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Bulgaria: Equinox – Bones

The months of waiting are over as Bulgaria finally unveil their much-hyped super-group, Equinox, and their Eurovision entry, Bones. Equinox will perform Bones in the first half of semi-final 1. Bulgaria's PR machine has been in full swing since late December and I was lucky enough to be invited to take part in Bulgaria's Eurovision selection process. The standard was quite low, but Bones stood head and shoulders above the other songs. My immediate description was Rag'n'Bone Man meets Azerbaijan 2017. Unfortunately, as a contest song it struggles to push the emotional buttons required to win or position itself above several…
Song Appeal
Vocal Strength
Staging Potential
Likely Televote Appeal
Likely Jury Appeal

Fractured

Unfortunately, as a contest song it struggles to push the emotional buttons required to win or position itself above several other entries.

User Rating: 3.95 ( 93 votes)

The months of waiting are over as Bulgaria finally unveil their much-hyped super-group, Equinox, and their Eurovision entry, Bones.

Equinox will perform Bones in the first half of semi-final 1.

Bulgaria’s PR machine has been in full swing since late December and I was lucky enough to be invited to take part in Bulgaria’s Eurovision selection process. The standard was quite low, but Bones stood head and shoulders above the other songs. My immediate description was Rag’n’Bone Man meets Azerbaijan 2017.

Unfortunately, as a contest song it struggles to push the emotional buttons required to win or position itself above several other entries. It’s stylish, but too dark and also lacks a discernible message or connection. Admittedly, this can be achieved with staging. Unbeknownst to me at the time of rating the Bulgarian selection, two of the artists are American and are not the sort to attract much of a televote in the East and Balkan regions. Bulgarians are taking to forums to voice their disapproval. How this is reflective of the wider population is debatable, but it does confirm my early worries.

The Equinox group, or ‘common framework’ as described on BNT’s Twitter feed, should be reliable vocalists. Of that I have no major concerns. My slight reservation at the time of previewing the Bulgarian selection was that Zhana entered a song independently and her diction was terrible. And following the news that Bulgaria was in discussions with Loreen, it suggests Zhana was probably second or third choice. Even so, her part in the song will be minimal when compared to JJ’s lead role.

Back to Zhana and perhaps the group as a whole, the styling is extremely futuristic and incredibly off putting. They have the look of a cast of extras from a sci-fi B-movie. If this is the edgy, avant-guard concept intended for Lisbon, I worry for their ability progress from the semi-final, given the strength in the first half.

As I briefly touched on in our Melodifestivalen Final Preview when discussing Felix Sandman’s song, to do well at Eurovision with this sort of entry, it has to have an element of hope and optimism. Bones doesn’t possess any of that, so the fallback position is relying on five singers lacking any personal bond to sell a dark-themed song to Europe. What’s more, two of singers have no connection to Bulgaria or their regional diaspora. So how does this enter the televoting top-5 ahead of some of the livelier bigger hitters selected? Last year they could rely on a contemporary pop-ballad performed by a telegenic lad with an incredible voice.

Before Poli Genova’s If Love Was a Crime injected new life into the Bulgarian Eurovision project, the nation qualified just once since 2005. Bones is better than all of those previous failed qualification attempts, but that overlooks the precarious nature of semi-final 1 and Bulgaria’s lack of hard support. Bulgaria are pitted against Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia and Israel. Only five countries have ever progressed from the first half of the semi-final. If that record is to be broken this year, Equinox need to appear more televote friendly.

  • Contemporary and well produced song
  • Group reportedly capable of delivering live
  • Has some regional allies in semi, some juries didn’t rate Kristian high last year
  • Harsh styling could depress televote support
  • No emotional hook/connection and no ‘big moment’
  • Very tricky semi-final to qualify from

Has Bones got the muscle to power into the top-5?

About Gavster

Owner & Chief Editor   I’m a qualified designer and the official geek in the crew, dedicating most of my free time to keeping the ESCtips show on the road. My family routes allow me to support the UK, Ireland and Italy.

56 comments

  1. Not the winner! What was all the hype about?

  2. I think their biggest challenge is to make this not look plasticky. It is a tough one, because this is not a cohesive group, there are like five guys put there on the stage for the first time ever, while they have very little, or even nothing in common. The song is not bad, but I believe was overhyped by their PR machine. Is it the one from the selections, Gav?

    • It is and these weren’t the artists on the demo [apart from 1], which I’ll touch on in the review.

