Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Hungary 2014 - Lil "C" - Break-Up


Last year's terrific Hungarian entry was a bit of anomaly for its national selection process. Usually the best you can hope for are a couple of pneumatic disco dollies and a handful of sombre blokes in shiny suits.

So we have absolutely no idea how this terrific little piece of stripped back, low slung krunk has managed to make the A Dal shortlist! What chain of events could possibly have led to this happening? But I'll tell you what... I'm so very glad it did!

While one suspects that it's doomed for an early exit, I can't wait to see how the C-man carries this minimal gem off on stage. Are going to have the bored looking girls lazily swaying their hips? I should hope so!

My song of the year so far - but probably nobody else's...

*************************STOP PRESS*********************************

Turns out it was too good to be true! By a weird fluke of coincidence it tuns out there's a completely different Lil C doing a completely different song called Break Up in Hungary this year! What are the chances of that happening? Boo!

The real Break Up is a serviceable-yet-dull spot of Euro R'n'B that is still refreshingly un-Hungarian, but, well, not a quarter of the song that I originally thought it was.



Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Latvia 2014 - Aarzemnieki - Cake To Bake


The Latvian process in recent times has been significant for the rise in cloyingly cheesy lyrics, and knuckle-gnawingly appalling rhymes. But this year's selection takes the biscuit - or the cake, as it seems in this instance.

Listen to the words of this and you'll shrivel like a slug under salt with pure unabashed embarrassment. But hold hard - it's not even got the worst lyric in the contest... but I've not found a video clip for the other one yet!

Stranger still, this is being offered up as a genuine contender for the boat to Copenhagen. One senses this will be a difficult year.

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Albania 2014 - Xhejsi Jorgaqi - Ëndërrat Janë Ëndërra



The Albanian selection was a surprisingly straight-laced affair, with very little worthy of Apocalypse note.

But I was rather taken with Ms Jorgaqi here for two reasons. The first is her frankly terrifying eyebrows, and the second that the show's director was clearly terrified of them too, and after a couple of early head shots, does as much as he can not to frighten the nans of the nation with that considerable scowl.

You've never seen so many long shots from the back of the hall! And heck, from about halfway through even the portly guitarist gets more face time than her!

There's a bit of an intro on this clip, but the fun starts bang on the minute mark. See how far you can get through without hiding behind the sofa!

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Finland 2014 - Miau - God And Drug



There's always something to love in the Finnish selection process, and I'm glad to see that they haven't let us down this season. Yes, Miau might look like they're a made up electroclash band straight out of central casting, but their track record suggested that they might offer up some joys, and they most certainly have.

And that title isn't going to endear itself to the more fragile fanboy, either. Good work, girls!

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Lithuania 2014 - Aleksandra Metalnikova - Wild Dances


So Lithuania appear to be doing some manner of Pro-Celebrity Stars In Their Eyes, whereby many of their biggest pop artists slightly humiliate themselves by singing popular Eurovision songs of the past in pretty much a straight on karaoke treatment.

Up to now there's been no clever remouldings or interestingly sparse arrangements, although even we weren't expecting quite so literal a version of Ruslana's Wild Dances.

It's all a bit car boot. Bring back the usual Lithuanian first round mentalists - they were much more fun!

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Ukraine 2014 - Maria Yaremchuk - Tick Tock



We have our first actual selected song for Copenhagen 2014 after Ukraine hosted this season's first national final in their usual curious mid afternoon slot. And what a song. No, it's not especially good, but it seems like a distillation of every Eurovision-by-numbers tune of the last fifteen years.

How many things can you think of that rhyme with Tick and Tock? The one that springs to mind is very appropriate...

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Kemerovo 2013 - Çıldız Tannakeşeva - Şoriya'nın Unu (from Turkvision)



Turkey, somewhat churlishly, pulled out of this year's Eurovision, partly because it had the hump after a couple of years of disappointing results, but also because it had the concept of Turkvision up its sleeve.

Ostensibly a project to unite the Turkic world in song, the show gathered artists from many well known countries with significant Turkic populations, and some smaller regions and oblasts from around Europe and Asia (although funnily enough, it was mainly the larger countries who made it through to the final on the SMS vote).

