Friday 29 December 2017

Romania 2018 - Lion's Roar - Rekindle The Flame

To be fair I'm surprised we've gone this far into the process before our first spot of symphonic metal, but boy is this one a doosie! It's got all the ingredients - chugging, middle-of-the-road guitars, staccato keyboards pretending to be strings, and a post-trauma libretto about getting everything back on track again and coming back stronger than ever. Yep, every genre trope is suitably ticked off the list in double quick time. But then there's the singer.

We can't quite work out if he's a rock singer with operatic pretensions, or a tenor who never quite made the grade, but he's not so much fallen between two stools as slipped down the back of the radiator just a little bit too far to hook out with your nan's longest knitting needle. To be fair to the lad though, I think it's the song that's giving him issues.

For a start, there's far too many syllables for a song of this tempo, which leaves him all a bit one-notey and breathless, trying to catch up with himself. For another, it scans like it was meant for reading more than singing, which again can give a boy heckish delivery difficulties. But we shouldn't mock. The thumbnail of the band on the TVR website makes them look earnest and intense, so we're bound to be in for an Apocalypse-worthy performance one way or another. We just hope there's candles. And flames. Lots of flames. Mind your hair though, fellas. There's a reason that Rammstein have all got shorn locks.

Monday 25 December 2017

Christmas 2006 - Sergey Lazarev - Last Christmas

Because nothing says Christmas more than a bored-looking, floppy-haired future Eurovision star throttling the George Michael gem. Ooh, and look out for the ghost of teenage Elvis who's worriedly looking out over events at about the 3:50 mark. It's eerie.

Thanks for all your tips and comments and views over the last year. It's been a pleasure sharing the nonsense to our little Apocalypse family. What joys lay before us in this new Eurovision season, we wonder?

Happy Christmas to all of you that believe in such things!

Sunday 24 December 2017

Romania 2018 - Feli - Buna De Iubit

Word reaching us from Romania has it that this is the only songs to even consider backing for the win out that way - and to be fair they've got a point. Because if they've got anything to better this it will surely be a title contender.

Feli's a big name around those parts, becoming one of the few from the TV casting show rounds to make a really big noise on the Romanian music scene. And despite being just one of 72 potential entries at this point, this one stands head and shoulders above the declared competition at the moment.

Its bright, breezy tropical pop is laden with singalong hooks, despite being in Romanian, while her earthy voice marries fabulously with the holiday skipbeat and occasional interludes of parpy local horn instruments. We hear though the ether that the UK are favouring a song in a similar style, but if it's not a patch on this one it could be up against it.

Saturday 23 December 2017

Albania 2018 - Eugent Bushpepa – Mall

(Click here for the first of many…)

So we have our first song for Lisbon, and it isn't half bad, actually. Eugent Bushpepa's buildy pop rock ballad may have no discernible chorus, but it's got atmosphere by the bucketload, and an irresistible whoa-whoa chorus that will encourage metaphorical lighters in the air before the second minute is out.

After my crushing disappointment at learning that my two aggregations of old blokes didn't even make the final, and then my concern that some of the frocky horror lady ballads were going to nip it after some enormous crowd reactions, I began to feel more confident after the boy here got a bigger cheer on than most other songs got on their way off the stage.

But then I got the fear again as I saw the jury - a busload of middle-aged men in sobre suits and sombre expressions, two out of place ladies and one of the Allman Brothers. But somehow his soaring high notes and optimistic chord progressions won over the old boys and bagged him the ticket to Portugal. And while it's no overall winner, it's got jury bait written all over it, and could well see them comfortably into the final. It's certainly quite unlike anything Albania have ever sent before, and shouldn't need too much of an upgrade over the festive season, so we're looking forward to seeing how well it performs.

Friday 22 December 2017

Belarus 2018 - Cosmique - Can't Stop Drinkin' Wine

So after a couple of years of slightly uncharacteristic winners, and some great performances from sparse Scandi noir flavoured songs, we're going to be seeing a lot of the roomy, bleak and minimal in this season's selection, and this isn't a bad place to start.

Cosmique are a Russian act who've been nudging at the edges of the musical undergrowth for a few years now, but they've decided to have a go for Belarus this year and have thrown their dark and gentle hat into the ring to see how it'll fly. And we must confess, we're rather taken by it.

It ticks all the boxes for the kind of bleako we like. Edgy atmosphere, glacial beats, an unsettling androgynous voice, and the ability to freeze a glitterball at 25 paces. We fancy that this would sit very nicely in among the usual bombast of a Belarussian national final, and if the dear leader has been paying attention to the ongoing trends of the last couple of years when it comes for him to make his maths bending 'unofficial jury' score at the end of that long, long break after the televotes have come in, well, who knows what might happen. It won't get many takers among the great and good of superfandom, to be sure, but it would certainly mix things up a bit.

Thursday 21 December 2017

Estonia 2018 - Metsakutsu - Koplifornia

If Poolfinaal 2 of Eesti Laul was going to be the cabinet of genre delights, somebody left the cupboard door a little ajar and the contents went a little stale before we got to consume them. Evestus wimped out as we'd feared, and delivered a broadly consumable goth cake. They'll still look incredible, but, well, they'll only be running on 25% grimness. Meanwhile, Girls In Pearls have offered up something that sounds more like the incidental music at a Supernova final next door, while Wateva made me feel exactly that.

Even the usually reliable Metsakutsu has averaged out a little, electing not to send him more aggressive zef style barrage, replacing it with something a little more low slung and laidback. But that's not to say it doesn't have its delights.

The beats are fresh and bright, and the bass parts in the middle third will sound incredible when played loud in a massive hall. But sadly his rhymes are too slick, and the increasingly autotuned choruses just don't hit the mark. But rewind all that - what we've got here is a rapidly upcoming rapster at the peak of his powers, spitting out the lines in a language that's ridiculously suited to the genre, so we can't really complain too much. Can't wait until the lives now!

Wednesday 20 December 2017

Estonia 2018 – Iiris & Agoh – Drop That Boogie

The glorious Eesti Laul reveals are happening glacially as we speak, and as ever there's quite a lot to be pleasingly diverted by. The bonkers looking Tiiu x Okym x Semy have delivered a quaintly raga ramble, while Etnopatsy have toned down the diddly-di folk that some of their number gave us last year and diluted it with some etherial whimsy. Oh, and dear old Stig Rasta is having another go, and everybody has already decided that his Game Of Thrones referencing girlfriend song has already won. But of yesterday's ten contenders, this is the one that made us grin the most.

It's got a cool and lazy slurred vocal, just enough cool beats amongst the sparse production to tap a silver-booted foot to, and an all round happy vibe that encourages us to throw off our workaday worries and just flipping dance.

You never know how well studio songs like this are going to convert to the live stage, but London-based Iiris has plenty of form, and her angular and edgy stage presence could very well make this one of the treats to look forward to, if, as feared, Evestus wimp out and water down their weird later this afternoon. So far, the Laul is looking good!

