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Thursday, 17 April 2014 17:55

ESC 2014: An In-Depth Review of Hungary

It has become customary for the escflashmalta.com editorial board to engage professional individuals from the music industry to assess the songs competing in the Eurovision Song Contest as presented to the European Broadcasting Union during the Heads of Delegation Meeting. Martin Isherwood, Deo Grech, Stano Simor and Matt Mercieca from the United Kingdom, Malta and the Czech Republic have been entrusted with the first semi-final, comprising of sixteen songs and set to take place on the 6th May 2014 at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark. Making use of the running order and thus moving onto number #16, we catch up with Hungary (MTVA) who will be represented by András Kállay-Saunders and the song Running co-written with Krisztián Szakos.

András Kállay-Saunders became famous through his participation in the Megasztár talent show, and while working on his career, he soon discovered his love for the Eurovision Song Contest. In his third attempt, he finally won the Hungarian national selection A Dal in 2014 with Running. The song has a very strong message and a personal link to Kállay: "I wrote this song about a childhood friend of mine, and people I have met with similar stories throughout my life. Unfortunately my friend was victim to child abuse, domestic violence. I wrote this song about their experiences and everything that they went though. I would like to raise awareness to this topic."

András Kállay-Saunders was born on January 28, 1985 in New York City to Hungarian model Katalin Kállay and American soul-singer and producer Fernando Saunders. Autumn of 2009, Kállay decided to visit Hungary to reunite with his mother as well as spending quality time with his grandmother. During his visit, he noticed a TV commercial urging talented singers to audition for the nation’s talent competition Megasztár. Kállay finished fourth in the contest but gained a life-changing experience. He realised the doors were opened toward making a life-long dream come true with hard work and dedication. He went on to sign with Universal and permanently resided in Hungary.

In 2012, Kállay entered the Hungarian Eurovision national selection show A Dal, but he unfortunately came short of the finals. During this competition, he developed a pride towards one day bringing the big stage to the country that opened doors to his dream. In 2013 he entered A Dal again with his single My Baby and reached 2nd place. He still had the desire to represent Hungary in Eurovision and wasn’t going to give up trying just yet. While having many songs to his arsenal, Kállay felt it was time to show Hungary a deeper song and chose to send Running, a song inspired by a childhood friend, who grew up dealing with domestic violence and child abuse.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gDPSSOfvUs

András Kállay-Saunders also has a message for his fans: "I just want to say thank you to everyone who believes in me and supports me." Since returning in 2011, Hungary has been succeeding in getting through to the final of the Eurovision Song Contest with Kati WolfCompact Disc and ByeAlex reaching either a mid-table result, or in the event of the 2013, Kedvesem managing the third top ten result in eleven previous participations. The best result from Hungary was achieved during their debut back in 1994 with Friderika Bayer and Kinek Mondjam el Vetkeimet finished in fourth place with 122 points. Since the semi-final system was initiated back in 2005, it seems that Hungary has faced mixed fortunes apart from the past three years.

Professional Critics Voice their Opinion

Rating: 75%

Martin Isherwood: Lyrics seem to be about child abuse and which, whilst a very serious issue, doesn't really seem to sit with the overall vibe of Eurovision Good voice. Ballad feel morphing in to drum n bass - unusual. Good track but I doubt it will enthuse the Eurovision audiences. 

Deo Grech: I rooted for Andras since the very first time I listened to his entry.   He faced a fierce competition in the Hungarian territory at A Dal 2014 from another entry with a similar title 'Running Out of Time', which should have been perfect for Eurovision, too. Having said that, I still prefer Andras' 'Running'.  This is full of emotion and has a very modern production.  With the right marketing, I can see this hitting the radio waves quite easily.  Come May, this will definately be battling it out with the other contenders.  Yes, it will surely be a battle of the ballads at Eurovision 2014.

Stano Simor: Hungary has in recent years quite successful artist, which well represents the unknown Hungarian music scene. András could reach this year especially young generation audience. The combination of slower intro and verses with drum n bass chorus is impressive. The chorus is easy to remember and that's what counts.

Matt Mercieca: I like it! Lyrics are a little blah! with the story telling and what-not. but I love his voice and the beat. and the Chorus is Brilliant!

Source: eurovision.tv

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzfRDZmuFUI

Published in Editorials
Wednesday, 16 April 2014 13:14

ESC 2014: An In-Depth Review of Montenegro

It has become customary for the escflashmalta.com editorial board to engage professional individuals from the music industry to assess the songs competing in the Eurovision Song Contest as presented to the European Broadcasting Union during the Heads of Delegation Meeting. Martin Isherwood, Deo Grech, Stano Simor and Matt Mercieca from the United Kingdom, Malta and the Czech Republic have been entrusted with the first semi-final, comprising of sixteen songs and set to take place on the 6th May 2014 at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark. Making use of the running order and thus moving onto number #16, we catch up with Montenegro (RTCG) who will be represented by Sergej Cetkovic and the song Moj Svijet co-written with Emina Sandal.

