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Posts Tagged ‘Eurovision 2009’

The year is almost over and I’m still reeling from everything that’s happened in the last 12 months… I couldn’t feel more blessed about this past year’s adventures, unexpected twists and turns, surprises and the most exciting news that kept flooding in, week after week. Looking back on it now, after the month of May, it all changed – drastically. The build up, granted, was intense and very gradual but nevertheless, I couldn’t be more grateful for every bit of it.

After our song, “Is It True?” came second in the Eurovision Song Contest, was later voted the Eurovision Song of the Decade and most recently (or precisely – today) hailed by ESC Awards in Europe as the Song of the Year and yours truly, alongside co-writers Chris Neil and Oskar Pall Sveinsson, Lyricists of the Year, and was also recorded by Swedish Idol winner, Erik Gronwall for his debut record which was released this past Monday, it seems that unlike what we had expected, the song has really brought on some major changes that would have been totally unheard of a year ago. Nothing comes easily, of course, and the amount of work that I had to undertake shortly after the tune took off has still got me reeling from excitement, sleepless nights and incessant creating, planning and executing 24/7.

For those of you who have waited patiently for the book (a work of fiction that is now being reworked as a memoir) – well, I can’t wait either! I’m now on Chapter 9 and quite frankly, writing and rewriting the same story can be a little daunting at times, but also super-exciting. Plus, now I’ve got a fantastic collaborator by my side, Chuck Taylor (if you look him up on Google or Wikipedia, your jaw will drop, I’m so blessed!) so it doesn’t feel all the overwhelming anymore… But it is a major responsibility, nonetheless.

In addition, we’ve got a Broadway project in the works, a record (some very surprising song choices, unlike what you’ve heard on MySpace! Stay tuned for details!) and of course the solo gig at the Metropolitan Room… Be sure to make it! Can’t believe it’s already happening in a matter of weeks. So many songs to master, lyrics to learn by heart (ooooh, hate that part, but it’s a must, what can I say!) and fortunately some of the most incredible musicians to rehearse with in the coming weeks… That’s the best part. Billy Stein, my musical director, co-writer, producer and the most amazing, creative and witty person I’ve come across – it’s really something working with Billy… We played at SteveStocking 2009 last Tuesday and that was so much fun!! Especially the Christmas number… “White Christmas” …. One of my all-time favorites!

So much more to report but daren’t keep this too long. Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, Happy Holidays and above all, may the New Year bring you all more happiness, joy, prosperity, inspiration, health, stability (oh yes, in every way!) and peace….

Countless blessings and thanks so very much to each and every one of you for your incredible support throughout this year and all the years past,

Tinatin xxx

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300px-Mad_scientist.svgA crazy month so far… And the summer has only just kicked off!

Negotiating contracts, meeting with lawyers, publishers, agents and new
songwriting partners can be fascinating, exhausting and at times really
exciting, but what about some free time for a bit of fun and entertainment?

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to take the entire day off, let alone a
proper weekend off work, without feeling somewhat guilty deep down (“I
should be working, not hanging out!”) Although having said that, recharging
my batteries is definitely one of my priorities for the next couple of
months or so. That, along with a couple of trips that have been on the cards
for way too long, including London and possibly LA, but not excluding an
imminent return to Moscow for a potential project that is currently in the
works… Something massive but not yet finalized negotiation-wise, so I
daren’t say more!

All in all, a very exciting time but it’s also quite disappointing that I’ve
barely managed to catch up with any of my friends in-between the mad weeks
here and there. I don’t regret it for a second, of course, but sometimes I
genuinely worry that my friends will soon start accusing me of ignorance –
and that would make me feel awful!!! 😦 I wish I could place everything on
hold – or maybe a pause button? – for a day or two and just concentrate on
catching up with each and every one of them!

Oh, and guess what else is happening next weekend? A gig in Central Park!
But more on that later… with pictures and possibly even a youtube video!

