EUROVISION SONG CONTEST 2019 SONG PREVIEW: PROLOGUE

I’ve noticed the choice of top performers from the previous year influences the choice of entries the following year, and this year is no exception.  For this year’s edition, in particular, Netta‘s “Toy” and Eleni Foureira‘s “Fuego” loomed large, and let’s discuss the ways these two entries influence this year’s entries.

1) This year, there are a whole host of risk-taking entries with very different and original sounds, just like those unusual sounds you have heard on Netta’s winning song.  The second half of the first semifinal is chock-ful of this, most especially exhibited by PORTUGAL and ICELAND–the former fusing several disparate genres into one while delivering oblique, inscrutable lyrics (even for native Portuguese speakers), the other showcasing electronic industrial hard rock with an ominous, cautionary message.  Other countries also taking sonic risks could include POLAND, SLOVENIA, GEORGIA, and AUSTRALIA.

2) “Toy” also has themes of feminine empowerment in its lyrics, and this year’s offerings continue on that trend include ARMENIA and GREECE, the latter as shown below, but also most bluntly, by NORTH MACEDONIA and GERMANY.

3) The tropical dance sounds of “Fuego” has led to at least three entries following its lead, and to many listeners it seemed they are cloning the “Fuego” sound.  CYPRUS and SWITZERLAND are most prominently accused of cloning, but to a lesser extent MALTA also employed a similar sound.  Check out the epic mashup of the original and the aforementioned three entries below:

There are also some overriding themes this year that are not derived from last year’s Top Two entries.  One is a theme expressing sentiments of “home”, whether it’s sentiment about your native country as expressed by GEORGIA and most especially ALBANIA (see below) or in a more metaphorical sense as expressed by entries from ESTONIA and the NETHERLANDS.

In 1988, Canadian singer Celine Dion represented Switzerland and won the contest with “Ne partez pas sans moi [Don’t leave without me]“.  This year, Canada makes its presence felt with three prominent people.  First is Laurell Barker, who co-wrote three entries this year, from GERMANY, the UNITED KINGDOM and SWITZERLAND.  Two other countries fielded singers who are either currently residing or had previously resided in the country:  GREECE and ROMANIA.  Can Canada become the next Australia and join this contest?

 

Last year, I lamented over the lack of hunks–sure there were boyish dreamboats galore, and yes, maybe there were fans who dig Austria’s Cesar Sampson, Italy’s Fabrizio Moro (he kinda grew on me as days went by), or the Netherlands’ Waylon last year, but none of them quite do it for me–the closest person I found to be hunky was the drummer from the Hungarian band AWS, Aron Veress.  This year, we can gladly say the hunks are back!  Let’s survey the scenery, shall we?

Of course, RUSSIA‘s Sergey Lazarev is a known quantity already, with all those beefcake images galore over the years.  Sure, with the exception of a recent Instagram post where he bared his butt he now tends to be seen totally buttoned up, but all those times he bared his skin remained seared in many a Eurovision fan’s heart.

Then, we have SWITZERLAND’s Luca Hänni, who many have observed resembles singer Nick Jonas.  More on that when I review the entry.

ITALY has treated us with a bevy of hunks before, like Marco Mengoni and Il Volo, and this year we are treated to Mahmood, who is half-Egyptian and half-Sicilian.  Too bad the only time we’ll see him shirtless is during his tattooing scene in his music video.

Unlikely to bare flesh on the Eurovision stage but bared a whole lot in his music video is the NETHERLANDSDuncan Laurence.  He may have a lanky frame but he’s a handsome looker.  Here’s hoping he can do like Belarus’ Ivan three years ago and showcase scenes from that music video onstage.

Similarly employing an underwater motif in his music video but not getting naked (though we wish he did) is AZERBAIJAN‘s Chingiz.  I do like them swarthy blokes, and I think Chingiz has a resemblance to…

ISRAEL‘s Kobi Marimi.  Yes, I know there are many fans who think he’s homely but I don’t know I guess I’m just that biased towards swarthy looks like his.

