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Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #6 Written by on April 14, 2016 | 12 Comments

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Time for this week’s Juke Box Jury, coming to you on a sunny morning by a delightful canal in the backstreets of Amsterdam. Its only right that we offer the ‘hit, miss, maybe’ to the Netherlands, but we’ve got a few others to go through first. David Elder returns to the bench, along with Brandon Joseph’s first appearance.

As always, let us know in the comments your thoughts!

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #6
with David Elder (The Eurovisionary) and Brandon Joseph (Europe Calling)

Slovenia: Blue And Red, By ManuElla.
Bulgaria: If Love Was A Crime, by Poli Genova.
Israel: Made Of Stars, by Hovi Star.
The Netherlands: Slow Down, by Douwe Bob..
Germany: Ghost, by Jamie-Lee Kriewitz.

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 (

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12 responses to “Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #6”

  1. “Interesting” personalities. At times rather snarky. On to the songs!

    Slovenia: Bottom of the pack this year, alas. Such a letdown after Maraaya. Miss.

    Bulgaria: It’s good, she’s great. Top 10. Hit.

    Israel: No idea – there’s stuff to love and loathe here. Great voice, over-the-top personality without a song suited to that. Could go anyway. Maybe.

    The Netherlands: Absolutely competent, without the charm of the Common Linnets. Maybe.

    Germany: Great voice, over-the-top personality with a song somewhat better suited to that than Israel. Still a Maybe.

  2. Shai says:

    Slovenia – It has one thing in common with some of the songs I like this year. It’s inoffensive and charming. It’s a slice of pop done very well.Not earth shattering song but one that is pleasant to listen to without feeling embraced. I just don’t know if there is enough people for this kind of song – HIT(for me), MAYBE(for the contest).

    Bulgaria – The more I listen to it the more I like it and it instance enough to be likeable on first listen. The hook in the chorus is doing exactly what it need to do. Grab you by the ears so you pay attention. I wouldn’t mind this winning the whole thing -HIT

    Israel – First of all – The version on the podcast is not the Eurovision version. Secondly – no mater what you think about the song, you can not but admire the work they have done on it in the time they had. Within 10 days they manage to make a revamp and shoot a video(something that took Albania 3 months, without any success).
    The original version had problems with structure and there was wrong balance between elements in the song. It wasn’t working at all. This version found the right balance between these elements. The song tells a story, there is a contrast between the music and his voice. The main asset is Hovi himself who sell the song to you. I like this song but I also know that some people think it’s dull-HIT(for me) and MISS/MAYBE(for the contest)

    The Netherlands – It sound different than anything else in the contest. It’s simple but catchy and effective. He is co-writer of the song and you hear and see that he feels comfortable singing it. Now get the staging right and it nay do serious damage – HIT

    Germany – It’s actually quite a good song. It has a current sound and it’s built nicely and with logic. My only concern is her appearance. It simply distruct from the song itself. You see her and you start talking on what she wear and you forget to listen to the song(Israel 2013 had the same problem, and we all know how that happened-HIT(but with a huge reservations)

  3. We’re whizzing through them now – number 6 and you’ve eventually got to the entry that I have down as even worse than Serhat does Disco!

    Slovenia : MISS, MISS, MISS! Last year with Maraaya Slovenia had a perfect storm, this year it’s a total car crash! Trying to be Taylor Swift but ending up with Phoebe Buffay in a rippable naval costume, who has tried to write a Eurovision song after watching one clip on YouTube. Vocal style is annoying, her on-stage literal hand and body movements are totally comical – surely to have gone the whole comedy hog, she should have had a red AND blue dress! A huge cliche but because of this whole mess, it might be memorable but if it gets to the Final, it will be depriving someone else who deserves it more. This is my number 43 and I would not be surprised to see this as bottom of the pile in her SF…

    Bulgaria : MISS. Poli lifts this song live and she interacts with the audience superbly well. The song itself is quite underwhelming and the lack of Bulgarian makes this sound very lyrically disjointed and repetitive with no hook, no real high point, no climax. I feel that unless this is staged brilliantly, this fan fav will be another non-qualifier for her country…

    Israel : HIT. Israel made the right choice this year with this powerful and yet soulful ballad, sung by this charismatic guy with a superb voice. He gives this huge amounts of emotion and has a presence on stage – this is all about the singer on stage and the passion he gives to this song. The staging has to be just on Hovi, focusing on his vocal performance alone – this might then be a top ten in the Final. Lots of extravagance around him to distract the viewer from the purity of his voice – this might not qualify.

