Wednesday 20 December 2023

Albania 2024 - Luan Durmishi – Përsëritja


Merry FiKmas, everyone! Yep, Albania's annual Winter warmer, Festivali i Këngës, is back once again in its traditional festive slot and delivering all the usual gravel-voiced ballads and angry looking ladies squeezed into ever-more restrictive garments. But there's always a couple of outliers who make you sit a little further back from your screens in a curious blend of delight and dismay. 

So witness Mr Durmishi here. Sitting grumpily on a box, he grumbles and artful lyric about the art of repetition while staring out the entire middle block of the audience through his bottle bottom glasses, all laid over a bed of austere minimal 90s Balkan techno. So when he does eventually stand up and start marching menacingly towards the front of the stage you'll swear you can hear portions of the audience bolt for the doors. 

This is exactly the kind of thing that we all watch FiK for, and if you never have, we really think that you ought to, too. The final's on Friday night, and we so hope this laddie makes it there, because in the words of the good lord Wogan, he'll most certainly scare the horses.

Wednesday 13 December 2023

Malta 2024 - Matt Blaxk - Banana

Well here we are again. It scarcely seems like five minutes since we were all getting excitable on Merseyside, but the songs and delights have begun to trickle our way again, so we're back for another season. Now it's traditional on these pages to post about the first song we hear, whatever it is. Sadly though this time it was Slimane's French thing, which even its most staunch supporter would confess is perhaps a bit too mid for this blog, so we've elected to debut our 2024 coverage with an old friend of Apocalypse.

Many of you remember will recall M Blaxk sudden transformation from a standard balladeer so a loud and sassy cringe inducer, and it's something that's kept us going through many an MESC competition over the years. But the lad has surely surpassed himself this time. As soon as we saw the title of his song many weeks back, be knew exactly how he was going to pronounce it - "Bah-Nah-Naaah!" - it just had to be. And when he's not over-annunciating his fruity title or telling us exactly who he is, our Matt is stomping about in a beautifully ungainly manner, and giving us a simple but silly dance routine to try to copy. But to be fair it won't be too tricky to replicate.

There are already those who are foolishly calling this a Käärijä copy. But they're silly dolts. Of course, our favourite Finn is going to encourage the less traditions funtime fellows to have a go at the contest this year. But our boy from Malta here has been ploughing this cheesy furrow for some years now, and is operating completely in his own wheelhouse. Just by law of averages, Matt Blaxk is going to qualify for the big show at some point over the next few years, so it might as well be with this big old slice of dumb singalong fun. Happy funtimes!

Thursday 11 May 2023

Ireland 2023 - Cruachan - The Blacksmith


With the inevitable bleating from the Babyman in a golden rompersuit about how everyone clearly hates Ireland still ringing in our ears (despite everyone warning them the song was shite long in advance of it being chosen), a band who were overlooked for the process of selecting the Irish song quietly released their submission - and boy would it have changed everything!

Cruachan are a Pagan Metal band who were the first act to publicly declare their application for the golden ticket. They're a crack live act with a very distinct visual image and a total belief in their own music. They also know how to lay down a pretty decent tune. Apparently the shortlisting team listened to the song but didn't think it would work in the context of Eurosong. Have they actually watched Eurovision lately? Not since 1997, by the sounds of it, because this one would have ripped up the stage.

Instead they bagged a handful of novices, an old punker well past his best days, and a whiney boy band who seemed like they were the anointed ones well in advance of the show. And the saddest thing is, I bet they were making a bold statement with Wild Youth instead of the decades-behind-the-pack inspiro-dross it actually was. If ever there was an opportunity missed, this is surely it! (Although can you imagine what it would have looked and sounded like on the late Late Show?!)

Thursday 16 February 2023

Poland 2023 - Ahlena - Booty

The artists for Poland's Tu Bije Serce Europy selection show (translated roughly as 'The Heart Of Europe Beats Here' if Google are to be believed) were announced yesterday, and a few of the songs have begun to trickle out. Up to now they're a fairly decent little selection of interesting pop tunes - although with nothing much to get too excited about. But one did especially catch our eye once we copped a glance at its lyric vid.

