Monday 24 December 2018

Christmas 2018 - Kuunkuiskaajat - Talven Ihmemaa (Winter Wonderland)

A Happy Christmas to all our readers - however you choose to celebrate! Thanks for all your likes, shares and comments over the last year. Here's looking forward to a bumper crop of bonkersness in the 2019 season - and to help celebrate, here's our most favourite unhinged Finns singing a familiar ditty awkwardly in what looks like a cloudy studio!

Saturday 22 December 2018

Albania 2019 - Orgesa Zaimi - Hije

As we await this evening's FiK glory and the hunt to find this year's first fully confirmed entry, let us cast our minds back to last night. Orgesa here had on of the more interesting efforts based on audio alone, but her first night performance was a little disappointing, wearing as she was some kind of quirky Charlie Chaplin outfit and a beaming smile.

In that outfit her barked out lines "Back off, I ain't gonna lose my cool!" seemed a little more twee than hip, and she plummeted right down our rating pile. But in last night's second semi she pulled it our of the bag with the most ludicrous outfit of the season so far, slicked back hair and a more appropriate scowl.

Looking every bit like she'd just fallen out of a cereal box, she spat and snarled as two shadow dancers fannied about behind her. This was much more the kind of thing that we were expecting!

One only wonders what she'll be wearing in tonight's final! Don't let us down, Orgesa girl!

Wednesday 19 December 2018

Australia 2019 - Courtney Act - Fight For Love

When Australia first announced they they were debuting a national final process, we were initially rather sceptical, expecting a parade of record company development acts and old stagers. But when acts the calibre of Sheppard and Electric Fields declared their interest we thought we could be up for something way more interesting than first feared. But then last night something complicated happened. Courtney Act announced that she'd be competing.

No we have absolutely nothing against Courtney herself. Together with her alter ego Shane Jenek she proved herself to be an incredibly decent human being on Celebrity Big Brother, and has got one heck of a good stage show behind her too. And her popularity on Drag Race should not be overlooked either.

And even if you disregard the age old and occasionally bitter argument over drag queens in ESC, the one fundamental truth of any entry should be whether the song is any good or not. And sadly, in this case, it's not terribly.

OK, so it's a decent, if not dated dancy pop plod with an optimistic message. But it's the kind of thing that finishes lower-to-mid-table in national finals all across Europe. And the occasional song of this calibre that does occasionally make it to ESC proper nearly always falters lower down the league than it would have hoped.

With anyone else that would have been the end of it. But big portions of fandom have absolutely lost their shizzle at the fact that this song even exists, and are already threatening to throw themselves under trains if it doesn't qualify. Add this to the almost undoubted "This is what Eurovision's all about!" sentiments of the Eurovision irregulars at home, being given the chance to make their own choice for the first ever time.

And that's before we even get to the voice. At times this studio version feels strained and autotuned on the trickier notes, which makes one fear for her when she's out there giving her all on the big stage. We know she can sing, but the odd wonky note in cabaret just adds to the showbiz. But on that big Eurovision stage? Well, we have fears.

A damn, damn shame, because we'd have loved this to have been brilliant. But instead it's got two feet firmly in the average - which for this artist is a massive missed opportunity.

Saturday 15 December 2018

Hungary 2019 - USNK - Posztolj

A Dal is fast becoming the one to watch, as the last handful of Hungarian entries will testify. And the most recent three or four runnings have shown an increasingly broad church of musical styles. And it appears that those screamo demons AWS have encouraged all manner of musical folks to chance their arms.

Of course, there's been a little barrage of rockish stuff trying to ride on on the coat tails of last year's success - but even those perpetual triers Leander Kills have realised this is fast becoming a busted flush and have elected to go all ethno folko this year. But the one song that's really grabbed our attention is this sweet little slice of urban hip hop.

It's no secret that we're massive fans of rap in mid European languages here, but this one's got a cracking little low slung West Coast vibe about it during the verses, with unexpected Zef-flavoured hints of Die Antwoord as it goes, before gear changing into a quite unexpected autotuned bit of chilled out electro pop during the choruses. And while we can't see this one knocking the socks off the punters as they doubtlessly prowl around the stage on the telly like confused kittens, we're really taken with its cool swing and it's everso slightly edgy attitude. Doom? Most probably. But it's really rather enjoyable all the same, and we'd love to see it go all the way.

Friday 14 December 2018

Estonia 2019 - Cätlin Mägi & Jaan Pehk - Parmumäng

Yes, so I know we're a little late to the Eesti party, but we were on our holidays when the little barrage of tunes came out and this is the first time we've been able to sit down and enjoy them in full, rather than on a phone on a bus! And do you know what? It's not especially fashionable to say this, but we're a little disappointed with this year's table of Laul delights.

Obviously it's horses for courses - if the UK declared even half of these songs I'd be beside the moon with joy. But with Estonia we expect a little bit more. OK, so there are plenty of decent tunes, from the likes of Sandra Nurmsalu, Öhuloss, Iseloomad and even funny old Synne Valtri, but nothing that really knocks your socks off. And that Kat thing that everybody's raving about is trying waaaaay too hard.

So you can't imagine how chuffed I was that after all that lot, the very last song that I listened to was a quiet little belter. The prolific off kilter folker Cätlin Mägi has dragged our old pal Jaan Pehk along for the ride on a beauteous celebration of the jaw harp that may be minimal, but promises to be an absolute stormer live, with it's cool twanginess and slightly unhinged delivery.

There's a few tunes that suggest that they might up their game in the on stage situation, but this is the one that we're looking forward to the most - by a long chalk!

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Austria 2019 - Hyäne Fischer - Im Rausch der Zeit

So Austria, the Eurovisions are going to be held in Israel next year, so what do you think that you might be sending?

Ooh, how about a bunch of women in Eva Braun chic singing a song that loosely translates as 'In The Intoxication Of Time'? That won't cause any kind of stir, surely...?

But what may at first feel like a somewhat ill-advised jape has a much more serious meaning. For dig a little deeper and you'll find a song using motifs from the past to warn about the worrying rise of the far right today. Add this to the fact that the artist's name is a pastiche on her nation's most glorious darling of pop - 'Hyäne' means 'Hyena' - and you've got a song full of darker inner meaning.

But whether the punters at home would understand any of that come a Saturday night in May (or Tuesday, or Thursday) is an entirely different matter, and the Pet Shops Boys covering Laibach electronic pop styles might make the whole project seem a little flimsier in real life than it actually is.

Still, keep an eye on this one - it'll be interesting to see how it turns out...

Monday 10 December 2018

Moldova 2019 - Alex Bognibov - Love Me Like My Daughter

So the tiny glimpse we got a few weeks back that suggested a glorious glam stomper with a traditionally questionably lyric has followed through into a full bodied song - and boy is it hard to hate!

OK, so Sasha's very particular worldview can be quite tricky to countenance to a Western eye, but if you tap into his mythos as the Everlasting Boy it makes a whole lot more sense. But surely this has to be his most complete bit of songing yet, and his finest moment since the stellar Wounded Swan and his catchiest since his haunting Eurovision debut all those years ago.

He's clearly got the right people in to help put the thing together, as this could slot into pretty much any pop punk act's set with ease, and it stops, starts and noodles about in all the right places. How much longer can you repel this unique talent, Moldovan telly? How long?!

Wednesday 28 November 2018

Latvia 2017 - Dziļi Violets feat. Kozmens - Tautasdziesma

So yes, last year we may have got all over excited about outing the innards of the Riga Beaver when that shaggy-haired lad from Riga Reggae started stomping about all over the shop in a gruff faux Caribbean accent, but I always had a tiny element of doubt, despite my assertations to the positive.

