Tuesday 12 March 2024

The Netherlands 2024 - Rijswijk Barrel Organ - Europapa


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

Right, deep breath. Firstly, are you OK? It seems like the world around us has turned to shit, and even our favourite bit of light entertainment fluff has been dragged into the maelstrom as ideologies of all flavours butt heads around us. It's made it all feel a bit dirty and considerably less fun for everyone.

So what we all need is to stop for a couple of minutes and have a nice smile - and what could be smilier than this year's already pretty smiley Dutch Eurovision song played down Rijswijk High Street on a barrel organ. I mean, how do they even do that? And so quickly?

So unless Armenia suddenly weigh in with six juggling Barbary macaques all hooting and honking in time to some awesome hardcore gabber, this is going to be our last* post of the season. (*Possibly. You never quite know what strangeness might happen between now and Christmas!) So thanks for sticking with us for all these years, for sending us your great tip offs, and for adding a few specks of sunshine to this most complicated of years. 

Have a great next couple of months, however you choose to observe it!

Mr & Mrs Apocalypse

Thursday 7 March 2024

Portugal 2024 - Silk Nobre – Change


(Click here if you can't see the video panel above, then rub your eyes in disbelief…)

Do you ever watch a performer embarking into a song and start thinking "No mate, stop, Please stop. For your own good, just back out now!"? We do. Fairly often, in fact. But probably none more just lately than this little beast of an appearance. Seriously, we got just five seconds in before the collective citizens of the Apocalypse sofa started shouting "Noooo!", and "Make it stop!" (that last one was Mrs A, mostly). But somehow, like a car accident or a bad wig, we just couldn't stop staring at it, wondering how it could possibly get worse. But it always did.

To be generous, we can see what Mr Nobre here was trying to do. In the right hands, that whole manic preacher thing could really work in this sphere. In the right hands. But this felt more like you were being accosted at 2:35am by a bloke in a back street dive bar who'd barely said a word all night but who suddenly wants you to join him on some epic adventure - although he can't get as far as the toilet door without stumbling into some tables and knocking all the drinks off.

But what do we know, eh? The lad has dragged his way into the FdC final, somehow, and has been tasked with opening the show… which we fear could be a risky move for RTP if they want to keep hold of a few viewers for the quieter, less barnstorming songs that follow it. It's not as if we weren't warned though. A look at the fella's back catalogue suggests that he's been part of musical aggregations with cringe-making names like Funky Messengers, Mister Lizard and Funk do Boi, so all the signs were there. I mean, we wish him well and all, but really. At least it'll be over quickly on Saturday night.

Wednesday 6 March 2024

Switzerland 2024 - Nemo - The Code

(Click here of you can't see the video panel above for something of a medley…)

With all the rush of national finals over the last week or so we forgot to point out a very interesting little song from Switzerland that snuck out and had it climbing up the betting somewhat steadily. "But what genre is it?", you may ask. "Yes," would be our most accurate reply. Indeed, it's one of those.

Young Nemo here is an interesting character, and appears to have crammed their entire artistic showreel into a three-minute chunk of bonkers loveliness. Moody indie pop? Check! Operatic vocal flecks? Check! Unexpected hip hop? Erm, check! Banging bit of post-rave? Look, you know the answer by now. And there's more.

Because The Code is multiple personality disorder carved out in song form, dashing from one thematic idea to another with utter ease while never straying from its linear path. And it's a song that will live or die by its staging come May. It's got the potential of being an absolute showstopper, but could very easily step one foot either side of greatness into dull disappointment or kitchen sink excess. We really can't wait to see how this one turns out, because in a year of potential water-cooler moments, in the right hands, our Nemo could stand out above them all. Exciting times!

Tuesday 5 March 2024

Serbia 2024 - Saša Baša & Virtual Ritual - Elektroljubav


Sometimes you wonder what people were thinking in their attempts to plan a Eurovision contender. The boy Baša here appears to have a decent concept regarding our reliance on electronic equipment and personal relationships, but what was the planning meeting like for the staging, you have to wonder.

"Right then, I've gathered you together for the first run through of the staging plans. I'm going to emerge from a festival toilet dressed as a hipster ringleader and I'm going to… what was that? Yes, a Portaloo. Why's that strange? Anyway, I'm going to be reciting an allegorical tale about love, history and technology while you over there sit at a table playing video games in a hoodie, while you over there pretend to play tennis. Obviously. Any questions? No no, don't all speak at once. Trust me, it'll make perfect sense when it's all put together. After a bit more dancing about, we get to the end when a lady in a medieval frock strolls on and we all fall over. So do you all have that? No, wait… where are you all going? Damn, they've gone. Better ring the family…"

Still, it managed to get a single point each from both the jury and the public vote, so it wasn't all bad, eh Saša?