Effectively it's a plus-sized girl telling everyone how great her butt is. But some of the lines are so priceless that we can't wait to see how she delivers them live. How's about "I can have you, him, and him, and his Dad" for starters. Or maybe "I don't dress to impress, but you should see the way my bum bum jiggles in this dress". Or ever perhaps "I'm going to have him rub my butt before we hit the club". Pure unadulterated arse-based filth from start to end. And we're here for its honesty.

Yep this sleazy little tune isn't trying to pretend it's anything it's not. It's just a big girl singing about how she wants to have a good time - and on her terms while she's about it! And taking a scan across the artists' thumbnails on the announcement page the woman who appears to be Ahlena looks as though butter wouldn't melt in her mouth. Which could make it all the stranger. We suspect this beautifully brazen bucketful bawdy filth isn't going to come anywhere close to winning, but if handled right this could easily be one of the most funtimes three minutes of the entire season - especially if it makes the more staid and conservative members of fandom get a little hot under their starchy puritan collars.

Wednesday 8 February 2023

Italy 2023 - Sanremo 73 - Blanco Goes Batshit

 (Click here if you can’t see the video panel above…)

At Eurovision Apocalypse, we’re not just here for the songs, but for the glorious bad behaviour too. And last evening’s first night of dear old Sanremo offered us up a prime example as last year’s co-winner, Blanco, absolutely lost his shit when he couldn’t hear himself during a performance of his new single. 

Starting of by kicking a few roses about, he soon escalated into chucking huge lumps of scenery across the stage and trying to drag his band members to the floor. Beautiful showbiz antics!

However, the suits in the crowd didn’t much take to his tantrum and instantly showered him with boos and catcalls. It made what was up to that point an unusually dull evening infinitely more fun. Fair play to you, Blanco sir - you’ve become a true Apocalypse hero!

Monday 6 February 2023

Germany 2023 - Ikke Hüftgold - Lied Mit Gutem Text


Now while this year's German selection was considerably less beige than last year's insipid horror show, there was still nothing to get all that terribly excited by. So it was a bit of luck that the people who were organising the competition decided to hold a wildcard vote between the a few of the acts who had submitted entries but not been selected. Although one suspects that they may not be doing that again.

The reason? Well the glorious public of Germany only went and chose their biggest party pop act, a fella called Ikke Hüftgold, who won the remaining place in the final with a massive 52% of the vote. For people like us that can only be a good thing. But those people who take themselves a little bit too seriously are absolutely terrified of the song, because there's a very strong chance that this is what's going to win the ticket to the Eurovision Grand Final. And if it does, the viewing public are going to absolutely love it.

Ikke himself is a comic character devised and played by a chap called Matthias Distel. He is the very embodiment of German Ballermann culture -the free-form and beautifully vulgar kind of hedonistic party go who flood to holiday islands every Summer and dance to singalong oompah pop in the kinds of bars that you probably try to avoid. And we'd argue that as much as the grown ups wouldn't care to admit it, this is as much a part of authentic German culture as Paloma Blanca's flamenco-lite jobby is for Spain. Kinda like Rammstein covering Black Lace. It will, of course, be derided by the broader fandom - as pretty much any ugly middle-aged man playing something that's a whole lot of fun tends to at this contest. But we've got a sneaking regard for the thing here at Apocalypse, and reckon that it's going to go down in history, one way or another. Even if it's only to take the heat off Leto Svet as the most derided Eurovision song of all time!

Sunday 5 February 2023

Spain 2023 - Fusa Nocta– Mi Familia


Spain chose their song for Eurovision last night, and went a tad left of their usual centre and went for an interesting flamenco-tinged piece of work. And while it may not be quite the potential big show winner that many fans are insisting, it's certainly going to make a nice difference on that big stage in Liverpool come May. However, our favourite song by a street in the competition was another song with deep hints of flamenco running through its veins. This one…

OK, so it might have come plumb last on the night, but that by no means detracts from its fabulosity. From it's creepy, slightly unnerving start with a child's voice chatting away as we ran along a massive long plait on hair, we were enthralled. Why was this terrifying looking you woman in shiny black PVC shouting at us from the top of a reasonably sized family car, we wondered. And then as she was helped down and marched towards us purposefully we quite forgot about all that and feared that she might actually punch her way through the telly screen and march into our living room. 

