Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Ukraine 2017 - Nataliya Piliponyuk & Dzoan Sereso - Serenada Ykraini

The Ukrainian wildcarders have been whittled down to the last 39, and as far as we can see, there's no sight of Alex Angel among them. What were they thinking?! But there are some other gems among them. After the themes of last year's winner, their local issues, and the frankly terrifying first heat of their national selection last time around, we were expecting a few songs that extolled the virtues of their home nation. And this folksy little warbler does that in buckets. Many buckets. Many buckets rough-hewn from rustic wood and carried by a lusty-yet-earthy maiden with flowers in her hair.

Oh yes, it's a song about the Ukrainian countryside (and a bit about the cities, too). Marvel at the blue skies, golden corn (and motorway bridges) in the video, as our wholesome lady guide sings us through the joys of her locale. It's a sweet song, but one that you suspect has serious undertones relating to their somewhat noisy neighbours. So we'll keep out of that particular fight.

One suspects that this won't be the last we'll hear of ilk from next year's hosts. This could be an interesting couple of months, to be sure...

Friday, 21 October 2016

Switzerland 2017 - Alex Angel - Angels

And the award for this year's most persistent Eurovisionist goes to... Alex Angel. Yes, not only does he have two songs in the Ukrainian process, plus one very slinky video in our very own British song selection pile (OGAE division), but he's found a back route into the supposedly closed Swiss process and entered in for that too! Good man!

And this time his style of video has changed too. Not for this song do we have cavorting young ladies in shiny kit, oh no. This time it's all about war! Yep, this clip looks like an advert for both NATO and a dodgy arms fair with all kinds of shooting and exploding going off everywhere. Quite how the famously peace-loving Swiss are going to take to that is anyone's guess.

But they might enjoy the song, though. It's a hard riffing rocker with high pitched vocals, somewhat reminiscent of the national metal band of the Cantons, dear old lovely Krokus! We're loving Alex's industry this year, and are collectively looking forward to finding out where he's going to deliver a song to next! And October is usually so boring in Eurovisionia!

Friday, 14 October 2016

Armenia 2017 - Alexander Plato - Monologue

After his initial performance proved so popular, delighting and bewildering Eurovisionia in equal measure, the lad Alexander Plato is scheduled to be performing on Depi Evratesil again this Saturday. And do you know what? We've got a sneak preview of the song hopes to be singing.

A regular reader of this pages noted that his previous effort would have been much better with a key change. Well this new piece has got them in bucketloads - sometimes shooting up the scales mid-word. Again, it gives us a wordy, opera-fuelled libretto, with occasional ventures onto the fringes of rock and prog, with difficult time signatures and soaring moments of some noisy beauty. Oh, and if the song's not to your taste, he takes his shirt off part way through. Something for everyone!

It's certainly not everybody's barrel of custard, and the judges will be ready for him this time, so we've got more than just our fingers crossed in the hope that he'll make it through to the next stage. But what a bold and interesting move this would be for Armenia to pick this chap. Do they have the nerve? Only time will tell!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Estonia 2017 - Six Feet Club - Unetu Tartu

It's always one of my favourite days in the Eurovision season when the first list of Estonian performers hits the web. And today's that day. As far as I can establish, this is just a rumour list up to now, but its mix of old stagers (Ines, Ott Lettland, Getter Jani) and completely new names makes it a pretty believable selection.

Up to now there is just the one suggested entry that has any kind of physical song connected to it - but what a doosie that song is! Six Feet Club here offer up a chuggy, insistent groove telling us all about the night time in their home town of Tartu. It's kind of like a more laid back Rammstein, blended in with a post-rave Hawkwind, and we like it very much! The very nature of the song means that it's highly unlikely to so much as break out of it's semi, but it's already a fixture on the Apocalypse iPod, and we've been playing it non-stop all afternoon.

And if this is a precursor to the other Estonian goodies on display this year, well we just can't wait!


