Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #4 Written by on March 31, 2016 | 13 Comments

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Another round of Juke Box Jury rolls up, as we look to give every song entering this year’s Eurovision Song Contest a hit, a miss, or a maybe. Judging the songs this wee are mini pops illustrator Ben Morris, and songwriter Matthew Ker.

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #4
with Ben Morris (minipopicons.com) and Matthew Ker (majiker.com)

Norway: Icebreaker, by Agnete.
Hungary:
Pioneer, by Freddie.
San Marino:
I Didn’t Know, by Serhat.
France:
J’ai Cherché, by Amir.
Latvia:
Heartbeat, by Justs.
Romania:
Moment of Silence, by Ovidu Anton.

Don’t miss an episode of the Eurovision Insight podcast by subscribing to the RSS feed dedicated to the podcasts. iTunes users can find us in the iTunes Store and get the show automatically downloaded to your computer.

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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13 responses to “Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #4”

  1. Stephen Colville says:

    Is Ewan on something? How can you possibly want the original version? The original is absolute rubbish and one of the worst songs in recent ESC history, and it was the only thing they could, changing to the disco version, because ESC fans make up a big portion of the voters in the semi, and the disco version will do better with them.

    Anyways :

    Norway : Maybe – Generic nonsense, but might have an appeal.
    Hungary : Hit – Fantastic chorus, interesting voice and probably good staging.
    San Marino : Miss – Disco version is an improvement, but still hopeless.
    France : Miss – Not to my tastes, massively generic and the biggest fanwank in recent years. So many tears will be shed when this goes nowhere.
    Latvia : Hit – Great song, but maybe takes a couple of listen to love. Justs needs to control his nerves so his vocals don’t suffer like in the NF. Unlikely winner, but for sure top 10.
    Romania : Maybe – Eurovision needs variety, and in a near with generic modern mid-tempo pop songs, this is something that is a welcome change of pace. Great vocalist. Staging needs to be toned down, but in a piss-poor second semi, this will comfortably qualify.

  2. The flag is waving here already.
    The colours are nailed down.
    That’s right, I’m screaming and hoping for Latvia to win.

    Think about it everyone. Riga 2017.

    Great podcast guys!

  3. Kevin says:

    NORWAY: I love it and I think the changing of the tempo is much less noticeable in the live version for some reason. I can see it finishing somewhere between 8-15 in the final.
    HIT

    HUNGARY: At first I thought it was okay and sounded like something that could do really well, but even after playing it a few times it just doesn’t stick with me. I get the feeling this will be one of the surprising non-qualifiers.
    MISS

    SAN MARINO: I prefer the disco version and if I see this as a joke entry it’s not entirely terrible. I still can’t see this getting anywhere close to the final.
    MISS

    FRANCE: My favourite song of the year. The staging for the Dicaire Show was pretty bad, but I have faith the Eurovision one will be fine. Last year’s song might not have been suitable for Eurovision, but I think the staging was amazing. I don’t think France will win, but top 10 is very likely. Possibly even top 5.
    HIT

    LATVIA: Just like Love Injected I love it. I think Aminata is a better performer but it won’t surprise me if this finishes a little bit higher. I don’t think it will do well enough with televoters to actually win.
    HIT

    ROMANIA: There once was a time where I thought Romania could win in the near future. But that is about 10 years ago now. For me Romania has been one of the worst Eurovision countries in recent years now. I really hope this will be the song that makes them finally miss the final. Perhaps that will encourage them to do better next year. Doing a Bergendahl might be good for them in the long run.
    MISS

  4. mk says:

    In order from worst to best in my opinion…

    6. San Marino – beyond BAD…MISS…I don’t get Ewan’s sort of liking of his original video either…

    5. Norway – MAYBE – I cannot connect with this song at all…I get it’s not bad and some people like it, but I don’t…I don’t hate it, I just don’t care….btw, Margaret Berger was my fave in 2013

