2018 is finally upon us and a new year means only one thing: the start of the Eurovision national selection season! In the next few months, all 43 competing countries will pick their entries for the contest, coming to us this year from Lisbon, Portugal.

There have been several countries who have made great strides towards picking their entries and in case you have been living under a rock, here are a few news bites from the past couple of weeks.

Albania Picks Entry – And It’s Not a Woman!

Yes, you read that right. For nine out of the last ten years Albania have picked a female artist to perform their entry. However, it’s fair to say that they haven’t had the best record, with 2015 their only qualification in the last five contests. This year they have ditched the power ballad and chose Eugent Bushpepa and “Mall” (‘Yearning’ in Albanian, not a shopping centre).

The song itself has all the ingredients but the execution is lacking. The guitar opening is pleasant and catchy, as is the almost tribal chanting from the backing singers. But then it starts to lose its way and coming in over four minutes, it is far too long for Eurovision (maximum is 3:00). What I recommend is that they shorten some of the sections and make the guitar and backing more prominent but it certainly stands out more than some of their previous entries.

Here is their entry, remaining, for now, in Albanian. Let me know what you think in the comments section below!

 

Familiar Faces Already In Place For ESC 2018

Although the majority of countries have yet to pick or reveal their entries for the contest, fans of the show will have spotted one or two names from the past. The most notable entry is from The Netherlands, who have enjoyed something of a revival in the past few years after a dismal 2000s. Waylon is the artist this year, though he is best known for being the male half of The Common Linnets, who came out of nowhere to be pipped to the post by Conchita in 2014.

Another performer returning to the Eurovision stage is Jessica Mauboy, who also appeared in 2014 as an interval act to promote Australia’s hopeful participation in the following contest. The stage performance was fun, if a bit lacking vocally but Australia are taking Eurovision very seriously so expect a cracking song for her in Lisbon!

The third and final familiar face to Eurovision super-fans is Saara Aalto, representing Finland. She finished runner up in the Finnish national selection in both 2011 and 2016 and is also known to British audiences as coming second to Matt Terry in the 2016 edition of the X-Factor. Despite not having a home advantage, she wowed with her mighty vocal performances and extravagant stage shows. The three potential entries will be revealed in the coming weeks and I hope there is a powerful club banger in there!

Here is Saara bringing the house down in The X-Factor. Do you think Finland are on to a winner? Tell me what you think in the comments section below!

 

So what is coming up in the next month?

The month of January is a busy one for Eurovision super fans as it is the start of national final season. Here is a reminder of what is coming up in the rest of January.

13th – France starts their national selection, Destination Eurovision
15th – Norway unveils their potential entries
18th – Portugal reveals the artists competing in Festival da Canção
19th – Iceland unveils their potential entries
20th – Hungary kicks off their national selection, A Dal
21st – Romania starts their national selection, Selecția Națională
22nd – Denmark reveals the competing artists in Melodi Grand Prix
23rd – Spain reveals their potential entries
27th – France picks their Eurovision entry
29th – Czech Republic decide their entry in Eurovision Song CZ
29th – Spain decides in their national final
29th – The semi-final allocation draw for Eurovision 2018 takes place
N/A – Cyprus picks its entry some time this month

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