Friday, 8 March 2019

Belarus 2019 - Eva Kogan - Run



Now here's a cautionary tale about electing not to sing in your own language. English may be something of a lingua franca in the musical world, but if you're going to attempt to try to sing in it, you should at least have something of a minimal grasp of its shape and grammar.

Witness poor Eva here. She obviously thought she was onto a good thing, beating our very own Daz Sampson to the final and all, but she really should have revised her language of choice decision. Because, well, it's fair to say that we were the best part of a third of the way through the song before we realised that she was having a stab at our mother tongue. But still we weren't sure, and the Apocalypse sofa was pulled closer and closer to the screen to try and pick out little packets of syllables that we recognised.

But we're not mocking her for her lack of language skills. She did a darn sight better than I ever would have attempting to sing the song in Belarussian - or just about any other language, to be honest. But if you're trying to display emotion in a big old plod of a ballad, it's useful to have even the tiniest grasp of what you're singing about, rather than remembering word shapes from an unfamiliar tongue. Fair play for giving it a go, Eva, but let this be a lesson to you if you ever try and enter a song again. Because this was at near Ken Lee levels of language mangling, bless you.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Serbia 2019 - Dženan Lončarević - Nema Suza


Serbia has been the source of some dark entertainment this season. The social unrest in the nation has surely filtered through to the contest and there's a lot of introspection, and in many cases downright bleak entries on their slate this year. But more more visually arresting than this.

From our less than perfect grasp of Slavic languages, we surmise that this is a song about a mother whose bright, artistic son has gone to war, and while she waits for him to return she knits figurative strands of hurt and worry to show her painful longing. But then it all gets a bit interpretive dancey and a giant ball of wool comes on and unravels before her - and the it begins to get really strange. And gloomy. And boy has it ever got a downbeat ending.

But even though this occasionally borders on the silly to the Western eye, this is a heartfelt song with one eye on the nation's troubled past that will really tug at the heartstrings back home. The song itself is the standard Balkan ballad that builds and drops in all the right places, and is sung incredibly well by Mr Lončarević, despite him looking like he's come straight from work at the accounts department in the rope factory.

There may be undertones and nuances to this song that we don't readily understand on this side of the continent, so I may reserve full judgement until I see a more contextual reading of the storyline. But on face value this has a surprising amount going for it, and the visuals, however odd and jarring they may appear at first, make up for the singer's lack of charisma, and I wouldn't begrudge seeing this in Israel (as it stands). File under songs you didn't think that you'd like, but you kind of sort of do.

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Serbia 2019 - Mr Doo - Do 100


When you're trying to get yourself selected for a national final as one of a dozen songs there are many things that you can do to stand out. An interesting dance routine, perhaps, or maybe some visually attractive outfits. Or maybe you can do as many have and have some manner of crazy prop on stage to take people's minds off how ordinary your song is. But there can't be many people who've ever considered doing this.

I really don't want to give much away, as this is best experienced for yourself, but you do wonder what in the name of heavens they were thinking off when they cooked up this arch presentational scheme. The jury's still out in Apocalypse Towers as to whether this is a stroke of artistic genius or a really ill-judged and distracting own goal when they had a song that could just about have dragged its way into the qualifying top six.

But the only juries that actually matter ignored it to such an extent that even a minicab driver with a bloke scrawling a painting out behind him beat it to the final. So enjoy this for yourself and see whether you can make head nor tail of it!


***STOP PRESS***

We're hearing that this singular performance may have something to do with the recent assault of a Serbian opposition Borko Stefanovic and the ongoing street protests in Belgrade. So if any of you know any more, please do let us know in the comments below!

Sunday, 24 February 2019

Portugal 2019 - Surma - Pugna


Portugal has most certainly got its freak on this year, and in ways that we heartily approve of. We were fully expecting last week's shenanigans from Mr Osiris, but Surma's superb visual arts exhibition last night knocked us sideways. I mean, we already loved the micro minimal atmosphere of the song itself, but the presentation last evening had us holding our collective breath again, barely breathing in case our wheezy lungs obscured a tiny pink of sound.

There were many things we loved about this performance - the style, the delivery, the dancing - but our favourite thing of all was the awkward shuffling from the middle-aged men in the crowd behind who really weren't getting it at all. Which in our book means job done, Surma!

And the biggest surprise of the lot was that it topped the jury poll! How did that happen? Were they second guessing public mood after last week? Were they practising for the final? Or did they genuinely love this creepy, gentle, oppressive, lovely performance as much as we did? We hope so.

All of which, though, sets us up for a fascinating final next week. Will this nick some of the cool points off Conan, allowing something more usual through the middle, or will this soar in its own right, giving us a quite unexpected and much welcome top two? We really can't wait!

