Tuesday 28 February 2017

Ukraine 2017 - Salto Nazad - O, Mamo!

Before we get going, we have to establish that this is an absolute toilet of a song. There is little that's more utterly cringeworthy than a white bloke trying to affect a Caribbean accent, and this lad comes over like a chubby Sting tribute act. (I'll bet he'd call it Stung, or Call The Police if he actually had one. And of course it didn't help that the video opened with him appearing to be a bit of a sex pest, and that despite that he's singing a song about his mum, but all that's by the by.

But just when you'd just about had enough and started to reach for the kettle, something unexpectedly charming happened. The camera caught sight of an old gal in the crowd having a whale of a time, and the lad began to rather sweetly interact with her. And then… Oh my, even a cynical old hack like me never saw that coming!

I won't spoil the fun for you, but suffice to say that the last minute or so distracted you from the godawful music, and just goes to show that with a bit of thought you can turn even the biggest shitehawk of a song into something utterly sweet and enjoyable.

Monday 27 February 2017

Portugal 2017 - Jorge Benvinda - Gente Bestial

You could hear the groans of bafflement and distain across the continent when the Portuguese people gave this their second highest mark at the second Festival da Canção qualifier last night. I could almost translate their rage. "What is this shit joke song by ugly middle-aged men in silly suits doing in my beautiful contest, and having the cheek to beat a nice lady in a big frock?!" Well hold onto that thought, because the lad Benvinda could still cause another upset.

Hugely popular from his days in the duo Virgem Suta, this South Portuguese troubadour is noted for his satirical takes on the mores of local life, and his plinky plonky pop song, written by his old band mate from the Suta and loosely translated as Bestial People, appeared to hit a chord with his nation's people last night - and also pretty strongly with a jury made up of seniors and songwriters, who surely appreciated the songwriter's craft more than the casual outsider ever would.

Were this song nestled away in the creases of Sanremo and sung by a handsome lad we'd all be going bonkers over it. But somehow we never seem to feel the same sentiment when it's coming from our cousins in the South West. And while I'd really prefer little Salvador to win next Sunday (if he's still alive), there's a part of me that thinks it would be hilarious if this distinctly local little ditty made it to a big international singing show.

Probably just me and the Portuguese then…

****STOP PRESS****

Good friends of Apocalypse, Pedro Sa and Sandra Nóbrega, have been so kind as to put me right on my slightly wonky assertations - the title standing not for Bestial People, but Amazing People for one - and translated the whole darned song for us. And that was no mean feat, according to those fine folks, as many of its finer points can only every really be understood by people who've lived in Portugal all their lives. A bit like me trying to explain Sleaford Mods to Americans. But if you want the best stab at understanding the lyric as best we can, take a look below. Cheers Pedro and Sandra! We really appreciate your efforts!

This is perfect, we are proper people
We have guts and we have done that much throughout the world
Namely and consequently
We have given many people, many things and such
We are little tufts, finally we did it
And besides what we wear everything about us draws attention
I lift the weather, the wine, Braga and the talent
To transform saudade in an export postcard

We are good people, genuine and different, swinging between being brave and a crying less bad
But mostly excluding some hair-triggers we are barely serious but we have a big heart
And coming from it we are amazing people

Since many years ago we are in the front row
We even facebook, giving our opinions is usual
I am aware that the genes of these people will survive and live beyond the Final Judgment
So I say not fearing any punishment
If not caring we are danger, in the rest there’s no exception
We are enormous, sometimes by the book
Other times in shapeless ways but with a mood

We are good people, genuine and different, swinging between being brave and a crying less bad
But mostly excluding some hair-triggers we are barely serious but we have a big heart
And coming from it we are amazing people

We are good people, genuine and different, swinging between being brave and a crying less bad
But mostly excluding some hair-triggers we are such a lucky people, we are amazing people
We are good people, genuine and different, swinging between being brave and a crying less bad
But mostly excluding some hair-triggers we are such a lucky people, we have real big lupin beans, it’s a shame that catches everything, Carnival replacing Shrovetide, barely serious and coming from it we are amazing people.

Sunday 26 February 2017

Romania 2017 - Eduard Santha – Wild Child

Romania offered us many delights tonight - including the most drop-outy stream known to man. But nothing was quite so knuckle-gnawingly entertaining as this. And oh boy did we gnaw!

You see, young Eduard here is a confident lad. So much so that you can see that he thought he only had to turn up to win it. But he made the common mistake of thinking that turning everything up to eleven was the only answer. From his chummy over-ennunciation of very last syllable, to the hardcore whistle interludes and that bloke banging a big of wood with some sticks, every last second was strained out like an especially difficult toilet visit.

But at the same time, we just couldn't keep our eyes off it. Every gurn, air grab and strangled lyric line drew us nearer to the screen (when it wasn't buffering), and as terrible as it was, it was still more entertaining than everything other than the yodellers - and still less embarrassing than Mihai.

Sweden 2017 - Loreen - Statements

So finally we get to see and hear the whole thing. A whole nation sat in thrall at the incredible stage show, but then voted for something else because they couldn't remember the tune. And hereby stand the problem.

