Latvia will be one of three countries to decide their entry on Saturday, as this year’s single-show Supernova takes place in Riga. Nine acts have made it to the final stage of the competition, but which of these is the best? Our team will once again peruse all nine entries and pass judgement. As usual, it’s Boris, Daniel, James, Melanie, Roy and Sean who review this round…

ANNNA – Polyester

Boris – 9 – “As a man of the finer bad taste, I of course fell in love with this whackadoodle Baltic mess INSTANTANEOUSLY. How could I not, to be honest. Hopeless triptrap served with a side of Svaladance. Since then I’ve found out ANNNA is actually a Woke Warrior and her song is about the exploitation of sweat shop workers in the fasion industry. <33333 T-SHIRTS. ONE DOLLAR. NEED MORE ANNNAQUEEN IN MY SEASON TIME TO BUY [votes for her because I want her to win]”

Daniel – 6 – “It is a shame because this song arguably has the second best instrumentation and musical composition of this year’s Supernova combining a haunting tone with a retro beat that I really dig. Unfortunately, it is coupled with this lyrics that are literally celebrating polyester (where is the metaphor). The chorus is just a string words that sounds more like an H&M or Zara ad than a full-fledged Eurovision entry. I really do thing there was some potential but alas it will just remain in the realm of the un-ironically kitschy.”

James – 9 – “Is she describing a shopping trip to TJ Maxx? This is great. She is actually bringing a song about our addiction to cheap consumer clothing to Supernova! It’s also got a great groove to it, and this young woman has such natural charisma, confidence and stage presence, despite her wearing a cheap black top and Mom jeans. In a year of dialed in wannabe rebels (the establishment climate change songs and those “Rebellion” doofuses from Portugal), it’s nice to actually get a song that is subversive, fun, and gets a debate going.”

Melanie – 7 – “This song is a great mix of sounding contemporary in a playful way. Polyester has the popular Billie Eilish vibe around it, without sounding like a Billie Eilish song. So for that, ANNNA already get kudos from me. The song has a good message and I’m really curious how a song about Fast Fashion is going to do on a Eurovision stage.”

Roy – 2 – “I did not expect this to go through to the (semi) finals and I was expecting 16 songs. This is really not doing it for me and I am surprised that this is getting as much fanfare as it is getting. It is just a joke-entry that I feel will get dead last in the contest… I should be rooting for a partly-Dutch artist, but I just can’t with this one…”

Sean – 8 – “It’s not really a subject matter I am really invested in lyrically, but hey, the music in this one is pretty unique! I love the production on this one, there’s an almost Scandinavian sound to this synthpop track and it’s different enough to stand out in this selection. Whether people will actually be compelled to vote for this is another matter, but this certainly adds to the diversity of the contest.”

Total = 41 (avg. 6.83)

Bad Habits – Sail With You

Boris – 8 – “A tepid Mumford & Sons-esque bal- HOLY F**K WHAT IS THIS ‘CAROLINE ÁF UGGLAS ON FIVE PACKS A DAY’ TYPE OF VOICE?? … please continue.”

Daniel – 4 – “I think you must either hate or love the very raspy voice. In my case I am not a fan and I think is because the instrumentation is so soft that the voice overpowers a perfectly fine bluegrass music. The time change at two-thirds way through did not really do it for me either. Really the song is rather forgettable and even as I listen to it I totally forgot how the beginning went.”

James – 8 – “And I would (sail) one thousand miles, and I would (sail) one thousand miles, just to be the… yes, this is lyrically not just like the Gaelic folk rock of The Proclaimers, but instrumentally like them, too. How this will play out in a venue such as the Ahoy will be interesting to see as you’re used to seeing bands like this in a pub in the middle of the Yorkshire moors or one of the Scottish islands, listening to them while sitting by the fireplace drinking strong brown ale and eating pickled onions.”

Melanie – 4 – “So I really like the first part of Sail with You. But halfway it change to a completely different song? It makes me kind of confused and I think I’m not the only one. That’s a shame, because the first part has so much potential.”

Roy – 7 – “I really like this for some reason. His voice is very raspy, but it perfectly fits this fisherman-like song. This will not do well in Eurovision at all whatsoever, but I really enjoy this! It is some lovely diversity in the selection and I hope it does well! It is just a true artist singing a song that fits him really well and he puts his all into it. I get that not everyone is into this, but I like it a lot!”

