Support ESC Insight on Patreon

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #4 Written by on April 7, 2019 | 14 Comments

Five more songs face the decision of the Juke Box Jury team in our latest episode of reviewing the songs of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019. You can listen to Juke Box Jury and 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.

As the Eurovision world kicks of the preview concerts, Juke Box Jury picks up another set of songs to decide if they are hits, misses, or maybes!

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #4
with Ellie Chalkley and Karie Westermann

Czech Republic: Friend Of A Friend, by Lake Malawi.
Greece: Better Love, by Katerine Duska.
Lithuania: Run With The Lions, by Jurijus.
Sweden: Too Late For Love, by John Lundvik.
United Kingdom: Bigger Than Us, by Michael Rice.

As the Contest draws ever closer, you can stay up to date with all the Eurovision news by listening to the ESC Insight podcasts. You’ll find the show in iTunesGoogle Podcasts, and SpotifyA direct RSS feed is  available. We also have a regular email newsletter which you can sign up to here.

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 (

Read more from this author...

You Can Support ESC Insight on Patreon

ESC Insight's Patreon page is now live; click here to see what it's all about, and how you can get involved and directly support our coverage of your Eurovision Song Contest.

If You Like This...

Have Your Say

14 responses to “Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #4”

  1. Harriet Krohn says:

    I keep wondering if my disagreeing with you is a question of age or nationality (i.e. different cultural upbringing) or maybe both?! 😀

    Czech Republic:
    I like this very much. Totally engaging, especially live, and how you can say it doesn’t have a hook and at the same time keep going on about “a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend” (<– hook) is beyond me. 😉 That said, I don't think it's a strong competitive song and it may struggle to make it to Saturday night – but it would totally deserve to do so. HIT/MAYBE

    I'm much more lukewarm about this. Katerine's voice is very interesting, but the song doesn't keep up with it. The only thing that stands out is the "better love, better love" part – I never even notice the song is playing before the chorus. And the last minute is just repetitive. Last year's entry was not competitive, but it was a much more interesting song. This year will probably do a lot better, but I'm not putting in on my personal playlist. MAYBE

    A song that sticks in my head a lot, I find myself sing it all the time, although I sometimes struggle to remember what country this is again. Poor Jurijus is going to be eaten alive by Sergey Lazarev – the running order has not been kind to Lithuania. However, Lithuania has often done better than expected (diaspora and whatnot). Still it's not up there with the really good songs. MAYBE

    If you asked what song Sweden are sending this year, I probalby wouldn't be able to tell you straight away. Oh yeah, Cesár Sampson 2.0 – and I already found that one boring in 2018. Nothing wrong with it, just not my cup of tea, way to gospel-y. I suppose it'll do better with the public than Benjamin Igrosso because John Lundvik is much more engaging and likeable, but there's not going to be a winner reprise for Sweden. MAYBE

    United Kingdom:
    When this was chosen my first reaction was "meh". It has grown on me since, I don't think the UK have to worry about finishing last. 😉 But there's still a little 'meh' with this song, it's of the neither bad nor really good category. I don't even have anything more to say about it. MAYBE

  2. Ewan Spence says:

    Nothing wrong with differing opinions, it’s what makes Eurovision so much fun. And I don’t think we’ve ever claimed JBJ was exhaustive or accurate in any sense (for a start the only constant is me, and even then I have a bit of my ear out for entertainment as well as information). If you enjoy listening, that’s the #win !

  3. Ben Cook says:

    I find the Cesar Sampson comparisons with Sweden quite lazy. Aside from them being black men singing with gospel backing vocalists, the songs are really quite different. Cesar’s was more of a Rag’n’Bone Man seriousface song whereas John’s is just pure joy. No, it’s nothing original but we can’t have something truly unique winning the contest every year. Sometimes an engaging performer smiling right down the lens with a nice pop song is enough – see Emmelie De Forest.

  4. Chance says:

    CZECH REPUBLIC – HIT – It’s just so bouncy and catchy and I really enjoy it. I think it’s an easy qualifier, but definitely won’t rise to the heights that Mikolas did.

    GREECE – HIT – I said several weeks ago while listening to this song that it sounds like an accidental winner. It would require some missteps from some other contenders, but it’s just got that energy that on Saturday night could swell and grab the votes. And it’s almost assured to do well with the jury.

    LITHUANIA – MISS – It’s pleasant enough but there is just no urgency, no call to action.

    SWEDEN – MAYBE – This will qualify, and will finish in the top 10, and of all of the songs in MelFest I was actively rooting against, this was by far the most tolerable of them, but it’s Cesar Sampson if Cesar Sampson was a more instantly likable person but also a pale photo copy.

    UNITED KINGDOM – MISS – Michael Rice can sang. There’s no denying that. But he has the camera presence of a wet fart being passed through a chinois in the middle of packed subway train. That combined with the fact that he’s competing against a better version of the same song being sang by its writer means doom.

  5. Mio says:

    Czech Republic – Miss
    The lyrics are creepy. The music Reminds me of bubble gum pop. Put them together: it’s cringe worthy.

