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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
Saturday, 05 April 2014 16:16

ESC 2014: An In-Depth Review of Azerbaijan

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 #8, we catch up with Azerbaijan (Ictimai) who will be represented by Dilara Kazimova and the song Start a Fire co-written by Stefan Örn, Johan Kronlund and Alessandra Günthardt.

First time Dilara took her chance in the Azerbaijani national selection as a band member of Unformal in 2008, when the country debuted in the Eurovision Song Contest. The band finished second in the national selection. Later, in 2010, Dilara qualified to the final as a part of a female duo Milk&Kisses. In the same year, she went to represent Azerbaijan at another international music festival New Wave in Yurmala, Latvia. Dilara has what it takes to be a standout. Early vocal training gave her a great range and vocal discipline. As a child, she was surrounded by different music, from opera and classics to the rock legends like Freddie Mercury. Not to mention the influence of traditional Azeri folk music.

She’s taken elements from each of these diverse genres, developing her own unique vocal style brilliantly showed at this year's Azerbaijani final of Böyük Səhnə. Dilara is remarkably flexible, handling a Motown inspired Mercy with soul and impressive energy or a jazzy cover of Hometown Glory which may actually be as good as Adele’s original effort. Dilara began to sing professionally at age of 14. For the last 15 years, she has been experimenting with variety of styles and training her versatile voice. She was introduced to music professionally at the U. Hajibekov Baku Academy of Music. Later on she graduated as an opera singer from Baku Conservatory. 

Besides music Dilara has a passion for painting and acting. Her filmography includes Try, Do Not Breathe (2006) and In-between (2007), where besides acting she has also created a soundtrack Sonzul Yol. One of her next planned steps for future is to combine music with acting in musical. Dilara is in her top shape as an artist. Fans of live music in Baku know her as one of the most wanted and most discussed guest of city’s modern alternative stage. When she’s got a chance, Dilara spends her spare time in the yoga studio or reading books on psychology. She also loves animals and never wears fur in life or on stage, as a sign of respect towards all the animals in existence. In the meantime, it is worth pointing out that her single for the Eurovision Song Contest has been published by German record label, CAP-Sounds.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOYZSKLRNW4

Azerbaijan, one of the nations to have joined the family of the Eurovision Song Contest in recent years, making an instant impact noting that they have always managed to enter the top ten, and that their worst result was actually achieved back in 2008 with the duo Elnur & Samir with their eccentric performance of the song Day After Day. It was back in 2011 when the nation achieve their first and thus far, only victory at the hands of another duo, a male and female known as Ell & Nikki whose entry Running Scared, considered by many a pop gem had succeeded in triumphing at the event. Last year, Azerbaijan was almost close to repeating that success as Farid Mammadov finished in second place with the song Hold Me.

Professional Critics Voice their Opinion

Rating: 76%

Martin Isherwood: Struggling with the sense of the lyrics.  All sounds very sad but I'm clueless! Nice smoky voice with an interesting vibrato and falsetto. Lovely melodies. Big production and nicely done. Very reminiscent of 'Read All About it’ Emile Sande. 

Deo Grech: I am simply awed by the ability of how the Azeris manage to produce one incredible entry after the other.   Following closely on last year's entry Azerbaijan has produced yet another incredible ballad with interesting ethnic undertones.  This will surely be one to watch out for!   Yet another candidate for this year's battle of the ballads.

Stano Simor: Beautiful voice, wonderful song. thirties style in a modern design and making use of Azeri folklore. It is very specific. The song and the chorus do not have a hit factor, or any other factor for that matter, and it is somewhat required in a three minute performance!!

Matt Mercieca: I think the song is beautiful, and melody is beautiful, and it makes me feel all dreamy and nostalgic! I just wish I knew what she was saying, I love the kind of middle eastern touch at points, i wish diction was better cause I wanna understand her story a little more, but over all I love the vibe.

