With selection shows in full swing, we take a break from this year’s Contest and look at the new releases from some of our favourite singers from the past few years. February sees new releases from former winner Jamala, as well as France’s Amir, Armenia’s Iveta Mukuchyan, Croatian Jacques Houdek and a duet between Norwegian producer JOWST and last year’s runner up Kristian Kostov.
Ilinca- ‘Nu Acum’
Ilinca teamed up with Alex Florea in 2017 for one of Romania’s most memorable and most successful Eurovision attempts in recent years. ‘Yodel It!’ was all gimmick and little substance but still gave the duo a seventh place finish. While Alex is set to compete again at the Romanian selection show in 2018, Ilinca continues to release solo material, following up her song ‘Amici’ with new single ‘Nu Acum’ (‘Not Now’). The song is low to mid tempo, without any real hook and yodel fans are going to feel short changed.
Jacques Houdek- ‘Pravi Sretnik’
Everyone’s favourite duet from Eurovision 2017 which saw Rock Jacques team up with Operatic Jacques meant Croatia made it to the Grand Final and finish in 13th with ‘My Friend’. Jacques latest single ‘Pravi Sretnik’ (‘Real Happiness’) is neither Rock nor Opera, instead it is a refreshing pop track with what sounds like some steel drums and a kazoo. While the repeated woah ohs in the chorus are semi-catchy, it fails to reach any spectacular heights.
Tim Schou (A Friend in London)- ‘Altar’
Tim Schou, the former lead singer of A Friend In London releases a new track this month. ‘Altar’ builds on the success of his previous releases ‘Young Vincent’, ‘Morrison’ and his fifth place finish at Eurovision 2011 with his band with song ‘New Tomorrow’. His latest offering seems to be hugely inspired by the tropical beats associated with recent Caribbean sounding hits by the likes of Justin Bieber and OMI. ‘Altar’ however never really clicks into gear and while I’m a huge fan of Tim Schou, it’s a bit too slow to fully support.
JOWST ft Kristian Kostov- ‘Burning Bridges’
Two of the acts from Eurovision 2017 team up for new song ‘Burning Bridges’. Kristian Kostov who finished second with ‘Beautiful Mess’ joins forces with Norwegian producer JOWST who came tenth in 2017 with Aleksander Walmann on the track ‘Grab the Moment’. ‘Burning Bridges’ merges both artist’s musical styles to create a fun amalgam that strangely works. Kostov has a strong vocal and JOWST knows dance music. JOWST’s music however always runs the risk of sounding a bit overproduced which I think is the case here and Kristian Kostov can come across as quite vacant and that just annoys me.
Iveta Mukuchyan- ‘Siraharvelem Qez’
Queen of Armenian pop Iveta Mukuchyan is back with her new song ‘Siraharvel em qez’ (‘You Are Here’). Hot off the heels of a seventh place finish with ‘LoveWave’ in 2016, Iveta was signed up to serve on the all star panel of Armenian selection show Depi Evratesil in 2017. During her time on the panel she released a number of hits including our Song of 2017 ‘Dashterov’ (a duet with fellow Depi Evratesil judge and Eurovision representative Aram MP3), ‘Hars’, ‘Amena’ and ‘Hayastan Jan’. Her latest offering is another beautiful piano ballad, showcasing Iveta’s versatility as an artist who is as equally comfortable belting out a pop banger as she is at being tender and fragile on a slower track. The last 45 seconds of the song are particularly strong with Iveta delivering a commanding vocal which conveys high emotion.
Poli Genova- ‘Tvoya’
Poli Genova propelled Bulgaria to Eurovision greatness when ‘If Love Was A Crime’ broke the top five in 2016, which at the time was the country’s best result. Using Eurovision as a launch pad, she has gone on to release a stream of songs which have all placed in the Top 40 in her native Bulgaria. This has included ‘Sluhove’, ‘Oshte’ and ‘Mr President’. While we are still awaiting a follow up to her 2013 debut album ‘1,2,3’, she continues to release more new material in 2018. The first track of the year to come from her is called ‘Tvoya’. This song is a departure from what we’re used to from Poli. Gone are the electro pop beats and high octane dance floor worthy vocals. These are replaced by tinkling keys of the piano and an understated breathy vocal. The song is however no less worthy of our attention as one of her dance anthem and really sees her growth as an artist.
The Eurovision 2016 champ, Jamala won the competition with the controversial song ‘1944’. Following her win she has had further hits with songs like ‘I Believe in You’, ‘Lured’ and ‘I Miss’. After marrying her long term boyfriend and announcing she was expecting her first child in 2017, she is back to making more music in 2018. The first of her songs is called ‘Wings’, which was premiered at the Ukrainian national selection show last month. Jamala brings back her slow head swaying/arm reaching dance moves that were synonymous with her ‘1944’ staging. Jamala’s as ever stand out vocals is accompanied by acoustic guitar and percussion to create a moody but reflective piece, marking her out to be the Queen of Powerful Ballads.
Amir- ‘Les Rues de ma Peine’
Amir’s song ‘J’ai Cherché’ gave France their best result in over 15 years when it finished sixth at Eurovision 2016. Since then Amir has gone on to have hits in France with follow up songs ‘On dirait’, ‘Au cœur de moi’ and ‘États d’Amour’. Last month he joined a panel of experts to select this year’s entry for France on the newly launched selection show ‘Destination Eurovision’ and now he is poised to release his next single ‘Les Rues de ma Peine’. The song sees Amir slow it down a little compared to what we’re used to. In the beginning in particular the song appears to be a ballad, but Amir then speeds up the tempo a little on the chorus. The song is a decent effort but doesn’t match him when he’s at his best like on his Eurovision track.
Demy- ‘Right Now’
Demy’s song ‘This is Love’ saw Greece through to the final of Eurovision 2017 and place 19th overall. Since Eurovision she’s had a string of Greek language releases including the songs ‘M’Ekdikise’ and ‘Ston Aera’. In 2018 she embarks on her first English language release since ‘This is Love’ and it’s possibly her best release to date. Although the vocals and production are a little rough around the edges at times, the song has a great chorus and sees Demy attempt to be more current, whereas ‘This Is Love’ came across as quite dated at Eurovision last year.
Hovig- ‘Words Are Never Easy’
Hovig was one of our favourite artists from Eurovision 2017. ‘Gravity’ which finished 21st for Cyprus was an ear worm that we couldn’t get rid of. We were very much looking forward to his next single and couldn’t believe we had to wait this long for one. Nevertheless here it is: ‘Words Are Never Easy’. It appears that Hovig lives up to the title of his song. Words are not easy for him, his diction is difficult to comprehend at times and he adopts a weird faux-American accent throughout. To be honest the song is a bit of a disappointment, it almost has the feel of track that some third rate boy band from the early ’00s would put out for their low key comeback single.
Omar Naber- ‘I Still Believe In You’
Two time Eurovision participant for Slovenia Omar Naber returns with new music this month, teaming up with Jernej Kozan for the song ‘I Still Believe In You’. Despite being a two time Eurovision representative, Omar never really set the world on fire with either of his attempts as ‘Stop’ and ‘On My Way’ both failed to reach the final. Yet here he is with new track and Lo and Behold! It’s another dull ballad. That is until the random instrumental segment in the middle. His vocal seems strained at many points on the song. The song is just a flat mess.
Check back next month for even more new Eurovision hits!