Tuesday 19 December 2017

Latvia 2018 - Kris & Oz - Morning Flight

Lyric videos are curious beasts. More often than not they're just a lazy promotional tool from the label or the publishers to ensure a bit of cheap early click revenue. Less often they become a nightmare of unintentional humour, as what seemed like a deep and meaningful line when it flowed from the pen of the writer suddenly becomes an adventure in hackneyed awfulness when read by the public at large. But now and again, and this is an incredibly rare occurrence, they enhance what you initially figured was a pretty dreary song into a work of some deep substance and general weirdness.

Which is pretty much what has happened here.

We scarcely gave Morning Light a verse and a chorus the first couple of times we heard it. Its minimal beatsy hum and mangled vocal didn't endear us to its joys in any way at all, and we just assumed that the words were that kind of poorly translated and even more badly pronounced construction that we hear all to much of before Christmas comes around. But after our first open-mouthed encounter with this lyric vid our opinion has turned about face and we've deemed this a work of some significant genius. We think.

Because it's unclear whether this is the work of some great philosophical mastermind, clawing together disparate literary threads into one over-arching and mind-bending whole, or perhaps just the cold and errant construction of a random lyric generator put through Google Translate just a few too many times.

Lines like 'They try to steal us on the run, cotton cloudy bandit" and "Fairies are dancing on the wings, showing skin which glows" are either the deepest poetry this contest has seen in many a year, or the lucky result of picking random words out of a hat. And don't get us started on the empathic shrimps!

Whatever the creative intention, here's a case of a lyric video wrenching a deathly dull dirge into the realms of the spectacular, and for that we can only applaud it. Who cares if it actually means anything or not.

Monday 18 December 2017

Romania 2018 - Anuryh - In My Head

The songs are beginning to sneak out for Romania's Selecția Națională, and the first handful that flew the coop were pretty unremarkable affairs. Of course, we had the perennial Mihai's ever-decreasing slide down the dignity ramp to kick off with, and a couple of fan-written regulars groaning formula tunes with little lustre, like you always expect early doors. And then this popped into my inbox. Oh my. Yes, oh my – because what it's lacking in song it's certainly making up for in pure filth.

Tune wise, it's a half-decent minimal East Balkan skip beat workout of the sort that's clogging the charts around those shires at the moment, and while being no worldbeater, it has a cracking, if oft repeated dropout running throughout. But the video. Oh. My. Days.

As a middle-aged man of a certainly sexuality this is supposed to be right up my street, but heavens, it's terrifying. I'm still uncertain as to whether it's showing us strong, independent women displaying their sexual being entirely on their own terms, or simply the product of a pervy male director filling his lens for his own private stash. But by heck to they give it some jelly (as I believe the kids may have used to have said) as they gyrate around those rather unstable looking rocks. And prepare yourself for one of the most unsettling uses of a pineapple in all non-porn history. Full marks for the confrontational blue lippy, mind!

One suspects that the song is a tad too understated and groove-based to get anywhere in a big telly contest, but one is curious as to how they're going to deliver it live. It could be, as Wogan used to splutter through his fifth Baileys of the night, one for the dads.

Saturday 16 December 2017

Serbia 2018 - Flyingjoymaker - Ministar

Serbia is usually poor pickings for these pages. Their stuff is either too decent or normal for our tastes, or just a bit ordinary. But every now and again someone really special comes along. Someone like Flyingjoymaker.

You'll have seen stoic, you'll have seen minimal, but you'll never have seen such an understated performance as this. Turns out that our lad here is a yoga devotee, and says that he was performing this song in the trataka position of intense yogic gazing. Blimey. But it's not just that that's interesting about this video. What's going on with the curtains there?

He was put our way by our good pal Tristán, who excitedly sent me this link, saying that he was the first person to have ever clicked on it. To I hurriedly raced to see it and I was the second. Which means that FJM himself hasn't even seen it yet. How more fresh and pure can a song be! Now go and dent that purity and watch it in your droves, because it really is quite a strange treat.

Friday 15 December 2017

Hungary 2018 - AWS - Viszlát Nyár

We got a tip off from our good friend Ellie at Listen Outside about this little rager, and we must confess that at first glance we were a little underwhelmed. The microsnippets that A Dal released last weeks didn't offer much past a regulation slice of teeno screamo metal, and the intro didn't do much to allay our fears - all twin guitars and soft talky bit before it hit the chorus. While to many of our readers it might all be a tad too noisy, to our more metal-damaged ears it was threatening to be just a little bit limp.

We shouldn't have worried, because the chorus somehow managed to crowbar in both melody and power, and each new rotation built the intensity just that little bit more. But that wasn't the best bit, oh no.

For after a brief interlude of introspective jangling the song hits a breakdown of deeply heavy, downtuned, double-kick horror grind, before leaping straight back into a newly punked up chorus, and a killer keychange that would embarrass a Swede. After an inauspicious start, we were dancing around the kitchen by the last few bars and wishing we were actually Hungarian. There will be better metal-tinged songs in the contest this year, for sure, but few will offer the pure joy we had listening to that final thirty seconds or so. Well done lads!

Thursday 14 December 2017

Albania 2018 - Akullthyesit - Divorc

Now here's another little treat from Albania. The best value at Këngës always lays in the hands of the grumbly old men, so when the fella at the front here started purring out the lines over a dark and dramatic underlay we suspect we were in for a treat. But wait, who's that behind him? And why's he holding a megaphone rather menacingly behind him?


Well we didn't see that coming!

Regulars among you will know that I've got a bit of a thing for Balkan-flavoured rapping. Those boys could spit out the most delicate of rhymes and it would still sound like an invitation to a knife fight. But this laddie here takes it up several notches, and at times hit feels like he's going to reach out of the screen and grab you round the throat. But then he finishes, leaves us with the most smouldering stare in recent ESC history, and the old fella begins to croon again.

But wait, here comes the soaring South East European pomp rock chorus! What a tune! It's like it's been plucked straight from the Eurovision Apocalypse playbook of songs that aren't quite cool enough to like in the real world, but that absolutely knock your socks off in the context of the contest.

If I smoked I'd have my lighter in the air before the halfway point. Maybe I'll have to get one of those lighter apps for my phone to wave at the telly. Oh, and in case you wondered, their long complicated name means something like Icebreakers. Well they've certainly done exactly that. Viva FiK!

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Albania 2018 - Genc & David Tukiçi - Të Pandarë

So I've finally done the big go-through of the FiK contenders, and there's two that really stand out for me. The second we'll explore tomorrow, but this one is the real treat of the bunch, and the one that you may be surprised to see do incredibly well on the big night.

No seriously, this touching duet between a pair of apparently lost looking old duffers is a serious contender, and not just because of its simple old world charm. David Tukiçi (the one on the left, which goes against all Ant and Dec style standing conventions) might look like someone's dad who's just wandered into the studio and isn't entirely sure what's going on, but he's actually a pretty big deal in Albania. Indeed, he won FiK back in 1969 as a mere 13-year-old, and went on to become one of his country's best-loved classical composers.

But that's not all. Brother Genc, the geekier one at the piano, is a hugely well-regarded concert pianist, singer and composer who wrote hymns for Mother Theresa, and if that wasn't enough, their dad was so darned famous as a singer in the old days that they named a street in Tirana after him. Coupled with such a sweet and heart-warming song this pair are going to have them weeping nostalgically in the drawing rooms of Shqipëri from the very first note.