It was as much a fascinating geography lesson as much as a singing show, and despite being of variable quality there were some real gems on show, not least this fascinating piece from the West Siberian Oblast of Kemerovo - a song apparently about the quality of the local flour, but sounding more like a punch up down the petting zoo. If they ever had a wolf petting section.

Rather disappointingly it didn't make it through to Saturday's final, so take this chance to revel in five and a half truly hypnotic minutes.

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Switzerland 2014 - Horst Blue & Melody Refrain-Hookline - The Ding Dong Eurosong







Oh my giddy aunt! This somewhat cloying twosome appear to think that they're being terribly delightful, and maybe a tad ironic by gluing together all those funny Eurovision song titles from down the years together into a single song. Oh dear.

If you're a seasoned Eurovision spotter you'll be mildly amused to see which titles they're going to drag up next, but for everyone else - this is going to be a long three minutes…
 
Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Switzerland 2014 - Lisa Stoll und SängerFREUNDe - Mountains


The Swiss have missed a trick here. One of the intentions with Eurovision is surely to showcase the best elements of your national culture to the wider continent and beyond. So why they didn't shortlist this little gem from Appenzellerland is beyond me!

There's none more Swiss!

The song itself is either a work of deliberate Dadaist genius, or is a little bit rubbish, but quite accidentally became one of the best things ever, despite itself.

I just wish the bloke in the specs would take his hands out of his pockets…

(Be warned, you'll be singing this all day!)

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Switzerland 2014 - Arxplendida - Mercurii Diei


So the Swiss have finally sifted through the hundreds of bedroom chancers and funky pub jazzers, and dealt us a particularly uninspiring short-list of 18 songs to put before the quality assessors (I kid you not!) to decide who's going to appear in their national final.

Uninspiring except for this mob.

Three blokes in ties and regional jackets singing a hymn to excessive drinking – in LATIN! - anyone?

Yes please!

Videos from Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Switzerland 2014 - Anthony - Throwing Bottles




When the inevitable happens and people start to bleat that a song that is either noisy, creative, has a smart lyric or is sung by an ugly man is the worst song that's happened in the history of ever, let alone Eurovision 2014, may I just draw their attention to this small gem...

Videos from Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Switzerland 2014 - Männerchor Steili Kressä - Coupe Danmark



Sure as eggs is eggs, when Switzerland open up their Eurovision flood gates, you know that it won't be too long before Männerchor Steili Kressä treat us to their delightful squinty view of next season's host country.

This year's tribute is a much sweeter affair than their Ikea-based singalong last season, but it's no less bonkers in the nut.

These boys are the true heroes of the earliest stages of Eurovision. Click the link and bathe in their goodness!

Videos from Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Switzerland 2014 - Cem-Ion – Shadow


And so it begins…
 

Eurovision 2014 has now officially begun, as Switzerland have launched their annual, frequently painful open submissions process in the vain hope of pulling out at least a few hopefuls from the sea of hopeless.

As it turns out, the very first four songs submitted are probably the macrocosm of what to expect from this whole sorry affair. The aging acoustic neverwas, the dreary cod funk cobblers, a pneumatic bird from abroad with some empty Hi NRG fluff and a queeny loner in his bedroom. Anything that's not that should get into the final...

Of the dozen or so tunes already submitted (apart from the ones that have already been taken down!), Cem-lon's effort here is probably the most hapless. Look at the camera, mate, not your word sheet. Be warned - this isn't as bad as it's going to get!


Videos from Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Germany 1986 - Mister Fisto - Rein Und Klar, Wie's Früher War


One of the by products of running this blog is that people send you links to all kinds of non-qualifiers from Eurovision history. Usually it's just some warbling old bird in an eye-melting frock. But every now and again something truly marvelous pops up in my mailbox.

Let me introduce you to Mister Fisto…

Somehow this came eleventh of twelve in the German final of 1986, but it is one of the finest things you'll ever see with your own eyes. The fun starts at about 50 seconds…

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Israel 2013 - Moran Mazor - Rak Bishvilo



Here's this year's Israeli entry. It's a simple ballad sung by a homely and uncomplicated looking lass. So what do they dress her up as?

A porno Nana Mouskouri!

