Tag Archives: Latvia

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!! 🙂

Editorial: Our preview of Semi-Final Two of Eurovision 2015!

So guys, what a show last night was! Eurovision 2015 really did kick off in style, with Europe picking its ten faovurite songs to go through and even though we lost countries like Belarus, Denmark and the Netherlands, we have to move on and tomorrow, another 17 countries will be vying for the ten remaining spots in the Final by the end of the show on Thursday, we’ll know who will have the chance to win and go on to host the 61st edition of the Eurovision Song Contest! ..Well, now, we’ll be offering you who we think will qualify from Semi-Final 2, along with the results of a poll we had created in the great Eurovision group ‘Eurovision Debate’. So who’s going to qualify, in our opinions?

Okay, so we are planning to do an editorial for each show like this and it will consist of:

  • The results of a poll we published in the Facebook group ‘Eurovision Debate’ in which we asked the members to vote for the ten countries they think SHOULD qualify to the Grand Final – they normally are the best group at telling which country will win, so it’s fair to say we could rely on them!
  • Our own predictions as to who will qualify for the Final on Saturday, along with a couple of words explaining why.
  • We’ll then give you some interesting facts and statistics about each show. This could range from betting odds to notable people on a certain country’s jury, to a country’s staging! Whatever interesting things we know about the show, we’ll be sure to tell you!

Does that make sense, guys? If so, let’s proceed with the first part of the article – the results of the Eurovision Debate poll!


Just to give a little bit of context – we posted this poll in the Facebook group ‘Eurovision Debate’ on Friday morning, giving the fans a good 3 days in which to vote. As we said in the preview for Semi-Final 1, a lot more people decided to vote in the Semi-Final 2 poll than they did in the first semi-final. However, that doesn’t change the fact that we have a result! Here are the scores in full, taken at Monday 18th May at 17:00 GMT:

1. Sweden – 36 votes                                       = Norway – 36 votes

3. Slovenia – 35 votes                                        4. Azerbaijan – 34 votes

5. Lithuania – 28 votes                                             = Israel – 28 votes

7. Iceland – 27 votes                                          8. Ireland – 24 votes

9. Latvia – 23 votes                                               10. Malta – 20 votes

11. Poland – 17 votes                            = Montenegro – 17 votes

13. Czech Republic  – 13 votes                          14. Cyprus – 12 votes

15. Switzerland – 6 votes                               16. San Marino – 4 votes

                                            17. Portugal – 3 votes

Semi-Final 2 has come across as being much more definite than its predecessor did, with three ties within all the 17 countries – most notably the tie for first place between Sweden and Norway, tied on 36 votes. According to you Eurofans, the most anticipated returning country – the Czech Republic – isn’t going to qualify for the first time ever…will you be right? Bringing up the rear is Portugal, who at only 3 votes, is really not getting the support other countries are getting for their song – will she qualify? It’s entirely up you!!  So will this be the final result on Thursday? We’ll just have to wait and see..


Rory –   So, these are my qualifiers for tomorrow evening!

Latvia – I feel like Latvia has been pretty understated over this process – support for Aminata has both soared and plunged, but I have a feeling that she will ace it on the night and finally give Latvia its first qualification since 2008.

Azerbaijan – I’m really not a fan of Azerbaijan anyway, so this is just another song that’s in the queue for me…but because Azerbaijan normally qualifies every year, I’m sure this year will be no exception!

Lithuania – After the horror of ‘Attention’ last year (Very sorry, James!), Lithuania is finally coming back with a good song and it’s something that has got to be an uplifting start to the show! Not sure about Monika’s scaly dress, but other than that, I’m holding out a lot of hope for them!

Czech Republic – Speaking of hope, I’d love for the Czech Republic to make it through to the final! My opinion of the song has varied since its release, but with strong rehearsals from both Martá and Václav, I’m sure they are gonna kick ass tomorrow night…..hopefully!

Sweden – Hate it. ABSOLUTELY hate it. But it’ll qualify anyway. That’s it.

Norway – Norway has slowly grown on me since it was picked…I think the duet is very strong and Kjetil & Debrah help each other to sound incredibly strong and after seeing such grand rehearsal, not only is qualification a sure-fire thing, they are definitely a contender for the top 3!

Poland – I’m really touched by Monika’s story of overcoming fear and pain by continuing her journey with music, but after seeing PKN fail in the semi-final, I’m less sure of Poland getting through. The song is pretty repetitive, and even though her vocals are amazing, the staging is just a tad too simple..Possible borderline qualifier, but I really hope she does better than just 10th place..