Source: eurovision.tv

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipQswujA5gw

Published in Editorials
Friday, 04 April 2014 10:50

ESC 2014: An In-Depth Review of Russia

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 #7, we catch up with Russia (RTR) who will be represented by Tolmachevy Sisters an the song Shine composed by Kontopoulos and Kirkorov with lyrics by Ballard, Charlie and Borg.

The twin sisters Anastasia and Maria Tolmachevy are from Kursk, a small town 500 km away from Moscow, where they are living now. They are 17 years old now and are graduating from the middle school this year. Anastasia and Maria are singing since they were little girls. Their mother is a music teacher who led and supported her daughters in their music career. Anastasia and Maria sang in various music studios. They participated in many junior song contests. But their breakthrough was in 2006 when the sisters took part in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in Bucharest and won the competition reaching 154 points with their performance Vesennij Jazz (The Spring Jazz).

In 2007, Russia 1 Channel broadcast the documentary film about their success in the 2006 Junior Eurovision Song Contest The Phenomenal Twin Sisters. In the same year, Anastasia and Maria stared in the New Year`s Eve television musical Kingdom Of Crooked Mirrors where they sang together with Alla Pugacheva, the Russian participant of the 1997 Eurovision Song Contest. The sisters also released their album Polovinki (The Halves). Later they took part in various concerts, for example at the Red Square, in different music television shows like Saturday Night at the Russia-1 Channel.

The Tolmachevy Sisters were special guests in the 2007 Junior Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam and in the 2010 Junior Eurovision Song Contest in Minsk. Anastasia and Maria took part in the opening act of the First Semi-Final of the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest. They have been given the challenge of a lifetime, that to possibly become winners of the senior edition of the continental competition after triumphing in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest as much as seven years back. It will not be an easy feat though, without bringing up certain elements which do not constitute as grounds of reason in music.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzCkYRc9jww

Russia is well and truly one of the most successful countries to partake in the Eurovision Song Contest, having finished as the first runner-up in 2000 at the hands of Alsou and the track Solo before managing a string of top ten finishes, finally culminating in their first ever victory back in 2009. The song Believe performed by popstar Dima Bilan had been noted from the onset, especially because he had done well on one previous occasion. Since then, Russia has still flirted with the top ten but also obtained one of their worst ever results in 2011 when Alexey Sparrow and his song Get You could only garner 77 points to finish in sixteenth place.

Professional Critics Voice their Opinion

Rating: 51%

Martin Isherwood: Strong melodies in the chorus. Nice sentiment in the lyrics. Good voices. Strong hooks. 60s feels with timpani and strings, quite like The Pierces: 'Glorious'.

Deo Grech: This is so ironic, indeed. Last year they presented a prophetic entry with the lyrics which went like this: ''what if we came together as one....what if we chose to bury our guns....why don't we always reach out to those who need us the most''.  Well it's high time they act what they preach. Full stop!

Stano Simor: This year Russia dissembled selection of songs and artist. Lackluster song in the style of outdated pop, which is not written for the voices Tolmachevy Sister .They  don 't have the space to show  their vocal potential in this song.

Matt Mercieca: Song is super average , but at parts I feel like I’m about to love it, but then something keeps me back, Im so lost, this is a little confusing, I love it one second, I think its rubbish the next! 

Source: eurovision.tv

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPI7AnD_QS8

Published in Editorials
Wednesday, 02 April 2014 20:24

ESC 2014: An In-Depth Review of Albania

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 #6, we catch up with Albania (RTSH) who will be represented by Hersi and the song One Night's Anger composed by Lako and penned by Papingji.

Hersi Matmuja was born on February 1st, 1990. She has pursued a dual career path, which led her to be successful in both modern and classical music. Despite being still very young, Hersi has already five times participated in the annual Festivali i Këngës, which doubles as the Albanian national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest. This year her song One Night's Anger, originally titled Zemërimi i një nate, did the trick, taking her to the Eurovision stage in Copenhagen! Hersi started her music lessons at the age of eight, taking part in various music events for children. She took music lessons from Professor Luan Bakiu. In 1999 and 2000 Hersi participated in the festival “Çelësi i Artë”, followed by the Festival “Ylberi” in Macedonia in 2001, where she won the first prize. In 2002 Hersi participated in the Children Festival of Shkodra with the song Zogu dhe djali, and she won the prize “Violeta Filaj” in the competition “Ëndërra për muzikën”.

