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Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #8 Written by on April 29, 2017 | 10 Comments

Just before rehearsals start, it’s time for the final round of Juke Box Jury. Don’t forget ESC Insight goes daily with news and podcasts as the musical adventure continues in Kyiv. You can listen to 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.

Okay, we might have had to sneak the last episode out a little early, but as almost all of you have requested, let’s finish up Juke Box Jury before the rehearsals start. Just.

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #8
…with Ellie Chalkley (Listen Outside) and Jon Jacob (Thoroughly Good).

Norway: Grab The Moment, by Jowst.
Switzerland: Apollo, by Timebelle.
Portugal: Amar Pelos Dois, by Salvador Sobral.
San Marino: Spirit Of The Night, by Valentina Monetta and Jimmie Wilson.
Armenia: Fly With Me, by Artsvik.

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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10 responses to “Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #8”

  1. Ross Barber says:

    Great episode, team. Enjoy Kyiv!

  2. Shai says:

    On Saturday morning I was thinking to myself whether you’ll wait with the last JBJ until Tuesday, after rehearsals have started, or would you place the last JBJ before rehearsals start. I thought it would be better to post it on Saturday. Needless to say I am happy you didn’t wait until Tuesday.

    Norway – It’s OK. Not the worse song in the world. It all comes down to their ability to perform the sampled voices life. Otherwise it will sound flat and dull – MAYBE

    Switzerland – Again an OK song. There are worse than this in this year. The chorus is quite catchy. If she manage to sing this live and they don’t mess up the staging it might get a decent result and might even sneak through to the final – MAYBE

    Portugal – One of Eurovision’s charm for me, was sitting in front of the TV and listening to different languages and get touched by, even though I couldn’t understand a word they were singing. This song brings back those memories to me(just for the record,1973 was my first Eurovsion). It’s wonderful, well constructed, song, sung by a singer who makes you believe every word he says. I don’t understand a word he is singing and yet I get the emotional layer he is conveying. It brings back the “song”to the Eurovosion Song contest. It deserves recognition with a good result. If it wins, I will be satisfied with a winning, but I acknowledge it has quite a hurdle to overcome. One of the hurdles is the fact that you either love and “get”the song or you just hate the song. I hope those who love the song, will be in a majority – HIT(for me), though I admit it’s a MAYBE for the contest.

    San Marino – This the 2nd year in a row that San Marino goes for the disco sound and this is no better than last year’s effort, actually it’s as worse as the 2016’s offering. It’s based on and is dominated by a monotone electric drums beat and doesn’t really develop musically and their voices just don’t bring life to the song(which was a dead corpse when written)- MISS

    Armenia – Technically it’s a perfect song with a nice sound to it. Unfortunately I find myself emotionally disconnected from this song. Something is missing for me to fully enjoy this song. Also it’s not a very memorable song. When it finished I can’t remember anything from it and I still can’t remember it after many listening. It will probably qualify and what it does on the final, is anyone’s guess – MAYBE

    That’s the last JBJ of the season.Let’s the game begins.
    Looking forward for your reports from Kiev.

  3. Ben Pitchers says:

    Norway: MAYBE. Another song that is much better on the radio or in a music video than live at the contest. I like most of the lyrics but I think the word “kill” is overused (overkill!). I also don’t know why you’d submit a song to MGP and Eurovision that has so much pre-recorded vocals. I’d assume the EBU won’t allow it in the end and it’ll be hard for them to recreate that sound live. For me the performance is too static. The visual effects from MGP are a positive addition, but you’ve got a vocalist standing still and singing and a bunch of masked DJs. How can they interact with the audience? A borderline qualifier for me.

    Switzerland: HIT. A simple song with a catchy chorus and good lyrics. It made a good impression on me the first time I heard it and the revamp is an improvement. As long as the lead singer’s vocal has improved from the NF I think they should be in the final. A big improvement over last year and whatever happens I’m sure they’ll avoid three SF last places in a row. If it’s in the final I think it’ll get a similar result to 2014.

