Friday 28 February 2014

Ireland 2014 - Billy McGuinness v Linda Martin v Louis Walsh

The Irish Eurosong contest is always crowbarred into the middle of the achingly parochial talkshop The Late Late Show. The five songs on offer this year were to a unit pretty unremarkable tunes, but one thing made this national final stand head and shoulders above all other this year - fight night!

Four songs had already dredged alone politely before Billy McGuinness, the mentor for song number five kicked straight into a bitter tirade about Louis Walsh's validity as a panel member - linked as he was to a couple of the acts.

And boy did he go. Whether he's a naturally angry man, or had started on the pop a bit earlier than everyone else, he ripped into Louis Walsh before slightly apologetically announcing his charge Laura O'Neill's tune. But it was after her almost overlooked performance that things really got interesting, as Slugger Martin stood up and tottered right into McGuinness's face like an angry drag queen made out of an old leather sofa.

The rest is magic that you'll have to watch for yourself. You can only feel for Poor Laura. The song might be the kind of thing you normally see sung in a holiday bar in Malta, but she didn't deserve that, bless her.

Oh, and here's her song, just in case you're interested. But the events that surrounded her performance certainly overshadowed the song itself.

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Sunday 23 February 2014

Belgium 2014 - Petra - Killer Touch

While I was out partaking in my other profession as a small spuds punk rock singer this evening, I suddenly received a barrage of messages all saying the same thing - you've got to watch this clip from Belgium.

Turns out it was our old mate Petra from Belgium, who offered up one of the first true good heavens moments of the season.

Imagine someone's nan vamping it up in a seniors burlesque version of Little Red Ridinghood, while two shiny men in wolf masks writhed a lot, before everyone's clothes fell off. The judges couldn't believe their eyes! I'm still not sure if this is joyful genius or unmitigated shite, but you'll almost certainly watch it twice.

Sadly it came last in its semi - poor old Europe, you'll miss out on this true doosie!

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Sweden 2014 - Alcazar - Blame It On The Disco

Finally we get some true schlager pop in what's become a slightly meat and potatoes Melodifestivalen. You know what you're going to get from Alcazar - glitter, glam, and a chorus that sounds the same as all their other songs - but come one. A trio of middle-aged popsters in glittery garments descending from the ceiling in a giant disco ball? You surely can't knock that!

PS Sweden being Sweden, this clip will doubtless disappear a number of times over the next few days. I'll try to keep it updated!

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Spain 2014 - Ruth Lorenzo - Dancing In The Rain

A few weeks ago we showed you a track that rumour was suggesting was going to be the Spanish Eurosong. It was a belty little Muse-esque baroque pop number, quite surprisingly by UK X Factor nearly was Ruth Lorenzo.

Well it turned out to be part true. Our Ruth did indeed turn up in the Spanish final - still a relative unknown in her home country - and won a tie break by merit of the public vote. Quite the achievement. Sadly she's done it with this somewhat wishy-washy Disney ballad instead of the big bombast of her previous tune.

Ah well.

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Friday 21 February 2014

Italy 2014 - Raphael Gualazzi & Bloody Beetroots with Tommy Lee - Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu

OK, so strictly speaking this is cheating a bit, as the Italians aren't using Sanremo as their qualifying tournament this year. But man, it's Sanremo, the most insane song contest on the planet, and this clip is so unlikely that it certainly bears sharing.

So picture the scene. You've got Italy's Eurovision comeback kid Raphael Gualazzi at the joanna, Italio electro house monster Bloody Beetroots singing a bit too close to the mic, and flipping Tommy Lee on drums! Yes, Tommy Lee, of Mötley Crüe!

And what's more, they're doing Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare to you, chief)!  How in the damned heckness of heck did this happen?! It's the kind of shit that could only ever possibly go down at Sanremo. Gawd bless it and love it!

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Estonia 2014 - Brigita Murutar - Laule Täis Taevakaar

Unusually for this funny old blog, I'm not putting this song up because it's insane, unlikely or devastatingly beautiful. Hope, it's here because it's just so incredibly disarming and likable.

Brigita here has no airs and graces. Instead she feels like the girl that was hanging about in the car park when the band got the call that the proper singer couldn't make it, so they asked her if she fancied standing in. It's its very naivety that provides the charm, despite the gurning musos in brown clothes, and a man who looks every bit like a mute child murderer on comedy regional instruments in the background.

And to many people's surprise it battled its way the the final - the only song of the ten qualifiers that didn't get the top five nod from the jury. The people of Estonia clearly like it - but enough to see it beat some more familiar names from their pop scene? Can't wait to find out...

