András Kállay-Saunders: “Running” for the Win in Hungary
Also decided on Saturday was the winner of “A Dal”, the Hungarian National Final. From the original 30 songs, a series of heats and semifinals winnowed the selection down to eight finalists, all vying for the chance to follow ByeAlex’s “Kedvesem” into the ESC history books, and hopefully surpass his impressive Top 10 finish. There were quite a few A Dal alums and fresh faces reaching for the title, but, of course, only one could win.
A four-member jury selected the top four songs of the night, and then left the result in the hands of the voting public. The evening’s top four were:
- Bogi – “We All“
- Kállay-Saunders – “Running“
- Fool Moon – “It Can’t Be Over“
- Viktor Király – “Running out of Time“
Once the SMS votes were all tallied, however, only one act could stand above the rest. Going to Denmark on behalf of Magyarország will be Andras Kállay-Saunders with “Running”.
Born in New York to an American father and Hungarian mother, Andras was exposed to the music industry at an early age. His father, Fernando Saunders, is a prolific musician and producer who has worked with acts such as Heart, Jeff Beck, Pat Benatar, and the late, great Lou Reed. András’s career began in 2010 when he decided to audition for the fifth season of Megasztár, eventually coming in 4th place. Since then, he has released a number of singles (although his debut album is still forthcoming), and participated in A Dal in 2012 and 2013. So it was third time lucky for András!
Since coming back to Eurovision in 2011, Hungary has consistently hit it out of the park, even though they’ve gone in very different directions for each song. “What About My Dreams?” was a hands-in-the-air Euroclub jam that won the OGAE Fan Club vote. “Sound of Our Hearts” was a quality electropop entry, one of the first ESC songs to incorporate dubstep. “Kedvesem” was a sweet, understated, alt-pop ode to love that transcended languages and let us all embrace our inner hipster. “Running” blends a tight, modern production with smooth R&B vocals and a vital message about child abuse that needs to be heard.
I’m normally somewhat iffy on “message songs” at Eurovision. They seem to generally tend towards the twee, overly optimistic, or just plain syrupy, exhorting us all to hold hands, save the world and seek harmony and peace (See: Switzerland in 2006, Finland in 2011, Russia in 2013). (Of course, there are exceptions: Andorra in 2007 and Ukraine in 2010 come to mind.) But “Running” is much edgier and much more current, all without losing its sense of urgency. There’s no cheese, there’s no Pollyanna-ish optimism, just a story.