Earlier today, the Wiwi Jury — our in-house team of music unprofessionals — continued its journey through Latvia ahead of LTV’s national selection process “Supernova”, which kicks off on February 1. We drove to the amazing beach of Jurmala, where we enjoyed the wintery silence and downed some Latvian black tea with cream. Then we reviewed the next four competing songs: Antra Stafecka, Katrina Circule, Markus Riva, and Elektro Folk. Were the entries as relaxing as the beach? Read on to find out…
Antra Stafecka – It’s the Night
Anthony: “It’s The Night” is a David Guetta-esque electronic dance entry. Pleasantly catchy and certainly one I could imagine hearing on radio stations and whilst on a night out. My concern for Antra is how the live performance pans out prior to the semi-finals.
Deban: Promising verse, but with a slightly disappointing chorus. “It’s A Night” sounds like a series of starts and stops. Great bakeoff potential, but it’s missing some gelatine.
Judit: If Cascada failed with “Glorious”, then this song will fail too. If the live vocal works, it has a real chance. And certainly this will get the audience dancing.
Patrick: It’s dangerous. It really is. Antra has a nice voice, she looks great and the song is amazing. The start is really horrible — it sounds like a horror-movie-intro — but the chorus is catchy as hell and it makes me dance. I’m not sure if Antra can bring those vocals on the stage, but let’s hope so.
Robyn: This song starts off with what sounds like an industrial warning alarm, before erupting into ’90s dance pop. Antra has a good voice (and the harmonies on the chorus are lovely), but the song sounds like so many unremarkable songs that have come before it.
Sopon: Antra is mostly known for having two mediocre hits in Latvia, “Uzziimee mani” and “Maldugunis dzesot”. This is her best work that I’ve seen, but it’s still not that good. It has a fast buildup and lacks a climax…save an ill-fitting key change. Not terrible, but could be better.
Zach: I like the backing music, it’s electro but also a tad minimalist as well, really unique. However, the opening gets annoyingly repetitive really fast, and the chorus is a major let down. It could’ve been a booming dance track, but it just feels middle of the road.
Wiwi Jury Average: 5.9/10
Katrina Circule – Bass
Anthony: Sadly, first impressions of “Bass” end up doing the complete opposite of ‘I love it’. It has a hint of classy jazziness to it, but struggles to produce the wow factor and gets lost very easily. If Latvia is really intent on ending their Eurovision semi-final hoodoo, this won’t do them any favours.
Deban: “Bass” is pure background music. It pretends to be jazz, but it’s not. If this appeared on the big stage, it would offer a comfort break. If this was interlude music, you’d mute the TV. In my opinion, three minutes of this is sapping. Just like drinking lukewarm flat fizz, “Bass” makes listening to music a chore.
Judit: And again, a good voice but a bad song. This happens a lot during national finals season and I always think that singers like Katrina deserve more. Little Meghan Trainor with a rap section? Sorry, but I don’t like it.
Patrick: “I love it, I love it” – I’m sorry but I dont love it! Katrina has a nice voice but nothing magical. Same for the song. This sort of song is a national selection staple — and I always hate them. My hate intensifies when she starts rapping. Wheeww next!
Robyn: This is lazy afternoon cafe music. It has a chilled-out jazz style with lyrics that are about the double-bass and the man who plays it (nudge, wink). But it’s too uninvolving for ESC and when Katrina busts out a rap, that just adds to the jury poison.
Sopon: Once again, Robyn has stolen the words right from my mouth. If we need any soul from Latvia this year, Aminata would be our choice and not this. This might work better in a certain type of shop in Amsterdam, but not in the Wiener Stadthalle.
Zach: This entry feels like one that could’ve stood out in a big way, but somewhere along the road a wrong turn towards Blandville was taken. Katrina has a good voice, which is a shame since it’s really wasted here. the song doesn’t go anywhere special. It’s just a slightly less than par song that tries to be jazz but comes off the wrong way.
