Current Eurovision Song Contest rules allow for up to six performers on stage. Although the majority of the attention goes towards the lead artist, today I would like to honor a very essential component of almost every Eurovision Song Contest entry – THE BACKUP SINGERS. Despite being an integral part of many performances, these talented artists on many occasions are relegated to the side of the stage in pitch black where no one can see them. At other times, they may play an important part of the performance, partaking in choreography or sometimes even picking up the slack when the lead artist’s singing abilities are less than spectacular.
I salute these brilliant back-up singers. In this article, I will go through my favorite back-up singers from each year of the Eurovision Song Contest from 2000 to 2012.
NOTE: I want to thank Frederik at The Diggiloo Thrush (http://www.diggiloo.net/) for letting me use their photos of artists for this article. I don’t know how they get these photos but they are FANTASTIC!
2012 – Moldova
Tatiana Heghea, Aliona Munteanu*
If you read the articles on here, you could have pretty much guessed that Pasha Parfeny’s back-up singers would have been picked. They were quirky, fun, with personalities for miles. And if you do find the acoustic version of “Lautar” from the Eurovision dressing room, it will confirm that these girls have some great voices. And good for Moldova for making the girls part of the show as well!
*pretty sure these girls at the National Entry Contest are the same as the girls at Eurovision
2011 – Slovenia
Katja Koren, Sandra Feketija, Ana Bezjak, Martina Majerle
Typically, in a Eurovision Song Contest entry, there are a couple of bum notes. Slovenia’s 2011 entry “No One,” featured the Christina Aguilera-like Maja Keuc. However, what took her performance to the next level was the assistance of four equally talented back-up singers. They rocked the stage and gave one heck of a performance! Slovenia must have known that they had a good thing with these four girls because they all came to Baku to assist Eva Boto. Some may also recognize Martina Majerle from the 2009 Slovenian entry, “Love Symphony” with Quartissimo.
2010 – Albania
Joy Garrison, Glenys Vargas, Desiree Kedjour
The strongest backing vocals of the night came from Albania’s back-up singers. At first I thought Albania had exported the Rounder Girls from Austria 2000; but instead these three ladies were Americans. I could tell you about how these three American ladies become Juliana Pasha’s back-up singers, but Glenys Vargas’s blog entry (link below) gives a good summary. She also does not hold back! http://glenysromeandbeyond.wordpress.com/2010/06/04/my-big-fat-eurovision-experience/
2009 – Iceland
Erna Hronn Olafsdottir, Hera Bjork, Fridrik Omar
I’m sure Yohanna would have been just fine on stage by herself, given her powerful vocals and one of the very few Eurovision key change moments that has ever given me goosebumps. But when you add three incredible back-up singers, that final minute became something magical. Erna returned in 2010 to back-up Hera. And we remember Fridrik from 2008 as a member of Euroband.
2008 – Ukraine
It is quite disappointing to me that I had the hardest time to find a photo of Marina Ahverdova. I even went back and watched the voting results in hopes that I could get a good screen-capture of her when the entry she was with earned 12 points. However, she was always relegated to the side of the stage in the dark. Russia did this in 2006, as did Belarus in 2007 and Ukraine in 2008. And part of me wonders if this is because she is not the skinniest singer out there. But obviously, she was doing something right as she participated in Eurovision as a back-up singer for four different countries! I’m hoping that she got all diva-like and thought to herself, “I don’t care if I’m stuck in the background. I’m gonna sing this song and make everyone know who I am!!” I was happy to see Marina return in 2010 to help Eva Rivas of Armenia, and this time, have the stage lights on her (and this is the only entry in which I could actually get a photo of her!). Marina’s strong voice stands out in every performance and I’d love to see her take her spot at center stage at Eurovision one day.
2007 – Ukraine
Natalia Gura-Golubovskaya, Elena Romanovskaya, Vasily Goldakovskiy
It takes real courage for a man to show up on the Eurovision stage with a pair of bedazzled short shorts and play an accordion. For that, I salute Vasily Goldakovskiy. At the same time, I just loved the two female back-ups, Natalia Gura-Golubovskaya and Elena Romanovskaya. Although these ladies did not move from their pedestals during the performance of “Dancing,” they gave a lot of diva attitude, and still gave it 100% even as Verka Serduchka came running by to smack them on their butts!
2006 – Finland
Okay, she’s technically part of Lordi and not a back-up singer, but there was a reason why the camera kept looking at Lady Awa. Despite the costume and the mask, Lada Awa was still very captivating. Sadly, on July 25th, it was announced that Lady Awa would be leaving Lordi to take time-off and pursue new musical projects. I could imagine the amount of commitment required to be in a band like Lordi where part of the appeal is the fact that they never appear in public without their costumes and masks on. It’s a full-time job!
2005 – Greece
Although the cameras did not show much of Alex during the winning performance of “My Number One,” when the Greek delegate came on stage to celebrate their win, I instantly recognized him. With 20+ years of Eurovision experience, Alex is a well-known Eurovision figure. He has represented Cyprus twice in 1995 and 2000. And he was a back-up singer for Cyprus 1989, Cyprus 1991, Greece 2009, and Belarus 2012. Obviously, his talents have made him a sought-after part of a Eurovision delegation.
2004 – Switzerland
The MusicStars (Sabrina Auer, Tina Masafret, Sergio Luvualu, Damian Odermatt)
In the history of the Eurovision Song Contest, a number of entries have received the dreaded NILL POINTS. However, if one entry truly deserved it, it was “Celebrate.” What a clunker! I am saluting the MusicStars not for any spectacular or stand-out musical talents, but just for their ability to smile their way through such a horrible song and performance. They seemed to make the most of their time on the Eurovision stage.
2003 – Netherlands
Although Esther Hart had four back-up singers, my eye couldn’t stay off of Dedre Twiss. Out of the four of them, she genuinely appeared to be enjoying being on stage the most! I immediately thought this girl was so much fun and she had the cutest smile! So I was not the least bit surprised when six years later, she returned to the Eurovision stage to play the role of the blond-haired DJ for De Toppers. Honestly, all I remember about the Dutch entries from 2003 and 2009 is Dedre! She definitely outstaged everyone else!
2002 – Estonia, Malta
Jelena Juzvik has done back-up for Estonia on three occasions (2000, 2002, 2006). However, what I found most remarkable about Jelena was the fact that she did back-up for the Estonian AND the Maltese entries in 2002. I actually did not think this was possible! I bet she was relieved when Estonia drew 8th and Malta drew 20th. Imagine if they drew back-to-back. I salute Jelena for working overtime in 2002, but one must ask…which delegation did she actually sit with during voting?!
2001 – Lithuania
There was something thoroughly entertaining about SKAMP’s performance of “You Got Style.” Part of this was due to the three male back-up singers sporting plaid pants and big neon-colored afros! I wish I knew their names, but unfortunately I cannot find any information about them! And Lithuania’s fondness for outrageous plaid pants (them and 2010’s act, InCulto) has made me think about buying a pair myself (to my friends’ dismay).
2000 – Malta
Again I could not find any info on these five talented back-up singers, but I found their backing vocals really worked well with Claudette’s song “Desire.” Despite all this, I just found the song to be reminiscent of something I’d hear on the “Lion King” soundtrack.
These back-up singers were the highlights of the 2000-2012 Eurovision Song Contests. Although I only included my personal favorites for each year, there are many other back-up singers in the contest that deserve praise. Who were your favorite back-up singers?