Live: Close call in competitive A Dal final in Hungary

In the next few hours, Hungary will choose its Eurovision participant in a high quality final of A Dal. As usual in this format, big stars battle newcomers in an intriguing voting system where the professional jury has a large influence, but televoters have the final say. Eight songs, four superfinalists, and one winner for Stockholm!

In tonight’s final, all eight acts will perform their song first. Then the four jury members will give their individual rankings (10-8-6-4 points), after which the top 4 qualifies for the superfinal. In this superfinal, Hungary’s Eurovision entry is chosen through 100% televoting.

ESCDaily is live at the MTVA-studios in Budapest to cover the Hungarian final live for you. You can watch the show through THIS livestream, and / or catch up through our live commentary below. The newest update always appears on top!

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21:51 – The winner is…

Freddie! He will go to Stockholm with his song “Pioneer”.

All four acts were on stage for the announcement, as tradition tells in Hungary.

21:45 – Rybak still brings smiles

It is a shame that his point record will almost certainly be broken this year due to the new point system. Rybak truly is a special Eurovision winner who still brings smiles everywhere he comes – also here, as the interval act at Hungary’s national final.


21:36 – “Hungary knows I can do better”

An emotional András Kállay-Saunders is interviewed backstage. He is relieved the jury did not punish him for his poor performance tonight, and hopes the televoting audience will forgive him, too. “I made a mistake, but Hungary knows I can do better and I can make them proud.”

21:33 – Boggie and Alexander Rybak in the interval act

Boggie interview backstage Hungary A Dal 2016

This was last year’s A Dal winner Boggie before the show


21:26 – Televoting starts!

The Hungarian people finally will have a say. Who do they want to go to Stockholm? The choice is between:

Freddie – Pioneer
Kállay-Saunders Band – Who we are
Petruska – Trouble in my mind
Oláh Gergö – Gyöz a jó

21:24 – Kállay-Saunders Band makes the final four

Pity points or not – he is in the final four! Together with Freddie, who won the jury vote, and Oláh Gergö who came second. Petruska finishes fourth, just above André Vásáry, who is eliminated.

András Kállay-Saunders A Dal 2016 Hungary in front of screen

21:18 – Jury points

Miklós: 4 Parno Graszt, 6 Freddie, 8 Oláh Gergö, 10 Petruska

Zséda: 4 Olivér & Andi, 6 Kállay-Saunders Band, 8 Oláh Gergö, 10 Freddie

Pierrot: 4 Kállay-Saunders Band, 6 Oláh Gergö, 8 Freddie, 10 André Vásáry

Károly: 4 Petruska, 6 Oláh Gergö, 8 Kállay-Saunders Band, 10 Freddie

21:17 – Jury voting

Points are soon to come!


21:14 – “Visuals, song, lyrics, vocals… Everything!”

Pierrot has been extremely positive about André from the beginning and his comments now are lyrical. “This has everything a Eurovision song needs.”

21:11 – Song 8: André Vásáry – Why

While the audience is still shocked about what happened to András, jury favorite André Vásáry takes the stage for a vocally decent performance of his opera-pop song “Why”. Eurovision fans will remember Cezar from Romania in 2013; this is very similar. Not my cup of tea and the Hungarian audience has not liked it so far either, but the jury does – could this make it to the top 4?


21:07 – “It was not much better”

Jury member Zséda tells András the hard news – that this second performance was not better than the first one. “I don’t know what happened, but this just was not good.”

“I was too concerned, too scared to perform, after what happened the first run,” claims Kállay-Saunders. “Please keep in mind that you know I can do much better!”

21:03 – Second performance: Kállay-Saunders Band – Who we are

What is the problem with András tonight? His second performance sounds still pretty bad. András succesfully represented Hungary in 2014 and he is always someone to consider for victory. But not when the performance of his rock song “Who we are” (in itself a good composition) goes horribly wrong like tonight.

Whether this is technical failure or not – this performance cannot possibly be sent to Stockholm.

20:59 – Technical failure during Kállay-Saunders’ performance

András is often off-key during the performance. When it is over, he looks extremely dissapointed and almost has tears in his eyes.

Jury member Miklós says “this happens, you have to deal with it,” but the other jury members disagree. They allow Kalláy-Saunders Band to perform again.


20:54 – “You have to be in the top 4”

“If Freddie does not make it into the top 4, it would be a terrible mistake,” says jury member Miklós, who until now had not been entirely convinced by ‘Pioneer’. “Still I would like to see more emotion from you,” Miklós adds.

20:48 – Song 6: Freddie – Pioneer

“I now know that international music can win the Hungarian preselection,” Freddie told me last year, and indeed, his power ballad “Pioneer” sounds like an international radio hit. He sings it really well and his voice has a unique sound – the song does not have this uniqueness though. Lyrics are strong and were rewarded last week; in fact, they are similar to the meaning of Mans’ song “Heroes” from last year.


20:40 – Commercial break

We will be back in a few minutes.

20:38 – Helium-version of “Why”

André Vásáry sang his song after inhaling helium from a balloon – this was his challenge after reaching the final. Petruska recorded a fifties-styled male vocal version of his song.


20:34 – “Changes improved your song”

“Yeah!” says Pierrot, he likes the changes Oláh Gergö made to his song. “What was missing is now there. But when you go to Stockholm, think about why you have mixed authentic Hungarian gypsy music with Arabic tunes.”

