Thursday 31 January 2019

Belarus 2019 - Daz Sampson & Nona - Kinky Boots

Now we're talking! In a year that's been dangerously shy of any cheesy dance numbers, old pal of this parish Daz Sampson has weighed in with an absolute blinder of the genre. Only this time he's having a stab in Belarus! Eh?

It's bouncy, it's repetitive and it's a bucketload of fun - and you just know that the stage show is going to be gleefully ludicrous. Of course he'll have get past the historically brutal Belarussian open audition process, where often even a strange walk and a funny hair do will get you the cold and disembodied "Spasibo!" before you've even got going. But Daz is made of more solid stuff than that, so we're sure he'll cope.

Oh how we wish that old Auntie Beeb was strong enough to have put at least one song this full of energy in among our final songs. They could have had someone in a hat and waistcoat doing a country version of it as a counterpoint...

In fact, we've only got one issue with this whole production. Where's Nona's boots? We certainly hope you've got a decent pair lined up for the telly!

Lithuania 2019 - Kali - Don‘t B3long

Lithuania 2019 are the gift that just continue to give. Just look at our little mate Kali here. Not so much mumble rap as grumble rap, he meanders along telling us about ill-suited is to his recently former partner, even though she's the only one who gets him and he feels like he wants to die.

Happy day!

It's people like Kali that make this show all kinds of marvellous. I was going to suggest that he was another one that they'd dragged off the streets, but it turned out that that unlikely 150 mob from the other day actually won Lithuanian X Factor a couple of years back, so for all we know this boy could be as big as Post Malone round those parts.

I love Lithuania, I really do.

Wednesday 30 January 2019

Ukraine 2019 - Brunettes Shoot Blondes - Houston

Word reaches us that this is alledgedly the song that BSB are going to send to Vidbir 2019. And if it is - then wowsers!

The song itself is sweet enough - a kind of gentle alt-indie jangle with a wickedly dry lyric. It's the kind fo thing that we'd expect more from the Baltics than down Kiev way, and in and of itself it's a pretty decent tune that hooks in the brain in a way that you really don't want it to.

But the story here is the instrument that they're playing it on. In a feat of fabulous musical engineering they've managed to combine 20 instruments into one and are playing the whole thing entirely by their own power with not a hint of electricity to be seen anywhere. It's an incredible piece of kit, and the kind of thing that would do the rounds of internet excitement entirely under it's own steam, and probably get onto the end of Newsnight a fortnight after everybody else has seen it.

But marry that to a very cute and credible Eurovision song and we might have our hands on an understated danger here. Keep an eye on this one.

I wouldn't like to be the poor soul who's got to get that thing through Israeli customs, mind...

Tuesday 29 January 2019

Lithuania 2019 - 120 - Nėra Abejonių

You lot who claim to be fans of Eurovision but steadfastly refuse to watch any of the qualifier shows so that you can keep yourselves pure baffle us here at Apocalypse. To use a sporting analogy, it's like claiming to be a massive fan of football's FA Cup but only watching the Wembley final. Yes, throughout Spring you get dozens of mini Eurovisions from right around the continent - and even beyond these days - and you're missing out on so much fun.

And look at all the fun you're missing out on. Songs that don't stand a cat in hell's chance of getting anywhere near Tel Aviv, but that underline the very joy of performing for its own sake. Folks like 120 here.

The song's terrible of course, but watch and marvel as two fellas who still can't believe that they've got on the telly are shouting and japing along to ever more ludicrous dance routines. Peer closely into the background and you may just spot the rank of backing singers trilling along from their song sheets like they can't quite believe their careers have come to this.

So join us, people, and soon you'll be standing with us on the musical version of the touchline of a municipal park on a damp evening watching some godforsaken Extra-Preliminary round replay (It's an FA Cup thing again). This is non-league Eurovision, and it's the absolute spirit of the competition - why on Earth would you want to miss out on such delights?

Sunday 27 January 2019

France 2019 - Silvàn Areg – Allez Leur Dire

I was on punk rock business for the first semi-final of Destination Eurovision so missed all the performances, and after being enveloped in all the Bilal hoo-haa I clean forgot to check up on the songs after. Which was my error, because this little cracker has to go down as one of the best presented three minutes of Eurovision in a long old time.

