Representing Eurovision 2017 for Slovenia was Omar Naber, a Slovenian-born pop rock singer-songwriter trio who also previously represented Slovenia back in 2005 with the song 'Stop'.
Slovenia, an ex-Yugoslavia state has never won any Eurovision edition with the 'technical' exception of Yugoslavia who won it in 1989 (Slovenia was a part of Yugoslavia back then). Slovenia have never finished as runners-up either.
Sadly Slovenia did not win or finished second at Eurovision 2017, which was won by Portugal. However we still spoke to Omar about his Eurovision experience.
Omar, firstly how does it feel performing at the Eurovision Song Contest for the second time?
"I was very honoured to once again be accepted to participate at EMA 2017. I had no real expectations of winning. I knew that I had a good song and I knew that I could deliver a good performance. But apart from that, it is out of my hands. I was very pleased to win of course and it is a huge honour to be given the opportunity to represent my country again at Eurovision."
Surely this has to be your biggest performance to date? Given your Jordanian heritage, would you like to see Jordan in Eurovision?
"It surely was one of the highlights of my career. To be honest, I wouldn’t mind seeing Jordan in the competition, as there are brilliant musicians and even better singers there. They would raise many ears around the globe."
What does your song 'On My Way' mean?
"Well, it's about my personal experience, when I was lost, lonely and had no path ahead. But I always knew I'll find a way and that there is always a light somewhere ahead even if we don't see it sometimes. I first wrote it several years ago and did not really have a place for it at the time, either on an album or for use in some situation. But I kept returning to it and last year having discussed it with some friends, I decided it could be a perfect track for Eurovision. It is very traditional in the sense of the Eurovision ballad style and when my friend Žiga Pirnat, who is a very talented music composer and arranger, suggested the orchestral arrangement, I knew that the song had become something special."
Is it true Green Day inspired you to get into music? Are you a fan of punk rock then?
"Completely true. The first time I heard the song 'Basket Case', I was mesmerized. That was exactly what was missing from my life up until then. Powerful, melodic rock music. It made me decide to be a songwriter and have my own band immediately. Later on I sure got to discover new bands and artist, but they were the ones to have dragged me into music in the first place."
After Eurovision what plans have you got?
"I am writing many new songs and revisiting old ones so perhaps it is time to get to work on selecting them for my next album which I hope will be available later in 2017. I want to continue to perform both solo and with my excellent band in Slovenia and beyond. And, a holiday might be nice too :-)"
Representing Eurovision 2017 for Switzerland was Timebelle, a pop trio who were a sextet when they attempted to enter Eurovision 2015, but failed to do so having placed second in the finals of the Swiss national selection.
Switzerland won the first Eurovision edition back in 1956 with Lys Assia's song "Refrain" and then the 1988 edition with Canada's Céline Dion and her song "Ne partez pas sans moi".
Switzerland were runners-up in 1958, 1963 and 1986.
Sadly Switzerland did not win Eurovision 2017, which was won by Portugal. However we still spoke to Timebelle about their Eurovision experience.
Timebelle, firstly how does it feel performing at the Eurovision Song Contest?
"It's a great honour and privilege to represent Switzerland at Eurovision. We see it as a great opportunity to meet extraordinary talented people, producers, performers, show-business people who we can learn so much from."
Switzerland has won Eurovision twice, will you make it three?
"I think we have [made] good changes to get to the final. However, it all depends on many things that we cannot control ourselves."
Surely this has to be your biggest performance to date? Who would you liken your music to?
"Our aim is to make Switzerland proud again. It would be fantastic if we went to the final (Sadly they placed 12th in the semi-final). Ideally it would be to get a good spot or even win. But the most important thing, at the end of the day is to able to look at yourself in the mirror after you've finished your performance and say "hey, you did a great job, be proud.""
Is it easy being a musician in Switzerland (what challenges are there)? After Eurovision what plans have you got?
"We are already developing an idea that we had 2 years ago and is growing on us more and more every day. After Eurovision is over and we will be able to focus on our further projects we are absolutely planning on releasing this track as soon as possible."
Yet another Eurovision hopeful, this time it's Austrian entry Zoë who faces the questions about her career, Eurovision chances and the like. Although she is 19 years old, she has already released a debut album simply entitled 'Debut' and her Eurovision song 'Loin d'ici' comes directly from said album.