Sean – 5 – “It’s not really a song for competition but I appreciate the effort behind this. This has a kind of maritime feel to it (the album cover probably helps) and the final minute takes the song in a fresh direction, but there isn’t really enough there in the first two to grab the average viewer’s attention. I think a lot will find this a tad boring, but having grown up with this type of music around in my life I’m glad it’s in a Eurovision selection!”

Total = 36 (avg. 6)

Driksna – Stay

Boris – 4 – “I’m lowkey surprised this made the finale? Isn’t DRIKSNA famous in Latvia or whatnot? Anyway, this song… starts like a possibly interesting string-heavy indiepop song and then disintegrates into a mewling, ugly-haired mess. At least I can laugh at Seleste’s deadpan aura, you know?”

Daniel – 6 – “I appreciate the instrumentation and the backing musical arrangement, it reminds me of a popular George Ezra or Lewis Capaldi. That being said, this song really is an ok song, like it is perfectly fine, the lyrics are not harmful, the harmonies are just ok, his high notes were not the most impressive thing in the world. This is all to say that it was not the most impressive thing put forth to Supernova, but certainly, this song has its merits.”

James – 2 – “Would you want to stay the night with this warbling and scruffy Mark Gattis look-a-like? The terrible forced pronunciations of certain words (“slow-wo-wo-oh-oh”) are not down to his being Latvian but by his mimicry of other terrible indie-pop artists. His voice and vocal affectations really p%%#$s me off for some reason, and you can’t chalk that up to a bad audition. It’s deliberate. His “staaaaaaayyyy” at the bridge made me wince, and the lyrics themselves are a crap assemblage of clichés.”

Melanie – 5 – “So Driksna really creates a vibe in the beginning of the song. But he sounds so off in the chorus. He really needs to work on his vocals to make a chance to represent Latvia in the Eurovision Song Contest.”

Roy – 3 – “I don’t think he is a good enough singer for this song. Can I say that? I just did, so I guess I can. The verses are quite good for his voice, but the choruses sound really bad to me. I am not a fan of his vocal tone in there. Sounds like a singer for weddings and parties in the chorus. The verses are still interesting and make it a lot better. Still this should have no business winning for Latvia…”

Sean – 6 – “”Stay” is a well-produced pop song that ticks all the right boxes but ultimately comes across as unremarkable. The guitar licks and bass drums are in all the right places and the lyrics and vocals hit the right marks, but it’s a little too ordinary for my tastes. I’m sure this will have its fans and will earn a lot of the casual vote, but I need something a little deeper.”

Total = 26 (avg. 4.33)

Edgars Kreilis – Trydimite

Boris – 7 – “How is love like a “Tridymite”? Anyway, this entry rattles my cognitive dissonance. The song is very good. It’s upper eschelon in the dreamy trance department. Edgars also sings it well. There’s no issue when I play it in a separate tab and merely listen. However, each time I actually open the browser tab playing Tridymite and see Edgars flounce himself around like an undercooked chicken breast, almost all of my goodwill instantly evaporates. Work on your charisma bro!”

Daniel – 8 – “Confession; “Cheery Absinthe” was absolutely my favorite song from last year’s Supernova and was slightly devastated when it did not win. Now, we have Edgar back with a similar pop-dance track that has an extremely unique title. To be honest, I do not love it as much as I feel it falls a bit flat on the creativity and originality metric. This is not to say it is a bad song because I actually think it is one of the best songs this year. I wish him the best but I really do not think that this is his year.”

James – 7 – “This is one of our favorite hockey equipment salesman’s better efforts, and extra points for his Geology similes. Wikipedia says “Tridymite is a high-temperature polymorph of silica and usually occurs as minute tabular white or colorless pseudo-hexagonal crystals, or scales, in cavities in felsic volcanic rocks.” A+ for making a romantic statement out of that. It’s a low key adult contemporary ballad, but Kreilis does have a natural charm to sell even the goofiest lyrics (recall “Cherry Absinthe” from last year, though the drug of choice this year is apparently morphine). It’d be a wild card for him at Eurovision with this entry, as my money would be on non-qualification for the final, but this is an enjoyable track nonetheless.”

Melanie – 7 – “Edgar is back with Tridymite. While it’s a good song, I have the feeling that he had better song in the past. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a cool modern song. The chorus paticularly is very interesting, but it’s lacking power. So please Edgar come back next year again with a better song. One day, it’s your time to shine on the Eurovision stage.”