In the real world this would have been a surefire success. You can picture this nestled in to a big stadium show, three quarters of the way through and just before the last run of big hits. The punters would have walked away and said "Euphoria was amazing, of course, but did you see that one with the flags and the handbag and the old lady? It really moved me that!" And that would have been its perfect placement.

But on a pop competition where your full three minutes count and you have to have visuals and song together in a perfect union of memorability? Not so much. And that's a sad thing, because this was a really bold and brave move. As a pure three-minute spectacle this is unlikely to be bettered for some time. But as an entry for Melfest - let alone the big show - it was perhaps a bit too intense and lacking in a memorable melodic hook.

Don't get me wrong, because I thought it was utterly splendid, and gazed with open mouth throughout. But I can quite see why it only scraped into the second chance round, now faced with the indignity of a piece of interesting art having to sing for its supper against a slew of other nearly wases. The juries will love it, of course. But will it even get that far?

Friday 24 February 2017

Croatia 2017 - Jacques Houdek - My Friend (teaser excerpt)

These snippets keep sneaking out, and I'm surprised to say that I actually rather like this one. As a 20 second cut it offers drama, promise and some bonkers strings, a bit like if someone had dropped some dexys into ELO's tea. And it builds perfectly to a dead halt, where you just know a cheesy assed voice is about to come in and slow things down and damage all the magic.

So Croatia, this is my plea to you. Save yourself the trouble of some difficult press conferences and unwelcome Euroclub confrontations and just loop this bit nine times and send it to Kyiv. It'll be strangely mesmeric and hypnotise the masses (if they've got tickets) into some kind of dervish frenzy. It'll be fab!

Awkwardly it makes me wonder if this could actually be something of a half-decent song. But hopefully all this bluster is just the run up to a teaser video, where it builds and them he turns to the camera, his saccharine smile glinting in the spotlights before the actual dreary song begins. I hope so, because this has been one of our favourite 20 seconds of the season so far, and you wouldn't want him being actually good or anything…

Thursday 23 February 2017

Sweden 2017 - Loreen - Statements (teaser)

Well if this isn't the teasiest of all known teasers. With practically all of the other Melfest song snippets this year you've got a pretty clear idea of how it's all going to turn out within a small handful seconds. Swedish songs are like that. Once you've picked up the groove you can take a fair guessat where it's going to end up.

Not this one though. Starting at what sounds like the actual beginning, it comes in all atmospheric, with Ms Talhaoui giving it her best meaningful vocal swirling, before it all gets a bit jagged and FKA Twigs for a second or two, then builds to a crescendo that tells you something interesting's about to happen...

And then, like the best peep shows it cuts off dead. Only this time there's no opportunity to stick another coin in the slot to raise the shutter.

So what's it going to be? The few people I've read that have heard it right through don't seem to have the musical language to describe it. One plucky trier called it punk, which makes me suspect that they've never heard punk and are only guessing. Another likened it to Nirvana. Again, I'm suspecting that they're a little far off the mark there. My suspicion in trying to translate what they think they mean is that it might have a guitar in it somewhere and get a big chuggy, but in a slightly disappointing mid tempo kind of way, judging by the build.

But please do surprise us pleasantly Lady Loreen, because I'd love the wayward guestimates to be right, just this once!

Wednesday 22 February 2017

Lithuania 2017 - Edgaras Lubys - Could It Be?

With the vast, brain-rotting complexity of the Lithuanian selection marathon, where they seem to be gradually weeding out all of the interesting ones so that Aiste can finally win the right not to qualify from her semi, it's easy to let the odd song slip unnoticed down the back of the sofa. But we're not entirely sure how this little gem passed us by.

The song itself is a standard mid tempo pop plodder of the sort that only ever seems to turn up in the early stages of this contest. But you won't notice that - not even the clearly-run-out-of-ideas lalala of the chorus. No, you'll be distracted from that by perhaps the silliest bout of dance moves of the entire season.

Well, when we say 'dance' we actually mean 'stiffly pratting about and mugging to the camera', but what an utterly delightful job he makes of it. When not literally translating some of the lyric into gestures, he stamps about like a broken meat android with a stiff neck, looking like he means every last gesture, although it's never quite apparent to the viewer what he actually did mean.

That this performance got to the seventh show of the process tells you everything about what a fantastic country Lithuania must be.

Tuesday 21 February 2017

UK 2017 - Twangdillo - Lay, Lay, Lay

A few more rejected public submission entries from the UK process are beginning to creep onto the darker recesses of YouTube, and this one caught the eye in may ways. Now this would be a lovely little jangly interlude if it was wafting out from the corner of a folk club in the woods, or used as incidental music at a Suffolk crystal convention. And you can't really fault either the nuanced playing of the ukuleles or the delicate vocal harmonies, delivered to perfect effect by three clearly talented people. But still, what were they thinking?

In fact, I'd love to know what they were thinking. Was it: "Hey, have you seen that they're asking for songs for the Eurovision? We've done so badly the last few years with all that pop nonsense, so what the nation needs to save us is three lovely people of a certain age to lilt out a smashing little homemade folksy melody at them. We're bound to win!"?