Despite her being Austrian she opted to sing in French, which in itself is quite unique but not as unique as her music per se. Yet for such a young musician, to see her album reached #5 in the Austrian charts is remarkable, so we're yet to see what she can really offer us. Previously she attempted to represent Austria last year but only managed third place, so to see her win this time and head to Sweden in May is a fairy tale come true.
As Zoë looks ahead to her inaugural Eurovision performance at the first semi final, GMA wants to stress that only ten countries can progress from each of the two semi-finals and join the big 5 (UK, Italy, Spain, France & Germany) plus Sweden. The last time Austria won the Eurovision Song Contest was back in 2014 when Conchita Wurst set the world alight with her infectious 'Rise Like A Phoenix' and just like ABBA, became a success overnight. Last year Austria qualified for the final only to finish the final on nul points, so Zoë will almost certainly want to avoid the same fate - perhaps even going on to win Eurovision for Austria for the third time!
For Zoë, she is is "really happy and grateful" to be representing Austria at the Eurovision Song Contest 2016, adding that it is also "like a dream is come true", so clearly she is looking forward to it. Now clearly participants have their own ways of preparing for special occasions like this, more importantly is how to contain their excitement, so how did she do this when learning the news that she had won the 'Wer singt für Österreich' competition?
Well for her "it was so overwhelming! You know, it was the second attempt and I could not believe it..it took some time until I realized it!", of course this is just one of the hurdles till Eurovision and the biggest hurdle yet to jump over is the Semi-Final, so with last year's result for Austria being abysmal, is she nervous or excited about the prospect of overturning Austria's misfortune? "I am excited, I can’t hardly wait to be in Stockholm and to perform on stage. Well, yes there is some pressure, of course, but I will do my best and I am really motivated to make my country proud".
To help Zoë get into the Finals, if you are able to vote in the semi-final (only France, Sweden or Spain), then send your vote her way. Your vote can make the difference to whether she makes the final or goes home. Check out her song below:-
What with Eurovision welcoming new countries over the years, some not geographically European such as Israel and Morocco and some like Australia who despite are in this edition, were invited as a guest last year, can we see more non-traditional countries entering?
Well Kazakhstan applied for EBU membership, so we might see them next year. But what does Zoë think about this expansion?
"I think it’s great that Australia participates again and it would be awesome to see other non European countries participating, too. I mean the Eurovision Song Contest is followed by millions of people and has fans all over the world. I could imagine to see Asian countries and countries from Latin America bringing their music on the Eurovision stage, why not?"
Well this year China tried to apply but was denied by the EBU, what with Zoë wanting to see Asian and Latin American countries taking part, along with Iceland's Greta wanting the Faroe Islands to participate, it would seem that the Eurovision Board will need to consider these wishes because clearly there is opportunities to push and market the Eurovision brand worldwide.
Naturally Eurovision enables bands and artists to showcase their wonderful songs and rejoice in unison through music, speaking of which, what does Zoë's song 'Loin D'ici' mean? Well simply put it "is a song about a journey to an imaginary paradise – a place where everyone is happy singing and dancing. It’s not a physical place, more a state of mind. The song is meant to radiate positive vibes to put a smile on the faces of those who listen to it!"
So does Zoë have any parting words? Of course!
"Hey dear readers! I'm really looking forward to the Eurovision 2016 and I cant wait to be on stage and sing Loin d'ici for you! If you like my song and feel happy after listening to it, then of course, I'd be honoured if you vote for me! Kisses from Austria, your ZOË."
Eurovision Semi-Final dates:-
#1 - 10th May
#2 - 12th May
The ESC 2016 Final is on the 14th May.
As Iceland's Greta Salóme looks ahead to her inaugural Eurovision performance at the first semi final, GMA decided it was time to turn the interrogation spotlight onto her. Remember only ten countries can progress from each of the two semi-finals and join the big 5 (UK, Italy, Spain, France & Germany) plus Sweden. Last year Iceland failed to qualify for the final for the first time, so Greta will almost certainly want to avoid the same fate - perhaps even going on to win Eurovision for Iceland for the first time ever!
Of course representing your country at Eurovision is such a huge privilege, and for Greta "It´s a once in a lifetime experience that I get to do for the second time so I´m very grateful and happy", her second time round has come about through her winning the Söngvakeppnin 2016 contest which ultimately determines who goes to represent Iceland at the ESC in each edition.