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Poland 2019 - Tulia - Pali Się


So we already heard that the rather marvellous Tulia were to represent Poland in the big show, but we hadn't been graced with the title of the song yet. So after a quick skirt around their videos we were faced with a choice between lovely introsdpective local folk, and more beaty tunes like this one. We rather hoped for the latter - although either would have sufficed to be fair.

And then last night the rumour mill cranked into overdrive that this would indeed be their entry! Huzzah! (I thought). Then immediately set to worrying, as the intro and verses are just a little bit similar to Hey Bulldog by The Beatles. Not Petruska similar (as in totally the bloody same, obv) but just a tad reminsicent. So some dullard's bound to pick up on it and try to get the thing DQ'd!

And this live video also raises another issue. The whole standing-stock-still-in-a-line schtick workd briollaint in video form, and even probably at a gig watching them. But it's going to need a whole load of fancy camerawork to inject some life and excitement into it on a bit Eurovision stage.

But I'm not complaining too much - if this is indeed the chosen one, the chorus is probably my fave moment of all the songs selected so far, and their alt historic look and sound is absolutely flipping fabulous! This could be interesting!





Sunday, 17 February 2019

Slovenia 2019: Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl – Sebi


Slovenia proved once again last night that sometimes we can have nice things. We must confess though that this one passed us by in clip form, so we'd almost completely forgotten about it. But from the second their slot began last night we were captivated, scarcely breathing for the full three minutes we were in such thrall.

The intimacy of this delicate and understated performance, which drew us into the stage up alongside them and let us enter into their innocent, fragile world. Bless it, we thought, that'll be the last we ever see of it - and although we'd have been happy to see it in a superfinal, we never imagined that it would quietly sneak its way past all that bombast to get there.

And when it did, we were delighted. But we never thought it would come anywhere close to knocking the besainted Raiven off her destiny-encrusted perch. Oh they did! What a terrific result. Could even their closest family have see then one coming?

The next concern is how it's going to work on that big stage in May. It could very easily get lost in amongst all that noise. But remember, there's always a sweet, understated song that confounds all expectations and does surprisingly well. So this could very easily be the next Kedvesem or When We Are Old - they just have to keep the stage show exactly as it is and not feel the temptation to dissipate that charm and intimacy by putting fire and dancers on stage along with them. Nice, and incredibly surprising pick, Slovenia. You are officially the new Eesti Laul!




Saturday, 16 February 2019

Iceland 2019 - Elli Grill, Skaði, Glymur - Jeijó, Keyrum Alla Leið


So last week Iceland smashed through the beige curtain with the utter fabulosity of the Hatari brothers. So I guess the nice folks at RUV figured they ought to bring a little bit more of the strange this week. Only this time they thought they'd chuck in all of the leftover bits from the last few Christmases, rattling it about before tipping it all out on a stage to see what happened.

This is what happened...


Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Israel 2019 - Kobi Marimi - Fuego



So it could have been a whole lot worse, but after a long-winded and often confusing affair, Israel finally chose their representative for the home turf entry this year. In a contest that went back to November, but feels like it's gone on so long that I'm convinced my nan sung in it in her twenties, the good folks of the Levant chose a singer who on first inspection doesn't seem terribly promising.

He sounds like a haunted chimney, looks like that bloke from the first week of the internet who played table tennis and said "I kiss you!", and carries all the charisma of a Poundstretcher cheese slice - but somehow you can't stop looking at him.

Is it because his leather jacket is more animated than him? Is it because he looks at you under his eyes like a dog who's shit in the cupboard but knows you haven't found it yet? Or maybe it's because you now know what Sacha Baron Cohen would have looked like in the lead role in Bohemian Rhapsody? But whatever it is, I really can't wait to see what song they finally provide him to sing in Eurovision proper. It could be compelling for so many different reasons.

In the meantime, here's a man with the demeanour of a lonely tree singing Fuego.


PS On reflection, I've probably been a bit mean to the fella. By all accounts he's a lovely chap who's been through a lot in his life. And he won this contest with ease, so he's clearly got something about him, and doesn't need me calling him clever names. But it's not half as bad as he's going to get when Eurovisionia gets their teeth into him. Pray, for his sake, that the song's a blinder!

Israel 2019 - Shefita - You Oughta Know


The Israelis choose who they're going to send to Eurovision tonight, and the final four make a really interesting - if not potentially troubling - mix. On paper this is Kitria's contest to win. A member of the Black Hebrew Israelites community, she's not only an incredible singer, but would fit into the organisers' mission statement of celebrating diversity this year. However, she has some complicated competition.

The inclusion of Maya Bouskilla in this list is a slightly contentious one, not least in that she's not exactly The New Star this show purports to be looking for, as she had a not incosiderable music career in the early days of the century, and has occasionally been suggest as the choice for Eurovision proper down the years. She would however be a safe pair of hands, and would deliver ably anything - well most things - that Israeli telly threw at her. Although it would be a stunningly safe choice.