Let's hope someone gives her stylist a good kicking before Malmo, because really, you won't know where to  put your eyes! If every anyone ever qualified for the big show despite their frock, this was it!

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Moldova 2013 - Ruslan Ţaranu - Amadeus


Some songs don't need too much explaining. Just sit back and enjoy this little beauty from the first Moldovan semi-final (where it somehow came last in the public vote!).

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Italy 2013 - Marco Mengoni - L’essenziale


Italy have kept us waiting for an age to announce their winner, and wouldn't you know it, it was the one that we all thought it was going to be in the first place.

And it's another ballad… *sigh*

At least it's being sung by Private Walker off Dad's Army…

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Romania 2013 - Tudor Turcu - Hello


As staging concepts go, this was a brave one. Spend the whole song with your back to the audience, trying to paint a picture of girl standing ten feet away while singing your song - on live television.

There was so much that could have gone wrong, but the admirable Mr Turcu pulled it off with some aplomb. I was lucky enough to be sat in the green room for this final, and of all the songs on the show, this is the one that drew the most gasps from the folks sat around the back.

Didn't do him a lot of good, mind, as the poor lad came a distant sixth. Good effort, though. Can't remember how the song wen't, mind...

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Macedonia 2013 - Esma and Vlatko - Pred Da Se Razdeni


Macedonia clearly thought that there weren't enough ballads in the contest, and decided to bin their perfectly fine original choice Imperija, and replaced it with this rather usual spot of  Balkan gloomery.

And unlike their previous stab, it only really picks up when Esma's on.

So they've gone from having a genuine top five contender in its own right to a tune that will probably only qualify off the back of Esma's good name out in the Ex-Yugos. or have I missed something?

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Azerbaijan 2013 - Aysel Babayeva - Sleazy Mo



Some songs you want to make it through to Eurovision proper on just their name alone!

Watch this video from the Azeri final and wonder quite how she got through an exacting qualification process, plus a four-day semi-final. And yes, she is singing in English!

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.


Montenegro 2013 - Who See - Igranka


Montenegro, I love you!

Looking at their track record, I knew Who See were gong to deliver something a bit special, but even I never expected this crunchy electronic noise fest!

Here we see the two archetypally growly Balkan rappers prowl about menacingly, before the face-melting dubstep portion hits - and boy it's brutal! The first five rows of inflatable hammer weilding Malmo punters will be reduced to cinders if they turn this one up loud!

So often this year some two bob producer has tried to crowbar a dubstep element into a song in the hope of looking hip. This one feels like they people who made it know exactly what they were doing! Good work boys! You've made a right belter!

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Serbia 2013 - Nenad Milosavljević - Ruža Od Baruta


There haven't been enough world-weary old boys singing doleful tales of the old days this year. That's why I was delighted to see old Nenad here in the Serbian semi.

Surprisingly for someone with such a long and illustrious history in his local music scene he didn't even make it out of his heat. Which was a darned shame, cos we'd have loved to have seen the bloses with sticks again.

We'd also liked to have found out a little more about his song, the title of which translates roughly as Rose Of Gunpowder. Now that's poetry, man!

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Serbia 2013 - Ksenija Kočetova - Svetla Pale Se Za Nas


It's been rather a quiet year on the old ill-advised stage presentation this year, shy of a few duff frocks and a couple of pairs of brown shows. Which was why we were so delighted to see this little beauty.

What do you think that they were actually thinking of with this little set up? The song's title translates roughly as 'The Lights Are Lit For Us', so I can only assume that their big rubber box is supposed to be some manner of figurative switchboard analogy. Probably. Looks more like on of those Whack-a-Mole machines you get at the seaside to me.

Anyone got a big rubber mallet?

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

UK 2013 - Bonnie Tyler - Believe In Me



Oh my.

After months of rumours about a whole raft of vaguely interesting contemporary pop acts, ranging from Girls Aloud to Paloma Faith to Jessy J to (at a push) Alexandra Burke, a number of British papers are sneaking out the news that the UK have chosen a true megalith of history.

Bonnie Tyler.

Oh well.

Let's hope that it's all part of some massive disinformation push, and that they're actually going to reveal that it's One Direction - or better still, Motorhead - in a week or so.

