In July 2021, the Spanish broadcaster RTVE announced the revival of a festival held in Benidorm, for the purpose of selecting Spain’s entry for the Eurovision Song Contest 2022. Spain will be hoping that a change in selection process would help improve their miserable run of form, having placed in the 20s in the Grand Final every year since 2015, and having the unenviable record of not recording a Eurovision victory since 1969.
RTVE confirmed that there were 886 submissions to compete in Benidorm Fest, of which fourteen were selected to compete, across two semi-finals of seven apiece, with the top four of each semi qualifying for the final on the 29th of January 2022.
On the 21st of December 2021, RTVE made all of the fourteen potential entries available to listen to on both their website and the RTVE Play service. In preparation for Benidorm Fest, I have listened to each of the songs and have included my thoughts on each, as follows. You can listen to the songs below – those without official YouTube videos have the links to RTVE Play below each artist and song title (opens a new tab).
Azúcar Moreno – “Postureo”
Azúcar Moreno are no strangers to Eurovision, having represented Spain in the 1990 edition of the contest and finishing in a solid fifth position, in spite of technical difficulties – how Spain would kill for a repeat performance in 2022. Both sound great and their voices blend very well with the carnival, almost retro feel to the traditional elements of the music. On the other hand, I am unsure whether the traditional blends with the modern. The song takes me to a certain point with the carnival sounds, only for the modern beat to sap away energy, thus never quite satisfying me. Still a decent effort though.
My Rating: 6
Blanca Paloma – “Secreto de agua”
Blanca Paloma has a stunning voice, and it is shown throughout this entry. The start of this song is arresting and captured my attention immediately; Paloma’s tender yet haunting voice over minimal string music and a sporadic heavy beat is a great start. Unfortunately, though more instruments are included as the song goes on, it is three minutes of much the same thing. At the two minute mark the song becomes little more than background music, and the last minute becomes tiresome with no real crescendo. This had the bones of something powerful, but never goes anywhere – this could struggle to capture the viewers and juries’ attentions in a competition.
My Rating: 5
Chanel – “SloMo”
https://www.rtve.es/play/videos/benidorm-fest/chanel-cancion-eurovision-benidorm-fest/6256218/ (no official YouTube video)
“SloMo” is a modern Spanish pop song that wouldn’t be out of place on a mainstream radio show. The most memorable part of this song is the repetition of the word “Mo” in the chorus, other than that it is a bit too middle of the road in tempo and structure. Essentially, this song is missing an identity that separates it from other mid-tempo pop songs – rather than being the hit single of an album, it is a solid, if unambitious, album track. To stand out at Eurovision, this song needs more of a spark, something that will make it stand out from other pop entries.
My Rating: 6
Gonzalo Hermida – “Quién lo diría”
This song sounds straight from the end credits of an epic fantasy movie, but is no afterthought. The structure is well thought-out, and I appreciate the shading in the music with certain instruments being added at suitable times. Cinematic songs can be a cliched affair, but this stays away from sounding like it was made in the early 2000s. My main concern is that it may be too similar to other Spanish entries from the past few years, which did not have a good showing at their respective contests. But, with a good live performance, this could create an impression.
My Rating: 7
Javiera Mena – “Culpa”
“Culpa” is not the easiest song to listen along to, as there is a disconnect between elements, to the point where a line following another can differ in tempo, tone and genre. The organ opening is powerful, and is in stark contrast to the upbeat pop song which follows – if anything, the chorus is the blandest part, and the verses and bridges the most interesting, with the pop sound dropping to a dance track, which later incorporates the organ in its beat. If there is to be a revamp should this be selected, some parts need more elements, and some need elements taken away. Apart from the structure, it is a struggle to remember much else of this song.
My Rating: 4
Luna Ki – “Voy a morir”
Another song which is ready for radio airplay, “Voy a morir” plays heavy on the production. The end result is a song which sounds polished but, at the same time, somewhat artificial. The adjustments to the vocals go too far into robotic territory, which makes the vocals jarring and difficult to access the lyrics. The contemporary additional voices and sounds are decent, but they need more oomph to match the attack of the song. I do appreciate the rockier music and how it gives the song power. Ultimately this is a decent studio recording but, with the heavy handed production, I am unsure how this will sound live.
My Rating: 6
Marta Sango – “Sigues en mi mente”
In a field of songs that mostly use a contemporary sound, “Sigues en mi mente” chooses a different musical background, and the result is sunshine in a song and one that stands out. The opening bars of drums and synth-based music take listeners back to the 80s in a throwback moment that compliments the positivity irradiating from the song. The beat and rhythm are infectious and easy to tap your foot to. Marta’s vocals match the positive vibes of the music and also bring a drive that makes the three minutes fly by. It would be too easy to write this off for its retro sound but, as we saw with Denmark’s selection in the 2021 contest, this has every chance of standing out.