Roy – 5 – “This song is tough to judge since the audition was quite bad. The studio cut is a lot better, but I feel like I am missing something. Edgars is such a talented artist and I always have the same feelings with his songs… They are definitely good, but something is always not fully clicking with me. This year I have the same feeling, the song is good, but I miss some energy and there is some sort of awkwardness. I can’t pinpoint it, but I am not really rooting for this one to win…”

Sean – 8 – “Edgars is back, and he’s always been an artist I rated in Supernova so far. I feel like he should’ve won with at least one of his songs by now, and I’m pleased to say that this is his best effort so far. It’s a little different and takes on a more ethereal, funky house vibe rather than all out electropop, but this suits my taste much more as it is. If he can bring the right energy on stage then there’s a real possibility for him to make it third time lucky this year!”

Total = 42 (avg. 7)

Katrīna Bindere – I Will Break Your Heart

Boris – 6 – “A run-of-the-mill dramatic break-up song.”

Daniel – 4 – “A much more traditional dark pop song, but not a la cool Belgium though which is unfortunate. I am not going to lie but the lyrics are slightly off-putting given how direct and destructive they are. Other than that, the song is pretty standard and not really a stand-out entry that while is pretty ok for Supernova, will not really amount to much in Eurovision.”

James – 4 – “Oh great, the DRIKSNA guy has another song in the final. It’s slightly better than his own. Bindere delivers the threat of breaking hearts by suggesting she will be do so by being more boring than the guys chasing her expect her to be. Now I have said mean things and will say mean things about Samanta Tina, but this is a song up her alley – you’d believe she’d grind your heart into the dirt with her stilettos. And like Tina, Bindere has pronunciation problems, particularly with the word “little.” And DRIKSNA couldn’t help himself with the clichéd lyrics, rhyming “heart” and “apart.” This song has a cool vibe, but there are far too many issues to recommend it.”

Melanie – 6 – “I really love the mysterious vibe around the city. But is it weird that I have a feeling that I heard this song before? It sounds like an Arctic Monkey or Balthazar (Belgian band) song. I have the feeling that this song will be the underdog and she will surprise us at the liveshow with a sensual staging.”

Roy – 3 – “This is just not interesting enough for me. The song feels very stale and Katrina’s vocal performance isn’t anything to get super excited about either. She stays in the same register the entire song. The final chorus makes my head bop a little bit. The lyrics also aren’t very creative and diverse in this song. It is just an overall lacklustre piece that had a lot of potential.”

Sean – 6 – “The success of this entry will depend entirely on the vibe from the stage show. If she can harness the dark and moody feel that this song has in studio then we’re on to a strong showing, otherwise this could fall flat on stage. As it stands I appreciate the general pace and style of the song, but I’ve heard better examples of this type of song even in Eurovision selections this year.”

Total = 29 (avg. 4.83)

Katrīna Dimanta – Heart Beats

Boris – 8 – “OMG it’s CAKE TO BAKE GIRL <33333333 73% of this two-minute long song consists of annoying onomatopoeia noises punctiated with aggressive acoustic guitar strings. The legacy of Emiliana Torrini’s “Jungle Drum” lives on!”

Daniel – 5 – “Take me to Seville! I think this is an example of one of those experimental songs that Latvia sometimes likes to play with (2012 and 2014 come to mind) that is more confused about its identity than anyone else. While I admire its desire to not be compartmentalized into traditional musical boxes, this off-beat nature does not tend to serve it well in a popular music competition. I am also not loving the fact that most of the chorus are onomatopoeias. Interesting to say the least.”

James – 8 – “The lass from “Cake to Bake” is back! Not sure why that random prat in the background is aimlessly dancing while shirtless, and I could ask a few more questions about the execution of this incredibly goofy acoustic song (“boom boom heart beat” actually works better than a written description of those lyrics sounds). Latvia’s entry last year had a serious wine bar vibe to it, but a wine bar in a place like Buellton, California. “Heart Beats” is a wine bar in Israel vibe, but at 2 a.m. after each patron and band member have had one too many. This does have the potential to be a cult hit like “Cake to Bake,” and I hope Dimanta and her new band of goofy hipsters can make it with this crafted specifically for Eurovision entry.”

Melanie – 8 – “This song is the definition of fun and catchy. That’s why I love the Eurovision Song Contest, that we also have songs like Heart Beats. This is a real party starter and can make the whole arena dance. Vocals are on point, Instruments are on point, now only to get the staging on point.”

