Thursday, 31 December 2015

UK 2016 - Peter Marshall & The Lomos - You Win Some


More from the long list of UK rejectionistas here, and this one has its charms, in its own special way. Usually a self-referential song about writing a song for Eurovision is knuckle-gnawingly self-conscious at best, and frequently just plain terrible, but there's almost something likeable about our boys here.

Rather than going for all the blatantly obvious gags, their carefully understated English humour and clever rhyming quips just about salvage this from the dung heap - imagine an equally topical but less sweary K*nt & The Gang, or a less smart and abrasive Half Man Half Biscuit (look them both up - you'll thank us... possibly), then add a bit of cosy Victoria Wood-style northern wit - and you're half way there.

Of course, this was never even going to trouble the selection committee, but as comedy songs go, this was one of the beter efforts, and certainly much more appealing than some other the things that get submitted in places like Switzerland and Germany - and in Latvia's case occasionally get through!

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

UK 2016 - VSE.SVIT (Diana Mess) – World Support Ukraine (Russians Go Home)


Now you can't fault a girl for trying. This is a powerful song about a serious issue that is clearly close to the artist's heart, and whatever your position on this video's subject matter, you can't deny her right to put her feelings so wholeheartedly into a song.

However, to enter it into a song contest in a country where nothing more politically tinged than "Give a little love back to the world" has been attempted was perhaps a little optimistic. I can just picture the massed faces of 40 members of the OGAE panel when they pressed play on this one - all scrunched up, tutting that it was an issue song before citing Rule 1.1.2.h of the Eurovision constitution and chucking it in the bin.

Still, maybe it was a minor battle worth fighting, as it's already got more views than pretty much every other failed UK aspirant put together, and one suspects that it'll make its way around the diaspora on its own two feet in good time anyway. By any means neccessary, apparently...

UK 2016 - Rainbow Orbit - Genuine


A few of the UK's rejected tunes are beginning to sneak out. For the most part they're pretty much what you'd expect from 75% of the Swiss hopefuls at this point - either earnest acoustic guitar whackers, or limp Europop try-hards. But there is the occasional spot of fun to be found between the creases.

Like Rainbow Orbit here. I'm still not sure if this moderately OK bedroom nonsense, or a work of charmed and charming near genius. To be honest I think it's a mix of the two. As a song it's serviceable, decently-performed yet not terribly memorable. But it's the performance here that makes it just that little bit more fun.  But it also throws up so many questions:

Did the lady on the right refuse to wear her comedy onesie in a pop star strop? Is there always a disco light in their garage bin store? (in which case we'll be round for New Years) Did no one think that leaving the camera on autofocus when opening a garage door would lead to all kinds of wobbly visual issues? But the main question that's sitting on many of our lips is... Eh?

Nice work though The Orbit. We want to see more from you. One expects that you could become moderately popular on these modest pages in years to come. 

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Israel 2016 - Maor Gamliel - Moshiko


So the Israeli act-choosing process, the rather lumply titled The Next Star For Eurovision 2016, has been tootling along in a mild X Factory fashion for little while now, minding its own business, and not really bothering anyone... until now.

During the auditions, a little raggle taggle beach troubador called Maor Gamliel shuffled cheekily onto the stage clutching a teddy, and started to sing a derivative little ditty about an apparent friend of  his. Said friend was said to be gay, but hadn't come out yet - even though all of his friends already knew. In the right hands this could be a sweet natured, if a little ill-advised, kind of song, and indeed just listening to it untranslated it comes across as mildly inoffensive, if not a little drippy.

However, despite a pair of the show's openly gay judges finding it mildly amusing, some of the lyric lines are a bit near the knuckle, with a number of old time stereotypes being rolled out. Subsequently, sections of the country's LGBT community are up in arms about the whole thing, claiming the performance should never have been allowed to air.

So what do you think? Innocent yet hamfisted attempt at covering a difficult issue light-heartedly, or willfully ignorant and offensive? We don't have the live video from the show itself, but the clip above is of the song in question, and our friends at WiWi Blogs have translated the lyric for us here. We'd be interested to hear what you think...


Sunday, 27 December 2015

Albania 2016 - Eneda Tarifa - Përrallë


So after another traditionally punishing Festivali i Keneges, we finally have our winner - and here it is! Another Fairytale, apparently... although to some ears it's a bit of a nightmare, we see here a handsome woman in a massive frock hammering out a Balkan Bond ballad to some great effect.