Iceland – For me, Iceland continues to be the best Nordic entry of the lot this year. María has really strong vocals on her own, and the whole thing with the gold feet ***SPOILER ALERT*** is really quite groundbreaking – fair play to her! And of course, everyone has seen Hera Björk and Friðrík Dór too….at least you should have!

Ireland – Okay, I might get done for being biased because Ireland is my home country, but you have to admit, Molly’s rehearsals have been strong! The song is a tad slow and dull in parts, but it’s practically “När jag blundar” Version 2.0!! Come on, people – she’s only 17!!

Slovenia – It’s been a bit of a saddening sight to see Slovenia shoot down the betting odds while Serbia and co completely take up the majority of the favourites’ spots. However, Slovenia have been offering some good vocals – their one stumbling block might be headphones – could first-time-listeners look past the accessory? I have no clue..

Well, that’s who I think will qualify..how about you, Lauren?

Lauren – Well Rory, these are my qualifiers:

Ireland: Despite being quite underrated, this one is sweet and slow.  Hwever, there wouldn’t be too much to set it apart from the other ballads, were it not for Molly Sterling’s lovely voice.

Malta: Warrior shares a name with Georgia’s entry this year.  This one will probably qualify, not only because of the interesting sound, but because it’s not a ballad.

Norway: Yeah, let’s face it.  A Monster Like Me will definitely qualify.  It’s a great song, albeit strongly reminiscent of Adele (nothing wrong with that, mind you…)

Portugal: ‘Há um mar que nos separa’ is one of the few songs to be sung in a native language as opposed to English.  This gives it a nice effect, and makes it stand out – and standing out is the key to qualifying.

Israel: Good God.  What starts as another ballad quickly has an ascent to awesome within about thirty seconds.  This one will qualify, without a doubt.

Azerbaijan: It’s another ballad, but there must be a reason why these ballads keep getting entered; obviously, somebody loves them.  Besides, it’s a pretty good song.

Iceland: Unbroken is a peppy pop song that sounds like something your little sister and her friends would blast from your shared bedroom at 12 am.  This is not a bad thing.  It’s a great song, and I would be VERY surprised if it didn’t qualify.

Sweden: As much as I hate to say this…yeah, Sweden’s gonna qualify.  Like the rest of Scandinavia it generally takes the whole contest quite seriously (which is more than can be said for the UK, at any rate), so it makes sense that they’d enter in something like this.  It’s very similar to a lot of popular music nowadays, which makes its’ qualification reasons stronger.

Montenegro: Although there isn’t a great deal to set this one apart, it has a very ethnic feel to it, which will definitely win some brownie points.  In addition, it’s sung in a native language! Always nice.

San Marino: Now, I don’t retract my earlier statement about this song.  However, it is catchy, and what will really make it qualify (if it does) is definitely the singers’ ages.  Pretentious and cheesy? Yep.  Somewhat annoying and bad? Definitely.  Will it qualify? Probably.  No one wants to seem like an asshole and upset two kids.

Reece – Here are who I think are going to qualify:

Sweden – Almost guaranteed to finish in the top six, this slice of unoriginal Scandinavian pop will go down a treat with voters across Europe. Might not be strong enough to win, but who knows?

Norway – One of the strongest of the year, no question. Mysterious lyrics, simple staging, decent vocals – this all adds up to a sure-fire qualifier in my eyes.

Slovenia – Poor rehearsals, but contemporary, catchy and quirky. It could be time for Slovenia to have their most successful year yet in the competition. Not a winner though.

Azerbaijan – They always reach the final, and Elnur will continue that streak, even if his song is rather forgettable, and likely to become lost in the mix of other ballads. Will do better than last year however.

Israel – Surely it’s back to the final at last for Israel. A fun, bouncy number that really deserves a lot of points, but what will the juries make of this? Won’t win the semi-final, or indeed the final, but mid-table will be satisfying for ‘Golden Boy.’

Latvia – Not sure what the fascination is with this entry, but the strong chorus, impressive vocal delivery by Aminata, and all-round un-Eurovision feel may make this the darkest of dark horses this year. Should qualify.

Lithuania – Very sweet, although perhaps a little too cutesy for some. Saying that, it’s always nice to have a song like this every year in Eurovision, so Lithuania should pick up enough points to see them qualify.

