Review: VICTORIA – a little dramatic EP (potential Eurovision 2021 entries)

VICTORIA releases debut EP with potential Eurovision songs
If it wasn’t for the coronavirus, VICTORIA would have represented her home country Bulgaria at the Eurovision Song Contest last year. Her song ‘Tears Getting Sober’ was one of the favorites for the win (and this blogs number 1) and although she sadly isn’t allowed to use this song again this year, the Bulgarian broadcaster decided to ask her back for 2021. She continued to put out excellent pop music and now releases the EP a little dramatic. One of the songs on here will be chosen as the Bulgarian entry.

The track consists of five tracks that will be premiered one by one in the coming days, after which the Bulgarian Eurovision team will use the feedback to select the entry. ‘ugly cry’, the single she released at the end of last year, is not part of the EP, but is also still considered a potential song for the contest. Check out my track by track review, which will be updated as the new songs drop!

imaginary friend
VICTORIA co-wrote ‘imaginary friend’ together with Cornelia Wiebols and Irma Eriksson Wadström while Wiebols and Oliver Björkvall were responsible for the production. The track is a contemporary sounding, dreamy, delicate pop tune. VICTORIA’s style has been compared to Billie Eilish before, mostly thanks to the way her vocals are produced and they have never sounded better than on ‘imaginary friend’. The high pitched humming on the chorus is the sound of angels! This vulnerable song about unrequited love is not a big number with a bombastic chorus tailor made for Eurovision, but it has rich, subtle melodies that draw you in from the first time you hear it anyway. I can already picture a classy staging and quite a few points for Bulgaria if they choose ‘imaginary friend’.

dive into unknown
‘dive into unknown’ is produced by Lukas Oskar and co-written by VICTORIA, Oskar, Pauline Skott, Borislav Milanov en Peter st James. The track starts out as a piano ballad with beautiful melodies in both the verses and chorus. As the instrumentation builds slowly but steadily, the track strips back again at the end of the chorus to showcase the gorgeous higher register to VICTORIA’s vocals. She even belts a little over the last chorus, which is a welcome change to her mostly subdued vocal style. The song, for which the songwriters were inspired by the sound of the ocean, is classy and elegant, in a similar manner to last year’s ‘Tears Getting Sober’. To me, this tune is slightly less instant than ‘imaginary friend’ was for example, but I bet quite a few Eurovision countries would kill for two songs like these at their disposal.

phantom pain
‘phantom pain’, the third track of the EP, was co-written by VICTORIA, Helena Larsson and Oliver Björkvall, who also produced the tune. Without wanting to repeat the Billie Eilish comparisons all the time, it has to be said that this track has a similar production to ‘Bury A Friend’, as well as echoing its dark vibe. The song is well produced and VICTORIA’s vocal delivery somewhat ominous, as well as being playful. ‘phantom pain’ seems to make perfect sense as part of the EP and certainly has enough going on to make me want to hit the replay button, but I am not entirely sure of its chances as a stand alone tune on the Eurovision stage. The melodies and lyrics are slightly less memorable after just a few spins than most of VICTORIA’s other output. I would say ‘phantom pain’ is certainly a strong EP track, but I don’t immediately see this work on the Eurovision stage, partly because of the obvious Billie Eilish comparisons it will cause.

the funeral song
VICTORIA co-wrote ‘the funeral song’ together with Helena Larsson, Christopher Samuels, Nellie Fors and Oliver Björkvall, with Larsson and Björkvall producing. From the title, to the lyrics, to the production, ‘the funeral song’ has everything it takes to stand out, even when heard in the midst of 25 other contenders. It just screams for some dramatic, playful staging. The chorus is undeniable and mixes the cute with the dark. The post-chorus electronic touch gives the track the necessary edge and the way the lyrics come full circle in the last chorus is very well done. This song suits VICTORIA like a glove and it simply stands out without trying to hard to be contemporary or edgy. I could totally see this work wonders on the Eurovision stage with a memorable funeral-themed staging.

growing up is getting old
The last track of the EP, ‘growing up is getting old’, was co-written by VICTORIA with Maya Nalani, Helena Larsson and Oliver Björkvall (he also produced). What a beautiful way to close this EP! We already heard last year that VICTORIA masters the art of creating a beautifully orchestrated ballad with lush strings and a magical feeling. She once again opens up about her struggles with mental health and anxiety that will be relatable to millenials as well as other generations. Just like ‘the funeral song’, the track serves a beautiful full circle moment in the last chorus where she encourages the listener to try and get back up, because they are worth it. At this stage it is still questionable if there will be any audience at the Eurovision arena in May, but just for a second picture a crowd singing along to this swaying chorus. Goosebumps!

‘UGLY CRY’ is a single which VICTORIA launched in November 2020 and it will not be a part of the EP, but still has a chance to be chosen as the Eurovision 2021 entry. The tune, written and produced by VICTORIA and Billen Ted, is slightly more upbeat and electronic than most of her output. The beatdrop gives the track a contemporary vibe, while the humming and harmonies remain true to her signature style, as well as echoing a similar ominous vibe to tracks on Billie Eilish’s debut record. VICTORIA and her team have mastered the art of sounding trendy without making it sound like they are trying too hard. The music video shows that they have a clear understanding of the visuals that work for their tunes too. ‘UGLY CRY’ is not my personal favorite, but VICTORIA has put the bar quite high for herself by now.

Final notes:
If we just forget about the whole Eurovision competition element for a second, a little dramatic is a beautifully cohesive EP that shows off what VICTORIA can do as an artist, as well as telling personal stories about who she is as a person. Every single track is well-written and exquisitely produced. She found a balance between dark subject matters and ominous undertones and big and bright pop choruses. Whatever happens at Eurovision, she should be proud of this powerhouse EP.

Now when we do consider Eurovision again, I feel like Bulgaria thoroughly deserves a more than decent result with every single song on here. She has a beautiful voice and it seems the Bulgarian team really know what they are doing in terms of the visual side of things as well. If I have to pick a favorite at this time, it would be ‘imaginary friend’, closely followed by ‘the funeral song’ and ‘growing up is getting old’. I’m excited to see what VICTORIA and her team will decide!

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