Image Credit: RTVE
On Tuesday 31st January, we saw Agoney, Alice Wonder, Fusa Nocta and Megara get one step closer to representing Spain at Eurovision 2023. Now it’s time for a second crop of artists to battle for a place in the final of Benidorm Fest.
Here’s everything you need to know about the nine artists taking part in Semi Final 2.
Alfred García – ‘Desde que tu estás
Alfred García Castillo – who drops his last name when he is performing – is a 25 year old singer-songwriter from El Prat de Llobregat, Catalonia but based in Barcelona. He started publishing his own music at the age of 15, with his self-produced debut album ‘Beginning’. However, Alfred became known more widely to Spanish audiences in 2017 when he took part in the popular TV talent show Operación Triunfo, finishing fourth overall. Historically, Spain used the show to find their Eurovision representative and as a result of winning the Gala Eurovision portion of the show, Alfred and his then-girlfriend Amaia would compete in Eurovision 2018 with ‘Tu Canción’, placing 23rd overall. Since then, Alfred has gone on to release two studio albums ‘1016’ and ‘1997’.
‘Desde que tu estás’, his offering for Benidorm Fest, was written alongside Raúl Gómez who also composed ‘Tu Canción’. If you loved 2018’s romantic ballad, you are sure to love his 2023 solo effort, which Alfred said was about “a relationship with someone who comes into your life and makes it better” in an interview with That Eurovision Site. In this same interview, he said he was looking forward to appearing in Benidorm Fest, seeing it as a new way to celebrate Spanish music and culture. You can listen to his song below:
Blanca Paloma – ‘Eaea’
Blanca Paloma is a 33 year old singer and set and costume designer from Elche. Little was known of her until she appeared in last year’s edition of Benidorm Fest, where her performance of her song ‘Secreto de Agua’ wowed jurors and fans alike, earning her fifth place in the final.
If there’s one thing we’ve come to expect from Blanca, it’s incredible vocals and we definitely get those in this year’s song ‘Eaea’. Co-written with José Pablo Polo, the song has flamenco roots and features vocalisations throughout that showcase Blanca’s undeniably fantastic singing voice. The lyrics take on the form of a lullaby. Could she blow us all away as she did last year? You can listen to ‘Eaea’ below:
E’Femme – ‘Uff!’
E’Femme formed in 2019 and is comprised of members Sandy, Melania, Lottie and Bubu, all of whom are based in Madrid. They sing in both English and Spanish and met through a shared love of dance, music, fashion and K-Pop. Prior to Benidorm Fest, their most popular song was ‘Vroom vroom’, which showcases their love for slick dance routines and bags of attitude.
Given that all four girls are huge K-Pop fans, it’s no surprise that ‘Uff!’ is heavily inspired by the genre. Co-written alongside well-known composer Antonio Escobar and 2016 Spanish Eurovision artist Barei, the girls said in an interview with That Eurovision Site that the song deals with themes of female empowerment but they want everyone to get strength from the song. They are passionate about wanting to represent Spain at Liverpool and already establishing themselves as fan favourites. Could it stand them in good stead at Benidorm Fest? You can listen to their song below:
Famous – ‘La Lola’
Famous Oberogo, billed simply as Famous, was born in Amsterdam but raised in Seville and is of Nigerian descent. The 23 year old made waves on Spanish television when he won the 2018 edition of Operación Triunfo, which fellow competitors Alfred Garcia and Agoney have also competed in. Through the Gala Eurovision show, Famous also hoped to represent Spain in Eurovision 2019. However, it was Miki and his song ‘La Venda’ that would fly to Tel Aviv that year. Most recently, Famous has been treading the boards in Madrid, covering the role of Mufasa in the musical version of The Lion King.
His entry ‘La Lola’ combines both Latin and African influences and with a rousing, catchy chorus it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser at Benidorm Fest. Could 2023 be Famous’ chance to represent Spain at Eurovision? You can listen to his song below:
José Otero – ‘Inviernos en Marte’
32 year old José Otero is originally from Las Palmas, Gran Canaria but his singing career has taken him around the world. At just 18, he caught a flight to London to audition for The X Factor but did not progress far. As he told Spanish news site El Espanol, “I had the biggest embarrassment of my life because I came up to the judges and I didn’t speak English.” However, this casting caught the attention of The BRIT School in London, which has helped to launch the career of many successful British artists including Adele, Amy Winehouse and Jessie J. José went on to release the English-language single ‘I Told You’ in 2016. However, realising he wanted to make music more suited to the Spanish market, José moved to Mexico where he took part in La Voz in 2019. José progressed to the Top 3 Round of the show before being eliminated.