Y'see, a couple of years back when I was lucky enough to find myself in the Latvian capital for Supernova I got a fleeting glimpse of the fella within the fur. There was a long spell of chatting going on, so I nipped out for a tinkle, and there in the wings, hiding amongst all the black curtains and flight cases, was a the beaver taking a breather. Head off, supping a drink, and smiling his face off, with a big mop of curly hair and an incredibly impressive tache. Yeah, I know, I may have killed the magic, but hey, Santa's still real.

Now last year I may have been swayed by that mock-rasta's mop of hair and funny voice. But this year I think I've actually found him. Possibly. The lad with the kilt and the impressive nose furniture is a local alt pop star and performance artist called Kozmens, and he's got form in the strange an esoteric.

On top of that, this song (translated coarsely as Folk Song) is a fantastic bit of understated prog pop, which I hope will go a fair way through the competition. If only our Kozmens could click in time though...

Tuesday 27 November 2018

Latvia 2019 - Ēriks Balodis - I Know You Know

We've all been to this wedding…

Lad: "Dad, Uncle Ēriks had been on the sauce again!"

Dad: "Is he drunk already?"

Lad: "Absolutely hammered."

Dad: "Whatever you do, keep him away from the band. You know what he's like when he gets behind a microphone!"

Lad: "Too late, Dad. Too late."

Dad: "Oh sweet Mary Jesus and Joseph! At least he's not trying to scat yet."

Dad and Lad: "Noooooooo…"

Monday 26 November 2018

Latvia 2019 - Waterflower - Grow

It's been a slow November, but finally Latvia have treated us to all their Supernova long-listers in one big chunk - which should keep us busy on here for the next few days at least - oh yes there's some Latvian treats on offer for sure!

And while there's a lot of old familiar faces on show (and surely this will finally Markus Riva's turn - not that his song is any good, of course, but you know, long service medal and all that).

But what you really want from Supernova is a minimal bit of techno with a gothy tinge by a terrifying woman with flowers in her colourful hair. Oh yes, and we've got one of those straight off the bat. So ladies and gentlemen let me introduce you to this year's Supernova superhero - Waterflower!

(As it happens I really like this one, but you possibly won't. You may have to watch it twice to believe what you've actually just seen, mind).

Wednesday 24 October 2018

Moldova 2019 - Alex Bognibov - Love Me Like My Daughter

It's that moment you've all been waiting for...

Over the last few years we've seen the Everlasting Boy grow from an slightly creepy chancer to an artist of some merit. So when we learned that he'd upgraded his first name to a more adultified Alex, and apparently enlisted the help of some local punky types we became really optimistic about his chances this year.

But then we saw his song title and were sent back to his early days of lyrical unease.

However, like much of his finest work, it's not a matter of simple outrage. OK, so we know that Sasha has a slightly different outlook on life to the rest of us, and that his relationship with youth is more innocent than it apparently appears. But with a lyric like this we can't help but be drawn back to the likes of I Love The Girls, and the gooseflesh begins to creep.

But also like his debut hit, the chorus is insistent and instantly infectious, and once heard you'll find yourself singing it on the bus and over coffee at work - which could lead to potentially awkward results. Which is kind of what Bognibov love is all about.

So proceed with caution, because you're going to be singing this under your breath all flipping week. Good work my Moldovan friend. Good work!

Thursday 4 October 2018

United Kingdom 2019 - Dië Spanglë - Nul Point (Eurovision Remix)

Well would you believe it - our Cornish pirate punk pals Dië Spanglë have only gone and done a disco remix for their soon-to-be ill-fated Eurovision attempt! And what's more astounding is that it's actually got a whopper of a groove to it!

To be fair, I'm not sure that they've done too much more than ramp up the bass, chuck in a drum machine and sprinkle a few sci-fi sounds liberally across its beams - but heck, it still counts. And as much as it does plough its initial furrow for a bit too long, it got our feet tapping entirely against our will. Good work fellas.

It's still doomed of course, but they're dragging this out like true pros!

Wednesday 3 October 2018

Switzerland 2019 - Sebalter - Carry The Light

When I was first thumbing through the Swiss-Italian hopefuls there was only one song that sounded like it was an actual song rather than three minutes of wispy wish fulfilment by some wide-eyed chalet singer. So it wasn't any massive surprise to discover that it had made it through to their final three. And we're not just saying that because it's performed by an old friend of Eurovision.

Yep, raggle-taggle Sebalter is back for another stab at the show, with his optimistic mountain pop that sounds just Celtic enough and just Scandi enough to pick up enough votes to haul it into a Tel Aviv Saturday. And while it's nowhere near as immediate as his last effort, it's still awash with uplifting chords, and a sort-of message that doesn't actually mean anything, but kind of sounds like it does.

Fifteen years back a song like this would have been considered a contender for the whole caboodle - but will his charm, his name, and his familiarity get him even as far as the Swiss final? I'll be one to watch, for sure, but a tricky one to call all the same.

Sunday 30 September 2018

United Kingdom 2019 - Rainbow Orbit - (Un)Informed Opinion

The lambs to the UK slaughter are creeping out earlier than ever this year. It's almost as if they've realised that they're ultimately doomed and are cutting out the middle man in favour of early YouTube hits. But that doesn't mean that there's not still fun to be had.

Witness our old pals Rainbow Orbit. You'll probably remember them best for their song Genuine from a couple of years back where they pranced about in a parking garage in comedy onesies. Well this one's a more domestic affair, but it's every bit as bouncy and charming.

Over the top of some gloriously observed 80s elektro discow, our pal PJ and his mate muck about their kitchen and corridors, mainly filmed on a phone in portrait, with a wry yet thoughtful lyric stapled on roughly over the top. And again, as is their way, it's terrible and yet really enjoyable at the same time. It's songs like these that make the early months of on season thoroughly worthwhile!

Sunday 23 September 2018

United Kingdom 2019 - Dië Spanglë - Nul Point

At this time of year I always have a little hunt down the back passages of the internet to see who's embarking on the fruitless task of chancing their arm in the bottomless pit of OGAE-vote hopefuls for the UK. But I never imagined that the first mob I found would be people that I actually knew.

Dië Spanglë are a most excellent gnarly punk band from Penzance in Cornwall. And being from such a distant outpost, they do things entirely their own way, and a quick search on YouTube will uncover some crackingly creative home-produced videos. Unfortunately they've ploughed an over-familiar furrow with their Eurovisionistic exercises here.

Early stage selection panelists and early stage observers of the pre-qualification tournaments can tell you that there's absolutely dozens of songs of this nature crop up across the continent, and they never get even so much of a sniff at the coat tails of glory - even in Switzerland. So I'm sad to tell my old muckers that their chunky little attempt is likely to fall upon possibly the deafest ears in all showbiz.

However, if YOU just happen to be on one of the OGAE juries this year, dear reader, get a little bit of the mischief about you and notch this one up a higher score than you normally would. We all know that it's going nowhere, but it would be most entertaining if new Mr Greig gets this in his first emailing of potential songs this year. Gwan, do it for Apocalypse...

Thursday 20 September 2018

Switzerland 2019 - Tommaso Giacopini - Mi Hai Detto Ama

More from the Italian Swiss hopefuls - and this one has really got under my skin over the last few days. What starts off sounding a bit like a bit of bedroom-produced outsider hip hop slowly but surely ramps up the understated atmosphere, and by the end I was hanging off his every word - even though I didn't have the foggiest clue what any of the words actually meant.

His poignant high-pitched voice shared his pain perfectly, with the syllables coming in machine gun clumps under his edgy, skittish delivery - kind of like those talky songs about lost loves in youth that old boys do so well at Sanremo, only sped up a bit.

