A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
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Sunday, April 14, 2019

Tobson's Big ESC 2019 review, part 1

It is a bit quiet around this blog most of the year but suddenly spring is in the air and 40-something new Eurovision entries call my name and demand to be reviewed. Who am I to say no? Here we go with this year's 41 entries spread over seven blog posts.

Bulgaria and Ukraine are taking a year off (a particularly stupid move in Ukraine's case but let's get back to that, perhaps). This is how the first semi will begin!

Tamta / Replay

Cyprus got closer to victory than ever before in 2018 and many words have been used by people wishing to declare how this year's Cypriot offering is nothing but a copy of last year's effort. Since they asked the same team for a new song it is pretty obvious they wanted to stay in the same area and in my book this is the better song of the two. Lively and updated but hardly alone in its genre this time.

Absolutely, beyond the shadow of a doubt. A bit unexpected to kick off the first semi with a song as strong as this but the final is all the matters anyway.

My grade: 4/5

D-Mol / Heaven

If there is any sort of consensus about anything this year, then it is how chanceless poor Montenegro is. So chanceless that it is, indeed, a bit cruel to underline this fact by giving them the real death slot in the running order. The six happy youngsters in D-Mol make me think of Aarzemnieki - Latvia's hopefuls in Copenhagen 2014 that made for pleasant company during three minutes but never really stood any chance of qualifying. I thoroughly enjoy this despite all its flaws - or perhaps even because of them - but if this one makes it to the final it would be a surprise big enough to stop time.

Nope. Never in a million years.

My grade: 2/5

Darude feat Sebastian Rejman / Look Away

Sending Darude to Eurovision seemed like quite a nifty idea at first. "Sandstorm" might be his only major hit but it is fondly remembered by many people around the globe. People who could possibly be overwhelmed by nostalgia and vote for him. Unfortunately this entry is more Sebastian Rejman feat Darude than the other way around and the old hit-DJ finds himself relegated to being a mere special effect in his own entry, dancing around in the background like an embarrassing parent at a school disco. The song starts out pretty well only to turn almost shockingly dull before the chorus.

Most unlikely. It really would be time for Finland to ditch the UMK concept that clearly isn't working and try to replace it with something more worthwhile.

My grade: 1/5

Tulia / Fire of Love (Pali się)

This is the point where many a western european viewer might splutter out the drink they allowed themselves on a Tuesday night. White voice - a very special vocal technique reminiscent of a controlled scream - is a common feature in eastern folklore but will sound very exotic and unexpected to many others. Add a song that is remarkably similar to "I Am The Walrus" and suddenly you find yourself with a package that works and the initial shock is likely to turn into something else before three minutes have passed.

Yes, I think so. This entry has the personality and originality that so many of the songs in the lineup desperately lack.

My grade: 3/5

Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl / Sebi

Every year there is a song that really shouldn't do well based on what viewers usually like and yet defies all logic and scores well. This year, that surprise song should be this soft little whisper in Slovenian. A lovely and endearing little entry and the musical equivalent of a long, warm hug on a chilly day. Introverted but inviting at the same time.

Yes. It must be or I will be terribly disappointed in everyone and everything.

My grade: 4/5

Lake Malawi / Friend Of A Friend

For the second year running, the Czech republic sends in a light, dance-friendly pop song performed by a cute guy who is potentially a bit of a douche, at least judging from the lyrics. This is far from universally acclaimed by the ESC fandom but what many of its detractors seem to forget is that this is one of few entries on offer this year that is light-hearted and effortless-sounding. Like a bunch of guys in a student band having the time of their lives. In a good way, not in a Manel Navarro sort of way.

Yes. No need to worry about that.

My grade: 4/5

Quite a good start to the first semi, n'est-ce pas? If you want to agree or disagree with me, please leave a comment or send me a tweet. All the preview clips can be seen here.


  1. I have reservations about Slovenia. I think it's way too introverted. Her whispery delivery is actually kind of irritating. I'm reminded of Lithuania and Spain last year but at least the coupley googly eyes display was broad and welcoming. This is more like watching a pair of drunks necking on the bus. Very harsh I know but I don't get the impression this performance even requires viewers.

    Cyprus is catchy but I do think its an inferior photocopy. This rarely works two years running. Need to see Tamta live to know. But qualification likely.

    Czech Rep is fun and should do the needful, but I think Montenegro and its 90s tootling may surprise people. Its a fun 60 second ending to this one and if they harmonise well they will be doing the pop band thing better than other songs may do their own usp.

  2. I'm diggin' Cyprus this year too but it does sound like a bit of a copy-paste of something else.