Her first major TV success came in 2005, when she took part in the talent show “Ethet e së premtes”, reaching the top 10 finalists. One year later she took part in the Albanian national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest, Festivali i Këngës, youth category, and won the first prize in this category and thus qualified to the final. Hersi kept up her ambition to represent her home country in the Eurovision Song Contet: In 2010 and 2011 she participated again in Festivali i Këngës, and in 2012 she ranked 3rd with the song Kush ta dha këtë emër. On her fifth attempt, she finally won Festivali i Këngës and will thus represent Albania in the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest. She has collaborated with various composers and lyric’s writers in Albania. Her most notable successes to date were the launching of the video clip to the song Kthehu, and her her collaboration with the singer songwriter Gjergj Leka. She has also participated in two of the most prestigious festivals on the Southern Balkans, Top Fest and Kënga Magjike.

In 2004 Hersi started studying lyric canto in the Artistic Lyceum “Jordan Misja” in Tirana. She studied for one year in the Academy of Fine Arts in Tirana. She later took part in concerts in the Theater of Opera and Ballet of Tirana and reached the final in the national competition of classical music “Këngët e Tokës”. In 2008 Hersi reached the final in the national competition “Jorgji Truja”. One year later, she started studying at the National Academy of St Cecilia in Rome, ranking an amazing first in the admission competition. In 2010 she ranked first in the musical contest “Ars Kosova”. Hersi has taken part in many concerts like Carmina Burana by Carl Orff in 2010 or projects like “Let’s Britten” in honor of the composer Benjamin Britten that took place in some of historical buildings in Rome in 2013. In 2012 she took part as soloist in the concert in the Theater of Basilica of San Pancrazio in Rome. Last year Hersi took part in several concerts in the Greek Theater in Rome, in Sala Magna in College of Rome, and in the National Museum of Rome, among others.

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

Albania made their debut in the Eurovision Song Contest back in 2004 with Anjeza Shanini and the song Image of You finishing in eighth place. The contemporary pop song is still a fan favourite and was until 2012 the most successful entry from the Eastern nation. This is a country which works extremely hard for qualification, something that it has not achieved so much in recent years, noting disappointing results in 2011 and 2013 at the hands of Aurela Gace and Adrian Lulgjuraj & Bledar Sejko. As a matter of fact, when compiling statistics, it seems that the nation has been successful six times out of ten thus far, which is not the most impressive figure around. A revamp of the song to English this time round is seemingly receiving mixed reactions but nevertheless, the performance will surely be polished during the first semi-final, giving Albania another fighting chance.

Professional Critics Voice their Opinion

Rating: 35%

Martin Isherwood: Looking at the title I had to play this again to make sure I'd listened to the right song as it seems to bear no relationship to the song at all. Strong folky voice, with a Kate Bush flavour in places. Starts all picking and folky in 6/8 but piles through the changes stopping for no-one apart from an ill-advised and ill-fitting guitar solo after which it takes a bit of a dark rock turn.  Odd! All a bit stream of consciousness like. Unlikely to go anywhere.

Deo Grech: Here comes Hersi with the very first entry which was picked for this year's contest.   I must admit that I didn't like the original version, however, the new improved version is making it more acceptable. Still not in my top 10. Sorry Albania.

Stano Simor: Positive for Albania is already the fact, that even such a small country with a minimum of singers, every year sends out a representant. One Night's Anger unfortunately doesn’t have hit factor, seeking to art. The voice of the singer is not pleasant to listen and I can feel deficit of the authors background.

Matt Mercieca: She sounds like a squeaky Shakira! ..never a good thing! her diction is a little rubbish. as a song its sweet , can’t comment on lyrics as i have no clue what she’s saying. HER VOICE bugs me!

