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Saturday, 22 February 2014 19:25

Latvia: National Final - Dziesma 2014 - LIVE

Labvakar! I am Patrick in Sarcelles, France and will be welcoming the twelve (12) finalists hoping to represent Latvia in this years' edition of the Eurovision Song Contest. Ventspils has been supporting the participation of the country in recent times, henceforth why the city has been known to host the final in the past two to three years. Dziesma will be an intriguing affair, following two (2) semi-final rounds, and you may follow all of the action through the LIVE stream being offered by the Official Website of the Eurovision Song Contest as from 20:25 CET.

The selection is unchaged from previous years, meaning that the twelve (12) songs in contention this evening will be hoping to garner support from both the general public and the professional jury due to their 50% stake in both the first and the second round of voting. In the latter though, only the top three (3) will be fighting it out in what has been termed as a super final. There are several special guests this evening including none other than PeR (Latvia 2013), Fomins and Kleins (Latvia 2004), Lauris Reiniks (Latvia 2000), Norma Rutulis and Estonian group; Tenfold Rabbit.

The Show (Part 1)

Very strange act to start off with! A sort of energy exchange. A choir with drums and synths but anyways, we are now welcomed in Ventspils by our four hosts for this evening, seemingly looking more and more like the actual Eurovision Song Contest. Now the 12 acts are introduced with a very short extract.

Revelation - Ralfs Eilands, Valters Pūce & Nelli Bubujanca

First act is last year's entrant Ralf Eilands, lead singer from Per with a very different song, one entitled Revelation. Ralf is on stage with a cello player and a female drum player. Nice song but a bit shouty in my opinion ... And at the end, the cello gets broken.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UpxdfE_iE8

Lights On - Markus Riva

Next song is lights up by Markus Riva. Unfortunately, this is a SONG competition and good looks can only get you so far in my opinion. His voice is not perfect at all and the only thing I seem to like are the lights in this song. Very weak, and the standard does not seem to be improving.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jg8C8LU1KPI

Moment And Tomorrow - Katrīna Bindere

Mid-tempo song very well performed by Katrine and four (4) female chorists. She also brought a wind machine on the chorus. Not very instant but indeed, extremely professional.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAoj6OjRxVU

Pēdējā Vēstule - Dons

Now comes the big favorite of the evening, Dons with a song in Latvian, one entitled Pedeja Vestule which is already a big hit in Latvia and thus ready to rake in the public vote. Dons is backed by four (4) female singers. Sounds like a quicker version of Kuula. Flawless vocals and an even more emotional performance. Simple and efficient.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Yd3mSg_wWY

Stay - Samanta Tina

Back for a third time, hoping that she will be lucky is none other than Samata Tina whose entry features a wind machine, due to the strong feeling of Euphoria, especially in terms of genre. The vocals are good, nothing too special but something is missing, cannot really comprehend what!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBx6aHuWeSY

Here I Am Again - Niko

Up next! Niko who is basically a David Lindgren copy when it comes to this song. I cannot believe it but this is basically .. Shout It Out! The choreography is very similar to Daft Punk ... Bad vocals also ... Next please!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLoFS9nYKJY

Going All The Way - MyRadiantU

The evening is going super-fast, considering that we are more than half way through as the seventh song is set to take to the stage. Four (4) guys are on stage for this very energetic song a bit remeniscent of Simple Minds. Strong chorus, good vocals and excellent arrangements ... I like it, would be a good choice fort Latvia

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cg-6DN8bc3Y

Saule Riet (Take Away) - Olga & Līgo

Olga is on stage with five (5) dancers wearing costumes. Vocals are amazing ... song is very catchy and the dance routine brings more movements on stage ... If chosen, I am entirely sure that it would be a big favorite in Copenhagen.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eenD-H7vces

