As a Eurovision fan one thing I love is when our Euro stars collaborate. We get the trifecta with the below clip as Ireland and England combine forces on what can only be described as the Norwegian Eurovision anthem ‘Fairytale’. Niamh Kavanagh and Josh Dubovie pull their collective impressive vocals together to belt out the beloved tune. The duet can also be found on Josh’s new album release ‘Carpe Diem’ which is a collection of covered tracks that include, ‘Chasing Cars’, ‘Save the last dance for me’, ‘Black and Gold’ and ‘Cry me a river’.
Malena Ernman is back with a new album entitled, ‘Opera di fiori’. Unlike her last album ‘La Voix Du Nord’ there isn’t a dance or pop beat in sight. This is as the name might suggest filled with opera so those of you who did not like the second half of ‘La Voix Du Nord’ stay clear. However Opera fans will delight in both Malena’s extensive range and breathtaking orchestral arrangements that accompany each song.
While I tend to prefer lighter classical artists like Sarah Brightman and Hayley Westenra there is no denying the sublime quality of Malena vocal, many of the songs had me break out in goose pimples. There are 16 tracks on the album and each brings something to form a complete picture of opera gold. I particularly loved, ‘Casta Diva’ and ‘Flowers’. There is only one English vocal on the album and it’s not what you would expect, ‘Summertime’, the deep south classic is given an operatic rendition. Surprisingly it works really well as the music is also given an orchestral twist. I would highly recommend this album to fans of classical or opera music, it’s a rare gem.
Over the course of the Summer I hope to review as many Eurovision artists’ album releases of present and past. Please remember these are my personal opinions and don’t reflect a majority.
First on the chopping block is Nadine Beiler ‘I’ve got a voice’.
Nadine represented Austria this year with the syrupy sweet ‘The Secret is love’ and while I was not the songs biggest fan I thought Nadine’s vocal was amazing. My expectations of the album were that it would be a feast of over the top diva style love songs but aside from ‘The secret is love’ there isn’t a single one.
The album has fifteen songs and I managed to find six songs that appealed. ‘Mr right now’ one of the better songs on the album suffers from not having a strong enough dance beat and is desperately crying out for a remix. ‘Girl or boy’ and ‘Turn Around’ are near perfect dance fillers, while ‘I’ve got a voice’, ‘Against all rules’ and ‘Keep up with me’ manage to weed themselves out from a bed of average songs.
‘You are the sun’ could have been a great love song or jazz hit but struggles to find a niche between the two with an added pointless beat that leaves it a confused mess.
The main problem with the album is that the beat in a lot of the songs is so similar it’s hard to find a chorus that sticks in the mind, which ultimately makes many of the songs forgettable.
Nadine’s vocal is faultless which makes this average album more frustrating, understandably she may not gravitate towards diva-esque style music but after ‘The secret is love’ it was what I was expecting and hip hop/rnb is not really my cup of tea. Fans of Brandy, Deborah Cox and Mariah Carey’s latest styles would appreciate this album but those of early Whitney, Barbara, Celine and Lara stay clear, shame.
Kate Ryan is a firm favourite amongst Eurovision fans and we here at ESC Ireland love, love, love her, and speaking of love she has released a new single called ‘Lovelife’, an infectious song that will have you shaking those hips. The single is the first from her forthcoming fifth studio album ‘Electroshock’. Europop has never sounded so good.
Taking a brief break from the intrigue and mounting tensions as we approach Eurosong our German Artists ‘In Profile’ deals with a relative new comer to the German music scene. At 31 although he certainly doesn’t look it, (love to know what moisturiser he uses) this multilingual artist (German, French, English and Arabic) came second in the fifth season of the German pop idol. Let me introduce you to the handsome Fady Maalouf.
Born in the Lebanon in 1979 his German connections are through his Fathers side who came from Berlin. The war in the Lebanon forced Fady to relocate to France where his love of Fashion had him working as an intern with some top designers such as Elie Saab and Robert Abi Nader. Elie Saab has dressed some of Hollywoods brightest and best including, Rachel McAdams, Kristen Stewart, Toni Collette, Beyonce, Rhianna, Desperate Housewives-Marcia Cross and Teri Hatcher, Victoria Princess of Sweden and Queen Rania of Jordan. Robert Abi Nader has designed all the evening gowns for the Miss France competition for the last numerous years. Both men are of Lebanese origin which perhaps helped Fady with his beginning. However in 2006 he moved to Germany with his brother and started again, this time entering into the German version of Pop Idol ‘DSDS’.