The best bits are where the minimal beats drop out, and he's left pouring out his poor heart with nothing but studio air surrounding him. And when the robotty voice comes in to briefly recalibrate the tone, it's almost a relief to rest him from his anguish for a moment.

This is clearly going nowhere - but who cares. This haunting little workout is going to stay with me for much longer than most of the songs that qualify for the final in May.

Friday 14 September 2018

Switzerland 2019 - Davide Buzzi - Mama

Well here we all are again. As soon as the leaves start going a bit musty, then sure as chips are potatoes the Swiss embark on their ultimately fruitless task to pick a Eurovision winner. Or qualifier even. And so it was that the Italian wing of Swiss telly revealed their short-list, and boy they're a bland bunch in the main, shy of the lad Sebalter's ominous return

But do you know what? I always hope that the first song I hear each year is going to be the one that works its way through to become the eventual winner. It's been a long held dream of mine, and I'm sure it's going to happen one day. But not this time.

Yep, Davide Buzzi's Mama is a ponderous old pub rock plodder, with some ludicrous spoken bits, and his Brummie mate Judith Emeline shipped in to do all the heavy lifting. I assumed that he was just some bar room chancer, but a little look into his background suggests that this gravel-voiced mumbler has got a reasonable track record in both music and the moving picture. But surely even that isn't going to drag this hackneyed throb onto an El Al jet to Tel Aviv.

Buckle up kids, one senses that it could be a long old year...

Sunday 11 March 2018

Macedonia 2018 - Eye Cue - Lost And Found

Well here's a strange little thing. The long awaited alt pop presentation from Macedonia delivered many things to us - most of them entirely different stylistic directions - and all in the space of three minutes. It all started off quite promisingly with a folksy pop build that felt like it was going to lead us to some interesting places. Although we never imagined it would be a small interlude of cos reggae to be fair.

But then it gets stranger. The lyric starts to get all sexually suggestive, swiftly resetting to the intro, before, eh?... in rolls the twangy, bright bit of Euro guitar pop. We certainly never saw that one coming? Why give us one genre when at least three would do.

But that wasn't the half of it. At around the 1:40 mark, the song resets itself, while our lass here changes into perhaps the worst single garment we've ever seen in an ESC video. Yep, worse than that saggy swimsuit the Cypriot lass is sporting. We heard from the Macedonian delegation that the video editors were having problems finding shots that didn't, how shall we put this delicately, make her natural contours look too apparent. They've done a decent job of it, but the occasional contour does occasionally loom into view. A middle aged man like myself scarcely knew where to look!

So the big question looms - will she have the nerve to wear it on the big stage? It could see off a few grandpas around the continent if she does.

Saturday 10 March 2018

Israel 2018 - Netta - Toy

So the moment we've been pregnantly anticipating for the last few weeks as arrived - Netta's song for Israel has snuck out unannounced, and it's pretty damn decent. Well, for us at least. It's got all the ingredients of the kind of song we'd like. Banging Eastern rhythms, eccentric vocal performance and some deranged time signatures. And had we not had such high hopes for it up in advance (as well as a few bob on it at 50/1) we'd be over the moon. But somehow we're not feeling it as the contender we'd so dearly hoped it would be.

For a start, it's probably just a bit TOO bonkers. It gives us the full range of vocal tics and weirdness we love Netta for, but without ever letting her let loose with the full range of throaty pyrotechnics. And on top of that, while it looks like there's scope for a bit of loop station business, it feels trimmed to a minimum, with naught but a strange chunk of chicken noises and some righteous attitude part way through.

But you just know that she's going to perform the bones out of it, and whenever she flashes that winning smile, the votes are going to roll around like a cash register on Black Friday. She ain't winning, worse luck, but we're so dang flipping glad she's there, because she's going to light the place up like a massive great candle. And just imagine the Israeli party this year. Oh. My. Days!

San Marino 2018 - Jessika (feat. Jenifer Brening) - Who We Are

How did this slip by us without our notice? In a crowded week of qualifying we bypassed the eminently dodgy looking pay-to-play international battle of the bands that was the San Marinese process. Well, it smelled of haddock from first announcement to final play, and we don't much care for the seafood around these parts.

But after all that, the winning song isn't ALL that horrific, and it does take some of the heat off the organisers, seeing as our Zoe's Austrian bessie didn't win as everyone expected/feared that she would. But util today we'd never seen the performance that Jess and Jen had bagged the showbiz ticket with.

What where they thinking?

Why were those robots even there at all? I mean, they're better than that terrible attempt by Latvia in Athens all those years ago, but it was still some cheesy assed shizz, and hampered the girls in their leaping about somewhat. But who styled them? Big white billowy pantsuit matched with some deliberately crafted street clothes for the rap bit, while they both made sure their folds of spare robots didn't knock over one of the robot lads.

This is pure visual folly in song form. I don't suspect it'll do quite as badly in Lisbon as some fear, but if they elect to continue this stage show there'll be more than a few guffaws come showtime!

Sunday 4 March 2018

Sweden 2002 - Mendez - Adrenaline

Those younger, and less Swedish among you might be wondering why we've been leaving that Mendez laddie that Mello show well enough alone. Well that, bright youth, is because he's got form. Yes, cast your memories back to the hazy days of 2002, when Melodifestivalen appeared to be held in a big room around the back of a coffee house (or the old set of Cafe Norrköping for our regional fans), when a considerably more fresh-faced bagged a near miss, coming second only to Afro-Dite in a pretty strong field.

Delight as he bounds on stage, high on, erm, life, then continues to skip and leap like a car boot Ricky Martin while banging out the rhymes in a full on Chilean-Swedo stylee. And rather than going it alone and trying to do all the singing himself, like he has so famously struggled to do this year, he leaves all the heavy lifting to his more able sideman, leaving him to get on with all the bouncing about and general personality distribution.

Remember, this was a man who managed to beat Kiki, Bettan and Lotta into a distant third place, and make mincemeat of Jill Johnson, Friends, and the hugely popular (at the time) Brandsta City Släckers in that fateful MR final. And don't also forget that his curious crossover style gave him some pretty massive hits across the continent (although quite possibly not your bit). So while he might seem to the uninitiated eye to be some old mumble well past his prime who's been let up on the Melfest stage because he won a competition or something, there's a lot of goodwill towards him in the old country, and he's probably made the final on that alone.

Now sit back and revel in how he used to look in his prime, bless him!

Azerbaijan 2018 - Aisel - X My Heart

OK Azerbaijan, we need to talk about your wordplay here. So yes, we know that at the end of the day as long as you're pumping out some vaguely word-shaped sound memes that people who don't have English as a first language can happily bark along to, it doesn't really matter if they make any sense or not. But come on, this is my language you're mangling here. With all the money you've got sitting in your pond of oil on the Caspian, couldn't you at least have run your lyric by someone who speaks the tongue as a native?

Surely someone's just looked in rhyming dictionary and gone "Yeah, that's near enough" without actually wondering what any of the words mean. Here's some examples. You may cringe:

It all starts simply enough, with the usual old dragged-out-of-a-bag platitudes.

"I can hear you when I wake, I can see you when I dream" - so far, so cliched. But then this happens…

"I can feel you when I break" - alright, it doesn't mean anything, but it sounds songy.

"As you hold me as you beam".

BEAM? Alright, so in that rhyming dictionary we mentioned earlier it would suggest 'beam' as a synonym for smile, but no bleeder with English as a first (or even third) language would ever use it in parlance - common or otherwise. But that's just the start of it. Cop these for lines…

"Every night you fill the sky with new revelations…" Eh? Sounds romantic, but what does it actually mean?

