Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #6 Written by on May 5, 2015 | 21 Comments

Bags are being packed all across the Eurovision world as everyone gets ready to fly to Vienna this weekend for the start of the ‘on the ground’ part of the year. Just before those departures, there’s time not only to have another episode of Juke Box Jury, but to welcome a special guest judge in the form of Richard Taylor from Eurovoix!

Otherwise it’s business as usual, as Minipops’ Ben Morris and host Ewan Spence keep Taylor on track with the hits, misses, or maybes.

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #6
with Ben Morris and Richard Taylor.

Slovenia: Here For You, by Maraaya.
Ireland
: Playing With Numbers, by Molly Sterling.
Macedonia
: Autumn Leaves, by Daniel Kajmakoski
Italy
: Grande Amore, by Il Volo.
The Netherlands
: Walk Along, by Trjintje Oosterhuis.

ESC Insight will be continuing our coverage of Eurovision 2015  until we find our winner for the year. Keep up to date with the Insight Podcasts through the podcast’s dedicated RSS feed or  subscribe to ESC Insight in the iTunes Store and get the show automatically downloaded.

About The Author: Ewan Spence

British Academy (BAFTA) nominated broadcaster and writer Ewan Spence is the voice behind The Unofficial Eurovision Song Contest Podcast and one of the driving forces behind ESC Insight. Having had an online presence since 1994, he is a noted commentator around the intersection of the media, internet, technology, mobility and how it affects us all. Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, his work has appeared on the BBC, The Stage, STV, and The Times. You can follow Ewan on Twitter (@ewan) and Facebook (facebook.com/ewanspence).

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21 responses to “Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #6”

  1. Esceire says:

    To be honest, if we sent Anybody got a shoulder I would have cried and more or less just quit ESC 2015 and not bother going to ESC and just turn my focus to 2016. We were doomed this year no matter what we sent and Molly was probably the best choice by process of elimination.

  2. John O'Shea says:

    I get fed up of people saying “it’s not for Eurovision”. I think this is a good song with an interesting singer/writer and the first time in a few years that Ireland have sent a song that is not guessing what Europe wants. These are always the songs that do well IMO

  3. Kevin says:

    SLOVENIA – I really like the song. It’s definitely in my top 10 and I think they can do that in the final in Vienna as well. I’m not crazy about her voice though and I think they should change the stage act. They could be ruining a potential top 5 finish.
    HIT

    IRELAND – I just think this is very boring. Part of the chorus I do kind of like, but I don’t think this will qualify. If it does I expect bottom 5.
    MISS

    MACEDONIA – This has grown a lot on me and it’s very close to my top 10 now. I have no idea how this will do though. I fear it won’t do that well unfortunately. Borderline qualifier.
    MAYBE

    ITALY – I like it, but I don’t really think it will win. France flopped with a song like this, but Amaury looked a bit nervous and I think they will perform it better. I expect it to finish in the top 7 though.
    HIT

    THE NETHERLANDS – The good thing about this song for me is that it sounds a lot better live. The studio version could lose the last 30 seconds, but live she manages to liven it up. They are using the same director as The Common Linnets so I hope he comes up with something original for this as well. I’m predicting a borderline qualifier at probably somewhere around 15th in the final.
    MAYBE

  4. Jon Spector says:

    What’s with all this Ireland bashing Ewan? I have been listening over the last weeks and you have been constantly on Ireland’s case. This years song isn’t great but you have been slagging off Ireland’s Eurovision efforts and reputation and it’s definitely gone too far. It’s kind of like you are picking on them. (I’m British btw)

  5. Esceire says:

    @John This is a British Panel, do you honestly think they were going to say anything nice about the Irish entry? You might as well ask an Armenian if they like the Azerbaijani entry

  6. Ewan Spence says:

    John,
    sorry to disappoint, there’s no huge master plan or ‘must kick Ireland’, I call it as I see it, and RTE (much like the UK) are putting up a minimal viable product to attend Eurovision and get TV viewership at home. I saw far more promise in Kat Mahon’s song, and I believe that would have had a far better chance than Molly Sterling to qualify. But I also saw a tired national final format, a lack of promotion or belief in the winning song, a reliance on past glories from the delegation, and I much prefer to see a hunger in my ESC songs.

