Thursday, March 23, 2017


Oh boy. Poor EBU. Poor Jon Ola Sand. I'm sure he needs a proper holiday once this drama is over. And I'm sure secretly he's hoping some less demanding country will win in May!

Let's start from the beginning. Russia waited til last minute to reveal their cards and whether they will participate at all in Kyiv 2017 and on March 12 announced it's going to be Julia Samoylova with Flame is burning (my review of the song here

It didn't take long the Eurovision fandome ridiculed Russia's decision to send a fragile girl in a wheelchair with a sugary ballad to avoid possible booing and making Ukraine look bad should they ban her.

And that's exactly what happened on March 22: Ukrainian authorities isssued a travel ban on the Russian artist as she had illegally entered the annexed Crimea (in other words entering without passing via Ukraine) and even apparently posted anti-Ukrainian propaganda in her social medias. According Ukrainian law a criminal act.

Russia was ready to call that decision cynical and inhuman and was ready to boycott the contest and not to broadcast it all unless she's permitted to take part. One can only speculate how well planned this all was as all of sudden Ukraine was the evil and Russia the victim. And hours later they had already planned her a Russian wide tour to promote her ahead of Eurovision 2018! As it seems they are ready to send her there next year if this year isn't working out.

EBU stated they are deeply disappointed but have to respect local laws and said they would continue the dialogue with those two countries to get everyone abroad in Kyiv.

On March 23 EBU proposed a solution "to maintain the non-political nature of the contest" to let Julia perform live via satellite. Soon came the answer from Deputy prime minister Kyrylenko stating that tours and TV shows with persons non grata are not allowed in Ukraine. The only solution is the replacement of the participant from Russia. And now that is not allowed in the EBU rules...

Later the same night Channel One Russia has rejected the offer. "We consider the proposal of remote participation strange and reject it, since it, of course, contradicts the very meaning of the event, the strict rule of which is the live performance on the stage of the Eurovision."

At this point we can only say & hope:

Waiting for the next move....

To be continued....

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


Pictured Russia's national flowe camomille
In light of today's events I can as well publish this Russian review that was ment to be published in coming days along with the other  country reviews.  I haven't modified the text in any way, this is how it was ment to be published sometime next week. Originally this was my number 42....

Russia chose internally Julia Samoylova with Flame is burning ending speculation whether they will participate at all. But the decision to send a singer in a wheelchair was met with disbelief and outrage abroad as it was seen as an attempt to stop booing and critizism. Then came the news Ukraine might ban her as she has performed in the annexed Crimea in 2015.... Headlines guaranteed and the political soap opera goes on.... And poor Julia in the middle of it all victimized. As that's the overal impression I get. 

Julia (27) was born in Republic of Komi and started losing the function of her legs after an unsuccesful poliomyelitis vaccination it seems. At 13 she was diagnosed with spinal amiotrofiya. She's been in wheelchair since childhood and has been getting treatment and operations in Finland lately to better her conditon. She started performing for oil workers in her hometown, later founded a band TerraNova where she sung alternative heavy music (!!!) and studied psychology. She has also taken part in many conpetitions since childhood winning some along the way. In 2013 she took part in the Russian X Factor in Alla Pugatsova's team and finished runner up. 

The song is written by Leonid Gutkin, Netta Nimrodi and Arie Burstein and it's an inspirational ballad of sorts.Very sugary and filled with clichés though, in lyrics and in arrangement. The recording of Julia's voice is also rather irritating with the very broken English. Politics and the fact this is Russia aside, and the wheelchair and all that should make me be more tender with this song... I just don't like it. This leaves me cold in all its standardism, this one is plain bad. The melody is kinda beautiful but heard a million times before, the standard arrangement works but one can't but wonder if Russia is deliberately sending this mediocre nonsense? And is poor Julia only used as a vehicle for who knows what plans they have?  1/10 from me. 


