Another week, another throwback to times gone by. This time we pay tribute to Hungary and find JUST the perfect entry to reminisce about with fellow escXtra editors and you, the readers at home. Yes, even you. So let’s jump inside the time machine and take a trip. Round and round it goes! Where will it land? NO ONE KNOWS…well, you do. You did read the title of the article after all. It’s Running from the one and only András Kállay-Saunders that we will be taking a look at this time.
Hungary for some history?
Yes, I know. I should be hurt for those puns, but try your best to forget them, we are here to talk about Hungary. The country that tried to jump on board the Eurovision ship way back in 1993, taking part of a pre-qualifying round with seven other nations. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that year and their time didn’t officially arrive until 1994 with a lovely Hungarian ballad called “Kinek mondjam el vétkeimet?”.
Since then, they have been treating us with more songs in Hungarian (AND English) in every possible genre you can think of. Go on, think of one. You want some ethnic folk? They have done it. How about some metal? Also on the list. What about eurodance? Blues? Whatever the heck “Forogj, világ” was? ALL part of their rich Eurovision history.
As for myself, I am a long time admirer of A Dal and have been following the contest live for many years despite not knowing a word of Hungarian and 90% of the show consisting of monologues IN Hungarian. I might be certifiably insane, but that doesn’t stop me from picking out an entry for us all to look at, one that won me over back in 2014.
Running to Eurovision
Eurovision 2014 might be best remembered for the hamster wheels, the Bake Off tribute songs, obsessions with storms and a certain bearded lady, but there was someone else there that deserves to be remembered. This guy:
You are not hallucinating, that is András Kállay-Saunders from A Dal 2013. His singing telegram act wasn’t quite enough to win over the Hungarian voters then. But he came back a year later with something…quite different.
A song about child abuse might seem out of place in a contest known to deal with three main topics: “peace”, “love” and “peace and love”, but that is EXACTLY what makes “Running” so special. Written by István Tabár and Kállay-Saunders himself, the song was inspired by a friend of his that had been abused.
It’s not exactly an easy topic to tackle, but the song does it carefully. We are told a dark and emotional story as the lyrics grab you from the very first line and don’t let go until the very end. Thankfully Kállay-Saunders is up to the task and makes us feel everything through his voice and facial expressions.
Driving the song forward is a powerful drum and bass beat that creates a suitably dark atmosphere, while also making the song something you can move along to. The topic can be all too real and serious for some of us, making it hard to listen to, but there’s still an underlying message of hope underneath the darkness. One that suggests everything will be alright in the end and urges abuse victims not to be afraid to seek help.
I wasn’t the only one moved at the time either. The song finished at 5th place in a very competitive final, giving Hungary their second best result. Long after most of 2014’s glam and glitter have gone from my mind, this song has stuck with me and gives me chills even today. So let’s experience it all over again together:
This week’s guest star
Usually guests leave running and screaming when I invite them over, but ignoring all those warning signs is a brave soul from escXtra’s past. He’s one of the founding members of this website, frequent visitor of our live streams and an expert in all things Hungarian. These days readers might know him best as the Editor-in-chief over at ESCBubble, but today he will be our designated opinionator. Without further ado, we welcome none other than: Ervin Juhász!
So how does Ervin feel about “Running?”
“Running” is one of those songs I fell in love with the first time I heard it. It is just so powerful, well-produced, and with a strong message, which András wrote based on a true story of one of his childhood friends. This is something that really needs to attract awareness I believe. Also on another note, I was totally convinced that András is going to win Eurovision, up until the day of the Final in 2014 – damn you, Conchita!
Ervin’s thoughts on Hungary at Eurovision
I like the fact that we sent so much variety to Eurovision – from cheesy Eurodance, pure pop, alternative, ethno all the way to metal. One can’t say that we are boring And to be perfectly honest, I quite like the fact that all of our songs were written by Hungarians, and that we don’t need Swedish songwriters to find ourselves in the Final (no offense to anyone). Also, all of our entries have become big hits in Hungary, which I believe is more important that any result in Eurovision, and all of our entrants gained only more popularity after being in Eurovision. None of them are/were one-hit wonders.
His favourite Hungarian entry?
“Running” is actually by far my favorite Hungarian Eurovision entry, followed by “Viszlát nyár” by AWS and “Pioneer” by Freddie.
What our other editors had to say:
The first time I listened to “Running”, I really liked it a lot, but every time I’ve listened to it since, all I can hear is the manic drum machine. Which drives me crazy. When I take a step back and try to be unbiased, I can see what they are thinking with the drumbeat; it emphasises the fear and the running. However, it still drives me crazy. I’m also not entirely won over by his voice and his singing in this performance; a bit too nasal and way too much heavy breathing.
Being a mother, though, the story touches me deeply. Especially in my own interpretation of the song, where I imagine the mother, not the child, singing it. As for the performance, I feel the dance fits the story nicely. And even though it’s kinda cheesy, I do like the very end, where he steps in to protect the girl. I like quite a few of Hungary’s entries over the years, and my favorite is actually in my all time top 10; Magdi Rúzsa and her wonderful “Unsubstantial Blues”. I also really like “Sound of Our Hearts”, “Origo” and “Viszlát nyár”.
Hungary and I have a strange relationship and Eurovision, I quite enjoyed all their entries since their return in 2011, however, 2011 and 2016 aside, I kind of forget about their entries once the contest is over. I clearly remember, however, rooting for “Running” to do very well and even hoping it would win it all. I can see how much the song meant for András and he was really able to transmit the emotion. Rigmo is totally right, the song may seem out of place but this is exactly what makes it unique and all the more powerful. I do think the dancers add a great deal to the performance, but I would have just kept the stage piano free (and I am a piano lover). Sure graphics could have been better but the performance really managed to deliver its message. Kudos, Hungary!
“Running” is without a doubt one of Hungary’s strongest entries, and in my opinion it has aged very well. If they had sent it to this year’s contest it would’ve fit right in musically which is a sign of a quality song (and not just by Eurovision standards). In addition, it was an interesting performance with great vocals. Although I thought it had the potential to win the contest at some point, I agree with the result it ultimately had.
Ah Hungary, a Eurovision nemesis of mine. I’ve only ever liked NOX and Kati Wolf of theirs. How they continue to send such mediocrity and yet have a 100% record since 2011 never fails to baffle me. As for ‘Running’, I’m not a fan of songs with a morality theme or whiny male singers. The drum and bass elements are the only thing that stops it being a dirge. There wasn’t a lot to the staging either. Using Windows Media Player graphics and a couple of dancers tacked on for the second half. No way should this have finished 5th.
What are your thoughts on Running? What’s YOUR favourite Hungarian entry? Have you done some running lately? Anyone got a spare treadmill I could borrow?
Give us your opinion in the comments below and on social media @ESCXTRA
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