Sunday 15 March 2015

Sweden 2015 - Magnus Carlsson - Möt Mig I Gamla Stan (Signed Version)

I feel a cult coming on. The much beloved Magnus Carlsson may have tootled along to moderate success during this weekend's Melodifestivalen final, but his performance will forever be remembered for one thing that was entirely beyond his control - the pure star quality of the bloke doing the sign language interpretation.

Sit back and enjoy the pure joy on the face of this chap as he gets deeper and deeper into character, and his breathless panting as he gets more and more out of breath towards the end. One suspects that this isn't the last time we'll be seeing this particular gentlemen this year - and perhaps for many years to come.

It's things like this that Eurovision is for!

Norway 2015 - Mørland and Debrah Scarlett - A Monster Like Me

Right, so I've finally gotten around to enjoying this gloomy Norwegian gem. Yes, there were songs, many songs, that I would have preferred winning last night. And yes, it's another bloody slow one. And indeed, I reckon it's going to nick just enough points of my only very vaguely similar competition favourite Estonia to cost it the win.

But now that it's here, I'm certainly not going to knock it.

Dark, mysteriously intriguing subject matter, layered on with enough Scandi noir atmosphere to both give you the creeps and make you fall in love with it, this song is perhaps too darned spooky to be troubling the top left quarter of the scoreboard too much, but it'll still pick up some significant voter love along the journey.

But who are the juries going to side with now there's so much jury bait on the table? This could get interesting...

Saturday 14 March 2015

MelFest 2015 - Christer Björkman - Rise Like A Phoenix

Things you'll never unsee - Christer Björkman taking off Conchita Wurst at last night's MelFest dress rehearsal. I feel somehow grubby.

Thursday 12 March 2015

Israel 2015 - Nadav Guedj - Golden Boy

An uptempo song? A real uptempo song? Alone in the fog of balladeering? Well kinda. While it's not exactly the most BPM-heavy song we've ever experienced, by this year's standards it's practically speedpunk!

It's also gloriously likeable and dumb - in a good way. The lyric might make even a Moldovan songwriter cringe, but it's still lots of fun - indeed, he tells us that he's the King of Fun on more than one occasion. And this year especially I think he kind of is!

OK, so it's clumsy and sounds like three different songs roughly stapled together, but it's exactly the kind of song this contest has needed to wrench it from the gloom and slowness. One suspects we'll be hearing this a few times a night at Euroclub, mind...

Armenia 2015 - Genealogy - Don't Deny

So, after the long slow reveal of artists from around the globe, and the not-so subtle hints that their songs was going to be a commemoration of centenary of the locally contentious Armenian genocide, we finally have the song. But what's it like, I hear you wonder?

Well… despite sounding a bit like a charity record with a whole load of minor chord business in the long build up to the chorus, when it kicks into the refrain it swiftly diverts from the big spectacular whopper you were expecting, and goes a bit, well, jazzy. Then next time around, a bit plod metally.

And bot is there a lot of singing on show. By the time opera lady gets to her bit it sounds more like we're in the middle of a since off on The Voice than a cohesive song. Then it just ends, with very little flourish, like they just got bored of it.

Having said all that though, I can't wait to see what they do with it live! It could be knuckle-gnawingly immense!

Wednesday 11 March 2015

Russia 2015 - Polina Gagarina - A Million Voices

Here's a first sneaky peek at the Russian song from a local news report. It's all about love and peace and the children. Apparently love is the only meaning in life.

That's just how the world see Russia at the moment, I'm sure. Great work!

More news when we have it!

Tuesday 10 March 2015

Belgium 2015 - Loïc Nottet - Rhythm Inside

An all-too-brief thirty second snippet of the Belgian song snuck out on local radio this morning, and the rest of the day has given us a slow bleed of bits and bobs until we finally got to hear the whole thing at about half six tonight. But was it worth the release in instalments?

Well we have to say that we rather like it. It's dark, brooding... another slow song it's true - but this ain't no ballad. Instead, boy-faced Loïc here offers us a dirty, sleazy grind that goes no place much, but still offers up an interesting journey along the way.

