EMA (Slovenia) 2022 Reviews: Semi-Final 2

For whatever reason, this national selection feels like it has flown under my radar a bit, perhaps because I didn’t follow EMA FRES, the “emerging artists” pre-selection process. I’ll take a look at rectifying that next year if applicable, but in the meantime, semi-final 2. The qualifiers were: Anabel, Leya Leanne, BQL, LPS, Hauptman and Gušti feat. Leyre.

Mia Guček — “Independiente”
Visually this is trying for a Beyonce “Single Ladies” vibe, musically it’s a surprisingly hard-edged electro-pop track, and lyrically it touches on general themes of respect for women. Normally I’d say these are pretty good ingredients for a song, but there’s something about the music that’s just too simple and repetitive, meaning that track loses steam well before its three minutes are up.

Gušti feat. Leyre — “Nova romantika”
Odd mixture of jazzy instrumentation at the start which eventually becomes a sweeping pop song with a wall of strings. The vocals just keep going once they start, and while the singer is charismatic and talented enough to justify the camera lingering on her for most of the song, I struggle with the package. There’s too much that’s pleasant and safe, meaning that I doubt I’ll remember much about this by tomorrow.

Klara Jazbec — “Vse kar imam”
What is ultimately a fairly cookie-cutter mid-tempo pop song is improved a fair bit by the simple staging, where a male dancer helps Jazbec off the stage where she is seated, disappears for a while, then returns to dance with her in the instrumental break, giving the song a solid beginning, middle and end visually. Unfortunately, it still remains a fairly forgettable track, where Jazbec’s vocals — the main focus of the track — don’t really dazzle as much as they needed to. Which is a shame, as I think she could cope with a more demanding song.

Vedran Ljubenko — “H2O dieta”
I can see why this one didn’t qualify: the jury and viewers at home are probably still trying to work out exactly what they saw here. There were elements of Balkan folk, an a-capella section that went for too long (but well done for attempting this) where Ljubenko’s quartet of backing vocals really shined, and a line dance, all wrapped up in thudding EDM. Arguably there were too many ideas in here for a three minute song, resulting in something that kept shifting once you understood what was going on. This kind of creativity is great, but probably too quirky for Eurovision.

Leya Leanne — “Naked”
I can see how and why this song is supposed to work — I just don’t think it does. Leanne’s accent wouldn’t be a problem if it wasn’t coupled with a sense that she’s just singing words rather than them having any particular meaning to her. I say this because her big notes sound so much more convincing than the rest of her vocals. And given that this composition is very much focused on her vocals rather than the instruments (which really don’t contribute much), it feels like the wrong song for her.

LPS — “Disko”
So this is … upper-class disco? The main instrument you’ll hear is a jangly guitar which sounds like something from the 1970s. The singer doesn’t have a particularly remarkable voice but he certainly has the stamina to keep pace with the song. I will give them credit for trying something different: at the moment you think the song is about to go up a gear they slow it down completely, including the jangly guitar. But I’m afraid that to my ears it sounds like something you’d hear at some kind of “good old days” concert — I’m struggling to find anything modern about it.

Anabel — “Tendency”
The staging which accompanies the first verse of this song is very reminiscent of Loreen’s “Euphoria” — dimly lit and mysterious, but when the chorus kicks in the lights come on and we have a dance pop which feels like it was strongly inspired by Taylor Swift in the way the vocals were delivered. Finishing the track on big note isn’t uncommon at Eurovision, but it felt very abrupt this time: all the indications were that the big note was going to be followed by one more chorus until I looked at the time and realised it was over. It’s like this was meant to be 3:30 and instead of restructuring the track they just lopped the final half-a-minute off.

BQL — “Maj”
Fairly standard boy-band pop song, this time sung by a young man dressed in white and a young man dressed in black. The only staging is a background with a blocky cityscape which works sometimes, but looks outdated otherwise. There’s a strange big note/key change in the last minute which turns out to be little more than a temporary distraction before it’s back to the level of the rest of song. I guess if you find the lads charming there’s something here, but otherwise it’s regrettably generic.

Hauptman — “Sledim”
Jazzy lounge that would do well in a jazzy lounge, but here it’s more soporific than anything else, especially with the dusty lighting and that piano solo. The singer has a soft, gentle voice which works well with the rest of the track. I just can’t see this being anywhere near competitive enough to survive for very long on a Eurovision stage. It would be too chilled out to even care whether it came first or last.

Eva Moškon — “Kliki”
We were probably due a rock song after the last act, and while this one has some nice moments, particularly around the keyboards bringing in some power chords and the guitar solo near the end. However, I’m not convinced by the vocal performance. Moškon doesn’t sound like she sings rock tracks very often, and her movements on stage seem to confirm this. That would be okay if we weren’t in a competition where emoting is a key part of what’s required to win.