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Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #3 Written by on March 24, 2016 | 10 Comments

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Recorded at the legendary SXSW Music festival in Austin, Ewan Spence is joined by music journalist Talia Kraines and DJ Dan Hudson to look over five more songs hoping to win this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

First they need to find out if they are going to be called as a hit, a miss, or a maybe.

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #3
with Talia Kraines (newobsession.co.uk) and Dan Hudson (@DanHudson)

Azerbaijan: Miracle, by Samra.
Estonia: Play, by Juri Pootsmann.
Spain: Say Yay, by Barei.
Montenegro: The Real Thing, by Highway.
Poland: Color Of Your Life, by Michal Szpak.

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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10 responses to “Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #3”

  1. Stephen Colville says:

    Ewan, you are overestimating Spain. Especially with the new version of the song, this is just another Edurne result. I would add about Poland : The reason Michal won was because of the 1 vote per act rule, that prevented the inevitable teenage spam vote from Margaret fans. I’d like to see that rule adopted in other National Finals.

    Azerbaijan : Maybe. Probably just qualifies and gets lower teens in the final.
    Estonia : Hit. Likely qualifier and top half of the table. I love the cool, jazzy atmosphere. Great singer, great charisma.
    Montenegro : Miss. Bloody hell.
    Poland : Maybe. Better than Margaret’s song. Great singer and surprisingly good ballad. But takes a couple of listens to get.

  2. Ben Pitchers says:

    Azerbaijan: HIT. Although it’s a shame that it’s generic Swedo-pop and not something more Azeri (does Ictimai not want to discover any Azeri composers or lyricists?) it is an enjoyable song to listen to. It sticks in your head and, assuming Samra can perform well live, has a singer that is a good match for the song. I think the last minute lets it down by being so repetitive; I also find the repeating or mira-mira-miracle quite annoying. I think this could make top 10.

    Estonia: MAYBE. I think the lyrics (especially the chorus) are really interesting and I see this as being like a 60s-70s crooner song. It’s also nice that Estonia is taking a risk. I didn’t think Juri was out of tune but I find his whole physical performance very off-putting and wrong for the song. It’s a song about being in love with someone and wanting to find out if they feel the same and he’s performing it with mix of deadpan and scowling expressions. At Eurovision they need to get rid of the red background too as this contributes to the dark and moody vibe that plays contrary to the lyric content. If Juri performs it differently then it may qualify but I agree with Ewan that it would get lost in the final.

    Spain: HIT. I like this so much better now than when it won the NF and really like the final version we’ll hear at the contest. Barei needs to work on her pronunciation of the word ‘battle’. She’ll have a good team of backing singers with her and once she has the performance down I think Spain has a very good chance of being top 10 if not possibly winning. I understand why people in Spain were disappointed to have an all-English entry but at least it isn’t generic and Barei had a hand in writing it too. After all the hype and eventual let-down last year it’ll be nice to see a Spanish entry that defies the early expectations and gets stronger and stronger as we get to the contest. My only gripe is that the title is a bit silly.

    Montenegro: MISS. It takes to long to get going and is way too sparse and repetitive. It’s in the most competitive semi-final and Montenegro tends to struggle to qualify at the best of times so its chances are slim. If Dan’s right, any real rock fans are likely to be turned off too, cutting off all the song’s chances of votes.

    Poland: MISS. It doesn’t really do anything for me and, although he’s a talented singer, I found his slightly pained expression he had for most of the NF performance off-putting. I don’t think the lyrics are very interesting. They are just playing at being philosophical and get a bit repetitive. Underneath all that hair there’s a good-looking guy which will count for something and Poland are well placed in SF2 to qualify but I think if they did this would be on the right-hand side of the scoreboard on Saturday night.

  3. Ben Cook says:

    Nice to hear from a couple of people “outside the bubble”! I also follow Talia on Twitter so interesting to hear from her.

    I was astonished you thought Poland could be top 5. Yes I’m bitter about Margaret but this song is appalling! The chorus is just cringeworthy!

    Agree though that Spain is a dark horse if they nail the performance.

  4. Shai says:

    Azerbaijan – For me this is not memorable enough. I have listened to this song already 5 times and it still doesn’t stay long in my head. I am not sure why, because it has all the ingredients to do just that. It could be that I am just not so fan of the sound of it or that it just to technical to make care about it. And I have no clue how she will sound life, and that song really depends on her live performance – MAYBE

    Estonia – I think the start of the song is too low for him and it does sound as he is off key. And this happened several time through the song/performance. I admit of liking the song but I also think that he is lack of charisma. It’s not a bad song but it’s not that great – MAYBE

    Spain – bouncy and catchy and yes memorable and it’s actually quite modern with some retro touches that are there but not dominating the song. It also unpretentious with its intentions – the song want to have fun.It gets your attention and stay in your head. With the right position can do serious damage. Now get the live performance and the staging right and you have a potential winner -HIT

    Montenegro – I ask myself who is the target audience of this song?Eurovision audience – NO with a capital “N’. It is written and sung for people who usually don’t watch Eurovision – MISS(and competing with San Marino for last place in their semi)

    Poland – This may serve as a good example for a generic ballad. Something that plod along without leaving any marks. Something that get from A to B in the most predictable way there is. Something that was written just because someone thought this is how Eurovsion ballad should sounds -MISS

  5. John Lucas says:

    Interesting to hear some non-fan perspectives this week. Kudos to both for some interesting observations and for keeping an open mind.