One suspects it'll get the traditional Albanian result - even after the inevitable overhaul - but it's still not half a bad marker for the songs still to come to aspire to.

And boy, can she belt it out!

Albania 2016 - Kristi Popa - Ajo Çfarë Ndjej


You'd have thought poor Kristi Popa here was doomed from the start here. Opening the second FiK semi-final last night, his first cute little bit of business failed, as the small boy he'd cajoled to peer at the stars through a weirdly arranged telescope just didn't want to play the game. Second off, when the child did finally toddle off, his own gaze into the stars looked a bit strange, seeing as his looking device appeared to have half a hoola hoop roughly glued to it.

So when he did finally arrive at his singing bit, nothing less than a vocal performance of great power and depth would have sufficed. Oh. 

Yep, instead of knocking our socks off with his incredible lungs, he just kind of mumbled his way through the whole affair for what seemed like a week, nipping in the odd spot of amateur astronomy as he went along. But still, somehow, he managed to qualify for tonight's big final, at the expense of the hotly tipped Revolt Klan among three others. Can't wait to see what joys of showbiz he's going to treat us to tonight!

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Albania 2016 - Kozma Dushi - Një Kafe


Nothing says Christmas more to your Eurovision fan on the street than an old codger croaking out a cruiseship disco number on Festivali i Kenges. So here he is...

Go Kozma, go!

Now to make this next few minutes seem a lot shorter, play along with us our favourite FiK game... Wig Or No Wig. What do you reckon? We're not to sure either way on this one...

Thursday, 24 December 2015

UK 2016 - Tinchy Stryder & The Chuckle Brothers – To Me, To You (Bruv)


Seeing as the 40 OGAE panel members have been sworn to secrecy at pain of death (or a low number in the ticket ballot), and none of the acts that I know who have entered want me to public show off their song yet,  I've had to revert to the rumour mill to try and trawl out any possibilities. And would you believe it, the British Government's own petition site holds quite a few little clues as to who's thinking of giving it a go.

A fella called Jack Ives was touted in one petition, where he (or rather, someone claiming to be a fan of his) demanded that the UK government "Force the BBC" to choose him for Stockholm. Now I've done a little bit of research, and I can't find a single sung note by the fella on the internet. So unsurprisingly he was turned down. There's always some chap who sets up a petition to ask whether My Lovely Horse can be entered - every damn year.

But this was our fave. Andrew Dougal from Aylesbury has politely requested that this legendary mash up by Tynchy Strider and The Chuckle Brothers can be our entry. Now that's actually a half decent idea. OK, so it was released in October 2014, but who's to say that the EBU can't be convinced with a quiet backhander... erm, quiet word of encouragement?

This won't mean anything to any of you who isn't British and under the age of 40, but to all of you, Happy Christmas (or whatever you prefer to celebrate at this time of year) to all our readers! (Even those endless thousands of Ukrainians who are still looking at the ill-fated Sweet Brains entry from last year) It's been good having you along! And it's going to be a great 2016 - I can feel it in my water!

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Poland 2016 - Michał Szpak - Such Is Life


Ooh now, this is interesting. Since Donatan touted himself on the internets as a potential Eurovision entry a couple of years back it appears to be the done thing in Poland to declare your intentions to enter the contest whether you've been talking to the telly folks or not. All manner of aspirant poppists tried their hand at the tactic last year, and the same seems to be happening already this year.

Voice Of Poland notable Agnieszka Twardowska has let it be known that she fancies a go this year, but of much more interest is this hirsute gent. One time runner up of his local X Factor, Michal has become a bit of a popular face among the Poles, and he claims that he'll be putting this song forward into the Polish process. And to be honest, I'd advise them to take them on his word.

An atmospheric rock-ish, goth-ish ballad, only thankfully with no guitars, this piano-led piece sent a small shiver up my ricketty old spine upon first hearing, as it's not only sparse and arresting, but never entirely takes you where you imagine you'll be going. This is the first song I've heard this season that I can actually imagine up there on the big Stockholm stage, so let's hope this is more than just a bit of self-promoting bluster, and the lad himself is actually upmfor the challenge. Gwan Michal, do the right thing!


Monday, 21 December 2015

Germany 2015 - Derya Kaptan - Sessiz Çığlık (Turkvision)


This is joyful. You'll be hard pushed to find a more unhinged three minutes all season - and especially where there's just three people on the stage. On suspect that the bloke hammering on the stringed thing at the back is the actual big star here, as he seems to get most of the showbiz, while the girl Derya just seems to run around wailing like an over elaborate English teacher at an end of term drama assembly special.

