Things We Learned By Reading the Bios of the 2020 Eurovision Participants

Given the cancellation of this year’s Song Contest, we thought we might skip our annual review of Eurovision’s official artist bios. But then we saw that Benjamin Rosenbom of Ben & Tan (Denmark) is the son of a Malagasy father. If ever there was an artist who could qualify as an official Eurovision Lemur, it has to be the son of someone from Madagascar, right? This was the clearest sign we could get that we needed to press on!

As is often the case, there were a few bios that had us chuckling and wondering if the artists really are that conceited. Otherwise, their publicists aren’t doing them any favors. To wit, Ben Dolic (Germany):

“Singing affects our bodies and our souls. A voice that we find appealing may stop the time or drive us forward; it may give us goosebumps and flood us with endorphins. Ben Dolic has such a voice. It is at once crystal clear, warm, euphoric and semi-androgynous. It is a voice unlike any other in today’s pop music.”

Maybe “Violent Things” refers to the intensity of our retching after reading that.

Montaigne (Australia) twice mentions that she is a generational talent: “The voice of a new generation in Australia” who “represents the next generation of artists who march to the beat of their own drum.” And yet she saw fit to work with the same songwriting team who wrote most of Australia’s other Eurovision songs.

Roxen (Romania) says her “musical aura is like a spell that creates a whole new world.” That world requires tan pasties, though.

Meanwhile, Hooverphonic’s (Belgium) bio is so full of itself, it almost makes us reevaluate our fandom. “[‘Release Me’] is a sweeping, majestic ballad that only Hooverphonic seems to be able to craft time and time again.” Although John Barry was good that, too.

If you’ve ever wondered who the brain behind the band is, look no further: “Never one to place all of his eggs in one basket, frontman Alex Callier has always strived to deliver quality songs, sung by the best singers in the business.” The bio casually mentions that “guitarist Raymond Geerts has been the steady foundation of the band,” but really it’s all about Alex.

Hooverphonic ends their bio with, “They’re looking for stars and – rest assured – they will find them.” What does that even mean? Maybe it’s a reference to how they discovered lead singer Luka Cruysberghs, who won The Voice of Flanders while on Alex’s team.

But Luka is not the only winner of TV talent shows on the 2020 Eurovision roster. Alicja Szemplińska (Poland) won The Voice of Poland only a few months before she was chosen to represent her home country. Arilena Ara (Albania), Eden Alene (Israel), Destiny (Malta), and Tornike Kipiani (Georgia) all won their countries’ editions of The X Factor. Vincent Bueno (Austria) won Musical! The Show, and indeed was starring in a musical at the time the COVID-19 quarantine went into effect in Austria.

Want award winners? Blas Cantó (Spain) won an MTV European Music Award for Best Spanish Artist. James Newman (United Kingdom) won a Brit as a songwriter on Rudimental and Ella Eyre’s “Waiting All Night.” Little Big (Russia) “are prizewinners of lots of international award shows, like the Berlin Music Awards, Global Film Festival Awards, Het Gala van de Gouden K’s and others.” And Uku Suviste (Estonia) was named by Kroonika magazine as “Estonia’s Sexiest Man.”

Purrrrrrr

Natalia Gordienko (Moldova) reveals that she won “the gold medal in the Voice Category” at the World Championships of Performing Arts, which sounds like part of the plot to a direct-to-video Pitch Perfect movie.

Of course, no awards banquet would be complete without this from Athena Manoukian (Armenia): “Her first experience in the music industry was in 2007 when she won first prize at an international talent contest.” Yeah, there’s no need to be more specific!

Of course winning stuff is one thing, but getting a good education is important too. Uku attended the Berklee College of Music, where he “[made] the Dean’s List every semester.” Elisa (Portugal) is currently a student at the Music Academy of Lisbon. And Samanta Tīna (Latvia) “wrote her graduating paper based on an analysis of the national selections for the Eurovision Song Contest in Latvia and Lithuania.”

We love the artists who talk about their struggles getting to Eurovision, which makes this year’s cancellation particularly cruel. Samanta makes sure to mention she tried to represent Latvia six times and Lithuania twice. Blas notes that he competed in Spain’s national selections for the 2004 Junior Eurovision Song Contest and for the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest. Efendi (Azerbaijan) writes, “After 4 attempts to become Azerbaijan’s representative at the Eurovision Song Contest, the 5th attempt was victorious.” Of course, she was an internal selection, but she won the hell out of that internal selection!

At least Blas and Efendi have already confirmed they’re coming back next year. We beg of Latvia: skip Supernova next year and just send Samanta!

Ultimately, though, what we really look for when poring over these bios are distillations of each artists’ musical philosophy. Sandro’s (Cyprus) credo is “that music must be authentic, truthful and reach peoples’ hearts.” Vasil’s (North Macedonia) “motto in life is simple – wherever words fail – Vasil sings.” It’s the same way we manage our visits to Costco.

The Roop’s (Lithuania) lead singer Vaidotas Valiukevičius says of “On Fire,” “With this song, I wish to send my listeners confidence and good vibes. We are all capable of being who we want when we want, and age is not important.” As Eurovision bloggers in their late 40s, we can’t agree more!

Daði Freyr (Iceland) writes, “Music and family are the most important things in the world to Daði Freyr. It’s what drives him forward, what inspires him, and what keeps him rooted in Iceland and the close-knit communities he has always adored.” He adds:

“The song is designed to be seen by the world, all part of his complex masterplan, coupled with the stunning live performances and the viral video … Humble focused on the music, Daði Freyr ends the song as he begins – surrounded by his family, reaching out to Europe.”

Of all of the bios, this is the one we are most convinced was written by the artist himself.

On that note, let’s end with Lesley Roy (Ireland). We quote directly:

“Lesley said that working with theatre-makers and club creators ThisIsPopBaby on this year’s Irish entry ‘changes the game as far as Ireland and the European song competition goes – ThisIsPopBaby are injecting a fresh, fun vision that encapsulates a modern Ireland.’”

There is no way you can convince us that she actually said that, unless you also offer evidence that her day job is as a publicist.