Thursday 24 December 2020

Christmas 2020 - Mahmood & Elisa - Silent Night

In what's been probably the strangest of all Eurovision years, what better way to celebrate Christmas than with Mahmood and Elisa awkwardly singing Silent Night round the Pope's gaff!

Happy festives to all our regulars - and anyone who just happens to be passing through. You've all made a very complicated year utterly worthwhile. One suspects the upcoming ESC season is going to be sparse on the wonky delights, but we'll do our very best to dredge the gems out of somewhere.

Now you go and look after yourselves, and however you choose to celebrate at this time of the year, make sure it's a good one!

Happy Christmas from the Eurovision Apocalypse family!

Albania 2021 - Anxhela Peristeri - Karma

At least one festive tradition was able to be fulfilled in this uncharacteristic Christmas period when Albania chose their Eurovision act in the last week of December. To most sensible observers it was the obvious winner, although you can never entirely second guess what the locals are going to enjoy out those parts. It might be a smudge from the old times, although it's got its charms. But there's one thing that's paramount to us still loving it come May time (in whatever form our favourite contest eventually takes)…

Don't mess about with that intro!

By now we're well used to a FiK winner being revamped to within an inch of its life for the Eurovision palate - and that's fine by us. It's their song, after all and they can do whatever the heck they want with it. But if any song this season has a more powerful, dramatic and absolutely unhinged first 12 seconds then we'll happily up sticks to whatever town or village it comes from. Because as openings go, this one is near perfect.

First off our Angela settles herself into a defiant stance before letting out a plaintive Balkan cry. Then blammo! Six overly processed power chords blast into the air in seemingly random timing, before waiting a beat and a half before laying down a pregnant seventh. Is this the last one? It makes no musical sense and is utterly disorientating as you wait hopefully for the eighth for what seems like ten seconds, but is probably only one, until the plinky plonky piano kicks in and it turns into an otherwise pretty standard song - and all the while the singer herself stands there, chin raised like she really means business. It's an absolutely brilliant opening salvo, and one that is not referenced again anywhere in the song - which in our book makes it all the better.

We're not kidding when we say that we've had that intro on repeat all morning and still haven't got bored with it. So come on Albania, do the right thing. You can change anything and everything in that song, but please pretty please don't damage those perfect first twelve seconds!

Wednesday 23 December 2020

Albania 2021 - Era Rusi - Zjarri Im

More from FiK, a  contest that traditionally we know to be a little staid and serious at the best of times. But that's not to its detriment, as that always feels like it fits in with the atmosphere. But you always get the occasional for extravagant number that pierces through the downtempo glumness, and by heck did this one do that in spades.

Prowling onto the stage like Kat Slater in a blonde wig and golden legs, our lass here pretty quickly bursts into a stampy Balkan turbo disco number, with an insistent singalong-a-syllable chorus, and the now near obligatory hair-flicking dance segment at its centre. Oh, and there's drums. Lots of drums.

But despite all those potentially hackneyed ingredients it still manages to come across as a likeable little number, and the singer (is Era Rusi her name or a band name? It appears to translate as 'Russian Era', which would be a very strange thing to call your young 'un – even in Albania!) comes across as warm and likeable, despite the cheesy ESC-by-numbers hand she's been dealt. And while most commentators seem to think that Anxhela Peristeri has already got this contest sewn up, we really wouldn't be all that upset if this wonky little pop gem got the nod for the big show. 

Tuesday 22 December 2020

Albania 2021 - Evi Reçi - Tjerr

This year's Festivali i Këngës has gone a bit Covid strange. Rather than the usual cosy confines of the Pallati i Kongresevem they've dragged everyone out into Italia Square, built a massive great open air stage, and have swapped the orchestra for a Eurovision-style backing track. But what it's lost in that delightful old school quaintness it's certainly made up for in oddness points.

For a start, it must be pretty nippy out there as you can see a considerable amount of steam coming out of the contestants' mouths as they sing. And for another, the vast performance area has brought out a kind of showbiz in some of the acts that is rarely seen during a traditional FiKmas. 

We'll have to say though, when we saw the initial screengrabs of the songs we expected this one was going to be a bit silly. With a stern looking lady in a gravity confounding outfit and big old veterinarian's gloves looking a bit moody alongside two fellas who weren't trying especially hard to escape from some loosely tied rope, we were expecting some kind of pumping S&M turbo pop. But instead what we actually got was an incredible cool and measure slink of a song that everyone would be going nuts over had it come from somewhere more Western. We're not expecting this to win, as there are a handful of more traditionally histrionic Albanian songs on offer. But it would be a most welcome departure for their more usual fodder if they did send this one through.

Monday 21 December 2020

Iraqi Turkmen 2020 – Sarmad Mahmood – Kelebek (Turkvision)

Eurovision's more exotic second cousin made a comeback yesterday afternoon, and what a beauteous bounty it was. After a break of a few years, its return was in a slightly more bargain basement form to the lavish affair we've seen in previous iterations, but we're still so very glad that it was there.

This year saw an entirely studio-based form, with mostly static camera plonking the performers into an identical background (which looked a little like the Tine Tunnel, ancient TV fans). Some performers made the best of their technical limitations, but many looked just a little bit awkward, like Sarmad here.

Representing the Turkmen population in Iraq, he looked ill at ease from the start, but it got to almost painful levels of awks from the 1:21 mark when a massive instrumental break made him stand there like a lemon for just shy of a minute. And for Sarmad it must have been a long, never-ending minute. At first he made an attempt to interact with the music - even pulling off a little air oud for a couple of seconds. But then he just stood there, staring.

At first it looked like he was wondering what he should have for his tea, but then his eyes retreated into themselves and for a moment it seemed as though you could peer into his very soul. You'll feel bad for the lad, but like a car accident or a bad wig you won't be able to tear your eyes away. We were absolutely devastated to find out that this came last, as it's a smashing little tune, and one that's so incredibly evocative of his people and his region. But we'll always have that ever so special 58 difficult seconds. You are out new hero, Sarmad Mahmood, and we applaud you!

Sunday 20 December 2020

Moldova 2021 - Sasha Bognibov - (I Just Had) Sex with Your Ex

(Click here if there's a blank space where a video should be just above…)

You really do have to admire the man. In a year where it's not entirely clear what shape or form Eurovision will eventually take place in, and where most nations are simply sending the artist they chose last year, everyone's favourite national finals recidivist is ploughing on with his ambition of getting to the big show regardless. There's a very string rumour that Moldova will be simply asking Natalia Gordienko to do the honours again, but our Sasha ain't letting that stop him, and so released his song with an expectant fanfare early this Sunday afternoon.

Again written by his recent co-conspirator, who himself has for at this contest as the writer of Denmark's 1987 entry in the actual international grand prix final, it couldn't be more different to last year's crunchy Love Me Like Your Daughter. Instead, plinky plonky techno tones punctuated by little over dramatic interludes, flow nicely around its insistent use of the song's title. Also scattered around are odd little bits of French in deepened tones and curious cat noises. It doesn't really go anywhere much, but it's quite a pleasant meander along the way

It's possibly Sasha's most commercial sounding effort in years, and the light, whimsical tone of the tune suits his reedy, high pitched voice more aptly than many of his crunchier efforts in the past. But will it even find a home? Let's hope it gets in front of a willing pair of television eyes somewhere on the continent, as this is almost too much fun to waste.

Wednesday 9 December 2020

France 2021 - Barbara Pravi - Voilà

The songs for the French selection process, Eurovision France, C'est Vous Qui Décidez, quite unexpectedly snuck out this morning, and for the most part they were a somewhat disappointing lot. There's a whole lot of twee, quite a lot of ordinary, and very little in the way of choruses. But then we heard this one and instantly forgot all the others - which to be fair wasn't terribly difficult.

Where most of the rest were trying to cram too much in to a limited space, Barbara here has left things sparse, drawing you in to every breathy syllable that she utters. Our French language skills aren't as good as they could be, but I still believed every single word as it swept through waves of gentleness to the occasional carny carousel crescendo. This song could only ever be a French song, and is delivered with such graceful Gallic skill that it's surely the only sensible option for Rotterdam out of this poor selection of mediocre tunes.

