It’s the first national final of the Eurovision 2022 season. And before the Czech Republic announces the winner of it’s ESCZ 2022 selection on Thursday 16 December, we’ve decided to do a ranking of our own.
The Wiwi Jury — our in-house panel of music unprofessionals — has assembled after its summer hiatus and listened to all seven contenders. We’ve ranked our top songs in Eurovision fashion and combined our scores to determine our absolute favourites. What entry emerged on top? Read on to find out!
ESCZ 2022: The Wiwi Jury’s Top Seven Ranking
7. The Valentines “Stay Or Go” (47 points)
🥉 — Lucy and Tom
Renske: Music inspired by the 1980s has been in vogue for a few years now. At the brink of 2022, it feels a little bit overdone to potentianlly see another track of this calliber at the contest. “Stay Or Go” is a nice pop effort, but it uses a lot of elements we have seen in more throwbacks. Eighties pop did not fare well for Denmark last year either, so that might indicate that the trend is becoming a bit old at this stage.
Lucy: The Valentines bring an almost The 1975-esque charm to ESCZ, providing retro sounds combined with indie, to create something very NOW. I was initially concerned about the staging this could have, but in their performance video, they have so much charisma that they clearly don’t need much. A gem in this fabulous national final.
6. Jordan Haj & Emma Smetana “By Now” (54 points)
🥇 — Padraig
🥈 — Robyn
William: Jordan and Emma have fantastic voices that work really well together. His smoky grit mixed with her ethereal beauty is at time an intoxicating combination. Unfortunately, the vocal prowess is wasted on a song that seems to value atmosphere over impact. At times it feels a little too “artsy”, as with the repetition of random words in both English and French. Ultimately these three minutes feel like six or seven…and I need more than ambience to hold me for that long.
Padraig: This is easily my favourite track in the entire competition. Jordan and Emma’s vocals make for a classy mix, his rough and rugged, hers sultry and sensual. It’s like Lana Del Rey, without being a clone. Hooverphonic and the Common Linnets spring to mind. I’m in love with the lyrics and the clever word play — “at 20 I’m mean and old, I’m living in a house that ain’t no home”. This pair certainly kept well clear of the “fire/higher/desire” school of songwriting! There’s some work to be done with the live performance, but this song is too good to be slept on. It’s the only ESCZ 2022 entry that’ve I’ve had on repeat.
5. Skywalker “Way Down” (56 points)
🥇 — Tom and William
🥉 — Robyn
Padraig: On more than one occasion, I’ve left my playlist playing and let the politely dated opening fade into the background. And then the screamo vocals kick in and I’m pressing the skip button faster than Usain Bolt on an Olympic running track. The sensation is akin to falling asleep in 2003 and being rudely awakened at 5.30 am on a Monday morning by a pneumatic drill.
William: Sounding like an angry Blink-182, Skywalker are serving angst and nostalgia and I am most definitely here to eat. Yes, we’ve heard this before. And, yes, we can almost predict where this is going. But the song has a hook that you instantly remember and it’s delivered with pizzazz and passion and just the right amount of aggression. The band managed to captivate while singing in a gray box with some purple lights. Surely they could take things even higher on that massive stage in Torino.
4. Giudi “Jezinky” (57 points)
🥇 — Renske
🥈 — Tom
🥉 — Natalie
Robyn: Look, this isn’t a bad song at all, but I don’t think it wouldn’t be right for Eurovision. “Jezinky” uses a lot of ASMR effects, with chattering noises along with Giudi’s angelic vocals. But ASMR is best enjoyed solo, wearing headphones. Imagine how this would work being played on TV speakers in the midst of a drunken Eurovision viewing party. The risk is that it would turn into background music. The song itself isn’t hooky enough to rise above that. Yeah, it could be given a more intense remix, but that would shatter its artistic appeal. It’s just not quite right for Eurovision.
Renske: “Jezinky” is something else. At times, it is more a performance or an experience rather than a song. However, these types of entries have recently fared well at the contest, showing out-of-the-box thinking and progressivism. Although perhaps less accessible to the commercial market, it is possibly the most futuristic entry in the Czech national final combining the current popular spoken word art with Czech folklore. If a song as complicated as “SHUM” can deliver at Eurovision, then “Jezinky” definitely stands a good chance too.
3. Elis Mraz “Imma Be” (61 points)
🥇 — Robyn
🥈 — Renske
🥉 — Pablo
Natalie: Action does not meet intention. I can see what Elis is trying to do here, mimicking the confidence and attitude of artists like Meghan Trainor. The problem is, she doesn’t know how to do it. Her delivery comes across as fake and forced. The brass-laden production feels disconnected and confused. By the time I’ve reached the hand-clapping part, I’m completely lost. It’s sad because I want to like Elis, but I wish she would stop trying to mimic what American artists are doing and come up with something original. I can see the talent, I just want to see her be more inspired.
Robyn: This is fun and it’s entertaining. Elis is a great performer – she can sing, rap and perhaps even more importantly she can deliver a compelling, engaging performance that draws the listener into her sassy world. I’m especially impressed that the rapping is seamlessly incorporated into the rest of the song. There’s no “rap break”, more that the mood of the song requires her to channel her inner Nicki and drop some bars in certain places. Best of all, the song feels like it could be a current pop hit. This would be really fun to experience live in Turin.
2. We Are Domi “Lights Off” (65 points)
🥇 — Natalie
🥈 — Lucy and Pablo
🥉 — Padraig and William
Tom: Wow, what a line up ESCZ has this year. Not a bad entry among them which will make the final an unbelievable competition. DOMI’s “Lights Off” is not near the top of my rankings but still offers an extremely radio friendly dance/pop song that would not be out of place in bars and clubs around the world. It has a classic dance track feel that you cannot help but move to – the more I listen to it, the more I enjoy it. That being said, “Lights Off” is somewhat generic. I worry that it may get forgotten about compared to some of the other songs in the line-up.
Natalie: The only word I can use for this is magical. Sure the lyrics could probably be crisper. Sure the vocals seem a bit messy sometimes. But, the production is flawless. Maybe I’m just a sucker for this kind of music, but I never get tired of replaying this song. It feels dramatic and ethereal from start to finish, and it matches its message completely. I wish they pushed it further, added in some more effects to keep it moving, but this is golden Europop stuff, and I would love to see this representing the Czech Republic. Damn, this country can produce.
1. Annabelle “Runnin’ Out of Freakin’ Time” (76 points)
🥇 — Lucy and Pablo
🥈 — Natalie, Padraig and William
🥉 — Renske
Pablo: In Eurovision, you’re either following the trends or being part of the trends. “Running out of F* Time” squarely fits the latter. This has potential to appeal to the often overseen Gen Z crowd, while deriving a very clear influence from early ’00s Avril Lavigne and Pink. Annabelle is a star and her wide appeal to both the young and the young at heart could bring a great result in the end.
Lucy: Bringing pop-punk to the contest is Annabelle, really honing in on that Olivia Rodrigo popularity. One could be concerned it comes across as too obvious a choice, but Annabelle has her own individuality putting across a message of anxiety about success at her age, to an anthemic melody. To me, this is pop perfection. Fabulous work, Annabelle.
ESCZ 2022: Wiwi Jury Scoreboard
Do you agree with our rankings? Who’s your favourite? And who do you think will win? Let us know below.