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 at 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.”


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.

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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Things We Learned By Reading the Bios of the 2018 Eurovision Participants

When we write our song reviews, we do research to get background into the songs and the artists performing them. But the official bios on the Eurovision site are our chance to see what the artists have to say about themselves in their own words. Or their publicists’ words.  Of course, in the past many artists have lacked self-awareness or humility. Mika Newton’s bio, in which she says “she got acquainted with the such legendary producers as … Randy Jackson,” inspired us to start writing “Things We Learned by Reading the Bios” posts so we could document such unintentional hilarity.

This year, the main thing we have learned is that the artists bios are really dull. Almost every bio can be summed up thusly: the artists are all child prodigies who attended Berklee College of Music in Boston and/or Royal Academy of Music in London and got a lot of streams on Spotify and/or views on YouTube before appearing on X Factor and/or The Voice and/or Pop Idol, then doing a musical and/or winning Dancing With the Stars. Also, their songs are about how love can transform the world.

So it is with a great deal of excitement and relief that we point you to Benjamin Ingrosso’s bio. It is a tour de force. It says so much and yet so little at the same time. His bio claims he “has turned many a head with his contemporary twist of polished pop tones and soulful performance bravado.” He brags that he is “set to consistently channel a customized stamp that falls far for [sic] the stereotypical world of Swedish pop music,” then in the very next paragraph talks about writing songs for Oscar Zia and Molly Pettersson Hammar.

He goes on to say, “Having a lit spark over in Scandinavia with his breakthrough last year, his undeniable pop sensibility and genuine musicality spread like wildfire through the rest of Europe.” “As the heat intensifies towards the US,” his bio boldly claims, “Benjamin Ingrosso is the one to watch in 2018.”

Then there’s this gem, “The years ahead points to a well-oiled peak.” First of all, years point, not years points. Grammatical error. Also, years don’t actually point. That’s not something years do. Syntax error. Also, why would you oil a peak? Why does a peak need to oiled, let alone be well-oiled?

If you’re looking for something less gushy and a bit more pretentious, let’s head over to France. Madame Monsieur start their bio, “Since the dawn of time, the old saying is that two is better than one. In some cases, it rings as true to the ears as it does to the eyes.” Let us repeat: they start their bio with the phrase “Since the dawn of time.” We like Madame Monsieur, but we can’t help but roll our eyes when we read stuff like, “Jean-Karl and Emilie’s fortuitous meeting with producer Guillaume Silvestri came at the end of a cycle of doubt, as if the planets had aligned and delivered them the way forward.”

By the way, they inform us their second single “Comme une reine” “serves as a resounding warning for the self-esteem against tyranny.” Right. Maybe it makes more sense in French.

Then there’s Elina Nechayeva (Estonia). “She is a big fan of all the classic Disney Princess cartoons and has a love for Japanese Anime” because of course she does. She dreamed of being an astronaut when she was a kid and “it is this same drive that inspired ‘La Forza.'” Not sure how much drive you need to dream of being an astronaut compared to actually becoming an astronaut, but sure let’s run with it.

Not surprisingly, given her genre, Elina “enjoys the clear structure of Mozart’s music and the passion and rich soul of Tchaikovsky. This shows also the two sides of her vivid personality – playful, yet formidable.” Maybe if “La Forza” was a bit more like Mozart’s “Queen of the Night” aria and less like “Sognu” we’d be more excited. Also, don’t mess with us in a pretension battle. We’re older and we’ve got layers.

Some other fun items we unearthed:

The Humans (Romania) end their bio with this: “The Humans project is not just about entertainment, but emotion translated in music through original compositions and remarkable remakes of the most famous rock songs.” That’s a bold claim, but are any of their remakes as remarkable as Simple Minds turning “Love Will Tear Us Apart” into a dance song? We. Think. Not.

Melovin (Ukraine) came up with his name “from a combination of the holiday Halloween and the last name of the British fashion designer Alexander McQueen.” That’s a bit of a stretch, but at least we’ve learned how to pronounce his name. Also, he is passionate about “music, perfumery and chemistry.” That’s pretty awesome, actually. Hopefully this means he plans to use smellitizer technology at his concerts.

Waylon (Netherlands) says, “‘Outlaw In ‘Em’ is an ode to his own authenticity, as well as to his many heroes who dared to be different.” This is coming from someone who named himself after a more famous outlaw country singer.

Saara Aalto (Finland) “was the most and second-most Googled person in Finland in 2016 and 2017 respectively.” Yet another time she found herself in second place.

