Things We Learned By Reading the Bios of the 2017 Eurovision Participants

It’s time once again to comb through the bios of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest participants to discover the little nuggets of trivia that will enhance our enjoyment of their performances. Or at least to find out which acts truly intend to bring the Nordic metropolitan charm.

  • Isaiah (Australia) comes from a family of 11 siblings. Getting attention from mom don’t come easy!
  • Marta (Czech Republic) is “an extreme goat cheese lover.” We prefer to think that “extreme” is describing the type of goat cheese she likes.
  • Before a performance Koit Toome (Estonia) has “a habit of walking around the room in a specific, yet peculiar way.” Meanwhile, Laura says that “her favorite way to treat herself is on a Sunday morning with her grandma’s pancake recipe.” Below, Koit is sad he did not get an invite.

  • Alma (France) says she needs to receive a “love dose” before she goes onstage, which means she randomly hugs people and not what you thought she meant.
  • Germany’s entry for the Eurovision Song Contest 2017 is the perfect liaison of Nordic metropolitan charm, a husky voice of international class, and a song that will delight Europe.” Also it is “a contagious, border-crossing pop hymn for a modern Europe.” Boy, that song sounds amazing! We wonder why Germany replaced it with “Perfect Life.”
  • Despite being an award-winning singer, Demy (Greece) is “a diligent law student” in her free time. Always prepare for a second career in case your first one goes all MC Hammer.
  • “Believer, fighter, singer, dreamer, father and Samurai – these are the many faces of Joci Papai (Hungary).” In the movie version of his life, he will be played by Tony Randall.
  • Svala’s (Iceland) lucky routine before a performance? “I bathe myself in unicorn tears and take a shot of snow on fire.” Svala’s awesome, y’all.
  • Francesco Gabbani (Italy) says, “As for the ape, she’s happy. She adores being on stage.” Like many Eurovision legends before him, Francesco Gabbani is challenging our preconceived notions of gender!
  • Arturs, the guitarist for Triana Park (Latvia), is “one of the best baristas of Latvia,” which as we all know is an underrated skill in the music industry. Also, the band’s favorite food is “banana pancakes with Nutella.” They need to come with us to visit Laura from Estonia on a Sunday morning!
  • The music of Fusedmarc (Lithuania) “is not an experiment but a fusion of maturity, true emotions, and inspiring energy.” It sounds like Fusedmarc is a bit tired of people saying their music is an experiment.
  • “A unique voice. A million emotions. A girl next door by day and glamorous diva by night with a passion for music and life. That’s how Claudia Faniello, Malta’s representative in the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest, has been described.” By herself.
  • Setting aside the levity here, we feel that Sunstroke Project (Moldova) could use some advice on how to pick the right headshot. We recommend they pay particular attention to points one, two, and seven.

  • “Artist. Theatre. Music. Movies. TV series. TV media. X Factor. One man show. Vegetarian. Cosmopolitan. Those few words describe the diversity of Slavko Kalezić (Montenegro).” You may be surprised to learn Slavko has a background in drama. In 2009, he “started a masters in acting where he perfected movement as an important tool in 21st century theatre.” He doesn’t say if he finished it.
  • OG3NE’s (Netherlands) name comes from the Vol sisters’ mother’s blood type. They’ve got the same type blood. Type O.
  • Jimmie Wilson (San Marino) says, “Eurovision is important to me as a singer because you reach a multi-million international audience with ONE performance!” Not on Logo, you don’t. Anyway, he must not like San Marino’s chances to qualify.
  • Omar Naber (Slovenia) says, “I have been saving this song for ten years. I have been saving it for a special occasion.” Only the ten years?
  • Manel Navarro (Spain) says, and we quote verbatim from the Eurovision website, “I’m an honest and natural guy, , I write my own songs…. and I look good on camera!” He could use an editor though.
  • Robin Bengtsson (Sweden) entered Swedish Idol and “literally blew the judges away with his soulful and mature voice.” It’s amazing they let him on the show after he literally blew the judges away. The insurance risk alone must have been staggering.
  • Timebelle (Switzerland) says, “We don’t try to be impressive.” Noted.

Things I Learned By Reading the Bios of the 2015 Eurovision Participants

A new year, a new contest, and we have combed through the bios of this year’s Eurovision entrants so you don’t have to. I tell ye thar be gold in them hills. Here’s what we learned.

