EMA (Slovenia) 2022 Reviews: Semi-Final 1

I will be the first to admin that I haven’t spent much (read: any) time on Slovenia’s national selection so far this year. I’m afraid my calendar was just too full. Hence, I’m coming to all these fresh — or should that be FRES? Okay, I’ll see myself out — but first, the reviews.

David Amaro — “Še Vedno Si Lepa”
Power ballad which more or less follows the usual formula. I liked the early bits when it sounded like it was the kind of song you might coming out of the window of a cafe or restaurant on a Friday evening. It probably needed that kick into second gear to stay competitive, but my interest waned as soon as the drama started.

July Jones — “Girls Can Do Anything”
Fairly minimalist EDM where the focus is very strongly on Jones, for good reason. This is a high-impact song when the visuals are included: the empowering message in the lyrics is embodied by the singer, who owns the stage and compensates for a lot of the weaknesses in the overall package with this. Sometimes I wish the music was a bit fuller — I think that could have been achieved without taking away from the vocals, but this deserves its place in the final.

Le Serpentine — “Tud Teb Se Lahko Zgodi”

One-paced alternative pop song: normally I’d be up for something this as a lot of my non-Eurovision music tastes come from the indie scenes, but in this case it’s too one-paced. Nothing stands out, it goes along for three minutes and finishes more or less as it started.

Bowrain & Brina — “Čas Je”
Quirky electro-pop which reminds me of Radiohead at times in terms of its unusual use of synth beats and the semi-chants in the vocals. After several listens I’m still not entirely sure how much I like it. There’s something intriguing about the way it’s constructed, but in the end it may be a bit too arty for me, and probably for the contest as well.

Luma — “All In”
It’s perhaps a lazy comparison, but could this be the next Zala Kralj and Gašper Šantl, who represented Slovenia at the 2019 contest? Of course it’s not the same song, and the dynamic between the singer and instrumentalist is very different, but the low-key synth pop vibe is similar. In fact, in some ways this is more appealing, because the performance has more charisma to it, and I guess the song is more accessible as the lyrics are in English. Should this win EMA, how well it does at Eurovision will depend on how many noisy songs surround it in its semi-final, but it’s a fascinating prospect.

Stela Sofia — “Tu in zdaj”
I can see why this qualified for the final: it’s a perfectly adequate, competent ballad. It is sung well and performed well — there’s nothing to fault about this. On a personal level, I don’t find a lot to bring me back, but the three minutes pass by pleasantly. It’s a pretty safe entry, and that might end up being its downfall in the final.

Batista Cadillac — “Mim Pravil”
Soul pop with a lot of leaning and walking on the spot as part of the performance. It’s nice: a pleasant song to have on in the background while having dinner. I know this sounds like a backhanded compliment, but sometimes a song does all the right things without blowing anyone away. The singer has a good voice; the band are all proficient. They deserve to be in the final, but probably not more than that.

Jonatan Haller — “Obzorje”
Brave to start a song with 50 seconds with very little music, meaning that the focus is totally on your voice and any errors will be front-and-centre. Having said that, when the music kicks in just before the first minute mark, it’s still minimal. For me, there’s too much focus on Haller’s voice, which is good but not spectacular. I’m not sure whether the language barrier is in the way this time, but this feel very much underdone to me.

Zala Smolnikar — “V Ogledalu”
Did I just listen to the same kind of song twice? Smolnikar arguably has a more interesting voice, with the ability to switch between different styles and hold a high note, but this feels less like a song and more an opportunity for her to showcase her vocal skills with a backing beat. The end of the track is a bizarre fade to black, which presumably made sense to those able to follow the lyrics — to everyone else it’s just confusing.

Manouche — “Si Sama?”
In the context of this semi-final, I can see how a jubilant swing song qualified: it feels like a breath of fresh air compared to some of the other entries, even if it is incredibly twee and most definitely outdated. I can see the fun in this, even if it’s certainly not a genre I ever listen to, but surely this is in the final for variety’s sake more than anything else.