And if you thought that Ms Pravi's name was familiar, the girl has form. She's still riding on the crest of a wave as the co-creator of this year's most excellent Junior Eurovision winner, J'Imagine, along with Igit, who also has a hand in this beautiful song. So not only has she delivered probably the most complete compositions of the season so far, she's got a bit of an idea of how this whole Eurovision machine works too. France, I implore you, pick this. It'll be the only song you're offering up that has the ability to drag you out of your usual bottom quarter 

Monday 7 December 2020

Estonia 2021 - Redel – Tartu


Oh my days, that live performance was even more than we could have dreamed of! The original vid is still at the bottom of this page if you want a revisit.


That's it, cancel everything, we have a winner - our my front room at least! Those who know us IRL will know that we rattle on about how Winny Puhh are the greatest musical artists in all known history, so it may not surprise you to know that this is easily our favourite aspiring entry for Eurovision 2021 by quite some distance.

Y'see, the group here referred to as Redel (meaning Ladder in Estonian, language fans) is made up of Indrek and Kristjan of the above mentioned Põlva weird noise legends, and sees our two heroes bouncing cheerily down a tunnel telling us about how lots of their local downs are made of wood, and how Tartu is really very nice. And that's it! This situationist travelogue is backed by bouncy minimal filth beats and all weighs in at a little over two minutes, and if anything betters this for absolute wonky joy this most potentially fun-dry of seasons then I will very likely faint.

Prepare yourself for the live performance, because if you've never seen anything other than their sister band's gateway drug 
Meiecundimees Üks Korsakov Läks Eile Lätti the other year you'll possibly be horrified to know know that it was among their most restrained stage appearances, and absolutely anything could happen!

Can't bloody wait!

Friday 20 November 2020

Bulgaria 2021 - Victoria - Ugly Cry

One of our biggest disappointments last year was that the continent didn't get to see the full splendour of Victoria's Tears Getting Sober, which, despite being a little less talked about than some of the more showbizzy numbers, was most probably Bulgaria's biggest chance of finally bagging a win. So we were delighted to learn that she'd be back again this season - despite being uncertain whether she'd be able to follow TGS up with something of equal incredible stature.

But judging by this clip that hit the airwaves today, she's on the right track. While not being as gorgeously glacial as her previous effort, her intense yet casual vocal still breathes out an edgy lyric that draws your ear closer to the speaker to try and work out what she's telling us. Although still being reminiscent of her American near-alike, there's marginally less of the blatant Elishisms this time - but we're not entirely sure at this point whether that's a good thing or a bad thing.

Our friends in the Bulgarian organisation suggest that this is just one of a number of potentially contending songs, so while it doesn't entirely hit the mark in the same way as last year's tune, it's still a crackingly understated little dark pop tune, and suggests that there's still better to come. I mean, who blows the best goods with their first tune in a long and gradual release cycle, eh? (That's a rhetorical question, Ms Aalto…)

Tuesday 17 November 2020

Albania 2021 - Kastro Zizo - Vallja e Jetës


So we finally got to see this live, and it was every bit as dramatic as we'd hoped - although with slightly less on stage personnel than we'd anticipated. But it also turns out that the boy Zizo is a slightly unsavoury character, with an unapologetic history of blackface and a somewhat dismissive view on Eurovision - all wrapped up in an ego that would struggle to fit into the Ahoy. So watch with interest, but do so with full knowledge that he's sadly a bit of a prat.


And finally we have some proper contenders! Woo hoo!

You can always rely on the Albanians to deliver a slate of dark, minor key pop songs, moody ballads and blokes with impossibly deep voices telling us about their hardships over jangly guitars. But the thing we look forward to the most each year is trying to work out which is going to be the most impressive in the live sphere. And this one's feels like it's just crying out for a monster of a live performance.

The thing is, now they've done away with their slightly cramped indoor FiK stage and are sending the whole show outdoors (In December? In Albania? Are they quite, and beautifully, bonkers?), the artists may just be given a little more room to mess about with the staging. And if there's one thing we know it's a song that begs for a visual.

This is also one song that we'd be really interested to see with an orchestra (if they're actually able to have one in the bleak Balkan winter, that is). It could go either way. All those stringy things could either add to already enormo-sound of the production, or totally knock the bold edges off - but we can't wait to find out.

We suspect that this is probably no winner unless the boy Zizo is some kind of massive star back home - but then again after all these years if there's one thing we've learned about Albania is that this is one show that you can never totally predict. But all the same, it's a big bold slice of noisy nonsense that stomps about just lovely. Can't bloody wait!

Friday 13 November 2020

United Kingdom 2021 - Dominic Frisby - I'm Going To Marry Gary

It looks like it's going to be a quiet old year here at Eurovision Apocalypse, what with so many of the acts already chosen, and what few national finals there are remaining being, for the most part, the more staid and fun free events. We suspect that we're going to be picking the few rare tasty morsels that do exist out of the straw at the bottom of the cowshed for the most part this term - which is why we got vaguely excited when this dropped into our mailbox last night.

It's long been the tradition for us to post the first competing song that we hear in a season - whatever it may sound like - just to kick things off. We'd even considered putting up Dami Im's dreary nearly-was effort - and we might still have to if things get sparse. But this chirpy little ditty made us seriously reconsider that tradition.

Taking just the song in itself, it's a whimsical little singalong tune, presented by a performer with an easy comic charm. The rhymes are just the right side of groan inducing, and the video is very nicely filmed and paced. However, the subject matter itself is where it become problematic.

Had this been performed by an act like Kunt & The Gang you'd know exactly where you'd stand with it (and if you've not heard of them before, tread carefully in your Googling!). But the middle-aged-blokes-down-the-pub mocking their mate for fancying a cross dresser really doesn't sit comfortably, and as innocent as their intentions may have been in order to chuck in a few lumpy puns, the way it's been received in the comments section only goes to underline these fears.

Clearly there's a few people in there trying to be deliberately ironic, but these sit uncomfortably alongside the cries of "Woke!" and "PC gone mad" in pre-empting its reception from the "lefties", which only goes to underline that however simple your intentions, as soon as you put something like this out into the public sphere, people are going to see it in the way that best suits their world view - however much that may happen to vary from your own.

But aside from all that, just sticking the words 'UK 2021 Eurovision Entry' in the title of your video is about as pointless as me mocking up a fake sticker and pretending I played for Zaire in the 1974 World Cup - that is unless the intention of this song was just to annoy or provoke the fanbase and trans community, which were that to be the case, would be even more puerile and mean-spirited than some of the jokes the video contained. 


Further examination into this artist's body of work suggests that this is very much his kind of thing. Oh well.

Wednesday 18 March 2020

Eurovision 2020 - Charpentier - Te Deum: Prelude

So the Apocalypse actually happened, and Eurovision 2020 is no more. These are dark days for all of us, so a jolly little song contest is but minor collateral damage in the whole scheme of things. But you have to give your hearts to all of the people who battled for the right to get their face on TV for three minutes and have a big two week working party on Rotterdam come May.

So let's hear it for the 41 plucky acts who were in the midst of their preparation for the big show, and for the thousands and thousands of other hopefuls who wrote and entered a song into this year's competition in the hope that they might be the lucky ones, and for all the selection committees, national final hosts, TV crews, studio producers, choreographers, video makers and all the other unsung heroes of Eurovision whose work has turned to dust.

We salute you all, for you are what makes this and dozens of other sites just like it tick. Now many we all stand for the national anthem of Eurovisionia - still gives me shivers down the spine every single time - and prepare for the doubtlessly decades long argument of who would have actually won this year....

Thursday 12 March 2020

Russia 2020 - Little Big - Uno

We won't lie, we're massive fans of Little Big. When Skibidi first went viral we just knew that they couldn't possibly have arrived at this point fully formed, and started digging into their back catalogue. And the more we dug, the more we loved. Any band who can put together songs and videos like Dead Unicorn, AK-47, Hateful Love, Big Dick and LollyBomb for starters is right our my anarcho pop alley. But to marry Die Antwoord's dangerous made up universe aesthetic with compact Russian techno rave and cheesy-assed Eastern folk chords is like a gift from the gods around Castle Apocalypse. So when it was finally announced that they'd be doing the big show for the mother country we got more than a little pleasantly agitated.