Upon chatting to Runo, the singer of this fine mob of noisemakers, we discover that they haven't quite decided whether they're going to enter yet. But I've tried to convince them! So that list is either a secret wishlist from someone who works at ETV, a work of slightly accurate fiction, or a mystical document of future portent. If it's the latter, I'm getting its author to pick me out the winner of the 4.30 at Kempton Park next week.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Armenia 2017 - Alexander Plato - Illusion

The Armenians, bless 'em, have totally changed their usual format, and this year opted for an open casting competition, Depi Evratesil. Only unlike most of these shows where a bunch of young aspirers stand nervously to a desk full of famous button-whackers, most of these can actually sing a bit. How terribly unfun!

That's why we were delighted when it got to Alexander Plato's bit. Every bit the image of the young Caucasian hipster, all bear and specs and man bun, it all started off OK, with him over-annunciating every syllable of a stagey, self-composed song, before he forgot the words and started to skat out all kinds of random sound particles with big boggly eyes.

What's that you say? It's supposed to sound like that? Really? Good man! To have the moxy to get up there on national telly and deliver this potential songmare to a panel of former ESC stars, then gain their universal approval is nothing but admirable. Admittedly, a few of them were visibly unsure if they were supposed to like it or not, but once them buttons started being whacked they all followed, as if some manner of strange brain disease was claiming them one by one. Excellent stuff!

We really can't wait to see what the boy Plato delivers us in the next round. Is he a one trick pony, or does he have something even more bamboozling in mind? The days can't roll by fast enough...

Thursday, 6 October 2016

UK 2017 - Twisted Riö - Back To That

So today the BBC announced that they were ploughing the same furrow as last year, and that they would be opening up the Song For Europe submission process for all and sundry. Well, to be reviewed and cast asunder to the OGAE hordes for a single place at the top table at least. All other songs will be coming in the back way as usual. But it's a start, and you can usually find a couple of early adopters instantly creeping out of the woodwork.

Usually, of course, they're the kind of bedroom composers beloved by their nans, their nephews, and precious few other folks who seriously believe that it is they, and only they, who can save Eurovision for the UK - and damn those funny foreigners! So when the first name came up within minutes of the opening of the first press release, by a nice chap called Twisted Riö, we must confess we had our fears.

But those fears were instantly allayed, because our lad here has delivered a smashing little melancholic song about lost youth and long summers. And while it may get lost in the crowd of smash bash disco showstoppers, formulaic Disney ballads and songs about leaving the EU, it really is worth at least one of your ears. Because it's something you don't often get in the UK process - a sweet song sung simply and well.

Good luck, erm, Twisted. It's going to be a long old journey, but we hope you at least catch the ear of the people upstairs!

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

UK 2017 - Meg Tapp and Charlotte Pergande - We're Sorry We Left The EU

OK, OK, so there's a lot for the more ardent Eurovision observer to pick holes in here. Yes, it was released into the public sphere a good three-and-a-half months before the legal due date of 1 September. But the girls here were clearly distraught about our Eurovision performance that weekend, and up to the point that I watched it, it had only gained 135 views, so that's hardly an advantage-making spot of previousness.

And yes, it does verge on the illegally political with all its talk of leaving the EU. But hey, 1944 and all that! Hang about? Rewind a little. They're apologising for leaving the EU on 18 May when it was at least another month and a bit before we actually left? These girls have got foresight. Heck, maybe we should give them a go, as they seem to be able to look into the future and pick out a result. We hope they had some money on it!

But while you can't fault the speed at which they hammered out this pretty well-put-together little tune (and heck, there's some better rhymes in there than at least 78% of the last five year's entries have managed), it is perhaps a little pleady. You know, the kind of thing that used to litter the first fortnight of the Swiss open process and has now begun to creep in over here. And nobody likes a pleader.

However, despite the fact that it was disqualified the second they pressed post, that the songs panders to a lot of the usual "no one likes us" nonsense that anyone with an abacus will tell you isn't actually true, and is just a little bit political, we'll give it an Apocalypse chance. Well, it's been an unusually slow September after all, and we've needed something else to cheer us up aside from that curious Alex Angel chap from Ukraine. Has Bognibov declared yet?

Friday, 23 September 2016

Ukraine 2017 - Alex Angel & Victoria Ahadova - Song For Lovers

I think we've found ourselves a new hero. Not only is young Alex here the lead singer of noted Ukrainian metallists Black Angels, he's also got form on a whole load of casting shows, and is currently in dispute with his home nation's version of X Factor regarding a spot of alleged corruption and contract irregularity.