Monday 4 March 2024

Iceland 2024 - Bashar Murad - Wild West

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

Iceland narrowly missed out on an opportunity to do something really very interesting at the weekend. When it was announced that the Palestinian artist Bashar Murad had declared as a contestant the frosty island nation dashed to the top of the betting in the volatile early fumes of the Eurovision betting market. Of course, the usual grumblers complained for all their usual well-trodden, ill-researched reasons, but Murad does have form in Iceland, having worked with leather-clad local heroes Hatari in the past. But when the song finally emerged it was initially a tad disappointing.

There were many who were hoping for an all out assault on the Israeli state in light of current events in Gaza. The song, however, was a more subtle affair relating to the methods Palestinian peoples have to engage upon in order to get on in life. However, the video was imbued with symbolism and colour-coding, which let us to expect that it was way deeper than we'd ever possibly imagined. Indeed, the Icelandic people took him to their hearts and  got him as far as the Söngvakeppnin superfinal and the song and performance began to get under many of our skins. He couldn't, could he?

Sadly he couldn't. Up against a well-loved local figure in her Bjork, he apparently lost narrowly in a much-criticised two song superfinal format that has cost Iceland some pretty interesting performers in the past after having topped the initial final vote. Indeed, having a system that effectively offers voters an opportunity to vote against as well as for does seem like a bit of an unusual way to do it. But them rules is them rules, and all artists knew them before they entered the contest. However we really fear that Iceland have missed a trick here in choosing a perfectly pleasant and serviceable song that may still struggle to get out of a semi over a song that could have started an international conversation. Their odds on the betting exchanges began to fall rapidly as soon as the superfinal line-up was announced and haven't especially recovered since. Missed topical opportunity of the year, we suspect.

Friday 1 March 2024

Serbia 2024 - Konstrakta - Novo, Bolje


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

Now you might remember Konstrakta from a couple of years back when she sat washing her hands to sing about the lack of healthcare options for artists in Serbia, and how lovely Megan Markle's hair was. Yeah you remember, that handsome woman who scared you a bit when she looked deep into your soul, but who you couldn't take your eyes off for a second. Well she's back, and things are somewhat familiar. Kinda.

At first viewing we soon started to realise that her stage show was filled with very similar motifs to her effort from Turin. This must be deliberate we considered, and started to look into it all - and we're so glad we made the effort, because whole work is borne of some dark artistic genius.

The whole premise of the song is a criticism of the Serbian political sphere, and the title, Newer, Better, refers to the claims of her nation's elected that everything is going to change once they get in - but then after they do very little happens bar mild cosmetic changes to make it appear to be a different regime. And so the performance of the song uses visual cues that are familiar from In Corpore Sano, only just that little bit different. Instead of a water bowl she's kneading bread, the same crew are standing behind her, only in slightly different cloaks, her own outfit is slightly less severe than before, and the dance moves from ICS are repeated, but in different configurations - all interspersed with scenes reminiscent of Renaissance paintings. It's quite quite brilliant.

Of course, in a competition like Eurovision, if you have to explain it, then it probably won't hit with the audience - and especially with elements of fankind who tend not to look too deeply into these things at the best of times. But this feels more like we're floating around in the middle of some long-form performance art piece, and we are most definitely here for it! Bloody marvellous stuff.

Thursday 29 February 2024

United Kingdom 2024 - Olly Alexander - Dizzy


(Click here if the video box above doesn't work and sends you, ahem, Dizzy…)

Now then, after and age of teasing beginning with that impromptu appearance on Strictly, the 2024 UK Eurovision entry is finally out, and we must confess we actually quite like it. We wouldn't go so far as to say that we love it, but it's certainly got its charms.

The instrumentation is fabulous, with so many nods to electro pop gems of the past it's almost a bits-and-pieces quiz in itself. And of course, Olly himself sells it perfectly. But somehow it's still missing that blimey wow factor. And that's a concern. Our biggest worry when we heard the snippet was that it sounded like it was probably taken from the chorus, and that we couldn't see where else it could possibly go unless it took an unexpected left turn. But bar that interesting talky bit in the breakdown (which we're fascinated to see how they approach live), you've kind of heard the whole song halfway through the first rotation of the chorus.

It's definitely got a fine atmosphere, and we just know that Olly will sell the absolute bones of it, but still we're sat here going "That's alright that!" rather than "Holy mother of Jesus, that's amazing!!!" like we already have done already at least twice this waking day. Add this to its close proximity to the fated BPM of death (which of course all depends on how you count the beats in this one), and we fear this could end up being everybody's eleventh favourite song this year - and we know where that gets you on the scoreboard, and it certainly ain't eleventh! (But of course, we said something similar about Space Man, so clearly we're just being grumbly Brits!)

The Netherlands 2024 - Joost Klein - Europapa

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

It's been one of the most hotly anticipated songs of the season in some Eurovision circles. As videos began to circulate of the artist commanding massive crowds to leap about like loons to his stadium hardstyle, we all began to wonder if finally we were going to get that massive gurt happy hardcore banger that we've been dreaming of since the eighties! But hold on, some friendly Dutch types told us. The boy Joost is also known for switching it down into some of the most poignant pathos you can ever imagine, so this could have gone one of many ways. And now it's out it sort of did most of them, all in one go. Let me explain.

