Stockholm 2016

Xtra Jury: We review Bosnia & Herzegovina, Albania and Italy

After travelling all over Europe (and Australia) in the past few days, virtually flying from Iceland to Georgia in just two lines, we’re having small trips today. We start off in Sarajevo to move on south to Tirana, before we cross the Adriatic Sea to land in Italy. Let’s see if our team thinks any of these three acts could threaten Poli Genova’s solid lead.

Bosnia-&-HerzegovinaDalal & Deen ft. Ana Rucner & Jala – Ljubav Je

Liam:  I wanted to like this, but Ljubav Je brings us what is easily the most ill advised rap interlude since ‘No Dream Impossible’. The pieces just don’t fit together for me.
Score: 2/10
Katarina: I might be biased, but whenever a song uses Balkan elements – that’s it, you got me, I already like it. My favourite thing about ‘Ljubav Je’ is the mesmerizing intro, which gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. Yes, Jala certainly is a huge surprise, but I feel like his rap part somehow fits in the song. And Bosnia get bonus points for singing the whole song in their own language.
Score: 8/10
Dimitris: This song sounds like it could be an entry from an earlier contest. I wish this was a Balkan ballad I would normally like, such as their 2012 entry. But unfortunately, I just cannot like this enough. The rap part though quite ruins the song and I find it unnecessary.
Score: 4/10
Alekas: Here’s your typical Balkan entry, but with an unnecessary twist (yes, I mean the rap part). Would’ve been much better without it. Now it’s just somewhere slightly above the average.
Score: 6/10
Nick: An identity crisis summarised in a song. Dalal ft. Ana Rucner for Stockholm would’ve been a fine decision, throw Deen in there for a male vocal if you want – but, no matter how nice the guy may be – leave Jala at home. This, to me, is a decent 6/10 Balkan ballad by recipe, until he storms in and confuses me to the bone as to what this song is trying to be. All that remains are points for Dalal.
Score: 2.5/10
Wivian: I‘m a huge fan of the „Balkan strings“ of this entry, and I love this language, but other than that I‘m not at all sold on it. As Balkan ballads go, this one is fairly weak, and ridiculously predictable. There really isn‘t a single surprise in this song, other than the rap. Which is not good. I haven‘t listened to this live, but I believe both their voices are pretty good.
Score: 2.5/10
Danny: I like this, even the rapping is quite tolerable to me but it’s not one that I want to hear again and again. On a live stage, there’s only so much they can do as a duo and I reckon it will just get lost really easily.
Score: 5/10
Sophie: Listening to the first two minutes of this song, I completely approve – there is your traditional Balkan ballad that shows off the beauty of ethnical sounds. But then the rapping kicks in and destroys just about everything.
Score: 3/10

AlbaniaEneda Tarifa – Fairytale

Liam: Well firstly, I was definitely more into it when it was in Albanian, but then they of course had to edit it and it lost something. It’s hard to explain what went wrong, it just did. Maybe it’s because it no longer has that thing that makes it sound like a Bond song?
Score: 3/10
Katarina: If only Albania would do the same as Bosnia and stick to their beautiful language. I loved the FiK version of Eneda’s song, but it lost a lot of it’s magic when it was translated to English. The revamp is also much weaker than the original, but it grew on me a lot and Eneda is one of my favourite vocalists this year, so I hope we will see her in the final.
Score: 7.5/10
Dimitris: I really like this song. The first version was obviously better, not because it was in Albanian as I don’t mind in which language it is, but because the chorus was more powerful. However, I’m used to the new version and I like it as well.
Score: 8/10
Alekas: I don’t really care for it, but it can exist. Middle of the road for me.
Score: 5/10
Nick: Revamping is a verb invented in Albania, I’m now sure. Përrallë was a decent shoutfest which wasn’t something you’d put on your playlist. Fairytale is a lot more accessible and Eneda can sing. When I first heard this, I shook my head. Now, I’ve managed to get used to it.
Score: 7.5/10
Wivian: This song is gone from my head the second it‘s over. I keep trying to remember it, but I just can‘t. Eneda is a good singer, but that can‘t save this song from being completely forgotten at the final note. It‘s not that it’s a bad song, it‘s just utterly forgettable.
Score: 3/10
Danny:  like this, despite it getting quite a harsh reaction when it was changed to english. Is it in trouble though? Most definitely. It’s just not catchy enough and doesn’t build up to anything.
Score: 5/10
Sophie: This is one of those songs that completely disappear from my head right after listening to it. I’m missing a real melody and a halfway decent structure. So far I haven’t given any of this year’s entries zero points (even though some of them would have deserved it), so to stay fair I’ll give 1/10 to Albania.
Score: 1/10