We might mock in our sophisticated knowingness, but imagine if someone at the BBC had taken a punt on them. Imagine if some that Saturday night in May, this New Forest threesome shuffled out onto that big glistening stage in Ukraine and warbled this out. Heck, I'm actually talking myself into this!

I mean, good heavens, that girl knows how to showbiz a tambourine, for starters!

But all of this makes you wonder just what kind of stuff the poor burghers of OGAE had to listen to in the quest to find a song that got rejected from the final shortlist. If, as I suspect, this little jangler represented a high water mark, you'll be able to guess who the lucky jurors were in Kiev with their thousand yard stares and slightly distracted expressions.

Still, at least they're not Swiss…

Sunday 19 February 2017

Portugal 2017 - Salvador Sobral - Amar Pelos Dois

It's a rare event, and only happens maybe once or twice a year, maximum. But once in a blue moon a song will pop up on a national final that leaves both me an Mrs Apocalypse open-jawed and silent on the sofa. And it's never, ever happened via Portugal. Until tonight.

But in the first semi of the FDC, a young lad who appeared to have crawled out of a skip crept onto the stage unassumingly and captivated the pair of us with his angelic voice and idiosyncratic delivery. Every other act on the bill tonight was a singer reciting some words. Young Salvador here was an artist interpreting a vision, and what a beautiful job he did of it, too.

If they don't pick this lad to go to Kiev they want shooting. And if he doesn't even make it to the semi, I'm coming round to take all their first born after the next available flight. Seriously Portugal, this is your one golden hope from the last 20 years of trying. Do the sensible thing.

Ukraine 2017 - O.Torvald - Time

I missed the start of last night's Ukrainian qualifier, as I was out at a football match. But upon my return I had a list of messages telling me that I just had to see this song, without telling me quite why. This is often a good sign.

Slightly annoyingly I couldn't find a clip until just now, and oh boy am I glad I tracked it down. Because during this song something quite unique and powerful happens. And I'm not going to tell you what it is. But you'll thank me.

Else otherwise, this is a pretty serviceable indie rock song, with a very agreeable wigout bit in the middle that proves that they're not just pretty boys going through the poses. But it's the incident that elevates this above the masses. If this band are as big as their pre-vid suggests, their name could be written on their hometown trophy. Decent but diferent act who's going to make everyone sit up and take notice, but who are in no danger of winning? Surely that's the perfect host entry.

But in a nation where merely saying hello to your next door neighbour is a highly politicised act, are they really going to risk choosing this? I certainly hope so!

Saturday 18 February 2017

Slovenia 2017 - United Pandaz and Arsello feat. Alex Volasko - Heart To Heart

****STOP PRESS****

United Pandaz seem to have removed all evidence of this event from the internets, the grumpy ursines. We'll let you know if it pops up again, meanwhile, try the link above now and again, just in case!

When we saw the act were going to be called United Pandaz, we never begun to imagine that there would be actual pandas on view. Well, they weren't ACTUAL pandas, but they were pretty decent representations, stood there all cool in their pop star military garb, waving tiny flags and having it large behind the decks.

And it was a bit of luck there was something to distract us from the tune, because it was even more similar to Swedish House Mafia's Don't You Worry Child than that Cascada somg from a couple of years back. But luckily for their lawyers they just about ducked out of every seventh note, therefore causing themselves any further worry.

Well, that and the fact that so few people liked it that it couldn't drag its bones to its own national final. I think it's probably for the best...

Friday 17 February 2017

Slovenia 2017 - Tosca Beat - Free World

Well, I don't think anyone was expecting this. When Tosca Beat were announced as taking part in the Slovenian semis, we all assumed that it was going to be another slice of ill-advised popera that was doomed to early failure.

What we didn't reckon on was them suddenly becoming a post-industrial Laibach tribute act!

Surely this can't be an accident? Militaristic outfits, megaphones, situationist statements, stompy marching music and a deeper-than-mines voice croaking out between the high pitched choruses. It's Slovenia's biggest ever international musical export, toned down and made (slightly more) palatable for the Friday evening TV crowd. It was really quite the thing.

It wasn't actually all that good, lacking a bit in power and menace, but we still rather hope it does OK. And if Laibach don't mean anything to you, get yourself to YouTube immediately.

Thursday 16 February 2017

Sweden 2017 - Owe Thörnqvist – Boogieman Blues

This is what you want from Sweden. Less of your ever-dimishing Schlagerpop and sweary imps, give us more 87-year-old men mumbling out and old time pre-Elvis era rock and roll tune!

Just when you think Christer's going to let you down, he provides you with the goods. Can't wait to see this one live - if Owe makes it that far!

Poland 2017 - Rafał Brzozowski - Sky Over Europe

Now here's a proper oddity. I always love it when you, dear reader passes us on a tip, and good friend of the site Robyn G has uncovered a right doosy here. It starts off like a regulation man ballad, all pianos, plods and earnest angst, as you'd expect. But when it gets to about the minute mark you suddenly realise that this isn't another of those dozens of regulation love songs that try to crowbar references to Europe in as a way of luring the votes.