What we see here is a cheeky chappy delivering a bouncy, effortlessly French nursery rhyme of a song while stamping about in all manner of cartoon lands. Film students and cineastes among you will know how it's done straight away, but I won't spoil the fun for the rest of you.

Needless to say this scored higher than anyone could have imagined, doubtless encouraged by the performance's charm and ingenuity. You see, there are still original ways that you can do a live show in this contest, and I for one can only applaud the fella and his peoples. I only wish that I'd been awake to it earlier!

Saturday 26 January 2019

Iceland 2019 - Hatari - Hatrið Mun Sigra

After a difficult few years for Iceland, this year's Söngvakeppnin selection feels like somebody at RUV looked behind the beige curtain and discovered a whole bundle of delights that they'd never so much as considered sending in the past. And good on them, for this year they've finally got around to asking one of their nation's most popular international underground exports to join the fray. The Haters!

Some pals of ours have been calling out for this lot to be a part of the show for years, and now their dreams have finally come true - and how! These anti-state S&M techno goths will certainly knock the cobwebs off of the traditionally staid Reykjavik crowd, and their on-stage show is going to be an absolute blinder if their past record is anything to go by.

But will they be so bold as to let it go the whole way to Tel Aviv? We flipping well hope so! Imagine your nan trying to make head nor tail of this!

Lithuania 2019 - Antikvariniai Kašpirovskio Dantys - Mažulė

Those among you who aren't sure what to do with yourselves before the French final could do worse than have a gander at tonight's Lithuanian show. For while it's still an early qualifier, and nobody's entirely sure what's going on until the latter stages, it's absolutely jam packed with bonkers stuff that almost certainly won't see any further light after tonight.

For a start, you've got the unsettling regional mumble rap of Laimingu Būti Lengva, the cheesy-as-all-hell lady group La Forza and the double alumnus outfit of Jurgis Did and Erica Jennings (InCulto and Scamp) with their curious plinky plonky confection. (Actually, that one might be something of a danger, thinking about it).

But the only song to care about is from this ramshackle mob. With a name that translates as something like Kaspirov's Antique Copper Teeth (put me right, Lithuanian locals), this unlikely aggregation stand about in an ungainly stomp and belt out the mob choruses with bar room aplomb. It's as if someone had formed a lad band at the worst pub in town for a laugh and somehow got them onto X Factor. No seriously - that's where this clip's from!

I might be alone here, but I really can't wait to see what they do tonight!

Friday 25 January 2019

Norway 2019 - Hank von Hell - Fake It

Well that was quite unexpected, Norway! Most Eurovision fans will have cast their eyes down the MGP list and thought "Oh, they've gone for another comedy rocker to fill the end slot." But to I can guarantee you that punks and metal freaks the world over have just gone "Oh my flipping days - Hank von Hell is doing Eurovision!"

Hank's best known as being a member of the camp and outrageous rock'n'roll deathpunk band Turbonegro - and outfit with a loyal and rabid gang of worldwide followers called the Turbojugend, who all dress in uniform and follow the boys around the planet. Hank himself left the band under a cloud after well-documented substance issues, and claims that his life has been turned around by Scientology.

His shows are usually awash with flame, explosions and terrible behaviour, and his traditionally erratic on stage demeanour means that absolutely bloody anything could happen on show night - especially if the Jugend mobilise...

File under: Be afraid. Be very afraid. I can't flipping wait!

Tuesday 22 January 2019

Moldova 2019 - Iurii Sadovnic și Formația Legenda - Robin Hood

It's always an exciting moment in the Apocalypse household when the Moldovan songs are released, and this year certainly hasn't let us down. Of 30 songs submitted, 28 have made it to the audition stages (one of the other two being unfinished, and the other an aural hate crime, by all accounts). But Sasha's continued magnificence aside, there one only one song that really tweaked our nonsense muscle. And what an experience this is.

