Thursday 30 December 2021

Albania 2022 - Kastro Zizo - Kujë

(Click here for the strangeness if you can't see the panel above…)

So we've had our first national final of the year, and as tradition dictates it was the Albanians. But while many folk are celebrating a Happy FiKmas as a fan-favoured bit of derivative Fuego-lite took home the golden statuette, we lovers of the more esoteric entries will be mourning the loss of our old mate Kastro Zizo here.

Never known to undersell a song, this cultural polymath is known in his own land as the presenter of a philosophical talk show (alongside all his other showbiz side hustles), and he brought a deep, yet still fairly ambiguous lyric to sit alongside all the songs about the motherland, while dressed in a sharp suit and minimal corpse paint. Maybe this kind of thing makes perfect sense in Albania, but the levels of Twitter bewilderment from fankind throughout his performances this week was a joy to behold, as he seemed to deeply unsettle a continent of pop fans.

More of this kind of thing please, Albania. And everywhere else, for that matter.


Tuesday 21 December 2021

Spain 2022 - Rayden - Calle de la llorería

Now we know that it's rare for us to post anything much with a Spanish flavour on here unless it's an absolute dog's breakfast, or a riot breaks out in the studio. But upon the release of the songs for Benidorm Fest we've found ourselves attracted to more than a few of the songs - and that's not happened since the old days of their gloriously random online experiment. We loved Blanca Paloma's trippy floaty song about water right off the bat, and have been hearing enticing snippets of the dreamy Tanxugueiras track for a few days now - although we can't for the life of us see who'd actually vote for it.

But Rayden's fabulous earthy ramble is the one that's got our goosebumps trembling the most. We've had an eye on this lad for a few years now, but never imagined that he'd ever grace anything with Eurovision germs on it. Starting out as a rapper, but now more of the kind of grumble-singer the Italians hold so dear, he's got a string of top ten albums behind him, and is really something of a catch for this contest. Indeed, he's such a self-contained star in his own right that we reckon that he'd resist whatever dog's breakfast of a staging that TVE tried to chuck at him.

He's not without concern, though. A few of the lyric lines for this song don't fare terribly well when pushed through Google Translate - but hopefully that's more the platform's issue than his - and he seems as though he won't take very much shit from anyone. Which could actually make things a little more exciting in Turin if he bags the ticket.

But despite his native popularity, he seems very much a love-him-or-loathe-him kind of an artist, and Spanish Eurovision fandom being what it is we fear they'll either send a considerably under par Azúcar Moreno or the formulaic pretty boys from Unique (clue: they're not). Or worse, one of the many, many watered down and washed out Fuego wish-they-weres.

But Spain mate, I know it's off piste, but if you really want to haul yourself at least to the top of the right hand side of the scoreboard - and in Italy of all places - then this is the one for you. I fear that you'll ignore our advances, but when have you ever been known not to sabotage your own chances, eh!

Thursday 9 December 2021

Estonia 2022 - Meisterjaan - Vahel Lihtsalt

(Click here if you can't see the video panel above for the curious fun times…) 

We were really hoping that this season's extended Eesti Laul competition would be a return to the bold and brave of days gone by, rather than the bland beige blancmange that it's recently become. Sadly we've had little such luck up to now, and the only song with any real life in it so far has been our old mate Meisterjaan here.

But where Unemati was creepy and unsettling, and Parmupillihullus was gloriously bonkers in the nut, Vahel Lihtsalt (Sometimes Just) is more of a think piece that only really works if you understand Estonia's beautiful moon language - although apparently it didn't even work there, as it couldn’t drag its way into the favoured five of a ten song contest.

And that's a shame, because in a competition that's generally stuffed with lyrics that sound like real sentences to non-English speakers but don't actually make any narrative sense, a song that includes the line "Vital depletion, Degradation, An approximation that will soon be armageddon, Master's diction emotionless ejaculation, Sometimes it's just like that" would have been a most welcome unhinged addition.

The boy swings a fabulous broom too!

Wednesday 8 December 2021

Germany 2022 - Eskimo Callboy - Pump It

(If you can't see the video panel above, click here for a thing of wonky beauty…)

Just as we were fearful that last year's winner would encourage a whole barrage of witless pub rockers to throw their hats into 2022's Eurovision ring, we also had a vague hope that one or two of the more interesting noisy acts from around the continent might be lured to chance their arm and have a bit of fun. And Eskimo Callboy have been right near the top of our wishlist for some years now.

An established act with hits across Europe, and a cult following that spreads even further, their seamless blend of Hi NRG pop and crushing metalcore is going to confuse the heck out of the regular punters ("Well I like the first bit, but why do they have to do all that horrible shouting?"), but their on stage presence is phenomenal and they're 100% on top of their schtick.

However, they're not without their potential problems. Their band name can be considered offensive in a number of competing countries. and they've been accused of misogynistic themes in some of their videos. However, their blending of Japanese popcore themes with that knowing knockabout German wink suggests that the latter is more of a slice of camp self-deprecation than anything more unpleasant. We hope.

They've taken the unusual step of announcing their candidacy before they were even announced by the German telly - hoping perhaps to force the producers' hand in picking them. A risky move, of course. But one that may could dividends. Although to be honest, Germany should just bin their entire competition and send them direkt til Torino. Because you just know that they're going to be beaten in a superfinal by some underdog pop girly who'll subsequently finish last-but-one.

So come on Germany, so the right thing! There's something for everyone in this song!

Tuesday 7 December 2021

Bulgaria 2022 - Intelligent Music Project - Intention

The second we saw a triumphant Måneskin lifting the big glass microphone in Rotterdam earlier this year we just knew that the knock on effect was that we'd be lumbered with a slew of turgid pub rock bands all thinking that they had the key to recreating that magic moment just because they had a couple of lads with thinning hair waving their hands about in front of a guitar. We just weren't expecting it so quickly. Or indeed from Bulgaria.

Mrs Apocalypse described what this was going to sound like almost note for note just from the band's somewhat pompous name alone it's that bloody predictable - right down to the first person we see in the video wearing a flipping waistcoat. And despite having the ragged contents of every middle-aged rock club on Sofia on stage the sound is as piss weak as the kind of lemon squash our mums used to make us at the last few teatimes before pay day.

We've said elsewhere that the principle difference between Rock 'n' Roll and Rock music is sex. Last year's Italian victors had sex oozing out of their every pore - and the dirtiest kind imaginable. But this dreary excuse for a song is more like prize-giving night at a rural model railway club. In January.

And the worst thing of all is that, because I'm a man of a certain age with hair of a certain length, every bleeder's going to assume that I like it. No, no, scratch that. The worst thing is that this won't be the last we see of witless grandpa guitar plod thinking that they're going to emulate the winners of last year just because they've got a Foreigner album. There's going to be bloody loads of them, aren't there - and somehow this Bulgarian drear isn't going to be the worst of it.