Remember, this is Germany folks. Good old serious, sensible Germany. They should cancel all notion of having this or that big name (and morally dubious) pop star enter the big show for them this year and just send this, lock, stock and barrel. If for no other reason that it would give us a flipping big smile every time we saw it.

Seriously, it's mesmerising. You won't be able to take your eyes off it for a second, believe me. 

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Syria 2015 - Adil San - Gelis (Turkvision)


For anyone from Syria to be doing anything aside from keeping their heads down and staying out of harm's way at the moment is admirable. So for them to take a major part in an international competition - and to be a contender on top of that - is pretty darned astounding. 

And what a show they gave. Rapping, folk singing, ethnic dancing and terrific hats - this performance could teach Turkvision's cousins at Eurovision a thing or three about performing under duress - and most of us don't have to worry about our home still being there when we get home. 

Another reason Turkvision, for all its faults and foibles, should be allowed to contnue and thrive. 

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Kyrgyzstan 2015 - Jiidesh Idirisova - Kim Bilet (Turkvision)


After a couple of years of great success and a lot of exciting entries from less obvious places, Turkvision finally hit a few stumbling blocks this season. First of all the original host country of Turkmenistan was deemed unacceptable at the last minute, and the whole caboodle shipped back to Istanbul. Then, after that spot of plane-shooting-down business the other week, all of the Turkic areas of the Russian Federation pulled out of the contest at very short notice, rendering the show's semi-final event pointless.

But this afternoon it finally found tself on stage, and it wasn't half bad - and even merited itself a half decent winner. OK, so it may have had just the slightest hint of Ruslana about it, but that kind of lark is much more believable from someone from that far into the Stans. 

Let's just hope this fascinating show gets over its current issues and will be back again next year, because it's pretty interesting seeing artists and styles from such unfamiliar places to our lazy Western ears. 

Moldova 2016 - Andrei Ionita & Onoffrei - Lie


Anyone who spent a long, damp saturday afternoon trawling through the Moldovan auditions this arvo wouldn't have had too much to wrench them out of their torpor - until this rather intense twosome stepped out onto the stage.

The singing half of the deal is pretty intense in his own right, giving it the full South East European folk warbling. But then the other half kicks in. And boy does he kick. 

Now I'm quite a fan of Eastern rap stylings, but this fella here was so angry and hardcore that he even had me hiding behind the sofa.  Sit back, grab a cushion and watch in awe! Please qualify this, Moldova!

Friday, 18 December 2015

UK 1968 - Cliff Richard - The Sound Of The Candyman's Trumpet


Now I like to think that I know a little bit about the UK's history of choosing Eurovision songs. I've written loads about it in different places, and interviewed many of the key protagonists of our illustrious Song For Europe history.  But somehow I've managed to go 48 years without never knowingly hearing this little gem. Until yesterday.

Hived away in a corner of Cilla Black's show, it came in a distant fourth in the contest that year, with clear winner Congratulations hoovering up more than double the votes of all the other five song in the contest put together. But it does have its strange charms. 

I was immediately taken by it's unwieldy title, and curious abstract lyric, and a little digging uncovered the news that it was written by one Tony Hazzard. Scouser Tony was something of a Jimmy Webb figure on the late 60s pop scene, and wrote strange and haunted songs for the likes of The Hollies, Herman's Hermits, Manfred Man and the likes. Songs like Ha! Ha! Said The Clown, Fox On The Run and Hey, Mrs Housewife.

There's a great version of Tony himself singing it kicking around the German streaming sites, but for now just enjoy the strange site of our Cliff singing it like he really means it, despite probably not having the slightest idea what it actually means, and wonder if it was an early clue to the curious way his life would eventually turn out. 

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Moldova 2016 - Poison Lust - Black Magic


After last year's locally unpopular hop across the border to neighbouring Ukraine, this year's Moldovan selection tournament has been beset with issues. Up until a mere 36 hours before deadline, only seven songs had entered, and despite a last minute rush, there still wasn't enough songs to go through their orignally planned stages. Heck, there's so few songs in it that even our Sasha stands a chance of getting on the telly this year!

We're also filled with hope that this little lovely manages to sweet talk the panel. An amiable little slice of dancy folk goth, if her voice it this willowy in the studio, it's going to be an absolute treat in real life. Then coupled with their apparent dark wave image and the spooky atmosphere of the song, this is already lining up to be among the most visual of the bunch.