You might be mocking me for even suggesting that such a song could even come close to bagging the ticket to Lisbon, but don't forget - Këngës isn't for the likes of us. It's entirely for the locals, and what could be more Christmas TV than this old pair of old local heroes warbling away. And personally, I couldn't be more happy if it won!

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Hungary 2018 - Ham ko Ham - Bármerre Jársz

A quick flick through the first micro snippets from the A Dal contestant revelation left one a smudge underwhelmed. Either everybody's saving all the good stuff until after the first thirty seconds, or they're all a little, how shall we say this politely... understated. Even dear old Leander Kills have lumped us with a weak version of their usually rather stompy noise - again!

But there was one act that leapt out to us among the drear in the half a minute or so that it had to introduce itself. So yes, it starts out all Eastern boy bandy, but oh my word, what's this? It pretty soon turns into a good old Hungaro-hoe down. Woo hoo!

A little digging shows that here's a bunch of cheeky chappies who wowed the locals with their X-Faktor antics a couple of seasons back, and they look like they've got charm and good humour in buckets. But will the Magyars make it two in a row with a Romani connection? One kind of hopes that they do if this little teaser is anything to go by!

Wednesday 29 November 2017

San Marino 2018 - Irol - Take Off

Hold up, we've got another home native who's entered the contest. Makes up for the pretending nature of the last one who got us all excited - that Auria Lecis, who turned out to be nothing but an Italian islander. But how can we be sure that MC Irol (or Lorenzo Salvatori to his mum) here is actually Sanmarinese? Well it appears that he works at the airport.

Yes, in a move that makes those Maltese Airlines sponsored videos of tens years or so back look like Gone With The Wind, our cool rapping mountain boy is seen looking very serious as he fuels up his flying steed and takes to the air. And boy does he look cool when landing the thing without actually looking at the runway. (Are we sure that there wasn't anyone else actually driving the thing up front?).

Nice looking airport too. All grass and fresh air and tiny tiny planes. We really must go there some time. But Irol is no sucker, he's been on the local version of Got Talent, and does know how to spit a rhyme or two, so we really wouldn't be upset if he did make it to at least the local final. At least he's got a thing. Most of the other applicants so far don't even know that they're supposed to have a thing.

Sunday 26 November 2017

Malta 2017 - Gianluca Cilia - Dawra Tond (Junior Eurovision)

As most of you will doubtlessly have been trying to avoid and deny all knowledge of, it's the final of Junior Eurovision in Tblisi this afternoon. But wait! I'm here to brighten your afternoon just a little bit… don't leave…!

For the eight of you that are still reading, this much maligned contest has had an over arching tendency to be a bit serious over the last couple of years, packed as it is with mid-teens in grown up frocks singing emotive ballads that their mums really wrote, or terrifying East European tots in JonBenét make up who've already spend most of their tender years in the mini-song festival sausage machine.

But this contest used to be packed with unhinged performances from curious little characters from around the continent. So thank heavens for Gianluca here, who has managed to pack and entire stage musical of comedy japes into his three minutes of fun. He's not expected to come anywhere near the top rankings as it stands, but his infectious chorus and ridiculous charm might just bag him a late run at the title - especially if the good people of Malta have had the spambots on full VPN alert in the televote.

Actually, are we sure that our boy here isn't actually a 45-year-old midget? Someone's going to try it one year, surely?

Friday 24 November 2017

Latvia 2018 - Riga Reggae - Stop The War U2

This song is more than a little confounding, for a who hatful of reasons. For a start, whiteboy reggae always makes my flesh crawl a little bit, but mainly when the clearly Northern European singer tries to put on the Jamaican accent. I know they they're trying to be accurate and all, but they wouldn't go the whole hog and blackface up as well, so why do the voice? But having said that, when done well the genre can still offer some fun and good time dancing opportunities, and to be fair to the Rigas, they are pretty good at it... despite the occasional proggy interlude.

Also a little bamboozling is the title. Surely everybody's first thought upon seeing it written down must be "What, the Irish pomp poppers? Even that Bono with all his off shore tax avoiding wealth couldn't do that!". But the lyric doesn't appear to suggest that it's about the drab Dubliners. Well, as best as we can work it out. So does it actually intend to mean and abbreviated textspeak version of 'You Too'? But if it does, why does it? It makes little logical linguistic sense - especially as it's not referred to in the body of the song? Or is it just one of those typos that goes on to become a part of the song? I really have no bloody idea!

And then there's that voice. It sounds just a little familiar. A bit like a tall, furry brown fellow we frequently see warming the crowd up at the Supernova shows. But could it be the Beaver? Well I don't want to kill Christmas, but I did once happen to see our hairy hero in his pupal form when I popped to the loo during a filming break of the Supernova final that Aminata won. It was only a fleeting glimpse, but after a little research I've discovered that the two fellas do have very similar human state hair. Hmm… I'm quite sure that it's not him though. But boy do they sound alike!

But whoever it is singing, I think we'd better watch out for this lot. Whatever we happen to think of this kind of music, or indeed the song, Riga Reggae appear to have something of a profile in Latvia, and their funtime japes, even if they're not to our immediate taste, could very well bring the party - or whatever it is the kids say nowadays.

Thursday 16 November 2017

San Marino 2018 - Gianluigi Colucci & Aurora Lecis

So while we've been having folks entering the Sanmarinese process from corners of the globe so far flung that even the people who make the maps have to go back and check where they are, the people from their local telly have been bemoaning the fact that there have been precious few home-based entries, claiming indeed that nobody had actually entered at one point. Well that isn't strictly true - there have been two.

The first sees the unconventionally handsome Gianluigi Colucci getting all moody under his floppy, curly fringe in a pretty serviceable mid tempo offering. It's even got an actual video and everything. (Although it looked like his niece doing a media studies course in whatever the local equivalent of sixth form is, but we shouldn't quibble, as it still puts it in the top three per cent of entries as far as presentation goes.) Indeed, this wouldn't look out of place something like a Swiss or Slovenian televised qualifier (even if it would reap the usual results), so surely this has to be considered for the latter stages at least.

The second and final local entry comes from a lass called Aurora Lecis. She might be offering the now over familiar self-recorded somewhere around the house style of video presentation, but she's got a smashing voice, and certainly knows how to deliver a song. Quite how this would translate when given a microphone on a big stage in front of a load of people we can't yet tell, but surely she should be given a pop at the golden ticket as well, just to be sure.

In a country with just about enough singers to fill a decent sized phonebox, surely they should give pretty much any home runners who can hold a tune a chance to represent them on the big Lisbon stage. It's great offering all these people from Haiti and the Philippines and Cameroon the opportunity - especially as they've been delivering the better tasting performances up to now – but surely San Marino should foremost be nurturing the local talent if they want to have a long and fruitful future in this contest. Because to be fair, we're not sure that Valentina has got too many left in her.

Turns out that someone may be telling porkies, as rumour has it that one of this pair is actually from Italy proper, and sings in a showband. How could they?!