  • Geneology’s (Armenia) pre-stage ritual is to “hold hands and say random Armenian words.”  Then they go out and sing random Armenian melodies.
  • Guy Sebastian (Australia) is “obsessed with water.” We are too, it’s our favorite Bulgarian entry! Also, he gets pumped up for a performance by watching the fight scene from Rocky IV. Eye of the tiger, baby.
  • Uzari and Maimuna’s (Belarus) common bond is their shared love of the Lord of the Rings. Guess that explains the video.
  • Loïc Nottet (Belgium) hates mosquitos.
  • Elnur (Azerbaijan) has experimented “with different music styles such as classic, jazz and pop.” And in the 2008 contest he sang all three styles at once.
  • John Karayiannis (Cyprus) hails from Limassol, and explains that “when he was a kid he’d listen to Eminem & Linkin Park, and even Metallica.” Yes, but did he listen to Maxïmo Park?
  • The mission of Anti-Social Media (Denmark) “is to revive the simple and happy spirits of bands such as The Beatles.” We’ve noticed no other band in Denmark is doing that. It seems like they’re addressing a need.
  • Molly Sterling (Ireland) has a donkey at home who is 50 years old. His name is Mick. Mick the Donkey.
  • Elina Born (Estonia) is a “surprisingly skillful rapper.” There needs to be a “Goodbye to Yesterday” remix that displays this surprising skill.
  • If there was any doubt that Nina Sublatti (Georgia) used to model, take a look at her totally fierce press photos.
  • Maria Elena (Greece) says of her song “I co-wrote it in a period of my life that was very intense emotionally and I think the melody reflects how I felt at the time.” Oh man, that was one messed up relationship.
  • According to Boggie (Hungary), High quality pop = pop + jazz + French chanson + country + folk + classical. Words of wisdom you can take to the bank.
  • I am shocked, SHOCKED to learn that María Ólafsdóttir (Iceland) played Louisa Von Trapp in the Sound of Music and regards the movie as “one of her all-time favourites.”
  • Il Volo (Italy) appeared on the final episode of HBO’s Entourage as the Singing Aquamen.
  • Polina Gagarina (Russia) is a mom of a 7-year old, Andrei. She lost 30kg after giving birth.
  • Anita Simoncini & Michele Perniola (San Marino) are “the youngest duet in the history of Eurovision Song Contest. They are 32 years old combined!” Meanwhile, Ralph Siegel, their song’s composer, entered his first Eurovision song 39 years ago.
  • Mick the Donkey, you guys. Mick the Donkey.
  • Mélanie René (Switzerland) is originally from Mauritius. She discovered that one of her ancestors was an Indian princess who married a French captain.
  • Bojana Stamenov (Serbia) loves to travel and “in the future would like to visit France because of art and food, Ireland because of wonderful landscapes and beer, America because of blues, cowgirls, bikers, Chicago, musicals, Las Vegas…”  I hope she realizes all those things are not in one place. Or maybe she really just wants to go to Vegas. She also knits.
  • In their bio, Maraaya (Slovenia) answer the question “What’s with the headphones?” They explain, “Marjetka started to use her studio headphones on stage since she wanted to evoke the same emotions she felt in the studio while recording. The headphones became their trademark.” Actually, that’s helpful information, but the real question on our minds is “what’s with the wedding dress?” That remains unanswered.
  • Edurne (Spain) informs us that she won the music impersonation show Your Face Sounds Familiar (Tu Cara Me Suena). Further research revealed that on the show Edurne imitated Alicia Keys, Axl Rose(!), Annie Lennox, Pink, Shakira, Lady Gaga, Shania Twain, Mika, Christina Aguilera, Evanescence, and the Cranberries, among others. Her best performance? Leona Lewis. She also did a mean Beyoncé.
  • As a teenager Måns Zelmerlöw (Sweden) “noticed that older girls appreciated his vocal ability.” Måns, a comment like that reveals more than may have been intended.
  • Electro Velvet (United Kingdom) would like you to know that their song is a “real ear worm.” I’m glad they mentioned that, because I wouldn’t have been able to figure that out just by listening to it.

Things I Learned From Reading the Bios of the 2013 Eurovision Participants

The entrant bios are up at the Eurovision website and are a fount of information and insight. Well, not really, but here are some pieces of trivia that amused us.

  • Estonia’s Birgit Õigemeel is pregnant.  We already knew that, but we didn’t know that the composer of “Et Uus Saaks Alguse,” Mihkel Mattisen, was also expecting his first. Is there something in the water in Tallinn?
  • Slovenia’s Hannah informs us that she has performed with the “highly acclaimed” American group Haute Chile. That’s nice. Who? [A quick Google search informs me that Haute Chile is available for weddings and corporate events.]
  • Three of the 6 singers in Croatia’s Klapa s mora said they had a “happy childhood” and additional two had a “lovely childhood.” Now I feel bad for the other one…
  • Denmark’s Emmelie de Forest descends from Queen Victoria and the Hapsburgs.  Well, sheesh, Chris descends from Buffalo Bill Cody but you don’t see him bragging about it.
  • Ukraine’s Zlata Ognevich… There’s just so much, I don’t know where to begin. You know what, please just pause for a minute and head over to Eurovision’s website to read her bio. I’ll wait for you. The link is here.