Don't let silly little things like live auditions put you off, TRM - Europe needs to see this song. At your semi-final stage at the very least!

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Hungary 2016 - Misztrál - Reggeli Reggae


So the Hungarian songs have been announced, and while all but a few of them have only been released in 20 second snippet form, 20 seconds is just about all you'll need to get a handle of the high-concept strangeness of this little oddity.

For Misztrál, it appears, are a band who play traditional folk instruments - only in a reggae style. Oh boy.

We'll get you the full three minute version as soon as it escapes - although to be honest, I'm not entirely sure you could take it. So simply revel in this micro dot of musical curiosity over and over again and I'm sure you'll get the gist.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Ireland 2016 - Colin - Call Me Crazy


If only to cheer myself up after the horrific bit of Anglo-German nonsense I posted earlier, I went searching to see whether our cousins the Irish had managed to throw up anything even worse.

Reassuringly they have.

And while it may not be quite as look-at-me-I'm-bonkers-no-really-I-am as Delilah's dismal attempt, there's still some joy to be had here. Colin here really wants you to call him crazy. I think he's got this contest sewn up, to be fair. Book your bus to the Late Late Show, sunshine, Ryan's got a ticket to Stockholm with your name written on it. (Look, it's been a long day, alright…)

UK 2016 - Delilah Jay - Baby Boy


To all those abroadians who wonder why we British get the shudders any time we open our qualifiers up to the general public… 

This…

That's why.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Estonia 2016 - Púr Múdd - Meet Halfway


Oh lovely lovely Eesti Laul. If it's not home to bonkers-in-the-nut insaniasts, is filling up its quieter corners with gentle, etherial loveliness. Like this song here. It's not going to win any contest-shaped song show any time soon, but it's so cool and bleak that it could only ever come from Estonia.

And for that it must be heartily applauded!

***STOP PRESS***

We finally got to see this live tonight - well, as live as this year's slightly staged semi-finals can be - and Púr Múdd offered us one of the most fragile and delightful performances of the whole year so far. Absolutely gutted that they didn't make it through, because I'd have loved to have seen what they did with this song in a proper live final!

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Italy 2016 - Cecile - N.E.G.R.A


The songs for the Giovani section of Sanremo are out, and the very first one I clicked on is a right blinder. A provacative song about racism sung by a completely naked lady of colour occasionally forgetting to cover her blushes for the camera? I'm sold already.

This is the kind of thing that the critics love, but that absolutely bombs in the final - and it's not even clear that the new artist section are even eligible for the big Eurovision ticket this year. But I for one aren't going to forget this one in a hurry. 

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Malta 2016 - Maxine Pace - Young Love



Last night the Maltese announced their final 20 songs in a show of familiar bone-grinding length. And if you managed to trawl your way through the whole thing you'll be aware that there's not a lot of laughs and good cheer among them. Even Lawrence Grey's quiff/wig is a little better behaved than usual.

The fanboys will clearly go bonkers for Ira Losco's twin attempts - Chameleon in particular - although the long shots of the hall in her absence were nothing if not a little awkward. I guess she had something better to do.

But in among the usual parade of wide-faced girls in shiny outfits they got off the market, and wide-eyed boys who looked like they were pizza delivery lads who wandered into the wrong room, one little pop gem stood head and shoulders above the rest. This won't be the best song that I put on Apocalypse this year, or indeed the most entertaining. But if the lovely Isle want to progress to a decent level in the competition this year it's the song that they should be choosing.

It's got that bouncy, Meghan Trainor funtime vibe, lots of enthusiasm and a chorus you can almost remember - which is something that is sadly lacking in most of the other 19 efforts this year. Just two things though. Barbara Dex has already been on the phone about that outfit, and just what IS that woman at the left-hand back of the studio doing? I thought she was a photograph for the first half hour...

Friday, 11 December 2015

Russia 2008 - Sergey Lazarev - Flyer



Today's announcement that Sergey Lazarev is definitely going to provide the Russian Eurovision song this season led to a rush of Air B'n'B enquiries about nice apartments in Sochi come Spring 2017. Obviously the song could be a complete moose - but even if it is it'll be hard to imagine that it won't be troubling the top left-hand side of the scoreboard come May 14th.

But is he such a bolted on winner in reality? Let's not forget that he's thrown his hat into the ring before, and was beaten out to a distant fourth by some lad called Bilan. Whatever happened to him…? 