From the get go it delivered the familiar rattly pianos of late-eighties piano house lunacy, so just as we were riding the build and waiting for the drop… it kinda didn't. OK, let's roll with this. It's still giving us some beautifully silly techno pop bounce, with a smudge more gnarl to the keyboards. Yeah, it wasn't quite what we were hoping for, but we'll certainly take it against the rest of this field. So we were just settling in for the inevitable repetitive playout when BOOM! - it happened.

We're not going to spoil the gorgeous surprise if you've not heard it yet, but boy it was like a joyful punch in the teeth that you'd happily receive over and over again. And then out of the blue, something equally as beautiful happens, but in a totally different way. The last thirty seconds of this song are absolutely streets ahead of anything else in this contest - the issue is, are people going to judge the whole, or just the bit at the start that they vaguely enjoyed before they went back to fiddling with their phones. A difficult call this one, but one that we're very glad is here.

Sunday 25 February 2024

San Marino 2024 - Megara – 11:11

(Click here if you can't see the panel above cos your browser hasn't been undated since 1111…)

Now hereby hangs a complicated tale of international Eurovisionistics and allegiance shifting. Around this time last year a moderately gothicky techno pub metal band called Megara had a stab at representing Spain at Eurovision. Having just scraped through the Benidorm Fest semi-final they came a creditable fourth to this historically risk averse country. Buoyed on by this encouraging result it appeared that they wanted another go this year. Now we can't be sure, but we suspect they might have had another pop for Benidorm but got turned down this time, as their first performance in what's become the competition's most notorious last chance saloon in San Marino was suspiciously well thought out and nicely put together.

Still, they only just scraped through into the competition's final show, having been edged out of an automatic qualifier's berth by a cheesy-assed superannuated Slovenian boy in shiny slacks and had to drag their way through a repêchage round in order to make the final stage. You'd have thought the writing of another failure would have been on the wall for them, as now they were battling against some significantly major Italian pop stars, most notably Loredana Bertè, a growling blue-haired 73-year-old woman with a significant pop heritage who is pretty much as close to being considered royalty as any Italian can get these days.

After a chaotic and near never-ending final show, it came down to just the pair of them - Loredana and Megara - on stage, awaiting the final judgement. It was bound to go to Ms Bertè, surely, as most of the jury were as old as she was. The partisan crowd began to chant her name in anticipation, before the non-anxious hosts announced "Megara!" to the shock of pretty much everyone in the building. The chants of "Loredana! Loredana!" began to get louder, and an awkward few minutes followed as the audience were seen to be visibly bolting for the doors while Megara were setting up to play their reprise. It might be an auspicious start for the poor pups, but they seem like they're well up for the larks and more than able to take it all in their stride.

But one is still left wondering if it was a missed opportunity, and quite what the non-Italian remainder would have made of Ms Bertè. Man, that could have been bloody incredible - just look at her go…!

Tuesday 20 February 2024

San Marino 2024 - Loco Boombox - In Forma


One of the ways to identify who the truly hardcore members of Eurovision fandom are during national selection season is to find those who watch every last minute of the Samarinese semi-finals. There's just so much wonky outsider beauty on display that it's almost too much to watch a whole show at one time without being absolutely flabbergasted.

Indeed, it's often tricky to pick out just one special moment from amongst the hopeful masses who buy their way onto the show in the hope that this might just be the thing that escalates into superstardom. (Clue: It probably won't). But in this year's first show (of 31!) there was only one artist truly worthy of a spot on these pages - Señor Loco Boombox!

Apparently Spanish, he looks more like a hyperactive fitness coach rather than any kind of pop star, yet still he shone out like a beacon alongside all the drab mid tempo plods and women in sparkly frocks who couldn't sing a note. Of course, he didn't get anywhere near qualifying, and the final stages of this contest is a far less interesting place because of it. But we can only hope that he tries again another year, cos this really was a bit special! Loco Boombox, we salute you as a true Apocalypse hero!

PS Apologies for having to watch this through some giggling Spaniard's formatting with the sound down, but this is the only version that I can find on the internets at the moment - and this really needs to be seen! If you can find a less reactiony version, please do pass it our way!

Sunday 18 February 2024

Estonia 2024 - 5miinust + Puuluup - (Nendest) Narkootikumidest Ei Tea Me (Küll) Midagi


An important but oft-overlooked record was broken in Estonia last night - that of the longest ever song title ever to reach the Eurovision stage. Yep, beating the previous record holder (San Marino's curious 2012 confection The Social Network Song - (Oh Oh - Uh - Oh Oh)) by a clear six characters, (Nendest) Narkootikumidest Ei Tea Me (Küll) Midagi is now top of a pile mostly inhabited by wordy French titles of the sixties. We feel the contest is far better off because of it!