  7. Esceire says:

    @Ewan there were two songs in our selection that we could NOT send to Vienna and AGAS? Was one of them. Its a dated ballad with nothing special about it compared to previous efforts where PWN is a contempory ballad sung by a young girl who co-wrote the song while playing the piano, there is nothing quite like her in the contest and from previous contests the only comparable acts i can think of are BEL 2010,1982. Plus its right before SM which will make it stand out. I just don’t get how you can give Cyprus a hit and Ireland a Miss when Cyprus is just a poormans Ireland which is clearly going to end up like Axel Heirsoux from last year. CYP is 3rd last on average in all youtube tops and I know you cant really be taking that into account but it does really say alot.

  8. Esceire says:

    @Ewan Sorry for spamming at this stage but id say a large reason for pack of promotion was down to what happened to Ryan, He went to EIC and went to Russia and after all that he comes dead last.

  9. Ewan Spence says:

    Cathal, did we not do this dance last year of you bigging up Ireland, convinced I was wrong and it would shine, and it, er, didn’t? Juke Box Jury starts debate, but let’s not go round in circles *again* 🙂

  10. Cathal says:

    @Ewan I will openly admit that you were right last year and I have no shame in saying that now in the cold light of day. But to be fair as you said it was the B side to IRE 2013 and there were all the claims of plagerism etc and I did denie all this and when it payed the price I quite openly took the eggs coming my way. But then again the great thing about being a human and not a machine is that we BOTH can be wrong, while in saying you and the panel were extremely harsh ill take egg if im proven wrong.

  11. Seán says:

    I would point out that as an Irish person, the use of a definitive article for Eurovision is correct as the there are no other Eurovisions. 🙂 – That’s how you’d say it in Irish too – Junior is going to be fun this year.

  12. Esceire says:

    You were right last year and I was wrong! But then again you were wrong about Ireland 2013 sooooo that evens it out xD. I do think you were incredibly harsh in this JBJ which is strange considering you gave Cyprus a HIT when Cyprus is just a weaker and more boring version of the Irish song. I feel a lot of the reason you dislike the Irish song is because your bitter about Ireland’s attitude towards to contest which i guess is fair enough considering I was the exact same about the UK in recent times ( not this year though).

  13. Esceire says:

    Personally I love the song but unlike last year i don’t have high hopes about its chances, I personally feel its probably going to end up like NED 2014 SHOULD have ended up. I just hope we get to the final and don’t come last! Ill take that to be perfectly honest. But overall the whole selection process is a total sham, we get 320 songs submitted and somehow end up with drivel like “She’s so fine” ( if that was one of the top 5 submissions then I shudder to think what the bottom 5 where) to put it into context the Estonian Selection had 260 submissions ( which was actually the most they have ever had submitted) and they are able to have 2 semi finals….And now they are probably the winners of ESC 2015 and we are just hoping for qualification. I think the panel picking the songs just wanted a ballad to represent us as they had 3 decent ballads and then a crap rap song and then a pop song by swede ( picking a swedish song to make sure it wouldn’t get picked), Personally i kinda hope we don’t qualify because i have a massive complaint letter ready to send to RTE. Rant over!

  14. Ah, back to the ‘some good, some not so good’ selection!

    Slovenia: HIT. From the moment I saw Maraaya perform at EMA 2015, I absolutely loved this. Marjetka’s distinctive voice and look, Raay’s infectious nods and winks to camera and even the ‘virtual violinist’ all joined together to give a perfect synergy, a superb pop record. It is one of only two songs this year that have made the hairs on the back of my neck go up and make me think ‘this could win’ (together with Australia). I would love it to win – it is a definite qualifier and dependant on draw/staging, this will be a contender in the Final.

    Ireland: MISS. Molly has huge potential and obviously can sing, she is a raw talent. ‘Playing With Numbers’ is pleasant and sounds nice but having watched the Irish NF, she was the best of a poor selection. The favourites did not do the business (bit like the Greek NF) and personally Erika Selin would have got Ireland into the Final. Ireland is in the death slot of number 2 in the SF, immediately after the most upbeat fun song this year (Lithuania) and before Disney-central San Marino. I think this will be yet another non-qualifier for Ireland.

    Macedonia: MAYBE. I like this and it sounds better in English than in Macedonian (just). It is well sung, he’s got stage charisma and I hope it makes it out of the SF. What might not help is the fact that this is almost all on one level vocally and that might lose memorability with the audience. It won’t do massively well in the Final, grant you!

    Italy: HIT. They sing perfectly, that’s a given – it’s also a given that the juries will love this and score them in the top 5. What is an unknown is whether pop opera will appeal to the viewing public as much as it always does ie. not a lot. I think we might have a reverse of Poland last year, where the juries overruled the viewers and kept that low, this year the public might keep this mid-table. It is powerful, they look good but I am still not convinced this is a winner – top 10 yes, but not a winner. A top 5 would be a good result.

