Czech Republic brings African rhythms to Eurovision with Benny Cristo’s ‘Kemama’
After years of struggling and disappointing results, the Czech Republic seems to finally have found their place in the Eurovision Song Contest. They reached a respectable 6th place in 2018 (with ‘Lie To Me’ by Mikolas Josef) and 11th place in 2019 (with Lake Malawi’s ‘Friend of a Friend’). Just like last year, the Czech broadcaster opted for an online selection based on studio versions of the songs and the music videos. A jury consisting of former participants and online voters from all over the world had to choose between a strong selection of seven songs in different genres, of which none would have sounded out of place at Eurovision. In the end Benny Cristo turned out to be victorious with the song ‘Kemama’.
Benny Cristo, born and raised in Czech Republic with Angolan roots, is an established artist in his home country. He dropped his first tunes in 2009 and has collected millions of streams in the past years under the name Ben Cristovao. His ‘Kemama’ is an unapologetically upbeat and swinging tune that mixes pop, hiphop and strong African rhythms and beats. In the lyrics, he seems to be addressing his mum, telling part of his life story as well as assuring her (and us of course) that he will be fine as he ‘can dance on his own’. The uplifting lyrics in combination with the swinging rhythm is irresistible. It is almost impossible to not bop along! The only issue that could arise with this song is that the melody is quite repetitive, but that will be more of an issue with Euro fans who will hear the song a lot in the coming months than for the casual viewers who might hear it just a couple of times before voting.
So what can we expect from this type of song in Eurovision? ‘Kemama’ sounds like a tune that could actually be in the charts around Europe as a summer hit and I can see this reach a young audience which might televote for it. It is hard to predict how the juries will respond to this, but there is a high chance this will be the only song in this genre which will help. Let’s hope the Czech delegation will go big with the staging. This track needs to be a massive party on stage with contagious happiness, tons of energy and swinging choreography. if they make this happen, I can see the Czech Republic easily sail into the final for the third year in a row.
Update: Benny Cristo performed ‘Kemama’ live for the first time during the Ukrainian national final. In terms of energy, vocals and contagious dance moves he made a more than decent impression. He is fun to watch on stage, but he will need more dancers and a bigger show in Rotterdam to fully get the energy of this track across.
Update 2: The Czech delegation uploaded a revamped edition of ‘Kemama’. Although the change of tone in the last chorus will definitely help with the repetitiveness of the tune, but those added continuous guitar loops are distracting from the contagious drum rhythms. This might not be much of an issue with the audience who hasn’t heard the song before though.
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