Monday 13 November 2017

United Kingdom 2018 - UKR - You Know You Want It

I do enjoy a serial offender, and they don’t come much more offensive than our pals from the United Kingdom Of Rock. You might remember their stab at UK Eurovision glory from a few years back when they contacted every local newspaper in the land (well, Leatherhead at least) and told everyone that it was they, and they only who could bring back the glory for this fair land. Sadly the nice folks at Auntie Beeb and we were stuck with Electro Velvet instead. Boo.

That’s not to say that they were actually any good, but they truly worshiped at the altar of rock and believed every last morsel of what they were doing, which is a lovely refreshing change in this game. They’ve had another go inbetween, but now they’re back for one last job with this right rollicking romp through the eighties pub metal firmament.

Probably their best effort to date, this Carry On Up The Metal Charts stompathon invokes compulsory headbanging and involuntary air guitar, and if you can look past the slightly ribald lyrical content (you schlaaaag!) and turn your brain off for three minutes you can have a whale of an old time, erm, time. It’s terrible, of course, but most of the best fun things in life are. Come on BBC, give us a little bit of bad metal for Christmas!

Sunday 12 November 2017

San Marino 2018 - Holly Rutherford - Make You Feel My Love

While it's becoming evidently clear that the Sanmarinese online song hunt has reached points almost beyond parody now, it still chucks up the occasional fascinating little piece. Yes, in among the sea of bedroom grunters, well made but lifeless videos by artists who have no idea that they've been entered,  familiar faces from Eurovision fandom just larking about, and a now seemingly endless parade of Maltese people walking around on beaches, every now and again you'll get a touching little look into the lives of real people.

Be it Elvira Michieva belting out the karaoke in a German dance bar after downing a hefty slab of Dutch courage, American lass Veronica Hattier giving it all her lungs will allow while apparently sitting on the lavvy, or the sweet-faced Brazilian lad Victor Montiero putting all his heart into L'oiseau Et L'enfant on his living room sofa (how does he even know about that?!!), there's a sweet innocent charm about viewing the hopes, dreams and aspirations of these young people from around the planet, dreaming of being spotted - or at the very least being ignored by a panel of TV execs working to a prearranged script.

But the one that moved us the most was this all-too-brief snippet that frankly asked way more questions than it answered. Our Holly here displays a pretty decent voice as she oozes out a bit of Adele. But what chain of events led to her taking to the stage at a Southend seafront diner? The array of mics behind her suggest that they do this kind of thing all the time, but it still feels a little, well, odd. And you'l be totally on her side as she walks through the scoffing crowd, high-fiving children and making mums smile sweetly inside when they remember the time they danced to this with their Terry at her sister's wedding. You know, the night she conceived their eldest.

This clip also makes you wonder who filmed it, how it got to be put up on a website representing an obscure Southern European principality, and how much her hand stung after the brutal treatment from that four-year-old at the end. Sadly the clip ended there. Hopefully because the small boy was evacuated from the building for his bad behaviour and they didn't want to embarrass his family on YouTube.

Holly, we salute you. We may not be seeing you on TV any time soon, but you keep on singing your sweet songs. And thanks for letting us have a glimpse into your world.

Saturday 11 November 2017

Estonia 2018 - Frankie Animal - (Can't Keep Calling) Misty

Ooh lovely Estonia. I always enjoy those first couple of post-Laul reveal days when you pick through the titles trying to track down the first early glimpses of the songs. I was tipped off to the joys of Frankie Animal only a week ago, but I fell in love with their cool, understated, edgy sounds straight off the bat. So it was not only a joy to discover that the rumours of their participation were true, but that they'll tabled an absolute corker of a song.

Well, when I say song, it's more of a cool, breathy groove that builds to a barrage of filthy, yet still controlled noise, before crumbling to dust. Yep, exactly the kind of song that we'd listen to at home of an evening for the long, warn off season nights.

We have to stress though that this is in no way a contender. Unless they deliver a showstopper staging a slot in the final is about the best this tune can hope for. But that's not the point with this competition, as this is just pure, unabashed Eesti Laul goodness, and part of the reason that we slightly left-handed ESC fans flock to Tallinn like the schlagerists flock direkt til Stockholm. The fine people at ETV put these songs in just for the very joy of them, like they want to share them with the world and show off their goods, irrespective of whether they'd get into a final or not.

We bloody loves Estonia, we do!

Friday 10 November 2017

Latvia 2018 - Katrina Gupalo & the Black Birds - Intoxicating Caramel

So when the Latvian songs were revealed to us in that secret back of house vote up the other week, this is the one that stuck in my head the longest. But I'm not sure if it was entirely for the right reasons. But boy there's a whole lot going on.

If you've got the tools to imagine this, picture a car boot Kate Bush singing cruise liner showtunes, in the fifties, in flouro techno garb, and with Oxford prog psych loons The Cardiacs occasionally popping by to say hello. Kind of. Only it's stranger than that.

We were surprised yet delighted to discover that it had televised portion of the process, because one can only wonder at how they're ever going to flipping stage this little beauty - although the newly released video hints that there will be considerable portions of unsettling oddness. Our first properly unhinged entry of the year!

Tuesday 7 November 2017

United Kingdom 2018 – Giro & Gala – Hanging In The Garden

One of the rare joys of this tireless vocation of ours is that we get to see and hear all kinds of songs that get passed about in the hope that perhaps they might make it to some national final someplace somewhen. And so it was that a good friend of the site was sent this especial little gem, sprayed to the winds in the hope of representing our fair isles in Lisbon next Spring. And oh my giddy aunt where do we start.

You kind of know they're German even with the sound down, as I've never seen a citizen of this earth wearing one of those shirts with quite such meaning and seriousness. But it's surprising to discover that they hail from St Pauli in Hamburg - quite possibly one of the most punk rock neighbourhoods on the planet. Why they haven't attempted to be overlooked in their own nation is unclear, but do you think this stands any better chance over here? Can you imagine Mr BBC sitting in his gold office on the top of London going: "This is it! This is the one to bring back the glory!" Why, that kind of crazy talk hasn't happened since, well, 2015.

And as charming and outsider as it all is, one can't help feeling that the lyric is just that little bit insensitive. What if your Auntie Maud has just been found swinging from a tree around the back of the begonias, worried to her very marrow that a full, hard Brexit was never going to happen. How much would you enjoy hearing the phrase "Hanging in the garden" repeated over and over again? You didn't think about that did you, Giro and Gala. These are the kinds of things that you have to consider if you want to go all cross cultural after all…

Friday 3 November 2017

San Marino 2018 – Andi Taranik – Space

The Sanmarinese 1-in-360 process really isn’t going as well as hoped. While there were suggestions that the entrance fee would put off most of the usual tricksters, trolls and mentalists, what it actually appears to have done is hone the aspirants down into only the most desperate, insistant or utterly unknowing inviduals on this planet. And I know, because I went through all 200-or-so plucky triers who have so far submitted their wares to the website. And boy it was a long and painful process.