"Misty moon, I'm your loon…"

Oh come on, you're taking the mick now. Songwriter, you really don't know what any of these words mean, do you! One would possibly only ever use the word 'loon' in a knockabout funtime song with lots of deliberate laughs and gags in it, and then only very very carefully because of the connotations with mental health. You might JUST get away with it if you correlated it with the North American bird of the same name, but only then at a push. Blimey.

But that's not the worst of it.

"Let's rock the nation…"

Where did that come from? Have we suddenly turned into a New York block party hip hop joint here? No! No we haven't. So how has that line even happened?

Then it all goes a bit random word generator for a bit…

"Heaven knows we are, made perfect we are, tailored by the stars. Once we set our mind, we become divine, take my hand it's time"

…before the really silly stuff kicks in…

"I X my heart" (Actually, that's not a bad literary device, we'll let them have that one)

"I tear down the firewalls"

Eh? What, you're saying you're going to wilfully leave all your connected devices susceptible to malicious attack? Why would you ever do that? Unless you've been coerced into letting your new significant other look at donkey porn on your iPad?

"I X my heart" (Still like that bit)

"I"m stronger than cannonballs"

WHOA! Is there an emoji for 'I've just spat my tea out is surprise/dismay'? Who possibly thought that was a good idea for a rhyme? Even I wouldn't do that, and my songs are deliberately terrible. And then there's the tail of the chorus…

"I'll never stop stop stop, Luna moon me up, to the top-op-op"

Now come on, did you really mean to write that bit, or were you on a tight deadline and just needed to fill that part in a hurry with things that sounded like words? This is absolute cobblers from word one, and it doesn't get any better, trust us.

Especially when they rhyme 'noise' with 'voice'!

And yet. And yet… It's an insistent little beggar, and it'll soon get its hooks into you. Where you started off tutting and snorting at every strangely coupled line and curious non sequitur, by the third rotation you'll be pumping your fist in the air rhythmically at the very mention of cannonballs. And couple that arch singalongability to a well-presented high energy pop song and I fear this might do very well. So what if it doesn't make any sense at all, if it gets them dancing down the front on a Saturday night in May and puts a big smile upon a continent's collective face then it's job done. Just don't watch it with the captions on, you might just put a foot through the telly.

Wednesday 28 February 2018

Portugal 2018 - Diogo Piçarra - Canção do Fim

Hands down the biggest loss to this contest in year, Diogo sadly bit the bullet and stood down gracefully before to hoo-haa about his song got too big. It was short, sweet and utterly glorious, and despite the notes and chords being just far enough away to be safe, the phrasing was pretty much bang on the same as the obscure Walter McCallister song Arbe Os Meus Olhos. However unintentional and subliminal the similarities were it was clear he had to pull out.

But what a shame that it, as if this had cropped up at any other time in Portugal's Eurovision history than the last two years we'd have been heralding the legend Best Result Ever. And what a beautiful performance it was. Gentle, emotional and perfectly understated, we'd have been championing this one in Lisbon had it done what everyone expected and won FDC.

So let's just enjoy it while we can for what it actually is - a truly lovely and simple song, sung well, that'll stay in our hearts for long after all this difficult business has been forgotten.

Tuesday 27 February 2018

Armenia 2018 - Mger Armenia - Forever

Sometime you get a perfect storm of a song, where the varied simple ingredients of song, singer and performance knit together to create something truly wonderful. More often though you get a clutter of ill-conceived half-thoughts and over-engineered maguffins cobbled together into a right old mess.

Then you get this. This compendium of trite cliche and conceptual disaster that thought it was onto such big things, but instead got a nation, nay a continent holding its head in its collective hands and praying for it to stop.

We genuinely can't count the many ways that it paraded its awfulness before it. From the over-wrought, monodramatic choruses, via the rushed, mumbled verses that the poor deluded singer clearly wanted to rattle of and get out of the way so he could spend more time of the showbizzy stuff. Then there's all that on-stage business, a selection box of bad ideas and well-trodden paths.

We've seen the boil-in-the-bag dancer motif a dozen or more times, matey, and as cheesy as they are, they've always been done better than this. And yes, we realise that it all marries in with entire concept of the piece, but it was a terrible concept and must be mocked at every chance.

And how bloody creepy was that dancing foetus on a string on both the big screen in the background and the tiny screen on your dancer's belly? Who thought that was a good idea? You might have thought it was deep and significant, but it wasn't. It just looked silly, and unsettling in ways that you could never possibly have wished for.

And just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, the great berk started repeating "For-evvvaaaa, For-evvvaaaa" over and over again until you felt the need to hide the knives, while that dancer girl started mucking about with her sheet and you felt every bit like she was sorting out the laundry. And then it stopped. Thankfully. Sweetly. On nuts, he's kicked off with the forevers again. And what's that lady doing? She's rolling up the big white sheet that earlier formed their placenta allegory and has turned it into a pretend baby. Seriously. I'm not making this shit up. They really did that.

So incensed by all this utter cobblers that Mrs Apocalypse started screaming "Make it stop! For the love of God make it stop!" at the screen at the top of her lungs, and we hadn't even got to the two minute mark where it really notched up a few levels of shitehawkedness. If Mger had walked into our living room at that point she'd have beaten the living daylights out of him, I'm sure of it.

This must surely now be the gold standard of everything not to do when planning a potential Eurovision performance. And you know what, I'll bet you a pound to a penny that the bloke still thinks that he was robbed!

Sunday 25 February 2018

Moldova 2018 - Ruslan Tsar - Come To Life

Well that was quite a night last evening. Loads of our faves either got through or caused mighty stirs, and we've got a proper bit of noisiness to keep us busy and refreshed in Lisbon. But one lad who got overlooked in all the mayhem and hoo-haa, and a fellow who probably embodies the spirit of this blog more than anyone else this weekend, is Ruslan Tsar from Moldova.

As he came on last of sixteen (and was on well after the Lord Mayor's Show of DoReDos), you may not have seen him - unless of course you were giving it the heavy multiscreen all night. But boy did he offer some wrong delights. There were points at which we weren't sure whether he was a real genuine human or merely a curious parody, but as the performance elapsed it was clear that this chap could only ever have been genuine. We think. Out that way it's sometimes difficult to tell.

From the awkward on-stage persona to the wonky backing singers (including a guest appearance from our very own Doinita Gherman) to a guitar solo to melt to, lovely Ruslan here offered up all the goods of true Apocalypse greatness, and did them with style. And for that sir, we applaud you. You may have got a zero score from both jury and punter, but you'll always be top of our list!

Saturday 24 February 2018

Moldova 2018 - DoReDos - My Lucky Day

Somebody's finally done it. Somebody's finally distilled every moment of 21st Century Eurovisionism into one thick, cheesy sauce and spooned it out onto a national final stage in big fat dollops. And boy is it lumpy. From the somewhat over-familiar chorus, via the moving-about-stage-chunks, and the cheeky boys battling for the girl we've seen this all done a gazillion times, but somehow everybody has lost their minds and decided that this is finally the song that's going to give the EBU their biggest headache ever and take us to Chisinau.

So OK, in the early noughties that may have had a point. But a win? Really? In this day and age? Fair enough we've had a couple of delicate and thoughtful winners in a row, and so it's likely that a monster pop banger is going to take home the bacon this year. But this kind of revisionism hasn't been seen since, well, the last times the Greeks REALLY wanted to win it.