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Belarus 2016 - Nika - Fall In Love


Last of the Belarussian non-qualifiers for a bit - although I'm quite sure I'll be revisiting them in the quiet weeks. And it's a cutie. Witness here the very definition of an awkward performance. The lass herself is done up a treat, and her little clumpy twirl just before suggests that we're about to be dealt a lovely slab of attitude and spark. But when she anxiously counts herself in before her vocal starts then looks around to check that the dancers are in place, you fear the worst.

And that's pretty much what you get, sadly. We can put her strangled singing voice down to inexperience - to sing for the TV executives on such a big stage for the first time must be frankly terrifying. But she throttles those syllables like she's never spoken English before, let along sung in it. Add to this the two dancers, who seem to be doing their own thing, like the warm up for a school play - and that quickly off-camera bit of guitar miming is just excruciating. We can thank the lecherous Belarussian cameraman for saving us for once.

But having said all that, I think it's a real shame how it all turned out. The song itself isn't actually half bad, and Nika looks like she's got a pop star hiding somewhere in her bones, if only she could wrestle it out. And she even had half a good idea with the two dancers. If she did all of this off her own back, I suspect she's got the moxy to try again next year - and we can only look forward to that! 

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Moldova 2016 - Che-MD - Vodā e Cu Noi


A few years back, we featured a little gaggle of fresh-faced hopefuls in the Moldovan process, who while lively, looked and sounded just like a sixth form Zdob-ši-Zdub tribute act. Well the seasons have rolled on and they've grown up a bit, and appear to have matured into a full-blown Z-š-Z trib - and that's not entirely a bad thing.

Of course, it's no crime to be a bit like someone else at Eurovision. I mean, if we were to put a cap on all the girls in glittery frocks pumping out a torpid ballad we wouldn't need two semi-finals - and that lad won it this year with somebody else's song. But when a band are as similar as their elder statesmen countrymen, it does take a few moments to adjust.

But there are differences. Whereas Bunika's boys like to play it for funtime chuckles when this contest comes around, this mob are deadly serious - at least as far as I can tell. And better than that, they've got girls... with swords! And with a depleted home town shortlist, coupled with the news that the divine Miss Doinita has toned it down a bit this year with a regulation pop song, this sng couple be where the fun lies on semi-finals night in Chisinau this year. I'm quite looking forward to seeing what they do with it!

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Moldova 2016 - DoReDoS - FannyFolk


OK, so the song itself is no great shakes - kind of flimsy popsy folko - but I thought I'd share this one with you for its title alone*...

Shall we tell them, or shall we leave it, for a laugh, like.

****STOP PRESS****
Bah! It turns out it was a typo, and the very nice people from DoReDos have mailed us to inform us all that it was actually meant to be FunnyFolk - which probably makes a whole lot more sense. But part of me does kinda wish that they meant it to be like that...

*Our American readers will find this name funny in a whole different way of their own. 

Belarus 2016 - Timur Pryahin - We Wanna Peace



Belarus: the gift that just keeps on giving.

There's so many things we could talk about here: Timur's willowy voice strangling out the syllables so much that it takes you at least a verse to realise that he's singing in English; The song's title - which we assume to mean 'We Would Like To Have Peace', but which actually sounds more like a request for cake; Those faltering fans; That embarrassed shuffle off at the end; all of this and more.

But there's just one thing that you won't be able to take your eyes off for the whole performance - and trust me, it's worth (as in 'not at all worth') the wait! 

Mrs Hacksaw just said to me: "They hold these rounds just for you and your readers, don't they!" And when you see this performance you'll see her point!

Monday, 7 December 2015

Belarus 2016 - Band Drozdy - Uvezu v Derevnyu



THIS is what Eurovision is for. Decent songs, terrific singers and clever, well-judged performances are all well and good, but only on very rare and special occasions will they ever top something like this.

It's got everything: locally folky ethno disco pumping, madcap dancing and some terrible, terrible trousers. But one thing tops it all. By miles. At roughly 1:47 something so incredibly beautiful happens that you'll weep with joy. Either that or hoot with disbelieving laughter. Probably the latter, actually. Either way, it's one of the best moments in all Eurovision history. Yep, that bonkers.

All we'll say is... keep an eye on the box.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Moldova 2016 - Sasha Bognibov - Insane (Against Corruption)


Perhaps buoyed by the news that as of yesterday, a mere seven songs had been entered for the Moldovan process, our lad Sasha has entered for a second time this year - and this one is a cracker.