His talent was noticed so he became one of the best students in piano classes, in the primary and as well in the secondary music school "Vasa Pavic". During the day, at school, he played Bach, Mozart, Schubert, and at night, at home, he played Peter Gabriel, Beatles, Joe Cocker. Sergej was definitely “infected” with pop-rock sound, therefore three years later in 1989 his official musical career started with the band "Burning Heart" in which he played keyboard and sang back vocals. Five years later, in 1994, he sang in a full capacity in the band "Amphitheatre", where he began as a keyboardist and back vocal and he later became the lead vocal. Four years later, in 1998, Sergej begins his solo career by appearing at the summer pop festival "Sunny Skale" in Herceg Novi, where he sang the song You Were A Rose. 

Early in the new millennium, driven by his musical feeling, Sergej announced a new sound in our pop music. His first album Kristina was published by "Goroton" in 2000. New musical tendencies, which were felt in the sound of his compositions, were accepted even prior to the official appearance of his CD. That summer at the prestigious Budva festival called "Song of the Mediterranean”, Sergej sang the song Hours, Days, Years and was well received by the audience and the critics. In addition to the above mentioned song, the following songs I Will Stop The Time, Wake Me Up, City were included on the first album made by the author himself who set a "new sound" so the songs topped all the charts and became the most popular songs of the year. 

Carried by the good feeling that his musical formula is verified by the enormous number of fans of the new pop sound, two years later, in 2002 Sergej released his second studio album Be Like Water, published by "Goroton". With his performances in 2003 at the Mediterranean Festival in Budva where he sang I Exist As Well, which is still the ultimate hit, and a year later at the festival "Eurovision – Euro song Monte Negro" where he sang I Can Not Forgive You he confirmed the position of his musical direction. Next year, in 2005, he released his third studio album When You Need It published by the record company "City records". This album break all records, both in circulation and the audience: songs Look Into The Darkness, Damn You, The Ring On The Table for two years were in the top of the charts in all the countries of former Yugoslavia. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQNMF-R5Idg

With his fourth album, Half Of My World published in 2007 by “City Records”, Sergej Cetkovic definitely placed his music disc into the history of pop music in the Balkans. The fifth CD 2 Minutes published by “City Records” and “Aquarius Records” was released in the year when this well known musician celebrates a decade of work on Balkan music scene. After ten years of professional career singer and composer Sergej Cetkovic can boast the success of the artist and the businessman, the qualifications for top pop star. This fact supports figures, which are related to album sales (CD), visitors at concerts or any other parameter that is taken into account when the music industry is concerned. Montenegro are yet to find success in the international event with an 11th placing in the semi-final achieved in 2009 still their best result.

Professional Critics Voice their Opinion

Rating: 73%

Martin Isherwood: Good voice Feels like it should be Ireland's entry   Great sounding song and production with flavours of ''You raise me up'. 

Deo Grech: Here goes my bias again. I have to declare that this entry hits all the right keys to earn my respect!  Ethno-ballads are amongst my all time favourites. So this follows close on the heels of 'Lane moje' (Serbia 2004), 'Lejla' (Bosnia & Herzegovina 2006), and 'Nije Ljubav Star' (Serbia 2012), amongst others.   It's downside might be that it is far too predictable. However, with an elegant presentation on stage this will surely soar high towards the finals.

Stano Simor: A ballad, which in modern design doesn’t forget to decorate a national tradition.There is emotive text, which supports the melody and great voice of Sergej Cetkovic. I believe that "Moj Svijet" will have a place in the final.

Matt Mercieca: Sounds like a nice song production is really nice, I wish I knew what he was saying but either way its a beautiful song.

Source: eurovision.tv

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xym7CQFFTOU

Published in Editorials

It has become customary for the escflashmalta.com editorial board to engage professional individuals from the music industry to assess the songs competing in the Eurovision Song Contest as presented to the European Broadcasting Union during the Heads of Delegation Meeting. Martin Isherwood, Deo Grech, Stano Simor and Matt Mercieca from the United Kingdom, Malta and the Czech Republic have been entrusted with the first semi-final, comprising of sixteen songs and set to take place on the 6th May 2014 at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark. Making use of the running order and thus moving onto number #14, we catch up with The Netherlands (AVROTROS) who will be represented by The Common Linnets and the song Calm After the Storm co-written by Ilse DeLange, JB Meijers, Rob Crosby, Matthew Crosby and Jake Etheridge.

The Common Linnets is a Dutch dream team consisting of Ilse DeLange and Waylon. These two singer-songwriter stars have together found a new and exciting challenge in expressing their love for country music. Ilse and Waylon have known each other since they were teenagers, when they both played the country music circuit in Holland. Right from the beginning they shared a love for country and related genres like bluegrass, folk and Americana. But most of all they shared a passion for true, stripped-down songs that convey pure emotion. That passion led to the formation of The Common Linnets.

The “common linnet” is a songbird that breeds on the heaths in the eastern part of The Netherlands. For Ilse and Waylon, who both hail from that part of the country, this unassuming little bird with its wonderful song is the perfect symbol of what they’re aiming for with their songs. When Ilse DeLange came up with the idea for ‘The Common Linnets’ as a side project, involving different artists each time, Waylon topped the list of musicians she wanted to work with. Both of them immediately agreed upon a rootsy approach. Their mission-statement was clear: writing real country music, stripped of all unnecessary trappings, and inspired by such greats as Emmylou Harris and Johnny Cash, but also West coast stars like Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and James Taylor.

