At Eurovision 2019, the duo Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl gave Slovenia one of its best results of the past decade with their intimate electronic song “Sebi”. Now Slovenian broadcaster RTV SLO has launched a new wildcard for national final EMA 2020, to ensure that the next Zala & Gašper won’t be overlooked.
The broadcaster has announced plans for EMA FREŠ. That’s pronounced “fresh”, and it’s very much designed to find fresh Slovenian music talent.
EMA FREŠ will initially be an online contest, held in autumn. The contest will be open to Slovenian acts under the age of 26 who have not previously release more than three songs.
Interested acts are invited to send in a one-minute-long video of themselves performing. The best — and “most fresh” — entries, as decided by an expert panel, will be uploaded to RTV SLO’s website. The public will be able to vote for their daily favourites, and then select a weekly favourite from the daily winners.
The eventual winner of EMA FREŠ — the freshest of the bunch — will win a wildcard placement in the national final, EMA 2020.
The EMA FREŠ wildcard contest is reminiscent of Germany’s Club Concert wildcard used in the national selection for 2014 and 2015. The winners of the Club Concerts — Elaïza and Ann Sophie, respectively — each went on to win the national final, but then got disappointing results at Eurovision. The Club Concert wildcard round was scrapped in 2016.
EMA 2020 returns
As well as the launch of EMA FREŠ, RTV SLO has also confirmed their participation in Eurovision 2020 and launched the national final EMA 2020. The national final is open to established acts with a song. No details of the format of EMA 2020 have been released yet.
EMA is known for changing its format each year. EMA 2015 involved an eight-entry grand final and a superfinal, while the following year the grand final increased to ten acts with a superfinal. EMA 2017 saw two semi-finals and a grand final, while EMA 2018 used a 16-act semi-final and an eight-act grand final. Most recently, EMA returned to its 2016 format, with a ten-act grand final and a superfinal.
The EMA voting format has also been criticised. In 2017, the overwhelming televote favourite BQL was overruled by the jury’s high score for Omar Naber. Unfortunately he went on to place second-to-last in his Eurovision semi-final.
Similar voting happened in 2018, that time with BQL beaten by jury favourite Lea Sirk. However, the “Hva nej” singer was still a popular choice and went on to make it to the Eurovision grand final.
Most recently, Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl won the EMA 2019 superfinal by a televote landslide, an upset against the expected winner, EMA veteran Raiven. But the televoters’ instinct proved to be good — “Sebi” went on to place 15th in the grand final in Tel Aviv.
Applications for both EMA FREŠ and EMA 2020 are open now. Entries for EMA FREŠ will close on 19 September, while EMA 2020 entries close on 18 November.
What do you think? Is the EMA FREŠ wildcard a good idea? Who would you like to see enter EMA 2020? Tell us your thoughts below!