And if it is the throaty Ms Tyler, let's hope it's not the drear of a song that the papers are suggesting.

Who we sending next year? Bruce Forsyth?

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Armenia 2013 - Gor Sujyan and Dorians - Lonely Planet


When I kept hearing the words 'Black Sabbath' and 'Tony Iommi' stabbing out among the unfamiliar tongue at the end of the Armenian selection show last week, I never for imagined that one of metal's most groundbreaking guitarists had actually written the winning song.

Not because it was Armenia, mind. Iommi has a long connection with the Caucasian nation, holding charity shows out there and providing music tuition for young children with an eye on being rock performers.

No, I was more surprised because it wasn't actually very good.

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The Netherlands 2013 - Anouk - Birds


When most countries debut their forthcoming Eurovision entry, they can do it in a number of ways. Many create a special TV show that includes an interview with the artist and selections of their best work and a whole load of special guests. Usually someone from Malta.

Others announce it with a fanfare and a press conference and all kinds of showbiz hoo-haa. Not the Dutch. They like to do things differently. Instead, Anouk chose to sing the song to a local radio station, down a crackly phone line, from her sickbed. Two years ago*. Now that's what I call rock'n'roll!

*They're mucking around with the first public performance rule again. It's gone a bit like the offside rule in football - nobody knows what the heck is going on until somebody flashes a card, and then we can all moan about it.

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Belarus 2013 - Alyona Lanskaya - Solayoh


The Belarussian final was so long ago that new born babes have grown tall and got beards since Alyona Lanskaya's Rhythm Of Love was selected. It's also been the longest spell in history that a Belarussian entry has gone unchanged. But sadly for Rhythm Of Love, it stumbled coming around the final bend and let a whole new tune come zooming by in its place. So near, yet...

But it's replacement, Solayah, is a perky little number all the same, with the obligatory Belarussian  dulcimer think, and those over blown ethnicky drums thumping about in background. In fact, unusually for  one of their entries, people seem to like it, and it might just lead to a rare decent finish in the big show.

But let's spare a thought for the poor discarded song, and wonder why the poor lass is laying about on a dartboard at the start...


Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Serbia 2013 - Moje 3 - Ljubav Je Svuda


You suspect there's a narrative concept to this surprise Serbian finalist. Lass in white comes on, warbles a bit, before a girl in a devil jumper starts shouting. Hmm, good and evil battling in song, you consider - before a blonde piece in a clammy looking gold frock struts on and confuses matters.

Then there's a bit of school drama club level acting where you suspect it's a devil and angel acting as the conscience of the gal in gold, before it all loses its way and you lose track of what was actually supposed to be happening.

In the end it gives you the vibe of either a shit hen night or a gaggle of birthday strippers you'd send back to head office with a voucher claiming your money back. I'll bet it goes and wins now. It;s been that wonky a year!

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Moldova 2013 - Sasha Bognibov - Сирота/ Orphan


We feared we'd have to do without an entry from our favourite Moldovan singing gentleman this year, as the new selection system that TVM had brought in this year had made it difficult to track down the tunes that didn't make it to the televised stages.

Bit with a bit of digging we managed to find this little beauty - and we can't for the life of us imagine why they didn't pick it for one of the semi-finals, as this is possibly his most mature and gentle work yet.

Plaintive piano work tinkles around his vulnerable high pitched voice before building to a massive crunch for the last few years. I'd feel robbed if I was Sasha, because this is possibly his most accessible song yet. Mind you, not speaking much Romanian we're not entirely sure what the words mean…

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Macedonia 2013 - Esma and Vlatko - Imperija


Looks like we've finally got ourselves a Macedonian song. For those who've never come across her, Esma is a legendary Romani singer, Nobel-nominated humanitarian and pure force of nature, while her charge her, Vlatko, is a good-looking up-and-comer. But much of the onus is on him and he strolls about in front of some of downtown Skopje's monstrous recent public capital expenditure while he warbles out a pretty decent Eastern groove. Esma herself adds plenty of colour, and you just can't take your eyes off her every time the pair share a screen.

And while it might not quite have the popular appeal to go all the way, it should sail through its semi, and Esma's charm and reputation alone should carry her a decent way up the table come big Saturday in Malmo.

