Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #2 Written by on March 21, 2017 | 20 Comments

As we review the songs for Eurovision 2017, remember you can listen to Juke Box Jury and the ESC Insight podcast online. Add the RSS Feed to your favourite podcast application, or click here to follow us in iTunes and never miss an episode.

And now a very special episode of Juke Box Jury. Earlier this year ESC Insight was offered the opportunity to record a podcast live on the stage at the SXSW Music festival in Austin Texas. Naturally we took the organisers up on the offer, and decided that Juke Box Jury would be perfect.

That means three new judges with an American flavour, an introduction to Eurovision for the US audience (which we’ve left in the edit), and a view from ‘outside the bubble’. Hit, miss, or maybe? Agree or disagree in the comments!

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #2
Live from SXSW, with Kristy Duncan (The Big Takeover), Ray Seggern (One Man Brand Radio), and Mel Brown (Impressive PR).

Germany: Perfect Life, by Levina.
Australia: Don’t Come Easy, by Isaiah Firebrace.
Moldova: Hey Mama, by Sunstroke Project.
Georgia: Keep The Faith, by Tako Gachechiladze.
Cyprus: Gravity, by Hovig.

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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20 responses to “Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #2”

  1. James says:

    Hi Ewan. Celine Dion actually had nothing but good things to say about her Eurovision past. A few years ago when she came to Jonathan Ross’s talk show, he asked her about it and she was more than willing to share.

    I don’t think it’s because she’s embarrassed about it (as her VH1 documentary mentioned, that was also the point where her love story with Rene kicked off), but because I guess no one seems to bring it up to her as far I know.

    https://youtu.be/BoJwufXRXUA?t=337

  2. Ewan Spence says:

    Thanks for the feedback James (which confirms my long-held suspicion that Jonathan Ross is secretly one of ‘us’… and I want him on Juke Box Jury for an episode).

  3. James says:

    You’re welcome. 😀

  4. mk says:

    Celine’s song was a HIT in 1988, though her outfit was a MISS…
    I’ve seen also the Jonathan Ross’s talk show video and years back (10+) she told a similar story to Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

    Germany – MAYBE – the guests were a bit too enthusiastic about it
    Australia – MAYBE for me, but I’m sure it will qualify and do better than expected. Not a fan of the song.
    Moldova – HIT for me, I love it. Hope they qualify.
    Georgia – MISS – don’t like it at all. Not that bad to hate it though.
    Cyprus – MAYBE – Ok, nothing special

  5. John Egan says:

    Interesting experiment…

    Germany: maybe. Could be “I Can’t Live Without Music” or “We’re Having a Party”.
    Australia: hit. Assuming he remembers the words and keeps his focus, his epic voice will make this the anthem of 2017 (every year there’s at least one successful anthem).
    Moldova: hit. Fresh. Fun. Epic Sax guy. Dance routine. Top 10 Saturday night for Moldova’s second best ever result.
    Georgia: maybe. Soviet bloc should drag this into the Grand Final, but won’t do better than that. It’s like Glennis Grace all over again.
    Cyprus: miss. He’s OK, song is OK. Without a bloc or diaspora (unless he can unleash the Armenian diaspora, which Jamala could not), not going very far. :(

  6. Mio says:

    Moldova – Hit

    Cyprus – Maybe
    Australia – Maybe

    Germany – Miss
    Georgia – MISS

  7. Shai says:

    Germany – It’s not that bad. There is a nice melody and beat to it. It’s pleasant enough not to be offensive. The problem is that is lacks of passion in the singing section. She sing as if she is going a work in the office.It’s all about technicality. To be honest, there are this year worse songs than this one and it shouldn’t end at last place – MAYBE

    Australia – I having trouble of understanding why people think this will do well. It’s not memorable enough although it has nice sound. It miss something to attract you to it and it feel like something that send you sleeping- MISS

    Moldova – it’s an ok song but it’s repetitive and at a certain point it’s get on your nerve. It’s quite a monotonic song in it’s sound – Miss/Maybe

    Georgia – not working in any level u can think of. It’s trying to be a big female ballad, but for this you need a formidable singer. She isn’t one. She sings out of tune because the song has been written in the wrong key which doesn’t fit her voice range. She sounded screechy at time. If you haven’t got it yet, it’s a MISS

    Cyprus – I have nothing positive or negative to say about the song. It’s just there and it leaves me a bit unimpressed. It’s one of those songs you hear and they pas by, leaving no impression of all – MAYBE

  8. Eurojock says:

    Really good podcast, Ewan – nice to have fresh perspective from the US.

