Editorials & OpinionStockholm 2016

Xtra Review: Hungary’s A Dal – Heat 1

Earlier today, MTVA revealed which ten acts are going to compete in the first heat of A Dal 2016. The first heat is set to take place this Saturday and six acts will qualify. Time for Nick and Max to take a closer look at these ten!
Benji – Kötéltánc
Nick: This Vietnamese Hungarian is bringing one of the rarer attempts in Hungarian this year. Mainly dominated by a guitar, this entry just exists for three minutes and then it’s gone from my memory. It’s not bad at all, but does it leave enough of an impression? Doubtful.
Max: A heartfelt ballad with a strong voice that goes up and down throughout the 3 minutes, showing the Vietnamese singer’s versatility. A promising star in the horizon? I look forward to the live performance of this one to confirm it.
Watch here!
ByTheWay – Free To Fly
Nick: Crime #1 is committed by these X Factor entrants: They start rapping in the middle of the verse. That pretty much ends my interest in this song. Moving on from this rather mediocre attempt. Looks aren’t everything, but I bet, like Spoon last year, that that’s exactly what’s going to put them through.
Max: Irreverent boy band with pop and rock elements to them. This song also features an additional element: a sort of whispered rap that makes me wonder how good/bad it will sound live (rap and ESC do not go in the same sentence). We’ll see…
Watch here!
Egy Másik Zenekar – Kéne Közös Kép
Nick: This band tried to enter A Dal in 2013 and were originally part of the acts selected for A Dal. Until they got disqualified and their dream went up in flames. They’re back in 2016 and their attempt is rather dreamy and there’s not a whole lot happening in those three minutes. It’s nice enough – on an album, not as a single.
Max: A song that would do fantastically in the ESC… of the ‘90s. Not a bad track at all but sounds too old fashioned for 2016. Beautiful melody, which can be fully enjoyed in the instrumental break. The voice is mediocre, nothing special.
Watch here!
Freddie – Pioneer
Nick: We might be looking at the runaway winner here. This winner of Rising Star has a killer chorus in this song. It sounds like a modern Eurovision song and his voice is hard to forget. There are enough opportunities for light effects here, but it doesn’t require a huge show. A good effort and this could go a long way.
Max: A raspy, powerful and masculine voice full of emotion, a soulful melody that takes you away for a trip, backing vocals coming out of a dream, a song that tells a story and drags you along to experience it. Delicious entry, a worthy successor of “Running” (don’t even make me remember “Wars For Nothing”).

Fatima Mohamed – Ott Leszek
Nick: It’s familiar names from start to finish in Hungary as Fatima Mohamed has also entered A Dal before – without much success, it has to be said. This song is a good attempt in the swing/soul genre Hungary is so familiar with in A Dal.  I also love the random man breaking in near the end. It’s nice and I really enjoy listening to this, but I doubt it’s what Hungary are looking for for Stockholm.
Max: Cheeky, happy tune with a scent of Meghan Trainor in its sound but Fatima’s voice is completely different, much more mature and soulful. I think a voice like this would shine brighter in a power ballad but a happy poppy retro song is what we have this time. Not to disregard but also not my fave.
Watch here!
Mushu – Uncle Tom
Nick: There’s hints of bluegrass, soul and indie to be found in Uncle Tom and that makes this quite the mix. It certainly leaves quite the impression. These guys are young and have quite the future in music. If this is somewhat of a start for them, then they’ve done a good job.
Max: Not what I was expecting to hear from these super young kids, just based on their looks. I find difficult to describe this random rock genre. This song is peculiar from beginning to end, as short as it is. The voice is rather annoying; I did not enjoy this one at all. Next!!!
Watch here!
Odett – Stardust
Nick: Returning names are everyday business in Hungary – the same goes for Odett. She did A Dal before, but will now hope 2016 is her year. The grown-up bubblegum chorus is catchy and it really sticks, but there’s something in there that makes me go ‘I’ve heard this before’ and that just keeps hunting me. I like this.
Max: This one reminded me a tad of Litesound’s “We Are The Heroes” (Belarus 2012). Not sure about the singer’s voice and accent matching the rhythm accordingly but I really liked the genuine sound of this entry, it did not feel like one of those songs manufactured for the ESC.
Watch here!
Reni Tolvai – Fire
Nick: Here’s a little pop queen from Hungary. She’s the Hungarian Rihanna, basically. Judging on this entry, she’s doing that reputation justice. She’s not the steadiest vocalist, but on a good day, she has A Dal winning material on her hands with this modern pop tune. And what a tune it is. Now all you need is a good day and a good staging and this’ll be there in the final. Maybe even in Stockholm and I wouldn’t mind that at all.
Max: Powerful, feminine, uplifting and modern. Broken beats, R&B, ethnic sounds. You’d think too much in the same place can destroy a song beyond recognition. In this case, the doses are carefully administered and the result is a more than worthy contestant. Reni’s voice is defying and sensual. This can be great with the right staging!

Jázmin Török – Power Of Love
Nick: This isn’t going to win Eurovision. Or A Dal. But I love it, it’s one of those carefree, uncomplicated love and peace songs I just need once in a while. It’s catchy, it’s good, I love it. There’s a nice set to lyrics to it and Jázmin comes across as a very likable person. Sadly, I might be the only one to love this song.
Max: The beginning of this one automatically makes you go back to Madonna’s “Don’t Tell Me” but the rest has nothing to do with it. It carries a positive message for your life, with the right amount of poetry for my taste and a beat that will probably make you move a foot and/or your head along. Weak but nice.

Petra Veres-Kovács – Singing Peace
Nick: I’m not going to try to take a positive here. I just can’t find it. It’s another peace ballad and not a very good one at that. Whereas Boggie last year brought something new, vulnerable and touching, Petra is just reciting a Christmas song crying for peace, which actually makes me want to use violence. She repeats the same line over and over again. She’s creating the opposite effect and that is never good, this is just too sweet for any teeth you’d have left after one verse.
Max: More depression, anyone? One thing is reflecting about the world and human relationships and another is looking at it seeing nothing but danger, horror and tragedy. Good intentions but this ballad makes you wanna jump off a bridge!!
Watch here!
So, who’s qualifying?
There’s two we both agree on. Freddie and Reni Tolvai both have to sail into the semifinals and they shouldn’t have any trouble reaching that. There’s a big gap behind those two, but the third choice would have to be Odett. And that’s where our personal preferences will start to move away from our expectations. We’d prefer Jázmin Török as the next qualifier, but…
A realistic expectation would mean addressing the fact that Hungary loves its peace songs. So much to our disappoint, we’re predicting Petra Veres-Kovács as the fourth one. The same goes for good looking boybands with songs that aren’t up to scratch: ByTheWay.
That leaves room for one more and it’s really anyone’s for the taking. On one hand, we expect a song in Hungarian to make it. So that would point to Benji, Egy Másik Zenekar or Fatima Mohamed, but none of them have enough redeeming features to make it a crystal clear qualifier. That opens the door for Mushu and Jázmin Török… Let’s face it, the fifth qualifier won’t have many hopes of going anywhere, but our pick would  be Egy Másik Zenekar.
Do you agree or not? Let us know!

Nick van Lith

I'm one of the founding members of ESCXTRA.com. Eleven years after the start, I'm proud to say that I am now the Editor-in-Chief of this wonderful website. When I'm not doing Eurovision stuff, you should be able to find me teaching German to kids... And cheering on everything and everyone Greek, pretty much. Pame Ellada!

Related Articles

Back to top button