While not winning the competition his single ‘Blessed’ was released and reached number 2 in the German charts, his album also called ‘Blessed’ also reached the number 2 spot. Other singles off the album included a cover of the Lonestar song ‘Amazed’ which has also been covered by Duncan James who will be rejoining boy-band ‘Blue’ to represent the UK in this years Eurovision. The third single from the album was called ‘Show me your love’. In this video Fady displays his love of free diving and his ability for Apnea which allows a person to hold their breath for up to four minutes in depths as far down as 214 metres. Apnea however can be very dangerous and can result in the body been tricked into believing it had more oxygen than it actually does resulting in hyperventilation.
A short break brought about the 2010 album ‘Into the light’. The lead single, ‘Into the light’ a dance number didn’t fare so well in the charts only reaching number 44. The song itself is good but the video is shocking, my friend who is a make up artist laughed when she saw how tangerine he was, we both agreed whoever left him appear as a tall ‘Oompa Loompa’ in the video didn’t have his best interests at heart. Other good songs on the album include ‘Kissing Moonlight’, ‘Holding onto water’, cover version of Roxettes ‘Listen to your heart’ and the brilliant Mika influenced ‘I still cry’. None of these have yet to materialise as a follow up single.
His personal life has also come under scrutiny with claims been made, which he has neither confirmed nor denied, that he is in a same sex civil partnership. I think anyone with the slightest hint of Gaydar would go ‘Duh’. Can’t wait to see what his next single will be and live in hope that one day he will represent some country in the Eurovision.
Continuing with our German Artist profiles we have Germany’s answer to Britney Spears, the one and only, Jeanette Biedermann.
Like many young stars today you need the trifecta, sing, dance and act. Jeanette is accomplished at all three, from 1999-2004 she starred in the German soap opera ‘Gute Zeiten, Schlechte Zeiten’, playing the role of Maria Balzer. The soap opera was a remake of the Australian soap ‘The Restless Years’. From 2008-2010 she played the main character of Anna Polauke in the series ‘Anna und die Liebe’ , about a shy introverted character who is constant competition with her sister. Dancing was never a problem for the star who began a career at the age of 6 in the Liliput circus as an acrobat.
Her first launch on the musical world came courtesy of the German newspaper ‘Bild’. The newspaper launched a talent competition and out of the thousands that entered Jeanette won and launched her debut single ‘Das tut unheimlich weh’. Trying to capitulate on the success of the single she entered it into the German qualifiers for the 1999 Eurovision. She placed fourth. The winning song by Corinna May was disqualified as it had been previously released on someone elses album so the runner up by ‘Supriz’ with ‘Journey to Jerusalem’ entered placing 3rd on the night.
To date Biedermann has released 6 studio albums and 1 Christmas album.
It wasn’t however until her 3rd album ‘Rock my life’ the Biedermann started to achieve wider success. The single ‘Rock my life’ reached number 3 in the German charts and 6 in the Austrian. The next single off the album was a duet with our very own Ronan Keating and reached number 7 in Germany. The album was certified Gold. Her next album ‘Break on through’ went platinum.
Her sixth studio album, ‘Naked Truth’ had a rock vibe and her first single off it ‘Run with me’ went to number 3 in the charts. The follow up single ‘Bad Girls Club’ was one of her poorest charting positions at number 20.
The seventh studio album is what drew my attention to the singer, ‘Undress to the Beat’ is euro pop at its finest. The album is filled with quirky pop/dance songs and showcases a faster paced direction in Jeanettes music.
Jeanette was also a Juror on the German panel for the 2009 Eurovision.
In a slight tweak to our ‘In Profile’ section we here at ESC Ireland will be profiling some of this years host country, Germany, biggest and beloved singers. Our first profile is on one of the countries most successful singers as she is the only German female singer to achieve four consecutive number 1 hits. It can only be the beautiful Sarah Connor.