    Portugal: HIT. A beautiful song and Portugal once again just does its own thing for Eurovision and this time it’ll work out well for them. The lyrics are beautiful and timeless. The entry also benefits from it being written especially for Salvador by his sister. You know with Salvador every performance will be slightly different – he could never be robotic. My only concern is that it took me a few views and listens to warm up to it. It’d be great for it to do very well in the final and show some of the other countries who choose cookie-cutter songs that it’s ok to take a risk, as Ewan often says he’d prefer broadcasters to do.

    San Marino: MISS. Despite Valentina and Jimmie being dependable and experienced performers, this is another half-baked song from Siegel. It’s certainly among his better songs for San Marino, but that isn’t saying much. It doesn’t go full-out disco enough and is too vocal-driven. I just can’t see it making much of an impact. It’s nice to see Valentina again, but not hearing her attempt to represent San Marino with an entry from every genre. She’d be great performing a jazz song in Italian but I don’t think she’ll ever get that chance which is a shame. On a side note, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard St Elmo’s fire in song lyrics before…

    Armenia: MAYBE. It’s a song I admire more than actually want to go back and listen to again and again. It’s unique and challenging enough to be refreshing and if the visuals are anything like the music video it will be visually memorable. I think most people would struggle to remember the song itself after one listen. The visuals will probably be enough to get it through to the final. In this way it’s similar to last years entry, but with a less exciting composition. For that reason, I think it’ll probably get a lower placing than last year.

  4. Steve says:

    If Portugal doesn’t win the jury vote, you’d wonder what the juries are even for. If it *does* win that, and Italy only finish 3rd or 4th, then it might just be game on.

  5. Martin says:

    Okay for the last time this year – another great series of shows Ewan, thank you!

    Ellie and Jon – a great combo, even though Jon always comes across like that taxi driver who accidentally taken from BBC reception and interviewed as an expert. I’m sure it’s all an act… 🙂

    Norway : MAYBE. JOWST are pushing the envelope as to what can be done with your musical arrangements at Eurovision but you can’t argue that this isn’t of the moment. Whether Aleksander Walmann’s vocals are actually as important to this entry is debatable – the intricacies of the synths make this an intriguing listen. The lyrics are about the “Law Of Jante” – apparently a Scandinavian concept where “the description of a pattern of group behaviour towards individuals within Nordic Countries that negatively portrays and criticises individual success and achievement as unworthy and inappropriate” (wiki). And you thought Italy’s lyrics were deep…

    Switzerland : MAYBE. Miruna gave a powerful vocal, a passionate delivery and looked amazing at the Swiss NF but the slow, methodical pulse of the music and the eternity it takes for the song itself to build up to the climax might mean that Switzerland spend yet another year out of the Eurovision Final. Ellie might well be right about this potentially winning if it were in the UK NF – it comprehensively won in Switzerland. Another interesting point for fact fans – Timebelle were originally offered “Yodel It!” first…

    Portugal : HIT. It was a Portuguese ‘Paul Potts’ moment – a disheveled guy with some weird mannerisms takes Eurovision back to the chanson days of the 1950s with this superb piece of vocalisation that makes you feel like you are floating on air. Whether this will be too genteel to be noticed in Kyiv is another matter – I feel that this has now become the second most over-hyped entry this year (after Italy). Definitely the right choice for Portugal who I am sure will be delighted with a Final placing. Top ten yes, top five possibly, win no.

    San Marino : MAYBE. Now this is a throwback to the Disco era that San Marino can be proud of! Jimmie has a touch of Isaac Hayes in his vocals and Valentina is at her best with this uptempo crowd pleaser – together this makes for an appealing uplifting entry that might, dare I say it, give San Marino its second Final appearance. I liked Ewan and Ellie making EUrovision in-jokes and Jon not picking up on them at all!