20:28 – Song 5: Oláh Gergö – Gyóz a jó

Gergö has changed his composition! What was already a pretty catchy ethnic tune, does now have an additional beat in the refrain making it even stronger in my opinion. Oláh Gergö won X-factor in Hungary and delivers a flawless combination of dance & vocals, which is impressive considering the pace of this song. A contender for top 10 in Stockholm, if Hungary dares to surprise and choose this song over Freddie’s Pioneer.


20:24 – “Better suited for an album”

Jury members have not yet been very positive about any of the songs so far. Even their favorite Petruska gets mixed comments, with Pierrot stating that he would be better off releasing an album for the entire world than to go to Eurovision with just this one song.

20:20 – Song 4: Petruska – Trouble in my mind

When you focus on lyrics only – this song has often been compared to Boggie’s winning song from last year. But the music is totally different; Petruska is a singer-songwriter who uses violins and guitars as his main instrument for this uplifting melody. He is one of the newcomers in this competition but the jury has supported him so far, and I can see why: interesting, slightly ethnic and yet mainstream, and the vocals are good.

20:17 – Petruska is up next

Petruska A Dal 2016 Hungary in front of screen

The best newcomer in the competition and a dangerous outsider tonight.


20:15 – Laughter in the green room

All finalists made a promise to do something embarrassing if they qualified for the final. The video proof is now shown in the green room: Oláh Gergö danced to his song with an older woman, Freddie sings ‘Pioneer’ with his braces in and the Kállay-Saunders-Band covered a song from the Backstreet Boys.


20:12 – Before the show

Andi & Olivér A Dal 2016 Hungary in front of screen

Olivér & Andi qualified both rounds through televoting, but have little support among jury members.

20:06 – Song 3: Olivér & Andi – Seven Seas

The televoter’s choice for the final is this duet – jury members did not like this so far. The song is a radio hit in Hungary and it is understandable why: a good pop composition with lots of variety in the chords. Until now, the chemistry between the guy and the girl was missing, and this has definitely been improved for today’s final. However, vocally this remains weak and the English pronunciation is terrible. This song would have deserved two better performers – Mel C & Bryan Adams perhaps?


20:01 – “Maybe not for Eurovision”

“This is a very Hungarian thing, in music and in lyrics,” says jury member Zséda, “it could work in Europe but I am not sure.” Miklós, who gave Parno Graszt the highest score in the quarter finals and semies, says that he has similar doubts.

19:56 – Song 2: Parno Graszt – Már nem szédülök

Traditional Hungarian folk music, brought by the band dressed completely in white this time, nicely contrasting the colorful backdrop. This song has no traditional build-up in terms of refrain and verse, and after an interesting first minute it kind of bleeds dry. Highly comparable to Austria 2005 (Global Kryner). For me, this band will always remain “the girl who cried during her first performance”…

Parno Graszt is popular among the jury and could surprisingly make it into the final four. But I doubt televoters will go for this – not in Hungary, and certainly not in Europe.


19:52 – Song 1: Mushu – Uncle Tom

Lots of things have changed about the performance: glamerous army uniforms, an old school telephone at the beginning of the performance, and yet another set of make-up for the boys. But the song is still a catchy punk tune about slavery (see the reference to Uncle Tom’s cabin). Interesting story, good song – vocals slightly worse than in previous rounds, perhaps due to heavy movement during the performance!

Altogether a happy opening to the show, but this song is not nearly popular enough with juries to have a chance tonight. Jury member Pierrot comments that although he liked the performance, he feels that right now the band focuses more on this than on the music.

19:50 – Mushu is up first

The lead singer of the punk band had to get his make-up done moments before the show, as you can see on this backstage picture:

Mushu A Dal 2016 getting make up (1)

19:48 – Heroic introduction for the jury members

As mentioned before, the jury still has a relatively large influence on the Hungarian decision for Stockholm. All four members of the jury land on stage after coming down on a platform from the ceilings.

19:43 – Tribute to Sweden

The show has started, with in the audience the Swedish ambassador in Hungary. He sees that the opening act is a tribute to both Loreen (Sweden 2012) and Mans Zelmerlöw (Sweden 2015).


19:32 – Freddie backstage

The death-dyed-favorite for tonight’s show, having a chat backstage moments before the final will start.

Freddie backstage A Dal 2016 Hungary

19:16 – “Eccentric jury might dismiss Kállay-Saunders”

András Kállay-Saunders, who brought Hungary a 5th place in Copenhagen in 2014, is of course one of the favorites for tonight’s show. However, in last week’s podcast Scout Around, I argued why the eccentric Hungarian jury might go for a surprise and dismiss him in the first round already.


19:03 – The participants for tonight

  • Olivér Berkes & Andi Tóth – Seven Seas
  • André Vásáry – Why
  • Freddie – Pioneer
  • Parno Graszt – Már nem szédülök
  • Petruska – Trouble In My Mind
  • Gergő Oláh – Győz a jó
  • Kállay Saunders Band – Who We Are
  • Mushu – Uncle Tom

The biggest favorite is Freddie, who seems popular among both the jury and the televoters. Oláh Gergö and Kállay-Saunders Band are his main competitors.

Parno Graszt and André Vásáry are popular with the jury, but not with televoters. Olivér & Andi have the opposite problem; televoters like them, but the jury does not.