Writing brought Ilse and Waylon to the Belgian Ardennes and to Nashville, the epicenter of country music, where both Ilse and Waylon feel very much at home. American songwriters Rob Crosby, Matthew Crosby and Jake Etheridge soon came on board, after which Dutch singer-songwriter Daniel Lohues and Dutch producer JB Meijers rounded out the team. Ilse produced the album with JB Meijers. Towards the end of last year the big story broke. During a press conference The Common Linnets announced they would represent The Netherlands for the Eurovision Song Contest in Copenhagen. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pb4p1qewbrM

The Netherlands, a nation which has not won the Eurovision Song Contest since 1975, when Teach-In took the victory with the popular Ding-A-Dong. Since the introduction of the semi-final system, the country has not proven to be too successful either, considering that they have only managed to qualify on two occasions, the first time being back in 2004 with the group Re-Union and their entry Without You and the second time being just last year when Dutch superstar Anouk took to the stage with the atmospheric ballad Birds. The results have been quite surprising considering that the Dutch have submit some really strong songs along the year, including from Glennis Grace, Edsilia Rombley and 3Js.

Professional Critics Voice their Opinion

Rating: 77%

Martin Isherwood: Strong hooks and melodies Lovely production. Reminds me of Robert Plant & Alison Krauss Great song.  Not sure country is really the Eurovision thing. 

Deo Grech: So the Dutch national broadcaster knew that last year's entry singer, Anouk, had a fierce rival....and her name is Ilse deLange.  They also aim to achieve a better result than the one achieved last year. So, they asked Ilse to take part this year on their behalf.   ''Fra i due litiganti il terzo gode''(italian saying).  Clever plan indeed!  Well, here she is joined by her long-time friend to form The Common Linnets.   Country and folk seem to be this year's theme...and I can easily guess why.   These songs were written in the same period when the European music charts were invaded by Avicii's 'Hey brother', Pitbull's 'Timber' and Gary Barlow's ''Let me go'' amongst others.

Stano Simor: This kind of song has a great tradition in the Dutch province of Friesland where it has managed to gain several hits. Acoustic feeling is excellent. Singing and music are perfectly in tune. The song is rather pleasant to listen in the club, such as attacking ESC stage.

Matt Mercieca: I really seem to be loving music from the Netherlands lately ( still love “Birds” from last year) , I really like this song, its super cool , and the harmonies are beautiful it’s a little country and a little Lady Antebellum! With most of the rubbish songs in this years semi final this truly stands out as a beautiful well produced song.

Source: eurovision.tv

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkrF8uC92O4

Published in Editorials
Saturday, 12 April 2014 14:15

ESC 2014: An In-Depth Review of Portugal

It has become customary for the escflashmalta.com editorial board to engage professional individuals from the music industry to assess the songs competing in the Eurovision Song Contest as presented to the European Broadcasting Union during the Heads of Delegation Meeting. Martin Isherwood, Deo Grech, Stano Simor and Matt Mercieca from the United Kingdom, Malta and the Czech Republic have been entrusted with the first semi-final, comprising of sixteen songs and set to take place on the 6th May 2014 at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark. Making use of the running order and thus moving onto number #13, we catch up with Portugal (RTP) who will be represented by Suzy and the song Quero Ser Tua written by Emanuel.

In late 1999, she released the song Nesta Noite Branca, a hit that is still played on the radio and shown on TV today. This year she was invited by producer Emanuel to perform his song at the 2014 Portuguese national selection, Festival da Canção. At the event, which celebrated its 50th anniversary, Suzy sung Quero Ser Tua and won the Grand Final with it. The composer of the song, Emanuel and Suzy have worked together already before this triumph and are now preparing a new album to be released this year.

Emanuel’s skills rapidly became well-known and he was soughed after as composer and orchestrator by well-known 80s Portuguese pop musicians. Among them, Marco Paulo, the most successful singer at the time, to whom Emanuel produced his 1988 album Joana, which was awarded four times platinum. He also become a phenomenon as an artist with the song Pimba, Pimba which sold in excess of 500,000 copies in the first six months alone!

The receptiveness to the new musical concept created by Emanuel was such that the Portuguese record market, in the next two years, changed completely with the emergence of numerous artists, record labels and even television shows and weekly magazines that adopted the new musical style. The media called the new movement "Pimba music", which made Emanuel one of the few people to have their name in the Portuguese Language Dictionary.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fk5i7Hfyy3o

Portugal, known to be the country with the most participations in the international music competition and yet to master a victory. Their most successful tries in recent years were back in 1991 with Dulce Pontes and the song Lusitana Paixao, in 1994 with Sara Tavares and the track Chamar a Musica and last but not least in 1996 when Lucia Moniz almost troubles the top five with the song O Meu Coracao Nao Tem Cor. In their last two participations, the country failed to get out of the semi-final stage of the competition despite presenting a beautiful entry entitled Vida Minha, sung by Filipa Sousa back in 2012. They are returning to the international showcase after a year off.

Professional Critics Voice their Opinion

Rating: 40%

Martin Isherwood: Nice to hear a song not in English   Nice voice. Nice, but not particularly hooky. Nice to hear an accordion.  Not quite as catchy as the Lambada.   Nicely Latin.  Don't think it's a winner.