But let's review this objectively. Moldova's stock is most definitely up after last year, and another bright and breezy bit of fluff could help them keep the momentum. On top of that, DoReDos have been knocking on the door for a couple of years now, and the self-dubbed dream team of the big lad Kirkirov and his Hellenistic mates will have added a modicum of gravity to their bid. But really, a Eurovision win? With this? In 2018? This is what you'd show to aliens newly landed on the planet Earth if you needed to explain Eurovision but only had limited time - and they'd instantly understand!

Mind you, if Russia really are playing the mischief laden long game...

Friday 23 February 2018

Armenia 2018 - Kamil Show - Puerto Rico

The rebellion is all getting a bit obvious in Eurovisionia this season. Even the acts that you'd hoped would bring a bit of left-handed delight to the so far pretty staid proceedings are going down the blatant route and offering little more than funny faces and tunes from the Despacito food group. Which is why we're so disappointed with Kamil Show here.

From looking at previous clips of this glorious creation's work he hoped we'd be in line for a work of high lunacy and breath-taking bedazzlement. But after a promising, atmospheric opening it quickly descended into a cavalcade of gurning and pointless pratfalls. How terribly disappointing. Here we had the chance of some high anarchy and deep satire, but all we were dealt was someone larking about in clownwear like some sketch from the old time kids show Crackerjack.

Still, everyone concerned looked like they were having a brilliant time, which is a good thing I suppose. And it did knock a few dark and dreary tunes out of the proceedings, but really we expected more. If anything is going to beat that 90s house pop tune my Asmik (who I can't stop reading as 'Arsemilk'), then it's going to have to offer more than this try hard little effort delivers. When the dancing is more enjoyable than the song in a potential Eurovision performance you know you;re in trouble.

Thursday 22 February 2018

Sweden 2018 – Rolandz – Fuldans

Flipping heck, Sweden, it's coming to something when THIS is the only thing with a bit of life in it across the whole four MF shows so far? Do you still hide some manner of light under a secret bushel, or is this it?

These are clearly strange times!


Direkt Til Final. Thoroughly called for among that dreary field. Come on Sweden, teach yourself a lesson!

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Serbia 2018 - Umoran - Rejbass

The Beovisija final last night was a thing to behold, and whether intentional or not it transported us back to the competition's heyday in the late 80s when life was grand and before things started to get a little complicated round those parts. To be honest we could fill this blog with highlights for the next week - and still quite possibly might. There was lunacy, art-jazz, deep nostaligia and funtime pop stylings. But for us, this was the unassuming standout of the evening.

Actually it was so unassuming that we weren't even sure if it had started yet. Indeed, the start of the song could very easily have been the cellist's nan getting all previous with the claps. But once we'd locked into the groove this was quite the splendid affair.

After a confusingly sparse intro, and older gentleman with degenerate hair mumbled a few words to camera, before turning into the darkness and leaving us in the company of a man with the deepest voice in all Eurovision history. I'll swear the putty in out windows loosened after he appeared. I'll be passing on our glazier's bill in the morning. The whole thing then muttered on in loose cycles before it petered out at the end, but not before we'd grown strangely addicted to it's minimal roar.

Maybe not a tune for every listener's tastes, but we love the fact that songs like this even exist, let alone get a stab at representing their troubled nation on an international stage. It's things like this that make us deeply love that corner of the world, despite its many foibles.

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Estonia 2018 - Evestus - Welcome To My World

While it's lovely that you're constantly dropping us your little hints and tips from around the strange creases of the national qualifiers of Europe, every now and again you get us quite wrong. For example, the Apocalypse mailbox has been full of links to this clip, suggesting that it's right up my street. But in this instance you couldn't be more mistaken. For this performance is absolutely terrible - and not for the reasons that you might think.

When I first heard that Evestus were having a pop at this year's Laul I was mildly amused. For years they've been the kind of third division techno goth band who you frequently see playing the third stage of a small-town Belgian Industrial Noise Fest. On a Sunday. Afternoon. They've always had the odd good song in them - hunt down the video for their horror jungle beatdown The Fall to see what they're fully capable of. But more often than not they just churn out the tired old tropes of the genre without offering anything terribly new or exiting - the Shed Seven of their respective scene, if you will.

But even we weren't quite prepared for quite how low they'd stoop in their attempt to tread the Eurovision boards. Where at best they can chug along a pretty hefty techno electro groove, here they just plod along listlessly, coming over like a car boot Marilyn Manson when he was on his terrible middle period. And then there's the other clear lifts. You thought that keyboard-on-a-spring thing looked cool? So did Nine Inch Nails when they pioneered it 20-odd years ago. And how about those ambiguous backing singers? Very reminiscent of pretty much any gig Ministry or The Revolting Cocks or even Pigface did in the nineties. Then there's the collapsing stage schtick that crops up in about one in five of the videos of this genre. And even the singer looks like a smart price Dani Filth in his half-arsed menace.

Now some, if not all, of these references might leave you a little puzzled, like we're making up our own language or something. But trust us, we're well versed in this field, and this mob aren't especially very good at it. I mean, how bored did that drummer lad look. He was clearly wondering about which pie he wanted to polish off once he'd got back to his mum's after the show and raided her fridge.

Add this as another to the long sorry list of reasonably decent genre bands who wimp out and deliver a deeply watered down song for Eurovision that's more what they think people will like than one that they're actually any good at doing. Gothminister, Nuteki, Kabat et al, come on down. But what's more worrying is that they've bagged the last-song-in-the-draw slot at the Laul final, which means they'll be able to pull off something pretty big and explosive looking, which would put them in real contention for the gong. Oh good lord, please no...

Monday 19 February 2018

Latvia 2018 - Mionia - You

I was a bit behind catching up with some of this weekend's songs, and I was reading a heck of a lot of comments from folks saying what a lovely song this was and how beautiful Mionia's voice was. So understandably it was at the top of my catch up list when I finally got to sit down and have a good listen. But oh my days... One can only assume that none of the those people giving her vocal stylings were from the United Kingdom - or even ever visited for more than a long weekend - because wowsers her accent is shocking.

How so? Well remember how that German Lena clearly though that she was channeling her inner Kate Nash, but it actually sounded more like someone kicking a poorly dog? Well Mionia comes across as someone trying to sound like Lena kicking Kate Nash - with the expected horrifying results.

Now our international readers may be wondering quite what's so bad about it all - and to be fair to you all, if you love it then she's done her job perfectly. But if you're of these isles, those strangled vowels and variable regional accent attempts are like someone dragging their nails down a blackboard. Whilst screaming.

Now I don't want to do the girl a disservice. There's a really beautiful song in there fighting to get out, and when she's not singing "Luv" like a comedy Scouser, or over annunciating her hard consonants she's actually got a pretty decent voice. I just wish that she's kept to her own accent and didn't mess about with all that funny business.

You watch. It'll turn out that she's actually from Leeds now, and won't I look a fool!

Portugal 2018 - JP Simões - Alvoroço

Here's a fine little oddity from FDC last night. The first Portuguese show was a joy of understated delights and gentle Sunday night pop. But JP here have us something even more minimal. So laid back he was almost laid on the floor with a big straw hat on, he cooly mumbled through a song that roughly translates as 'Hooligan' (we think - Portuguese is never what it seems, and it could also mean 'Bustle', 'Tumult' or 'Rampage, among many other things), seemingly singing along with himself and hardly stretching a facial muscle.

So far so quiet. But at the two minute mark such a cacophony kicked in that it sounded like a jazz orchestra falling down the stairs - and continued like this until the end. But old JP remained up worried, and scarcely flinched, retaining his disaffected cool until the last racketous beat.

In a staid, sweet and often safe evening of music, this was a revelation of strange, and we wholeheartedly approve. And so did the jury who gave him a pretty decent mark. The good people of Portugal clearly didn't though, and it didn't get a single measly mark from them, missing out on qualification by a mere point. It was probably better that way, but oh what beauty we fleetingly glimpsed...