Source: eurovision.tv

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4ABpIspdic

Published in Editorials
Tuesday, 01 April 2014 19:15

ESC 2014: An In-Depth Review of Iceland

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 #5, we catch up with Iceland (RUV) who will be represented by Pollapönk and the song No Prejudice co-written by Heidar Orn Kristjansson, Haraldur Freyr Gislason and John Grant.

Pollapönk were founded in 2006 by guitarists Haraldur Freyr Gislason and Heidar Orn Kristjansson of the Icelandic post-punk trio Botnledja. They created Pollapönk when graduating as Bachelors of Education from the Icelandic University of Education – in fact the first Pollapönk album was recorded when Haraldur and Heidar were graduating as pre-school teachers: they made an album as a part of their final work and submitted it along with a final paper. The purpose was to write and perform ambitious music that children and adults alike would enjoy and be able to sing along to. The songs are intended to relate to different age groups in an open and illuminating way.

The first Pollapönk album was a major hit in Iceland. In 2007 drummer Arnar Thor Gislason – who is Haraldur‘s brother - and bassplayer Gudni Finnsson both joined Pollapönk, who then became a quartet. Pollapönk have recorded two subsequent albums and played countless gigs for children and adults all over Iceland. In everyday life Haraldur Freyr is chairman of the Association of pre-school Teachers. Heidar Orn is a pre-school teacher and Arnar Thor and Gudni are professional musicians. Haraldur Freyr and Heidar Orn are childhood friends who have been playing and writing music since their early teens. They formed the band Botnledja and entered the local music contest Battle of the Bands’in 1995 and ended up winning it.

Despite their obvious sense of humour, Pollapönk’s serious aim is to help eradicate prejudice and bullying through the medium of music. The song No Prejudice (Enga fordóma) is typical of this running theme in all their work. It is all about a young person who has a speech impediment and is afraid of being teased or bullied because of it. With this song about celebrating our diversity it is Pollapönk’s aim to help eliminate all forms of discrimination, bullying and prejudice, with the message that every individual has the right to live harmoniously with the rest of the world. Eurovision itself is a uniquely diverse institution and Pollapönk are proud to use this musical stage to send their positive message out across Europe to millions of viewers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42k8HEn3DcE

Iceland, the only Scandinavian country yet to win the Eurovision Song Contest has flirted with the top positions on more than one occasion, finished in second place in 1999 and 2009 at the hands of Selma with All Out of Luck and Yohanna with Is It True? Since 2008, the country has maintained a perfect qualification record at the esteemed event with fan favourites such as Je Ne Sais Quoi by Hera in 2010 as well as Never Forget by Greta & Jonsi in 2012 respectively. Last year, Gianluca who represented Malta had stated that Eg a Lif by Eypor Ingi was his most favourite song in the competition and was photographed with the male vocalist on a number of occasions.

Professional Critics Voice their Opinion

Rating: 40%

Martin Isherwood: Unusual shift in feel to the chorus which loses a bit of the momentum.  Laudable politically correct sentiments.  Strange mix of 80s feels mixing madness, and almost lifting the chorus and chants directly from the J Giels band's 'Centrefold' with some funky moments and Blink’ thrown in to totally mess you up.  Hard to keep track of.

Deo Grech: Sorry, this is not my cup of tea at all!   The English version of the song didn't help it at all.   The stage act will make things worse.  I still can't figure out why are they trying to be funny while singing lyrics about 'No prejudices' out to the world!   Iceland please...bring back Yohanna, Selma and Hera Bjork!!

Stano Simor: Island brings with Pollapönkem simple fun that aims to entertain and not to act like the musicians and the art. Stage costumes and "stupid" expression of the vocalists , is exactly what can deliver today at the ESC. We will not see this song on the first places, but it will certainly an interesting variegation of the ESC.

Matt Mercieca: Blehhhh! hmm I want to love it, cause of the message it gives but nahh! The vibe of the song is cool! and like the breakdown in the middle but BLEEEHHHHHHHH! its not my kind of song.