And what's more, he appears to be entering his entire repertoire into Eurovision this year!

After yesterday's spot of cod metal, we've just uncovered this actually-almost-decent tune that's reminiscent of some of Sparks's more less heard rocky output in the eighties, and some of that dirty London sleaze rock of the nineties.

One assumes that the poor lad is going nowhere near his national final. But that's a shame, because he's weaving pure Apocalypse gold with each new tune! Just don't watch his videos when you're Nan's in the room or you're at work, OK!

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Ukraine 2017 - Alex Angel - Rock 'n' Roll Tonight

And so it begins.

What with Eurovision happening in Ukraine next Spring, to try and whip up a bit of excitement among the masses the host nation have decided to open up the contest to all comers and let pretty much anyone have a pop at entering a song. Yep, we've got a new Switzerland.

Rather unhelpfully, the competition's own website that hosts all the videos appears to be blocked to anyone outside of the nation - well, they wouldn't want any malicious interlopers helping them to choose a ropy old song now, would they. But there are still a few of the acts happy to share out their wares via the medium of YouTube. Acts like Alex Angel, here.

Looking every bit like the lead singer of Franz Ferdinand after he'd fallen down a well - for some years – his sneery, rock 'n' roll metal voice is clearly (or rather, nearly) modelled on that Axl Rose chappy, and the chugging guitars bring back to mind a whole host of terrible terrible bands who all wanted to be Gn'R back in the day (but who were all actually more like Poison). And this is just one of a whole slew of similarly-tinted entries that he's chucking his hat into the ring with this year - every one of their videos packed with half-hearted female ladies gyrating to the slack metal groove.

But as a season opener it holds much promise for a bumper year of Apocalypse gems. Eyes down for a full house, the game has just begun!

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

United States of America 2017 - Nórnaäs - The Living Life

We all knew it wouldn't last long before them Americans wanted in. What with Australia having had a couple of goes, and our favourite show getting screened live over the first pond, the fascination has just exploded over in the colonies and they're clearly dead jealous that we won't let them have a go. So they've declared their entry for next year already! (Shhhhh, nobody tell them about the September rule!)

OK, so this was actually a bit of a spoof from the Stephen Colbert Show, but it was incredibly well observed, and would have made it to at least three of this year's national finals on its own merit. Wait a minute - did we just say "Stephen Colbert"? Yes we did! Somehow Eurovision got itself featured on a high-rating popularist American TV talk show. And when has that ever happened before?

This thing's getting a bit bigger than we ever imagined, right under our noses. Maybe the Americans will be wanting a go before long after all. Oh heck. Altogether now: "We're living the living life…"!

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Hungary 2016 - Freddie - Pioneer (Live at the Igal Spa!)

The latest in our occasional serious of knuckle-gnawingly awkward PAs by Eurovision acts in the run up to the big show sees barrel-chested Freddie of the Hungarian parish perform his big hit to a swimming pool full of pensioners at a hot spa resort just south of Lake Balaton. Yes, you read that right. No smirking at the back, now...

One has to wonder how things like this happen. Was it already on his itinerary as a lesser-known local singer before his elevation to (temporary) national hero? Or did his over-active management think it was a great way to curry favour with the elderly of Europe? Either way, the poor lad looks like he just can't wait to get out of there, bless him.

But to his credit he gave it his all, even attempting to encourage an arms-in-the-air clapalong at one point - although he soon saw the error of his ways at the sight of the sagging bingo wings flapping about before him. Freddie, for possibly the most Spinal Tap moment of the year so far, we applaud you. You carried this off with some grace and humility. But what WERE you thinking when you agreed to this!

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Greece 2016 - Salina & Stavros Vanderwilt - Love Is A Game

Now that the selections are all done and dusted and the heads of delegations have had their shindig in the host city, it's traditional for a few waifs and strays to start crawling out of the woodwork saying: "This would have been my entry had I not been thwarted in some foul manner". You can almost set your clocks by it.