This pair have only got twelfth place do beat to become the most successful Macedonian entry ever - do you think they're going to manage it? I reckon there's a very decent chance!

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Sweden 2013 - Ravaillacz - En Riktig Jävla Schlager


The Swedes are noted as being a polite race. Indeed, they have very few curse words of their own, preferring to either borrow ours, or partake in elaborate analogies like "Your mother convened with a low ranking sailing orderly from Northern Karelia". In fact they've only really got one proper out and out swear word. Jävla.

The official translations will have you think that the title of this song is "A Real Damn Pop Song". Oh no. As mothers of school age children the length and breadth of Sweden will tell you that they swiftly covered their youngster's ears as the words "A Real Fucking Schlager" came pumping out of their early evening tellies.

Of course, you'd expect these four senior gentlemen would know better, until you find out that they can count an actor, a comedian, an old rocker and member of Abba's backing band and a two-time Eurovision veteran among their number. And for providing what is possibly the sweariest contender for the big show to date, we salute them.

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Romania 2013 - Elena Cârstea Muttart - Spinning


I know how your next three minutes is going to pan out. You'll start the video and immediately ask yourself: "What's he showing me this for?" And it's true, it doesn't hold much immediate promise.

Someone's Nan in a slightly unbecoming frock nervously singing a stock ballad with some awkward Eastern Balkan diction... you're right, it doesn't initially bode too well. Then the chorus kicks in and you start to smirk a bit.

And that's when it hits you.

Almost out of nowhere it starts to get under your skin, and by the time it's finished you'll be hitting repeat to try and work out why you ended up loving it after such an unprepossessing start. And it's exactly that strange, indescribable power that got it into the Romanian final. You just can't take your eyes off it.

I'd be worried, TVR. You've created a monster

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Sweden 2013 - Ralf Gyllenhammar - Bed On Fire



Ralf Gyllenhammar is the lead singer and guitarist of popular Swedish stoner rock band, Mustasch. He's also an award-winning TV presenter for his work on the show Kilpptoppen. So it's perhaps to everybody's surprise that he's suddenly found himself among the favourite's for the Melodifestivalen prize next month with a belting great piano ballad.

Of course, it's a ballad with a bit more than the usual pneumatic lady in a shiny frock, and Ralf certainly gives it more than the average ivory tinkler, notching it up well past eleven. And then there's the fire. Boy, there's fire.

Fans and freaks all over are coming around to its unlikely charms, and it's being touted as the outsider to watch on Saturday week. Of course, the home entry should always be more WTF than nicey nicey, and it would most certainly be that

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Romania 2013 - Narcis Iustin Ianău - Seven


Boy sopranos are all the rage in Romania right now, it seems. After Cezar's qualification in the first semi last night (oh, hang about... gentleman soprano in his case), tiny lad Narcis here managed to squeak even higher on his way to a berth in the final in two Saturday's time.

And don't count this lad out. He's got previous in local casting shows, and appears incredibly popular round those parts. Let's just hope he doesn't get drawn next to the big fella, or all the stray dogs in Bucharest will be scratching at the back door of the TVR building...

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Russia 2013 - Dina Garipova - What if...


The Russian song has sneaked out ahead of its supposed big reveal this evening. It's the kind of tender ballad-that-builds sung by a sweet-faced lass that, while it doesn't knock your socks off, always does well on the big night.

In fact it's the kind of song that I wouldn't normally consider even mentioning on Apocalypse had it not almost immediately been accused of plagiarism. There's a lot of that about this year, and most of it is brought up by nitwits who haven't the remotest clue what plagiarism actually means. And so often the wronged original isn't some monster hit from world history, but the b-side of a song that came seventh in the 1993 Belgian national final.

So what is this monolithic original that the Russians have ripped off on their evil path to Eurovision glory? A Hear'say plodder that even their own most rabid fans think is the worst song on the album. Way to go, plagiats!



Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Estonia 2013 - Rasmus Rändvee & Facelift Deer - Dance


Looking every bit like a knife gang at a posh German boarding school, you suspect that the bursar has only let the boys take only two of those nasty modern rock albums into the upper sixth form common room.