Sunday 18 February 2018

Estonia 2018 - Indrek Ventmann - Tempel

There were some great performances in Estonia last night. And not just the songs. Someone had clearly put a lot of thought into the visual side of the three minutes last night, and where we could have just got a bloke in a suit stood there warbling, be got some lovely little three minutes of art.

Take this one, for starters. With Indrek you usually get simply a handsome bloke in a suit stood singing pleasantly but unremarkably. So full marks to him and his people or whoever came up with this splendid little piece of drama.

I won't give too much away, as it's best to let it develop around you. But I will add a couple of notes. That magazine you'll see fleetingly. It's FutureMusic, and I used to work on that! And keep an eye out for the mug... that's all I'm saying.

So sit back and enjoy three of the best minutes you'll watch all season - the song itself is almost an irrelevance!

Saturday 17 February 2018

Ukraine 2018 - Yurcash - Stop Killing Love

You know us here at Apocalypse, we do like a nice full three minutes. Well prepare yourself for some cramming, for this lot deliver a full four-act stage musical in the time it takes to boil a decent egg. On this clip, the song actually starts at the two minute mark, but it's worth watching it through just for the added surprise when the musical events finally kick off. For what looked like it was going to be a standard pub rock work out turned into something completely unexpected and very unlikely.

From the first note it was clear that this was going to be a messianic allusion. The singer lad was decked out in sackcloth and affecting a Jesus Christ pose while his troupe behind him gave it the full middle east in their garb. And if that wasn't enough, a column of bloodied thorns wrapped around the mic stand, just to make you sure you know what they're getting at.

But that wasn't all. This moderately proggy workout flipped though the time signatures like a bored musician at a Rolodex, and more serious art bits were followed by strange comedy japes and showbiz singalongs. Seriously, if it hadn't be so jawdroppingly unhinged it would have been terrible. But just couldn't help yourself warming to it as the nonsense chugged along with a variety of chuggy riffs.

It was hilarious, ill-advised and absolutely bang on point all at once, somehow, and we were gutted when it didn't qualify. At least we think we were. Just imagine all that on a big Eurovision stage. It would have been a proper wonky treat!

Tuesday 13 February 2018

Israel 2018 - Netta Barzilai - Tik Tok/Gangnam Style

Oh my days she did it. Our girl won the ticket to Lisbon, and I'm already in the queue for the Israeli party! And just look at what she performed to get there. Week after week Netta showed her versatility and creativity and somehow managed to charm a nation to let her represent them on the biggest pop stage in the world. But the work starts here.

For a start, what is she going to perform? If Israeli telly has any sense they'd give her carte blanche to write and perform her tune in exactly the style that she wants to. Rather than their usual pop poppets who are bright-eyed and bushy tailed and ready to be moulded, Netta is a fully formed artists and shouldn't just be chucked a regulation frocky ballad from central songwriting. Although she'd still do one heck of a job on it.

And then there's the whole loopstation can of worms. Are the EBU going to let her show her full art and let her mix herself live on stage? Well they let Jowst do the muck about last year, so precedents have been set. But new provisions in the rules this year make recorded voices a lot more tricky to get past. But wait a minute - Netta's vocals aren't pre-recorded... they're recorded live on stage as they happen, only with a little bit of delay (and in a slightly different order). If they allow reverb and echo, how can they ideologically object to this?

It's going to be a tricky old path to negotiate, but we can't wait to see how it turns out, because it's almost certain to be cracking, whatever it is!

Sunday 11 February 2018

Iceland 2018 - Þórunn Antonía - Ég Mun Skína

When we first heard the Icelandic songs we thought they were a pretty uninspiring bunch. There was that intentionally comedy mum band, a whole lot of slow and mid tempo stuff, and a footballer. So it was pleasing to see that they'd really given some thought as to how to present each performance - whether that was the artful arrangement of backing singers, a sex pest on a bench routine... Or this...

Now we're not sure what they were thinking when dreamed up this particular spot of on stage malarkey, but we're rather pleased that they did. In fact, we can't imagine that anyone who ever saw a list of the stuff that goes on in this performance ever thought that it was a good idea to convert it into real life actions. But somehow they turned all that unlikeliness into three minutes that you're not going to forget in a hurry (although it's a crying shame that the same can't be said for the actual song that's hiding away weedily somewhere in the middle of all those stunts).

We thought Þórunn there looked a little anxious at the start, and that was hardly surprising, given what she had to execute as the three minutes elapsed. But her strange, jerky delivery and curious breathing shapes all wafted away once the strongwomen in bacofoil pants ambled on, and then it just got strange and stranger and stranger.

So sit back and enjoy one of the most unique three minutes of song that you're likely to see all season. It's a shame that it didn't get to the later stages, because a performance this odd really deserves a wider audience, whether the song as actually any good or not. And to be honest, we can't remember it at all. But you'll soon see why...

Ukraine 2018 - Kozak System – Mamai

I do enjoy a Ukrainian selection process. The songs alone make place it head and shoulders above most of the trailing pack, as far as variety, invention and downright excitement goes. But dig a little deeper and there's a whole load of political showboating to be found. Some of it subtle, much of it less so. After all, this is a country that sits very literally at the crossroads of history, and where even going to down the shops for your daily hleb can be a politicised action, so it's hardly surprising.

Take Kozak System here. To the passing punter it was a raucous punky ska-cum-hardcore folklore stampdown, with metallic fringes and little slivers of local traditional instruments infused throughout. It's the kind of thing we're more used to seeing come from Moldova in this contest, but spend any time in the old country and you'll hear this stuff coming out of cabs and barbers and towerblock bars wherever you go.

But scratch below the surface and you'll find a whole lot more. Kozak is how the locals say Cossack - another group of fierce locals - and their members were at the very heart of the EuroMaydan protests back in 2013. So big are they locally that they've played shows at the Olympiysky Stadium, and you may even have seen them play a show on the big stage at the Eurovision Village on Kreshchatyk last Spring. On top of that, the subject of the song, Mamai, is an old Cossack folk hero who embodies the spirit of the Ukrainian people.

In fact, we're surprised that they didn't qualify last evening. Although perhaps they weren't there for the qualifying. Perhaps they on the show, you know, just to be seen, like. So next week, when you watch the second episode of Vibdir, if something seems a bit incongruous or ill-placed to you, just do a little bit of a background search while you watch. For there may be reasons that it's there way beyond the auspices of Eurovision. And we can't flipping wait!

Thursday 8 February 2018

Italy 2018 - The Kolors - Frida (Mai Mai Mai)

The thing that most of the rest of Eurovisionia never seem to get to grips with is that Sanremo isn't for us. It's a wholly local confection for those tuned to an Italian palate. They care little or less for the future of a song in Eurovision. They just want to celebrate the best of their grumbly old goats and terrifying women in song and a fair bit of chit chat.

So when a clearly Eurovision ready song does occasionally pop up in the contest it's generally not too much reason to get excited. A case in point is The Kolors here. In any other national final you'd have been calling up your bookmaker at the mere release of the promo pictures. But Sanremo's a much more nostalgic affair, and we're much more likely to end up with a pensioner grumbling about his knees than a vital young pop act like this lot.

And boy they're pretty. I may not be of the same constituent population as many of my fellow fans, but heavens, I still swooned when the singing lad ran his fingers through his floppy fringe and looked straight at the camera.

