Origo – Joci Pápai

At the time that I wrote my big Eurovision Preview Post, the received wisdom was that including any element of rap, especially native language rap in your Eurovision song was a route to sure non-qualification. Instead, I’m delighted that Joci, Alexandra and Emeses not only comfortably qualified (2nd in the semi!), but finished 8th in the Eurovision Grand Final.

It’s pretty obvious what appealed to me about Origo – the overall sound is cool, but Joci practically vibrates with tension as he pours out the pain of a lifetime of being on the receiving end of anti-Roma prejudice, so the song is in a constant state of edgy energy. Alexandra’s improvised dance tells us the parts of the story that we miss because we don’t understand Hungarian. She loves him, it’s magical, it’s overpowering it’s desperate, it’s agony. Emeses stands over on the satellite stage, playing the insistent violin riff and generally working the crowd into a frenzy. I spoke to Emeses just before the Grand Final – she was so excited to be a part of the performance, and was explaining that she never intended to go so crazy with the crowd around the satellite stage, but that the enthusiasm from the fans at her feet swept her away.

I think the strength of support for Hungary – they received televote points from 33 out of 42 countries and came 8th overall – is additional evidence for my theory that the best performing Eurovision songs no longer necessarily have to sound like ‘Eurovision songs’ and that the public are musically informed and open-minded enough to accept great songs and strong performances in any genre, especially when they tell such a strong story of love and pain.


One thought on “Origo – Joci Pápai

  1. “Non-English rap works at Eurovision shocker” – this and “Utopian Land” were the only ones of their type that I felt worked at Eurovision but Greece crashed and burned with theirs in 2016. The difference perhaps with “Origo” is that the rap was part of the whole, rather than a stand out performance piece as it is normally played at the ESC – Joci gave the required passion and even aggression needed for it to work, for that part of this entry to make the viewer think “I don’t understand what he is saying but he is making me believe it”.

    Hungary is now the home of the alternative ethnic entry, of social comment whatever the language used…

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