Since the Czech Republic returned to the contest in 2015, they’ve regularly appeared high up in my own personal rankings. Even the less appreciated 2017 entry (a smooth, slower jazzy number) was something I had a lot higher than most eurofans. As with many 2021 entries, Benny Cristo is a reselected 2020 entry. He won the online national final with “Kemama” (shorthand for “OK, mama”); his 2021 entry continues that shorthand style with “omaga” being short for “Oh my God”.
Benny Cristo, or to give him his full name, Ben da Silva Cristóvão, is a Czech singer-songwriter who has a Czech mother and an Angolan father. He’s been on the Czech music scene for around a decade now. Originally a finalist on a Czech TV singing contest, he’s gone on to release a number of albums and singles and been nominated for awards. As well as being a singer, he’s an animal rights activist (and vegan) as well as having a sporting career. In the past he has snowboarded professionally, and currently does Brazilian jiu-jitsu on a competitive level and has taken part in international competitions.
Kemama to omaga
I was a big fan of “Kemama” – or pre-revamp anyway – Benny revamped the song following fan feedback, but that wasn’t then well received so he was planning on another revamp before the contest was cancelled. That song brought in Afrobeats and was a song based on some of Benny’s own experiences of racism/discrimination as he grew up.
With “omaga” he has turned to a lighter theme – post-pandemic carnal thirst! It’s not undergone multiple revamps I’m pleased to say, and it’s an all out up tempo pop-dance number. It’s a lot of fun, something that can be seen in the music video, with scenes from multiple movies being referenced, including The Shining, The Simpsons Movie, The Lady and The Tramp, Forrest Gump etc. It is also has one line of Czech in it – the first use of Czech in a Eurovision entry since their debut in 2007 – and it fits in very well with the overall song.
Invariably the Czech artists seem to be lovely people (something I have seen first hand at multiple London Eurovision parties) and Benny is no exception to that. He popped up on Eurofest’s online event (that took the place of the usual pre-Eurovision physical event) to have a quick chat with everyone and even danced along to his two Eurovision songs when played by the online DJ.
Like last year, this has not been high up in many fans’ rankings – somewhat unfathomably I find as it’s a catchy and uptempo song that’s been written by Benny himself. It does frustrate me somewhat that songs (and indeed artists) like this get overlooked by some in the fandom for the manufactured and cynical pop you see that gets more attention (and often is more likely to qualify). I cite Azerbaijan and Moldova here this year (though rehearsals suggest they may not qualify after all!). I do hope Benny can bring his amazing charisma and engaging live performance to the main stage to give him a chance to qualify – he really deserves to be given a chance by the voters.
Czech Republic in the Eurovision Song Contest
First entered: 2007
Appearances (excluding 2020 and this year): 8
Best result: 6th in 2018
Last year’s result: 11th