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.