Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Austria 2019 - Hyäne Fischer - Im Rausch der Zeit

So Austria, the Eurovisions are going to be held in Israel next year, so what do you think that you might be sending?

Ooh, how about a bunch of women in Eva Braun chic singing a song that loosely translates as 'In The Intoxication Of Time'? That won't cause any kind of stir, surely...?

But what may at first feel like a somewhat ill-advised jape has a much more serious meaning. For dig a little deeper and you'll find a song using motifs from the past to warn about the worrying rise of the far right today. Add this to the fact that the artist's name is a pastiche on her nation's most glorious darling of pop - 'Hyäne' means 'Hyena' - and you've got a song full of darker inner meaning.

But whether the punters at home would understand any of that come a Saturday night in May (or Tuesday, or Thursday) is an entirely different matter, and the Pet Shops Boys covering Laibach electronic pop styles might make the whole project seem a little flimsier in real life than it actually is.

Still, keep an eye on this one - it'll be interesting to see how it turns out...

Monday, 10 December 2018

Moldova 2019 - Alex Bognibov - Love Me Like My Daughter

So the tiny glimpse we got a few weeks back that suggested a glorious glam stomper with a traditionally questionably lyric has followed through into a full bodied song - and boy is it hard to hate!

OK, so Sasha's very particular worldview can be quite tricky to countenance to a Western eye, but if you tap into his mythos as the Everlasting Boy it makes a whole lot more sense. But surely this has to be his most complete bit of songing yet, and his finest moment since the stellar Wounded Swan and his catchiest since his haunting Eurovision debut all those years ago.

He's clearly got the right people in to help put the thing together, as this could slot into pretty much any pop punk act's set with ease, and it stops, starts and noodles about in all the right places. How much longer can you repel this unique talent, Moldovan telly? How long?!

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Latvia 2017 - Dziļi Violets feat. Kozmens - Tautasdziesma

So yes, last year we may have got all over excited about outing the innards of the Riga Beaver when that shaggy-haired lad from Riga Reggae started stomping about all over the shop in a gruff faux Caribbean accent, but I always had a tiny element of doubt, despite my assertations to the positive.

Y'see, a couple of years back when I was lucky enough to find myself in the Latvian capital for Supernova I got a fleeting glimpse of the fella within the fur. There was a long spell of chatting going on, so I nipped out for a tinkle, and there in the wings, hiding amongst all the black curtains and flight cases, was a the beaver taking a breather. Head off, supping a drink, and smiling his face off, with a big mop of curly hair and an incredibly impressive tache. Yeah, I know, I may have killed the magic, but hey, Santa's still real.

Now last year I may have been swayed by that mock-rasta's mop of hair and funny voice. But this year I think I've actually found him. Possibly. The lad with the kilt and the impressive nose furniture is a local alt pop star and performance artist called Kozmens, and he's got form in the strange an esoteric.

On top of that, this song (translated coarsely as Folk Song) is a fantastic bit of understated prog pop, which I hope will go a fair way through the competition. If only our Kozmens could click in time though...

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Latvia 2019 - Ēriks Balodis - I Know You Know

We've all been to this wedding…

Lad: "Dad, Uncle Ēriks had been on the sauce again!"

Dad: "Is he drunk already?"

Lad: "Absolutely hammered."

Dad: "Whatever you do, keep him away from the band. You know what he's like when he gets behind a microphone!"

Lad: "Too late, Dad. Too late."

Dad: "Oh sweet Mary Jesus and Joseph! At least he's not trying to scat yet."

Dad and Lad: "Noooooooo…"

Monday, 26 November 2018

Latvia 2019 - Waterflower - Grow

It's been a slow November, but finally Latvia have treated us to all their Supernova long-listers in one big chunk - which should keep us busy on here for the next few days at least - oh yes there's some Latvian treats on offer for sure!

And while there's a lot of old familiar faces on show (and surely this will finally Markus Riva's turn - not that his song is any good, of course, but you know, long service medal and all that).

But what you really want from Supernova is a minimal bit of techno with a gothy tinge by a terrifying woman with flowers in her colourful hair. Oh yes, and we've got one of those straight off the bat. So ladies and gentlemen let me introduce you to this year's Supernova superhero - Waterflower!

(As it happens I really like this one, but you possibly won't. You may have to watch it twice to believe what you've actually just seen, mind).

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Moldova 2019 - Alex Bognibov - Love Me Like My Daughter

It's that moment you've all been waiting for...

Over the last few years we've seen the Everlasting Boy grow from an slightly creepy chancer to an artist of some merit. So when we learned that he'd upgraded his first name to a more adultified Alex, and apparently enlisted the help of some local punky types we became really optimistic about his chances this year.

But then we saw his song title and were sent back to his early days of lyrical unease.