Kobi Marimi is another strange choice. For a man so seemingly devoid of charisma or delivery, he's become the centre of this year's soapy storyline, but his meat and potatoes style would surely not translate down the TV screens of a continent and beyond.

But the most contentious contender is one Shefita. A character created by the Jewish comedian Rotem Shefy, she performs in the guise of an Israeli Arab, using exaggerated actions and accents over code Palestinian music styles to hammer home her comedy point. Her progress through the competition has divided viewers, with many thinking it's just a bit of harmless fun, with many more suggesting that bringing this kind of act to Israeli screens in the current climate is ill-advised at best and divisive at worst - not to mention the potential PR disaster it would bring to Eurovision proper should it win.

Local TV critics assumed that she was being kep in the competition to keep the ratings high with a little bit of jeopardy, but now there's a very real possiblity that this highly localised and somewhat tactless in joke could be representing their nation on a major international platform.

Tonight's final could easily go one of four ways, and there'll be a whole lot more people besides Tuesday night telly watchers and ESC fans keeping a close eye on tonight's goings on, that's for certain.

Slovenia 2019 - Raiven - Kaos



After a tantalisingly promising clip, Raiven's EMA excursion has finally dropped - quite literally - and boy it's a belter! It's got so many booms, drops and whomps it's like a trip back to 2011, stomping about in a crumbling dubstep den in Croydon once those musics finally embraced the pop.

It's utterly bonkers and unsongy, of course, but that's part of its charm, the sweeps and swoops keeping you on your toes as the icy maiden starkly oozes out her words - kaos mainly - and does a little spikey rap bit in the middle. At times there's so much going on that it sounds like a school party has gone berserk in a synth factory - but that's only to its credit, as it gives it until energet and verse.

I cansee the staging now - Raiven standing stark still, looking cold and incredible in an indescribeably angular outfit, while skinny girls in the now-prerequisie garb dart and gyrate around her. It'll utterly bomb should it get to Tel Aviv, as it's too niche and noisy for the nans of Europe and too dated for the clued up pop kids, but I still really hope it gets there, because raiven deserves her turn, and she'll never have a better sounding song than  this!

***STOP PRESS***

Despite all our ealry bellyaching this just didn't work live, and just sounded like she was saying 'COWS!' a lot. Oh well, next year, Raiven?


Monday, 11 February 2019

Serbia 2019 - Lana i Aldo - Pogledaj U Nebo


The big fat list of Serbian hopefuls was released this morning, and among the parade of big buildo ballads and Balkan pop bangers sit this rather unexpected piece of work. And trust us, it's a bit special - although possibly in the right ways.

Effectively it sounds like an entirey eighties stage musical condensed into three minutes - complete with overtures, character development, proggy interlude, and lots of clappy singalong bits and farty trumpets. It is, of course, utterly bonkers, but promises to offer one heck of a stage show come Beovizija time - especially as it sounds as though there's a cast of at least fifty voices singing along to it!

The title translates to approximately Look At The Sky, and them Serbians will certainly be doing that if they pick this unhinged gem to go to Israel. Oh please do it, you lot. If only so that we can see the dazzled gaze of the first fifty rows once it's finished.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Ukraine 2019 - Letay - Myla Moya


Ukraine is a beauteous place. The Vidbir shows are always packed with ludicrous stage mechanics, thinly veiled nationalist statements and overtly sexualised performances - CoughMaruvCough - but somehow this little jobby managed to fit the entire shopfront of Kitchen Sinks 'R' Us into his performance and still manage to come nowhere.

It starts off a little carnyville, employing equal measures of The Greatest Showman and Sideshow Bob into the act, before he leaps into a chorus that sounds lifted from a carboot sale that Matt Bellamy from Muse was managing. Then he goes for a little walkabout and we meet all sorts of not-quite-steampunk characters, to the clockwork keyboard dolls to a little gymnast girls that it appears Mr Letay is under clear instructions no to touch - but he occasionally forgets, getting short shrift to the precocious mite.

And just when you're thinking "The only thing that would make this more ludicrous would be if a juggler arrived on a unicycle," a juggler arrives on a unicycle and it starts getting even more meta. But somehow it manages to cram even more layers of more into the three minutes with an admittedly pretty daring/foolish exit.

If anyone manages to cram more than this amount of ridiculously silly addenda into a show between now and the end of the season, get me on the phone immediately, because if I don't see it with my own eyes I could scarcely believe it could happen!


Friday, 8 February 2019

Italy 2019 - Sanremo Closing Credits - Poppoppoppò


There's a moment at every year's Sanremo that we always totally forget about for the rest of the year, but the moment it crops up it's utterly hardwired into the collective Apocalypse brains for the next three weeks - the song over the closing credits.

"What's that?", you say. "Sanremo actually finishes at some point in the night? Golly!" Well if does (unless you stay up even later to what the unhinged Dopofestival), and being the lightweight that you most probably are you've never got to hear this utterly splendid and highly addictive piece of music.