At least two thirds of this year’s hopefuls are self-filmed, usually in their bedroom or bathroom, with their phone set to portrait and singing quietly enough so that they don’t disturb their mum from watching TV in the next room. They’re also usually singing a song of some Eurovision heritage. There are countless Phoenix’s struggling to rise from the flames, a large number of space rockets failing to get out of orbit, and enough 1944’s to crack every window in a shopping mall.

Most of the rest are filmed from the back of a room while they were taking part in some kind of karaoke, talent contest, or shopping centre event. On top of that there are a few clips taken from televised singing shows that, for the most part, I would be surprised if the artist featured had actually submitted themselves.

And of course there are the pranksters – folks who’ve invested a small sum of their own hard-earned cash to send in clips of internet sensations of the past (including the peerless Maxine Swaby), or real actual Eurovision songs. SM’s very own Valentina has already made more than one appearance on the list, only to be swiftly removed.

Indeed, so deep is the barrel that had been scraped that when an actual reasonably well-produced video crops up it feels so startling and disarming that it doesn’t feel like you’re looking at something from the same competition. Although having said that, they’re generally either still terrible, Spanish, or so unhinged that they’re never going to get more than a fistful of votes.

And so it is that I bring you to young Andi here. I’m not showing you his effort out of any kind of mockery, but as an example of a typical entry to this deeply flawed competition so far. I’m quite sure that he’s incredibly earnest about his efforts, and clearly deeply loves the song that he’s singing. It’s just that he doesn’t really have the required skills just yet to carry it off in a public place – let alone his own bedroom studio. But despite all that this video has been one of the most viewed of them all so far. Which I suspect may indicate the seriousness with which people at large are taking this whole process so far.

But I wish him well – just as I wish well all of the poor young interns at SM telly who’ll have to sift through all these videos in order to hone it down into any kind of shortlist. Our thoughts are with you.

Thursday 2 November 2017

San Marino 2018 – Ignatius Farray – Estoy Haciendo Caca En Tu Mente

Glory be to the most serene republic of San Marino! There were those doubters who suggested that when this splendid nation opened up their national selection process to all comers (if they coughed up four Euro ninety-nine) that they'd be awash with the kind of hapless frikizoid and bedroom tryhard that frequently litters the choosing portions of Switzerland and the UK OGAE rigmarole. But nothing could be further from the truth, as is evidenced by this beauteous little Spanish gem here.

Marvel as two hairy bears of men strip to their trouserline and hammer out a gruff folker about defecating in somebody else's mind. No, really. Splendour at just how many words one human being can fit into a two minute tune, then get involuntarily aroused when it goes a bit homoerotic at the end.

If this is the kind of jewel that we can look forward to from out favourite mountainous nation state, then I think we're in good hands…

Friday 20 October 2017

Ukraine 2018 – Alex Angel – Slave Of Rock 'n' Roll

Remember the diminutive and somewhat flesh-crawling Alex Angel from last year? You know, the creepy one who kept tongue snogging a procession of scantily-clad young women with "Save me!" screaming out of their eyes who tries to enter from just about every country with an open application process last year. Well he's back, and he hasn't got any less troubling.

He's got a couple of entries in the process this year, but this one's probably the most sleazy. But not in that knockabout LA hair metal kind of way. Here five young girls in high heels and shiny pants writhe about on a sofa and take it in turns to be grabbed round the back of the head and skewered with his probing talk muscle while some procedural 80s pub metal drones on in the background. Minn Hinsti Dans it most definitely is not. They all seem to be having a good time, I think, but it does raise so many questions.

Who is bankrolling this nonsense? Why does these girls put themselves through these indignities? Is he just a clever parody character and I've missed the joke? I've wondered about the latter, but if it's true he's in pretty deep cover. After last year's contest he sent me an angry Facebook message telling me that Naviband had nicked his act after their touching snatched kiss at the end of their performance. This fella's either a seriously well-observed comedy commando, or he needs to be on some kind of watch list for touchers. I know which side of the argument I'm erring on at the moment…

Wednesday 18 October 2017

UK 2018 – Subject: 2 – Another You

It's a little later than usual, but the Eurovision hopefuls are just beginning to drool in. Most of them so far have just been solitary types in their bedrooms that are neither good enough to qualify for anything anywhere, nor bad enough to be of any kind of outsider merit. But good friend of the site Anthony Ko tipped us off to this little beast, and we have to say that we're probably enjoying it more than we should.

So yes, it's terribly old fashioned - sounding like some kind of goth-tinged Erasure, and exactly the kind of thing that your Nan still thinks is just like a Eurovision song - but at the same time it gets under your skin and has you singing along against your will, curse it. Subject: 2 describe their sound as Electro Country Pop, and while there's little evidence of any country twinges besides the hat the singer is wearing in the video, fair play to them for at least trying to do something a little different.

Of course, as much as it has made us smile in Apocalypse Mansions this morning, it ain't going nowhere - and especially not through the punishing, and ultimately fruitless UK OGAE system. So may we suggest them investing €4.99 in the somewhat confusing Sanmarinese process. At least it'll be out in the public sphere and get a bit of a viewing that way.

Oh, and it's worth watching the video through, as the best bit is the end. We don't mean this as a judgement on the quality of the song, however. No, it just gets pleasingly cute once the song has finished.

Tuesday 17 October 2017

San Marino 2018 - 1 In 360 - Casting Call

For the last 24-and-a-bit hours we've been awaiting the news of quite what San Marino's groundbreaking new Eurovision-flavoured news was going to be. A press release yesterday told us to expect something quite revolutionary and new, that had never previously been done in the contest before. Ever never. So today, with scarcely a chance to ponder, pontificate and make rumours up they revealed their grand new plan. And what was it?

Kind of what they've been doing all along, only this time in public and without the fee of half a million Euro (we think).

Yep, they're holding a never-before-seen open competition to choose their next entry in some kind of world wide internet competition. Strewth, however did they come up with that one?! And to help sell it to us they got some posh boy lunk from marketing (or the station owner's nephew - delete where applicable) to explain what they were looking for in one of the most knuckle-gnawingly cheesy YouTube clips I've seen in quite a long time.

Do they know the full force of musical terror that they've unleashed? Did no one think to ring Switzerland for advice? Will those poor interns who get roped into watching the thousands and thousands of bedroom troubadour videos be eligible for counselling?

We'll be keeping a close eye on this one, as we feel that it's likely to be our biggest source of wonderment this season. I genuinely can't stop cackling to myself. I think it's the fear...

Monday 18 September 2017

Montenegro 2018 - Vasilije - Just Wanted To Be Free

(Click here for the wails…)

Another regular early adopter is young Vasilije here. It's frequently suggested around this time of year that he might be the automatic selection for his home nation of Montenegro - although those suggestions do actually come mainly from him, it must be said.

And while our pals in Podgorica are prone to making many of the more delightfully left field attempts at our fair contest over the last few year, we suspect that they're unlikely to be going to whole hog and anointing this laddy any time soon.

Why can we be so certain of that? Just have a listen for yourself and you'll see why. If this was three years ago it would have been the first on the Swiss list of application hopefuls.

Friday 15 September 2017

Moldova 2018 - Sasha Bognibov - Love

It's been a slow old September in Eurovisionia this year. What with the Swiss keeping their songs secret for now, and hardly a sniff of news doing the rounds, we've all been chomping at the bit for some sounds.