Source: eurovision.tv

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwfGKEIn5xw

Published in Editorials

As it was the case in most years, the Public Broadcasting Services has once again taken the initiative of producing a video for the Maltese entry Coming Home. Gianluca’s video was a massive success and it was never a surprise that PBS led by Tonio Portughese and Anton Attard decided to go to the man behind its success. Duane Laus along with his spouse Angie Laus were the brains behind the promotional video of Malta’s entry. Along with the input of PBS, Rodney Gauci and Gordon Bonello they came up with a product that will fit amongst the best popular videos in the music scene. 

The idea behind the Maltese video this year was exceptional and the cast and crew made sure that the message came across well. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the First World War and the video is “REMEMBERING THOSE WHO NEVER CAME HOME.” As any Brit would tell you, the idea of the 100th anniversary of this event has take the country by storm, as the media has been promoting this event for quite a long time now. Surely the Maltese video will feel right at home there and one would think, we really hit the right spot by appealing to the emotions of the public and gave the song a newfound meaning. Having said that, the perspective from where you actually look at it plays a vital role.

In fact one could say not everyone took a liking to our creative masterpiece or rather it was misinterpreted. The first reports of complaints came flooding in, after our video was previewed on BBC. A senior representative released an official statement earlier this week saying: “My heartfelt sympathy goes to all the families who have lost someone dear to them during the First and Second World War. The Maltese video has been sent to us by the European Broadcasting Union to promote the Maltese entry at the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest and like every other promotional video we were obliged to air it - we never thought it would touch so many people. We would like to express our sincere apologies but the video intended no harm.”

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

A number of nursing homes reported that after the preview of the Maltese video most of the patients were moved to tears. In fact in some extraordinary cases there were patients who needed medical attention as they started hyperventilating and went into a panic attack during and after the video was previewed. One disgruntled family member went on to comment that if she knew what the video was about she would have never let her mother watch it especially since she her mother had lost her father in the First World War and her husband in the Second World War. After the St Catherine’s Nursing Home in Surrey revealed their story to thesun.co.uk another twenty-four nursing homes said that they had experienced a similar situation.

In an ironic tone some even went on to comment that after the preview video was aired they had estimated that for this particular week they have used 5% more toilet paper as they had to provide their patients with a lot of tissue paper to wipe away their tears. Local markets also said they saw a sudden increase of sales in tissue paper but never thought that the reason behind all this would be a Eurovision video from the tiny country of Malta. On the other hand locally, the video was well received although some senior citizens did comment that the video was a bit overwhelming but would have loved to see more scenes featuring the happy moments were families of the lucky ones who actually made it home were reunited.  

Well, not all press is bad press because thanks to this those who hadn’t yet watched the video went on to the popular website YouTube to watch the most talked about video in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest and thanks it the video has garnered almost 170,000. In fact most the hits came in the past week after it was previewed on BBC. Coincidence or not, the video is a strong one and perhaps in the light of recent political turmoil Malta’s song and video will make the troubled countries realize that in every war there are no winners - only martyrs – the ones who never come home. Stay tuned to escflashmalta.com for more of the latest news.

NOTE: We would like to inform everyone that this was the April Fools Article for the day. It is pivotal to point out that the reception for the video has been more than satisfactory. We would like to wish Firelight the very best of luck as they represent Malta with Coming Home.

Source: BBC, escflashmalta.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qxi5C-lGX2Y

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

Yesterday in France, one of the elite big five countries to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest saw their OGAE fanbase meet up to view and listen to the songs competing in this years' edition of the international spectacle. The event which featured around sixty people took place at the Adyar Theatre. In the morning, the fans chose the twenty songs from the semi-finals, before finally submitting their votes for the final round of the competition.

After a lunch break, the guests of the afternoon were revealed to be none other than the group Twin Twin whose entry Moustache was selected by a mixture of jury and public voting to represent France in this years' edition of the Eurovision Song Contest. They took to the main stage and performed an acoustic version of their entry for the international competition as well as two songs; Je Vais Très Bien and Moi-Même from their upcoming album set for release on the 14th April 2014. 