Several new agencies are reporting today that Ukraine’s security service has banned Russia’s contestant from this year’s Eurovision song contest because she performed in Crimea. Samoylova has toured in Russia-annexed Crimea without entering it by going through the border with the Ukrainian mainland. Under Ukrainian law, that allows authorities to block her entry into Ukraine.
Ukrainian Security Service spokeswoman Olena Gitlanska said that the service has banned Samoylova from the country for three years “on the basis of information received about her violation of Ukrainian law”.
Therefor she won't be able to participate in the Eurovision song contest in Kyiv in May. What about Armenian Artsvik?
Russia calls the decision "cynical and unhuman". What about their decision to send her in the first place? Pure provocation. They also promise to boycott the future contests if the organizers don't stand up for the singer. Is that a promise? :-)

UPDATE: EBU has just confirmed the news too.  Can we just now move on and forget Russia exists?


Have you wondered how the magic was done in a few days short of the deadline for submitting the entries for the Eurovision song contest 2017 in Kyiv? Here's a Making of the Sammarinese entry featuring the backstage and insight to the project featuring comments from Valentina, Jimmie and others. Enjoy!
And here's the final result:

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


The Sammarinese commentators Lia Fiorio and Gigi Restivo are making history this year by becoming the ones who have commentated the Eurovision song contest in Italian the most times beating all the Italian commentators and the legendary Swiss one, Giovanni Bertini, who did it 21 times from 1961 to 1983. Lia and Gigi has done it 24 times after this year's season is over, or rather all three nights the eight year's San Marino has taken part.
And as an icing on the cake they will be also this year's spokespersons for the tiny nation!


Alessandro Capicchioni, Sammarinese hesd of delegation, tells eurofestivalnews EBU's Executive Supervisor has apologized how they have handled the proposed voting changes by San Marino (or rather not considering them at all). He says EBU and SMRTV are now talking and when both sides know what the other one thinks and expects some solution will be found in the end. The talks will continue in Kyiv and EBU has provised to consult and inform SMRTV for eventual changes in the future. 
San Marino also candidated itself for the Reference group to look after the other small nations but as we know the three big ones were revoted in for another period. San Marino would have also stressed the economical side of the contest. The big countries and broadcasters manage but the small ones struggle and in the recent years the absenses have been caused just because of the economical problems. Small stations close while the big ones just adjust and make some cuts and survive......
Capicchioni doesn't want to reveal too much about his opinions on the other songs this year but he thinks Italy has all it takes to win: it's joyful, entertaining without being trash. And most of all universal. 


After several Sanremo artists, including Francesco Gabbani, released their entries as old good 7" limited edition vinyl single, the Eurovision song contest 2017 will be released on a limited edition, numbered box sets! 
For the first time in history of the Eurovision Song Contest, we are presenting a Limited Collector’s Edition ESC 2017 Vinyl Box Set! 
The box set gives you the chance to dive into the music and the artists from the Eurovision Song Contest 2017. Here you get hours of entertainment, and for the first time ever you get the chance to listen to the Eurovision songs on your record player as all 43 songs come on 24-bit vinyl of the highest quality. If you prefer CD or download, that’s included too. The set also gives you the possibility to read all about the 43 artists, and dwell on gorgeous photos, while you flip through the beautiful coffee table book. Sounds cool, ha? Get it here. 
Also the Bluray makes a return along with the usual CD and DVD, poster but the annual guide book seems to be missing!? Has it been sacrificied for the coffee table book in the vinyl box?


It's no secret last year's French participant Amir - who brought France back to success after an eternity - and this year's Alma are friends and have been working together since forever. Time will tell if she will better Amir's 6th place. And now they deliver us a lovely acoustic version of this year's entry Requiem. S'il vous plait.....

Monday, March 20, 2017


Eurovision bubble is something many artists tend to return, or at least try. This year again in various national finals we have several previous participants trying again, including winners. But the sad fact is that usually the comebacks aren't so succesful. Previous winners in recent years from Dana International to Niamh Kavanagh and Charlotte Perrelli have tried and failed. But sometimes it works, like Poli Genova last year. In May we will know how it will go for these lucky ones who are back at it:

Omar Naber from Slovenia returns to Eurovision, and even to Kyiv where he represented his country for the first time in 2005. Back then he failed to make the final placing 12th in the semifinal.

Koit Toome and Laura from Estonia have both represented their country separately in the past. Koit placed 12th in 1998 and Laura as a member of Suntribe also did Kyiv 2005 but the girlband failed to make the final placing only 20th in the semifinal.

