Czechs send hard rockers Kabat to Eurovision semi-final

Kabat, photo: CTK

In the past the Eurovision Song Contest has gone a long way towards helping some musical acts become world-famous, among them ABBA, Celine Dion, and Lordi - the monster rock group from Finland who won last year with the rock anthem "Hard Rock Hallelujah". Despite the contest's long history, contestants from the Czech Republic had never before taken part. Until now.

On Saturday a total of nine acts competed for top spot in the national round to decide whom to send to Finland. Among them were a number of Czech R'n'B singers, pop rock musicians, as well as the band, who successfully combine the traditional Romany language with the contemporary sounds of hip hop. got the crowd behind them with their song Muloland while a figure of Death swayed rhythmically back-and-forth on the stage.

Muloland was seen as one of the catchier entries viewed by around 750,000 who tuned in to public broadcaster Czech TV on Saturday night, and the band explained that the title of the song meant the Land of the Spirits, or Land of Ghosts in the Romany language.

Kabat,  photo: CTK
But did not come away the victors: the crowning moment on Saturday belonged to another group: Kabat, arguably the Czech Republic's most well known hard rock band. Kabat have performed in their current line-up since 1990 and it is fair to say that gruff vocals by frontman 'Pepa' Vojtek on Saturday night "vaporised" a good part of the competition. The band chose to perform their song Mala Dama (Little Lady) from their best-selling album of December 2006. The song is an ode to a woman, the lyrics tell us, "worth dying for after just one day".

Kabat,  photo: CTK
Kabat's dominance in the national round is not altogether surprising: despite a fairly hard sound the band has also become increasingly mainstream. The numbers on Saturday reflected their strong fan base: by Saturday evening (voting had started in late February) Kabat had clinched roughly one third of 100,000 cell phone votes. Now, following the win, some have compared Kabat to last year's winner Lordi, as hard rock "without the monster costumes". Could we see rock dominate at Eurovision again? We'll have to wait to find out. The Eurovision semi-final and final will take place in Finland in mid-May.