In his interview with El Espanol, José has explained that ‘Inviernos en Marte’ is about “accepting vulnerability” and has even given some hints on the song’s staging, saying, “Starting a song that accepts that you give up, says a lot. In fact, the song ends with me surrendering on stage.” He is also a self-confessed Eurofan, telling El Espanol, “I’ve always been a great follower. It’s a more beautiful music platform, more spectacular. I don’t see another place where you’re going to sing with such a gigantic production.” You can listen to his song below:
Karmento – ‘Quiero y duelo’
Karmento (Carmen Toledo) is a singer-songwriter who is originally from Albacete but has been living in Malta for over ten years. It was here that she began to write music, self-publishing her first album ‘Mudanzas’ which she released in 2015. Her follow-up album, ‘Este devinir’ was published in 2020.
Karmento draws her inspiration from traditional Spanish music and folklore, having been taught to sing by her grandmother as a child. Her influence is certainly apparent in her song ‘Quiero y duelo’ and Karmento is passionate about bringing roots music into the present day. Will she manage it by progressing to the final? You can listen to her song below:
Rakky Ripper – ‘Tracción’
Rakky Ripper (Raquel García Cabrerizo) is a 27 year old musician from Granada. She started her career making music with trap and reggaeton roots but in recent years has emerged as one of the pioneers of the Spanish hyperpop genre. This ultimately led to her being recognised by Vogue Espana as one of the country’s most promising talents in 2021.
With Luna Ki withdrawing from last year’s Benidorm Fest due to being unable to use autotune in her hyperpop track (you can read all about that and the wider debate around autotune at Eurovision in this article), all eyes are on Rakky to see how she will perform live. Her song ‘Tracción’ mixes hardcore, drum & bass and techno and its lyrics deal with themes of unexpressed and repressed feelings for someone. You can listen to it here:
Siderland – ‘Que esclati tot’
Siderland are a Catalan band made up of Uri Plana (vocals and guitar), Albert Sort (bass) and Andreu Manyós (drums). Although this is their first time performing in Benidorm Fest, they were almost in last year’s competition. Having their song ‘Tragedia i calor’ submitted through a website, they were ultimately pipped to the semi-finals by 2022’s Unique and Marta Sango. However, if either contestant had been unable to make it, Siderland would have been their first alternate and could have had the chance to head to Turin.
This year, Siderland are back with their song ‘Que esclati tot’. According to their bio on the RTVE website, the song is about:
The story of two people who love each other, but who react in opposite ways to a collapsing world. While one accepts fate and prepares for what may come, the other refuses to accept it and is left alone waiting for the end.RTVE.es
Siderland perform all their songs in Catalan and will make Benidorm Fest history, marking the first time a song in this language is eligible for the competition, although Tanxugeiras included snippets of it in their song ‘Terra’ last year. You can listen to ‘Que esclati tot’ below:
Vicco – ‘Nochentera’
Vicco (Victoria Riba) is a 26 year old singer-songwriter from Barcelona. Although it is her first time performing at Benidorm Fest, she is no stranger to trying her luck at Eurovision, being one of the composers of ‘Muérdeme’ by Maria, which was runner up to ‘La Venda’ in Operacion Triunfo. She has also collaborated with fellow semi-finalists Siderland on the song ‘Crema la pista’.
Vicco’s song ‘Nochentera’ is a play on words, translating in Spanish as both ’80s night’ and ‘the whole night’ and explores the joyful, giddy feeling of realising you have feelings for a person and wanting to be near them. Speaking to RTVE, Vicco has said her main aim at Benidorm Fest is to “throw a party and make everyone forget about the bad and start dancing the whole night.” Will she be successful? You can listen to her song below:
After Tuesday, anything could happen so make sure you tune in to hear your favourites. Only 4 will qualify, and it all comes down to the 50% jury vote, 25% televote and 25% demoscopic jury. You can watch the show live on RTVE Play on Thursday 2nd February at 21:50 GMT/22:50 CET.