Tuesday 28 February 2012

Romania 2012 - Mandinga - Zaleilah

Romania were hanging on so long before they announced their finalists that I kind of hoped they'd be presenting us with something pretty special. Sadly though there few pop thrills in among the usual mawkish dead-eyed balladeer blokes, and those tiny shrieking girls wearing not quite enough shiny fabric they always seem to dig out.

So this song stands out like a sore thumb amongst the mediocrity that surrounds it. It's not particularly great, but it's been all over Romanian TV all year, and by the look of the official video - that sees the glamourous singer cavorting inappropriately in tiny garments the length and breadth of Dubai - they've got a bit of money behind them. So if the Romanian public isn't sick of the song by the time it comes to chose, they've surely got to be in with a decent shout.

Actually, I'm not sure that the girl is even a regular member of the band, as most of the videos of them on YouTube show them to be a cracking little six piece marching band. So which loyal member are they going to dump if they get to Baku? My bet's on the tiny trumpeter.

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clip

Greece 2012 - Velvet Fire - No Parking

Greece have just presented their four songs to the public. The conceit is that they're not going to say who any of them are by, so as not to influence the voting public into chosing their favourite act before the song.

The thing is, all four of them sound like they're by the same girl singer.

This is the best of the bunch - a punchy little Kelly Clarkson-alike stomper. A ludicrous lyric, to be sure, but at least it's got a bit of gusto about it. I wonder who it's by?


Turns out it's by a rather interesting looking twosome called Velvet Fire. Apparently they've already had a decent sized hit towards the end of last year, so we can only but hope!

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Monday 27 February 2012

Sweden 2012 - Björn Ranelid featuring Sara Li - Mirakel

Every year this contest throws up a few songs that pretty much defy explanation. The thing is, you never expect them to come from Sweden. Usually the home of happy-go-lucky schlager and eerily over-wrought ballads, nobody's quite sure what chain of events led to this one getting into the Melodifestivalen.

Quite how a cuprinol-treated crime novellist with the complexion of my old nan's sofa ended up barking randomly over a nice slice of formula Europop is unclear, but we're especially glad it did.

Nobody expected this song to even crawl its way out of its semi-final, but somehow it charged through direkt til Globen, and is building up such a head of steam that serious Eurovision commentators are now beginning to fear that it might actually win the thing. And with a host of parodies and spoof websites filling up the internet there's half a chance that might just happen. And then where will we be?

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Estonia 2012 - Mimicry - The Destination

I love Mimicry. They've got to be just about my favourite Estonian band with their tasty brand of early 80s style electronica, all infused with contemporary club dance flavour. I love their aimiable persistance, too.

Every year they send a cracker of a song to Eestilaul, only to have their hopes thwarted at far too early a hurdle - curse that Estonian public! This year's attempt was a gorgeous mash up of Human League keyboards and New Order dance beats, with the singing boy looking cool and disaffected and every bit like a pre-acid Julian Cope, and the keyboard gal just looking cool.

I hope they don't take it to heart and give up trying, because hearing their annual effort is one of my favourite bits of Eurovisionism every year! Keep it up kids, you're flipping ace!

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Sunday 26 February 2012

Slovenia 2012 - Eva Boto - Verjamem

Finally we've got a top notch ballad in the competition proper. As much as I loved the Prusnik sisters and their delightfully kooky ways, and reckon they'd have lit up Baku like a beacon of fun, Verjamem was clearly the best song in the Slovenian final by a street.

Very much in the tradition of the more successful Balkan buildo ballad of recent years, despite her young age Miss Boto has both the voice and the personality to carry it off, and could well table their best result in years.

I'm not sure if this this song can mount a realistic title challenge, but it's certainly one of the outsiders to watch.

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Netherlands 2012 - Joan Franka - You And Me

What in heaven's name have The Netherlands just sent to Eurovision? Admittedly it's the best thing they've picked in at least a decade, but are we really allowed to dress up like Native Americans in Western Europe any more?