Of course, it's almost impossible to guess how well this will do on the big night. Will it get lost among the fog of slowness, or will its genuine bluesy bluster burst through, delighting both jury and home voter alike? Who can say. But we do know that we'll especially look forward to seeing what they do with this one in the live forum..

Monday 9 March 2015

Romania 2015 - Rodica Aculova - My Light

Aside from the winners and that glorious frocky horror from Romania last night, there's one other song that's caught the public's attention from last evening's Romanian, and it's quite probably for entirely the wrong reasons. Yes, here is a song more than worthy of a place in the top ranks of our good friends at SCARYvision.

Poor Rodicia started off OK, but the sound in the massive Craiova hall was approximate at best, and once she lost her pitch she was desperately battling to get it back, and only very occasionally meeting with success. It didn't help that it was a complicated song, with highs and lows all over the shop, so the best she could do would have been to have played the percentages and averaged all the big notes out. Fair play to her though, she soldiered on as rehearsed, but boy did it make uncomfortable listening at times.

It didn't help that the big pay off at the end hinged on the lighting MacGuffin attached to her hand. We suspect that it was supposed to be a secret, but her expressive hand movements kept giving the game away throughout. Then when it came to the money shot at the end, it briefly sputtered into life before giving up the ghost - only to startle and partially blind her during her exit interview.

This was one of those occasions where you really feel for a performer - but still can't help having a crafty giggle at her expense too. Poor lass.

Sunday 8 March 2015

Romania 2015 - Cristina Vasiu - Nowhere

So an earnest bunch of dad rockers beat off all-comers in the Romanian final tonight. But for thise watching on the jaggedy YouTube stream tonight there was only one true winner - Cristina Vasiu's outfit.

For a start, it was pretty gravity defying. At any point you felt that bits of her frock could have peeled off, leaving her exposing parts that even her mother hasn't seen in years. But much like a car accident or a bad wig, you just couldn't take your eyes off it.

And just when you thought it couldn't get any more unhinged, well, I'll leave you to see what happened. But you will genuinely fear for her safety, and that of the front three rows in the audience. This is what Eurovision's for!

Sweden 2015 - Måns Zelmerlöw - Heroes

Now that we know what all the songs in next Saturday's Melodifestivalen are going to be, this one is starting to creep ahead in the betting odds. Indeed, it's also the pretty hot favourite among MelFest fandom, so it's clearly got to be a contender. But what's so bally good about it?

Well for a start, Måns has form. He's trod the MF stage before, and is beloved by both fans and housewives across the land. Then there's the song. It may start off with a curiously swampy deep south twang, but it soon stomps off into that mind of uplifting manpop that appears to be the thing around that way at the moment. For me the chorus hits formula a bit too quickly, but that just means that the faithful can sing along to it all the more easily.

And then there's the staging. Sweet, ingenious and using the shape of the TV perfectly despite being on a gurt big stage. It's got all the ingredients of an MF top three contender - but can it really go all the way, or are the Sami ghosts going to nip it from him? Or something else that we'd never imagined? One suspects that it's going to be a cracking show!

Saturday 7 March 2015

UK 2015 - Electro Velvet - Still In Love With You

Oh heck, this is the UK Eurovision entry. Watered down electro swing? Eeek! We're not going to do very well, are we?

I've had ten minutes to digest what's just happened. To represent our great musical nation at the world's most excitng song contest, we've hired the singer of the Rolling Clones - a moderately successful pub trib act - plus some lass who didn't turn a chair on The Voice last season. Then we've given them a song that purports to be of the currently incrediby club hip electro swing genre, but sounds like it was written by a bald man in a shed around the back of a car boot fair desperately trying to tap in to the current zeitgeist.

It's going to be a long spring, isn't it.

More news. Turns out I got sent a demo for this way back in November. I must have instantly erased it from my memory. I seem to remember Ashley Slater from Freakpower had something to do with it. I've had it in my hands all this time - gah!