Roy – 6 – “Oehhh, this is a dangerous wildcard! I can totally see this winning, it is enjoyable and I feel like jury’s would go for this. Katrina has a lot of charisma in her performance as well and in general you can’t really hate on this song and energy. The chorus is very simple though.. “Boom boom whapataba Heart Beats”, Multiply that by a lot and the song is completed. It is a lot of fun, but I would rather have something with more imagination. I could see this winning, but I would really rather not see it winning…”

Sean – 7 – “The structure and build in this one in fantastic! It grabs your attention early on and really grows and adds elements to its composition to keep the interest high throughout. There won’t be many upbeat guitar-based songs like this in Rotterdam, so if Latvia want to stand out in the Netherlands this wouldn’t be a wrong choice at all.”

Total = 42 (avg. 7)

Miks Dukurs – I’m Falling For You

Boris – 5 – “There are several things I would want for Rotterdam 2020. A “Boys-With-Emotions”-style guitar ballad is not one of them.”

Daniel – 8 – “Despite my new thing being “cool and unique songs,” I actually like what Miks is doing here. He is going for the guy with a guitar vibe but incorporates some very interesting soundtrack elements to keep you engaged enough that you see his song is quite romantic and subtle in a beautiful way. I think this song has the potential to be a dark horse in both Supernova and even a surprise qualifier in Rotterdam.”

James – 7 – “This sounds like a James Blunt special, and like James Blunt, Dukurs looks mean enough to not f%$# with if you try to make fun of his acoustic guitar balladeering. It’s a simple track, and has a simple premise – “hey, you! Lass! I’m falling for you!” There’s a charming earnestness to this romantic song sung by a guy who looks like a henchman from a Jean-Claude Van Damme film you can’t help but love. I don’t see this going anywhere if this makes it to Eurovision, but at least in the deluge of whiny gits with acoustic guitars coming out the woodwork in 2020 we have a tough looking guy with a romantic side delivering an unironic expression of love.”

Melanie – 9 – “My winner of Supernova 2020. I already get goosebumps from the first note of his guitar. This song shows that even with a simple, yet autenthic song can win a national final. Miks’ raspy voice really highlights the emotions in this song and I really hope that Latvia will send this song to Rotterdam. Believe me, this will stand out because it’s so simple yet striking.”

Roy – 7 – “I am a massive fan of Miks’ voice. It carries so much emotion and it sounds beautifully. He already stood out last year. This year his song is a bit more interesting, but I feel like he could do even better. I love the acoustic feeling that this song brings and it could most certainly make for a massively spine tingling moment in Rotterdam if this were to win. In my ideal scenario he comes back next year with an even better piece and he gets a nice and high placement this year. Next year will then be his year and I am very much looking forward to it. I wouldn’t mind him winning, but there is more left in the tank for sure!”

Sean – 8 – “Miks’ raspy, colourful voice makes him one of the more memorable artists in Supernova’s gone by, and is in the category of Markus Riva’s and Edgars Kreilis’ who surprisingly haven’t won the competition yet. Maybe this year? His vocal is at its fullest in this song, with an acoustic rock sound possibly the best yet to showcase his talents. There’s a certain je ne sais quoi about the vibe of this song. Eurofans may not appreciate this, but for me – dark horse.”

Total = 44 (avg. 7.33)

Samanta Tīna – Still Breathing

Boris – 7 – “The first time I heard this song I laughed my ass off at how horrible “Still Breathing” is. It’s as if someone threw Raiven’s “Kaos” into a wood chipper and forced Aminata Savadogo to mend the pieces. It’s fascinatingly grotesque, and that’s without taking into account Samanta Tina possessing a palpably desperate personality and annoying foghorn-like voice who upgrades “Still breathing” from “San Marinese style of lame-bad” to “epically bad”. I don’t want her to win because she will instantly supernova into a swift NQ  and that would not be a satisfying end to Miss Tina’s saga of NF floppage.”

Daniel – 10 – “Winner, winner, chicken dinner. I mean how can you not love this song. It is a feminist anthem that incorporates a super modern arrangement with a sick beat. This song truly is the full package, comes ready to go and bring Latvia back to the final. There are so many ways to stage this, and just given the music video, they can really go for a retro-social commentary angle that makes the song not only stand-out but impactful. Bravo.”

James – 6 – “A cynical mash-up of Tamara Todevska’s “Proud” and a Maruv backing track. As with “Cutting the Wire” from last year, Tina’s performance is not strong in parts. There are sections where her lyrics are unintelligible (she sounds like she’s singing “I’m still breeding” which is obviously the opposite of the message the song is trying to impart) and her dancing is laughable, like she’s a middle aged real estate agent trying to let loose at a company party. And Christ, can we please not have her rap again? That being said, it’s a dope track she’s singing on top of, though (thanks Aminata!). This would be an 8 or 9 with a different singer.”

