By Sean Sieczka
Welcome to part three of Rare Candy’s Eurovision 2019 reviews! We’ve heard 17 of this years 41 entries so far. We’ve heard some of the favorites to win, and some that are long shots.
What will the next group of songs hold in store? Let’s find out.
Song: “Az Én Apám”
Translation: “My Father”
Artist: Joci Pápai
Lyrics and music: Ferenc Molnár Caramel, Joci Pápai
About Joci: Joci Pápai is a Romani-Hungarian singer and rapper. In 2005, he competed in the Hungarian version of Pop Idol, Megasztár, but did not make it to the final. His 2010 single, “Ne nézz így rám,” is his first Top 5 hit in Hungary. In 2017, he represented Hungary in Eurovision with the song “Origo,” finishing 8th in the final. In February 2019, he won the Hungarian competition A Dal, earning the right to represent Hungary again with the song “Az Én Apám.”
About the song: Probably the biggest selling point of the song is Joci’s voice. It has that “je ne sais quoi” that takes both of his Eurovision entries to another level. Its composition has a very folky feel, and while it’s relatively simple, it’s not derivative. The chorus has a vocalization hook that is catchy, like his previous effort. The fact that the song is in Hungarian is a huge selling point considering that there are fewer non-English songs this year then there were in 2018.
Will it qualify? I think Hungary is safe this year. Since introducing A Dal as the process to choose their Eurovision song, they have never failed to qualify (despite coming very close last year), and this does not seem to be the one to break that streak. Public reception is generally positive, and bookmakers predict that it will come sixth in the semi. Plus, regular watchers will remember him from 2017 and vote him through to the final.
Song: “Hatrið Mun Sigra”
Translation: “Hate Will Prevail”
Lyrics and music: Einar Hrafn Stefánsson, Klemens Nikulásson Hannigan, Matthías Tryggvi
About Hatari: Hatari is a band consisting of three friends, Einar, Klemens, and Matthías, from Reykjavik. They can be described as (and I promise I’m not kidding) a BDSM underground techno punk band with a goal to bring about the end of capitalism. In 2017, they released their debut EP, Neysluvara, and in 2018, Hatari won and Icelandic Music Award for Performer of the Year. In March 2019, Hatari won Icelandic competition Söngvakeppnin, earning the right to represent Iceland at Eurovision with the song “Hatrið Mun Sigra.”
About the song: To be honest, there’s a lot to say about this song. The verses are sung by what sounds like a growling demon, but in the best possible way. That is juxtaposed by light, airy falsetto tones in the chorus that are almost hypnotic. The instrumentation is dark, but still danceable, and the performance is something straight out of a leather-clad dream.
Will it qualify? Oh, yes. 100%. Despite seeming like it serves a very niche section of society, this song is actually very popular. Granted, many people have this song in their bottom three, but so many more have it in their top three, and will vote for it on the night. Despite not being typical pop fare, the juries in Iceland actually liked it as well. This is top 5 material, y’all. I can feel it.
Artist: Sarah McTernan
Lyrics and music: Janieck Devy, Marcia "Misha" Sondeijker, Roel Rats
About Sarah: Sarah McTernan first gained public attention in 2015 when she competed in The Voice of Ireland, ending third in the final. At the same time, she was the lead vocalist for a band called The JEDS. In 2018, she attempted to represent San Marino in the Eurovision Song Contest with her debut single, “Eye of the Storm.”
About the song: For better or for worse, this song is not very similar to Taylor Swift’s “22.” This song is fairly laid back in composition, perfect for some easy listening on the radio. The song is about how Sarah keeps thinking about a man she once kissed, who lived at a house with 22 as the street number. The songwriters once admitted that this song was originally written for a man, but when they heard Sarah sing it, they loved it. Honestly, I love a good alto, so I have to agree.
Will it qualify? As of writing this article, the running order has officially been released. Let me just say, this song got really screwed over by the running order. As soon at it was revealed that it was going second, “22” plummeted in the odds to 18th out of 18 in the second semifinal. All is not lost, in my opinion. If Sarah can beat Denmark, the other chill and cutesy song in the second semi, she could possibly qualify. Ireland has qualified with worse odds, but I’m not gonna hold my breath.
Artist: Kobi Marimi
Lyrics and music: Ohad Shargai, Inbar Weitzman
About Kobi: Kobi Marimi is an Iraqi-Jewish singer and actor from Ramat Gan, Israel. While studying acting, he appeared in the plays The Caucasian Chalk Circle and The Comic Illusion, among others. In 2017, he won the Promising Actor Award at the 2017 Musical Celebrations for his portrayal of Natan in Messiah Now. In February 2019, Kobi won the Israeli singing competition HaKokhav Haba (aka Rising Star), earning the right to represent Israel in the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest.
About the song: This song is almost a complete 180 degree turn from the Israeli song from 2018, “Toy.” The song opens with vocalizations that resemble the opening of the video game Halo. The song is a ballad designed to highlight Kobi’s strong, unique vocal style and does so to a T. The lyrics are uplifting, talking about overcoming obstacles and finding inner strength.
Will it qualify? It doesn’t have to. Since Israel won last year and, thus, is hosting this year, they automatically qualify for the final (imagine how awkward it would be for the host to not be in the final). However, if it had to, I doubt that it would find its way into the final show. Israel’s odds are, in a word, bad. The public reception to the song could be described the same way. “Home” will pick up some points from juries because it’s technically sound, but Israel will not be hosting two years in a row.