    Greece – Hit
    Katerine’s voice and the aesthetic elevate this song. I hope she can deliver with the live performance.

    Lithuania- Miss
    His voice is lovely. All memories of the song quickly evaporate as soon as it ends.

    Sweden – Maybe
    The back up singers are a Hit for me. Otherwise there is nothing special or new. Why do the juries reward Sweden so highly?

    Uk – Miss
    Michael has a good voice, but I think he overdoes it a little. I can not connect anything about the song to genuine feelings or a meaningful narrative. I tend to skip it.

    There is so much musical talent in the UK. I wish they would consider something like the Festival Da Cancao model. Invite 12 UK songwriters to compose, and let them choose the singers for their songs. I think UK could win again. I doubt that the current selection process will ever develop a winning song.

  6. Shai says:

    Czech Republic-
    It’s not bad but it misses that something that grab my attention.
    I am not hating it, just not liking it enough to vote for it.
    It doesn’t really matter for me if it qualifies or not, and that, pretty much,sums up my lack of interest in this song – MISS / MAYBE.

    The verse promises something unique but the then comes the chorus and let you down, because the chorus is just too conventional.
    Than there are those high notes, here and there, which I am not sure she can sing live and it might be too high for her register when singing this live.
    Another issue I have is the last 30 seconds, where it seems the writers didn’t know how to finish the song and sort of repeated the musical sentence until they had to end the song. And the song ends quite abruptly. Not sure of that work for the song or against it.– somewhere between MAYBE and HIT

    Lithuania –
    He can sing this, that’s for sure but it’s so bland and uninspiring there nothing that convince me that this is a good song -MISS

    I made a mistake and watched this year MF from start to end.. It was a waste of 2 hours of my life. The amount of toxic plastic that was thrown to me was unbearable. The songs were simply not good. This song won because if was the least worse of the whole package.
    It’s ok. It will probably give Sweden another good result, which they don’t deserve and I will avoid voting for them- MISS for me MAYBE for the contest.

    U.K. –
    Putting the U.K. after Sweden in JBJ and knowing that John Lundvik wrote this song is cruel, because the comparison shed an unpleasant light on both songs. If you close your eyes you actually can’t hear any difference between the 2 songs.
    They have the same sound and structure with a bit of gospel and a key change toward the end.
    I can see Lundvik sing this and I can see Michael Rice sing the Swedish song.
    Yes, there is a difference in charisma and presentation but the rest is just the same song, sung twice by 2 different singers. Probably another bottom 5 result for the U.K. – MISS

  7. Martin says:

    I can’t agree more with Ben Cook – In fact, I have already snapped at a few people for making the comparison between Cesar Sampson and John Lundvik – needless to say, such comparisons reek of subliminal racism. There is NO comparison. That said, I will now go into a comparison between Michael Rice and John Lundvik – there is NO comparison. John Lundvik is a professional with a great voice and his song is better than the one he passed off to the infinitely less professional and uncomfortable Michael Rice. I am as uncomfortable watching Michael on stage as I am the lead singer of Elbow – and that’s VERY uncomfortable indeed. John will be easily top ten, whereas Michael could be bottom five. But who really cares, as Hatari MUST WIN!

  8. Harriet Krohn says:

    If you think the only reason people compare Cesar Sampson and John Lundvik – or actually, their songs – is because of their skin colour, then maybe you need to stop thinking in these categories. What makes them similar to me is the fact that they are gospely and (in my mind) boring. *shrug*

  9. mark dowd says:

    Completely agree with the panel over the lazy, predictable Swedish “machine” turning out these solo male artist numbers and falling short. Heroes was a good song with an exceptional staging concept and Mans had flair…..but the rest of them??….Eric Saade, Robin B, Frans, Benjamin ? John sings well, but the song is so old hat……MF needs a total reinvention and some RISK! As for Michael..I also agree he needs some protection. He seems a nice, slightly innocent and gullible young chap. He has a good pair of lungs and a decent voice, but the song……?? A John L cast-off….and sure to end 20th or lower I fear. I do not buy the argument that this is one of our better efforts….sure, it beats Electro-Velvet and Scooch, but….. Lucie Jones was stellar in comparison and made only 15th…….

    Someone needs to be on hand to help Michael out after May 19th….it is going to be one huge anti-climax (and someone tell him to stop wafting his hands around do much on stage!)

  10. Mark Butler says:

    One the best parts of my Eurovision season is listening to these podcasts, but this time I have a few gripes.

    Karie said that “Michaèl” Rice made a rookie error. He IS a rookie, and will be in a month’s time too. A super singer, but with little experience outside a reality TV studio. That’s been the BBC’s biggest recent problem, they send a pop-gun to take on some mighty weaponry provided by the rest of Europe.

    I did think you rather ganged up on poor Jurij. He didn’t deserve a three-way dismissal. Firstly because we know from 2018 that Lithuania can stage a song well. Given his subject matter, there is potential for something which can stand out. Second, it’s an Ashley Hicklin song and he already has a reasonable record in the contest.

