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Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #2 Written by on March 17, 2016 | 10 Comments

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Continuing our judging of every song at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, five more countries take to the court, and we call them hit, miss, or maybe.

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #2
with Donald McNaughton and Boog Biagi

Austria: Loin D’ici, by Zoë.
Bosnia & Herzegovina: Ljubav je, by Dalal & Deen ft. Ana Rucner and Jala.
Finland: Sing It Away, by Sandhja.
Denmark: Soldiers Of Love, by Lighthouse X.
Cyprus: Alter Ego, by Minus One.

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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 (

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

  1. Okay, here we go again – my thoughts on JBJ this week…

    Austria: HIT. An Austrian singing an up-tempo French chanson, sounding like Vanessa Paradis? Not the best French language song I’ve ever heard but a pleasant surprise nevertheless, given the vocal excellence and enthusiastic performance of ZOË. I’m not sure that the fairytale staging and flowing dresses will work in Stockholm (Donald said saccharine, agree with that) but I am pleased that there is at least one all-French song there. They don’t admit it, Ewan, but everyone likes candy floss…

    Bosnia & Herzegovina: MISS. Ethnic Bosnian rap shoehorned into a Balkan ballad – someone thought that’s a good idea, but it isn’t. A pure ‘Dalal and Deen’ love song, together with the cello solos, would have been a powerful and intriguing listen but the desire to show off Bosnian musical diversity just doesn’t work. It might make it out of the SF and be a MAYBE due to neighbour’s votes as you all say but it won’t deserve it…

    Finland: MISS. It’s not great when your backing singers sound and perform their choreography far, far better than you – Sandhja gives a competent vocal at best but her backing are the redeeming feature of ‘Sing It Away’. This is totally not memorable and is almost certain to drop out at the SF stage. Even the backing of Earth, Wind and Fire would not make this look better…

    Denmark: MISS. This ‘Man Band’ looked totally shocked to have won DMGP with this bland, formulaic album filler that has hints of O-Zone’s ‘Dragostea din tei’ about it. All very nicely sung, everyone is smiling, they did everything okay in the NF and the Danish public may like this but they have all missed out of another potential ESC win in Sweden. Not fair for the guys in Stockholm but it’s a case of what might have been. Good point about ‘Take My Hand’ really being the song’s title…

    Cyprus: MAYBE. Let’s annoy Ewan a lot! Vying for the “Eurovision rock song” title with Belarus, Georgia and Montenegro (you know it will be labelled that way), ‘Alter Ego’ hooks you in with its strong drum and guitar rhythms, along with the pop song structure. What lets this down are the vocals, seemingly lightweight for this type of entry but I suspect this will be a stage-show spectacular. The staging will determine if this makes the Final…

    None of these are winners – I don’t even think any of these will feature on the left hand side of the Final board. Better JBJ selections to come…

  2. Shai says:

    Austria – It’s inoffensive and very sweet and it does make me smile, which is nice for a change. She sounded a bit breathless during the live performance and than she was a bit out of tune. Is it going to win Eurovision?no.Not strong enough – HIT for me(but a big MISS for the contest)

    Bosnia & Herzegovina – You give me a good Balkan ballade and I am sold but this is not a good Balkan ballad. In fact I am not sure what it is. It’s start very promising but end in a big mess. It all sounded very forced and the harmonies of the voices are not correct and that rap put me off. I think there is a chance that the live version will sound a bit messy – MISS

    Finland – It’s not bad just not modern enough. It has a 70’s feeling about it but no one thought to update it for today’s sound. On the other hand she sell the song quite well- MISS/MAYBE

    Denmark – A sing a long song. During the Danish NF they were quite off key and the harmonies between the 3 band members were not there. It so bland I can’t see anyone voting for this song.
    My biggest issue with the song that it doesn’t even very original. On first hearing I thought I know the song from somewhere, and than someone, somewhere on the internet pointed out the similarity to Helen Fischer’s “Atemlos durch die Nacht ” – ,
    It may not be a plagiarism but it is certainly inspired by or influenced by Fischer’s song(you let those 2 songs side by side and for most people it will sound the same) and especially the fist bars of the chorus are on the verge of plagiarism. And if Fischer’s song is loved by the Schlagerboys, than we have just found who might vote for Danish song. Oh wait, I think that even the schlagerboys don’t like the Danish song too much.-MISS(and I hope it will stay in the semi).

