Lake Malawi headed to Eurovision

The band will represent the Czech Republic at the Tel Aviv contest

The Czech band Lake Malawi with the song “Friend of a Friend” has beaten seven other entries and will represent the Czech Republic in the 2019 Eurovision song contest, to be held in Tel Aviv, Israel, on March 14 to 18. The Israeli entry, “Toy” from singer Netta, won last year’s contest and as a result, Israel is hosting this year.

The Czech entry was selected by a mix of online voting through an app and by an international jury. Online voting took place until Jan. 21. The results can be seen online at www.youtube.com.

Lake Malawi got a total of 22 points in the voting. It tied for first in the jury voting with Barbora Mochowa and “True Colors.” Both got a maximum of 12 points. From the Czech app votes, “Friend of a Friend got 10 points, breaking the tie for first.

“True Colors” got six points for a total of 18, putting it in a three-way tie for second place. The most popular song with the voting public was Jakub Ondra with “Space Sushi,” which ended up in the three-way tie as well. Pam Rabbit with “Easy To Believe” was the third song in the tie for second.

Andrea Holá with “Give Me A Hint” was in fifth place with 12 points overall, Tomáš Boček with “Don't Know Why” was in sixth with nine points, and Hana Barbara with “Poslední slova tobě” and Jara Vymer with “On My Knees” tied for last place with five points each.

This was the second year in a row that the audience could vote on the Czech entry.

The official video for “Friend of a Friend” has close to 97,000 views.

Lake Malawi is an indie-pop band founded in 2013 by lead vocalist and guitarist Albert Černý. The name of the band is inspired by a Bon Iver song.

Other members include Jeroným Šubrt on bass and keys and Antonín Hrabal on drums.
“This is a great dream for me. Before I decided to sign up with the song ‘Friend of a Friend,’ I was wondering what I wanted to do with myself. But then we signed up and I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I thought this might be a way to break into the world,” Albert Černý said when he heard the results.

Since the beginning, Lake Malawi has always aimed to make beyond the Czech Republic and as a consequence performs in English.

Comments on the YouTube page for the Czech entries was less than enthusiastic, though. Many said that none was anywhere near as good as last year’s entry. “So sad that the Czech Republic can't continue the success from last year,” was one comment. “R.I.P. Czech Republic this year,” was another.

A third video viewer said their expectations were probably too high after last year when the country made it into the finals.

Last year, Mikolas Josef finished sixth in the finals with his song “Lie To Me.” It was the best showing ever for the Czech Republic.

Some 42 countries are expected to participate in the 2019 contest at the Expo Tel Aviv pavilion, with no additions compared to last year. The only country not returning is Bulgaria, due to financial reasons.

The Czech Republic first participated in Eurovision in 2007, with Kabát singing “Malá dáma.” They scored one point in the semifinals, coming in last and failing to make it to the finals. In 2008 singer Tereza Kerndlová did better with “Have Some Fun,” scoring nine points, but this was only good enough to be second from last.

In the third attempt, Romani band Gipsy.cz scored no points, one of 16 times since 1975 when a new voting system was introduced that a band did so poorly.

The Czech Republic dropped out after that and did not participate again until 2015 when Marta Jandová and Václav Noid Bárta sang the heavily produced ballad “Hope Never Dies,” scoring 33 points, good enough for 13th place in their semifinal, but still not making it into the final round.

In the 2016 show in Stockholm, the Czech Republic at least made it to the finals. Gabriela Gunčíková performed the song “I Stand.” The song came in ninth in the semifinal and 25th in the final, for next the last place.

Martina Bárta sang “My Turn” in the 2017 competition and came in 13th in her semifinal round but failed to make it to the finals.

The Eurovision Song Contest is organized by members of the European Broadcasting Union. It is the most watched non-sporting event in the world. It was first held in 1956 and is one of the longest-running shows in television history. Viewers and a jury select the winner. Viewers cannot vote by phone for their own country.

ABBA remains the most successful act to ever win the contest, and “Waterloo” in 2005 was named the best song ever to come from the contest. Other winners include Celine Dion, Julio Iglesias, Olivia Newton-John, Cliff Richard, Loreen and Conchita Wurst. Karel Gott participated in 1968, representing Austria, but he did not win.

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