Friday, 21 March 2014

Norway 2014 - Oda & Wulff - Sing

So we're all done. The full 37 songs selected tweaked and submitted to the EBU to check see if there's any hidden swearwords or references to Filofax.

It turned out that the Russian song wasn't all that dandy after all. A reasonably serviceable spot of Northern Soul with all the life and gusto polished out of it, it should do well, but it will get booed to billy-o just for being Russian, and, well, they can always blame the war for their moderate result. We've been doing it for years.

But there's one song from the qualifiers that didn't make the final that's been stuck in my head for a week now. As regular readers will know, I'm not especially fond of the recent up swell of Mumfordsalikes, but there's something about this optimistic little Scandi Twee pop gem that gets me every time.

And in a year where there's no clear favourite (Armenia? Really?), all of this year's artists should take this song's central message to heart. To all of you stiff faced ladies in shiny frocks who are hollering out your lyrics by syllable and have no idea what the words you're jaggedly reciting actually mean, sing like you mean it. Because you can bet your life that whoever wins this year's funny old contest certainly will be!

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Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Austria 2014 - Conchita Wurst - Rise Like A Phoenix

Now then this one will confuse the juries and unsettle the dads come mid-May. What we've got is a very serviceable stagey ballad, sung with heart and feeling by Austria's favourite bearded lady man.

If the juries are serious about it only being about the song, this will seriously test their remit, as it would finish top ten under any other wrapper. But will Conchinta's incredibly bold and provocative appearance turn away the voters or have them picking up the phone by the lorry load?

It's a tricky guess, but one thing's for sure - we now know for sure where the biggest fan boy scrum will congregate for most of ESC fornight.

I believe I'm now contractually obliged to pull the old "Austria: saved the Wurst till last (but one)" gag. Sorry.

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Monday, 17 March 2014

Russia 2006 - Sisters Tolmachevy - Vesenniy Jazz (JESC winners)

Before we get to see the glamorous Russian twins and their undoubtledly boo-inducing Eurovision entry, let's cast our memories back to the previous biggest moment of their lives when they won Junior Eurovision.

Yep, eight short years ago they looked and sounded like this. You've got underpants older than that…

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Sunday, 16 March 2014

Belgium 2014 - Axel Hirsoux - Mother

Now then, here's a funny bit of business. Despite being near universally loathed in fandom, Axel here absolutely walked the Belgian final. His sentimental nan-pleaser of a song may be a little too sickly-sweet for the cool folks, but it's incredibly well-constructed and he sings it like he actually means it.

If it wasn't for the constant shots of his old ma and a weeping pal by the side of the stage, this song is so intensely mother-loving that you'd almost fear that he had her desiccated frame locked in a cupboard at the top of the stairs at home...

This will do better than anyone cares to think about. You just watch.

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Saturday, 15 March 2014

Armenia 2014 - Aram MP3 - Not Alone

I was on a long train journey when the Armenian song was announced last evening. Suddenly my phone lit up with messages that we'd found our winner, but just as I was about to track it down on YT, we started going through loads of tunnels and deep cuts. Darn it.

So it was with some excitement that I finally tracked it down, and... Oh.

The two-songs-glued-together gambit isn't an unusual one in this contest. But surely this one takes just a tad too long to get going? A long husky intro, where this singer - a stand up comedian in his day job - looks all moody and meaningful, eventually thumps into a chunky slice of near-dubstep and it all picks up a bit.

It ain't bad, and this does appear to be a year when nobody is trying to win it - but will the good nans of Moldova take it to their hearts an make it win? I'm not so sure...

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Moldova 2014 - Cristina Scarlat - Wild Soul

And this winner in this year's "What's exactly is going on here award?" goes to Cristina Scarlat from Moldova.

So from what we can work out, she's half-woman, half-machine, and there's a big bendy mirror floating about for some reason we didn't quite fathom. Then some dancing boys pranced about in ethnic costume, before a load of  radio controlled helicopters with banners on went a bit wrong, plunging into the audience, and possibly taking he ears off the first three rows. (Mind you, at the Moldovan final there only is the first three rows!)

It may amuse you further to know that this won its semi final, so it a possible contender to knock singee elect Boris Covali off his perch again for another year! I'd laugh.

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Friday, 14 March 2014

Georgia 2014 - The Shin and Mariko - Three Minutes To Earth

The usually reliable Georgians have confused matters by sending a full on folk prog fusion noodlefest! What is this, 1971? Does no bugger want to win this year?

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Thursday, 13 March 2014

Moldova 2014 - Rodica Olișevschi - Without You

For a country who always appear to have some dodgy fit ups in their selection process every year, Moldova are surprisingly happy to publish their voting numbers in full.

Perhaps most interestingly, the song that came second in the televote, and was perhaps the biggest danger to the seemingly already anointed Boris Covali, came bottom of the jury pile by a street - but still just about snuck in to the final.

