With voting coming to a close this weekend in the Czech Republic’s highly-regarded national selection, our team took the time to dissect the seven hopefuls and pick their favourites. But with such a variety in this year’s edition of ESCZ, which act would come out on top?

In this article, the first four of the seven entries will face our team – namely Boris, Daniel, James, Melanie, Roy, Sean and Stefan. Let’s hear their thoughts…

Elis Mraz ft. Čis T – Wanna Be Like

Boris – 7 – “I have a confession to make: Reggaeton is utterly lost on me. I do not like the genre, AT ALL. Annoying, aggressive faux-cheerfulness HARD PASS. Having said that, “Wanna Be Like” is one of those rare cases where I actually enjoy said reggaeton. This is the real stuff, not the type of contraband you’d see in Eurovision. For this reason, I kind of high-key hope they win?”

Daniel – 9 – “I think that this song brings a lot of the common tropes that are dominating the music currently and while commendable, there might be a bit too much to the casual listener. That is not to say that this is the case with this song, actually quite the opposite, I actually really like this song. Imagine Meghan Trainor met J Balvin with a dash of Cardi B. It has a great rhythm and catchy chorus. Will this be for the standard Eurovision listener, no not really, but us young folks, I bet we would love this.”

James – 7 – “A decent reggaeton influenced and rap number. Elis Mraz, after Čis T’s rap interlude, surprisingly drops some unexpectedly good rap vocals at the bridge. “Wanna Be Like” sets it up that Mraz is the main singer (with “ooh ooh” and “eh oh” vocals thrown in liberally) and then she responds to Čis T’s rap verse with her own, that sets it apart from the usual hip hop duet you hear. You can’t help but appreciate her confidence. This will probably require some over-the-top staging to send it over the edge, but Elis at least gives us her own “wow” moment to savor.”

Melanie – 7 – “So this song is really my guilty pleasure of this selection. This is such a banger and very catchy! There must be something wrong with you if you don’t immediately want to dance when this song comes on. It’s just stuck in my head for days now and it won’t go away. Only thing I don’t like is the rap part, but besides that, this could be the party song of this year.”

Roy – 7 – “The Czech Republic either have a gem or a bottle of poison here. The biggest issue is that their national selection doesn’t have live performances as the final moment of judgement. As a studio track alone this is incredibly fun. I could have done without Čis T’s part and Elis’ rap part following it too. This is definitely a song that would not only appear on the radio, but also stay there for a couple of months and it would probably even chart in a bunch of countries. These type of songs tend to be mediocre when performed live and since CZ has such a strong selection this year, it comes down to nit-picks.”

Sean – 3 – “Well, this is going to be SO popular with Eurovision fans and I certainly can see why. There’s a real Nicki Minaj/Ariana Grande vibe with this track and would not sound out of place on the airwaves across Europe, and perhaps has the biggest potential to be a hit after the contest from all of these songs. From a personal perspective though… *sigh*, it’s just really not my thing at all. I need something more interesting than a basic reggaeton beat and shoddy, shallow lyrics to keep my interest past the minute mark. I just personally find this type of music irritating.”

Stefan – 10 – “Now this is a banger! There’s no surprise this is the frontrunner of the Czech NF. There’s so much space for improvisation in live performance that I WANT to see this performed on stage in Rotterdam.”

Total = 50 (avg. 7.14)

Benny Cristo – Kemama

Boris – 8 – “An excellent afropop piece that manages to strike a balance between extraverted fun and autobiographical depth.”

Daniel – 8 – “I am already hooked from the very beginning. His voice has those wonderful African/Caribbean nuances that have become so beloved around the world. The message is beautiful and relatable while still embracing a unique aura that no other artist can claim to come close to. I have not even mentioned the instrumentation which is like the track of a fun Euro-dance song, one that is subverted by the interesting lyrics. Overall, rather good impression.”

