|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.
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. On her fifth attempt, she finally won Festivali i Këngës and will thus represent Albania in the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest.
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.
|A solid English as a second language mish-mash is the only real issue I have with the always novel Albanian presentation. Hersi can be described as having a bit of a Kate Bush sound and Bonham Carter look, she's passably performs a soft rock ethnic ballard which is mildly pleasing really, at least in the studio version. There's the always welcome addition of the middle aged male backing singer who sounds like he's experiencing difficulty in passing Qofte, and another one who's got big specs,which kind of distracts from the woeful lyrics (e.g. "Wait a tick tiny tick, you’ll regret it (just wanna say it right"). No Final.|
|Aram Sargsyan was born
in Yerevan, on April 5, 1984. At school age Aram had breathing difficulties
and was coughing a lot. Following doctors’ strange advice to try singing,
Aram’s parents took him to the choir classes. Unexpectedly it worked
and music healed him!
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. Despite spending most of his time on stage, he considers himself a family man feeling very much attached to his charming wife Anna and charismatic son Arno. The main streets of Yerevan are glowing with his posters, still Aram doesn't consider himself a celebrity. He has hosted famous TV Formats such as “X- Factor”, “Armenian Idol”, “My name is”, and “Power of 10”.
|Mr MP3 seems to be a sort of Yerevan Rob Brydon, a bit of a light entertainment gent who also sings and wears stitch back gloves and highly proportioned eyes. Apart from having a go at winding up the gay contingent (not a great idea at ESC) his tune was the early overall favourite, at least until the Semi Final when it disappointed. It's a kind of slow grow anthemic number and takes a good 1:30 until the stringy beat kicks in. For the last half expect a large electricity bill as he bangs out a song that covers reconciliation and the usual tolerance schtick. Watch out for the interesting climax face.|
|Tom Neuwirth was born
on November 6th, 1988, and he for the first time performed as his alter
ego Conchita Wurst in 2011. Since then, he has been a symbol for tolerance
and artistic freedom in Austria and beyond. His motto: "Be the best
version of yourself rather than a bad copy of someone else!"
Conchita Wurst was born as Tom Neuwirth on November 6th, 1988 in Gmunden/Austria. He first performed as his alter ego Conchita Wurst, the famous long-haired full-bearded lady, in the talent show "Die große Chance" in 2011. Since then, he certainly has not gone unnoticed in Austria. More recently, Conchita Wurst participated in the ORF production "The hardest jobs of Austria", where she worked in a fish factory.
|Now a beard and lippy is not a particular look many people will be attuned to. I count myself in that boring traditional camp. As for the song, it's another Bond-lite sopfest. Think Dana Intl but with no access to a Phillishave. Alter-ego Ms Wurst (or Tom Neuwirth) is at pains to inform us he is not a transgender, just an average bloke in a frock. In a wholly preceptive comment Armenia's singer said "Conchita's team will help her to decide whether she is a woman or a man". As you may imagine it caused a major stink amongst ESC damp fan. Which was funny. This could win cos he/she sings rather well when all is done.|
|29 year old Dilara has
what it takes to be a standout. Early vocal training gave her a great range
and vocal discipline. She’s taken elements from each of these diverse
genres, developing her own unique vocal style. 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. Besides music Dilara has a passion for painting and acting. 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.
The most notable point to me is that she pronounces "people" like one of the most pre-eminent politicians of our time, yes Michael Howard. That aside, Dilara is a photogenic Eastern lovely, all cheekbones and smoulder. "Start a fire" is a simple ditty that gets straight down to it, and then carries on in the same decent vein. In a gimmick heavy performance we have a solid 3 varieties, namely a female gymnast on a swing (who doesn't seem to have a safety rope), Dilara's seethrough red dress, and the always welcome balaban, a bit like a sophisticated Caspian kazoo. Expect to see it easing into the Top10.
|Teo’s real name
is Yuriy Vaschuk. The singer was born on January 24th, 1983 in a small Belarusian
town Hidry. His passion for all aspects of music was noticed very early,
and after four years of learning to play the accordion, he became the international
champion after winning the children’s contest Praleska.
Teo was rather casually selected as his pop stage name in 2011, via a Google search. "I clicked 'T' in Google search and saw it immediately. I liked it instantly and that was it."
The meaning behind Cheesecake is simple but a good one: "It's a positive song, even though I’ve broken up with a girl because I’m tired of her calling me her sweet cheesecake. We all need to be treated with respect."
looks like Bennie Blanco from the Bronx and sounds a bit like that bastion
of Feminist thought Robin Thicke. So not exactly a glowing tribute, but
somehow "Cheesecake" manages to just fall on the right side
of pure naff. The object of Teo's affections (left) on the promo seems
not to be joining him on stage which is a bad call by the delegation and
the message (for what it is) may well be lost as a result.
