Friday, 31 January 2014

Germany 2014 - Winterstorm - Kings Will Fall

If you're going to have metal in Eurovision, dear god let it be epic viking power metal!

I challenge you not to listen to this without thrusting your hands in the air in a masterful way. The fanboys in the standing bit down the front would rip each other to shreds by the second chorus.

Come on Germany, do the right thing (they won't).

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Thursday, 30 January 2014

Sweden 2014 - Yohio - To The End

OK, so he might have been robbed by the international jury last year, but things have turned out OK for Yohio. He might have looked amazing last year, but the song sadly wasn't quite as strong as the image. But this year the boy prince of Swedish Visual Kei has got things in the right order and actually developed a decent tune before we see what his frock's like.

To be fair it's a little less pop rocky than last year's stab, but it's still got a little crunch to go with his soaring Robin Stjernberg-flavoured chorus, so it could help him to go one step further this time around.

This is only a one minute clip from today's MF rehearsal - although his day wear is still more rock'n'roll than most of us could ever care to dream of - but it gives us a decent idea of all it's important bits and piece. And if you're really keen, you can find the other seven songs from this week's qualifier hiding in the background too.

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Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Germany 2014 - Hellgreaser - Bloody Moonlight Dance

Another gem from the German wildcard round, and this time from the punk category - a well that I could tap every day from now until May with stuff I like, so be prepared for a long stretch of racket.

Today's worthy contenders are Hellgreaser - a bloodied smear of aged horror punks who clearly have more than a few old Misfits bootlegs hiding beneath their leather keks. (For the unpunk among you The Misfits are that band you'll see on t-shirts being worn by people who, for the most part, don't even know they were a band. A bit like Motorhead, The Ramones and One Direction.)

Now I may mock the Greasers for their slightly borrowed Glenn Danzig wail, but I'd sure as heck be happy enough if we had a song like this in the UK selection process! So good luck to you boys - I hope you make the cut!

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Moldova 2014 - Doinita Gherman - Energy

The Moldovan long list of 40 is in, and once we'd got over the annual disappointment of our boy Bognibov not making the sift, we were gladdened to see that the force of nature otherwise known as Doinita Gherman had been selected for yet another stab at the big prize.

OK, so she's suffering a smudge from the law of diminishing returns, and this latest ditty isn't as immediate as many of her previous works, but it's still stuffed to the gills with her boundless, erm, energy, and it'll be a lively show for sure if she's lucky enough to make the semi final cut.

And in case any of you were wondering, I met her in Chinsinau around this time last year, and yes, she is like that all the time. ALL THE TIME!

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Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Germany 2014 - Tomas Tulpe - Issat Tach Issat Nacht

I've found the glorious motherlode of all 2240 entrants in the German wildcard round, and I'll be going through them over the next couple of days. You are right to get the fear.

However, they're going to have to go some to beat this hip grinding slab of Teutonic dancehall excellence. Another reason why Berlin is the finest city on earth!

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Monday, 27 January 2014

Germany 2014 - Tim Peters - Limit

So, Germany are going about it all in a strange way this year. First up they invited seven acts of variable renown to take part in their final, while throwing open the eighth spot to public application. A rather reassuring 2240 tunes where hence submitted, and those strange folks known as 'music industry insiders' will have the daunting task of sifting through them to find their favourite ten, which will then go forward to some manner of mini final, with the winner bagging the coveted eighth spot.

Got that, good!

I've not been able to hack my way into the long list to see what goodies are inside yet, but I have had this little drop of electropop goodness pointed my way from the list by the apparently up-and-coming young minstrel Tim Peters. It's no world beater, for sure, but I rather like its electronic chunkiness. See what you think.

Right, time to get back to trying to crack that German vault...

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Sunday, 26 January 2014

France 2014 - Twin Twin - Moustache

The French have just had their curious three song final with a six week voting process, and of the three declared acts in the run up to the show, one stood head and shoulders about the others. Twin Twin.

A funny looking hipster hip hop trio, their every YouTube video held much promise of creative chaos and some cool Gallic mash up sounds. So what do they deal us? This serviceable slice of bouncy Europop.

I mean, it's alright, and they'll certainly perform the low slung pants off it, but, y'know, I was hoping for more. They'll struggle to beat the label-signed boy band at this rate. Dang shame.

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

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Italy 2014 - Emma Marrone - La Mia Città

Breaking the precedent set by the last three years of Sanremo-based selections, Italy have jumped the gun and declared their singer and their song uncharacteristically early. Mind you, when it's someone as potentially good as Emma Marrone why wouldn't you?

The song itself crept out this morning, and is a chunky little mid tempo pop rocker, just dripping with Emma's husky voice from start to finish. She claims it's influenced by 80s rock, but it's got more of the feel of that Pink lass when she really lets rip.

It's not a world beater, but it's the kind of song that only really sounds good if performed by an Italian - and as a former Sanremo winner shouldn't be daunted by the big stage come May. I'm not feeling it as a winner of the whole caboodle, but it should keep the left-hand side of the scoreboard pretty busy come big Saturday.

