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Weekend round-up: Joci Pápai, jury politics and ginormous props

by | Feb 24, 2019

Weekend round-up: Joci Pápai, jury politics and ginormous props

by | Feb 24, 2019 | Eurovision, Featured |

“Super” Saturday, you say? There were only six streams to juggle this week – child’s play compared with last Saturday night! Nevertheless, it was a busy few hours in the Eurovision world and in our #esc chat.

Of course, the weekend technically began on Friday already with the final in Germany; you can read our news article here and Felix’s personal take on the unexpectedly vociferous reaction to S!sters’ victory here.

First up on Saturday was Ukraine. First up in terms of start time, at least – no other broadcaster is so capable of stretching a six-song final into nearly four hours of television. It wouldn’t be a Ukrainian final without a healthy dose of drama, and this time it was the jurors’ veiled (and not-so-veiled) attacks on the participants with a Russian background or a career in Russia. ESC 2016 winner Jamala was particularly pointed in her questioning of eventual winner Maruv, to the extent that it still isn’t clear whether “Siren Song” will actually be the Ukrainian entry in Tel Aviv despite taking victory last night thanks to first place with the televote (and second place with the jury, despite their criticisms). Rumours and counter-rumours abound, but it seems like Maruv is being asked to abandon her upcoming tour and promotional activities in Russia if she wants the Ukrainian ticket to ESC. Which begs the question: Why invite artists to take part in your national final if you know they have a Russian career that might render them ineligible? Unless you’re trying to score some cheap points on national television – but that would be a terribly cynical interpretation of the situation.

After several weeks of heats and semi-finals, A Dal 2019 came to an end with the usual jury-determined superfinal of four entries that went forward to the public vote. After representing Hungary in Kyiv two years ago, Joci Pápai finds himself making a quick return to the competition this year with “Az én apám” (“My Father”). No violinists or folk dancers though – yet.

It’s rare for our #esc chat to have the same taste as a country’s public and jury vote, but we weren’t far off when it came to Denmark. Our favourites were “League Of Light” by Julie & Nina (essentially S!sters’ Greenlandic cousin) and “Love Is Forever” by Leonora (essentially the offspring of Zoë’s “Quel filou” and “Loin d’ici“). Those two also ended up topping the Danish poll – the only difference being that Leonora took a narrow victory in the end, whereas we would rather have seen Julie & Nina in Tel Aviv – but a chat score of 6.50 for “Love Is Forever” makes it one of our higher-ranked winners of the 2019 season. Quite how they intend to transport her giant chair all the way from Denmark to Israel is another matter.

It’s unfortunate for Lithuania that they tend to get lost in the mix a little on busy Super Saturday nights, but at least their final continued after the others so we could all tune in for the results. Having withdrawn one of her two finalists to give the other one a better chance, poor Monika Marija landed in second place behind the jury and televote favourite on the night, “Run With The Lions” by Jurijus. Co-songwriter Ashley Hicklin has a Eurovision pedigree encompassing both Tom Dice and Axel Hirsoux, so quite what that means for Lithuania’s chances on the Tel Aviv scoreboard is anyone’s guess!

And with that, dear Eurovision friends, another busy weekend of national final action comes to an end. No Sunday night show for us all to recover with this week, so instead we have a few days to recharge our batteries before the Serbian semi-finals on Wednesday and Thursday. Don’t forget to join us in the #esc chat for them and all of next weekend’s shows!

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