    Germany – Mel predicted top 3 but said it was her coming from a position of ‘no knowledge’. I would have to agree with the latter of these two statements. As you say, Ewan, too middle of the road, too bland, too forgettable. All the hallmarks of a nailed on bottom 5. A third year in a row last place for Germany may be on the cards. MISS.

    Australia – Yes it’s not the greatest song, but neither was Dami Im’s and she nearly won. The song has got a good Eurovision style build and should come alive ‘live’. Isaiah can sing (not as well as Dami granted), but he is a voteable pretty boy. In a year when there is a scarcity of genuine challengers to the favourite (Italy), Australia is one of the few that could come out the pack. Don’t Come Easy is a song that is more accessible than potentially stronger entries such as Belgium and Portugal. I can even imagine it doing better in the jury vote than either or these two (never over-estimate the taste of Eurovision juries!). The biggest threat to its chances may come from Bulgaria. A similar song, sung by a similarly voteable young man. In this head to head Bulgaria may come off better by dint of a slightly better song and more televote appeal. Nevertheless HIT.

    Moldova – Let’s face it, Hey Mama is not a great song, but it’s helped a lot by the staging concept with the dancing brides. Funny on an initial watch but it grates with repeated listens/viewings. For me there are parallels with Belarus last year. Good staging, poor song. In a strong semi it can’t expect many jury votes and whether it qualifies will be down to the level of televote support, which may in turn hinge on it being given the pimp slot. MAYBE.

    Georgia – I listened to all 26 entries in the Georgian final and believe it or not this was the best one! In a strong first half of semi-one (which has already several power ballads) I can’t see much hope for this. MISS

    Cyprus – I liked this on first listen, but after a few listens it lacks substance – much like the Cypriot entry of last year. Kristy made some interesting comments about Hovig not being cute enough – which occurred to me also – and could damage his voting potential. That said it’s drawn second half and it’s an uptempo number in Semi One which is a good thing to be. So, all things considered. MAYBE.

    And as for embarrassing Ray at the end – Ewan that was just mean! You won’t be invited back.

  9. HarrietKrohn says:

    Can we have America voting in the contest this year, please? As a German, this episode felt very good, for once not being severly slammed by an entire panel. 😉 To be honest, I think Ewan’s prediction is more likely correct than the Americans’, as once again our song is too much neither here nor there and will not collect a lot of votes. I’m just hoping we won’t end up in the bottom 5. (That’s what you call “expectations lowered”.) MAYBE.

    Australia is so incredibly bland (and will still beat Levina, I’m sure) – I don’t see anything in this, but it’s Australia. If this were … Slovenia, nobody would even talk about it. For me it’s a bit MISS (contest-wise maybe/hit).

    Moldova is not my kind of thing, but at least there’s some entertainment value. MAYBE.

    Georgia is not that bad, but then again it’s not that good either. To be honest I’m not sure right now if I’m remembering the correct song, I haven’t listened to them all that often yet. MISS/MAYBE.

    Cyprus – that one I actually like. At least it’s different from many other songs and stands out a bit, and I don’t think I will tire of it too soon. MAYBE/HIT.

  10. Seattlesque says:

    Nice experiment with the location and panelists’ level of familiarity. Shame they got these five, though!

    Germany: Surely a MISS right? If it stopped after the first four bars, you’d be left with the feeling you were about to hear a great 80s throwback; but sadly, it continues for three minutes.

    Australia: HIT, but something’s not right. When you hear AND see it, you end up with cognitive dissonance – that warm a voice doesn’t seem to belong, does it? Not a stunning song, but staging could make the difference.