    The Netherlands: MAYBE. Another artist who can sing live superbly but this song is a minute too long in its current form. It is catchy but loses its way and that will stop this reaching the heights of Anouk and The Common Linnets. She also isn’t very good as far as staging is concerned – she needs to stop pointing and floating her arm! As it is, mid-table would be a good result.

    At least this episode has my favourite track this year!

  15. Fatima says:

    1) Can we please ban the use of “cheesy” as a critique. One man’s cheese is another man’s whimsy and fromage is our friend
    2) More bitching about Scott Mills please
    3) Can someone tell Daniel Kajmakoski that it wasn’t a good idea to present a song about autumn leaves in May
    4) I agree with Ewan about Il Volo. They are from San Remo so they will know all about song contests
    5) I also agree with Ewan the wasted repetitive lyrics in the Netherlands. I also think the same applies to Estonia which has far too many didn’t-wake-ups

  16. Ben P says:

    1) Slovenia – I really like this and think it’s pretty catchy. I know a lot of people think the woman miming the violin shouldn’t be on stage but I think it’ll provide a good visual reference for voters. It also satirises the point that even if she had a real violin she’d still have to mime (I know Tinkara last year was bemused by the fact she couldn’t play her flute live and it probably stuck in Raay’s head as he was the composer of her entry). I hope she wears something different to the NF outfit. Slovenia could get their best ever placing or even win. She brings the song to life better live than on the recording. Hit.

    2. Ireland – I think I’m one of the few people who really like this and hope it qualifies. I had it in my head when I woke up the morning after the NF. I think the lyric content is interesting and enigmatic and it’s not immediately clear what happened to end the relationship she’s singing about. This is so much better than last year and I’m sure she’ll perform it better than Kasey and Can-Linn last year (whose presentation was all about being as Irish as possible even though it had nothing to do with the song). That said, it will really struggle to qualify from the second place draw and could easily slip through the net because it’s not immediate enough. It pains me to say it, but it’s probably going to be a miss if I look at it dispassionately.

    3. Macedonia – I think he’s a good singer and the song was ok when chosen in Macedonian. It’s slightly better in English but nothing hugely memorable and Macedonia doesn’t have the luxury of being able to qualify whatever they send. Miss.

    4. Italy – this is very good and could easily win. It’d be good for the contest in my opinion to have a non-English language winner. They’re a good looking, approachable trio of guys and that normally helps and could do well with the so-called “Mum vote”. They’re so much better than Amaury (whose song was harder to understand – most people know enough Italian to know what Grande Amore means – and he didn’t look like he was enjoying himself) and La Voix from 2009 (who everyone seems to forget) that just came across as an awkward slice of popera without hit potential. They look like they really enjoy performing it and this charisma will translate to the viewer. Hit.

    5. Netherlands – Disappointed by this. Trijntje has a wonderful voice and it’s being wasted here. The first opening verse shows the promise of her voice and nothing much happens after that. I’m very surprised Anouk wrote a song with such repetitive lyrics after Birds that whose lyric content was complicated and rich. I don’t hate the song because it’s performed well enough to bring out its limited potential, it’s a good singalong song and for first time viewers it may be less annoying. It could scrape into the final but will be a let down after the previous two Dutch entries. Maybe.

  17. Eric Graf says:

    Slovenia – HIT. Best uptempo song in the contest this year, and my personal fave of 2015. I’d have it as a potential winner if it had some laser-projected stick figures.

    Ireland – MAYBE. In theory, that gorgeous “give a little love” hook is going to pop out of that highlights video and everyone will run to the phones. The ONLY reason I have it as a maybe is because, like UK, I have absolute faith that Ireland can screw up anything. (They’ve already knocked this song down a bit by gooping up the arrangement, in an apparent attempt to make this sound exactly like all the other entries. Idjits.) Staging will be crucial, and the less the better, but this is **potentially** Ireland’s best result in years. As an aside, reading comments from UK and Ireland arguing about whose entries get “unfairly” slagged is the funniest thing I’ve seen all day. It’s like arguing about who has the best Mexican food in town – Taco Bell or Del Taco. (/obscure American reference)

    FYR Macedonia – MISS. It’s just sort of … there. Won’t qualify.

    Italy – HIT. Potential here to wreck it with silly staging, but I doubt Italy would do that, and these guys will NOT screw up the performance. But winner? Nah. Not mainstream enough. (Never forget the Klapa from Croatia, who were magnificent and got rewarded with bupkis.)

