This is going to be a bit of an easy one I think, because both of these songs are rather inessential and there’s not a whole lot I need to say. Though it’ll mean I’ll need to refamiliarise myself with them…
Poland – Kásia Mos – Flashlight
So many people will fall into a big trap this year, and that’s assuming that because of the outstanding performance that Poland’s televote registered in last year’s contest, going from the very bottom of the scoreboard in the reveal all the way up into the top 10 once their televote numbers were revealed, that the same will hold true for all future Polish entries because obviously, the huge Polish population scattered around Europe will be on the phones again for their entrant this year. But if you look past that at the previous Polish entrants, did they get that support? Slavic Girls did, that’s probably my favourite previous Polish entry for its bonkers craziness and fuck everyone that said that it was only voted for by heterosexual men who liked the milkmaids, there was an awesome (if loud and abrasive, so not for everyone) song behind that as well. But beyond that? Prior to their brief hiatus in 2012 and 2013 they were never doing well, no Polish votes getting them through the semi in most cases, and that was because, by and large, they sent pretty awful songs. Even since their hiatus, you might forget that they sent a woman in a wheelchair with one of the most unnotable ballads known to man and barely made it to the final. While their qualifying form has been up to speed, their results haven’t necessarily been overwhelming – although it should be noted that even In The Name Of Love had a large televote, never mind Slavic Girls and Color Of My Life and they were all dragged down by juries.
And I think this has to be the case for Flashlight, I have discerned so little notable from it at this point, so far into the Eurovision season, that while it has some fairly interesting sound effects, it never takes off in way that it really should, and is a fairly normal ballad/midtempo pop song with so little remarkable about it. I will likely forget this, I don’t dislike it but there’s not much to recommend it either, I wish she sounded more into it, she sounds bored singing it and there’s no real edge to her voice – if that comes across on stage then Poland has no chance.
This seems to be building up to a Poland non-qualification and that would seem absurd to suggest after such a powerful year last time. Thing is, Michal Szpak was a huge star in Poland, at least one with a big fanbase. Donatan & Cleo already had a huge Polish hit. Flashlight is neither of those things. You have to wonder, will Poland face criticism for choosing the ‘wrong song’ again? Like many people (not me) thought about Margaret’s fairly big Cool Me Down last year, there is a Polish NF entry that seems way better, Isabelle’s Voiceless, which make use of some dance synths to create a much bigger sounding ballad, I’d have had no questions about that qualifying. Poland will have the UK voting in their semi and they are towards the middle so I think they may sneak in in the end but I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see this underwhelming effort out at the end of semi 1.
Czech Republic – Martina Barta – My Turn
I really want to like every Czech entry. Partly because I recognise they’re only a few more bad results away from leaving Eurovision for good again, partly because I always support an underdog and given last year’s second-last final place was their first ever qualification, they still have a long way to go. But the thing is, and this is the ultimate in me being mad with the juries messing things up (this is one of my themes), their first qualifier should have been the wonderful Hope Never Dies. It did qualify on telvevotes alone, it was a powerful, beautiful duet between two bombastic singers, it was a really good song and that title alone and given it was their surprise big return to the contest, would have all made it a really meaningful first qualifier. Yet the juries tossed it out for… some reason over favouring shit like Malta that still didn’t make it but, I love Hour Of The Wolf so there’s no good song to blame for Hope Never Dies failing, but that’s one of the great losses. It was made even worse by their first qualifier being a fairly ordinary ballad with I Stand, I can’t attach nearly as much meaning to that. Plus even the Gipsy entry Czechia entered back in the day was more enjoyable.
Even though I Stand didn’t do that well, it seems to have started a trend for the Czechs unfortunately, as they give us another ballad that no one needs. Out of all of them, this seems like the ‘most superfluous this year. There’s so little exciting about it, I can’t think of a single thing that I remember about it. If it were being sung by a man I’d probably actively hate it, and I’m not far off here (that’s not sexist, it’s just female tones generally are ‘nicer’ for me so I have a harder time describing them as ‘awful’). Actually, you know what? I’ve changed my mind. There is so little interesting going on here that yes, yes I do actively dislike it. It’s a nothing of a song, it’s not your turn Martina, I do not find your song enjoyable.
This has to be a non-qualifier. Though the Czechs did make it last year, I Stand had a few likeable things about it, this, I can’t see who’ll remember it after it’s finished, let alone like it enough to vote for it, and the same for the juries, who, though I don’t trust them to make the right decisions at the best of times will surely see the lack of musical originality or excitement this one has and put it straight out. Placed in the middle, this will surely be sunk without trace. Poor Czechs, poor Martina, you’ll get a hit one day. It won’t be 2017.