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Thursday 20 February 2014

Azerbaijan 2014 - Erkin Osmanli - Girls, Girls, Girls

There must be something in the water in Baku this season. How else can you explain the thoroughly bonkers staging their telly people are giving the contestants at their Eurovision qualification show? I certainly hope they put this kind of unhinged effort into their Copenhagen-bound tunesmith this year, because they'll wow the punters before they sing a note.

In this instance, witness cowboy Erkin. I won't tell you more, as it'll spoil the fun.

"Good evening folks..." Brilliant!

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Monday 17 February 2014

Azerbaijan 2014 - Dilara Kazimova - History Repeating

Azerbaijan's Boyuk Sehne show is now at the stage where they get the pre-chosen artists to sing a whole bunch of covers, and then whittle them away until only the one whose dad is best mates with the president is left. For the most part the show is populated with wax-faced men in unbending suits, and women in shiny frocks with unnaturally stiff looking eyebrows.

So from among them all, this little gem was a pure delight. Imagine if you will a cross between a saturday morning cooking show, a skit from the Generation Game and an eight year old girl playing grown up. And just like a bad toupee, you won't be able to keep your eyes off it.

Cancel the rest of the show and just send this - no one will notice that it's a Dame Shirley cover, surely...

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Sunday 16 February 2014

Sweden 2014 - Dr Alban feat. Jessica Folker - Around The World

Ever wonder what Dr Alban has been doing since his sanitary protection advert in the 90s? I know he's a qualified dentist, and he did have a shop in Stockholm selling daisy age hip hoppy clothing for a spell (I know this, because I popped in there once, and he gave me a right shitty look from behind the counter!) - but who knows what else he's been up to - but it doesn't sound like a lot of singing was involved between then and now.

But it seems to be a bit of a thing in the MF to drag back stars from the past to meet a slightly embarrassing fate. And just in case he got lonely, they got the nice lady who used to sing on those Bomfunk MCs singles back in the mists of time to help make him look even more awkward.

This is a long three minutes.

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Friday 14 February 2014

Estonia 2014 - Klounide - Eesti Laulu (Interval)

Tonight's first Eesti semi-final was it's usual fine batshit bonkers slice of left-handed Baltic showbiz. But for many, the standout moment of the evening wasn't one of the ten songs in competition. Nor was it the merciless roasting that the singers of Winny Puhh and Kreisiradio were giving those same songs between each performance.

Hope, the true highlight was the interval act. Not because it was any good, but because it was absolutely flipping terrifying!

The vague concept was that three singers dressed as clowns performed creepily oompah versions of popular songs from recent Laul yesteryear - although it was considerably more unsettling than you could ever imagine.

What the heck have they got lined up for next Friday?!

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Thursday 13 February 2014

Sweden 2014 - Outtrigger - Echo

Finally we have some metal! Well, when I say metal, I mean lame-assed schlagerfied nu metal-lite. But it does have shade of metal.

Although having said that, most of the metal on stage appears to be taken up on the light-soaking cages that surround each member. Nice concept, boys, but you should have tried it out first in a big hall, cos we can't see your squeaky clean little fresh-faced features.

Still, flimsy as it is, it'll still horrify the more delicate among the MF fans, bless 'em.

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Wednesday 12 February 2014

Belgium 2014 - Day One - Satellite

The Belgian knock out process is a somewhat staid affair, where a parade of nicey nicey singerators parade one after the other singing weak versions of Eurovision faves - well all shy of Petra that is, but we've seen her already.

But one act that is getting the fanboys all hot under the collar is this mob - the masked mystery people of Day One. Now the story goes that it's a well known local act hiding their identity until the very last minute. But of course, Eurovision fandom doesn't really know any well-known Belgian acts, so they're throwing an ever more unlikely list of past ESC nearly-weres into the frame.

Most of them are convinced that it's failed fan fave Kate Ryan, while a smaller lobby are convinced that it's the even less successful - Eurovision-wise at least - Alana Dante. And there's all manner of other even less likely suggestions flying into the fray. And while of course there is a vague chance that it might be one of the above, it's just as likely that it's someone that they've never heard of, who's actually far more famous.

Two things are clear though - that Belgium telly is getting far more coverage for this than their flimsy format merits, and that this mystery act, whoever they turn out to be, can pump out a pretty decent drum'n'bassy cover or two.

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Tuesday 11 February 2014

Belgium 2014 - Petra de Steur - All Kinds Of Everything

So the Belgians are another nation having one of those over-complicated qualification processes where they whittle all the life out of a succession of singers, and then present them with a song that they're completely unsuited to at the end. And there's always - always - a round where they have to sing classic Eurovision songs.

