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Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #4 Written by on March 28, 2018 | 9 Comments

The next five songs from the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 face the prospect of collection a hit, a miss, or a maybe. 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.

Round four of 2018’s Eurovision Juke Box Jury, and the home baking is back. Along with the shortbread, Ewan Spence is joined by David Elder and Ross Middleton to discuss the hit, miss, or maybe potential of five more songs that are heading to Lisbon for this year’s Song Contest.

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #4
with David Elder and Ross Middleton

Armenia: Qami, by Sevak Khanagyan.
Belarus: Forever, by Alexseev.
Croatia: Crazy, by Franka.
Poland: Light Me Up, by Gromee, ft. Lukas Meijer.
Sweden: Dance You Off, by Benjamin Ingrosso.
Belgium: A Matter Of Time, by Sennek.

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

  1. Shai says:

    Armenia-
    First, it’s nice to hear a song in Aremnian for the 1st time in Eurovision but couldn’t they have something better than this. It’s start really nice and atmospheric but than it just stay roughly the same, through the whole song. And around the 2 minutes mark it just become repetetive -MISS

    Belarus-
    Noviband from last year was fresh and was very Belorussian. This year they gone back to the generic pop song that could come from anywhere in Europe and just doesn’t sound interesting enough. There is nothing authentic in it.
    The staging during the NF was not the only thing that did not work, his voice and diction were horrible -MISS

    P.S.
    On first listen, I knew I have heard this song before. Couldn’t get which song it was until someone on the internet came up with this song. It’s not a full plagiarism, more influenced by or a rip off.
    Gali Atari(of Hallelujah fame) with a song called Magics – I think it’s from end 1980’s beging 1990’s.
    Talk about a song published before the 1 September 2017 deadline.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTrMG2EwwP0

    Croatia-
    I think this is an interesting song. It somehow grab you and demand your attention and it’s definitely not beige. She has a very interesting voice. Her voice has colour and texture, which carry the song very well. The spoken words are really off putting as they take you away from the song, which was doing just fine until that point. I wonder how they are going to stage this song and hope she can carry this life because she is in semi 1 and she will need to pull all the tricks out of the hat and even this may not be enough-MAYBE

    Poland-
    It suppose to be the the song that you sing along with it but it’s sound a bit tired. It’s a bit lazy on the writing as someone thought that a lot of OOOhhh can compensate for the lack of originality. It also feel longer than the 3 minutes.Not good for Eurovision song. Another problem I have with the song that after hearing this song I just think to myself, which song have I just heard?-MISS

    Sweden-
    It’s everything you would expect from a Swedish song- polished and slik. It produced and performed within the inch of it’s life. Unfortunately it’s lifeless. It’s a tired formula that Sweden have used and showed for many times in Eurovision. Sweden has a lot of talented song writers but they seems to go for the safe option year in, year out. The staging during Melodifestivalen manage to hide the fact that this is a mediocre song, even by Sweden standards. I hope it will stay in the semi but what is the chance this will happen?-MISS(for me) and HIT(for the contest)

    Belgium-
    I love this song. It’s a classy song with a composition that just creep into your soul and keep you interested. Yes, it’s a sort of a bond theme but they toned it a bit down , to give it a different colour. Her voice really suit the song and if this will sound life as good as the recording track and if they get staging right this will do very well, even from the bloodbath that is called 1st half of semi 1-HIT(at least for me).

  2. Martin says:

    oh boys, it’s obvious that Liamoo or John Lundvik should have gone to Lisbon, not Benjamin!

  3. Harriet Krohn says:

    Armenia: Nice song, nice voice, but not a song I remember clearly afterwards. Nothing spectacular, MAYBE.

    Belarus: Everything you said about it is true, the live vocals were a huge car crash and the song is just bad. And yet, I love it. 😀 I can’t explain why, but it grabs me … very, very guilty pleasure! For the contest it’s obviously a massive MISS, but for me personally it’s a shameful HIT.

