Representing Latvia in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Oslo, Norway, will be singer Aisha performing the song “What For.” Let’s hope her voice improves by the time of the competition.
A total of 39 nations will compete in the contest, scheduled May 25-29. Last year in Moscow, the Belarus-born Alexander Rybak represented Norway and won easily with the hopeful song “Fairytale.”
Eirodziesma, the Latvian national contest to decide who would be sent to Oslo, took place Feb. 27 in Ventspils. For the first time, Latvian State Television provided a stream of the concert via the Internet through the official Eurovision Web site.
Aisha, the stage name of Aija Andrejeva, went into the contest as one of the favorites.
The music for “What For” was written by Jānis Lūsēns and the lyrics by Guntars Račs—both successful songsmiths.
The performances in Eirodziesma were evaluated by a five-person jury and by televoting from across Latvia.
Here’s what I saw and heard on the Internet stream.
The first to perform was the group PeR—three men named Pēteris Upelnieks, Edmunds Rasmanis and Ralfs Eilands. They sang “Like a Mouse,” which was penned by Mārtiņš Freimanis. The tune had a 1950s American sound to it, but the performance lacked something. The vocals seemed a bit off.
Next up was Triānas parks with “Lullaby for My Dreammate (Diamond Lullaby),” led by singer Agnese Rakovska. This was the third time the alternative group has performed in Eirodziesma. If nothing else, Triānas parks puts some thought into its stage presence, but the song didn’t move me.
Aisha’s voice on “What For” was off key. The stage presence was odd, too. Aisha seemed dressed like a Greek goddess and she was surrounded by a trio of women hand-washing clothes. Facebook followers of the broadcast also were not kind to her. “What for are we listening,” one viewer asked.
Lauris Reiniks’ smooth voice on “Your Morning Lullaby” was pleasant even if the song sounded somewhat derivative. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Eurovision contest without derivative songs.
“My Religion is Freedom,” performed by Dons, was the fifth entry. The song, the most up-tempo up to that point, could certainly be a contender in Eurovision. Singing about freedom just seems to go well with a pan-European television event. However, I have never liked Dons. He can sing, but his stage presence is just creepy.
Is weird any better than creepy? “Digi digi dong,” performed by Konike Project, was supposedly a song in the ancient Konike language. Yeah, right. I could not get past the group’s strange tree costumes.
“It’s amazingly awful,” complained one Facebook follower. “Seriously, are there any decent artists left in Latvia. Or were there any at all? That’s a good question.”
H2O with “When I Close My Eyes” offered a return to something a bit more normal. Unfortunately, lead singer Jānis Strapcāns’ voice was terrible. One Facebook viewer correctly noted that he sounded like the lead singer for Crash Test Dummies, but way off base. Adding a couple of back-up singers in traditional Latvian folk costume did not help. And a note to the lyricist: It should be “When I was a young boy.” Why do Latvians insist on dropping the indefinite and definite articles when speaking and writing English?
Kristīne Kārkle-Puriņa’s performance of the Livonian-language “Rišti rašti” was nice. However, I could not see the song making its way into Eurovision. I would rather that Kārkle-Puriņa use her powerful voice to sing a more up-tempo song.
Ivo Grīsniņš-Grīslis had a nice pop song with “Because I Love You.” Finally, I thought, a tune that might just stand a chance in Oslo. It was his second time in Eirodziesma. Last year he performed with Iveta Baumane.
“Snow in July,” sung by Kristīna Zaharova, closed out the entries. The song was acceptable, but Zaharova lacked stage presence. Several Facebook viewers even panned her for wearing jeans. Zaharova, like Rybak born in Belarus, last year performed in both Latvia’s and Ireland’s national competitions.
Following the initial performances, three “super finalists” were named: Dons, Grīsniņš-Grīslis and Aisha. All three got to take the stage again. Unfortunately for Aisha, her voice sounded no better than the first time, but that didn’t stop the televoters and the jury from naming her the winner.
Aisha probably will not win in Oslo, but I don’t expect that she will fail, either. If she can improve her delivery, Aisha could just show “what for” Latvia continues to participate in Eurovision.
Aisha (Aija Andrejeva) already is a popular singer in Latvia. She will represent her country in the Eurovision Song Contest scheduled May 25-29 in Oslo. (Publicity photo)
The Latvian national contest, which was won by Aisha, was streamed live over the Internet.
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