Budapest Calling! – Rating the Songs of A Dal 2019 – Part One

Good afternoon everyone and welcome to another post focusing on the national selections for the Eurovision Song Contest 2019.

Today it’s the turn of A Dal, the selection process for Hungary. This year’s edition features 30 songs battling for the chance to compete in Tel Aviv in May. As there is so much to get through, I am splitting it up into two parts, for your sanity as much as mine! Without further ado, it’s on to the reviews.

Joci Pápai – “Az én apám”

Kicking off the review is the 2017 representative for Hungary, who finished in the top 10 with his ethnic and powerful entry. This year, he is presenting a heartfelt story about his father and it is well layered and presented. The whistling sections throughout help to break up the lyrics in a way that isn’t predictable. Even though this lacks the memorability of his 2017 entry and doesn’t completely take off, this is pretty credible and emotional. 7

Klára Hajdu – “You’re Gonna Rise”

The first impression I got of this was a female busker, a singer songwriter who had a slightly ethereal quality to her music. Then the almost juvenile lyrics kicked in. I’m all for a positive ballad, and not every song has to have complex messages and depth, but this took me to a 1980s TV movie where the family are celebrating Christmas. There also felt like an awkward attempt to fit the lyrics together and get some kind of cohesive rhyming pattern within it. Sorry, but I am not a fan. 4

Salvus – “Barát”

This song is exactly what you would expect from a band in the rock genre, the guitar and drum elements are in place and have their moments to shine and there is a pretty rousing sounding chorus, which I’m sure fans of this kind of music will really enjoy. The problem I have is that there is nothing that really stands out to me to persuade me to get behind them, someone who doesn’t really listen to rock music too much beyond the classics. I worry that this will be the same for a lot of viewers. 6

Petruska – “Help Me Out of Here”

Petruska manages to bring a retro flavour to the contest whilst having a song that is definitely 2019. I enjoyed the feelgood and positive vibes from the song (despite his face in the music video being the opposite!) and the oo-oo-oo notes in the chorus elevates the music. It is a fun song but it starts to drag at around the halfway point and doesn’t really get elevated beyond. This problem could be solved live by some flashy staging, but at the moment, it starts high and then doesn’t take me anywhere. 6

Fatal Error – “Kulcs”

Bang! The song starts and you really get a sense of attack, passion and drive in the way this band plays their music. When the lead singer delivers, he is assured and it’s a decent sounding song. The band really goes for it in the drum and guitar solo sections, however they are overly drawn out; twenty seconds or so could be taken from those parts and the song would be much more concise. Overall, this is going to be great to watch live, but it is far too similar to last year’s entry to succeed in this contest? 7

Kyra – “Maradj még”

A dark, mysterious opening section, a well emoted verse (helped by some good contemporary dance moves in the music video) and a modern-sounding bridge that you can’t help but tap your feet and move along to. The chorus comes along and it’s less of a firework and more of a sad sparkler that fizzles away. It is a real shame to me because I was enjoying the sections before that a lot, but much like my feelings about Lea Sirk’s entry for Slovenia last year, it is a dive that blocks the flow of the song. 6

Barni Hamar – “Wasted”

This song feels very fresh, like it could be on a top-40 chart show in the UK and no one would bat an eyelid, or it would be playing in the club and people would happily dance around to it. I feel like this genre hasn’t been seen much in Eurovision and more exposure to songs like this could help to keep the contest in the present era of music. That being said, I am quite ambivalent to the song itself; it doesn’t really go anywhere for me and it’s one of those songs I can’t see being performed live. I’d want a song in this genre to be much more rousing than this. 6

yesyes – “Incomplete”

yesyes narrowly missed out on winning the Eurovision ticket last year, and they have returned – with a vengeance! This is simply brilliant, the build up is effective and the song manages to be experimental and unique but will still appeal to the masses. I also love the chorus and the power it has; it makes a great contrast from the verses and actually feels like an explosion of energy. The only negative I can find is that I hope the singer slightly improves his annunciation, especially in the verses. But this has so much potential live and I really enjoyed listening to this. 9

Acoustic Planet – “Nyári zápor”

The translation of this song is “Summer Rain”, and in the first few bars I am transported to a golden beach, on which the band would play their entry. The feelgood vibes coming from this really make it an extremely pleasant listen and I can see this song being played in the closing credits of the feelgood Hungarian film of 2019. There is a worry that it is too lightweight though and may get lost in the crowd when performed live. 7

Konyha – “Százszor visszajátszott”

The song starts off with a clicking beat and what sounds like an electric guitar being played alongside the singer. I don’t mind the retro sound but I wasn’t expecting to be assaulted by a mass of electronic bleeping noises half way through, like Tippi Hedren in The Birds. There is something quite awkward in this combination, guitar and beeping. Rather than the song actually going somewhere, the bleeping becomes louder and more frequent, so that the final chorus is just noise. I’m not a fan. 4

Diana – “Little Bird”

This song subverts the traditional ballad with dance elements that bring the drama! Her husky voice works well with the fighting message of the song and I am expecting to be taken somewhere. This doesn’t quite work out and it plateaus around the minute mark, maybe replace some of the more EDM-influenced sections with simpler instrumentation? The lyrics can get a bit awkward as well, the “Little Bird” and animal-related parts are fine enough, but surely a better phrase can be found than “whole damn world”. 6

Dávid Heatlie – “La Mama Hotel”

There are some songs, which are timeless, that sound good no matter what era it is listened in. There are other songs, which try to appeal to every single era by placing elements from each of them in it; “La Mama Hotel” fits into the second category. So we have what sounds like a rock song, with a dubstep instrumental, EDM elements and an electric guitar solo. In short, this is a mess and I feel like the artist is trying to demand attention rather than letting me give it naturally. 4

Mocsok 1 Kölyök – “Egyszer”

The instrumental section at the start creates a beautiful mood for the song, leaving me expecting something magical. What sadly follows, is a bit of a dirge. There is nothing exactly wrong with this song, other than the fact that it feels like the singers are trying to battle the music and beat instead of connecting with it; it becomes noise by the end. But honestly, even after just hearing the song, I can barely remember the tune and that doesn’t read well for the live shows. 5

Nomad – “A remény hídjai”

There is something quite retro about this song, in two senses. On one hand, it sounds like it could be a successful Hungarian song in the 80s, but it has retained its appeal since then. Secondly, this could well have been the Hungarian representative in Eurovision 2008. There is nothing bad about either of these and the lead singer has quite a distinct voice, which helps to sell the song. Despite no real explosion or memorable moment, the three minutes fly by and this reads well for the live shows. 7

Olivér Berkes – “Világítótorony”

I am a big fan of those Spotify playlists that are filled with calming music and I might have heard this before. Seriously though, the singer’s voice has amazing depth and clarity and, despite me not knowing a word of Hungarian, I am hanging on to every word he is singing. There are quite a few peaks and troughs in the way he is singing this, even within a single line, which really helps me to understand the emotions behind this. In its current form, at 4:13, the song is way too long but cutting out one of the middle sections won’t affect how good this is. Should be excellent live. 8

So that is the first fifteen songs of A Dal 2019; what did you make of them?

Do you agree with my reviews and who you do think could challenge for that ticket to Tel Aviv? You can let me know all of your thoughts in the comments section below.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the reviews of A Dal 2019, coming in the next couple of days, just prior to the first heat on the 19th of January. See you guys then!

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