    The Netherlands : MAYBE. C&W returns to Eurovision courtesy of The Netherlands yet again! It’s well sung, Douwe Bob is very personable and handsome and after watching the EIC, he knows how to perform live. I just worry that the steady pace and sound of ‘Slow Down’ won’t stand out in the SF in Stockholm and this won’t be in the Final – if it does make it, this might be down the bottom of the scoreboard come Saturday night. Blue Steel or not, this will need the sort of staging Ewan talks about for this to get a LHS finish, just for memorability if nothing else.

    Germany : HIT. Dark haired singer young female singer from Germany with a distinctive vocal, who owns the stage and gives a beguiling performance…no, not Lena, Jamie-Lee! She might have a Manga obsession but it does make her stand out, as does her voice, which has maturity beyond her eighteen years. The hypnotic beats and the dark subject matter of the lyrics make this one to really listen to. I think that she has one of the best voices this year – how high up the table she finishes might depend on where and after who she sings in the draw…

    Still good to see that I still have quite different views to David Elder, as I have recognised for several years that my Eurovision likes are totally at odds to his! Not convinced by any of your thoughts about Douwe Bob winning ESC 2016 – ‘Slow Down’ is not ‘Calm Before The Storm’…

  4. Ben Pitchers says:

    Slovenia: MISS. It’s a bit too lightweight and this will be more apparent coming after Australia in SF2. The dress reveal, if used again at Eurovision, is tired and shouldn’t surprise anyone when it happens. I don’t hate it but I don’t think it’ll qualify and if it does it’ll get lost in the final.

    Bulgaria: HIT. This is very well produced and I like Poli very much as a performer and seeing how she performed “Na Inat” live (still not quite sure why that didn’t qualify – it was a great song and very well performed) she should be pretty reliable in Stockholm. I especially like the end when we get to the “together we’re untouchable…” lyric. The use of Bulgarian in the songs works really well. I do wonder why they used a vocal effect at the beginning of the song that would need to be reproduced live at the contest. It works in the studio version but so would the whistle/flute used in place later in the song. It’s not in the official lyrics so maybe they’ll leave it out when performing it live. Bulgaria has enough help from voting allies to qualify and should stand out as something current and chartable between Romania and Denmark in SF2.

    Israel: MAYBE. Hovi fits the song well and is a good vocalist but it takes far too long to get going. The lyric content of the verses is nice but then the chorus is too repetitive. It’s very early in slot 4 of SF2 so that may make it struggle. There is a feeling of quality to this song that the juries may score well. Qualification will rely on the Hovi’s live performance.

    The Netherlands: HIT. This is a good example of an artist with a song that is true to them. I think Douwe said AVROTROS didn’t interfere with the sort of song he was going to write and perform and that was a very good decision on their part. It sounds authentic and despite being a short song that’s repetitive it doesn’t feel like it is. It feels like a classic song everyone knows and enjoys a good singalong to. He’s very telegenic and charismatic which should help him qualify from a tough semi.

    Germany: MAYBE. On paper I like the song because I think it’s well written but my concern is that Jamie-Lee is too young to really pull it off. It’s hard to buy the emotions of the song through her physical performance and it’s unlikely she’s been in the sort of relationship she’s singing about. I liked her NF vocal performance apart from her going low on a couple of notes in the first verse which she doesn’t do in the studio version. She needs to tighten up her enunciation a bit though but it isn’t a problem in the studio version which is far superior and shows how good a song it actually is. I’m fine with her wearing the manga inspired outfit if that reflects her personality as an artist. Looking back on the NF performance, the issue is that it’s too cheerful and innocent for the staging and the lyric content and really plays against it. I have no idea how it’ll do in the final but Germany often struggles and if this is an early song it’ll probably get lost.

  5. Germany- song is very BBC introducing. i can see this playing in bbc radio 1. but her staging is a miss match. she need to take her style down. were a kimono or something.