Also garnering raves for his great looks is LITHUANIA‘s Jurij Veklenko, who during the Lithuanian national final went by the moniker Jurijus.

FINLAND‘s Sebastian Rejman has that tousled guy appeal about him, and just like George Clooney, he doesn’t need to be shirtless to be regarded as sexy.  Coincidentally, he’s starring in the Finnish counterpart to the classic 1990’s series ER, and he’s playing the role of the hunky pediatrician, an analogue to George’s breakout role as Doug Ross in that series.

Also showcasing a tousled guy-next-door appeal is Swedish singer Victor Crone, who is competing for ESTONIA in this contest.  So who’s competing for Sweden?

John Lundvik is the representative for SWEDEN this year.  For those who is looking for an equivalent to Cesar Sampson, this guy would be it.

For those looking for the more youthful variety, Montenegrin group D Mol has 21-year-old Rizo Feratović for you to swoon over.  He’s the most senior member of that group as all the rest are below 20 years of age.

I was turned off by an initial photo of SPAIN‘s Miki with his tight poodle curls and mustache but later photos reveal he has a scruffy boyish appeal about him.  And little did I know he also has a shirtless pic that shows he’s got a buffed bod, too–no wonder he can handle the high energy demands of his song very well.

I would also classify NORWAY‘s Tom Hugo of the band KEiiNO as boyish, but I discovered that he’s actually turning 40 in October.  Except for the subtle creases only noticeable in closeup, this guy can pass for a guy 15 years younger–boy, with Alexander Rybak and Ingrid Berg Mehus, I wonder if Norway has some keys to the Fountain of Youth?

Now, last year there were a slew of boyish dreamboats.  This year, it seems we have to settle for only one:  the CZECH REPUBLIC‘s Albert Černý, frontman for Lake Malawi.  With his hair comped down, he looks like YouTube musician Kurt Hugo Schneider.  With his hair combed up, like in his performance at Ukraine’s Vidbir, he exudes the vibe of superstar singer Shawn Mendes.

For those hankering for twinks, there are a few to choose from.

First, BELGIUM has Eliot

…For those looking for vocal virtuosos, the UNITED KINDGOM has Michael Rice and CROATIA has Roko Blažević, shown together below in a recent meet-up…

Left: Michae Rice; Right: Roko

…or you might go for the two other D Mol boys from MONTENEGRO, Željko Vukčević and Emel Franca.

Left: Željko Vukčević; Right: Emel Franca.

I have to leave a special note for ICELAND’s Hatari: outside of their leather get-ups, cousins Klemens Hannigan and Matthias Tryggvi Haraldson could be considered as cute as cherubic schoolboys, while percussionist Einar Hrafn Stefánsson is a hunk.

The wholesome side of Hatari, from L-R: child, Klemens Hannigan, Einar Hrafn Stefánsson, and Matthías Tryggvi Haraldsson

For those seeking alterna-hunks, I’ve observed at least a couple of them resemble former Pentatonix bass vocalist Avi Kaplan:  GEORGIA‘s Oto Nemsadze and PORTUGAL‘s Conan Osiris.  Both are locked in an epic battle of the man-bun along side returning Eurovision artist HUNGARY‘s Joci Papai.

Battle of the Man-buns: Georgia’s Oto Nemsadze, Portugal’s Conan Osiris, and Hungary’s Joci Papai

There are two standout dancers who happened to be featured in the riskiest entries in this year’s contest and are also great lookers:  ICELAND‘s Sigurður Andrean Sigurgeirsson is prominent as the skimpily clad sex slave in their presentation, while PORTUGAL’s João Reis Moreira’s superfly dance moves was a standout element that amped up their presentation to an over-the-top spectacle.  Now, I fantasize wanting to see these two classically-trained dancers perform a ferocious dance-off–it will be fascinating to watch, don’t you think?

Appealing dancers: Iceland’s Sigurður Andrean Sigurgeirsson and Portugal’s Joao Reis Moreira.