    Is someone going to bother to explain the prolonged hysterics at 7:49? Ewan promised a redacted explanation but that wasn’t included. Though I can guess who it was Ellie claimed was the one.

  11. Chance says:

    Mark, they gave an explanation. Ellie made reference to a specific artist, and they chose to bleep that part out, but leave the rest of the conversation in.

  12. Ben Pitchers says:

    Czech Republic: HIT. This is my favourite ever Czech entry. I don’t think it will do as well as last year but I do think it’s a better song. Albert looks good and comes across as engaging & just the right amount of quirky. It’s an earworm, simple enough to get your head around the first time without being too simplistic. It’s well positioned between the slow songs of Slovenia and Hungary to stand out and should qualify. I think a top half finish in the final is possible, which would be great for building on the Czech Republic’s recent success. I think the lyrics of the song refer to him and someone else (his current partner?) hearing the neighbours having sex and it annoying them and whoever is with him says they wish they weren’t taking so long. Less creepy and more just annoyed at the realities of urban living?

    Greece: HIT. This really grabbed hold of me from the minute I heard it. Katerine’s voice is so distinctive and it the song shows off her range well. The best Greek entry for years and pleasingly unexpected. It’s a bold choice. I hope they move away from the styling of the video. This will be incredibly tough to sing live but will be very powerful if she can manage it. I wish the ‘who are you waiting for’ ending was a little bit stronger. I think it will qualify easily from the penultimate slot of SF1 and should be top 10 barring some sort of staging or singing disaster.

    Lithuania: MISS. I think the song is pleasant but forgettable. Jurij is a confident singer but it’s hard to really sell it solo on stage and he hasn’t got the presence to do so. The song runs out of steam at the end and it’s all noticeably repetitive. A good staging could possibly push this into 9th or 10th place in SF2; Lithuania have qualified before by the skin of their teeth. Being sandwiched between Malta and Russia won’t help it. Hard to call at this point but I’m probably leaning more towards an NQ.

    Sweden: HIT. I like this a lot better than Sweden’s last 3 entries, Although not as contemporary, John has more genuine stage magnetism. It’s a less robotic performance than those (and Måns and Sanna’s) too. I like the uplifting nature and how the gospel choir fits in and adds a lot to the song. They’ve stripped back the staging too and this allows you to just enjoy the performance. I’m sure this will be another case of Sweden doing better with the juries than the televoters. They’ll probably be top 10 again, but maybe not top 5 if televoters choose the more modern entries. I do agree with you all about Melfest: it’s all too predictable and like a factory of rotating songwriters and singers. At least John did co-write his song. There’ll never be a real surprising and daring entry win. I, like Karie, haven’t been really excited for a Swedish entry since 2012. Maybe that’s why they weren’t top 5 with the public in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

    United Kingdom: MAYBE. This was the best song and performance in what was the worst edition of You Decide yet. The BBC need to scrap the two versions of one song format. Having the songs come from songwriting camps needs to go too: we only get safe but bland possibilities. Michael is the best thing about the song and has a great voice. How it does depends on the staging and him being able to lift it as much as possible, like Lucie did in 2017. We keep having great singers and ambassadors chosen to represent the UK and saddling them with these middle-of-the-road songs. The song gets to the big vocal moments and the chorus quite quickly, which is good. It is somewhat catchy but pales in comparison with the Swedish entry. I think the UK should avoid last place and could reach a mid table position if everything goes right.

  13. Eurojock says:

    Czech Republic – There are quite a few songs in the front half of semi one that are in danger of being forgotten – but some of them have to qualify. I expect Friend of a Friend to come 6-10 with juries, so if enough televoters bounce along to that earworm chorus it may just scrape over the qualification line. MAYBE

    Greece – Great semi draw, one of the strongest songs in this year’s competition, and very jury friendly. If they can translate the video into the live performance (and I have heard from Eurovision In Concert there are serious doubts), this could go top 5. HIT

    Lithuania – A pleasant, well performed but pretty unremarkable song which could be memory holed by Russia – but Lithuania have a lot of friends in Semi 2 so are at least likely to come Top 10 in the televote. MAYBE

    Sweden – The ‘Hear Me’ chorus is very strong but the song takes about a minute before anything happens. Juries will lap Sweden up as usual, but I’m doubtful that the Eastern European televote will go for the soul/gospel vibe which will pull it down – maybe to 6 – 10 in the final. HIT

    UK – I heard this on the car radio today and it actually sounded not too bad. But two factors count against it, as others have mentioned,(1) Michael’s lack of stagecraft/stage experience – all that arm waving! and (2) the inevitable unfavourable comparisons with John Lundvik’s song/performance/staging. The only question is whether the UK will escape bottom 5. MISS

  14. Mark Butler says:

    Chance – Mark, they gave an explanation.
    Which was “we’d beep out the name and leave the rest of it in”. But “the rest of it [Ellie’s sentence]” wasn’t in the version I heard. I’m pleased they had fun, though.

Leave a Reply