But what does it all mean? Well the direct translation is, ahem, "We (do) know nothing about (these) drugs", and the song itself seems to be a lament about being constantly mistaken for drug addicts by rural police just because they're ruffians in a rap band. All sounds pretty reasonable to us - we've lived that scenario ourselves, and can confess that it can get pretty tiring.

The song itself more than lives up to the content in the lyric - and who can beat a line like "I don't know drugs, I know soda and cider"! - a stompy collab between locally huge rave rap stompers 5 Miinust (5 Minus) and the dark and artsy neo folkers Puuluup (Wood Scoop). None of the above ingredients would work in pretty much any other place on this good planet Earth than the Eestilaul stage, so let's embrace it's glorious nonsense, learn the dance routine - and it's a belter - and just have fun with it. Because, y'know, fun is great!

Tuesday 13 February 2024

Sweden 2024 - Fröken Snusk - Unga & Fria

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

One of the most interesting things about Eurovision national final season is that it throws up all kinds of obscure local genres that you've never previously heard of. And we discovered this one when some Swedish relatives started talking about this song as if it were the Sex Pistols on Bill Grundy in 1976 all over again! So what is the offending musical ouvre? A curious thing called Epadunk. It's a music almost entirely aimed at Swedish kids who drive around in underpowered cars, who like the bawdy lyrical content and bouncy bouncy basslines. And in Sweden it's bloody massive.

Indeed, Miss Snusk here is banging out half a million monthly listeners a month on the streaming services, who reportedly play her tracks a million times a day. Cripes. So it was obviously that the usually pretty staid Melfest burghers wanted a little bit of that jelly to help with their gently drifting numbers. But their one problem was that our lass's lewd lyrics and deeply-donked brand of tractor techno was perhaps just a tad to hardcore for the super safe MF stage. So they diluted it a fair chunk, stuck her on a big pretend horse, and had a bunch of pink dancers looning about in front of her.

It still didn't entirely take away any threats of perceived danger - after all, an undisclosed woman in a pink ski mask is still a little shocking to some sofas - but it all turned into that slightly generic 'fun one' that the producers at SVT like to have in every round. Which is a shame and an opportunity missed, as they could have at least had one massive party banger on their slate instead of the usual batch of schlager beige. 

Sunday 11 February 2024

Finland 2024 - Windows95man - No Rules!

(Click here if you can't see the panel above for some highly forced lunacy…)

Finland did a most curious thing last night. Following last year's most unexpected but welcome success, the entire nation got into a collective brain fog and confused Käärijä's well-crafted gnarly stomp with a bit of awkward knockabout comedy and thought it was voting for more of the same. But it couldn't be more far away from 2023's edgy but funtime hitmaker.

Seemingly a massively local in-joke, Windows95man (in reality a visual artist and DJ called Teemu Keisteri) stamps about in his actual pants, pulling comedy faces while his uncredited sidekick shrieks out an optimistic action film theme tune of a song. It's nostalgia for a time and a place that never really quite existed, but the Finnish locals went absolutely mental for it.

After coming plumb last with the international juries - with only the UK saving its blushes from an embarrassingly low score - it absolutely hoovered up the public vote and beat the expected winner, a pretty decent obsessional break up ballad by Sara Siipola, by a street. But is it any good? We've always recognised that there's a very fine line between being genuinely strange and trying a bit too hard, and we fear that this one had stepped just that little bit too far to the latter. Clearly the fella will have to change both his name and entire iconography when he takes the song to Eurovision proper - which kind of defeats his entire wacky object, the dope.

But having said that, it does have an epic feel that could have everybody watching punching the air against their will without every really quite understanding why. I'll bet the Portion Boys are gutted that they entered last year, cos they'd have hammered this in the public vote. We're always incredibly positive about fun in Eurovision here at Apocalypse Towers, but when it's this forced is it really actually fun?

Friday 9 February 2024

Italy 2024 - La Sad - Autodestruttivo


(Click here to view the video, as it's not available on YouTube yet…)

For those of you who still haven't partaken of its joys, Italy's Sanremo Festival is a thing of absolute beauty. Five long nights of showbiz, chit chat, local in-jokes and star interviews - and somewhere in the middle is a thirty act song festival that almost accidentally decides who they're going to send to Eurovision. It is utterly bonkers, and the unbeatable highlight of the TV year in Apocalypse Towers.

This year has been a gem. We've already seen John Travolta awkwardly doing the Birdie Song dance, seemingly against his will, Russell Crowe effectively calling him a wanker on live TV, some stunning tributes to musicians who have passed, and a whole lot of spine-tingling songs scattered amongst them. But among the beautiful ballads and curious oddities that only Italians fully understand sits this bit of strangeness.

La Sad are kind of like what you get if Busted hung out with Yungblud and had a night in watching Green Day videos. But despite the very unpunkness that all suggests, they've do really have something about them. Of course, they're mainly playing dress up as they groan and grumble their way through a song about youth disaffection, but you can't help but think that the costumes are starting to seep into their souls and they're slowly becoming, at least in part, the very thing they're aping. In my day-to-day punk rock world this lot would get laughed out of even a half-gnarly noise dungeon and chased down the street by amused crusties. But in the tuxedo-and-glitter surroundings of Sanremo their antics have been like a breath of silly fresh air. Gawd bless 'em for having a go!