    4. Hungary – MAYBE – good looking guys with acceptable songs seem to do well

    3. Romania – MAYBE – not my fave in their final, but I like it…You make me laugh with your comments…diaspora votes for sure, but juries killed diaspora’s votes in the last years (except from Moldova – they are not really diaspora!). This year public votes will at least equal the juries, so he has more chances…I personally think both Romania and Poland will qualify…And I like the Polish song too 🙂

    2. Latvia – MAYBE – it sounds professional, he’s a good singer and good looking guy…somehow I don’t care….

    1. France – MAYBE to HIT – I like it…I don’t think he should win…definitely a more friendly approach of France this year, although I do like chansons as well

  5. Eurojock says:

    Norway: Two decent songs of the kind that do well at Eurovision but when you put them together it jars. Also, its weird when she disappears round the back stairs of the iceberg about one minute in. Being in the second half of semi two it should qualify easily, but in the final I see this as mid table at best. If HIT is defined as left hand side of the board in the final, then MAYBE.

    Hungary: Pioneering this is not but it is an instantly gettable song with a strong chorus and catchy whistle which, however, doesn’t really improve with repeated listens. The A Dal staging is corny but it sort of works. Freddie can sing but he could benefit from a Strepsil or two. I see this getting more televotes than jury love. Although first half of Semi One, I think it will qualify. After that mid-table is likely, but which side of the board it will land on I’m not sure. MAYBE.

    San Marino: Serhat reminds me a bit of Telly Savalas singing If. Did anyone at San Marino Television really think this (original or disco version) was good? Maybe Ewan is Director General or maybe they are all taking the piss (I’m writing this while listening to the podcast at the same time as Matthew is making the very same point!). The only hope for this entry is that this is so bad that voters will actually go for it. I can’t see it though. Non-qualifier. MISS

    France: One of the best songs this year and instantly accessible. I can imagine bopping along to the sound of this on the car radio. However, I’m not sure that Amir has the stage presence or that this song lends itself to Eurovision style staging. The traditional French vote lag could also tell against it. If everything comes together this could be top ten or top five, but equally (as with all of the big five) it could end up 21-26 on the Saturday night. (Ewan has just echoed my thoughts) MAYBE

    Latvia: Strong modern sounding song. Reasonably instant (more instant than Love Injected). I can see this garnering jury and televotes from both East and West. Justs has a strong voice but maybe lacks Aminata’s stage presence. This also needs some work on the staging. I disagree with Ewan re Love Injected’s staging; I thought the basic ingredients were there at Supernova. Heartbeat has a further way to go. I see this as definite top 10, a top 5 contender, although maybe winner might just be beyond it. HIT

    Romania: I gather this is a song with political significance in Romania – but I can’t see the meaning of this travelling far beyond Romania’s borders other than to the diaspora. It sounds like something from a bad musical. Being in the second half of semi two there are at least two qualifying places up for grabs, so it may possibly go through to the Saturday with the help of the diaspora. If it does, it will be well down the right hand side of the board in the final. MISS

  6. Shai says:

    Norway – As everyone said it’s 2 songs joint together and the structure of the song is its main problem. .At the end of the verse you expect something that will continue the uplifting/dance tune but you get that slow section which is like a slap in the face coming in the least expected moment and that change of rhythm is a big let down.
    There is no doubt she can sing well and can carry a tune. I just don’t know if anyone will be ready to reward a song that basically disappoint you at a crucial point of the song and doing it twice(or three time) during a song -MAYBE

    Hungary – He is trying too much and his voice has a raw edge to it and I am not sure if it’s working for him or against him. For me it keeps me at distance form the song which somehow is not really accessible. MISS/MAYBE

    San Marino – This is all shades of wrong. Ewan is right, it’s disrespectful to the contest. The original version was completely inaccessible but this has such a dated sound of 70’s disco and not the good side of disco.There is a contrast between his voice, which is sad a deep and the light music on the track. The thing is that there will be people who might like the sound of it and vote for it (huge )MISS

    France – Love that one. A very charming song and singer,That youuu in the start of the chorus is very addictive and serve as a great hook. The mix of French/English works well..The only minor point is that at a certain it does get repetitive. I would love this to do well but they need to get the staging right, or they fail(and the live performance circling around is not a good staging) – HIT(for me) but a MAYBE(for the contest).