Until now.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I officially open the 2018 Eurovision Apocalypse season with my good friend and musical hero, Sasha Bognibov!

We had the teaser clip, and now we've got the full malarky. And boy what treats does it deliver. The haunted, willowy vocals are the same, but they're layered on a fractious wall of sound that canters along unsettlingly like a distracted horse, before clattering to an intense and unexpected halt.

Yes, of course we like it – it's Sasha after all - but the everlasting boy is beginning to show some sings of musical maturity that bode incredibly well for the future. We've been doing this for long enough now to know that this year almost certainly won't be his year. But that day is surely coming ever closer!

Thursday 23 March 2017

Italy 2017 - Francesco Gabbani - The Occidentali's Karma Dance

This is excellent. You may have been looking at the complex series of dance steps that the boy Gabbani is enacting throughout his hit tune and wondered to yourself: "How can I pull off those moves without looking like a lead-footed idiot?" I know we were! So why not get the lad himself, along with his more talented monkey mate, to show you how!

It's all here in video form as our teachers lead us through the wavy-wavy-leg-uppy dance in a simple step-by-step guide. You'll be dancing like the pros in minutes, and can show off your skills to your friends and family on the big night. You'll be the prince or princess of the party!

All larking aside, this good-humoured skit is just another reason why we reckon the Italian delegation is going to be terrific value in Kiev. Francesco's easy charm just oozes through the screen, and I was hanging on his every word - even though I speak next to no Italian at all. Win or lose on the big night, I think we've got ourselves a Eurovision star - and dance - who's going to live on in the memory for a very long time!

Monday 20 March 2017

Germany 2017 - Helene Nissen - Folsom Prison Blues

We've been thinking long and hard about what the strangest and most unsettling of all the thousands songs that we've made ourselves listen to this season, and there were so many valid contenders. It could easily have been Romania's Dorel Giurgiu and his curious Christian techno shuffle, or perhaps Tosca Beat from Slovenia with their terrifying martial dystopia. Of course our old Moldovan pal Sasha Bognibov is always in with a shout, although the inappropriate sexual pawing from Ukraine's Alex Angel gave him a good run for his money. But no, the thing that troubled us most from one of the strangest national final seasons we've ever seen was this dark little oddity.

Now on the face of it this was nothing more than a familiar happy-go-lucky singalong shuffle that fitted perfectly on an early evening light entertainment show. But look deeper into the lyric. This is a song about an unrepentant cold blooded murderer spending the rest of his days rotting in one of America's most notoriously dangerous men's prison. So to hear a perky little teenage girl in big old glasses and a bouncy ponytail happily squeak out the song's signature line: "Well I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die" just didn't quite sit right.

So what's she going to cover next? NWA's Fuck Da Police? Nagasaki Nightmare by Crass? The entire GG Allin back catalogue? It might seem like a delightful little piece of innocent fluff to you, but it creeps us right out every time we hear it. It's just not right, I tell you!

Saturday 18 March 2017

Armenia 2017 - Artsvik - Fly With Me

So we're all in safely, as Armenia has finally revealed. But after keeping us waitng for so long, was it really worth the wait? Well kinda. For this a curious confection to be sure. The twenty-odd second teaser that they gave us last week hinted that it would pick up massively once we'd taken a trip through the lady's hair pipe - but no!

Instead it goes the other was and chills incredibly, all the while punding out an insistant Eastern beat, enmbroidered throughout with a lilting suggestion of a melody. And it's great. It's moody, smart, and just a little bit lustful, and I can imagine this as the beautful light relief in the middle of an album full of techno bangers. But is it really Eurovision?

Hmm, we're not too sure. Because for all it's art and allure, is anybody going to get it on showbizzy Spring Saturday night? Are even the juries going to become infected by its charms when it's surrounded by apes and yodelling and topless men? We're really not sure at all, and fear that it's one of those classy songs that just passes people by. What whatever anybody thinks of it. That's one of the most beautifully shot videos we've ever seen at this contest. Not that this will get you very far on the big night, of course.

Monday 13 March 2017

Bulgaria 2017 - Kristian Kostov - Beautiful Mess

So the rumours were true. After weeks of really hoping that it was going to be Gery-Nikol, the initial rumours that Bulgaria had picked the first Eurovision performer to be born in the 2000s panned out, and here we are. Ireland really thought they'd have the tiny lad vote sewn up, but compared to Kristian here Brendan Murray looks positively middle aged!

And the song is pretty much what we were suspecting, in that it's another slice of the pleasing Eastern Beiber plod pop that he's been having such success with back home. But is it a winner?

Well his youthful gap toothed charm will doubtless corner the nans and grandaughters corner, and ther may indeed be some specialist grown up markets who are faithful to his look. But we're not sure that it'll reach much further than top ten unless he offers up a quite devastating live show. So whoever that was who lumped a massive wad on him to win on one of the betting exchanges about an hour ago might be in for a disppointing May. Still, it's futher good progress for an ever improving Bulgaria.

It's decent, but like so many others this year, no world beater. So does anyone want to win this bleeding thing?

Norway 2017 - Amina Sewali - Mesterverk

Now here was an unexpected little gem. On audio alone this song passed us by. Well, it was a bit rambling, and never really picked up into any kind of recognisable chorus. A good chance for a toilet break on a long and complicated night of national finals, I figured. And I wasn't even particularly sold at the start of the performance, but then somehow it crept under my skin and I just couldn't take my eyes off it.

So, picture this scene. A beautiful girl child is messing about on a desk with a paintbrush, while her older self in the same frock sings in the background as if it was some kind of memory from her youth. Then the mini-me leaps into the singer's world, and the two dance and laugh and interact, before the lit'lun gets the paints out and starts to make a terrible mess on the floor.

Now this might all sound a bit playschool toytown, but as the performance went on it became sweeter and more utterly charming. The chemistry between the old and younger selves was clearly apparent, and at times they seem to both forget they were on telly and in a hall full of thousands of observers and just started having a laugh together, and I think that's what got to me the most.

If they could charm my cynical old seen-it-all bones in such a delightful way at the end of a long and punishing national finals season, well, they must have done something right!

Sunday 12 March 2017

Russia 2017 - Julia Samoylova - Flame Is Burning

Russia, you beauties - you played an absolute blinder there! You kept the continent waiting and hanging on your every move. And then, right at the death, you played the finest card of your Eurovision career. With punters and locals already cueing up their booing manouvres, you plucked practically the most unbooable singer on the planet to be your Eurovision entry. Man alive, nobody saw a move that slick coming.

Of course, the song isn't even intended to win. That's not what this move is for. It's the kind of saccharine sweet, whiskers on kittens confection that would make even Disney gag a bit. But to send such a beautiful woman in a wheelchair who'll smile at every single on of us down the telly pipe and make our cold hard hearts melt just a little is surely job done. This is cynical politics done to the very finest level. And do you know what, I'll bet Julia is an absolute delight in Kyiv too!

