Friday, 20 October 2017

Ukraine 2018 – Alex Angel – Slave Of Rock 'n' Roll

Remember the diminutive and somewhat flesh-crawling Alex Angel from last year? You know, the creepy one who kept tongue snogging a procession of scantily-clad young women with "Save me!" screaming out of their eyes who tries to enter from just about every country with an open application process last year. Well he's back, and he hasn't got any less troubling.

He's got a couple of entries in the process this year, but this one's probably the most sleazy. But not in that knockabout LA hair metal kind of way. Here five young girls in high heels and shiny pants writhe about on a sofa and take it in turns to be grabbed round the back of the head and skewered with his probing talk muscle while some procedural 80s pub metal drones on in the background. Minn Hinsti Dans it most definitely is not. They all seem to be having a good time, I think, but it does raise so many questions.

Who is bankrolling this nonsense? Why does these girls put themselves through these indignities? Is he just a clever parody character and I've missed the joke? I've wondered about the latter, but if it's true he's in pretty deep cover. After last year's contest he sent me an angry Facebook message telling me that Naviband had nicked his act after their touching snatched kiss at the end of their performance. This fella's either a seriously well-observed comedy commando, or he needs to be on some kind of watch list for touchers. I know which side of the argument I'm erring on at the moment…

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

UK 2018 – Subject: 2 – Another You

It's a little later than usual, but the Eurovision hopefuls are just beginning to drool in. Most of them so far have just been solitary types in their bedrooms that are neither good enough to qualify for anything anywhere, nor bad enough to be of any kind of outsider merit. But good friend of the site Anthony Ko tipped us off to this little beast, and we have to say that we're probably enjoying it more than we should.

So yes, it's terribly old fashioned - sounding like some kind of goth-tinged Erasure, and exactly the kind of thing that your Nan still thinks is just like a Eurovision song - but at the same time it gets under your skin and has you singing along against your will, curse it. Subject: 2 describe their sound as Electro Country Pop, and while there's little evidence of any country twinges besides the hat the singer is wearing in the video, fair play to them for at least trying to do something a little different.

Of course, as much as it has made us smile in Apocalypse Mansions this morning, it ain't going nowhere - and especially not through the punishing, and ultimately fruitless UK OGAE system. So may we suggest them investing €4.99 in the somewhat confusing Sanmarinese process. At least it'll be out in the public sphere and get a bit of a viewing that way.

Oh, and it's worth watching the video through, as the best bit is the end. We don't mean this as a judgement on the quality of the song, however. No, it just gets pleasingly cute once the song has finished.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

San Marino 2018 - 1 In 360 - Casting Call

For the last 24-and-a-bit hours we've been awaiting the news of quite what San Marino's groundbreaking new Eurovision-flavoured news was going to be. A press release yesterday told us to expect something quite revolutionary and new, that had never previously been done in the contest before. Ever never. So today, with scarcely a chance to ponder, pontificate and make rumours up they revealed their grand new plan. And what was it?

Kind of what they've been doing all along, only this time in public and without the fee of half a million Euro (we think).

Yep, they're holding a never-before-seen open competition to choose their next entry in some kind of world wide internet competition. Strewth, however did they come up with that one?! And to help sell it to us they got some posh boy lunk from marketing (or the station owner's nephew - delete where applicable) to explain what they were looking for in one of the most knuckle-gnawingly cheesy YouTube clips I've seen in quite a long time.

Do they know the full force of musical terror that they've unleashed? Did no one think to ring Switzerland for advice? Will those poor interns who get roped into watching the thousands and thousands of bedroom troubadour videos be eligible for counselling?

We'll be keeping a close eye on this one, as we feel that it's likely to be our biggest source of wonderment this season. I genuinely can't stop cackling to myself. I think it's the fear...

Monday, 18 September 2017

Montenegro 2018 - Vasilije - Just Wanted To Be Free

(Click here for the wails…)

Another regular early adopter is young Vasilije here. It's frequently suggested around this time of year that he might be the automatic selection for his home nation of Montenegro - although those suggestions do actually come mainly from him, it must be said.