    Moldova: MAYBE. Not as catchy as Run Away, less of a sax hook, but probably enough fun to garner votes to get through to Saturday.

    Georgia: MISS. Without the newspaper headlines in the background, you have to concentrate on the song, and where’s the fun in that?

    CYPRUS: MAYBE. Never really gets going. Did G:sson forget a chorus or something?

  11. Ben Pitchers says:

    Germany: MAYBE. I can’t quite make up my mind what I think about the entry. I watched the entire national final and definitely think Germany are a bit lost as to how to find an entrant and entry and need to go back to the drawing board. I liked Levina during the national final and the song is pleasant (despite everyone probably thinking they’re going to hear Titanium when it starts) but runs the danger of slipping by the televoters with its middle of the road nature. I think the juries will like this better than Ghost last year but it could get a similar low televote score and drag Germany down to the bottom of the board. I hope for Germany’s sake it doesn’t come last but I don’t see it getting much higher than 19th.

    Australia: HIT. Another solid entry by a talented artist from Australia. I like the lyrics in the verses and the song overall even though the chorus becomes quite repetitive by the end of the song. I don’t think it’ll be a winner but should reach the top 10. Isaiah is a very young singer to be burned so many times that he is taking love slowly, but his voice sounds mature and older than his years and he looks very serious singing it in the video. I think many viewers will find a Sam Smith quality to the song and performance and it’ll seem familiar. I think what’s keeping it from winning is that it’s a ballad in a ballad-heavy year and it doesn’t build to a big climax that would help it in a competition environment.

    Moldova: MAYBE. I enjoyed Sunstroke Project’s 2010 entry and this is pretty on par with that. The lyrics are a bit clunky and clearly written by someone who’s not a native English speaker but the overall meaning gets through. Keeping the epic sax guy will help with the televoting and I think the fact it’s a fun, summery dance tune with will too. I think it should get through to the final on the strength of those things but I think its best chances are scraping into the top half at best.

    Georgia: MAYBE. When it won the national final I thought it’d stand a pretty good chance of qualifying. Tamara/Tako’s diction is good and she’s got a pretty good voice (but thanks to Mel for pointing out the pitch problems in the NF). If they can keep something of the choir element for the contest that’ll help. Now that all the entries have been revealed we see that having a ballad is less of an advantage. Indeed, there’s another dramatic ballad by a solo female artist with a big voice sharing the first half of SF1 in the form of Albania. Whether Georgia has a voting ally advantage over Albania remains to be seen and that’ll probably decide its qualification chances. A while ago, it seemed like we were getting a revamp and a proper music video but I don’t know if this is still happening. With great staging this might scrape through and without it has the danger of not qualifying.

    Cyprus: HIT. I wasn’t anticipating liking this as Hovig didn’t seem hugely exciting as an artist. Thomas G:Son’s proliferation over the contest and MF over this decade is perhaps getting a little old and I suspected we’d end up with one of his more minor efforts. I like the song a lot and think it fits Hovig pretty well. The music video suggests we could have a good visual show from Cyprus. The song will sweep up lots of points from Greece and Armenia and should be pretty safely through to the final where I think it has a chance to get into the top half.

    It’s a good change-up again having people from outside the Eurovision bubble commentating on the songs, especially people connected to the music industry. I think it was tough for the two American jurors if you’re can’t put the songs in context of how the contest works and you aren’t familiar with what does well. I also suspect that Mel might be fairly typical of my fellow Brit audience and may not have really followed the contest that closely in the last few years and thinks of it in terms of the early 00s.

  12. This was such a great idea! If only you had a selection of some of the better entries from this year (Belgium, Italy, Serbia, Macedonia, Iceland) to take to SXSW. I feel like these tracks didn’t showcase the strength of this year’s contest overall.

    In fact, this is probably one of my least favourite possible combinations of entries…

    Moldova – HIT – It’s fun and it will appear to the youth vote much like Italy’s. I reckon this will become a decent radio hit in Europe this summer.

