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...

Friday, 23 February 2018

Armenia 2018 - Kamil Show - Puerto Rico

The rebellion is all getting a bit obvious in Eurovisionia this season. Even the acts that you'd hoped would bring a bit of left-handed delight to the so far pretty staid proceedings are going down the blatant route and offering little more than funny faces and tunes from the Despacito food group. Which is why we're so disappointed with Kamil Show here.

From looking at previous clips of this glorious creation's work he hoped we'd be in line for a work of high lunacy and breath-taking bedazzlement. But after a promising, atmospheric opening it quickly descended into a cavalcade of gurning and pointless pratfalls. How terribly disappointing. Here we had the chance of some high anarchy and deep satire, but all we were dealt was someone larking about in clownwear like some sketch from the old time kids show Crackerjack.

Still, everyone concerned looked like they were having a brilliant time, which is a good thing I suppose. And it did knock a few dark and dreary tunes out of the proceedings, but really we expected more. If anything is going to beat that 90s house pop tune my Asmik (who I can't stop reading as 'Arsemilk'), then it's going to have to offer more than this try hard little effort delivers. When the dancing is more enjoyable than the song in a potential Eurovision performance you know you;re in trouble.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Sweden 2018 – Rolandz – Fuldans

Flipping heck, Sweden, it's coming to something when THIS is the only thing with a bit of life in it across the whole four MF shows so far? Do you still hide some manner of light under a secret bushel, or is this it?

These are clearly strange times!


Direkt Til Final. Thoroughly called for among that dreary field. Come on Sweden, teach yourself a lesson!

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Serbia 2018 - Umoran - Rejbass

The Beovisija final last night was a thing to behold, and whether intentional or not it transported us back to the competition's heyday in the late 80s when life was grand and before things started to get a little complicated round those parts. To be honest we could fill this blog with highlights for the next week - and still quite possibly might. There was lunacy, art-jazz, deep nostaligia and funtime pop stylings. But for us, this was the unassuming standout of the evening.

Actually it was so unassuming that we weren't even sure if it had started yet. Indeed, the start of the song could very easily have been the cellist's nan getting all previous with the claps. But once we'd locked into the groove this was quite the splendid affair.

After a confusingly sparse intro, and older gentleman with degenerate hair mumbled a few words to camera, before turning into the darkness and leaving us in the company of a man with the deepest voice in all Eurovision history. I'll swear the putty in out windows loosened after he appeared. I'll be passing on our glazier's bill in the morning. The whole thing then muttered on in loose cycles before it petered out at the end, but not before we'd grown strangely addicted to it's minimal roar.

Maybe not a tune for every listener's tastes, but we love the fact that songs like this even exist, let alone get a stab at representing their troubled nation on an international stage. It's things like this that make us deeply love that corner of the world, despite its many foibles.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Estonia 2018 - Evestus - Welcome To My World

While it's lovely that you're constantly dropping us your little hints and tips from around the strange creases of the national qualifiers of Europe, every now and again you get us quite wrong. For example, the Apocalypse mailbox has been full of links to this clip, suggesting that it's right up my street. But in this instance you couldn't be more mistaken. For this performance is absolutely terrible - and not for the reasons that you might think.

When I first heard that Evestus were having a pop at this year's Laul I was mildly amused. For years they've been the kind of third division techno goth band who you frequently see playing the third stage of a small-town Belgian Industrial Noise Fest. On a Sunday. Afternoon. They've always had the odd good song in them - hunt down the video for their horror jungle beatdown The Fall to see what they're fully capable of. But more often than not they just churn out the tired old tropes of the genre without offering anything terribly new or exiting - the Shed Seven of their respective scene, if you will.

But even we weren't quite prepared for quite how low they'd stoop in their attempt to tread the Eurovision boards. Where at best they can chug along a pretty hefty techno electro groove, here they just plod along listlessly, coming over like a car boot Marilyn Manson when he was on his terrible middle period. And then there's the other clear lifts. You thought that keyboard-on-a-spring thing looked cool? So did Nine Inch Nails when they pioneered it 20-odd years ago. And how about those ambiguous backing singers? Very reminiscent of pretty much any gig Ministry or The Revolting Cocks or even Pigface did in the nineties. Then there's the collapsing stage schtick that crops up in about one in five of the videos of this genre. And even the singer looks like a smart price Dani Filth in his half-arsed menace.

Now some, if not all, of these references might leave you a little puzzled, like we're making up our own language or something. But trust us, we're well versed in this field, and this mob aren't especially very good at it. I mean, how bored did that drummer lad look. He was clearly wondering about which pie he wanted to polish off once he'd got back to his mum's after the show and raided her fridge.

Add this as another to the long sorry list of reasonably decent genre bands who wimp out and deliver a deeply watered down song for Eurovision that's more what they think people will like than one that they're actually any good at doing. Gothminister, Nuteki, Kabat et al, come on down. But what's more worrying is that they've bagged the last-song-in-the-draw slot at the Laul final, which means they'll be able to pull off something pretty big and explosive looking, which would put them in real contention for the gong. Oh good lord, please no...

Monday, 19 February 2018

Latvia 2018 - Mionia - You

I was a bit behind catching up with some of this weekend's songs, and I was reading a heck of a lot of comments from folks saying what a lovely song this was and how beautiful Mionia's voice was. So understandably it was at the top of my catch up list when I finally got to sit down and have a good listen. But oh my days... One can only assume that none of the those people giving her vocal stylings were from the United Kingdom - or even ever visited for more than a long weekend - because wowsers her accent is shocking.

How so? Well remember how that German Lena clearly though that she was channeling her inner Kate Nash, but it actually sounded more like someone kicking a poorly dog? Well Mionia comes across as someone trying to sound like Lena kicking Kate Nash - with the expected horrifying results.

Now our international readers may be wondering quite what's so bad about it all - and to be fair to you all, if you love it then she's done her job perfectly. But if you're of these isles, those strangled vowels and variable regional accent attempts are like someone dragging their nails down a blackboard. Whilst screaming.

Now I don't want to do the girl a disservice. There's a really beautiful song in there fighting to get out, and when she's not singing "Luv" like a comedy Scouser, or over annunciating her hard consonants she's actually got a pretty decent voice. I just wish that she's kept to her own accent and didn't mess about with all that funny business.

You watch. It'll turn out that she's actually from Leeds now, and won't I look a fool!

Portugal 2018 - JP Simões - Alvoroço

Here's a fine little oddity from FDC last night. The first Portuguese show was a joy of understated delights and gentle Sunday night pop. But JP here have us something even more minimal. So laid back he was almost laid on the floor with a big straw hat on, he cooly mumbled through a song that roughly translates as 'Hooligan' (we think - Portuguese is never what it seems, and it could also mean 'Bustle', 'Tumult' or 'Rampage, among many other things), seemingly singing along with himself and hardly stretching a facial muscle.

So far so quiet. But at the two minute mark such a cacophony kicked in that it sounded like a jazz orchestra falling down the stairs - and continued like this until the end. But old JP remained up worried, and scarcely flinched, retaining his disaffected cool until the last racketous beat.

In a staid, sweet and often safe evening of music, this was a revelation of strange, and we wholeheartedly approve. And so did the jury who gave him a pretty decent mark. The good people of Portugal clearly didn't though, and it didn't get a single measly mark from them, missing out on qualification by a mere point. It was probably better that way, but oh what beauty we fleetingly glimpsed...