Tuesday 27 January 2015

Germany 2015 - NRW Cowboy - Ich Kann Nichts Dafür, Ich Bin So

What's going on here then? A drunken bloke wakes up in prison. Well, I say it's a prison - it looks more like the office store cupboard at work. He puts on a silly hat, then has a wander about the facility, ending up in the security office where he dances with a pair of, erm, sexy warders. Then it all gets a bit hazy, and it looks like he turned the regular TV on when he was trying to edit the last 30 seconds and it all got jumbled up.

Welcome once more to the German wildcard round, Apocalypsers!

Say what you like about the video, and even the hapless singer, that chorus is going to stick in your brain all day like an unfortunate social disease. It's the kind of thing you'd expect to hear over a tinny Tannoy at a German football match. I'm not sure if that's a recommendation or not...

Monday 26 January 2015

Germany 2015 - Escandalos - Zalando

Generally speaking, any ska song that has a pop at entering this funny old competition is either weak-assed pub reggae, or a bunch of flimsy teens failing miserably at being The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. That's why it's ace to finally dig out a bit of quality ska punk from the German Wildcard mud pile.

Escandalos hail from the cathedral city of Ulm, have one of the coolest looking guitarists on the planet, and present to us a jaunty skipbeat singalong that appears to be about shoe fetishism. That's three great ingredients right there! I'm also all up for videos recorded in shops, so it's a winner all round for me!

Come on Germany, do the right thing, pick this and Dancing Shoulders for the Wildcard. You can have any amount of floppy teens on guitars to make up the numbers, but just give us these two, eh!

Sunday 25 January 2015

Latvia 2015 - Atis Ieviņš - Catfish

Oh my good heavens, what have we here! I'm not sure whether clap my hands with delight or hide behind the sofa. On the face of it, this is the first bit of decent rock'n'roll rock of the 2015 season - even though it sounds as though it's played by session men who've never had a go at a metal song before.

It churns straight in with its Steel Panther-strength shout-a-long whoa-whoas, before kicking on to some delightfully ludicrous vocal nonsequiturs about how smelly catfish are. Is he singing about the internet phenomenon of pretending to be an adonis to chat people up on Facebook, or is he actually singing about fish? I DON'T KNOW!!!

But it gets sillier and sillier until the crescendous chanting of the word 'stinky' reaches full metal extremity, while xylophones tinkle along over the crunching chug. It's, erm, brilliant, erm, utter rubbish... I can't decide! Maybe a little of each. It appears to be written by Ralfs Eilands of PeR, so there must be some element of cheeky wink involved, but I can't wait to see what they do with it live, and it's suddenly made me very glad that I'm going to the Latvian final this year!

Saturday 24 January 2015

Hungary 2015 - Passed - Mesmerize

Now you should never completely write a song off in this contest. When I first heard this sparse little ditty I drifted off and peeled the spuds, or something similarly mundane. But a second listen when Inwas running through the semi-finalists from tonight's first A Dal show reminded me that I shouldn't always be so immediately judgemental.

OK, so the singing girl has a reedy, one note voice, but listened to as a whole it's actually pretty decent. The simple, almost noodling melody is punctuated by all manner of electronic binks and bonks, while the breakdown is an unexpected bouncefest.

I'm really looking forward to see how they handle this one live. They may all look about eleven, but Hungary proved they've got a taste for spacious and understated pop with Kedvesem a couple of years back, so who knows how this may fare.

Friday 23 January 2015

Iceland 2015 - Hinemoa - Þú Leitar Líka Að Mér

The Icelandic songs are out, and while there's nothing terribly world-changing among their number, there's an awful lot of nice stuff. Nothing really worth writing to your Nan about, but pretty sweet all the same.

I think though our fave has to be this one - a lilting little summer melody, with farty Icelandic trumpets and the occasional burst of samba jollity. It's just a tad twee, and it's not going to set the world on fire for sure, but it'll be a lovely listen on a holiday balcony somewhere warm in the summer. Possibly not Reykjavik then...