And who's the first on the list to declare their near miss or never was? Salina from Greece, that's who. Admittedly she was one of the names in the frame regarding the Greek berth from quite early on, but just this morning she's released this sweet-but-cheap little video with an accompanying note of explanation. The long and the short of it was that she was happy to submit this song for consideration, but that she insisted that it went through a national final process rather than being internally selected. Let's hope that's not quite as presumptuous of her chances as it reads, and also that it's not a dig at the chosen candidates Argo and their perfectly reasonable if not crashingly unpopular entry.

Well that's the politics, but what is the song like? Well it's a nice enough mid tempo he/she singalong, but it was never going to be setting any scoreboards alight in its own right - although I'll expect there will be swathes of Utopian land haters bleating out: "This is far better than that sheets Greece has chosen! A weeeener for sure!" Of course, this we can never prove. But I have my suspicions...

Monday, 21 March 2016

Bulgaria 2016 - Poli Genova - If Love Was A Crime

So that's it. All 174 songs have been declared, and barring the odd bit of last minute spit and polish we pretty much know what we're going to be hearing in Stockholm at the start of May. So was dear Poli's song worth the wait? Well kinda.

Many in fandom have gone quietly bonkers at this last release of the season - much in the same way as the did for Croatia. But like their Balkan cousins, we're still not convinced it's got the showbiz to drag it much past halfway in its semi. It's bright, happy and well-produced, and Ms Genova's easy charm will help drag her up the table, but there's still something missing that we can't quite put our finger on.

Again, similarly to many this year, it's gone for the formula mid-tempo chorus, where a song with this build is just begging for something a bit more bouncy. Of course, the similarities of its chirpy samples to the hooks from a well-known Beiber song won't harm its chances any, but we're still not feeling it as majorly as we'd hoped - although it does feel set up for a lively and personable stage show come the big night.

So that's the lot then. Is this just going to be a two horse race between the recent big hitters of Russia and Sweden, or is there something unexpected waiting in the wings to do an Olsens? What do you lot reckon?

Russia 2016 - Sergey Lazarev - You Are The Only One (Live)

Word reaches us from our Russian correspondents of the first recorded live performance of the quite-probably winning song - and it's all looking a bit, well, usual. The video evidence doesn't offer too many clues as to the performance, but our lad Lazarev does appear to be phoning his show in here. Look at his eyes. He's not thinking of the gaggle of excitable folks before him, or a future full of Eurovision glory. He's thinking about his cab ride home, or where he's going for dinner tonight. See! Look!

Of course, we can't judge too much from this flickery little phone video. It appears to be taking place in either a shopping centre of a half-decent night club, so the limited stage space probably restricted him to the usual half-hearted PA show, with a small flock of grim-faced dancers staggering about soullessly like dead-eyed drug mules behind him. What choreography there was was grudgingly shrugged through by the lad himself, so we can probably assume that's not what we'll be getting dazzled by in the first run through in Globen.

Actually, you can tell that it's not a terribly prestigious show, as they can't even spell 'Stockholm' right on the backdrop. So don't expect this to be too much of a precursor to the big show - we're expecting augmented reality lizards and caves, fire-breathing dwarves and chimps in jetpacks. This fella's phone was probably a bit too zoomed in on old Serge to notice all of that! 

Friday, 18 March 2016

San Marino 2016 - Serhat - I Didn't Know (Disco remix)

After the loud hoots of derision that came Serhat's way after the reveal of his grumbly gem, you'd have thought the mass ranks of fankind would have hated it whatever flavour it came in. But they're a spectacularly fickle bunch, as this new disco remix would suggest. Heavens, there's even a call for it to replace the downtempo plodder currently sitting in the box seat. But what does it have about it that make them all love it so?

Well for a start, it's different to the original - although to be fair, the rank and file would have probably loved anything shy of a full on grindcore cover better than they did the first option. And then it's disco - and not just any disco. Nope, it's that stultifyingly white European disco that used to soundtrack all the poshest Monaco boat parties and Joan Collins films back in 1980. This instant camp injection has gone down terribly well, despite the tricky time signature in the chorus that make it sound as though the beat has fallen down the stairs. 

I'd be very disappointed if they followed the baying of the mob and switched this out for the currently selected effort on the big night. The first-revealed song has go a lovely out-on-a-limb difference to it that I'm beginning to rather enjoy. No, let's save this for Euroclub where we can revel in its complete, slighty-ironic, out-of-date pop joy...