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Finland 2012 - Stig - Laululeija

As the Finnish process ambled along, a bit of a bandwagon began to build behind an enigmatic character known only as Stig. And while there were livelier and better written songs in the competition, the folks from the North gradually came to love the curiously laconic chap.

It's still unclear if he's for real or simply a made up character. After all, he made his name locally with his R'n'B parodies on the internet. But one thing's for sure - his shuffling, understated demeanor is a sad loss for Eurovision.

Let's have a look at what you could have won...

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Saturday 25 February 2012

Estonia 2012 - Tenfold Rabbit - Oblivion

You can always rely on the Eestilaul to throw up a couple of absolutely stunning songs that don't have a cat in hell's chance of winning. But at least Tenfold Rabbit managed to battle their way into the final tonight.

Just sit back and enjoy what is possibly the coolest song of the year so far. It's not winning anything any time soon, but the way that boy sings sends shivers down the spine.

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Finland 2012 - Freeman & Uusi Fantasia - Noitanainen

In all the excitement over both Trackshittaz and Jedward making it through last night, we nearly missed the last elimination in the long and laborious Finnish UMK process. And we're gutted at the result.

Veteran singer Freeman has been around for almost as long as Finland itself, and his collaboration with local prog pop act Uusi Fantasia was one of the few singalong songs in the process. In fact Mrs Hacksaw is prone to shouting out "Noitanainen!"at the top of her lungs at inappropriate moments. Scares the life out of me every time...

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Friday 24 February 2012

Belarus 2012 - Litesound - We Are The Heroes

In a curious case of sudden about face the kind of which only usually comes from Belarus in this contest, no one less than the country's President, Alexander Lukashenko has come out in support of the narrow losers Litesound, claiming that the result was rigged.

And of course, with such a heavyweight supporter behind them, poor Alena Lanskaya has been stripped of the title, sending the fresh-faced young lads with the curious biker get up to Baku after all.

The boys, are of course, overjoyed, their Jacopo Massa proclaiming: "we were epic winners in any Belarussian poll so far. That's one more reason we should deserve something more." Quite what the exact nature of the previous winner's cheating was has yet to be confirmed, but it seems like Belarus will be sending a far lively song after all.

If they don't decide to change it again, that is...

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips

Thursday 23 February 2012

Italy 2012 - Nina Zilli - L’amore è Femmina

No sooner did was it announced that Nina Zilli had bagged the ticket to Azerbaijan at Sanremo last weekend, then rumours emerged that her competition song might not necessarily be the one that she'd be singing in Baku.

News emerging from Italy today suggests this to be true, and that she's deciding which of three songs from her current album to sing at the big show. The rather fine Per Sempre you already know from Sanremo; another tune, Per Le Strade, is a little less impactful, preferring a cool purr to a Nina's signature sassy growl.

But our favourite is the title track from her album,  L’amore è Femmina - a gently stompy little number with the faintest whiff of rockabilly punctuating its nether regions. We fancy that it's their best chance of another impressive result in May - so they'll probably go with Per Le Strade, then...


Thank the lord they went for this one! Huzzah!

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Wednesday 22 February 2012

Slovenia 2012 - Eva & Nika Prusnik - Konichiwa

The long hiatus since the Slovenian semis has finally been dented with the release of the six competing songs - three for each finalist. And while we're reasonably sure that the incredibly young Eva Boto is most probably going to win with her uber-ballad Verjamem, we really wouldn't mind if this perky little dose of whimsy earned the nod for Baku.

OK, so it might be slightly hamfisted with its Far Eastern cliches (Chinese musical themes over Japanese words? Hmm...) and perhaps even borderline blasphemous in places to the more religiously sensitive types, its simple, happy-go-lucky refrain is immensely likable, hooking into your brain in an instant, and the girls' quirky sense of fun just about keeps it the right side of irritating.

Just about...

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Turkey 2012 - Can Bonomo - Love Me Back

So Turkey did their traditional reveal during a micro-gig in the middle of the national news. The boy Bonomo began the show with somewhat of a difficult tune in a very unfamiliar time signature, and the Eurovision forums lit up in fear that this was actually the song. Hold hard, young folk, you've got some waiting to do yet.