One of them by The Hives, the other by The Arctic Monkeys.

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Italy 2013 - Max Gazzè - Sotto Casa


There were many pleasure among last week's Sanremo marathon of song. And while we rather enjoyed grumpy old rock bloke Max Gazzè's over the first four nights, there was something gloriously excessive about his fifth and final performance - although we did rather worry that he was going to have a mishap with those flip-up seats at the end...

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Sweden 2013 - Army Of Lovers - Rockin' The Ride

Oh my giddy aunt! This didn't quite turn out as we expected. It somehow managed to be both horrifyingly cringeworthy and gloriously watchable all at once!

It's a true watch-through-your-fingers moment, to be sure, but it still barely limped to a distant sixth place in a field of eight. The final will be a poorer, but slightly less damaged place without it.

(Click the link above, then scroll down to the player on the left with '3 min' written on it).

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Moldova 2013 - Doinita Gherman - Planeta e un RAI


Our old friend Doinita is back for another bid for Eurovision glory. One of these days she's going to make it all the way, and this could well be her best shout for a berth in the big show yet.

Considerably more restrained than her other attempts (and if you've not heard her before, seriously, this IS more restrained!), it starts off like a bit of a pub rock plodder, but builds to a crescendo of uplifting folkloric joy - although unusually there's nary a "hey-hey, scha-scha!" to be seen.

She's drawn early in the difficult first semi, but she usually makes the final - so let's hope that this year the good people of Moldova make her dreams come true and let her have another go. And if they don't, well, we can't wait to see what she writes in time for next year!

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Moldova 2013 - Cristina V & Glam Girls - Celebrate


The Moldovan songs are crawling out gradually, and so far this is among the best of them. It's a cheery piece of pop confectionery by a gaggle of likeable gals, and could easily be a fan-friendly dancefloor filler come May time, despite a heavy dose of twee.

There's some shocking hairdos on show, mind, and some of the language translation hasn't quite worked as they hoped - but this should still be among the fancied runners in Chisinau.

One thing though... Don't songs with Celebrate in the title got a shocking track record in the show?

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Israel 2013 - Haya Samir - Happy Or Sad

Now here's a tricky proposition. Is this a gloriously dark and creepy spot of Nick Cave style miserablism... or is she just mental?

I really can't decide!

Can't wait to see how this one works out live!

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Israel 2013 - Ron Weinreich - Love Is One


The songs from the first Israeli semi-final have just made their way to the web, and among all the moderately Eastern dance thump and mawkish flute-fuelled ballads nestles this rather interesting proposition.

On its own this is a pretty decent slab of bounceabout ethnicky pop sung by a good-looking, amiable kind of chap, and you'd imagine that it must be among the favourites to bag the Kdam gong. But there's a more…

Ron also happens to be a disabled army veteran from a skirmish in Lebanon who performs on stage in a wheelchair. Now while this shouldn't make the remotest difference to you, me or any proper thinking person, I'd be highly surprised if Israeli telly didn't get plenty of mileage out that particular detail.

This one could get a bit interesting.

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Romania 2013 - Cezar - It's My Life


Here's a proper little peach. It all starts in the usual manner, with a ruggedly good-looking chap singing perhaps a tad too deeply for his pipes to comfortably cope with, and some nervous looks from the judging panel.

Then his confidence picks up a bit, and we witness him pulling some interesting facial contortions - and even chucking in the no obligatory Romanian Fire/Desire rhyme, before something quite beautiful happens.

You won't see it coming, so I won't spoil the fun - instead, spend three glorious minutes in the company of Cezar!

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Italy 2013 - Elio e le Storie Tese & Rocco Siffredi - Un Bacio Piccolissimo


If Winny Puhh hadn't beaten off all competition with a dead wolf, THIS would have been the most gloriously unhinged moment of the whole Eurovision qualifying season. And remember - this lot were only a hair's breadth away from representing Italy on the big show!

Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Bulgaria 2013 - Elitsa Todorova & Stoyan Yankoulov - Samo Shampioni


Bulgaria have taken what could be construed as the safer route this year, and dredged their most successful  Eurovision scorers out of the mists of time and got them to knock up a triplet of songs and have the national final all to themselves. And while it's not entirely a case of diminishing returns, there is a tad of familiarity to the list.