      • The question is, would it have won in its current incarnation? I think it will not reach its potential even after the first 2-3 rehearsals, as I must say again that bringing so many artists on the same page will be very difficult. Also, won’t the staging be very static? They have room for only one extra person on the stage and with no LEDs, the camerawork has to be sharp and on point.

        This can either make them look like geniuses or fail miserably flat. It’s definitely a challenge.

  3. Just listened to Bulgaria. A case of ‘so much excitement about nothing’. Way too difficult for my ears. Videoclip reminds me of “Blade Runner 2049”. Moody song, but think too moody.

  4. Well, I do expect it to be top 10. Bulgaria have gotten the staging down the past 2 years. I’d imagine they have a vision for this too.

    With that in mind I’m mildly let down after all of hype. The voices do mesh decently together but it doesn’t feel all that cohesive as a package to me. Also, it just screams Loreen track, and I wish she would have competed with this in MF instead of Statements. If she really was a part of the demo, then that’s a big disappointment she backed out.

    As a song it’s pretty good, but I find the chorus much weaker than the verses, which are quite beautiful. To me it’s in a similar vein to Azerbaijan’s song from last year, but a bit more moody.

  5. Good song and Bulgaria are in the running with it, but it’s not what it was made out to be. 18s feels right.
    Was it necessary for them to draft in 5 singers to do this though? It seems excessive and will make it hard to stage effectively and they should be trying to make this more accessible, without some styling. Will need a great jury score and a levelled out televote, because I don’t see this winning with the public.

  6. This is what happens when you try too hard.I cant remember anything of the song a minute after hearing it.The look is also far too harsh for winning material.The juries might go for it,but the televote shouldnt be anything special.The staging will need to be fantastic and thats not easy given the five of them and the plodding along melody.Bulgaria did well with good pop songs and very voteable artists,they seem to of forgot that here.

    • This 🙂 Comes across very plastic

      I picture this with a LED-show that needs to elevate everything, but that might be hard with the stage this year.

  7. Positives:
    – A very modern sounding piece of dreamy pop
    – It’s accessible on first listen

    Negatives:
    – By the third listen I was starting to get bored with it
    – As others have said, this might be difficult to stage effectively
    – It’s the type of music that sounds better on a car radio than on the Eurovision stage

    If the live vocals and staging are good, given its contemporary feel, I can see the juries putting this in their top 5. I’m not so sure this is a televote song though.

    So, despite this being another good quality entry, I don’t see Bones as a winner. Top 10 may be the best it can hope for.

  8. So dissapointing. If skeletons didnt set the scoreboard on fire, what does make people think that this will do? ( and skeletons was better! )
    I think the lyrics are bad and dark songs doesnt really click with the eurovision public. They should have given the song only to the girl, they are all so different looking. Reminds me of the fyrom 2015 disastrous performance, so random.

  9. The studio version is average at best.
    I am curious to see if the bulgarian performance will be good or a mess.
    Still cant understand why they didn’t give the song only to the girl, they just made things more difficult for themselves coz
    a) there may be a big problem with cohision, they may end up looking like seperate x factor finalists on a team performance
    b) 5 spots already taken on stage so they cant do many things, given the lack of leds too.

    I dont think this is top 10 material like many believe. And if someone thinks juries go for this kind of tracks should doublecheck.

  10. I’m not writing off Bulgaria just yet, but you have to admit that they look like a bunch of cold, angry vampires.

    • If they were stood next to a ATM cash machine looking shifty i wouldnt want to be sticking my visa card in,they look like a card skimming outfit.

  11. Boring, no hook, they look terrifying

    Overhyped mess

  12. What can I say? Don’t believe the hype. I only heard hints from people on the internal jury selection, but I had a good idea not to follow the crowd and bet on this. Relieved that I took that road because on reveal I was totally underwhelmed.

    Bulgaria had a good run going edgy with Poli and Kristian, but now I think they have crossed the line. The tune has gone entirely too low-key commercial, the group formation seems incohesive, and from what I have heard proposed of the staging will be extremely dark and moody. Kristian also had dark staging, but what you also had was a good looking young man who could hold your attention in one place. This time you won’t have that, either in focus (split between 5 people), and I think will be too ‘out there’ to form any sort of lasting affliiation for in the 3 minutes. There is nothing here I can grab hold of in the first 30 seconds that makes me even want to stay and watch/listen.

    I’m wondering, if it wasn’t Bulgaria providing this (given their recent success and fan love), would it even still be in the odds at under 20/1?