Melanie – 8 – “So often in reviews I indicate that artists are competing in the national final with a song that doesn’t show their full potential. So I ask them to come back next year with a better song. Samantha Tina is an artist who did that. “Still Breathing” is so much better than “Cutting the Wire.” This must be the song with which she will represent Latvia at Eurovision. The only challenge she still has to conquer is to have a great staging. With a silly dance during the drop, her chances to represent Latvia are immediately over.”

Roy – 9 – “Her audition wasn’t the best ever, but this studio track is such a massive banger. I am a huge fan of super filthy drops and this is exactly that. When I heard this for the first time I wasn’t sure what to think of it, but after more listens I was sold more and more. Now this is legitimately in my top 5 of the year so far. My biggest issue is the rap part in the second “drop”, but luckily it doesn’t take much longer until it drops for a third time to give it a nice finished feeling. Really good piece from Samanta and keep in mind that the music will always sound mehh at the auditions. I can’t wait for this to win and storm to Rotterdam so I can have a dance-off with whoever feels like it in the ESCUnited team (or whoever dares really)!”

Sean – 9 – “Good lord, this is FILTH! In a good way though, that drop was unexpected, as is this entire package coming from Samanta Tina, but this is definitely a pleasant surprise. I’m not sure the rap part is necessary but on the whole this is a really promising package which will thrive on a big performance and the crowd getting involved with this. It also feels like a very autobiographical song from Samanta and her many attempts to represent Latvia. Perhaps this is her moment? I’m ready for this to go OFF in Rotterdam!”

Total = 49 (avg. 8.17)

Seleste – Like Me

Boris – 6 – “What is this? It’s almost as if Seleste is here due to a bet or something. Rarely have I a seen a person with only just enough energy to punctuate every sentence with a “:-/”-face and do nothing else. My procrastinator self relates so hard. <3″

Daniel – 5 – “A very unique intro that sounds like a cross between house and country. It actually has an interesting composition, despite the ever present banjo. I like the theme of the song but I am not sure that the lyrics do her justice and her voice has some bizarre pitch changes throughout the song that are more off-putting. I also would have hoped the song would build to something and it really did not go anywhere from the introduction. The chorus is pretty catchy but I really do not like the whaling in the background.”

James – 4 – “Sleepy is the word I’d use to describe her Supernova audition. It’s kind of cool when she does the low – high transition, but the song really lacks any other wow moment to make it stand out. It’s a very simple banjo-esque riff on a basic bass line and beat. This is too cool for school indie, and if the performer herself can’t be arsed to put in effort to perform it for the audition, I am not really going to be arsed to like it or see the song’s potential either.”

Melanie – 5 – “Being one of the finalists of Supernova is a great start for Seleste. “Like Me” is a grower and gets kind of boring after a minute. She’s still very young and you can hear that vocally and she that she’s still not very confident on the stage. So I see this as a first step for her and I hope to see her back at Supernova.”

Roy – 4 – “This is quite pleasant actually. It is very low-fi, but I feel like it stays that way for far too long for it to be interesting for Eurovision. I wish the beat was a bit more prevalent in the song, but that could also be an issue of it being an audition. Seleste sings it well, but I don’t think the song is interesting enough to go to Eurovision.”

Sean – 7 – “Well, this is interesting! It feels like a 90s trip hop track brought forward to the 21st century, and with a captivating stage performance this could be a real treat live. Seleste has a versatile vocal and “Like Me” is catchy and memorable. Could be a surprise hit in this selection!”

Total = 31 (avg. 5.17)

So, what does this mean for our team’s ranking? Let’s see…

  1. Samanta Tīna – Still Breathing – 49
  2. Miks Dukurs – I’m Falling For You – 44
  3. Edgars Kreilis – Trydimite
  4. Katrīna Dimanta – Heart Beats – 42
  5. ANNNA – Polyester – 41
  6. Bad Habits – Sail With You – 36
  7. Seleste – Like Me – 31
  8. Katrīna Bindere – I Will Break Your Heart – 29
  9. Driksna – Stay – 26

By a margin of five whole points, it is Samanta Tīna that emerges victorious with our team with “Still Breathing”! Will this be the result on Saturday? We will find out soon!

What do #YOU think of Latvia’s selection this year? Share your thoughts with us on our forum HERE or join the discussion below and on social media!

Like our content? Consider supporting us on Patreon HERE to help us continue our work to bring the contest to #YOU!

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