Oh no, because it all takes a considerably darker turn when you realise that it's quite possibly being sung in the voice of a refugee about to hop on a midnight boat to an uncertain, and quite possibly  short, future.

But even here it's not like the usual Save The World fodder, as it offers no hope or suggests no schmaltzy outcome. Instead it just leaves you hanging in the gloom, throughly depressed and hopeless, feeling like you've had a tiny part of torn out of you.

Gosh, we weren't expecting THAT at the start!

Wednesday 15 February 2017

Norway 2017 – In Fusion – Nothing Ever Knocked Us Over

Every years there's a couple of those songs that you really shouldn't find yourself enjoying, but you somehow just can't help yourself. And this is one of them. Admittedly I've always had a bit of a soft spot for 90s Europop singalongs, so I was always likely to be sucker punched by this one. But despite it having all the ingredients for a total disaster of a song, it somehow kinda works, despite itself.

I'm not sure if it's the Christmas chord changes, then Nordic nautical shanty-fuelled chorus, or the fact that I wouldn't fancy taking the band on in a fight, but it's crept under my skin and I just can't get it out. Anybody got any ointment?

One suspects that it'll be just that tad to cheesy for those serious Norwegians, but I wouldn't begrudge it a berth at the big show if it did somehow win. And those gals look like they are aware of what it is to party, too.

Tuesday 14 February 2017

Bulgaria 2017 - Gery-Nikol - Gotina And Luda

Some not insignificant rumours are creeping out of Bulgaria are on the cusp of announcing Gery-Nikol as their artist. There have been thinly veiled suggestions that she was on the shortlist for some time, but the tattle mill has gone into overdrive over the last few days, and this song is the one most frequently mentioned in dispatches.

Some would have it that it's going to be performed in this form. Others that they're translating it into English, and other that she'll be doing something very much in this style without actually being this song. But whichever way we get her, if we get her, one suspects that her performance will be very, very interesting.

One of the rare local X Factor alumnus to have gained both critical and popular acclaim, her winning blend of bang-on-trend flat-voiced R'n'B and localised chalga beats suggests some lively on stage larks, and if they do do the right thing and choose her they'd be sending a pop princess at the very peak of her powers.

Some have noted that it quite possibly won't be with this song, as it was released in December, and already has over 7 million views on YouTube. But that didn't seem to do Donotan and Cleo a whole lot of harm a couple of years back. Either way, we shall be awaiting the Bulgarian announcement with bated breath.

Monday 13 February 2017

Estonia 2017 – Janno Reim & Kosmos – Valan Pisaraid

There are some songs that you know are just doomed to failure, but you can't but help wishing that they made it through to the latter stages of their respective contests, just to mess with the more conservative fankind heads. And boy was this one of those.

You may remember Janno here as a member of the Super Hot Cosmos Blues band, who somehow managed to get beaten to the ticket to international fame despite in 2014 having gained maximum marks from both the juries and the home voters - ah the joys of the superfinal, eh! Well this year he went (a bit) solo, and somewhat off piste. Where his fated Maybe-Maybe was an instant dirty blues grind, this little number kicked off like an obscure spot of early 90s alt rocking, soared for a bit, then went delightfully off the rails to the point that you suspected that even Janno didn't know where it was going to finish up - despite the fact that it was being sung along to a backing track.

A quite splendid piece of obtuse and chuggy nonsense in an otherwise disappointingly bland and fun free semi-final. It was never going to go anywhere, but you really, really wish it had.

Are the the people from the Laul really saving all their joys for Kerli, do you think?

Sunday 12 February 2017

Latvia 2017 - Up - One By One

Ooh, I do like a good murder ballad, and I fell a little bit in love with one tonight. Now I'd heard the song in recorded form a couple of weeks back, and thought it worthy of note, but wanted to wait until I saw it live before I passed it on to you lot. I was expecting some withery and wistful lass mumbling it out in does-eyed fashion. I wasn't expecting this.

Indeed, this more grown up lady with her terrifying stare captivated me from the very first seconds, as she kicked off with takes of retribution, and then got more and more hardcore as it went along, her fairytale voice belying the dark tone of the lyric.

And by the time she'd killed off her dancers and threatened anyone who ever crossed her again with a sticky end I was absolutely entranced. Like the irrepressible urge to thrust your hand into the viper pit, her wild eyes, threatening tone and glittery breasts lured me in, and by the end I was quite willing to be her next victim.

How the heck did those four middle aged men on the jury had the nerve to even look her in the eye, let alone comment on her song, I just don't know! Moment of the night, and I'm absolutely devastated that it never made the next stage. Although to be honest, it's probably for the best, safety wise.

Sweden 2017 - Dismissed - Hearts Align

The Melodifestivalen line up has been a bit of a let down so far this year, with too a bit too much reliance on returning names and pointless patches of slow motion. But when they get it right they get it very right. Like with this mob here.

On paper it's quite a dry slice of power pop, but marry in this moderately provocative performance and wowsers did it work good. I can just picture half the dads and grandpas of rural Sweden spitting out their kaffe at the telly in mild rage or extreme surprise as the beardy boys-in-frocks did their catwalk strut to open this lively affair.