Wednesday 7 February 2024

Austria 2024 - Kaleen - We Will Rave

(Click here if you can't see the panel above - and get the glowsticks out!…)

Now it's not totally 100% confirmed yet, and this video may disappear as quickly and quietly as it arrived, but we've got reason to believe that this is going to be the Austrian entry at this year's contest - and what an oddity it is!

It begins quietly, like a full-on Melodifestivalen Andra Chansen nearly was. So far, so cookie cutter. But then all of a sudden the acid house noodly bits start to build and it feels like we've got a potential massive dancefloor oddity on our hands. Now this could get interesting! But just at its peak after teasing us with and endless wait for a massive drop, it turns into something that Dr Alban might have considered as a b-side in 1990. Awww! But all the same, still kinda yay!

It's dumb, it's daft, it's about six songs glued together, but it's still worth it for that little passage of acid 303s and massive bass wobbles before the ultimately disappointing but still kinda fun kick back in. If this is the actual entry it ain't going nowhere on the big night - if it even makes the final - but we'll be very interested to see what they do with the stage show. Apparently my ravey past is now worthy of a slab of Eurovisiony nostalgia, however muted it actually is!

Spain 2024 - Nebulossa - Zorra


We were lucky enough to be in Spain for the duration of Benidorm Fest, and it was gratifying to see what a major national event it is starting to become. Every news report on the main channels had at least a tiny feature on the show, there were subsidiary programmes and televised afterparties, and the logos and colour schemes seemed to percolate most corners of daily life. It might not be as all pervading as shows like Sanremo, but it was still lovely to be in a country that kinda cared about their contest.

And while we were there we witnessed a small bandwagon building behind a song that eventually went on to win the Spanish ticket to Malmo. But what to Spanish eyes might seem an obvious choice could appear to be a most curious selection to those of us from elsewhere on the continent. But what on first sight seems to be a glamorous woman of a certain age stamping about to some weak electro pop in her elaborate pants, hides a much sweeter confection. For the song is a much deeper take on women's roles in society.

The title itself is one of those handy Spanish words that can cover a number of things, but in this case kinda means Bitch. Kinda. But run it through Google Translate and you'll find a selection box of pejorative terms for women, from Fox to Witch to Prostitute. The song's lyric is a clarion call to women everywhere to reclaim the term, cease to be accused of wrong-doing for merely existing, to speak up and be proud of their very bawdiness and to stop feeling ashamed about it. And boy was it popular locally - you just listen to the crowd singing along to every last syllable. 

But is the rest of Europe going to get that? You sincerely hope the commentators do some of the heavy lifting for the thing, but we fear that this one's going to get lost amongst the noise and suffer the very thing that the song is railing against. It's going to be interesting to see how this story is going to turn out.

Tuesday 6 February 2024

Lithuania 2024 - Martin - Jigsaw

Lithuania has been the quite one to watch for interesting oddities this season, but we suspect they may have peaked with young Martin here. The lad starts off with his face obscured in a sad cardboard box, then gradually turns into a shit pre-school robot before things start getting a little darker - all the while singing over some edgy electronica in a sweet-yet-pained voice.

We're quite sure it has to mean something, but a mixture of poor lighting and rubbish camera direction seemed to obscure many of the more important parts of the performance. Or maybe that was the point. Sometimes art can be hard.

Sadly old Boxy here didn't qualify for the next stage, beaten off by some cult like operasts and an unconvincing country lass with a great stage show. Shame. But we can't wait to see if they try another year, because it feels like we've got a new cult performer on our hands here.

Thursday 25 January 2024

Serbia 2024 - Durlanski - Muzika

(Click here if you can't see the panel above for some shonky brass action…)

Just picture the scene. Rap boy Durlanski here is in the cab on the way to the studio, but something's playing on his mind. The driver notices his anxious, furrowed brow.

"What's up lad?" he asks warmly, with the faint waft of Slivovitz on his breath. "You look worried."

Durlanski was instantly snapped out of his internalised worrying and replied to the cabbie's concerned questioning. 

"Oh it's nothing much. I'm in the studio today. I've got a song in contention for our national Eurovision selection show, and I'm just polishing off the finished version today. But it still feels like there's something missing?"

"I see," said the cabbie helpfully. "What kind of song is it?"

"Well it's a rap song, but it's got a slow jazzy groove."

"Jazz you say,' the driver replied. "Sounds like you need some trumpets."

"Ooh yes, that's it! That would perfect! Thanks drive! But now that gives me another problem. Where am I going to find a trumpeter at such short notice? The session starts in twenty minutes and I've got no spare time to do it again."

The cab driver gave a hearty, avuncular laugh.

"It's your lucky day, son. It just so happens that I've got my bashed up old trumpet in the boot. I used to play a bit of jazz back in the day. Could I help any?"