Less understated than Alone (his earlier 2016 entry), and every bit as crunchy as his previous gem Against Discrimination, Insane thumps out the tech-metal riffs, as his doleful voice warbles out above the noise. Blended together it makes a really rather agreeable whole.

And with world that Mr B has also entered a song in for the UK process as well, could this finally be the year we get to see him in his rightful place? (I know I say that every year, but surely his dream will come true soon - as should all of ours!)

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Belarus 2016 - Lis i Les - Krumkachy


"Soundman, soundman... Stop, stop! I cannot hear my voice, and I need the world to hear my dazzling vocal. Can you make the neccessary adjustment?"

"Ah yes, that is better..."

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Belarus 2016 - Levon Gziryan - Mania


Things that seemed like a good idea in planning part 682...

Oh Levon, Levon. Poor, poor Levon. At which point did you think, oh, you know what, this IS a good idea? Please, young man, next year, go with your gut instinct and punch your management if they come up with an idea this dumb again!

And how awkward do those girls look? Man alive!

Friday, 27 November 2015

Belarus 2016 - Persona Non Grata - Vesna Dyadi Sama


Oh. My. Days.

I've been skirting around the fringes of low-quality showbiz for more than 30 years now, so it takes a lot to startle and bamboozle me.

Consider me startled and bamboozled. 

And don't leave it, even if it gets a bit boring in the middle. There are still wonders to behold the like of which you've never seen.

Oh. My. Days.

Belarus 2016 - U. G. Oslavia - Uvidet' Tebya Golym



Picture the scene. You've sent weeks sorting out a routine to wow the judges at the Belarussian pre-qualifying session. You're incredibly pleased with your efforts, and indeed yourselves, and that clearly shows on your faces as you begin to rhythmically jig about. 

However, the cameraman appears to fancy your lead singer a bit too much, so when you come to watch back the video when you get home you might just be a little disappointed, lads.

Stick with this, however knuckle-gnawingly usual it may be, because the last ten seconds are absolute gold dust!

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Belarus 2016 - Sweet Brains - Dance Like Zombies


Cast your mind back to around this time last year when a cheeky trio of the undead attempted to enter the theme tune from the phone-based game Plants Vs Zombies into at least three national finals. They nearly got away with it in their home nation of Belarus, too, until someone happened to point out both the age and commercial history of the song. Boo to the splitter, we say!

But now their back, with what to the best of my knowledge is an original song (although what's truly original these days anyway, eh?) - although you are all very welcome to set me right if it's not. They're still banging out the PvZ schtick - only this year with a more flowery Day Of The Dead sheen to their shiny masks, but sadly their song's not a patch on last year's borrowings.

Still, you have to admire their pluck, and I like to hope that they were playing the long-game last season, setting up a punt for a serious stab at pan-European glory this year. I wonder what the dear leader is going to think if THIS gets through? If you thought the voting took ages on a normal year in Minsk, this could get glacial!

Friday, 20 November 2015

Estonia 2016 - Meisterjaan - Parmupillihullus


Another happy Apocalypse yardstick of any Eurovision season is when the Estonian songs start to leak out. The release of the names of the runners and riders always leads to a frantic scrabble around the search engines looking for clues (well, in this house at least), and we're rarely disappointed with the fare on offer.

Witness Meisterjaan here, self-proclaimed king of Estonian Jaw Harp Pop. Yes, you read right. Our boy here is the don of his nation's twangy little bit of metal scene, and boy does he weird it up here.

Sharp-eyed viewers will remember him as the man behind that unsettling gem Unemati, and the somewhat creepy Young Girl from a couple of years back, so he's something of a local cause celebre. But we still may not be seeing him in the Eesti Laul final, so enjoy this utterly and indescribably bonkers bit of, erm, I'm-not-quite-sure-how-to-describe-it, while you can. It's well in keeping with its nation's well-merited reputation for the strange and the left-handed.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Georgia 2015 (Junior Eurovision) - The Virus - Gabede


Junior Eurovision is nearly upon us, and while it offers the usual cast of talented pop poppets and waaaay to many colours, there's always the odd chunk of Apocalypse fodder to enjoy. And with that in mind, welcome to The Virus.

This, ahem, infectious little number may take well over a minute to get going, but it's worth the slightly unnerving beneath-the-bedsheets prelude to help you get into the spirit of the song. And yes, it's a stomper!

Witness the chunky young lad and his three female pals sneak out of the house after bed time and take residence in a musical instrument emphorium. And while we wouldn't ordinarily encourage minors to get involved in breaking and entering small businesses, in this case we'll let them off, as it's throughly, enjoyably bonkers! Do enjoy!

