Cypriot Eurovision stars to perform in charity concert in Brussels

Anna Vissi, Constantinos Christoforou & Despina Olympiou

Anna Vissi, Constantinos Christoforou and Despina Olympiou will take part in a benefit concert called Cyprus Unplugged to be held in Brussels on the 9th of November. All proceeds from the event will go to Cypriot charities supporting disadvantaged children and families.

Jill Johnson releases duet album with former Eurovision and Melodifestivalen participants

Jill Johnson - Duetterna

Today the new album from Swedish pop star and former Eurovision participant Jill Johnson is being released. It consists of 15 duets, all with well known established names, of which many are familiar names to followers of the Eurovision Song Contest and Melodifestivalen.

Jill Johnson - Duetterna

Jill Johnson - Duetterna

An album from former Eurovision participant Jill Johnson, which consists of 15 duets. Most of them with well known names to followers of the Eurovision Song Contest and Melodifestivalen.

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Wedding bells to ring for Elias Kozas

Elias Kozas with girlfriend Charoula_close up ©

The lead singer of Koza Mostra, the Greek entrants in Malmo, is getting married to long-term girlfriend Charoula on 27th October. According to their wedding announcement in Thessaloniki newspaper Makedonia, their wedding will take place in the city's church of St. Sophia.

Anna Vissi becomes a grandmother

Anna Vissi

Anna Vissi is a newly grandmother. Her only child, Sofia, gave birth to a healthy baby boy in New York in the early afternoon (local time) of Thursday 12th September. This is the three-time Eurovision Song Contest entrant's first grandchild.

Greek court judgement against credited composer of ‘My Number One’

Helena Paparizou

After what sounds like a long legal battle, musician Manos Psaltakis announced that, yesterday, a Greek court ruled in his favour as the rightful composer of 2005 Eurovision winner My Number One and against Christos Dantis, the artist so far credited as the main composer of the song.

Helena Paparizou to perform in Thessaloniki’s MAD North Stage Festival

Helena Paparizou at the 2013 MAD Video Music Awards © MAD TV

2005 Eurovision winner Helena Paparizou and 1998 Cypriot participant Mihalis Hatzigiannis are some of the artists that will appear in the MAD North Stage Festival. The event is organized by Greek music channel MAD TV and will be part of the 78th Thessaloniki International Festival.

EBU to Cease Broadcasting ERT

EBU ceases broadcasting ERT ©

The EBU announced today that it will stop streaming former public Greek broadcaster ERT. Since the Greek government decided to shut down ERT, broadcaster of the Eurovision Song Contest in Greece, the EBU has been providing its satellite capacity and website to former ERT employees who have defiantly been carrying on broadcasting.

Elias Kozas survives car crash

Elias Kozas ©

The lead singer of Koza Mostra, the Greek 2013 Eurovision entrants, was involved in a serious car accident in the early hours of last Sunday. Fortunately, all occupants came out of the accident without life threatening injuries.

2013 - Final

2013 Logo {EBU}
Basic information
18 May 2013
Contest type: 
Grand Final
Malmö Arena, Malmö, Sweden
Petra Mede
About the contest: 

The 58th Eurovision Song Contest was one of changes. There were amendments to how the running order was drawn, to the voting system, countries changed their songs and bands changed their names.

In order that the running order put the songs in a more balanced order, the producers made a decision to decide the order for themselves. The thought process behind this was to make sure that there wasn’t a run of four or five up-tempo songs or lots of ballads/female singers/male singers in a row to create a more interesting show. Fans from Reykjavik to Jerusalem were quick to express their disgust at this decision, believing the lack of transparency of the proposed system would bring the contest into disrepute. SVT compromised and instead suggested each country be put into either the top or bottom half of the running order via an open draw and then be place by the producers into a particular slot in the show. This applied for both semi-finals and the final.

For the voting, the system of a combined public and jury vote remained. However, the juries, instead of giving each song points and then adding the scores up at the end, ranked the songs in order of preference. After the contest, this led to allegations of impropriety and unfulfilled demands that all jury votes should be released so that everyone could see that the votes were fair, although some countries did voluntarily release their own jury votes. Russia was apoplectic that Azerbaijan did not give their singer any points at all, claiming that Dina Garipova should have received 10 points. The Azeri authorities, wanting to keep their neighbour sweet, promised an investigation. Even if it were true (and no proof was forthcoming) it would have made absolutely no difference to the overall placings.

