24 February 2017
After Slovenia provided the top entry in my Fab Five of the past two years – ManuElla with Blue And Red in 2016 and Maraaya with Here For You in 2015 – obviously there’d be some keen interest in this year’s national selection. Slovenia itself has also reinvigorated the process with a bigger production that includes two live semi finals of 8 songs, with the top 4 from each processing to the final. It’s a stark contrast to last year when, accordingly to ManuElla, artists were given very little details about the stage and improvised their routines on the day upon arriving at the TV studio.
(scroll down for the review)
THREE TO WATCH
Deciding the three to watch was quite difficult. Arguably there’s 5 to watch. Since that would defeat the purpose of the “Three To Watch” concept, which is to provide a brief commentary about each entry and highlight the 3 most interesting and potentially winning songs, I’ve tortured myself and cut it to three. Well, I thought about it for 5 minutes.
Wait! There’s actually four songs to watch, and arguably only one song to really watch, and it’s not even participating. That song is the debut of ManuElla’s new song, Salvation. Yay! I’m surprised it’s taken her this long to release something because she seemed super excited in Stockholm that something, even an album, was in the process. Or maybe I misconstrued her. You know, she’s really so cute when she’s speaking in English, trying to find the right words to say. Anyway, she’s been busy since Eurovision, performing in Stockholm a few times and elsewhere in Europe, and recently moved to Stockholm. She’s great friends with Maja Keuc (ESC 2011), who also lives there. It’s probably that ManuElla has been riding the Eurovision wave for all those months, then it’s Christmas approaching, and all that ate into her time. Eurovision was such a monumental experience for her and has only made her more ambitious. Now with the new Eurovision season in process, the timing is right to debut her new song at EMA 2017, and a stunning new look. Wow!
1) Sell Out – Ni panike
The first 30 seconds or so is so reminiscent of Turkey 2004. For real! I’m not just saying that. I really had to rewind through my head all those years to pinpoint that damn infectious trumpet melody. There’s a quaint “mannequin challenge” sequence during the song, and when that proves the highlight, it doesn’t say much for the song.
2) Nuska Drascek – Flower in the Snow
My personal favourite. Not quite a rock style power ballad, it’s powerful and different enough to separate it from the plethora of female ballads already entered into Eurovision 2017.
3) Tim Kores – Open Fire
Holy flaming symbols, it’s Freddie from Hungary at ESC 2016! The voice not as raspy, the song a bit more energetic, and plenty of fire being thrown around. This was one that narrowly missed the cut.
4) Nika Zorjan – Fse
Pink hair alert! Written by Maraaya (of ESC 2015), it’s let down by a chorus that doesn’t do much. A shame, because anything with Maraaya or Raay in the songwriting credits typically gets me really interested. Worth a look just on that, or if you like pink hair.
5) KiNG FOO – Wild Ride
An oxymoron of a song title if ever there was one. Even as a rock-styled song, it’s the weakest in the field.
6) Omar Naber – On My Way
Slovenia’s Johnny Logan! Omar competed in Kyiv in 2005, finishing 12th in the semi final, and is the immediate stand-out this year. While the voice is nothing special, the song is infectious and finishes really well.
7) BQL – Heart of Gold
The second Maraaya song in the final. This starts off really addictive, without really reaching the heights you hope. Because of its infectious qualities and the two cute guys that comprise BQL, and what the hell does BQL mean anyway, it will vie for the win.
8) Raiven – Zazarim
Second last year, Raiven is back with a similar “artistic” song, except no where near as good. In fact, it got really annoying, which made it easy to cut from my original list of 5. If you checked Nika Zorjan because of the pink hair, go for a double dip here.
Slovenia won’t be in the Fab Five for 2017. At least I have some control over that prediction! My Eurovision ones are typically dreadful. Here goes anyway. Without being aware exactly of the finals format, if there’s a super final like other years, and if BQL makes it there, they win. It’s not just the strong song; they seem to have broad public appeal too. On youtube views, they are way in front of anyone else with 343k views. Nika Zorjan, who has the other song by Maraaya, is on 152k. Even if Maraaya has been flogging their songs, the numbers are still big. The rest are all below 100k, with both Raiven and Omar Naber on 86k, and Nuska Drascek on 51k. If BQL miss, Omar Naber is the logical next one.
EMA 17 is scheduled for Friday 24 February night at 2000 CET, or 0600 AET Saturday morning in Australia.
25 February 2017
Having already competed for Slovenia at Eurovision 2005 in Kyiv, Omar Naber successfully fulfilled his destiny of a return visit by winning EMA 2017 with the ballad On My Way. Omar won in controversial fashion too, by being the overwhelming choice of the jury at the expense of the the public’s favourite, BQL. They only finished fourth on jury, which immediately caused conspiracy theories of deliberate low votes to offset the public popularity. Most of the hysteria is unwarranted because On My Way was clearly the better song. Eurovision is often about moments, and On My Way not only had the best moments on the night, it had the most moments on the night. In contrast, Heart Of Gold, as I intimated in the preview, was boring through the middle stages.
Much of the negativity against On My Way is out of spite that BQL lost, not that On My Way is bad. If you ignore BQL was ever in the contest, then Naber was clearly next best. Even the jury’s result was predictable, with Flower In The Snow by Nuska Drascek their second best (and my personal favourite) and Zazarim by Raiven in third – both leaning to the artistic style that juries typically like. There’s no conspiracy here, no error here, the best song won on the night, and it was the public’s clear second choice anyway. In fact, the damn thing has been stuck in my head all day. Slovenia, get behind it!
It is worthwhile to note that Slovenia did change the format this year. Whereas last year the jury selected the top two into a super final for the public to then decide, this year both the jury and the public contributed equal points with the winner being the highest aggregate score. As we saw with last year’s Eurovision result, the jury usurping the public’s choice always creates anger. The problem is the public can’t be trusted to control the vote entirely because they vote the same sort of songs all the time and that leads to a lack of diverse entries. That is why the super final concept works so well. It’s the best system to mix diversity of the jury with the final say of the public. In this case it would have been Omar vs BQL, with BQL winning. Or if it was 100% jury deciding the final two, it would have been Omar vs Nuska, with Omar winning. Either way, it’s having this final say that is so important and would help end most of the acrimony coming from these national finals.
So the real song to watch for me was during the interval, when ManuElla presented her new single, Salvation. Impressions were good despite my bleary eyed stupor from awaking so early. Look for a post about it in the future when I can listen to it some more. (Edit: ManuElla’s new single – Salvation)