Hello Dear Readers!
As promised, here is the first of our five sets of reviews this week. Here are the nine countries competing in the first half of the first semi-final.
First Semi-Final, First Half
*There are three basic ways for a song to be chosen. Internal Selection which is when the broadcaster within a country chooses both the performing artist and the song completely on their own without help from a professional jury or the public. Televised Selection which is the exact opposite, both the performing artist and the song are selected through a competition (or set of competitions) in which some combination of professional jurists and the public vote on the winners. There are also Mixed Selections, in which either the performing artist or the song is selected internally and the other is selected through a televised process. The only example of that this year is Malta, which had a televised selection, but opted to change the song through an internal selection process after Ira Losco won.
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Happy New Year, Dear Readers!
May this year bring you much love to light your lives, much hope to embolden your spirits, and laughter to brighten your days (and nights)!
This week, we turn our gaze to the most notorious of ESC genres: ballads! Historically, “ballads” were stories that were sung. People who sung these stories were called “troubadours” (much like the title of Dutch winner from 1969). Over time, the term “ballad” became more associated with the musical style than the lyrical content, particularly since most were stories love.
The music style is typified, generally, by a slow pace, a lack of musical complexity, and usually only one (or two) primary vocalist. Since the beginning, this has been the dominant musical genre of ESC entries, to the chagrin of some (who prefer more uptempo songs), but to the joy of many! This week, for the final Playlist of the Week, the focus is on ballads.
Once again, twenty songs from the Televoting Era (post 1998) of the Eurovision Song Contest. I curated this list to provide an array of ballads, some are the traditional story style, most are slow, heartfelt love songs. All are ballads. Enjoy!
View the playlist here: Eurovision for Balladeers
Greece 2003 – Never Let You Go performed by Mando
Estonia 2012 – Kuula performed by Ott Lepland
Monaco 2005 – Tout de Moi performed by Lise Darly
Italy 2011 – Madness of Love performed by Raphael Gualazzi
Cyprus 2004 – Stronger Every Minute performed by Lisa Angel
Hungary 2007 – Unsubstantial Blues performed by Magdi Rúzsa
France 2001 – Je N’Ail Que Mon Âme performed by Natasha St-Pier
Romania 2009 – Pe-O Margien De Lume performed by Nico & Vlad
Spain 2012 – Quédate Conmigo (Stay with Me) performed by Pastora Soler
Malta 2005 – Angel performed by Chiara
Portugal 2009 – Todas as Ruas do Amor performed by Flor-De-Lis
Azerbaijan 2015 – Hour of the Wolf performed by Elnur Huseynov
Ireland 2010 – It’s for You performed by Niamh Kavanagh
United Kingdom 2002 – Come Back performed by Jessica Garlic
Israel 2005 – Hasheket Shinish’ar performed by Shiri Maimon
Germany 2004 – Can’t Wait Until Tonight performed by Max
Sweden 2014 – Undo performed by Sanna Nielsen
Bosnia & Herzegovina 2006 – Lejla performed by Hari Mata Hari
Sweden 2006 – Invincible performed by Carola
Honorable Mention: MANY MANY SONGS!
What are some of your favorite ballads from the Contest’s recent history? What about from the early years, when almost every song every year was a ballad? Is there a decade of ballad style that particularly speaks to you?
Merry Christmas Dear Readers — and Happy New Year!
This week’s playlist features Eurovision artists singing traditional and contemporary Christmas songs. Once again, twenty songs curated for your enjoyment, plus a bonus gift at the end! If y’all like this list, let me know, and I’ll be sure to make a new one each year!
Find the playlist on YouTube: Eurovision for Christmas
Kuunkuiskaajat (Finland 2010) – Talven Ihmemaa (Winter Wonderland)
Tina Karol (Ukraine 2006) – Тиха Ніч (Silent Night)
Carola (Sweden 1983, 1991, 2006) – I Wander as I Wonder
Alexander Rybak (Norway 2009) – Tell Me When (Christmas Song)
Anna Vissi (Greece 1980, 2006; Cyprus 1982) – Min Xehnas
Juliana Pasha (Albania 2010) – Krishtlindje te bardha
Ruslana (Ukraine 2004) – Добрий вечір, тобі
Patricia Kaas (France 2009) – Merry Christmas Baby
Paula Selig (Romania 2010, 2014) – Sus, la Porta Raiului
Nox (Hungary 2005) – Szent ünnep
Il Volo (Italy 2015) – I’ll be Home for Christmas
Guy Sebastian (Australia 2015) – Someday at Christmas
Yohanna (Iceland 2009) – Don’t Save it All for Christmas Day
Hera Björk (Iceland 2010) & Chiara (Malta 1998, 2005, 2009) – The Christmas Song
Litesound (Belarus 2012) – Shooting Star
Maria Haukaas Storeng (Norway 2008) – All I Want for Christmas is You
Dino Merlin (Bosnia & Herzegovina 1999, 2011) – Božić Je
Charlotte Perrelli (Sweden 1999, 2008) – Låt Julen Förkunna
Olsen Brothers (Denmark 2000) – We Believe in Love/Så er det Endelig Jul/Feliz Navidad
Celine Dion (Switzerland 1988) – O Holy Night
Bzikebi (JESC Georgia 2008) – Ave Maria
Honorable Mention: Dana (Ireland 1970) – It’s Gonna be a Cold, Cold Christmas; Olivia Newton John (UK 1974) – Christmas Waltz; Bonnie Tyler (UK 2013) – Merry Christmas; Edsilia Rombley (Netherlands 1998, 2007) – This Christmas; Polina Gagarina (Russia 2015) – Опять Метель; and many, many more!