In the meantime, of course, the UN Uncovered radio show and the BTR Russkiy
in the Mix show are still very much on air and in production on weekly basis
– it’s a way of switching off once a week, I guess, and thinking about the
bigger picture every now and then!

And the book… The synopsis for the sequel is already done, while the first
book is currently being reviewed and edited by the critics, so I’m excited
and just a little nervous!

Wow, would you believe that “Is It True?” is still in the charts and still
going strong? While “Thinking of Someone Else” is #2 on the iDanceFM charts
and we’ve just completed a pop cross-over radio mix in the UK, which I’ll be
posting shortly on myspace! And by the way, it has just been picked up by
Hit FM and Europe Plus, a couple of leading Russian commercial radio
stations and will probably be added to a few more top stations throughout
Russia in the next couple of weeks or so.

I’ll do my best to keep the blogs coming on regular basis and keep you all
posted at all times… My apologies again for not getting back to everyone
in timely manner but I promise to get better at it – I’m really not as good
as I used to be 😦 But I’ll improve, promise! 🙂

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Eurovision writersI couldn’t be happier or more proud! Making it to the finals has most definitely been the highlight of my trip so far. Isn’t that why we are here, after all? 

Rumor had it, just before the semi-final gala kicked off, that Iceland would either be the first to go through, or it would simply miss out by a couple of votes. The polls across the Olympiisky Stadium walls, however, had been very promising during the week. We were placed at the very top of the list, as the most likely contender for the finalist spot.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t confident… in fact, overly confident, particularly after hearing Yohanna’s semi-final performance in the Green Room – we were so proud!

But suddenly it all turned into a real Eurovision nightmare, as the finalists were announced one by one, each flag pulled out individually from the electronic envelopes. There were 10 of them in total. 1, 2, 3, 4, it wasn’t getting any easier, although what helped was the constant reminder that the results were being disclosed in random order. But still, were we going to make it? By #9 we knew it was going to be either Belarus or Iceland – or maybe neither, as Eurovision has always been famous for being completely unpredictable!

When the very last envelope was pulled out of the batch, I looked away from the screen and closed my eyes and ears. It was getting a little too intense! Would I be able to face another flag, other than our Icelandic one, when I opened my eyes? 

The singersI honestly cannot recall seeing our flag on the screen and neither can I remember hearing “Iceland” or “Is It True?” as we sat holding hands in our cozy Green Room. Yet, I do remember our screams and tears once it had finally hit home – we had made it to the finals, 10 out of 18 semi final entries! I wish I could describe how it felt without sounding too cliché,  but I can’t help it – it really was THAT amazing!!!

What’s next for our team in the coming days? Well, a couple of top notch TV shows and exclusive interviews, which have already kicked off following our big night. And it’s going to get even bigger and all the more exciting (and perhaps even more nerve-wracking) on May 16th – the Grand Finale! Dare I make any predictions? Let’s wait and see. I’m just enjoying the moment, anticipating the unknown and making the most of this fantastic experience. Had I known it was so good, I would have made my first Eurovision attempt quite a few years ago. But I suppose it’s better to do it later than never at all!

Counting down and waitingAnd now it’s time to face another crazy day filled with intense drama, excitement, madness and a whole load of fun! Who knows what the rest of the week has in store for us? It just keeps getting better…. And tougher, too!

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Eurovision LogoAs we are making last minute preparations for the semi final, due to take place tonight at 11 PM Moscow time, the excitement is building up and our overall schedule is getting tighter by the minute!

While most of the delegation parties are beginning to wind down (until the big night on the 16th) most of the participants are spending less time on the dance floor.Everyone is devoting all of their energy to the upcoming semi finals tonight, and on the 14th. As it happens, we are in the first group of semi finalists, hence the madness and major anticipation of the event.

Although the absolute highlight is bound to be the grand finale itself, tonight is quite a big deal, too – it’s pretty much down to a fantastic performance by Yohanna (we are VERY confident!) and of course, one of the primary ingredients – LUCK.

We simply MUST qualify tonight and go through to the finals, but I admit I’m a little nervous – who wouldn’t be? We all are, and if anyone says otherwise – they’re either insane or just lying!