Almost without fail this means a by-rote retread of familiar songs that are so indistinguishable from the original that it was hardly worth doing. But then, in Belgium, a regular local contender provided us with this.

Eurovision parody songs are always - always - as lame as lame can be. This isn't. I think we've got a new hymn...

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Monday 10 February 2014

Germany 2014 - Kopfecho - Ihr

                                    Click here for the crunchiness...

So Germany let us down today. Despite having teased us with a wildcard process packed with goodness - and weirdness - across a heartening range of genres, when they came to make their final pick all we got was ten shades of the same kind of beige. Thoroughly disappointing.

Why have an exciting palette of punk, electro, latin, hip hop and metal, among many many others, if all you're going to present us with is a diluted platter of withering guitar girls and hipster boys wearing last year's beards. Very poor.

So to make up for it, here's one last look at the best of the punk section, the fabulously stompy Kopfecho with a nice little anti-fascist ditty. Would it have hurt you to have put just one of these songs in your pot of drear, Germany?

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Sunday 9 February 2014

Poland 2014 - Donatan-Cleo - My Słowianie

Major Polish rumour alert! And blimey it's a good one!

The biggest hit in Poland over the festives was this massive chunk of folsky turbo skank joy. Its YouTube hits number in the tens of millions, and it even garnered the attention of the BBC for being an apt parody of the way the rest of the world sees Slavic culture.

Then all of a sudden this morning they release an English language version, and Polish professionals whose word we generally trust are telling us that this is 5% off being a shoe in to be the Polish entry.

It's a cracker of a tune, but might it perhaps be just a tad too familiar in Slavic circles to keep its legs until mid-May? I can't answer that - but I do know that it's flipping terrific!

********STOP PRES**********
Donatan reckons that all of this is naught but wild speculation, that he's never been asked, and that he's busy Eurovision fortnight anyway.


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Hungary 2014 - Mystery Gang - Játssz Még Jazzgitár

It seems like it's obligatory this year for every national final to have a half-baked rockabilly or honky tonk country act in it. Most of the time they look like a bunch of pub chancers who've piled their thinning hair up into a rudimentary quiff on the off chance that someone might notice, but Mystery Gang look and feel like the real deal.

OK, so they're more Stray Cats than Guana Batz, but they still look like they live and breath the music, and have the tattoos to prove it. They could do with a bit more steel in their sound, but they're still the best bit of 'billy we've had in a while - and it's great to hear rock'n'roll sung in Hungarian, too!

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Saturday 8 February 2014

Germany 2014 - Santiano - Fiddler On The Deck

I'm hearing mutterings from Germany that this little beauty will be taking part in their national final. Yes please!

Imagine if you will a northern Germanic folk metal boy band made up entirely of real pirate dads in scowls and leather. Then bung in a singalong sea shanty chorus in a weird Germanic Mockney accent and lots of manly posturing and you're halfway there. And just imagine the fun that we're going to have with that song title!

As the song starts you'll be thinking: "What you saying man, this isn't all that!", but by the end you'll be standing on the kitchen table beating your chest and looking out for settlements to pillage.

And you certainly wouldn't want to fight any one of them!

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Malta 2014 - Firelight - Coming Home

Oh no! It seems as though the insidious creep of the Mumfords has reached Malta. Just wearing a waistcoat doesn't make you an artist, fools!

And do you know what, I've got a horrible feeling that this might win for them tonight? I seriously hope not!

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Thursday 6 February 2014

Ireland 2014 - Eoghan Quigg - The Movie Song

Remember funny little Ewok-faced Eoghan Quigg from the X Factor of a few moons back? You know, the one Harry Hill took a comedy shine to. Yes him. Well it turns out he's not just working down the local chip shop, he's got a song in the Irish Eurosong final too.

Well, when we say 'song', we actually mean 'slow dreary ramble'. But it's still the best song in their selection by a street. Mind you, it would only just about manage to qualify in a ten song semi-final.

More noteworthy for who he is than what he's singing, Paddy Power have him down as the clear favourite to bag a seat to CHN already. At least he'll be funny, I guess!

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Germany 2014 - Shaka Bahari - Großes Tennis

Shouty deutsche punk song about tennis sung by a skinny middle aged slob on a sofa? Oh yes!

Please German telly, put him in the wildcard final! Just for me and my readers...

For those with a background in such things, think Splodgenessabounds with a few more stains down his vest and a pub cabaret chorus. Splendid cobblers!