Next came a short chat with that Azeri woman who's been cropping in finals all over the place, before a nice little films about Can himself. then came the moment. All was poised, the song began, and... oh...

His folksy little sea shanty is kind of OK, but sounds as though he's specifically written a song for Eurovision, rather than treating us to some of his more energetic usual schtick. I sense though it might be a grower. Which is alright for we fan types, but not much cop for a televised competition.. Hmm, the jury's out on this one at the mopment.

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Albania 2012 - Dr Flori - Personale

That awkward moment when someone forgets to cue the orchestra...

Actually, when the song does eventually kick in, the good Doctor offers up some pretty decent Eminem-gone-Balkan hip hop stylings - even if he does look like the bloke who came to mend my fridge last week.

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Tuesday 21 February 2012

Ukraine 2012 - Vitaly Halay - I Want To Love

Sometimes it's not the a complete song that's worthy of note, but the odd small passage within. Even the biggest duffer of a tune can harbour a dynamite sequence that'll thoroughly knock your socks off.

Likewise, an otherwise untoward little ditty can hide something of such ear-popping splendor that you just have to share the joy. Which is what I'm doing here.

Poor Vitaly. His unremarkable little mid tempo trawl is plodding along nicely, minding his own business, when at around the 2:15 mark he begins to go feral, and for a few short seconds reaches a peach of true screeching fabulosity that even his own nan was probably shaking her head in dismay.

See if you've got the bottle to watch it twice!

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Latvia 2012 - Anmary - Beautiful Song

There were quite a few interesting songs in the Latvian final. One of them had a really smart and thoughtful self-parodying post-modern lyric. Unfortunately it wasn’t this one.

Instead, the song that won was cloyingly smug and terribly pleased with itself at how clever clever it was. Just listen to the words and cringe. Then cringe again.

If science could work out a way to actually punch a song, I’d certainly help with the fundraising.

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips

Monday 20 February 2012

Israel 2012 - Izabo - Time

(This video is prone to disappearing occasionally, so keep checking back if it's popped off for a bit.)

In a week of rumour and disinformation, a number of songs purporting to be this year's Israeli entries have popped up on the internet, only to be proved as fakes. However, the latest one is causing a bit more consternation and has yet to be either confirmed or denied.

Sounding like an middle eastern disco take on a recent Flaming Lips offcut, it's got the kind of fun and quirky bounce to it that might just sneak it into a decent place on the final scoreboard.

But is it the actual real song? We can't be sure, but we kinda hope it is!

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips

Armenia 2012 - Sankil Jones - Fire

They're doing it a funny old way in Armenia this year. No one's quite sure if they're commissioning the perfect song to rub their neighbour's nose in it, or accepting submissions from the country's top artists and songwriters. But that's not stopped Sankil Jones's people promoting this little song to the hilt in a bit to will it onto that Baku stage.

They might well be onto something, too, because this big, beaty number has got enough regional flavour to go down well East of Vienna, but enough dancy appeal to crossover to the cloth-eared Westerners. On top of all that, you suspect the Jones lad has got a pretty impressive dance routine tucked somewhere within his furry jerkin.

We still suspect they've got something else in mind, and we're not entirely sure how that distinctive voice would sound in a massive arena, but if they are looking for existing songs to represent them in May, they could do a lot worse than choose this one.

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Sunday 19 February 2012

Georgia 2012 - Anri Jokhadze - I'm A Jocker

So, I was watching the Georgian final, like you do, and when it came to the final song, I had a little chuckle to myself. "Wouldn't it be funny," I thought, "if they sent this ludicrous little bag of shouty disco garble."

Then suddenly I saw the result and wasn't laughing any more.

It would appear that Anri's just been through the rhyming English dictionary and looked for all the words he could find that ended in "...ocker". It beggars belief - "I'm a jocker, I'm a rocker, I'm a smoker, I'm a broker..." ad infinitum. I'm even convinced he manages to get the bad F word in there too!

I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry.


Here's the official, polished up, Eurovision version of the Georgian song. And somehow it's, well... more!

