Friday, 11 March 2022
Thursday, 10 March 2022
Wednesday, 9 March 2022
There was time when Georgia were considered as probable Eurovision winners in the not too distant future - and then they just went "Nah fuck it - let's send stuff that we like!" And boy is this going to confuse the natives!
You've got a little slice of jazz fusion to kick off with, before it dips into a psychedelic proggy chorus, and ends up just flipping off on its own little journey into the cosmos. It's the kind of thing that you'd expect to hear from a band who are third on the bill for some light relief at a noise rock night in the back room of a pub in Oxford, only with that distinct batshit edge that foots it firmly in its own home nation.
And boy, much of fandom are going to struggle with the language to try to explain it. But if you've got the references, imagine a heavily popped up Cardiacs singing Syd Barrett choruses and mix it up with Zappa and Add N To (X) playing some Japanese club pop covers together - on ice! We suspect this is going to be a real treat on the big night!
Also props to the band for not showing off their doubtlessly unhinged video because, y'know, there's a war on.
Sunday, 6 March 2022
Saturday, 5 March 2022
Friday, 4 March 2022
Have you ever done that thing when you've been wondering around a big hotel or conference centre looking for a specific thing, but you open a door that you shouldn't have and stumble into something just a little strange and unsettling?
Well this song is the physical embodiment of that!
Anyone got any idea what it's all about?
Sunday, 20 February 2022
It's relatively back to normal after a few incredible years for Iceland at this contest. Söngvakeppnin 2022 may have lured a few more cool indie stylists out of the woodwork after their recent high profile entries, but they've mostly kept it fairly safe, which is a bit of a shame. However there's one artist who's at least giving it a bit of a go this time round, and he's got form…
Readers with long memories and an eye for the obscure may just about remember Haffi Haff from the 2008 Icelandic selection shows, where he got knocked out in the second round of a wilfully complicated process with an entry called The Wiggle Wiggle Song. Anyone? No? Anyway, he had a bit of a career as a flamboyant dance pop artist for a couple of years, before disappearing from international view and probably doing something really interesting with his life, as most Icelandic musicians seem to do. However, now he's back, and he's a little more unhinged than you might be expecting if you remember his old material.
Y'see, Gía is Icelandic for Volcano, and they know a lot about that kind of thing out that way. The song itself appears to be a pean to said fiery mountains, all set in a bed of sparse electronica with the occasional out-of-place bit of Eastern flavour. It's one of those songs where you can't work out of it's terrible or a work of mild genius - and one suspects that Haffi boy here kinda likes it that way. And of the video's anything to go by, we can't wait to see what he's going to do one stage with it come the semi this Saturday.
Saturday, 19 February 2022
I make no secret of the fact that Achille Lauro is just about my favourite pop star on the planet right now, so he could have sung the Sammarinese phone book tonight and I'd still have got unfeasibly excited. That wouldn't have taken him long, mind.
But when he was announced as one of the big artists already qualified to the delightful national final process I at once got a little bit excited and somewhat anxious at the same time. After all, those grumpy old blokes who'd been doing the voting in this week's endless cascade of semi-final shows were never likely to go for him, surely? And it was a weird old show for sure - the sight of the good lord Achille stood on stage in a final three that also comprised of the perpetually plucky British trier Aaron Sibley and some Turkish DJ felt more than a little awkward, so thank heavens someone from the label slipped the old voting goats a couple of brown envelopes to give me a chance of standing in the same room as the big fella.
The song itself is a good old fashioned boot boy glam rock stomper of the sort that was ridiculously popular in Italy in the seventies, and our lad here seemed faintly embarrassed to be plodding around that tiny stage in Dogana to singe for his supper and take the back route into Eurovision. But of course, absolutely none of this matters, because he's most likely to do something utterly messianically beautiful on the big stage in Turin this May. And I for one couldn't be happier.
Friday, 18 February 2022
Thursday, 17 February 2022
Tuesday, 15 February 2022
Right then, we've got a lot to get through with this one, so where do we start? OK, how's about the song itself. On the outset it seems to be another one of those foot-stomping Romanian cabaret folk numbers what we all seem to enjoy. But dig into the song's lyric and it appears to be about malaria. No, seriously, it's either an allusion about the kid of love that you just can't shake - or it's about actual bloody malaria! And there's some awkward lines in there too… how does "With your saffron face, Colourful on the heart, Like a Pakistani truck, You won't get rid of me" grab you for starters?!
Apparently there were some in Romania who didn't even want this to get onto their curiously sparse televised semi-final, claiming that it was Satanic in nature. Well unless Satan has got a tropical quaking disease, we're not really too sure where that one's coming from.
With most other songs, that would be the end of the wonkiness, but we've got so much to uncover here. For a start, it's well worth watching twice so that you can follow the antics of the two guitar laddies at the back. There's the lanky bass-player who seems to think he's in some kind of rustic metalcore band, while the little guitar lad on the right is jigging about like a folky Angus Young. And that's before we've even got to the accordionist's incredibly shiny trousers.