But one thing you can usually rely on at the Ariston is a bandwagon song - one that wasn't much fancied at the start of the week, but picks up a head of steam as the days roll by. The Kolors boys are already creeping their way up the betting, and if Meta and Moro overcome the self-plagiarism minefield they've laid for themselves and win the thing with their powerful anti-violence anthem, then there's a good chance that they will elect not to take the ticket to Portugal, and then the Italian berth at the big show is up for grabs. And then know what might happen...

If you've not seen this lot yet, tune into tonight's latest song marathon and see if they float your boat.

United Kingdom 2018 - SuRie - Storm

So the UK did their choosing thing last night, and there is much to mull over. But the biggest thing that we've learned is that if you put in the work you win the prize. As we know, SuRie knows this game very well, and pretty much had this thing won on Twitter over the last fortnight. She's been getting involved, retweeting all the most influential online opinion makers, and letting herself be interviewed by the top sites. All that work meant that by the time she walked out on that Brighton stage she already had the punters in the palm of her hand.

Job one done.

Having the experience of the big show as she does - albeit in a secondary role - she knows what works on stage. She might not have had the best song last night, but she gave the best performance by a mile. And so while the good stuff was under performed (Asanda for one seemingly struggling to breathe under the weight of expectation), and the rest upped their game with less winnable songs (the previously dull Jaz putting the whole of his life into his on stage efforts, delivering some of the most soaring vocals ever seen on a UK national final stage), our lass SuRie just smiled, looked straight down the telly pipe and charmed the hearts of a nation, like some kind of trendy supply teacher quelling an unruly mob of superannuated school kids by singing a popped up sea shanty with some charm and grace.

Task two achieved.

It was clear from about ten seconds in that she had that won, and while I was initially disappointed, I had that bloody song stuck in my head all night, despite going out for a practise with one of my horrible noisy bands directly after. Clearly it's way stickier than I ever imagined, so while it's not to my immediate taste it might just strike a chord with the voting public - if Denmark don't do the dirty on us and send one of many songs in their final with a similar vocal motif.

The actual TV production was a step in the right direction, too. Just the right blend of nostalgia and wit, playing to the home audience but still being inclusive to the folks at home, a panel who actually knew what they were talking about - Rylan a particular revelation, and in Måns a proven host with the right levels of professionalism and self-depricating humour to pull it off. Oh, and Mel cut the "Eurovisj" cringes down to an absolute minimum, too.

We're not quite there yet, but each year is a marked improvement on the last. We've unlocked another achievement and levelled up once more. Now all we need is that killer song to lure in a continent and we're laughing.

Wednesday 7 February 2018

Israel 2018 - Netta Barzilai - Wannabe

Oh my giddy aunt! Good friend of the site Ido just dropped me a note, suggesting that I should stop whatever I was doing and watch. He wasn't wrong. This clip comes from Israel's The Next Star show, the process used in part to find their next Eurovision act. We hope it's Netta here, and when you see this, so will you.

When we saw that she was doing a Spice Girls cover we must confess that our heart sank just a little. We shouldn't have worried, because this lass completely and utterly made it her own. Mucking about with a loop station, she not only made her own unhinged beats, but battered the lyric to a pulp with an incredible vocal display.

I never usually trust the term "Made For Eurovision", because it rarely ever actually means anything of the sort. But surely this lass would only enhance the show with a gurt big banger. We'll be watching the Israeli process a whole lot closer from here on in!

Tuesday 6 February 2018

Italy 2018 - Lo Stato Sociale - Una Vita In Vacanza

Alright you, drop everything you were doing this week - it's Sanremo time. Five glorious days of pure Italianosity, and old men and young women grumbling syllable-heavy songs that wouldn't make any sense in any other country than this. Plus chat. A lot of chat.

But somewhere in among all that talk there's a lot of musical splendidness, and these boys offered up one of my highlights of the season so far. Starting out as a slightly awkward indie Euro disco number with a mumbling, lost looking singer, this soon picks up the pace, and the shout-a-long chorus just builds and builds as the song grows around it. And then, at about the three minute mark, something absolutely perfect happens. (OK, so we've seen this particular added extra doing the rounds on the Somewhere's Got Talent circuit, but that scarcely matters in this instance, as it was both utterly charming and totally unexpected).

As often happens at Sanremo, you can fall in love with a song that you know is going absolutely nowhere, but that you can't help hoping that it drags itself to about the halfway point to make it all feel worthwhile. We just wonder what they've got up their sleeve for the rest of the week.

Monday 5 February 2018

Hungary 2018 - Andy Roll - Turn The Lights On

We've been doing this sorry old blog for long enough now that we're beginning to get a feel for the kinds of thing that you, dear reader, really rather enjoy. And so it was that as we were watching the most recent Hungarian under-final, this rather curious gentleman shuffled into view and we just knew that we'd be getting a whole bundle of notes and messages over the next 24 hours asking us what we thought of him. And yes, we did - it was possibly our biggest mailbag yet... well, apart from the usual cease and desist notices from Sasha Bognibov's people, of course.

So here it is, the fruit of your wonderings - the very singular style of a lad called Andy Roll. One part of us hopes that he's normally in a double act with Jimmy Rock, but that's by the by. Anyway, we have so many questions that will probably never be answered. The chain of events led him to be standing on that live televisual stage, for starters. Which one of the schedulers thought, you know what, that Roll fella stands as good a chance as anyone... let's bung him on. The kids will love him!

And at what stage in his life did he reckon that pop glory was for him? I have to say that the name is vaguely familiar, so I don't know if he's tried his hand at A Dal before, or I once saw him back in the day when he played regional non-league ice hockey for his village third team.

But most of all I was wondering quite where he got what looks like a child's raincoat made out of meat to wear for his big moment on the box.

But having said all that, after all my gentle mockery, by the time he's done his gruff voiced bit and the dancers all come out with their torchy hands you begin to root for the fella. And by the time he gets to the hands in the air, under the carpet chanting end bit we were up on our feet and swaying our arms about like a man trapped in quicksand.

So Andy Roll, we salute you. We salute you for being the only act in that show the other night that we'll remember a year from today. Well you and that good looking laddie with the spoons.

Denmark 2018 - Sannie - Girls On Boys

When we heard that Whigfield was coming back to the pop forefront in the Danish final, we were filled with a blend of both great excitement and deep trepidation. It was Whigfield of course, we ought to get excited - but how many times has an old favourite pop starlet come back from the past with either a lacklustre pop excuse or a dreary ballad.

So how excited were we when someone sent us a 15 second clip recorded on a telephone that sounded like an outtake from an early Cardigans album with a sleazier, more drunken sounding singer. And now that we've heard the full version, we heartily approve! We're not sure that she's going to come close to winning next Saturday night, but we're going to enjoy seeing her have a try!

We've got no link to a video yet, so you'll have to go to the general download site first at the link above. But as soon as another option is available I'll have it up immediately - and hey, you get a chance to have a listen to all the other songs too!


Oh my days that was glorious in defeat. An awkward stage show, a reedy thin voice, a curious choice of garb and an unwillingness to let the whole of Europe see what work she's had done (to the extent that she stiff-armed that mic a mere inch from her mouth the whole dang song) - that's how to go down flames on live TV. I'm still trying to work out if it was glorious or just a little bit sad. Possibly a little of each.

Sunday 4 February 2018

Hungary 2018 - Reni Tolvai - Crack My Code

Dear Reni here has been a good friend to this blog over the years. Her shows are usually glorious nonsense fests, and her fans love reading every possible word about her. So we were rather exited to see what she was likely to do with this one, seeing as it had more personalities than a bus load of roid raging bodybuilders. But oh my heavens were we in for a surprise.