But then when clips of the song started sneaking out, one began to worry. Because as fascinating as it would have been had some lesser act done it, this certainly wasn't peak LB. And now that the video has finally escaped, we must confess to being somewhat underwhelmed. In fact, their cold-eyed stares in this clip it almost looks like something of a hostage situation or an obligation - and maybe perhaps it is. Because of course, Russia have something of a precedent for this...

We'd first started hearing rumblings that Russian telly were trying to court this lot for Rotterdam when the tears of joy were still barely dried on the cheek of Duncan Lawrence. But every time it looked as though they'd offered them enough, how shall we put this, incentive, the band's people insisted that they couldn't do it, as they had a tour already booked and wouldn't want to blow out their fans. This rumour kept coming and going, and just when we'd almost given up and decided that they'd chosen some sad-faced warbler instead the announcement was made at the very last minute that they'd always wanted to do it, and would be happy to represent their nation on the international stage.

But then I cast my mind back to 2001. The previous year a raggle taggle gaggle of Latvians made an explosive debut in Stockholm, dang nearly winning the whole thing. "How original for Eurovision!" the West cried. "How very much were Brainstorm ripping off Mumiy Troll!" the East countered. And before you knew it, there were Mumiy Troll looking all surly and obligated on the Copenhagen stage.

I remember chatting to Ilya of the band in his hotel bar that year, and he only thinly disguised the fact that he would rather be anywhere else on the planet, and gave a vague hint that it was made clear to him that the Troll had no real option than to be performing there that year. And despite its decent finish, Lady Alpine Blue wouldn't be said to be among their finest songs by even the most rabid of their fans.

Now cast your minds forward to Riga a couple of years later. The incredible and dark teen pop act tATu grudgingly shuffled their way through the contest like it was all one terrible imposition, and anyone who witnessed them having their dinner in the Skonto canteen surrounded by at least 200 cameramen could kind of see why.

Skip on a few years to Oslo. Peter Nalitch had recently became an internet sensation with his viral hit Guitar. And indeed, Lost & Forgotten was a cracking little understated tune - but you've rarely seen a more unhappy gaggle of guys about town that we did that year.

And even the Babushkas were parachuted in after becoming the darlings of the fandom a couple of years before when they lost out to the aforementioned Nalitch. The pattern is interesting. The moment anyone from Russia makes something of a stir in the international sphere, there's a very good chance that you'll be seeing them on the Eurovision stage within 18 months. Apparently whether they like it or not. It's almost as if someone from a higher place decreed it to be so. Nah, that could never happen... could it?

PS If you don't hear from us for a couple of months, I've deposited instructions and further incriminating evidence in a left luggage locker at Kings Cross Station. The key is under the mat...

Tuesday 10 March 2020

Azerbaijan 2020 - Efendi - Cleopatra

So just when we thought it wasn't going to happen, up pop Azerbaijan to top out what's been one heck of a rumour fest this season! And by heck what a job they've done on it! Did they gazump San Marino for it? Who knows? And I'll guess we'll never entirely know unless someone connected to the song shops the story? And were they ever really going to choose that Scars song? Again, it's become impossible to second guess the workings of the Azerbaijani Eurovisionistic mind.

But what we do know is that we're so very glad that it wasn't confined to the near-miss dumpster.

And it's a distinctly different production to the possibly-Senhit sung demo that we first heard all those weeks ago. Gone is the inexplicable Latiny bit in the middle eight, replaced by something considerably more apt and Eastern-tinged. And man does she roll the consonants in the song's title with some attitude and venom.

This almost certainly isn't going to win the whole darned thing, but it'll most certainly cause a stir. And with the amount of oil-money that the Caspian crew have to throw at capital showbiz projects, we suspect that this is going to be a performance to remember on the big night. Ten days ago people were saying that this year's Eurovision was boring. Now look how it's shaping up!

Monday 9 March 2020

San Marino 2020 - Senhit - Freaky!

It's often said that the road up the hill to San Marino is often winding and bumpy, and that's certainly the journey taken by any close observers of the annual selection processes on this year. First came the rumours - and ones that we've already gone into in detail elsewhere on this blog. "Cleopatra!" they whispered. "It's the one to finally bring it home for glorious S&M!" But then we heard tell that although it had been the favoured one of the five songs submitted, the artist wasn't keen on it, and they'd gone with a song called Freaky! instead.

And off went Cleo on her own circuitous journey around the nations - at least for a bit – upon when rumours began to kick in  about a fortnight ago that Senhit was back, and that she was bringing the song with her! All the while when this was going on, a mysterious agency claiming to be an official Samarinese source claimed that The Most Serene Republic was onto a winner this year, and would you like to buy some condoms with their branding on. Its about that point that we got distracted and started to begin wondering what Azerbaijan was likely to send, when quite out of the blue there was an announcement...

Well, the announcement was that there would be an announcement on the local news that night, at least. And that announcement turned out to be a further announcement that the real announcement would be happening some time the next morning, and it would be something we'd never seen before at Eurovision... Turned out it was a two song final (done), where people would be choosing between the featured songs (done) and voting online (done). Although I kinda guess that they hadn't all been done together, so they weren't entirely making it up.

The next morning the songs appeared, and we were allowed to make vote on them. No Cleopatra, worst luck (but we can understand that, as you can see why someone of North East African heritage might baulk at a song of that title and subject matter, if that indeed really was why it wasn't chosen). But very definitely a Freaky! - but also an Obsessed, a Carly Rae Jepson-alike that kind of inoffensively crept out of the woodwork, and just as quickly crept back in.

And so it was that the online voting public went for the song that featured all the stills that the beautiful and graceful Ms Senhit had been posting on Insta for the last few weeks. We wonder, of course, what might have been in the video for Obsessed?

The song itself is actually pretty decent - albeit in the same faux disco furrow that SM appear to have been ploughing for about the last few years (we don't talk about the robot incident, right...), and as you are soon to find out, Senhit herself is an absolute dream of a human being. But it didn't half get a bit strange and confusing somewhere down the line to the outside observer.

Sunday 8 March 2020

Denmark 2020 - Jasmin Rose feat. RoxorLoops - Human

For a country so quick to cancel the crowds for events of more than 999 people, Denmark seem to love pushing health and safety to the very boundaries when it comes to stage shows. Remember that lass Leonora on her giant chair last year? There were no safety wires or grip handles up there, and those ladders needed a fair bit of fixing in. And then there was that Rasmussen laddie from with all that steps, stamping, snow and flag waving business, as well as all that glue-on hair. But this year they had a go at something even riskier - putting a beatboxer up onto a cherry picker... with no hand rail!

The fact that this was the second favourite in all the polls kind of demonstrates what a drab old final this was. Of course, part of that would be because old RoxorLoops here has been in it before, with Witloof Bay for Belgium back in Düsseldorf. But also because it was the only thing with a bit of go in it, despite its utter ludicrousness.

Yeah, why not rent in one of the world's greatest exponents of the beatboxing arts, only to have him standing looking like a bored crusty robot for massive chunks of the song, while someone who looked like a Northern holiday park Katy Perry trib warbled out a merry tune about bringing back humanity while perched anxiously on a rickety platform? There must have surely been a showbiz planning meeting for this whole sorry mess - who even signed it off, let alone proposed it to a panel and had it all agreed?

Still, it kind of suited one of the strangest national final events in all Eurovision history...

Saturday 7 March 2020

Bulgaria 2020 - Victoria - Tears Getting Sober

I guess the problem of being a breakout international star with your own unique and game-changing style is that all of a sudden everyone wants to sound just a little bit like you. And so it was that pretty much every national final process had a song that was, to varying degrees just a little bit Eilish. Thankfully only two made it to the big show - albeit the two very best of them. And hereby sits the problem...