All of this made the moment they grabbed their musical tools and started stamping about like a real band even more effective. It wasn't quite a turd to start with, but you polished it up just lovely, SVT, and we thank you for that. Of course it helps that the chorus is a sweeping Scandi rock gem crafted by the hand of that lad from The Ark - and while it's not going to trouble the scorers too heavily on finals night, it'll make a welcome addition if it's lucky enough to get there.

And I tell you what… Andra Chansen is shaping up to be an absolute bloodbath already!

Spain 2017 - Objetivo Eurovision - The Results

For an object lesson to future national finals producers on how NOT to put together the process of finding your winner, you should look not further than Spain's little end of show farrago last night. It had already been a pretty weak and over-long event, with an interminably long stretch between the songs finishing and the scores coming in, and not even a mini-jukebox musical of past Spanish Eurovisios and a surprise performance from a delightfully creaky Karina could lure your attention away from the other three screens you doubtlessly had open at the same time.

But when it did finally come to the voting, oh boy did they cods it up!

The judges came first. For some time before the final it had become clear that two of the three of them favoured the floppy-haired beach squirt Manel for the ticket to Kiev. So it wasn't then surprising that they both put him firmly at the top of their piles. However, it was a little more suspect when they both put the crowd-pleasing fan love sponge Mirela plumb last on their lists. Stranger still that they both offered exactly the same order of acts with their votes. The middle judge looked noticably put out at their judgement, and bunged Mirela at the top of his heap. At the end of this process, when the crowd started to cotton on what was going on, you could clearly hear the booing from the rowdy crowd.

Then came the public votes. With Manel only coming third in the public poll, with was suddenly apparent that whoever came top of this vote would tie with Manel at the head of the leaderboard. And then what would happen. The wardrobe-like host began to look nervous as he read out the results. With the pre-match favourite LeKlein being called out first, it was suddenly clear that Manel and Mirela had tied at the top. For one long, acheing moment, not a single human in the place knew what to do, and the now-angry crowd began beying Mirela's name.

Then, in a move rarely seen in a national final, they chose the jury to decide the winner, and not the public vote. Well it was clear where this was going, and the booing and cat-calling only got louder, and upon his inevitable win, Manel looked visibly put out by the events as he prepared for his reprise. Heck someone had even hidden his guitar.

Even in these days of hooky East European results it is unusual for flawed voting system to be so blindingly apparent. It wasn't as if either song was especially good, but Mirela's Euroclub bop was clearly going to find more favour among the fans in the hall. Reports abound of the offending jury members being jostled on their way out of the studio.

It all made Sanremo look rather staid and organised...

Friday 10 February 2017

Romania 2017 - Berniceya - Ice Cream

We are an equal opportunity employer here at Apocalypse. Some songs are here because they reach deep into the human soul and make you think deeply about the world around you. Some because they're so knuckle-gnawingly terrible that they need sharing with a bigger audience just so that we can all feel better about ourselves in these difficult times.

And some just make you want to burn all your clothes and bathe in acid to wash away the nastiness.

This song is from that third category.

First there's the vocal delivery, all syrupy and glutenous, with waaay too many woahs and yeahs. Then there's the lyric - a thinly veiled allegory for shagging using frozen deserts as an excuse. And then there's Berniceya herself. I'm sure she's a lovely woman in real life, but her on stage demeanour made the enamel on my teeth crumble as I watched.

Seriously, you won't be able to watch this without cringing like a slug being peppered with salt, one small grain at a time...

Thursday 9 February 2017

Italy 2017 - Marco Masini - Signor Tenente

OK, so I know it's covers night, but this is still the finest single performance of any song I've seen in competition all season. It's not the happiest of tunes, telling as it does the tale of police inactivity and mafia massacres in the nineties, but boy does he give it some delivery. And he divided the crowd with his heavily riffed version of the late Giorgio Faletti's masterwork.

But you can't knock the notoriously idiosyncratic Masini for doing such an emotive landmark song 100% his way - and knocking the metaphorical socks off at least half the crowd.

We were standing up on the sofas at home cheering his every spat out lyric. What a flipping performance!

France 2017 - Alma - Requiem

Ooh now, we have Frenchness…

It seemed like a new rumour emerged every two or three days - usually a bit of wish-fulfilment attached to some handsome Gallic with a new three minute song out. But then all of a sudden this little blinder just pops up out of the ether, claiming to be the new saviour of French Eurovisioness. And it ain't actually half bad.

A bouncy little confection, it hurtles along pleasingly through the verses, until the wonky chorus melodies catch you all off kilter. We likely, and we hope you will do.

Now let's hope it's the real thing and not just another dashed rumour!

Wednesday 8 February 2017

Italy 2017 - Francesco Gabbani - Occidentali's Karma

Now this was quite a thing. A cheeky looking chappy with a bright jumper and a whispy looking tache bounded his way whole-heartedly through the first couple of verse/choruses of this bouncy little tune, and packed the lyric with funny little English language hints and suggestions throughout.

Once in a while the whole orchestra barked a gleeful "olé!" at the top of their lungs, as our new hero bounced about with much gusto.

