Eurovision 2019: it’s getting very close. With the days counting down until the competition’s final in Tel Aviv, Israel on 18th May, countries across the continent and beyond are revealing who will represent them on the biggest musical stage in Europe.
This year 42 countries will take part in the contest, with 26 of those performing in the final and hoping to succeed Netta as Eurovision champion.
Who is Michael Rice? 21-year-old Hartlepool resident Michael is probably best known for winning BBC talent show All Together Now in its first series, as well as appearances on ITV singing contest The X Factor.
Outside of his music Michael owns a waffle and milkshake business, and triumphed over five other acts to win the UK’s nomination in a revamped Eurovision: You Decide competition on Friday 8th February.
“I literally just came off the stage and honestly, I can’t believe I won,” Rice said shortly after winning the spot in the Eurovision final.
“I never in a million years thought I’d get the chance to do this experience, never mind win it.
“I’m really grateful for all my supporters out there who voted for me, and who’ve been there for me along this journey. Let’s do it! Let’s go to Tel Aviv and try and bring it home for us.”
Who is Bilal Hassani? 19-year-old singer and YouTuber Bilal Hassani first came to the country’s attention after performing on the French version of The Voice Kids, wowing judges with a cover of Rise Like a Phoenix by previous Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst.
He won France’s Destination Eurovision contest with the song Roi (King, in English), an anthem about accepting and embracing change while staying true to yourself.
Who is Jonida Maliqi? Jonida Maliqi is a huge household name – providing your household is in Albania. As well as hosting the country’s version of Dancing with the Stars, Maliqi also served as a coach of The Voice of Albania in 2016.
Her song, one of the first released ahead of this year’s contest, is Ktheju tokës (translating to English as “Return to the land”) after Maliqi won the country’s annual Festivali i Këngës (Festival of Songs). The Albanian lyrics refer to emigration and the Kosovo War.
Who is Kate Miller-Heidke? Although many in the UK were hoping Courtney Act would be representing Australia, the country opted instead for award-winning classical performer Kate Miller-Heidke. She’s a big deal down under, having released four studio albums and a greatest hits compilation.
Miller-Heidke’s song, Ze-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-ero Gra-a-a-a-a-a-a-avity, as she sings it, is a mix of EDM and opera. And it had some amazing(ly weird) staging during the national selection process: Miller-Heidke stood in giant raised dress while another woman flew around behind her on a large bendy pole.
Who is Eliot Vassamillet? Turning to The Voice Belgique to source their talent once again – a strategy Belgium have used three times in the past five years – 18-year-old Eliot will be singing for his country. His song is expected to be released in late February.
Who is Roko Blažević: Aged only 18, Roko is a star in the Balkans, having won Serbian singing competition Pinkove Zvezdice. He’s been dubbed the Croatian Michael Buble, but we can’t quite see Bubes opting for Roko’s staging during Croatia’s national selection process: he sang wearing some very, let’s say, unconvicing angel wings.
Who is Tamta? Georgian singer Tamta is a big star of the Greek world after finishing a runner-up on talent show Super Idol Greece. She’s released several albums and was a mentor on X Factor Georgia in 2014, and X Factor Greece in 2016.
Although we know the name of the song, Replay is yet to be released.
Who is Lake Malawi? Not to be confused with the lake in Tanzania, Lake Malawi is a Czech indie pop band that formed in 2013.
Their upbeat song Friend of a Friend is about – would you believe it – friendship. As the band explained to Czech radio: “The song is about a friendship, about the theory that it’s enough to have three or four friends to reach anybody in the whole world.” In other words, classic Eurovision.
Also, we highly recommend you listen out for lead singer Albert Černý’s attempt at a British accent about 40 seconds in the entry.
Who is Victor Crone? First thing you should know about him: he’s not Estonian, but Swedish. In fact, he tried to represent his home country in 2015, but lost out to eventual winner Mans Zelmerlo.
Interestingly, his song shares the name of the UK’s entry from last year, with SuRie performing Storm in 2018. Crone will be hoping to be doing a lot better than that performance – the UK finished 24th of out 26 after a stage invader stole SuRie’s microphone halfway through.
Who is Darude and Sebastian Rejmanm? Yes, it’s that Darude, the Finnish DJ famous for the 1999 hit Sandstorm. If you’re one of the few people who don’t recognise that tune, there’s a chance you might know his follow-up single Feel The Beat. Darude hasn’t been able to hit the heights of those two tracks since, but has released four studio albums and performed at festivals such as Tomorrowland.
For the 2019 contest, he’s pairing up with Sebastian Rejmanm, singer and guitarist of Finnish band The Giant Leap. Their single will be released closer to the contest.
Who is Katerine Duska? If you’re a fan of Amy Winehouse, there’s a good chance you’ll like the soulful Katerine Duska. The Greek-Canadian singer channels a dark sonic timbre that has earned her fame in her home country and online, Duska’s (brilliant) cover of Arctic Monkeys’ Do I Wanna Know having over a million views on YouTube.
Who is Michela Pace? Only aged 18, Michela won Malta’s first ever X Factor competition in January 2019. Her prize? Competing for her country at Eurovision 2019. We can’t see Simon Cowell taking this format to the UK version somehow.
Who is Tamara Todevska? Macedonian pop singer Tamara is no stranger to Eurovision, appearing as a backing singer for the Macedonian act in 2004 and competing in trio Tamara, Vrčak & Adrijan in 2008 (they failed to qualify for the final).
Fun fact: her sister Tijana Dapcevic also represented Macedonia in the 2014 competition, but also failed to qualify for the final. This isn’t uncommon for the country: they’ve only reached the Eurovision final once since 2012.
Who are D-Moll? Prepare yourself for some major cheese: this six-piece group –Tamara Vujacic, Mirela Ljumic, Zeljko Vukcevic, Ivana Obradovic, Emel Franca, Rizo Feratovic – and their entry is seriously ’90s.
However, instead of sitting on stools and stand up for the key change, D-Moll performed their entry standing on a giant music sheet during their national selection final. We can only hope they’ll repeat this again on Eurovision night.
Who is Duncan Laurence? If you’re a big fan of The Voice of Holland (who isn’t?) then you’ll recognise Duncan from the fifth season of the show, where he reached the semi-finals. His song will be unveiled at a later date.
Who are Tulia? Only one of the biggest names in traditional Polish folk music, a band who performed at FRYDERYKI 2018 gala, the Polish Brits!
In the rare circumstance that hasn’t jogged your memory, you probably need telling the four-piece group – Joanna Sinkiewicz, Dominika Siepka, Patrycja Nowicka and Tulia Biczak – became a hit in their home country in recent years thanks to their unconventional cover of Depeche Mode’s Enjoy the Silence.
Who is Ester Peony? Taking her stage name from Ishtar, the Babylonian god of love and beauty, Ester Peony (real name Alexandra Crețu) became known in her country through her Youtube covers of hit pop songs.
Who is Sergey Lazarev? Lazarev is best known as a singer for the brilliantly-named Russian boyband Smash!! in the early noughties. And there’s a good chance he’ll do well at Eurovision 2019: he came third while representing Russia in the 2016 contest, finishing third overall, but top of the viewers’ vote.
Who is Serhat? Originally from Turkey, Serhat has already sung for San Marino at Eurovision, representing the country in 2016. After failing to qualify for the final that year, he’ll be hoping to do better in 2019.
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