This is a completely unique song but there’s a lot of things to unpack also. There’s also a long part where there is no singing during the song as well so we’ll see if that spells trouble for Hungary.
These are my own PERSONAL rankings of what I think of 2017’s Eurovision songs but I’m also going to make some bold predictions about the eventual fate of the song. These will probably be very wrong for a variety of reasons including I have no idea what almost half the artists sound like live or what type of staging and song changes could be made. There’s plenty of songs that have been let down by their staging (2016 Spain for example) so in the end they’re just guesses in the dark.
Artist: Joci Pápai
Song Title: Origo
My Ranking: 22nd (out of 43)
Semi Final: 2nd Semi Final
Final placement prediction: NQ
Hungary tends to qualify and then end up on the low scoring end of things for the past few years. Personally I have a hard time remembering most of Poland’s entries because they tend not to stand out of the pack. I am a big fan of András Kállay-Saunders [Hungary 2014] but his song about domestic violence isn’t exactly one I want to put on constant rotation despite it bringing in Hungary’s second highest ever placing at 5th. Kállay-Saunders was again (just like last year and every year) in the running for the national final but managed to get knocked out before the final round of A Dal but I think he might be in the future for Hungary again.
This time around though it’s Joci Pápai who has the honor of hoisting the Hungarian flag at Eurovision. Joci, 35, born in the tiny Hungarian town of Tata is of Romani descent. He is a singer, song writer, and rapper – all of which he does in this entry. He is also a guitarist but fortunately he doesn’t do that in the song also. He has been in the spotlight and the music business since 2005, has several singles, competed in a few singing competitions, and collaborated with other Hungarian artists.
This years song is called “Origo” which means Origin in English. While the song is completely in Hungarian I feel like it’s fairly easy to pick up the meaning of the words and it’s an intensely intimate song so much so that Joci started to cry while singing it during the national final. This touching song is about Joci’s family, their roots, and struggles that he faced growing up in two different cultures. It feels like the natural progression to Jamala’s win with “1944” and I was surprised not to see more songs like this in either the national finals or as submissions.
People have been praising the song because of its interesting rhythms and the fact that it’s completely different from anything else submitted. I had to listen to this song several times to really get in to it and I’m still not sure I’m really on board fully. While beautiful and well crafted the song has downsides that are specific to being entered in Eurovision. The song is not in English (possible strike one), the song has long pauses where there is no singing or vocalization (possible strike two), and the song contains rap which probably was why several songs NQ’d last year (possible strike three). Of all of these the second is the most difficult to overcome for me.
In the staging at the national final there was traditional style dancing and playing of a jug instrument to fill up the time but it’s hard to justify that at Eurovision when everyone else is going to be singing most of the time. Probably more than 1/3 of this song is just backing music – which isn’t live anymore and doesn’t have the weight it once did with a live orchestra. Carrying your country on a playback tracks seems like a rough feat. I’d also like to point out that there is as much empty air time in this song as “do it for your lover”s in Spain’s song. When you look at like that it seems much worse.
While the rap is fine abstractly [and lyrically very meaningful], I don’t personally care for it and I felt like he was a bit of a sloppy rapper during the national final. There’s plenty of time to put a good coat of polish on it but all these things coupled together with what is not a song that is going to get anyone jumping up or down in the aisle might spell trouble for Hungary.
On the off chance that it does qualify, I can see this sitting around 20 like many other entries from the past that have tried to innovate too far away from the mainstream. The hook of the song is at least something people might be able to latch on to or at least mimic in a self-satisfying way without knowing Hungarian. In the end, I’m glad that Hungary went with a song that feels true to itself and to its writer but I think maybe next year they should go back to the drawing board if they want to win.