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It’s Time to Open Up to Eurovision (Part III: Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, and Israel)

Welcome to another round of Time to Open Up to Eurovision! If you are new to this series, I talk about the Eurovision each year from March to May as I feature each country’s song. For the other contestants, check out Part I (Australia, Belarus, Ireland, and Lithuania) and Part II (North Macedonia, Slovenia, Sweden, and Azerbaijan).

Enjoy the third part of the series! Listen to the songs below and let me know what you think of them in the comments!

Before We Start

As you have known, the new coronavirus, named as COVID-19, is currently a worldwide pandemic. Countries have ordered shutdowns; preventing people from going outside and canceling events. Because of this, the EBU announced that they are canceling this year’s contest in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Statement by EBU about canceling Eurovision 2020

As much it saddens Eurovision fans to see this beloved contest canceled, it is understandable. Sure, there are many alternatives for holding the contest, but I don’t think it is the time to talk about “what ifs” when the world (especially most of Europe) is deeply affected by the pandemic right now.

It is unsure right now if Rotterdam, Netherlands will host Eurovision next year as the city couldn’t host it. Also, some artists have been told by their host country tone of three things: they can be in next year’s Eurovision, be able to participate in the National Selection competition (which happens in each country to find each representative), or they aren’t coming back next year. As of right now, a majority of artists haven’t reported if they are coming back or not as of right now, only like three or four have.

When EBU announced the cancellation, I debated if I wanted to continue this series or not. I decided, in the end, to remove my predictions and just feature each artist and their songs as they may not come back next. Even for those who already confirmed they are coming back next year, those artists might have a different song.

So enjoy the rest of the series!

What is Eurovision?

(Here is a brief summary of I wrote in Part I. If you want a more detailed description of the competition, check the first post out.)

Eurovision is a singing contest that features different performers from countries in Europe and Australia. The competition started by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) in 1956 as a way to bring light entertainment to war-torn Europe. The idea was a mixture of experimenting with live television — technology that was in the infant stage at the time — and Sanremo Music Festival in Italy. This was a huge feat at the time as each country’s broadcaster didn’t initially think EBU could air a live broadcast of the music competition all over Europe at the same time.

Belgium: “Release Me” by Hooverphonic

I told you in the last post that one artist was the most veteran act in this year’s Eurovision. Boy, I was wrong when I came across with Hooverphonic. This trip-hop band started in 1995, so almost 25 years ago! They have released many albums, appeared in various forms of media and on stages around Europe, and has an ever-changing lineup, mostly with the vocalist.

Vocalist Liesje Sadonius reminds of a softer version of Gwen Stefani when she was in No Doubt. Although I love Liesje Sadonius’s calm vocals, I originally thought that this song wasn’t going to make it into the finals. It’s a nice song, but I don’t think it had the “wow factor” that past Eurovision finalists had (see Damir Kedžo down below). Sure, “Release Me” is a great song and deserves to be a single, but it is too soft and doesn’t have that wow factor to win Eurovision.

Croatia: “Divlji vjetre” by Damir Kedžo

Damir Kedžo was supposed to represent his home country of Croatia with the song “Divlji vjetre” (Wild Wind). Kedžo got his musical start when he appeared on the show Story Supernova Music Talents in 2003. Shortly after that, he was in a boy band for a year or so. He finally went solo in 2006 with the song “Ki bi sad reke”.

I really like “Divlji vjetre” because of Kedžo’s vocal tone. It is very strong from the beginning and never changes or falters during the whole song. His vocal emulates various emotions, like passion, which encaptivate listeners. Finally, check out that slide at the end of the song. All I have to say is Wow!

Because of his encaptivating vocal tones and his amazing talent, Kedžo was going to make a great finalist.

Cyprus: “Running” by Sandro

Sandro Nicolas, or Alessandro Rütten, is a Greek-German singer that got his start on season 8 of The Voice of Germany. He didn’t win the competition, but it didn’t end his potential music career. The singer had another chance as he was going to represent Cyprus in this year’s Eurovision.

If you like Justin Bieber or Shawn Mendes (which Nicolas sang for his audition on The Voice of Germany), then you will love “Running”. But, because it sounds like a modern song from any type of male artist in the current music world, I didn’t think that “Running” would’ve helped Nicolas advance to the finals. It’s a good listen, but it doesn’t have that “wow” factor as it sounds like a generic male artist song.

Israel: “Feker libi” (ፍቅር ልቤ) by Eden Alene

I was really sad that Eurovision 2020 was canceled because I really wanted to see Eden Alene perform “Feker libi” (My beloved) live. It is such a fun song! Eurovision always has that one song that will make everyone get up and dance (see San Marino last year), and “Feker libi” was supposed to be this year’s party song! It is such a catchy song! But also, I imagined the Eurovision performance was going to be like the video but much grander: more confetti, colorful costumes, and more fun added.

Eden Alene is an Israeli who was born to Ethiopian-born Jewish parents. She got her start in the music world when won the third season of The X Factor Israel in 2017. She released her first single, entitled “Believe”, afterward. She also has started to appear in musical productions like Little Shop of Horrors.

By the way: “Feker libi” is sung in four languages: English, Amharic, Hebrew, and Arabic.

Which song is your favorite? Comment below!

And, since I have a lot of travel bloggers and readers from the world who visit this blog, what are your favorite memories or sites in Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, and Israel? Let me know in the comments below.

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