Wiwi Jury Average: 2.0/10
Markus Riva – Take Me Down
Anthony: Contemporary and very down-to-earth, it’s very “Craaaiiig David!” (Bo Selecta reference in case y’all wondering). And a welcome change after years of cheesiness from Latvia. As much as I’d love to see this win, I’m still uncertain whether the country has finally got their act together to make that happen.
Deban: Someone pass me the lyric sheet, I’m missing half the words. However, when I look past Mr Riva’s elocution (or the lack of), I hear a song brimming with sensitivity. Markus Riva’s breathy vocals tingle, and when he performs the acoustic version of “Take Me Down”, you’d want to drown with him.
Judit: I’m in love with his voice. For me this is the best song and hopefully will go to Austria. A little Hozier with a little Muse — and somehow it works. Good luck Markus!
Patrick: Ahhh there he is again – amazing as always! Markus Riva knows how it works and he proves it every year! “Take Me Down” is a strong song with meaningful lyrics and a marvellous chorus. I’m just not sure how he would do in Vienna, but obviously he would get many televotes from the men-loving-crowd! He will do well, I’m sure!
Robyn: With all the “you can do it” anthems entered in national finals this year, I’m starting to think there’s a serious crisis of confidence sweeping Europe. The central beat to this song feels a bit plodding. Minimalist production is fine, but this song could do with a fuller production style.
Sopon: Markus is suffering from second chance syndrome way before he even gets to Eurovision! I’d love to say the same wonderful things about this song, which is like slowed down Coldplay and soul combined. Sadly, however, I can’t listen to this song without thinking about how much better “Lights On” was. Aminata went way up, but Markus way down. On the plus side, we can always hope for a pec-tacular show from this hunk.
Zach: I’m not a fan of this one. First off, his accent is really distracting, and makes some of the lyrics choppy and downright unintelligible. The vocals don’t really blend well with the music. It’s really awkward when the chorus comes up…he kind of sounds like he’s singing karaoke but is a beat or two off the backing music. Lastly, there’s no “oomph” factor, the song just feels bland the entire time.
Wiwi Jury Average: 7.1/10
Elektro Folk – Dieva Deli
Anthony: If you haven’t figured it out already, expect electronic folk on this one. It’s slightly reminiscent of Sam and the Womp, but “Dieva Deli” sounds more like something out of a Dance Dance Revolution arcade machine, rather than a song competing in a Eurovision national final.
Deban: Elements of folklore can be sweet, but this is an overkill! “Diera Deli” conjures extreme nationalism. This sounds like an anthem for soldiers preparing for genocide.
Judit: It sounds like they want to cover an Irish song with some Latvian folk and electro pop style. People all over the world love this style, but I’m not that kind of person. This is too much for me.
Patrick: Call me crazy but this is soooo cool! Somebody listened to “Saule riet” last year and thought “Hey lets make a bad version of it” and I don’t even care because it’s something special! There are perhaps too few words in the song and too much of an instrumental. It will probably fail but I think some people will like it!
Robyn: The band name is fairly accurate as this song is indeed a mix of traditional folk music with electronic music. But the song is predominantly instrumental (I timed it and vocals make up only one-third of the song). It reminds me a bit of Bulgaria’s 2013 entry “Samo Shampioni”, with weird instrumental breaks taking priority over vocals.
Sopon: I’m pleased to hear a song in Latvian for once, but otherwise this does nothing for me. The “folk meets modern” theme is done either wonderfully (like “My Slowianie”) or poorly (like that Slovene song that no one can spell properly). Guess which one this falls under.
Zach: Interesting concept, mixing the folk elements with an electronic vibe. I like the Latvian — it fits the song better. And the instrumental portion in the middle is pretty cool too. However, the vocals don’t sound all that great, and after a while it gets a tad too eclectic for my liking. I do want to see it live, though. Should be interesting.