There are fewer songs to choose from when to comes to looking at the Czech Republic’s Eurovision entries, but that’s not because they have had lots of bad songs, there’s just not that many entries to pick from! They first entered in 2007, withdrew after the 2009 contest (with two semi-final last place) and then returned in 2015, and have been more successful since that return – and they’ve quickly found their way to being one of my favourite Eurovision countries. Their artists are unfailingly
humble and pleasant people and I’ve enjoyed the mix musical genres they’ve been bringing – in this mix we’ve got jazz, theatre musical/pop rock, indie pop, pop ballad, dance pop, pop-rap, and R&B.
[A quick note on the 2020 entry – I think Benny Cristo’s “Kemama” would have had a place in this top 5 but for the purposes of the Top 5 series, I am not going to be including them in my official top 5, given we never got to see the Eurovision performance with the staging etc. However, if I feel they would have made my Top 5, I will give a mention as I am now.]
5. Martina Bárta “My Turn” (2017, 13th place in semi-final, 83 points)
A lovely laid back jazzy number, it perhaps wasn’t a surprise this didn’t qualify – it’s not perhaps the most televote-friendly song or genre, and the staging wasn’t necessarily attention grabbing but it’s a very classy song. The lyrics are very warming with a positive message and helped by Martina‘s vocals which are themselves rich and warming but never overpowering.
4. Marta Jandová & Václav Noid Bárta “Hope Never Dies” (2015, 13th place in semi-final, 33 points)
Marta and Vaclav came to the London Eurovision Party (LEP) in 2015, and they were an absolute delight – and I think you couldn’t have asked for better ambassadors for the Czech Republic’s return after 6 years away and those early dreadful results. Neither had been to London before, and clearly enjoyed their time – and as usual with the LEP, it gives the opportunity for artists to show more of themselves in chatting to Paddy and Nicki, and to perform more than just their entry – either their own music or covers. I think the crowd were blown away by Vaclav’s rendition of El tango de Roxanne from Moulin Rouge. And I think Vaclav had quite an effect on the crowd in general…
The song is a mix of musical theatre and rock, and maybe no surprise given Vaclav was the composer, much of his work has been in musical theatre, as well as being in a nu-metal band; Marta’s backgound is alternative rock. I enjoy this a lot – and while I’m disappointed a wider public didn’t get to see this in the final, it was a huge improvement results wise than the Czech Republic’s previous attempts and confirmed that this wasn’t just a temporary return.
3. Lake Malawi “Friend of a Friend” (2019, 11th place, 157 points)
It’s good to see proper bands in Eurovision these days – with the overwhelming numbers of singers that come from reality TV talent shows, the numbers of non-manufactured bands at recent contests is quite low. Lake Malawi formed back in 2013 and spent much of their early years on both the Czech and UK musical festival circuit. I wonder if that history of festivals in the UK is behind their “Ladies and gentlemen, we’re Lake Malawi from the Czech Republic” call out that Albert Černý, the lead singer, interjected into their grand final performance. That UK experience could be behind the distinctly estuary English accent Albert has when singing or speaking.
This was a ludicrously catchy indie pop song, underpinned with a 1980s bassline which always finds favour with me – and they, not unexpectedly, performed well live and, I think, came up with some very clever staging. They finished an impressive 11th – though no thanks to the voting public who only saw fit to give them 7 points! Unfathomable.
Albert was in the national selection for Poland in 2020, finishing as runner up with another catchy indie pop song which was much better than the actual Polish winner – but at least then didn’t have the disappointment of cancellation!
2. Gabriela Gunčíková “I Stand” (2016, 25th place, 41 points)
In some ways, this is the closest song and performance in this top 5 to a well established Eurovision genre – a solo female pop ballad, albeit sung by someone who is actually much more from a rock genre. Perhaps fittingly, it was the Czech Republic’s first ever appearance in the grand final – but certainly not their last. I can be quite picky in which Eurovision ballads I like – many I don’t find impressive at all – but that’s not the case with “I Stand”. It feels like it’s got a good progression, got some catchiness to it, and again, like “My Turn”, it’s a positive, affirming song.
Gabriela is a great singer and it does still elicit some goosebumpy moments from me. The big achievement was getting to the final, and while it didn’t get any points from the televote sadly (being put in the death slot of number 2 in running order didn’t help) – it did OK from the juries and helped cement the Czech Republic’s place at Eurovision.
1. Mikolas Josef “Lie to Me” (2018, 6th place, 281 points)
I am certainly not lieing to you when I tell you that this is my favourite entry from the Czech Republic. It’s also the most successful Czech entry to date, finishing just outside the top 5. In advance of the 2018 contest I wrote that the Czechs had brought something quite special that year – and that was indeed borne out. Mikolas Josef was at the heart of this entry – the singer, songwriter and producer of the entry and was the creative force behind it in terms of staging. I think it really shows the potential songs have when you bring those elements together. It’s a super modern and catchy song – a mix of dance-pop, R&B, pop rap and more – and clearly went down well with televoters – it got a huge score and came 4th in public vote but inexplicably was let down by a relatively modest jury vote.
Nevertheless, it was still an excellent result – and Mikolas’s wiggling rear while doing a floss dance is now one of the go to Eurovision-based memes you can use. He’s recently made public how he’s been dealing with anxiety for past 5 years, and it goes to show how it can afflict any of us – and stories like his on how he has to deal with it, can only help others with similar issues. He was ever so lovely at London Eurovision – he stood right next to me for the photo you get as part of the VIP ticket – and am sure he’ll continue to have success in the future.