Latvia’s Eurovision delegate on his way to Germany

  • 2011-02-23
  • By Sam Logger

TWO-TIMER: Lauris Reiniks was the Latvian Eurovision winner in 2003. Can he repeat this success in 2011?

RIGA - The month of May in Europe can be unofficially called the month of Eurovision – Europe’s leading song contest, where every country sends its best candidate to compete for the top prize. Latvia’s 2011 entrant in this global music party, which is hosted by Germany this year, is to be chosen this Saturday, Feb. 26.

Eurovision is a massive musical show which annually unites more than 600 million people around the world, becoming probably the most-watched international entertainment competition where the contestants come from the European countries. The first event ever was held in the Swiss town of Lugano in 1956, and nowadays Eurovision is still one of the top programs on the TV screen. With that much history and experience in the bag, the show is implicitly a break-through stage for European artists.

There have been ups and downs for Latvian entrants in the competition since 2000, when Latvia joined the Eurovision country list. In its eleven tries, Latvia’s best results include a win, for Marie Naumova in 2002, Brainstorm’s third place in 2000 and Walters and Kazha’s 5th place in 2005. Latvia, while being proud of its singing traditions and abilities, has failed to impress the audience since 2006, with the country for the last two years remaining on the bottom of the semi-final lists. In 2011, Latvia hopes to regain its singing reputation.

And the country is willing to do everything to win – this year’s contenders seem to use every weapon in the arsenal. Without a doubt, the 2011 winner faces a far more difficult task than in previous years. While there are still some musical names which stand out, the race for the tickets to Dusseldorf will be very stiff. Latvian Eurovision final’s list includes:

•    Blitze ‘Hop’
•    Pienenu vins ‘You Are’
•    Evija Sloka ‘Don’t Stop The Dance’
•    Janis Stibelis ‘Let It Be Me’
•    D-family ‘Daylight’
•    Musiqq ‘Angel In Disguise’
•    The Sectrez ‘Summer Night’
•    Lauris Reiniks ‘Banjo Laura’
•    Trianas parks ‘Upside Down’
•    Oksana Lepska ‘Live On!’
•    Elina Krastina- Grence ‘Look Back At Me Again’
•    Ivo Grisnins- Grislis ‘Cinderella’

Amongst first time finalists – such as Musiqq, The Secretz and Evija Sloka – there are also Eurovision veterans like Janis Stibelis and Trianas Parks. Lauris Reiniks is the only artist who participates this year as a former finalist, in Riga’s Eurovision in 2003, where he performed as a member of F.L.Y., next to Yana Kay and the late Martins Freimanis.

Unfortunately, Eurovision is no longer the competition it was even ten years ago, as many people claim, reluctantly. To be more critical – the song contest hardly exists, as the majority of votes are won because of sex appeal and regional politics!

Eurovision is blamed for its unwritten song standards, trivial performances and one-hit wonder creations. So why is it important for Latvia to participate, if the competition is filled with such negative emotions? It gives world-wide publicity!
For the size of Latvia, Eurovision is a question of honor and pride. No matter how bad a reputation Eurovision has, it is still one of the leading programs on Latvian National Television. The people of Latvia wait for their performer to be the best! And every representative who fails to impress Europe is then the scapegoat of Latvia’s failure.

But, what does Eurovision itself do to change its public face? It becomes more popular music-oriented! It welcomes new musical tendencies! It lets a song go global, not framed as a ‘Eurovision type.’ This desire slowly pays off – last year’s winner, Lena Meyer- Landrut, started a brand-new European vision – make your song sound like it is going to be released as a single in Europe, thus it’s catchy, visible and good for popular music!

Yes, most Eurovision entries are still very similar, but we can surely expect a positive change in the nearest future. For instance, this year the United Kingdom will be represented by the charismatic boy band Blue, which dominated the charts some years ago and now builds its comeback with the help of the competition. Thus, being aware of these new Eurovision necessities, we can ask – is there a song on Latvia’s list which qualifies for this?