Of course there's a counter rumour that this song is just a place holder for when they decide to pull out a little nearer the time, so they didn't have to worry about the quality of it. If this is true it'll please Mrs Apocalypse no end, because she put decent money at good odds of Russia winning this year, and she'll get her stake back if they do. But seriously, Russia have won this game already, whether they get the most points or not, or even turn up at all. Because this will go down as one of the great moments in Eurovision game playing of all time.

And it makes you wonder what they've got planned for next year...

San Marino 2017 - Valentina Monetta and Jimmie Wilson - Spirit Of The Night

Just for one moment imagine what it's like to be Valentina Monetta. A few short years ago you were a local jazz singer in a tiny country happy to spend your weekends performing the music you loved to people who really appreciated it. Then by a strange quirk of fate, it turns out that you're the only amenable singer in your entire nation state to taking a chance on Eurovision, and then your life spirals out of control.

There were signs of trouble in paradise last year, when she finally got the hump with everyone talking to her about the contest and kicked us all off her social networks - ironically. But someone must have seriously twisted her arm, because she's back for a fourth go, only this time she's assisted by the journeyman soul singer Jimmie Wilson. And together they're stamping out a rather old fashioned slab of cheesy-assed cruise ship disco for our delight. 

But I'm more concerned about the state of her artistic soul. She's an absolutely lovely woman, and regales us every year at the parties with some great interpretations of the jazz standards. So shouldn't someone, one year, let her sing the music that she really loves on this accursed show, rather than cajoling her into belting out whatever this year's flag-of-convenience song writer points at her?

I genuinely feel for the poor lass. Because who wants to become a pub quiz question in their own lifetime?

United Kingdom 2017 - Lucie Jones - Never Give Up On You

So we were all quite pleased when the winner of the UK show turned out to be actually quite decent, and sung by a capable pair of lungs. But then word of a remodelling started floating about in the air and we all got a little anxious again. Well we've seen in the past songs that we've previously loved being 'improved' to within and inch of their lives. But we should have worried, because last night's Super Saturday reveal delivered us a thing of some sparse beauty.

I'd always been rather fond of the song, ever since I first heard it in demo form back in November. It was sparse and understated, and gave the lyric room to breathe. It was as if it was crafted from fine woods rather than the plastic, tin and neon of many of the other songs. The national final version had stepped up again, replacing EDF's breathy vocal with the more assured larynx of Lucie Jones. But now we've gone up another notch.

Word had got around that this was something of a Massive Attack style makeover, but this is pure London Grammar. Glacial spaces distil into sharp points of cool light, and the heart really pours out of it. At one moment I feared that it was going to step up into a dance tune, but instead it geared down and soothed our fears. But how should it look?

This song just screams for close intimate cameras, simple lighting - just darkness and white, and absolutely no single other soul in camera shot. We need to see Lucie's pain and hope close up, feel her every thought, and live the song with her. This is still probably not a winner of the whole caboodle, as there's some strong stuff on the tariff overall, but if they keep it uncomplicated and sparse this could do very well indeed, and give us a result to be proud of.

Friday 10 March 2017

Montenegro 2017 - Slavko Kalezić - Space

There's a horrible concept in music called guilty pleasures, where snooty people get themselves off the hook for liking something of a low perceived cultural value, thereby saving themselves from being looked down upon by their even snootier mates. It's an idea that's always heavily troubled me.


This one is nudging pretty near the top of my list of songs that I shouldn't really like, but just can't help myself from loving. And if that makes it a guilty pleasure, then so be it!

It's not as if it hasn't got all the ingredients of being an absolute shocker. Its promising trancy intro swiftly shifts back a gear into some kind of mongrel futuro disco, while its lyric makes absolutely no sense at all, littered as it is with screamingly pointless non sequiturs. And then there's the lad himself, all preening and pompous and overtly sexual.

And yet, it's terrific fun, and possibly the most honest and natural sounding of all the up tempo dance tunes of the year. And you just know that he's going to be one heck of a handful in Kiev. I'm sure I'll soon get tired of it, but for now it's exactly the kind of injection of pure fun and nonsense that this contest needed, whatever the critics may think of it.

Ireland 2017 - Brendan Murray - Dying To Try

So Ireland finally got the big reveal on the Nicky Byrne radio show, and I have to say that it's not quite the disaster that it could have been. It starts with some pretty cool atmospherics, before starting to build with some nice clangy guitars, before... well, that's about it really.

Yep, for while it may get a bit noisier, by the time it gets to the chorus it falls back on an old familiar formula where you can guess the next chord two beats before it happens. Which is a shame, because much to my own surprise it held a bit of early promise. It could do alright on the big show though, although I have two grave concerns.

The first is that voice. He's going to have to be bang on in the big hall with a chattering crowd otherwise that could become a horror show of epic proportions. And on top of that, I'm not sure that I really want to hear that squeakiness repeated time after time in a rehearsal situation. And the second? When I initially saw the song's title written down I was sure that it said Trying To Die, and now I can't shift that image out of my head. let's hope it's not an omen, eh!

Thursday 9 March 2017

Israel 2017 - Imri Ziv - I Feel Alive

So if you were a Eurovision artist and your song had to leak the day before your big reveal, which way would you rather it happened? Someone at the label with an itchy trigger finger submitting it to Spotify just a bit too early? The video company forgetting to set the video to Private when they submitted it to YouTube?

Or how about someone filming you recording the video across a car park on a cheap phone while they're chatting all the way through?

As inglorious releases go, this is perhaps the most unsatisfactory of the lot. There you were, going to all the trouble of building up to a big explosion and fun and delight when you finally put it all out to the world in its intended form, when someone gazumps you because the TV company were too tight to hire in some decent security and did the shoot in an incredibly public place. Shorter clips had snuck out over the last few days, but this is the first one that offers us nearly all of the song.

Oh dear. Oh very dear.

But what of the song? It kind of chugs along nicely in an unexciting Club Med kinda fashion, but it's not exactly going to be setting any sort of scoreboard alight in Kiev. Although those extras seem to be having a whale of a time…

Tuesday 7 March 2017

Belgium 2017 - Blanche - City Lights

Belgium, oh Belgium, you've done it again haven't you. You've not had such a rich vein of goodness since the dawn of the eighties, and now you've gone and quite unexpectedly delivered us with another bona fide gem of a song that just cheered up a long walk home in the rain by quite some measure.

This doesn't sound like a song written for Eurovision. This sounds like the song that Mercury nominated band that you haven't got around to hearing yet plays on the awards show. This is the song that appears third on Jools Holland, the song you'd Shazam if you heard it in a bar. It's familiar, yet quite fresh and understated, and sticks in the memory for some time upon a single hearing.

But having said all that, these things don't necessarily count for much in this funny old song contest. It could very easily be jury bait, but it'll all be down to the staging. Keep it too subtle and it could get smothered by the pack when it comes to televoting time. But give it too many on stage MacGuffins and you could kill it stone dead. Vast swathes of people just aren't going to get it, but for me it's one of the coolest and classiest songs we've seen in a long old while.

But I seriously can't call how it's going to do. This is going to be the interesting one to watch.