    Cyprus – It pass by me without leaving any mark and that dominant Swedish sound put me also off. And all of you are right. It should have ended 1.5 or 1 minute earlier and it would be perfect – MISS(for me) a MAYBE (for the contest)

  3. Stephen Colville says:

    They completely savaged Cyprus (despite 2 maybes and a hit), one of the most popular songs this year. Why am I not surprised?

    I love this song and I grew up with Rock and Metal. It’s still great.

    For me :

    Austria : Hit. Great song, but borderline qualifier due to being in the far stronger semi.

    Bosnia : Maybe. The instrumental parts are stunning, Dalal has a great voice, but I agree that Deen looks weird as hell, and the rapper needs to piss off. Another borderline qualifier.

    Finland : Miss. Finland missed a great chance with Mikael Saari, and they selected a very average entry. No doubt it’ll be the opener of semi 1 and will be totally forgotten. Not qualifying.

    Denmark : Miss. 2 years in a row Denmark send a rubbish boy band song, and this is a contender for last place. Not qualifying.

    Cyprus : Hit. Has the rock edge while also having the structure and broad appeal of pop. This seems to be straddling the line well enough to appeal to both sets of fans, judging by the reaction. Certain qualifier and guaranteed top 10 on the Saturday. Possible winner if the staging is epic.

  4. Kate says:

    I was wondering what was wrong to me with Cyprus’ song, and you guys put a finger on it–its totally schlager. My personal favorite rock song of the contest is Georgia, followed by Montenegro (love the fact that Montenegro is actually riff based!! But I am not as big of a fan of the stereotypical hard rock singing on it). Would have preferred Montenegro with some good growling 🙂

    Also, you can count one more person along with Ewan and Rob who thought that PKN was a good punk song. Or one of five Eurovision fans who can actually discuss the what makes a good punk song…

  5. John Lucas says:

    Austria: I absolutely adore this song, and I would be absolutely thrilled to see it qualify. For me the obvious point of reference isn’t so much Vanessa Paradis as Alizée, who was hugely popular in France in the early 00s and even scored a UK top ten hit with ‘Moi…Lolita’. I think Loin d’ici is beautiful and melodic and a perfect fit for Zoe’s voice, but it does lack that ‘wow’ impact, and sadly I can see it getting lost in an extremely competitive semi, which would be very disappointing. Perhaps the low-key breeziness will be part of the appeal though. MAYBE

    Bosnia & Herzegovina: I don’t hate the rap, and I think it works as quite an interesting wake-up call at exactly the point that the song threatens to wear out its welcome. However, I agree with Ewan that none of the component parts of this song are quite strong enough, and that’s a problem. Bosnia had a 100% qualification record when they dropped out in 2013. They may challenge that this year. MAYBE

    Finland: I was a bit bewildered by all the 80s comparisons for this one. For me it’s one of the most obviously ‘of the moment’ songs in this year’s contest. It basically really wants to be a Jess Glynne song. However, radio pop can be a tough sell at Eurovision, and I think this is another that lacks a compelling reason to pick up the phone for it. Also, Malta have now knocked it out of the water in terms of chart-friendly entries, so I can’t see Finland progressing. MISS – and I’m really sad we lost Saara Aalto’s far more interesting effort in the Finnish finals.

    Denmark: Don’t underestimate this. Denmark flopped last year with a very basic sixties pastiche with a touch of McFly. Soldiers of Love is much more in the vein of entries like All Night Long and A New Tomorrow – both of which did very well. The chorus is catchy and familiar, they’re photogenic, this is far from a write-off. MAYBE.

    Cyprus: I totally get the schlagerrock comparison, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all. There’s nothing else like this in Semi One, save the utterly hopeless Montenegrin entry. This will pick up a sizeable televote, should be a lot more palatable to juries than Finland last year, and I’d be very surprised if we didn’t see it in the finals. HIT.

  6. Ben Pitchers says:

    Austria: MISS. Originally I quite liked this but as we now have all the entries it is starting to pale in comparison with others in SF1. Zoë would be much better performing something much less saccharine like Quel filou. If you can speak French you can hear how overly simplistic the lyrics are and how repetitive they become. It’s a perfectly pleasant song but that’s not good enough to make it out of SF1, especially for a country like Austria that regularly struggles to attract votes.