    Cyprus – MAYBE – I feel like my Cypriot roots make me like this more than I should, it has good elements and hopefully Sweden will help us out in getting some decent staging because otherwise I don’t know if we can pull it off. As far as the song itself…it’s no La La Love is it?

    Germany – MISS – Too twee, it has no bite whatsoever and I see no potential for interesting staging.

    Australia – MISS – It was brave for him to follow-up Dami…especially with this…

    Georgia – MISS – SO dull.

  13. Ben Gonzalez says:

    Hello Again from Mexico!

    GERMANY – HIT
    This one feels more like Adult Contemporary than Eurovision, that’s why I don’t see it as ‘middle of the road’, besides it’s one entry that makes me curious about the background of the artist…I want to know more about Levina’s work

    AUSTRALIA – MAYBE
    Not strong enough song for me, it has enjoyable bits, but overall just doesn’t grab my attention in any point, but I guess this one can benefit from a great performance, and the kid has a good voice…

    MOLDOVA – MAYBE
    I’m not a fan of club songs, but this one has a catchy quality in the melody that helps me not to completely disregrad it.

    GEORGIA – MAYBE
    Traditional ballad, I found the message too preachy for my taste, but I like the melody very much and the voice is good, but will be fun to see the level of her performance on the day of the competition, and yes, I haven’t notice that Bond song aspect, but it’s there, and doesn’t help much to the perception of the song…

    CYPRUS – MISS
    Yes, it’s clear this is from the swedish factory of hits…but feels like something that nobody in Melodifestivalen wanted to sing:(

  14. I’m not going to comment on the guests as they knew what they did, even the Brit who hasn’t got the other 38 to compare Levina against…

    Germany : MISS.
    The best singer and best song won Unser Song 2017. Levina is very assured on stage and she has a superb voice but it remains to be seen if “Perfect Life” is the right vessel for her talents – a very average MOR pop song that has no hook and is quite mediocre…if she had a better song, I think she could drag Germany into the top ten.

    Australia : MISS.
    Will Australia’s charmed Eurovision life until now be set to come off the rails with this pleasant but instantly forgettable ballad by Isaiah? He has a great voice and it is a nice song as he is singing but I had no recollection of it a minute after this had finished. This will be swallowed up by the pack…

    Moldova : HIT.
    “Hey Mamma” cannot be described as a lyrical masterpiece but visually it is top notch – bridegrooms and brides doing the Running Man dance, Epic Sax Guy back to his best and the music just eats into your head and stays there forever. A challenger to Belarus and Italy for “Most Fun Song” award…

    Georgia : MISS.
    When Bon Jovi springs into your head when reading the song title, that doesn’t bode well for this entry. This year’s “Bond Theme”, Tako provides superb vocals but it’s all very slow, dreary and RLAP-lite, even down to the dress. Her hair is likely to be the biggest talking point here.

    Cyprus : MISS.
    One of those entries that just lacks that certain something to change it from a decent entry to a possible show stopper. The pulsating beat of the music keeps the interest but the vocals and lyrics are bland and just didn’t grab my attention – Hovig deserves a better song than this…

    Your selection of entries from this year will not leave the American audience with a very positive view of Eurovision!

  15. Catriona Colville says:

    I’d like to bet with Mel, would make a fortune. Germany top 3 and Australia bottom 3. Wow. And she also attacks Hovig for his looks. She doesn’t really give reasons for disliking songs either.

    Germany – Miss
    Australia – Maybe
    Moldova – Hit
    Georgia – Maybe
    Cyprus – Maybe

  16. Alex C says:

    Germany – MISS. It’s really the ultimate “accidental last” song that nobody dislikes by any means but nobody’s going to have this as their favorite (save for that one juror in this episode) to televote for it and the juries will probably just shrug their shoulders. The sooner Germany just send Helene Fischer and have done with it, the better!

    Australia – HIT. This came out at the time that we really didn’t need any more ballads, which influenced this one’s reception for the worse but now the balance has evened out a lot more, I think they’re on to continue their top 10 streak with this one. It’s a well structured singalong factor song which builds to an actual crescendo (which Bulgaria doesn’t) and you don’t win X Factor without being able to appeal to the same type of voters who vote in Eurovision.

