Latvia kicked off their selection on Sunday, with the first ten acts fighting for four semi-final tickets. The eventual winner seems to be a foregone conclusion with Justs ragging up about half the televotes in the field. Nevertheless, there will be a second heat on Sunday.

Can any of these songs break the Aminata tradition? Can any of these songs prevent Aminata from being involved in Eurovision twice in a row? Nick has had a listen and here’s what he thinks…

Madara Grēgere – You And I

This is an odd track. It starts off as an alternative pop song – basically what you’d expect after Aminata’s 2015 success. But then there’s trumpets and a half done dubstep tune. The singer seems completely disconnected from the song she’s singing. There’s not a whole lot which is redeeming for this entry. Madara’s voice is kind of nice, but I don’t think this is the song for her.

Crow Mother – Demons

Crow Mother is one of Latvia’s biggest rock bands and they’re leaning towards the alternative rock. As we however often see, rock bands entering the Eurovision circus tend to make their music a little more accessible. The same goes for Crow Mother,  which I think is a good move in this case. It’s a good rock song with heavy guitars and loud vocals. There’s quite a hook to the chorus and it’s definitely a nice effort, but I can’t see this getting anywhere near or in Stockholm.

Samanta Tīna – The Love Is Forever

No real surprises here as Samanta also hints for the strong pop with alternative influences. Aminata really made an impression on this country, it seems. Samanta’s vocals are however not a massively impressive factor here, so the effort sort of falls flat. That is, until the final seconds when she throws out a fantastic high note. That entire note has lifted the song to the next level. With two songs in Supernova this year, Samanta had to be considered a frontrunner, but this entry does not live up to the high expectations. Nice, but that’s about it. With one song being out, I fear for Samanta’s chances.

Markus Riva – I Can

I love it when people just don’t give up trying. Markus is one of those people and I Can is an anthemic effort. No, it’s not a Eurovision winner. No, it’s not a song that’s going to make a massive impression, but it’s nice enough. Don’t overdo this on the live performance though – it doesn’t need it. There’s the Blue hint in the background (no surprise with the same title) and it’s an attempt to be quite powerful. Nice enough, but not a winner. It’s delightfully MOR.

MyRadiantU – We Will Be Stars

A dubstep/pop/dance-ish effort from MyRadiantU. It however doesn’t leave an impression as I had to listen to this three times to even form an opinion. I have to say, album filler is just the best term for this. An album filler on a mediocre album from a mediocre artist. The two singers match quite well, but not enough to make it stand out. ‘Tududu tududu tududu’ is the only thing I remember from this entry and that’s not a good thing. Next!

Mārtiņš Ruskis  – Still Holding Stars

If you’re playing Eurovision Bingo, this is another one to cross off your list: A man with a terribly deep voice bringing you a heartfelt ballad. Think Didrik Solli Tangen but then less of the opera. We see them every year and they almost never win the national final – the same goes for this one. The rhyming is quite cringeworthy: “You know my heart belongs to you, but you never said ‘I do’.” The lyricist deserves punishment for that. The song itself is quite nice though. The instrumentation is spot on, the voice fits well and I do like it. Just those lyrics…

DVINES – Set It On Fire

Thirteen in a dozen – We’ve heard this before.  As so often in this year’s Supernova, we start off in the alternative pop way, until the chorus when they give in to the cliché idea that you need a hook and a catchy element. This band didn’t need it, but still tried it. And failed. The end is also very abrupt, it’s like they thought ‘Oh damn, we’ve reached three minutes. Oh well, it’s a wrap!’

Marta Ritova – Not From This World

The first verse is building up to a chorus which should be out of this world. Unfortunately, my idea was wrong. We get the little Owl City bells in the background, for the second verse, the drums even kick in, promising an even bigger chorus. And yet again, it’s not there. Twice this song builds towards a climax and then manages to ruin it. Also, not unique in the world of Eurovision songs where artists aren’t used to singing in English, but Marta’s English pronunciation is annoying.

Miks Dukurs – Paradise

Paradise? Hell! A very amateur attempt at… I don’t even know at what. The first verse is guitar based, then we’re getting dance beats and from the vulnerable voice, we move towards gorilla sounds. Literally no idea what this is meant to be. The one thing it actually is, is terrible, awful and rubbish. If there’s any sense in the Latvians, they’ll search for a reason to instantly disqualify this. Or just ignore this in the voting would also do fine.

Iluta Alsberga – On Hold

Now this I quite like. There’s the alternative pop again, without that being a surprise element. However, it isn’t pretentious in the first verse, nor does it change its direction after a minute. It’s a constant factor, pleasant to listen to, no surprises, no messing around – just a good uptempo, alternative pop song in three minutes to get the audience going. A true 90s throwback, no doubt about that either, but that makes me enjoy this even more. Iluta – well done!

Qualifiers

Picking four qualifiers out of this lot isn’t the easiest task I’ve ever been given. My first choice is – without a second of a doubt – Iluta Alsberga. Her On Hold is just a simple nice tune that I wouldn’t mind hearing again. Or even in Stockholm, just in case Justs somehow loses.

A second choice would have to be Markus Riva. The good man just keeps on trying and his effort is really not bad. It’s his best effort to date, I’d say, so he at least deserves to make the semifinal of Supernova 2016.

Choice #3 would go to the alternative to all the alternative pop. A bit of rock to break the trend is never bad, so Crow Mother is my next choice for a qualifiers. We saw the one odd entry making it on Sunday, so I expect the same going for Crow Mother.

The final choice is either Samanta or Mārtiņš. I’d normally pick the latter, but the lyrics are so awful that I can’t even stand behind such a choice. Samanta it is – especially now she’s managed to get knocked out with her first – and superior – entry.

Media Liaison: One of the founding members at escXtra. I'm the Dutchman who loves every little idiotic Eurovision fact there is. I usually listen to a lot of Eurovision music, but when I'm not, I listen to country music, schlager and pop, but mostly artists like Tina Turner, Emma, Ilse DeLange and Helene Fischer. On escXtra, you can find me doing pretty much anything that needs doing: Interviews, liveblogs or just your daily portion of news!

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