Think of it as an unlocked achievement in a video game. It's exactly like the Rainbow Road stage in Mario Karts. It might not be the most challenging or exciting piece of work, but you enjoy it all the more because it feels like a nice chilled out reward at the end of the night for having put yourself through all that bamboozling chat.

And what's more, they've upped their game this year, as all the artists get to sing a little bit of the song each. So you can briefly see them all in their daywear prime.

Altogether now... Po po-popo-po po-popo-po po-popo-po-oh...

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Italy 2019 - Daniele Silvestri - Argentovivo


If Achille Lauro was my real world smash last evening (and I'd recommend you check out some of his more usual work on YouTube), the big winner for me in a traditional Samremo sense was Daniele Silvestri. Taking the regulation Italian musical form of a grumbly looking middle-aged man talking directly into your soul with eyes that have clearly seen too much, and updating it slightly for a more rap-literate climate, this was a thing of absolute beauty.

Beginning seated at a desk, with a shadowy hooded figure to his right, he began explaining something that was clearly very serious as he prowled assertively across the stage, before finally approaching said figure - which kicked off a kind of dark, laid back rap battle of some power.

That figure, when wrenched from the darkness, turned out to be the Italian rapper Rancore, and he began to regale from a new, younger position, while Daniele stood looking behind in possibly the finest camera angle of the night. This is 4:20 of near Sanremo perfection, and it's well worth dedicating that much of your day to see.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Italy 2019 - Achille Lauro - Rolls Royce


It's no secret that we flipping love Sanremo here at Apocalypse Towers. We bed in with a flask of weak lemon squash, some teacakes and a big floppy hat as if we were doing the full five days of a test match, and just let the Italian fabulosity wash over us. The grumbly talking men, the thousand-year-old ladies, the incongrous rock bands - the lot of it. And that's before we get to the comedy skits and frequent guest appearances from the cast of Inspector Montalbano.

The line up is always terrific, but one act tonight made us sit up and listen in a way I can't remember doing at a Sanremo act before. Because Achille Lauro really has something. Something special. An awkward, dirty, anti-rock'n'roll demenour that you fear won't end well, but that makes you want to chip along for the ride for as long as it takes to him to crash and gloriously burn.

Of course, he's not going to win this contest. Not by a long way. But he's got the kind of magical, mumbling charisma that had us hooked from his very first spat lyric, and that will make us remember him for far longer than most of the songs by the more established acts on show tonight. And if that wasn't enough, he's named after a hijacked ship. This boy's got great things in him. Maybe not for this show, but we can't wait to see how it all pans out. Find of the night, by streets.

Belarus 2019 - Valerija Dubickaja - Our Universe


There are some songs that no matter how strange and wonky they appear on the surface quite unexplainably get under your skin and tap an odd little tune on your heart. And this is one of ours.

On the face of it we're looking at an awkward young girl looking very small on a big stage, her high pitched willowy voice blowing in the winds pitch and key, while warbling out a gentle folksy tune with a few too many words.

And yet, a couple of rotations of the tune in and we're utterly sold on the message she's sending us, and the manner that she's delivering it to us. Her voice shifts from fragile to crashingly honest, and the complicated and unusual melody wafts over us like a warm and gentle breeze. And the bit that absolutely killed us the most was her gracious bow at the end before she left the stage.

This is our absolute favourite performance from the long and often difficult Belarusian auditions, despite all the unpromising ingredients. It almost certainly won't be yours, but like this lovely little tune, we're sometimes difficult like that.

Belarus 2019 - Pavel Lašenčuk - La Za Mir Na Planete Zemlia


If there was one performance that got everybody on their virtual feet and cheering along - after Potato Acapulco, that is - it's old Pavel here with his pure gift to live auditions. And this isn't the whole thing!

He'd already been on stage for about three minutes previously, dropping papers, arguing with the stage hand and wilfully ignoring how microphones actually work. For his second visit we walked on in a jockey's cap, rattled on some more, complained that they'd played the wrong song, demanded that they started his own song again, then launched into a beautifully pinky plonk ramble that said the words Belarus and Israel a lot yet made no apparent sense in any language.

At times we were wondering if Pavel here was a dead pan comedian of incredible talents. But on reflection we don't thing he is - we suspect that this is straight up and he's a real life grumbly old fella with a penchant for chatting over electronic party pop. God bless Belarus!

Monday, 4 February 2019

Belarus 2019 - Jaroslav Ivanov - My Loneliness


There were many wonders to behold in Belarus. God good, some bad, some utterly terrifying. Guess which category this one comes under...

Less a song than an apparent instructional video for grooming, it's probably a very innocent thing if you know what's going on. But if you don't it's as creepy as all hell!

Jaroslav's breathy voice, coupled with the distracted nature of his young female sidekick and some seriously strange cape shennanigans make for a very uncomfortable three minutes of song. Soak it in, pop fans!


