Friday, 23 September 2016

Ukraine 2017 - Alex Angel & Victoria Ahadova - Song For Lovers



I think we've found ourselves a new hero. Not only is young Alex here the lead singer of noted Ukrainian metallists Black Angels, he's also got form on a whole load of casting shows, and is currently in dispute with his home nation's version of X Factor regarding a spot of alleged corruption and contract irregularity.

And what's more, he appears to be entering his entire repertoire into Eurovision this year!

After yesterday's spot of cod metal, we've just uncovered this actually-almost-decent tune that's reminiscent of some of Sparks's more less heard rocky output in the eighties, and some of that dirty London sleaze rock of the nineties.

One assumes that the poor lad is going nowhere near his national final. But that's a shame, because he's weaving pure Apocalypse gold with each new tune! Just don't watch his videos when you're Nan's in the room or you're at work, OK!

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Ukraine 2017 - Alex Angel - Rock 'n' Roll Tonight



And so it begins.

What with Eurovision happening in Ukraine next Spring, to try and whip up a bit of excitement among the masses the host nation have decided to open up the contest to all comers and let pretty much anyone have a pop at entering a song. Yep, we've got a new Switzerland.

Rather unhelpfully, the competition's own website that hosts all the videos appears to be blocked to anyone outside of the nation - well, they wouldn't want any malicious interlopers helping them to choose a ropy old song now, would they. But there are still a few of the acts happy to share out their wares via the medium of YouTube. Acts like Alex Angel, here.

Looking every bit like the lead singer of Franz Ferdinand after he'd fallen down a well - for some years – his sneery, rock 'n' roll metal voice is clearly (or rather, nearly) modelled on that Axl Rose chappy, and the chugging guitars bring back to mind a whole host of terrible terrible bands who all wanted to be Gn'R back in the day (but who were all actually more like Poison). And this is just one of a whole slew of similarly-tinted entries that he's chucking his hat into the ring with this year - every one of their videos packed with half-hearted female ladies gyrating to the slack metal groove.

But as a season opener it holds much promise for a bumper year of Apocalypse gems. Eyes down for a full house, the game has just begun!

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

United States of America 2017 - Nórnaäs - The Living Life


We all knew it wouldn't last long before them Americans wanted in. What with Australia having had a couple of goes, and our favourite show getting screened live over the first pond, the fascination has just exploded over in the colonies and they're clearly dead jealous that we won't let them have a go. So they've declared their entry for next year already! (Shhhhh, nobody tell them about the September rule!)

OK, so this was actually a bit of a spoof from the Stephen Colbert Show, but it was incredibly well observed, and would have made it to at least three of this year's national finals on its own merit. Wait a minute - did we just say "Stephen Colbert"? Yes we did! Somehow Eurovision got itself featured on a high-rating popularist American TV talk show. And when has that ever happened before?

This thing's getting a bit bigger than we ever imagined, right under our noses. Maybe the Americans will be wanting a go before long after all. Oh heck. Altogether now: "We're living the living life…"!

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Hungary 2016 - Freddie - Pioneer (Live at the Igal Spa!)


The latest in our occasional serious of knuckle-gnawingly awkward PAs by Eurovision acts in the run up to the big show sees barrel-chested Freddie of the Hungarian parish perform his big hit to a swimming pool full of pensioners at a hot spa resort just south of Lake Balaton. Yes, you read that right. No smirking at the back, now...

One has to wonder how things like this happen. Was it already on his itinerary as a lesser-known local singer before his elevation to (temporary) national hero? Or did his over-active management think it was a great way to curry favour with the elderly of Europe? Either way, the poor lad looks like he just can't wait to get out of there, bless him.

But to his credit he gave it his all, even attempting to encourage an arms-in-the-air clapalong at one point - although he soon saw the error of his ways at the sight of the sagging bingo wings flapping about before him. Freddie, for possibly the most Spinal Tap moment of the year so far, we applaud you. You carried this off with some grace and humility. But what WERE you thinking when you agreed to this!


Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Greece 2016 - Salina & Stavros Vanderwilt - Love Is A Game


Now that the selections are all done and dusted and the heads of delegations have had their shindig in the host city, it's traditional for a few waifs and strays to start crawling out of the woodwork saying: "This would have been my entry had I not been thwarted in some foul manner". You can almost set your clocks by it.

And who's the first on the list to declare their near miss or never was? Salina from Greece, that's who. Admittedly she was one of the names in the frame regarding the Greek berth from quite early on, but just this morning she's released this sweet-but-cheap little video with an accompanying note of explanation. The long and the short of it was that she was happy to submit this song for consideration, but that she insisted that it went through a national final process rather than being internally selected. Let's hope that's not quite as presumptuous of her chances as it reads, and also that it's not a dig at the chosen candidates Argo and their perfectly reasonable if not crashingly unpopular entry.