Alyona Lanskaya represented Belarus…..finally! She won the national final in 2012 but, after interference, sorry, intervention by public demand, from the president, she was withdrawn and Litesound sent in her place. She won the final again in 2013 (is anyone else suspicious?) with the Lady GaGa esque Rhythm of Love. By the time she went to Malmö, Belarus had changed their song (they nearly always do) to Solayoh. Bulgaria also changed their song from the very ethnic Kismet to the not quite as ethnic Samo Shampioni. The Macedonians were originally offered a song called Imperija. They didn’t like it and so it was changed to Pred Da Se Razdeni, which was generally thought of elsewhere as vastly inferior.

The changes didn’t end there. In Switzerland, a band featuring members of The Salvation Army won the right to go to Sweden. In the final, the competed under the name, Heilsarmee. Not only that, but they also wore the uniforms. This breaches EBU rules and so they became Takasa and wore civvies.

One or two well know names lined up with the talent show winners. After much rumour and speculation, Bonnie Tyler was announced as the UK representative. Many names had been included in the rumblings. One was Bonnie Langford but perhaps someone was getting their Bonnies in a twist! In the German selection, dance act Cascada won through. Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi wrote the Armenia song, although he resisted the temptation to be part of the on-stage shenanigans.

There were two familiar acts on show in Malmo. Valentina Monetta made it two years in a row for San Marino and Elytsa and Stoyan returned for their native Bulgaria.

Of the participants from 2012, Slovakia, Bosnia and Portugal withdrew for financial reasons, while Turkey withdrew in a protest at the voting system. After withdrawing from the Azeri held contest the previous year for security reasons, Armenia returned giving us a total of 39 participating countries and songs.

None of the former Yugoslav countries made it through to the final, the first time there has been no representation from there since 1985.
About the songs: 
Amandine BourgeoisAmandine Bourgeois France - Amandine Bourgeois - L'enfer Et Moi (French)
Music/Lyrics: David Salkin/Boris Bergman

The French usually send a song that is chic and sophisticated but that you feel will not do as well on the night as it should. In a few years time, this song will still sound good while others from this contest will attract a bemused response and thoughts of “how did that make the final?” Amandine smouldered on stage and sold her soft rock song very well.

 Andrius PojavisAndrius Pojavis Lithuania – Andrius Pojavis – Something (English)
Music/Lyrics: Andrius Pojavis/Andrius Pojavis

This was the big surprise qualifier from the first semi-final. While it is a pleasant enough song and was given an adequate performance, it didn’t sound strong enough to make the final. Having got there, he made the most of his chance, playing to the camera for all he was worth. 

 Aliona MoonAliona Moon Moldova – Aliona Moon – O Mie (Romanian)
Music/Lyrics: Pasha Parfeny/Yuliana Scutaru

Aliona grew in stature during her performance, literally! She maintained her concentration as she was raised into the air, her dress extending so that the bottom stayed rooted to the floor. In fact, her dress was the showpiece of the three minutes, designed in such a way as to allow lighting effects to glow through it. It was a wise move to sing in Romanian as the English lyrics are very repetitive, slightly taking the edge off a very good song.

 Krista SiegfridsKrista Siegfrids Finland – Krista Siegfrids – Marry Me (English)
Music/Lyrics: Krista Siegfrids, Erik Nyholm, Kristoffer Karlsson, Jessica Lundström/Krista Siegfrids, Erik Nyholm, Kristoffer Karlsson, Jessica Lundström

And the award for worst lyrics goes to…..Finland! Krista was adorned in one of the most inappropriate wedding dresses ever designed and, although she tried her best, the whole thing was twee and irritating. The three ‘male’ backing dancers transformed themselves into bridesmaids near the end. The blatant political statement at the end of the performance should have resulted in disqualification if rules were to be adhered to, but all things considered, that was never likely to happen.   

