Stockholm 2016

Xtra Jury: We review Montenegro, Ukraine and Norway

Our team was all over the place on our last vote, where we had a look at Azerbaijan, Australia and Denmark. With just twelve more entries to go, Poli Genova is still in a solid lead in our reviews. We’ll be travelling all over Europe today as we take a look at Montenegro, Ukraine and Norway.

MontenegroHighway – The Real Thing

Wivian: FINALLY a rock song that‘s not just poorly wrapped schlager (re Cyprus…)! And these guys can all sing, as they proved beyond any doubt during LEP. This song just makes me happy, and I love that it‘s so unpredictable. The rock/electronica mix, with four good voices and those guitars and the heavy drums…AH!!! Just like in Copenhagen Montenegro has made its way to second place on my list.
Score: 9/10
Peter: I appreciate what these guys are doing, and it’s something different that doesn’t feel forced, but it’s just not my cup of tea at all. There really needs to be something more going on melodically for me to get on board.
Score: 4/10
Liam: The first three seconds of this sounds super promising and then all of a sudden that goes away and we’re left with a grungy electronic mess. I’m sure there is a market for this somewhere, but in a contest that is trying to win stuff, picking a niche that everyone is going to hate really seems like a terrible strategy.
Score: 1/10
Katarina: I am pretty sure there are people out there who like this type of music, but to me this song is just three minutes of suffering. I don’t really have an opinion about this one as I tend to skip it on every playlist to avoid headaches.
Score: 0/10
Dimitris: I struggle to find anything good in this song. It’s not completely terrible, aka San Marino or Georgia level, but I just cannot listen to it more than once in full anymore.
Score: 3/10
Danny: Didn’t get this at first but it’s fast become the one that I really shouldn’t like but do! I guess what I like about it is that it doesn’t follow a structure, it’s not your typical 3 minute Eurovision song with verse, bridge and then full on chorus. This one might do a lot better than people think.
Score: 7.5/10
Sophie: It’s always refreshing to hear some rock music at Eurovision. Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of the electro elements and the lyrics are a bit annoying.
Score: 5/10
Nick: What even is this? The Real Thing? If this is real, then give me as fake as it can get. I can’t even tolerate listening to it without wondering what the point of this is. By far the worst song of the year for me.
Score: 0/10

UkraineJamala – 1944

Wivian: I liked this song a lot the first time I heard it, but already on the second listen it started getting annoying. I don‘t really know what it is that puts me off, but I think it‘s her voice and the way she uses it. It deliveres an important message, and I love the beat, and really want to like the rest, but I don‘t, at least not more than 3.5/10
Score: 3.5/10
Peter: Again, something a bit different and I like that Jamala has gone a bit musically left-field to deliver the unique subject matter. I think the English lyrics are a bit clunky in telling the story and her voice is a bit discomforting to listen to live, but I love this musically and as a “moment.”
Score: 7.5/10
Liam: Jamala finally gets her time and is back with a song that thematically couldn’t be any more opposite from ‘Smile’ if it tried. She has a beautiful voice, the song is pretty and I love that she’s included a bit of her mother tongue in it. This is going to go huge in all of the former Soviet Union because they still all remember the deportations. For me, the song is a bit too heavy in content, but she certainly gets points for singing about something real.
Score: 9/10
Katarina: There are so many things about this song I love that I don’t think there is enough place to write it all in such a short review. It’s original, it’s different, it’s outstanding – and Jamala’s vocals are simply perfect. I’ll admit I don’t actually like this song in the studio version, but when I listen to the live performance I am completely blown away by how powerful it is. The lyrics carry a strong, personal message, and you can hear how important they are to Jamala herself by the emotion of her voice. I’d say this one really is the dark horse this year.
Score: 10/10
Dimitris: Jamala is a great performer. She literally gives me the chills with every performance she gives of the song. I don’t think we’ve had such a song before in the contest, it’s something different and it’s really great. And of course, the message of the song is very touching, very powerful.
Score: 9.5/10
Danny: Those ethnic sounds have been missed greatly by me, I just hadn’t expected to hear them in a Ukranian entry! Being half Turkish, I’m quite used to hearing those kind of trills that Jamala does frequently in the song, but I’m glad she does as it really shows off her vocals.
Score: 7/10
Sophie: Jamala is putting me through three minutes of torture and pain. This song feels like an attack, and maybe that’s part of the idea to deliver the message. I for one feel disturbed and somehow uncomfortably aggressive after listening to this.
Score: 1/10
Nick: Give me this kind of song anytime – normally. It has a message, it tells a story. I don’t mind the political factor too much, to be honest. She has a voice you’d recognise from a few miles away, but something in here makes me switch off midway through. I love hearing Crimean in Eurovision, so that’s a bonus point.
Score: 7/10

