Photo Credit: HEMI Music Hub
She won the international televote of Czech national final ESCZ by a considerable margin and now Aiko has her sights set on further success at the Eurovision Song Contest 2024. Read on to learn more about Aiko, her career so far and her journey to Eurovision.
Who is Aiko?
23-year-old Aiko (real name Alena Shirmanova-Kostebelova) was born in Moscow, Russia but grew up in Karlovy Vary, a spa city in Czechia. She did not come from a musical family so began teaching herself to play guitar from a young age, eventually posting covers to YouTube. This then led her to audition for Česko Slovenská SuperStar (the Czech-Slovak version of Pop Idol) at just 15-years-old, ultimately making it to the semi-finals. You can watch her audition below:
Speaking of the experience with the publication Indiespect, Aiko said:
Some people are very keen on going into the TV. I never actually watched that show. But I thought: let’s try. And it sort of worked out. It was actually one of my first live gigs – quite funny. I realised that I really want to be in that industry and I was first kicked to start my own music and just go for it fully. I’m very grateful for that. But other than that, it was just a nice TV experience.Aiko, Interview with Indiespect
Following this, Aiko began writing her own songs, eventually moving to London to study music. She currently lives in Brighton and in an interview with Moths and Giraffes, Aiko explained that the process of moving to different countries and cities “really keeps me creative”. She has released three studio albums: her self-titled debut in 2018, ‘Expiration Date’ in 2020 and ‘Fortune’s Child‘ in 2023, which includes her ESCZ entry ‘Pedestal’.
The Journey to Eurovision
On 28th November 2023, Aiko was announced as one of the seven finalists participating in ESCZ. Although the entries would not officially be debuted until the day of the national final, many speculated ‘Pedestal’ would be her entry due to its late September release date and length of 2 minutes and 32 seconds. It was co-written by Steven Ansell, a Brighton-based music producer and member of the alternative rock band Blood Red Shoes. This rock sound is evident in ‘Pedestal’, which lyrically deals with themes of empowerment through self-love. In an interview with music publication Altcorner, Aiko implored fans to listen to it, saying it would “make you feel like you’re the main character in your own story!”
Aiko was first to perform on Monday 4th December, joined by guitarist David and drummer Otto, as well as two backing dancers. Viewers had one week to vote for their favourite performance, with 70% going to international voters and 30% being decided by the Czech public. Ultimately, while Aiko only scored fifth with the Czech vote, her score with the international voters was more than enough to secure her overall victory. You can see a breakdown of the results below:
How Will Aiko Fare in Malmö?
At such an early stage of the national final season, with only ‘Pedestal’ and ‘Mon Amour’ by Slimane confirmed as Eurovision entries, it is difficult to tell how Aiko will fare. Representing Czechia, she will have to compete in one of the two semi-finals in the hopes of securing a place at the Grand Final on Saturday 11th May.
Some ESCZ viewers have expressed concerns about Aiko’s live vocals in the national final. Could this impact on Aiko’s ability to qualify or score highly with the judges? Only time will tell. However, the Head of International PR for Czechia at Eurovision, Ahmad Halloun, has been quick to dispel this idea, tweeting:
You said so about We Are Domi and Vesna. It won’t qualify, it’s a flop. Doesn’t sound like the studio version. And we delivered every single time. We have time to prepare and many resources in Eurovision. So let us do the job and enjoy the ride. Be happy and be kind.Ahmad Halloun
It is certainly true that Czechia have plenty of time to make their dreams for ‘Pedestal’ become a reality. We will certainly be wishing them and Aiko the best of luck this May!
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