Eurovision Song Contest 2015 - First Semi-Final winners and their songs reviewed
Austria's song "Rise Like a Phoenix" by Conchita Wurst a.k.a. Tom Neuwirth, took the ESC back home to Vienna. Here in the heart of Europe, where past and future collide, nations, countries, continents join in a friendly battle, in the quest to find the best European song 2015. It is here where bridges emerge, friendships are strengthened and tolerance and acceptance is celebrated at its highest. Let's have a look at the lucky ones who got the golden ticket for the finals.
Albania - Elhaida Dani: I'm Alive
Like many songs at Eurovision, this is a classical ballad dedicated to love. But what is so special about this song? I'm Alive depicts a typical situation in our everyday lives. Decisions are hard to make and coping with the pain inflicted by your own decisions is even harder, especially if those decisions are about love, an area in which rationality and insanity is just one step away from one another. Elhaida was thought to perform Diell , the winning song of the pre-selection, but the composer decided to withdraw his song for personal reasons. She went to the States in February to prepare a new song for her ESC entry. The song starts off with a fairly universal chorus. It still remains a mystery about how the song will progress during these fairly short three minutes, at least to the first-time-listener and carries an incredible element of surprise. I'm Alive is not one of the run-off-the-mill average songs, it is unpredictable intense and enjoyable to a great extent. It offers an appropriate amount of variety in both, the terms of the lyrics and the background accompaniment. Unfortunately the singer couldn't hold up the quality of performance so strongly promised by the extremely well made music video published online on the main website of the ESC and on YoutubeTM. Nevertheless this song is one of the best ones available in the repertoir of the ESC and without any doubt deserved its place in the grand final.
Elhaida Dani - A short biography
Born in Shkodra on the 17th February 1993 Elhaida is very young, but also exceptionally talented. She started singing at the age of four. She participated in many festivals and had TV appearances in a couple of shows. Among them the famous Kenga Magjike Festival, an analogy to The Voice show. Her Eurovision entry was composed exclusively to fit her vocal abilities, nevertheless, it shows, that it is hard for her to cope with the higher notes. Though in this question opinions may differ. Her ESC 2015 song is composed by the Songwriter-Duo Zzap & Chris.
Armenia - Genealogy: Face the Shadow
The song performed by the group Genealogy is composed by Armen Martirosyan, the lyrics have been written by Inna Mkrtchyan. The original name of the entry was "Don't deny". It has been changed due to the contraversy, that emerged from the song's lyrical content. The song has been said to refer to a political topic. This was deemed unacceptable by fans and critics. Upon this accusation, the song has been renamed into "Face the Shadow" by the Armenian delegation. Nevertheless the song's lyrics have not changed since then. Some parts of the song may suggest, that there is something to the accusations and they are not just hot air like in verse five "Cross the ocean of blues, happy you'll be. Once you've risen you are meant to be free [...]". The name of the song itself - "Don't Deny" also conveys an uncertainty in means of the political touch the song conveys. It was argued that the song is centred around the Armenian genocide. The group name is also not less reassuring in terms of its political correctness. Nevertheless it is a song not worse and not better than any other. Even if you consider the possible political aspect this song might have, it stays a good contribution to the ESC 2015 and is worth giving it a try.
The group Genealogy embodies the spirit of the ESC 2015 - "Building Bridges". The group cosists of six singers from Europe, America, Asia, Africa , Australia and Armenia. These are Essai Altrounian, Tamar Kaprelian, Stephanie Topalian, Vahe Tilbian, Mary-Jean O'Doherty, Inga Arshakyan. The name of the group derives from the fact that all of the members are genetically related to one another, as all of them have Armenian ancestors. Another important factor that unites them all is the universal language of music.
The Armenian singers - "It was a crazy idea"
Russia: Polina Gagarina - A Million Voices
The Russian contestant Polina Gagarina is a shining star in Russia. Her song has been composed by the famous artists Gabriel Alares, Joakim Björnberg, Katrina Noorbergen, Leonid Gutkin and Vladimir Matetsky. The song itself has a lot of potential and also covers the theme of building bridges, although in a different way. The A Million Voices believes in a common human dream: Peace. It is believed that, if a common idea is shared by many, or a certain act is performed at the same time by many people, any impossibility may become possible. The lyrics and the song itself is astonishingly innovative and attractive to the viewers and listeners as well as to the live audience. In the beginning it was thought that Russia's Performance will receive direct negative Feedback from the audience. Fortunately this was not the case.