NorwayAgnete – Icebreaker

Wivian:  Last year, for the first time ever, the Norwegian entry was my favorite. This year it‘s not. As most people I find it weird the way it seems to consist of two different songs, and I really wish they could have stuck with the song they took the chorus from… I really, really like the chorus, and the message of the song really touches my heart, and Agnete is a good singer, but it‘s still no more than a 4.5/10.
Score: 4.5/10
Peter:  If there’s two things we don’t need more of at Eurovision they are Loreen knock-offs and attempts at Sia ballads. Hats off to Agnete for managing both. It has grown on me but I really dislike it in theory!
Score: 5/10
Liam:  I don’t know why Agnete hates us so much that she would prank us like this. Because that’s what this is, a trick. She’s got pumping verses that sound like they’re building to something epic and then all of a sudden, bam! A ballad chorus. It’s a bait and switch and I’m not having it.
Score: 2/10
Katarina: First of all: what is this song trying to be? Is it a dance tune or a Sia wannabe power ballad? Seems like not even Agnete herself can decide. It took me 2 months to actually start liking this song, and even now the change from the verses to the chorus irritates me. I wish I could score it higher, as I always sing along to it, but the extremely awkward transitions are the reason for my low ranking.
Score: 4.5/10
Dimitris: I really love this song despite the fact that I found the key change from the verses to the chorus quite odd at first. I think that’s what makes the song interesting and even better. I’m just a bit worried whether Agnete will manage to improve her performance before the contest.
Score: 9/10
Danny: Two songs bodged together in a real amateurish way – it really does sound like a bad mashup made in Windows Movie Maker or something. They’ve tried to be different by mixing two different tempos but it hasn’t worked and comes across as just odd. The song is dropping fast in my personal rankings and judging by what the bookmakers are giving this right now, I’m not alone.
Score: 4.5/10
Sophie: This is just one big mess. The tempo change is incredibly confusing and I just don’t understand why anybody would do this to a song and to its listeners. On top of that the lyrics are literally leaving me icecold.
Score: 1/10
Nick: Norway’s songs are, individually, quite decent. I like the first song, I like the second song, but together it’s just a mess from start to finish. Are there two composers in this song? One for the first, one for the second? I actually feel sad for Agnete as she comes across as a sweet girl, but this song does not work for her. Or rather, these songs.
Score: 4/10

The story so far…

Two of these entries have not made the mood any better for our reviewing team. Both Agnete’s song as well as Highway’s enter our bottom seven. Norway is only saved by Dimitris giving it a 9/10, Montenegro only has Danny (7.5/10) and Wivian (9/10) to back them up. Pretty much as expected, Jamala does best today, but her score doesn’t set the scoreboard on fire: an eleventh place with a 6.81/10, just ahead of Israel and Lithuania, but behind Cyprus.

  1. Bulgaria – Poli Genova – If Love Was A Crime: 8.58
  2. Croatia – Nina Kraljić – Lighthouse: 8.21
  3. Germany – Jamie-Lee – Ghost: 7.93
  4. Estonia – Jüri Pootsmann – Play: 7.92
  5. Serbia – Sanja Vučić ZAA – Goodbye (Shelter): 7.86
  6. Russia – Sergey Lazarev – You Are The Only One: 7.64
  7. Latvia – Justs – Heartbeat: 7.44
  8. Armenia – Iveta Mukuchyan – LoveWave: 7.21
  9. Czech Republic – Gabriela Gunčíková – I Stand: 7.21
  10. Cyprus – Minus One – Alter Ego: 7.07
  11. Ukraine – Jamala – 1944: 6.81
  12. Israel – Hovi Star – Made Of Stars: 6.79
  13. Lithuania – Donny Montell – I’ve Been Waiting For This Night: 6.79
  14. Austria – Zoë – Loin D’Ici: 6.75
  15. Sweden – Frans –  If I Were Sorry: 6.72
  16. Azerbaijan – Samra – Miracle: 6.69
  17. Australia – Dami Im – Sound of Silence: 6.69
  18. Spain – Barei – Say Yay!: 6.43
  19. FYR Macedonia – Kaliopi – Dona: 6.29
  20. Hungary – Freddie – Pioneer: 6.00
  21. The Netherlands – Douwe Bob – Slow Down: 5.71
  22. Moldova – Lidia Isac – Falling Stars: 5.36
  23. Ireland – Nicky Byrne – Sunlight: 5.29
  24. Denmark – Lighthouse X – Soldiers of Love: 5.00
  25. Finland – Sandhja – Sing It Away: 4.89
  26. Poland – Michał Szpak – Color Of Your Life: 4.36
  27. Norway – Agnete – Icebreaker: 4.31
  28. Switzerland – Rykka – The Last Of Our Kind: 4.29
  29. Slovenia – ManuElla – Blue & Red: 4.14
  30. Montenegro – Highway – The Real Thing: 3.69
  31. Greece – Argo – Utopian Land: 3.43
  32. Belarus – Ivan – Help You Fly: 2.71
  33. San Marino – Serhat – I Didn’t Know: 1.64

We’re getting closer to the end now with less than ten countries left for review. We’ll be travelling all over Europe again tomorrow as we will take a look at Iceland, Georgia and the United Kingdom.

Nick van Lith

I'm one of the founding members of 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!

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