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.