Both Alcohol You and Tears Getting Sober are exceptional songs in the Eurovision sphere. They both very much wear their influences on their sleeves, but carry enough of their own personalities into the song to be distinct. However, they're also both sparse, glacial, and apparently dealing with substance abuse issues. So if they both get out of their respective semi-finals it could give the running order crew on heck of a big headache.

They've clearly got to keep them apart, but who would get the (assumed) plum draw? Will it be entirely down to how the vote went? Or how much clutter they've got on stage with them for the handover? It's going to be very interesting to see what happens, because on their own they've each got a very decent chance of finishing top five. But together they could easily cancel each other out. And that's if the punters don't just shout "Another bloody Eilish clone!" rather gracelessly at their tellies.

On Victoria's part here, we fancy that she's got the more accessible of the two songs, with its Disney tinges and more-singalongable chorussy bits. But will it garner as big a potential WOW moment as Roxen could potentially get? This could all be a very interesting side plot in the narrative of a Saturday night in Rotterdam.

Wednesday 4 March 2020

Portugal 2020 - Judas - Cubismo Enviesado

You often have an idea in your head of what a song is going to look like on stage when your first experience of it is audio-only. And nine times out of ten the acts are that literal that you're not that far off.  But I guess it's true to say that in this instance we weren't expecting a brick outhouse of a man mincing lumpenly about in a shiny silver all in one. But by heavens you can't take your eyes off it.

The lad Judas doesn't come across as someone who'd first choice of career is either as a singer or a dancer, but his moves and his look are utterly compelling. There are often moments where you think he's going to damage himself, but that sheer power of will keeps him going right through to the end.

Sadly he didn't make it through to this weekend's final, although to be honest, a rough translation of the song's title into English - Skewed Cubism - makes me suspect that we weren't intellectually ready for it anyway. Now make sure that you're sitting down before you watch this, because it really is quite a thing...

Tuesday 3 March 2020

San Marino/UK/Azerbaijan/Ireland 2020 - Senhit/Valentina Monetta/Lesley Roy/Samira Efendi - Cleopatra

If one song has been the biggest backstage star of the season it's been a curious confection called Cleopatra. Indeed, there's been a massive swell of rumours bubbling about the DMs of informed Eurovisionia - but no one seemed to be able to confirm who it was by, who wrote it, or indeed who was going to send it!

The first mutterings suggested that it was a song that San Marino were going to send, but they'd rejected it in order to select something even more unhinged. Then the tattle was rife that there was a bidding war going on for it - in which the UK were very much interested. It seemed to go off the radar for a bit, then bounced back with a vengeance this week, being the centre of rumours that first Azerbaijan were going to pick it up, then briefly Ireland of all people, followed swiftly by heading straight back to source and being the Samarinese song after all. Possibly sung by Senhit.

But that's not all. Counter rumours even suggested that this was a mischievous ruse by someone in the Eurovision business to see how far a rumour could fly and who could be trusted with information. But the most impressive thing of all is that up until the moment this speculative video was released, almost nobody did anything but hint of his existence in the public sphere - just in case. But now it's out in the open, we don't feel so mean for breaking the silence.

This clip has clearly been worked on since the early demo we heard last month, and the voice is markedly different. But trust us here when we say that in this tinny clip you don't event get to witness one half of the batshittery this little belter has to offer. You really have to hope that this is going to be a competitor this year, as it's proper bonkers!

So who is going to sing it? And for who? If at all? We do like a mystery...


Turns out that it WAS Senhit, and it BECAME Efendi! What a shame that all this intrigue was for naught in the end!

Georgia 2020 - Tornike Kipiani - Take Me As I Am

And so it was that a handful of hardy types got up early to hallucinate about singing ears and sit their way though what seemed like days of chirpy localised breakfast telly to see the eventual Georgian song reveal. We weren't among them, of course. We're too lazy for that. But we so very appreciate those that did.

But part of our laze hinged around the large chunks of the song that we'd heard in clips before the full reveal. Unless it was going to pick up somewhere and go all Rudimental on our shapely behinds we figured that we'd just about got the gist of it. And we had.

And of course, we must point out our surprise that the fabulously intense Tornike is even doing this thing. You might just about remember his Georgian national final appearance a few years back with a similarly shouty flouro rave belter called You Are My Sunshine - so quite how he managed to win a major national singing show and convince them to send him to Rotterdam is anyone's guess. But we're so very glad that they did. It's a slow, shouty, mega intense paen that rails against the Georgian tendency to be expected to do things like the foreigners - and to be fair, anything that pisses off the big five is alright by me. It's kind of like the anti-Somewhere In Europe that's been hiding as an album track on a Jesus Jones rarities compilation for the last 25 years.

Nice work, old boy. It'll surely get lost in the crowd in this funny old year, but we can't wait to see it live!

Sunday 1 March 2020

Croatia 2020 - Zdenka Kovačićek - Love, Love, Love

Quite simply the most incredible first twelve seconds of a Eurovision contending song that we can ever remember seeing.

The rest of it - not so much. Although it certainly has its moments now and again.

Miss Kovačićek here is a massive and historical name in Croatian rock, blues and jazz singing, so we shouldn't be dismissive here, especially as at 76 years of age she'll have put those pipes through quite a battering over her long and glittering career. And to be fair we just couldn't keep our eyes off her from start to finish, as we really didn't know what she was likely to do next. Not a great song, but a fabulous performance, and one that made us hanker for a much earlier appearance from this doyen of Croatian alternative music.

But those first twelve seconds - oh boy!

Croatia 2020 - Alen Vitasović & Božidarka Matija Čerina - Da Se Ne Zatare

More from the highly underrated Dora final, and another unsettling oddity. Both Alen and Božidarka are names of some gravity around Croatian parts, and on the face of it, this song should have benefitted from their star power. But somehow it never quite came off. Because despite having most of the ingredients of a pretty decent contender, none of them seemed to gel, and we were left with a strange old beast of a song.

For starters, Ms Čerina didn't appear to completely believe the outfit she was wearing, and when Mr Vitasović shambled on looking like a drunk they'd just accumulated in the car park who just wouldn't leave them alone, this lack of will or chemistry was all the more compounded. The girls in regional dress at the back did everything in their power to try to retrieve it, but it just got stranger and stranger.

It didn't help that the main note of the chorus was repeated in staccato delivery to anxiety inducing levels, and so when Alen started prowling about staring some of the girls directly in the face, it all got a little uncomfortable.

Apparently the song's title was something about trying not to get too old. We wonder if that was figurative, because we're not sure that old Alen's got much more puff left in him.

Moldova 2020 - Pasha Parfeny - My Wine

We've been fans of Pasha since his near miss back in 2011 with the fabulous Dorule, and really couldn't knock his trumpety triumph the following year with Lautar. But we weren't much feeling his 2020 effort about his favourite tipple - until we saw the whole thing live in the Moldovan final.

Trading in his previously well-trimmed appearance to a look more akin to an extra off Jesus Christ Superstar the boy chucked in practically every Moldovan archetype in the book into the barrel, shook it up, and then added a few of his own bits to it for good measure.

And this is one of these cases where we won't give everything away, because there are bits of this performance that you really have to discover for yourself. But we warn you now - make sure that you're not holding or drinking any fluids at about the 1:48 mark!

Moldova 2020 - Mishel Dar ft. Julia Ilienko – Tears

And the award for messiest national final appearance of the year goes to...

Yes, we know that the competition is tough in this category, but there's a whole load to unpack here to help us explain how we came to our conclusions. For a start, the outfits. The main singer lass - Julia, we assume - wears some kind of Abbaesque shiny tunic dress with belt and cat - and so does one of the dancer girls - only with a black skirt over it. Then two of the backing singers had yellow t-shirts with the song title on, while the main singer lad - Mishel, we assume - has a blue one on. And where that lady in green who was the only one who could actually sing suddenly appeared from, well we're not entirely sure.

Then there was the car macguffin. One minute they're all pretending to drive, the next they're pacing about in front of it while some of them are still driving, the next is suddenly doesn't matter at all and is just an incongruous cardboard box at the back of the stage.

Then there's the half-explained interactions, lots of walking around, and very little singing in tune - whoever thought even half of this was a good idea. It's like they realised that this was their one big chance of getting on telly, so decided to cram every single idea that they'd ever had into three minutes!

