire…*

So, it’s fair to say that Aminata Savadogo has been the epitome of the non-conventional Eurovision artist. Born in Latvia to a Latvian mother and a Burkinabé father, Aminata has managed to keep her African roots quite close to her, and has been able to utilise them in her music and her performances. I mean, come on – where did you think she learned those arm moves in Vienna? However, she has also tried to bring modern music into it too, as she is a very contemporary artist! So what do you get when you get Burkinabé influences and mix them with modern music? Well, you get this new album, entitled “Inner Voice”. The album has a total of ten tracks that have been written by Aminata herself over the course of two years from the time of the oldest song’s release till the album’s debut on the international market. There is an obvious recognition before you even listen to the first song that this album is a musical book, with each song telling a different story that all culminates in a form of euphoric paradise (but more on that in a while..), which is a nice departure from most other album topics that are constantly being exhausted. Right, let’s get reviewing!!

The song above is “Leave My Love Bleeding”, which is song #2 on the tracklist. This is a rather upbeat song that serves as the toe-tapper song, when you compare it to the rest of the album. It shows off the jazzy side of Aminata and her songwriting skills, while still keeping in those elements of dubstep. Aminata’s vocals here are astounding as they grow with the song and by the end of the song she’s letting those vocals out like a tiger out of a cage – there’s no holes barred. She actually did an acoustic version of the song with her band, in which you did get the sense of how a song like this would be acted out onstage, and trust me if it was like that – I’d love to go to one of her concerts anytime!! If you want to watch the acoustic version of the song, have a listen here!

Entitled “Until We Land”, this is the closing track of the album, and OMG – seriously, she really did save the best for last. Remember that just a minute ago, I said that the album culminates in a form of euphoric paradise? Well, this is what I meant. ‘Until We Land’ is the crown jewel in the album, in my opinion and there’s a chilled-out feeling, as it brings the album to an amazing end. Aminata delivers really relaxed vocals while soultry strings, gentle synth beats and soft pianos take the listener on a journey, like they are a bird of paradise returning home. The track also featured vocals from Ralfs Eilands, from PeR, who represented Latvia in 2013 with that really sparkly suit while wearing no shirt…now, you would think a voice like Ralfs’ would ruin the song, but in fact it’s had the opposite effect – Aminata and Ralfs voices on this song really do compliment each other and work as one entity. Now, I don’t know about you, but I always thought Ralfs was a little bit of a nutcase. But his vocals on this song make me wonder – why the hell was he wasting his time singing songs like “Revelation” and “Here We Go”, when he has the vocal capability to make beauty like ‘Until We Land’?! Some serious thought needs to go into his next career move now!!

Other Songs:

So, as you should probably know, we can’t review every song on the album, but here are a few other songs from the album that we think you should listen to! 🙂

Overall Review:

There’s no denying that Aminata is a fan of the synthesiser and this album really does reflect that. However, “Inner Voice” is more than just dubstep and layered vocals; this is a musical book of fairytales whereby each song tells its own story and although there’s no distinct or obvious connection between each song, there is a common theme here that its all about awakening and coming to realise the presence of love. Aminata’s vocals are flexible throughout the entire album, with each of the songs showing of the next possible direction her music could go. I do think that ‘Love Injected’ was the right song to send to Eurovision, as it is the perfect balance between mainstream music and the avant-garde, alternative slant that is more prevalant on “Inner Voice” and if she had picked another song to enter into Supernova – a song like “Dualism” for example, the general public wouldn’t be able to get behind her and she wouldn’t be able to do as well as she did in Vienna. If I was to rate this album out of ten, I would give the album an 8/10; there are a great collection of songs here and Aminata’s songwriting skills are fantastic, but it has to be said that she will never be for everyone and it really is up to the listener to decide whether this form of music is to their musical tastes. It is for me, but is it for you? Let’s have a look!

Your Views:

What do you make of "Inner Voice" - is there a song you like from the album?
What do you make of “Inner Voice” – is there a song you like from the album?

Henný Friðríksdóttir from Iceland: I was never a fan of Aminata until I heard “Let Me Know”. That is the standout song for me on the album. The rest are awful though.

James Sayer (veteran ESC Views’ contributor!!) from the United Kingdom:  It’s quite hit and miss but in general I really like it! There are a few cases of questionable lyrics (‘Cell Phone’ for example… *cringe*) and a few times where the production could be more professional, but overall it’s a strong album with plenty of quirky and original standout tracks like ‘Let Me Know’ and ‘The Bound’.

Johann Brausen from Austria: I really am a big fan of this album. The songs on it are absolutely amazing, and I am already looking forward to hearing the next bits of music coming from Aminata!

Noreen O’Hara from Ireland: There are some songs that you can tell are influenced by her African roots, but for me it’s quite like a 50/50 album for me. There are some songs I adore – “Leave My Love Bleeding”, and others I loathe – “Ring My Bells”.

So fans are rather divided on the album and their opinions of it, but the majority are quite favourable towards the songs, so we’ll take that as a compliment on behalf of the Latvian songstress. So what did you make of the album? Was there (a) song(s) on the album you loved, or did you hate the whole album? What are you expecting to come out of Latvia next year at Eurovision? Will you keep listening to Aminata? Feel free to let us know what you think by commenting below!! 🙂

Album Review: Ann Sophie – Silver into Gold

There are, doubtless, several people that will express fury at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest results.
‘What the hell?!’ they cry incredulously. ‘This is ridiculous! How did Sweden win? That song was so unoriginal!’. Whether or not Heroes was unoriginal is entirely subjective, I think (and that is all that will be said about the subject here), but if you shimmy right down to the other side of the spectrum, you’ll find comments such as these: ‘What utter bullshit! How the hell did The Makemakes get nul points?!’ and ‘Seriously? The TWO BEST SONGS IN THE WHOLE BLOODY CONTEST THIS YEAR got nul points?! How dare you! I’m never watching this stupid show again! Death to all of you!’
Alright, so that last one is (probably) an exaggeration. But a few things remain certain: Eurovision 2015 was won by Sweden, and two countries – Austria and Germany – received the dreaded nul points.

Continue reading Album Review: Ann Sophie – Silver into Gold