Although this news startled Greta, leaving her surprised and ecstatic, she is looking forward to and excited in joining the 'Eurovision bubble' (as Måns Zelmerlöw put it last year) expressing that she has faith in her song before adding that she "believes in the message behind it and I´m just excited to get that message out there and share my music with the world". Speaking of the world, we asked her what her thoughts of the likes of Australia participating once again, and whether the Eurovision should expand further afield, if so, who would she like to see join in the fun?
"The more the merrier! I´m really happy Australia is participating. It gives the contest even more diversity. I would love to see the Faroe Islands in the contest also. They have so many great musicians there. One of my favourite ones is Teitur."
The Faroe Islands have previously attempted to join the EBU in hopes of furthering their chances of Eurovision participation but have routinely denied due to their current status of being within the Danish Kingdom, which is slightly funny seeing as you have countries like Israel and Morocco who have been it and are not on the European continent yet are in the European Broadcasting area, funny no?
Portal, a Faroese media outlet posted about this news back in June 2015 and can be read here (non-Faroese/Danish readers should use Google translator): http://portal.fo/bjorn+kalso+limaskapur+i+eurovision+er+treytadur+av+at+landid+er+sjalvstodugt.html
Check out Greta's official music video for the Icelandic entry 'Hear Them Calling' below:
For Greta, 'Hear Them Calling' carries an important meaning and message:-
"The message of the song is that we should not listen to the negative voices and influences that we are so exposed to in today´s society. Instead we should focus on the positive voices and be a positive voice to others because they are the ones that will lead you where you need to go."
This resonates within the notion that music should be considered a form of positivity, that we can relate to songs and place them in context with our daily lives, be it pop, rock, metal, electronic music or whatever, music speaks to us and in relation to Greta's song 'Hear Them Calling', as she said we should be concentrating on "the positive voices and be a positive voice to others because they are the ones that will lead you where you need to go", safe to say Iceland's entry is more than just a song, it's a personal statement and it's this type of song that we reckon will finish in the top 5 in the finals... you read it, THE FINALS.
Post-Eurovision, Greta's activities don't stop there as she heads back to Disney in June where she has a contract with them performing on board the Disney cruise ship (which travels between Florida and The Bahamas) "and then will be travelling and performing until September and then it´s concerts throughout the year and new material. So it´s gonna be a big year." So we may yet see Greta reach the UK shores, here is an artist who has an agenda in check, she may well be one of Disney's and Iceland's princesses, but she has the potential to become the Eurovision Song Contest 2016 Queen.
Greta has a message to send out to her fans and fans of Eurovision:-
"Lets now let the negative voices bring us down and listen to the positive voices and be a positive voice to others!"
Eurovision Semi-Final dates:-
#1 - 10th May
#2 - 12th May
The ESC 2016 Final is on the 14th May.
We're always looking to draw in new elements into what we do, this time we spoke to a star-to-be, you might not have heard of her just yet, but she has a good career in the making on the horizon.
We speak of course of Becca B, one of R&B's hottest properties, so hot we think she's metal enough to deserve the coverage by us! Becca B supported Gareth Gates and Stacey Solomon and so you would think this would be the perfect start to any music career in the mainstream, however Becca admits that she was slightly nervous at the time in question:
"I was so giddy when I came to being on the same stage as Gareth but didn't really bother me with Stacey. I actually didn't stay and watch her, plus she arrived late! All I was thinking watching Gareth was that's going to be me one day".
Of course during life we all make decisions that can either be straightforward or so hard and difficult to apprehend that we don't know what to think, so when Becca shifted from playing football to singing, she reiterated her passion for football and despite her drawbacks when she was 18 she remained determined to achieve something life. Regarding playing football (and at a charity match; let's hope someone reads this who wants her on their side), Becca shared her thoughts on it:-
"I never really achieved anything major with it as I had a kid at 18, so couldn't go on to play for anyone major but having to give football up was where I needed to be to knuckle down on my career. Yes of course I would play a charity match that would be awesome!"
Music connects with us and we connect with the musicians, but a compromise has to be met according to Becca in terms of how musicians use social media, it's becoming harder yet ironically easier as well, "it’s great to interact with fans and answer questions but so hard to get a reply back from radio papers etc, they just seem to ignore it! Lol", but naturally social media has enabled musicians to share their music to an international audience; potential at that, so of course Becca's new single 'Ready & Waiting' would surely act as the catalyst for her exposure.