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Montenegro 2012 - Rambo Amadeus - Euro-Neuro

Montenegro are back, and inexplicably they've sent their biggest cult art rock hero Rambo Amadeus as their artist for 2012. I say inexplicably, because he's the Balkan equivalent of Frank Zappa, and is so notoriously awkward and bloody minded that he could have sent anything from speed metal to sleazy lounge.

Just lately his music has been more of a fractured noise jazz variety, so we were waiting with baited breath to see exactly what he was going to produce in Baku. And the grumpy looking old sod most certainly hasn't let us down. It's difficult, it's complicated, and it's flipping brilliant!

And the fans are going to absolutely hate it. Good!

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Saturday 18 February 2012

Italy 2012 - Emma Marrone - Non è l'inferno

Who Italy eventually chose to go to Baku was of much lesser import to their population than who actually one the five day Sanremo marathon. So thanks heavens they made the right choice and awarded coveted dog-up-a-tree trophy to the fabulous Emma.

Watch her gloriously overwrought foot-stamping ballad and wish it was going to Eurovision proper.

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Italy 2012 - Nina Zilli - Per Sempre

You just knew that it wouldn't be a simple matter when it came to Italy choosing a song for Eurovision. At the end of a grueling five day long competition, did they pick the eventual Sanremo winner to go to the world's biggest international singing show? Oh no. Instead they picked a hip-swinging Winehouse trib act who didn't even make the final sing off.

You've got to admire the Italians for never doing it the easy way...

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Ukraine 2012 - Gaitana - Be My Guest

At the end of a very long and harrowing Saturday morning final, Ukraine appear to have accidentally chosen a half decent song!

Gaitana's pumping Be My Guest is camp enough to be a Euroclub fave, and  you've also got to hope that she takes those fabulously bored looking trumpet dancers with her to Baku.

But it could have all been so different, Teenage balladeer Renata was leading the SMS voting by a mile from the start of the show - but it appear that the jury could see those votes as they came in and must have taken against her, giving her a very lowly score. Fishy it might be, but at least Europe's finally got something to leap about their living rooms to come the end of May!

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Friday 17 February 2012

Ukraine 2012 - Olya Polyakova - Petal

The Ukrainian selection this year is a pretty drab procession of mawkish ballads and earnest mid-tempo plodders - which is why we want the endearingly bonkers Miss Polyakova to win tomorrow night and inject a little simple, harmless fun into the proceedings!

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Italy 2012 - Gigi D'Alessio & Loredana Bertè – Respirare

My word Sanremo is full of value. We're three days in and we've only shed two artists, and this curious pairing have been kicked out and then reinstalled in a repercharge.

They're a funny couple, it must be said. He's got a couple of dozen albums under his belt, and used to be practically owned by Napoli's Gommorah gangs. She's the ex-model and ex-wife of Bjorn Bjorg - you know, the one that led him to nearly top himself. She's also the sister of the late Italian Eurovision legend Mia Martini.

So you would expect with that track record behind them that this would be a song of some style and grace. But they're not like us, the Italians…

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Thursday 16 February 2012

Bulgaria 2012 - Tsvetelin Atasanov-Elvisa featuring DZ – Love Goes Around

Every year this competition throws up a few songs that completely embattle the laws of showbusiness science. Take this slice of Bulgarian wierdness. I'm not sure which singer is Tsvetelin and which is DZ, or even what the Elvisa reference actually means. But what I do know, however coincidentally the name might be, the male half of the duo appears to waveringly mumble through one of the most half-assed Presley impressions I've ever seen, shuffling around the stage like an overly anxious office sex pest.

And then there's the she half of the equasion. Most other videos I've seen of this grusome twosome cast her as a moderately well-filled lass. But here she's squeezed into such a tight corset that you can almost hear her spine creak.

But weirdest of all, this actually got through a semi-final, and drawn plumb last is apparently among the favourites for the coveted plane ticket to Baku. And to think, people ask me why I follow this funny old contest...

By the way, skip the dull interview bit at the start of the vid - the fun starts at 49 seconds.

