It’s half time! So we move onto the second half with three more countries today. It’s Czech Republic (seems we’ll call it Czechia from 2017 onwards), Cyprus and Slovenia up for review today. Is any of these a hopeful to kick Croatia off their #1 spot?

Czech-RepublicGabriela Gunčíková – I Stand

Peter: This is a very pleasant ballad, and Gaby is clearly very talented, but I think this is going to struggle. The song really doesn’t soar the way it should, and for all the raving about the singer being the best in the whole contest, it may turn out that the song isn’t actually big enough for her voice when we hear it live (see also Isis Gee). I think it’s going to be another case of not quite good enough for the Czechs.
Score: 5.5/10

Nick:  Last year’s comeback was absolutely stunning and I was gutted that they didn’t make the final. In a rather unusual move for what the Czechs normally do, they decided to just stick with their thought: Select a well known singer internally with a decent song where vocal capacities can be shown. In previous years, the Czechs threw out a recipe as soon as the first attempt failed. Gabriela is a great singer who has the ability to bring the Czechs to the final. It’s a delightful ballad which I could happily listen to on a daily basis.
Score: 9.5/10

Sophie: Another one of these songs that I like more and more with every time I listen to them. I’m usually not that easily sold on ballads, but this one definitely hits a nerve. I’ll be very happy to finally see the Czech Republic qualify!
Score: 9/10

Dimitris: They are finally taking the contest seriously. After their amazing entry last year (which was totally robbed), they sent an incredible ballad by a very talented performer. I really want the Czech Republic (or Czechia) to finally qualify, because they really deserve to do so this year.
Score: 9.5/10

Katarina: Such a disappointment. After last year’s great song, I expected something good from them but instead I fell asleep. There is nothing memorable about this song and it sounds boring even now, after listening to it many times in the Eurovision playlist. I’m sorry but I can’t see this qualifying.
Score: 2/10

Wivian: It seems like the Czech broadcaster is taking the contest seriously. After last year‘s unfair treatment, by both juries and televoters, I was afraid they‘d withdraw or just not bother… But they return this year with a really good, modern kinda indie ballad, that can easily get a life outside the contest and a singer who is excellent live. I really like her voice, and the song is one of those I wanna listen to again, the moment it‘s over.
Score: 8/10

Liam: Easily the most modern and credible thing they’ve sent, but it still somehow leaves me feeling a bit cold. I think it’s the fact that it feels a bit generic? Either way, it’s good to see the Czechs have finally figured the game out, so points for effort.
Score: 7/10

CyprusMinus One – Alter Ego

Peter: Yes it’s got quite heavy schlager leanings, but I don’t think people would be making quite so big a deal out of it if we didn’t know that G:Son co-wrote it. When it comes down to it, we’ve got a rock song that is incredibly accessible to casual viewers and if it’s performed well, Cyprus will be scoring better than they have done in years.
Score: 8/10

Nick: There’s only one way to describe it – It’s a dressed up schlager. And, whatever we may think of that: It works. Take away the guitars, the drums and the rough voice and you’ve basically got Melodifestivalen mid-00s. I quite like this, but I don’t think staging this will be an easy task. It might not even qualify.
Score: 8/10

Sophie: As soon as it gets rocking I’m almost always a fan. This is maybe not the most original tune, but I’m still enjoying it a lot. I could do without the howling though.
Score: 8/10

Dimitris: I didn’t have high expectations when I heard Minus One were representing us, mostly due to the fact that their song in the 2015 selection wasn’t that great. However, I was shocked and thrilled when I heard the song. The contest lacked of good rock songs and finally this song is one. I hope they can perform it well in Stockholm and get a good result for the country.
Score: 10/10

Katarina: It’s a great song, but I have a huge problem with it: whenever it starts playing, I feel like skipping it immediately so I don’t get bored to death. It’s definitely gonna stand out in the semi and it works at first listen though, so I don’t fear their chances of doing okay this time.
Score: 5.5/10

Wivian: Great singer, great band. Other than that; Sorry, no matter how much „drums and rock guitars“ you add to this thing, it‘ll never stop being schlager. I enjoy the voice, the drums and the guitars, (oh, and the guys are really nice), but there‘s no way I can give this more than three points, and then I‘ve been *really* generous.
Score: 3/10