Belarus 2019 - Vitalij Voronko & Artem Soroko - Potato Acapulco


The marathon five hour Spasibo auditions from Belarus took place this morning, and to be fair there were enough gems on view to be keeping us busy until December on Apocalypse. But the one that's been causing the biggest stir among the rank and file is this beautiful little number.

You may remember Mr Voronko from his performance this time a couple of years back with a giant polar bear that ended up getting up on pretty much every Somewhere's Got Talent show on the globe. So we were pleased to see the old fella back on stage with his pal Artem to sing this situationist marvel.

The only two words you'll need to worry about are Potato and Acapulco, and we can guarantee that you'll be unwillingly singing this for the rest of the night, whether you want to or not. Sadly it didn't make it through the sift, but we'll always have Acapulo! (And Potato Potato!)

Lithuania 2019 - Alen Chicco - Your Cure


Oh Lithuania, you beautiful country! Just when we thought you couldn't up your level of bewildering performances, you deliver us this little treat.

So, what are you going to see here if you click the vid? Well, a giant androgenous character looms above a seated dancer in a volumous purple onesie as he sings an allegory about healing, before... ooh, this is one surprise that we're not going to spoil for you. But needless to say that you may well spit out your tea upon viewing.

And do you want to know something else? It qualified as one of the top six to make its way into the semi-finals! Now that's what I call a country!

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Moldova 2019 - Irina Tarasiuc & Lume – Ca Adriano Celentano


Oh Moldova, what have you done? OK, so you didn't have a terribly large pool of talent to play with, but you certainly had some songs in that crazy 28 that would have made your national final complete and one to remember? And what did you do? You binned every last one of them in place of a barrage of mid-tempo-to-slow ordinariness! This is supposed to be the year of the big experimentals, not arch usualness.

And what made it even worse it that you bottled out of giving us two incredibly entertaining semi-finals. You know out feelings about Mr Bognibov (and we reckon he put in his best ever performance too!), but what about your glorious folk hero Iurie Sadovnic and his gloriously batshit epistle to Robin Hood? Or Alister Mars and his plinky plonky shocky horror show pop rock tune? They were one of the very few to have made an actual effort with an actual show this year?

And this? The belwilderingly titled Ca Adrinano Celentano - a song so distilled of Europe's impressions of your fair nation that it would surely have bagged you a third great result in a row? Really? A call to arms for Moldovan folk the continent to come back home or never actually leave gets callously shoved aside by some soulless ladies wearing hats? There really is no guessing what goes on in TRM towers!

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Montenegro 2019 - Andrea Demirović - Ja Sam Ti San


The Montenegrin songs snuck out on Saturday morning while everyone (surely?) was watching the Moldovan auditions, and they certainly frontloaded the order of the songs. While the following four entries got successively more dull, they opened proceedings with this absolute banger of a tune.

It's stuffed chock full of electro goodness, with it's massive whomps and insistent little plinky plonk bits. Added to that, Andrea's voice offers that cold Balkan sass that we deeply enjoy around these parts.

But we have fears. Ivana Popović's song is the kind of on-rails minor key ballad that they just lap up round those parts, and who knows whose song or daughter is part of any of those other acts, and if the special handshake rule is in operation this year. But if it's on song alone, this is surely the only one they ought to be considering this year. Surely?

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Belarus 2019 - Daz Sampson & Nona - Kinky Boots


Now we're talking! In a year that's been dangerously shy of any cheesy dance numbers, old pal of this parish Daz Sampson has weighed in with an absolute blinder of the genre. Only this time he's having a stab in Belarus! Eh?

It's bouncy, it's repetitive and it's a bucketload of fun - and you just know that the stage show is going to be gleefully ludicrous. Of course he'll have get past the historically brutal Belarussian open audition process, where often even a strange walk and a funny hair do will get you the cold and disembodied "Spasibo!" before you've even got going. But Daz is made of more solid stuff than that, so we're sure he'll cope.

Oh how we wish that old Auntie Beeb was strong enough to have put at least one song this full of energy in among our final songs. They could have had someone in a hat and waistcoat doing a country version of it as a counterpoint...

In fact, we've only got one issue with this whole production. Where's Nona's boots? We certainly hope you've got a decent pair lined up for the telly!




Lithuania 2019 - Kali - Don‘t B3long



Lithuania 2019 are the gift that just continue to give. Just look at our little mate Kali here. Not so much mumble rap as grumble rap, he meanders along telling us about ill-suited is to his recently former partner, even though she's the only one who gets him and he feels like he wants to die.

Happy day!

It's people like Kali that make this show all kinds of marvellous. I was going to suggest that he was another one that they'd dragged off the streets, but it turned out that that unlikely 150 mob from the other day actually won Lithuanian X Factor a couple of years back, so for all we know this boy could be as big as Post Malone round those parts.