I Can Breathe - Aminata

This is a self penned entry ... She is on stage with three (3) dancers wearing masks and two (2) backing vocalists. Aminata is a wonderful performer but the song is not memorable enough to make an impact, either this evening OR at the Eurovision Song Contest where it could end up.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3s2MuAjcJE

Aarzemnieki - Cake to Bake

The song is starting as a simple guitar ballad....and then it gets a bit uptempo but acoustic. Lyrics are ridiculous but that is something which might not bother Latvians having just remembered that they did choose 'Beautiful Song' two years ago.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJEc_71EEeo

If I Could (Get Away) - Eirošmits

They are wearing postiche beards. By the way they switched the song to Latvian ... Not a good attempt, I'm afraid but Latvians like this kind of weird joke entries! Nevertheless, we're just about ready with the initial line-up as it's time to introduce the last song You're the reason by Katrine Lukins.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7YOCstcAEQ

You Are The Reason - Katrine Lukins

Katrine is backed up by two (2) vocalists and twin drummers. Oh my god, my ears are bleeding, she is completly off key ... It is beyond horrible! That's it, we have heard the 12 songs and the winner will be decided by 50/50 jury and televoting.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8r4GAPhesI

The Show (Part 2)

Who will get the task to bring Latvia back to the final for the first time since 2008? This will be decided in a moment! Now, first recap of the songs! First voting round is to decide the three (3) superfinalists! For me the choice should be between Dons, Olga ir Ligo or MyRadiantU but Katrina Bindere and Aarzmenieki are also dark horses. 

Dons is leading the televoting in front of Katrina Bindere, Aazmenieki and Olga ir Ligo ... Dons is still in the lead with cake to bake to follow. Another recap of the songs. Lines are closed now. First interval act Marta Ritova. Second one is Estonian band Tenfold rabbit. Now all the acts are back on stage. Time for the first results hopefully. first it is time for various prizes.

We are getting there, and here are the super-finalists; DonsSamanta TinaAarzemnieki.

Well, each of the super-finalists is now taking to the stage once more for a second performance although it seems that the public is going for Dons, with the funny Cake to Bake in second place leaving last years' runner-up Samanta Tina in third place. Our special guests for the evening are currently on stage, including acts who represented Latvia in 2000, 2004 and 2013, respectively.

... and Aarzemnieki win with the song Cake to Bake.

Saturday, 16 February 2013 18:51

Latvia: Dziesma 2013 - LIVE

The millennium proved to be quite the year for the Baltic nation of Latvia as entering the Eurovision Song Contest proved to be a successful endeavour, noting their second runner-up finish on their debut with the track My Star performed by Brainstorm before managing to finish at the top position just two years later with Marie N and her song I Wanna just pipping Malta in second place, having been represent by 7th Wonder performed by Ira Losco. LTV, the broadcaster responsible for the participation of the nation has been keen on the selection process and thus amendments have been put in throughout the years, with the aim of perfecting the situation. In the past four years, the country has failed to qualify to the final but one would hope that the winning entry this evening would turn the tide round.

Dziesma, the selection process which has been put in place for the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest started last week with two semi-finals taking place, deciding which six entries from each round would make it through to this evenings' final. The national final is set to be hosted by a trio including; Martin Meyer, Madar Botmane and Anta Aizupe, something which is also different from recent years when two comperes had lead the evenings' proceedings. The final result will be decided through a 50% Jury and a 50% Public Vote whilst the entertainment prior to the announcement is set to include Ott Lepland and Anmary who represented Estonia and Latvia at last years' Eurovision Song Contest which took place in Baku, Azerbaijan. You can watch the show through the official website of the Eurovision Song Contest.

The Show (Part 1)

The show's begun with a group that combines traditional folk and modern, computer-made sounds. The stage resembles a bit of that of Melodifestivalen 2006. The audience lacks enthusiasm, but tonight's lineup looks promising. The hosts have made it to the stage. They're wearing sort of retro clothes, giving the feeling of watching an edition of the Eurovision Song Contest from the 1990s. And now the artists are walking among the audience and they're announced. All of them are now on the stage, waiting for perform the hosts to let them do their job. And the hosts have officially kicked off the competition! Still the hosts are giving some details regarding what's to happen tonight. And here comes the moment we've been waiting for!

