Today, we head to the land of spas, goulash and Rubik’s Cubes. It’s Hungary!!!
Hungary first participated in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1994. That year also provided them with their best result ever, a fourth-place finish by Friderika Bayer with “Kinek mondjam el vétkemet?”. They took a hiatus from the contest from 1999 to 2004 and again in 2006 and 2010. In 2015, András Kállay-Saunders finished fifth in the final with “Running”, their second best result ever. Last year, Freddie finished 19th in the final with “Pioneer”.
The Hungarian broadcaster, Media Services and Support Trust Fund (MTVA), organised the sixth edition of A Dal (The Song), to select the Hungarian entry. This method has given Hungary final qualifiers every year. 30 songs intially competed over 3 heats. In each heat, the jury and public chose five qualifiers. A sixth qualifier was chosen by the public from the five entries that did not originally win the vote. 18 songs competed over two semi-finals, with three qualifiers decided by jury and public voting and one additional qualifier by public voting alone. In the final, the winner was selected over two rounds of voting. In the first round, the jury selected four songs to advance to the superfinal. In the superfinal, public voting alone decided the winner. Joci Pápai eventually won the Hungarian ticket to Kyiv.
Jószef “Joci” Pápai was born on September 22nd 1981 in Tata in northwestern Hungary. He is the first person of Romani descent to represent Hungary. At the age of four, he started playing guitar. His father was the leader of a gypsy orchestra. His first public performance was in 2005, when he auditioned for the second season of Megasztár. He was eliminated before the live shows. Undeterred, he released his first single Ne nézz így rám (Don’t look at me like that) later that year and the song was a success. He collaborated with the rapper Majka on the songs Nélküled (Without You) and Nekem ez jár, (I Deserve This) in 2006 but his greatest success came in 2015 with Mikor a test örexik (When the body is old). His entry for Kyiv “Origo” (Origin) is a self-written and composed track.
This song blends Hungarian and Romani musical traditional music with modern sounds and the result? A modern representation of Hungary. I must also commend the rap in this because it’s one of the few times I’ve rap in a Eurovision song done well. However, I’m not exactly raving about it either. It gets a tad repetitive after a while and it doesn’t really go anywhere. Hungary may struggle to qualify for the final.
What Could Have Been
Hungary seemed keen on sending a song in their native tounge this year, as five of the eight finalists performed in Hungarian. One of these, and the better choice in my opinion, was Gabi Tóth & Freddie Shuman feat. Begi Lofti with “Hosszú idők” (Long times). This song is epic, almost primal at times. Gabi gives a captivating performance and while the public loved it, she never got much love from the jury. If the jury had thought better of her, Hungary might have been a challenger for first place this year.
Sok szerencsét Magyarországra!
Is this the origin of good or bad times for Joci? Leave your comments below. Stay tuned tomorrow for another Eurovision preview!
(Sources: eurovision.tv, MTVA, YouTube)