I love Lithuania, I really do.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Ukraine 2019 - Brunettes Shoot Blondes - Houston


Word reaches us that this is alledgedly the song that BSB are going to send to Vidbir 2019. And if it is - then wowsers!

The song itself is sweet enough - a kind of gentle alt-indie jangle with a wickedly dry lyric. It's the kind fo thing that we'd expect more from the Baltics than down Kiev way, and in and of itself it's a pretty decent tune that hooks in the brain in a way that you really don't want it to.

But the story here is the instrument that they're playing it on. In a feat of fabulous musical engineering they've managed to combine 20 instruments into one and are playing the whole thing entirely by their own power with not a hint of electricity to be seen anywhere. It's an incredible piece of kit, and the kind of thing that would do the rounds of internet excitement entirely under it's own steam, and probably get onto the end of Newsnight a fortnight after everybody else has seen it.

But marry that to a very cute and credible Eurovision song and we might have our hands on an understated danger here. Keep an eye on this one.

I wouldn't like to be the poor soul who's got to get that thing through Israeli customs, mind...



Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Lithuania 2019 - 120 - Nėra Abejonių


You lot who claim to be fans of Eurovision but steadfastly refuse to watch any of the qualifier shows so that you can keep yourselves pure baffle us here at Apocalypse. To use a sporting analogy, it's like claiming to be a massive fan of football's FA Cup but only watching the Wembley final. Yes, throughout Spring you get dozens of mini Eurovisions from right around the continent - and even beyond these days - and you're missing out on so much fun.

And look at all the fun you're missing out on. Songs that don't stand a cat in hell's chance of getting anywhere near Tel Aviv, but that underline the very joy of performing for its own sake. Folks like 120 here.

The song's terrible of course, but watch and marvel as two fellas who still can't believe that they've got on the telly are shouting and japing along to ever more ludicrous dance routines. Peer closely into the background and you may just spot the rank of backing singers trilling along from their song sheets like they can't quite believe their careers have come to this.

So join us, people, and soon you'll be standing with us on the musical version of the touchline of a municipal park on a damp evening watching some godforsaken Extra-Preliminary round replay (It's an FA Cup thing again). This is non-league Eurovision, and it's the absolute spirit of the competition - why on Earth would you want to miss out on such delights?

Sunday, 27 January 2019

France 2019 - Silvàn Areg – Allez Leur Dire


I was on punk rock business for the first semi-final of Destination Eurovision so missed all the performances, and after being enveloped in all the Bilal hoo-haa I clean forgot to check up on the songs after. Which was my error, because this little cracker has to go down as one of the best presented three minutes of Eurovision in a long old time.

What we see here is a cheeky chappy delivering a bouncy, effortlessly French nursery rhyme of a song while stamping about in all manner of cartoon lands. Film students and cineastes among you will know how it's done straight away, but I won't spoil the fun for the rest of you.

Needless to say this scored higher than anyone could have imagined, doubtless encouraged by the performance's charm and ingenuity. You see, there are still original ways that you can do a live show in this contest, and I for one can only applaud the fella and his peoples. I only wish that I'd been awake to it earlier!

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Iceland 2019 - Hatari - Hatrið Mun Sigra


After a difficult few years for Iceland, this year's Söngvakeppnin selection feels like somebody at RUV looked behind the beige curtain and discovered a whole bundle of delights that they'd never so much as considered sending in the past. And good on them, for this year they've finally got around to asking one of their nation's most popular international underground exports to join the fray. The Haters!

Some pals of ours have been calling out for this lot to be a part of the show for years, and now their dreams have finally come true - and how! These anti-state S&M techno goths will certainly knock the cobwebs off of the traditionally staid Reykjavik crowd, and their on-stage show is going to be an absolute blinder if their past record is anything to go by.

But will they be so bold as to let it go the whole way to Tel Aviv? We flipping well hope so! Imagine your nan trying to make head nor tail of this!

Lithuania 2019 - Antikvariniai Kašpirovskio Dantys - Mažulė


Those among you who aren't sure what to do with yourselves before the French final could do worse than have a gander at tonight's Lithuanian show. For while it's still an early qualifier, and nobody's entirely sure what's going on until the latter stages, it's absolutely jam packed with bonkers stuff that almost certainly won't see any further light after tonight.

For a start, you've got the unsettling regional mumble rap of Laimingu Būti Lengva, the cheesy-as-all-hell lady group La Forza and the double alumnus outfit of Jurgis Did and Erica Jennings (InCulto and Scamp) with their curious plinky plonky confection. (Actually, that one might be something of a danger, thinking about it).

But the only song to care about is from this ramshackle mob. With a name that translates as something like Kaspirov's Antique Copper Teeth (put me right, Lithuanian locals), this unlikely aggregation stand about in an ungainly stomp and belt out the mob choruses with bar room aplomb. It's as if someone had formed a lad band at the worst pub in town for a laugh and somehow got them onto X Factor. No seriously - that's where this clip's from!

I might be alone here, but I really can't wait to see what they do tonight!