Liam: When I heard that it was Minus One representing Cyprus I immediately knew I would hate whatever it is that they would send. Apparently I was wrong because this is actually pretty damn good! I think the fact it’s still very much a pop song played with rock instrumentals makes it much more palatable for pop maniacs like myself. Either way, I’m down.
Score: 7/10

SloveniaManuElla – Blue & Red

Peter: I like the early Taylor Swift / Carrie Underwood vibes of this, but it’s still coming across as complete filler. The lyrics are a bit stupid, her voice sounds slightly awkward in the chorus and even though there’s nothing else like it this year, I can’t see it having enough impact to get enough votes.
Score: 5/10

Nick: This ticks all the boxes for me. It’s cute, it’s uptempo (even though I love my ballads), it has a good amount of country music and a distinctive voice. However, it leaves me stone dead cold. I have no idea why, as I should love this, but something makes me skip it instantly.
Score: 3/10

Sophie: The ”allay-ay-ay”-sounds are pretty annoying and the lyrics are bothering me – it can’t be that hard to mix red and blue together! The song itself is still kind of catchy though.
Score: 5/10

Dimitris: This song sounds like a Taylor Swift rip-off to me. However, I still like the song and find it quite cute. Unfortunately, I doubt it will manage to do well in the contest as it won’t stand out.
Score: 6.5/10

Katarina: Is this the day we review only boring songs? The only interesting thing about this act is her desperate attempt to become Taylor Swift 2.0, which sadly isn’t working. ManuElla’s vocals are also quite bad, so I don’t think we’ll be seeing her in the final.
Score: 4.5/10

Wivian: This really ticks all my „no thank you“ boxes. I‘m not sure why I dislike it as much as I do, but I do. This is one of those songs I‘m sure it takes longer to perform than it did to write it, and I don‘t approve. At approximately 1.09 I just couldn‘t take it anymore and just had to press stop. I had to start and stop and start and stop FOUR times to manage to get through the thing. I do like the country vibe, though, so I‘ll give it 1/10.
Score: 1/10

Liam: Well, the new version of the song is a vast improvement, but as an anglophone who actually listens to lyrics, I think this is doing a pretty bad job. I’ll take generic lyrics over confusing colour mixing analogies any day.
Score: 4/10

The story so far…

Long story short: No, no one can stop Croatia just yet. Nina comfortably remains the leader, being the only one scoring over 8/10. The best result today comes from the Czech Republic, who score 7.21/10 and settle in the lower top 10. The same goes for Cyprus, who finished just behind the Czechs. Slovenia is the least impressive today, only narrowly escaping the bottom three.

  1. Croatia – Nina Kraljić – Lighthouse: 8.21
  2. Germany – Jamie-Lee – Ghost: 7.93
  3. Serbia – Sanja Vučić ZAA – Goodbye (Shelter): 7.86
  4. Russia – Sergey Lazarev – You Are The Only One: 7.64
  5. Latvia – Justs – Heartbeat: 7.44
  6. Armenia – Iveta Mukuchyan – LoveWave: 7.21
  7. Czech Republic – Gabriela Gunčíková – I Stand: 7.21
  8. Cyprus – Minus One – Alter Ego: 7.07
  9. Israel – Hovi Star – Made Of Stars: 6.79
  10. Lithuania – Donny Montell – I’ve Been Waiting For This Night: 6.79
  11. Sweden – Frans –  If I Were Sorry: 6.72
  12. Spain – Barei – Say Yay!: 6.43
  13. FYR Macedonia – Kaliopi – Dona: 6.29
  14. Hungary – Freddie – Pioneer: 6.00
  15. The Netherlands – Douwe Bob – Slow Down: 5.71
  16. Moldova – Lidia Isac – Falling Stars: 5.36
  17. Ireland – Nicky Byrne – Sunlight: 5.29
  18. Finland – Sandhja – Sing It Away: 4.89
  19. Poland – Michał Szpak – Color Of Your Life: 4.36
  20. Switzerland – Rykka – The Last Of Our Kind: 4.29
  21. Slovenia – ManuElla – Blue & Red: 4.14
  22. Greece – Argo – Utopian Land: 3.43
  23. Belarus – Ivan – Help You Fly: 2.71
  24. San Marino – Serhat – I Didn’t Know: 1.64

24 entries in and tomorrow we’ll travel to a few fan favourites: Austria, Estonia and Bulgaria! How will our team see those entries?

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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