Did Sasha Bognibov's hopes of Moldovan glory die in vain for a dog's dinner of a song like this?!

Croatia 2020 - Indira - You Will Never Break My Heart

More from Croatia, and in the immortal words of Jim Bowen, let's have a look at what you could have won. Indira Levak here is practically a national institution in Croatia. Lead singer of Colonia for about a hundred years, solo star in her own right, and a judge on The Voice of Croatia, she's got a mammoth track record behind her.

She's also just a little bit terrifying, and each time she barks "Choo weell nevva breek moy hurt" directly at the camera, you feel like it is a personal instruction that must be adhered to at all times. But at the same time, she's also utterly engaging, and you can't take you eyes off her for a moment.

Imagine having her stomping about in her pants instead of that dreary fella they eventually sent. And she'd certainly give her near neighbours Hurricane a good run for their money in the high energy Balkanism stakes. Another massive missed opportunity, one fears. This year is getting safer with each new reveal. Who will offer us some danger or delight? (And no, I don't count that Lithuanian pub band who got lucky).

Croatia 2020 - Aklea Neon - Zovi Ju Mama

The final of Dora seemed to be well down people's priority lists last night - in part perhaps because the songs were only partially released only a few hours before, and part because it was a jolly complicated faff trying to work out how to get the stream going. And all of this is a proper shame, because it turned out to be one of the most entertaining contests of the whole season, and pretty much the best Dora in many a year.

It was also positively festooned with joys and oddities - many of which I'll be sharing here over the next couple of days. And few were odder than this little jewel. The title translates as something along the lines of 'Call It Mum', which from the garb and the plant life one would assume to be all about Mother Earth herself. And boy was there a lot going on.

Often reminiscent of a local community drama group doing something ecological for the kiddies down at the Village Hall, these fine ladies stomped about in macrame outfits, while a pixie bloke fiddled around with some equipment behind the potted plant rack at an out of town garden centre. And although the message of this song will almost certainly have been something that we wholeheartedly support here at Apocalypse Mansions, it did all look just a little bit silly. But in a really, really entertaining way.

Saturday 29 February 2020

Serbia 2020 - Marko Marković - Kolači

There's a rule of thumb in the Balkans that the more like a minicab driver an artist looks, the more fun you're likely to have. So you can imagine the happiness riot that you're about to get with this young fella above. Especially when, as any translation I can find suggests, he's singing about cakes.

Marko's been a middle-sized star around those parts for a few years now. He's a prince of the wedding band style trumpet, and a bit of a boisterous old chunk as well. Any clips of the green room last night had him tooting his horn in the background, and you kind of imagine that wherever Marko may be, the party won't be too far behind.

Imagine the fun we could have with this one in Rotterdam in this pretty generic year that we're having. He's ever got a bit that sounds like he's shouting 'rectum' in a Kiwi accent! What's not to love. So sit band and enjoy the stompiest slice of a tune that we've heard so far this year. You'll be dancing on the tables by the end of it!

Friday 28 February 2020

Belarus 2020 - Napoli - Dоn't Let Me Down

If this year has shown us anything it's that if you keep plugging away, eventually your time will come. After all, if that regular recidivist Samanta Tīna and Azerbaijan's eternal bridesmaid Samira Efendi can finally make it through, there must be hope of everyone. Or so Belarus's Napoli must have thought.

After all, she seems like she's been entering this thing since Christer Björkman was in short trousers, so must have spent a pretty penny preparing for what she thought must have been her hard-earned artistic vindication.

What actually happened though was that she hired in a couple of chaps in stripey jerkins wearing facial body parts instead of faces and mucking about with bits of green string, while the lass herself warbled out her merry tune. But how did it go, again...?

Good luck next year, Napoli. Good luck next year.

Thursday 27 February 2020

Israel 2020 - Eden Alene - Roots

On an unusually busy midweek day in Eurovisionia, Israel revealed the four songs that are going to battle it out at their national final. All sung by bright new star Eden Alene, an Israeli of Ethiopian heritage, they're a mixed bag of demure plodders, folksy popsters and the obligatory one that's got a homeopathic amount of Fuego DNA in it (which they'll probably pick). The the one that most endeared itself to our ears was this little curio.

It's got a little bit of everything. Traditional dewy-eyed Israeli looks to the past, a promising pop build, and the most unexpectedly banging pop hop chorus with a squeaky voice that straddles the fine line between incredible and really bloody annoying. But we sit firmly in the camp of the former opinion.

It almost certainly won't be for anyone, and it's surely the least likely to be picked of the quartet, but we're really glad it's there, because this is likely to be the most entertaining visual spectacle of the lot, and offers a change for Ms Alene to showcase her considerably versatile talents.

Altogether now... "I love my rooooots!"

United Kingdom 2020 - James Newman - My Last Breath

Being a British national I kind of feel duty bound to bring you all the latest UK entry for Eurovision every year. But it's becoming increasingly difficult to muster up any enthusiasm for the things we seem to be sending these days. Middle brow, plodding, decent, but, y'know, a little dull.

And what's worse is that this was supposed to be a whole new era of UK Eurovisionism, what with BMG exec producing the song and Radio 1 joining in with the reveal. And while many of the names mentioned in relation to our song were wishful thinking, when I heard that James Newman and Iain James were two of the writing team back on Tuesday night I began to think that we might just be on for something at least half decent.

But it's the hope that kills you.

The best I've heard anybody say about it today is "It's not bad". But not bad brings you bottom quarter of the right hand side of the table. Not bad converts to every nation putting you just outside of the points, leading to the usual tabloid bleats that it's all fixed, and every one hates us because of (add own topical dismay trope here).

It's perfectly well-crafted, beautifully sung, has a painfully hooky - if not slightly cheesy - chorus device, and doesn't feel the compulsion to go on for that bit too long to fill the three minutes, like many of its competitors will. But it's all a little bit beige, and that's precisely what we don't need in this contest any more. We need to give people a reason to pick up the phone, not an excuse not to.

When it debuted on Radio 1 this morning, every single song on either side of its reveal would have been prime contemporary Eurovision fodder. But it stood like a sore thumb of bland amongst a sea of brightness. Massive opportunity missed.

Many commentators are already getting narky that so many UK fans are doing it down. But we've been here so many times, and it rarely ends well. I have never, ever wanted to be proved wrong more than I do with this song. But, y'know, I'm seriously dreading 16th to 24th at best.

I wonder who the BBC are going to ask to sip from the poisoned chalice next year?

Tuesday 25 February 2020

Sweden 2020 - Victor Crone - Troubled Waters (Microphone Isolated)

Those of us who attended the early sound checks and run through's of Victor Crone's Storm last year will be aware that there were times that his voice was strained pretty much to the limit - and indeed slightly beyond on occasion. At the time we assumed that it was all down to the stress of the overly complicated Augmented Reality stage business that he'd been lumbered with by the Estonian authorities. But it turns out that we might just have assumed incorrectly.

We thought something was a little uncanny when we watched the lad's qualifier performance, but we couldn't quite put our finger on it. Indeed, when he whupped out his ear piece in the run up to the big finishing notes, we just figured that he was giving himself a decent chance to hit all the marks in that noisy old Malmö barn. But possibly not. For Daily Motion have got their hands on the isolated mic recordings with all the music and backing tracks pushed to the back of the mix. And oh my days does it give us a different look at the boy Crone.

For when those especially strainy notes in the chorus come calling, his mic appears to be, ahem, turned off. Or perhaps, as slightly more unkind observers than us have pointed out, he's miming the whole bloody chorus. And it must have been planned way in advance, cos the camera always seems to pan out mysteriously when he does it!

Now let's be generous here. Let's just suppose that he's got some manner of throaty ailment that impeded him from hitting those difficult highs, and the good lord Christer kindly helped him out a bit, just this once, in order to make the show that little bit better. After all, it was clear that he was struggling with quite a few of the more difficult corners of the performance. Or maybe he really wasn't up to it. Which is a bit of a worry if he actually wins the flipping thing, as he'll have to attempt to hit them for real on live TV in front of many more millions that gaze at the Melfestivities.