Friday, 25 January 2019

Norway 2019 - Hank von Hell - Fake It


Well that was quite unexpected, Norway! Most Eurovision fans will have cast their eyes down the MGP list and thought "Oh, they've gone for another comedy rocker to fill the end slot." But to I can guarantee you that punks and metal freaks the world over have just gone "Oh my flipping days - Hank von Hell is doing Eurovision!"

Hank's best known as being a member of the camp and outrageous rock'n'roll deathpunk band Turbonegro - and outfit with a loyal and rabid gang of worldwide followers called the Turbojugend, who all dress in uniform and follow the boys around the planet. Hank himself left the band under a cloud after well-documented substance issues, and claims that his life has been turned around by Scientology.

His shows are usually awash with flame, explosions and terrible behaviour, and his traditionally erratic on stage demeanour means that absolutely bloody anything could happen on show night - especially if the Jugend mobilise...

File under: Be afraid. Be very afraid. I can't flipping wait!


Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Moldova 2019 - Iurii Sadovnic și Formația Legenda - Robin Hood


It's always an exciting moment in the Apocalypse household when the Moldovan songs are released, and this year certainly hasn't let us down. Of 30 songs submitted, 28 have made it to the audition stages (one of the other two being unfinished, and the other an aural hate crime, by all accounts). But Sasha's continued magnificence aside, there one only one song that really tweaked our nonsense muscle. And what an experience this is.

For a start, it's called Robin Hood. Our Spider senses were already tweaking before we'd heard a note.  Then came the triumphant intro - a brief gong, followed by a distant guitar, and what sounds like a man of some age channeling Norwegian Wood, before he launches into a tale of derring do about our very own national hero. We think. Mainly because we're genuinely not sure if it's in English or Moldovan. And then it rattles off into some kind of primal ancient European blues - and then gets even stranger.

Of all the songs in this pretty poor selection this is the one that we're looking forward to seeing the most. Especially because Mr Sadovnic looks like this...





Lithuania 2019 - Banzzzai - I Don't Care


It's been quiet a quiet season so far for the more, how shall we say, esoteric entries. So it was with much delight that we spotted this little fancy from the second Lithuanian qualifier on Saturday. We'd been double screening with the French final - mainly due to the hours of jibber jabber between the songs in in each show. But while concentrating on the goings on in France our attentions were drawn to this beauty clophopping about in the corners of our collective eyes.

Yes, this is where Eurovision 2019 officially begins!

So what do we have here then? A giant silver-headed bear mincing about with a gruff voice over a backing track that borrows only ever-so-slightly from Pump Up The Jam. But then he gets to dance properly - and boy can he shift for a big lad! But that's not all. Not only are his backing dancers dressed like sexy terrorists - FOR NO APPARENT REASON - but there's a completely random moment with a glowing harp device that clearly means something locally (we hope), but is utterly bewildering to the rest of us.

It was brilliant, happy, honest fun, and exactly why we love this time of year! This, dear reader, is pure Apocalypse gold! Enjoy your meal!



Monday, 21 January 2019

Portugal 2019 - Conan Osíris - Telemóveis


In days done by it's been an unusual event for Portugal to offer up anything even remotely experimental to the FDC fold. But still in the glow of their winning moment they've gotten a little bolder in their selections. Witness Conan Osiris here. If you can imagine an amalgam of rustic Lusophone folk and skittish electronic mumble rap you're probably only a quarter of the way to guessing what this is going to sound like.

Older clips of his on YT suggest a kind of deep, dark and shadowy figure, operating at the very fringes of usual music, and his Festival entry is pushing the very boundaries of what wide swathes of Eurovisiona even consider music.

But heavens, we suspect this is going to be very, very special live. It may be doomed critically, we we can't flipping wait to see it performed live!

***STOP PRESS***

We've seen it live. It was a bit flipping special, and we've added it above!


Sunday, 20 January 2019

Spain 2019 - Miki - La Venda



Whoa, hang about - Spain have sent something terrific tonight! Didn't see that coming!

When I first heard the OT songs back at the tail end of last year I instantly loved it, but assumed that either some mawkish frocky ballad or one of the diluted Fuego-alikes would be way ahead at the front of the queue. Then when I saw that the lad Miki was also lumbered with a duet I feared his vote would be diluted.

And even when he exploded onto the stage in the OT gala tonight I was pretty sure that he was singing entirely for my own delight and would be shuffling awkwardly down the bottom of the single-digit percenters when it came to scoring time. But heaven no - the crowd went absolutely doolally bonkers in the nut when he finished, and continued to yelp loudly every time the song was so much as hinted at.

Good lad!

And if you've not seen it yet, prepare yourself for a pleasant surprise. From the chummy in-the-crowd beginnings, to the top speed romp through (150bpm, I've been told) right through to the quaintly subversive anticapitalismo lyric, this is an unabashed party song that you can easily fall in love with.