My Rating: 8
Rayden – “Calle de la llorería”
Looking at Rayden’s discography, he has been a successful rapper in Spain, even being nominated for the MTV Europe Music Awards. This makes the choice to tie his talents to this wreck of a song even more baffling. The combination of the harsh and driven rapped lyrics with rocky-sounding guitars and background chanting, I’m afraid to say, does not work for me. The end result is something which sounds like it was left on the cutting room floor of a musical. At certain points, I was even getting flashbacks to Portugal’s satirical entry in the 2011 contest. It is redeemed ever so slightly by the flamenco-style music coming in the second half, and the beat is decent too, but unless there is a story to tell with the staging, this is a non-starter for me.
My Rating: 3
Rigoberta Bandini – “Ay mamá”
There are several moments to savour in this well-crafted song. The start of this song is quiet and reflective – translating the lyrics really help to understand the intensity of this opening. The transition to loud pleads of “Mama” is striking, yet feels natural for this song. I love the way that there is a steady build-up, before a huge burst of energy is released at around the 2:20 mark. Rigoberta’s voice sounds great in the studio cut and I appreciate that every word is enunciated, as it really helps to convey the message of the lyrics to the listeners. I hope that the live performance will be just as powerful.
My Rating: 8
Sara Deop – “Make You Say”
https://www.rtve.es/play/videos/benidorm-fest/benidorm-fest-sara-deop-make-you-say-cancion-eurovision-2022/6256577/ (no official YouTube video)
Starting with the first couple of lines of the chorus is a good way to open this song, as it is the most pronounced element, and its use throughout the song succeeds at breaking through the verses. The rest of the song, save from the choruses, is middle-of-the-road and doesn’t really make much of an impression. I am hoping for a choreographed dance routine during the contemporary musical breaks, which in themselves do suit the vibes of the song, as I am not yet getting a ‘wow’ moment needed to stand out near the end, with several similar sounding entries in the field.
My Rating: 6
Tanxugueiras – “Terra”
The bookies’ and fans’ favourite to win the ticket to Turin, and it is easy to see why. Starting off dark and mysterious, the quiet is broken by shouts of lyrics in Galician and a deep and modern beat. I love the power and intensity of the transition into the chorus. The song takes inspiration from traditional Celtic music, but actually is an invitation for others to join them in celebrating all music with the repeated phrase “There are no borders” in different Spanish dialects. So stark in contrast to a recent run of ‘safe’ Spanish entries, this has so much potential to create a real mood live, as Ukraine’s entry last year did. If this creates anywhere near the same feeling live, this would be a great opportunity for Spain to showcase a different sound and improve on their dismal Eurovision form.
My Rating: 9
Unique – “Mejores”
The band name is Unique, and their pop song does go some way to stand out from the similar entries in the Benidorm Fest. I’m glad that, for a boy band, their song does give off a sense of youthful charm and a party atmosphere. There are build ups throughout the song that are released in bursts of energy that will surely allow for some good staging and choreography. As with the other pop songs in this line-up, this sounds polished as a radio cut, but requires a bit more oomph to take it to that next step. However, with a good performance live, this could surprise.
My Rating: 7
Varry Brava – “Raffaella”
This song is another to take inspiration from a past musical decade, and I do like the retro sounds of this entry. It is easy to listen to, and the positive vibes do emanate. It is also easy to sing along to, especially with the hook “Pa, pa, pa, pada”. I can imagine a fun performance of this live at Benidorm Fest. It is a decent entry to this field, but there is another song that also uses a retro sound as the base, and that entry resonates with me more than “Raffaella”. This song is fun, but doesn’t take me far enough to leave a lasting impression.
My rating: 6
XEINN – “ECO”
In a field where modern, radio-friendly pop is the most popular genre represented, this stands out as maybe being the most radio-friendly of all. The production values are very high, the structure is there and XEINN has a good voice in the studio cut. There is also an attack and drive in the singing that makes it a good fit for the lyrics. Unlike many of the entries, this one has an international writing team behind it, namely Thomas G:son and Jimmy Jansson, who both have plenty of experience writing for Eurovision. This is my main concern for this entry; the song sounds so polished and international that it could be written to represent any country if the language is changed – in short, it lacks an identity. Plus, would this win the Swedish selection if in English, as an example? A good song from the radio cut for sure, but I don’t think it will succeed in this selection or at Eurovision.
My Rating: 7
So those are my thoughts on the fourteen acts who will be performing at Benidorm Fest, between the 26th and the 29th of January, for the chance to represent Spain at Eurovision 2022. At the time of writing this (4th of January), the odds for the contest on Eurovision World suggests that it is a two-horse race between Rigoberta Bandini and Tanxugueiras, but it could all change when the songs are performed live.
Let me know your thoughts on the entries competing at Benidorm Fest in the comments section below – which is your favourite, and which do you think would have the best opportunity to do well at Eurovision?
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