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!

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Sweden 2002 - Mendez - Adrenaline

Those younger, and less Swedish among you might be wondering why we've been leaving that Mendez laddie that Mello show well enough alone. Well that, bright youth, is because he's got form. Yes, cast your memories back to the hazy days of 2002, when Melodifestivalen appeared to be held in a big room around the back of a coffee house (or the old set of Cafe Norrköping for our regional fans), when a considerably more fresh-faced bagged a near miss, coming second only to Afro-Dite in a pretty strong field.

Delight as he bounds on stage, high on, erm, life, then continues to skip and leap like a car boot Ricky Martin while banging out the rhymes in a full on Chilean-Swedo stylee. And rather than going it alone and trying to do all the singing himself, like he has so famously struggled to do this year, he leaves all the heavy lifting to his more able sideman, leaving him to get on with all the bouncing about and general personality distribution.

Remember, this was a man who managed to beat Kiki, Bettan and Lotta into a distant third place, and make mincemeat of Jill Johnson, Friends, and the hugely popular (at the time) Brandsta City Släckers in that fateful MR final. And don't also forget that his curious crossover style gave him some pretty massive hits across the continent (although quite possibly not your bit). So while he might seem to the uninitiated eye to be some old mumble well past his prime who's been let up on the Melfest stage because he won a competition or something, there's a lot of goodwill towards him in the old country, and he's probably made the final on that alone.

Now sit back and revel in how he used to look in his prime, bless him!

Azerbaijan 2018 - Aisel - X My Heart

OK Azerbaijan, we need to talk about your wordplay here. So yes, we know that at the end of the day as long as you're pumping out some vaguely word-shaped sound memes that people who don't have English as a first language can happily bark along to, it doesn't really matter if they make any sense or not. But come on, this is my language you're mangling here. With all the money you've got sitting in your pond of oil on the Caspian, couldn't you at least have run your lyric by someone who speaks the tongue as a native?

Surely someone's just looked in rhyming dictionary and gone "Yeah, that's near enough" without actually wondering what any of the words mean. Here's some examples. You may cringe:

It all starts simply enough, with the usual old dragged-out-of-a-bag platitudes.

"I can hear you when I wake, I can see you when I dream" - so far, so cliched. But then this happens…

"I can feel you when I break" - alright, it doesn't mean anything, but it sounds songy.

"As you hold me as you beam".

BEAM? Alright, so in that rhyming dictionary we mentioned earlier it would suggest 'beam' as a synonym for smile, but no bleeder with English as a first (or even third) language would ever use it in parlance - common or otherwise. But that's just the start of it. Cop these for lines…

"Every night you fill the sky with new revelations…" Eh? Sounds romantic, but what does it actually mean?

"Misty moon, I'm your loon…"

Oh come on, you're taking the mick now. Songwriter, you really don't know what any of these words mean, do you! One would possibly only ever use the word 'loon' in a knockabout funtime song with lots of deliberate laughs and gags in it, and then only very very carefully because of the connotations with mental health. You might JUST get away with it if you correlated it with the North American bird of the same name, but only then at a push. Blimey.

But that's not the worst of it.

"Let's rock the nation…"

Where did that come from? Have we suddenly turned into a New York block party hip hop joint here? No! No we haven't. So how has that line even happened?

Then it all goes a bit random word generator for a bit…

"Heaven knows we are, made perfect we are, tailored by the stars. Once we set our mind, we become divine, take my hand it's time"

…before the really silly stuff kicks in…

"I X my heart" (Actually, that's not a bad literary device, we'll let them have that one)

"I tear down the firewalls"

Eh? What, you're saying you're going to wilfully leave all your connected devices susceptible to malicious attack? Why would you ever do that? Unless you've been coerced into letting your new significant other look at donkey porn on your iPad?

"I X my heart" (Still like that bit)

"I"m stronger than cannonballs"

WHOA! Is there an emoji for 'I've just spat my tea out is surprise/dismay'? Who possibly thought that was a good idea for a rhyme? Even I wouldn't do that, and my songs are deliberately terrible. And then there's the tail of the chorus…

"I'll never stop stop stop, Luna moon me up, to the top-op-op"

Now come on, did you really mean to write that bit, or were you on a tight deadline and just needed to fill that part in a hurry with things that sounded like words? This is absolute cobblers from word one, and it doesn't get any better, trust us.

Especially when they rhyme 'noise' with 'voice'!

And yet. And yet… It's an insistent little beggar, and it'll soon get its hooks into you. Where you started off tutting and snorting at every strangely coupled line and curious non sequitur, by the third rotation you'll be pumping your fist in the air rhythmically at the very mention of cannonballs. And couple that arch singalongability to a well-presented high energy pop song and I fear this might do very well. So what if it doesn't make any sense at all, if it gets them dancing down the front on a Saturday night in May and puts a big smile upon a continent's collective face then it's job done. Just don't watch it with the captions on, you might just put a foot through the telly.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Portugal 2018 - Diogo Piçarra - Canção do Fim

Hands down the biggest loss to this contest in year, Diogo sadly bit the bullet and stood down gracefully before to hoo-haa about his song got too big. It was short, sweet and utterly glorious, and despite the notes and chords being just far enough away to be safe, the phrasing was pretty much bang on the same as the obscure Walter McCallister song Arbe Os Meus Olhos. However unintentional and subliminal the similarities were it was clear he had to pull out.