    Netherlands – HIT, barely. She’s good, and the why-yi-yi-yi-yi hook works in Mexico (and at Taco Bell) and will work here too. It’s kind of dull tho’. It’ll easily qualify but then land mid-chart.

  18. Shai says:

    Slovenia – One of the best songs in this year’s contest. I am slightly put off by the presentation HIT(with a small question mark).

    Ireland – Not a bad song, but Richard is correct it will get lost. Beside – in its semi there at least 10 better and/or memorable songs than this one – MISS

    Macedonia – Sometime I like it, sometime I don’t. Not sure what to make of it – MAYBE

    Italy – It ticks all the right boxes. In its genre this is one of the best of its kind. However, the 3 minutes version sounds a bit awkward to me – HIT(again with a question mark)

    The Netherlands – Catchy, yes. Middle of the road and safe, yes. The repeating whyyyyyyy? has a great irritation factor – MAYBE

  19. John Lucas says:

    SLOVENIA: I really like this song, it’s definitely one of the more modern entries this year and I’d love to see Slovenia do well. I’m not so worried about the violin woman, but I *am* worried about the headphones. I think they create a disconnect between the singer and the viewer. The song itself is very warm, and such a cold, distant performance choice could be a real mismatch. One that very much depends on how effectively she works the stage – MAYBE.

    IRELAND: I too have major issues with Ireland’s attitude to the contest, but to be fair this isn’t terrible. As far as recent Irish entries go, it’s the least gimmicky thing they’ve sent in about a decade. The biggest crime is that it’s forgettable. If they swapped places with Poland I think they’d qualify, but it’s too tasteful to stand out from here. MISS.

    MACEDONIA: Since I picked up this year’s official CD, this song has really crept up on me as one of the strongest compositions of this year’s crop. I don’t really hear much Balkan, for me this is an excellent attempt at a Daniel Merriweather style blue-eyed soul-pop track. My concern is that it doesn’t really have a lot of wow factor, and it could very easily get lost in the shuffle. Which would be a huge shame as this is the best Macedonian entry in many a year, and I’d hate to see them become disheartened by another flop. MAYBE

    ITALY: If the Youtube figures are any indication, this could be very, very dangerous. I do have that hesitation when I think of all the other Popera entries that went before, but I do think this is a cut above and much more contest friendly. I really don’t want it to win though – it’d be terrible for the contest from a musical standpoint, and after 1991 I really don’t trust Italy to host the thing. Surely in the top ten though so a HIT.

    NETHERLANDS: I really love this song, it gives me a lovely 90s Natalie Imbruglia/Bille Myers feeling. However, I’m quite annoyed that they released it about six months ago, and in that time they’ve done nothing to address the obvious issue that it totally flatlines around the 2 minute mark. Somebody on team NL is being very stubborn indeed, because they can’t possibly be unaware of it. That said, I think the biggest asset is Trijnte herself, who is a tremendous singer. There’s a live acoustic performance of it where she does some extra ad-libs near the end and it’s amazing the difference it makes. I actually think she should replicate it exactly, a warmer, acoustic-style performance is a lot more flattering to the song than the current arrangement with that weird clunky synth line running through it. I really want this in the final, I have a lot of goodwill for Trijntje and coming between Belgium and Finland I think it’ll stand out as being a very warm, simple and inviting pop star. An optimistic MAYBE.

  20. HarrietKrohn says:

    Slovenia – Definitely one of my favourites this year. Great rhythm, interesting voice, very catchy. I too have issues with the headphones. I know they’re supposed to “build the bridge” between being in the studio and performing live at a concert, but that’s not obvious to the general viewer who will most probably go “huh?”. I can just hope they’ll shrug it off and enjoy the song, because it is a big HIT.

    Ireland – It took me a while, but now I really like it. It’s a song that is simple, but in a good way. Molly too has an interesting voice, and she really seems more mature than 17 (she had a birthday between the NF and now). But the fact that it wasn’t instant with me does not bode well for PWN, and I fear Ireland might get overlooked. Number 2 is not a death slot in the semis, but the neighbours will probably push Molly in the background and only the juries can save her. I hope they will. MAYBE

    Macedonia – This is the opposite of Ireland for me, because I quite liked it in the beginning but have tired of it a bit now. For the contest, that’s better though. However, the song does not stand out and although it is pleasant enough, I doubt it will have enough instant appeal to bring it to the final. For me personally though it’s a MAYBE.