After all it featured MceBisi who Becca regards as a "cool and an awesome artist" and one who she'd love to collaborate with again, currently she's "working on new material, but I really want ‘Ready and Waiting’ to be heard, it's different, easy listening and so catchy!" (we couldn't disagree), clearly Becca has vision in mind so take note, this lass isn't giving up anytime soon!
‘Ready and Waiting’ without any doubt has given Becca a boost in confidence following comments made about the song, especially when "a lot have said they can't get it out of their head", clearly it is loved, whether it be because of the music or the lyrics that Becca wrote for it. Her inspirations are drawn from her own experiences, emphasizing that it makes "the lyrics fresh, it's good to offer something different".
Becca goes on to confess her love for Olly Murs, adding that not only is he cool but also that she loves most music genres, as for R&B if it is listened to both musically and lyrically it is just as good, if not better!". Of course music borrows elements from all types, metal from classical for example. She confesses she want's to do a music video for ‘Ready and Waiting’ and Eurovision, adding "once I get a feel for how well the songs doing! And most definitely hell yeah I would defo do Eurovision!"
Becca wishes to thank:-
"Electric Bear Records both Simon and Jared have been so good helping me produce this track and I’m sure I do Jared’s head in, I’m constantly on the phone! I wanna say a massive thank you to all my fans for sticking by me in all the decisions and directions I’VE been taking and hope they all like "Ready and Waiting" also to my family and friends for their support and hello to all my new fans!"
"Ready and Waiting" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kWHkGrkvlw
It is that time of year again and Eurovision is already in full swing, with yesterday's semi-final seeing Montenegro and San Marino go through to the final for the first time in Eurovision history. Furthermore they snatched those two places from countries that you would have expected to go through without any doubt, they are Portugal and Belgium.
But our attention towards Malta, whose entry Firelight employs a unique mix of folk, country and pop music that ultimately is overshadowed by the interesting fact that four of the members are all family members. Moreover front-man Richard Edwards has had his own stint performing across the UK by performing alongside the likes of Leona Lewis, Ray Quinn and more as he had entered the X Factor competition, getting applauds from Simon Cowell and making it into the last 80 before joining the rock band Cast Away, before heading back to Malta in 2009.
Rhys Stevenson managed to catch up with Firelight and talk to them about their Eurovision endeavors, their entry 'Coming Home' and the Maltese Folk Music scene. Answers by Richard Edwards, front-man of Firelight.
Eurovision is "lots of fun and millions of viewers".
Hey guys, so first off how does it feel to represent Malta in the Eurovision Song Contest 2014?
It's a very good feeling. As individuals we have entered the Malta finals several times, but as a band it was fantastic to finally win. We are proud to be proud to be representing Malta in Copenhagen.
And so how did you all meet, and did you all have the same aspirations?
Well four of us are family members -- three brothers and a sister. Two good friends of ours make up the rest of Firelight. We all have a tremendous passion for music.
So how did you all get into music and who inspires you?
Our Dad is a famous singer in Malta. We were brought up in a house full of music. I have many musical heroes from Johnny Cash to Sir Paul McCartney.
And could you tell us in the UK a bit more about the Maltese Folk music scene?
We've tried to create a sound that mixes folk music with rock and pop. It's fusion music. It's proving popular in Malta. We just hope the rest of Europe likes it too.
Now what do you think of the UK entry this year?
It's good. It's a great song and we like hanging out with Molly too. I had my own UK experience when I took part in X Factor. Simon Cowell gave me the thumbs up and I had the pleasure of performing at boot camp with the likes of Leona Lewis.
Please tell us a bit about your song 'Coming Home'?
There was a personal story behind me writing it. It's very much about overcoming difficulties. But I think it will mean different things to different people. All the Poles, Czechs, Latvians etc in the UK know what it's like to be away from family for months at a time. Hopefully, 'Coming Home' will mean something to them.
Finally are there any greetings you wish to send out? Any thank you's?
We love the UK. Our Mum is from Yorkshire. So vote for us and we promise to come to the UK to give you all a big kiss.
Catch Firelight tomorrow night performing in the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 semi-final number two at 8:00PM (GMT) on BBC3 (or your broadcaster linked here). VOTE FOR MALTA!!!!!
The Alternative music interview page features interviews from Eurovision entries to other non-metal music entities.
Eurovision Song Contest