    Croatia: Am I the only one bothered by the way she sings “crazay” and then “crazee” just two seconds later? I know it’s a minor thing, but it really bugs me. Other than that, parts of the song are nice, other parts are more irritating, and all in all I don’t think we’ll see her on stage twice. MAYBE (because it’s not really bad, it’s just not good enough).

    Poland: I only know the live version and this is one of the songs I skip most often. And not even because I hate it, but because it’s a bit painful to listen to. To be honest though, many a messy selection performance turned out to be much cleaner in the actual contest, so I don’t think it’ll be that painful in Lisbon. And as the song is quite catchy and it’s Poland, it’ll easily qualify. But I don’t think I’ll listen to it much afterwards. MAYBE

    Sweden: If Sweden do well, it’ll once again only be because of the visuals. The song is a big over-produced nothing and Benjamin’s voice irritates me to no end. I’d love to see Sweden out of the top ten (actually I’d love to see this stay in its semi, but I don’t dare dream that big), but there are so many Swedophiles out there that it’s probably not going to happen, however much they deseve it. Personal MISS, contestwise (minor) HIT.

    Belgium: I can’t see Belgium winning with this song, not at all. And I don’t think it’ll place higher than Blanche either. But I really do like it, there a lot of quality there and Sennek does have a great voice. I don’t think you can find a staging though that’ll elevate this classic Bond song to something that’ll make Europa go “Wow!” and pick up their phones in droves. It’s not polarizing enough. Still, it’s a HIT.

  4. Eurojock says:

    Armenia – Actually, this reminds me of Kuula (2012) more than anything. Sevak sings well but he is not particularly voter friendly (although he clearly has David’s vote sewn up) and the song is not quite strong enough. The Armenian diaspora will probably see this through but I struggle to see this more than top right hand side (at best) on Saturday night. MAYBE

    Belarus – I wonder if the problem in the National Final was Aleseev’s vocal or technical issues with the sound. That said, and despite some possible televote support from ex Soviet countries, I’m struggling to see this making its way out of a very tough semi. MISS

    Croatia – Not a bad song at all, but it is a mid-tempo jury song and in Semi 1 it is competing with several decent quality songs that fall into the same category. Who is left standing at the end of this bloodbath may well hinge on live performance and staging. So, at best, borderline for qualification and MAYBE.

    Poland – The vocal and national final staging were rough round the edges to say the least. That said, the song itself does what it sets out to do rather well and it has that vital feelgood anthemic quality which probably only Australia betters in this year’s competition. As Ewan says there is some leeway on the vocal on this one and I even find the less than totally tight staging rather endearing. With diaspora support I can see this ending top 10 in the televote, but a poor live vocal could see the juries crucifying it. Will qualify but, after that, could do anything from mid right hand side to 6 to 10. MAYBE.

    Sweden – As per Ross, this doesn’t impress me. I know I’m in a minority but I’m only getting dated 1980s rather than Justin Timberlake. And the lights on the stage remind of these contraptions that transport cafes use to kill flies in the summer. Also, is Benjamin actually singing during the chorus, or leaving the high notes to a hidden backing singer? Nevertheless, I would be surprised if this doesn’t qualify. I can see this being 6-10 with juries on the Saturday night, but the televote could well be lower (as has been the case with Swedish entries in recent years). Overall the limit for Dance You Off is 6 -10 and it could well end up a lot lower than this. MAYBE

    Belgium – A possible winner? Come off it guys. As good as this entry is, it just doesn’t have a winner vibe about it. I can see A Matter of TIme appealing to juries and this being in their top 10 or even top 5 come Saturday night. However, my comments made about Croatia’s potential difficulties in getting out of the semis also apply here and like one of the jurors said, this could potentially end up a shock non-qualifier if they struggle with staging it. Provided it does make the final I think it unlikely that this will be the one of the 9 or 10 songs that the public will pick up the phone for in vast numbers. So, overall 6 to 10 at best and a lot lower or NQ at worst. MAYBE

  5. Catriona Colville says:

    Eurojock, could you explain why you think it’s so hilarious that Belgium couldn’t win?