Then there was all the dancing interludes and all kinds of other art business that hooked us right into her story, despite knowing little of what she was going on about. And while her gnarly vocals and angry expressions may not have entirely been everyone's kettle of jam, we bloody loved it, and it was by far the most punk rock thing at this year's contest so far. We'll have this one on repeat for some time, we reckon.

Monday 30 January 2023

Moldova 2023 - Valeria Condrea - We're Now Different


The Moldovan live auditions are a major annual waypoint for we lovers of the more esoteric end of Eurovisionia. Each year we see a handful of the same faces popping up - some significant local stars, some just plucky chancers - all hoping to get themselves and their songs onto a prime time Saturday night TV show. But it's with those plucky chancers that the pure beauty of this process lies. As they stand on that tiny stage waiting for their music to kick in, you quickly try to assess what their voices will be like by the state of their nervousness. Sometimes they surprise you and bellow out a powerful performance. But other times they just wheeze anxiously, looking like they thought it was going to go a whole lot better in their heads when they sent their submission in to the telly people. But then you get performances like this one, that kinda straddles both categories - and makes up a couple of their own while they are about it.

Valeria here might not be a singer in perhaps the way you or I would describe one, but she certainly knows her style, and emotes and grimaces her way through an eye-widening performance. It's not always clear, however, if she's remembered all the words, as she hovers between English and Moldovan passages at almost no warning. But again, that may actually be a part of her schtick, as you certainly can't fault her passion and absolute belief that she's doing a pretty amazing thing. 

These are the kinds of performances that we live for at Apocalypse - not to mock them, but to praise them for their utter self-belief and unusualness. They may be outsiders in amongst the shiny world of highly produced Europop, but they make shows like this all the more interesting for their very existence. Long may the live auditions reign, TRM!

Sunday 29 January 2023

Lithuania 2023 - Antikvariniai Kašpirovskio Dantys - Sėdi Ir Važiuoji

The AKD have got form on these pages. Their 2019 effort in Pabandom iš Naujo, Mažulė was a wonky delight, and surprisingly unlike their usual form as an arena-filling light-hearted folky-ska-rock act. So it is even more of a surprise to see their latest evolution into funtimes silly pop in last night's PiN early stages.

Stomping all over the stage in glittery trackies, like some kind of super-annuated Goldie Lookin' Chain, they mugged to camera, messed about on office chairs (and as a health and safety rep I can tell you that some of their antics are not to be encouraged in the workplace!), tied scarves around their heads, and generally looned around in what looked like part organised, but still fairly freeform style.

The song was terrible, of course, but we'll still be darned of we can't get the oo-woo-hoo-woo-hoo-hoo chorus out of our heads today. Despite their local popularity, they only just sneaked into the semi-final stages, so don't expect to be seeing too much more of them this season. But at least they've brought a little bonkers joy to an unusually over-serious set of Lithuanian proceedings this year. We would suggest checking out some of their more usual stuff though, as it's quite different thing altogether.

Friday 27 January 2023

Germany 2023 - Lonely Spring - Misfit


This time of year can be great when we start getting clips sent in with people saying "Here's one for you Apocalypsers - I'll bet this is right up your street!" And indeed many times it is. But now and again there'll be the odd song that a whole bunch of people tip us off to that suggests that they haven't quite got the gist of our silly little blog - and this morning's release of the first batch of songs for Germany's Unser Lied Für Liverpool has seen that happen not once, but twice!