For a start, it's called Robin Hood. Our Spider senses were already tweaking before we'd heard a note.  Then came the triumphant intro - a brief gong, followed by a distant guitar, and what sounds like a man of some age channeling Norwegian Wood, before he launches into a tale of derring do about our very own national hero. We think. Mainly because we're genuinely not sure if it's in English or Moldovan. And then it rattles off into some kind of primal ancient European blues - and then gets even stranger.

Of all the songs in this pretty poor selection this is the one that we're looking forward to seeing the most. Especially because Mr Sadovnic looks like this...

Lithuania 2019 - Banzzzai - I Don't Care

It's been quiet a quiet season so far for the more, how shall we say, esoteric entries. So it was with much delight that we spotted this little fancy from the second Lithuanian qualifier on Saturday. We'd been double screening with the French final - mainly due to the hours of jibber jabber between the songs in in each show. But while concentrating on the goings on in France our attentions were drawn to this beauty clophopping about in the corners of our collective eyes.

Yes, this is where Eurovision 2019 officially begins!

So what do we have here then? A giant silver-headed bear mincing about with a gruff voice over a backing track that borrows only ever-so-slightly from Pump Up The Jam. But then he gets to dance properly - and boy can he shift for a big lad! But that's not all. Not only are his backing dancers dressed like sexy terrorists - FOR NO APPARENT REASON - but there's a completely random moment with a glowing harp device that clearly means something locally (we hope), but is utterly bewildering to the rest of us.

It was brilliant, happy, honest fun, and exactly why we love this time of year! This, dear reader, is pure Apocalypse gold! Enjoy your meal!

Monday 21 January 2019

Portugal 2019 - Conan Osíris - Telemóveis

In days done by it's been an unusual event for Portugal to offer up anything even remotely experimental to the FDC fold. But still in the glow of their winning moment they've gotten a little bolder in their selections. Witness Conan Osiris here. If you can imagine an amalgam of rustic Lusophone folk and skittish electronic mumble rap you're probably only a quarter of the way to guessing what this is going to sound like.

Older clips of his on YT suggest a kind of deep, dark and shadowy figure, operating at the very fringes of usual music, and his Festival entry is pushing the very boundaries of what wide swathes of Eurovisiona even consider music.

But heavens, we suspect this is going to be very, very special live. It may be doomed critically, we we can't flipping wait to see it performed live!


We've seen it live. It was a bit flipping special, and we've added it above!

Sunday 20 January 2019

Spain 2019 - Miki - La Venda

Whoa, hang about - Spain have sent something terrific tonight! Didn't see that coming!

When I first heard the OT songs back at the tail end of last year I instantly loved it, but assumed that either some mawkish frocky ballad or one of the diluted Fuego-alikes would be way ahead at the front of the queue. Then when I saw that the lad Miki was also lumbered with a duet I feared his vote would be diluted.

And even when he exploded onto the stage in the OT gala tonight I was pretty sure that he was singing entirely for my own delight and would be shuffling awkwardly down the bottom of the single-digit percenters when it came to scoring time. But heaven no - the crowd went absolutely doolally bonkers in the nut when he finished, and continued to yelp loudly every time the song was so much as hinted at.

Good lad!

And if you've not seen it yet, prepare yourself for a pleasant surprise. From the chummy in-the-crowd beginnings, to the top speed romp through (150bpm, I've been told) right through to the quaintly subversive anticapitalismo lyric, this is an unabashed party song that you can easily fall in love with.

But is it a winner? I suspect not. But who cares, because at least we'll have the one song that we can all leap about to like 'nanas in what already threatens to be an increasingly staid year.

But then again I never imagined that it would win tonight...

I'll tell you what though - they're going to be proper pooped in rehearsals!

Lithuania 2018 - Aldegunda - I Want Your Love

While we await a somewhat tardy LRT to post up the videos from last night's Eurovizijos Atranka (mainly so that we can show you the rather splendid horror that was Banzzzai's I Don't Care), let me run this little puppy by you from two weeks back.

Aldegunda here seems to be something of a face in Lithuanian music. A quick flick through her YouTube channel will see her touting everything from P!nk covers to decadent cabaret lounge jazz, right through to moderately noisy symphonic rock attempts. And she seems to be playing over the pond in the Americas all the time. But here she seems to be channeling her inner Grace Jones... only a slightly more car boot version.

