Eurovision 2019 Review: Slovenia – Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl – Sebi

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Slovenia selects duo with minimal electro pop
It is safe to say that Slovenia is not exactly an expert on how to rock the Eurovision Song Contest in the 21st century. The last time the country reached top 10, was back in 2001. In the 15 years that the system with semi finals is used, Slovenia only made it into the grand final on 5 occasions, of which one was last year, when Lea Sirk stranded in 22nd position. This year another edition of their national final EMA was organized and duo Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl were crowned the winners with their song ‘Sebi’. Will they be able to turn the tide for Slovenia?

Let me start off by saying that sending ‘Sebi’ to the Eurovision stage is a huge risk. Everything about it is quite minimal and understated and we all know that is not a very common Eurovision approach. When done right though, these stripped back acts stand out and could go all the way. It will be hard for Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl to become one of those acts. Their atmospheric, but minimal electro pop midtempo song ‘Sebi’ lacks any type of build up and is quite the monotonous affair. Only after a couple of spins, the chorus started to stand out to these ears and you simply don’t have the time for that in Eurovision. Then there is the language barrier. A song like ‘Sebi’ probably relies quite a bit on its lyrics, which will not reach a whole lot of people around Europe as it is all in Slovenian. Having said all that, I do have to admit that I enjoy the song for what it is and I appreciate the risk the Slovenian people dared to take, but it makes me wonder if there is such a thing as a song or style that simply isn’t suitable for Eurovision. It is not too good, nor not good enough, but maybe the fact that it takes a while to unfold the beauty of it, makes it unsuitable for Eurovision purposes.

The performance completely suits the song in a sense that there is no build up and it all looks simple and understated. Vocally Zala delivers and them holding hands throughout the performance is cute, but I believe they could do more to sell the song. Zala and Gašper come across as inexperienced on stage and as the venue in Tel Aviv will be much bigger than the one in Slovenia, they definitely need to work on their stage presence and how to interact with cameras around them. Judging by the performance at EMA I don’t think they will stand much of a chance to make it into the final, but I hope I am wrong because this is an original, lovely entry.

Review on their semi-final performance:
Slovenian duo Zala and Gašper brought an intimate performance of their understated electronic tune ‘Sebi’ to the Eurovision stage. Although it completely lacks energy, there is something quite intriguing and captivating about both the song and the performance. There is hardly any build up in the dreamy ‘Sebi’ yet I find myself to be listening at the edge of my seat for three minutes. They are competely focused on each other during the performance, but with the camera circling around them, that is not a problem. Vocally, Zala is steady. It remains to be seen if their introverted performance will still stand out on Saturday, but they earned their place in the final!

Review on their final performance and result:
Some criticized the Slovenian performance by Zala and Gasper for completely lacking energy, but I did find their intimate and timid staging for ‘Sebi’ quite endearing. Zala seemed to be more nervous than during the semi-final, but it did not affect her vocals too much. With such a subtle tune in their own language, they should be proud of the fact they almost made top 10 with televoters (11th). The juries awarded them the 17th spot, bringing them on a very respectable 15th place overall.


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