And here’s the line up (I almost wrote the “track listing” – I’m too much of a studio nerd, I guess!)

(Composer/lyricist in brackets)

Montenegro – Andrea Demirović – Just get out of my life (Ralph Siegel/Bernd Meinunger, José Juan Santana Rodriguez)

Czech Republic – Gipsy.cz – Aven romale (Radoslav Banga)

Belgium – Copycat – Copycat (Miam Monster Miam/Jacques Duvall)

Belarus – Petr Elfimov – Eyes that never lie (Petr Elfimov/Valeriy Prokhozhy)

Sweden – Malena Ernman – La voix (Fredrik Kempe/Fredrik Kempe, Malena Ernman)

Armenia – Inga & Anush – Nor par (Mane Akopyan/Avet Barseghyan, Vardan Zadoyan)

Andorra – Susanne Georgi – La teva decisió (Get a life) (Pernilla Georgi, Susanne Georgi, Rune Braager, Lene Dissing, Marcus Winther-John/Josep Vila)

Switzerland – Lovebugs – The highest heights (Adrian Sieber, Thomas Rechberger, Florian Senn)

Turkey – Hadise – Düm tek tek (Sinan Akçil/Hadise, Sinan Akçil, Stefan Fernande)

Israel – Noa & Mira Awad – There must be another way (Noa, Mira Awad, Gil Dor)

Bulgaria – Krassimir Avramov – Illusion (Krassimir Avramov, William Tabanou/Casie Tabanou, Krassimir Avramov, William Tabanou)

Iceland – Yohanna – Is it true? (Tinatin Japaridze, Óskar Páll Sveinsson, Chris Neil)

FYR Macedonia – Next Time – Nešto što kje ostane (Damjan Lazarov, Jovan Jovanov/Elvir Mekić)

Romania – Elena Georghe – The Balkan girls (Daris Mangal, Ovidiu Bistriceanu, Laurenţiu Duţă/Laurenţiu Duţă, Alexandru Pelin)

Finland – Waldo’s People – Lose control (Karima, Ari Erik Veikko Lehtonen/Karima, Annie Kratz-Gutå, Ari Erik Veikko Lehtonen, Waldo)

Portugal – Flor-de-Lis – Todas as ruas do amor (Pedro Marques/Pedro Marques, Paulo Pereira)

Malta – Chiara – What if we? (Marc Paelinck/Gregory Bilsen)

Bosnia & Herzegovina – Regina – Bistra voda (Aleksandar Čović)

And the rules? Oh, that’s the scary part!

18 countries listed above will present one song each, including “Is It True?” representing Iceland. Nine countries will be chosen by televoting to move forward to the grand final this Saturday and the tenth spot will go to the country that placed the highest in the voting of the juries but did not qualify through televoting. Only the qualifiers will be announced during the show, and the complete results will be revealed after the final.

There’s so much more I want to tell you about the last couple of days but it’s now time for me to rush over to a meeting with my publishers (and I have to sort out one of my publishers’ lost baggage – I keep forgetting I’m one of the very few Russian speakers in our delegation… if not the only one! I love it, most of the time) and I do promise to give you all the details following our semi final. It’s all just a few hours away! I’m excited, sleepless and a little nervous – but not really. So stay tuned for the results and don’t forget to Vote for Iceland!

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Tinatin & Chris NeilThe last couple of days have been so intense and “full on” – there is absolutely no escape from the Eurovision madness. Wherever I go in Moscow, it’s unbelievable! 

Constant press conferences, interviews (TV and radio, even across the other side of the world… but more on that later!) rehearsals and parties – I truly am having a blast! But on the same note, as you may already know, I haven’t been getting any sleep – only 3 hours per night at most – since I arrived here over a week ago. Dare I complain? Hell, no! 