Well that's the politics, but what is the song like? Well it's a nice enough mid tempo he/she singalong, but it was never going to be setting any scoreboards alight in its own right - although I'll expect there will be swathes of Utopian land haters bleating out: "This is far better than that sheets Greece has chosen! A weeeener for sure!" Of course, this we can never prove. But I have my suspicions...

Monday, 21 March 2016

Bulgaria 2016 - Poli Genova - If Love Was A Crime


So that's it. All 174 songs have been declared, and barring the odd bit of last minute spit and polish we pretty much know what we're going to be hearing in Stockholm at the start of May. So was dear Poli's song worth the wait? Well kinda.

Many in fandom have gone quietly bonkers at this last release of the season - much in the same way as the did for Croatia. But like their Balkan cousins, we're still not convinced it's got the showbiz to drag it much past halfway in its semi. It's bright, happy and well-produced, and Ms Genova's easy charm will help drag her up the table, but there's still something missing that we can't quite put our finger on.

Again, similarly to many this year, it's gone for the formula mid-tempo chorus, where a song with this build is just begging for something a bit more bouncy. Of course, the similarities of its chirpy samples to the hooks from a well-known Beiber song won't harm its chances any, but we're still not feeling it as majorly as we'd hoped - although it does feel set up for a lively and personable stage show come the big night.

So that's the lot then. Is this just going to be a two horse race between the recent big hitters of Russia and Sweden, or is there something unexpected waiting in the wings to do an Olsens? What do you lot reckon?

Russia 2016 - Sergey Lazarev - You Are The Only One (Live)


Word reaches us from our Russian correspondents of the first recorded live performance of the quite-probably winning song - and it's all looking a bit, well, usual. The video evidence doesn't offer too many clues as to the performance, but our lad Lazarev does appear to be phoning his show in here. Look at his eyes. He's not thinking of the gaggle of excitable folks before him, or a future full of Eurovision glory. He's thinking about his cab ride home, or where he's going for dinner tonight. See! Look!

Of course, we can't judge too much from this flickery little phone video. It appears to be taking place in either a shopping centre of a half-decent night club, so the limited stage space probably restricted him to the usual half-hearted PA show, with a small flock of grim-faced dancers staggering about soullessly like dead-eyed drug mules behind him. What choreography there was was grudgingly shrugged through by the lad himself, so we can probably assume that's not what we'll be getting dazzled by in the first run through in Globen.

Actually, you can tell that it's not a terribly prestigious show, as they can't even spell 'Stockholm' right on the backdrop. So don't expect this to be too much of a precursor to the big show - we're expecting augmented reality lizards and caves, fire-breathing dwarves and chimps in jetpacks. This fella's phone was probably a bit too zoomed in on old Serge to notice all of that! 

Friday, 18 March 2016

San Marino 2016 - Serhat - I Didn't Know (Disco remix)




After the loud hoots of derision that came Serhat's way after the reveal of his grumbly gem, you'd have thought the mass ranks of fankind would have hated it whatever flavour it came in. But they're a spectacularly fickle bunch, as this new disco remix would suggest. Heavens, there's even a call for it to replace the downtempo plodder currently sitting in the box seat. But what does it have about it that make them all love it so?

Well for a start, it's different to the original - although to be fair, the rank and file would have probably loved anything shy of a full on grindcore cover better than they did the first option. And then it's disco - and not just any disco. Nope, it's that stultifyingly white European disco that used to soundtrack all the poshest Monaco boat parties and Joan Collins films back in 1980. This instant camp injection has gone down terribly well, despite the tricky time signature in the chorus that make it sound as though the beat has fallen down the stairs. 

I'd be very disappointed if they followed the baying of the mob and switched this out for the currently selected effort on the big night. The first-revealed song has go a lovely out-on-a-limb difference to it that I'm beginning to rather enjoy. No, let's save this for Euroclub where we can revel in its complete, slighty-ironic, out-of-date pop joy...

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Sweden 2016 - Samir & Viktor - Bada Nakna (sign language version)

(Click here for an enjoyable eyeful...)

So the Samir & Viktor experience met with a slightly embarrassing end last night, as the juries hammer the poor pair, and the app-happy voters only gave it the most cursory amount of love.

But all of that doesn't matter, because we now have this. SVT's signers have always been a bit of a hoot, but this one knocks it out of park into a whole new level. For the first three quarters of the performance he swings about amiably enough, with his cheeky smile and easy manner making you scarcely look at the video at all. But then it gets to the last bit. Oh my...

I'd make sure you're sitting down for this, because it even made me, a dyed-in-the-wool heterosexual swoon just a little bit...

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Serbia 2016 - ZAA Sanja Vučić - Goodbye


Want to see someone really, really overacting a song? Have a look at Serbia then. To be honest, I'm just a little bit scared...

UK 2016 - Jenny And The Giants - Star Trip Shooters


We're still getting the occasional UK near miss and never was dropping into our inbox. Most of them are the from the usual spring of Dunning Krugers, who are all amazed that their chirpy little tune about lard never made it to the grand final - well, it was they, and only they, who was going to save Eurovision for the UK after all.