However, like much of his finest work, it's not a matter of simple outrage. OK, so we know that Sasha has a slightly different outlook on life to the rest of us, and that his relationship with youth is more innocent than it apparently appears. But with a lyric like this we can't help but be drawn back to the likes of I Love The Girls, and the gooseflesh begins to creep.

But also like his debut hit, the chorus is insistent and instantly infectious, and once heard you'll find yourself singing it on the bus and over coffee at work - which could lead to potentially awkward results. Which is kind of what Bognibov love is all about.

So proceed with caution, because you're going to be singing this under your breath all flipping week. Good work my Moldovan friend. Good work!

Thursday, 4 October 2018

United Kingdom 2019 - Dië Spanglë - Nul Point (Eurovision Remix)

Well would you believe it - our Cornish pirate punk pals Dië Spanglë have only gone and done a disco remix for their soon-to-be ill-fated Eurovision attempt! And what's more astounding is that it's actually got a whopper of a groove to it!

To be fair, I'm not sure that they've done too much more than ramp up the bass, chuck in a drum machine and sprinkle a few sci-fi sounds liberally across its beams - but heck, it still counts. And as much as it does plough its initial furrow for a bit too long, it got our feet tapping entirely against our will. Good work fellas.

It's still doomed of course, but they're dragging this out like true pros!

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Switzerland 2019 - Sebalter - Carry The Light

When I was first thumbing through the Swiss-Italian hopefuls there was only one song that sounded like it was an actual song rather than three minutes of wispy wish fulfilment by some wide-eyed chalet singer. So it wasn't any massive surprise to discover that it had made it through to their final three. And we're not just saying that because it's performed by an old friend of Eurovision.

Yep, raggle-taggle Sebalter is back for another stab at the show, with his optimistic mountain pop that sounds just Celtic enough and just Scandi enough to pick up enough votes to haul it into a Tel Aviv Saturday. And while it's nowhere near as immediate as his last effort, it's still awash with uplifting chords, and a sort-of message that doesn't actually mean anything, but kind of sounds like it does.

Fifteen years back a song like this would have been considered a contender for the whole caboodle - but will his charm, his name, and his familiarity get him even as far as the Swiss final? I'll be one to watch, for sure, but a tricky one to call all the same.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

United Kingdom 2019 - Rainbow Orbit - (Un)Informed Opinion

The lambs to the UK slaughter are creeping out earlier than ever this year. It's almost as if they've realised that they're ultimately doomed and are cutting out the middle man in favour of early YouTube hits. But that doesn't mean that there's not still fun to be had.

Witness our old pals Rainbow Orbit. You'll probably remember them best for their song Genuine from a couple of years back where they pranced about in a parking garage in comedy onesies. Well this one's a more domestic affair, but it's every bit as bouncy and charming.

Over the top of some gloriously observed 80s elektro discow, our pal PJ and his mate muck about their kitchen and corridors, mainly filmed on a phone in portrait, with a wry yet thoughtful lyric stapled on roughly over the top. And again, as is their way, it's terrible and yet really enjoyable at the same time. It's songs like these that make the early months of on season thoroughly worthwhile!

Sunday, 23 September 2018

United Kingdom 2019 - Dië Spanglë - Nul Point

At this time of year I always have a little hunt down the back passages of the internet to see who's embarking on the fruitless task of chancing their arm in the bottomless pit of OGAE-vote hopefuls for the UK. But I never imagined that the first mob I found would be people that I actually knew.

Dië Spanglë are a most excellent gnarly punk band from Penzance in Cornwall. And being from such a distant outpost, they do things entirely their own way, and a quick search on YouTube will uncover some crackingly creative home-produced videos. Unfortunately they've ploughed an over-familiar furrow with their Eurovisionistic exercises here.

Early stage selection panelists and early stage observers of the pre-qualification tournaments can tell you that there's absolutely dozens of songs of this nature crop up across the continent, and they never get even so much of a sniff at the coat tails of glory - even in Switzerland. So I'm sad to tell my old muckers that their chunky little attempt is likely to fall upon possibly the deafest ears in all showbiz.

However, if YOU just happen to be on one of the OGAE juries this year, dear reader, get a little bit of the mischief about you and notch this one up a higher score than you normally would. We all know that it's going nowhere, but it would be most entertaining if new Mr Greig gets this in his first emailing of potential songs this year. Gwan, do it for Apocalypse...

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Switzerland 2019 - Tommaso Giacopini - Mi Hai Detto Ama

More from the Italian Swiss hopefuls - and this one has really got under my skin over the last few days. What starts off sounding a bit like a bit of bedroom-produced outsider hip hop slowly but surely ramps up the understated atmosphere, and by the end I was hanging off his every word - even though I didn't have the foggiest clue what any of the words actually meant.

His poignant high-pitched voice shared his pain perfectly, with the syllables coming in machine gun clumps under his edgy, skittish delivery - kind of like those talky songs about lost loves in youth that old boys do so well at Sanremo, only sped up a bit.