Thursday 22 January 2015

Germany 2015 - Die Party Apps - Akku Alle

A lot of countries claim to be really serious about their Eurovision entries representing their national identity. Well if Germany were genuinely honest in that assertation they'd be sending this in a shot. Go to any street market or seniors beerhall from Flensberg to Friedrichshafen and this kind of stuff is jumping out of the speakers at near military volumes.

And what of our boys The Party Apps here? I'm not especially interested in the lives of most of the endless array of kids at pianos or slightly-too-old girls in tiny frocks in the German wildcard process. But this pair fascinate me. What chain of events led them to be belting out this happy-go-lucky singalong together? What were their hopes and dreams when they made their first faltering steps into the world of music? And where do they get their shirts made? I can feel a documentary coming on...

Be warned though. This song will stick with you all day.

Wednesday 21 January 2015

Germany 2015 - Cärolein - Dancing Shoulders

Germany are ploughing the same furrow as last year, choosing seven record company backed acts of varying repute, and leaving the eighth place in the final up for grabs in a wildcard round open to all comers. This of course is both a good or a bad thing. Good, in that it gives the whole nation a chance to have a go in the contest, however unknown they may be. Bad, because a good three quarters of the entries make the Swiss open-access masses look half decent.

A massive 1213 songs were entered into the process, and the majority of them are near unwatchable. I'm not sure what the exact remit for application was, but at least one in every ten are cover versions - usually of Whitney or Adele. Then there's a huge swathe of instrumentals - again not exactly Eurovisionable - while another big chunk have dates like 2012 and 2009 emblazoned all over them. I thought the Germans were supposed to be good at following orders.

Once you've swept these unmentionables out of the way, there are massed ranks of girls warbling in their bedrooms, or blokes howling at electric pianos, all tinnily recorded on their iPhones in portrait rather than landscape, looking all tall and narrow. Then there are hundreds and hundreds of pub bands looking all serious in the studio like they're the first one to ever think of doing a video that way. It can be so stultifyingly bland that you start dancing on the table with abandoned delight every time a oompah schlager comes along.

But it's worth ploughing through the dregs for the occasional moment of delight. Take young Cärolein here. She comes from about as far south in Bavaria as you can possibly get. I've heard it's strange down there. That probably explains a lot about the video you're about to watch...

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

Tuesday 20 January 2015

Latvia 2015 – Mntha – Nefelibata

I don't know quite why I like this sparse little gem from Latvia's Supernova semi-final selection, but I just can't stop listening to it. It's really only a girl mumbling over a drum machine with no specific direction or resolution, but it's dreamy ambience is really getting under my skin.

I'm fascinated to see what they do with it live. I really hope it's just her on stage, hiding under her hair and mumbling - possibly while wearing a flowery frock. Yeah, that would do it.

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

Monday 19 January 2015

Latvia 2015 - Rīgas Bebrs - Mīlestība Rīgā

Well the Latvians have selected their final 20 songs for the Supernova process, but they've missed out this little gem, rather sadly.

Riga Beaver here wasn't to sing you a song of love, but also express his dismay at all the songs in this year's process that are full of the same old cliches - and we can most certainly agree with that!

We're not sure though whether this is a genuine entry, or just a promo clip for the whole Supernova process, but we'd really like to imagine the former. Well, that beaver's got charisma!

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

Saturday 17 January 2015

Moldova 2015 - Kitty Brucknell - Remix

When Kitty Brucknell briefly became a household name when she made the later stages of the X Factor, could she ever have imagined that it would kick off a chain of events that would have led to her to Chisinau to audition for the Moldovan Eurovision qualifier - in her pants?

Did she leave her proper outfit at the hotel and the nasty producer make her do it in her underwear like a sadistic gym teacher?

I'll bet she thought it was game over after she'd been rejected by the Swiss. But somehow, just somehow, she qualified for the semi-final stage. Oh man, this could be entertaining. The strange places a lust for fame can take you, eh Kitty.

Finland 2015 - Shava - Ostarilla

If you thought nothing could be more fleshcrawlingly cringeworthy than a white boy reggae band, try this for size - a white boy bhangra band? Oh my days. And it's not even that well observed.