And just as Lord Of The Lost give the false impression of offering a massive slab of Neue Deutsche Härte when in fact their actual song is just a pale schlager in better heels, then Lonely Spring here may give off all the apparent punk pop bluster of bands like New Found Glory, they're actually closer in substance to yer actual Busted than anyone who's actually, y'know, cool. Yep, the sneery-voiced So-Cal sound may be moderately back in vogue with the recent reformation of Blink 182, but the proper punks all thought it was pretty lame the first time round, so these lads appear top have fallen between two stools, and what must seem in their heads to be something of a snotty radical stance actually feels a bit cloying. And more to the point, how actually old are they? Hopefully it's a life well-lived that has made them look that grizzled, but it would be very unbecoming playing the teeny punk card in their videos if they were actually nearly as ancient as Tom Delonge.

In my other musical life as a barely successful punk rock star I get to see this kind of mob a lot. They're usually the second act on a four band bill that swan in late like they've just invented punk, tries to get all their mates in for free, play to nine people while moaning that nobody respects them, then sod off home before the other bands have played. Good luck to them if they're straight up in their love for the genre, and it might indeed be fun to see them leaping about on a Liverpool stage, but honestly, this isn't our flavour of punk rock at all. And sadly them Germans are more likely to go for their usual beige blando anyway. Although the hurdy gurdy lass would at least be funny.

Wednesday 18 January 2023

Finland 2023 - Käärijä - Cha Cha Cha


So there we were thinking Finland we're going to let us down. Up til now, the UMK line-up had offered us nothing but famous people with mediocre songs, or less famous people with mediocre songs. Heck, things were getting so bad that we were almost looking forward to the Portion Boys reveal for something to laugh at. Not with, at. And surely we couldn't be expecting much from a song called Cha Cha Cha, could we? How terribly wrong we were!

Kicking off sounding a bit like Rammstein with all the corners sanded off, a bare-chested hardnut stomps around a wrestling ring singing about how he loves to get pissed up and lose his mind. And just when you were expecting to shake your locks to the inevitable beatdown drop in the middle, at the 1:42 slot it gracefully slides into a chunk of turbo-fuelled J-Pop. Eh?! He's still singing about the booze drinks, only by now he's absolutely hammered and rolling around on the metaphorical floor. It's a work of pure bloody wonk genius!

It's like listening to an entry level version of Japan's thrash-pop brain-melters Maximum The Hormone - only in Finnish and with a distinctly Northern European edge. And you just know that it's going to look immense live! Obviously unless something really strange happens in the next two nights this is the one that we really, REALLY want to see in Liverpool. We've no idea if he's even got a half of a half chance up against Robin P, but the people of Finland have been known to chuck in the odd rogue bullet, so please - pretty please - make this happen!

Monday 16 January 2023

Estonia 2023 - Meelik - Tuju


The Estonian Eurovision selection competition, Eesti Laul, is usually a delight, laden with low key floaty pop marvels and the occasional slab of unhinged strangeness. Sadly this year's competitors are a little more usual, but this bouncy little indie pop shuffle is the one that's stayed with us over the weekend.

If it doesn't grab you immediately, please do stick with it though, as its awkward deadpan beginnings build and build through ever more wonky camera, and the band gradually thaw out from their stiff and almost creepy beginnings.

Thankfully it managed to claw its way into February's final, and will be a smashing counterpoint to all that over serious pop and contrived sub-rock that it's buttressed up against. It won't be coming anywhere near the top half, we fear, but we're so very glad that it's there.

Friday 13 January 2023

Croatia 2023 - Krešo i Kisele Kiše - Kme Kme


What have the put in the water in Croatia this year. Dora of late has been like a favourite old Aunt who's a bit past her best but who you still grudgingly go to see once a year anyway. But they must have upped her meds over the past twelve months, because this year's contest is fixing up to be one of the best of the lot in 2023! There's at least half a dozen songs that we wouldn't begrudge a slot in the big show - maybe even more, and although Let 3 might be the big noise to fans of more edgy alt stuff, we can't help going back to our roots and digging a bit of Kreso!