There's more. Songwriter David Mindel is the man behind such classic old time TV theme tunes as District Nurse, Challenge Anneka, The Hot Shoe Show and Jim'll Fix It. Gulp. Can you tell I'm struggling to come to terms with this?

Portugal 2015 - Simone de Oliveira – À Espera Das Canções

So it's the Portuguese final tonight, and octogenarian sixties Eurovision legend Ms de Oliveira has announced that rather than doing a what will from this day on always be referred to as a  Kümmert on the night, she'll decline the ticket to Vienna if she win. What a darned shame, as this understanded little beauty was one of only two interesting songs in it! I guess we're Yola all the way now.

So enjoy this while you can - a veteran performer portraying more humanity in a single expression than many of this year's hopefuls will ever manage in a lifetime.

Friday 6 March 2015

Austria 2015 - Johann Sebastian Bass – Absolutio

(Click here for a Restoration funk up...)

Tonight's third Austrian show was a thoroughly complicated affair. The crux of the show saw them take the six acts to a castle and team them up with some high profile songwriters who'd never heard ot the acts before and got them to write a pair of songs together. Then said acts performed both songs, and the judges picked out their favourite on of each pair at the end.

Simple enough, you might think. But then again, when you have an act like JSB here who were almost certainly selected for their half-decent back catalogue, why would you muddy the mix by bringing in some random who knew nothing of the band and their ethos - now matter how long their impressive list of songwriting awards may be? It all seems terribly strange and unwieldy.

In the end it didn't turn out too bad for them though, and the slightly better song of the two was selected. But there was still something that didn't quite gel for me. It's all a bit too 'look at me, I'm whacky" rather than being genuinely unhinged, and it all felt a bit forced. Even a rare appearance for a Peter Frampton-style Talk Box (that air-blown pipey thing he was chewing on), didn't entirely rescue it - but having sad all that, I'm still kinda glad it's there, as it would make a welcome addition to all the slow-to-mid tempo stuff selected already. 

Azerbaijan 2015 - Emin - Woman

It's unsubstantiated rumour morning, but news just reaches me about a bit of a buzz forming about the Azeri song. While everyone has pretty much decided that Elnur is giving it another stab, another story is drifting through the ether...

For some reason, son-in-law of the glorious leader, Emin, is courting the Eurovision press, and his video has suddenly hit heavy rotation mode. Now that may just be wild extrapolation - as indeed most of these rumours are. But when your bird's old man runs the country, there's a pretty good chance you'll be asked to represent it one day.

And if he brings old Charly Williams (not the old Northern club comic, sadly) here with him to sing along on this uplifting jangler, he'll doubtless pick up some of the down under points too. It would be a very interesting move if it is true.

Elnur then…

UK 2015 - Wonder Villains - Golden Five

Just over a day until the UK announcement and we've had a sudden flurry of speculation. First unwashed X Factorist Luke Friend was chucked into the fray, merely by having a couple of hearts in his video. Then ace beatboxer Grace Savage caused a 24 hour stir by cryptically Tweeting about Eurovision, before the traditional Alexandra Burke and Rebecca Fergusson got snuck into the mix by Ken Bruce and Radio Times respectively. We hear Geri Halliwell has been waiting patiently by her phone ready to make a denial...

But this morning's rumour is a whole different kettle of fish. The source that first broke Molly's involvement last year suddenly tweeted that we'd be sending the Wonder Villains to Vienna. And while this is initially unlikely, it does kind of fit in with what the man from the Beeb said about it being a starkly different choice from last year.

We have to stress that this has in no way been confirmed yet, and it might be just another brief moment of fanciful speculation. But I for one would welcome a little bit of 90s twee pop in the competition. For a start it would be the most up-to-date thing we've sent in years, and for another it might mean that Tallulah Gosh might reform and all us indie anoraks can go into fits of happy joy.

Fingers crossed!


Sadly, as we now know, it was not to be. Bah! But I've just been having a little FB chat with the band and it appears that, much like Laura Kidd, they have no idea where these rumours may have come from! How the heck did that start then?!!