It’s time to discuss the ladies.  This year, there is no one who could be considered in the same stunning level as 2016’s Iveta Mukuchyan of Armenia, 2017’s Alma of France, or 2018’s Eleni Foureira of Cyprus or Franka Batelić of Croatia.  Still, there are beauties to behold, of all varying types…

For those hankering for someone quirky, AUSTRIA has the blue-haired Pænda.

If you’re Bradley Cooper‘s character Jackson Maine from A Star is Born, MALTA‘s Michela Pace or ARMENIA‘s Srbuk might pique your interest.

There are some really young teens performing this year.  The youngest of them all is BELARUS‘s ZENA, who brought some jailbait early-Britney vibes in her winning national finals performance.  She’s a mere 16 years old, so for guys wanting to avoid getting in trouble, beware.

The three girls from MONTENEGRO‘s D Mol can also be classified as jailbait as all are below 20 years old.  But all of them are conducting themselves in a chaste, wholesome manner anyway.

D Mol girls, from L-R: Tamara Vujačić, Mirela Ljumić, and Ivana Obradović

Also delivering girl-next-door wholesomeness is NORWAY‘s Alexandra Rotan from the trio KEiiNO–her light, airy vocals are the hallmark of pure innocence.

Similarly bringing classic girl-next-door prettiness, with a mild tomboy touch is DENMARK‘s Leonora.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, IRELAND‘s Sarah McTernan is bringing a sassy tough girl vibe–you can imagine her popping bubblegum and maybe smoking a cigarette like a 1950s “bad” girl.

Many fans aren’t buzzing about her looks but I found MOLDOVA‘s Ana Odobescu great looking.  In my reckoning she’s an underrated babe.

Bringing a fusion of high fashion and Balkan exoticism is ALBANIA‘s Jonida Maliqi.  She’s not conventionally pretty in my eyes, but she’s charismatic and fierce.

GERMANY‘s S!sters are, despite its name, not related to each other.  One is a classic European blonde (Carlotta Truman), the other is a jet-black brunette who turned out to be one-fourth Filipina (Laurita Spinelli).  I like the blonde, but many fans were buzzing about the brunette, placing her high in a “Most Beautiful in Eurovision 2019” list.  It reminds me of a Finnish pageant loving friend of mine–she doesn’t appreciate blondes that much because perhaps they are too saturated with them, while for me, although I do find Laurita good looking, I’m not as rapturous about her as most European fans seem to be.

With their traditional garb, there are some fans who would associate POLAND‘s Tulia with the backup ladies of Donatan & Cleo back in 2014 when they performed “My Slowanie (We Are Slavic)” but the difference is that while Donathan & Cleo played the traditional look for cheeky (and arguably hyper-sexually vulgar) fun, this group are earnest with adhering to tradition and this is reflected with their very modest, buttoned up looks.  Still, their beautiful faces are undeniable.

Also bringing some classic blonde prettiness is AUSTRALIA‘s Kate Miller-Heidke.  Interestingly, she’s the first full Caucasian representing this country in the contest.

Also from the Commonwealth, we have two ladies representing countries from Southern Europe who actually grew up in Canada:  ROMANIA has Ester Peony and GREECE has Katerine Duska.  Both are also known for casting indelible spells onstage.

Canadian beauties: (L-R): Ester Peony and Katerine Duska

It’s hard to top Eleni Foureira but CYPRUS fielded another charismatic established pop diva in Tamta.  It’s incredible when you learn she’s already 38 years old and has a fully grown 24-year-old daughter, as even she still has the youthful glamour and charisma of a twenty-something.

For most Eurovision fans, their choice for this year’s major babe is SERBIA‘s Nevena Božović.  I can see the appeal though I also see a resemblance to Kelly Clarkson and as much as I love Kelly to bits, I never regard her as much of a babe.

But I wouldn’t be amiss if I don’t mention the person who would’ve been far and away considered the sexiest lady of this batch:  UKRAINE‘s MARUV.  Too bad politics got in the way…