Friday, 9 December 2016

Armenia 2017 - Alexander Plato - Faust Cantata

Our new Armenian best mate, Alexander Plato, took his final bow at the constantly excellent Depi Evratesil the other day - and oh boy what a bow it was! He strode upon the stage to a wash of fiery red light and curious camera angles, while the pianist whacked at the keyboard like he was teetering on the brink of a massive staircase. Then when our lad finally began to sing, his throaty tenor and intense stare left the judges, and indeed the audience, shuffling uncomfortably in their seats.

It was as though Lucifer himself had popped up from the depths for a bit of a singsong. It was quite simply one of the most gloriously confounding things yet seen in the battle to tread the Eurovision boards anywhere on this globe. Splendid work old boy - I hope this isn't the last we've seen of you, because I for one would love to see this beautiful, confusing racket squeezed into a big three minute chunk to confuse the heck out of the viewing population of Europe on Saturday night in May some time soon.

Who cares about results, this is art, love!

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Georgia 2017 - Trio Mandili - Chryzantemebi

There's a list of Georgian acts doing the rounds. Twenty seven artists of varied repute, and not a single Sopho among them. At this point it is unclear whether it's a shortlist or just the list of people who applied, but there's a couple of pretty interesting names among them - and few more interesting than Trio Mandili here.

About as DIY as an act can get, TM are simply three teenaged girls, a rattly mandolele (I think) and a selfie-stick. Their videos are all of the girls just walking around their neighbourhood, singing folk-tinged tunes and mugging to the camera, and somehow they're absolutely teriffic.

Just imagine this on the big stage in Kiev. They'd start off on stage, then wend their way about the hall entirely filmed through their stick as the crowd go bonkers behind them. It would sweet, simple and absolutely engaging, and could cause quite a stir in the middle of all the usual flash bang business.

Come on Georgia, you've got be bold, and take a risk with this lot. It would be utterly fabulous!

Hungary 2017 - Peter Kovary & The Royal Rebels - It's A Riot

Them Hungarians like to mix it up a bit. Every year they deal us the usual fine and frothy pop confections, and a fistful of decent balladeers, but they also manage to squeeze in a small sprinkling of other stuff for the grown ups. We all know that they'll never make the further stages, but we're so glad that they're there to mix it all up a bit.

This year is no exception. So far we've uncovered the Satanic doom crust of Leander Kills, the worldsy beats of the tough lad gypsy man band Roma Soul, and this little bar room belter from Peter Kovary (and what looks like a band made up of his considerably younger relations).

OK, so it's some cheesy-assed pub rock shizz from a bloke who's clearly got a few too many Rival Sons, Black Spiders and Georgia Satellites records in his man bag, but heck, in this context it's like a new dawn of riff-heavy singalong nonsense. It's not great, but it's great fun, and it'll do us just fine until Leander Kills release their video!

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Switzerland 2017 - Ginta Biku - Cet Air La

You mention Eurovision to your average man or lady in the street and a very specific image springs instantly to their mind. Generally it's of a lusty lady in a swirly frock and touselled hair stamping about in front of a couple of lithe male dancers wearing almost no clothes to the sound of an insistant Europop beat. A little like THIS, in fact.

Fair play to the Swiss for trying something outside of their regulation mid tempo plod, but really, this is silliness by numbers. From the big build to the face reveal right through to the showbiz end, it's got the lot. I can almost see its trajectory now...

Instantly becomes a fan favourite, storms to a hometown victory early in the season and nudges the top of the betting from the early adopter money. Gets drawn in a relatively easy semi and everyone puts it in their top ten. Then come the big night, everyone at home totally ignores it in favour of something a bit better or a bit funnier and it comes an accidental last but one in its semi, with everyone wailing "How could this happen?!!" in complete and utter surprise.

It's written in the stars, so enjoy it now before it all gets too depressing. Unless one of the balladeers in black beats her in the local final, that is. Then it starts to get properly funny.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Belarus 2017 - Pavel Pashko - Be Better

Never before has there been a more self-fulfilling prophecy of a song (unless you rather unkindly suggest Don't Play That Song Again, you wrong 'un!). It all looked promising to begin with. A decent-looking spooky lad with a massive quiff, beflanked by a pair of eyeballs-on-legs, looking every bit like a car boot Residents (look them up, pop fans), with a witchy lady looking menacing in the background… what could possibly go wrong?

Oh, the singing bit.

The man in charge of the microphones didn't give them so much as a minute-and-a-half. Boy they're getting stern - they allowed any old kak the full three minutes last year! I'll bet that it meant we missed a massive bit of showbiz in the middle eight too, curse them! Bah!

Still, all this underlines the fact that I really must be visiting Belarus one of these days. They look like my kind of people…

•••Stop Press•••

Young Pavel and his pals must have been reading my mind, because they've done a video to fill in the end of the performance!