  13. I love it – I think it will do well, partly because it’s Bulgaria and partly because it’s a good song

  14. If this was the UK it would be about 40-1. I actually quite like it but it’s not even as good as Skeletons from last year and that bombed. No high point and not memorable. No way a winner but top 10 possible.

  15. I think that the song is very good, but I do not believe that they will be able to perform it live and not lose the atmosphere. And I think it’s good to listen in my headphones, but not on the big stage. And I think that it’s just not remembered, it just passes, another song begins and you just can not remember this song.

  16. I still fail to see any connection between Bones and Skeletons, except for the name?! Why is everybody comparing those?

    • Sometimes it isn’t a direct musical comparison but rather one of mood and style. If lots of people are suggesting this, it doesn’t mean they are wrong just because you disagree.

      • I fail to see it. This is why I am asking. I thought somebody can explain this in more detail without being rude…

      • I actually agree. Bulgaria is a beautiful quality entry perhaps. And therefore it should enter the left hand side of the scoreboard. But I think it’s simply too dark to do a TOP 3. In that sense it has this same ‘darkness’ as Azerbaijan 2017 (“Skeletons”). And perhaps as alternative as Armenia 2017, which also didn’t do that well as previously anticipated.

        • Quality between Skeletons and this is enormous. Skeletons also failed with their stage show, it didn’t really work on TV. And I strongly disagree with this being too dark to win. Gav claims that a winning song has to have some positive vibes and also finds it in Jamala? Jamala was hardly a positive song yet it managed to win. I would not say Salvador was happy either. It was emotional, but not a happy song.

        • Skeletons was just weird and more than a tiny bit scary with its staging. I think visually it was a mess.

          I agree that Bulgaria can be lumped in with it because it shares a potentially dark theme…but the song is a lot more than that….asking you to go beyond the superficial and material to ponder the eternal nature of love….
          It could all fall flat with limp staging and if they come across as a cross between Lordi and Brotherhod of Man it will be a write off…BUT with all that mention of “dust”, if they can capture a bit of the Philip Pullman imagination, it is not inconceivable that they pull something off which is quite special.

          Of all the songs, I think it is one of the hardest to call at this stage. It’s great value at the moment because of the price drift and anti-climax when it dropped. If they are deemed to have pulled a staging rabbit out of the hat, it’ll shorten to be 2nd fave I think. But it’s a song that requires faith and a certain amount of nerve at this point. I more than understand why people are wary with eight weeks still to go.

    • I just remembered this comment when I saw this…

  17. While I appreciate what they are trying to do I think this will finish well outside the top 10 if it qualifies. It sounds like a song by committee.

  18. It’s not a song, but obssesion. I can listen to this all day and still get goosebumps! It looks like Bulgaria didn’t come to compete, they came to teach us how to do beautiful music properly. I’ve just read there will be a 6th hidden vocal element behind the stage – a Bulgarian folklore singer, who will be responsible for those specific “cosmic” vibes, most noticeable in the beginning and at the end of their entry. I usually trust ESCtips, not this time. I see this song winning the whole contest with ease. I don’t see any winning potential in those who are high in the odds – Israel (agressive, sexists, swear and f*** words – this simply cannot be rated high by both jury and televote), Estonia (boring opera), Czhechia – zero chances to make it to the top 5, Australia – not good enough this year. In 2018 I see no other song with such a strong message and potential for victroy. However, vocal perfection and futuristic staging are a must to grab people by the hearts. They need this to make people vote. Sure they know very well how to do it. Well done, Bulgarians, you got my vote and money this year!

    • Totally agree with you, Aurin. It’s a brilliant song – hypnotic, rythmic, somewhat delicate, a bit dark but also light, just beautiful! And the lyrics are soo poetic but also unsettling. It’s made for music lovers for sure but it’s also packaged as a radio friendly entry. I listened to a few covers. I think its original sound was alternative rock, which makes total sense. At least when you break it down to an acoustic version – the pace, the key, etc. A solid song overall with a clear composiion and no excessive vocal gymnastics that other composers use to “impress” / cause laughter. I consider it a polished composition, edgy enough to attract attention, moody enough to be interesting, melodic enough to chant to it and mystical/ethnic enough to give a Bulgarian flavour. Overall the only candidate for victory having a full package with a pinch of creativity. Everything else has been heard before + Israel’s chicken attempt. So, to me this sails straight to the first place. Not to mention that if they win, it’s gonna be the first singers of African descent winning the contest. 😉 This entry has the full potential to create the perfect storm for victory if they play their cards correctly. 😀

      • “Everything else has been heard before + Israel’s chicken attempt.” – just searching for that past chicken-song attempt in the Eurovision back-catalogue. No. Can’t find it.

