Ten countries advanced to the Final last night, but seven countries (Latvia, San Marino, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Israel, Albania, Switzerland) will not. We look back to our experiences with them here in Malmo.
When we first started covering Eurovision season, Matt and Zack had an idea to cover a couple countries in depth from the the National Selection process to Eurovision. We chose Latvia because OGAE Rest of the World had such a wonderful working relationship with them. We contacted their head of press, Aija, and she was immediately supportive of the idea. We got to interview 18 of the 24 songwriters of Dziesma 2013, many of whom were also the artists. Then when PeR won, they were more than willing to give us an interview. Upon arrival in Malmo at the press meet and greet, we finally all got to meet in person, and it was a great experience. Zack and Head of Delegation Zita discussed their common ties to Washington state, and PeR were so excited about the candy from Hawai’i that we brought as a thank you gift for being such good support to our website. Over the next few days, we’d see Raifs, Edumnds, Aija, and Zita around Malmo. Raifs was hilarious because every time we saw him, he’d start off by rapping bits from Grandmaster Flash “The Message” and then looking at Zack and saying “More Hawaiian candy?” We will never forget the first stage dive in Eurovision history!
The once crowd-favorite for Eurovision 2014 takes a fall from grace. Still, our time at Eurovision would never had been as complete if it hadn’t been for the kindness bestowed upon us by the San Marino delegation. We talked many times with their Head of Press, Markus, and their assistant head of press, Lior. Not necessarily about Valentina herself or the song, but most of the time, just about how things were going. It was quite an emotional experience to see the countries in the green room not qualify. Seeing people cry, not just from the San Marino delegation, but the other ones. In our interview, a reader asked if Valentina would be back for 2014; she politely responded that it was time for another San Marino artist to take the spotlight. We are happy to note though that the competition and the song from Ralph Siegel has opened many new doors for Valentina. She is booked solid with many concerts in the next few months. Valentina’s schedule will still be busy, and hopefully we will hear more from Valentina in the years to come.
We have to thank the Macedonian delegation for taking the time to talk with us so much. One of our staff people, Kristian, was so excited to be going to Eurovision and meeting one of his favorite artists, Esma. Furthermore, they were kind enough to take Kristian with them to the airport to help greet Lozano and Esma as they arrived in Malmo. Over the next few days, Kristian got to chat a bit with Esma and Lozano (in both English and Macedonian). We want to thank the head of delegation, Russell, for helping Kristian have a great Eurovision experience. Zack also got to meet the fabolous Nina, one of the two backup singers. She was so excited to be at Eurovision and actually went in to the Euroclub to watch some of the first rehearsals. She does organizational work back home and she told us that she wanted to see as much of the Eurovision process as possible. Nina, we hope you got to see all you wanted to see during your time here.
We want to end with a few words that Kristian shared:
“I enjoyed it and it’s a memory I’ll remember for a long time, especially Esma’s epicness (star quality), and warm heart and kindness, and Vlatko was really kind guy too and proffesional (as the rest of the delegation). The feelings I got after spending time with them is that no matter of the outcome, they reunited two cultures and people, Romani and Balkan (Slavic people) . And this is the perfect example of the theme, “We are One”, which they showed to Europe.”
Zack was so excited to meet Elitsa and Stoyan and interviewing them for him was a great memory he could take back to the US. Elitsa was adorable in her interview and like Nina from Montenegro, a little firecracker full of energy. It was easy to see the passion that Stoyan had for percussion instruments. At the same time, we have to give Elitsa and Stoyan credit for formerly introducing their backup dancer and backup singers at the press meet and greet. They were one of the few delegations to do that. They get it. Eurovision is not just about them, but also about their entire delegation. More importantly, they get that Eurovision is the perfect place to introduce a large international audience to the diverse Bulgarian music scene.
In the green room, Moran revealed it was her 22nd birthday soon. Not qualifying must not be the birthday gift she wanted. In her interviews, Moran talked about how this was her dream from being a little girl to one day represent Israel at Eurovision. We are sorry to see that her dream ended tonight. Still, we applaud Moran for staying true to herself. By presenting such a personal song, and not being afraid to show off her quirky and unique style. We were sure the juries would eat up “Rak Bishvilo,” but turns out, we will not see Moran on Saturday.
These two guys had a lot of fun in Malmo and performed and multiple events over the past 10 days. It’s wonderful to watch a band really care about the fans. There was always the fear that Albania and Armenia would be fighting for the “Rock spot” in the Finals but we really thought Albania would be the lucky one but that’s not how it went down. We have no doubt that Albania will survive a bad year but it’s sad nevertheless.
We laughed when lead singer Christoph told us he worked IT before joining Takasa, and then exclaimed, “I’m just like Jeremy from Malta’s song!” The group received its fair share of controversy during the Eurovision season due to its affiliation with the Salvation Army, which has the reputation of being anti-gay. However, Takasa seemed genuinely happy to talk with the press, many of whom are gay men. And they were nothing but huge smiles and waves to the audience in the standing section, many of whom were again, gay men. The band did a lot of promotion over the past months and we always appreciate artists being passionate about the contest. We hope that Switzerland will not be discouraged and will come back bigger and better than ever in 2014.
We commend these seven delegations and wish the artists and their delegations the best of luck in the future. We hope Eurovision 2013 provided them many opportunities to expand their fan bases and give them great memories for the years to come.
All photos courtesy of Sander Hesterman (EBU)