    Armenia : MISS. Now this for me is a massive disappointment and all because of the expectations I had for Artsvik. She was the ‘power ballad queen’ at Depi Evratesil, the selection process that I watched all the way through and covered on my blog. Every single song given to her she smashed out of the park because every single song she sung was a power ballad. She could have been given another for Eurovision and we would have had a Polina Gagarina moment, Armenia having the best female vocal by far and possibly vying for the win. The actual entry is a criminal waste of her talent and her voice – if you relying on the staging to save this, Marta (the other DE Finalist) would have been a far better choice as she sung different genres and actually put some effort into her ‘acting’ and stage presence. The ethnicity of this entry is the only redeeming feature – instead of being a cert for the Final and an outsider for the win, I could see Armenia now having a DNQ.

    Shame to have a rant for the last song of 2017 – looking forward to all your daily podcasts in Kyiv!

  6. mk says:

    If I consider the first listening of any of these songs, they all would be MAYBE.
    And I still don’t consider any a real HIT.
    I would downgrade San Marino to MISS, just because I’m a bit tired of the forever Valentina and don’t think I liked any of her songs along the years, but she can sing…
    The one that I would listen more often is Norway and the one for bad mood maybe Portugal.
    But I’m not going to put Portugal on a pedestal. It will do well with juries, but don’t think this will be sufficient to win the contest.

  7. Eurojock says:

    Norway – In a televote friendly heavy semi this should do very well with juries. HIT

    Switzerland – Could suffer from a lack of voting allies. No wonder they are working the Romanian angle. MAYBE

    Portugal – Raphael Gualazzi came 11th with the televote in 2011, Anouk 11th with the televote in 2013. The question is not whether Portugal can win but realistically can they come top 5. HIT

    San Marino – I predict this will get quite a few ‘guilty pleasure’ televotes, but nevertheless non qualifier and MISS

    Armenia – Staging may be stronger/more accessible than the song. Could struggle with the non-diaspora televote. Nevertheless, likely top 10. HIT

    To Ewan and the team, looking forward to the coverage from Kyiv.

  8. Howard Atkinson says:

    I agree with everything you say about the Portuguese song . . . except that I don’t think it will qualify 🙁 To me, it’s a sublime timeless classic, tender and heartbreakingly beautiful. But in all the years I’ve been following Eurovision, I’ve never known a song attract such negative reactions, bordering on abuse. Quite why such a quiet, gentle song should attract such extreme reactions genuinely baffles me. I expect it to get not a single televote from east of the Danube, and juries will not be enough to save it in a very competitive semi. Needless to say, I hope I’m wrong . . . PS hello to everyone in Kyiv – have a marvellous time 🙂

  9. HarrietKrohn says:

    An interesting package of songs. One of these is my absolute favourite this year, and no, it’s not Portugal. 😉

    NORWAY – Yes, this one is it. I was blown away by the live performance at MGP, not really having noticed this song before when I listened to all the studio versions. I also think it came across really good in the recap, which is not a bad thing at all. I’m not going to start explaining why I love it, sometime you just do and that’s it. Aleksander is a very solid singer, the song has interesting lyrics and interesting sound effects – which, obviously, could be a big problem in Kyiv. (I’m not following rehearsals on priciple, so I don’t know how they’re doing it now.) I feel it’s one of the few songs that sound a lot like 2017 and I feel it should do reasonably well with both juries and televote, but it won’t top any of the lists. Personal HIT, for the contest it’s more of a MAYBE.

    SWITZERLAND – The chorus is very catchy, but the rest is very forgettable. I personally dislike Miruna’s voice, even if she sings in tune. This being Switzerland, I think it will struggle to get to the final. MAYBE.

    PORTUGAL – This is a great song and it doesn’t hurt to have lots of haters – as long as you also have enthusiastic fans, and Salvador has his fair share of those. I doubt you could transport the emotions half as well in English, even if to me Portuguese is not a beautiful language, you need it for this song. Obviously it’s a HIT, but I don’t think it can challenge for the win.

