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Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #5 Written by on April 7, 2016 | 11 Comments

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Four rounds down, and four to go. We’ve reach the back half of this year’s Juke Box Jury but the discussions continue. This week established judge Andrew Main is is joined by a new recruit to the bench, Ross Middleton. Old and new voices stand in the way of another six artists looking for Eurovision glory.

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #5
with Andrew Main ( and Ross Middleton (@RossMidd)

Greece: Utopian Land, by Argo.
United Kingdom
: You’re Not Alone, by Joe and Jake.
: Falling Stars, by Lidia Isac.
Czech Republic
: I Stand, by Gabriela Gunčiková.
: No Degree Of Seperation, by Francesca Michielin.
: Goodbye (Shelter), by ZAA (neé Sanja Vučić).

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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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11 responses to “Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #5”

  1. mk says:

    Greece – MISS…I don’t know if I’ve liked any of their entries (not even when they won), but it has chances to qualify

    UK – Maybe – best entry since Blue, don’t think in first 15 though

    Moldova – I would normally say MAYBE as the song is as good or bad as at least 25 songs this year, but I don’t think it will qualify – so most likely MISS

    Czech Republic – MAYBE – many seem to like it, nice video, not memorable

    Italy – HIT – I love it…I would like Italy to win, but my faves never won, so I don’t think so

    Serbia – MAYBE to HIT – Due to the presentation I did not even had the patience to watch the entire video first time…I couldn’t stand that…nevertheless I like the song and her voice. Hopefully she’ll tone the presentation down

  2. shame ewan!!!

    judging the uk song because of the theoretical staging is like the UK public judging eurovision. your preconsive notions does not appy to the contest/song.

    maybe they’ve changed and will make a better staging. (i’ve been sending them your videos on twitter so it might have some impact)

    in the long term, i think the uk is like in remission. it not well but it’s sick and getting and sicker. we must aid it’s recovery not hinder it or suffer the dread of black lace for 2017

    for the UK its a hit but for eurovision, it’s a maybe

  3. Not one but two contenders this week? Hmm…

    Greece: Will not qualify. Which is good for the Contest, since it shows you need to make some sort of effort. Miss.
    United Kingdom: There is a “boys with guitars” constituency out there, so it should do OK. Maybe.
    Moldova: The revamps is much improved, making it on the cusp of qualifying if she can nail the vocal. Maybe.
    Czech Republic: She’s great, not sure that’s enough to qualify. Maybe.
    Italy: After seeing how she subsequently staged it on RAI could win the whole thing. HIT.
    Serbia: After seeing her live vocals from preview events, HIT.

    Serbia has the yugosphere and a diaspora. Italy has a pan-European appreciation for great Italian pop music. Either could win. I hope Italy does.

  4. also, it might just be a me thing but i think most of what Italy sends is a bit droning. it nice and all but their just three minutes of waiting room music.

    there are exceptions like 2012 or 2014

  5. Black n Blue says:

    Another enjoyable podcast guys!

    Greece: MISS. Can qualify, but even if it does it won’t go anywhere on the Saturday night. I miss the Greece of old that used to treat us to ethno-pop bangers!

    United Kingdom: MISS. Nothing against the lads. It’s just that the Beeb are entering performers (and a production team) that don’t have the experience or vision that’s needed to get a good result.

    Moldova: MISS. A Europop thingy that’ll ultimately go nowhere, trust me.

    Czech Republic: HIT. This isn’t a small step into the final, but I believe a giant leap into the top five. It’s a quality song, and I think people are going to be mighty impressed when they see Gabriela perform this live.

    Italy: MAYBE. The song is good, and one of my own favorites this year. I just don’t feel as though this one imposes itself enough on the audience. I sniff a L’essenziale type result, but I could see them doing worse with an early slot in the running order.

    Serbia: MABYE. Although I reckon they’re closer to a hit than Italy are. As you’ve elaborated Ewan, the ingredients are there. It’s a great song, but I want more performance wise from this, the overacting kills it a bit so likewise I hope Sanja tones it down for Eurovision.

  6. Blimey, is it five already? The further we go on, the more likely we are to be able to give a proper review on live vocals…for some!

    Greece: MAYBE. To be honest I can see this qualifying anyway, as it is Greece and no matter what they send, it gets to the Final. I actually like this one, which is remarkable as I normally hate ethnic rap (see Bosnia this year) but there is something about this that works. It sounds superb and slightly hypnotic and I love the ethnic fusion of this – I agree that it’s a 7 out of 10, I won’t be unhappy to see this in the Final but it won’t annoy me if it is not.