Then something unexpected happened that you could never possibly guess, but I won't spoil that bit of the fun for you.

One of the rare upbeat numbers this week, it was happy fun from start to finish, and gained the biggest ripple of the night when it got announced as a qualifier as the credits rolled at the end of another multi-hour marathon. This couldn't win the thing by accident, could it?

Romania 2017 - Anneli Zetterberg - Follow Through

When you're writing a song in a foreign language, it's always useful to ask a native speaker to give it a quick once over, just to check you haven't dropped in anything that might sound perfectly reasonable to you, but that might invoke giggles among those who may imbue those words with an alternative meaning.

So pity poor Anneli here. Upon just one verse/chorus of her earnest, optimistic hymn to doing the right thing you'll be holding back the smirks. By the end you'll be rolling on the floor in childish guffaws.

"I'm not pessimistic," she proudly proclaims. "I'm not superstitious," she adds, kind of strangely, but still on a positive front. "I don't like corruption," she continues quite admirably, before stating "And I don't like consumption". Yep, a bit leftfield there. No one likes tuberculosis, but fair enough. But then she drops the big one.

"But I'm just like you..." Yes... "You have to follow through..." Now hold on a minute!

It would help if she didn't crouch furtively everytime she said it, too...

Sweden 2017 - Lisa Ajax - I Don't Give A

****STOP PRESS****

Now with added video goodness. Most probably NSFW (strangely)!


Oh my giddy aunt, this is all a bit sweary! While we won't have any kind of sound or vision clips for Ms Ajax's tune on Melfest this Saturday, the lyric sheet gives away a little of what we can expect to hear. F bombs, mainly.

The Swedes have got a curious relationship with the old Lord Mayoring. With no specific swearwords of their own, the voraciously devour ours, and their radio and music shows are often littered with the uncensored versions of songs that would get any UK stations instantly closed down.

So it's clear that our Lisa is only really there to make up the numbers and cause a bit of a singalong stir. At least we assume she is, because if this starts looking like it's going to get anywhere near Kiev some nervous mumbling in back offices of TV land is going to quickly commence!

Tuesday 7 February 2017

Italy 2017 - Al Bano - Di Rose e Di Spine

I've got to confess straight up that I bloody love Al Bano. The bloke could stand there and mutter the phone book and I'd be totally hooked (and to be honest at times I think he suite possibly has).

So when I heard he'd be at this year's Sanremo I was beside myself. But understanding that he's been pretty ill around Christmas I concerned whether he'd be up to it. I shouldn't have worried.

Because even though his voice has seen slightly better days, his charm, confidence and pure star power pulled him through, and I had a proper chin wobble on by the final verse. I don't care if he wins or loses (although how cool would that be in Kiev?!) I'm just glad he's there!

Romania 2017 - Dorel Giurgiu - Be Strong!

I'm in a dilemma here. In this world of fake news and alternative facts I can't quite decide whether this bloke is straight up or not. When he starts up you think he's just some wild random off the street. But once he got goinf I began to have doubts.

Surely this bloke is too good at being bad to be genuine? Surely he's some deadpan comedian pranking the judges for a lark? His moves are too hectically coherant to be the work of a bus station mumbler - they must be. The music too knowingly off kilter.

If this bloke is for real he's the last great lost genius of outsider music. He can't be though. Can he?


Apparently, and quite terrifyingly, he is real. Look at this!

Romania 2017 - Florin Chilian - Colț De Lup

How kind Romanian telly are for treating us to a little bag of audition delights every night this evening. We'd never ordinarily had the chance to witness such gems as this.

Now there is many the lost soul in the Eurovision community who bemoan the lack of some kind of perceived quality in this competition. Well if it's pure quality you want you really won't get much better than this little marvel. It's a gorgeous little slice of complicated chamber folk, such by a guy with a deeply characterful voice, and absolutely beautifully orchestrated throughout.

As a fine, complex, thoughtful composition this will rarely be bettered this season. What's that? You don't like it? Oh I see, when you say "quality" you mean "lady in a frock belting one out" or "bloke in a waistcoat and a hat waving his hand about in front of an unplugged guitar", don't you.

There's really no pleasing some people!

Norway 2017 – Ammunition – Wrecking Crew

The Norwegian MGP contenders got announced this morning, and features the usual chunks of bouncy Scandi pop, plodding ballads and a disturbing amount of Euro Country. They're all a fairly solid bunch, but the highest probability of the livelies comes from song number one, sung by a very familiar face.

Yep, Glam from Wig Wam is back - although these day's he's known more by the name his mum gave him – Åge Sten Nilsen. And to be fair, the song he's fronting isn't terribly far removed from the justification for his previous trip of Kiev - a leather-fuelled, lighters-in-the-air, metal-smudged pub rock anthem for the ages. Anyone who met Glam in his previous incarnation will know that he's an absolutely smashing chap, so we're kind of hoping for good things for this old racket.

Click on the link above and it'll take you to a page with micro clippets of al the songs to enjoy. But Wrecking Crew is the first one up. Alternatively, click on the second link for the full length audio. We'd be interested to learn how you think it's going to fare…

Monday 6 February 2017

Sweden 2017 - Ace Wilder - Wild Child

Rejoice everybody! It's the annual Ace Wilder mic-only singalong! Look on my works ye mighty and despair!