And while our pals in Podgorica are prone to making many of the more delightfully left field attempts at our fair contest over the last few year, we suspect that they're unlikely to be going to whole hog and anointing this laddy any time soon.

Why can we be so certain of that? Just have a listen for yourself and you'll see why. If this was three years ago it would have been the first on the Swiss list of application hopefuls.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Moldova 2018 - Sasha Bognibov - Love (Sketch) [Teaser]

It's been a slow old September in Eurovisionia this year. What with the Swiss keeping their songs secret for now, and hardly a sniff of news doing the rounds, we've all been comping at the bit for some sounds.

Until now.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I officially open the 2018 Eurovision Apocalypse season with my good friend and musical hero, Sasha Bognibov!

This clip is only 25 seconds long, but it offers plenty of potential joys for us to look forward to and drool over. May the games begin.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Italy 2017 - Francesco Gabbani - The Occidentali's Karma Dance

This is excellent. You may have been looking at the complex series of dance steps that the boy Gabbani is enacting throughout his hit tune and wondered to yourself: "How can I pull off those moves without looking like a lead-footed idiot?" I know we were! So why not get the lad himself, along with his more talented monkey mate, to show you how!

It's all here in video form as our teachers lead us through the wavy-wavy-leg-uppy dance in a simple step-by-step guide. You'll be dancing like the pros in minutes, and can show off your skills to your friends and family on the big night. You'll be the prince or princess of the party!

All larking aside, this good-humoured skit is just another reason why we reckon the Italian delegation is going to be terrific value in Kiev. Francesco's easy charm just oozes through the screen, and I was hanging on his every word - even though I speak next to no Italian at all. Win or lose on the big night, I think we've got ourselves a Eurovision star - and dance - who's going to live on in the memory for a very long time!

Monday, 20 March 2017

Germany 2017 - Helene Nissen - Folsom Prison Blues

We've been thinking long and hard about what the strangest and most unsettling of all the thousands songs that we've made ourselves listen to this season, and there were so many valid contenders. It could easily have been Romania's Dorel Giurgiu and his curious Christian techno shuffle, or perhaps Tosca Beat from Slovenia with their terrifying martial dystopia. Of course our old Moldovan pal Sasha Bognibov is always in with a shout, although the inappropriate sexual pawing from Ukraine's Alex Angel gave him a good run for his money. But no, the thing that troubled us most from one of the strangest national final seasons we've ever seen was this dark little oddity.

Now on the face of it this was nothing more than a familiar happy-go-lucky singalong shuffle that fitted perfectly on an early evening light entertainment show. But look deeper into the lyric. This is a song about an unrepentant cold blooded murderer spending the rest of his days rotting in one of America's most notoriously dangerous men's prison. So to hear a perky little teenage girl in big old glasses and a bouncy ponytail happily squeak out the song's signature line: "Well I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die" just didn't quite sit right.

So what's she going to cover next? NWA's Fuck Da Police? Nagasaki Nightmare by Crass? The entire GG Allin back catalogue? It might seem like a delightful little piece of innocent fluff to you, but it creeps us right out every time we hear it. It's just not right, I tell you!

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Armenia 2017 - Artsvik - Fly With Me

So we're all in safely, as Armenia has finally revealed. But after keeping us waitng for so long, was it really worth the wait? Well kinda. For this a curious confection to be sure. The twenty-odd second teaser that they gave us last week hinted that it would pick up massively once we'd taken a trip through the lady's hair pipe - but no!

Instead it goes the other was and chills incredibly, all the while punding out an insistant Eastern beat, enmbroidered throughout with a lilting suggestion of a melody. And it's great. It's moody, smart, and just a little bit lustful, and I can imagine this as the beautful light relief in the middle of an album full of techno bangers. But is it really Eurovision?