Running Order

One - Niko

Perfect start in number and song title! Niko takes over the stage with 3 gentlemen. All of them dressed up formally. He's performing a well-produced a dubstep-influenced pop track. The vocals aren't 100% strong, but the elaborate choreography beats make it up for it. It could stand a chance for Malmö but I am not entirely sure.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxBy059Gslc

Fool In Love - Dāvids Kalandija & Dināra

Fool In Love sung by Dāvids Kalandija & Dināra: Both singers appear wearing these late 1970s suits à la Fame (Sweden 2003). The song also sounds pretty Swedish (especially those keyboard arrangements à la Benny Andersson). There are comtemporary dancers to accompany the staging. It's a pretty melodic song. It's the type of song ESC pop fans would appreciate, but some might find it a bit outdated for today's Eurovision.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAvFX9c0fyg

When You Are With Me - Antra Stafecka

When You Are With Me sung by Antra Stafecka: She presents this bossa-nova track with very strong vocals, looking a bit like Marie N (Latvia 2002), but a lot classier. Elaborate tango dance routines go with the stage performance. The song's pretty slow, but sung with such passion, it may capture the viewer's imagination.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQnMBopIun0

Sad Trumpet - Grupa PeR

Here comes a blue song that makes justice to its title. The two guys are sitting in stools wearing pretty classic outfits. The lead vocalist has a pretty soulful voice himself and the other one does some beatboxing that reminds us of "I Hear Your Heart" (Latvia 2006). It's all played are a guitar and a trumpet, keeping the instrumentation simple. No choreography is staged with this entry, not that it needs it. Well performed for its style.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLLgFeY2LoM

The One - Grupa Pieneņu Vīns

It's time for some soul-rock! Four masked guys and one lady with vocals that perfectly fit the music style stage this entry. There are no extravagant outfits here, either. The song starts very soulfully, but the rock kickin at the refrain kills the mood a little. Fans might not appreciate it, providing it wins the national selection, which doesn't seem very likely.

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

I Am Who I Am - Marta Ritova

For this time around, Marta's taking part of the competition as a singer/songwriter. The beginning of the song reminds us a bit of Norah Jones, but then the whole band kicks in, turning it into a rock-oriented pop song. In terms of melody, as a whole, it isn't that memorable, but she's done well vocally.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cn8aG3W71Zk

Higher And Higher - Liene Candy

Liene's no stranger to the Eurovision world as she's taken part of the European competition as a backing vocalist, but this is her first time going solo. Her yellow dress makes her look very classy as most artists tonight. It's about this euro-dance-pop song with strong beats that would make us want to hit the dancefloor. Vocals are well-performed: She hasn't missed a single note. This another entry other contestants should watch out for!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-LZ69peEGVs

I Need A Hero - Samanta Tina

Her white dress and the blue staging take us back to the Eurovision Song Contest 2006. Her vocals are very good: Very soulful and melodic. One could say it's the best feature of the song. However, the song itself might seem a bit too slow for Eurovision and it was reflected by the somewhat mild ovation from the audience.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rh0HWF26iac

Cold Heart - Ieva Sutugova

Cheerful melodies feature this Chicago-styled entry. Leva and the whole band are wearing the right outfit for the occasion, especially that red dress that fit her very well just like her vocals fit the song. The song is catchy, but it might be a bit hard to follow. Little chance to go to Malmö does it stand.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OmyengMOVA

