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!