Oh yes, we've always enjoyed a bit of the old skacore in this household, but given an added stompy Balkan edge this one's floating all kids of boats for us. Like Let 3, Krešimir Burić and his Acid rain hail from Rijeka, and have been making this flavour of fine and danceable racket for donkeys years now. But we never imagined that they'd show their hand at Dora. If you're looking for stylistic reference points, seek out California's Voodoo Glow Skulls, or the UK's own Redeemon, The Filaments and The Dead Pets, because if you're unfamiliar to this sound there's a load of great stuff to discover out there.

When old man Johnny and his PiL boys first declared for Ireland, the old punks were the first one to disparage him for entering a contest they clearly hadn't seen since they were kids. They out to take a gander down Croatia way, because they'd have to admit that there's a good handful of stuff that they'd listen to at Dora this year if it hadn't been apparently tainted with the Eurovision brush - and this one in particular. It's another one we just can't wait to see done live! 

Thursday 12 January 2023

Croatia 2023 - LET 3 - Mama ŠČ!

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

A couple of months ago a Croatian pal of mine advised me to check out the history of a band from round his way called LET 3. There were stories that they were going to be having a go at ESC in 2023, and that they had something of a track record of unruly TV appearances and curious art terrorism. Obviously, my ears picked up and I started delving into their back catalogue. And boy was their history lively. Famous for their provocative lyrics and shall we say lively live performances, they're one of those polarising bands back in the home country - you either love 'em, or really really hate 'em. Already they sounded like my kinda band.

And now here it is - Mama Shhhh! It's tricky to totally translate the meaning into English, but there's a whole lot of business about going to war, and a lot of references to psychopaths… and tractors - but it's the sonic onslaught that really tips it over the edge. After a politely cacophonous intro, it slides into an edgy folksy hymn. It's fairly accessible, but to you can't help feeling that something is about to jump out of the woodwork at you. And at around 53 seconds it suddenly goes full Zappa on you and swirls your brain in all the directions.

From there on in it ebbs and flows, before building to a massive mess of chuggy pop anger and a curt sudden ending. In short, it's flipping brilliant, and going by their past history one can only assume the live visuals are going to be a bit, ahem, lively. Again, they're going to polarise, with as many people voting for anything but them rather than them themselves. But if Croatia really wants to stamp its mark back on the contest, these are the laddies to do it!

Sunday 8 January 2023

Ireland 2023 - Public Image Ltd. - Hawaii


So it finally happened - probably. Four years after it was first posited by a chancer songwriter, PiL have finally chucked in a song in an attempt to represent Ireland at Eurovision. Or at least so the rumours go at this point. Old Johnny has clearly been pondering on the potential mischief of it all, and gone rogue with one of the most beautiful pieces of music the old band have put together in years.

However, one suspects that, if this whole curious story is true, it's the kind of song that's going to fall between all the stalls and not especially satisfy anyone. All those folks who still insist on calling him Johnny Rotten with little idea of his more recent output will look at it as something of a lilting disappointment, while on the other hand, it might be just that bit too strange and meandering for all the nans who watch the Late Late Show of an evening. And you can just imagine the panel of has-been showbiz celebs trying to get their lobes around it. "It's not really the kind of thing that gets sent to the Eurovision now, is it" someone who clearly hasn't watched the Eurovision in decades will undoubtedly say, then everyone will vote for either that boyband or one of those nice girls from the counties.

The project's only potential saving grace will be if John gets to tell the story of the song. Much of what he does these days is mainly to amuse his wife Nora, who is deep into the later stages of Alzheimer's, and this song is clearly a part of that strategy. So if it only does that, then this whole thing is a success. It's probably not what many people would have expected of the band, but it's a pretty lovely thing to be doing all the same.

I just wonder what the ten-year-old me would have thought the first time I saw The Sex Pistols on a Sunday afternoon arts programme in 1976 and had my head turned to a long life in punk rock if you'd told him that in nearly fifty years time I'd be writing about their singer potentially doing Eurovision. It's not the greatest thing he's ever done, and almost certainly won't come in the top half of the voting unless something weird happens, but the intentions behind it are the most important thing here.

Now let's see if the whole Eurovision story is true!