Unlike most fans I've come across on the net, I am fairly enthusiastic about the Czech republic's national final on Saturday. It is fantastically free from Eurocheese and that is what I long for. Of course, there are ups and downs, like anywhere else, but the overall quality is good.
It also feels nice when new countries bring in new sounds to differ themselves out from everything that passed before. Here is my short review of the songs without having seen them, of course, only listened to them on the homepage of the NF.
1. GIPSY.CZ - Benga Beating 2/5
Fairly engaging gypsy rap from a group that possibly could gain some attention internationally. Much better than their effort from last year with a way catchier chorus. Could be a surprise winner, but the chorus feels somewhat empty after a while and the song fails to keep you hooked for the entire three minutes it lasts.
2. TERESA KERNDLOVÀ - Have Some Fun 3/5
"Fight", the 2007 Moldovan contribution, seems to have made a real impact on quite a few songwriters during the ongoing national final season. This is the Czech version, and it starts out fantastically with a great intro and a fantastic verse that builds up to an almost Spice Girls-esque level before it crumbles to dust at the chorus. A real disappointment in other words - this could be the B-side of a Cyndi Lauper single back in 1984. A shame, the girl has a good voice, but the package is not strong enough.
3. ČECHOMOR - Józef, mój kochany 3/5
Superbly arranged and sung piece of music that sounds like the soundtrack of a prize winning film from some Slavic movie festival. This could have been a Yugoslav entry back in the 70's, and that is entirely positive in my book. Very competent but without the shadow of a chance internationally. Too good for its own good.
4. SÁMER ISSA - Pick A Star 4/5
A slick and convincing contemporary pop number with rock influences, performed by a local heartthrob who would probably never have to spend a night on his own unless he choses to himself. A perfect radio hit of a kind that has not been to successful in the actual contest so far. Maybe a bit too inaccessible for a large audience on a first listening. But that never made a song bad.
5. L.B.P - Don't Leave Me 1/5
Dead plastic with no soul in it anywhere, whatever the performers make believe. Goes nowhere. Not aggressively bad, but nothing to waste one's time with. The weakest effort of the lot.
6. TEMPERAMENTO - Další den přijde 2/5
Laidback guitar based soft rock that starts out promising, a bit like some Zdob ši Zdub's album tracks, but then falls into a lack of dynamic that makes you lose interest quite soon. Not bad, but this is not the right place for it.
7. LE MONDE - Another Chance 4/5
Le Monde is everything The Jet Set from Poland wanted to be. Modern, clever, danceable and interesting. Great production, good voices and overall a good impression. If they give a solid performance and stay clear of porn shocks à la "Time To Party", the grade could even go up further in my list.
8. TOXIQUE - Two Sides 3/5
When Gwen Stefani is out on solo adventures, admirers of No Doubt should turn to the Czech republic. Toxique does quirky, funny pop/rock that is quite adorable. Had there been more of a chorus or even a handle to grip the song by, they would have had better possibilities to convince the televoters, probably.
9. EVA FRÜHLINGOVA - Partir et revenir 4/5
Not only is Frühlingova a heartbreakingly beautiful name - this song is my favourite one in the contest. The only thing holding me back from giving it a full five is that we are still so early in the season and there is not much to compare with. But this is the song France should have had entered already ten years ago (and every year since): witty, smooth-going and deadly charming, with more than a hint of Isabelle Caux and other female singers of that time. For me this is nostalgia, but also a very good song delivered by a very likeable voice. But if it wins, my jaw will drop to the floor.
10. DANIEL NEKONEČNÝ - Holiday 3/5
Joke entries are not my thing at all, but I find this quite irresistible. Wacky, weird, whimsical, dumb, silly... quite a few invectives could be thrown at it, but it is well aware of it itself. Join in the rhythm, shake it and laugh with it or at it - this is just entertainment. Not an impossible winner, but maybe not the song to bring the 2009 final to Prague.
If I get to guess, then I would have no idea. Probably "Holiday" will win it for being festive enough as well as the odd one out, but if Le Monde or Eva Frühlingova wins (and turn out to be good performers), I will defend the Czech Republic all through the season.
Daniel Nekonečný - Holiday