    UK: MAYBE. All of the pundits are being very unfair on J&J this year as this is superbly catchy, it’s an uplifting earworm of a tune and the ‘friends together’ act will endear them to many in Stockholm. Ewan has a point about the PR as it really still hasn’t started, even four weeks before it all starts. I can’t see what other staging could be done apart from them singing the song and having musicians behind them but then I’m not in the business. I think you are all right in that there is a danger that this will blend into the background but this should be an improvement on previous years. Hopeful for mid-table this year…

    Moldova: MISS. The best in her NF and I am sure this will go down well in the Euroclubs in Stockholm but it’s not great. Maybe a filler track at as club before a killer tune is played but that’s as good as it gets. Lidia can sing but her accent and singing style can be quite annoying, as her range at times sounds all over the place. Nothing memorable about this song – a definite non-qualifier yet again for Moldova.

    Czech Republic: MAYBE. I really, really, really want this nation to qualify for the Final but I’m not sure that in such a big number of semi-finalists that this will make it. This is a wonderfully classic ballad with meaningful lyrics, Gabriela is a superb vocalist and looks the part but its melancholic nature and music that is always on one level might lead to ‘I Stand’ being ignored. You are spot on with the ‘first listen’ issue, guys…

    Italy: MISS. Personally, I don’t understand why this song is so popular amongst the Eurovision fandom – nostalgia for Italian songs of the past? She does give a very heartfelt vocal during this traditional ballad but this doesn’t grip me at all and it just sort of trundles along, making me lose interest before it even gets to the English bit (which I think is a waste of time and just panders to the mass market). The staging might make this stand out more and pull it up to mid-table (as might the jury votes) – I still think that this will be the ‘fanwank failure’ this year…

    Serbia: VERY BIG HIT. This is THE power ballad of 2016. Sanja (ZAA?) has the voice, the energy, the emotional delivery and the looks to give Serbia their best finish since ‘Molitva’. She also delivers live too (see the Riga Pre-Party) and appears to be yet another interviewer’s dream. ‘Goodbye (Shelter)’ gave me those ‘winner goosebumps’ – to make that happen, put all the focus on her singing, let her deliver live in Stockholm as she did in the official video and Belgrade 2017 is a distinct possibility. Just a small point – am I the only one who sees Christina Aguilera here more than any other singer?

    Only one good’un this time for me – still have no idea why Italy is so popular!

  7. HarrietKrohn says:

    Greece – I don’t really dislike this song, but it’s not a favourite either, not by a long shot. While I wouldn’t mind it being in the final, I also think it would be good if Greece was left behind just for once. I can’t be good for you knowing you can send whatever and still make the final. If they get there, they’ll end up near the bottom. MISS/MAYBE

    UK – The song is not bad at all, it’s quite catchy and puts me in a good mood. However, I remember Joe & Jake looking quite amateurish during the selection, but maybe that was partly because of the setting of the show and it’ll be better in Stockholm. I hope they’ll get a decent result, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if they didn’t. MAYBE

    Moldova – What’s the song again? Totally uninspired and uninspiring, a song that goes nowhere and leaves me with basically no emotion. Hmm, okay. Song over then. MISS

    Czech Republic – So everyone loves this song, but I can’t really get into it. There’s something whiny about it that rubs me up the wrong way. I want to like it better and I don’t hate it at all, but that’s as far as it goes for me. MABYE

    Italy – When I heard it for the first time, I thought it was boring and just went on for three minutes with nothing happening. After a few listens though, the song started to sneak its way into my head and now I just love it. Contest-wise, that does not bode well for Italy, but maybe others are quicker on the uptake. I can’t see this winning unless the juries help it big time, but it’ll sure be one of the songs that stay on playlist after Stockholm. HIT

    Serbia – Okay, another song that everyone seems to love that so far has passed me by. It’s actually quite low in my personal list, not even because there’s something fundamentally wrong with it, but because I just don’t connect with it at all. And I don’t even know how ZAA (is that supposed to be an acronym or why is it all caps?) moves, I only know the song. Of course it’ll qualify, but after that I have no idea. It’ll probably do better than I personally think it deserves, judging from what everyone else thinks. That’s not going to drive me mad either. MAYBE

  8. Ben Pitchers says:

    Greece: MISS. There are some elements here that work but don’t come together to make a very coherent entry. The subject matter is topical and important. The ethnic instrumentation is nice at the beginning but becomes grating towards the end of the song. I don’t dislike the chorus, but it could do with the female vocalists singing at least one verse to go with it. Also, with it being such a short chorus it becomes overly repetitive at the end of the song. I think it’s less accessible than Bosnia & Herzegovina. I think it is unlikely to qualify because there’s not much for the audience and juries to hook into. The second place death slot in SF1 is very much going against any chances it had.