Love - Headline

Funk takes over the stage with this entry. Beats are pretty infectious and the lead singer's attitude helps the viewers enjoy the performance. These guys are looking good and they're pretty good-looking themselves. That'll get them a few votes. Vocals were average and the lead singger could use some English diction lessons. In overall, not an impressive entry, but good enough to enjoy for a while.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q31DqRhnbAs

Upside Down - Sabīne Berezina

A classic Eurovision europop tune makes the audience be cheered up. Sabīne and her girls give the stage some color the whole thing needs. Her vocals were fine and so was dance routine. Fans would like this one.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Xa8tOQhJVk

Here We Go - Grupa PeR

A mix of freestyle, rap and beatboxing tries to make it to the Super Final. Televoters would be dragged to the sort of extravaganza from the performers and the singing part is pretty catchy, but not strong enough to win the whole national contest, although there's some energy to it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7NaugZ0ZvU

The Show (Part 2)

The hosts also introduce the tele-voting portion of the competition whilst a recap has been shown more than once to remind the people which entries are competing to head to the Eurovision Song Contest and hopefully represent the nation, overturning the recent disappointing results achieved. Some of them are taking the oppotunity to invite the televoters to vote for them. Labvēlīgais Tips is serving as an interval act with their "Ciema Aristokrats". This 20-year-old band from Riga combines ska, rock and pop. The audience has seemed to enjoy them, although they are not really known with the audience who looks to the Eurovision Song Contest as their basis for music. Time's over! Lines have been closed and the televoting results will be count. Now it's up for BeatHeaven with "Da Gamba", another interval act. They combine lounge beats with classical cellos. "Ode To Joy" plays as they seem to rock to it. The whole instrumentation is enjoyable. It's like a milder version of Apocalyptica. Another interval act on stage: Vineta Elksne presents the surreal ballad, "Vinnētājs". She's got a nice singing voice, but it sounds pretty much like an orchestrated lullaby. Now artists are being lined up on the stage as Martin is about to announce the 3 contestants to go through the Super Final.

Super Final

I Am Who I Am by Marta Ritova: Her Norah Jones-inspired track seems to have worked some magic as she's profiling to be the second favorite, but not enough to take her to Malmö.

Here We Go by Grupa PeR: Afterwards there's Here We Go sung by Grupa PeR, which seems to be the most popular among the voters! If this is the tendency, chances are, PeR will be the ones flying the Latvian flag in Malmö!

I Need A Hero by Samanta Tina: So far, the least supported by viewers. She'll definitely need a hero to make it to Eurovision! A well-performed but sort of weak ballad doesn't seem very appealing to those across the TV screens, but it might be a jury's favorite.

Jānis Stībelis is on performing "Summer City": A pretty weak attempt to maintream pop, although his vocals aren't that bad after all. Now numbers are shown on screen for viewers to vote for their favorite song. Ott Lepland is being interviewed. He's talking about his Eurovision experience and how he's seen it. Back from the commercial break, the Super Finalists are being recapped. Voters will be given a few more seconds to support their favorite songs. 2012 Eurovision Latvian entrant Anmary is performing her pop-ballad song "Your Voice Again": Despite that tight black ress, she's singing better than ever!! 

Her vocals are very impressive and, were it shorter, it would've done well in Eurovision, although that fadeout wouldn't work. Time's up! No more voting for Latvia! A recap of all the songs chosen for this year's Eurovision is being shown including the Maltese entry Tomorrow performed by Gianluca Bezzina. Cello trio Melo-M takes over: Latvian Kārlis Auzāns, Miķelis Dobičins, and Jānis Pauls have delighted the audience with their skills on their instruments. Now here's a flashback from the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 held in Baku with Ott Lepland and his song "Kuula", last year's entry from Estonia. Nice melodies and strong vocals have made this entry a favorite among the Eurovision fan community. And here comes the moment we've all been waiting for: The Super Finalists have been called upon the stage. In a few minutes we'll know who'll represent the Baltic state in Malmö. And the winning song is... "Here We Go" by Grupa PeR!!!