Dance like maniacs! Greece gets high on Eleftheria’s ‘Aphrodisiac’.

Oh, Greece. After the glamorous spectacles we were treated to from all over Europe over the past few months, a show in a shopping mall under an escalator was not how I envisioned capping off the national finals season. And then the live stream broke down five minutes in. That is a cry for help.

Despite it all, the Greeks found a really strong entry for the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest in Aphrodisiac, performed by Eleftheria Eleftheriou. Check it out below:

The good: it’s very catchy and ought to take Greece into the Top 10. The not-so-good: its the stereotypical female-led ethno pop number that typified the past decade in Eurovision. Another factor working against Aphrodisiac is that there are about three other similar, stronger songs travelling to Baku. It will all come down to stage performance, draw and the vibe on the night.

Nevertheless, Aphrodisiac is still a strong entry and a worthy addition to the 2012 line-up. And hopefully, this catchy, feel-good slice of summer fun will lighten the mood in Greece come May.

Flying the flag high: Eurovision entries scale the iTunes charts.

As the 2012 national finals season for the Eurovision Song Contest approaches its final stages, we can see that plenty of Eurovision entries as well as national final entries enter the iTunes chart in their respective countries. Have a look below:

Perhaps the most surprising is the Netherlands, with the Dutch entry You And I by Joan Franka at # 2 (previously #1 last week). The last time a Dutch entry was a commercial hit on home soil was in 2010 with Sieneke’s Ik Ben Verliefd (Sha-la-lie). I suppose John de Mol deserves some credit in drumming up interest in the Eurovision Song Contest again and for making the entry a commercial hit, thus restoring some credibility to the Contest in the eyes of the Dutch public and media as well creating a bit of pride. That still doesn’t exonerate him from hijacking the Nationaal Songfestival and turning it into a ‘The Voice’ after-show.

Another welcome surprise can be seen in the Spanish iTunes chart, with the country’s newly selected Eurovision entry Quédate Conmigo in at #9. This has never happened before, at least in my recollection, to a Spanish entry. It means that the people are getting behind the song and are very proud of it. I think we can expect some really good viewing figures from Spain this year.

Unsurprisingly, we can see Cyprus’ entry La La Love in the Greek chart at #9. No surprises for guessing where Greece’s douze points are going to.

As usual, Sweden’s Melodifestivalen dominates the iTunes chart in the run up to the Finalen i Globen and we can expect this to continue over the next coming weeks as the Swedes turn their attention to Eurovison Song Contest preparations.

A few entries have fallen off the charts but will most likely appear again as the Contest looms closer. These include Norway’s Stay by Tooji and Italy’s Per Sempre by Nina Zilli, which I suspect may return re-incarnated in its Eurovision form.

I have to say, it’s really great to see countries getting behind their entries and turning them into commercial hits as well as worthy showcases of their country’s music heritage, culture and industry. Goes to prove that the Eurovision Song Contest is more commercially relevant than people are prepared to admit.

Greece’s Vegas go ‘Higher’.

One of Greece’s most popular groups, Vegas, has just released a new song entitled Pio Psila (‘higher’), hot on the heels of their last release’s success that saw them score a Top 10 hit and over five million views on YouTube. Its beautiful piano instrumentation wrapped in a warm Coldplay-esque vibe… until the rap kicks in. A juxtaposition of different styles, it somehow melds together quite seamlessly and makes for an interesting, well-crafted song. Vegas are quite clearly one of the hottest groups to come out of Greece in a while and one listen below will convince you of it:

Sounds (and looks) like a hit to me. Incidentally, Vegas are one of the names rumors have floating about as one of the potential acts to enter in Greece’s National Final for the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest. I really hope this is true. Imagine if they entered with a song like Pio Psila. What a fresh, brave choice for Greece instead of the usual ‘shake it’ songs.


Remembering the summer nights with Nikki Ponte.

Ever since her participation in the Greek National Final for the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest, Nikki Ponte has emerged as part of Greece’s newest crop of young talent. Keeping up the momentum, she has released her new single Remembering The Summer Nights, a modern pop song channeling Romanian dance with the bouzouki thrown in for a dash of Greek flair. It’s a very catchy song and one that could propel her forward to greater heights. With her strong vocals, fresh look and contemporary sound, she could very well be the next Greek diva.

Artist Spotlight: Theocharis Ioannidis

Theocharis Ioannidis is an up-and-coming Greek performer who is prepping for his first foray into music. In fact, he was hotly tipped to participate in the Greece’s national final for the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest. However, he was denied entry because apparently the big wigs at ERT considered him more an actor rather than singer. That’s the official reason, though many believe that it was down to an issue the organisers had with his manager Elias Psinakis.

