Stockholm 2016

Xtra Review: Hungary’s A Dal Heat 2

Last Saturday, A Dal kicked off. The first heat took place and thankfully, our favourite Freddie easily qualified. Our other favourite, Reni Tolvai, struggled to qualify, but still did. Nick and Max are back for the second heat of A Dal. This heat will take place on Saturday.

André Vásáry – Why

Nick: Ah, we’ve had to miss it for a few years, but here we have one of those men doing high pitched opera. It’s kind of sad for André that he doesn’t show what he does well until the last minute of the song. The first 120 seconds are all about singing an ordinary pop song, it’s just those final sixty seconds where André takes it up a notch. Could’ve been a stand-out song, but now it just falls flat.
Max: Who’s up for getting depressed?? Well that’s what I thought for the first seconds of the song until it picked up, but not entirely. It’s an odd one, dark and quite creepy, including vocals that will make you remember Cezar (Romania 2013) but without the comedy factor. I feel a bit scared now… WHY, OH WHY?!?!?

Gergő Oláh – Győz A Jó

Nick: Oh we’re going a bit Arab/traditional here! Gergő entered A Dal last year with a rather decent entry, yet failed to make it out of the heat. And now he’s back with more expression, but sadly a little less quality. There’s a very traditional/folky/Arab vibe and it’s like Khaled singing in Hungarian. There’s something there, but I’m not entirely sure what it is…
Max: Some ethnic flavour in his singing mixed with a broken beat and more ethnic sounds in the melody. Definitely original but you know what you’re supposed to achieve in the ESC: “make people like you in 3 minutes” rather than leaving them wondering “What exactly was this just now?”.

Group’n’Swing – Szeretni Fáj

Nick: Here’s less swing than the name would make you expect, it’s more of a retro midtempo ballad and it actually works quite well. I wouldn’t need the trumpet in this, but if that’s the least of my worries, there’s not a lot to complain about. I quite like it and looking at Egy Másik Zenekar qualifying last week, I’m looking forward to this one’s chances.
Max: Sexy and intense jazzy/bluesy melody plus strong voices that complement the rhythm very appropriately. It would be more than interesting to see how a song like this does in the ESC. Funny enough, I like the way it sounds in Hungarian. Thumbs up for the courage to present something like this. Approved!

Anna Patai – Colors

Nick: We’re in Europe, Anna, so let’s write Colours instead. There’s a violin, so that’s a positive, but that’s about the only thing… This 16 year old just needs a few more years to find out what she really wants in music. This somehow feels forced and overly American.
Max: Christina Aguilera is Hungarian? Nope, my confusion after listening to the first seconds of this contestant. This has got to be my guilty pleasure of A Dal 2016 given that it sounds like one of those teen pop idols of the late ‘90s or early ‘00s. As powerful as this girl’s voice is, I really don’t see a lot of Colors in Stockholm this May (apart from the gay flags when Russia performs).

C.E.T. – Free

Nick: Alex Kabai has found C.E.T. to be a good pseudonym for him. No idea why. The chorus threatens to go to rock and then halfway does, but Alex’s voice isn’t quite capable of carrying this song. Oh dear, this may be my least favourite of the lot.
Max: Another song about freedom, like the boyband last week. This entry is more focused on the singer than on the melody, which is not entirely the best decision. I was done listening to it by the time it hit 1 minute and a half but if you want you can play the “how many times does the singer say the word FREE?” game. No chances at all.

Karmapolis & Böbe Szécsi – Hold On To

Nick: Both Karmapolis and Böbe have tried A Dal before, but none of those attempts caught the interest of… anyone. Now this unusual combination is teaming up and that works much better. Enchanting is the best word for this entry. The more I’ve heard this, the more excited I’ve got for this. Karmapolis does normally look a tad odd on stage, so here’s to Böbe making that all better. I like this – a lot, a whole lot.
Max: A sweet love song, somewhat introspective. Not necessarily a winner of A Dal but it doesn’t make your ears bleed at least. The instrumental side of the track is quite subtle and sets the atmosphere beautifully to allow Böbe to deliver her message.

Laci Gáspár – Love & Bass

Nick: Despite the English title, this effort is in Hungarian, which is a nice surprise. Hungary loves their uptempo dancy swingy tracks and this just adds to the pile we already had. It is however much better than most of the other songs and this one actually succeeds in being catchy.
Max: Funky beats!! YES!! Not sure it is the rhythm to do in Hungarian language, sounds strange. I think this one has potential if the arrangements were enriched and the language changed to English. Not a bad try but it sounds like a demo and the little rap is not needed. What part of PLEASE NO RAP don’t people get?

Maszkura és a Tücsökraj feat. Sika Finuccsi – Kinek Sírjam

Nick: Kicking it off in a classy, almost poetry reciting way, this song then soon takes a turn for the way of rap. Hungarian and rap is a combination that oddly seems to go together. The only combination that doesn’t go with rap is me. So it’s a pass for me.
Max: This song makes think of an imaginary bad entry coming out of Turkey or Moldova 10 or 15 years ago. Poor melody, a linear structure and the RAP (!!) made me go bonkers. Another big no-no in the competition.

Passed – Driftin’

Nick: I feared this entry as Passed were my pet hate of the 2015 season with their Mesmerize. How the tide can turn. Driftin’ is a much better attempt, in my eyes. Mixing house with a harp, edging towards tropical house, this is a very 2016 friendly song. There may be an outside chance of Passed taking the crown in Hungary this year. I quite like this and it fits a strong field of entries.
Max: A house song with a unique combination of instruments. The problem is the nasal vocals and the lack of impact an entry like this can make (both in Hungary and eventually in the ESC itself). I would say this is another entry sounding like a demo.

Kállay Saunders Band – Who We Are

Nick: The return of a familiar face, just two years after he gained Eurovision fame. This song is like Running, but with an added marching element/catchy bit to it. His voice has so much more power here. Even though they’re similar, there’s worlds between his two songs. I love it, but would it bring Hungary another top five? It might. Will it beat Freddie? Not too sure.
Max: András is back and with his own band!!! The song is complex and fabulous, a mix of different genres where electro sounds prevail, along with kind of metaphysical or symbolic lyrics about us humans. Up-tempo to the right level without turning into an EDM song, which for sure is the goal. Grand!!

So, who’s qualifying?

Our task to pick six from this bunch isn’t easy. There are a few stand-outs though. The first one is obviously the Kállay Saunders Band. It should easily qualify from the heat and it might well be the main competition for Freddie. Our second pick is quite far behind the KSB, but it’s Group’n’Swing. The not so swinging ensemble ticks some of the right boxes for us and that makes their Szeretni Fáj a very decent pick.
Seeing as we have to pick six and only have two, it’s more a game of who certainly should not qualify. There are three names on that list for us. Maszkura and the group behind him is the first big no, then it’s C.E.T. and finally, André Vásáry. That’s three gone, only one left to be eliminated and four left to qualify.
That means that despite Max being annoyed at the rap, Nick gets his way and Laci Gáspár would join the semifinal line-up. The same goes, the other way around, for Anna Patai. Nick isn’t a fan, but it’s a guilty pleasure for Max. As it doesn’t quite make our ears bleed, the next qualifier would be Karmapolis & Böbe Szécsi.
That leaves our last choice between Passed and Gergő Oláh. Neither of us quite understand what Gergő is trying to achieve and despite Passed not sounding like the most professional of the lot, they take up the last slot.
We’re curious to see what you think though! Who’s your favourite of the bunch?

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