Polinas Gagarina was born on 27th March 1987. She studied at two Schools, among those the world reknown MKhAT Theatre School. Although Polina was born in Russia, she spent her early years of life in Greece, because her mother, a professional dancer, signed a contract with a Greek producer in 1991. Only when her father died of a heart attack, her mother decided to go back to Russia. But she and her mother were undecisive about where to stay. Soon they went back to Greece and Polina attended the 1st grade of a Greek school. Polina speaks fluent Greek and Russian. Nevertheless it was hard for her to decide in which country to live. She felt a deep affection to Russia, as that is her native country, but at the same time she found herself bound by the Greek identity she had already taken on. Polina's family decided for Polina to go to Saratow, Russia, a beautiful city on the river Volga, and live with her grandmother for a time. There she attended music school. a teacher of hers, advised her to participate in the TV - Show "Fabrica Zvezd-2", (factory of stars-2). She won the Fabrica Zvezd 2 competition in 2003. Since then her life changed. She released singles, two very successful albums, participated in other prominent Russian TV projects like the International Music Festival New Wave and was crowned the winner of many other competitions..
Serbia - Bojana Stamenov: Beauty never Lies
"Beauty never lies" has been composed by Vladimir Graic. The lyrics have been written by Leontina Vucomanovic. The English version songwriter is Charlie Mason. It is interesting to note, that this song has two versions, but only the English version has been performed during the contest. The English translation of the Serbian lyrics of the song can be found on the Eurovision online-magazine wiwibloggs. The Serbian version does not seem too powerful giving consideration to the lyrics only. But the opinions in this question may differ.
Born in 1986 Bojana Stamenov has been singing she was seven, she plays the guitar and the lute and studied renaissance singing. She is the winner of the national selection for the Eurovision Song contest with the song "The whole world is mine". Bojana has participated in many other competitions and shows always getting a high ranking. She knows how to knit, how to crochet and loves cooking. In all her stage appearances, especially the ones at the ESC, Bojana wore an astonishing selection of dresses. Her taste in clothing is extravagant, but modern. Travelling is a passion to her, but most of her time she loves spending with her beloved ones.
Belgium: Loic Nottet - Rythm inside
Another smashing song, which earned a huge number of fans in the last couple of days before the semi-finals. At first you probably won't like the song, but it's charged with energy and emotion. "The Rythm inside" is a song, that embodies the spirit of the young, new generation. To fully understand the Belgian song you will need to listen to it for a couple more times. In an interview, the 18 year old Loic told the interviewer, that he hadn't known that the famous band ABBA once competed in the ESC.
Although many Euro Vision fans would probably think that the ignorance that Loic radiates is a clear sign of egoism. We can clearly say that this is a misinterpretation. Because you cannot blame the next generation of artists for the lack of knowledge. Not every artist is also simultaneously a Euro Vision fan. But every artist does their best to win and to represent the country for which they are competing. At first you need to know, that Loic's got an extremely high voice. So that the song seems a little bit unusual but it does not follow the mundane cliché we are so used to in the ESC's last year competition. He would deserve to win this contest, to bring Eurovision song contest back to Belgium. His voice radiates power, but at the same time it is edgy and unwieldy . His lack of technique could work against him, but Belgium is one of the tougher contest in the final.
The finger snapping, the "rap-pap-pap" chorus, his slight french accent and many other noticable elements, including his music video on youtube give his tune a really catchy sing-along nature. It's memorable, powerful and his voice fits the song so good, you don't even notice the dissonance between his high pitched singing and his stunning performance on stage guarantee him a good placement in the grand final voting.
Georgia - Nina Sublatti: Warrior
Nina Sublatti is both, singer, songwriter, model and composer. Many fans would classify her song as warmongering. But the song fits the singer perfectly well. Powerful, brave, strong and beautiful this woman is ready to fight for the sake of pride, for the sake of honour and victory. In short she's unstoppable. In my personal opinion her song might have a feministic vibe to it. It is difficult to interpret the song's text. But it is about a warrior breaking free from the chains inside her mind, and soul. Ready to win, ready to tear apart her enemies. Her song is chaotic and unpredictable, that is why she probably won't get a high rating in the finals.
Born on the 31. Januar 1995 in Moscow. Both her parents are Georgians. Shortly after her birth Nina's family decided to go back to Georgia. She attended an art school there and learned how to paint. In 2009 Nina Sublatti received an offer from a modeling agency. She worked with famous designers and photographers, bands and gave concerts in Georgia. In 2011 she received a cooperational contract with Georgian Dream Studio, two years later she won the "Georgian Idol" show.
Estonia: Elina Born & Stig Rästa - Goodbye to yesterday
A Duo not to be underestimated. They are singing about a short time relationship, which they never want to stop. A guy and the girl got hooked up and staying together in a flat. On the next morning the guy left. He thinks, that she is too good for him and that he cannot return the love she gives him, but deep inside he cries out yearning for her love. The song does not have a happy ending, instead songwriter Stig Rästa chose an open ending. The audience is supposed to reflect about the song later on. A very smart move, but seems to be really ineffective. The song is too easy going and has no element of suspense in comparison to the other songs. Nevertheless a good song. A well deserved place in the grand final on Saturday.