    Moldova – MAYBE. This is a good slice of fun but with Semi 1 being such a bloodbath I do wonder if the juries might just kill this off and ruin the fun for everyone else.

    Georgia – MAYBE. When it got declared I thought it would be an easy enough qualifier but from the first half with Sweden, Australia, Azerbaijan and Belgium all in that first half who are virtually guaranteed qualifiers, they’re fighting with Albania, Montenegro, Finland and Portugal for that last first half qualification spot (or two if someone’s really lucky and Moldova gets killed off in the second half) and I don’t think this is quite strong enough to do it. I’m not writing it off completely though.

    Cyprus – MISS. Again, this will just get crowded out in the first semi and outside of Greece and Armenia, the televoters will have bigger priorities elsewhere. Slovenia and the Czechs should ensure it’s at least not coming last though.

  17. James Triggs says:

    Germany – I’m sure this will get good airplay in Germany and surrounding countries. In a broader context, I’d say this is a hit since I expect it to find chart success and to help Levina build a profile in Europe.

    As Ewan says, this is too middle-of-the-road. As a composition its very radio-friendly but it lacks enough memorable, high-impact elements to get enough people to go voting for it. Its very polished but its too safe in a competitive environment. That being said, it won’t be last. I’ll call this a miss but its a hit relative to Germany’s past performance in recent years.

    Australia – This is a hit that will sneak up on us. This is aside from the artist from the same team as last year and it tells in the structure and production of the composition, which bears similarities (but in a different direction) with Sound of Silence.

    This is important. It wasn’t until Dami Im performed live at Eurovision that it stopped being a flat song with little to remember it by. Live, Dami Im gave the song texture and breathed life into it. I see a similar thing happening here. This is a different recipe with a different cook but I see the same ingredients here.

    I don’t think it’ll do as well as Sound of Silence but I think this will edge into the top 10.

    Moldova – This will likely qualify. It’s a maybe. A peppy, charming number that will attract votes and stands out from the crowd of ballads, the problem is that its in the first semifinal where it may end up just missing the cut. Its definitely memorable in any case. The staging will be interesting and I think the novelty of both the song and the staging will help. It’s a club hit and I think it will find enough success to be considered a hit for Moldova.

    I think if it gets through, I see it on the upper-to-mid right-hand side of the board. Its a borderline qualifier, but fun while its there.

    Georgia – This will do better in the room, where the message will resonate with the Ukrainian audience, than it will more broadly. It was the best in the Georgian selection, but vocally it was shaky. Her performance at the Ukrainian national selection, where she was a guest for the first semi-final, was stronger but, well, this is overall too repetitive and while it makes an impact, it doesn’t make a stronger impact than the competition.

    I liked this a lot when I first heard it, but now that other songs are out there, I have to say that this is a miss. The orchestration, while dramatic and Bondesque, doesn’t help her to soar. It has a big sound, but one that competes with her rather than lifting her. This, I think, reflects where the artist is in terms of her development as a composer.

    I appreciate that she composed and wrote the song herself instead of just singing it.

    As a composition, she stuck to a standard cinematic sound which does have some great dramatic beats. As Poland shows (where the use of the violin is a strong point), sometimes less is more. This partly sounds repetitive because aside from the very end, the use of the instruments is too static. Some more stripped-back moments, and more variation in the ‘Keep the Faith,’ chorus, i.e. making some use of woodwinds, would have improved this considerably.

    I’ve written more there than intended, but I guess I just had more to say with Georgia.

    Cyprus – The pulsating beat of the chorus is the best thing this entry has going for it. We have a lot of ballads this year and there’s a chance that Cyprus get more attention due to its beat. I think the end is too abrupt and this song would have worked better if it ended on a climax. For Cyprus, this is a good entry, but in semifinal 1 its a tough ask for it to it to pull through.