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Wednesday 15 February 2012

Italy 2012 - Power Francers - Mamma

If you thought Italy's Sanremo sounded complicated, I haven't even begun to explain the beginner's competition. 1574 home made hopefuls aired their wares on the internet, a with 60 of the most popular tunes getting the chance to play to a professional jury on one massive marathon all-day session called Samremo Social. A lucky six were chosen, to sit alongside two other arbitrarily chosen other tunes - that will most probably beat them.

Most of the singers were withering girls, mouths over-packed with syllables, or doe-eyed bowl-haired boys mumbling into their fringes. Eight hours in and it was all getting a little samey...

Which is why we enjoyed what appears like Italy's car boot version of N-Dubz, the curiously monikered Power Francers. Proper pop business!

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Russia 2012 - Osan Yöstä - Revontulet

Like much else of what they do, the Russians are keeping a tight lid on the contents of their impending 25 song national final. But the odd scrappet of news has been leaking out of the seams - the most interesting of which is this folksy ode to the Northern Lights.

Sung in six minority North West Russian languages - Khanty, Finnish, Komi, Karelian, Udmurt and Izhorian, fact spotters - and each with a gutteral Finno-Ugaric flavour, this tune flits around some of the lesser-known Russian republics with a delightfully earthy new age lilt.

If it has made it to the final, it probably won't have the muscle to out score some big beaty Moscow pop act, but it'll be great to hear these languages sung on a massive international stage all the same.

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips

Tuesday 14 February 2012

Italy 2012 - Marlene Kuntz - Canzone Per Un Figlio

To hear this song, click these words...

Italy's Sanremo song contest began tonight. It's a massive national institution which lasts the best part of a week, and that has been going for over 60 years - and somewhere it the end of it all they chose the Italian song for Eurovision. It may not be the song that wins it, but that kind of doesn't really matter. As an introduction to the chaotic cluttered madness of being Italian, you don't get much better than this.

As always there were some great songs - many of which we'll bring you later in the week. But out childish gene just couldn't help but show you this one first. Back when they were young Marlene Kuntz used to sound a bit like Sonic Youth. They might be a bit more mature these days, but they still keep the gloriously unsavory name they picked in their younger days. The first part of their name is in tribute to Ms Dietrich. The second, however, is not as many think a cool reference to German art. No, it does actually mean what it looks like it means - and hooray to them for keeping it.

Those people who were moaning about Trackshittaz near-the-knuckle name are going to be apoplectic about this mob if they get through!

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Hungary 2012 - The Kiralys - Untried

They missed a trick in Budapest at the weekend. At the end of a long final, four songs reached a superfinal, and the earnest-but-dull Compact Disco won the subsequent jury vote, displacing this little gem to the dustbin of history.

But let us not forget it. This lass has possibly the greatest Eurovision barnet in years, and the first thirty seconds will almost certainly leave you slightly bewildered and disorientated. It begins with a close-up of the Ferengi-headed singer, face twitching manically as she slowly launches into a song that feels for every part a histrionic power ballad - until something very unexpected happens. Then seven or eight seconds later the song takes another, very unlikely turn.

I won't spoil the fun for you, but it's flippin' brilliant, and much more enjoyable than that turgid semi-clogger they actually picked.

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Georgia 2012 - Mirror Illusion - Whisper

The nine songs in the Georgian selection this year are a funny bunch, split as they are between plodding rock and mumbling balladeers. None of the tunes have been officially announced yet, but YouTube is awash with hastily cobbled together videos purporting to the real thing, and we've kind of developed a soft spot for this lot.

Why? Teenage grunge chicks playing a stoned out take on Nirvana's disaffected growl? What's not to like!

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Monday 13 February 2012

Azerbaijan 2012 - Sabina Babayeva - The Greatest Love Of All

Azerbaijan have chosen their singer, in a four hour final at the end of a process that seemed to have been going on since 1863. But they could have done away with all that expense because it seemed from the very get go that it was set up for Sabina to win - or was it a coincidence that she shared a name with the main sponsor, with posters bearing her name scattered in practically every camera shot.

There was also a little matter of the songs. Each had to sing three - one of which was by the singer's hero... which in this case just happened to be a not-yet-cold Whitney Houston.