    Latvia – A piece of a modern pop song. It has all the ingredients do to very well and if they get the staging right it will do just that(very well). It is a softer version of Latvia’s 2015 song and it aims to the same constituency that gave them 6th place in 2015 but at the same time it is trying to reach a broader audience without making compromise about the sound. Aminata had a presence/charisma and he misses something in this area’s which can harm his chances – HIT(with a small question mark)

    Romania – This sound like a song Meat Loaf would sing in the 70’s or 80’s. I think Meat Loaf would make a longer version. Meat Loaf was never my taste and neither is this. It’s time Romania miss the final and with 19 songs in the run, it just may happen. I don’t remember if they are on the 1st or the 02nd half of the semi but I hope that they won’t get a pimp slot, which will guarantee their presence in the final, on the expense of better song(s) -MISS

  7. Interesting podcast. Interesting…

    Norway: Nocturne was unusual, so was Hard Rock Hallelujah, even Euphoria was unusual for many ESC voters. So unusual can work really well. It’s a good song, she’s a good singer, it’ll have good staging. In a year of no standouts, HIT.

    Hungary: Strikingly handsome, interesting voice, contemporary song that might not wedge itself into your brain, but you’ll remember it when the voting opens. Hungary yet again making a great effort through A-Dal will also find a lot of jury support. HIT.

    San Marino: Both versions are embarrassing. MISS.

    France: Accessibly handsome, great voice, buckets of charisma, a very contemporary song that is a total earworm. Unless we get death by choreography, HIT.

    Latvia: Great song, great singer, no stage presence. Aminata totally nailed how to make a static presentation soar with visuals and soaring vocals. We’ve yet to see the former and there’s nothing in the song to offer Just the latter. But still a HIT.

    Romania: Unremarkable in every single sense–a first for Romania since around 2004. MISS.

    Who could win? France.

  8. Okay, yet another group to review – 3 good, 1 ok, 2 poor!

    Norway: MISS. ‘Icebreaker’ messes with my head big-time like you guys there. Fast upbeat verses and slowed down choruses? Three musical styles in three minutes? This is a hot mess musically and in its NF staging, Agnete having to walk downstairs from a podium containing a barely visible dancer. She’s got a great voice, superb camera awareness and emotional connection with the audience but all that and the staging will have to absolutely amazing to help Norway into the Final with this song. Good comment about Norway liking surprising entries and that being why this was chosen for Norway this year.

    Hungary: HIT. His vocal tone sounding initially like Roberto Bellarosa notwithstanding, Freddie has got an intriguing song here. ‘Pioneer’ builds nicely, has a powerful chorus and thoughtful lyrics (it is Hungary, after all) which, along with the backing whistling and his distinctive vocals, keeps you listening. The vertical Chinese drums in the NF have been jinxing many acts at Eurovision but this has been thought out too as the lyrics mention temples and the drum adds to the piece for a change. A definite qualifier and for me a possible dark horse, depending on how the staging scales up.

    San Marino: MISS. What a miss too, although the swap in style has changed this from Awful to Bad! It is now the Turkish ‘Leonard Cohen’ meets Studio 54! What was a somewhat creepy monotone delivery of an set of ‘obsessive’ lyrics is now tempered by female backing and the light and breezy disco beat that makes this somehow work. ‘I Didn’t Know’ still isn’t that good but at least it’s now bearable and will not totally embarrass the microstate as it would have done before. Not a hope of qualifying still though.

    France: HIT. Singing some English didn’t hurt Natasha St-Pier in 2001 and it definitely doesn’t hurt Amir now. France will be there or thereabouts with this superb upbeat toe-tapper that sticks in your head – his good looks and ‘happy’ delivery of “J’ai Cherché” will be a definite highlight in Stockholm. This could be the end of France’s ‘dry spell’ for the last 39 years IF it is staged correctly – as one of your guests said, the live performance I saw looked a bit naff.