Thursday 5 March 2015

Germany 2015 - Andreas Kümmert - Refusing the ticket to Vienna

Oh my giddy aunt! After tonight's long and over-complicated German final, we got down to the last two singers - cuddly bear man Andreas Kümmert and wildcard winner Ann Sophie.

The gravel-voiced blueser was already looking a bit awkward and out of sorts, but when they announced him as the winner he seemed to retreat into himself. Our glamourous hostess declared him as the victor and passed the mic to him to make a comment.

Much to everyone's astonishment, he looked at the floor, mumbled something about not being ready for the international stage, and conceded the victory to the lass in second place. A few seconds of utter bewilderment flooded across the stage, before the crowd began to boo and Ann Sophie's face crumbled into a confused jelly of emotion.

Flipping brilliant telly!

Germany 2015 - Laing - Zeig Deine Muskeln

It's the German final tonight, and while there aren't as many full on thrills on offer as last year's show provided, there's still a few little bits of fun to be had. In particular, plenty of folks have been telling me about Laing's deep-seated sense of humour, but the videos I'd seen had left me slightly unconvinced. But a clip of today's rehearsals suggest that they do indeed have a twinkle in their eye and a glimmer of mischief in their soul.

You get a glimpse of both of their songs here, but it's the first one we need to attend to here. Coming over like a cross between ONJ's Physical and an OK Go video, the gals sweat their thang, to music, while they breathlessly pant through their song.

If this works right this could be a proper good lark. Looking forward to seeing how they pull it off now!


I know it's a week late, but I've finally dredged out a clip of their gloriously sweaty performance in the final. And if our growly little chum had decided to have pulled out before the show began, this could easily have been a contender come superfinal time. But I'll guess we'll never know!

Wednesday 4 March 2015

Australia 2015 - Guy Sebastian - The Pause

So Australia have confirmed the rumours coming from some quarters of the country and announced that Guy Sebastian will fly the flag for the Oceanic state at Eurovision in May. But they haven't yet announced the song.

Sebastian himself was being pretty cagey about it, but he did at least offer up some clues. He suggested that it might be from his current album, Madness, and stated that it wouldn't be a single that he's already released. He also gave a couple of major hints that it would be a ballad, and even teased that he had it down to one of two songs.

Well of the few songs that fit the remaining criteria, one is the album's haunting but awkward title track, and the other is this. Now we're not claiming that this is indeed the song, but we reckon it would be a pretty easy fit into the competition, given the grains of information that we have.

What do you lot reckon?

Greece 2015 - Barrice - Ela

So from the midst of a whole heap of batshit bonkers songs in Greece, the stayed and formula ballad went and won. Boo!

So let's celebrate the pure unhinged joy of Barrice before he disppears back into the scrap heap of the Eurovision forgotten.

You'll be vaguely interested at the beginning, then slightly underwhelmed when it kicks into the chorus. Then things start picking up a bit before something you really don't expect happens and everything is good with the world - for about 15 seconds, before it slips back in to the dull bit again.

It's a prime example of cramming so much into a song that it feels more like an album sampler than a three minute pop song. A sad loss to Eurovision indeed.

Portugal 2015 - Yola Dinis – Outra Vez Primavera

The dear old  Festival da Canção is always an entertaining affair. There's rarely a song on offer that you'd ever want to hear again in your life, of course, but it's got a distinctly quaint old world charm that always makes it a delight to watch. Last evening's semi-final was no exception.

Actually they've upped their game a little this year and offered us some songs from genres popular in the last 15 years for a change. There was a flimsy bit of African good time, a good looking young lass turning out a plodding indie pop rocker and an inexplicable bloke at an electric piano with car bumpers on his shoulders singing a song that sounded like it came from a trendy teacher's school play. In the eighties.

