Nationaal Songfestival 2012 hijacked!

A few days ago, TROS announced the final candidates to compete in the Nationaal Songfestival. Here they are below:

  1. Tim Douwsa – Undercover Lover
  2. Kim De Boer – Children Of The World
  3. Ivan Peroti – Take Me As I Am
  4. Raffaella – Chocolatte
  5. Joan Franka – You And Me
  6. Pearl Jozefzoon – We Can Overcome

As you can see, five of the six candidates are straight out John de Mol’s own show ‘The Voice Of Holland’, the other is from a TROS show.

What happened to all the other amazing entries sent in? Where is Jeronimo’s Sacrifice? Or Tao Hypah’s Play The Girl? Or Brandi Russell’s Drug Of Oblivion? These are all fantastic songs that should have been awarded a place. We expected a few of de Mol’s acts to make the cut but not have all the slots taken up by them.

At-least we’re not the only ones to think so, as this issue is even being taken up at Dutch parliament by Socialist party MP Jasper van Dijk, who has been quoted as saying “This is a John de Mol party, not a party for everyone”.

It’s a crying shame as The Netherlands had the chance to stage one of the most exciting national finals of the season and have a song that will stand a chance at the Eurovision Song Contest.

The only way TROS can redeem themselves is if all the songs turn out to be amazing. Or else we will know that the whole thing is a rigged, political affair that is grossly unfair to all the other artists and composers who must have spent considerable amount of time preparing their entries.

Fast Cars, Amazing Music: An Italian Legacy.

Ever since Italy’s withdrawal from the Eurovision Song Contest (with the fantastic farewell song Fiumi Di Parole) in 1997, fans have been eagerly anticipating their return. And in 2011, when RAI made the unexpected announcement that Italy will be returning with the San Remo Festival once more as their national final, fans and Contest enthusiasts welcomed them back with open arms, much like the father embracing the prodigal son.

It’s a well known fact that Italy is famous for its fast cars, soulful music and delicious food. However, on a recent trip to Ferrari World I realised what the Eurovision Song Contest was truly missing out on.

It is that Italian zest for life in the fast lane, to dare to dream and then the determination to see it through, much like Enzo Ferrari and his pursuit of excellence. And then have all this passion embodied in music… No one can do it like the Italians and this is what they bring to the Eurovision Song Contest, what we’ve been missing this past decade. No wonder then when Raphael Gualazzi took to the stage for Italy with Madness Of Love on the 14th of May, it just felt right.

So welcome back Italy. Keeping your Eurovision-winning entry Insieme: 1992 in mind, its indeed wonderful that we are all together again in 2012, twenty years on.

Desislava performs ‘Love Is Alive’ for Bulgaria.

Having qualified to the televised rounds of the Bulgarian national final, superstar Desislava has been doing the rounds promoting her entry Love Is Alive all across national television, from Christmas concerts to morning shows. Check out Love Is Alive in full for the first time:

You can also hear the song in its studio version here:

Personally, I love it. Composed by the Symphonics, it’s a great ethno-pop entry sung by a gorgeous female lead. It’s typical of the Ruslana/Paparizou school of Eurovision-entries that was so popular in the begining of the noughties. The genre has fallen slightly out of favour recently but I have every faith that Love Is Alive could do the business for Bulgaria, if selected.

I particularly love Desislava’s traditional folksy opening and her very artsy inflections on the vocals. Additionally, that soaring instrumental and catchy chorus all make for an entry that is a bit more distinctive than say Secret Combination (Greece 2008) or Always (Azerbaijan 2009). Let’s see how the live performance and stage presentation goes, but for now, it is definitely the one to beat.

ASFE chats with… Tao Hypah!

The pop landscape of The Netherlands is about to receive a shake-up with the arrival of an exciting new pop star by the name of Tao Hypah. Dedicated, outspoken and extremely talented, his brand of brash, catchy electro-pop is sure to set tongues wagging and toes tapping. I had the opportunity to chat with the up-and-coming Dutch singer about his music and ofcourse, his bid for the Dutch ticket to the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest. Check out what he had to say!


ASFE:  Hallo Tao! Could you please introduce yourself  to our readers?

Tao:  I’m Tao Hypah 21 years old, born to a Dutch mother and Asian father and raised in Holland. I grew up in a very musical and creative family, which is where my passion for making music comes from. At the moment I’m working with different producers from Vietnam, Germany, England and, of course, Holland.

ASFE:  Tell us something unexpected about yourself! We all have our unexpected quirks, what’s yours?

Tao:  I sleep naked. Not sure if that’s a quirk!

ASFE:  Can you describe what your song ‘Play The Girl’ is all about? What would it mean for you and the song to represent The Netherlands at the Eurovision Song Contest?

Tao:  For me ‘Play The Girl’ is about crossing your own boundaries. The lyrics may sound controversial to some but I know everyone has that moment in life that you just want to flick the switch in your head and let yourself go. That’s the message of ‘Play The Girl’. It’s about being free. It’s actually about what life is about. There are more sides to us than we even realise and they deserve to be put in a song!

To be given the chance to represent The Netherlands in the Eurovision Song Contest would be amazing. Talking about crossing boundaries! I would be very honoured and do my best to deliver a great performance.

ASFE:  ‘Play The Girl’  is one of the favourites to make it to the televised rounds with lots of support from the Eurofans. How does it feel knowing you’ve gathered all this support? Were you expecting it?

Tao:  I had no expectations at all. I just thought it would be a great adventure that I should be a part of, so I decided to give it a go. I’m very happy about and humbled by all the positive reactions. The support I’ve been getting from people who’ve heard the song has already made it all worth while.

ASFE:  We know the Eurovision Song Contest isn’t exactly viewed as the ‘coolest’ in The Netherlands. What do you plan on doing to change this perception?

