Friday 28 November 2014

Switzerland 2015 - The Vad Vuv – Ein Cocktail der Fantasie

Ooh hang about, we might have gotten ourselves a half-decent song on the Swiss shortlist. How did this sneak through?

As was to be expected, said shortlist, quite co-incidentally of course, was completely devoid of anyone not claiming to be from within the Cantons or without a video that looked like a record company had spent a few quid on it. And in the main it's a bit of a drab affair. But this little folksy popsy slice of raggle taggle caught our ear.

The creepy video only adds to its allure - although a quick search on Google Pics reveals them to be an ugly bunch of muso seniors in unnecessary ties and pork pie hats. Let's hope they've got a little bit of stomp left in their ageing knees, because I wouldn't begrudge seeing this on the big stage in Vienna.

Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Sunday 23 November 2014

Malta 2015 - Lawrence Gray – The One That You Love

You've got to hand it to Lawrence Gray. He certainly is persistent. He's a reasonably-sized star on his home island. Had hits, won awards, starred in many musicals But still on thing alludes him - Eurovision glory.

And it's not like he hasn't tried. We've actually lost count how many goes he's tried to bag the ticket for the big show, but it's got to be nicely into double figures now. He's bagged a couple of second places - the first as far back as 1999 - and even won the local televoting once. But to no avail.

There's an old adage in Maltese Eurovisionism - that if you keep trying, eventually it'll be your turn. Well our Lawr is going to be one happy lad when that moment eventually comes around. So lets celebrate his indomitable spirit with his performance at last night's Maltese national final. There'll be two things that will immediately leap to the front of your attention. His voice is one of them...

Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Saturday 22 November 2014

Iran 2014 - Barish Grubu - Heydar Baba (Türkvizyon)

When I heard that Iran were set to make their first ever appearance in an international music competition, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. Something staid and folksy, but still rather uplifting, I thought.

I wasn't expecting this.

Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Friday 21 November 2014

Yakutia 2014 - Vladlena Ivanova - Kyn - Atlar Çaba (Türkvizyon)

More unhinged joy from Türkvizyon here - this time from the far distant Russian Republic of Yakutia. There's a pretty good chance you may not have heard of it - I hadn't and I'm a complete geography spod - but it's flipping enormous. At over 3 million km square it's the biggest subnational entity on the planet - and just a shade smaller than India! Heck!

So somewhere that wild, remote and massive has surely got some good stuff lurking about in its nether creases? Oh boy, you won't be disappointed! Especially if you're fond of wolves, shamanic dancing and bonkers head-dresses.

Why can't we have stuff like this in Eurovision proper? Türkvizyon, we love you!

Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Thursday 20 November 2014

Tatarstan 2014 - Aydar Suleymanov - Atlar Çaba (Türkvizyon)

Türkvizyon, Turkey's slightly churlish retort to having a couple of bad years in the Eurovision, is back in full swing this week, and it's packed chock-full of some pretty terrific weirdness and the odd quality song.

Like last year, the contestants come from a broad church of nations, regions and city states, all with some vague connection to the Turkic peoples. This again has led to some pretty unspellable entrants from places that even the best geography nerd would struggle to place on a map - Kabardino-Balkaria & Karachay-Cherkessia anyone?

This year's iteration is being held in the Tartar city of Kazan in Russia, and wouldn't you know it, the home entrant appeared to walk last evening's semi-final. We suspect it's no fluke though, as they chuck the absolute kitchen sing at it. Funny costumes, squeaky throat singing, a bit glowing ball with the song's titular running horses on it... it's got it all. Well, maybe except from a memorable chorus.

Watch it fly out of the stalls on finals night though. This horse has got legs...

Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Spain 1974 - Señoras y Señores - Maccarrones Caldosos

Friend of the Apocalypse Tristán White has alerted to me to this little Spanish gem of the past, and I felt we just had to share it with you. The legend has it that it was all set to be the nation's Eurovision entry proper, when someone upstairs decided, for whatever reason, that it was inappropriate, and that they'd send dear old Peret instead. Not a bad choice, as it turns out, but this would have been much much better.