    Bosnia & Herzegovina: MAYBE. I like Deen and Dalal’s part and the cello fits in nicely. Visually they look a little strange together and I wonder if Dalal would have been better singing this on her own. I wonder how well Deen’s live vocal will be compared with his poor performance live in 2004. Their voices harmonise well together – some good styling could sort out some of the image issues. I don’t hate rap per se but I do think the point of rap is that you need to understand the words to appreciate what it is about. When someone sings in another language there isn’t the same issue because they can emote the meaning of the song or you can simply enjoy how the words sound when sung or the quality of the singer’s voice. When the rap isn’t in English its addition is lost to most viewers and jurors. You can only judge it from Jala’s body language which doesn’t give anything away. It definitely feels tacked on in this song. I think the rest works well enough to potentially qualify as a passable example of Balkan ballad.

    Finland: MAYBE. I really enjoy this, its early 90s sound and Sandhja & her backing singers’ performance at UMK. I think it’s catchy and could stick in voters’ heads. The comment about it being a perfect song for the snippet shown in the recap adds to its potential. I do worry that SVT will choose to open SF1 with it and that could harm its chances. If it qualifies it’ll be borderline but I hope it sneaks through.

    Denmark: MISS. The culmination of years of Danish middle-of-the-road pop have left us with this bland entry. It’s way too saccharine for me and wouldn’t be out of place as a kid’s animation film’s theme. It should get lost in the larger SF2 but Denmark has got through to the final with similar entries before. I’d like to hear something much more current and riskier from DMGP in the future.

    Cyprus: HIT. I really enjoyed this from the first time I heard it and think it’ll get through to the final and might do really well with the right staging. I like how the tempo of the song doesn’t really let up for the first 2 minutes and wish there was less of a gap in the final minute and that they didn’t return with the “take it on, take it on” part of the chorus and instead launched straight into “caught in the middle of…” I think it’ll Cyprus’ best placed entry since 2004 (not setting the bar very high I know!).

  7. AUSTRIA: Zoë with ‘Loin d’Ici’ — ‘HIT’:
    A wonderful throwback to Serge Gainsbourg’s sugar pop and other Francophone stars like France Gall and Vanessa Paradis. Fact is: This is a song that sticks to your head. And it’s rather unique in this year’s contest. Add to that the delightful ‘live’ performances I saw from Zoë. Just look at the frontal shots on her, as she’s ‘walking’ at you through a field full of flowers. Vocally it’s especially great, because Zoë’s French is top-notch. It’s like Alice in Wonderland. This is ‘sugar pop’, but the best in its genre. Just think of Malta 2002 and Latvia 2002…..two medal winners from the contest in Estonia who were utterly charming. Dangerous.

    BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA: Dalal & Deen ft. Ana Rucner & JalaLaura with ‘Ljubav Je’ — ‘MISS’:
    You either go to Eurovision with a rousing, powerful (Balkan) ballad or folk entry (Serbia 2007, Serbia-Montenegro 2004, Bosnia 2006, Bosnia 2009), or you face the consequences of not doing well in the contest. This entry is simply too confusing for me ears. It has rap and some folk ballad accents. But it’s never a coherent total package. Then I think Deen looks offputting on screen. It’s like seeing Ernst Stavro Blofeld trying to appeal to televoters and jury’s: It’s not working.

    FINLAND: Sandhja with ‘Sing It Away’ — ‘MISS’:
    Sandha has a problem. I think she lacks charisma as a singer. Her facial gestures doesn’t put me in a happy mood. I think her aggressive looks might be a bit offputting for all audiences. Add to that a rather pleasant entry, that I actually quite like, but that isn’t ‘relevant’ to today’s chart music, and you create a problem. In the ‘bloodbad’ of the first half of semi final #1 this might fail to qualify. Again, these songs need singers with real soul and charisma to lift it up (Actually? Malta 2015, the winner of Junior Eurovision is a great example).

    DENMARK: Lighthouse X with ‘Soldiers Of Love’ — ‘MAYBE’:
    I think both Ireland and Denmark will be struggling for the last qualifier spots. But I slightly prefer Ireland over this, regardless of the stronger 1st half. It’s just too dated. The song, the performances….I can’t see this doing well. Still, it’s competent enough in its genre and might slip to the final. Nice historical reference are perhaps Hungary 1997 and Sweden 1997, who I still find better than this entry.