|For Axel Hirsoux, taking part in the Eurovision Song Contest is a dream come true. This humble young man from Charleroi will soon take to the stage in Copenhagen to show the world what he has to offer musically with the song Mother. 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. The song Mother is a powerful classic ballad with a simple and understated mise en scene, beautifully executed by eminent choreographer Isabelle Beernaert. 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.|
|Look at Axel. Close your eyes. Listen to the song (not too much now, don't overdo it). Open your eyes. Rub them. Leave the room/have a stiff drink (as applicable). Although his mum,mMrs Hirsoux, is I'm sure a wonderful woman, she didn't monitor Axel's tuck-shop visits too closely it appears. Another creepy Belgian effort, a ballard with little to recommend apart from the obvious unsettling vision of middle-aged fat man extolling his maternal love through the medium of ballard. After the Romanian shock last year this could go either way, but I hope upon hope that taste prevails.|
|Anis Basim Moujahid (born 4 July 1992), better known as Basim, is a Danish singer and songwriter. He is of Moroccan origin, but lives in Copenhagen, Denmark. He is one of the few people that all of Denmark is on a first-name basis with. In 2008, at the age of just 15 years old Basim came fourth in the first season of X-Factor and since then has become a household name. "Tunes often just come to you when you least expect it, and the melody to Cliche Love Song came out of the blue". "The song is about a girl I meet and have a crush on. I try and do everything I can in order to get her to love me, but no matter what I do, it just feels like a cliché, and that is the theme of the song. But there is a twist to the song", explains Basim. He describes Cliche Love Song as a pop song with a hint of soul and R&B.|
If you think Leo Sayer and Bruno Mars lovechild would be an unpalatable thought, then be warned. I find it hard work writing about Danish ESC entrants these days. I empathise with the local newsprint hack typing up a story of a wall falling over in a carpark. Play is being made of Basim being a success story from his Moroccan immigrant status (it may have something to do with the relatively rare occurrence of both immigrants & success). But there's nothing successful about this tedious pastiche. Give him his due, he's a likeable stage presence in a bow tie, but the song remains drivel which needs to be forgotten.
|Born in Kaliningrad,
Russia, Tanja moved to Estonia at two months old. Today she’s a household
name: a much loved entertainer and a role model in her home country. 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 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. Tanja is currently starring in Cabaret (in
which she plays Sally), The Last Cowboy (in which she plays Lucy) and Thriller
– Tribute to Michael Jackson (in which she plays Bubbles...not
really). “It took a lot of rehearsing to achieve the fluency
I needed when singing and dancing at the same time,” Tanja reveals.
|Tanja is a dancer first and a singer second. But frankly she is such a good dancer and a decent enough singer that you have to admire her, regardless of the song; a blatant Loreen rip-off that would otherwise (and indeed still may) be forgetten about. The real strength of this is her, who somehow manages to hold strong notes throughout the performance, during which she spends much time either on a man's shoulders or being swung around by her ankles. She's a bit of a find this one. The only risk is that Europe won't believe she's actually singing, but I assure you she is. So all in all it deserves a final spot.|
|Softengine was formed
in Seinäjoki in 2011, at the cottage of the grandparents of singer/songwriter
Topi Latukka. The decision to enter the contest was made at the last minute
and it took the boys ten days to finish. "We were jamming at our training
facility ten days before the UMK deadline. The next day it dawned on me
that I could make a real song out the jam” the band explains. "We
went to my grandparents' cottage to work on the lyrics. That and sauna bathing
took a couple of days. The lyrics are about an old man who reminisces about
his life. He has always been dissatisfied with his life as it seems that
he has never achieved anything. In his old days his wife dies and he realises
that what they had was "something better" and he should have cherished
|The annual "spot the smile" Finnish competition continues to roll-over, and Softengine certainly won't be claiming the prize. A rare beat-pop combo, this song starts pleasantly enough in a mid-range typical 80's throwback beat kind of way, and maintains a form of momentum that leaves a pleasant, if brief, memory. The main bug bear is the lyrics which if you can be bothered listening to, are complete and utter balls. In summary it's Killers-lite with lyrical shite. I've got it getting through purely on the basis it stands alone this year, as a decent group song, but don't blame me if I'm wrong.|
|With its bouncy melodies, a healthy sense of gimmick, and the liveliness of its lyrics, Twin Twin is a perfect example of the YOLO (You Only Live Once) generation, which would rather live life to the fullest than be dragged overboard by wailing sirens of doubt. Twin Twin drew critical attention early on for the panache of their songs and extravagant style, which drew from everyday Paris and the high society environments of fashion. "We tend to favor a lighter, more festive approach, because we want to have fun and to be able bring energy to what we do." This is the spirit that runs through their song Moustache: an irresistible dance track that tells the story of a man who already has everything, but who still wants a moustache, a humorous and affectionate critique of our culture of hyper-consumption.|
|My all-round favourite of the year from the reliably bonkers French who have sent a joke act in a pop-rap styley. Now if you're reading this I appreciate it doesn't sound promising, however give it a go and you may be surprised. Especially if you enjoy a couple of Long Island Ice Teas beforehand. You may even hum along. "Moustache" is not only a bright catchy belter, but it also touches on the evils of modern materialism (but you knew that anyway). The usual fear is that the crazy nature will translate to the stage as what it is, a screwball mess. I'm sure it won't win but as they say "Il n’y a pas de mal".|