    Azerbaijan: Yes, this is completely cookie-cutter and doesn’t sound remotely like Azerbaijan, but at this point that’s pretty much par for the course with them. I do think this is very, very strong on its own terms. I don’t think it sounds like 1996 so much as it sounds like something Demi Lovato would have put out a couple of years ago. Dan makes a very valid point that it’s missing a ‘moment’ to really push it over the top, but the “mira-mira-miracle” bit comes close, and you know the stage show is going to be memorable one way or another. Kudos for possibly the best English enunciation by an Azeri entrant to date as well. Hour of the Wolf was really marred for me by the fact that the verses were completely incomprehensible. I actually think with the right draw, performance and stage show this could sneak past the post and be another consensus winner, but safe top ten seems more likely. HIT.

    Estonia – Fascinating that Talia and Dan reacted so negatively to this. I’ve been suspecting for a good while that this really isn’t going to connect in May. I just can’t find a way into it. The performance is cold and alienating, I don’t know what the song is trying to make me feel and there’s no story there. A combination of Juri and Stig’s popularity may have worked well in Tallin, but I expect to see this languishing in the semis in Stockholm. A rare MISS for Estonia.

    Spain – First I loved this song, then I got sick of it, now I’m back to liking (but not loving) it again. There’s definitely something there, and if she can polish up the performance and get a second half draw it could do very well indeed. I can just as easily see it going down as forgettable filler though. If Finland qualify, there’s going to be a major case of vote splitting. MAYBE.

    Montenegro – And so Montenegro’s Eurovision revival comes to a screeching halt. This must be a case of family favours because I know the Montenegrin delegation is highly ambitious, and this is clearly a complete misfire. Nice for variety, but resolutely in the wrong competition, and in a way that it just feels indulgent rather than making any kind of statement (a defence I’d offer for Georgia). MISS

    Poland – I’m going to judge this purely on its own terms. It sounds like a ballad that could have been entered into any Eurovision Song Contest of the past fifteen years and sounded no different. However, he can sing, he’s in the weaker semi and I think the Polish diaspora is a lot more motivated than it was before 2014. A decent shout for qualification, but I think midtable is the best they can hope for after that. MAYBE.

  6. André says:

    Hey! There are more American fans than just Samantha (though, she is awesome!). My blog’s (Eurovision Obsession) biggest readership is American (as am I).

    Speaking of which – I hope you enjoyed Texas, Ewan, you go to SXSW annually, right?

    Azerbaijan – Hit — This is the kind of stuff that is in Azerbaijan’s wheelhouse. They sent more “ethnic” sounding songs throughout the last few years, now they return to what made them successful in 2009 – 2011 – pop music produced by top Swedish composers. There’s no way that this song does not finish in the Top Ten.

    Estonia – Maybe — I LOVE this song and thought that y’all were overly harsh towards it. I do think that the song is not the most riveting, but I think that its mysterious air more than makes up for it. I think that it will finish mid- to low-table at the Final.

    Spain – Hit — This is the most popular choice to win I’ve seen among fans thus far. It definitely has a legitimate shot at winning. It’s way more than a dark horse, it should be considered a favorite.

    Montenegro – Miss — Like Georgia, this song brings much needed diversity to the Contest, but has little chance at success.

    Poland – Maybe — I don’t think it is a hit nor do I think it is a serious contender to win, even through back channels like in 2011. But, I will say, the more that I listen to this song, the more I enjoy it.

  7. Okay, third episode – here’s my thoughts…very entertaining JBJ, btw!

    Azerbaijan – HIT. Samra should help her nation get back on track by breaking into the Final top ten with this powerful and superbly sung entry, helped by the fact she is very easy on the eye. The only reason this might not reach its full potential is the descent into repetition towards the song’s end but there are enough Azeri-friendly nations out there to push this easily towards Saturday night and a decent finish if sung as per the studio version. Ewan – do any of us really expect Azerbaijan to produce anything other than Scandi-pop?

