The Wiwi Jury—our international panel of music unprofessionals—hitchhiked to Bratislava this morning. After we told our driver we would only pay in cash, and not in kind, we reviewed Max Jason Mai’s “Don’t Close Your Eyes.” We kept our eyes open. But what about our ears? Read on to find out.
Wiwi: Given that his chest is the size of Slovakia, I’m surprised that Max Jason Mai isn’t doing better in our annual search for Eurovision’s Next Top Male Model. He only finished fifth in our semi-finals, which is a shame. His body is speaking to me, and it’s saying some really dirty stuff.
In any case, I hate heavy metal. When I heard Max open this song with a shriek I moved my index finger toward the mute button. But after three seconds of horror the screaming morphs into something rather pleasant: the song becomes a rock meditation on perseverance. Max calls on his listeners to engage with all the crap around them while simultaneously keeping faith that angels will sort it all out. It’s very Oscar Wilde: We’re all in the gutter, but Max is looking at the stars. One piece of advice, though, Max: take off your sunglasses. We want to see that feminine face, and stare into your eyes.
Vebooboo: This is not my genre, but I respect that it’s totally in among the younger crowd nowadays. And for what it’s worth, it is a commercially viable song. I wish it the best of luck, but don’t expect to see me talking about it much on The Wiwi Show in the coming weeks.
Meows Kitty: I had completely forgotten about rock as a musical genre until this song came along. Thumbs up for Slovakia! This is a brave entry as rock has not proven to be very popular among Eurovision fans. But perhaps this will help change that. Max Jason Mai is an amazing live performer. He’s got the voice, and the chiseled abs (and rather effeminate face) to go with it. A typical pretty boy. We’ll see him in the finals for sure. Rock on!
Deban: Welcome to Euronoise: The Slovak Series. In a contest where you’ve only got three minutes to make your mark, Max Jason Mai uses his time wisely. “Don’t Close Your Eyes” is a personal project that’s composed, arranged and sung by the musle-diva himself. The fact that he is singing rock, his aloofness, and his penchant for appearing half naked have made him somewhat controversial. Clearly catering to a niche audience within a large ESC fanbase, Max won’t win any new fans. He’s avoided all international promotion: My failed attempts to contact him are documented here.
Although his attitude is on a par with catty Dana International, his music is not. He actually brings strong material to the table. Furthermore, his two official videos show just how creative he is. More to the point, his aesthetic will appeal to most demographics. Despite his conceited behaviour and hunger for re-branding himself, Miroslav Smadja (his birth name) is a true artist with a credible vision. Baku won’t be the last we hear of him.
The Wiwi Jury Verdict: 6.25/10