European rock drumming over smothers the dhol, making for an unwelcome clash of rhythms, and not only do they do the dress up game, but the chirpy singing boy has a pop at the dance moves and the playback voice styles consistant of the genre... which only look any good if you're actually Indian. It's all very awkward.

But let's give them the benefit of the doubt for a minute. The Indian population will be clearly nowhere as large in Finland as the UK, and for them it must be an exciting and anotherworldy musical genre to replicate - no worse than middle class English whiteboys in waistcoats and pork pie hats murdering kletzmer, I guess. I also hear stories that the frontman has travelled to India many times, and has a deep love of the culture and the music. Again, fair enough I suppose, and if it gets some of his countrymen and women looking up the real stuff then that can't be entirely bad, can it?

But to put on the accent while wearing colourful, over-stylised versions of Indian clothes? Hmm, that doesn't entirely sit right with me, and I'm wondering what some of my Indian neighbours are going to make of it if I show them. Oh, it's only a bit of innocent fun, I'm sure we'll be told. But are we to expect a blackface minstrel act next year and be happy about it? It's a difficult one for sure.

We have live video, and we have to confess they've done a pretty good job on it. Probably the best presented song of the season so far, we only hope they ditch those turbans along with the backing dancers if they make it to Austria - which I'm beginning to fear they will. Click the link below the filmed video to see the live show.

Friday 16 January 2015

Germany 2015 - Heiss Und Eis - Drunken Russian

Come on Germany, choose this for Vienna. I want to see what happens. You've always got on so well with your near neighbours, after all - I'm sure they'd find it funny...

Thursday 15 January 2015

Malta/Georgia 2015 - Amber/Nina Sublatti - Warrior

Way back in the dark mists of November when we were all much younger, Malta selected a formidable looking woman in black shiny clothing and touselled dark tresses singing a song about being a strong woman in the 21st Century. It was called Warrior.

Yesterday, crammed into a 25 minute slot between the mid afternoon news and the farming programme, Georgia selected a formidable looking woman in black shiny clothing and touselled dark tresses singing a song about being a strong woman in the 21st Century. It was called Warrior.

OK, so Amber's track has a slightly softer optimistic feel, while Nina sounds as though she's ready to rip someone's niblets off, but all the same - you'd think surely at least one person at Georgian telly would been paying attention.

Come on EBU, do the right thing - draw these two plumb together at the start of the first semi, just for a laugh, like.

Wednesday 14 January 2015

Finland 2015 - Opera Skaala - Heart of Light

It wouldn't be a Eurovision on season without some mad old bat howling out the opera warble over some dated turn-of-the-century club beats like they were the first person ever to think of it. But this lot appear maddest of all mads.

It starts off in the formula way, before the singing lady hits full showing off mode, producing notes that only dolphins can hear in random terrifying order, exercising her pipes like a plumber whacking your drains with different sized hammers. It's a proper ear-challenge, be warned. But you'll be glad you suffered though it!

Next year's popera attempt has got to go a long way before it beats this gloriously insane piece of lunacy.

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

Tuesday 13 January 2015

Finland 2015 - Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät - Aina Mun Pitää

It's the one we've all been waiting for - well me at least. Yes, the rumours were true, as the utterly splendid Finnish punk band Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät have been selected for their home nation's televised Eurovision process. And despite what you may think about punk rock, this can only be a good thing.

Because PKN (as my spellchecker would prefer I called them from here on in) are unlike other punks, oh no. They were put together as part of a therapy project for adults with learning difficulties, and this would all be very admirable and nicey nicey should they not have all been such fantastically obnoxious old gits. You see, PKN don't play gnarly noisy punk rock because of their disabilities, they play it in spite of them, and they'd much rather go out and get hammered, make a racket and cause a bit of a ruckus than worry about what people are thinking about them - which sounds to me pretty much as punk as punk can be.

There is of course a fear that a wider audience will either patronise them, or moan they've only got this far because of their challenges. This of course is old cock, because as The Punk Syndrome, the excellent film about their music and their lives went to prove, they're all proper characters in their own right and don't give a shit about what you may think.

I really can't wait for the Finnish semis now, because even though this song is a bit more tame than their usual racketous old noise, absolutely anything could happen when they take to that stage on live TV. It's going to be flipping brilliant! Viva Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät and god bless all who sail in her!