Things We Learned By Reading the Bios of the 2017 Eurovision Participants

It’s time once again to comb through the bios of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest participants to discover the little nuggets of trivia that will enhance our enjoyment of their performances. Or at least to find out which acts truly intend to bring the Nordic metropolitan charm.

  • Isaiah (Australia) comes from a family of 11 siblings. Getting attention from mom don’t come easy!
  • Marta (Czech Republic) is “an extreme goat cheese lover.” We prefer to think that “extreme” is describing the type of goat cheese she likes.
  • Before a performance Koit Toome (Estonia) has “a habit of walking around the room in a specific, yet peculiar way.” Meanwhile, Laura says that “her favorite way to treat herself is on a Sunday morning with her grandma’s pancake recipe.” Below, Koit is sad he did not get an invite.

  • Alma (France) says she needs to receive a “love dose” before she goes onstage, which means she randomly hugs people and not what you thought she meant.
  • Germany’s entry for the Eurovision Song Contest 2017 is the perfect liaison of Nordic metropolitan charm, a husky voice of international class, and a song that will delight Europe.” Also it is “a contagious, border-crossing pop hymn for a modern Europe.” Boy, that song sounds amazing! We wonder why Germany replaced it with “Perfect Life.”
  • Despite being an award-winning singer, Demy (Greece) is “a diligent law student” in her free time. Always prepare for a second career in case your first one goes all MC Hammer.
  • “Believer, fighter, singer, dreamer, father and Samurai – these are the many faces of Joci Papai (Hungary).” In the movie version of his life, he will be played by Tony Randall.
  • Svala’s (Iceland) lucky routine before a performance? “I bathe myself in unicorn tears and take a shot of snow on fire.” Svala’s awesome, y’all.
  • Francesco Gabbani (Italy) says, “As for the ape, she’s happy. She adores being on stage.” Like many Eurovision legends before him, Francesco Gabbani is challenging our preconceived notions of gender!
  • Arturs, the guitarist for Triana Park (Latvia), is “one of the best baristas of Latvia,” which as we all know is an underrated skill in the music industry. Also, the band’s favorite food is “banana pancakes with Nutella.” They need to come with us to visit Laura from Estonia on a Sunday morning!
  • The music of Fusedmarc (Lithuania) “is not an experiment but a fusion of maturity, true emotions, and inspiring energy.” It sounds like Fusedmarc is a bit tired of people saying their music is an experiment.
  • “A unique voice. A million emotions. A girl next door by day and glamorous diva by night with a passion for music and life. That’s how Claudia Faniello, Malta’s representative in the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest, has been described.” By herself.
  • Setting aside the levity here, we feel that Sunstroke Project (Moldova) could use some advice on how to pick the right headshot. We recommend they pay particular attention to points one, two, and seven.

  • “Artist. Theatre. Music. Movies. TV series. TV media. X Factor. One man show. Vegetarian. Cosmopolitan. Those few words describe the diversity of Slavko Kalezić (Montenegro).” You may be surprised to learn Slavko has a background in drama. In 2009, he “started a masters in acting where he perfected movement as an important tool in 21st century theatre.” He doesn’t say if he finished it.
  • OG3NE’s (Netherlands) name comes from the Vol sisters’ mother’s blood type. They’ve got the same type blood. Type O.
  • Jimmie Wilson (San Marino) says, “Eurovision is important to me as a singer because you reach a multi-million international audience with ONE performance!” Not on Logo, you don’t. Anyway, he must not like San Marino’s chances to qualify.
  • Omar Naber (Slovenia) says, “I have been saving this song for ten years. I have been saving it for a special occasion.” Only the ten years?
  • Manel Navarro (Spain) says, and we quote verbatim from the Eurovision website, “I’m an honest and natural guy, , I write my own songs…. and I look good on camera!” He could use an editor though.
  • Robin Bengtsson (Sweden) entered Swedish Idol and “literally blew the judges away with his soulful and mature voice.” It’s amazing they let him on the show after he literally blew the judges away. The insurance risk alone must have been staggering.
  • Timebelle (Switzerland) says, “We don’t try to be impressive.” Noted.

Things I Learned By Reading the Bios of the 2015 Eurovision Participants

A new year, a new contest, and we have combed through the bios of this year’s Eurovision entrants so you don’t have to. I tell ye thar be gold in them hills. Here’s what we learned.

