Things We Learned By Reading the Bios of the 2019 Eurovision Participants

It’s the end of the first full week of activity at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. We’ve been following along with the rehearsals via Twitter. We’ve been developing harsh opinions about 45 second clips. We’ve been dismissing people with harsh opinions about 45 second clips. And we’ve been scouring all of the artist bios on the Eurovision website, looking for little gems that help us glean insight into our favorite performers at the 2019 Song Contest.

As you might expect, Hatari (Iceland) don’t bury their lede: “Award-winning, anti-capitalist, BDSM, techno-dystopian, performance art collective Hatari are proud to represent Iceland at the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, brought to you almost exclusively by premier, top quality, Icelandic effervescent soft drink manufacturer SodaDream.” (SodaDream being the corporate brand they invented as their sponsor for the Song Contest and a sly dig at Israeli company SodaStream.) They also “invite you all to join them on their nihilistic journey to the centre of the earth.”

They are so going to pull some sort of protest stunt in the Grand Final, aren’t they?

During our review, we saw a lot of references to artists’ social media cred. Bilal Hassani (France) talks about finding fame through his YouTube channel. Zena (Belarus) brags about her 93,000 subscribers on Instagram. Then Jonida Maliqi (Albania) barges in to say “With her 435,000 Instagram followers she is a well known influencer and fashion icon in her home country.” Take that, Zena. Also, Jonida had better not win the Barbara Dex award.

It’s always fun to learn geography while we peruse each article. Chingiz (Azerbaijan) grew up in the awesomely named Qazax, which needs to be the name of a progressive metal band. Michela (Malta) is from the island of Gozo, which we think makes her a Gozerian. Meanwhile, Eliot (Belgium) is from Mons. Aren’t we all?

As you might expect, singers who had a hand in writing their entries will brag about their list of credits. Kate Miller-Heidke (Australia) notes that she co-wrote an opera called The Rabbits, which looks awesome, and a musical version of Muriel’s Wedding, which looks… less awesome. Then again, all Muriel’s Wedding needs to be a musical is scads of ABBA songs, unless that’s a little too Mamma Mia! Still, you can see where the theatricality of Australia’s staging comes from.

Pænda (Austria) says she is “avoiding pretentiousness” in her style and that she “left behind the fear of being too straightforward in her style of composing.” So avoiding pretentiousness is a daily struggle, really. No wonder she tackles the subject of self-awareness on her new album.

Tom Hugo Hermansen of KEiiNO (Norway) mentions that he wrote songs for K-Pop artists EXO, SHiNee and TVXQ. Our somewhat exhaustive research indicates his biggest hit to date is TVXQ’s “Very Merry Christmas,” which was a top 10 hit in Japan.

Some artists feel like they have something to prove with their participation. For example, Darude (Finland) would like you to know that he remains “as fresh and exciting as ever.” Also, the “charismatic [Sebastian] Rejman will bring a fresh vitality and admirable live element to Darude’s musical backdrop.” Truly, Finland is this year’s Freshmaker.

In fine Swedish tradition, John Lundvik (Sweden) says he’s “an incredibly authentic singer who, with intimacy and great musicality, raises the level of the Swedish music scene.” First things first, he’s the realest.

He does mention that he co-wrote the United Kingdom entry, and speaking of, Michael Rice says that he put his £50,000 prize for winning the BBC show All Together Now towards his mom’s restaurant The Waffle & Crepe Shack. You know we’re going to eat there next time we’re in Hartlepool. Never mind that it’s a five hour drive from where we usually visit. His mom makes Jaffa Cake milkshakes. We. Are. Going.

Several artists at Eurovision have had to toil as they tried to launch their music career. Sarah McTernan (Ireland) took time off from studying music technology at Limerick Institute of Technology to work in retail. D Moll (Montenegro) are all music students at a school started by Daniel Alibabek from No Name, who represented Serbia and Montenegro at the 2005 Song Contest. Luca Hänni (Switzerland) trained as a bricklayer, which means “he likes getting stuck in with both hands.” Take note, ladies: he’s handy!

And returning artist Serhat (San Marino) is a qualified dentist who also hosted the Turkish version of Jeopardy! A direct quote from his bio: “Having mastered the art of dentistry and television, Serhat turned his eye to performing music…” The man is so self-aware that he becomes not self-aware at all, and we love him for it.

Lest you think Serhat is the only artist returning from Eurovision 2016 who is a triple threat, then let’s consider Sergey Lazarev (Russia). He is an actor who has performed in Romeo and Juliet and Lend Me a Tenor. How many Russian pop stars can claim they have done Shakespearean tragedy and Ludwigean farce? But the best thing about Sergey is that he owns Poodle-Strudel, a Moscow bakery for dogs.


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