Okay, let’s continue.

  • Montenegro’s Who See won MTV’s Adriatic Act of the year in 2012, and yet band member Dedduh also has a job as a salesman in a toy store. It’s tough being a musician in Montenegro. The upside is that the toy store keeps him in touch with today’s youth.
  • Belarus’s Alyona Lanskaya was the winner of USA’s “Atlantic Breeze 2010″ festival. I had no idea what that was. Turns out that “Atlantic Breeze” is an international festival sponsored by MaksTV, a fledgling Russian-language TV network based out of Miami. To put this in perspective, we have access to over 500 channels through our cable provider, including several Russian language channels. MaksTV isn’t one of them. It seems that MaksTV was exclusively carried by the satellite provider Dish Network as part of their Russian programming package in 2010 but were dropped from Dish’s line up later that same year.
  • Latvia’s PeR is asking Eurovision voters to stop thinking in the category ‘Is this suitable for Eurovision?’ and start thinking in the category ‘Is this good music?’  Oh PeR, when it comes to your song I think many Eurovision voters will do just that, but I’m not sure that you’ll like their answer.
  • Azerbaijan’s Farid Mammadov tells us in his bio he has “effortlessly proven that he is one of the finest vocalists in Azerbaijan.”  If your reference point is Nikki, who am I to argue?
  • Finland’s Krista Siegfrids’ Twitter hashtag #TeamDingDong is referenced no less than 3 times in her bio. She really wants you to follow her on Twitter.
  • Malta’s Gianluca is a medical doctor by profession, fronts a band at night, but he’s also a singer in his prayer group, and does charity work with children. Is this not the guy your mom told you to marry?
  • Iceland’s Eyþór Ingi hails from Dalvík, a small fishing town of 1,400 people in Northern Iceland. He tells us that Dalvík is also the birthplace of Friðrik Ómar of Euroband and Matti Matt. And Erna Hrönn and Hera Björk have also lived there for a time. Okay, we’re sold. We are totally visiting Dalvík when we do our Iceland trip. [Perhaps we can time our visit around Fiskidagurinn mikli, so we can partake in the free fish buffet?]
  • I’m sure this will come as a surprise to no one, but Led Zeppelin is a big influence on Armenia’s Dorians.
  • Hungary’s ByeAlex holds a master’s degree in philosophy, and his bio is thoughtfully written.
  • Albania’s Adrian Lulgjuraj has a law degree. Bledar Sejko offers this sobering thought: though he is 42, it wasn’t always possible for him to play rock music in communist Albania in his younger years.
  • Romania’s Cezar is known throughout Romania as Cezar The Voice. His list of credits and collaborations would persuade anyone that he has a legitimate classical music pedigree.
  • For the UK, Bonnie Tyler’s husband Robert Sullivan competed for Team GB in the 1972 Olympics (judo).

Things I Learned From the Bios of the 2012 Eurovision Entrants

As always, the bios that Eurovision entrants submit to Eurovision.tv are a fount of information about our contestants.  We here at EuroLemur have combed through them all. Here’s what I have learned:

Austria: Trackshittaz hope to “get not only Austria but all of Europe dancing with their boisterously youthful impetuosity.” Boisterously youthful impetuosity. Pretty literate for two guys from the sticks, eh? Their genre is “tractor gangster party rap.” Cuz girls think their tractor’s sexy.

Azerbaijan: Sabina Babayeva is a whirlwind of adjectives. She describes her music style as “striking but gentle, smooth yet powerful, emotional and appealing,” her vocals are “strong and groovy,” not to mention her “outstanding artistic charisma” and “huge experience.” Has she been reading Alexey Vorobiov’s bio?

Belgium: Iris is 17 years old, and according to her bio “She had been dreaming of singing at the Eurovision Song Contest since her childhood.” So she’s been dreaming of singing at Eurovision for 3 months?

Bulgaria: Other entrants take notice: “Sofi Marinova is an artist used to compete in song festivals and win them!” Loreen and the Babushki had better watch their backs.

Cyprus: Ivi Adamou has a Christmas album. It went gold. I find this information unsettling.