  6. Eurojock says:

    Catriona, I’ll do my best to justify myself! Firstly, I should say that personally I like A Matter of Time a great deal. There can be no denying the quality of the song/production and from what I’ve seen from the video Sennek provides some comfort that she can deliver live vocally.

    A Matter of Time would make a very pleasant listen on a car radio, but there are question marks as to whether it is a competition song. Where is the ‘moment’ in the song that takes it to a different (i.e. winner) level (Jamala’s wail)? Where is the charismatic personality that will be a magnet for votes (Salvador, Rybak)? Where is the narrative that will attract media attention and generate winning momentum (Conchita)? Where is the potential for stellar staging (Mans)? Where is the uplifting/feelgood factor?(Mans, Conchita again)?

    That’s why, at the moment, if I was putting money on it, my best guess would be that A Matter of Time will end up 6th – 10th. I have noted it is attracting a lot of Youtube hits. If the video of the semi-final performance does the same (I found that last year that this proved the best indicator of a song’s televote potential) I might revise my prediction upwards. But whatever happens, I just can’t see A Matter of Time winning.

  7. James says:

    Armenia
    -Probably one of the best entries that the country has sent since its debut. The moment I listened to “Qami” for the first time, I knew thiswould be an instant winner in its selection. It has a good build-up towards its climax, it has that very emotional narrative going on that you’ll be able to get on board with despite not knowing Armenian, and its ends on a pretty banging note. It’s a very modern ballad that could really make an impact based on its merits as a song and Sevak’s vocal abilities. Any enhancements made onstage would only be mere icing on the cake.

    While I’m unsure if this could help Armenia bag its first win, for me it’s a…
    HIT.

    Belarus
    -The song, in its original iteration (both in Russian and English) is very well-produced, and Alekseev was able to deliver the vocals perfectly back when he auditioned for the Belarusian selection. Things started going south the moment he and his team made a last-minute key change on the vocal which proved disastrous when he performed it for the first time in the national final. If you guys were able to catch the reprise, he did recover so I giver him props for that.

    Now my worry is that, as the song went through yet another revamp and while it’s not entirely bad, I don’t know exactly how I feel about this. The delegation should just stick to one version and be done with it. It’s not doing Belarus, or Alekseev any favors by further revamps.

    I would have pinned “Forever” as a hit in its original version, but now I’ve downgrade this based on its latest version as a:
    MAYBE

    Croatia
    -Plagiarism issues aside, this is quite a different step in the contemporary direction Croatia has been taking since its return. Not sure why people dislike the spoken word segment of the song but I do like it as it’s the main highlight that makes it stand-out from the pack.

    Now, we only have to worry how Croatia will stage this. I expect this to mirror the music video so I hope Franka can pull it off. For now, it’s a:
    MAYBE

    Poland
    -Energetic, anthemic, and very feel-good. It’s one of those songs that are too good to be on Eurovision but a welcome addition nonetheless. The crazy live performance in Krajowe Eliminacje is not a good indicator of how the song will be performed in Lisbon for sure, however so I expect things to be cleaned up and ready in time for the contest.

    I’m grading this as a:
    MAYBE

    Sweden
    -By Swedish ESC standards, it’s as safe as you could expect coming from the best performing ESC country at the moment. Is it generic? Yes? Is it of high quality? Of course? Will it help Sweden get it’s record 7th win and tie the record with Ireland? I’m rather unsure about that.

    I’ve seen Benjamin Ingrosso perform this song live with a guitar/violin mash-up with Alexander Rybak’s entry on a Swedish talk show the other day so I have no doubt he has the vocals to do well and the staging in Lisbon will no doubt be the same from Stokholm but given all that, the highest I could see this reaching is Top 5. without a doubt that Sweden will survive its semifinal with ease (but expect the unexpected just in case).