But streets ahead of the rest came this sultry belter. It's actually, and I realise this is a strange concept to grasp, a pretty decent song, and Yola here can certainly hammer out the high notes. Of course it qualified comfortably. There'll have to be something pretty special in the second semi-final to keep this away from Vienna. And what are the chances of that happening?

Tuesday 3 March 2015

Moldova 2015 - Eduard Romanyuta - I Want Your Love

Ooh now, we've got a little bit of controversy in Moldova again. On the face of it, young Eduard here is just a shorter, poppier version of Axl Rose struggling to remember the opening few bars of Liberty X's Just A Little, before walking about the stage a lot with his pals in trousers her desperately needs to pull up a few notches. So far, so Eurovision. But all is not good in the state of Moldova.

Eyebrows were first raised that something might be awry when he bagged more phone votes than all the other contestants combined in his first semi-final (the same show that saw poor old Kitty Brucknell bag a meagre 88, you'll remember). Then all his fellow final contestants put out a Facebook status employing that people didn't waste their money voting for them as it was all fixed anyway. Indeed, there are reports of hundreds of hooky simcards floating around TRM's crumbly studios on Saturday night.

And what makes it all the more galling to the good people of Moldova is that he isn't even Moldovan. Instead he comes from their near neighbours Ukraine. This in particular hasn't gone down well. Indeed, Moldovan Eurovision alumni and all-round good egg Pasha Parfeni was so incensed that he wrote the following Facebook status: "So obvious that almost everything is bought. Too bad... I am ashamed. RIP EUROVISION MD. Never mind that it is Ukrainian, the matter is that it is corrupt."

So now TRM have a problem. Do they admit that their system is easily corruptible and disqualify the song? If they do, the song that came second is a proper dirge and would cast them well down the semi-final table. Or do they keep their heads down, say it was nothing to do with them and carry on regardless? Either way, we suspect that this one is going to run and run…

Monday 2 March 2015

Sweden 2015 - Jon Henrik Fjällgren - Jag är Fri (Manne Leam Frijje)

After all the hectic hoo-haa of this weekend's events I totally forgot to show you this, from last weekend's Melodifestivalen semi-final.

Essentially it's a lad from Colombia who was adopted by Sami parents as a baby and was brought up surrounded by their culture, who is singing the kind of mid tempo ethno-plodder you hear in crystal shops. But there's more.

Witness this performance from last week's MelFest. Campfires. Regional dancing. Flying ghosts. Yes, flying ghosts. By the time it's all finished you'll have clean forgotten the song, so you'll have to play it all over again! It's what your eyes are for!

(Be warned that Swedish telly are past masters at pulling down YouTube videos before the MF final. So if this disappears suddenly, don't fret. I'll do all I can to search it out again. It's worth the wwait.)

Sunday 1 March 2015

Finland 2015 - The Entire UMK Final

It's a rare thing that a whole national final is so bonkers and so interesting that you wouldn't have begrudged a single song from its line up treading the Eurovision stage. From its excellent, unexpected opening number to the pure joy on the faces of PKN as they fumbled through the reprise, it was a delight from start to end, and surely must stand as the landmark other national finals should aspire to if they want to represent their national music scenes as thoroughly as they can.

I might have had my issues with Shava and their culturally dubious schtick, but they performed the heck out of that song and deserved better than their bottom ranking in the televote. Satin Circus offered a strong, contemporary pop song, held back by a flimsy chorus, and Solju represented the people from the North with a lovely floaty piece of folksy pop. The unspellable indie rock band had a singer you just couldn't take your eyes off - even if he did border on the parody at times - Norlan The Missionary added a touch of honest Caribbean warmth the the proceedings, and Opera Skaala were just batshit bonkers in the way that only Eurovision can muster. The home straight offered the perky yet weirdly uplifting Jouni Aslak, the glorious crusty punks PKN and terrifying totalitarian metal opera of Angelo De Nile - from song one to song nine and all that came between it was a thrilling, ear bursting two-and-a-bit hours of excitement and thrills that would be hard to surpass.

Whatever you think of the eventual result, it's worth giving this whole beast another look, cos it's flipping brilliant!