And while it's clear that she has some stagecraft, you can't help but cringe at every new gesture. From the over-emphasis on the hand gestures, to the fruity expressions, comedy scratched record pratfall that has never worked for anyone in this contest ever, right down to the over-reliance on her chair and some less welcome thrusty gestures, it's all about as challenging as a progressive drama teacher gone rogue with her own solo song at a Home Counties high school's musical production. And every bit as awkward to watch.

But do you know what? Despite all that she came third of twelve in the first Lithuanian semi, so what the heck do we know. Prepare to be dazzled by her next performance, because we reckon that she's going to try to outdo this one. But be sure that you're watching from behind the sofa...


I've just learned that this won its week's televote. Be afraid. Be mostly afraid.

Saturday 19 January 2019

Ukraine 2019 - TseSho - Hate

Now if you were asking me for our fantasy future Eurovision genres I'm not sure that even our ants nest brain would have come up with an Anarchist Feminist Ukrainian Puppet Show singing about hate. But here we are. And what a thing it is.

TseSho are actually a pretty big deal on the international arts circuit, but it's still quite a surprise to see them cross pollinate into this sphere. And one suspects that the wider denizens of Eurovisionia are going to hate it. Well, it's not terribly popsome is it.

And just wait until we see Mr Serdushka's face when he has to judge on it. Oh my giddy aunt. This one's going to look fabulous and be incredibly divisive, isn't it!

Friday 18 January 2019

Australia 2019 - Electric Fields - 2000 And Whatever

Now we're talking. When Electric Fields were first called as an Australian contender we reckoned it could have gone one of two ways. Either they'd temper their usual unique and interesting styles to the perceived confines of Eurovisionia, or they'd go the whole hog and just do what they do and damn the consequences.

Thank heavens they went for the latter option.

Because man this song is cool. Effortlessly cool. Cool in a way that post-Aminata Latvia could only dream of. Cooler than the entire slate of Eesti Laul performers this year. Yeah, that cool.

But of course, cool doesn't necessarily mean prizes, to mix a Brucie metaphor. The Australian public are a hitherto unknown quantity round these parts, and it's unclear exactly what they'll be looking for. The smart money suggests that if they've got their music head on it'll be a shoe-in for Sheppard, but if the more traditional Eurofan gets their voting boots on, well our Courtney could be bagging the Israel ticket. And when you factor in all the popular casting show kiddies in the final Aussie line up, well the portents aren't terribly good for this mob.

But the one thing we know for sure is that the stage show is almost certain to be a stunning, and one that makes it onto all the near miss clips at the end of the season. Indeed, it's one of those divisive that people will either fight a wild lion for, or they just won't see what all the fuss is about, with little in between.

And where do we stand on this matter? Here kitty kitty...

Thursday 3 January 2019

Romania 2019 - Trooper - Destin

Romania used to regularly sit near the top of a lot of people's 'Country Most Likely To' lists for a good many years. But their brief flirtation with yodelling ballistics aside, they've fast been turning into lower table also-rans with a consistently uninspiring selection of entries. So it was that I was a little hesitant to plough my way through their finally-released slate of entries this morning - and my fears were not allayed...

Yes, it's coming to something when a repetitive slab of folkloric pub metal like this is the only thing that kept me from packing it in and cleaning round the back of the toilet. Pretty much all of its opponents sound as though they've been recorded in the same studio, using the same English translation tool, they're so interchangeable. And even when a tune did hold some promise of variation, like Xandra or Sensibil Balkan, they pretty quickly descended into the usualness.

And to be fair, the Trooper lads are probably only here to make Laura Bretan look even sweeter and more childlike, as we all have a suspicion that she's already the anointed one with her saccharine slice of schmaltz. But you've got to take what you've got, and if they can encourage everyone to swing their flagons in the air to this one on a mid-Spring Saturday night, their very difference might carry them through. Although one look as this cosy bar gig suggests that they're not the most dynamic of fellows.

Ah well... all together now... Lai-lai la-la-la lai...