Moldova's Sunstroke Project did Eurovision 2010 with Olia Tira narrowly making the through from the semifinal and finishing 22nd in the final. Now the Epic sax guy & co are back with mamma instead.

Then we have Georgia's Tako who already was supposed to do Eurovision 2009 with Stephan & 3G and We don't wanna Put in, the song that never made it all the way to Moscow for obvious reasons. Now she's back as solo and is not disqualified nor withdrawn.

Besides them we have various backing singers stepping to the spotlight this year, like Israel's Imri and Serbia's Tijana.
And then we have Valentina Monetta returning for the 4th time after 2012, 2013 and 2014. She has done better every time she participated so this time she needs to make the final again and place better than 24th to keep up with the trend :-) 

But besides these lucky (or let's see if they are "lucky" after the final in May...) ones we have a long list of names that tred and failed.

In Sweden we had two previous winners and two other participants taking part and hoping for the ticket to Kyiv. But both double winners of the past Roger Pontare (ESC 1994 and 2000) and Charlotte Perrelli (ESC 1999 winner and 2008) didn't survive the semifinals placing 5th and 7th. Finland's 2013 entrant Krista Siegfrids also came 7th or last in her semifinal and that was it. The previous winner and pre-contest favorite Loreen (ESC 2012) managed only access to second chance round and failed there to make it to the final.... Such a statement.
In Slovenia previous entrant Maja Keuc withdraw even before the semifinals and opted for other career moves..... Maybe a wise decision?

In Spain Javi Soleil of D'NASH from Helsinki 2007 Eurovision didn't make the cut and access even to the second round.

In Estonia among the participants were three previous winners. Ivo Linna (5th in ESC 1996) placed 6th, Elina Born (7th in ESC 2015) placed 12th and last, and Lenna Kuurmaa (from Sunstribe in ESC 2005) placed 10th, but as said before, two other previous winners did win it.

In Hungary András Kallay Saunders with his band (5th in ESC 2014) scored zero points in the national final and placed in the shared last place.

In Malta Richard Edwards of Firelight fame (23rd in ESC 2014)  managed only 13th.

In Italy's Sanremo festival Eurovision double veteran Al Bano  (7th both in 1976 and 1985) was knocked out before the final.

Lithuanian Sasha Song (23rd in ESC 2009) managed only to the semifinal stages. Even worse for Vilija who was kicked out after the first performance. She narrowly missed the final in ESC 2014 placing 11th in the semifinal.

In Norway Wig Wam's Åge Sten Nilsen (9th in ESC 2005) with his new band Ammunition finished 2nd in the national final. 

In Romania MIHAI in his zillionth attempt to get back to Eurovision lost to the yodelin couple clearly and stays home yet another year. 


This year the Eurovision song contest is a very young one what comes to participants ages. Bulgaria's Kristian Koslov is the youngest, and the very first Eurovision song contest artist born in the 2000's. He just turned 17 on March 15. But the oldest one isn't old at all: San Marino's Valentina Monetta just turned 42 on the March 1 and seems to be the oldest of them all proving the fact age is just a number! 
Divided in decades we have 2000's one, 1990's 22, 1980's 23 and 1970's two (Svala besides Valentina). *
The most populated years are 1991 (Levina, Lucie Jones, Demy, Imri, Alex and Navi band's Ksienija)* and Carola won Eurovision song contest in Rome....
... followed by 1989 (Hovig, Lindita, Julia, Dihaj, Jowst, Salvador)* with six each. Now no more existing Yogoslavia won the contest that year....
1995 comes next with five artists born .(Timebelle's Emanuel and Miruna, O'G3NE's Shelley and Amy, Anja) (*When writing this i I miss the dates of the guys in Triana Park, most of O. Torvals, Fusedmarc and Jimmie Wilson but it seems they are in their 30s anyways)

It's also a very even year what comes to division between female and male artists: 17 female soloists versus 14 male soloists. I wonder if it has ever been this even? Then we have 5 female/male duos, one female and one male trio, two trios with a female and two males, one male duo and two groups only. If we listen to the singing only it's 22 female voices versus 17 male voices plus 4 mixed duets.


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