James – 5 – “A bang average hip hop / reggaeton number. His spoken intro a la Pitbull is irritating and overdone. The commentators will tell us who you are, just get on with it. It continues the usual bragging about his game, his dance skills, his way with the ladies, the jealousy of the haters, blah blah blah. Except there’s a sleepiness to it, like he’s lazily bragging while slumped on a couch. If Jessy Matador was this genre on cocaine, Benny Cristo is the heroin. It’s a pity, as Cristo seems like a positive energetic guy. I wish he’d put that energy into this song.”

Melanie – 6 – “Kemama is kind of song that we don’t hear alot on the Eurovision Stage. So I’m really curious how well this will do at Eurovision. It immediatly gives me summer vibes and it’s a great dance track. But it’s just not my cup of tea.”

Roy – 4 – “I hate that I am rating a few of these songs so low. They 100% don’t deserve this rating, but if I didn’t do that then they would all be getting 7 or higher and my reviews would become very irrelevant. I just want to create a bit of separation between these songs. Kemama may be my least favourite song of this selection, but it is one of the better attempts at pulling something like this off. This also has a lot of staging potential and could turn into a massive party where the entire venue would dance to the rhythms of this song. Unfortunately it never really leaves an impact or something to remember it for. I still really appreciate this for being in the race. It adds a lot of variety to the mix!”

Sean – 7 – “Every fibre of my being should hate a song like this but, hey, this is pretty good. It’s a catchy reggaeton/RnB-infused number with a catchy danceable beat and a latino flavour that is more than welcome in the contest. I certainly wouldn’t be shocked to hear this as a weekend floorfiller in the clubs, but is it a little too repetitive and formulaic to excel at Eurovision? It won’t break any ground but that won’t stop me having this as a guilty little pleasure.”

Stefan – 6 – “Yo maannn this is so cooool… I know that music has no boundaries, but I would feel really weird this kinda of song representing Czech Republic. All in all, its a quite good radio friendly song, but it just doesn’t pop out.”

Total = 44 (avg. 6.29)

Olga Lounová – Dark Water

Boris – 7 – “A pretty standard shouty powerballad. *shrug* Could be better or worse than a 7 depending on the live performance, which we sadly won’t ever see since she isn’t going to win ESCZ.”

Daniel – 5 – “This song is extremely promising with the opening sequence and builds upon that momentum throughout the song. If it was not for the fact that Barbora Mochowa is competing this year, I would venture to say that it is this year’s “True Colors.” The song is beautiful and mystical while still abiding by a very traditional pop formula which will help with its mainstream appeal. Ultimately, I feel that this song is good but relatively simple compared to the other entries in the competition, nevertheless, a good showing for Olga.”

James – 7 – “We have been drowned in ballads like this one at Eurovision before. It is a perfectly serviceable, if somewhat subdued, version. It starts spartan, simple piano notes with what sounds like whale sounds, adding layers one by one instrumentally before a big orchestral outro after the bridge. The staging possibilities seem obvious (transition from dark to light as the lyrics suggest), so hopefully Olga surprises us if she makes it to Rotterdam. This is a safe entry, but it is an enjoyable one.”

Melanie – 7 – “This song has such an ethereal vibe around it, she has such a magical voice that compliments the mysterious melody. The music video shows alot of staging potential. Sadly, she has to compete with Barbora Mochowa, who’s song is much more my taste.”

Roy – 6 – “It takes about 1 minute and 40 seconds to finally get going. At that point my interest has drowned quite a bit already (pun intended). I just have the feeling that this will fall flat were it to go to Eurovision. Yes, it would probably qualify, but I don’t see it ranking very high after that. It reminds me a lot of “I Stand” from 2016 which didn’t do too hot in the grand final either. Maybe I am wrong, but in my eyes there are more interesting pieces in this strong national selection. If this is winning it is basically the Czech’s saying that they are going for safe…”

Sean – 7 – “It almost sounds like a Céline Dion album track but this is at least more intriguing than the standard ballad. I love the little drips and splashes in the melody and the breathiness of her vocal purrs in all the right areas. It loses some of its impact in the final third, but it’s a shame we don’t get to see these songs live to make a decision as this could come alive on stage and keep that interest up.”

