Lordi, save us from Ukraine in Eurovision

The more I listen to Latvia’s entry in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, the more I have come around to believing Bonaparti.lv and the song “Questa Notte” (This Night) have a good chance of not disappointing fans.

The concept, which involved assembling six well-known Latvian male singers and having them croon a song in Italian, seemed a bit strange at first. But strange has a way of standing out at Eurovision. Finland’s lizard-monster-clad, hard rocking Lordi—which won last year’s contest—certainly attests to that.

Bonaparti.lv includes six tenors: Andris Ābelīte, Andris Ērglis, Normunds Jakušonoks, Roberto Meloni, Zigfrīds Muktupāvels and Kaspars Tīmanis.

The group’s first appearance in Eurovision will be May 10 during the semi-final in Helsinki. Bonaparti.lv will perform last in the field of 28 contestants. In the telephone voting at the conclusion of the performances, the tenors will have to land in the top 10 to advance to the May 12 final. The top 10 semi-finalists will join 14 other countries in the final. The 14 others include the top 10 winners from last year’s contest plus France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom, which automatically get into the final because of their size.

Latvia should make it through to the final, but probably has little hope of winning outright. Some of the online oddsmakers, such as those at betdirect in Liverpool, England, give Latvia a 20/1 chance of winning the final. Online bookmaker Stan James is less optimistic, suggesting a 50/1 chance. Both betdirect and Stan James also posit that Ukraine—horrors!—has a 6/1 chance of an outright victory.

Because of uninspired performances or poor songs, sure losers in the semi-final are going to be the entries from Belarus (Koldun, “Work Your Magic”); Iceland (Eiríkur Hauksson, “Valentine Love”);  Malta (Olivia Lewis, “Vertigo”); Montenegro (Stevan Faddy, “Ajde Kroči”); Norway (Guri Schanke, “Ven a bailar conmigo); Portugal (Sabrina, “Dança Comigo); Switzerland (DJ BoBo, “Vampires are Alive”), and Turkey (Kenan Dogulu, “Shake It Up Shekerim”). Of course, that’s just my opinion. Some oddsmakers, for example, give Belarus more than a fighting chance to advance out of the semi-final and even win the contest.

One of my favorites of a few Eurovisions ago is Macedonia’s Karolina Gočeva. She returns to represent her country this time with “Mojot Svet” (My World), a tune about music and the Balkan soul. I hope she makes it into the top 10 semifinalists.

My other candidates for the top 10 semi-finalists:

  • Bulgaria’s Elitsa Todorova and Stoyan Yankoulov, who try the drum-driven and ethnic song “Water,” singing it in Bulgarian.
  • Israel’s Teapacks with the song “Push the Button,” which is either a clever political commentary or a badly done joke. The song begins with the lyrics, “The world is full of terror, If someone makes an error, He’s gonna blow us up to biddy biddy kingdom come.”
  • The island nation of Cyprus, which puts forward Evridiki and her performance of “Comme Ci, Comme Ça.”
  • Georgia and its entry, “Visionary Dream” performed by 20-year-old Sopho, which might stand a chance in part because of the singer’s strong voice.
  • The rock band Kabát from the Czech Republic, which performs “Mála Dáma” with a restrained energy that might appeal to viewers who want their music without visual gimmicks.
  • Andorra’s punk rockers Anonymous, performing “Salvem el Món,” which could do well especially among younger Eurovision voters. The band, which also gets the song-writing credits, has a nice energy.
  • Slovenia and singer Alenka Gotar, whose years of voice training may pay off. The song “Cvet z Juga” comes alive with her range and operatic talent.
  • Hungary’s Magdi Rúzsa, who will sing “Unsubstantial Blues,” a tune penned by Imre Mozsik. The composer was born in the United States, but moved permanently to Hungary in 1989.

Of those countries already in the final, my greatest fear is of Ukraine. Representing the nation of the Orange Revolution is Verka Serduchka with the song “Dancing Lasha Tumbai.” Serduchka is the stage persona of Andrii Danylko, who performs in a costume that brings to mind an overgrown Teletubby clad in aluminum foil. The song is equally ridiculous. (Ukraine’s Ruslana Lyzhicko won Eurovision in 2004 with her song “Wild Dances.”)

On the Eurovision scale of the ridiculous to the sublime, Bosnia & Herzegovina’s Maria Šestić‘s performance of “Rijeka bez imena” (River of Sorrow) scores toward the latter. It is a powerful entry. Bosnia & Herzegovina also already is in the final based on the nation’s success in last year’s Eurovision contest.

Lithuania also is in the final, thanks to last year’s sixth place showing by LT United, which performed the in-your-face song, “We Are the Winners.” This year’s entry is 4FUN, a five-member band fronted by lead singer Julija Ritčik, which will perform the mellow song, “Love or Leave.”

Of the entries already in the final, my vote would go to Ireland. For once, the nation has a decent entry, “They Can’t Stop the Spring,” performed by the well-known folk band Dervish. And you can’t beat the opening lyrics: “The curtain has been raised, The wall no longer stands, And from Lisadell to Latvia, We’re singing as one clan.”


Latvia’s entry in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest is the Italian-language song “Questa notte,” performed by six well-known singers teamed as Bonaparti.lv.


During the Eurovision Song Contest, Irish folk band Dervish will perform “They Can’t Stop the Spring,” a song that makes reference to Latvia.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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