But bless 'em, they tried. They've all got that Earth mother trance and drums feel to them, but they've at least tried to make all three distinct and different. Kismet is a slower, more folksy  tune with a chorus of glorious flat toned Bulgarian backing singers to it, while Dzupai Libe Boso is a bit more of a chilled out affair, with a couple of moderately crusty blokes joining in for some slightly incongruous skank-flavoured toasting.

But it's this tune that is perhaps better suited to dragging itself out of a semi. With it's up tempo stomp, and lively drum show, it may come from the same family tree as Voda, but it's got enough going for it in its own right to be an enjoyable little three minute interlude in among the balladeers and schlagerettes.

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Saturday, 16 February 2013

Italy 2013 - Elio e le Storie Tese - La Canzone Mononota



Oh my. On a night of strangeness and glory, a bunch of middle aged prog rock Italians in fat suits singing on one note topped it all off a treat! What a shame Italy never had the nerve to send them to Sweden!

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Friday, 15 February 2013

Italy 2013 - Blastema – Dietro l'intima Ragione


Sanremo plods on apace, and if they stick to the schedule (ha!), we could well be finding out the winner of the Giovani section tonight. This is for the apparent up-and-comers - although Blastema have been kicking about in some shape or form for a good while now.

And it would be an interesting choice if they got the nod. This year's contest has been populated in the main by those excellent talky talky songs that the Italians are better than anyone else at doing. But a nice bit of flowing, Radiohead-lite guitar pop would make a welcome dent into the norm.

And if that wasn't enough, the singer's got that kind of dreamy look in his eye that makes girls and boys alike go weak at the knees. It would be a bold choice to send this song to Eurovision proper, but it would be one heck of an interesting one!

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Thursday, 14 February 2013

Romania 2013 - The Zuralia Orchestra - Sukar Transylvania


It's always nice to have a spot of regional colour in a national final. But perhaps there is such a thing as too much colour after all!

Get your shades ready for this one, I warn you!

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Germany 2013 - Cascada - Glorious


Well blimey, if a band that the average man in the street has heard of hasn't gone and gotten itself into the Eurovision final. But it was a close run thing. In a slightly baboozling three tier voting process, every local radio station in the country gave LaBrassBanda top marks, but when it came to the juries, that popular crowd pleaser got but a single vote. Hmm... Even Cascada themselves reckoned it looked fishy.

But voting beefs aside, this is no bad thing for Germany. Taking the lead from Loreen on the girl fronted euphoric house front, the Germans now have an internationally known chart act taking the helm in Malmo, and must surely be installed among the pre-match favourites in the betting.

It's just a shame that it sounds like a slightly inferior cover version on one of their own hits.

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Slovenia 2013 - Hannah Mancini - Straight Into Love


With its bass-farty womp-womp of an opening, you initially bristle with excitement that Slovenia have gone the whole hog and sent a straight up dubstep song to Eurovision. But then young Hannah starts to sing and you realise that it's little more than a sheep in wolf's clothing, and that it really was just the serviceable Eurodance track that you suspected it was going to be all along.

It's not Ms Mancini's fault, mind, bless her. Some hotshot producer must have been busting to tap into the zeitgeist, and smothered the tune with a rough approximation of the hippest sounds ever to come out of Croydon. It was a brave and well-intentioned attempt, but somehow it's ended up like the musical equivalent of dropping your phone down the toilet when you're trying to send a text - the idea was there, but it all went a bit wrong somewhere along the way.

Still, those opening few seconds will sound ruddy marvellous when pumped through the massive sound system in Malmo…

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Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Italy 2013 - Elio e le Storie Tese - Dannati Forever



Sanremo rolls on unabated, and tonight threw up some right oddities. They like their long, morbid talky grooves ballads, so it was a proper surprise to see these Italio-proggers pop up with their slightly damaged left-handed sounds.

The schlager fans will doubtless round upon this as what they like to call a joke song, but there's a dark, Bonzos-esque intelligence at play here that has clearly made the boys grown out of the top of their heads.

Sadly, this one got ditched in the first round of voting. But you wait until you see their other effort. Now that's a real fan scarer...

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