With 7 studio albums, the token Christmas album and a self entitled compilation her name should be very familiar. However in Ireland the name Sarah Connor is familiar for its commonality rather than a German singer of Scottish/American descent. Born Sarah Lewe in 1980 her first singing pseudonym was Sarah Gray taking her mothers maiden name. Under that name she joined forces with the producer Marc Van Linden providing vocals on a dance remix of one of my personal favourite childhood songs ‘The Last Unicorn’ from the 1982 cartoon feature of the same name.
A change in management resulted in a change of pseudonym and Sarah Connor materialised. Personally I have always thought Sarah Gray would have worked better as a lot of search engines often link to ‘Terminators’ Sarah Connor as opposed to the singer.
Her first single would be her only Irish hit and was a collaboration with the American singer TQ, the song ‘Lets get back to bed boy’ went top twenty here and the UK.
It was her third single ‘From Sarah with love’ which became her signature song. The song reached number 1 in Germany and Switzerland, number 2 in Romania and Austria and placed top ten in Finland, Hungary, Belgium and Holland. She also received a prestigious German Echo award for the song.
With her second album she attempted to recreate the success of her collaboration with TQ by joining forces with another American rapper Wyclef Jean however while popular in Germany it failed to achieve the widespread success ‘Lets get back to bed boy’ had.
However, her star was rising Stateside with some songs on her album been penned by the great Diane Warren including the haunting ‘Skin on Skin’.
At this time she also met and started dating one of the singers ‘Marc Terenzi’ from the American boy band ‘Natural’. The bands manager supposedly threatened to have Marc kicked out of the group if he continued to date her publicly and when it was announced Sarah was pregnant rumours of the band splitting were rife. The band however recorded a duet with Sarah ‘Just one last dance’ which became the bands only number 1 single. Shortly after, the original line up in the band disbanded and Sarah and Marc went on to have their own reality TV show along the same vein as ‘Newly Weds: Nick and Jessica’.
‘Sarah and Marc in love’ would last for two seasons. The power couple became the darlings of Germany with singles used in the series climbing the German charts, Sarah’s ballad ‘Living to love you’ hitting the number one spot in both Germany and Switzerland.
Critically her fourth album didn’t fair so well and this trend continued with her fifth album of mostly ‘Motown’ covers. Her personal life was also under scrutiny when she and Marc announced their separation although it was claimed to be amicable.
Her sixth album ‘Sexy as hell’ saw a distinct shift in music for Sarah moving away from American RNB, hip hop influences and embracing light Euro pop. As part of this departure she provided the vocals on Enrique Iglesias song ‘Taking back my love’ for its European release replacing American singer Ciara.
This trend became amplified on her latest 7th album, ‘Real Love’. Disco queens unite and if you do nothing else go buy/download this slice of euro-pop goodness. For me it’s the icing on Sarah Connors career shifting from breathy ballads to electric dance beats, the stand out track been ‘Better Man’. With many years of singing and dancing left it is exciting to see what this German Diva will come up with next. Below are the two singles currently on release from ‘Real Love’.
‘The New Seekers’ were formed on the back of the split of the 60’s Australian folk group ‘The Seekers’. Keith Potger formed the group in 1969, however the initial line up of ‘The New Seekers’ would change when a decision was made to move the genre of the band from Folk to a more Rock/Pop influence. Marty Kristian and Eve Graham would be the only remaining original line up members and joining them would be Lyn Paul, Peter Doyle and Paul Layton. They would have many hits in both the UK and the US including, ‘Look what they’ve done to my song, ma’, ‘Never ending song of love’ and ‘I’d like to teach the world to sing’.
From group harmony’s they began to shift focus towards individual singers within the group and often record releases stated ‘The New Seekers’ featuring ‘Eve Graham’ or whoever happened to be on lead vocals.
My personal favourite was one of their biggest hits and featured Lyn Paul on lead vocals, ‘You won’t find another fool like me’. The flip side of the record was sung by Eve Graham and was entitled, ‘Song for you and me’.
It was in 1972 that the group were chosen to represent the United Kingdom in the Eurovision and each week they performed on the ‘It’s Cliff Richard show’ until the winning song, ‘Beg, Steal or Borrow’ was chosen with Lyn Paul and Peter Doyle as lead vocalists. Cliff Richard would the following year enter the Eurovision with ‘Power to all our friends’.