Here we find flamenco pop wonder Dolores Vargas - locally known as The Earthquake - belting out a lusty tribute to soupy macaroni - although looking at the English translation we suspect it was just a bit more bawdy than a mere recipe for veggie pasta.

Had this represented Spain in the '74 show, it probably wouldn't have troubled the eventual winner (some Swedish act, if I recall), but it would have instantly gone down as possibly my favourite Iberian entry of all time. Turn it up and treat your ears to Sexy Bomb Dolores

Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Monday 17 November 2014

Macedonia 2015 - Risto Samardžiev & Vlatko Ilievski - Sever-Jug

The complicated shenanigans that followed the announcement of the winner in this year's Skopski Festival has overshadowed what a long and strange event it actually was. Twenty songs strong, it featured an endless parade of pretty usual Balkan ballads, all accompanied by a slightly over-intrusive live orchestra.

But hiding in among the long procession of bland was this unlikely little beast. Both Risto and Vlatko are pretty big stars in their native land - Vlatko even represented his country at Eurovision a few years back. So quite how this cumbersome few minutes of weirdness ever came to be is beyond us.

With a title that translates as North-South, we're treated to three of the most unusual minutes you'll see all season. From the disorientating and ill-advised visual gag at the start, to the shouty reveal and the overbearing honking from the orchestra, it transports us back to a different era. One when quality control was an alien concept and TV variety still ruled.

Funnily enough this came equal last on the night, only roping in 254 televotes and gaining just a single point from the international juries - and that was from the traditionally unhinged Azerbaijan. Gaze on this work of beauty and feel your head truly boggle.

Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Wednesday 12 November 2014

Macedonia 2015 - Daniel Kajmakoski - Esenski Lisja

So November has hardly gotmgoing, and Junior Eurovision is still in full swing, but Eurovision 2015 already has it first entrant. That can't be right? Yes, after a long and drawn out final in Skopje, Macedonia chose this - mawkish plodder by a moderately good looking lad.

But the screams from the crowd told us that he must actually be someone in his home nation, and right enough, it turns out that he's the current Macedonian X Factor winner - a title he bagged by singing a Tose song.

He'll translate well to a wider European audience then...

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Montenegro 2014 - Maša Vujadinovic & Lejla Vulić - Budi Dijete Na Jedan Dan (Junior Eurovision)

Junior Eurovision is nearly upon us, and sadly this traditionally trusty hive of thoroughly bonkers tunes has all gone a bit grown up this year. However, there are still a couple of gems nestling among the cold-eyed East European ballad girls.

Take this happy-go-lucky Montenegrin pair. The song itself is a pretty sweet pop rocker inviting all us boring adults to be a kid for a day. But what the heck is going on in the video?!

One can only assume that all those grown ups awkwardly swaying about in time to the music are local celebrities. Or perhaps it's naught but a bunch of in-jokes that only people living within 25 miles of Kotor Bay are ever going to understand? Who knows. Actually, I kind of like not knowing. Makes it a whole bunch stranger!

Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Monday 3 November 2014

United Kingdom 1977 - Mr Acker Bilk and his Paramount Jazz Men - Interval Act

The 1977 contest has suffered two big British losses over the past few weeks. The singer of that year's UK entry Rock Bottom left this world tragically young in October, and now the star of the show's very unlikely interval act, Mr Acker Bilk, has died aged 85.

Bilk's involvement in the show was a strange choice. Trad jazz was a dying art in the UK, surviving more in the cabaret bars and specialist clubs than the big stages. However, Bilk was still a popular figure on British TV, still popular after his massive sixties hit Stranger On The Shore.

It was a strange enough choice as it was, but quite why they chose to show him, not in the studio along with the other artists, but as a film clip beamed from a smokey London jazz joint we'll never know. It's a decision only outweirded by that pair on their bicycles in the sixties and that terrifying William Tell stunt.

So enjoy old Acker's unexpected brush with Eurovision fame. Skip to 2:15 if you've had enough of Angela Rippon's clipped BBC tones!

Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.