!חג מולד שמח! عيد ميلاد مجيد
Καλά Χριστούγεννα! Wesołych Świąt – Bożego Narodzenia! Веселого Різдва’ – Христос Рождається’! Khrystos Rozhdayetsia! Vesel Božić! Happy Christmas! Весела Коледа! Bon Natale! Rõõmsaid Jõulupühi! Sretan Božić! Mutlu Noeller! Joyeux Noël! გილოცავ შობაახალ წელს! Milad bayramınız mübarək! Glædelig Jul! Bellas Festas! Vrolijk Kerstfeest! Schöni Wiehnachte! Hyvää Joulua! Nadolig Llawen! Счастливого рождества! Il-Milied it-Tajjeb! Priecïgus Ziemassvºtkus! Frohe Weihnachten! ¡Feliz Navidad! God Jul! Христос се роди! Շնորհավոր Ամանոր և Սուրբ Ծնուն! Gëzuar Krishtlindjen! Bon Nadale! Kellemes karácsonyi ünnepeket! Gleðileg jól! Nollaig Shona Dhuit! Buon Natale! Linksmų Kalėdų! Среќен Божик! Feliz Natale! Blithe Yule! Vesele Vianoce! Schéi Chrèschtdeeg!
Or as my Southern friends here in the US say: Merry Christmas, Y’all!! 🎅
Hello Dear Readers!
I thought this week, I would try something different. Instead of the usual twenty song playlist, I decided to craft two ten-song playlists – one for the heartbroken and one for heartbreakers. It’s no secret that Eurovision is full of love songs, but there are also quite a few anti-love songs. Here are twenty on both sides of the equation that I think are worth a listen. As a reminder, these songs come from the Televoting Era (1998 – onwards) with focus on recent years.
Songs for the Heartbroken
It’s never fun to be dumped — unless you can turn that pain into a successful song at Eurovision! These songs capture the anguish, remorse, loss, and pain that the end of a relationship can bring.
Find the playlist here: Eurovision for the Heartbroken
- Denmark 2012 – Should’ve Known Better performed by Soluna Somay
- Serbia 2008 – Oro performed by Jelena Tomašević
- Cyprus 2010 – Life Looks Better in Spring performed by Jon Lilygreen and the Islanders
- Iceland 2009 – Is it True? performed by Yohanna
- Bosnia & Herzegovina 2007 – Rijeka Bez Imena performed by Maria
- Greece 2015 – One Last Breath performed by Maria Elena Kyriakou
- Sweden 2004 – It Hurts performed by Lena Philipsson
- Russia 2010 – Lost & Forgotten performed by Peter Nalitch and Friends
- France 2009 – S’Il Fallait le Faire performed by Patricia Kaas
- Serbia & Montenegro 2004 – Lane Moje performed by Željko Joksimović
Honorable Mention: United Kingdom 2002, Portugal 2003, Slovenia 2006, Serbia 2012, Cyprus 2015, Montenegro 2015
Eurovision for Heartbreakers
Not every relationship ends in despair, in fact, oftentimes, one person is happy that the relationship is over. Sometimes their emotions can be joy, relief, excitement — just happy to be free of a bad relationship. These songs are for those who are feeling great to be single.
Find the playlist here: Eurovision for Heartbreakers
- Germany 2015 – Black Smoke performed by Ann Sophie
- Slovenia 2005 – Stop performed by Omar Naber
- Cyprus 2007 – Comme Çi, Comme Ça performed by Evridiki
- Italy 2012 – L’Amore È Femmina (Out of Love) performed by Nina Zilli
- Macedonia 2005 – Make My Day performed by Martin Vučić
- Slovenia 2011 – No One performed by Maja Keuc
- Belarus 2014 – Cheesecake performed by Teo
- Lithuania 2007 – Love or Leave performed by 4Fun
- Belgium 2013 – Love Kills performed by Roberto Bellarosa
- Denmark 2014 – Only Teardrops performed by Emmelie de Forest
Honorable Mention: Andorra 2006, Ukraine 2008, Denmark 2009, Poland 2011, Israel 2014, Estonia 2015
- Ballads of heartbreak and sadness are most known for coming from the former Yugoslav countries, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia. Furthermore, one man, Željko Joksimović is behind some of the most famous and successful entries for these countries as composer and occasional performer:
- 2004 – he performed Lane Moje, he won the semi-final but ultimately finished second
- 2006 – he composed Lejla, which Hari Mata Hari performed for Bosnia & Herzegovina. This is not only my favorite ESC song ever, but its third place is the best BiH finish to date.
- 2008 – in addition to hosting, he composed Serbia’s title defense effort Oro, finishing sixth.
- 2012 – his triumphant return as a performed, he performed his self-composed entry Nije Ljubav Stvar, finishing in third place.
- 2015 – he composed the Montengrin entry Adio, which only finished 13th, but is only the second Grand Final qualifier for Montenegro, and its highest ever finish.
- As female-led songs become more popular, we’ll see more and more heartbreaker songs.
- Interestingly enough, songs on both sides of the break-up spectrum range in tempo and tone.
The most recent previous list: Eurovision for Rockers
Next week: Eurovision for Baladeers