‘Beg, Steal or Borrow’ placed second at the 1972 Eurovision and also climbed to the number two position in the UK charts.
After another hit single in 1974, ‘I get a little sentimental over you’ the band announced a surprise split less than five years after they were formed.
In 1976 they reformed but without Lyn Paul and Peter Doyle. Two new artists Danny Finn and Kathy Ray joined the group but while they had moderate success they never achieved the success they once had. In 1979 Danny Finn and Eve Graham left the group and in 1980 ‘The New Seekers’ once again attempted to represent the UK in the Eurovision but were disqualified for promoting the song before the heats began. Instead Danny Finn who had left the group the previous year did go onto represent the UK in 1980 as part of a group called ‘Prima Donna’ singing ‘Love enough for two’ which finished third.
In 1977 Lyn Paul entered ‘A song for Europe’ finishing fourth with ‘If everybody loved the same as you’. This would go onto become a much loved song in the gay community. Lynsey De Paul and Michael Moran would represent the UK with ‘Rock Bottom’ coming second. My vote still is with Lyn Paul.
‘The New Seekers’ are still going with Paul Layton the only original member left in the group. In 2009 a greatest hits compilation including new songs was released entering the album charts at number 17.
From its original start in Australia as ‘The Seekers’ in 1962 to its nostalgic tours of present day ‘The New Seekers’ left behind an amazing legacy interwoven with the trials and tribulations of tangled love lives and questionable management. Their story is one movies are made of, let’s hope someday that may happen.
The year was 1974, the place Brighton, England, the event, the 19th Eurovision song contest.
It would be five years before my miraculous birth so I wasn’t even a twinkle in my parent’s eyes but they must have had some insight because they bought several of the Eurovision singles on record for that year and when I was but a wee boy of eight I discovered them. I always credit the 1993 Eurovision as been the year that started my love affair yet in truth it was 1974 and specifically records containing three of that years entrants; Tina Reynolds, Olivia Newton John and Abba.
In 1973 Luxemburg won the Eurovision with a song called ‘Tu te reconnaitrais’ by Anne-Marie David however they declined to host it due to the cost and the BBC graciously stepped in hence the Dome in Brighton.
It would be a year of conspiracy theories and controversies and it would also be the year Greece made their debut with ‘Marinella’.
Returning artists included:
Romuald for Monaco again in 1964 and also for Luxemburg in 1969.
Bendick Singers for Norway the previous year of 1973.
Gigliola Cinquetti for Italy in 1964 for which she won.
17 countries would perform and Ireland would place a respectable 7th with Tina Reynolds song ‘Cross your heart’. I love this song from childhood and its flip side on the record was a track called ‘What would I be’. Lyrics included on that went…’What would I be if I weren’t me, maybe a cloud, maybe a tree and if I were a tree you’d be the gentle rain that falls on me. And if that tree should fade and die, you’d be the ground on which I’d lie….’ Honestly I couldn’t make this up.
France did not perform that year despite having a song and singer chosen. ‘La vie a vingt-cinq ans’ by Dani was pulled when the same week of the Eurovision the French president Georges Pompidou passed away.
Italy would place 2nd but one wonders if that was more to do with the conspiracy theories that surrounded it. The song entitled ‘Si’ which of course means ‘Yes’ was banned from Italian TV because at the same time the Italian referendum on Divorce was going on and they felt the song might influence peoples votes through subliminal messages. No wonder the Italians left the Eurovision we all know them to be passionate but we can add a little crazy into the mix. They must have been pulling their hair out when Dustin was singing about his Douze points, now I wonder why that didn’t work, hhmm!!!!
England would place 4th however singer Olivia Newton John would claim that (and I agree entirely) had she sung her favourite of the choices given her ‘Angel Eyes’ she may have done better. The song ‘Long live love’ was chosen by the British people (its funny how they never learn to leave it in professional’s hands rather then the public, get a clue Britain). Olivia would go on to star in one of the most beloved musicals of all time ‘Grease’ in 1978.
