On Saturday afternoon they enjoyed some casual interviews inside Riga’s Crystal Club, revealing the stories behind their Eurovision 2017 songs while serving face for our cameras.
And when the sun went down the acts participating in the Eurovision Pre-Party Riga 2017 took to the stage to deliver some truly sizzling performances.
Latvia’s Eurovision 2016 star Justs reprised his entry “Heartbeat” and his latest single “Message To You”. And Eurovision 2004 winner Ruslana performed her number “Wild Dances” and a series of other tunes from her 2004 album. But the highlight of the night for Eurovision enthusiasts was hearing this year’s acts sing live — in many cases for the first time since their respective selections. So it’s time to watch Belarus’ Naviband, Czech Republic’s Martina Barta, Latvia’s Triana Park, Norway’s JOWST and Poland’s Kasia Mos one more time and sound off on who impressed you the most.
It’s not the easiest decision! Every single one of these acts grew on me tonight, owing to consistently strong vocals and infectious energy. The venue was perfectly sized — small enough to feel intimate, but big enough to bring out the best in the performers. It was a cauldron of energy and it was most definitely hot.
They were already my favourite act from Belarus ever. And tonight they cemented their place as one of my personal favourites of 2017. They have undeniable chemistry and playful and endearing personalities that suit each other so well. Their song is cheerful and uplifting, and the cry of hey hey is pure joy. Last month I worried this may get repetitive, but it still hasn’t. And vocally they sound better than ever. Some fans ask whether it’s a matter of making the final or not making the final. But increasingly I see it as a question of “making the Top 10 or not making the Top 10?”
Czech Republic’s Martina Barta
I hadn’t heard her sing live before and I was pleasantly surprised that she came close to matching the quality of the studio version. Standing tall in a pair of vertiginous stilettos she was literally on point — see the photo here — and oozed an understated sass (which was more full-blown when she covered “All About The Bass”). Martina’s performance was subtle and thoughtful. I like her song and think she owns it. But the final minute really dragged for me. Hopefully innovative staging and LED effects will give it a bit more dynamism in Kyiv. Regardless she’s a real stunner. Get it, girl.
Latvia’s Triana Park
They’re probably the most physically attractive collection of Latvians we’ve ever seen in one place. The commentary in the press box was as much about their physical assets as it was about their thoroughly contemporary track. Angese looked like a harajuku girl who got lost in south-central Los Angeles and got her hair did before throwing down at ‘da club. I’m not sure what that means, but the point is that most of us can relate to her in some way. Her smoky vocals oozed sex as she connected with the crowd who happily bobbed along to this funky, electro ditty. She’s the girl next door who will kick your ass and we just love her (and her boys). Their performance at the national final was already on acid. Throw in Eurovision-sized LEDs and we are in for a trip.
If you close your eyes and listen to singer Alexander speak, you’ll hear Måns Zelmerlöw. I’m not kidding: Press play and try it now. In any case, this also grew significantly for me. It was already contemporary and on-trend and they were worthy winners of Norway’s MGP. But something about this performance clicked more than the one in Oslo. It may be the fact there isn’t that purple overlay effect on screen, which I found somewhat distracting in the national final. This performance was much more about Alexander’s voice, which is somehow strong and tender at once. I’m not feeling the DJ’s mask — too Silence of the Lambs — but no matter. This made me move!
Poland’s Kasia Mos
Fog delayed her arrival, forcing her to miss the afternoon press session. But Kasia more than made up for it when she appeared on stage, hitting note after note. She stood in front of a simple Polish Flag video…but she still managed to convey the drama and mystery of her song “Flashlight”. She doesn’t need an oversized LED to slay! When we spoke with her afterwards she told us she was dedicating her song to persecuted animals around the world. And you get the sense she really believes it as she seemed to pour all of herself into this. Emotional and vocally sound from start to finish, this woman lives for music and her music is making us live! Folks who wrote her off need to grab an eraser fast.