Regardless, Ioannidis is determined to participate in the 2012 selection with the aim of victory in Baku. He’s certainly eye-catching and would no doubt grab bucket-loads of votes from the female contingent but what’s really interesting is his music. He’s gone for an overall modern dance sound that is currently very popular worldwide but creates subtle nuances to make it unique enough to give his brand of music its own flair and identity. One great example of this is Edo Mazi Mou Meine, which is a really good song combining traditional Greek instrumentation and modern dance beats. He’s also gone and shot a sun-soaked music video for it:

Not content to settle for conquering just Greece with his music, it would seem that he is also going after the rest of the world as well.  He has also recorded a song in English called I’m Flying. It sounds very international and as of it could be home in any club in the world. Check it out below:

As far as I can tell, the only other Greek singer who has recently had success with full-on dance music is the incomparable Sakis Rouvas and his latest work on ‘Parafora’. Is Theocharis going after Sakis’ throne? There is certainly a similarity in their look, sound and positioning. It’s too early to tell, but in my opinion, Theocharis Ioannidis seems to be all set to become a major force in Greek music and a most welcome addition.

Kostas Martakis is back with ‘H Aggalia Mou’.

Popular Greek singer Kostas Martakis has released a brand new song entitled H Aggalia Mou, translated into English as ‘My Hug’. It is an absolutely beautiful ballad which starts off soft and slow, before the drums and violins kick in and then the song really starts to soar! Kostas is at his best vocally and has really come into his own. This song, coupled with his recent single Sex Indigo, marks a notably more mature direction in his music and hopefully, an album is just around the corner. After 2009’s amazing album ‘Pio Konta’, which saw international collaborations with Swedish hit makers Holter/Erixson and Bulgarian dance diva Desi Slava, I have high hopes for Kostas’ new sound. To tide us over in the meantime, he’s gone and shot a cool music video:

His music may have changed and matured, but one thing that hasn’t changed is that he still looks as good as ever. Git.

The awesomeness that is Sakis Rouvas.

I just came across this clip that reminded me what a dedicated performer Sakis Rouvas is. Its him performing a medley of all his latest hits at the MAD VMA Awards 2011, including my favourites Spase To Xrono, Kai Se Thelo and Parafora. Be awed below:

Now I want to parachute into flashing lights & screaming girls. Maybe on Monday when I go to work.

Greek stars throw their names in the ring for next year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

A number of well-known Greek singers have publicly announced their desire to represent their country at next year’s Eurovision Song Contest. ASFE takes a quick look at who’s vying for the chance to fly the Greek colours in Baku in May.

1. Nikos Ganos – Greek popstar Nikos Ganos has stated to a variety of media that he is extremely keen on representing his country in Eurovision. As one of Greece’s new emerging names on the music scene, he would no doubt be a fine choice. Nikos first came into prominence after coming third in Greek Idol in 2004 and has gone on from strength to strength ever since, selling loads of albums and winning awards. One of my favourite songs of his is Koita Ti Ekanes:

2. Eleni Foureira – The reigning diva of Greek music is also quite interested in participating in the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest, having previously attempted to do so in 2010. However, in true fashion, she says she’ll only consider it if she’s internally selected. In the meanwhile, check out her new song Ase Me (Let Me), penned by Swedish songwriters Dimitri Stassos and Irini Michas:

It’s an insanely catchy song and she’s mesmerizing to look at. If she comes up with a song like this, she won’t have to worry over something like a national qualifier.

3. Aris Plaskasovitis – A newcomer to the game, Aris is fresh off the 2011 edition of Greek Idol and is seeking to establish himself as a forerunner by representing Greece. He’s definetly got the voice to pull it off but I wonder as to whether he has the experience and the mettle to handle a Eurovision participation. Also, will he be able to deal with the pressure? In any case, its great to see many young talented performers queing up to give Eurovision a go. The UK should be so lucky.

So there you have it. Three names among many who have volunteered to do right by their country for the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest. Any one of these would make an exciting and worthy representative for Greece.

Everything in Greece is ‘OK’ says Nino.

It’s never too late for a summer tune and today’s comes from sunny Greece. Despite the dire economic situation, the Greeks are keeping their spirits buoyed through the release of carefree, catchy songs that bely a sense of optimism and fun. The latest is the ultra-cool OK, sung by Nino Xipolitas. Check it out below:

The video is also a fun affair. Instead of the expected ‘beach n’ bikini’ scenario, we have a junkyard n’ bikini scenario, with many Greek youngsters proclaiming that everything will be ‘ok’ soon enough and in the mean time, let’s have fun and party.

Album art for ‘Watch My Dance’.

Here’s my take on the album cover for Greece’s 2011 Eurovision Song Contest entry. There were loads of flattering pictures of Loukas (for obvious reasons) but nada for Dr. Stereo Mike. And this was the only one of the two of them together. In fact, it was used for the original cover, so I just played around with the typography.