The seven songs vying to represent the Czech Republic at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest have been announced. The winner will again be selected from a combination of public voting and an international jury.
The seven contestants are Barbora Mochowa, “White & Black Holes”; Benny Cristo, “Kemama”; Elis Mraz ft. Čis T, “Wanna Be Like”; Karelll “At Least We’ve Tried”; Olga Lounová, “Dark Water”; Pam Rabbit, “Get Up”; and We All Poop, “All The Blood.”
The songs range in style from shoegaze to hip-hop, and in tone from serious ballads to slightly comedic pop. All the entries are in English, even though rules allow for songs to also be in a national language.
The Czech contestants were selected by Czech Television (ČT). “We bet on the individual and creative potential of each artist and allowed them to make distinctive, original clips that will help to enhance the experience of their competition tracks. In addition, each finalist will present themselves in a short, tailor-made business card. Another novelty is the new logo and motif of this year’s national round, which is origami,” creative producer Jan Potměšil said.
People can vote using the Eurovision app, on Android and iOs, until February 2. The winner will be announced February 3. That performer will go to Rotterdam to represent the country and hopefully make it into the May 16 finals. The app will be able to separate domestic from foreign voters and ensure that people vote just once.
“After last year’s experience with counting the votes of foreign fans, we decided to continue this trend again this year and consider the counted [foreign] votes as one additional international jury. This will allow all finalists to be more visible at this stage of the competition, but they will also receive important feedback,” Cyril Hirsch, head of the Czech delegation, said.
Public voting will count for one half, and the jury voting for the other half. Aside from the foreign votes, the jury will be made up of former Eurovision representatives from across Europe.
Barbora Mochowa tried for the nomination last year, but came in second to Lake Malawi, which came in 11th place in the Eurovision finals. Mochowa said the experience last year helped build her fan base. ““Last year I was pleased to be able to get my music to more people thanks to Eurovision, so I decided to try it again this year,” she said.
She co-wrote the music and lyrics for song “White & Black Holes,” a slow and hypnotic ballad. The video largely takes place in a foggy forest.
Pam Rabbit came in third in last year’s nomination process, and in 2018 she was a backing vocalist for Mikolas Josef, who so far has been the most successful Czech competitor in Eurovision.
“Two years ago I attended the finals with Mikolas Josef … and after what I saw it there, I decided it was ab experience I want to have for myself,” she said.
Her new song “Get Up,” which she co-wrote and co-produced, has an indie pop feel and catchy beat. The video features children playing in an institutional setting.
Singer and songwriter Karelll spells his name with three Ls because he is the third Karel in his family. He is relatively new to the music scene, with a handful of songs on YouTube.
His entry “At Least We’ve Tried” is a sad love song with Karell on the piano and in a variety of moody scenes.
Singer, composer, activist and rally driver Olga Lounová has had over 1,500 concerts and millions of YouTube views. She once opened a show for P!nk, and has been recording a new album.
Her song “Dark Water” is driven by her strong vocals, with lyrics about someone who wants to forget the past. The video features Lounová underwater in a red dress. “To me, it’s really all about the song. Of all my work, it most catches the heart and could represent the Czech Republic because it transmits a really strong emotion,” she said.
Czech singer and songwriter Elis Mraz has been recording a new album in Los Angeles and London.
She reached the semi-finals in “Voice of the Czech Republic” and won the Czech Nightingale Mattoni 2014 award for Discovery of the Year.
She is collaborating with Slovak hip-hop artist Čis T. He began recording tracks in 1996 and has released 13 studio albums so far.
Their reggaeton song “Wanna Be Like” is upbeat with a colorful video showing Mraz dancing and playing accordion, as images alternate between a classroom and a dance hall.
Another familiar name is Benny Cristo has been active on the Czech music scene for 10 years. His biggest hits “Bomby” has 24 million views on YouTube. In September 2019 he performed at Prague’s O2 Arena to an almost capacity crowd. He is also a professional jiu-jitsu competitor.
“I realized my song had something to say, and it would be great if a broader spectrum of people heard it. I like being able to let Eurovision show people beyond the borders of my own country what I do and what I enjoy,” he said.
His Afro-pop song “Kemama” has lyrics about facing obstacles. The video blends urban outdoor scenes with images of Cristo singing and various people dancing.
The only band to enter is We All Poop, a four-member group that formed just before submitting their entry. Lead singer Jakub Božek just recently began taking voice lessons. Drummer and main composer Michal Jiráň has worked as TV editor and sound engineer. Bassist Vojtěch Božek studied aviation, and guitarist Šimon Martínek teaches at a music school.
“We thought Eurovision was like other talent contests, but we were mistaken and that surprised us. We expected dramaturgy to intervene a lot into our music, but we feel free in this respect,”the group said.
Their indie rock song “All The Blood” has the subtitle “Positive Song Actually,” and the lyrics deal with trying to overcome pain. The video has imagery reminiscent of a bad dream.
The Czech Republic first participated in Eurovision in 2007, with Kabát singing “Malá dáma.” They scored one point in the semifinals, coming in last and failing to make it to the finals. In 2008 singer Tereza Kerndlová did better with “Have Some Fun,” scoring nine points, but this was only good enough to be second from last.
In the third attempt, Romani band Gipsy.cz scored no points, one of two times under the rules in effect between 1975 and 2015 when a band did that poorly in the semifinals.
The Czech Republic dropped out after that and did not participate again until 2015 when Marta Jandová and Václav Noid Bárta sang the heavily produced ballad “Hope Never Dies,” scoring 33 points, good enough for 13th place in the semifinal, but still not making it into the final round.
In 2016, the Czech Republic at least made it to the finals with Gabriela Gunčíková performing “I Stand.” The song came in 25th, for next the last place.
Martina Bárta sang “My Turn” in the 2017 competition and came in 13th in her semifinal round but failed to make it to the finals.
Mikolas Josef had the country’s best showing ever in 2018 with “Lie to Me” coming in sixth place in the finals. The next year, Lake Malawi came in 11th in the finals with “Friend of a Friend.”
The Eurovision Song Contest is organized by members of the European Broadcasting Union. It is the most watched non-sporting event in the world. It was first held in 1956 and is one of the longest-running shows in television history.
ABBA remains the most successful act to ever win the contest, and “Waterloo” in 2005 was named the best song ever to come from the contest. Other winners include Celine Dion, Julio Iglesias, Olivia Newton-John, Cliff Richard, Loreen, and Conchita Wurst.
Karel Gott participated in 1968, representing Austria, but he did not win.