Oh, and we didn't much care for his somewhat over-the-top celebrations when his name was called at the end. But let's hope it's all very innocent and easily explainable, and the good people of Sweden don't take against him after these revelations. However dubious they may actually seem.

Monday 24 February 2020

Sweden 2020 - Nanne Grönvall – Carpool Karaoke

Sometimes at this contest you just want something that's dumb and fun and so terribly old fashioned, but that leaves you with a massive big smile on your face, despite everything. And this is exactly that song.

In an era when Melfest seems intent on second-guessing the future and remoulding all the last big hits into a massive sea of bland, delightful little showbiz incursions like this are getting as rare eagles' teeth. So what a joy it was to see an old stager like Nanne, who has been there, done that, and got a third place in the big show under her belt, letting loose and just having a lark with a light-hearted tune about that annoying bloke off the American telly.

She totters wilfully about that Malmö stage like the dangerous one on a third-marriage hen night, gurning straight down the camera pipe at your slightly confused grandpa, and looking like she's having the time of her life. And that bit of business at the end where the dancers turned into a big meat car was just glorious. It was never in with a shout of even making it to the A/C round, but we're so very glad it was there to add some innocent sparkle to the sea of bland that Melodifestivalen has become. Good on you, girl!

Sunday 23 February 2020

Slovenia 2020 - Klemen Slakonja - The History of Slovenia At Eurovision (Interval)

The Slovenian TV host Klemen Slakonia is something of an acquired taste. You either love his obvious gags, self-agrandising demeanour and comedy pratfalls (and yes, there are still people who believe that he was actually hurt in that unfunny bit of business at the top of the show last evening!), or you find him just a little bit grating - and we have to confess that as a general rule we tend to sit in the latter camp.

But he rescued the whole thing last night with his utterly incredible interval stint that consisted of a micro-cover of the pretty much all the Slovenian songs that competed in Eurovision. Each and every one of them was perfectly observed, with tiny little in-gags for the knowing, and all incredibly well done.

The amount of work that must have gone into each of the twenty plus clips was enormous, from hair, make-up and outfits, to learning all the lines and mannerisms. It was an absolute tour de force from a supremely confident performer (even if he is a bit annoying most of the rest of the time).

Just imagine if the UK tried that...

Saturday 22 February 2020

Portugal 2020 – Filipe Sambado – Gerbera Amarela Do Sul

Lovely Portugal has seriously upped its conceptual game since that Salvador moment, and these days an evening in with FdC is a delight from start to finish rather than the dated pop ordeal with the occasional bright moment of old. But ever we were surprised by this curiously little number.

We've been enjoying the track itself for quite a while now - a lilty little meander with enough signature Portuguese groove to make us wonder quite how they were going to present it on the night. And we have to be honest, we didn't quite expect this. Fair enough, the song appears to be about some kind of wild flower, but we never imagined the outfits, the hair, the make up, and by heavens the reveal of THAT unexpected garment! It was quite a fascinating three minutes - one that felt much longer, but somewhat rarely, in a good way.

And what's more it somehow went on to knock out local stadium faves Blasted Mechanism with their disappointingly crammed-yet-lifeless bit of bombast. Good heavens, this one couldn't pull a Conan, could it?

Ukraine 2020 - KrutЬ – 99

Hooray hooray, it's Vidbir day! Yep, it's the Ukrainian national final show tonight (well, this late afternoon in these parts), and despite being just six songs fat, the show is scheduled to take around three-and-a-half hours to complete - and it always runs on a bit, too. Expect short bursts of activity, followed by an awful lot of talking from the panel, twelve minute commercial breaks, and an ever increasing run of previously unannounced guest acts at the end. Then they'll drag all the artists back on stage for an overcomplicated voting process on a screen you can't quite see. It's like Sanremo, only without the occasional incursion by the cast of Inspector Montalbano.

But if you can be bothered sitting it out there some joys to behold among all the endless chit chat. Tvorchi is the show's implausible favourite, and we've rather taken to the lads' bouncing about in the bits between the singing. Khayat seems to be the next most likely to drag out a win, and seems popular among fankind, despite its unruly mash-up of genres and fabrics, and Jerry Heil has the zeitgeist song that they really ought to send but almost certainly won't. And don't rule out Go_A's slightly terrifying folksy rave track, or even David Axelrod's dark brooding eyebrows - if there's going to be a shock winner on the night we fear that it's going to be him!

But the one song that almost nobody seems to be talking about is the sublime 99. I mean, what's not to love? An etherial glam pixie warbling out a new age jangle folk groove while strumming along on an instrument so obscure that even the locals had all but forgotten its existence (it's a 65-stringed bandura, pop spotters!). It's the kind of thing that any good Eurovision needs at least one of, and its delightful atmosphere and slightly terrifying cartoony backdrop makes it an ideal evocation of Ukraine in 2020.

Although hang about...99?  All dressed in white in a Mr Whippy frock? Hang about, this song's all about ice cream vans and she's calling plaintively for her lost flake, isn't she?! (Viewers from outside the UK may just want to skip over that last paragraph...)

Friday 21 February 2020

Romania 2020 - Roxen - Alcohol You

The five Romanian songs have just snuck out, or at least 30 second-ish clips have, and we have to say that from what we can hear there's not one of them that we wouldn't be happy to go to Rotterdam. Each one of them is a small portion of bang up-to-date pop, full of bright rhythms and Roxen's fabulously crumbly voice. To our ear, Colors seems the song most likely to - although each clip seems to end of a knowing tease that something bigger's just about to come along, but you're not allowed to hear it yet.

But the one that really caught our attention was this one. A dark, brooding number which appears to be about the dangers - or possibly even delights - of the bottle, they've gone full Eilish on it, it must be said. But there's enough haunted hollows and poppy follow ons to make this the one we want to hear in full the most.

We're curious to see the list of songwriters, though, because there's more than one of 'em that appears, on first listen, to have some Scandi DNA raddled right through 'em. But if the songs are all as decent as the clips suggest, we kind of don't care.


The full songs are out now, and blimey this is fantastically dark. The lyric video often displays some mangled English, but all of a sudden it reveals smart and really rather clever wordplay. Cripes - this was even more than I was expecting!

Thursday 20 February 2020

Poland 2020 - Norbert Legieć - She Loves You

Over the many years we've been covering the selection stages of this fine contest we've seen some pretty dumb concepts for selecting the eventual Eurovision contender for for any given country. But somehow Poland have managed to dredge up the worst idea in all known history. Not just in terms of this show, but pretty much anything, anywhere.

We're trying to imagine the development meeting where this whole sorry farrago got posited. "Fellow television workers - I think I've finally got it! How about we drag a lot of semi-established artists who've had a couple of decent sized hits into a cramped studio, and make them sing songs that they're entirely unsuited to, pick one seemingly at random, then get them to perform a song that they'd already submitted alongside two others in a big showbiz final show! There's no way that this idea could ever possibly go wrong! It's Warsaw 2021 for sure!"

Seriously, what were they thinking?!

Witness poor Norbert here. He's had a whole bundle of cracking little minor tropical pop hits. He's very much of the now, and exactly the kind of thing that Poland should be considering sending to Eurovision proper. And what do they do? Make him nervously sing a 56-year-old song that he clearly wasn't familiar with and get painfully embarrassed in front of the whole nation. We're not blaming him in any way for this sad mess. They've lumped him on stage in front of a big karaoke screen, and frequently cut to some of the judges or other artists looking pained when he goes off piste with the melody. Absolutely shocking treatment of a promising pop act that could easily set his career back.

And it wasn't just him. Twenty-one artists in total got pushed through this mincing machine, singing ancient songs like it was 2:34 am after a provincial wedding. And all of them apparently brought songs in their own style that would have been way more apt in helping to chose the eventual Polish representative in what everyone was predicting was likely to be a good year for them.

They might just be lucky and find a gem from all this nonsense, but it's like boxing with your good hand tied behind your back and expecting a good result? Szansa Na Sukces? Bloody great mess, more like!