Hmm, we're not too sure. Because for all it's art and allure, is anybody going to get it on showbizzy Spring Saturday night? Are even the juries going to become infected by its charms when it's surrounded by apes and yodelling and topless men? We're really not sure at all, and fear that it's one of those classy songs that just passes people by. What whatever anybody thinks of it. That's one of the most beautifully shot videos we've ever seen at this contest. Not that this will get you very far on the big night, of course.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Bulgaria 2017 - Kristian Kostov - Beautiful Mess

So the rumours were true. After weeks of really hoping that it was going to be Gery-Nikol, the initial rumours that Bulgaria had picked the first Eurovision performer to be born in the 2000s panned out, and here we are. Ireland really thought they'd have the tiny lad vote sewn up, but compared to Kristian here Brendan Murray looks positively middle aged!

And the song is pretty much what we were suspecting, in that it's another slice of the pleasing Eastern Beiber plod pop that he's been having such success with back home. But is it a winner?

Well his youthful gap toothed charm will doubtless corner the nans and grandaughters corner, and ther may indeed be some specialist grown up markets who are faithful to his look. But we're not sure that it'll reach much further than top ten unless he offers up a quite devastating live show. So whoever that was who lumped a massive wad on him to win on one of the betting exchanges about an hour ago might be in for a disppointing May. Still, it's futher good progress for an ever improving Bulgaria.

It's decent, but like so many others this year, no world beater. So does anyone want to win this bleeding thing?

Norway 2017 - Amina Sewali - Mesterverk

Now here was an unexpected little gem. On audio alone this song passed us by. Well, it was a bit rambling, and never really picked up into any kind of recognisable chorus. A good chance for a toilet break on a long and complicated night of national finals, I figured. And I wasn't even particularly sold at the start of the performance, but then somehow it crept under my skin and I just couldn't take my eyes off it.

So, picture this scene. A beautiful girl child is messing about on a desk with a paintbrush, while her older self in the same frock sings in the background as if it was some kind of memory from her youth. Then the mini-me leaps into the singer's world, and the two dance and laugh and interact, before the lit'lun gets the paints out and starts to make a terrible mess on the floor.

Now this might all sound a bit playschool toytown, but as the performance went on it became sweeter and more utterly charming. The chemistry between the old and younger selves was clearly apparent, and at times they seem to both forget they were on telly and in a hall full of thousands of observers and just started having a laugh together, and I think that's what got to me the most.

If they could charm my cynical old seen-it-all bones in such a delightful way at the end of a long and punishing national finals season, well, they must have done something right!

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Russia 2017 - Julia Samoylova - Flame Is Burning

Russia, you beauties - you played an absolute blinder there! You kept the continent waiting and hanging on your every move. And then, right at the death, you played the finest card of your Eurovision career. With punters and locals already cueing up their booing manouvres, you plucked practically the most unbooable singer on the planet to be your Eurovision entry. Man alive, nobody saw a move that slick coming.

Of course, the song isn't even intended to win. That's not what this move is for. It's the kind of saccharine sweet, whiskers on kittens confection that would make even Disney gag a bit. But to send such a beautiful woman in a wheelchair who'll smile at every single on of us down the telly pipe and make our cold hard hearts melt just a little is surely job done. This is cynical politics done to the very finest level. And do you know what, I'll bet Julia is an absolute delight in Kyiv too!

Of course there's a counter rumour that this song is just a place holder for when they decide to pull out a little nearer the time, so they didn't have to worry about the quality of it. If this is true it'll please Mrs Apocalypse no end, because she put decent money at good odds of Russia winning this year, and she'll get her stake back if they do. But seriously, Russia have won this game already, whether they get the most points or not, or even turn up at all. Because this will go down as one of the great moments in Eurovision game playing of all time.

And it makes you wonder what they've got planned for next year...

San Marino 2017 - Valentina Monetta and Jimmie Wilson - Spirit Of The Night

Just for one moment imagine what it's like to be Valentina Monetta. A few short years ago you were a local jazz singer in a tiny country happy to spend your weekends performing the music you loved to people who really appreciated it. Then by a strange quirk of fate, it turns out that you're the only amenable singer in your entire nation state to taking a chance on Eurovision, and then your life spirals out of control.