The best bits are where the minimal beats drop out, and he's left pouring out his poor heart with nothing but studio air surrounding him. And when the robotty voice comes in to briefly recalibrate the tone, it's almost a relief to rest him from his anguish for a moment.

This is clearly going nowhere - but who cares. This haunting little workout is going to stay with me for much longer than most of the songs that qualify for the final in May.

Friday, 14 September 2018

Switzerland 2019 - Davide Buzzi - Mama

Well here we all are again. As soon as the leaves start going a bit musty, then sure as chips are potatoes the Swiss embark on their ultimately fruitless task to pick a Eurovision winner. Or qualifier even. And so it was that the Italian wing of Swiss telly revealed their short-list, and boy they're a bland bunch in the main, shy of the lad Sebalter's ominous return

But do you know what? I always hope that the first song I hear each year is going to be the one that works its way through to become the eventual winner. It's been a long held dream of mine, and I'm sure it's going to happen one day. But not this time.

Yep, Davide Buzzi's Mama is a ponderous old pub rock plodder, with some ludicrous spoken bits, and his Brummie mate Judith Emeline shipped in to do all the heavy lifting. I assumed that he was just some bar room chancer, but a little look into his background suggests that this gravel-voiced mumbler has got a reasonable track record in both music and the moving picture. But surely even that isn't going to drag this hackneyed throb onto an El Al jet to Tel Aviv.

Buckle up kids, one senses that it could be a long old year...

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Macedonia 2018 - Eye Cue - Lost And Found

Well here's a strange little thing. The long awaited alt pop presentation from Macedonia delivered many things to us - most of them entirely different stylistic directions - and all in the space of three minutes. It all started off quite promisingly with a folksy pop build that felt like it was going to lead us to some interesting places. Although we never imagined it would be a small interlude of cos reggae to be fair.

But then it gets stranger. The lyric starts to get all sexually suggestive, swiftly resetting to the intro, before, eh?... in rolls the twangy, bright bit of Euro guitar pop. We certainly never saw that one coming? Why give us one genre when at least three would do.

But that wasn't the half of it. At around the 1:40 mark, the song resets itself, while our lass here changes into perhaps the worst single garment we've ever seen in an ESC video. Yep, worse than that saggy swimsuit the Cypriot lass is sporting. We heard from the Macedonian delegation that the video editors were having problems finding shots that didn't, how shall we put this delicately, make her natural contours look too apparent. They've done a decent job of it, but the occasional contour does occasionally loom into view. A middle aged man like myself scarcely knew where to look!

So the big question looms - will she have the nerve to wear it on the big stage? It could see off a few grandpas around the continent if she does.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Israel 2018 - Netta - Toy

So the moment we've been pregnantly anticipating for the last few weeks as arrived - Netta's song for Israel has snuck out unannounced, and it's pretty damn decent. Well, for us at least. It's got all the ingredients of the kind of song we'd like. Banging Eastern rhythms, eccentric vocal performance and some deranged time signatures. And had we not had such high hopes for it up in advance (as well as a few bob on it at 50/1) we'd be over the moon. But somehow we're not feeling it as the contender we'd so dearly hoped it would be.

For a start, it's probably just a bit TOO bonkers. It gives us the full range of vocal tics and weirdness we love Netta for, but without ever letting her let loose with the full range of throaty pyrotechnics. And on top of that, while it looks like there's scope for a bit of loop station business, it feels trimmed to a minimum, with naught but a strange chunk of chicken noises and some righteous attitude part way through.

But you just know that she's going to perform the bones out of it, and whenever she flashes that winning smile, the votes are going to roll around like a cash register on Black Friday. She ain't winning, worse luck, but we're so dang flipping glad she's there, because she's going to light the place up like a massive great candle. And just imagine the Israeli party this year. Oh. My. Days!

San Marino 2018 - Jessika (feat. Jenifer Brening) - Who We Are

How did this slip by us without our notice? In a crowded week of qualifying we bypassed the eminently dodgy looking pay-to-play international battle of the bands that was the San Marinese process. Well, it smelled of haddock from first announcement to final play, and we don't much care for the seafood around these parts.

But after all that, the winning song isn't ALL that horrific, and it does take some of the heat off the organisers, seeing as our Zoe's Austrian bessie didn't win as everyone expected/feared that she would. But util today we'd never seen the performance that Jess and Jen had bagged the showbiz ticket with.

What where they thinking?

Why were those robots even there at all? I mean, they're better than that terrible attempt by Latvia in Athens all those years ago, but it was still some cheesy assed shizz, and hampered the girls in their leaping about somewhat. But who styled them? Big white billowy pantsuit matched with some deliberately crafted street clothes for the rap bit, while they both made sure their folds of spare robots didn't knock over one of the robot lads.

This is pure visual folly in song form. I don't suspect it'll do quite as badly in Lisbon as some fear, but if they elect to continue this stage show there'll be more than a few guffaws come showtime!