First up she plugged straight in with the old hands-of-dancers-stood-behind-you-looking-all-Eastern -like trope that's been making close observers of the contest sign disappointedly for some years now. At least the neon fans were a nice touch. But wait, are they actually busting a full on Eastern vibe here? That jaunty hat Ms Tolvai is wearing looks a touch clichéd cartoon Chinese. Camera pans out... OH. MY. GIDDY. AUNT! What was she thinking?

The two dancers emerge - one actually from proper Eastern climes, the other clearly not, but done up like stereotypical ambiguously somewhere from out that way. But there's worse. Two of the backing singers are wearing lit up versions of what we in the West refer to as Coolie Hats, and then there's a gurt big projection of a Chinese/Japanese/somewhere unspecific-ese temple in the background!

Heck! How does this happen in this day and age. It's not even culturally insensitive, it's just a bit rubbish - a lot rubbish, actually - and the kind of thing that Benny Hill would have left on the cutting room floor as being ill-advised.

And then it goes all weird. Some cod rapper of sorts begins pacing about, the Eastern chords begin to plink out, and Reni herself develops a weird Budapest-on-the-Bronx accent and starts bobbing about to such an extent that her hat nearly falls off.

In this game, you usually expect just the one terrifically terrible thing in a song - two if you're lucky. But we lost count halfway through with this one. Yes, it's that knuckle-gnawingly terrible. Poor show, Reni. I hope you come back with something a little more, well, less next time.

Saturday 3 February 2018

Estonia 2018 – Elina Netšajeva – La Forza (rehearsal excerpt)

First up I'll warn you that there's spoilers involved in this clip, so if you don't want to view the news, turn away now. 

Sill here? Good. So Estonia have been having their first Eesti Laul rehearsals over the last day or so, and the occasional shot of operatic Elina's unwieldy frock have been sneaking out of the Suurhall. But now we have this – shoddily shot phone-taken clip of the big reveal that is still both wow-making and ludicrous in equal measure.

Indeed, there have been two main tropes of the old frocky horror in Eurovision qualifiers over the last few years - the big massive sprawl where you stand on a plinth in a sea of fabric, and the  projecto-dress, where all manner of lightshows and beamed onto your immediate surrounds. So why nobody ever thought to combine the two terrible ideas into one massive horrible whole is beyond me. And we never expected it to come from the usually more creative Estonians, either. It's like they've been reading the South East European playbook or something.

Of course, this will do very well. Faux operatic tunes are traditionally lions in qualifying - but we must also remember that they frequently fall in the finals, no matter how well they're sung, or ill-advised their garb is. Sure, it would mix things up a bit on that Tuesday night in May, but would it even see the Saturday once folk have got over the novelty of this enormous garment?

I've got Barbara Dex on speed dial, just in case, mind.

Friday 2 February 2018

Poland 2018 - Wojtek Kubiak - Satisfied

The window of submission for the songs for Poland just slammed shut, and instantly up popped an aggregation of apparently entered songs. Now it's not clear whether this is the whole lot, or just folks who self-entered and self-publicised, but we have to hope that there's another batch of more professional outings waiting in the wings to  be revealed. If there isn't, then Poland are in a lot of trouble.

Very few songs could muster either a smile or grumble, as they were all pretty regular middle ground pop or home-composed chancers who've already done the rounds of the other shows. Indeed, only one song really stood out - and probably not for the right reasons.

Yes, meet Wojtek. It all starts out like a ploddy bit of late-90s techno pop, but then the man himself's picture pops up and we all go eeek a little bit. But nothing will prepare you for the first lyric line that pops by at the bottom of the screen.




From there on in it just gets more and more unrelentingly creepy, until you really feel like you need a good scrub at the end of it. Do you think he actually knows quite how those words are likely to be received at the other end of the screen? Let's just hope that it's all naive and unintentional, because any other option just bear thinking about. Now pass me that wire brush and Dettol...

Thursday 1 February 2018

Sweden 2018 - Edward Blom - Livet Pmå En Pinn

The first wave of Swedish song snippets we're released today, and to be absolutely, from the 57 seconds on display there's only one song that we can get excited about. Unusually, all of the pop waistrels have been a bit of a let down, and even Queen Kikki has blanded out with a country-fuelled plod. No, the one true star of MF show is one Edward Blom, trade historian and TV gastronomy star with his song Life On A Stick. And yes, you are reading right.

And I'm not saying this out of any ironic intention or arch wackiness. No, Edward here has the only song of the bunch that offers more than it promises. It's fun, it's simple, and it's going to bring out the fan hate by the bucketload in that manner that's only reserved for ugly middle-aged men having a lark. OK, so it may be the musical equivilent of a bookish Hairy Biker having an old time singsong, but it's bright and breezy and completely and utterly honest.

And it's not as if the bloke hasn't got form, either. He already had another single out back in 2016, and that was something of a lark, too. Look, while you Eurovisionistas are all having a gripe about the Dark Lord not taking the contest seriously you're all forgetting one thing. Melodifestivalen isn't for us. It's a light entertainment show for the general Swedish public, full of in jokes, local colour, and stuff that us mere abroadians will never totally fathom. It's one of the things that constantly keeps it above the mundane and forces me to watch year after year. And of course he's never exected to win. He's just there for a funtime three minutes - and you can bet your life he'll have one of the best, most extravagant stage shows of the whole damn caboodle.

And anyway, any song about Patrick Swayze that isn't actually a whole lot of fun is surely being more contemptuous to the contest that this little ray of showbiz sunshine.

Monday 29 January 2018

Lithuania 2018 - Vidas Bareikis - Pusvalanduko

(Click here for the sillies...)

Now we're talking! It seems to have taken an age for this Eurovision season to fully kick off, and even longer for the more esoteric performances to ripen on the tree. We were beginning to fear that it was going to be one of those dull, earnest frikki-free years. But you can always rely on the Liths for some funtime jollies. 

You may remember the boy Vidas here from his somewhat over complicated I Love My Phone from last year, a lively performance that was unfortunately overshadowed by the melon chopping antics of one Lolita Zero. Well he's back with another performance piece that may be low on song, but ranks pretty darned high on wonk. 

Funny suit? Check. Untraditional band set up? Check. Funny angular dancing? All of the above. But that's not all. At around the two minute mark we were treated to an unexpected extra so jarring with the rest of the performance that I advise you not to be drinking any hot liquids while you watch this if you value the screen of whatever it is that you're watching this on! This was a complete and utter kitchen sink of a performance, and we can't thank the fella highly enough for it. Long may he reign. 

Sunday 28 January 2018

Moldova 2018 - Tudor Bumbac - Numai Pentru Tine

As we've mentioned in an earlier post, the first reveal of the Moldovan songs can often be like opening the guest list for a family gathering, packed as it is with familiar names and curious cousins that you'd half forgotten about. And of course, there's always the one elderly uncle who insists on having a sing song as the night goes on. And by heavens don't you love it when he does that!

So all hail that elderly uncle to all of us in collective Eurovisionia, Tudor Bumbac, who gets us there, sings his heart out with his warm and crumbly voice, and just gives us all a jolly nice time. Along with the Dark Lord Bognibov, he gets ignored by the over serious jurors when it comes to picking the televised final few, year after year after year. But that never deters him. He just keeps plugging away, happy in himself, doggedly entertaining the few sturdy souls among us who understand the true value of a Moldovan live audition and the treasures it can bring. We love you Uncle Tudor!

Unfortunately someone seems to be deleting all the individual performances from the Moldovan auditions, so you'll have to make do with the studio version in the video above. But if you've really got the stomach for it, the whole thing, in all its plush red velvety glory, can be found by clicking here. Our boy Bumbac starts at around the fifty minute mark, but there's plenty more splendids to enjoy along the way.