Deo Grech: I have nicknamed this entry as the 2014 comeback for the notorious 'Lambada'. Suzy is currently suffering from the hated-in-her-own-homeland syndrome as the Portuguese seem to have preferred Catarina's ''Mea Culpa'' to this...and I can't blame them!  People in the audience were booing and even left their seats as soon as she was declared as the winning entry. Not a great comeback for Portugal at the Eurovision, at all! They need to fix her live vocals too or else this will be yet another wasted opportunity for Portugal.  And by the way, Portugal and Malta share the same Eurovision record....both with the longest participation without ever winning the contest.  We need to change this record, pretty soon! We have to!

Stano Simor: Very unusual song from the most western part of Europe, with influence of Balkan. Quero Ser Tua has set high expectations in trying to achieve a hit song but unfortunately, the potential does not appear anywhere. She will most likely appeal to the southern part of Europe. 

Matt Mercieca: Im very unbothered about this, I don’t love it but I don’t hate it, the latino beat is kind of hot! but over all its very blah! and at points very silly!

Source: eurovision.tv

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcTiPW-X8q4

Published in Editorials
Monday, 07 April 2014 21:27

ESC 2014: An In-Depth Review of Belgium

It has become customary for the escflashmalta.com editorial board to engage professional individuals from the music industry to assess the songs competing in the Eurovision Song Contest as presented to the European Broadcasting Union during the Heads of Delegation Meeting. Martin Isherwood, Deo Grech, Stano Simor and Matt Mercieca from the United Kingdom, Malta and the Czech Republic have been entrusted with the first semi-final, comprising of sixteen songs and set to take place on the 6th May 2014 at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark. Making use of the running order and thus moving onto number #10, we catch up with Belgium (VRT) who will be represented by Axel Hirsoux and the song Mother co-written by Rafael Artesero and Ashley Hicklin.
 
 
Born in 1982, Axel Hirsoux grew up in the rural town of Courcelles, near Charleroi. His love of music was in his blood even as a child. During his early years he studied music theory for 5 years after which he learned to play the trumpet. In 2001 he first took part in a singing contest. One year after he met his vocal coach Nell, who took his vocal performance to a higher level and even today he is still working with her. At the age of 23 he registered for the Star Academy in France where he just missed out on being selected. But Axel did not give up. In 2007 he sang Vivo per lei to an audience of 1500 people with the French star Hélène Segara.
 
Meanwhile, he regularly performed with an amateur group in a performance of the famous musical Notre Dame de Paris. In 2013 he made his debut in the Walloon version of The Voice. He ended up in the team of Natasha Saint-Pier but had to say goodbye after the battles. His love for the Eurovision Song Contest encouraged him to enrol in the Flemish national selection show, Eurosong 2014. The song Mother is a powerful classic ballad with a simple and understated mise en scene, beautifully executed by eminent choreographer Isabelle Beernaert. The song was composed by Rafael Arte Sero and Ashley Hicklin. Mother is a David Poltrock production.
 
He sings his song with his whole heart and dedicates it to all the mothers of the world, and by extension, to all women. It is probably not a number you would expect to hear at the Eurovision Song Contest, but in Axel's view the universal message of Mother is in fact very suitable for the festival. For Axel participating in the Eurovision Song Contest is a dream come true. He likes to think back to all the years he sat and watched the Eurovision Song Contest and told himself that one day he would participate in it. He regards it as a very important event on an artistic level, and hopefully it will prove to be a good start to a professional musical career.
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHZq3ZExRJI
 
Belgium, one of the few countries to alternate between one broadcaster and the other, in view of representing the general public, who still have different language factions. The nation has only won the Eurovision Song Contest on one occasion, that lonesome time back in 1986 when a young Sandra Kim stormed to victory with her entry J'Aime La Vie. In recent years, qualification has been a major hurdle for Belgium, something that they did manage to overcome in 2010 thanks to Tom Dice and his song Me and My Guitar as well as as in 2013 as Roberto Bellarosa performed Love Kills. At this stage, Mother is one of the favourites to cause an upset, by virtue of being ranked in the top ten.
 
Professional Critics Voice their Opinion
 
Rating: 42%
 
Martin Isherwood: Well, I never thought he'd sound like that.   A song called 'Mother' oh dear, I fear the worst.  Grow up lad. Pull yourself together.  'I'm weak You're bright - I'm so thankful that someday soon, I'll shine like you'!! Have a word with yourself mate!  Pleasant enough voice but his tuning wavers in places. Awful, horrible, shuddersville song. Yak! Punchworthy.  Will probably win.   
 
Deo Grech: Jesus Christ Superstar's ''Gethsemane''...anyone?   Yes the musical released in 1973!! And that is where this entry has taken us.  It's a pity that such a long selection process produced this result. However, there are some plus sides to this song....no, I'm not referring to 'that'....but to the passion that Axel manages to convey in this Oedipus complex anthem...erm sorry I meant a love poem for his mother.  ;) Cheeky!
 
Stano Simor: This song is only about lyrics. Is the only thing, that can be interesting in Copenhagen .. Axel does not have singing potential, and the melody in chorus is not strong enough.
 