    Given the competition in semifinal 1, I think its a miss. I would have given this a maybe in semifinal 2, but in the first semifinal, I think Cyprus will be crowded out and its beat won’t be enough. In its own half, there’s Iceland, Greece and Latvia in a similar enough area, with Sweden also in the first half of the night.

  18. These are the scores of the 2nd Jukebox Jury ;-). I attributed points to each personal outcome.:

    0,00 points — “MISS”
    1,25 points — “MISS/MAYBE”
    2,50 points — “MAYBE”
    3,75 points — “MAYBE/HIT”
    5,00 points — “HIT !!”

    So far, when we include Ewan Spence, Kristy Duncan, Ray Seggern, Mel Brown, and all other 14 people who posted their results in the comments section, then this is where we stand:

    63.75 POINTS –> Moldova
    44.25 POINTS –> Australia
    32.50 POINTS –> Cyprus
    32.50 POINTS –> Germany
    18.75 POINTS –> Georgia

  19. Edmund says:

    As an American finally listening to this, I’m embarrassed by what my fellow Americans think of many of these songs. Yes I understand that much of it is opinion but I’m sick of hearing the commentators on Logo last year have no knowledge of Eurovision and now you trying to get Americans into the contest by elevating voices who “know music” but don’t know Eurovision is just annoying. I know I’m just being scathing because three people have different opinions than I do, but I’d rather be annoyed at people whose opinions come from places of ESC knowledge, rather than the fact that they’re at SXSW. When you said “These Americans know nothing,” I completely agreed with you (and Mel also seems to know nothing), but that’s even coming from an American.

    Germany: MISS – This is one of my bottom 5 songs of the whole contest. I find it so boring. I can see why they think it’s a fine radio song but this song does absolutely nothing for me. Nothing about it is bad for me, but nothing about it is good either. NOTHING about it stands out to make anyone vote for it. I’m shocked that your three guests all gave it hits, and the fact that Mel thinks it’s Top 3 despite her Eurovision knowledge really made me discount her other opinions. I think Germany could have the last place three-peat with this.

    Australia: MAYBE – I agree with you again Ewan, the staging will probably be very good. And this song is actually very powerful and has fantastic vocals (unlike Germany). I almost put this as a hit, but I can see it possibly falling short. Once again, the “across the board” misses from your guests were surprising and I think they’re very wrong about it.

    Moldova: HIT – The voters will love SunStroke Project coming back after their epic internet success. The song is also so driving and fun with great instrumentals. At this point I was actually shocked that I (somewhat) agreed with the other panelists! Once again, I completely agreed with you, Ewan, because you actually know what you’re talking about.

    Georgia: MISS – The vocals are very powerful and the song has a powerful message but it doesn’t do much for me emotionally and seems to plod along. Now it seems that these Americans (+Mel) actually aren’t such idiots after all!

    Cyprus: HIT – For some reason, this is my favorite song in the contest. I understand why it’s not an overall favorite, but the overall production value and the driving beat grabbed me from the get-go. I get the critiques that it’s not dancy enough and maybe not edgy enough, but I still find the beat really moving me and being innovative. And if they do staging like the video I think this could do really well.

    Please never have Mel back on here again. She kept commenting on the artists’ looks (not their outfits, but they way they physically look) in ways that just didn’t make sense to me and were unfairly insulting. The fact that she asked “does he have a sob story” about Hovig shows that she knows NOTHING about how Eurovision works and probably only went to the parties without paying attention to what was on the screen. I almost hope she just gets all her predictions wrong just to prove how terrible she is at this.

    And once again, having “music professionals”, especially those at a fairly “indie”/”looking-down-on-pop” festival like SXSW is a bad idea for Jukebox Jury. They might have somewhat similar opinions to the jury voters, but they’re WAY too far off on what the televoters will like. I was excited for this live show at SXSW but honestly it was a huge disappointment. If you hadn’t been there to jump in and say “actually this is how Eurovision works” I would’ve stopped listening.

  20. Marc says:

    mk, I won’t have a thing said against Celine’s 1988 frock. We were all wearing things like that then. People under 50 shouldn’t pass judgement.

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