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Wednesday 5 February 2014

Latvia 2014 - Andris Kivičs & Elita Patmalniece – Pa Vidu Tu

More bonkers-in-the-nut fun time from this weekend's semi in Latvia. This time we see a chunk of a man with a wispy voice crammed into a once-trendy soldier's jacket, while the regional version of Nancy Kominsky gurns to the camera and adds drippy dashes of paint to a picture she probably made earlier in the background.

The best bit comes as she applies some watery red paint around the nasal area, appearing to give the subject of her art a massive nosebleed.

What's the song like? No idea. You'll forget it as you're actually listening to it. The joy here is in the watching!

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Tuesday 4 February 2014

Latvia 2014 - Ralfs Eilands & Valters Pūce - Revelation

This qualifier from Latvia at the weekend is quite splendid. What starts out as an unsettling and claustrophobic little piece of weird gentleness suddenly kicks into a massive chunk of string-driven baroque 'n' roll, before soaring to a cacophonous megaphone bellow and a sudden unexpected jolt at the end.

It's the kind of song you only really get from the Baltics and is practically impossible to pigeonhole. So I won't - just watch it and enjoy it. I can't take my eyes off it.

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Monday 3 February 2014

Iceland 2014 - Pollapönk – Enga Fordóma

The final five Icelandic songs were revealed this afternoon, and they were, like their close cousins the first five, a rather uninspiring bunch. However there was the one song that stood out a little bit from the rest, by a mob called Pollapönk.

It starts off with a nice soft-edged punky buzz, and you're thinking it might go somewhere a bit nice, then it suddenly gear changes to what sounds like Paper Lace covering the Red Hot Chili Peppers for a school maths programme in the seventies.

But once you've got over that horror you start to enjoy it again, and by the end you'll be clapping in gentle delight and wanting to hear it all over again. They do look worryingly wacky for men of that age, mind, so I do fear that!

******STOP PRESS******

The title apparently translates as something like No Racism. So we like it all the more now!

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Latvia 2014 - Eirošmits – If I Could (Get Away)

The Latvian semi-final process has given us two night's of splendid bonkersness and the occasional really painful tune. This little aberration is convinced it's the former, but is sadly planted deeply into the latter category.

On the outset it's just an adequate-but-dull pub rock blues snoozer. But someone, somewhere thought it would be a good idea for them to all wear comedy face wigs and play air guitar. And just when you thought it couldn't get any more school play, well, I'll let you see for yourself.

You can imagine my dismay when it was drawn out of one of the six mittens nailed onto a pair of wooden horses faces (no seriously!) to earn a berth in the final. In fact, the only thing I really like them is the knowing cheekiness of their name (it's pronounced a bit like Aerosmith). Very poor.

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Sunday 2 February 2014

Latvia 2014 - Olga Un Līgo - Saule Riet

Some old bird bellowing out a folksy tune while a gang of youngsters prance about in national dress - with the occasional diversion into lightweight Avicii-style ambient dance pop in the chorus sir? Yes please!

It's what Eurovision is for!

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Saturday 1 February 2014

Finland 2014 - Softengine - Something Better

So we have a song from Finland. And rarely so far for this year it's not an intense girl in a shiny frock singing something slow. Nope, instead we've got a gaggle of pretty boys stamping about to a serviceable indie rock song.

They may be a bit too clean cut for this kind of lark, but they're pretty enough, and it does get a little shouty towards the end. It's the kind of song that's destined to just about scrape through its semi-final before finishing high up in the fourth quarter of the scoreboard on the big night.

Still, it'll stand out nicely from the flock of warbling girls we're destined to suffer this year...

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Germany 2014 - Tangowerk feat. Mia - Geld

I'm slowly ploughing through the 2240 German wildcard entries, and for the most part it's a bit of a slog. OK, no it's not, in the main, as amateurish as the Swiss selection, but for every decent song there's two dozen pub bands, ill placed cover versions, blatant promos for the new album and weird adverts for metal festivals. So when a real contender comes along it stands out like a beacon from the mire.

And here's a real contender - and a pretty decent song to boot.

Geld is a chunky slice of bouncy electropop that's just dripping with attitude that would look bloody amazing on the big stage given a big budget and a bit of showbiz bluster. Maybe it's just a smudge too leftfield to make the final ten, but what would be a crying shame, because it's a right cracker. Fingers crossed for a favourable outcome!

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Azerbaijan 2014 - Ilkin Valiyev - Gravity

If popular rumour is to be believed, the 12 finalists had already been decided long before their apparent open casting around the shires began. Indeed, may cynics suggest that they only ran these shows to have some funny amateur singers to point and laugh at and sell to international clip shows.

Let me introduce you to contestant 9041, Mr Ilkin Valiyev. Bless him.

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