See it by clicking here!

Spain 2017 - German - Fiesta

Spain are treating us top some rare delights this year, and every one of them is doubtlessly more fun that the shortlist they'll inevitably foist upon us.

Take the big gurning grin of German here. OK, so he may sing like a bricky after a long pub lunch, and the song itself does drift off into nowhereland from about the halfway mark before it just kind of fizzles out with a showbiz whimper at three minutes, but it's absolutely packed with charm and singalongability, and dare I say it, fun! What a terribly old fashioned concept.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Belarus 2017 - Vitaly Voronko - What's Your Name?

The vids are back!

Forget all that Swedish business. The real Eurovision action was going down in Minsk today with the now unmissable live auditions. The last couple of years have thrown up all kinds of joy, so you'll be delighted this this year's bunch are every bit as unhinged, and that our unseen cameraman still prefers to zoom in on an attractive lady when there's all kinds of other action going on.

Case in point here. Vitaly's song man have covered all four major Eurovision food groups - bearded man in a superhero outfit playing the accordian; nice lady in a flowery frock strumming coyly on a dulcimer thingy; annoying mime artist in a kilt dancing like a berk; and, a ten foot polar bear playing a massive balalaika. You know, the usual stuff.

But while our gruesome foursome were stamping about wackily for all they were worth, letcherous cameraman got whiff of the nice lady and started to slowly zoom in, totally ignoring the other three as they gave their all elsewhere.

Although to be honest, in this instance I think he had a point...

Monday, 28 November 2016

Spain 2017 - Joan De Son Rapinya - Ole Ole

This is what they want! The Spanish, gawd bless 'em and love 'em, are having another one of those open access qualifying berths that they're so excellent at, and it's brought out all the crazies and bedroom droners that this blog lives and breaths for. So far I've seen several pairs of beautiful bears walking hand in hand on the beach, a fair bit of flamenco bellowing, and some of the most ill-advised lyric videos you'll ever come across.

But this fella in particular has stuck in my memory - partially because he looks a bit like my mate Nik, but more because he's utterly batshit bonkers. Actually, I suspect that this fella is more of a character comedian than someone with genuine mental health issues, but like a car crash or a bad wig, you just can't stop staring.

The sad thing is, as naff as this is, it'll be a darned sight more entertaining than a good 60% of what they pick for the final 30, I'll bet you - and you'll certainly be singing it in your head for longer!

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Finland 2017 - Zühlke - Perfect Villain

Last entry from Finland for now - but which do I choose? Should I go with the slightly sex pesty My First Band, who appear to be proud in their claim that they can kiss a lady's paradise so hard that they'd actually be paralysed afterwards. I'm not sure that you'd get too many positive swipes if you used THAT line on Tindr, lads.

Or maybe I should go with little Lauri Yrjölä, if for no other reason than that he's used the rather snappy epithet 'vastuuntunnottomuuden' in his song (it means 'irresponsibility', language fans). Would this make it the longest ever word in Eurovision history?

But no, in this instance we're going to pick the somewhat terrifying eyebrows of Zühlke. To be fair she makes a decent bat of a pretty dreadful lyric - all staccato delivery and powerful beltings in the chorus. But oh that chorus - it's a shocker!

"What would the X Men do?" she shouts, which is fair enough, I suppose, if not a little cheesy and awkward in a strong woman love song like this. But hold hard, it gets worse. "Would they lose their powers too, if their kryptonite was you?" Well, no would be the obvious answer, because they're a Marvel property, and from a completely different and unrelated universe to DC, which spawned the concept of Kryptonite. So unless the X Men are all quite unexpected relations of Kal El (which they're not), or Stan Lee has lobbied for some serious cross-code crossovers (which he never would), this is such appalling attention to detail on behalf of the songwriters that they deserve to lose all their shoes in a house fire.

And the saddest thing is that I bet they're really proud of that line. I can just picture them high fiving each other when they came up with it. These people!

Friday, 25 November 2016

Finland 2017 - Club La Persé - My Little World

So then, if you thought the last couple of days of postings were a little off piste, you wait until you hear this one. Like four baby Leigh Bowerys after an explosion at the Wacky Warehouse, this high camp art collective are going to look nothing less than eye-melting on stage - it's just a shame that the song's a bit weak.

OK, so some of the more insistent catwalk techno is pretty damn good, but the constant 'dit-dit-doo-doo-doo' refrain and the over-arch proclamations don't quite make up for the world beating song I was hoping for to match their lively look.

However, I would advise a little further investigation into this mob, because some of their videos are absolutely cracking, they're a dab hand at catty interviews, and the fella with the blue pig's nose is called Mr C*nt. Only with a 'u' instead of a star, obviously. Well, think of the children. Although to be fair, most children swear better than me these days.