According to the official propramme booklet of the Eurovision Song Contest this year, Elina, born on the 29. Juni 1994 is "a temperamental, small town girl, who enjoys city life and would like to travel to Africa to pet giraffes." That is profoundly cute and confusing at the same time. This and her singing make her attractively appealing to the audience, to Eurovision fans around the world and her country. She participated in the Eesti Otsib Superstaari contest and ended up with the 8th place. Her partner, Stig Rästa a famous singer, songwriter, guitarist, record producer and composer discovered Elina on Youtube singing Christina Aguilera's song "Cruz". She was overwhelmed, when Stig wrote her a message on facebook. For her it was a dream come true. She grew up in the countryside and has always wanted to live in a big city, while Stig grew up in a big city and is drawn to the piece and quiet of the countryside. In 2002 he founded the band Slobodan River with Ithaka Maria and Tomi Rahula. After 2006 he played in the bands Traffic and in Outloudz. In 2011 he participated in the fifth season of the contest "Let's Dance" and ended in 4th place.
Romania: Voltaj - De la Capat / All over again or why did you leave me behind here all alone.
Lyrics translation - De la Capat:
If my life was a song
Cheerful, sad, I would still sing this song.
I wouldn’t miss one moment.
If it were a river, I would swim
I would follow the flow to the sea
I would never stop
You know that
There is no rewind button for life
To find what you may have lost,
Nor can you pause this song
When you don’t know the right choice.
If the night tomorrow was starless all over
If the wind blew towards me
You would be the reason x 2
To help me make it from the start
If the sky tomorrow was clouded
If no sunray were to light the dawn
You would be the reason x 2
To help me make it from the start
I would fly all the night
To the dawn where you are
I would not mind the rain
Why I don’t fall when I’m all drenched.
Help me make it through life
About the song
The song is in Romanian and English, so that it is hard to understand what exactly is sung in the first place for the international audience. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you think of it, Voltaj sings the song in Romanian at the ESC with only the chorus being in English. The lyrics' translation to the original Romanian version can be found on the right. Hopefully this makes the song more understandable. The song appeals to the many Romanian parents who leave their children behind in search for work and a better lifestyle, to change their minds and come back for their children. The band reflects the spirit of the Eurovision Song Contest in many ways. It attempts to build bridges between children and parents and between countries and places. It is a song full of hope and compassion. Calin Gola, lead singer, enchants the audience with his soft but firm voice accompanied by the piano in the beginning of the song, then the mood changes, when the drums start playing from the second verse of the song. His voice becomes more powerful from thereon, but there is no significant mood change in it. His voice can be classified as sufficient enough for this song. After all Voltaj is a nationally reknown band in Romania. Unfortunately the bookmakers didn't give it much chance in the finals. In my personal impression the song will not be very successful in the finals. Nevertheless we keep our fingers crossed for Romania. Let's see what happens.
The Band - Voltaj
One of the most famous pop-rock bands from Romania is Voltaj, it is constantly in the charts, on the radio and for many years it was at public events. Voltaj is a band founded in 1982. The first song was released in 1996. It was crowned "Best Romanian Act" in 2005. The English translation for the band's name "Voltaj" is voltage or tension. The artists of the band have played in many countries - Moldova, Austria, Italy, Spain, Ireland and gave more then 100 concerts a year. Right now the band has eight members. Those are: Calin Gavril Goia, Gabriel Constantin, Adrian Cristescu, Paduraru Silviu-Marian, Alstani Victor-Razvan, Monica-Ana Stevers and Andrei-Madalin Leonte. The song was composed by Calin Goia, Gabriel contantin, Adrian Cristescu, Paduraru Silviu Marian and Alstani Victor-Razvan. They are fortunate and probably even grateful for the possibility they got, for their message to be heard all over the world through their participation in the Eurovision Song Contest 2015.
Greece: Maria Elena Kyriakou - One last Breath
The song "One last Breath" is a deeply emotional one. Among many, not a bad entry, although probably not everybody will like it, one may say, that it is catchy and appealing in many ways. "One last Breath" does not epitomize the spirit of the ESC motto this year to the full extent. It is a nice song, but too weak to be in the top ten. Her performance is impressive, but lacks the hype of last years (2014) Greek participant "Freaky Fortune". As a lone singer she still does a good job.
About the artist
Maria Elena Kyriakou was born in Cyprus, unexpectedly, but true, she is mother of 3 children. 1996 she won the child singers contest Cyprus. In 2006 she graduated and started working as a professor. She participated in the show "The Voice of Greece".
Hungary: Boogie - Wars for Nothing
Boogie's song "Wars for Nothing" is to mundane and a "real turn" off. You could even say, it makes the listener fall asleep while listening, which is the opposite of what a good winning song should sound. Apart from that the Hungarian song is almost begging for votes. With "All the songs deserve a chance" she makes a statement which cannot be misinterpreted.
Boggie is a singer from Hungary. She released her first album 2013. She gained world recognition through the music video of her song "Noveau Parfum". Unfortunately she has not satisfied the viewers' expectations in the semi-final, as could be classified as too boring.