It’s a slightly less frenetic weekend in the national selection season, before we get two super busy weekends. There is still plenty to see though, with three national finals over the weekend as well as a scheduled artist and song reveal towards the end of the week. Ukraine and Slovenia have their national finals on Saturday 22 February and Poland’s is the day after.
In addition, Sweden’s Melfest reaches its fourth and final semi, and we also get the first semi-final for Portugal’s national selection (Festival da Canção) which is worth a look, as this semi is loaded with the overall pre-show favourites and is also broadcast well after the other shows so there is no overlapping (10pm GMT).
At the end of the week we will get the fourth of the Big 5 songs with Germany’s Unser Lied für Rotterdam programme on 27 February revealing their song and artist. Then we just need the UK to complete the Big 5 line up!
Ukraine: Vidbir 2020
Last year’s drama after the national final in Ukraine deprived the 2019 contest of a top class Ukrainian banger (Maruv’s “Siren Song”) which I am sure would have been top 5 at a minimum, if not higher. But everyone is glad to see Ukraine back and true to form, they’ve had an eclectic mix of distinctive, often crazy but always compelling and intriguing songs. We lost some good songs in the semis, but of the 6 finalists, 5 all carry some interest, though I’ve stuck to just highlighting a couple here. Also watch out for guest performances from Verka Serduchka, Jamala and Tina Karol during the final.
My favourite: KHAYAT “Call for Love”
Picking up Maruv’s baton of dark ethnopop banger is Khayat’s Call for Love. It has a lot of eastern European instrument sounds (which I love) and some distinctive east European singing as well. Ticks all my boxes though the big weakness at present is the live vocal of the lead singer. This did well with both juries and televote in the (weaker) semi but it will need an improved vocal to triumph (and I sincerely hope it does!).
The (likely) favourite: TVORCHI “Bonfire”
It’s hard to pick a favourite as several of the 6 finalists have a chance to win, but electronic music band TVORCHI probably start as slight favourites – they scored top marks from both jury and televote as well getting the most YouTube views of their performance of all the finalists (and are already known in Ukraine). I wouldn’t be unhappy if this was Ukraine’s entry – and the duo are quite an interesting pairing – Ukrainian sound producer Andrew Hutsuliak and Nigerian vocalist and songwriter Jeffery Augustus Kenny.
Slovenia: EMA 2020
Slovenia’s EMA is a little bit on enigma to me as aside from the short clips of each artist’s songs that has been released, I don’t have much insight. It’s also hard to know who the favourite will be as it will be a jury who will do the first round of final voting which will reduce the field from 12 to 3 and it’s only in that super final that the public will get a vote.
My favourite: Imset “Femme Fatale”
We haven’t had a boy band for a while (to my recollection) at Eurovision and while boy bands are hardly a ground breaking format, Imset have a slightly different sound to what you might expect – it’s more thrusting, deeper and gravelly voiced and also in Slovenian, so it’s my pre-show favourite though I am not sure of its chances – and who knows who the juries will put through to the public vote! Former Eurovision finalist, Tinkara Kovač who represented Slovenia in 2013 makes a return this year.
The (possible) favourite: Lina Kuduzović “Man Like U”
This is going down as the possible favourite, mainly for the reasons that Lina is a former Junior Eurovision Song Contest, it’s a modern song (many of this national final’s songs are a bit dated), and it’s been giving the closing spot in the running order.
Poland: Szansa na Sukces 2020
Poland’s national selection this year has been regarded as a bit of a farce, with some justification. The artists were put through somewhat excruciating semi-finals where they were given a song to sing and just one artist was selected to go through by the panel/jury. It was almost karaoke-style (the three themes were Abba Songs, Eurovision songs and Beatles songs) and a change (or clarification) in the rules in advance of the third show only served to draw more criticism from eurofans as it looked like it was being set up to push Albert from Lake Malawi (who represented Czech Republic last year) to the final (which duly happened).
All that said, I really liked Lake Malawi last year so while it might feel a little odd having them representing Poland, their 80s-inspired upbeat pop would be welcome. They still have to win the national final of course against two other artists (though they are more likely to be ballads). Their song this time is still upbeat and catchy – though not sure it’s quite as impactful or catchy as “Friend of a Friend”.
One to note: Albert Černý (with Lake Malawi) “Lucy”
As always, the times and links to shows are available on my Eurovision 2020 season calendar page.