Review: Ukraine (“Vidbir 2020”) Finalists

Ukraine will choose tonight its artist and song for Eurovision 2020.
After two semi-finals, 6 lucky artists qualified for the final.
The results will be determined by 50% public voting and 50% jury voting.

In this post, I will review the 6 competing songs

#1. Krutь – 99

Krutь – 99

 

It’s a lullaby- ballad that is performed with a gentle, soft and dominant voice. The melody is based on bandura, keyboards, guitar, and xylophone. The singer sings in 2 languages: English and Ukrainian. Bandura’s playing becomes the main element of the song.
She starts the performance while sitting and playing the Bandura and singing. The big screen behind here shows the animation from the video clip. In the pre-chorus, she is playing the Bandura. I started to appreciate it more after watching the live performance.   In my opinion, adding one or two dancers will lift it up. It can be really unique on the Eurovision stage.

 

#2. Jerry Heil – Vegan

The song describes the vegetarianism phenomenon from a point of view that connects with accepting the other, with an emphasis on the relationships world. The genre is Pop of the previous decade. The singer uses a soft and gentle voice in the verses, sometimes she performs rap. The song is very catchy and has a message that can push it through. In the beginning, the melody is based on keyboard playing.
While afterward, the computerized processing is taking an enormous place in the melody. The lyrics suggest a comparison between the main character in the song and a haunted animal. She asks not to shoot here  The song is good and actually effective than expected.
The live performance starts with Jerry getting out of a fridge. It helps to illustrate the spokesperson as an animal. The stage is colorful with shiny colors in the center of the visuals. There are some items of vegan food on the stage (vegetables and etc). The dancers are wearing animal disguises. There are some familiar faces on the screen that are animated with a mixture of their faces and fruits (for example Verka Serduchka).
The performance feels ready and with a lot of invested thinking.

#3. Go_A – Соловей (Eng: The Nightingale)

Go-A

It starts with the playing of traditional wind instruments. Afterward, we get singing in a “white voice” (just like Tulia from Poland 2019). Thereafter, it becomes a harmony of voices. The melody is magical, attractive and creates emotions of being in nature which relates to the nightingale in the title. The use of Ukrainian together with oriental motives contributes a lot to the whole package. Towards the end, the song becomes more “western” in the production until the wishful drop. There is a use of electronic guitar. The song is ended with powerful singing.
The live performance starts with a guy playing the flute. The lead singer is standing in the center with two backing vocalists next to her. Red is the dominant color in the stage.
Two of the band’s members are playing the drums. The girls (lead singer and two backing vocalists) are dancing a traditional dancing in the per-chorus. The second occurrence of the chorus has more rhythm in it. The staging is simple but fascinating and effective.

 

#4. David Axelrod – Horizon

David Axelrod

It’s a dated piano ballad. I would even say that the song falls into the category of Disney movie theme songs. I’d like to mention that David is a good performer. The song is pretty predictable and in some sense, too much “by book”. There are plenty of songs of that kind. However, it sounds professional and ready. Unfortunately, I don’t see it as a strong contender in this national selection or as an act for Ukraine.
In the live performance, David is wearing a black suit. There are 5 backing vocalists wearing white clothes with wings. The song is built on modulations and piano playing. For me, the song wasn’t good enough for qualifying.

 

#5. Khayat – Call For Love

KHAYAT

It’s an electro-dance pop song with some ethnic motives. There is a long instrumental introduction in the beginning. In t he studio version, the melody overpowers his singing in the verses.
The end of the verses characterized by extension of pronunciation. The transition includes some ethnic folklore melody. The chorus is catchier than the verses. The song ends out of the blue. I found myself pointing on a  missing puzzle piece. The song doesn’t explode. To be honest, I feel that Khayat has limited vocal abilities which influence the noticeability of the song.
However, the live performance is much better than the studio version. Khayat starts the performance while singing without words with two dancers next to him. The stage is dark and includes a large, green and shiny ring. The yodeling part should really be improved. Khayat knows how to move on stage and he has got tones of charisma.
I would like to hear him improving his accent. The song is catchy and develops well until its end.

 

#6. Tvorchi – Bonfire

TVORCHI

It’s a modern Trap Pop mixed with Hip-Hop song. It starts with a happy fast keyboard playing.  There is a section between the verses which is actually a fast-talking.  The structure of the song is a list of broken sections that connect each other with instrumental linking nodes.  It’s super modern and radio-friendly, but I don’t see it suitable for Eurovision.
In the live performance, the lead singer is walking again and again on the stage. The main color on the stage is purple. I’m bothered about the vocals we have received here. The singer was out of tune in the majority of the song. Eventually, I was bored most of the time besides the instrumental parts. Wearing black sunglasses made them even more disconnected from us. I sense that the song has a lot of fans since it’s modern and well production. However, it’s not enough.

Ukraine 2020 (Vidbir відбір, Eurovision) #Playlist 300x300

My Personal Ranking

#1. Go_A – Соловей
#2. Khayat – Call For Love
#3. Jerry Heil – Vegan
#4. Krutь – 99
#5. Tvorchi – Bonfire
#6. David Axelrod – Horizon


Actually, “Vidbir 2020” is one of the strongest selections this year. Therefore, I will be glad to see any of my Top4 winning tonight.

My Prediction

It would be very hard to predict the winner this time.
At the moment, I think that one of the following will carry the Ukrainian flag in Rotterdam:

Krutь – 99
Tvorchi – Bonfire
Khayat – Call For Love

The playlist of “Vidbir 2020” is available in different digital platforms

YouTube

AppleMusic

Spotify

Semi-Final 1 Live Performances

Semi-Final 2 Live Performances

I live in Israel and watch Eurovision since the early 2000s. I work as a mathematician but have a big interest in singing, music, and writing

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