Is it too early to place bets on who is going to win the jury vote?
Ana Soklič was slated to represent Slovenia last year with “Voda,” a gentle, winding ballad that benefited from her powerful voice. This year, she gets her chance to go to Eurovision with a grand, powerful ballad.
Ana co-wrote this song with her “Voda” partner Bojan Simončič and Slovenian composer and arranger Žiga Pirnat, with English lyrics by Eurovision winner Charlie Mason. Bringing in Mason was a smart idea (and I don’t just say that because I think he reads this blog). He has shown a knack for writing lyrics that offer inspiration without flinching from reality. To wit:
- “You’ll get beaten and bruised/You’ll be scarred into your core/But it’s gonna make you who you are.”
- “Hey child/The fear will never go away/Might as well accept it now.”
- “Can the heart that’s broken cry?”
Not your typical syrupy aphorisms.
The arrangement makes full use of the RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra. It also takes advantage of the rule this year that allows for pre-recorded vocals to provide Ana a full choir to back her up. My favorite part of “Amen” is the orchestration in the bridge, which has some unexpected, jazzy melodies that help build the song to a cathartic, gospel-laden finish.
At the center of it all is Ana Soklič herself, who imbues her song with grace and power. She hinted at her range on “Voda,” but “Amen” puts it on full display. She is a magnificent singer.
My big concern about “Amen” is not that Vincent Bueno named his song for Austria “Amen.” (In fact, he should be worried about Ana.) It’s that the song is musically and thematically similar to Tamara Todevska’s jury winner “Proud.” I think “Amen” is a better song, but Tamara delivered such an iconic performance at the 2019 Song Contest that I worry that Ana could suffer by comparison.
On the other hand, after all that has transpired since the last competitive Eurovision, maybe “Amen” will feel like a lovely release for a lot of the people watching at home.