    CYPRUS: Minus One with ‘Alter Ego’ — ‘MAYBE’:
    This will probably stand out enough for qualification. It’s a nice pastiche of rock, and there’s probably a market for it (fans??). Still, I think from the perspective of rock it’s too dated. Recent Turkish entries like MaNga (2010) and Turkey 2008 were IMO much better. Less pastiche, less schlager, more authentic, more ‘real rock’. On top of that, I wasn’t impressed by the live performances of the band. Will qualify, but not ‘HIT’ enough to enter the TOP 10 in the final.

    To summarize:
    01. AUSTRIA
    02. CYPRUS
    03. DENMARK
    05. FINLAND

    Again, the countries in this 2nd Jukebox aren’t the best competitors in this year’s contest. Only Austria could do an upset.

  8. Robyn says:

    Lighthouse X are in their 30s – one of them is even married with a kid. They’re really not the sort of pop group that 11-year-old girls go crazy for!

    Even though Lighthouse X have only been around for four years, they come across more like a boyband from the ’90s who have reformed for their now grown-up fans. It’s all a bit “Are they supposed to be famous? Never heard of them!”

  9. André says:

    Hmmm, as always, interesting opinions that challenge me to think about my opinions in new ways.

    Austria – Maybe — Pleasant song, pleasant singer not too much to help it stand out aside from the language. It will either barely qualify or just miss qualifying.

    Bosnia & Herzegovina – Miss — Ugh, this song is a mess. I think y’all hit the nail on the head when you said that it is not quite good in any of the genres that it attempts to unite.

    Finland – Maybe — I think it’s a lot of fun and am quite confused about how this is not getting the same love as Spain, even though the two songs are so similar. I think if the staging is similar to UMK and they get a good running order, that Finland has a decent shot at qualifying.

    Denmark – Maybe — Uhh, this is alright. Like Austria, quite pleasant but not much more than that. I think they will get the love of preteens across the continents and make the final, but not much more than that.

    Cyprus – Hit — Schlagerrock, lite rock, whatever you want to call it, it’s quite a decent song. It’s catchy and it’s fun. I think that it will be a shoo-in for qualification and will land just outside the Top Ten.

  10. Eurojock says:

    Austria – To choose to sing in French when you’re not French doesn’t seem to me the best way of winning Eurovision votes. This may appeal to some seasoned Eurovision fans (with a sentimental attachment to contests long past) but Austria is not historically a well supported country (if the song is mediocre) and to my mind the song isn’t that great and there are some vocal issues. The second half draw helps it but at best this is a borderline qualifier – perhaps in a tussle with Czech Republic and Bosnia for one of the final qualifying places. But if it gets through to Saturday night expect to see it in the bottom five. MAYBE

    Bosnia – Standard Balkan ballad -tick. The cello player worked for me as well – tick. Second half draw -tick. A semi with several Balkan neighbours voting – tick. And then out of nowhere a rapper from another song hijacks the stage. I also think voters may find the male singer a bit off-putting (harsh – but unfortunately that’s Eurovision reality). So this all adds up to it being borderline as to qualification. If it gets to the final Balkan votes may just about keep it out the bottom five. MAYBE

    Finland – Quite a catchy chorus and the singer is enthusiastic enough. Unfortunately, the song feels dated, there are vocal issues and voters may find the female singer off-putting (harsh – but unfortunately that’s Eurovision reality). The first half draw in semi one does this no favours. At best five will go though from this half – and four of these seem obvious – MISS

    Denmark – This is ploughing the same furrow as Ireland and the UK – and none of these songs are particularly good. I can’t see many jury votes for this, particularly if we see the tuning issues with one or two of the band members we got in the Danish final. What might save it is that it is in the second half of Semi Two and only Ukraine and Bulgaria look strong qualifiers from that part of the draw, so there are likely to be three places up for grabs. – So MAYBE.

    Cyprus – It’s not real rock but so what. This is Eurovision and it is a well produced rollicking good pop tune written by a seasoned Eurovision songwriter. It reminds me of Finland’s Softengine from a couple of years ago. Provided they can sing live and come up with some reasonable staging (always a bigger challenge for a band, most of whom have to spend the three minutes standing around miming the playing of instruments), the second half draw in semi one should see it safely through. I also predict a possible left hand side of the board finish on the Saturday, although being Cyprus top ten may be beyond it. – HIT

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