Lyrics and music: Charlie Charles, Dario “Dardust” Faini, Alessandro Mahmoud
About Mahmood: Alessandro Mahmoud is an Egyptian-Italian singer from Milan, Italy. In 2012, he participated in the sixth season of the Italian version of The X Factor, being eliminated in the third week of the live shows. In 2018, Mahmood released his debut EP, Gioventù Bruciata, and co-wrote four songs with Italian Eurovision 2013 singer Marco Mengoni for Mengoni’s fifth album, Atlantico. In February 2019, Mahmood won the prestigious Sanremo Music Festival, earning him the right to represent Italy at the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest with his song, “Soldi.”
About the song: This is probably one of the most modern entries Italy has ever sent. Period. The R&B stylings combine with some dance influences to create a fresh and clean track. The lyrics are about how his father left him and his mother when he was a child and was more concerned about money than his family, and Mahmood tells this story eloquently. His vocals are always great, and the song is full of little hooks that make “Soldi" super catchy.
Will it qualify? Like France and Germany, Italy is a member of the Big Five, which means that Italy automatically qualifies for the final. But let’s get one thing clear. This song is almost guaranteed a spot in the top five, if not the top three. This song is 5th in the odds right now, but it is currently the most streamed Eurovision entry this year on Spotify. Fans love this. Juries love this. Televoters will love this. It would take an act of divine intervention for this song to flop in the final.
Song: “That Night"
Lyrics: Sabīne Žuga
Music: Mārcis Vasiļevskis, Aleksandrs Volks
About Carousel: Okay so I’m gonna be honest here, all the information about Carousel that I could find is in Latvian, and Latvian is one of the many languages I cannot speak. So, I guess what’s most important is that Carousel won Supernova in February 2019, earning them the right to represent Latvia in Eurovision with the song “That Night.”
About the song: This song is one of the more chill entries this year. The stripped back, folky instrumentation gives this song a singer-songwriter feel that has seen moderate success in Eurovision in recent years. The song is about a person’s night alone without their lover, and the sad thoughts they think now that they are alone. What truly makes this song magical is the live performance and the staging. This song truly comes alive similarly to the song from The Netherlands in 2014.
Will it qualify? Chances are pretty slim. The entire Supernova competition was of relatively low quality, so I doubt any of the songs Latvia had to choose from would fare better than “That Night.” The biggest saving grace is that it’s the only country/folk song in the second semifinal. If the yeehaw fans show up strong, they may stand a chance.
Song: “Run With The Lions”
Artist: Jurij Veklenko
Lyrics and music: Ashley Hicklin, Eric Lumiere, Pele Loriano
About Jurij: Jurijus Veklenko is a Lithuanian singer-songwriter. In 2015, he was a backup singer for Lithuania in Eurovision for the song “This Time.” In 2017, he was the lead vocalist for lip sync drag act Lolita Zero for the song “Get Frighten.” In February 2019, Jurij won Lithuanian competition Eurovizijos Atranka, defeating fan favorite Monika Marija and earning the right to represent Lithuania at Eurovision 2019 with the song “Run With The Lions.”
About the song: Loads of effort has been put into making this song sound polished, well produced, and radio friendly. The lyrics describe a call to let go and not fear what comes ahead, because you can overcome it. The combination of chest voice and falsetto make him one of the more versatile male vocalists this year.
Will it qualify? Honestly who knows. Its odds are starting to slip at the time of writing, but for a while, bookmakers had this as a borderline qualifier. Lithuania has the best qualification record of the three Baltic states and has qualified with some absolute train wrecks, so this being present in the final is not outside the realm of possibility.
Now, before I move onto Malta, there’s something I need to say very quickly. I try to be as neutral as possible when reviewing these songs. Regardless of whether I like the song or not, or whether I think it was the best option for a country or not, I do my best to give every song and artist a fair review because they all deserve it.
However, I would be remiss if I did not show you the song that “Run With The Lions” beat in Eurovizijos Atranka. “Light On” by Monika Marija, the fan favorite that ultimately came second in the competition, would have been my favorite Eurovision entry of all time had it won, and Lithuania would have been my personal winner for two years in a row. This is what Lithuania, for better or for worse, left behind:
Artist: Michela Pace
Lyrics and music: Joacim Persson, Paula Winger, Borislav Milanov, Johan Alkenäs
About Michela: Michela Pace is an 18-year-old singer from Gozo, Malta. She is one of the youngest performers in all of this year’s contest. In January 2019, Michela won the first season of X Factor Malta, winning a contract with Sony Music Italy and earning the right to represent Malta at Eurovision 2019 with the song “Chameleon.”
About the song: Malta has a history of sending jury-friendly, middle-of-the road music to Eurovision, but this song definitely breaks the streak. The song is fun, colorful, danceable, and right at home with current music trends. It does fall victim of sounding like 2018 runner-up “Fuego,” but the offense is nothing as egregious as “Replay” from Cyprus this year. Even though she’s barely 18, Michela has VOCALS. FOR. DAYS.
Will it qualify? The semifinal will be a walk in the park for Malta. Semifinal 2 is a bloodbath, but “Chameleon” is one of the reasons why. I will be shocked if this song doesn’t sail through to the final.
That was the middle eight songs of Eurovision 2019! Which one of these songs was your favorite? What song is your favorite so far now that we’re 25 songs in? Feel free to let us know!
To see Albania through Cyprus, click HERE
To see Czech Republic through Greece, click HEREEE (part 2)