Matt Mercieca: Sounds like another song! (i’m singing what song it sounds like, but can’t remember the name sorry) too dramatic for me, but he is talented and I think he’s sweet.
 
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APWpOkRQoiY
Published in Editorials
Sunday, 06 April 2014 20:07

ESC 2014: An In-Depth Review of Ukraine

It has become customary for the escflashmalta.com editorial board to engage professional individuals from the music industry to assess the songs competing in the Eurovision Song Contest as presented to the European Broadcasting Union during the Heads of Delegation Meeting. Martin Isherwood, Deo Grech, Stano Simor and Matt Mercieca from the United Kingdom, Malta and the Czech Republic have been entrusted with the first semi-final, comprising of sixteen songs and set to take place on the 6th May 2014 at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark. Making use of the running order and thus moving onto number #9, we catch up with Ukraine (NTU) who will be represented by Mariya Yaremchuk and the song Tick Tock co-written with Sandra Bjurman.

The music of Tick-Tock has been composed by Mariya herself. She is also one of the co-writers of the lyrics. Mariya and her choreographer’s team are working hard on the stage performance to make it soulful and simple. Mariya Yaremchuk was born on March 2nd, 1993 in Chernivtsi into a musicians’ family. Her father, Nazariy Yaremchuk, is a true Ukrainian legend,who died when Maria was only two years old. Her whole life Mariya was surrounded by music, so it wasn’t a surprise for anyone when Mariya took a stage for a first time at the age of six. 

In 2009 she entered the Variety Vocal Department of the Kyiv Circus and Variety Arts Academy and simultaneously the History, Politology and Foreign Relations Department of the Chernivtsi National University. In 2013 she had graduated with honour and got the bachelor’s degrees in both specialisations. Mariya continues her studies for the master’s degrees. In 2012 Mariya Yaremchuk participated in the Ukrainian version of The Voice, a famous global TV format for the best vocalists where she reached the fourth place. In the same year, Mariya represented Ukraine at the New Wave, the international music festival. 

She finished in top three and won the audience choice award. Her style and femininity idol is Monica Bellucci. In the music world, Mariya gives the nod to Madonna’s energy and Maroon 5 leader Adam Levine’s voice and sexuality. But all admiration still belongs to Mariya’s true inspiration – her father. This year Ukraine is going to overwhelm Europe with one of the strongest and beautiful voices - Mariya Yaremchuk. On December 21st, 2013 Mariya won the Ukrainian national selection and thus she will represent her country with her own lush and intense song Tick-Tock in Copenhagen.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nv9qrYLjQuQ

Ukraine will be taking part in the Eurovision Song Contest for the twelfth consecutive time, with extremely positive results, having only been out of the top ten on just four occasions. Criticism for this years' entry has been extremely harsh but nevertheless, that changed following political situations in Europe. Their most successful participation was back in 2004 when Ruslana performed the song Wild Dances garnering a convincing victory over Serbia & Montenegro who finished in second place. They have also finished in second place on two other occasions, in 2007 and 2008 whilst managing a third place a couple of months back. 

Professional Critics Voice their Opinion

Rating: 63%

Martin Isherwood: Ok chorus, going the through the motions, but lacking a spark or originality.   Hate the whistles. For a 3 minutes song - it took a long time to get going.  Feels a bit dated more like 2003 with Flavours of Britney's Toxic - which is similar in terms of the title as well.     

Deo Grech: Seems that there are some wicked brains behind this year's show.  Putting Ukraine so close to the Russian entry will surely ignite some interesting discussion at home...and hey she's singing ''Tick Tock'' stronger than ever. I would have loved Ruslana here, though...she would have shouted some strong messages halfway through the song.  This will garner plenty of sympathy votes. I'm sure of that!

Stano Simor: Every year, Ukraine is highly dependent on the performance and the image of the song given during the Eurovision Song Contest but that said, "Tick Tock" is disappointing for me. She has a chance to get through to the final only based on the sympathy votes that this entry will achieve, apart from the continental promotion that is sure to precede.

Matt Mercieca: What is she saying? song sounds super out-dated. she’s cool though! I like her! Beat is cool, lyrics are super SILLY! But this is very Eurovision and i’m sure will do very good.

Source: eurovision.tv

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdAf2EjhRiE

Published in Editorials
Monday, 31 March 2014 18:45

ESC 2014: An In-Depth Review of Sweden

It has become customary for the escflashmalta.com editorial board to engage professional individuals from the music industry to assess the songs competing in the Eurovision Song Contest as presented to the European Broadcasting Union during the Heads of Delegation Meeting. Martin Isherwood, Deo Grech, Stano Simor and Matt Mercieca from the United Kingdom, Malta and the Czech Republic have been entrusted with the first semi-final, comprising of sixteen songs and set to take place on the 6th May 2014 at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark. Making use of the running order and thus moving onto number #4, we catch up with Sweden (SVT) who will be represented by Sanna Nielsen and the song Undo co-written by Fredrik Kempe, David Kreuger and Hamed "K-One” Pirouzpanah.