"Why that's so kind of you! Yes! Could you do it? Could you?"

"Well I'll certainly give it a try. Just let me finish this bottle of Slivovitz to calm my nerves and I'm all yours…"

Monday 22 January 2024

Lithuania 2024 - VB Gang - Kaboom!!!


(Click here if you can't see the panel above for a big old electro panto…)

That robot lad from yesterday isn't the only portion of unfathomable staging doing the rounds this season. Witness Vidas Bareikis and his mates here from last week. Those of you with keen memories might remember his bizarre interval act in the 2016 Lithuanian qualifier where he sat behind an electric piano and clicked his fingers a lot Yep, that was him! So he's clearly a face around those parts. Which is why this big chunk of nonsense is even more of a surprise than it should have been.

Picture a post-apocalyptic gym scenario, like Mad Max in disco gear, as our hero marches fruitlessly on a hidden travelator while a pneumatic blonde warbles out a heritage pop tune over the top of some flimsy electro. All around them their pals thrust about in sci-fi goth activewear, to such random effect that you wonder if there actually was a plan. 

Now obviously it's not terribly correct to make fun of a foreign language, but once you've realised that what's probably a very serious line in Lithuanian sounds like "box of chicken legs" it's very hard to shift if from a brain. You won't thank us for that. [[[STOP PRESS! Apparently it's a line of Korean. Obviously!]]] And don't get us started on the shades! But all of a sudden, with only the fumes of the last few seconds left to run, it ups tempo, everyone starts dancing in unison, and it all gets pretty decent. Just ignore those steam jets at the back that are shooting off slightly out of time. It's a curate's egg of a performance for sure, but it certainly has its charms.

Sunday 21 January 2024

Norway 2024 - Super Rob & Erika Norwich - My AI

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

Every now and then in this old Eurovision larky a song pops up and you find yourself thinking "What were they bloody thinking?!" Quite often actually, when we come to think about it. So we kinda wish we were a fly on the wall when this whole sorry mess was being devised…

"Right then, the slightly more wonky songs seem to be more likely to win in Norway these days. So why don't we grab ourselves a nine-foot singing robot, get a girly singer - any girly singer - and do her up in very a mild Japanesey visual kei outfit, and get her to giggle along about in a needy way about her love of said robot? And while we're at it, let's say something about AI. The kids all love that kind of business these days, don't they!" Sadly though, somewhere along the line the actual song seemed to be the last thing that they considered. So what they settled for was a weak Scandipop tune that runs out of ideas by the third act - but that's OK, cos we can get the big metal lunk to make everyone feel alright and tell second division Subwoolfer gags. Sadly that's not nearly enough these days.

What's more of a shame is that if you look at Erika's back catalogue it's full of beautiful and wistful songs, gentle in tone and strong in lyric. She must have either been lured with a big old bag of cash, or just fancied having a bit of a change for larks. Let's hope it's the latter, cos if this concept goes wrong it could be a career killer for her. In the right hands this one could actually have been half-decent, but instead it's a right old dog's breakfast that plods along until it ends until it peters out. It'll still be a contender on the MGP final night for the meme-obsessed locals, we fear. Oh well.

Wednesday 17 January 2024

Norway 2024 - Mistra - Waltz of Death


Ever wonder what might it sound like if Portishead tried their hand at Black Metal? Of course you have! Well wonder no more, as this curious little Norwegian tune attempts to merge musical styles, but ends up coming out as something of a Cerberus's breakfast. Although having said that, it still has its charms.

The act themselves are something of an odd mix. Singer Benedicte did Eurovision forty years ago (yes, forty!) as a member of the ultra-poppy Dollie de Luxe, while guitarist Anders has been with Black Metal pretty much since day one, as he used to knock about with Mayhem, was a member of Cadavar, and has played with Swiss metal gods Celtic Frost. Already our musical mental SatNav is desperately trying to find a way through this very concept.

If you don't know your metal it sounds unusual enough, but if you're versed in the gothic bombast of true Norse Black Metal it's as weird as all hell. Where usually the ultra-fast guitars are underlaid by a barrage of even faster drums, making for a sounds so quick that it actually sounds somehow slow, here it's paced along in 3/4 time with a moderate swing to the rhythm. It's a right old mongrel that shouldn't really work, but just about does. Kinda.

Let's hope this adventure leads to NRK going the whole hog and sending some actual proper Black Metal before too long. It's one of the musics that their nation is most famous for, after all. What could possibly go wrong…?

Tuesday 16 January 2024

Ukraine 2024 - Nahaba - Glasss

Now obviously the slate of songs in the Ukrainian selection process has been a little more intense these last few year. Plenty of allegories about the war and land, calls for peace, and weird heads down and hedonistic party songs about just keeping going. But there's never been one quite so viscerally raw as this one.