    Latvia: HIT. Don’t believe the hype around Supernova time – this is NOT the runaway winner of Eurovision 2016. However, ‘Heartbeat’ is lyrically superb, the music hypnotic, heavily influenced by Aminata’s touch. Justs has an amazing voice and looks the part (although the rolled up arms of his jacket is so 1980s) but he needs to tone down his emotional delivery. Another 6th place or better wouldn’t surprise me though.

    Romania: MAYBE. ‘Game Of Thrones – The Musical’ hits Eurovision! A pastiche of every overblown rock video you’ve ever seen, Ovidiu brings showmanship in spades to the stage, squeezing out every possible facial emotion you could hope to see and supplies a powerful vocal to compliment this performance. Superb entertainment for Stockholm – the Romanian diaspora will ensure this makes the Final and it will make an impression in the Final but will end up lower mid-table at best, as it really looks and sounds like an interval act!

    Great guests in this one – looking forward to the next one!

  9. Ben Pitchers says:

    Norway: HIT. I applaud Norway for choosing this unusual song and after several listens I haven’t got bored with it. We had a couple of unusual songs last year that did well (Belgium, Latvia) so the audience and juries may not find the tempo change so jarring that they don’t vote for it. She’s got a good voice although her performance is a little icy, but then that didn’t hold Margaret Berger back in 2013. I agree with Eurojock that she should be spending time descending a staircase that means she disappears from view and the long shot means she can’t engage with the camera. Overall I think Norway will qualify and may have another top 10 entry on their hands.

    Hungary: MISS. This is a case of style over substance. The drums on stage and Freddie’s good looks and connection to the camera are trying to cover up a pretty bland song. It also doesn’t help that his enunciation is so bad you can’t make out all the lyrics. This is another song like Poland’s that sounds like it’s trying to have profound lyrics when it doesn’t have much to say. Hungary have an 100% qualification record since 2011 and they could possibly sneak into the final this year but there’s probably too much competition in SF1 meaning it could be just edged out and the first half draw doesn’t help either.

    San Marino: MISS. This is one of the worst Eurovision songs in years. The original was laughable and I didn’t like the almost spoken word, simplistic and laughable lyrics. I have no idea what San Marino are doing. I was looking forward to the Ralph Siegel era to be over so we could have a change but this was an awful idea. Why not invest in some local talent to at least sing the entry? The whole reason San Marino takes part in the contest is to boost the exposure on the world stage. The song was presented at a press conference in Paris so San Marino didn’t even get a tourism boost. If artists pay money to represent you but have no hopes of reaching the final, what’s the point? This is a vanity project for Serhat as this is the only way he’ll find a large, international audience. I am also annoyed I had to listen to a whole new version. The original was bad but the disco version is worse and, like Ewan said, cheap. The whole point of a disco version would be to change the arrangement of the song completely and for a disco remix you’d at least speed up the vocal. San Marino may pull out next year due to legitimate complaint over the new voting system but if this is their attitude towards their entries I won’t be missing them.

    France: HIT. This is a very instant song with a good singer and the right direction for France to be going in. Mixing languages doesn’t always works, but keeping consistently to verses in French and then chorus in English does work well here. Amir seems to sing as well in English as in French which also helps. I think with the right staging and performance this could reach top 10. If it does, it’s a very positive thing for France at Eurovision because France 2 chose a song that reflects the current music scene among young people in France as Matthew pointed out and may be able to get further relevant artists to compete in the coming years.

    Latvia: HIT. Another great composition from Aminata and even more accessible than “Love Injected”. He really suits the song well and delivers a great deal of passion performing it, underscoring the longing described in the lyrics. With the right staging I think and hope this can win especially as he’s already engaging very well with the camera. I also love how it isn’t your cookie-cutter Eurovision entry and goes against the dominance of Swedish-pop, which I do enjoy and is usually of high quality but this lessens when everyone is doing it. It’s always interesting to notice patterns at Eurovision – could Latvia win the same year Ira Losco is representing Malta again? Maybe she’ll come second!

    Romania: MISS. I don’t hate it but it doesn’t do much for me. It’s overwrought and Ovidiu is not hugely engaging. It does have a shot at qualification if it has a good position in the 2nd half of SF2 but it is missing France, Spain and Portugal and their diaspora televotes. If they do get through I predict 15-20th place.