    On the basis of “Sweden is Sweden” and “Sweden can’t do no wrong”:
    HIT

    Belgium
    -I always worry about Belgium for some reason, despite having seen them qualify thrice straight for the final. Their songs have tend to be the unusual, with no sure formula (avant-garde, pop, EDM, to Bond-esque avant-garde), regardless of which Belgian broadcaster is doing ESC duty that year. This time is no different but I have faith that Laura G can pull this off.

    This could be a real surprise but right now, I’m pinning this as a:
    HIT.

  8. mk says:

    Belgium stands out for me from this list – it’s a HIT. Though I don’t think it’s a winner.
    The rest – all MAYBE with Poland the weakest. Have not listened to the live performances.

  9. Ben Pitchers says:

    Armenia: MISS. It does some of what a ballad should at Eurovision: it builds (somewhat) and shows off the singers voice and expressiveness. Unfortunately, the last minute is musically and lyrically repetitive and viewers might lost patience with it like Albania’s entry last year. I’m pleased to see an entirely Armenian entry but I think there’s not enough of a song to qualify or do really well at Eurovision. Sevak has a great voice but it’s too dour to get enough support to be a success, even with a good slot at the end of SF1.

    Belarus: MAYBE. There’s something in the quality of his voice that draws me in and creates quite a nice feel to the song. The verses are more interesting than the choruses. Is he romantic or is he creepy – I can’t tell. ‘I know you’ll be mine forever’ is either joy that a relationship will last forever or means you’ll be with me whether you like it or not. The decision to slow it down was a mistake. There’s a lot of doubt as to how good he is live – I don’t know if making it slower was a way to make it easier on him to sing. Belarus is likely to put on a pretty good stage show and I think it’s different enough to maybe make it into the final. Being after Israel won’t help though.

    Croatia: MAYBE. On my first listen I quite liked it and I still do. I like that it has personality. Franka’s a good performer and should hopefully be reliable live. It follows Bulgaria and Macedonia to make a trio of quite quirky entries, I don’t know if that will help or hinder it. I agree with Ewan that it’s not got a hook but they could do something on stage to make a visual hook to remind people they like the song. It has a chance to make it to the final but it’s not going to be easy with all the competition in SF1.

    Poland: MAYBE. It’s the sort of song that would fit well into current EDM music. It’s uplifting, summery and the kind of song I enjoy when it comes on the radio. However, it’s just pleasant without being anything amazing. Lukas wasn’t good live and I think Gromee’s styling makes him look a bit creepy and they were cutting to him a lot in the NF. There’s only so much you can do on stage while pretending to DJ live. It’s in the weaker SF and given its radio-friendly nature means it’s probably got a pretty good shot at getting to the final unless Lukas is a disaster live.

    Sweden: HIT. Arguably the best pick from a very weak MF final. It’s a good radio song. Sweden will have no trouble qualifying and if they can present it in such an eye-catching way as they did at MF (even if they aren’t allowed their lightbox) they should be in the top 10 in the final. I don’t think it’s good enough to be another top 5 but should be 6-10. Benjamin’s not got the strongest voice but Sweden have experience covering that up before (2011). He at least appears more comfortable with the song and routine than Robin last year. I wish we’d had contrasting entry to last year instead of something incredibly similar. It feels like Sweden have hit a rut when it comes to having innovative songs and are just concentrating on stage shows. There’s always something at MF which pushes staging forward.

    Belgium: MAYBE. I had pretty high hopes before I heard it for the first time. I really enjoyed the first verse and thought the chorus was ok but was disappointed with how Bond theme it became. It seems like they knew she enjoyed and could sing Bond themes well and decided to give her something similar. I felt they did the same for Azerbaijan 2014 when Dilara was known for covering Adele’s Hometown Glory. The verses are so much better than the chorus, which isn’t very memorable. I can’t always understand what she’s singing and thought it was ‘until it ends’ in the chorus until I saw that the lyric was ‘until it all’. I appreciate it more than really love it. I think it’s good enough to qualify, unless she has issues with it live. If she does, it’s on very early in SF1 and could be just the sort of thing to push it out of qualification. If it got to the final, I see it struggling in the televote although jurors may appreciate it more.

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