Denmark: Soluna Samay has performed as a busker since age 6. She found that wearing the General’s hat increased her cash flow.

Finland: According to Pernilla Karlsson, “När Jag Blundar was written for my mother… The song expresses gratitude for motherly love and understanding.” The song was written by her brother. <3 🙂

France: Anggun claims to be “the world’s most-played French-language singer.” Because David Guetta records in English.

Georgia: Anri Jokhadze has a 4 octave range. Thankfully he’s not using all of it during “I’m a joker.”

Greece: OMG, Eleftheria totally loves Eurovision! IKR?!

Iceland: Greta Salóme is a professional violinist in the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra. I wonder if doing Eurovision will help her move up to first chair?

Israel: Izabo describes itself as “a brilliant, action packed combination of Psychadelic Rock, Disco, Punk flavoured with Arabic spices.”

Italy: Nina Zilli tells us she “is a real tornado, a volcano.” Make up your mind, Nina, which one is it? Are we talking a waterspout or Kansas-style tornado like in The Wizard of Oz? Vesuvius? Mt. Saint Helens? Mauna Loa? What?!?

Romania. Mandinga is a mix of Cuban and Romanian musicians. Guess that explains why the Spanish sounded pretty good.

San Marino: Valentina Monetta has sung EVERY MUSIC GENRE KNOWN TO MAN. These include but are not limited to “Black Music vocals (R&B, Soul, Funky, Acid Jazz),” Hip Hop, jazz, bossa nova, bebop, Italian music, yé-yé (thanks to her work with Sylvie Vartan), and of course pop.

Serbia: Željko Joksimović was born on April 30, 1972. Hey, he’s older than us! (Barely!)

Slovakia: Max Jason Mai is a vegetarian and he doesn’t wear clothes made from leather because “he wouldn’t want to be a handbag either.”

Sweden: Loreen is not on Facebook. Valentina kept trying to friend her.

Switzerland: Sinplus wrote “Shoot,” “a track that became one of the official anthems of the 2009 World Hockey Championships.” Exactly how many anthems of the 2009 World Hockey Championships are there?

Ukraine: Gaitana is an “Official Friend of UEFA Euro 2012.” Good for her, but UEFA should be put on notice because “Official Friend” sounds seriously wrong.

United Kingdom: According to his bio, in the heyday of the late ’60s and early ’70s, Englebert Humperdinck “drove female fans wild.” It just goes to show, you do learn something new every day.

Things I Learned From the Bios of the Eurovision Entrants

An exciting night I know, but because we are providing a service to you, gentle reader, I spent my Saturday night reading through the bios submitted by this year’s Eurovision Song Contest entrants so you don’t have to.  Here’s what I have learned:

  • Poland’s Magdalena Tul and Belarus’s Anastasiya Vinnikova are the same person.
  • Albania’s Aurela Gace is NOT over 40.
  • Russia’s Alexej Vorobjov (note: YET ANOTHER SPELLING) describes himself as  “charismatic,” “great,” “incredible,” “rising star,” and “extraordinary.” He also has “high work ethics” and has won “every singing and dancing competition he ever entered.” He also cares about the children. I’d like to think that this is just overcompensating for limited English (there were several grammatical errors in his bio) or the work of the mad Head of the Russian delegation. I really hope his ego isn’t that big.
  • Finland’s Paradise Oskar’s Eurovision song was something he made up in improv, and the lyrics are meant to be ironic. He entered it in the Finnish competition just to get feedback and was stunned when he found out it was selected for the show. Ok, that is a good story, and it makes me like him a lot more. Still can’t stand the song though.
  • Iceland’s Matthias Matthiasson of Sjonni’s Friends “provides the comic relief.” There’s a shocker.
  • Greece’s Stereo Mike is a Senior Lecturer in the Music Department of the University of Westminster in London. We’ll be calling him Professor Stereo Mike from now on.
  • Bosnia & Herzogovina’s Dino Merlin wrote the lyrics to the Bosnia & Herzogovina national anthem.
  • Ukraine’s Mika Newton traveled to LA where she met “famous musician” and “legendary producer” Randy Jackson. She’s also “extremely talented and brilliant,” and is known in Ukraine as “the Queen of Soundtracks” because she has sung “in commercial videos for such products as Hubba Bubba and others.”
  • Bulgaria’s Poli Genova made Beyonce cry. It must have been a big deal for her, because she mentions it twice in her bio. Actually, that is pretty cool.
  • Denmark’s A Friend in London is big in Canada. Not to cast aspersions on Canada, but I wouldn’t exactly call that a ringing endorsement.