Eurovision contender Benny Cristo: ‘Ain’t no apocalypse as long as you’re here on my lips’

Benny Cristo, photo: Benedikt Renč

The Czech pop idol finalist Benny Cristo is representing the Czech Republic at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest - again. The 2020 international competition, like most events that normally draw huge audiences, was cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis. That delay gave Cristo literal pause to write a new song for the contest about love in the age of Covid-19.

The 33-year-old singer of Czech-Angolan heritage, whose real name is Ben da Silva Cristóvão, was originally going to perform an Afro pop song called “Kemama”. In part, the dance tune references the racism that he sometimes encountered growing up in the western Bohemian city of Pilsen.

That song, chosen through Eurovision Song CZ, the national selection process organised by Czech Television, was released way back in January of last year. Cristo has decided to perform a new song for the Eurovision Song Contest, called “Omaga”, which was officially released on Tuesday.

‘‘Omaga’’ is a play on OMG, the abbreviation of “Oh my God” so prevalent on social media that it was inducted into the Oxford English Dictionary back in 2011, along with along with LOL (short for “laughing out loud”).

Cristo said he hadn’t planned on competing with the song, when he first started working on it with musician and producer Filip Vlček, who he hopes can join him on stage this May in Rotterdam for Eurovision 2021, along with back-up dancers.

“At the time, we weren’t thinking that it could be a song for Eurovision. But then I started working on lyrics that had some meaning [in the current situation]. And as the contest drew closer, I started imagining how it could be staged at Eurovision stage”.

“I’m really looking forward to the chance to perform. I hope there will be a live audience because the song is really suited for it. It’d be a real shame if the contest had to be cancelled again.”

In the playful “Omaga”, music video, Cristo play out iconic scenes from famous films such as Forrest Gump, Pulp Fiction, The Wolf of Wall Street, Rocky and The Shining, along with a nod to Homer Simpson. But at heart, it’s a love song for the times.

“There ain’t no Apocalypse as long as you’re here on my lips,” he sings. And in the build-up to the chorus, Cristo speaks of the need for emotional and physical contact with an estranged lover.

The Eurovision Song Contest always takes place in the country of the previous year’s winner. Although the contest is now in its 65th year, the Czech Republic took part for the first time in 2007, and only nine times in total.

The most successful Czech contestant so far was the singer Mikolas Josef, who took sixth place in 2018. A year later, the indie-pop band Lake Malawi fell one spot shy of making the Top Ten.