But the saddest figure of all came for poor Rodica here. In a national phone vote, where a whole country could send her their love via SMS, and her extended family could jam the lines on autodial, she only managed to garner a heartbreaking 56 votes. Bless her poor little unloved heart.

Mind you, have you heard the song...?

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Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Greece 2014 - Mark Angelo feat. Josephine - Dancing Night

In theory this was pretty good. Get a top clubby DJ/producer type to provide a thumpy backbeat, then get a good looking blonde lass to sing sweetly over the top of it and gyrate a big in front of some oiled-up boy dancers. It's a well worn formula that still works a treat.

Unfortunately in this case, the word 'featuring' didn't stretch to 'featuring a girl who can sing'. Seriously, if your horse was making this kind of noise they'd shoot it.

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Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Denmark 2014 - Sonny - Feeling The You

More comedy fun from the Danish final. Sonny here clearly thinks he's channeling the long dead spirits of Michael Jackson and James Brown here.

Sadly for him he looks more like Jim Carrey channeling that Brendon from Strictly Come Dancing.

There are moments of this clip that are so excruciatingly painful you;ll be watching through your fingers…

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Monday, 10 March 2014

Slovenia 2014 - Bilbi - To Ni Blues

Slovenia had a nice final at the weekend that many people missed. It had a whole bunch of interesting acts in an exciting in-the-round format, but going by the Logan yardstick from 1980, the most underwhelming song won (beating a band called Muff in the superfinal as it went, and doing us puerile journos out of a whole lot of gags and headlines while it went about it.)

But our personal delight came from a young woman called Bilbi. She may have stood among possibly the worst dressed gaggle of human beings you're likely to see this side of a wedding in Essex, but it certainly offered some charms.

Starting off with some twangy, sub-Beefheartian guitars, it took a surprising turn into bluesy Charleston territory, before heading off piste to a planet all its own. They're not like us, the Slovenians, as a grumpy old Irishman might once have said.

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Denmark 2014 - Glamboy P - Right by Your Side

Now the Danish final was packed with unintentional comedy moments. While the hosts of this year's big show were trying out all their fancy effects, they clean forgot the quality control with the songs.

Enter one Glamboy P. As Mrs Hacksaw remarked: "Where's the glamour? He looks more like a bricklayer with a wig on!" Indeed, you fear for the first three rows when he piles down the front to bathe in the gusts of the wind machine - how the heck did that thing stay on? You're telling me it's his real hair? Gosh!

On top of that, this boy casts some of the most unlikely shapes you'll ever see outside of a pensioner's vogueing contest. Sit back and prepare yourself for three minutes of pure Apocalypse gold!

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Saturday, 8 March 2014

Sweden 2014 - Ace Wilder - Busy Doin' Nothin'

Just three more votes and just about the only song in the whole Swedish qualification process that sounded like it could a a pan-continental hit would earned it's ticket to Eurovision. But sadly it lost by the most frustratingly close result imaginable to the lovely-but-nan-like Sanna Neilson.

This song would have set this year's contest alight, if the current chosen ones are anything to judge the rest of the contest by. Damn shame.

Let's see what you could have won...

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Friday, 7 March 2014

Azerbaijan 2014 - Dilara Kazimova – Happy

I was pretty pleased when I heard Azerbaijan had picked Dilara. For a start, she's got personality by the bucketload, and looks like she could handle anything they chucked at her with aplomb.

Last year's Azeri singer was a good looking charmer, but had all the deportment of a kitchen cabinet in a shirt. Dilara, on the other hand, is just bursting with cookie charisma. Just look at the job she did of Happy in the Boyuk Sehne finals. I don't know about you, but I'm thoroughly sick of this song now - but I just couldn't take my eyes off the screen from start to finish.

If they give her this kind of art direction and a cracking up tempo song – rather than just sticking her in a stiff frock and projecting stuff at her – coupled with her off-kilter charm, I reckon she could be in for a high table finish come 10th May. I wouldn't mind going back to Baku...

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Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Greece 2014 - Freaky Fortune feat. Riskykidd – Rise Up

So what do you think these Greek laddies here are trying to achieve? I can't be drawn. It starts off promisingly, with a middle class white boy rapster pretending he's from the hood, and all kinds of Balkan trumpet invasions - when all of a sudden it turns into a car boot Yolanda Be Cool, with a chiseled beard boy crooning a bit of standard Greek club pop over the top of it.

And if that's not enough, the chap who'll no doubt be pretending to be a DJ on stage in the big final keeps remembering he's supposed to be doing something and shoots the occasional squiggly noise across the bows in some very inappropriate places.

But despite the cluttered mess of it all, it's kind of likeable, despite itself. I'm pretty sure it won't win, cos it's flanked by some reasonably big hitters in the four-song record-company funded final, but I still wouldn't mind seeing them tread the Danish boards with this funny old scatter gun of a song.