Spending quality time with our Icelandic delegation has become so addictive! I honestly can’t imagine not seeing them every day, come this time next week. What a great crowd of fun, creative, and professional people! If teamwork is what this is all about, then I feel extremely fortunate, especially now that we’ve really, really clicked. We have all hit it off in a big way – each and every one of us, collectively and individually. It’s so wonderful to work together with a group of people toward a common goal!

The Greek Party at our local hotspot Euro-Club was great fun last night. Some of the highlight acts of ESC 2009, including the Eurovision heartthrob himself, Sakis Rouvas, performed (mostly) live. Others mimed as well (should I just zip my lip?) and introduced their upcoming entries for the competition. This was a very particular audience, consisting of obvious Eurovision fans from all over the world.  We were no exception! 

Christopher Neil and Maria Bjork Yohanna's ManagerChris Neil, Oskar, Alma and I stood on the balcony overlooking the Euro-Club stage. We watched Yohanna blow everyone away with her performance, yet again. It would be fair to say that she blew us away too! I don’t know why, but the overall impact of the song, and the performance itself, well, both are getting stronger and stronger, instead of turning into a daily routine. This is quite unusual, I think. But then again, I’m getting so excited about the upcoming semi-final (and particularly the big final night) I can barely wait for another 48 hours!

Tonight is the official opening ceremony of the Eurovision Song Contest 2009, and the welcoming party will be held at Moscow’s historic Manezh Hall, in Red Square. Although a lot of the former Eurovision stars were lip-synching all night long, it turned out to be a very entertaining event. We all had a great time just “chilling out,” as they say. The vibe was cool and the finger food was very impressive, too. 

Unlike yesterday’s pre-Eurovision promo program, tonight’s gig featured only one of the entrants this year; Anastasia Prikhodko from Ukraine, who will represent Russia in the finals. Bizarre, isn’t it? Everyone’s representing everyone else, including our “not-so-purely Icelandic delegation!” It’s very exciting, though, since we are all so multi-national. And even though I’m Georgian-born, and not of Russian heritage at all, I am the most Russian of all the Russian representatives this year, being an official citizen of the Russkiy Land. This is all according to the local and national periodicals and news agencies. Is it true? Yes, it is!
ESCDuring the opening ceremony, my producer and co-author of the Icelandic song (our new universal term for “Is It True?”) suddenly pointed out a gentleman standing in the corner by the bar – it was Chuck Taylor, one of the leading music journalists in the United States! Or so I thought, at first…

But soon enough I realized it wasn’t Chuck; it was his secret twin brother! In all honesty, I had sworn it was really him, and then I zoomed in on the poor look-alike. I harassed him with my digital camera for the remainder of the evening, still secretly hoping he’d turn out to be Chuck Taylor’s relative in Russia!

 
Chuck Taylor look-alike on the rightJust before we all decided to call it a night, before yet another manic day (and it really is going to start getting more and more intense, from tomorrow onwards) Chris and I were interviewed over the phone by the UK’s very own Dave Charles, at HFM. It was unusual and even spooky to a certain extent, but great fun – we stood next to Lenin’s Tomb as we chatted away with Dave. We talked about my songs, our Eurovision tune and “la vie” in Moscow. Pure magic!

It’s scary, but just a couple of decades ago, conducting an overseas interview from Soviet Russia with a capitalist world journalist would have been virtually impossible! I do feel incredibly fortunate to have witnessed a tad bit of that era, but I’m even luckier to be alive in a semi-democratic world as a young person. I can say or do whatever I like… well, some of the time! 🙂

As Britney’s new single is playing in the background on Russian MTV (yes, I still watch Russian MTV once every couple of years) and as I’m slowly but surely beginning to realize I haven’t blinked an eye since the madness kicked off, first thing this morning, here’s a quick reminder before I drift off into the night: The official 6-day countdown to the main event has just begun, right here on BTR. So whatever you do, please be sure to keep your eyes on Iceland – you just NEVER know!

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ttlargeThe annual Eurovision Song Contest consists of forty-three participating nations, including most of NATO, the Eastern European block and Israel. It is one of the most anticipated television events in all of Europe, attracting anywhere from 100 to 200 million viewers worldwide on a yearly basis. 