    United Kingdom: MAYBE. It’s another entry where there’s nothing wrong with it but there isn’t much to make it stand out. The positives are that it sounds British and modern and that it’s an appropriate song for the singers. I can see young girls voting for them as they have that boy-next-door inoffensive look going for them. I do worry that a big factor in them winning the NF was that Joe & Jake were the only act familiar to the public. I think the UK NF would benefit from a professional jury making up half the votes (with the televote having precedence if there’s a tie) to make sure this isn’t happening. I’m not sure how the BBC will stage it to make it visually eye-catching.

    Moldova: MISS. It’s much better in the studio version than live (where Lidia over-sings the chorus) but suffers from sounding very dated. Lidia’s also not a very engaging performer and is quite stiff on stage but seeing as it’s Moldova I’m sure they’ll do something wacky with the presentation. The 3rd position in SF1 after Greece won’t help either. In this most difficult SF I think it’ll miss out on qualification even with France and Spain voting.

    Czech Republic: HIT. This song gives the Czechs their best chance to qualify and is much more accessible than last year. It is, however, quite a power ballad by the numbers with regard to its structure. It sounds like Gabriela will have a very strong live vocal and is very telegenic so that should lift up. It’s place in the second half is good but SVT have seen fit to make it 10th place which might not help with televoters (optimistically I hope it’s because they know they have a good visual presentation). I agree with Ewan that it’ll do better with the juries than the public but I think it’ll get to Saturday night anyway.

    Italy: HIT. Another very high quality entry from the Italians. It’s not a cookie cutter song and has very poetic and well written lyrics. It reminds me of Marco Mengoni’s 2013 entry as a similar type of ballad. I would always prefer an all-Italian entry but the English does help people know what she’s singing and I agree with Ewan that it makes it less repetitive. The shortening of the song cut out the big climax and I think that could hold it back with televoters. If this is second half with a good presentation hopefully it’ll be top 10. I think Italy has a built-in advantage that Germany doesn’t so I don’t think it’ll suffer Ann-Sophie’s fate.

    Serbia: HIT. A very well written song with great lyrics and a fantastic singer with personality and a great voice. A lot of people have talked about her emoting too much in the video but it seems like she’s brought it in a little more in live performances. That’s an easy issue to deal with. I think if you have a song about domestic abuse it’s more powerful coming from a first person perspective than third person like Hungary’s 2014 entry. I hope it’s top 10 and it would make a good dark horse winner. It’s in the first half of SF2 but has an advantage of coming after Belarus that has a much less engaging performer in Ivan.

  9. Eurojock says:

    On the basis that HIT means top 13 in the final:

    Greece: I haven’t listened to this much and we don’t have the benefit of a live performance, but I don’t think this is as awful as some reviews have made it out to be. The fusion sort of works for me and the ‘We are the rise..’ chorus is catchy and uplifting. There is also some staging potential. On the downside it does feel a bit repetitive and rap is not generally a Eurovision vote winner. I see this competing with Bosnia, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Austria and Estonia for the last two qualifying places from Semi One. Greece’s No. 2 slot doesn’t help it but diaspora and neighbour votes might. At best a possible qualifier which would do very little on the Saturday night. MISS

    UK: I thought this year’s national final was a step in the right direction. No novelty songs and a steer to the UK public about what makes a successful Eurovision song in the modern era. Problem was then we were given six songs that were all okay but nothing better. And this is the first problem for Joe and Jake this year. Although perhaps marginally better than Denmark and Ireland who have similar ‘boy band’ numbers, there are at least 15 songs in the competition that are stronger. The song is likely to have limited jury appeal. The televote will suffer from lack of neighbour and diaspora votes. Staging potential seems limited and in the national finals one of the singers (Joe?) was out of tune. To me this adds up to a potential bottom five finish. MISS

    Moldova: Ben Pitchers (above) could have written my review word for word. Non- qualifier and MISS

