Country: Czech Republic
Song Title: “Hope Never Dies”
Artist: Marta Jandová and Václav Noid Bárta
Semi-Final: Second, Position #8
Last year’s entry: None
To say that the Czech Republic’s history in the Eurovision Song Contest has been Czechered1 would imply some period of success. Unfortunately that’s simply not the case. In three appearances the Czech Republic has earned a total of 10 points and have never qualified for the Grand Final (the only European country at this year’s contest for which that’s true); their last appearance in 2009 earned the dreaded nil points. Can Jandová and Bárta keep their country’s hope alive?
“Hope Never Dies” is a ballad, but make no mistake, this one has the potential for LOTS of drama. (Yay!) The staging in the video, with its enclosed and highly-reflective spaces, reminds me of Azerbaijan’s man-in-a-box from 2013. I think a similar staging could work really well for this entry. (I would highly recommend they do NOT try to recreate Sweden’s man-in-a-box from 2011.) That said, they need to do something about those costumes … Jandová is there looking great with her hair and skirt and Bárta is just standing there in a t-shirt, vest with lapels, and a scraggly-looking scarf. I understand they were trying to show off his arms, but there are lots of ways to do that with some semblance of style.
The song itself is strong, and I love the vocals, if not the lyrics. (I’ll second Ben’s recommendation to not focus too hard on them.) For me, Bárta’s voice is reminiscent of the Crash Test Dummies, and I love that he doesn’t sound like everybody else in the contest. The big weakness here: it doesn’t seem like either of the singers are particularly adept at dance, so the performance itself needs to be big and dramatic without overshadowing the good musical stuff that’s happening.
Overall, this entry has the potential to include everything I look for in a Eurovision entry: big hair, big fire, big wind machines, big voices, big drama. As a result, Jandová and Bárta should Czech2 their luggage all the way through to the Grand Final, because I think this will be the year that their hopes turn into reality. Fourth time’s the charm, right?