08 February 2017

Eurovision 2017: Albania: Lindita Halimi: Botë

Eurovision Albania 2017 / Lindita
Lindita Halimi to sing for Albania

The 2017 season of the Eurovision Song Contest has kicked off with Albania once again becoming the first country to choose its entry. Although it missed the final last year, the country has chosen yet another solo female artist as its representative.

27-year-old Lindita is a veteran of music and vocal competitions, having participated in Albania's version of Idol, in addition to the internal TV contest Top Fest  which she won in 2009. A brief spell of popularity in the US appears on her CV as well, thanks to her appearance in the later stages of the last series of American Idol.

Flag Albania
Botë  marks Lindita's second attempt at winning Festivali i Këngës - the Albanian route to Eurovision glory - with the song following the (almost) exclusive tradition of Albania sending an overblown melodramatic ballad to the Eurovision stage. Lindita doesn't disappoint with the delivery: the song requires a powerful vocal and a showstopping stage performance and that is exactly what she provides. It impressed enough of the jurors, topping the scoreboard by a spectacular margin at the 55th staging of the show.

But what of its chances in Kiev in May? As it stands, Eurovision voters have generally been unimpressed by the vocal gymnastics of the Albanian entries. Granted, they have all been very good singers, but most of the songs have not been memorable for the right reasons.

At the moment, Botë  has very little of a hook to draw in the listener on its first play. However, there promises to be some significant changes to the song by the time it is performed in the first semi-final on May 9. Amongst them is a revision of the lyrics to English. This change usually offers little middle ground of opinion: it's either a definite help or a miserable hindrance. At the moment, we can only wait with bated breath for the end result.

The same could be said of its musical backing. Festivali i Këngës  provides a full live orchestra, but there will be no such lavish production in Kiev. Hopefully, the Albanian team's overhaul will give us something much more edgy and modern.

Could it qualify? Right now, it's all speculation in its present form. Lindita looks good and is obviously used to the big stage, so no problem there. The song's future really depends on the quality of the other national final winners and its own update.

Nevertheless, the song seems to have very marginal appeal to progress any further.


Live Version

Studio Version

01 September 2016

Eurovision 1979: And The UK's 12 Points Go to...Israel!

Milk and Honey / Eurovision 1979 / Israel / Hallelujah
Eurovision 1979: Milk and Honey ft. Gali Atari representing Israel

"And our twelve points go to..."

Milk and Honey / Hallelujah / Eurovision 1979
Hallelujah: The Single
It was the last day of March 1979 when, for the first time, the entire Eurovision Song Contest entourage arrived in Jerusalem for the broadcast of the competition from the city's International Convention Center.

As is routine, the baton had passed to the previous year's winner to host the Contest. Thus, on the back of Izhar Cohen and Alphabeta's victory, the honour fell to Israel.

Not surprisingly, political pressure from around the Muslim world was placed on Turkey to withdraw from the Contest - even though the country had chosen its entry: Maria Rita Epik with 21. Peron singing Seviyorum. Eventually, Turkey decided to quit while Malta and Yugoslavia declined to return. As a consequence, the number of participants was pegged back to nineteen.

Of those nineteen, the UK's voting position was seventeenth and, as such, could potentially swing the result one way or the other. Norway had just voted, generously awarding 10 points to the UK - as well as a fifth maximum score of 12 points to Israel's song, Hallelujah. However, it was Spain's Betty Missiego who led the scoreboard at this stage (by a mere six points) with just three countries left to vote - one of which was Spain itself.

With the scores so close, the 1979 voting was to become one of the most tense of recent years and the UK's results were to add yet another layer of tension to the proceedings. The British jury had decided that Israel would receive its 12 points - pushing Hallelujah to 107 - while Spain's Su canción was awarded 5 points, bringing it to 106.

Eurovision 1979 / Scoreboard
1979: Israel captures Eurovision victory
Austria's verdict put even more cats amongst the pigeons, when their votes separated Spain from Israel by one point yet again. Only this time Spain was leading - and was also about to have the final say.

Even though both Portugal and Israel were erroneously awarded ten points during this exciting final phase, it was actually Hallelujah which received 'dix points' from Spain.

Indeed, it was Portugal which was in receipt of SIX points; Spain had unwittingly shot itself in the foot and had handed the victory to Israel for the second consecutive year.

Six sets of 12 points had helped in the win; the UK's coming as the last part of a late triumvirate following similar determinations by Finland, Ireland, Portugal, Sweden and Norway.

Of course, Hallelujah has since become a classic of Eurovision, helped in no small part by its highly memorable melody which sent it high into the music charts of many countries across Europe.

The UK's 12 points translated into a Number 5 British hit and a chart run of eight weeks - easily beating the Number 42 peak of the UK's entry that year by Black Lace: Mary Ann.

The UK's Top 3 in 1979  

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