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Switzerland 2016 - Franck Renand - Cinderella Dance Tonight



So the Swiss have finally closed their doors to the bedroom composers of the planet, and have allowed us all to vote on the wonders they have unearthed (albeit in a somewhat overcomplicated system that'll turn all but the most dilligent mums and managers away by the fifth hurdle). But we couldn't leave them to it without giving you one last wonder.

The more eagle-eyed regulars among you may remember Frenchman Franck here. He was the slightly worrying geezer last season who spent much of his video sat at a piano while stripped to the waste with 'That's Enough!' inked across his chest in magic marker. Yeah him.

Well, he's upped him game. This year you can watch open-mouthed as he stalks his way around a posh hotel, bothering chambermaids, furtively filming violinists, and vicariously viewing other people having fun while appearing so facially disengaged that you'll be concerned he'll be turning upmon some local news programme somewhere after doing a very bad thing.

I'm sure Franck's a decent sort of chap in real life, but his videos make him look absolutely terrifying!  Right then, bring on Belarus and the Albanians!

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Switzerland 2016 - Tommy King - Daddy's Sugar Girl



The comedy Swiss japes continue unabated. They may have finally closed submissions, but there's still plenty of unmined joys to drag out. Take Tommy here. He's one of Switzerland's most popular Elvis impersonators. Sadly though, on this outing he comes over more like a Butlins Shakin' Stevens trib. Prepare yourself for some fabulously literal visual interpretations of the lyric throughout superbly cringeworthy video - one suspects that the director has something of a hair fetish...

Enjoy!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Switzerland 2016 - Your Favourite Shit - #Shakethatdown



Oh boy, I think you're going to like this one.  The Swiss have finally closed their doors to the planet's musical freakazoids and their terrible wares - none of who stand a chance of even getting anywhere near that big shiny stage in a couple of months. But we thought it would be remiss of us not to share with you the best of the last batch of loons and hools from the bottom of the pile.

Take this high concept little singalong. In it, a chirpy turd tours Europe, making friends with the locals, and getting them to sing along with him as goes along his way. Quite what the good folks of Turkey, Germany and Azerbaijan, among many others, will think of their hallowed flags being turned into dancing piles of doo doo we don't know. But we do know that you won't be able to get this blasted thing out of your head all night once you've heard it.

That in itself makes it a far better song than 97% of the other applicants. Yes, they're that collectively bad!

Monday, 26 October 2015

Switzerland 2016 - Ra5taman - Smoke Weed To This Beat



The Swiss song pull down criteria are getting more and more complicated by the day. So apparantly we can't have the Rectum Raiders or any song that had an old date on their YouTube byline, but we can have Eric Saade and this? (Can't even acknowledgement of doing the actions listed in this song get you jailed in many of the countries of Eurovisionia?)

What a curious old state of affairs!

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Switzerland 2016 - Rectum Raiders - Dog Life



Enjoy this while you can, because I doubt it'll be up for long...

For those fainthearted enough not to risk a listen, this is a dirty slice of punk 'n' roll in the vein of Turbonegro or the Backyard Babies, swearily belted out by a quartet of young Dutchmen swathed in tiny bits of leather and flaunting an omni-sexual outlook.

OK, so of its ilk it's not actually all that good, but it'll certainly raise a few eyebrows at SRF on Monday morning when the moderators come to review the weekend's submissions. I give it until 10am...

***STOP PRESS***

It lasted until 8:45am. These Swiss telly folks have no moxy! The Raiders themselves tell me that they'll make the video available any day no. Until then, try searching for their name on Google and see what you come up with...

***STOP STOP PRESS***

They're back - but for quite how long, nobody knows!

Switzerland 2016 - Natalia Wohler - Time To Wuk



Is it just me, or does this make your flesh crawl just a little bit? OK, so a little digging tells us that Natalia was born in Trinidad, and still spends much of her year there. But there's still something a little uncomfortable about watching someone whiter than me singing in that accent.

Unless of course 'to wuk' is a verb distinct to anglo-Swiss German that we Brits could never possibly understand?

But putting all of that aside, this is flipping hillarious - and probably in the wrong way!

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Switzerland 2016 - Platzhirsch - Holz vor dr Hütta


Swiss telly always miss the obvious trick. Despite 'apparently' opening up their qualification process to the whole world, up to now it's only really every Swiss-based artists that have ever made it to the televised bit. Funny that. But despite all that, they usually end up picking something so bland and mid-European that it's got almost no Swiss character to it at all. And this is a shame.