Tao:  I don’t know if I can change this perception on my own but all I can do is be myself and do what I love most. I do know that Eurovision Song Contest can be a whole lot of fun, so the doubters should just give it a fair chance and enjoy it for what it is – a great, colourful, fun Saturday evening TV show.

ASFE:  What are some of your favorite Eurovision Song Contest entries and moments?

Tao:  I loved the last year’s performance by the Irish twins Jedward! So over the top, supercamp and their song ‘Lipstick’ was really good, really catchy. I thought it deserved to become an international hit. I liked Jedward’s fun factor, not taking themselves too seriously. And, their stage production was really cool!

ASFE:  Over here, we organize massive Eurovision parties on the night of the Grand Final, complete with culinary delicacies from each of the participating countries. Should you go on to represent The Netherlands, can you suggest some of your favorite Dutch dishes that the fans can prepare in your honor?

Tao:  We have really nice cookies called ” Stroopwafels” or,in English, treacle waffles. For those not familiar with this delicacy, it’s a waffle made from two thin layers of baked butter with caramel syrup filling in the middle. I love fish too, so I also recommend a raw dish we call “Haring” fresh herring with onions.

ASFE:  What’s next in store for Tao Hypah? Will we get to hear more music? Is there an album on the way?

Tao:  There is so much going on at the moment. We’re doing a brand new radio edit of ‘Play The Girl’ which I’m very excited about. There’s possibly going to be a video for it too, and I’m currently in the studio recording vocals for 3 new songs, which will be on my album. We’re now talking to several record labels, so I think 2012 will be an exciting year.

ASFE:  And finally, what message would you like to give our readers and the Eurofans?

Tao:  I’ll keep it simple – have fun, enjoy your life, be free, be who you are. Love and respect. That’s all that matters. And as for Eurovision – it’s such a guilty pleasure and I can’t wait for the next one, whether as a contestant or a fan watching it on TV. Both ways, it will be fun!

We’d like to thank Tao Hypah and his management for the interview and to wish him good luck. The candidates for the Nationaal Songfestival will be announced on 5th January 2012 and here’s hoping Tao and Play The Girl is among them!
For those of you who can’t wait to hear Tao’s album, here’s a sneak peak with a track called Celeb.
You can also check out his Eurovision bid Play The Girl:

Eurovision News Roundup.

Here’s a quick roundup of what’s been happening in Euroland over the past week:

Albania: The Albanians clearly don’t give a fig for Christmas with the 50th edition of the Festivali i Këngës taking centre stage. The two semi-finals have been held and 20 songs have made it through to the  festival’s Final where they will do battle and the victor shall earn the right to represent Albania at next year’s Eurovision Song Contest. In the meanwhile, a massive Gala is planned to celebrate the 50th year of the festival, with many Albanian superstars lined up to perform evergreens from FiK, including former winners Frederik Ndoçi and Aurela Gaçe.

Serbia: Željko Joksimović, the country’s representative for 2012 has set up a blog on the nation’s Eurovision site chronicling his road to the Eurovision Song Contest. In his inaugural post, he expressed his excitement at having another go, after a highly successful run in 2004, finishing second with Lane Moje and third in 2006 for Bosnia & Herzegovina as a composer with Lejla. That’s some serious Eurovision pedigree. Apparently the melody is done and the lyrics are in the process of being written. Željko promises Serbia’s entry to be “strong and in Eurovision spirit”.

Cyprus: The titles of the songs in the running to represent Cyprus, though floating around the Internet recently, have been officially ‘revealed’. They are Call The Police, La La Love (uptempo pop numvers) and You Don’t Belong Here (a rocky ballad). Ivi Adamou will sing all three songs on 25th January for the nation to decide.

And that was some of the news!

My favourite Maltesers in 2012.

The full length versions of all the songs competing in Malta’s National Final for the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest have been offically revealed with the release of the preview videos.

After listening to all of them, my two favourites and most likely to take the win are Richard Edwards’ Look At Me Now and Fabrizio Faniello’s I Will Fight For You (Papa’s Song). Look At Me Now is a pleasant rock ballad and I Will Fight For You is a pop stomper that seemingly borrows the pulsating melody of The BeeGees’ Tragedy. Both songs are complete opposites and its hard to call it.

For me, this is a case of déjà vu, as in 2011, it was the same case with my favourites being the entries from Richard and Fabrizio (Finally and No Surrender respectively). This year, my outside favourite is Pure by Claudia Faniello. I’m glad she ditched the rock and is now singing a beautiful ballad that befits her beautiful voice.

You can check out all the songs here. And can I just give big props to TVM for the wonderful production quality? Between the fancy intro titles and sparkly stage, it’s looking quite X Factor-esque to me. I’m fulling expecting a fantastic show on the 3rd and 4th of February!

New Music: ‘One Of A Kind’ by Simona Milinytė.

Ever wondered what a cross of Kelly Clarkson and Taylor Swift would sound like? Meet Lithuanian pop starlet Simona Milinytė. In addition to having an insane voice, she has also recently teamed up with Swedish producers Bobby Ljunggren and Marcos Ubeda. A very potent combination that has yielded the song One Of A Kind, an explosive track which reminds me alot of Kelly Clarkson’s hit Since U Been Gone. Its definietly a pop-rock stomper and catchy to boot. Check it out:

Rumours abound that this song has been sent in to the Lithuanian preselection for the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest. In my opinion, it would be a most welcome entry. After last year’s classic Eurovision ballad C’est Ma Vie (which, despite everything, was wonderfully performed and looked great on stage), it would be nice to see Lithuania rocking out something fresh and modern that did not involve sparkling underpants. This is definitely one to watch.