But is it a winner? I suspect not. But who cares, because at least we'll have the one song that we can all leap about to like 'nanas in what already threatens to be an increasingly staid year.

But then again I never imagined that it would win tonight...

I'll tell you what though - they're going to be proper pooped in rehearsals!


Lithuania 2018 - Aldegunda - I Want Your Love



While we await a somewhat tardy LRT to post up the videos from last night's Eurovizijos Atranka (mainly so that we can show you the rather splendid horror that was Banzzzai's I Don't Care), let me run this little puppy by you from two weeks back.

Aldegunda here seems to be something of a face in Lithuanian music. A quick flick through her YouTube channel will see her touting everything from P!nk covers to decadent cabaret lounge jazz, right through to moderately noisy symphonic rock attempts. And she seems to be playing over the pond in the Americas all the time. But here she seems to be channeling her inner Grace Jones... only a slightly more car boot version.

And while it's clear that she has some stagecraft, you can't help but cringe at every new gesture. From the over-emphasis on the hand gestures, to the fruity expressions, comedy scratched record pratfall that has never worked for anyone in this contest ever, right down to the over-reliance on her chair and some less welcome thrusty gestures, it's all about as challenging as a progressive drama teacher gone rogue with her own solo song at a Home Counties high school's musical production. And every bit as awkward to watch.

But do you know what? Despite all that she came third of twelve in the first Lithuanian semi, so what the heck do we know. Prepare to be dazzled by her next performance, because we reckon that she's going to try to outdo this one. But be sure that you're watching from behind the sofa...

***STOP PRESS***

I've just learned that this won its week's televote. Be afraid. Be mostly afraid.

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Ukraine 2019 - TseSho - Hate


Now if you were asking me for our fantasy future Eurovision genres I'm not sure that even our ants nest brain would have come up with an Anarchist Feminist Ukrainian Puppet Show singing about hate. But here we are. And what a thing it is.

TseSho are actually a pretty big deal on the international arts circuit, but it's still quite a surprise to see them cross pollinate into this sphere. And one suspects that the wider denizens of Eurovisionia are going to hate it. Well, it's not terribly popsome is it.

And just wait until we see Mr Serdushka's face when he has to judge on it. Oh my giddy aunt. This one's going to look fabulous and be incredibly divisive, isn't it!

Friday, 18 January 2019

Australia 2019 - Electric Fields - 2000 And Whatever


Now we're talking. When Electric Fields were first called as an Australian contender we reckoned it could have gone one of two ways. Either they'd temper their usual unique and interesting styles to the perceived confines of Eurovisionia, or they'd go the whole hog and just do what they do and damn the consequences.

Thank heavens they went for the latter option.

Because man this song is cool. Effortlessly cool. Cool in a way that post-Aminata Latvia could only dream of. Cooler than the entire slate of Eesti Laul performers this year. Yeah, that cool.

But of course, cool doesn't necessarily mean prizes, to mix a Brucie metaphor. The Australian public are a hitherto unknown quantity round these parts, and it's unclear exactly what they'll be looking for. The smart money suggests that if they've got their music head on it'll be a shoe-in for Sheppard, but if the more traditional Eurofan gets their voting boots on, well our Courtney could be bagging the Israel ticket. And when you factor in all the popular casting show kiddies in the final Aussie line up, well the portents aren't terribly good for this mob.

But the one thing we know for sure is that the stage show is almost certain to be a stunning, and one that makes it onto all the near miss clips at the end of the season. Indeed, it's one of those divisive that people will either fight a wild lion for, or they just won't see what all the fuss is about, with little in between.

And where do we stand on this matter? Here kitty kitty...



Thursday, 3 January 2019

Romania 2019 - Trooper - Destin


Romania used to regularly sit near the top of a lot of people's 'Country Most Likely To' lists for a good many years. But their brief flirtation with yodelling ballistics aside, they've fast been turning into lower table also-rans with a consistently uninspiring selection of entries. So it was that I was a little hesitant to plough my way through their finally-released slate of entries this morning - and my fears were not allayed...

Yes, it's coming to something when a repetitive slab of folkloric pub metal like this is the only thing that kept me from packing it in and cleaning round the back of the toilet. Pretty much all of its opponents sound as though they've been recorded in the same studio, using the same English translation tool, they're so interchangeable. And even when a tune did hold some promise of variation, like Xandra or Sensibil Balkan, they pretty quickly descended into the usualness.

And to be fair, the Trooper lads are probably only here to make Laura Bretan look even sweeter and more childlike, as we all have a suspicion that she's already the anointed one with her saccharine slice of schmaltz. But you've got to take what you've got, and if they can encourage everyone to swing their flagons in the air to this one on a mid-Spring Saturday night, their very difference might carry them through. Although one look as this cosy bar gig suggests that they're not the most dynamic of fellows.

Ah well... all together now... Lai-lai la-la-la lai...