    Italy – Oh dear God, please don’t let this win. I’m not going to say I hate it, but it’s close. Classical music with modern beats and a drum set makes me nauseous. I agree this will probably do better than Sognu and the likes, but I think it would be a terrible thing for the contest if it actually won. My hope is that Italy doesn’t want to win either and they’ll find a way to wreck the performance, but that might just be wishful thinking. 😉 On the night probably a hit, but for me it’s quite a MISS.

    The Netherlands – Meh. After the first 30 seconds, the song is basically done. It’s so repetitive that it drives me crazy, and Trijntje’s only hope has to be that first time viewers/listeners will not concentrate on the song so closely so they won’t notice and rather find it catchy. Although I would like it if the Netherlands could qualify again, somehow I don’t think this song deserves it. Although I wouldn’t be upset if they managed to get out of their semi, depending on who they kick out instead. MAYBE, but only because of Trijntje.

  21. Gert Waterink says:

    SLOVENIA: ‘Here For You’, by Maraaya:
    ———————————————————-
    “HIT”: Duffy meets Nancy Sinatra, although much more up-tempo and with a stronger beat. It’s a very surprisingly soulful entry for Slovenia, and although I don’t really like her wearing her headphones, overall it still profits from Maraaya’s focus on singing. It’s devoid of any dancing or choreography from her side, and that could help. It looks slick enough and professional. Based on the live performances I’ve seen so far this is almost certain TOP 10 material in the final. But maximum 4th or 5th place, not higher. Qualifying chances: 100%

    IRELAND: ‘Playing With Numbers’, by Molly Sterling:
    ———————————————————-
    “MAYBE”: In all honesty, I really like the entry. It’s perhaps the best slow-tempo Irish entry I’ve heard since ‘Rock ‘n Roll Kids’. But then I ask myself, WHY would ORF give her such a ghastly 2nd running order grid? Anyway, in the smaller semi finals and with help of juries the running order draw isn’t that important. From the first 5 entries in this semi-final, Ireland is the best from a quality point of view. STILL, I am not sure if the Irish delegation can fully utilize its staging potential. My advise: Lot’s of one-shots and close-ups, similar to Netherlands 2014. In this semi final I could see this go trhough from 9th or 10th place, but it could also get stuck in there with 11th or 12th place. Qualifying chances: 45%

    F.Y.R.O.MACEDONIA: ‘Autumn Leaves’, by Daniel Kajmakoski:
    ———————————————————-
    “MAYBE/HIT”: …although not a very convincing “hit”. Personally I find this the best Macedonian entry ever since they first participated in 1998. It’s not very typical Balkan-esque if you look at the song structure. But it still is a very moody entry. It reminds me a bit of this year’s Romanian entry, of which that entry convinces me slightly more. ‘Autumn Leaves’ stays a bit…too flat for me and doesn’t have a real bridge or climax. It really depends how this will be staged. Perhaps the videoclip gives the Macedonian delegation some inspiration for the staging visuals? This could slip through from 10th, 9th 0r 8th position in the semi-final, but will eventually struggle in the grand final. Qualifying chances: 55%

    ITALY: ‘Grande Amore’, by Il Volo:
    ———————————————————-
    “HIT”: I don’t see this Italian entry that much of a winner. (p)opera is not the most succesful genre at Eurovision, but then again, Eurovision doesn’t take into account previous entries. 2015, near year, new round, new chances. Still, I have some problems with the song. It hasn’t got that much hit-potential if you ask me. BUT, against those arguments you could say that vocally and staging-wise this could really impress people. I could see this as a big jury favourite. TOP 10 final? Yes. Not sure which exact place. At this moment I have Australia and especially Sweden as favourites for the trophy.

    THE NETHERLANDS: ‘Walk Along’, by Trjintje Oosterhuis.
    ———————————————————-
    “MAYBE/HIT”: But compared to last two recent Dutch entries, much less of a hit. Artistically, this isn’t a 2nd ‘Birds’ or 2nd ‘Calm After The Storm’. But it is very catchy, has a chorus that sticks to your head and that’s repetitive in a pleasant way. It reminds me slightly of Azerbaijan 2011. On top of that, staging-wise Netherlands made big steps with their staging director Hans Pannecoucke. Expect a videoclip with lots of close-ups, and also some augmented reality similar to Sweden this year. Still, this is by far not TOP 5 material, not in this semi final and certainly not in the final. I’d say any place between 7th and 10th in this semi final, and then a mid table result, let’s say 13th or 14th in the grand final. Qualifying chances: 65%

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