It starts off quite gently enough. A shrill, hyper-processed female voice barks out lines over some throbbing yet gentle electro beats, not all that far removed from an updated t.A.T.u.. The volume and intensity begins to grow until just before the two minute mark when a male voice takes over. At first its a doleful swirling lament, but only a few bars in and he begins to shout angrily. Then when our lass joins again for the last thirty seconds it has to be the most intense passage of play of any ESC-facing song I can ever remember. Seriously, you'll be emotionally exhausted by the end of it. It's quite, quite brilliant.

It sounds angry. Proper angry. As folks from round those parts have every right to be right now. For all we know though they could be singing the shopping list, but it doesn't matter, because the emotional delivery grabs you right in the feels. It's very unlikely that this will come anywhere near the win, as there are far more accessible songs performed by massive local superstars on the Vidbir menu this year. But one suspects that this is likely to end up as a performance we're never going to forget.

EDIT: Now with new added lyric video. Cripes!

Monday 15 January 2024

Germany 2024 - Grossstadtgeflüster – Ich kündige


(Click here if you want to beat the kak out of your device because you can't see the panel above…)

Man alive, the Eurovision batshittery continues apace this season! Now, this little belter is only rumoured to be one of the German selections this year, and nothing has been confirmed yet, but the social media sections of Eurovisionia have been bonkers in the nut for this one, so we thought it worthy of a good sharing.

Now remember, we've been burned by that lot for this kind of thing in the past - remember the Electric Callboy incident? But if there is any credence to the rumour we could be in for a treat. I mean, who doesn't love a mildly terrifying woman beating the bejabers out of a table with a slightly disappointed look on her face while barking "I quit!" in German? Or maybe that's just us?

They'd be fools not to have this in their selection though, cos it's memeing to billi-o at the moment, and their recent track record has been disappointing at best. And can you imagine what they could do with it live?! But we fear that they're going to go for a while load of terrified teens in cosy jumpers again, aren't they. Shame. 

Norway 2024 - Gothminister - We Come Alive


(Click here if you can't see the horrors on display above…)

In the real world, Gothminister are a goth metal band of some stature. Known for their pummelling industrial sound, they play festivals for the gnarliest of spooky kids around the globe. But every now and again they think it's a jolly good idea to have a stab at Eurovision, and it always nudges just that little bit too closely to massive layers of cringe.

Witness their latest attempt. It starts off badly enough, with a little girl in pink playing with a tiny doll version of our lad the Minister himself in a massive lilac dolls house. So when he does finally appear on some furry steps beyond her all but the most ardent member of gothkind must have let out a comic snort. A man of a certain age in a wobbly crown and even more wobbly hands starts to prowl the stage as a couple of dancers emerge from the fluff and just wobble about a bit. I can just picture the band meeting when this staging got posited "Nah, that's alright Bjorn mate, you're on your own with this one!"

You can kind of see what they were thinking with their horror film demon possession schtick, but it all ends up just a little bit creepy-in-the-wrong-way when the big lad starts singing about hiding under beds at the same time as a pre-teen begins to cavort about in a slightly-too-sexy manner. I mean, it's not quite Bognibov levels of child bothering, but it still makes for uncomfortable viewing. Which is a shame, cos there's a decent darkwave groove going on underneath it all, but it goes on about three chorus repeats too long and feels like they didn't really know where to go with the stage schtick after around the second minute.

Having said all that though, it's still one heck of an entertaining mess, and the kind of thing that this blog truly exists for!

Friday 12 January 2024

Latvia 2024 - ECTO - Outsider

When I first started getting involved in Eurovision fandom back in the distant days of tape swaps and postcard voting, if any song so much as had a serious bloke swinging his hands about in front of a guitar they were seen as some kind of antichrist to most (and like the new Sex Pistols to the rare likes of me). So it's an indication of how much the contest has dragged itself firmly into the twenty first century that a national final contender like this is almost universally ignored - and those that have spotted it give little more than a mere tut of recognition as to being a bit of an outlier. Which on one hand is incredible, but on the other a bit of a shame. Because this is a song that shows not only some imagination, but quite some potential for an unhinged live act on that tiny Supernova stage.

Imagine a moody young lad gyrating about awkwardly to a difficult chunk of glitchcore with old fashioned dubstep pretentions. The scope of possibilities is enormous. And although we doubt that he'll do half of the things that we hope that he might, we suspect that it's going to be lively.

This one's most definitely going on the 2024 Apocalypse playlist, and while it's not going to be troubling the scoreboard too deeply, it's going to be a heck of a lot of fun to watch it crash and burn!

Thursday 11 January 2024

Ireland 2024 - Bambie Thug - Doomsday Blue

Ireland mate, is everything alright at home? Y'see, you're displaying the most erratic behaviour, and we're wondering if you need a nice sit, a little chat and a big milky cup of tea to calm your nerves. I mean, we can understand what's led you this way. You've been convinced that you were on to a winner these last couple of years, but all those cloth-eared people around Europe didn't share your vision. As you watched in dismay at all the points the slightly more less-Irish acts were reaping in at a final show you weren't invited to, an idea began to hatch in your head. But we're not sure that you entirely fully understood the full gravity of what was going on, as you've definitely gone off down a curious path this year with your selection.

