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!