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?!