 ESDMESDM Spain – ESDM - Contigo Hasta El Final (Spanish)
Music/Lyrics: Raquel del Rosario, David Feito, Juan Suárez/Raquel del Rosario, David Feito, Juan Suárez

Is this the Spanish entry or another Irish song? Celtic sounds abound and lead singer Raquel del Rosario’s voice even has a Celtic lilt to it. Once the song gets going, it’s actually a very pleasant listen. The problem is that it takes too long to get to that stage. 

 Roberto BellarosaRoberto Bellarosa Belgium – Roberto Bellarosa – Love Kills (English)
Music/Lyrics: Iain James, Jukka Immonen/Iain James, Jukka Immonen

Another talent show winner, another nervous performance! Chosen from one of the most bizarre national selections of the season, the version presented in Malmo was much improved on the version that won the Belgian final. If love didn’t kill him, the choreography might! Two sour-faced dancers surrounded Roberto, looking like they were being forced to dance for their supper. Helpfully, the lyrics were shown on the video wall in the unlikely event the viewers wanted to sing along. 

 Birgit OigemeelBirgit Oigemeel Estonia – Birgit Oigemeel – Et Uus Saaks Alguse (Estonian)
Music/Lyrics: Mihkel Mattisen/ Mihkel Mattisen, Silvia Soro

Simplicity was the order of the day for the Estonians. Birgit’s gentle ballad was given a simple presentation, which started in black and white. Even the video wall was not over-used (something to be grateful for these days) showing uncomplicated yellow images throughout. 

 Alyona LanskayaAlyona Lanskaya Belarus – Alyona Lanskaya – Solayoh (English)
Music/Lyrics: Marc Paelinck/Martin King

Occasionally, a good song is ruined by the staging. The two performing monkeys prancing around Alyona like an ancient Belarusian mating ritual added nothing, neither did her emergence from a giant glitter ball at the start. Not that most men would have noticed as they would have been staring at what there was of Alyona’s dress. Solayoh is easily strong enough to stand on its own two feet and was one of the catchiest songs of the night. You’ll still be singing it long after you listen to it, you know you will!

 GianlucaGianluca Malta – Gianluca – Tomorrow (English)
Music/Lyrics: Boris Cezek, Dean Muscat/Boris Cezek, Dean Muscat

The Maltese song tells the story of a lonely man finally finding love in a chirpy style. Gianluca couldn’t stop smiling as he presented his George Formby- in-sombre mood style ditty.  

 Dina GaripovaDina Garipova Russia – Dina Garipova – What If (English)
Music/Lyrics: Gabriel Alares, Joakim Björnberg, Leonid Gutkin/ Gabriel Alares, Joakim Björnberg, Leonid Gutkin

This is a peach of a song, at least judging by the colours present of stage! Dina won the Russian version of ‘The Voice’ and her performance showed us why, even if she was a little nervous. Hers is an anthemic ballad and appeal for everyone to love each other. How could it possibly fail?

 CascadaCascada Germany – Cascada – Glorious (English)
Music/Lyrics: Yann Peifer, Manuel Reuter, Andres Ballinas, Tony Cornelissen/Yann Peifer, Manuel Reuter, Andres Ballinas, Tony Cornelissen

There is always one song that causes a bit of controversy and this year it was provided by Germany. Accusations of plagiarism were made about Glorious due to its similarities with Euphoria, the victorious song from last year. The style is similar, starting slowly and building to the anthemic chorus. There is a female soloist (don’t be fooled by the group name, it’s all about lead singer Natalie) and both have one word titles. Even the lyrics follow a similar theme. However, the tune is sufficiently different for the accusations to fall on deaf ears. 

 DoriansDorians Armenia – Dorians – Lonely Planet (English)
Music/Lyrics:  Tony Iommi/Vardan Zadoyan

On the face of it, the Armenian entry has among the best credentials of any of the participants this year as it was written by Black Sabbath guitarist, Tony Iommi. However, the words have been heard a million times before and the melody, in as much as there is one, lacks a solid structure. That it managed to reach the final was one of the biggest shocks in the history of the contest.

 AnoukAnouk The Netherlands – Anouk – Birds (English)
Music/Lyrics: Anouk Teeuwe/ Anouk Teeuwe

After The Netherlands failed yet again to reach the final in 2012, Anouk, one of the most popular singers in her country, put herself forward to change the nation’s fortunes. Birds is a song that was always likely to go down well with the juries, so it was a question of how the public would react. Her unique voice combined with the unusual melody Anouk gave an extremely professional performance demonstrated why countries should ask an experienced singer to fly the flag instead of a talent show winner.  

 CezarCezar Romania – Cezar – It’s my Life (English)
Music/Lyrics: Cristian Faur/Cristian Faur

Pop-opera anyone? Cezar’s voice is remarkable but he was very close to the point of being over dramatic in his vocal gymnastics, facial expressions and hand gestures. There was nothing understated about his ‘Dracula in camp mode’ cloak, either. All of this makes the song memorable – that was probably the point, but it was too over the top by a considerable margin.

 Bonnie TylerBonnie Tyler United Kingdom – Bonnie Tyler – Believe in Me (English)
Music/Lyrics: Desmond Child, Lauren Christy, Christopher Braid/Desmond Child, Lauren Christy, Christopher Braide

As usual, the rumour mill in the U.K. was rife with speculation as to who would follow in Engelbert Humperdinck’s footsteps. One name mentioned was Bonnie Langford so perhaps someone was muddling their Bonnie lasses! The B.B.C. had managed to persuade another big star to represent the country. She gave us a country style ballad that went down well in the fan polls prior to the contest. It was a good decision to give her a backing band, not so good to give her choreography, even if it was limited to arm and hip movements. She should have been allowed to be natural.  

 Robin StjernbergRobin Stjernberg Sweden – Robin Stjernberg – You (English)
Music/Lyrics: Robin Stjernberg, Joy Deb, Linnea Deb, Joakim Harestad Haukaas/Robin Stjernberg, Joy Deb, Linnea Deb, Joakim Harestad Haukaas

Early impressions of those arriving in Malmo were that Sweden would suffer the same fate as befell their own Christer Bjorkman when the contest was last in Malmo in 1992, when he finished in second last place. You is an up-tempo song that struggles to get going and passes by virtually unnoticed. Robin did his absolute best but the material didn’t give him much to work with. Even looking like Jedward after a haircut couldn’t save him. 

 ByeAlexByeAlex Hungary – ByeAlex – Kedvesem (Hungarian)
Music/Lyrics: Alex Márta, Zoltán Palásti Kovács/Alex Márta

Part of the charm of this song is the Hungarian language, it just wouldn’t have worked if he had sung in English. If the preview videos formed part of the scoring, there would be no doubt Hungary would be in the top 5 and there was a lot of good feeling towards ByeAlex, but that is not always enough. What was performed was an alluring folk-like tune which had the audience clapping along with from the start, just like it did in the semi-final. The presence of Hungary in the final showed that it is possible to reach the final without an over-elaborate performance, lots of flashing lights or ridiculous gimmicks. Ukrainians and Romanians take note!

 Emmelie de ForestEmmelie de Forest Denmark – Emmelie de Forest – Only Teardrops (Danish)
Music/Lyrics: Lise Cabble, Julia Fabrin Jakobsen, Thomas Stengaard/Lise Cabble, Julia Fabrin Jakobsen, Thomas Stengaard

Going into the two weeks of rehearsals, Denmark was both the bookies and fans favourite for victory. With the help of a couple of extras from the revolution scene of Les Miserables, the presentation added to the memorable nature of the song. Surely one of the cast iron certainties to qualify for the final. She even started the song sitting on the floor a là Loreen. 

 Eypor Ingi GunnlaugssonEypor Ingi Gunnlaugsson Iceland – Eypor Ingi Gunnlaugsson – Eg a Lif (Icelandic)
Music/Lyrics: Örlygur Smári, Pétur Örn Gudmundsson /Örlygur Smári, Pétur Örn Gudmundsson

Things calmed down a bit with the arrival of the Icelandic song on the stage. The Icelandics seem to know how to make very effective use of the video wall, and this year was no exception, with a beautiful coastal scene complimenting the atmosphere on stage. The preview video was one of the best, too. All the effort that had clearly been made to prepare the song for Malmo had paid off. Eypor’s backing singers walked on stage to flank the main man at precisely the right moment as the song started to build in an undramatic but very effective way. 