Romania 2017 - Instinct - Petale

In all the excitement over Yodel It!'s victory and Mihai's smug bubble getting burst all over again, one could very easily have overlooked the song that came in third. But if you've not been lucky enough yet I reckon it's worthy of a few minutes of your attention. But not necessarily for the actual music you'll be hearing.

Yep, it's a concept performance. We know how much you love those. This moody duet began in swathes of mist, with two shadowy figures appearing to wind up the two lead singer. And we don't mean by prodding them with sticks and telling them that their mum hangs round with sailors. No, actually winding them up like a clock. It can't be though, right?

Oh heck, it could be. Look, they're all painted up with random cogs and walking around robotically! (Although to be fair, he's living the role a little more than she is). This could have been brilliant, so what a shame it is that the song was a dry, mechanical plod perhaps a little too apt to the performance. But at least they gave it a try, and it was nice to see at least the merest fumes of a steampunk performance. I think we'll see these kids again.

Monday 6 March 2017

Serbia 2017 - Tijana Bogićević - In Too Deep (Excerpt)

It seems quite the done thing release a little teasy instrumental half-minute this season, to give us a glimpse of the potential drama they're about to unfold on us. The the former Yugos must be clubbing together to go heavy on the larks, to such an extent that even though we've heard the sounds, we have no idea what may actually be about to be revealed.

Croatian Jacques teased us with a near-classy sounding chunk of frantic strings, but we could never have imagined what fevered Disney nonsense was about to unfold. So what of this latest little segment? Well in light of what's been happening these last weeks it's difficult to tell.

But here's what we do no. This dramatic piece of business soars and sweeps, offering much promise. But at the same time it sounds every bit like that music they use on a dodgy Qatari satellite sports channel when they're setting up the week's fixtures. I'm half expecting the words to entirely consist of  Tijana there shouting out "Chooventooze vuzzuz Barky Lunar. Arse Neale vuzzuz Eentire Meelarno. Dees Chewstay." Well as this year is rapidly proving, anything could happen.

Australia 2017 - Isaiah Firebrace - It's Gotta Be You/Don't Come Easy

Our pals Down under finally let us know who they're going to send to the contest this week, and yesterday a massive rumour got going that it was going this young fella. But what are the clues? And why is everybody so sure that it's going to be him? Well the evidence is compelling.

First up, he's on the Sony Music Australia label, and although it's never been explicitly mentioned, it's clear that they have been bankrolling the Aussie Eurovision project so far, as both their acts to date, plus that big old Jessica Mauboy softener the year before have been on their roster, and they seem keen to try to break their top pop acts across Europe.

Next, he's a recent X factor alumnus. In fact he's the current and final champion, so he's riding a head of steam back home, and is more than comfortable in the competition format, despite his tender teenaged years. And to that, as an Indigenous Australian he's well in keeping with his nation's run of non-European, look-we're-not-racist-really contestants, although it would be perhaps a little cynical even for us to suggest that this is the only reason he's in consideration for the slot, as the boy has one heck of a voice in that willowy frame, and the kind of dreamy-eyed floppiness that a lot of viewers would go weak at the knees over.

And then there's the song. There are some folks that are suggesting that it's going to be this bright little plodder - the lead single off his still fresh album, and the song they are most likely to pick to try and launch him overseas. If it is this one, while it's nice enough, I can't see it pulling the momentum to finish much higher than halfway unless he absolutely bosses it on the night. So I guess we've got to hope there's something bit more apt on the album.

Although, hang on… aren't The Veronicas also on Sony…?

****STOP PRESS****

Turns out that we were half right, and so would have got one of those little white pegs in the board game Mastermind. It's the same singer, with almost the same song, only it's a little better produced and has an infinitely more corruptible title. Here it is…

Sunday 5 March 2017

Iceland 2017 - Daði Freyr – Hvað Með það?

The jury's out in Apocalypse Towers for this one. While this gently throbbing electronic number would have been more at some at Latvia's Supernova, it definitely had its charms. But there was just something about the kids' deadpan, "We're mad, us. Look at us be mad!" stage schtick that stuck in our collective craw a little.

Bit then this morning I looked at it again and kinda got it. In a deathly dull Icelandic qualifier series this stood out like a beacon of hope. Despite harbouring the flimsiest of songs, the multiple keytars, matching unfashionable garments, and simple dance arrangements at least looked like they'd put some thought into it.

But I think it was their green room larks that won me over to them. Who would you rather have to muck about with in Kyiv - some dreary stuffed shirts who'll save their precious voices and be tucked up in bed by ten, or some knockabout party kids who look like they'd be up for a hoot. It may not be able to drag its bones out of any semi-final, but it'll be fun to have them there at least.

Saturday 4 March 2017

Iceland 2017 - Ágústa Eva Erlendsdóttir And Gunnar Hilmarsson - Save All Your Kisses For Me

In what's turning into a disappointingly dull and usual Icelandic selection process, there was one little glimmer of sunshine among the gloom. And if you'd have told me at the start of tonight that the best thing I'd see would be Silvia Night doing a delicate cover of an old UK winner, sat in front of a hillbilly (kinda) string quartet, I'd have laughed in your face - before wondering what that would actually look like.

But in her normal day-by-day guise of the actress Ágústa Eva Erlendsdóttir she whispered out a performance that could have been cloyingly twee, but somehow managed to sit just the right side of touching, and dare I say it, nice.

After a disappointing night for our faves in the other shows (we lost 0-4 in Sweden and came a heartbreaking second at the Laul), we needed cheering up, but never, ever imagined that would have come from these quarters. It was just a shame about the songs in the actual competition...

Thursday 2 March 2017

Croatia 2017 - Jacques Houdek - My Friend

Oh. My. Days.

We knew this was going to be entertaining, but never imagined that it was going to be quite THIS silly! The simple, classical instrumentation suggested we were in for a bit of a treat, one way or the other. But Wowsers, we've been spoilt!

If you heard the instrumental version that was kicking around a couple of days ago, the light and dark shades hinted that it was more akin to a duet than a single voiced event - and it is… with himself! Seriously! One second he's sugaring it out in a saccharine pop voice, the next belting it out in near operatic tenor. This kind of schtick is easy enough to pull off in the studio. But live? This could be one of the most fun packed car crash events in years. Or he might just pull it off and knock all our socks off. Somehow.

Oh yes, I forgot the spoken intro. A SPOKEN INTRO, I TELL YOU! These things are hard enough to make sound sincere when you're doing them as a one off - so how tired it's going to sound after dozens and dozens of repetitive rehearsals who can say.

Ooh, ooh, and then there's the Frozen bit. Yep, there's a couple of musical phrases within the chorus that sound, show shall we say this delicately, EXACTLY like the main hook to Let It Go. And if not exactly, then there's a run of notes so similar that they've been precision tooled to sound very much like it without being exactly like the song of which it sounds a bit like. Which is some kind of evil genius. If the people among the crowd who aren't fond to his somewhat old fashioned views of sexual preferences want to make a protest, they shouldn't boo - they should all start singing Let It Go en masse when it gets to that bit. It would make the poor lad's head explode.

But really, what were they thinking? With all of it! I still can't work out whether this is dog dirt off a tramp's shoe or one of the most incredible things ever. I think it's a bit of both. I'M BROKEN!