Eurovision 2017: [Cyprus] Hovig / Gravity

This has all the elements for the kind of arena number Eurovision demands. A grinding bass, heavy percussion and a march-like call to join in at the easy-to-sing-along-to chorus.

The video helps secure the entry’s credentials too. There’s a hint of how it might look on stage, making the leap from promotional video to live performance easy to imagine. And that live performance looks like it could be OK too.

I like its feel too. There’s a heaviness to its heart – a feeling that we’re struggling against the machine – that plays to my preferred personal narrative.

Securing a place in the final is not necessarily a foregone conclusion.

Read more song and rehearsal reviews from Eurovision 2017

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.

Eurovision 2011: Cyprus

To quote a former BBC commentator – The Wogan – ‘there aren’t many laughs in this one’. For example, the first line of the second verse

You crossed me and you make me bleed

Experience continues to inform me and influences my behaviour day to day. Hanging on to bitterness such as this is not advised.

Singer Christos Mylordos looks like the kind of Cypriot you’d consider seeking the approval of your parents from. Sweet. Victim like. In need of a cup of tea and a nice sit down. And whilst his intensity can’t be denied especially in the verses of the song San Aggelos S’agapisa, the rock sound which bleeds into the chorus makes the whole thing feel just that little bit too worthy and a bit too depressing for me.

It’s not bad. And I don’t suppose it will do badly for Cyprus. But it could easily get lost and forgotten about.

Really, Cyprus haven’t come anywhere near the triumph they pulled off coming fifth with Mono I Agapi in 1982. Sung by Anna Vishy when the Eurovision bus came to Harrogate (yes, that’s right Harrogate following Bucks Fizz’ win for the UK in 1981), Mono I Agapi still rings around my head. It’s beautifully balanced melody and intimately close harmony in the chorus is delectable. But then, I’m a sap.

Eurovision 2010: Cyprus

Cyprus’ song is bound to raise a few eyebrows. Frontman Jon Lilygreen is Welsh. How does a Welshman end up representing Cyprus for God’s sake? How does a Welshmen end up not representing the UK and singing a decent song at Eurovision? Have the sands of time started shifting? What next?

The eyebrow-raising evidence doesn’t end there. The band’s fan page details his postal address. It even has his mobile phone number on it. Even the biography of the two people running Gold CD productions details their strong connections with Wales.

The story of the song’s genesis is a journalist’s dream. It demands little of any PR man either.

Written by two Cypriots, Nasos Lambrianides and Melis Constantinou ‘found’ Wales-based producers Jon Gregory and Sylvia Stand on the internet who in turn produced the song sourcing student and pit band guitar Jon Lilygreen to record the track.

Where the song misses out on a strong melodic line, it makes up for it in terms of chord progressions and production. Lilygreen pulls off an authentic act with his guitar even if the song quickly becomes bland on repeat listens.

The promo video does look a little on the cheap side, but really that isn’t the point.

The appeal of Cyprus’ this year is its authenticity. I can think of only a handful of acts which have made a point of highlighting the genuine international links which brought the song into being. It’s also an act which will undoubtedly raise the profile of a great many people who have clearly bucked the usual UK reticence at using Eurovision to promote themselves. Their obvious grasp of social media – highlighted by their management of the fan page is also a good sign.

All of that is a good thing. If producers Gregory and Stand do well, that means more UK based producers (and, who knows, maybe even writers) will feel suitably encouraged to step forward in future years. And if they can get through to the final, there’s bound to be a significant vote from the UK on account of Jon Lilygreen’s nationality.