NF Review: “Round and Round” for Slovenia!

Whilst the majority of tonight’s Eurovision focus seemed to be on the Nordic region, we musn’t overlook the fact that Slovenia too have chosen their 2014 entry in tonight’s EMA final. Tinkara Kovac is the lucky girl who will sing for her country in May, with the song “Spet (Round and Round)” – which, may I add, was co-written by the fabulous Hannah Mancini. Just saying.

Tinkara will fly the Slovenian flag in Copenhagen!
Tinkara will fly the Slovenian flag in Copenhagen!

Slovenia, as I’m sure you’ll remember, were the last country to confirm participation in Copenhagen, with a last-minute extension required in order for RTVSLO to secure the necessary funding for a 2014 entry. Taking all of that into account, you’d assume that they’re hoping for something rather special in Denmark, right? After a fantastic result in 2011 followed by two non-qualifications, Slovenia are doubtless looking for that all important ticket into the final, and after their national final tonight, they’ve decided to put their hopes on Tinkara Kovac on that account; with her song “Spet (Round and Round)”.

If you haven’t heard it already, here’s her performance from earlier:

The song:

This is the first song selected for 2014 where I genuinely do not know what to make of it. Having heard it five or six times already, it has still failed to make much of an impact on me – positive OR negative. I can’t quite work out what it’s trying to be – is it a flutey pop track or is it a moody slice of alternative rock? Or is it neither?

That’s not to say that I like my music to fit into such nice neat generic little boxes as that – on the contrary, I love a bit of genre fusion and I’m of the opinion that it can result in some really interesting and ground-breaking sounds. The trouble with Slovenia’s song here is that it does neither of those things. The flute intro is fab, and the verse doubling that melody is another tick. It sounds promising. Then we get the bridge, which reminds me of Lithuania’s killer “I’m gonna make you make you fall” bit, and all of a sudden, I wish I was listening to “Attention” rather than “Spet”. Never fear, though, because the chorus is coming up, and that’s where Tinkara can really win me over, right?

Wrong. That’s the main thing with this song: the chorus is rather weak. You think it could possibly be going somewhere interesting, and then everything just feels a bit limp by the time we get there… the beat is half-hearted, the lyrics smack of “we’ve learnt this phonetically”, and the big “chang-EH-EH-EH-ehhhhs” note comes too late in proceedings to salvage anything. Before you know it, the chorus is over, we’re back to the verse, and you’re left with all the satisfaction of having just eaten candy floss. It was vaguely enjoyable at the time, but now it’s over, there’s nothing of substance left to render the experience noteworthy. I’m sorry Tinkara, this one doesn’t really do it for me – I do like it, yeah, but it’s a little bland. Muff would have been a MUCH better choice in my opinion.

Genuine question here for anyone in the know – that dark haired backing singer is Nika Zorjan, right? Looks a lot like her. And if this is the case, I wish her and Tinkara would change roles between now and May – I love Nika as an artist, and if she took the lead on “Spet”, she might bring it the energy and charisma it needs to drag it out of the realm of the ordinary. Tinkara is sadly lacking in stage presence as it stands, and her outfit has literally been yanked out of 2001. Send it back pls.

The show:

Having never properly watched EMA before, I found my first experience of the show to be an incredibly positive one. It’s a very unique take on the whole “music show” concept, and it was quite refreshing to witness after so many national finals which all followed a pretty similar format to one another.

The whole thing had something of a chatshow ambience to it, with the musical performances being enjoyable intervals to the apparently more pressing matter of chatting to each artist. Following each performance, our host would talk to one of the other contestants, giving them a chance to show off their skills or personality to the voting audience, before seeking out the artist who had just left the stage and getting their initial post-performance reactions. Not understanding Slovenian made some of it rather difficult to follow, but the cleverest thing here for me was the fact that RTVSLO kept the whole show focused on the matter in hand throughout. All the sketches and things either involved the competing artists, or featured outsiders passing opinion on the competing songs.

This was made easier by the genius design of the stage – a round platform around which there were seven little booths containing each of the competing teams. I believe there was an audience in attendance, but it was an incredibly small one (have a look back at Tinkara’s performance to verify this for yourselves if you like!) The whole place was peppered with epilepsy-inducing spotlights, and our host Ula Furlan – who, by the way, performed her at times difficult role admirably – had the task of manoeuvring herself through the set whilst being constantly on camera. Some of those angles were hilarious – I’ve seen “You’ve Been Framed” clips that were steadier, believe me. That aside, the broadcast was a resounding success.

It was nice to see Hannah Mancini back after last year’s travesty, however one of the most surprising things is that her questions and answers were delivered entirely in English – I mean, doesn’t she speak Slovenian? I’m pretty sure she does, like, she married a Slovene and she’s lived in the country for years; not to mention the fact that she has released music in the language in the past… I found it very bizarre that her entire correspondence was conducted in English to be honest. And she said “Moldavia”. Moldavia. No, baby, no.

Allow me to dedicate a paragraph to the lovely Maja Keuc, who returned tonight with the first performance of her new single “Close To You”, looking absolutely resplendent, as ever, in a FABULOUS glittery pink ensemble. She did lip-sync, which, knowing how amazing her vocal capacity is, was a little disappointing, however the song itself raises some painful “what-ifs” in my mind. Maja is clearly still happy to be associated with the contest, right? And RTVSLO were strapped for cash when considering their Eurovision budget… “Close To You” is a ready-made qualification on a silver plate, just imagine if they had internally selected it? An enchanting composition with a stunningly beautiful lyric, this would have been THE ballad of the year, and would have stood to do a hell of a lot better than Tinkara likely will in Copenhagen.

At Eurovision:

I still maintain that Muff’s “Let Me Be (Myself)”, Nermin & Samuel’s “Masquerade” or NUDE’s “It’s Gonna Be OK!” would have been better choices for Slovenia this year. Unfortunately, whether I like it or not, wallpaper song “Spet” WILL be the Slovenian song in Denmark, and I’ve just got to get on with it.

She will be singing in the latter half of the second semi-final, something which is giving her a much needed advantage if we look at the statistics for how the draw tends to affect a song’s chances of qualification. However, they had that possible boost in 2012, and ended up drawing 9th, which pretty much nullifies any “second half” status. This year, we must remember that in that second semi, Slovenia could be drawn anywhere between 8th and 15th, and they’ll be surrounded by such songs as “To The Sky“, “Heartbeat” and “Miracle“, all of which are aiming for a similar audience, and all of which are doing it just that little bit better.

I’ll be honest, I can’t envisage Slovenia making it to the final this year, much as I’d love them to. The song just isn’t strong enough, and Eurovision is, at the end of the day, a song contest.

Your views:

Did Hungary make the right choice?
Did Slovenia make the right choice?

Padraic Devlin from Ireland: CONGRATS to Slovenia on picking a really good song! that accoustic guitarist gets my vote lol

Ian Mack from the United Kingdom: It’s decent enough but the dual language doesn’t really work in this song.

Jade Hill from the United Kingdom: Muff should have won

Slovenia’s national final was unfortunately overshadowed by the two higher profile Nordic events taking place at the exact same time; however in the intervening hours between now and the song’s selection, a few fan opinions have surfaced which seem to indicate general happiness with Slovenia’s choice. As discussed above, the very fact it’s coming from Slovenia means it may be an uphill struggle from the word go, however it looks widely agreed that they’ve given themselves a decent chance with Tinkara’s entry.

Feel free to let us know below: what do you think of the song and the show?

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