Iceland – Well performed, with just a hint of Disney thrown in for good measure. A great entry that may well end up totally underrated. Hard to say how well it will do, but the final is highly likely at the very least.

Malta – Cruised to victory in the Maltese national final, ‘Warrior’ may not be as strong as Georgia’s song of the same name. I have a feeling the juries will love this, meaning alongside the public votes, Malta could reach the final, but only by a small margin.

Montenegro – Just the sort of bland entry that would qualify, ‘Adio’ is by no means a smashing entry. Can’t really fault the performance though. A second consecutive final is possible, but the Czechs, the Polish, and the Irish (who really deserve to make it) will run them close.

How about you, Lewis?

Lewis – No opinions yet, but I’ll add them in due course!












So, here are some nice stats about what’s happening in the second semi-final:

  • From the latest checking at Oddschecker.com, it’s pretty obvious that Sweden is the outright favourite both to win the semi-final and to win the whole show outright, at odds  of 2/5 and 2/1 respectively. And now, after all of the shuffling around of the betting odds because of the first semi-final, the next two countries that are in Semi-Final 2 that are set to do well in punters’ eyes are Norway and Azerbaijan, but at worse odds than Sweden, with both countries weighing in at 33/1 and 40/1 respectively. At least if you place a bet now and one of them ends up winning, you’ll be making a good bit of money!
  • Out of all the countries in the semi-final, the Czech Republic has the worst track record. Of course,if we disregard the fact they haven’t been taking part since 2009, the most amount of points the country has ever garnered in a Contest was 9 in 2008. Hopefully though, that’s gonna change tomorrow night! Hope Never Dies, eh? 😉
  • If you haven’t been watching the rehearsals, be sure to look out for Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Latvia. Their stagings will definitely boast something to talk about after the show..minimalistic stagings are always pleasant to see instead of all the kitchness – I know I said the same thing in the other preview, but it is a true statement!
  • Sweden and Azerbaijan have the best track records for qualifying from the semi-finals. In every showing in Eurovision, Azerbaijan has featured in the final since their début in 2008. Sweden, on the other hand has only ever missed one final since the introduction of the semi-finals back in 2004, when Anna Bergendahl just missed out on qualifying in 2010 – other than her, Sweden has also featured in every other final! In terms of betting odds, Sweden, as already mentioned, is the favourite to win the entire competition with odds at 2/1, so if you want a sure bet, chuck a little bit of money on Måns, if you want! Azerbaijan’s odds, as also already mentioned, are a bit further out compared to Sweden’s..but, should Azerbaijan qualify, expect that to change very quickly so if anyone is to bet on Azerjijibin Azerbizja ……. Baku-land winning the show – make sure you get the odds while they’re at their best!

Well, I hope that this semi-final will be a great second chapter of the Eurovision Song Contest 2015 and we hope that you will #JoinUs for the result! Best of luck to everybody!

Your views:

Which countries do you think will qualify from the second semi-final?
Which countries do you think will qualify from the second semi-final?

Lydia Lanmann from the United Kingdom: I’m really looking forward to seeing Mans from Sweden win the semi-final…I also like Poland too, but I don’t think it’ll do as well.

Elisabeth Normansson from Norway: I’m backing our own Mørland and Debrah, as well as María from Iceland…This semi-final is a hard one, but it’s gonna be a great show!

Malgorzata Jozny from Poland: I’m not going to support Monika tonight, but I shall support Mans and I will also support Ireland too – she is a sweet girl and she needs a place in final!

Svana Lístí Agnarsdóttir from Iceland: I think Sweden, Norway and Azerbaijan are going to do well, but I hope people will like María tonight, she’s our angel and we need her to make the final – for the Icelandic people!!

So it’s fair to say that a lot of people are going to be supporting Måns in Vienna tomorrow, but will he do as well as everyone thinks he will? We’ll have to wait and see! In the meantime, we here at ESC Views wanna know what you think! Is there gonna be a country that comes out of nowhere and qualifies, like Armenia? Is there going to be a favourite who doesn’t qualify, like Trijntje from the Netherlands? And who do you think will win the semi-final? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below!!!

ESC Views Pre-Contest Vote: Latvia

Hi, and welcome to today’s edition of ESC Views Pre-Contest Vote! If you don’t really understand what’s going on here, then feel free to click here to find out more! Today’s victim – um, I mean, subject – is Latvia, with the song Love Injected by Aminata.

Continue reading ESC Views Pre-Contest Vote: Latvia