But no, there's still one more major moment yet to come. As the song progresses you'll start to notice that there's an empty drumkit to the side of the stage that wasn't there for the previous act. Could it be that an over eager stage hand has bunged it up in readiment for the next act? No, it's much more unlikely than that. Because in the song's dying breaths, what should shuffle onto the stage but A BLOODY GREAT INFLATABLE DINOSAUR! Obviously. Who then stands behind the drums, sticks grasped in his tiny, useless forearms, and begins to air drum over them! Of course! Why didn't we think of it! It's obvious that a song about a viral disease should a bloody great inflatable dinosaur drumming on it!
We've seen some things in our time, and this most certainly was one of them.
Even more unexpectedly, it didn't even qualify for the final. In fact, none of the last six songs did - which is unusual enough in itself, but word on the street tells us that the judges had to choose their favourites six songs before the end to that the production staff could print up the flashy big qualifier certificates that were awarded to each of the lucky ones who made it through, and didn't get to see or vote on the last lot.
As a few of you may know, I've got a Eurovision-themed novel coming out in the next few of weeks, and even I wouldn't have had the nerve to make this kind of shit up!
Monday, 14 February 2022
The semi-finals of Una Voce Per San Marino have been utterly delightful. Held in a small opera house with more of the feel of a provincial village hall, a large number of plucky local hopefuls - plus a scattering of familiar faces to those of us who follow the lower reaches of Eurovisionia - have all shuffled out onto the tiny stage looking a bit awkward and have proceeded to warble anxiously into the unchecked mic trying to impress three sour faced judges who make Statler and Waldorf look cheery. Or so it was until Elis Mraz strutted confidently onto the stage.
You might remember Ms Mraz from her brief fling with Eurovision fame as one of the Czech video finalists who didn't quite make it in her home nation. So she's upped sticks, brought her two side girls along and is trying again in a completely different land. And didn't she give it some!
Starting off with a few a cappella vocal runs, she cocked a cheeky wink to the sound man and instantly began to writhe around in the floor in what looked like a rustic swimsuit made entirely from plastic pearls. The song itself was about being comfortable in her own skin - which we're glad to hear, because a more unkind commentator than us might make fun of the way she looked in that most uncommon garment, but we bloody loved her attitude and moxy!
The locals, clearly, looked terrified - although not half as shocked as they'll be when Achille Lauro and Spagna turn up at the weekend - and the miserable jury grudgingly pushed her through to the second chance round - her rightful place stolen by a couple of pasty-faced teens who did a weak rave version of Eleanor Rigby. And no, we didn't just make that up!
The best bit of all? This was only day one! We've got five more nights of this, and it's brilliant fun. Car boot Sanremo, here we come!
Sunday, 13 February 2022
Ukraine's Vidbir selection show is always a curiously charged affair. Indeed, daily life in the country bubbles with politics at the best of times, but with their neighbours to the north knocking belligerently on the back door, and talk of war being only a matter of days away this was always going to be a stranger edition than most. For a start, we couldn't quite tell if the audience were having the best night of their lives, or getting in the fun times before their darkest days began. And while there was a feeling of fiddling while Rome burns about the whole affair, it's an easy thing for we into the West to read into the event without knowing the entire story.
And of course, the show wasn't without its controversies. It never is. There had already been considerably bad blood between the Kalush Orchestra here and the eventual winner Alina Pash, who claimed that the band had ripped off the bassline to her song Bosorkayna for their Vidbir effort. In turn there were many who were accusing Pash of having visited Crimea in recent times - a move completely against the competition rules - as well as questioning why her musical collaborator Tina Karol was allowed on the panel. There were even accusations that there was some dark money behind Pash's win by a single solitary point at the end of the evening - which were particularly heightened when the scoreboard apparently broke down right at the crux moment in the voting.
When the eventual result was announced you could have tinned the angry scowls of Kalush, as the camera lingered on them just that bit too long to be comfortable. And while Ms Pash's song, on musical terms at least, is going to be a welcome addition to the slate in Turin, there's already much disquiet bubbling up at home in Ukraine about what actually happened last night, and who the winning artist is friends with. This was never going to be a normal year for Vidbir, but somehow they seem to have surpassed themselves with the complications. One suspects this isn't the last bit of news we're going to hear about the Ukrainian song this year.
Tuesday, 8 February 2022
There must be something in the water in Latvia this year, because they're all having a go at being edgy or creative or a little bit wonk - and few less than old Miks here. Well I say Miks, but the reason this particular song has made this esteemed list is more in the hands of his guitarist.
Flaming hands that is.
Now I've been around this big old rock'n'roll world for many years, and I've seen a lot of rock'n'roll things, but I'm not sure that even dear old flamey Rammstein have tried the guitarist's-ands-on-fire gambit. And boy it's an impressive opening.
Sadly it only lasts a short twelve seconds before the stringsman has to dash off and quickly plunge his burning mitts into a bucket of water, and after that the song simply decays into a dreary derivative bluesy rock sludge that sounds like at least a dozen other songs all at once. So don't feel that you have to watch the whole tedious thing.
But I tell you what, where that hateful Salad lot absolutely bottled out of their one and only gag in the first few seconds of their Supernova performance, this lot gave it a right old pop. It's just a shame about the rest of the song! Fair play, that guitarist - now pre-book yourself an ambulance for the final…