    Estonia – MAYBE. With a passing nod to the vocal style of Neil Hannon and The Divine Comedy, Jüri brings chic and coolness to Eurovision with a very laid-back and confident performance, a song that builds nicely and has a memorable chorus. ‘Play’ just lacks a wow moment that would definitely confirm a Final place and a possible top half finish – because of that, this could be one of the ‘better’ casualties in this year’s SFs.

    Spain – VERY BIG HIT. Ditching the Spanish language may give Spain their best Eurovision result for years – Barei has a superbly catchy contemporary song here and she hits you right between the eyes with her sassy attitude, her sexiness and on-stage charisma. I’m not so sure about the ‘Kurt Calleja’ dance though but everytime I see her perform this (the Ukrainian NF was far, far better than the Spanish performance) , I can see this being at least a dark horse for the win and it is one of my favourites this year too. The crowd will be pumped with this and the television voters will pick up on that but maybe not the ‘Donna Noble’ bit (unless you really want to apply Doctor Who to Eurovision lol)… 🙂

    Montenegro – MISS. What starts out as soft rock for the first twenty seconds becomes some strange electronica/guitar competition that totally swamps the rather basic and repetitive lyrical content of this entry. Unless ‘The Real Thing’ is staged superbly and I mean it has to be the best staging ever seen on a Eurovision stage, the change in genre for Montenegro from Balkan ballad to ‘stoner rock’ will mean Final non-qualification.

    Poland – HIT. Michal, the long-haired Polish ‘ringmaster’, could do a lot better in Stockholm than a lot of people think he will. A superb vocalist, putting huge amounts of emotion into his delivery of this stunning ballad, layered neatly over some hypnotic beats – this might be the surprise package of 2016. A definite Finalist (remember the diaspora effect on the televote) and I think at least a mid-table finish for Poland.

    Nice to hear some musos that aren’t Eurovision fanatics for a change (I’d love to hear more of Talia in future especially)! They gave a nice insight into what ‘normal’ music lovers might be thinking when they watch these acts in May. The other comment I’d make about this podcast was that maybe you could have got the cleaner hoovering in the background to have joined in too… 🙂

  8. Eurojock says:

    Azerbaijan – This song for me has a similar feel to Malta, Bulgaria, and Armenia – all of whom do it better. The chorus is a bit dated and there a couple of moments in the video that suggested the live vocal might not be great. With second half of semi-one it should be a safe qualifier but I can only see this on the right hand side of the board on the Saturday – MAYBE

    Estonia – Don’t get me started on this one. Estonia had a potential winner with Cartoon’s Immortality (okay I am getting started) and then they messed it up at the national final. The idea of the avatar was great but in a live performance you have to establish early on that it is a live performance rather than wait until two minutes in before you show the real singer. Then there was a big con with the ‘motion capture’ shot of Kristal behind the stage, implying that she was controlling her avatar in real time. Finally at 2 minutes 30 there is the big reveal as Kristal emerges on to the stage and hits a bum note at the song’s climax. Game Over. And so we have Juri the Postman. The performance is going for dark and mysterious but as John Lucas has pointed out the effect for many viewers may be cold and alienating. A second half draw in semi -one gives it a chance of qualifying but if it does I can’t see it making waves on Saturday night. – MAYBE

    Spain – I like this song. It will go down well in the hall – as per Israel and Serbia last year. Yes there were presentational and vocal issues in the national final but I agree with Ewan that these can be worked on. Barei has a decent voice. All the head waggling, eyebrow raising and hand gestures and the welly boot dance need to be toned down. Eurovision doesn’t like its divas too diva-ish. (cf- Anne Sophie last year). The song is in English which will help. On the other hand this is Spain and it suffers from a UK-like vote lag. If Pastora Soler could only manage 10th, it would be a braver man than me who would bet on this doing better. (I’ve learned my lesson from last years bet on Spain to get top 10!) So either 10th or 20th -26th. – MAYBE

    Montenegro – Rock (or at least proper rock) doesn’t tend to do well at Eurovision and this doesn’t even appear to be a good example of the genre. – As certain a non-qualifier as you can get. – MISS

    Poland – After they selected this song at the national final the odds on a Polish win lengthened dramatically which says it all. This is your typical rather dated Polish entry. That said it has a chorus which sticks in your head and Michal can sing and is telegenic. There are enough plusses, together with the push from the diaspora vote to make this a probable qualifier. In the final I predict it will struggle to get into the top half. – MAYBE

  9. John A says:

    It’s amazing isn’t it? Only Sweden are allowed to have songs that have a mainstream sound. This is why it’s `political` – it’s about trying hard to win or to reach a strong result. It’s about conquering territory and laying down the gauntlet.

  10. Victoria says:

    Hello there – Honestly, I like Poland’s song more than many other favourites out there. Par example, I find Michal’s song way better than the one from little Justin Bieber of Sweden. 🙂 Cheers.

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