  • Geneology’s (Armenia) pre-stage ritual is to “hold hands and say random Armenian words.”  Then they go out and sing random Armenian melodies.
  • Guy Sebastian (Australia) is “obsessed with water.” We are too, it’s our favorite Bulgarian entry! Also, he gets pumped up for a performance by watching the fight scene from Rocky IV. Eye of the tiger, baby.
  • Uzari and Maimuna’s (Belarus) common bond is their shared love of the Lord of the Rings. Guess that explains the video.
  • Loïc Nottet (Belgium) hates mosquitos.
  • Elnur (Azerbaijan) has experimented “with different music styles such as classic, jazz and pop.” And in the 2008 contest he sang all three styles at once.
  • John Karayiannis (Cyprus) hails from Limassol, and explains that “when he was a kid he’d listen to Eminem & Linkin Park, and even Metallica.” Yes, but did he listen to Maxïmo Park?
  • The mission of Anti-Social Media (Denmark) “is to revive the simple and happy spirits of bands such as The Beatles.” We’ve noticed no other band in Denmark is doing that. It seems like they’re addressing a need.
  • Molly Sterling (Ireland) has a donkey at home who is 50 years old. His name is Mick. Mick the Donkey.
  • Elina Born (Estonia) is a “surprisingly skillful rapper.” There needs to be a “Goodbye to Yesterday” remix that displays this surprising skill.
  • If there was any doubt that Nina Sublatti (Georgia) used to model, take a look at her totally fierce press photos.
  • Maria Elena (Greece) says of her song “I co-wrote it in a period of my life that was very intense emotionally and I think the melody reflects how I felt at the time.” Oh man, that was one messed up relationship.
  • According to Boggie (Hungary), High quality pop = pop + jazz + French chanson + country + folk + classical. Words of wisdom you can take to the bank.
  • I am shocked, SHOCKED to learn that María Ólafsdóttir (Iceland) played Louisa Von Trapp in the Sound of Music and regards the movie as “one of her all-time favourites.”
  • Il Volo (Italy) appeared on the final episode of HBO’s Entourage as the Singing Aquamen.
  • Polina Gagarina (Russia) is a mom of a 7-year old, Andrei. She lost 30kg after giving birth.
  • Anita Simoncini & Michele Perniola (San Marino) are “the youngest duet in the history of Eurovision Song Contest. They are 32 years old combined!” Meanwhile, Ralph Siegel, their song’s composer, entered his first Eurovision song 39 years ago.
  • Mick the Donkey, you guys. Mick the Donkey.
  • Mélanie René (Switzerland) is originally from Mauritius. She discovered that one of her ancestors was an Indian princess who married a French captain.
  • Bojana Stamenov (Serbia) loves to travel and “in the future would like to visit France because of art and food, Ireland because of wonderful landscapes and beer, America because of blues, cowgirls, bikers, Chicago, musicals, Las Vegas…”  I hope she realizes all those things are not in one place. Or maybe she really just wants to go to Vegas. She also knits.
  • In their bio, Maraaya (Slovenia) answer the question “What’s with the headphones?” They explain, “Marjetka started to use her studio headphones on stage since she wanted to evoke the same emotions she felt in the studio while recording. The headphones became their trademark.” Actually, that’s helpful information, but the real question on our minds is “what’s with the wedding dress?” That remains unanswered.
  • Edurne (Spain) informs us that she won the music impersonation show Your Face Sounds Familiar (Tu Cara Me Suena). Further research revealed that on the show Edurne imitated Alicia Keys, Axl Rose(!), Annie Lennox, Pink, Shakira, Lady Gaga, Shania Twain, Mika, Christina Aguilera, Evanescence, and the Cranberries, among others. Her best performance? Leona Lewis. She also did a mean Beyoncé.
  • As a teenager Måns Zelmerlöw (Sweden) “noticed that older girls appreciated his vocal ability.” Måns, a comment like that reveals more than may have been intended.
  • Electro Velvet (United Kingdom) would like you to know that their song is a “real ear worm.” I’m glad they mentioned that, because I wouldn’t have been able to figure that out just by listening to it.

Things I Learned From Reading the Bios of the 2013 Eurovision Participants

The entrant bios are up at the Eurovision website and are a fount of information and insight. Well, not really, but here are some pieces of trivia that amused us.

  • Estonia’s Birgit Õigemeel is pregnant.  We already knew that, but we didn’t know that the composer of “Et Uus Saaks Alguse,” Mihkel Mattisen, was also expecting his first. Is there something in the water in Tallinn?
  • Slovenia’s Hannah informs us that she has performed with the “highly acclaimed” American group Haute Chile. That’s nice. Who? [A quick Google search informs me that Haute Chile is available for weddings and corporate events.]
  • Three of the 6 singers in Croatia’s Klapa s mora said they had a “happy childhood” and additional two had a “lovely childhood.” Now I feel bad for the other one…
  • Denmark’s Emmelie de Forest descends from Queen Victoria and the Hapsburgs.  Well, sheesh, Chris descends from Buffalo Bill Cody but you don’t see him bragging about it.
  • Ukraine’s Zlata Ognevich… There’s just so much, I don’t know where to begin. You know what, please just pause for a minute and head over to Eurovision’s website to read her bio. I’ll wait for you. The link is here.

