Eurovision 2016 rehearsals begin in just a week. And for most, that’s where all the attention is focused. But in between national selections, preview parties and actual preparations, some of this year’s contestants have found time to release new music. From Finland to Spain to Lithuania, we’ve rounded up the latest tracks for your listening pleasure.

Eurovision 2016: New music round-up

Sandhja “Love Me High”

Bubbling over with uplifting melodies, rising piano lines and a general air of cheeriness, “Love Me High” sets Sandhja well on the path to becoming Finland’s answer to Jess Glynne. A sombre opening gives way to a fizzy chorus, packed with drum beats and summer vibes. Whilst similar to “Sing It Away”, this single is a more cohesive offering. The shift between tones is smoother and the overall package sounds much more modern. Freedom Fighter, the parent album for both tracks, drops on 29 April. Are y’all excited?

WATCH: We spoke to Sandhja in Tel-Aviv.

Douwe Bob “Jacob’s Song”

The Netherlands’ Douwe Bob has taken his Eurovision entry to heart and literally slowed down. “Jacob’s Song” is a mournful lament for a broken relationship. However, the ambiguous lyrics leave the true nature of the bond open to interpretation. Is it romantic or platonic? Is Douwe singing to Jacob or is he playing the role of Jacob? The track is more niche than “Slow Down”, sitting far away from the country-crossover fence. Given the themes of sadness and regret, coupled with the slightly dark undertones – “the only one I’d kill for doesn’t need me anymore” – the song was never going to be a toe-tapper. But is it all a little too slow and uneventful? “Jacob’s Song” is the second cut from Douwe’s upcoming album Fool Bar which is set for a 6 May release.

WATCH: We spoke to Douwe Bob in Amsterdam.

Amir “A ta manière” and “Ma vie, ma ville, mon monde”

“J’ai cherché” may be a super catchy, celebratory pop ditty, but France’s Amir is an artist with a varied palette. We’ll experience this in full when his debut album Au Couer De Moi lands on 29 April. Thankfully, we don’t have to wait until then to sample the goods, as Amir has already shared two of the tracks online. The first, “A ta manière”, couldn’t be more different from his Eurovision entry. Sung entirely in French, it’s a melancholic affair. Language aside, this could easily be one of Måns Zelmerlöw’s “serious” songs.

“Ma vie, ma ville, mon monde” is significantly lighter, albeit not as throw-away as “J’ai cherché”. It’s slick, modern guitar pop and with a little tweaking wouldn’t be out of place on a Kendji Girac record.

WATCH: We spoke to Amir in Amsterdam and London

Jala Brat “Skandal”

Divisive as his inclusion might be, Jala doesn’t do a whole lot on “Ljubav Je”. So it’s nice that the rapping member of Bosnia & Herzegovina’s Eurovision quartet has taken the time to issue some new material for our enjoyment. “Skandal” is very much catering for the Balkan market. Jala raps throughout and there’s not a word of English to be heard. But clearly he’s doing something right, as the video has already gained over a million views since it was uploaded on 13 April. Of course, some people might just be tuning in for the clip itself. Featuring pretty ladies and plenty of champagne, it’s all very standard… until the final scene involving Jala, a bed, and some handcuffs. Interestingly, the song clocks in at exactly three minutes. Could it have been in the running for Stockholm?

Watch: We spoke to Deen, Dalal feat. Ana Rucner and Jala in Amsterdam.

Jamie-Lee “Berlin”

Germany’s Jamie-Lee Kriewitz follows up “Ghost” with a cover of RY X’s “Berlin”. She first performed the song during her stint on The Voice. Aside from sentimental reasons, her decision to release it as a single is baffling. Her interpretation doesn’t veer far from the original, and her delivery is dull. There are glimmers of the haunting beauty we heard on her Eurovision entry, but the song itself is beyond boring. On the plus side, at least it’s not a Carpenters cover. The dichotomy between the material and Jamie-Lee’s personality is evidenced once more in the cover art, which shows her wearing a multi-coloured tutu while a giant pink teddy bear rests by her feet. Her debut album, also called Berlin, is available from 29 April.

Donny Montell “Don’t Touch Me”

Earlier this month, Lithuania’s Donny Montell released his 22 track LP #Blck. The tracklist includes several versions of “I’ve Been Waiting For This Night”, as well as his latest single “Don’t Touch Me”. It’s much edgier than his Eurovision effort. Donny drawls over some casual beats, coolly instructing us to “fuck me like you like” – ooh la la! And if his commands weren’t enough to rouse your primitive carnal instincts his wolf-like howls should do the trick. Interestingly, the track is just three minutes long. It might not have the mass appeal of “IBWFTN”, but it would certainly have made for a fascinating stage show.

WATCH: We spoke to Donny Montell in Tel-Aviv.