Stefan – 10 – “This song just must be played on MTV and VH1! I love her soothing voice and this melody. Checks all the marks. My second favourite!”

Total = 49 (avg. 7)

We All Poop – All the Blood (Positive Song Actually)

Boris – 8 – “Oh look it’s Czech twenty øne piløts! I like the song for what it is – uptempo, immersive, replayable – however, I have since found out WAP are DIE-HARD VEGANS (<333333) and their song is anti-meat consumption (<33333). Besides, we might get “We all poop all the blood” as a chyron in Rotterdam if they go, so it’s win/win really.”

Daniel – 7 – “This song reminds me of my music choices from the mid-2000’s and that itself is a gift. Punk is making a comeback and We All Poop wants to make sure it stays and makes it 2020 debut in Rotterdam. I think this song is super cool and I want to see how it will be staged. I think people will be quick to call it out-of-date because of the genre and feel, but tell me what is more 2020 than irony (look at that title) and a spooky dystopian feel.”

James – 6 – “Sounds like an alternative rock band from the North of England from the 1990s. Like it should be on the soundtrack of a Gregg Arraki movie. The hipster touches from the band’s own name to the stupid parenthesized song title are already turning people off this entry, which would have been better served if they were called something nonsensical like Lake Malawi and they kept the “All the Blood” part of the title. The “too cool for school” approach with the names leads one to question your liking the song, as if you’ll be the butt of an in-joke made by barely employed Czech musicians. As for the song itself, a decent retread of a sound from another time and place.”

Melanie – 8 – “I always like it if bands exceeds the expectations. Who expected this song when the bands was announced? Not me! I see them as the Czech version of twenty one pilots and is a sound we haven’t really heard on the Eurovision stage before. So it definitely will stand out between the usual ballads and pop songs. Also, the song has a really important message and I’m curious how they will visualize this message in their staging.”

Roy – 9 – “Firstly, this type of music is very popular and beloved in The Netherlands. I could totally see them appearing on some sort of festival on a lovely evening in the spring or the summer. The main issue for me with this song is that we have never heard a similar song in Eurovision before. This makes it really difficult to predict how well it would do and how high it would place. I could even see a shift in Eurovision-land. We already saw Mahmood’s hip hop song do well last year, if we add bands like this and more currently popular stuff to the mix we could be moving into “the next era”. It is way too soon for that though and for now this will have to do with my highest score.”

Sean – 8 – “My biggest musical passion (among many) is probably indie-pop and indie-rock, so this is right up my street. The percussion yelps and echoey production really accentuate this track and give it a grandiose, atmospheric feel. The bridge is particularly impressive and is a good release for all of this track’s energy and could be a powerful moment on the Eurovision stage. I just wish the guitars were a little heavier. Digging this one!”

Stefan – 4 – “There can only be one Hatari! Enough said. I don’t get all the fuss about this song, I get the message, but I think they should have waited another year or two.”

Total = 50 (avg. 7.14)

So, how did the first four entries compare? Let’s take a look…

  1. Elis Mraz ft. Čis T – Wanna Be Like – 50
  2. We All Poop – All the Blood (Positive Song Actually) – 50
  3. Olga Lounová – Dark Water – 49
  4. Benny Cristo – Kemama – 44

So, as #YOU can see, we found this Czech selection to be of a very high standard so far! But will Elis Mraz ft. Čis T and We All Poop continue to tie at the top when we add the points for Barbora Mochowa, Karelll and Pam Rabbit? You’ll have to come back tomorrow to find out!

What do #YOU think of the Czech selection? Do #YOU agree with our thoughts on the finalists? Share your thoughts with us on our forum HERE or join the discussion below and on social media!

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