There were signs of trouble in paradise last year, when she finally got the hump with everyone talking to her about the contest and kicked us all off her social networks - ironically. But someone must have seriously twisted her arm, because she's back for a fourth go, only this time she's assisted by the journeyman soul singer Jimmie Wilson. And together they're stamping out a rather old fashioned slab of cheesy-assed cruise ship disco for our delight. 

But I'm more concerned about the state of her artistic soul. She's an absolutely lovely woman, and regales us every year at the parties with some great interpretations of the jazz standards. So shouldn't someone, one year, let her sing the music that she really loves on this accursed show, rather than cajoling her into belting out whatever this year's flag-of-convenience song writer points at her?

I genuinely feel for the poor lass. Because who wants to become a pub quiz question in their own lifetime?

United Kingdom 2017 - Lucie Jones - Never Give Up On You

So we were all quite pleased when the winner of the UK show turned out to be actually quite decent, and sung by a capable pair of lungs. But then word of a remodelling started floating about in the air and we all got a little anxious again. Well we've seen in the past songs that we've previously loved being 'improved' to within and inch of their lives. But we should have worried, because last night's Super Saturday reveal delivered us a thing of some sparse beauty.

I'd always been rather fond of the song, ever since I first heard it in demo form back in November. It was sparse and understated, and gave the lyric room to breathe. It was as if it was crafted from fine woods rather than the plastic, tin and neon of many of the other songs. The national final version had stepped up again, replacing EDF's breathy vocal with the more assured larynx of Lucie Jones. But now we've gone up another notch.

Word had got around that this was something of a Massive Attack style makeover, but this is pure London Grammar. Glacial spaces distil into sharp points of cool light, and the heart really pours out of it. At one moment I feared that it was going to step up into a dance tune, but instead it geared down and soothed our fears. But how should it look?

This song just screams for close intimate cameras, simple lighting - just darkness and white, and absolutely no single other soul in camera shot. We need to see Lucie's pain and hope close up, feel her every thought, and live the song with her. This is still probably not a winner of the whole caboodle, as there's some strong stuff on the tariff overall, but if they keep it uncomplicated and sparse this could do very well indeed, and give us a result to be proud of.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Montenegro 2017 - Slavko Kalezić - Space

There's a horrible concept in music called guilty pleasures, where snooty people get themselves off the hook for liking something of a low perceived cultural value, thereby saving themselves from being looked down upon by their even snootier mates. It's an idea that's always heavily troubled me.


This one is nudging pretty near the top of my list of songs that I shouldn't really like, but just can't help myself from loving. And if that makes it a guilty pleasure, then so be it!

It's not as if it hasn't got all the ingredients of being an absolute shocker. Its promising trancy intro swiftly shifts back a gear into some kind of mongrel futuro disco, while its lyric makes absolutely no sense at all, littered as it is with screamingly pointless non sequiturs. And then there's the lad himself, all preening and pompous and overtly sexual.

And yet, it's terrific fun, and possibly the most honest and natural sounding of all the up tempo dance tunes of the year. And you just know that he's going to be one heck of a handful in Kiev. I'm sure I'll soon get tired of it, but for now it's exactly the kind of injection of pure fun and nonsense that this contest needed, whatever the critics may think of it.

Ireland 2017 - Brendan Murray - Dying To Try

So Ireland finally got the big reveal on the Nicky Byrne radio show, and I have to say that it's not quite the disaster that it could have been. It starts with some pretty cool atmospherics, before starting to build with some nice clangy guitars, before... well, that's about it really.

Yep, for while it may get a bit noisier, by the time it gets to the chorus it falls back on an old familiar formula where you can guess the next chord two beats before it happens. Which is a shame, because much to my own surprise it held a bit of early promise. It could do alright on the big show though, although I have two grave concerns.

The first is that voice. He's going to have to be bang on in the big hall with a chattering crowd otherwise that could become a horror show of epic proportions. And on top of that, I'm not sure that I really want to hear that squeakiness repeated time after time in a rehearsal situation. And the second? When I initially saw the song's title written down I was sure that it said Trying To Die, and now I can't shift that image out of my head. let's hope it's not an omen, eh!