The national selection shows have become a staple for avid Eurovision fans, helping us to fill the boredom between the annual extravaganzas and whetting our appetites for the main event in May. Sometimes viewing the entrants for the national finals, I feel that the winning song isn’t always the best. This series discusses the choices made by the national selections in an attempt to open your mind to a wormhole of alternate possibilities. See previous articles in this series about Finland, UK and Spain. Today it is the turn of Slovenia’s Evrovizijska Melodija.
Slovenia in Eurovision
Slovenia has competed in the Eurovision Song Contest since 1993 and has never really performed well. Slovenia’s most recent success (if you can call it that) was in 2015 when Maraaya received 39 points in the grand final securing only 14th place. Considering Slovenia has only qualified for the Grand Final’s 4 times in the last 10 years, I imagine 14th place was seen as an achievement.
Evrovizijska Melodija 2017
Like many national selection programs, Slovenia’s long running Evrovizijska Melodija has traditionally struggled with the age old question of televote vs jury selection, having previously experimented with 100% jury selection, 100% televote selection and seemingly every combination between. This year, the voting was split 50:50, which seems to me, a reasonable compromise – although this combination did not seem to help last year, when the Slovenian entry tanked into 14th place in the semis.
“A sentimental ballad which follows the expected formula…”
The final of the national selection showcased 8 acts which had been selected from the 2 semi-finals. Two acts from each semi-final having been selected by the public televote and 2 by the expert jury.
The Winner of Evrovizijska Melodija 2017
The deserved winner on the night was Omar Naber with an honest and emotional performance of “On My Way“. Interestingly, this is not the first time Naber has represented Slovenia at Eurovision. In 2005, he performed his self-composed song “Stop” in the semi-finals in Kyiv. Twelve years on, he will no doubt be hoping for a better outcome than his 12th place semi-final knockout. Most people would have given up at this epic rejection but Naber didn’t stop there, and returned to the Slovenian selection competition 3 more times, and even attempted to represent Switzerland in 2016 #NeverGiveUp. Some people just love Eurovision I guess!
Naber confidently presents “On My Way”, a sentimental ballad which follows the expected formula; starting slow and quiet, building to a predictable key change which makes me want to stand up from the imaginary stool on which I perch. This song would most certainly be welcomed on any of Westlife’s albums from the turn of the century. Naber, a seasoned performer, competently hits the notes and will likely deliver on the night. A significant improvement on “Stop”, I hope “On My Way” makes it to the Grand Final. However, with the plethora of ballads this year I am concerned it will be eclipsed by more memorable tunes or more powerful ballads.
Who Should’ve Won?
I was extremely impressed by the variety of the songs in Evrovizijska Melodija 2017. The assortment of sounds on offer included “Ni Panike” (“Panic Attack”) a 1980/1990s ska inspired up-tempo number with wonderful saxophone sounds pouring all over the stage, Kika Zorjan with “FSE” provided a more traditional sound and King Foo performed “Wild Ride”, a powerful, passionate, rhythmic and most importantly catchy tune. AJoosic on vocals supported Kelly Clarkson looks and a gravelly Cheryl Crow sound to her voice. “Open Fire” by Tim Kores provided the pop-rock representation and the standard animated backdrop that has become obligatory since Mons won in 2015.
“For me, however, the Slovenian public got it right.”
For me, however, the Slovenian public got it right. “Heart of Gold” performed by BQL was by far the stand out performance on the night. Although, BQL received the highest points from the public, the Jury put it in 3rd position which allowed Naber to win with the highest number of points overall (receiving 1st place from jury and 2nd place from public). The talented brother duo provided a catchy pop tune about heartbreak that any Eurovision fan could enjoy. Perhaps slightly too easily won over by a guy with a guitar, I really enjoyed the performance. I admit that the vocals weren’t the best and the harmonising could use some work, but with more rehearsal time these problems would have no doubt been sorted. In all honesty, I don’t think any of the songs in Slovenia’s national selection offer much competition to the big hitters of Eurovision. Good luck to Omar for Kyiv!