We won't lie, we're massive fans of Little Big. When Skibidi first went viral we just knew that they couldn't possibly have arrived at this point fully formed, and started digging into their back catalogue. And the more we dug, the more we loved. Any band who can put together songs and videos like Dead Unicorn, AK-47, Hateful Love, Big Dick and LollyBomb for starters is right our my anarcho pop alley. But to marry Die Antwoord's dangerous made up universe aesthetic with compact Russian techno rave and cheesy-assed Eastern folk chords is like a gift from the gods around Castle Apocalypse. So when it was finally announced that they'd be doing the big show for the mother country we got more than a little pleasantly agitated.
But then when clips of the song started sneaking out, one began to worry. Because as fascinating as it would have been had some lesser act done it, this certainly wasn't peak LB. And now that the video has finally escaped, we must confess to being somewhat underwhelmed. In fact, their cold-eyed stares in this clip it almost looks like something of a hostage situation or an obligation - and maybe perhaps it is. Because of course, Russia have something of a precedent for this...
We'd first started hearing rumblings that Russian telly were trying to court this lot for Rotterdam when the tears of joy were still barely dried on the cheek of Duncan Lawrence. But every time it looked as though they'd offered them enough, how shall we put this, incentive, the band's people insisted that they couldn't do it, as they had a tour already booked and wouldn't want to blow out their fans. This rumour kept coming and going, and just when we'd almost given up and decided that they'd chosen some sad-faced warbler instead the announcement was made at the very last minute that they'd always wanted to do it, and would be happy to represent their nation on the international stage.
But then I cast my mind back to 2001. The previous year a raggle taggle gaggle of Latvians made an explosive debut in Stockholm, dang nearly winning the whole thing. "How original for Eurovision!" the West cried. "How very much were Brainstorm ripping off Mumiy Troll!" the East countered. And before you knew it, there were Mumiy Troll looking all surly and obligated on the Copenhagen stage.
I remember chatting to Ilya of the band in his hotel bar that year, and he only thinly disguised the fact that he would rather be anywhere else on the planet, and gave a vague hint that it was made clear to him that the Troll had no real option than to be performing there that year. And despite its decent finish, Lady Alpine Blue wouldn't be said to be among their finest songs by even the most rabid of their fans.
Now cast your minds forward to Riga a couple of years later. The incredible and dark teen pop act tATu grudgingly shuffled their way through the contest like it was all one terrible imposition, and anyone who witnessed them having their dinner in the Skonto canteen surrounded by at least 200 cameramen could kind of see why.
Skip on a few years to Oslo. Peter Nalitch had recently became an internet sensation with his viral hit Guitar. And indeed, Lost & Forgotten was a cracking little understated tune - but you've rarely seen a more unhappy gaggle of guys about town that we did that year.
And even the Babushkas were parachuted in after becoming the darlings of the fandom a couple of years before when they lost out to the aforementioned Nalitch. The pattern is interesting. The moment anyone from Russia makes something of a stir in the international sphere, there's a very good chance that you'll be seeing them on the Eurovision stage within 18 months. Apparently whether they like it or not. It's almost as if someone from a higher place decreed it to be so. Nah, that could never happen... could it?
PS If you don't hear from us for a couple of months, I've deposited instructions and further incriminating evidence in a left luggage locker at Kings Cross Station. The key is under the mat...