  6. Ben Ramos says:

    Slovenia- not feeling this at all. I would have more commentary, but I can’t even remember how the song goes. MISS

    Bulgaria- definitely one of the better Bulgarian entries, but I still don’t see it lighting up the scoreboard like many fans predict. I can see it qualifying, but little else. That should be a victory in itself for BNT, but, realistically, is a MAYBE.

    Israel- It starts slow, but the build is too good not to have Saturday night. Hovi is also quite the character off-stage, and I really wish that could’ve come out in his song instead of held back with a ballad. A full on hands-in-the-air anthem would do his personality justice, but this shows off his voice well and is a HIT.

    Netherlands- I love the song as well, but in its tough semi, I have worries that it may not even qualify unless it really comes through onstage. On the note of radio relevance, “If I Were Sorry” is much more top-40 radio friendly. Chill house is in, “Slow Down” is too country for the mainstream. A reluctant MAYBE.

    Germany- sounds a lot like Halsey, which doesn’t appeal to me, but does to a lot of my friends. Definite strong televote if Western European teenagers go out and vote. Otherwise, no. However, the song is strong, a distinctive look (not as bad as Perelli, more kitsch than alien) and should be a HIT.

  7. Robyn says:

    That was cruel playing the original version of “Made of Stars”, a painful reminder of what could have been. *cries*

  8. John Lucas says:

    Slovenia: If this was swapped with Belgium in the running order I’d have it down as a maybe to sneak through; if only because it’s fairly warm and likable, and contrasts with everything else in the semi. However, sticking it square in the middle of the pack virtually guarantees it’ll be forgotten by the end. There’s just not enough here to elevate it – she’s not a great live vocalist, the lyrics are pretty banal even by ESC standards, and while the staging is likely to improve from EMA, she doesn’t really have the presence to really make this pop. MISS.

    Bulgaria: Is this Ewan’s ‘Rhythm Inside’ of this year? 😉 I really feel this is sailing into the final, it’s clearly one of the superior songs of this semi, and indeed of the whole year in terms of production and relevance to chart music in 2016. It also has a very voter-friendly structure, with three strong and distinct hooks and a message of empowerment that a lot of the other frontrunners lack. If Bulgaria don’t mess up the staging, this has top ten potential. HIT

    Israel: There’s no questioning Hovi’s talent, but Moran Mazor already proved that Israel needs more than a knockout singer to escape from the pack. As nicely produced as the new version is, there just isn’t much of a song here. By the time Hovi really gets to let rip, I feel like most of the viewers will have tuned out. MISS.

    Netherlands: While I don’t agree that this will be *the* chart hit of this year’s competition (that would be Sweden), I definitely see this as a dark horse contender. It’s shaping up to be everything poor Trijntje wasn’t – confident, comfortable and utterly charming onstage. HIT

    Germany: This really is going to live or die by running order and staging. We know Jamie-Lee intends to stay true to her K-Pop aesthetic, but I would hope the German team have been looking at ways to incorporate this look into an appropriate and compelling stage show, which they didn’t manage to do at their national final. Put this on early with a staging that can’t compensate for the initial WTF factor, and it’s dead in the water. Stick it in the middle of a pack of noisier songs towards the home stretch, and the quiet dignity of the song underneath could come through. MAYBE.

  9. mk says:

    I would mention I’m not crazy about country music, so I cannot see Netherlands’ song as a HIT…

    From these entries the order from the best to the worst for me:

    1. Bulgaria – MAYBE to HIT – I like the video and the song. Don’t find it necessarily original, but it looks they put a lot of thought and work in it and want to qualify. I’m not convinced of her performances at Eurovision in Concert & IsraelCalling, but I think she will qualify.

    2. Germany – MAYBE to HIT – I like the song, that she can sing and she’s young. I don’t like the outfit and yes it’s for teenagers. She has a better voice than Lena (that I actually did not like), but Lena had an interesting song and she was sweet and sexy. So, I have mixed feelings about this one.

