Eurovision 2016 – Cyprus: ‘Alter Ego’ (Minus One)

Cyprus has managed a top ten place in the Eurovision on nine different occasions since their debut in 1981. They’ve failed to qualify for the final six times since 2006. Everything else is a case study in trying (sometimes hard) but, on the whole, failing to really understand the actual point.

Be sure to take a look at ‘Gimme‘ from 2002 from the faux boy-band ‘One’ – a cardio class consistently behind the beat which, despite its lack of musical ambition still managed to come in 6th. ‘Feeling Alive‘ from 2003 left me and the juries feeling anything but – it finished in 20th place. We should all consider ourselves very thankful that their 2008 entry ‘Femme Fatales’, looking more like a piece of after-dinner entertainment at a budget holiday camp, didn’t qualify.

Of their high placings, I’m bound to go all gooey for their heritage. ‘Aspro Mavro‘ was a fun little number responsible for the country’s only 7th place (just coast through the middle eight – she’s screaming into the microphone at that point). Anna Vissi is the Queen of Cypriot Eurovision who in 1982 in Harrogate deployed an exquisite voice to great effect in her beautifully crafted song ‘Mono I Agapi‘ (5th).

Stronger Every Minute (4th, 2004) is far and away their most sophisticated entry – a middle of the road ballad confidently delivered by the perfectly able English singer Lisa Andreas who was, at the time, only 17 years old.

Most recently, the quality of Cyprus’ entries have improved immensely even if that hasn’t been reflected in the scores. In stark contrast to the upbeat musical cliche for 2012 accompanied by lyrics which no-one could really be bothered with which secured a place in the final, the Cypriot song for 2013 ‘An Me Thimasai‘ had an elegant sophistication to it – it failed to qualify.

A similar fate was suffered by last year’s the heartfelt ballad ‘One Thing I Should Have Done‘, a tear duct-tickling song with a strong melody, performed by adorable John Karayiannis and written by British songwriter Mike Connaris, and it ends up 22nd in the final. Eurovision can be a cruel beast. After thirty-five years following this event, I don’t know why I’m especially surprised about that insight.

This year, Cyprus are going all out with something entirely different and pretty damn good. ‘Alter Ego’ is distinctive amongst a lot of the weaker more generic songs in the contest and achieves the ultimate musical goal: it could exist quite comfortably outside the Eurovision bubble.

When Cyprus revealed this song as its entry (Cypriot broadcaster CyBC selected the song themselves) I saw a lot of commentators in the Eurovision world get excited about it. One to definitely keep a close eye on.

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