Eurovision 2019: it’s here! With the hours counting down until the competition unveils its winner in Tel Aviv, Israel on 18th May, countries across the continent will compete on the biggest musical stage in Europe.
This year 41 countries took part in the contest, with only 26 of those performing in the final and hoping to succeed Netta as Eurovision champion.
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.
Her song, Chameleon, has caused quite a stir in Eurovision circles. Filled with unusual drops, it’s predicted by most bookies to finish within the top 10.
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 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 are S!sters? You’d think, judging from their band name and entry song – which is all about sibling bonding – that this duo has the whole sisterhood thing nailed. But there’s just one problem: they’re not actually sisters.
In fact, Carlotta Truman (19) and Laurita Kästel (26) never actually sung together before deciding to enter Eurovision.
While Truman is best known as a finalist in Germany’s version of The Voice Kids in 2014, Kästel’s biggest claim to fame is performing as a backing singer for Lena, who won the contest for Germany in 2010.
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.
Giving his track record it’s little wonder many are predicting Lazarev will finish as champion or runner-up this year.
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.
Although that’s not likely to happen: most bookies are predicting he’ll finish at the very bottom of the table. If he qualifies, anyway.
Who is Tamara Todevska? North Macedonian pop singer Tamara is no stranger to Eurovision, appearing as a backing singer for the North 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 North 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 is John Lundvik? After narrowly missing out on competing for Sweden last year, John Lundvik will perform at Eurovision after winning his country’s Melodifestivalen internal selection process (which is like a mini-Eurovision in itself, complete with an international jury).
Interestingly, Too Late For Love isn’t Lundvik’s only Eurovision entry this year: he also co-wrote Bigger Than Us, the song Michael Rice will be singing for the UK.
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.
First releasing her song name months before the actual music, Tamta finally let fans listen to her single in March. And it went down very well: as well as a positive reaction on Youtube, Replay is also predicted a top 10 finish by the bookies.
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, with Duska’s (brilliant) cover of Arctic Monkeys’ Do I Wanna Know having over a million views on YouTube.
Her Eurovision entry, Better Love, should go down well with fans of musicals: it wouldn’t sound out of place on The Greatest Showman soundtrack
Who is KEiiNO? KEiiNO is actually ‘rapper’ Fred Buljo, who has previously served as the leader of Norway’s Sametinget (the parliament for people of Sami– or Laplander – descent).
And no, KEiiNO won’t be performing that version of Spirit in the Sky. But something much much weirder. Halfway through their entry, you can expect some scat-singing/rap hybrid while a line of military drummers marches nearby.
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 are Hatari? If you’re going to watch one group this Eurovision, make it this one. But maybe not with your gran in the room: this Icelandic bondage-synth-punk trio will be taking to the stage clad in leather to sing/scream a song about Europe crumbling.
As we found out when talking to the group, Hatari are entering Eurovision to bring down capitalism and have challenged Israeli Benjamin Netanyahu – Prime Minister of Eurovision host nation Israel – to a match of glíma (Icelandic trouser wrestling). If they beat Netanyahu, Hatari have said they will have the right to build a liberal BDSM colony on the Mediterranean coast.
Failing that, they’re apparently open to trouser wrestling Boris Johnson. Which, admit it, you’d definitely watch.
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 Zena? Belarus has got quite the mountain climb to win the competition, with plenty of bookies predicting this is the entry that will finish bottom. However, if you’re a fan of noughties pop (or latex-clad) backing dancers we think you’re going to – WAIT FOR IT – like it.
Who is Chingiz? Of course, you’ll know Chingiz as a former winner of the Azerbaijani version of Pop Idol, but the Moscow-born singer apparently a lot deeper than that. For example, here’s a typical caption for one of his Instagram posts: “My style is always indicating my inner state and my mood. I’m creating or better say playing with new looks, cause it helps me expressing myself.”
It might not surprise you to learn Chingiz is also a big fan of yoga and backpacking.
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 Nevena Bozovic? Her appearance in Eurovision 2019 makes Bozovic the first singer to perform in both the adult and junior versions of the Eurovision Song Contest. But don’t expect Bozovic to win: her slow ballad is predicted to finish at the bottom of the semi-finals.
Who is Luca Hanni? Another favourite to win this year’s contest, Hänni’s song is about one thing: Dirty dancin’. In fact, it’s that lyric that you’ll hear a lot more in the track than title “she got me”.
If you’re into the German version of pop idol Deutschland sucht den Superstar (who isn’t?) then you’ll recognise Hänni as the winner of season 9 of the show in 2012. Since then, the model and singer has released four hit album and 16 singles.
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 are D mol? 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 mol 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 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.
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 Joci Papai? A former Eurovision contestant. The singer actually competed for Hungary in the 2017 contest, finishing 8th in the final – better than the UK have managed in the past 10 years. Can Papai do better this year? Spoiler: almost definitely not. Most bookies aren’t predicting that Pápai will reach the final, let alone win the contest.
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.
He’s certainly one to look out for: Eliot’s entry is one of the most viewed Eurovision entries on Youtube this year.
Who is Oto Nemsadze? Another contestant with a strong background in talent shows, Nemsadze rose to fame on Geostar, the Georgian version of Pop Idol, in 2011. He also came runner-up of Voice of Ukraine in 2017.
And, as you probably guessed, Nemsadze probably isn’t going to win, one of the bookie’s favourites to bow out at the Semi-final stage.
Who is Conan Osiris? Although Portugal has been known for sending slower songs to Eurovision in recent years (like winner Salvador Sobral and entry Amar Pelos Dois), there’s been a slight change in plan for 2019. They’re instead turning to former sex shop worker Conan Osris (real name Tiago Miranda) and his track about a broken mobile phone.
When singing this on stage previously, Osris has sported a golden chin and performed ballet wearing trainers. Which, let’s face it, you haven’t seen before.
Who is Sarah McTernan? We’ll get this out the way now: no, Ireland’s entry isn’t anything to do with Taylor Swift. But it has got a little bit to do with Rachel Stevens. You see, singer Sarah McTernan was actually mentored by the S Club 7 member when she came third in The Voice of Ireland in 2015.
Interestingly, this isn’t the first time she’s tried to compete in Eurovision. Last year McTernan almost made it to the competition – but representing San Marino. Unfortunately for McTernan, her track Eye of the Storm failed to be chosen.
Who is Anna Odobescu? We would tell that the singer has an interesting background with plenty of other Eurovision appearances, but that would be a lie. All there is to note about the 28-year-old is that she’s a graduate of the Academy of Music, Theater and Fine Arts in Chisinau. It’s not that interesting, but it’s all we’ve got.
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.
However, she’s not expected to perform well on the Eurovision stage. In fact, most bookies predict she’ll finish several places behind the UK on the right-hand side of the table.
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, unconvincing angel wings.