One of the things that we have been deprived of by the cancellation of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest is the delight (or horror) of discovering how countries would have staged their entries. We mention this now because we have absolutely now idea how Cyprus would have pulled this one off.
Sandro (a.k.a. Alessandro Ruetten) was born in Germany to Greek and American parents. He competed on the eighth season of The Voice of Germany and finished sixth while representing the United States at Russia’s New Wave Festival in 2019. He cowrote “Running” with The Voice Australia winner Alfie Arcuri, German singer-songwriter Octavian Rasinariu, German songwriter and producer Sebastian Metzner Rickards, and someone named Teo DK (not to be confused with Teo BY).
“Running” has an ambient quality that reminds us of downtempo artists like Ulrich Schnauss. It’s kind of an odd choice for a Eurovision song, because it doesn’t strike us as a performance song. It’s a mood piece with a decent hook for a chorus, which is not something that pops on a big stage.
Even though “Running” didn’t leave much of an impression on us at first, it has grown us considerably. One of our favorite songs from 2019 was Alphabeat’s “Shadows.” Here, Sandro offers up a more internalized companion piece. The lyrics are (to us, anyway) about hiding from the world when you’re filled with self-doubt. For those of us who struggle with anxiety, it’s quite an anthem. Maybe it’s a bit too introverted to be a Eurovision song, but it resonates anyway. A dose of “Running,” a dose of “Shadows,” and we won’t be afraid to move on.
We don’t usually like to brag when we look like geniuses, but we feel like we nailed our review of Cyprus’ Eurovision 2018 entry. It didn’t seem like a lot of people rated it when it first came out, but “Fuego” was quite the sensation once the rehearsals kicked off in Lisbon. Not that we necessarily would have predicted Cyprus to finish second at the Song Contest, but we just had a feeling Eleni Foureira was going to be the diva to end all divas.
Cyprus is trying to replicate last year’s magic, which is why it’s not surprising to us that their song is called “Replay.”
Tamta is a Georgian Greek singer who finished second in Super Idol, the short-lived Greek version of Pop Idol. She has gone on to be a judge on both the Greek and Georgian versions of The Voice. She also finished third in the 2007 Greek national final with the song “With Love.”
The official video for “Replay” is ridiculous, a collection of perfume ad outtakes that includes a factory that only manufactures sparks. We think it’s a collective metaphor for sex, although we’re trying to figure out what kink is symbolized by dropping a knife that turns into packing peanuts.
That Tamta looks like Sharon Tate as Jennifer North in Valley of the Dolls as another level to the video, because it looks like she’s performing in the French art films Jennifer starts acting in when she needs to raise money for Tony after he’s hospitalized for his mysterious illness.
Too deep a pull?
Anyway, you’re probably wondering what we think of the song. We like it! It is maybe trying a bit too hard to be “Fuego” 2.0, but it’s catchy. Our son refers to it as “Bing-Bong-de-Bing-Bong-de-Bay,” which captures the melody of the chorus quite well.
Eurovision’s producers have picked “Replay” to kick off the First Semi, which we think makes perfect sense. It’s the only proper banger in the first half of the draw. Cyprus is likely going to try hard to recapture lightning in a bottle, so the staging is either going to be ridiculously awesome or memorably ridiculous. Hope they have the spark generator primed and ready.
Cyprus made an internal selection this year because with Eleni Foureira there is no need for a competition (and because for years Greece has been unwilling to send her). Here’s “Fuego,” Cyprus’ song for Europe.
Eleni Foureira got her start as a member of the Greek girl group Mystique. She branched out as a solo artist in 2010 and since then has had seven top 10 singles in Greece, including the chart-topping duet with J Balvin “Tranquila.” Eleni’s ancestry has often been a point of media speculation – is she Brazilian? Is she Mexican? Is she Greek? In 2014, she revealed that she hid the fact that she was born in Albania because record labels wouldn’t have signed her based on her ethnicity.
As a performer, Eleni is part of a fine tradition of long-haired divas with legs for days, a tradition that includes Nicole Scherzinger, Queen Iveta, and Zuul. In a semifinal filled with aspiring divas, Eleni has the potential to reign supreme.
“Fuego” was written by a songwriting team lead by Alexander Papaconstantinou, who wrote “Yassou Maria” for Greece, “Always” for Azerbaijan, and “La La Love” for Cyprus. He’s joined by Anderz Wrethov, who co-wrote “Always,” and Viktor Svensson, who co-wrote “La La Love.” Anderz and Viktor teamed up for 2016’s Eurofan pre-selection favorite “Cool Me Down.”
For us, the tragedy of “Fuego” is that EBU restrictions on product placements will deny us choreography using Fyffes-branded pineapples. Mmm, fire-roasted pineapples…
Hovig is representing Cyprus at Eurovision with the song “Gravity.”
Hovig is an Armenian-Cypriot singer who first came into the public eye in 2009 when he appeared on the Greek version of The X Factor. He participated in the 2010 and 2015 Cyprus national finals before becoming his country’s internal pick this year. “Gravity” was written by Thomas G:Son, because every Eurovision must have at least one G:Son entry.
Judging from his past live performances, Hovig is a solid if not dynamic vocalist, but he has enough swagger and charisma to garner attention. Fortunately for him, G:Son has provided him a song that can put that swagger on display. “Gravity” is commercial and familiar, but is enhanced by some interesting production choices, like that buzzing synth, which gives it some life.