        “it’s gonna be the first singers of African descent winning the contest” – Dave Benton might have something to say about that.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wri72BfnGh4

        • You didn’t get Alisa’s meaning I think. She wrote, everything else has been heard before, PLUS Israel’s chicken attempt. She meant Israel is the one exception we have not heard before – admitedly, we get the sense she may not think too much of it, but that is something else. I agree with Aurin and Alisa anyway. Bulgarian song is magnificent and in a totally different league to most of the other songs. If they are going to succeed on stage, or if the public and juries are going to get it or fall for it remains to be seen.

  19. On first listen this goes nowhere and no hope of winning. Grows on you and feels classy but nothing that Saturday night viewers will vote for in droves.

  20. People seem ready to write this out of the top 10.

    I think its strong enough to go for top 5 if the staging is right. It will stand out and the singers have a distinct look. The song has a distinctive sound.

    It is all a rather big ask at the moment though. But the package is good enough.

  21. Shame, shame,shame to all of you! The message of the song is that love continue beyond the mortal of this earth. The only thing we can bvalyaear after the earthly end, and continue to thrive in the dust of the universe, that is love. Love is worn in the soul, not in the body. The whole universe is gathered in five perfect vocals and in only those three minutes! This song is а MONSTER! This is the only Eurovision song that can go through your flesh and bones and contact to your soul, and not just with your eyes and ears. To deny this song means to deny existence of life.The presence of the two Americans in the group shows that humanity is late in overcoming national borders and human differences. The Eurovision logo also calls for the reunification of people. The whole project and the song are beyond this world. It is a feast of immortality and eternity of humanity. Brilliant performance! Genius idea! Just a phenomenal song! This is the best Eurovision song ever.

    • Your nickname sounds very Bulgarian 😉

      • Is there some sort of a campaign against the Bulgarian song this year? :O I dont get these comments to be honest. Can someone explain why so many people here comment how bad this song in particular is? Am I missing something here? Not to mention there is no reaction to the other articles at all. Some of the claims used in this article tbh sound quite childish: “the styling is extremely futuristic and incredibly off putting”. This makes no sense to me. I’d like to see an explanation from the author how can a futuristic look be “extreme” and “off-putting” at the same time, LOL. So, futurism as a genre is something bad? Or it’s some kind of “futuristic extremism” that they are portraying? And why is that bad and off-putting as a whole? What exactly in their looks is so troubling, LOL? I’m just looking at the article and I’m really “bizarred” right now… Who knows, I might be way too “smart” for an ESC viewer, but I don’t see anything wrong with their visual campaign. They look cool and memorable, their song is catchy. I really like this entry – it’s the most accessible, complete song this year. 🙂

        • “how can a futuristic look be “extreme” and “off-putting”” – by making them appear too austere, difficult to relate to and ultimately, unvoteable.

        • It seems the mental development of mankind is still at the level of ordinary mammals, and not human being. I suppose next year Bulgaria should take a few steps down to the level of gorillas and chickens to be appreciated. the mental development of mankind is still at the level of ordinary mammals,and not human being. Next year Bulgaria should take a few steps down to the level of gorillas and chickens, to be appreciated.

      • I’m bulgarian, that’s why. Do you mind?

  22. And despite all of the negativity above… they just showed how wrong most of the comments are…. as a result Equinox just jump 3 places up in the odds (from 7 to 4). With the right staging it will set the bar to beat, and it will be remarkable. Good luck.

    • I think the jury is still out for now, as at points it’s clear they were miming or had help from a backing track.

      • Perhaps, but it is clear the vocal potential of the whole group (each individual can sing live), so it is a matter of time (30+ days) to see how it will be really accepted.

    • Lisica,a lot of people have been backing Bulgaria as it drifted out,myself included as they understood the package more (and the others packages),but tend to keep things to themselves at this stage as they structure a book,remember this is a betting site and unlike fan sites gamblers will change their stance on evidence and as the prices open up value.I think they have a good chance of winning ESC,but the red flags remain,mainly around presentation/staging as its going to be difficult to pull off and give televoters a reason to pick up the phone.What i did find really worked was the backing singer Mia D.I had hoped they would use a strong female folk/ethnic voice in the background to really lift the ethnic parts and they have it seems.All the songs this year have red flags.Some like Australia and Estonia are paper thin songs with quality artists.Israel is sexist,harsh and making chicken noises,yet great.Czech is interesting,but filler really,Italy has potential,or its just two blokes shouting at you with RAIs staging motto “whats staging?”.France sounds like a Guardian article in song with a random bloke on a guitar.