Sanna Nielsen, 29, broke through as an artist at the early age of 11 and is today one of Sweden's most famous pop artists. With multiple hits, Sanna has dominated both Swedish radio and Swedish charts throughout the years. One of Sanna's biggest dreams - to represent Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest - has now been fulfilled! Sanna's main source of inspiration has always been Celine Dion so when her songwriter David Kreuger presented the track Undo for her, she couldn’t resist the offer and decided to make her seventh attempt to reach the Eurovision Song Contest through the Swedish national selection. Sanna has managed to reach the finals all seven times she participated in the Swedish national selection and was only a few points from winning in 2008. 

Despite finishing runner up, the song Empty Room was a massive success and Sanna held the first place on the Swedish charts 24 weeks in a row. Sanna's career as a singer and performer began back in 1992 when she starred in her first talent show. It was followed by several more which in turn led to TV appearances and the #1 hit Till en fågel. She is still the youngest artist ever to hold a #1 position on the charts. Today, Sanna is one of Sweden's most popular and respected artists in Sweden. Thanks to her amazing voice and mesmerising personality, she is since long a given artist on the big stages. But Sanna also thrives during her stripped-down concerts on smaller stages as this is where she can really convey a unique feeling and personality to each individual track.

She has released nine albums and just released the EP Undo EP which went straight to number one on the overall Swedish iTunes chart. Fredrik Kempe is one of the most successful composers in Melodifestivalen. Undo is his fourth winning song and, thus, Swedish entry at the Eurovision Song Contest, after Charlotte Perrelli's Hero, Eric Saade's Popular and Malena Ernman's La Voix. He also won the Norwegian selection with the song My Heart Is Yours. He has also had a successful career as a performer. David Kreuger has written songs for Westlife, Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears, and now Sanna Nielsen. Hamed "K-One" Pirouzpanah has also written Blame it on the disco with Alcazar and Yes We Can” by Oscar Zia from this year's Melodifestivalen final together with Fredrik and David.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDGdeW6lLD0

Sweden, known to be one of the most successful countries to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest with no less than five victories, the latest one being in 2012 at the hands of Loreen and her entry Euphoria which became a global hit. Fifty-Three entries have been send on behalf of the Scandinavian country with just one failing to get through to the final, that being in 2010 when Anna Bergendahl and her song This Is My Life finished in eleventh place. Since then, Melodifestivalen has been relatively revamped in an effort to ensure better results, as seen with a third place and then a victory. The market in Scandinavia is always seemingly positive for the songs that win in Sweden and therefore, Sanna Nielsen will be hoping for more of the same in the weeks to come.

Professional Critics Voice their Opinion

Rating: 79%

Martin Isherwood: Builds nicely and grows on you.  Undo my pain' ok Lyric, but not quite 'unbreak my heart' Her voice is good but it feels as if she's struggling in places, when she tries the Cranberries' vocal flipping. Unusual melisma on 'undo' at the start of the chorus. Feels a bit Celine at the opening.

Deo Grech: Here comes 7th time lucky, Sanna! I foresee a huge support for Sanna in the B&W venue. She is one of the strongest contenders in this year's battle of the ballads. Her voice is crystal clear and has a pleasant effect on the ears. This entry's only downside is the grammatic error ''Undo my sad''....whereas it should have been ''Undo my sadness''....poetic licence, maybe! Looking forward to how this will be staged in the B&W hall. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the staging will be faithful to the Melodifestivalen's performance.

Stano Simor: Fairytale structure of the melody that will always work. In Sweden they know it. Gimmick with tearful chorus is very strong. Sanne fits more singing with a full voice.

Matt Mercieca: As a songwriter I really appreciate the lyrics at the beginning but then she suddenly says  Undo my sad? Ehhhh? and it starts to build up really good, but it kind of gets boring which is a little sad cause i was really loving it, but the way it starts is brilliant. Oooh she also kind of sounds like Celine Dion. P.S Key change was SERIOUSLY not needed. 

Source: eurovision.tv

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdXXnX5BvGY

Published in Editorials
Friday, 28 March 2014 17:34

ESC 2014: An In-Depth Review of Latvia

It has become customary for the escflashmalta.com editorial board to engage professional individuals from the music industry to assess the songs competing in the Eurovision Song Contest as presented to the European Broadcasting Union during the Heads of Delegation Meeting. Martin Isherwood, Deo Grech, Stano Simor and Matt Mercieca from the United Kingdom, Malta and the Czech Republic have been entrusted with the first semi-final, comprising of sixteen songs and set to take place on the 6th May 2014 at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark. Making use of the running order and thus moving onto number #2, we catch up with Latvia (LTV) who will be represented by Aarzemnieki and the song Cake to Bake written by Guntis Veilands.

The Aarzemnieki (or Foreigners) phenomenon began as an unexpected shock for one German’s special interest and creative approach to the Euro introduction in Latvia. In the summer of 2013, Joran Steinhauer, whilst in his home in Bohume, Germany wrote a farewell song to the Lat currency, aptly naming the song Paldies Latiņam! (Thank You, Lat) Later, the video became a Youtube sensation with more than 100,000 views in one week. The popularity and enthusiasm surrounding the song was so large that Joran decided to pack his bags and make his way to Latvia with one thing in mind; “let’s see what happens next!” Joran’s connection with Latvia, however, began well before the birth of this smash song, when he took part in an exchange programme in the city of Talsi in 2005. Later he volunteered at a children’s centre and in the German church of Riga.