Wednesday 19 February 2020

Ireland 2020 - Elm - Golden

For want of any decent UK tittle tattle, the rumour mill has nipped across the Irish sea to block in the info vacuum. After the hints offered by the production company ThisIsPopBaby about the chosen act being gay friendly, folks immediately filled in the gaps and assumed it was going to be some kind of cross dressing cabaret act. Then Captain Sparkle's single briefly added a little colour to the pop pages of the Irish press, before a regular Irish troll spammer began to insist that the act was an woman who'd been working in America for some year. Thoughts, inevitably, turned to Samantha Mumba, as they always do. but then turned out to suggest the even less exciting option of Lesley Roy. Even Janet Devlin made her usual brief appearance on the block, just for the hell of it.

But there's one tiny sniff of a rumour from a few weeks ago that has begun to build a head of steam. Upcoming queerpop band Elm have been popping into more than a few people's inboxes, and have begun to emerge as firm underground favourites to take the Irish berth this year. They certainly match a lot of ThisIsPopBaby's hints about being quite positively gay, most unlike anything they've sent before, and even match a picture of four pairs of socked feet that one of the production mob sent.

It couldn't be, could it? It would certainly be a bold move from RTÉ, and one that we struggle to believe that they'd have come up with themselves. But we really wouldn't be at all unhappy if it was true. There's even talk that it's with a blinding indie pop tune called Golden, which some bloke recorded at a show on his phone and then posted on Twitter, which is available from the link above.

Of course, we really couldn't be this lucky, and it'll end up being some ham-faced folkie on a guitar again. But we can dream, so let us have this moment for, erm, a moment! We've had so little to go on so far this season, after all...

Sweden 2020 – Anis Don Demina – Vem E Som Oss

In what is fast becoming the most vanilla Melodifestivalen in living memory, we casual watchers have been crying out for something, y'know, a bit lively. Up to this point, the only bit of vague fun or excitement we've had was that titchy cameo from the good lord Sean Banan in the first show. Where's the Swingfly moment? That bonkers De Vet Du creativity? Dare I say it, we've even been crying out for a bit of Samir & Viktor!

So you can imagine the joy that exploded on the sofa in Apocalypse Manor when the boy Demina exploded onto the stage. Big bold and bouncy rhythms, massive optimistic trumpets (or at least trumpet sounding keyboard settings), and a lyric packed full of positivity and get up and go spat out with a machine gun delivery. But Sweden, please don't look at this as your stock comedy also-ran, because this is your only song this year with any big show potential. No, seriously, hear me out.

Many in Eurovisionia will be unable to see beyond the fact that there's a portly bloke in an over-stuffed velour tracky to notice that there's a song of real promise in here. It's a stompy hip pop tune with boundless enthusiasm in a year when everyone's going to send either sombre sad boys, try hard pub bands or solid-faced girls thrustingly joylessly to overwrought techpop. Look beyond what you think to imagine what the folks at home would see - an absolute fun riot with a mammoth chord structure and an honest, personal lyric. This ain't no joke entry. This is an absolute contender to annoy Johnny Logan and draw level with the Irish - and what could be a better incentive to choose it than that!

Sunday 16 February 2020

Iceland 2020 - Daði & Gagnamagnið – Gagnamagnið

Iceland were always going to have difficulty following up their masterstroke last year, so it's good to see that our old pal Daði Freyr back for another try after his much-loved near miss of a couple of season ago. And in effect he's brought us pretty much the same thing again, only with a slightly slicker presentation.

We still have the deadpan gawk to camera, the minimal retro electro tune and the low impact communal shuffling about. But this time there's more. The microphone sight gags, the close formation head turns to seek out the cameras, the slightly over-done saxophone bit, good heavens, the library green garments that have morphed into boiler suits.

But most of all it's got a cool, geeky, innocent charm. The song itself won't be on too many people's hitlists, but when combined with the show, the atmosphere and the quaintly dopy demeanour they've got another potential hit on their hands. Now if only that can beat that admittedly pretty decent blind girl singing in the dark...

Monday 10 February 2020

Latvia 2020 - Samanta Tīna - Still Breathing

Here at Apocalypse we become so familiar with habitual unsuccessful entrants to this funny old show that they almost feel like family members. So it’s always a bittersweet moment when one of them finally makes it to the big eurovision stage. On the one hand you’re so happy for them at having achieved their Eurovision dream at last, but on the other, it’s probably the last time you’re going to witness their glorious bonkersness.

And Ms Tīna here has been a regular visitor to these pages. Finally winning out after six goes in Latvia (and another less successful attempt in neighbouring Lithuania), she became a cult figure around these parts with her brain-bursting 2016 attempt, The Love Is Forever, where her curious headgear earned her the nickname Neffertīna among national final followers.

But this year she called in the heavy artillery and got Aninata to write her a song - and what a belter it is too. Three parts pretty decent electropop tune, one part the actual sound of aliens invading and absorbing us all into a collective uni-brain. Indeed, it’s a drop so fierce and whompy that we can wait to hear it live and loud.

Congratulations Samanta, we’re going to miss you!

Sunday 9 February 2020

Norway 2020 - Kevin Boine – Stem På Mæ

Right then pop kids, strap yourself in because you're about to get an object lesson in the kitchen sink school of Eurovision song writing. And trust me, it get splendid beyond your imagination.

It kicks off with a reasonably good looking lad sat alone with his willowy voice in the centre of the stage. Then, as it picks up a bit, four girls that it looks like Kevin here randomly collected in a bus queue amble on and it all begins to get a bit poppy, although we're not sure why he's standing behind a plinth. Then the lad inexplicably breaks into a bit of joiking - well it worked last year, after all - before inexplicably throwing in an ill-advised bit of rap for good measure.

But then all of a sudden there's six dancers - and who are those two blokes standing in the shadows with stringed instruments? No hang on, when we said six dancers we meant bloody loads. Now that man's playing a guitar for three seconds. Hang about, where did all that lot come from? Now there's bloody loads of them!

And hold on, does Kevin realise that when put together in that formation his initials look like some kind of stylised penis graffiti? Ooh, wait a minute, it sounds like it's building up to a key change...

Ooof! They missed that by a mile. But still they soldier on! And whey, ho are that lot hiding at the back with placards with his penile initials on? I can pick out a fisherman and maybe a rally driver, and perhaps a nurse... This is absolutely unhinged in ways that I don't expect that even Kevin understands. Whoa! What's happening to that banjo?!

And then it ends, and I can guarantee that you'll hit play again almost instantly to make sure that you really saw what you just saw. I don't think you'll find another performance this year that chucks so much into a three minute bucket to so little reward. Yep, poor Kevin here lost a first round duel to a heterosexual girl soullessly shuffling through an exploito-pop song called I Am Gay. I'll bet you're wondering why you went to all the trouble now, Kevin. But we're so very glad that you did.

We’ve just learned that the song’s title roughly translates as Vote For Me, and this whole performance  was something of a post-ironic attempt at self parody. Gone right off it now.

Saturday 8 February 2020

Ireland 2020 - Captain Sparkle - Cha Cha Boom

There's an entertaining rumour coming out of Ireland tonight. When Dancing With The Stars judge Julian Benson debuted his charity single on the show tonight the tittle tattle mill exploded with supposition. Surely this song filled all of the criteria that the Irish concept designers have been hinting at for the last week or so?

Dancey? Check! Catchy? Check! LGBT+ performer? Most certainly! Something Ireland has never seen before? I guess. But there might be a very good reason for that...

It's almost certainly people just putting two and two together in very bad maths because the song's under three minutes. But it would also be hilarious if after all the new broom hoo haa the actual song was actually this! I mean, The Irish Sun is stating that it ought to be the Irish entry, so it must be true!

But whatever the eventual truth, it's still worth clicking the link, because it'll help raise funds for Julian's marvellous cystic fibrosis charity - so even if it's a just a dumb extrapolated rumour, it'll still do some good.

Ukraine 2020 - Katya Chilly – Pich

The first Ukrainian semi-final is going on around us as we speak, and it's been an absolute joy so far, packed as it is with smart pop, joyful dance, and a ridiculous amount of local folk art colour. Witness Katya here. Once a curious teen prodigy, she had a few fallow years before somehow ending up on Ukrainian X Factor. And now she's popped up on Vidbir with this glorious bit of strangeness.