Cartoon feat. Jüri Pootsmann “I Remember U”

In an alternate reality, both Cartoon and Jüri Pootsmann ditched their respective Eesti Laul entries in favour of “I Remember U”. They won the competition and now they’re amongst the favourites to win Eurovision… if only. This track represents a massive missed opportunity for the Baltic nation. Combining retro and modern elements with aplomb, it’s effortlessly cool. It’s a much better match for Jüri’s fun personality than the dreary “Play”, and allows him to put his wonderfully seductive vocals to good use. We only catch a brief glimpse of the man himself in the official music video. Instead, the hapless guys of Cartoon take centre stage, rocking 1970s fashion as they deal with the persistent romantic advances of the girl next door. The clip is already approaching 2.5 million views, whereas the most viewed version of “Play” has only mustered 455,000 hits.

WATCH: We spoke to Jüri Pootsmann in Riga and Tel-Aviv.

Barei “Who Plays The Drums?”

Barei left nothing to chance when she entered Spain’s national selection for Eurovision 2016. We all know about “Say Yay!”, but did you know that she submitted a second song to RTVE? Called “Who Plays The Drums?”, the track is finally available for consumption, featuring on a re-packaged edition of her Throw The Dice LP. Like “Say Yay!”, this is another empowerment anthem. But this time, our Spanish senorita is moving on from a breakup and she’s doing it in style. It’s an effervescent, joyous song which swells with Barei’s cheekiness and fun – “what the fuuuck? It’s all over, turn it up and shut up”. We’re turning it up with pleasure!

Watch: We spoke to Barei in Riga, Amsterdam and London.

What do you think of the new music releases? And how do they compare with the Eurovision 2016 entries? Let us know in the comments below.

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hotESCboys
Guest

Show Jala Brat some ljubav please…. :3 You know he’s one of my favs… “Skandal” is so catchy… Turbofolk meets reggaeton! I love the song… I really enjoyed the last seconds of the video :3 https://twitter.com/hotESCboys/status/726587733590724608

abedull
Guest
abedull

I love … who plays the drums?
Barei is efervescent .

Goodnightmoon
Guest
Goodnightmoon

I love Who Plays the Drums? too, its so catchy. I disagree with Berlin, I love it. The new Dowe Bob song is probably the best one, extremely beautiful, and Love Me High is miles better than Sing it Away.

camill
Guest
camill

Sandhja <3

Sentinel
Guest
Sentinel

One thing is sure, doesn’t matter if she gets a good or bad result at Eurovision, Barei will get far in her professional career. Personality and originality in her lyrics.

hasa
Guest
hasa

@ Padraig

Have you listen to “I Need to Be in Love” from Dami Im’s new album? I think it is by far the best cover of the entire album. Much better than “Close to You”.

Evange
Guest
Evange

Don’t forget Dami just released her Classic Carpenters album of the 22/4

Check it out on YouTube 🙂

Redfox
Guest
Redfox

I Remember You could not be entered in Eesti Laul because of some silly commercial agreement or something, the song was used in an ad for an app and couldnt be fully released until a certain time.

Elm
Guest
Elm

Douwe’s song is absolutely beautiful!

cheesecake
Guest
cheesecake

I couldn’t disagree more with you on Jamie-Lee’s “Berlin”. I personally absolutely adore it, her vocals slay and I love the emotion she puts in. I’ve had it on repeat for two weeks on Spotify.

pasi
Guest
pasi

“Berlin” isn´t a SINGLE from Jamie Lee, it´s only a pre order song, not a single! Correct it please! Thx!

Angelo
Guest
Angelo

Wow, “Jacob’s Song” is absolutely breathtaking. The arrangement and production are flawless (and so are the lyrics, actually). It’s clear that Douwe Bob has international star quality. I do not expect that eurofans will dig his style of music – after all, it’s too classy and stylish – but in its genre this is so good and sincere. This type of 70s folky-country-pop is timeless and will stand the test of time. I have a feeling that Douwe Bob’s new album will be awesome. I hope Universal Music will invest some money in international promotion. There might be a market… Read more »

sg
Guest
sg

Love Me High is way better than Sing It Away

Alex
Guest
Alex

Love Barei and Who plays the drums?

hasa
Guest
hasa

I don’t know if I like this more than Douwe’s “Take it All” from his previous album. Jacob Song is easy to listen to but brings out less emotion. I can still feel the melancholy though. The lyrics are masterpiece as usual – not as cryptic as “Take it All”. Good luck for his new album and hope someday he can churn out something as good as “Always on My Mind”. I love the Buble’s version.

Calvin
Guest
Calvin

The song from Douwe is so beautiful. I like Germany’s song too.

nene
Guest
nene

here they go again with praising the fan favorites but calling germany and the netherlands dull, boring, too slow, and uneventful. what’s new.

Love
Guest
Love

Amir is a true artist.