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Thursday, 23 January 2014

Hungary 2014 - 2Beat or Not 2Beat - Come On Babe

Excerpt from a meeting at the A Dal production office in Budapest, a couple of months ago:

“So, we're looking for enough acts to fill three ten song qualifying heats to choose the song that will show the whole of Europe how forward thinking and advanced the Hungarian music scene is. We want acts that are fresh, current and exciting. Got any ideas, Gabor?

“Well there's this great band I saw in a dingy club in Pest last week, sir.”

“Tell me more, boy…”

“Well they were a Beatles tribute act – but they play their own songs. Their frontman is a ringer for Paul, sir.”

“The Beatles, you say. Everyone loves The Beatles. I assume the do the cool stuff. Y'know, Sergeant Pepper, White Album era, that kind of thing?”

“No sir. It's strictly Cavern era beat pop. It send the girls crazy bonkers!”

“Oh well, I suppose anything is worth a pop.
Get them booked. Now, is that girl Bogi still in the business? The Britishers are always chattering about her...”
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Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Estonia 2014 - VÖÖRAD - Maailm On Hull

In what's proving to be a pretty slow year for Apocalypse-worthy performances, I was relying on Estonia to give me a few likely contenders. But upon listening to the final declared list of 20 songs, I was a little bit underwhelmed - especially considering the wonders they've dealt us over the last few years.

But there are a few glimmers of hope. Lenna we've already seen, but that's a bit normal. This little tune, however, is a slightly different animal. 

It's starts off in a gloriously unhinged alt techno style, and although it begins to become a little more usual by the time it hits the chorus, it definitely holds much promise for the live shows - as the picture above suggests.

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Thursday, 16 January 2014

Spain 2014 - Ruth Lorenzo - Love Is Dead

Remember Ruth Lorenzo, that large-voiced Spanish lass of X Factor a couple of years ago? We'll she's clearly had her fill of doing the Butlins tour, and gone back to her native land and entered their national final. Or at least she claims to have.

Despite no one having actually heard of her in the land of her birth, shy of her mum and a couple of cousins, not only has she somehow wangled her way onto the short-list, but her song's actually pretty decent.

It's a big old rocked up ballad, with proggy chord changes and a chorus nicked straight from the bins round the back of Matt Bellamy's gaff. I really wouldn't begrudge this being their entry at all - although anyone Iberian will remotely care about her is another matter entirely.

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Russia 2014 - Buranovskie Babushki - Breeze

Word just in from Russian claims that the old nans are up for the cup again, and are inquiring about a possible slot in the Russian national final.

With this song? It's a bit 90s disco pop. And if that rapper stays in there they'll have to shed a nan, surely?

Hmm? Diminishing returns, one fancies…

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Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Moldova 2014 - Sasha Bognibov - My Lesbian Girl

In what's turning out to be a pretty ordinary Eurovision year so far, something has just happened to rewarm the cockles of my heart.

Sasha's back.

Not only that, but he's revisiting a few of his earlier themes, and when coupled with a new found vocal confidence, could this be the year that we finally see him take the national final slot that he so richly deserves?

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

Sunday, 12 January 2014

UK 2014 - UKR - United Kingdom of Rock

Around once or twice a year, someone on the toilet underground music circuit will hear of my unlikely addiction to Eurovision and proudly announce: "Oh my mate was in that a couple of years ago!" A small amount of investigation usually reveals that the nearest they actually got was a small feature in a local paper letting the good residents Backarse, Northamptonshire know that they were sending the BBC a tape, and that they were confident of success. And that was the last that anyone ever heard of them.

Well it appears that the UK silly season has started early, as a bunch of pub metal chancers from Surrey are telling anyone who'll listen that it is they and they alone who can save Eurovision for these fair isles. Indeed, UKR are so convinced of their impending success that they've even started contacting ESC fansites about it.

So who are these people? Well it appears that, for the most part, they're a brushed up version of a Home Counties pub and party band called Hurricane Jane - only they've roped in the (very slightly) big name guitarist Laurence Archer, ex-of NWOBHM latecomers Stampede, the worst line up of UFO, and Grand Slam - the band Phil Lynott formed after Thin Lizzy split up to pay off his heroin dealer. High glory indeed.

But look, I may be wrong. Perhaps this is what the UK needs. People the continent over love pub metal, don't they? If this gets selected for the UK I will gladly applaud it, and eat my underpants at the gates of the Tivoli on the night of the contest.

Fast forward about three years. "Oh you like Eurovision do you? My mate's band was in that. UKR they were called..."

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

It's with grave disappointment that I have to announce that this very afternoon, UKR were sent an email of polite rejection from the BBC. Apparently our Auntie decided that: "although the song potentially means a lot to a British audience, the votes in Eurovision are only cast by European viewers and jurors, and we felt that some of the references might be lost on that audience.".

Not at all snooty then - and who ever listens to the words anyway?!