  10. Black n Blue says:

    Another entertaining podcast guys!

    Norway: MISS. Just not good enough, it’s a very jarring song. May not qualify.

    Hungary: Maybe. Punchy chorus, but Freddie lacks confidence on stage. He needs to believe in his song, and remember he’s singing to a camera too.

    San Marino: HIT. I’ve always seen this as a piss-take, so in that sense it’s doing exactly what it needs to do. The audience at the Friends arena will lap it up, and ultimately it’ll enliven the show for TV viewers before bowing out on the Tuesday night.

    France: HIT. A placing on the left hand side should be deemed a success for them.

    Latvia: HIT. Possibly the best composition this year. Winner or not, it’ll have a life after the contest.

    Romania: MISS.The only redeeming feature of this entry is the country it’s representing. A huge test of diaspora loyalty, and even that mightn’t be enough.

  11. HarrietKrohn says:

    Norway: I want to love Norway’s entries as I like the country, I speak Norwegian, I know many great Norwegian people, but … I can’t this year, sorry. I find the change in pace more interesting than jarring, but I don’t connect with Agnete at all. It’s got enough quality to make it to the final, but I don’t think it will do very much there, unless the juries push it up (again). MAYBE

    Hungary: This is one of a few songs this year that I can never remember unless I’ve just listened to it. I have no idea how it goes now, I couldn’t sing a single line to save my life. It’s nice enough while it’s playing, but nothing more. MAYBE

    San Marino: What to say about this mess? It’s different from everything else that will be on stage this year, but nobody can believe it will make the final. Great entertainment value though. MISS

    France: The favorites sorter tells me this is my favourite this year, and I’m not argueing. It’s a very nice song with a catchy tune, maybe a few too many “youhouhous”, but oh well. It’s France so it’s not going to win by a long shot, but unless they mess up the staging big time, Amir has my vote. HIT

    Latvia: You can so hear Aminate in it and while that is not a bad thing per se, it is a bit soon somehow, to be repeating yourself. It took me a while to like “Love Injected”, “Heartbeat” took muss less time. But I also don’t like it as much. It’ll probably do well, though not as well as “Love Injected”, and it’s not going to become one of my favourites. MABYE

    Romania: I haven’t ditched a single song from my ESC 2016 playlist yet, but Romania will probably be one of the first to go. It’s not totally bad, but it’s very much not my kind of music. MISS

    I have to add though that I don’t watch music videos at all, I just listen to the songs. I wouldn’t even be able to tell which guy is which in the line up on the top of this page (Serhat excluded), so I am only judging the songs, not the performances or how cute the singers are.

  12. André says:

    Norway – Maybe. so, I fully agree with Ewan’s initial description of the song. As y’all kept saying “two songs, two songs” it made me think about Slovenia 2010, Narodnozabavni Rock, which attempted the “two songs in one” thing to much failure. Agnette has much more poise and a more modern song, that will make more successful, but I don’t think it will do all that well in the Final.

    Hungary – Maybe. I do think that it’s the tame version of Latvia (which itself is a tame version of Latvia’s entry from last year). I think it will sneak through and finish midtable.

    San Marino – Miss. Yikes! This is three for three that I agree with Ewan’s analysis. The original was mystical and dark, but the disco version is forgettable. I do think Matthew is being more than a bit harsh when he says that it’s a joke.

    France – Hit. So, in 2012, France destroyed themself with terrible staging. I agree (again) with Ewan. Just let him smolder with a French flag draped on his shoulders. As far as language goes, at least it’s not 2008, which was fully English. I think it will finish Top Ten, especially with a good spot in the running order, but will be one of the more successful songs post-Contest.

    Latvia – Maybe. I don’t understand the hype around this song. It’s alright but pales in comparison to “Love Injected” and to the stronger songs from this year.

    Romania – Maybe. It’s definitely a memorable song and will get the vote of all those that still see ESC as a joke. It’s not a great song, but there are definitely worst songs this year.

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