Actually, one shouldn't mock too much. Where Ailsha is a plucky up-and-comer chucking everything she's got into three minutes of beautifully confusing noise, Ms Thug here is an established techno goth artiste who's played big festivals the like of Download and has a string of cracking genre-bursting videos behind her. If we'd seen this in a gnarly dungeon somewhere we'd have piled down the front and gyrated like loons. 

But somehow we fear that, much like with Go Tabann, it's all going to look a tad too strange and awkward in studio Late, the nans in the front ten rows are going to run out screaming in fear, and the aforementioned horse girl, or the cookie cutter boyband Louis Walsh is currently making a backstory up for will take the ticket to Malmo instead, only to suffer the same fate as most of their other entries over the last couple of decades. I mean, bless 'em for having a go - and this is a cracking song out of context - but there's a big difference between reacting and planning!


It only went and bloody won Eurosong, didn't it! Rejoice!

Croatia 2024 - Let 3 - Baba Roga


The first live performance last night was every bit as beautifully chaotic as we could possibly have hoped!


Remember those anarchist Croatian grandads in Liverpool last year who wore colourful totalitarian garb and waved rockets about right near the end of the show? Well they're back in the qualification process, and wouldn't you know it they've pulled another blinder. And while it's nowhere near as complex and immediate as their previous effort, it's certainly got its charms.

This one's more of a churning dance groove, peppered with almost painful-to-hear autotuned vocals. We weren't blown away the first time we heard it, but the more you listen, the more layers you begin to notice. If you know your festival rave, imagine King Kong Company blended with a bit of Midfield General. If you don't, just enjoy the fun.

But of course, as with anything Let 3 do, that's not entirely the whole story. They're publicly claiming that this song is absolutely nothing to do with them, and they've been usurped by imposters. If that's true, the life performance at Dora is going to be hilarious. If it's not true, it could be even funnier. Remember, this lot are arch pranksters of the highest order, and back home they're a massive act. It's like the lads have taken elements of  Laibach, Frank Zappa and the KLF then sprinkled on their own brand of distinctly Croatian lunacy all over the top of it.

Warning one: Play this song more than once and it'll lodge in your head for weeks.

Warning two: Make sure you're not drinking or holding any liquids when the singing kicks in on the video below…

Wednesday 10 January 2024

Ireland 2024 - Ailsha - Go Tobann


We've all been there. We click go on some manner of online video player, but haven't realised that there's already another song playing somewhere in another window. Now you've got (at least) two songs playing, but you've no idea where the other one is. But somehow it still sounds kinda OK. That's pretty much what it sounds like is happening here.

It's waaaaay over-produced, feels like it has all the levels turned up well into the red, and is at times messy and incoherent. But still somehow it almost works. Factor in the fact that it's one of the contenders for Ireland, and it's giving us a whole load of the WTAF feels. 

There's definitely something in the water this year (and if rumours are to believed it's not even the strangest song that our friends across the water have got on offer this year). But as promising as it seems, let's drag things back to reality. While you can just picture Ailsha stamping about in front of a stripped back metal goth band with a couple of black-clad Irish dancers jigging about behind her, that's probably not what we're going to get. Instead, she'll be playing to a bunch of Late Late grans in that bland old studio through one of the worst live sound systems outside of a Czech final, and get some superannuated local star waffling on about how "It's not really for the Eurovision, is it now?" as our singing lass stands there looking awkward in the corner, before some nice lass from the counties who looks after horses wins win some mawkish jumper ballad.

It's a story as old as time!

Thursday 4 January 2024

Croatia 2024 - Baby Lasagna - Rim Tim Tagi Dim


(Click here to watch and listen if there's a blank space above this sentence…)


It only went and bloody did it. Despite some shakey-assed vocals, the pure nonsense power of the show dragged it to the win by an almighty margin! Expect this to be there or there abouts during the run in in Malmo in May


The Croatian songs came out today, and it makes for a pleasingly interesting list of different styles and sounds - and many of them quite noisy! We'll talk about the returning Let 3's autotuned masterpiece another day (or when it gets a half decent video clip), but this is the song is the other moment that tweaked our interest quite considerably.

Clearly coming from this year's school of "Well if that Finnish lad did it, why can't I have a pop?" while sounding nothing at all like hims, we begin with big chuggy midi guitars and what could even be cellos, kinda like if Rammstein had a nice day out with Apocalyptica. The chorus is only a smudge of a let down when it descends into quite obvious proggy metal chords - but still offers much fist-in-the-air pumpability. But then without a skip of a beat, the bridge on the middle offers a delightful acid techno left turn that gets you all excited.

This chap's not got much heritage online, but one suspects that he's most likely got a pretty interesting stage show girding up behind him, so file this under 'ones to keep an eye on'. He's got a fair job on his hands though, beating off his nation's elderly art noise surperstars. So to speak.