    3. Israel – MAYBE – I like only the revamped version. Don’t know if it will qualify

    4. Netherlands – MAYBE – I cannot consider it a HIT since that’s not my type of song. I know people say that Common Linnets had a country song and a very good position in the final. Though that song was what I would call ‘subtle country’ and had 2 gorgeous people with a lot of chemistry. ‘Slow down’ is what I would call ‘country in your face’, the typical song you hear in movies when a trucker drives on the highway…

    5. Slovenia – MISS – Don’t like it and don’t think it will qualify.

  10. Stephen Colville says:

    I understand where Ewan is coming from with Poli not staying true to her roots. But it’s a brilliant song and I agree with the commenter who said this is this year’s Rythm Inside for Ewan. Bulgaria is sailing through this terrible semi. I also don’t understand saying that Netherlands are top 5. I agree it could do well, but Ewan is spot on when he says it will struggle to make it through the semi.

    Slovenia : Miss. I think it’s fine, but no chance of making it.
    Bulgaria : Hit . The only song from semi 2 that can win the contest.
    Israel : Miss. Going out in the semi. Dull song. Great singer.
    Netherlands : Maybe. Possible non-qualifier. But if it makes it to Saturday then it’s top 10.
    Germany : Hit. Reasonable chance of top 10. Must chance the visual though.

  11. Eurojock says:

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

    Slovenia: Half decent radio friendly strong that is maybe not so suited to the contest. ManuElla’s delivery is a bit underwhelming. Slovenia’s lack of voting support could well mean non-qualification. MISS

    Bulgaria: This sounds well produced and contemporary and has a good Bulgarian hook line. Her Riga pre-party performance was manic and vocally off but she pulled it back in Amsterdam. This is a top 10 contender and surely a semi-final qualifier from a weak second half of semi two. HIT

    Israel: If what Ewan played was the original then the ballad revamp is a big improvement because it shows off Hovi’s voice more – and his live vocal is the best part of this package. The song is reasonably good in a One Last Breath sort of way, but no more. Hovi’s live performance gives it some chance but he may struggle to overcome the early draw and Israel’s lack of diaspora vote. Possible non-qualifier and MISS.

    Netherlands: Despite the fan love, I’ve not really got this one before but Ewan is doing a good job of convincing me. I’ve felt the song is a bit bland, with the melodies and the chorus almost but not quite there. I also couldn’t see what they could do with the staging of it, but Ewan again has made a good case re the Western bar idea (although if the idea goes wrong in the execution we could end up with something akin to the plastic cactuses that sunk Texas Lightning in 2006). Slow Down is not as strong as the Common Linnets entry though and we don’t have Else and Waylon’s on-stage chemistry. So, to my mind, thoughts of top five and winner are rather fanciful or wishful thinking. But in this year’s contest it has the advantage that it does stand out from other entries. I am now seeing this is a qualifier and a possible candidate for top 13 and maybe top 10 in the final. MAYBE.

    Germany: This song has top 10 potential, but the National Final performance! Jamie Lee looks about aged 5 and her choice of outfit doesn’t do anything to dispel this perception. She also has the annoying habit of her eyes darting away from the camera which is a big no-no for connecting with the voters at home. This could finish around 10th – 13th or it could equally well end up bottom five like Anne Sophie, I am tending towards the latter. MAYBE

  12. The more I listen to The Netherlands, the more I understand there’s a market for a song like “Slow Down”. From some fellow friends I already heard comparisons with “Rock ‘n Roll Kids” (Ireland 1994, 1st place), “Calm After The Storm” (Netherlands 2014, 2nd place) and “Tomorrow” (Malta 2013, 8th place). Personally, I think more comparisons can be made. For instance one should not forget songs like “Falter Im Wind” (Austria 1972, 5th place) and “Old Man Fiddle” (Finland 1975, 7th place). But some less succesful examples can be found as well, like “I Am Yours” (Austria 2015, 26th place), “Coming Home” (Malta 2014, 23rd place) and “Eighties Coming Back” (Estonia 2003, 21st place).

    Fact is that country -or music that has some country flavours- is a worthy music genre at Eurovision too. It sometimes didn’t do well. But there are plentiful examples of country flavoured entries that really managed to charm Europe. Will Douwe Bob do the same? I’m still slightly disappointed in the song. But one have to admit that charm is equally important in a TV contest. And together with singers like Amir and Frans, Douwe Bob is one of the more charismatic male vocalists in the contest. His song is ‘feelgood’ and he literally makes you ‘feel good’ too. Just have a look at this:

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