Yep, those old diminishing returns are back again, and although this is still a smudge of an improvement on the overblown bluster of Don't Worry from last year, it's still stretching the fun-o-meter a bit.

Add to that the fact that her new look makes her appear to have been left in a sunny window for the last year, and that's made all her colour wash out. We soooooo want to like Ace, but there's something in the ether that just won't let us. Hopefully we'll see her on the big show one day though.

Ukraine 2017 - Payushchie Trusy - Singing Pants

Ooh now, this could get lively. The slightly anarchic Ukrainian girl group Payushchie Trusy have let their song from the host's third semi-final sneak out, and it's a stompy belter.

Fair enough, the chorus of their self-titled tune does go on a bit, but the girls themselves look like the kind of handful that a 21st century Eurovision needs. Just imagine this lot half cut at the third delegation party of the night - things could get brutal.

But would the home nation be bold enough to pick an act as lively and unpredictable as this little mob to represent them on an international stage? It would be a brave move, for sure, but one that we would wholeheartedly recommend!

Oh yes, be warned that they rattle on a bit before the song kicks off - so fast forward to about 1:50 if you're not the kind of human who likes to watch foreign ladies in skimpy garb talking funny.

Romania 2017 - Dannyi - Sunt Cu Capul (Dar îmi Place)

We're loving these Romanian auditions. They're kinda like the Moldovan ones, but with better production values. And they're also great because they throw up Glorious freakazoids like this chap.

We're not going to spoil any of the fun, so you're going to have to watch it for yourself and see. But the faces of the jury - Ovi especially - and a picture throughout, and the live video editor clearly gets so bored of the song that by the end they start riffing with the cuts to keep themselves awake, most probably.

be warned, this is a long old three minutes, but ultimately worth it!

Latvia 2017 - Pikaso – U (Can Keep Your Cools)

Regular readers will be well aware that I have a particular love of the variable hip hop stylings of Europe. I enjoy nothing more than a deep Slavic voice aggressively spitting out the rhymes, or a lilting Romance language floating softly over the beats. But sadly, for every one of those there are a dozen tunes like this hapless ramble into pointlessness.

Yep, Pikaso here delivered a complete shocker in the Supernova last evening. Mumbling his way through some over complicated lines in a laughable Bronx-cum-Ventspils accent he looks somehow both lost and ridiculously over-confident at the same time – which we have to confess is really quite a skill.

After his performance, the panel understandably ripped into him. There was a glorious moment when some especially stinging remark came his way, and he turned to his backing singers for reassurance – only to be met with three knowing shrugs of agreement. Beautiful. Just beautiful.

By the way, this song is much funnier if you listen to it imagining that they are singing “U can keep your goose” - just like Mrs Apocalypse mistakenly thought that they were.

Sunday 5 February 2017

Latvia 2017 - First Question - Naked

Some teasy little clips of the Supernova rehearsals are out, and they offer the usual array of sad faced performers singing dark songs on a dark stage. Darkly. But they still have their charms. Mntha is looking devastating with her new gang, Crime Sea, and there's some interesting costume design choices floating about too.

But it's this performance that caught our eye the most. If this clip is just a taster of the bamboozling treats in store for us, we can't wait to see how the whole thing goes.

And no, we can't remember how the song goes. Even after repeated listenings. But sometimes it's not about that. He'd better keep away from the edge of the stage, mind. Tricky steps though if you can't see.

Sweden 2017 - Hasse Andersson & Mustasch - Hound From Hell (Interval)

How often do you find that the interval acts at Melfest are considerably better than the contestants? It's such a fixture on their annual TV landscape that they can afford to be playful and mix up their metaphors all in the good cause of fun.

And so it was last night, when the most rockingest MF alumnus Ralf Gyllenhammar managed to convince fellow Festivalen old boy Hasse Andersson to ditch the cosy knitwear and swathe himself in leather for one heck of a bar room metal stomp.

And do you know what? I think the old boy enjoyed it just a little bit too much. I hope they haven't broken him!

Saturday 4 February 2017

Hungary 2017 - Enikő Muri - Jericho

There could have been many reasons that I could have picked this performance to enter the Apocalypse hall of fame. The song, by its own merits, is a middle ground affair, and neither too good nor too bad to grace these pages by the usual means. But there's so much else that could have lured it here.

Perhaps it was the glowing Ms Muri's slightly over-enthusiastic delivery? Or maybe the foetally-young backing dancers bending about in all kinds of unnatural shapes? Or perhaps it was her shocking gown? Or maybe even the don't-actually-mean-anything words? Nope, it was nope of the above.

It was the props. Only and ever the props. They only play a minor role in the production, but become mini laugh riots every time they appear. Remember, someone has conceived, approved, designed and operated these props. And did nobody at any point think: "Hey, maybe this isn't such a good idea after all?"

Clearly not, as it turns out...

Sweden 2017 - Loreen - Statements (A rumour that has been quashed!)