Okay, let’s continue.

  • Montenegro’s Who See won MTV’s Adriatic Act of the year in 2012, and yet band member Dedduh also has a job as a salesman in a toy store. It’s tough being a musician in Montenegro. The upside is that the toy store keeps him in touch with today’s youth.
  • Belarus’s Alyona Lanskaya was the winner of USA’s “Atlantic Breeze 2010″ festival. I had no idea what that was. Turns out that “Atlantic Breeze” is an international festival sponsored by MaksTV, a fledgling Russian-language TV network based out of Miami. To put this in perspective, we have access to over 500 channels through our cable provider, including several Russian language channels. MaksTV isn’t one of them. It seems that MaksTV was exclusively carried by the satellite provider Dish Network as part of their Russian programming package in 2010 but were dropped from Dish’s line up later that same year.
  • Latvia’s PeR is asking Eurovision voters to stop thinking in the category ‘Is this suitable for Eurovision?’ and start thinking in the category ‘Is this good music?’  Oh PeR, when it comes to your song I think many Eurovision voters will do just that, but I’m not sure that you’ll like their answer.
  • Azerbaijan’s Farid Mammadov tells us in his bio he has “effortlessly proven that he is one of the finest vocalists in Azerbaijan.”  If your reference point is Nikki, who am I to argue?
  • Finland’s Krista Siegfrids’ Twitter hashtag #TeamDingDong is referenced no less than 3 times in her bio. She really wants you to follow her on Twitter.
  • Malta’s Gianluca is a medical doctor by profession, fronts a band at night, but he’s also a singer in his prayer group, and does charity work with children. Is this not the guy your mom told you to marry?
  • Iceland’s Eyþór Ingi hails from Dalvík, a small fishing town of 1,400 people in Northern Iceland. He tells us that Dalvík is also the birthplace of Friðrik Ómar of Euroband and Matti Matt. And Erna Hrönn and Hera Björk have also lived there for a time. Okay, we’re sold. We are totally visiting Dalvík when we do our Iceland trip. [Perhaps we can time our visit around Fiskidagurinn mikli, so we can partake in the free fish buffet?]
  • I’m sure this will come as a surprise to no one, but Led Zeppelin is a big influence on Armenia’s Dorians.
  • Hungary’s ByeAlex holds a master’s degree in philosophy, and his bio is thoughtfully written.
  • Albania’s Adrian Lulgjuraj has a law degree. Bledar Sejko offers this sobering thought: though he is 42, it wasn’t always possible for him to play rock music in communist Albania in his younger years.
  • Romania’s Cezar is known throughout Romania as Cezar The Voice. His list of credits and collaborations would persuade anyone that he has a legitimate classical music pedigree.
  • For the UK, Bonnie Tyler’s husband Robert Sullivan competed for Team GB in the 1972 Olympics (judo).

Things I Learned From the Bios of the 2012 Eurovision Entrants

As always, the bios that Eurovision entrants submit to are a fount of information about our contestants.  We here at EuroLemur have combed through them all. Here’s what I have learned:

Austria: Trackshittaz hope to “get not only Austria but all of Europe dancing with their boisterously youthful impetuosity.” Boisterously youthful impetuosity. Pretty literate for two guys from the sticks, eh? Their genre is “tractor gangster party rap.” Cuz girls think their tractor’s sexy.

Azerbaijan: Sabina Babayeva is a whirlwind of adjectives. She describes her music style as “striking but gentle, smooth yet powerful, emotional and appealing,” her vocals are “strong and groovy,” not to mention her “outstanding artistic charisma” and “huge experience.” Has she been reading Alexey Vorobiov’s bio?

Belgium: Iris is 17 years old, and according to her bio “She had been dreaming of singing at the Eurovision Song Contest since her childhood.” So she’s been dreaming of singing at Eurovision for 3 months?

Bulgaria: Other entrants take notice: “Sofi Marinova is an artist used to compete in song festivals and win them!” Loreen and the Babushki had better watch their backs.

Cyprus: Ivi Adamou has a Christmas album. It went gold. I find this information unsettling.