Cynical cash in? Possibly. But even if it was, that doesn't detract from the pure unintentional laugh riot that was her pitchy, overblown and badly pronounced version of the song. Hopefully they'll be doing a lot of work with this lass before May, because on this showing she needs all the help she can get!

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Norway 2012 - Tooji - Stay

Norway selected on Saturday night, and rather than the slightly nationalist pub folk band that everyone thought was going to win, a rather likable young lad called Tooji stormed the public vote with this belting dance tune.

He already has his critics, who suggest he's just the latest in an obvious pretty boy furrow following Saade, Zermelow, Saucedo and their ilk, but his was one of the few songs with any kind of oomph about it at the weekend, and when coupled with its strong dance routine already looks a fair bet for a top ten finish in May.

And being born Iran-born, he should be ready for that Azeri climate too

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Saturday 11 February 2012

Lithuania 2012 - Vytautas Matuzas - Take it Back

On a big night of Eurovision thrills, with three songs chosen and a big Swedish qualifier, possibly lowest on Europe's collective priority viewing list was the latest Lithuanian semi-final. Usually the home of insane pop nonsense and dreary ballads, one song stood out by a mile - and it wasn't your usual Eurovision fare.

Vytautas Matuzas is a tiny wheelchair-bound rapper who captured his nation's hearts in their version of Lithuania's Got Talent a couple of years back. But it wasn't his disability that got him all the attention - this boy can rap!

While his English might be a bit rattly, the song is full of spirit and atmosphere, and could definitely challenge a few preconceptions should it get to Baku. And judging by the huge numbers of votes it gained tonight, it looks like it stands a pretty good chance.

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Friday 10 February 2012

Armenia 2012 - Dorians - This Is Our World

Armenian prog-pop act Dorians have taken the unusually assertive step of announcing that they have a song ready for their local broadcaster to take to Eurovision, should they wish to do so.

The Caucasian state have already stated that there will be an internal selection for the contest this year, and many have suggested this means that they'll be pulling out all the stops in creating an entry they feel will be guaranteed to win the contest and annoy their neighbours next door in Azerbaijan.

Whether this well-made but worthy tune is the song to do  it is another matter, but fair play to them for having a try!

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Thursday 9 February 2012

Ireland 2012 - Jedward - Waterline

When Jedward declared that they were going to have another go at this whole Eurovision business my heart filled with glee. Last year's Lipstick was a happy-go-likely fun riot that raised a smile from Reykjavik to Kamkatcha.

But saints alive if they haven't gone all mature on us - well, mature like a first album Busted album track at least, but it's a start. The song itself could have been sung by anyone, and has all the drive of the kind of song that usually comes fifth in the Danish final.

The show will undoubtedly be fabulous, but Waterline is distinctly lacking in fun. And if Jedward don't have fun, well what's the point in them being there?


Jedward win by a landslide in Ireland! Rejoice!

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Moldova 2012 - Sasha Bognibov- Nu Stiu De Ce

The moment Sasha Bognoibov finally graces the Eurovision stage is surely getting ever nearer. Of his two entries this year, this anthemic little folk number about falling in love with a girl on a tram actually got as far as the live audition stage - a curious affair where even Moldova's biggest stars are forced to stand like ninnies behind microphones and sing for their supper without any of their accompanying showbiz.

Sadly Sasha fell at this hurdle and didn't make the last 20 - but there's still a chunk of hope. There's one more slot left in the final, and that's left entirely down to the public vote. So let's give our favourite withering goth lovely a hand - click on this link and register your love.

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Wednesday 8 February 2012

Norway 2012 - The Carburetors - Don't Touch The Flame

Sleazy, greasy rock'n'roll is quite the rage up Norway way at the mo, so it's nice to see that The Carburetors managed to power their way into their national final - taking as they do the traditional likable-rock-band-that-don't-quite-make-it slot.

It might be a slightly sanitised version of their usual musclebound schtick, but its three minutes of flame and leather will make the schlager fans down the front shuffle uncomfortably in their seats, which is always funny.