The biggest controversy (probably ever in Eurovision history) which came to light after its performance surrounded Portugals entry by Paulo de Carvalho ‘E depois do adeus’. The song was used as a signal to launch the Carnation Revolution. The song alerted the rebel soldiers to begin the coup and fight to reclaim democracy in Portugal from an authoritarian dictatorship. Thousands of ordinary Portuguese fled to the streets to join with the military insurgents. The result was the end of the secret police, the Estado Novo (new state) and the unpopular colonial war. A new constitution ended up been drafted, political prisoners were freed, censorship was prohibited, free speech was declared and overseas colonies were given their independence and all on the wake of a song at Eurovision.
Of course the year’s winner was Sweden with Abba and ‘Waterloo’. The song went on to become voted the best song of the Eurovision song contest when it celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2005. The group Abba were launched on an unsuspecting world and Abbamania followed. They became as popular as the Beatles and their influence was widespread. To this day their songs are covered by other artists and collectively were turned into a world smash musical, ‘Mamma Mia’.
Its songs began my love of Eurovision and it was a year that launched a revolution, Olivia Newton John and Abba. That is why 1974 is historically one of the best, if not thee best.
In a brand new section to ESC Ireland we get to discuss individual Eurovision years. Please if leaving responses only respond to matters pertaining to the given year. From singers to costumes, interval acts to backing singers, whatever you wish to talk about a selected year this is the place to do it. For these reasons it separates itself from the already in place ‘History’ category.
I’ve chosen 1993 because it was the first year I watched and loved the Eurovision and to date it remains for me one of the most emotional years.
The 38th Eurovision was presented by Fionnula Sweeney who would go on to become an anchor woman for the American news network CNN.
The interval act would be a dismal collaboration between previous Irish winners Linda Martin and Johnny Logan. Linda barely sang a verse of her winning song while her rapid eye movement left me dizzy. Johnny sang with a choir of children a sickening sweet song in which I’m sure every facial twitch mimicked what he’d performed earlier in front of his mirror. There is polished and excessively groomed and Johnny falls into the latter which I always felt alienated him from his audience.
1993 featured three returning artists, Tony Vegas for Austria, Tommy Seebach for Denmark and Katri Helena for Finland. Both Tommy and Katri had performed in the 1979 Eurovision with Tommy also featuring in 1981. Tony Vegas was returning from the previous year, 1992. Doesn’t he remind you of Tom Jones? I can so see him singing ‘Sexbomb’.
25 countries would compete including Italy who would withdraw from the competition afterwards to make only one further appearance in 1997. 1993 would also see the last appearance by Luxemburg who had been in the competition since it began in 1956.
This was also the first year a pre-qualifier was needed as more countries wanted to enter. However in this early stage it only applied to countries that hadn’t entered the Eurovision before or had since become new Republics in their own right. Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, Estonia and Romania entered into a competition with only three winning places available. These went to Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Despite a war going on in Bosnia & Herzegovina they manage to deliver their results albeit through a very dodgy connection to the rapturous applause of the audience.
Headlining the year was a battle of the red heads as Niamh Kavanagh and Sonia fought it out for the final victory. It seemed like Ireland would win as Sonia was 11 points behind but when the final voting country ‘Malta’ reached its penultimate 10 points neither England or Ireland had received a vote which now meant England if they got the 12 points could win by a mere single point. Of course we know that didn’t happen and Ireland claimed its fifth victory but at the time it was a nail biting final. The cheer that erupted when Niamh won always sends a shiver down my spine.
My top five of 1993 went as follows
1- Annie Cotton (Moi, tout simplement)-Switzerland
2- Anabela (A Cidade ate ser dia)-Portugal
3- Inga (Pa veistu savario)-Iceland
4- Niamh Kavanagh (In your eyes)-Ireland
5- Put (Don’t ever cry)-Croatia
A very nice Youtube video by Lotus2003 shows the breakdown and songs involved.
For many who saw the Eurovision in 1993 it remains closest to their hearts, afterwards in the years to follow the influx of eastern European countries and political block voting turned many away from the magic that once was. But for now relive the excitement of the final vote and witness the excitement that is sadly lacking from the present day Eurovision. Must also point out in case someone notices while Norway were last to vote on the board, Malta due to technical difficulties couldn’t give their votes and so were placed last.
Please feel free to leave your comments and observations regarding 1993.