But what a shame that it, as if this had cropped up at any other time in Portugal's Eurovision history than the last two years we'd have been heralding the legend Best Result Ever. And what a beautiful performance it was. Gentle, emotional and perfectly understated, we'd have been championing this one in Lisbon had it done what everyone expected and won FDC.

So let's just enjoy it while we can for what it actually is - a truly lovely and simple song, sung well, that'll stay in our hearts for long after all this difficult business has been forgotten.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Armenia 2018 - Mger Armenia - Forever

Sometime you get a perfect storm of a song, where the varied simple ingredients of song, singer and performance knit together to create something truly wonderful. More often though you get a clutter of ill-conceived half-thoughts and over-engineered maguffins cobbled together into a right old mess.

Then you get this. This compendium of trite cliche and conceptual disaster that thought it was onto such big things, but instead got a nation, nay a continent holding its head in its collective hands and praying for it to stop.

We genuinely can't count the many ways that it paraded its awfulness before it. From the over-wrought, monodramatic choruses, via the rushed, mumbled verses that the poor deluded singer clearly wanted to rattle of and get out of the way so he could spend more time of the showbizzy stuff. Then there's all that on-stage business, a selection box of bad ideas and well-trodden paths.

We've seen the boil-in-the-bag dancer motif a dozen or more times, matey, and as cheesy as they are, they've always been done better than this. And yes, we realise that it all marries in with entire concept of the piece, but it was a terrible concept and must be mocked at every chance.

And how bloody creepy was that dancing foetus on a string on both the big screen in the background and the tiny screen on your dancer's belly? Who thought that was a good idea? You might have thought it was deep and significant, but it wasn't. It just looked silly, and unsettling in ways that you could never possibly have wished for.

And just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, the great berk started repeating "For-evvvaaaa, For-evvvaaaa" over and over again until you felt the need to hide the knives, while that dancer girl started mucking about with her sheet and you felt every bit like she was sorting out the laundry. And then it stopped. Thankfully. Sweetly. On nuts, he's kicked off with the forevers again. And what's that lady doing? She's rolling up the big white sheet that earlier formed their placenta allegory and has turned it into a pretend baby. Seriously. I'm not making this shit up. They really did that.

So incensed by all this utter cobblers that Mrs Apocalypse started screaming "Make it stop! For the love of God make it stop!" at the screen at the top of her lungs, and we hadn't even got to the two minute mark where it really notched up a few levels of shitehawkedness. If Mger had walked into our living room at that point she'd have beaten the living daylights out of him, I'm sure of it.

This must surely now be the gold standard of everything not to do when planning a potential Eurovision performance. And you know what, I'll bet you a pound to a penny that the bloke still thinks that he was robbed!

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Moldova 2018 - Ruslan Tsar - Come To Life

Well that was quite a night last evening. Loads of our faves either got through or caused mighty stirs, and we've got a proper bit of noisiness to keep us busy and refreshed in Lisbon. But one lad who got overlooked in all the mayhem and hoo-haa, and a fellow who probably embodies the spirit of this blog more than anyone else this weekend, is Ruslan Tsar from Moldova.

As he came on last of sixteen (and was on well after the Lord Mayor's Show of DoReDos), you may not have seen him - unless of course you were giving it the heavy multiscreen all night. But boy did he offer some wrong delights. There were points at which we weren't sure whether he was a real genuine human or merely a curious parody, but as the performance elapsed it was clear that this chap could only ever have been genuine. We think. Out that way it's sometimes difficult to tell.

From the awkward on-stage persona to the wonky backing singers (including a guest appearance from our very own Doinita Gherman) to a guitar solo to melt to, lovely Ruslan here offered up all the goods of true Apocalypse greatness, and did them with style. And for that sir, we applaud you. You may have got a zero score from both jury and punter, but you'll always be top of our list!

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Moldova 2018 - DoReDos - My Lucky Day

Somebody's finally done it. Somebody's finally distilled every moment of 21st Century Eurovisionism into one thick, cheesy sauce and spooned it out onto a national final stage in big fat dollops. And boy is it lumpy. From the somewhat over-familiar chorus, via the moving-about-stage-chunks, and the cheeky boys battling for the girl we've seen this all done a gazillion times, but somehow everybody has lost their minds and decided that this is finally the song that's going to give the EBU their biggest headache ever and take us to Chisinau.

So OK, in the early noughties that may have had a point. But a win? Really? In this day and age? Fair enough we've had a couple of delicate and thoughtful winners in a row, and so it's likely that a monster pop banger is going to take home the bacon this year. But this kind of revisionism hasn't been seen since, well, the last times the Greeks REALLY wanted to win it.

But let's review this objectively. Moldova's stock is most definitely up after last year, and another bright and breezy bit of fluff could help them keep the momentum. On top of that, DoReDos have been knocking on the door for a couple of years now, and the self-dubbed dream team of the big lad Kirkirov and his Hellenistic mates will have added a modicum of gravity to their bid. But really, a Eurovision win? With this? In 2018? This is what you'd show to aliens newly landed on the planet Earth if you needed to explain Eurovision but only had limited time - and they'd instantly understand!

Mind you, if Russia really are playing the mischief laden long game...