Originally conceived in 1956, as a means for peaceful reunification of European countries following the Second World War, the premier international song festival has also served as a career launching platform for some bright musical careers. Celine Dion, ABBA, Julio Iglesias and many other household names have established themselves in this massive kaleidoscope of contemporary music.

The ESC winner is determined by an hour-long (and a rather nerve-wrecking) telephone and jury voting system. There is one strict rule that no one is allowed to break – the callers cannot choose their own nation’s entry. Fair enough! But the Scandinavian countries will always vote for each other no matter what, and so will the Eastern European block – over the years, the geopolitical aspect of the contest has unfortunately proved insurmountable!

Ironically, Eurovision 2009 will be taking place in the Russian capital for the first time in the 54 year history of the event, from May 12-16. And I say “ironically” because the idea of applying as either a songwriter or an artist in the national pre-selection process has never really entered my mind, until just recently.

In 1999-2000, when I was just starting out as an aspiring musician, there were casual talks in Moscow about sending me to ESC to represent Russia as its Georgian-born Russkiy citizen. However, the chances of beating famous Russian pop stars in the internal polls were minimal as a completely unknown 15-year-old girl. So I decided to wait, and take my chances at a later stage in my career…

Almost a decade – and many songs – later, I got a call from Reykjavik in October, from my long-time collaborator (and very well-known Icelandic songwriter/producer) Oskar Pall Sveinsson (known for his UK & US hits as Oskar Paul). He asked if I had any objections to his idea of pitching a song we had co-written together with the legendary producer Christopher Neil, as a possible contender to represent Iceland at the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest in May of 2009.

“We’ll have to find an Icelandic artist to sing the song in order to qualify, but a multi-national songwriting team should go down well in the pre-selection process,” Oskar promised. “And besides, the contest will be held in Moscow next year – could it be any better for you?”

To make a long story short, 217 songs, 4 weeks of semifinals and a nationally televised grand finale later, the wonderfully gifted Yohanna’s performance of “Is It True” granted us a staggering 44% of the national votes across the country. Thanks to overwhelming support, the song immediately qualified as the official Icelandic entry, and it will compete against 41 of the best pop songs from Europe in mid-May… Just a few weeks away!

Since the primary concept of ESC is to find the best pop song, some the most renowned scribes in the world team up to compete. This year’s “contestants” include Andrew Lloyd Webber, Ronan Keating, my hero Diane Warren, and many more. Really, why wouldn’t they want to write the signature song of the year?

Could I be anymore humbled looking at the list of my colleagues and “competitors”? In fact, I’d be lying if I said that I’m not nervous – but at the same time I am oh so excited!

BTR will bring you exclusive coverage of this event through the eyes of a participant – up close, personal and totally unplugged at the biggest European song festival of the year. It just might be a first for the American media.

You can follow the three-week journey, promo tour, semi-finals and grand finale (we simply must qualify – and you’ll be the first to know about the outcome!) right here on my DJ blog. I’ll be sharing the latest news and pictures from my all my Eurovision adventures.

So, gear up, hop on my train of ESC madness and let’s make it true for Iceland together!

Tinatin’s Eurovision Ride with BTR

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800px-russian_flag_with_map
From today’s Iceland Review:

27/03/2009 | 11:55

Iceland Reveals Secret Eurovision Weapon

The secret is out! Russian singer-songwriter Tinatin Japaridze co-wrote Iceland’s contribution to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow, the ballad “Is it True?” performed by Icelandic singer Jóhanna Gudrún Jónsdóttir.

“We tried to keep it secret because we wanted people to value the song for what it is but not vote for it because of political interests,” Japaridze told Fréttabladid.

Japaridze is currently translating parts of the lyrics into Russian to promote it in her home country. She is very pleased with Jónsdóttir’s rendition of it and is confident that she will deliver a grand performance in Moscow.

Click here to read more about Iceland’s Eurovision contribution and here to watch Jónsdóttir perform “Is it True?”

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