1 point: Denmark

2 points: Norway

3 points: Greece

4 points: Ireland

5 points: Austria

6 points: Italy

7 points:  Sweden

8 points: Belgium

10 points: Hungary

12 points: Israel

Fans in attendance were clearly overjoyed at this surprised and Twin Twin promised a colourful, fresh and surprising performance in Copenhagen. It is worth noting that those in attendance believe that the group could achieved a very good result in Denmark. They finished their visit by answering a couple of questions and then performing the Eurovision version of the song Moustache. Only time will tell whether this success will happen of course, but in the meantime, we urge you to stay tuned to escflashmalta.com for more of the latest news.

Source: OGAE France

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

Saturday, 29 March 2014 18:36

ESC 2014: An In-Depth Review of Estonia

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 #3, we catch up with Estonia (ERR) who will be represented by Tanja and the song Amazing co-written with Timo Vendt.

Born in Kaliningrad, Russia, Tanja moved to Estonia with her family at the age of just two months. Today she’s a household name: a much loved entertainer and a role model in her home country – and tomorrow hopefully throughout Europe. This year she won the Estonian national selection, Eesti Laul 2014 and will thus represent Estonia at the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest in Copenhagen with her song Amazing. Tanja is amazing – a true pearl in a sea of pre-fab pop stars. She was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth, but has achieved her success and popularity through sheer hard work. Today, her CV is about as thick as a telephone directory, featuring dozens of roles in major musicals, wins galore in singing contests and six albums' worth of music.

Thousands of people have seen Tanja on stage in theatre and musical performances, with her boundless energy infusing such productions as Chicago, Fame, The Phantom Of The Opera, Snow White, Hair and Kiss of the Spider Woman. She is currently starring in Cabaret (in which she plays Sally), The Last Cowboy (in which she plays Lucy) and ThrillerTribute to Michael Jackson. Tanja almost made it to the Eurovision Song Contest in 2002, as a member of Nightlight Duo, whose upbeat tune Another Country Song finished second in the national final before going on to become one of the biggest hits of the year in Estonia. Tanja has been a fan of Europe's favourite TV show for as long as she can remember. Amazing was written with the contest in mind, and she knew from the start that the staging would involve contemporary dance, which she has been active in since 2001. She has also taught at a dance school.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJR2LutvQLw

Estonia made their debut in the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest back in 1994 but it was surely not an evening to remember with Silvi Vrait and her entry Nagu Merelaine finishing in last place with a mere two points. It was a painful beginning to what would be a positive future, at least for the next couple of years, with Estonia reaching the top ten on six of the next seven participations, including a major victory in 2001 with Everybody performed by Tanel Padar, Dave Benton and 2 XL. Since the introduction of the semi-final system back in 2004, Estonis has found it extremely difficult to get through to the final show, but once more has maintained a positive record in the past three years, even finishing in sixth place in 2002 thanks to Kuula sung by Ott Lepland.

Professional Critics Voice their Opinion

Rating: 54%

Martin Isherwood: Very strong chorus. Tanja has a very strong voice, but I'm not sure about the nasal sounding guy that opens the track. Very well done track with a few tricks and turns   Very strong, could stand a good chance.

Deo Grech: There is a strong reference to Loreen's ''Euphoria'' here. And this is even more accentuated by the stage act.   All in all it will be a great dance-floor filler at the Euroclub, however it's far from being ''Amazing'' at the Eurovision. It's only hope is that it will be performed right after Latvia, however it will be quite easily forgotten by Sanna who will be singing next.

Stano Simor: Choreography of the singer is incompatible with the fact that she can sing a song alone. Only if she would have extreme physical preparation. Personally, I think the main vocalist sings vocals for her. The song's atmosphere and style is really good and remains firmly in mind as well.

Matt Mercieca: DICTION!!! I have no idea what she’s saying, but beat is cool, and i like the backing vocals! reminds me of lion king I don’t know why. I must say when I do understand her, I kind of wish I wasn’t understanding her, over all its ok, beats cool, not in love, should do well though.

Source: eurovision.tv

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VRSXRXBWCs

Published in Editorials