We've had an official ruling from the dark lord himself. This apparently IS Loreen, but isn't Statements. Rather, it's a demo from the album. Phew! Glad we got that cleared up. Now off you go, nothing to see here!


Now here's a funny thing. A rumour has buzzed around the Eurovision darkweb this morning that Loreen's MF semi-final closer Statements was played at a fashion show in the week. Then all of a sudden up pops a video of said show. But is there any voracity to these claims?

The reputed clip starts at around 1:16 and goes on to about 2:40, and it does indeed sound a bit like lovely mumbly Loreen. But why would she debut it at a very cramped looking fashion show? And who put the rumour out in the first place? Mind you, the Swedes do have form putting out these weird videos and misinformation, so it should perhaps be taken with many pinches of salt.

But if it is indeed her, what do we think of it? Well, it does indeed have that faint whiff of Nirvana - but more like the introspective stuff from In Utero than any of Nevermind. And it does sound in a similar vein to songs of hers like We Got The Power. But it does all seem a little strange to be snuck out in this way. I'm sure the video will disappear in minutes. But we'll keep our collective ears to the ground to see what more news we can gleen.

Friday 3 February 2017

Denmark 2017 - JAS - Du, Du

News just in. It's been reported that 1115 different songs were submitted for the Danish Melodi Grand Prix this season. And of all of those, only two were reputed to be in the Danish language. And of those, only one has made it to the show's latter stages.

This is the other one.

You may mock, but I'll bet you enjoy this more than at least 50% of the actual finalists - even if the video is a bit flesh-crawly. It's just a shame that we never got to see the JAS boys in their lovely ill-fitting star-festooned suits on the telly!

Moldova 2017 - Sunstroke Project - Hey Mamma!

Imagine what it is to be Epic Sax Guy. Memed to within an inch of your life, mostly by people who had no idea who you were or what you were doing anyway, you became more famous than your band, your song, and in most cases, even your country, merely for being a cheesy-assed mofo who thrust his tooty-pipe in a slightly inappropriate manner for mid-evening TV.

What does that kind of attention do to a man? Do you give it all up and turn to watercolour painting? Learn the error of your ways and get a bit more sensible with your tooting manoeuvres? Or do you just become a parody of yourself and magnify the thing that made you accidentally famous in the first place?

What do you think he did, boys and girls? What do you think?

Thursday 2 February 2017

Sweden 2017 – De Vet Du – Road Trip


We've seen the performances now, and whatever you think of the actual song, this has got to be one of the most incredible bits of live television editing I've ever seen! Jeepers there was a lot going on there!


The first cheeky suggestions of the songs from this Saturday's debut MF semi are in, and while not giving us too much to get excited over, still offer up some amusement. We've got lovely Boris and gnarly Ace living up to the rule of the diminishing return, Adrijana, Dinah and Nano sounding a bit like already popular songs from the pop charts, and Dame Charlotte having a grumble about her hip (we think).

So thank heavens for De Vet Tu. These roustabout young 'uns are clearly following in the now-strongly-defined wacky outsiders slot so strongly forged by Samir & Viktor and the lad Banan, but there's still a lot of singalong fun to be had, going by the meagre first minute we've been allowed to hear.

And of course, the show will be lively and silly and instantly hated by those folks who much prefer serious (dull) music, but it'll doubtless be a small oasis of fun in an increasingly formulaic format.

Woo hoo (a bit).

Belarus 2017 – Nikita Hodas – Voices In My Head

(Click here for a diverting yet minimal three minutes…)

This shouldn't work. A lone, doe-eyed boy with murderous eyes singing a song in a fractured voice about the voices in his head while clutching an unspecified book? In normal circumstances this would be the point at which you quietly call the police.

But heavens, no more than 20 seconds in you suddenly realise that you’ve been intently staring at the screen and hanging on his every minimal move. It even looks like it’s going to get a bit silly when the lights come up and we can see the singing waiting staff warbling in the wings, but no. Instead it drifts along with an innocent but intelligent charm, and you can’t help but love the thing by it’s eventual fading out. 

These are the kinds of songs that from audio alone you wonder why they ever got as far as the first audition stage. But there was something so beautifully fragile and off-kilter about the live performance that you can see exactly why it got there. The right song might have won in Belarus for a change, but I'd have loved for this to have done well in the polls too.

Wednesday 1 February 2017

Moldova 2017 - Red Lips - Kill For Me

The short answer? No.

The slightly longer explanation… Anyone else feel a little awkwardly intrusive when the Red Lips girls walked onto the stage for their audition? Everyone else trotted up in their dusty daywear, while these ladies shuffled up in their pants. I felt like I was peeping through the gap in some dressing room door, they were so under-dressed!

And as for the song… Oh my! So Red Lips, you're effectively interviewing a new beau for the job, and checking to see if they're willing to commit an act of murder, at your behest, for the pleasure of having you on your arm. Men, run away now – this can only get worse! Dangerously worse!

The singing and dancing almost took a back seat to all the other events on show, which is a bit of luck really, because it was a bit stilted, to say the least. Although having said that, I think that even I could manage those moves on the 4am desperation shift at Euroclub.