Argo will represent Greece at the Eurovision Song Contest, this week in Stockholm, Sweden. This year’s song is “Utopian Land”.
Greece in Eurovision
These are the words used by online fans, to describe Greece’s entry this year for the Eurovision Song Contest 2016. The song, “Utopian Land”, will be performed by the group Argo, formerly known as EuroPond, in Stockholm, Sweden.
Prior to the upcoming 2016 contest, Greece has participated in the Eurovision Song Contest thirty-six times since its debut in 1974. Though Greece has placed in the top 10 many times – and every year since 2004 –, but has one only won once, in 2005 with the song “My Number One“, performed by Helena Paparizou.
For the first time since 2004, Greece did not use a national finals process to select their artist and/or song. In previous years, the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) had used various methods to select Greece’s entries such as internal publicized selections and televised national finals to choose the performer, song or both to compete in Eurovision. This year’s selection was chosen and assigned by the station, internally, rather than involving outside votes and or competition.
Greece will perform in the first semi-final on May 10. The grand final will take place on May 14.
Argo originates from Thesaloniki, Greece. The group is comprised of seven members, however, in accordance with EuroVision rules, only six will perform. They include Christina Lachana (vocals), Maria Venetikidou (backing vocals), Vladimiros Sofianidis (vocals), Kostas Topouzis (Pontian lyra), Ilias Kesidis (backing vocals, percussion), and Alekos Papadopoulos (davul).
The reason why the the band changed their name from EuroPond to Argo for the contest is not known, but the majority seem to agree — the name Argo is preferred for the sake of the competition.
“Utopian Land”, written by the band member Vladimiros Sofianidis, is about a journey and a path to a “destination that dawns.” For many, it carries a strong message of optimistic resilience indicative of the current immigration issues the country and people of Greece presently face.
Argo’s performance will consist of lyrics in Greek, English, and for the first time, Pontian dialect (most members the group originate from the Black Sea region). The song makes reference to the history of immigration difficulties of Pontos in the past in Greece, and compares it to the immigration issues Greece is currently facing.
The ERT director spoke about the song.
“The song has strong ethnic and Balkan sounds, but not in a traditional way. It’s an exciting song in Greek, bringing the country’s own identity to the contest.”
This is an entry characteristic that reportedly is lacking in the majority of this year’s Eurovision contestants.
The song also encompasses the use of the Pontian lyra and drums. The lyra was frequently used by the ancient Greeks as an accompaniment to poems and theatre, and is used by Greeks of Pontos and in Crete. Pontian dance will also be included in the performance during the competition, and can be viewed briefly in the music video.
WATCH THE VIDEO
Uplifting lyrics such as “our generation will survive no matter what is done to us”, combined with an uplifting title, “Utopian Land” (an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect), make for a song that the whole nation of Greece may relate. And while there are just as many haters of the song as there are lovers, one things for sure — the song “Utopian Land” is indicative of a much longed for state by many, during a time of chaos and uncertainty.
As stated by one of the band members,
“Remember, utopia is not impossible.”
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