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

Monday 12 January 2015

Germany 2015 - Tomas Tulpe - Schmier Mir Eine Schnitte

Fast becoming a new Apocalypse hero, out homeboy Tulpe here is having another crack at getting on the wildcard bill, only this time he's gone down a more traditional Germanic route, dealing us a fun-packed chunk of schlager-oompah crossover filth.

Of course, he doesn't stand a chance of even making it to the longlist of the shortlist, which is a danged shame, because this smashing singalong little ditty, which to my patchy German ear sounds like it's about demanding that your bread is lubricated, will stick in your brain all night.

Just make sure your mum is out when you watch the video. Or maybe that IS your mum...?

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

Sunday 11 January 2015

Germany 2015 - Sensi Simon And His Brother - Fuck You, Altes Leben!

So the German wildcard contestants have been released, and ooh what a bundle! 1213 slices of mostly hopeless home recorded nonsense, and a few half-decent genre songs that will never stand a chance in getting on a family friendly sing-off show. The overall quality is far better than the Swiss thing, mind. But then you and me could probably form a band tomorow and make it into the Swiss shortlist.

So I've got a long hard slog in front of me in my quest to listen tomevery last bleeding song in this year's process. But I picked one totally at random to begin my Herculean task, and it was actually a cracker!

The Sensi and his bro chug out a very likeable brand of Balkan acoustic techno, and although both the video and the production may seem a little home-produced to begin with, stick with it, because it will soon get under your skin and have you dancing around the room and smashing up your furniture.

I have a sneaking suspicion it won't quite make the televised bit though. Can anyone see why that might be...?

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

Friday 9 January 2015

Estonia 2015 - Bluestocking - Kordumatu

They've clearly got a thing for etherial folksy pop in Estonia this year, as their two semi-finals are absolutely dripping with the stuff - and this is one of the nicer portions.

Young Bluestocking here crams as many delightful Eesti-vowels as she can into a packed three minutes, and while it rolls along nicely in the verses, the chorus takes US through a range of piquant chords and pointy backing vocals that you would never have expected.

Again, it's a tricky call as to whether this will make it through it's incredibly hit-packed semi, but we're damn glad it's here!

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

Wednesday 7 January 2015

Estonia 2015 – NimmerSchmidt - Kellega Ma Tutvusin?

While last night's release of all twenty Eesti Laul songs made all of us Eurovisionists leap to instant different conclusions as to who was sure to win, we've all overlooked some of the many pure gems from further down the pack, who while never standing a chance of making it through to the business end of the shows, make the Estonian selection process the most interesting, creative and exciting competition of the whole darned lot of them.

So let's celebrate some of the more esoteric songs in this year's Laul, starting with this rather fine little oddity by NimmerSchmidt. I know nothing about the band, shy of their rather unnerving picture on the ETV site, but their strange, ethereal seaside swing both delights and unsettles in equal measures.

There's a pretty strong chance that this scratchy gem won't even get as far as their own national final, but like Elina and Stig - and indeed many of the other songs in their selection - I just can't wait to see what they do with it on the live stage. February can't come quickly enough

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

Tuesday 6 January 2015

Estonia 2015 - Elina Born and Stig Rästa - Goodbye To Yesterday

Ooh hang about, we may have out first contender here. Take two Eesti Laul regulars - he as guitarist with Traffic, she on her todd - give them a big, dirty, twangy bit of bar room sleaze and let them stand on stage in weather-beaten black duds and let their sexual chemisty work its wonders. This just might work.

OK, so there will be those who'll compare it to last year's Dutch near miss, but those people would be fools. Certainly there's the boy/girl twangy guitar similarity, but that's where the similarities end, as this is a far dirtier affair, and if handled right it has the potential to make it all the way to the top five in Vienna.

But of course, it's got to beat a couple of casting show faves in a superfinal yet. It's not my favourite in the constantly excellent Estonian semi-final line up, but it's the one that instantly struck me as a potential vote sponge on the big night. Can't wait to see this one live to find out what it has to offer in the raw.

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