    SAN MARINO – I think Ralph Siegel is physically uncapabel of staying away from the contest. As is, apparently, Valentina. Who I have not missed one bit the last two years. I actually think Jimmie is the stronger of the two singers, but neither can lift this to something really good. It is, however, quite catchy and I’m not sure it’s a non-qualifier at all. It depends on their staging. MAYBE

    ARMENIA – Difficult one. On first listen I was a bit disappointed, but the song is a massive grower for me. Now I absolute love it, it has an enthralling quality and totally grabs my attention – even though it doesn’t have a proper chorus or hook. That could be a problem for Armenia though, they don’t have time to grow on people but have to click immediately. They may get there through presentation, but Artsvik is likely not going to repeat Iveta’s success. (Hopefully she also won’t repeat Iveta’s flag-waving.) Personal HIT, MAYBE for the contest.

  10. Edmund says:

    Full disclosure I have seen the rehearsals up through yesterday so that does influence my opinions a bit but I tried to just focus on the recordings and not the rehearsals.

    Norway: MAYBE – This straddles between maybe and miss for me but I’ll be optimistic and give it a maybe. The song has definitely grown on me and I think it will stand out somewhat from the other songs. But it’s still not fully there for me. I also think the bridge is really awkward. The vocals and the backing just don’t match up harmonically. Not much more to add other than I don’t know where I stand on the using auto-tune for artistic purposes debate. It’s really difficult.

    Switzerland: HIT – This straddles between hit and maybe but personally I find this a hit. Competitively this is very much a maybe. For many people this is just another female power ballad but there’s something about the song itself and her voice that really dig into my ear and my body making me really enjoy this. It’s one of those “I can’t explain why I really like this” moments. Unlike you all I’ve liked this from the beginning. It is fairly formulaic but I buy into it. (Also everyone keeps making comparisons to Sia with MANY songs and they’re often not in great contexts so I’m just curious as to whether you mean Sia-like simply in terms of genre and it may not be living up to Sia’s greatness or whether you think that it’s on the same mediocre level as Sia because I hope it’s the former because Sia’s amazing and if she wrote a song for Eurovision it would do amazingly.) I just think it’s a great song so it’s a hit for me but I also agree with your maybes.

    Portugal: HIT – I can understand why some people dislike this song if they’re not into the classic SONGS of years past, but if you can appreciate great songwriting you have to recognize the brilliance of this song. Luísa Sobral should definitely win the Composer Award for writing such a touching and beautiful song, in addition to the gorgeous orchestrations that accompany it. And Salvador is an incredible performer. His movements are awkward but they also give him a unique charm that makes you fall in love with this song even more. This should get Top 5 and I’d be ecstatic if this somehow rose up to win as a dark horse. But yeah I agree that I did think of this stage movements as weird at first and only grew to love them so that could hurt him, but this song is still fantastic and will do great.

    San Marino: MAYBE – This has so little chance of qualifying so it should probably be a miss, but it’s just so much fun!!! And both Valentina and Jimmie are really good singers. I just always have fun listening and dancing to this song and I think it could stand out enough to make it come close to qualifying. I’ve never heard the disco remix so I can’t speak on that point, but yeah I agree with Ellie that it’s a great homage to disco. Also your point about the queerness and blackness of disco is really interesting and thought-provoking. And yeah actually Valentina said that she did ask to have a dance song this year so it was (at least according to her) partially her choice to sing this kind of song.

    Armenia: MAYBE – This is close to a hit for me but I really didn’t like it when I first heard it so I need to take that into account when judging this song. It might be a bit too modern and experimental for some viewers, especially with its lack of a traditional form to the song. I’ve really grown to appreciate this. It has great production value and a cool backing track that complements her powerful voice. Ellie I do agree with you about this rather than “sad ballads” being the effect of “1944”‘s win on this year’s contest. [Full disclosure I’ve now seen the rehearsal and with the staging this is a HIT, but just the audio version makes it a maybe for me.]

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