It's just a shame Norway don't go the whole hog and send Turbonegro - now that would be entertaining...

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips

Tuesday 7 February 2012

Albania 2012 - Goldi Halili - Rroj Per Dashurine

Back for her third go at the Albanian selection process, Goldi's at least been to a few dance lessons since last year's awkward, shuffling affair. She may just have been skipping out on her voice coach now and again though.

Do you think her dad is someone important round those parts?

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips

Monday 6 February 2012

Sweden 2012 - Sean Banan - Sean Den Förste Banan

Finally we have this year's first slice of pure Eurovision. While Iran-born Sean Banan's self-deprecating humour might not go down so well in some of the more over-sensitive countries of the West, this song's lyric is just the right side of good taste to be enjoyed without too much guilt.

From the opening magic carpet ride to references about intrusive customs searches, cab driving and tax avoidance, it's packed with both cheeky references to his Arab roots and crafty winks at just about every Swedish cultural cliche in the book - "Meatballs - damn good! Ikea - damn good! Carola - not so good…"

And then there's the stage show, with more costume changes than Madonna's Superbowl stint, and enough light-hearted bombast to cheer even the most ardent friki-hater. Shockingly this has only made it to the second chance saloon in the Swedish selection process, but let's hope our friends up north see the good sense to put it through to the MF proper, as you'll struggle to find a more complete Eurovision performance anywhere this season!

All photos © lays with the owners
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PS SVT are famed for disallowing videos of MF performances, so if this video has disappeared, I'll try an have another one up presently.

Sunday 5 February 2012

Lithuania 2012 - The Independant - Baby

Last year this lot sent a risible lift of The Who's Can't Explain stapled to Twist And Shout. Their fluffy haired, lacy-cuffed attempt at late sixties psyche pop was funny-at rather than especially good.

This year they've ditched the curls for poorly coiffed quiffs, and come over every bit like hamburg era Beatles doing I'm In Pittsburgh And It's Raining. But somehow - and quite annoyingly - it's managed to pretty good. Although I'm sure that must have been by complete accident.

File under: Want To Hate But Grudging Admire.

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Friday 3 February 2012

Moldova 2012 - Doinita Gherman - Welcome to Moldova

It's a sign of the strength (and perhaps the insanity) of the Moldovan music scene that there are a good half dozen acts who crop up in their selection process every year that I would just love to see stalk the coveted Eurovision boards - and none more so than the bouncily effervescent Doinita Gherman.

Every year she sends an impossibly energetic three minutes of Moldovan folk punk, and every year her hopes are cruelly dashed, beaten, for the most part, by better connected state-approved acts of high local standing.

This year though she's gone down a more blatant route and has invited every single one of us to visit the land that forged her, made as she is of oranges, curls and sunshine. There's no proper video as yet, but this compilation of snaps features some of the greatest known publicity shots for any musical artist in history - alive or dead!

People of Moldova: please make this Doinita's year - the viewing public of Europe deserve it!

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Thursday 2 February 2012

Estonia 2012 - Lenna - Mina Jään

This is usually the stage of Eurovision proceedings where all the bonkers tunes and freakazoids come out to play - the more classy stuff usually comes out a bit later. So it's nice to hear this smashing little tune from Estonia.

It's a lovely, epic, filmic ballad sung by that earthily pretty lass with a gently husky voice who used to front Vanilla Ninja, and as long as they keep the staging simple - and keep her well away from a shiny frock - this might turn a few heads in the Eurolaul.

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Wednesday 1 February 2012

Lithuania 2012 - AC/LT - Get It Up

What is it with two-bob metallist tribute acts having a stab at Eurovision this year? We've already had Austria's premier Motorhead copyists chancing their arm, and not the band subtitled as The AC/DC Project Lithuania have thrown their slightly stained school cap into the ring.

And bless 'em, they're having a go, but while their close pastiche of the Scots-Aussie rockers has all the right ingredients - crunchy riffs, shrieky voice, the lot - they should really stick to the covers.

Still, I for one can't wait to see how they present it when they get to the televised stages!

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Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips