Thursday 23 March 2017

Eurovision - everything you need to know about the first semi-final contenders

Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Russia
Russia
Romani
Georgia
Hungary
Greece
Moldova
Serbia
The Netherlands
Belgium
Denmark
Estonia
Macedonia
Finland
Albania
Armenia
Belarus

The first Eurovision Song Contest semi-final kicks off tonight at 8pm for two hours of music and madness.

Sixteen countries are vying to get through to the final which takes place on Saturday May 23 in Vienna, Austria.

Ireland's entry featuring Molly Sterling, is placed in the second semi-final on Thursday night, but here's everything you need to know about her competition tonight - all the acts in order of appearance...

MOLDOVA

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SONG: I Want Your Love

Eduard Romanyuta was born in Ukraine but when the Ukraine pulled out of this year's competition he entered for Moldova instead, and won.

He's only 22 but has been performing since the age of 4, tried out for Eurovision four times and as if that's not enough, he runs his own record label and is 'working on his PhD thesis in tax policy of Ukraine in the context of European integration'.

Good news for admirers of Eduard as Eurovision tells us he "remains the most desirable bachelor and his heart is still free".

ARMENIA

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SONG: Face the Shadow.

Genealogy are six singers from Europe, America, Asia, Australia, Africa, and Armenia, who were selected by Armenia's equivalent of RTE. 

Eurovision tells us "They are united by the blood in their veins, which contains Armenian genetics, and by music as the universal language of the world".

As for their lucky routine before they go on stage, they say, "We hold hands and say random Armenian words."

BELGIUM

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SONG: Rhythm Inside

Loïc Nottet has composed the music, melody, choreography, co-designed the costumes, and basically oversaw the entire conception of his Eurovision entry.

He was a finalist in The Voice Belgiuque and signed to Sony.  When he covered Sia's hit Chandelier, she retweeted his cover to her almost 1m followers.

As for his pre-performance ritual, he says, "Concerning my ritual, I love regaining some strength by consulting the lucky stars" which we assume means he reads his horoscope.

THE NETHERLANDS

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SONG: Walk Along

Trijntje Oosterhuis is well known in The Netherlands as a member of the band Total Touch.  She has performed with Andrea Bocelli, Herbie Hancock, and Lionel Richie and has worked with Burt Bacharach.  She has also just released her new solo album this month.

"I’ve performed many times for the Royal Family, both privately and in public. When Princess Amalia was born, I even got to sing a song that was especially written for her." she reveals.

FINLAND

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SONG: Aina Mun Pitää

Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät (PKN) is a punk band that was formed in 2009 and are poised to release their Greatest Hits this month.

”The members of our band are four middle-aged, mentally handicapped men. The music is, of course, Finnish punk," member Sami Helle explains.

As for their lucky routine before performing, they say, "We fight before and after the gig."

GREECE

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SONG: One Last Breath

Mum of three boys Maria Elena Kyriakou won The Voice of Greece last year and released an album in July.  She had started out at the age of 12 by winning the 1996 'child singer contest of Cyprus'.

Maria Elena likes to pray in a local church before she performs.

ESTONIA

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SONG: Goodbye to Yesterday

Acclaimed Estonian songwriter and producer Stig happened across Elina on YouTube where she caught his eye by singing Christina Aguilera's song Cruz.

Elina would like to travel to Africa to pet giraffes.  Stig would like to go to Antarctica.  Let's hope they can hang around long enough to perform tonight.  Stig has been waiting years to have this particular song of his performed at Eurovision.

FYR MACEDONIA

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SONG: Autumn Leaves

Daniel Kajmakoski is a Macedonian-born pop and rock singer, composer, songwriter, and guitar and piano player who was named after Daniel Popovic, who represented Yugoslavia it the 1983 Eurovision Song Contest. 

No pressure then Daniel. 

SERBIA

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SONG: Beauty Never Lies

Bojana Stamenov was a finalist of the show Serbia's Got Talent in 2012. She's a big travel fan and would like to visit Ireland "because of the wonderful landscapes and beer".

HUNGARY

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SONG: Wars for Nothing

Hungarian pop star Boggie's music video of her song Nouveau Parfum has been viewed by more than 30 million people all around the world.  Her debut album, released in 2013, made it to 3rd place on the Billboard jazz list and 17th place of the Billboard world music list. Her second album was released last year and this year she was nominated as Glamour Woman of the Year.

"I also truly believe that through music we can make the world a better place," she says.

BELARUS

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SONG: Time

Duo Uzari and Maimuna bonded over their shared love of Lord of the Rings.  She has released two albums, he has appeared in several Eurovisions as a backing vocalist and song co-writer.

RUSSIA

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SONG: A Million Voices

Singer songwriter Polina Gagarina is big in Russia where she has released two albums and is working on a third.  She also played 'a lead part in a movie' and is married to famous photographer Dmitry Iskhakov, and has a 7-year old son, Andrei.

An international team of writers worked on the song including Russians, Swedes and an Australian who lives in Berlin.

An impressive fact about her, she says, is that she lost 30kg after having a baby.

DENMARK

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SONG: The Way You Are

Anti Social Media is a pop/rock band inspired by sounds of the 60’s. They've only been a band for three months, two of them are just 19, and "we are actually active on social media, despite our name". 

Their pre-performance ritual involves, "A little drink of good old whisky, and warming up by jumping around to get the blood flowing!"

ALBANIA

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SONG: I'm Alive

Elhaida Dani won The Voice of Italy in 2013 and has been touring Italy performing on the same stage as artists including our very own Dolores O'Riordan, and Patti Smith.

ROMANIA

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SONG: De La Capat/ All Over Again

Romanian pop rock band Votaj have been troubling the charts in their home country for more than 20 years.  Last year the band started a campaign delecapat.ro (alloveragain) supporting children who are left behind as their parents find work abroad, and this is what their song is about.

GEORGIA

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SONG: Warrior

Nina Sublatti is a former model who has worked "with famous designers and photographers" who remain unnamed.  She won Georgian Idol and bagged herself a place in the London Institute of Music.

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