      At this stage my top four are Bulgaria,Australia,Israel and Italy,but a long way to go yet and open to change.Interesting year.

      • Always enjoy reading your opinions. From what I remember we’re quite on thesame line the last few years. Also agree on most of this post.

        I can’t really form a top 4 in this stage, but if I had to I probably wouldn’t put Italy in there, but certainly not writing them off. Do you know if it’s allowed to just put subtitles on this during the performance? It comes across 10x better if you watch it with subtitles. Also, shit to say and let’s hope it won’t, but what if something terror-related happens. This will change the emotions/views on this performance in a massive way…

        I’m really on the team that Israel is a false favourite, for these odds for sure. How can you back them for these odds if you analyse the jury part of this. Not ruling it out if it’s gonna be credible on the staging, but no way these odds are fair.

        France couldn’t even win the international jury in the national final… They really need something special on stage to elevate this. Also think people are a bit tired of these super obvious messages in a song.

        Not digging Czech. Yes, I see some potential, but not seeing any winner vibes at all. Comes across way too fake/plastic schoolboy swag and the song isn’t that great.

        Haven’t backed Bulgaria, but I see where you’re coming from after the drift. Just pretty much dislike the whole Bulgaria team thing. I know the public wouldn’t know, but this is more of a project then a genuine song. Also, remember the jury didn’t give any point to the bookies favourites last year (coincidence, think not…)! Seem to be only in it to win it. Also not ruling it out though…

        How do view NL? It’s my only main bet this year, with a few other smaller ones.

        Basicly can’t form big favourites for myself. There’s a lot of possibilities, but none of them have a big advantage imo. This together with the false favourite odd, think the value is in some of the big(ger) odds, like NL.

  23. I think people are overreacting during all these fan concerts. Staging triumphs do happen, but in the end all this fan-stuff and übercrazy fan concert attendees is clouding our judgment of something very simple and basic: A good authentic unique song, that will be voted by judges and televoters alike.

    There are always exceptions off course. But if a song is too ‘niche’, too alternative or too dark, or too elaborate as a concept, then it could struggle. Even a well staged act needs to connect with audiences. And we saw that both Hans Pannecoucke (Netherlands 2015, Spain 2017) and Sacha-Jean Baptiste (Georgia 2017, Armenia 2017, Australia 2017) are only ‘elements’ of a total package. In the end Portugal won last year because it was a cr531#acking, original song that emoted perfectly. Same with Ukraine in 2016. And almost with Australia 2016 and Netherlands 2014. They all “goosebumped” Europe.

    Sorry to say it, but I don’t see it happening with Bulgaria. The reason that even betters act at times like the fanwanker-next-door, is because they overanalize, because they get drawn in by a Bulgarian promo-campaign that will get unnoticed by most (remember the individual Eurovision Promo Tours before fan concerts became the next best thing?) and because Bulgaria did a TOP 4 in the past two years (results from the past eventually are not a guarantee for present-day results).

    If you do want to compare, then you also need to be aware that every year is a different year. An Armenia 2017 and Azerbaijan 2017 could have performed differently with a different field of competitors. But my initial impression stays the same about Bulgaria: It’s too dark, way too convoluted, and lacks a more natural emotional resonance.

    Bulgaria will do well. Make no mistake. But keep your eyes closed sometimes and imagine how it will actually look like on the big Eurovision stage and how it could “touch” Europe’s emotions. Instead of overestimating a few aspects to hide an otherwise less sympathic, less authentic song.

    The songs this year that really do it for me are:
    – Australia (sympathic to all non-Eurovision minded human beings)
    – Czech Republic (sympathic to all non-Eurovision minded human beings)
    – Israel (sympathic to all non-Eurovision minded human beings)
    – Netherlands (sympathic to all non-Eurovision minded human beings)
    – Sweden (sympathic to all non-Eurovision minded human beings)

    Bulgaria is not one of them. Nice lower end of the left hand side of the scoreboard. But that’s about it.

    PS: Sorry for being a bit grumpy in my post hehe.

  24. Well they’re clearly no Genealogy. I am curious about how Zhana is going to fit into the staging when she sings for about 5 seconds as it’s in fact Johnny Manuel who is singing the main high notes.

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