The funny thing is I'll kind of miss them, plucky chancers that they are. And at least my underpants are safe...

Belarus 2014 - Elena Sinyavskaya - Via Lattea

We appear to have our first fan favourite of the season, and truth be told it's a belter!

You come to expect a few hi nrg pumpers with an operatic warble over the top, but this turbofies the concept to the max. Every last archetype gets ploughed into the well worn furrows, but somehow it comes out sounding euphorically huge.

Even her rabbit-in-the-headlights look, nans hair and slightly shakey vocal on the night couldn't kill it. At times she may have hit notes that could burst a dog's eyes, but at others she evoked the spirit of Jessie Matthews and host of other Bakelite rich matinee songstresses. Such a shame it didn't even come close to bothering the top of the scoreboard!

One suspects we'll be hearing this at Euroclub on more than a couple of occasions come Spring...

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Friday, 10 January 2014

Belarus 2014 - Switter Boys feat. Kate & Volga - Eternal Love

People often ask me why I spend Friday nights indoors watching East European national finals. This is why.

Imagine a disco Chuckle Brothers, add a tall and slightly more vacant Cheeky Girls, and then throw in a golden magic ingredient that;ll make you spit your tea out about half way through - then double it and times it by three. That's how thoroughly terrific this song is. Pure Apocalypse gold!

And even better, it somehow managed to come in equal third on the night! How perfect would a Switter Boys win have been! National final performance of the year so far, no disputing!

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Belarus 2014 - Teo - Cheesecake

After a face-numbingly long interval act, where they must have been trying some serious maths to engender the 'right' winner, somehow, this, erm, song just won the Belarus Song For Europe!

How did that happen?

Its minimal shuffle is punctuated by strange little bumps and tweaks, as the singer, a kind of uber-slimy Pasha Parfeny, leads his slightly-too-manicured beard through some knuckle-gnawingly bad dance moves - as he sings about, erm, cheesecake.

Ah well, Minsk 2016 anyone?

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Romania 2014 - Paula Selling and Ovi - Miracle

Ooh now, popular rumour as it that Paula and Ovi are back, and this this is a shoe in for the Romanian berth in Copenhagen.

The fans are convinced this has only got to turn up to win it. But will the law of diminishing returns prove correct once more?

Possibly, cos it's like their last one, only without the chorus and the excitement...

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

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Latvia 2014 - Mad Show Boys - I Need A Soul Twin

Around a week back, while telling you about the knuckle-gnawingly poor lyric on the Latvian hopeful Cake To Bake, I alluded to the fact that it wasn't in fact the worst bunch of words on the running order of that nation's selection process this year. No, there were some rhyming couplets that were even more cringeworthy, and this is that very beast.

Back then the artists were being kept secret - so imagine my dismay when I discovered that the perpetrators of this lyrical crime were none other than the Mad Show Boys - the crew behind the sublimely smart Latvian near miss Music Thief from 2012.

Was that a fluke? Or are we likely to see some more witty visual riffing when we finally get to witness it in solid form? Who can say at this point. But you'll be adding in your own painful famous pairs long before this rotter of a song finally peters out. Boys, you've let me down. You;d better be brilliant on the telly!

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

Friday, 3 January 2014

Estonia 2014 - Lenna - Supernoova

The songs for this year's Eesti Laul are creeping out in dribs and drabs, and while there's nothing of epic Puhh-like proportions to be found yet, there's still the occasional nice little tune hiding in among the slightly safer selection than in many previous years - none less this understated delight from Laul veteran Lenna.

She does her usual video thing of walking purposefully around some nice scenery in warm clothing, but her ice clear vocal and pin sharp annunciation helps take the chorus to some soaring and quite unexpected places.

If Estonia want to leave their entry in a safe pair of hands they could do worse than Lenna. She's got form from her days in Vanilla Ninja, and while this smashing song won't be taking us to Tallin next year, it should bag them a fair few points all the same. Delightful, with a refreshingly crunchy edge.

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Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Belarus 2014 - Matvei Cooper and DUX - Strippers

Now were getting into strange territory. A hamfisted and perhaps slightly disrespectful pub-electro song about what strippers do when they get older?

Did the folks at Belarussian telly actually listen to the words of this one before they shortlisted it for their final? If this wins it's going to open a whole can of worms. Bit of luck it's a pretty poor song - but who ever knows in Belarus!

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Finland 2014 - MadCraft - Shining Bright

In my unlikely other life as a punk rock singer, I play on a lot of bills with bands exactly like MadCraft. They're young, fresh-faced and enthusiastic, and always cite bands like NoFX, Sum 41 and New Found Glory in their influence lists, where in real life they sound more like McBusted (although for most ESC fans, your only point of reference will be Andorra 2007).

But let's not knock them for that. Their happy-go-lucky bounce and crunchy guitars add a little fun and grit to an otherwise pretty staid UMK line up (although it is rather nicely cleaned and polished grit), and I for one would love to see them take this all the way to Denmark. Not sure it will happen, but a boy can but dream!

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