    Czech Republic: Other reviews mention the strong vocal so I went on Youtube to see some live examples. To my mind Gabriela is good and her vocal on the night will be very sound, but she is more Ruth Lorenzo than Pastora Soler. The song reminds me a bit of last year’s Greek entry ‘One Last Breadth’ – almost but not quite very good. Coming immediately after Russia in the semi (without an ad break in between?) may also hurt its chances. I am predicting a mini-contest with 5 other countries for the 9th and 10th qualifying slots in Semi-One, in which the Czech Republic’s lack of voting ‘friends’ may count against it. Borderline qualifier at best. MISS

    Italy: I am afraid I don’t share the panel’s optimism for this. And this is one I have listened to a lot. It is not without merit as a song. The Nessun Grado chorus is particularly good. But Ewan hit it on the head when he questioned whether this was a song for the competition. It takes a while to get going, and doesn’t end on the climax that a successful ESC song ideally needs. And let’s face it the very pretty but unsmiling Francesca is not exactly oozing buckets of charisma. The song may get some jury support, but I can’t see a left hand side finish. MISS.

    Serbia: This is a quality song, with a very good singer (see the Riga and Moscow pre-parties) who has real stage presence (Italy take note). At last year’s pre-parties Aminata emerged as a real talent and this year I see Sanja doing the same. From the video I believe Serbia already have the basis of the effective staging of this one. I see this attracting a lot of jury votes and having a strong Balkan televote (helped by more Balkan countries participating this year). My reservation is that while I am praising this to the heavens, when I first watched the video all I could focus on was the excessive face pulling. If Sanja tones this down I see this as definite top 10 with top 5 not out of the question. However, this is not normally the type of song that contends for the victory. Nevertheless HIT

  10. André says:

    Greece – Miss; the song is definitely unique but I don’t see it appealing to the masses.

    UK – Maybe; it’s good to see the British pop scene finally getting back into the ESC. It’s alright; I think it will get a lot of the younger crowd.

    Moldova – Miss; it’s pleasant, but her voice isn’t big enough for the song, in my opinion.

    Czech Republic – Hit; I think this song could sneak into the winner’s circle. It is a very strong entry that stands out from the rest.

    Italy – Maybe; I, personally, find this song to be quite boring. It took a few weeks before I could pay attention through it. I definitely think that y’all are overrating this song.

    Serbia – Hit; the song is memorable and is one of the few ESC entries that successfully brings in an R&B vibe. Not quite sure what Ewan was talking about in terms of its sound. I also don’t think it has an overtly “Balkan” sound to it.

  11. Shai says:

    I’m late with my review,aren’t I? 🙂
    Nevertheless here are my thoughts.

    Greece – It’s not bad just very repetitive. There is no progress in the song.It just stay where it started for a long 3 minutes. It also doesn’t come out as a strong song – MISS

    U.K. – Again it’s not a bad a song. And for the U.K. standard of last years it sound current and try to reach a broader audience. It is a decent song but there are better songs in this year contest.The won the UK NF because they delivered on the night. The question is if they can deliver on a bigger stage.
    As for the staging-that type of song has limits in its staging options and they can over due it and f*** it up(and the BBC of late is not known for it’s staging wonders. I do hope it will get a decent result so more artists in the UK will dare and take the Eurovision challenge -MAYBE

    Moldova – It’s a piece of Euro trash/pop that has never been a great success in Eurovision terms. The worse part of it that that for a dance track it sounds a step too slow. -MISS

    Czech Republic – This is actually a good song. Yes, it’s a ballad but one that is on the good side of the genre. There is a good built up to the song and if she can nail the vocals life and the staging is correct it might do well. Now that the running order has been published and this coming after Russia may harm it’s chances, I just hope it will manage to overcome that obstacle -HIT(but a MAYBE is in place because of the unknown factors).

    Italy – It’s good and it’s typical Italian in it’s sound. On the other hand it doesn’t sound like song that has a mass appeal. You may like it as a track outside Eurovision but in Eurovision contest it may get lost. I am not sure that the move to English is a good move but it is done in a very smooth way. My concern is that she looked a bit distance and cold and that could be a big obstacle in attracting the televoters. MAYBE(on borderline of being a HIT)

    Serbia – The first time I saw the video, I thought has Bianca del Rio started singing?. For those who are not familiar with this person, just look it up.
    This is a very good song with potential do to very well. It has a clasic ballade structure and built up nicely and effectively to a very big crescendo.But and this is a very big but(which was also there during Eurovision In Concert), she need to tone down the performance and show some vulnerability. Right now there is a huge contrast between the song and what it’s trying to say and the the singer and what she project in her performance-HIT(with some reservations)

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