Remembering his first impressions, Joran recalls that it’s because of the group Brainstorm, who were third in the 2000 Eurovision final, that he was drawn to Latvia. After hearing their song he bought their CDs and it was at that moment that he became a true Eurovision and Brainstorm fan. This isn’t the first time Joran has stepped on the Eurovision stage, having performed in the national Latvian selection in 2008 with his former group Axlina performing the song More Than 27. The story behind the Aarzemnieki group’s name is quite precise due to Joran’s status in Latvia. The word’s complicated pronunciation reflects each foreigner’s struggle to integrate into the local society. In the fall of 2013, the group grew from a solo act with three new members- violinist and vocalist Katrina Dimanta, drummer Raitis Vilumovs and Guntis Veilands, pianist, and the author of the song Cake To Bake.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15_8Rf-RwJ4

Latvia first entered the Eurovision Song Contest back in 2000 when the group Brainstorm surprised critics and fans alike when finishing in third place with the song My Star, a catchy pop number with the right slot in the running order. It seems that flirting with the top positions was set to bring the competition home considering that in 2002, Marie N and her entry I Wanna did the impossible of being close to last with the bookies before triumphing in a hard close-knit battle with Malta whose 7th Wonder by Ira Losco remains the closest the Mediterranean Nation have ever been to victory. In recent years, the country has failed to get out of the semi-final, finished dead-last on more than one occasion, including in 2003 with the group PeR and their song Here We Go.

Professional Critics Voice their Opinion

Rating: 44%

Martin Isherwood: Sort of catchy chorus, but not in a good way.  This guy is apparently responsible for melting the polar ice caps and a whole host of other global events, however today he's going to bake a cake.  Barking mad! Finger picking, folky, starts off a bit Ralph McTell 'streets of London' but shifts to a more frantic acoustic The Kinks 'follower of fashion' feel, both of which are a surprise in Eurovision. Quite a lot of fuss over a cake!

Deo Grech: Okay, here is an entry which is ruined by the title. It will be so funny to hear what will the commentators have to say about this entry.  And if that is not enough this entry will be kissed by the curse of being performed second in the show....and to make things worse right after the potential winner of 2014. Sorry Latvia....I am afraid you'll have to miss the finals, this year round.

Stano Simor: Latvia "Beatles" is back? Pesnicka has a good groove. Chorus was used a hundred times in various forms. Maybe it Aarzemnieki bet, in which case it is right on target.

Matt Mercieca: I would love it as a song! if the lyrics were saying something that was not baking a cake! ( i kind of like it) , its funny , its catchy, ok I’m losing it, I think its a little sweet, it should be in a kids movie! it does put a smile on my face, but being a little bit more serious it is kind of ridiculous ( I spoke to a unicorn the other night), but I can’t hate it and have to admit I’m quite excited to watch this live. I’ve got a cake to bake dududududu.

Source: eurovision.tv

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7CL8anA1hQ

Published in Editorials
Thursday, 27 March 2014 15:25

ESC 2014: An In-Depth Review of Armenia

It has become customary for the escflashmalta.com editorial board to engage professional individuals from the music industry to assess the songs competing in the Eurovision Song Contest as presented to the European Broadcasting Union during the Heads of Delegation Meeting. Martin Isherwood, Deo Grech, Stano Simor and Matt Mercieca from the United Kingdom, Malta and the Czech Republic have been entrusted with the first semi-final, comprising of sixteen songs and set to take place on the 6th May 2014 at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark. Making use of the running order and thus starting at number #1 is Armenia (AMPTV) who will be represented by Aram MP3 and the song Not Alone written by Garik Popoyan.

One of the most hardworking, smart and positive personalities of Armenian Music Industry and Television, Aram Mp3 will be presenting Armenia in Copenhagen at Eurovision Song Contest. Being famous for the ability to sing songs of a wide vocal diapason and having a good sense of humour, Aram is also known as a person of contrasts and surprises. When he appears on stage one doesn't know what to expect – a unique live concert or a good comedy show. Despite spending most of his time on stage and pretty tough schedule, he considers himself a family man feeling very much attached to his charming wife Anna and charismatic son Arno. Appearance on different national TV channels, regular club concerts and acting in various humorous performances, made Aram a well known singer-songwriter, musical comedian and showman.

The same year, 2007, he became the winner of the most popular TV Show of The First Channel of Armenia, “2 stars”. Going deeper into the music industry and professionally developing his singing talent, Aram Mp3 started series of live jazz and blues concerts in the clubs of Yerevan, along with recording singles and releasing music videos. Being noticed for the outstanding and quick success in his career, he was invited to host famous TV Formats such as “X- Factor”, “Armenian Idol”, “My name is”, and “Power of 10”, which brought him more fame. Currently he is a member of the most popular “Vitamin Club” project, a comedy show broadcast weekly on Shant TV. Every month Aram gives live concerts with bands in popular music halls of Yerevan singing his own singles and also unique covers of famous hits.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=woKzC7Kenj0

In 2006, Armenia presented their first entry for the Eurovision Song Contest, that entitled Without Your Love performed by André, which finished in eighth place, a ranking which would remain their best position until just two years later when the pop princess Sirusho finished in fourth place with the song Qélé Qélé. Since then though, it has not been an easy task to compete in the international event, going onto fail in the semi-final stage of the competition in 2011 when Emmy and her entry Boom Boom were not considered impressive to get through to the final. This led to a one year break, not only due to the negative result but even because the competition took place in Azerbaijan, a country which does not have positive foreign relations.

