Latvia found success early on in their Eurovision history, with their debut entry finishing in 3rd. Two years later, Latvia won the contest, however in more recent years, Latvia has faded into the background. This year, Samanta Tīna was selected to represent the nation with the song Still Breathing, but how would it have fared at the contest?
Anita (Eurovision Union)
Song and Vocals
This is not the first time we’ve seen Samanta take on the Latvian national final, but finally, she made it – only for the contest to be cancelled! Nonetheless, she won the right to represent Latvia in what I would confidently label an abysmal national final. Did she win because the other competing entries weren’t up to scratch? I can’t help but think that’s the case, especially considering her song was far more boisterous than the other entries, thus making it memorable for the voters. Scale that to the Eurovision stage, and I think it would have been overshadowed by the bigger hitters of the semi-final.
There are good elements of this song, but all together, I don’t find myself drawn to this song. Starting with the positives, vocally, Samanta is strong, and she can certainly hit a note. Lyrically, it’s a bit cliche, but the biggest downfall of this song is by far the rap portion. Why girl, why? Leave the rap to the rappers, because this ain’t it. The beat is powerful just as her voice, and it certainly has traces of Aminata. The beat drop is a bit discombobulating, but I think the live audience would have enjoyed that moment had the contest gone ahead. Overall, I think the main thing that I’m against, other than the rap, is the fact that this song is so intense from start to finish, there’s no time to breathe as a listener because it’s 1000% for three minutes straight. I love the enthusiasm but at the same time, it’s just too much for me.
Performance and Act
Samanta has had plenty of experience performing, and she oozes confidence on stage. The national final performance is a bit strange, but it matched the vibe of the music video, which again, was strange. I LOVE her outfit, and it’s certainly my favourite part of this whole thing, and I like the theme of red as it’s a striking colour through a camera. I think for Eurovision, we would have had a similar performance, a lot of lights flashing and a lot of red.
Next Up: 2021
It’s only recently been announced that Samanta will be returning to Eurovision, and I think it’s a happy ending for an artist who has attempted to represent Latvia various times. I also think it’s good timing, as Latvia’s selection was reaching a point where the song quality was really not good enough for Eurovision. Give Samanta a good songwriting team, and hopefully they can come up with something that matches her fierce vocals. In fact, I think her voice could work better in a ballad, and perhaps after the energy burst that was Still Breathing, maybe we will get a ballad next year.
This song just doesn’t do it for me. I love Samanta’s fierce energy and enthusiasm, and if that can be put to use in a stronger song, I will be happy to back her at Eurovision next year. This had a lot of supporters in the Eurovision bubble, but if we look at the regular audience set to vote, I don’t know that this would have been strong enough to reach the final.
Song and Vocals
I see some big issues with – what was meant to be – the Latvian entry for Eurovision 2020. It’s like there were two songs written for Samanta Tina, and they were put in a blender to make it one. What’s up with the beats and instrumental violence, coming out of nowhere? It doesn’t blend with the, furthermore, good vocal performance of Samanta at all. A rather strange composition, that might make people wonder: What did I just watch?
Performance and Act
The same duality that lies in the song, is of course also seen in the performance. With another extra element. Apart from the sudden switch to strobe lights and headbanging, it doesn’t match with Tina’s appearance at all. She doesn’t look like a person who would listen to that kind of music, let alone perform it. It’s not as bad as The Toppers for The Netherlands in 2009, with three old dudes in shining glitter suits performing a dance song. But Latvia gets too close for my comfort. It’s a mismatch.
Next up: 2021
Based on empathy, I really feel for Samanta Tina. Out of all the participants, if I would understand that one of them should absolutely get a ticket to Eurovision, it should be her. After so many missed opportunities in the Latvian preselection, this was finally her year. But, it was not meant to be. So, speaking from the heart, I say Latvia should pick her again for 2021. If that means that there is no Supernova for one year, then so be it. And while they are it, now that she is finally going, please give her the best song she has had in all of those years.
The Latvian song was not working for me. It was a mismatch within the composition, act and singer. Surprisingly, Samanta Tina wrote the song herself, together with Aminata. So I would suggest, hook her up with someone else and put her in her strengths for Eurovision 2021. Should she get that chance.
Additional Scores from Eurovision Union and ESCDaily editors:
Average Score: 5.4/10
What do you think of Still Breathing? Follow our Eurovision 2020 reviews here.