I'm also reliably informed by my Finnish friends that Persé relates to something more arse-shaped than its more familiar meaning in the West, so I reckon we're going to be in line for one heck of a show come UMK night. I just wish the song was good enough to match the look!

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Finland 2017 - Günther & D’Sanz - Love Yourself

Oh yes, Finland is the gift that keeps on giving (at least for the next few days), and there is no bigger gift than that deadpan internet sensation Günther (from Sweden) and his (Spanish) mate D'Sanz.

You'll know Günther, even if you've tried to extinguish him from your memory, as the deadpan pout in leather behind the internet smash Ding Dong Song. More sharp-eyed reader may recognise D'Sanz from Operación Triunfo - we think. But together the pair make a strange brew - especially as there scarcely seems to be a Finnish follicle between them. But let us not complain, because dressed up on a big stage this could be a thoroughly splendid three minutes.

First up the G-man gives it his sexy porn star growl over some lively techno, before the D-man kicks in with the chorus and it all goes a bit BWO. Indeed, there's much less Günther than you would have hoped for, but of course, this gives him much more time to wander off about the place vogueing and posing, as he confessed to in this here video.

My Finnish pals tell me that they fear this is the hot favourite to win their ticket to Kyiv, and I must say I wouldn't be too disappointed - well, the Finnish delegation party is going to be a decadent belter if nothing else!

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Finland 2017 - Knucklebone Oscar & the Shangri-La Rubies - Caveman

So the UMK songs crept put this morning, and there's some very interesting songs on the list. Not very many good ones, mind, but that's not what we're here for, after all.

The one that grabbed out attention first though was this energetic little rock 'n' roll review. In the real world we'd be shaking our heads in dismay and peeping through our fingers in mild embarassment. But in this context it kinda works. Ugly little fella with a guitar, flanked by two buxom honeys, piledrives his way through a stampy slice of showbiz nonsense - if the live show for this doesn't knock your socks off this bloke deserves a punch!

There'll be more Finnish songs coming at you over the next couple of days, don't you worry!

Monday, 21 November 2016

Ukraine 2017 - Kohlya Buchak - I Am Sexy

There's time in the whole Eurovision selection process that I look forward to with glee each year. It's that point in the process where performers who've got themselves into a wildcard round, or who have even just made the super long list, blag their way onto the local breakfast programmes to awkwardly display their wares. Our old mate Sasha Bognobov is an old hand at the game, while it seems in inescapable rite of passage in Estonia.

But now, it appears, that the concept had crossed the borders into Ukraine – and oh boy what a treat they've served us. After a slightly uncomfortable micro-interview the boy Buchak here launches into his flimsy discopop stomper, with a couple of winsome lasses who look like they've come straight from the gym behind them - all the while surrounded by the cosy pastels of the studio scenery.

It bounces along amiably-yet-unremarkably until two things happen. The first sees him break into some fractured English couplets in the chorus, one of which sounds as though he's calling my name (has he been told?), the other comes just a few seconds from the end, just when you're about to turn it off. We won't spoil the fun, but you'll be gnawing at your knuckle the moment it kicks in.

But do we think it's going to help win him votes in the Ukrainian wildcard round? I guess that all depends on who his parents are…

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Ukraine 2017 - Aghiazma - Zombie Dogs

It just got pretty interesting in Ukraine. For a few weeks now there's been an open wildcard round, whereby you get to listen to a bunch of songs on a website and vote for your fave. All was going well, until the two songs leading the race were suddenly disqualified.

The official story has it that the management of the two acts had sullied the process by using bots to significantly up their votes. However, there are a few conspiracists kicking about who suggest that things aren't as simple as that. These people reckon that someone, for whatever reason, decided that these songs shouldn't be in with a shout of getting chosen for Eurovision, and arranged formthem to be binned from the list.

But whatever the truth, bith songs should consider the selves a bit hard done by. List leader Kuznetsov had a sweet slice of Chameleons-lite indie pop, while Aghiazma here is a far noisier confectionary. Alright, so the video looks like something Marilyn Manson would have rejected back in 1999 (no, seriously, it really is that dated), but the song's a crunchy goth metal stomper, with a singer I'd have loved to have seen stomping about on a real life national final stage.

So, dodgy move on behalf of the acts involved, or a slightly more corrupt manouevre on behalf of somebody else? You decide!

Monday, 7 November 2016

Switzerland 2017 - Männerchor Steili Kressä - Für Eine Frei Zugängliche ESC-Plattform Beim SRF

One of the great joys of the Eurovision season was the official opening of hostilities from the glorious Swiss Drunken Men's Choir,  Männerchor Steili Kressä. So we were utterly crestfallen that this year we would be denied that pleasure by a change in system at Helvetica towers.

Not, however, as crestfallen as the lads themselves, who have produced a protest video to express their dark displeasure at being unable to show their people their shouty wares and suffer the first public rejection of the season.

In solidarity with the brothers, here's their protest in full...