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Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Norway 2014 - Carl Espen - Silent Storm

After a brief cursory skip through the Norwegian tracks, I must say nothing really grabbed me. But I couldn't work out why they were so high up in the betting. Then a good pal advised me to listen to this song from start to finish.

Blimey. Shivers.

In among all the glitz and glam, there's always one simple song sung well and minimally that does well, and I rather fancy that it could be this one. And it doesn't need a damn thing on stage with it, apart from Carl, simply dressed on a dark background and bathed in white light. Not even a poxy expressive dancer in the corner. Nothing. Just man and song.

Done well this could be this year's "stop everything you're doing and just gawp" song. I hope it makes the short trip to Denmark, co s things could get really interesting then.

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

Carl did everything I dearly hoped he would and sung it sweetly and simply to the camera, in plain white light. It's in the Norwegian final now. Fingers crossed for the next step...

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Monday, 3 March 2014

UK 2014 - Molly Smitten-Downes – Children Of The Universe

So the big build up is finally over and we get to hear the UK's 2014 Eurovision entry. Opinions range from "Who? Boring! Worst entry ever!" right through to "Ohmygawd we're going to win! Squeeee!" And of course the sensible opinion is somewhere in between.

And of course you've never heard of her - that was part of the point. The BBC are finally thinking of this contest with a musical head on and using their hit-finding Introducing strand to pick out this year's act. Well, did you want someone's nan sleepwalking through a mid tempo yawner again?

Now in the wider scheme of things this is no real world beater, but in UK Eurovision terms this is a bold new dawn. Of course she's on a hiding-to-nothing whatever the result. Anything less than a win will be considered a failure, and even a win will probably consign her to the post-Eurovision dump of history. But it's a start. And it's a bold start, so I hope we stick to this bright new path for at least another two or three years, and see what fresh new talent we can attract to help rebuild the image of the contest within the British music scene.

Let's not forget, the girl's got form. She's sung on a handful of pretty respectable dance hits with the likes of Sash and Basshunter, and has been winning a rack of new artist awards for her breathy, delicate new material. And the song? Actually it ain't bad. It could do with a chorus, but it's far more jury-flavoured than our last dozen or so entries. But then that's hardly as important as the very fact that it exists at all. It's going to be pretty interesting come voting time come 10 May.

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Romania 2014 - Hardjock – Şăl

Out in Romania, they shipped the whole caboodle out to a provincial theatre in the sticks for a charade of a national final. The act who won more public votes than the other eleven competing acts combined ended up scoring just low enough on the jury ballot to miss out on the big win by a whisker - losing out to the song that everyone said was going to win in the first place. Hmm, is that a whiff of haddock wafting in from the mountains there?

But all of this politics is of little import when you see the gem of a tune that closed the national selection. The delightfully named Hardjok, looking every bit like a minicab driver popping in for sing song between calls, whipped straight into the noodly prog folk guitaring, while some half-hearted folk dancers skipped about behind him.

But then it took a turn for the stranger as it hit a full on rustic Slayer moment, with a speed metal middle chunk that left the dancers struggling to catch up. Who needs Paula and Ovi when you've got something this sublime? Romania, you've missed a trick again!

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Saturday, 1 March 2014

Estonia 2014 - Tanja – Amazing

It appears that a Lady Gaga b-side just won Eesti Laul! Didn't see that one coming!

My first question is how does she breath and sing at the same time like that? My second one is, why are fools and brigands calling this a Euphoria rip off? It's a girl dancing to music as she sings, yes. But have these people actually ever heard any other songs outside of the last five years of Eurovision?

I quite like it, actually. And it might even do OK in Denmark. But most of all, I want to see the fans trying this routine out in Euroclub!

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Estonia 2014 - Super Hot Cosmos Blues Band - Maybe Maybe

When me and Mrs Apocalypse first heard this a couple of weeks back with thought it was an engaging but unlikely little bluesy groove that would no doubt struggle to qualify from the Laul semi.

Then it qualified from the Laul semi. Surely that was its money? But what's this? It then went on to walk the jury vote in the final? "Is this going to the superfinal?" we asked, puzzled. "Yes it is?" the men in the funny jackets on the telly told us. Eh?

Sadly they were up against an Estonian dancing lass who'd clearly been watching a bit of Lady Gaga, recently, and got pipped at the post for the ticket to Copenhagen.

Damn shame though, cos this would have been an interesting addition to to the party. (And they also look like they know how to have a good night out too!)

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UK 2014 - Roubix - Wild Thing

Finally somebody's claiming to be the UK's Eurovision act rather than denying it. Indie website JamSphere claims that it's got wind The Sun newspaper is about to break Roubix's Wild Thing as this year's entry.

An exciting young UK electro artist, the site says. Great, let's take a listen...

Oh. As you were...

(Well, the BBC did say that it was someone who was used to singing in the live sphere after all.) I guess we'll just have to wait until Sunday after all...

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