Three-Minute Throwdown: EMA 2020 Edition

After a months-long process, the Slovenian national final, Evrovizijska Melodija (EMA), will take place at 20:00 CET on Saturday. It can be streamed at RTVSLO’s site. 12 acts are slotted to compete, including some familiar faces: Tinkara Kovač, 2014; Lina Kuduzović, Junior Eurovision 2015; and INMATE, EMA 2019.

At the time of writing, only the two songs that advanced from EMA FREŠ, a brand-new newcomer competition that used online voting in the elimination stages. In the EMA FREŠ final, televotes were used to choose one finalist, while jury votes determined another finalist, accoring to Aussievision. The two songs, Saška’s “Še kar lovim tvoj nasmeh” (I’m still chasing your smile) and Parvani Violet’s “Cupid”, will be analyzed in full. Every other song only has a 1:30 preview. Regardless, these songs will be analyzed in one take, and to compensate for the missing information, some discussion will be provided on possible paths the songs could take.

Simon Vadnjal – Nisi sam (You’re not alone)

Eb major, but uses the bVII-IV-I associated with songs such as AC/DC’s “Back in Black” and Mitch Tambo’s “Together”, as mentioned in the Three-Minute Throwdown for Australia. Sounds like pop rock, but the audio fidelity is not great because the sound source sounds like a radio or something that has very limited frequency range, unlike a CD (44.1 kHz) and vinyl (variable, but higher than AM radio at 5 kHz and FM radio at 15 kHz). Gang vocals around 1:02. Ends with increased strings. The song could be in Ab major given enough context; I think this was mostly choruses, so any verses and bridges would have to be added. I can’t imagine them deviating drastically from the snippet for the sake of cohesion. There were some electronic elements, which might be slightly more prominent in the verse mix than in the chorus mix.

Saška – Še kar lovim tvoj nasmeh (I’m still chasing your smile)

This is one of the FREŠ songs, so it will be analyzed in full. I do not know if there will be a revamp. Let’s begin.

E major. Piano ballad. The way she’s singing could stand to be a bit crisper in order to clarify the rhythm before the percussion comes full in around 0:39. Chorus includes the bVII-IV-I progression just mentioned above. The melody is pentatonic (uses notes E-F#-G#-B-C#), and while there’s a iv-i movement in the verses (F#m to C#m chords), the choruses, particularly with the bVII-IV-I, offer a stronger case for E major than the verses do for C# minor, particularly since the chord progression in the verse also includes a IV-I (A to E chords) in the middle. Bridge was full of “whoa”‘s and created a nice build toward the final chorus. Ending was littered with premature applause (or people could have clapped during the song. Classical music biases intensify.).

Gaja Prestor – Verjamem vase (I believe in myself)

B minor, starts off high-energy with sampled claps. Reminding me of “Hvala, ne!” (Lea Sirk, 2018) in the vocal delivery albeit with more synths and a deeper voice. Chorus introduces guitar, not so much alike now. I think there are cymbals somewhere in the high-frequency noise. I might expect there to be some kind of delayed return of the instrumentals in the final chorus for added drama. I do not expect this to get to Within Temptation levels of heavy, though.

Ana Soklič – Voda (Water)

D minor. Serene between the synth (?) strings and harp-like instrument (might be a brighter synth harp than the one ending PVRIS’ “Heaven“). Very slow-moving ballad lifted by solid and deep belt vocals. Not much to say besides underwatery vibe due to how slow it was moving.

INMATE – The Salt

F minor. Very riff driven. Only heard part of the intro and the first verse, which seemed to break into something atmospheric, likely the calm before the storm of a chorus. There might be a bridge or a guitar solo somewhere, but with the end of the verse introducing more symphonic elements, I can imagine a possible world where another break comes into play similar to 0:36 in this video of “Forlorn Hope” by the band After Forever, the first band of Floor Jansen, current lead singer of Nightwish and their third lead singer to have expressed interest in Eurovision.

Manca Berlec – Večnost (Eternity)

F# major, jazz and Latin influences. The drum rim shot pattern (played by striking the metal side of the snare drum with the stick) generally hits on 2 and the + (and) of 3, like so (rim shot timing denoted by “/”):

    /     /     |
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + |

I’m getting a coffeehouse vibe from this, between the jazz guitar and the woodwinds in the background. The song might use more interplay between the instruments and maybe percussive techniques than by adding additional instruments as per a song with more electronic influence.

Tinkara Kovač – Forever

B major. Sounds like orchestrated pop rock ballad stuff. A bit of guitar soloing. I miss her flute chops. We just heard the ending; I’m expecting this to start with piano at the beginning. There might be room for the flute before the full rock band comes in, but not for the whole song.

Božidar Wolfand–Wolf – Maybe Someday

3/4 with many ghost notes on the snare drums. I am imagining either a Secret Garden (Norway 1995) direction or folk-pop. Sounds like some organ in the background too, as well as background ah’s and heys. The non-lyrical chorus at the end proceeds to strip the non-drums and non-gang vocals. Could be fun! Could start with far less on the drum side of things and gradually build until a triumphant final chorus.

Parvani Violet – Cupid

Band on stage. E major. Nice brass/sax part. Roses in hand; I suppose “Cupid” would suggest a love song. Slightly breathy and quick vibrato in her vocals. Guitarist and saxophonist swaying with the beat. Nice bass fill around 1:03. Pizzicato strings in second “verse”. This would be even more fun without pre-recorded band instruments. Nice bridge ending up to B5 on vocals. Break just before band comes back in at 2:45 is fun. Very non-chalant C#6 around 2:51. Cute.

Klara Jazbec – Stop the World

A major. Pop ballad with piano, programmed beats, and synths or strings. Verse somewhat strongly in F# minor, but instead of a V-i, I think this song used a v-i (C# minor to F# minor chord), which is not as strong as V-i and is weaker than the E-A V-I action going on in the chorus. The melody picks up in the chorus in terms of pitch. I would expect more buildup during the bridge (should there be one) and more lyrics then – the chorus had a lot of “you” in terms of length and frequency.

Imset – Femme Fatale

I was expecting more rock band vibes, but I think that’s just INMATE. There is a techno vibe here in C minor. Focus is mainly on percussion (four on the floor bass drum and some cymbals for the most part) and the repeating bass synth pattern, which is playing every third and fourth sixteenth note. Resetting the groove between verse and chorus, then introducing more harmonic instrumentation (vibraphone, it sounds like). Could work with a really fat sawtooth or distorted guitar as well, more electrorock in the vibe like Apoptygma Berzerk could be nice. There might be a break in the percussion if there’s a bridge, which would allow for the music to breathe a bit instead of forcing the beat on the listener through the entire song with no rest.

Lina Kuduzović – man like u

Piano ballad, F minor. I hear a tresillo (3+3+2) pattern clearly despite the low-quality sound. There are definitely EDM production values going on behind the piano sounds. There was a large jump in volume between the verse and chorus. The chorus is reminding me of a combination of “Beautiful Mess” (Bulgaria 2017) and 90’s boy band percussion arrangements. Possible concerns about oversinging and overproduction. Should probably tone down the instrumentals on a bridge if there is one and then build into a final chorus slowly.

Of these 12 acts, which do you think will win EMA and represent Slovenia in this year’s edition of Eurovision? Leave a comment below or in our social media links!

Photo: Albin Olsson. License: CC BY-SA 3.0.

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