Professional Critics Voice their Opinion

Rating: 80%

Martin Isherwood: You're all alone, You're not alone.  Not sure I'm following this.  Nice voice if a little serious. Interesting song structure  Very well done track, nice big ballad to start the effective feel change to the dubstep type beats, great sounding strings and brass. Starts like Lionel Richie's Hello. Great track, probably get lost in the Eurovision melee.

Deo Grech: I must admit it I am biased here....as I fell in love with this song from the very first time I listened to it.  This song stands out from the pack as it has a strong build-up from a mellow piano-ballad to a dramatic second part, supported by the powerful strings at the background.  Only down-side is that it will be the show opener...but I am sure it won't be forgotten that easily.

Stano Simor: Esoteric ballad that has a sufficiently strong chorus. The production is of a very high quality and one could sense the pleasant timbre, both of voice and general composition. Dubstep is good, but only for the bridge or the end of the song .If it's on a whole other half ,it is very annoying.

Matt Mercieca: I love the piano, and his voice, and the way the song builds up! (STRINGS!!!) sometimes lyrics are a little bit weird, but other than that the song is brilliant, and it just keeps getting better and better, OK now I am really loving this song! It’s a good way of showing how a Eurovision song can still be commercial! Dubstep part is a little out-dated but it works over here! Go ahead Armenia! Loving it!

Source: Eurovision.tv

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChkJpnOgIwQ

Published in Editorials

In 2014, escflashmalta.com worked closely with ONE Radio 92.7 to produce the awards in relation with the Malta Eurovision Song Contest, preceded by the expert opinion feature which led to the presentation of one (1) of the awards. Following a series of editorial team discussions, we are now proud to announce that the feature will return for the international competition with eight (8) individuals from the music industry on hand to listen, review and rank the competing entries.

Semi-Final One (1) set to take place on the 6th May will feature a total of sixteen (16) entries whilst it will also featuring voting from Spain, France and hot country Denmark. Due to the fact that Malta is competing in the other semi-final, we thought it best to include two (2) locals as reviewers for the first show, acquiring the talented Deo Grech and Matthew Mercieca. Nevertheless, they will be accompanied by expert stalwarts Martin Isherwood from the United Kingdom and Stano Simor from Slovakia.

Deo Grech, committee member of the International Festival of Maltese Song, and renowned local lyricist responsible for 'Wellidni' (Għanja tal-Poplu 2004 Winner), and Fomm il-Vjolin (International Festival of Maltese Song 2001 Winner).

Matthew Mercieca, co-responsible for the lyrics behind The Start, winning entry of the 2013 edition of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest as well as Betrayed, second runner-up during the Malta Eurovision Song Contest 2013.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ef92uT0PMqA

Martin Isherwood, known to be the person responsible for the music sector at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts patroned by none other than Paul McCartney, as well as writing Cry Baby, the 2003 entry at the Eurovision Song Contest.

Stano Simor, a well known music producer, songwriter and artist manager from Slovakia who has worked with several artists including none other than former Eurovision Song Contest representatives; Hadise (Turkey 2009) and Tereza Kerndlová (Czech Republic 2008).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJCwukzfF2c

Semi-Final Two (2) set to take place on the 8th May will feature a total of fifteen (15) entries and will also feature voting from United Kingdom, Italy and Germany. With Malta in contention in this particular evening, we thought it would be better to have one (1) local reviewer who does not come from the world of the Eurovision Song Contest, including theatrical performer Joseph Zammit who in turn will be accompanied by three (3) well known songwriters; John Scott from the United States, Greig Watts from the United Kingdom and Sharon Vaughn from Sweden.

Joseph Zammit, represents the possibility of working full time in the arts, having had the opportunity to perform as a vocalist, and as an actor in a series of shows throughout the years, most recently being the December panto at the Manoel Theatre.

John Scott, a seasoned songwriter whose talent has given him the opportunity to work with Little Mix, former winners of the UK X Factor and Nicole Scherzinger, former lead vocalist of American girlband, the Pussycat Dolls.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1l-7Ncbyf_g

Greig Watts, an accomplished songwriter/producer who has worked with The Overtones, Kate Ryan and Natalia, apart from also co-writing the song What the Time In Tokyo? which in turn hoped to represent Belgium in this years' Eurovision Song Contest.

Sharon Vaughn, an accomplished songwriter who has worked with a number of well known vocalists including none other than Jedward, Delta Goodrem, Agnes, Helena Paparizou, Joe McElderry, Kimberly Walsh, The Wanted, Charlotte Perelli, September and Jennifer Rush amongst others.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-uUwQf2cZE

The feature an expert opinion will officially kick off this coming Wednesday with an indepth biography of each competing artist as provided by the official website of the Eurovision Song Contest, together with the individual comments and the cumulative mark, as well as the official preview video as submitted to the European Broadcasting Union a couple of days back. Stay tuned to escflashmalta.com for all the latest news as soon as it becomes available.

Source: escflashmalta.com

Published in Editorials
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