We like the song, but we hope it will be further lifted by the staging. The official video seems to be hinting at where Cyprus will take “Gravity” in Kyiv. If they follow through, it’ll be a good time. Here’s hoping.
All of the Eurovision Song Contest entries decided in the past couple of days have the ring of familiarity to them. Two artists make their return to the Grand Prix, and two others have tried to represent their respective nations in years past. Let’s try and relive some magic.
Bosnia & Herzegovina: Dalal & Deen featuring Ana Rucner and Jala – “Ljubav Je”
Bosnia & Herzegovina returns to Eurovision with an all-star cast of performers, including Song Contest veteran Deen. “Ljubav Je” is a standard Balkan ballad with a hip hop twist, thanks to Jala. We love how they staged the song presentation: it looked like Dalal and Deen were singing about the Romeo & Juliet-like love story between Jala and Ana Rucner. Will strings melt a hip hopper’s heart? Will rhymes be the hammer to ring the chimes of the cellist’s soul? Tune into SVT in May to find out.
Cyprus: Minus One – “Alter Ego”
Minus One are an internal selection. They vied for the chance to represent Cyprus last year and their song was one of our favorites from the national final season even if it was called “Shine.” They teamed up with the prolific Thomas G:Son to shred the hell out of their entry. It’s rocking good stuff and we’re looking forward their performance in Stockholm.
Iceland: Greta Salóme – “Hear Them Calling”
It seems that Greta Salóme took notice of all that fancy stuff Måns Zelmerlöw did at the Song Contest last year and did her own goth take on it. It’s alright, we guess, but the Lemur household is of the opinion that if Iceland was going to send a Greta song, they should have picked “Á ný,” which she wrote for Elísabet Ormslev. We’re not disappointed, Iceland, just mad.
Ukraine: Jamala – “1944”
Because this is Ukraine, we’re not entirely confident saying that Jamala is representing her country in Stockholm with “1944.” (Heck, she may not be entirely confident either, given her past experience with the Ukraine national selection process.) This is a song about Jamala’s great-grandmother, who was deported with other Crimean Tatars to Central Asia by Joseph Stalin in 1944. Andriy “Verka Serduchka” Danylko noted during Ukraine’s Lord of the Rings-length national final there is concern that it could be seen as political – certain parallels with contemporary times and all that. It’s probably just Ukraine being oversensitive and we are sure that the Russians will not complain one bit. Not one iota. Nope. Anyway, it’s a very effective song, and we could see it doing very well at the Song Contest this year.
Giannis Karagiannis won an very entertaining Eurovision Song Project finale and will represent Cyprus in Vienna with “One Thing I Should Have Done”:
“One Thing I Should Have Done” is a gentle, catchy folk-pop ballad. Giannis has a lovely voice, and delivered a cool, measured performance. When he sings a cappella towards the end of the song, I had goosebumps.
Guest judge Bruno Berberes told Giannis that his song and performance reminded him of Tom Dice’s “Me and My Guitar” about five seconds after Jen said it. So long as the Cypriot delegation doesn’t decide to add dancers or any other unnecessary accouterments to the staging and just let the guy sing, Cyprus should do just fine at this year’s Song Contest.
This is a ridiculously safe choice from Cyprus. I am no fan of dated ballads anyway, but “An me thimase” smells particularly musty to me. It’s so predictable, I can already foresee how it’s going to do at Eurovision: high scores from the juries and no support from the public.
Of course, strong jury support got Pastora Soler and “Quédate Conmigo” a top 10 finish, but I think “An me thimase” will be very lucky to do that well. Definite bathroom break song.
Cyprus had previously announced that Ivi Adamou would represent them, so tonight all that was left was to decide which of 3 songs she would “perform” (and I use the term loosely). The consensus winner from jury and televote was “La La Love.”
Quite a catchy little dance song, innit? Upbeat, not a lot of tough to understand lyrics, lots of cross-cultural appeal and all that. I can imagine it doing quite well in Euroclub with the fans. And 18-year old Ivi is lovely to look at and knows how to work a camera. In truth she could pass for Idina Menzel’s better looking daughter.
Between now and Baku, however, Cypriot organizers will need work with Ivi on her performance and think carefully about how to showcase her. Ivi lip-synched the national final (a choice that often proves worrysome–as if she may not have the chops to carry off a live performance), and she had some–shall we say awkward–dance moves to go with.
Time will tell how the song itself wears. There’s not much to it and I’m already starting to suspect the relentless “la la lalala lala la la lalala lala la la” will grate on me after multiple hearings. That, however, is only a hard core fan’s concern. At first listen, “La La Love” is catchy and Ivi is cute. But it’s all for naught if she dances like a truck.
Cyprus debuted the video of their entry today. Christos Mylordos is a winner of a local talent competition held earlier this year. At first blush Christos appears to croon out a love ballad. The song is punctuated by some nice harmonies and pleasant Greek/Cypriot orchestration and then… it goes wrong. The Trans-Siberian Orchestra shows up and challenges Christos to a death match. That said, Christos prevails. The entry brings the drama and has a surprising amount of impact. Not a bad effort. On March 6 he’s performing at a Cypriot Eurovision special. Looking forward to seeing how this one looks onstage.