Denmark: Soluna Samay has performed as a busker since age 6. She found that wearing the General’s hat increased her cash flow.

Finland: According to Pernilla Karlsson, “När Jag Blundar was written for my mother… The song expresses gratitude for motherly love and understanding.” The song was written by her brother. <3 🙂

France: Anggun claims to be “the world’s most-played French-language singer.” Because David Guetta records in English.

Georgia: Anri Jokhadze has a 4 octave range. Thankfully he’s not using all of it during “I’m a joker.”

Greece: OMG, Eleftheria totally loves Eurovision! IKR?!

Iceland: Greta Salóme is a professional violinist in the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra. I wonder if doing Eurovision will help her move up to first chair?

Israel: Izabo describes itself as “a brilliant, action packed combination of Psychadelic Rock, Disco, Punk flavoured with Arabic spices.”

Italy: Nina Zilli tells us she “is a real tornado, a volcano.” Make up your mind, Nina, which one is it? Are we talking a waterspout or Kansas-style tornado like in The Wizard of Oz? Vesuvius? Mt. Saint Helens? Mauna Loa? What?!?

Romania. Mandinga is a mix of Cuban and Romanian musicians. Guess that explains why the Spanish sounded pretty good.

San Marino: Valentina Monetta has sung EVERY MUSIC GENRE KNOWN TO MAN. These include but are not limited to “Black Music vocals (R&B, Soul, Funky, Acid Jazz),” Hip Hop, jazz, bossa nova, bebop, Italian music, yé-yé (thanks to her work with Sylvie Vartan), and of course pop.

Serbia: Željko Joksimović was born on April 30, 1972. Hey, he’s older than us! (Barely!)

Slovakia: Max Jason Mai is a vegetarian and he doesn’t wear clothes made from leather because “he wouldn’t want to be a handbag either.”

Sweden: Loreen is not on Facebook. Valentina kept trying to friend her.

Switzerland: Sinplus wrote “Shoot,” “a track that became one of the official anthems of the 2009 World Hockey Championships.” Exactly how many anthems of the 2009 World Hockey Championships are there?

Ukraine: Gaitana is an “Official Friend of UEFA Euro 2012.” Good for her, but UEFA should be put on notice because “Official Friend” sounds seriously wrong.

United Kingdom: According to his bio, in the heyday of the late ’60s and early ’70s, Englebert Humperdinck “drove female fans wild.” It just goes to show, you do learn something new every day.

Things I Learned From the Bios of the Eurovision Entrants

An exciting night I know, but because we are providing a service to you, gentle reader, I spent my Saturday night reading through the bios submitted by this year’s Eurovision Song Contest entrants so you don’t have to.  Here’s what I have learned:

  • Poland’s Magdalena Tul and Belarus’s Anastasiya Vinnikova are the same person.
  • Albania’s Aurela Gace is NOT over 40.
  • Russia’s Alexej Vorobjov (note: YET ANOTHER SPELLING) describes himself as  “charismatic,” “great,” “incredible,” “rising star,” and “extraordinary.” He also has “high work ethics” and has won “every singing and dancing competition he ever entered.” He also cares about the children. I’d like to think that this is just overcompensating for limited English (there were several grammatical errors in his bio) or the work of the mad Head of the Russian delegation. I really hope his ego isn’t that big.
  • Finland’s Paradise Oskar’s Eurovision song was something he made up in improv, and the lyrics are meant to be ironic. He entered it in the Finnish competition just to get feedback and was stunned when he found out it was selected for the show. Ok, that is a good story, and it makes me like him a lot more. Still can’t stand the song though.
  • Iceland’s Matthias Matthiasson of Sjonni’s Friends “provides the comic relief.” There’s a shocker.
  • Greece’s Stereo Mike is a Senior Lecturer in the Music Department of the University of Westminster in London. We’ll be calling him Professor Stereo Mike from now on.
  • Bosnia & Herzogovina’s Dino Merlin wrote the lyrics to the Bosnia & Herzogovina national anthem.
  • Ukraine’s Mika Newton traveled to LA where she met “famous musician” and “legendary producer” Randy Jackson. She’s also “extremely talented and brilliant,” and is known in Ukraine as “the Queen of Soundtracks” because she has sung “in commercial videos for such products as Hubba Bubba and others.”
  • Bulgaria’s Poli Genova made Beyonce cry. It must have been a big deal for her, because she mentions it twice in her bio. Actually, that is pretty cool.
  • Denmark’s A Friend in London is big in Canada. Not to cast aspersions on Canada, but I wouldn’t exactly call that a ringing endorsement.