 Farid MammadovFarid Mammadov Azerbaijan – Farid Mammadov – Hold Me (English)
Music/Lyrics: Dimitrios Kontopoulos/John Ballard, Ralph Charlie, Al Fahel

The hosts of the 2012 contest came back strongly this year. The choreography on a clear box was totally unnecessary and having a dancer inside it acting as a mirror image of Farid was risky. That said the powerful instrumental break after only the first chorus was very effective and took the song up a notch early. Women all over the continent swooned – probably.

 Koza Mostra feat. Agathon IakovidisKoza Mostra feat. Agathon Iakovidis Greece - Koza Mostra feat. Agathon Iakovidis – Alcohol is Free (English)
Music/Lyrics: Ilias Kozas/Stathis Pachidis, Ilias Kozas

So that’s why the country is bankrupt! Anyway, do you want to have fun? Do you want to dance? Do you want to sing along? Then your time has come, my friends! The Greeks are among the biggest culprits when it comes to a vastly overblown stage presentation of a song, but this year, although there was plenty going on, it seemed to work in a bizarre way. A good thing too, as the song doesn’t scrub up to much when only listened to. More credible songs were left behind in the semi-final, but the contest isn’t just about the song anymore!

 Zlata IgnevichZlata Ignevich Ukraine - Zlata Ignevich – Gravity (English)
Music/Lyrics: Mikhail Nekrasov/ Karen Kavaleryan

On the strength of what was put in front of the audience, this song did not deserve to qualify! Carried on stage by a giant (yes, really!) Zlata did her best with a messy song that lacked anything worthy of making the final. However, Ukraine is one of those countries that always seems to qualify no matter what. After all, if Gaitana could make the final, then there was no reason why Zlata shouldn’t.

 Marco MengoniMarco Mengoni Italy – Marco Mengoni - L'Essenziale (Italian)
Music/Lyrics: Francesco De Benedittis, Roberto Casalino, Marco Mengoni/Roberto Casalino

Fresh from his victory the Sanremo festival with the same song, Marco arrived in Malmo as one of the favourites. The staging was kept lucid, Marco didn’t even have any backing singers. His is a steady ballad that moves along at almost the same pace throughout without becoming plodding.

 Margaret BergerMargaret Berger Norway – Margaret Berger – I Feed You My Love (English)
Music/Lyrics: Karin Park, Robin Lynch, Niklas Olovson/Karin Park, Robin Lynch, Niklas Olovson

Continuing the trend this year of the ladies dressing in white, Margaret brought with her a contemporary pop song. It would have been all too easy to create a stage show that would have been too dynamic, but the choreographer showed restraint. It was left to Margaret to deliver a strong vocal in order to sell the song and she repaid the faith put in her.

 Nodi Tatishvili and Sophie GelovaniNodi Tatishvili and Sophie Gelovani Georgia – Nodi Tatishvili and Sophie Gelovani – Walaterfall (English)
Music/Lyrics: Thomas G:son, Erik Bernholm/Thomas G:son

Written by Sweden’s Thomas G:Son, who is quickly becoming the new Ralph Siegel given his prolificacy and willingness to write for any country that will have him, Georgia’s ballad is of the ‘big’ variety. The pyrotechnic golden shower at the point when the song builds is predictable but effective. Other than that, Nodi and Sophie where left by themselves to get on with it. The producers would have had questions to answer had it won, given a fellow Swede wrote a song that they put at the end. 

 Ryan DolanRyan Dolan Ireland – Ryan Dolan – Only Love (English)
Music/Lyrics: Wez Devine, Ryan Dolan/Wez Devine, Ryan Dolan

Moving away from the (probably enforced) trend of the last couple of years, the main singer of the Irish song actually sung the lead vocal instead of the ‘backing’ singers. Drums and Celtic images were to the fore for the high energy number. I wonder how long it took the backing dancers to have the body paint applied. 






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