Now don't be put off by the intro. It's not a mistake, it's supposed to be like that. Watery sounds and near darkness awkwardly populate the speakers before the lass starts to gently bark. Then the lights come up, the wind machine hits top gear and the regional throat singing and art shouting begins to float from her face.

While this goes on a Peruvian shaman beckons the gods to save his forest, and lots of people stand about howling. An absolutely perfect piece of Eurovisionia from what's shaping up to the the stand out show of the year so far. Only five go through tonight, and there's a good chance that all of them will be belters!

Australia 2020 - Jaguar Jonze - Rabbit Hole

Australia kicked off Super Enormous Saturday with a real curate's egg of a show. Big hall, loving fans, gags that laugh with us rather than at us. In fact, the only thing that let it down in comparison to last year was the songs. While there wasn't a really duff one among them, far too many felt like they were created specifically for what the writers though Eurovision is supposed to be rather than self-standing songs that arrived there by happy accident.

Which is why we loved the Jaguar Jonze performance so much. Dark alt pop with edgy chords and a scratchy, unsettling stage presence is exactly the kind of thing we love at this contest, and there really ought to be a bit more of it - and Jaguar here brought it in buckets.

And quite unexpectedly the crowd seemed to buy into it. But sadly they weren’t smart enough to send it to the big show. Which is a darned shame in our book.

Friday 7 February 2020

Italy 2020 - Bugo & Morgan - Bugo Storms Out

Sanremo has been full of joys and splendor this year. But tonight, at around the 20 hour mark, something unprecedented happened. But you'll need to know the backstory a little.

Both singers has been pretty big near underground stars in their own right for some years now. So when we heard that they were teaming up we were preparing for fireworks. But we didn't expect this. After a pretty decent first night show they found themselves unexpectedly bottom of the pile in the demoscopic vote. Then followed a shambolic performance last night in the classic Sanremo covers round, that looked random and completely unrehearsed. Turns out that it was.

So tonight, with the pair languishing miles behind on the scorecard, it all began to unravel. You could tell there was tension as they walked on. But when the flicky-haired silver coyote Morgan hastily stuffed a bundle of papers onto his keyboard, things swiftly escalated.

Singing what appeared to be entirely new words, he gestured towards a pacing Bugo, to ambled up to the keyboard console, grabbed some of the lyric sheets, then skulked off through the silver exit curtain before anyone had twigged what had happened. Morgan soldiered on for a few seconds, before tottering off behind him, calling out his name.

The hosts, of course, now had to fill and be funtimes amidst all this confusion. At first we thought the new lyric was having a pop at Sanremo itself for the act's lowly rank. But it soon became clear that Morgan was actually digging on his on stage partner for letting him down this week. So we're not surprised he exited pronto.

The pair were swiftly disqualified - not only for their walk out, but for changing the words - and were quickly, and somewhat coldly, erased from the scoreboard. We're sure that more details will emerge, but for now we can only wonder what the full story was. Our pal at the Ariston tells us that this has never, ever happened before.

But one thing is clear - you never mess with dear Aunt Sanremo!

Tuesday 4 February 2020

Italy 2020 - Achille Lauro - Me Ne Frego

The first night of Sanremo is always a splendid blend of joy and anticipation, where you have to wait and see what your favourites bring to the show, and get surprised by singers that you'd never have imagined would give you such a thrill. And it was very much like that with Achille Lauro's performance tonight. While I absolutely loved his slightly ill-placed effort with Rolls Royce last year, Mrs Apocalypse hated it in equal measure.

So I was gratified to see her standing on the sofa and punching the air in delight with each new pose and preen from our lapsed mumble rapper here. For the pair of us it was absolutely the performance of the night, from the unexpected entry, to the camp-yet-still-well-hard interplay between himself and his guitarist, and the utterly massive build to the end.

Where last year was his saw thumb testing of the water, this year he's plumbed right into the very essence of Sanremo, yet still managing to punk it up some considerable levels.

We just wonder what he's likely to wear for his next two appearances!


We learned late last evening that the whole performance was an allegory for the story of St Francis of Assisi divesting of his worldly goods and giving himself over to God. Blimey! We also learned that he'd gained in the region of ten times the views on YouTube than all the other contestants. So he may have had a relatively lowly ranking on the first scores table, but he's certainly the artist that everyone is talking about!

Moldova 2020 - Carolina Rakoviță - Dancing In The Sunrise

Songs and performances find themselves on this blog for all kinds of different reasons. Many are so heart-achingly beautiful or bold that we just have to share the joy, while others are so knuckle gnawingly awful that we could never not show them too you. And then there's the delightful outsiders that we frequently champion who just need a little bit of love.

And then there's performances like this that deserve a wider audience than the half dozen hardy souls who tuned in at a weird hour to watch their no frills audition performance. Clips that don't really fit into any of the usual categories, but that are still worthy of a look.

Witness Ms Ra here as she stands rooted to the spot, staring into the middle distance like she's part of a hostage deal, dressed like children imagine pop stars dress. The song itself is a standard middle European pop banger with all the usual cliches and regular riffs rolled in. But it's when Carolina begins to dance in the farty trumpet bits that this all really begins to catch fire.

And because this ended up on the Moldovan rejection list you'd never be likely to see it again,  so we thought we'd bring the splendid one more time, to see if you'll be able to copy the gal's signature moves. And boy is she fierce!

Monday 3 February 2020

Norway 2020 - Jenny Jenssen - Mr Hello

Anyone closely following the pointlessly high concept MGP process in Norway this year has been presented with a seemingly endless beige wasteland of moderately alright songs. Nothing especially to hate, but nothing to build a great big bandwagon on either. But it looks like all the big crisps ended up at the bottom of the packet, because semi 5 has suddenly brought along three little sachets of a much less usual flavour.

Skirting over the uber blandness of Elin & The Woods, we've got the three-quarter baked indie folk jangle with marginal joik of Kevin Boine, and the nice-try-to-hit-the-demographic-but-it-sounds-more-like-a-joyless-song-from-a-marketing-video pop grooves of I Am Gay by Liza Vassilieva. But the one that tweaked our ludicrousity muscle the most was this hugely dumb-yet-catchy ragtime hoedown.

Whatever in the world possessed NRK to dredge into the locker marked 'Mr Kenny Ball & His Jazzmen', have a bit of a swoosh about with a big stick and glue together something that only the Brits or the Dutch would have considered sending in 1974? And yet, seeing as it's just about the only song with any kind of life in it in their whole sorry process, I almost hope that the Norwegians send this. On the one hand it could be an accidental fun riot in a sea of sadbois, and on the other it would teach them never to be this foolish again.(Although secretly we're kind of glad that they were...)

Sunday 2 February 2020

Moldova 2020 - Valentin Uzun & Irina Kovalsky - Moldovița

If there's one thing that Moldova is good at, it's singing songs about Moldova, and we had more than our usual fair share of 'em this year. But where our lovely pals VovIAN sounded more like a home-made commercial on a regional public access channel, this little beast sounds more like it was carefully crafted in the offices of the national tourist board.

It's got everything that you could wish for - a stompy, ever quickening beat, lots of yelping and shouting, a proto-prog bit in the middle that could have come from a Bessarabian spaghetti western, and enough colourful local clothing to blind a nan. And what's more, unlike recent years this one had actually managed to make its way to the properly televised stages, it what is becoming more and more like an "anything but Bognibov" selection process.

Hopefully the eventual live show will feature a gaggle of dancers to hop and yelp and bounce about with their hands in the air and totally bring the energy. It almost certainly won't win, of course, because we suspect we know already which song has provided the most brown envelope sheathed entry tokens, but we're do very glad that it's here to totally bring the local colour. After all, they were one of the few acts yesterday that had any energy, and didn't look as though they were in some kind of warped hostage situation...

PS This isn't a clip from the actual auditions, as there's a weird copyright thing with MAD TV of Greece going on. But it's another of those fabulous moments from the Vorbe Bune TV show, with our lovely host Lilu dancing awkwardly on the sofa.