But every now and again a half-decent little tunes pops out of the ether. Like this one. Although it was written for an upcoming computer game called DRM, it's makers thought that it was such a little pop belter that they would enter it for the UK's Eurovision shindig. Unfortunately, when they got there they discovered that they'd just missed the deadline. Shame!

Given what we now know about the selection process it almost certainly wouldn't have got there anyway, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't have its charms. Think Helen Love in a shiny space suit, think techno Talulah Gosh, think Bis without the Glasgow accents (and if those references doesn't mean anything to you, do some looking up on YouTube - you'll thank me, I promise). Maybe they should have tried punting it to someone like Romania - we'll, if Hayley Everts can get to their final with a recycled ELO song, anything can happen!

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Greece 2016 - Argo - Utopian Land


So, Greece then. When we heard that the artist was being chosen personally by some high ranking politician, we were immediately filled with thoughts of something martial - or perhaps even a bit old worldsy folksy. But then when we heard it was going to be Europond our expectations rose in both the 'awesome' and 'awful' categories. Y'see, when the now renamed Argo are at the top of their game, they can deliver some awesome angsty folk rock fusion. But when they're bad, they're pretty awful, offering little more than some limp sub-reggaeton slush. So which was it to be?

The lyric offered little clues - aside from the frequently repeated words "HIP HOP" scattered every few bars. This again filled us with both hope of something exciting, and dread of something potentially pretty cringeworthy. And then it arrived...

It's folksy opening passage filled us with the aforementioned hope, and its brooding rumble was surely going to lead us to something incredible...? Oh, it didn't. When the rap finally did kick in it proved a trifle toothless - an especial disappointment, seeing how great the Greek language is for spitting out the angry rhymes - and instead of peaking to something major, it just kind of petered out into something ploddy. What a shame. It's beginning to look like nobody wants to win this year. Hey, now there's an idea...

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Australia 2016 - Dami Im - The Sound Of Silence


Hello darkness, my old friend... It's still early, yet a tasty teaser for the Australian song just slipped out - and it's sounding promising. It's a few short seconds of moody build up, and unless the Aussies have gone uber high concept it stops at exactly the point that you think it's going to hit big - but it's still pretty interesting all the same.

Slowly, moody instrumentation grows, while the lass herself walks around a massive darkened building like she's part of a car advert. The clip's title suggests power ballad, so could we be in for a rare treat this year?

Of course, none of what we hear is necessarily part of the finished song, but they're doing the full reveal later on today, so we'll keep you informed as and when.

***STOP PRESS***

We've heard a minute now, and it's more of a stompy contemporary R'n'B ballad than anything especially epic. Top ten challenger, but nothing much more from what we now know. 

San Marino 2016 - Serhat - I Didn't Know


So San Marino, it appears, have become the new flag of convenience for anyone rich enough, or indeed dumb enough, to want to present a project of their own to the Eurovision masses. Why else would they be sending a Turkish singer performing a Turkish and Greek-written song that was recorded by African musicians in Belgium, and is apparently concepted and bankrolled by a musclebound French perfumier? Perhaps that's why they've just presented the ditty at Le Grand Hotel in central Paris and not San Marino village hall?

But all of that doesn't mean to say that it's not an interesting construction. After all, the song's writers Olcayto Ahmet Tuğsuz and Nektarios Tyrakis have got form - coming up with competition showstoppers like Hani?, Şarkım Sevgi Üstüne, Shake It and Love Me Tonight between them. And if the flamboyant Thierry Mugler is on board as the creative director it's always going to look pretty interesting. But what does it actually sound like? Oh. My Days.

We were expecting a big, beaty and bouncy party tune, with a hint of Lou Bega and Kid Creole, and a bucketload of cod swingtime stylings, but instead we got a grumbly, heavily accented slice of Leonard Cohen gloom instead, only without any of the art. We really weren't expecting that at all, and neither were any of the people commenting on the live Periscope stream either by the looks of it.

We were holding out a lot of wrong hope for this one as well. There's certainly nothing else like it in the show, that's for sure, and I suspect that we'll grow to like its dark charms as time goes on, but all the same - what were you thinking San Marino?! 

Croatia 2016 - Nina Kraljić - Lighthouse


Am I right in thinking that we hadn't had any allusions to the sea yet this year? It's easy to forget, what with Portugal and their constant songs about drowning sea men not being hear, but I'm pretty sure that, along with a song called Shine, this is the one thing that we've been missing.

And boy do they lay it on in shovels. Apparently we are Ms Nina here's shining light, saving her from peril on the stormy sea - listen, she's even imitating a foghorn at some points to guide our way to her...

But while this is one of the nicer Croatian songs in a while, it's difficult to see this troubling the bookmakers come May. Only a few songs left and still no immediate winner - who's next? San Marino you say? Oooh, that could get interesting!