ItalyFrancesca Michielin – No Degree Of Separation

Liam: This is one of the few songs that seemingly got better in the Eurovision version. She has a very peculiar accent when she sings in English and I really enjoy it and while the original version dragged on quite a bit, this is nice and snappy. Vast improvement.
Score: 8/10
Katarina: Nice song, which is okay to listen to once, but isn’t memorable at all and has nothing that would get me to vote for it. Francesca is a great performer and I feel like she deserves a much stronger entry, but unfortunately all she has is this pretty safe ballad. I also feel like the English chorus is really random, like it’s not meant to be a part of the song. But it’s a nice song, nice enough for a 7.5/10.
Score: 7.5/10
Dimitris: I really love this song, and I was hoping for Italy to select it as their entry. Luckily they didn’t make the English part of the song very long. Italian is such a beautiful language, and so is this song. Francesca is very talented and really hope she gets a good result for the country.
Score: 10/10
Alekas: It is loved by many fans, but I just don’t connect with it at all. For me, the weakest Italian entry since it came back.
Score: 6/10
Nick: Francesca is cute, sweet and innocent. And so is the song. The problem is that she is better than the song is, it doesn’t quite manage to pack a punch like it should do. I’m glad they’ve kept this mostly in Italian, though. It’s really nice, it’s really sweet, but it’s no winner at all. It might even drop rather low on the scoreboard…
Score: 7/10
Wivian: Finally, after two average/poor attempts, Italy is back where I want them; pretty close to (if not on) „top of my list“! I love this song, and if it had stayed 100% in Italian I probably would have ended up giving it a full 10… No, not quite, but very close. As it is, I love the way it combines elements from the traditional Italian canzoni with a very contemporary sound. I love Francesca; she has such a charming stage presence and her voice is perfect for this song. I really wish they‘d skipped the English, though. (And I also wish Marco Mengoni was singing it…sorry, I just had to…).
Score: 8.5/10
Danny: I really like Francesca as an artist and I loved this at first, but I have to be honest – I’ve become tired of it very quickly and find its one I skip very frequently now. It’s just not very cheerful at all and the change to english lyrics was in my opinion, really unnecessary.
Score: 5/10
Sophie: Naturally, I wish that the song was kept in Italian all the way. It would just seem so much more genuine without the English part. Still, I think this is a great entry, Francesca has an adorable voice and delivers a lot of emotions with it.
Score: 8/10

The story so far…

With just three more countries to go, we know that Bulgaria’s Poli Genova and Croatia’s Nina Kraljić will at least be in our top five. We also know that none of today’s entries will make that top five. Only Francesca Michielin can remain hopeful for a top ten, as she lands in eighth place with a nice round score of 7.50/10. We somewhat burst the fairytale bubble Eneda is in as she too gets a round number… a 5/10 exactly. Even less fortunate is the returning nation of Bosnia & Herzegovina, who, despite the support from our Katarina, end up in 34th with an abysmal average of 4.13/10, 0.01 behind Slovenia.

  1. Bulgaria – Poli Genova – If Love Was A Crime: 8.58
  2. Croatia – Nina Kraljić – Lighthouse: 8.21
  3. Iceland – Greta Salóme – Hear Them Calling: 8.13
  4. Germany – Jamie-Lee – Ghost: 7.93
  5. Estonia – Jüri Pootsmann – Play: 7.92
  6. Serbia – Sanja Vučić ZAA – Goodbye (Shelter): 7.86
  7. Russia – Sergey Lazarev – You Are The Only One: 7.64
  8. Italy – Francesca Michielin – No Degree Of Separation: 7.50
  9. Latvia – Justs – Heartbeat: 7.44
  10. Armenia – Iveta Mukuchyan – LoveWave: 7.21
  11. Czech Republic – Gabriela Gunčíková – I Stand: 7.21
  12. United Kingdom – Joe and Jake – You’re Not Alone: 7.13
  13. Cyprus – Minus One – Alter Ego: 7.07
  14. Ukraine – Jamala – 1944: 6.81
  15. Israel – Hovi Star – Made Of Stars: 6.79
  16. Lithuania – Donny Montell – I’ve Been Waiting For This Night: 6.79
  17. Austria – Zoë – Loin D’Ici: 6.75
  18. Sweden – Frans –  If I Were Sorry: 6.72
  19. Azerbaijan – Samra – Miracle: 6.69
  20. Australia – Dami Im – Sound of Silence: 6.69
  21. Spain – Barei – Say Yay!: 6.43
  22. FYR Macedonia – Kaliopi – Dona: 6.29
  23. Hungary – Freddie – Pioneer: 6.00
  24. The Netherlands – Douwe Bob – Slow Down: 5.71
  25. Moldova – Lidia Isac – Falling Stars: 5.36
  26. Ireland – Nicky Byrne – Sunlight: 5.29
  27. Denmark – Lighthouse X – Soldiers of Love: 5.00
  28. Albania – Eneda Tarifa – Fairytale: 5.00
  29. Finland – Sandhja – Sing It Away: 4.89
  30. Poland – Michał Szpak – Color Of Your Life: 4.36
  31. Norway – Agnete – Icebreaker: 4.31
  32. Switzerland – Rykka – The Last Of Our Kind: 4.29
  33. Slovenia – ManuElla – Blue & Red: 4.14
  34. Bosnia & Herzegovina – Dalal & Deen ft. Ana Rucner & Jala – Ljubav Je: 4.13
  35. Montenegro – Highway – The Real Thing: 3.69
  36. Greece – Argo – Utopian Land: 3.43
  37. Georgia – Nika Kocharov & Young Georgian Lolitaz – Midnight Gold: 3.06
  38. Belarus – Ivan – Help You Fly: 2.71
  39. San Marino – Serhat – I Didn’t Know: 1.64

It’s the final day of our reviews tomorrow. We’ll be taking a look at both semi-final closers, Malta and Belgium, as well as hot fan favourite France. Can any of them claim the throne from Poli?

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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