So why not, finally, SRF, choose a song that's just oozing with local colour? You know, one that's oozing with fondue, chalets and Alpine charm. A song like this...

Quite how they'd whittle it down to just six performers would be interesting, mind. Some of this mob look like they could more than hold their own in a decent fist fight.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Switzerland 2016 - Inge & the TritoneKings - Trümmer



Sometime when a marginally novelty act comes back for a second pop at an open application process you brace yourself for a slightly less successful version of the thing that they weren't especially good at last year. But somehow dear old Inge and her men of metal have actually managed to improve on last year's mildly amusing but still fairly weak effort by quite some measure.

Whereas Totenköpfchen was a half-decent concept struggling to find a decent riff, Trümmer is one of the most creative metal tracks I've heard in months - that also happens to have an octogenarian gran barking out the lyric. And somehow, this time, it all makes perfect sense.

As four chaps in Breaking Bad chic shred out some big noise, with creepy piano and Bond-style trumpets belting out incongruously in the background, dear old Inge finally manages to croak out some indignant menace on top of the ever thickening wall of sound. I'm not sure quite how they've managed to pull this off, but somehow they've delivered one of the best things I've heard all season.

Three more years of this level of improvement and they'll win the whole darned thing - if the old gal can hang on that long, that is...

Friday, 16 October 2015

Switzerland 2016 - Mimis Levandes - Oh Captain My Captain



Swiss TV exec in a shadowy Lugano office: "You know what we need in this damn final? Not a dozen willowy teen girls hooting out witless techno, or some bedroom Scouser who can't actually sing...

Slightly timid researcher: "But what then, my leige?"

Swiss TV exec in a shadowy Lugano office: "What we need is a chunky Greek bloke on a beach whining out a love song to Robin Williams! And the more film references he clumsily crowbars in, the better! Can you get me that, young whelk!"

Slightly less timid researcher: "I think I might have just the thing, sir..."

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Switzerland 2016 - Nico Honey - MamBoy



Erm, considering the speed that Swiss telly are pulling down any submitted video with even a hint of old age or controversy, we're somewhat startled that nobody's pointed out this cheeky little blighter to them yet...

Shall we tell 'em? Nah, it'll be funnier if we don't...

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Switzerland 2016 - Maria Christina - That's What It's All About



People rejoice! For it came to pass that we have our first slightly batty old girl of the season - and more terrifyingly it's probably one of the better songs in the Swiss process so far.

The video's clearly had a few pence spent on it too. Either Ms Christina is the wife of some rich industrialist in the midst of an expensive vanity project or she's actually a bit of a big deal in some remote canton - either way, this doesn't look cheap!

Monday, 5 October 2015

Switzerland 2016 - Kingun - Leave My Girlfriend Alone



You know what Eurovision needs more of? Songs about jealous lovers murdering night club letches...

***STOP PRESS***

We've found it, and it's back!

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Switzerland 2016 - Ludmila Davidenko & Pavel Petel - Bogachka (Rich B*tch Never Pay)


When deciding whether to enter a song for this or that country's Eurovision qualifiers there are always a few questions that you should ask yourself. "Is it appropriate for the nation I am considering representing?" should usually be the first one, followed by "Is it any good?" And "Will anybody outside my circle of friemds actually get it?"

So with this in mind I'm still trying to ascertain the thought process behind this somewhat misplaced curiosity. "I know," the artist thought "as a moderately well-known underground drag comedian from Russia, I'll submit a song that not only includes a cheeky Madonna sample, but all kinds of unauthorised samples from a rather stern looking lady who's probably quite important somewhere. On top of that I'll almost certainly be slagging her off in some kind of cruel way, and then credit myself as a moderately well known female pop singer, and to make it even better, I'll leave on the opening screen that betrays the fact that I fruitlessly tried to enter it in for the Armenian selection last year.  The swiss are going to bloody love it!"

How long until the Swiss take it down from their site, do you reckon?

Monday, 28 September 2015

Switzerland 2016 - Männerchor Steili Kressä - Köttbullar


ESC fans rejoice! The traditional explosion of all that is truly unhinged and mediocre has kicked off today - oh yes, the Swiss open submissions process is open and ready for business, and it's delivering its usual delights.

The familiar barrage of home produced warblers and international hopefuls have already deluged Swiss telly with their shoddily made produce, but we'll come to that lot in good time. What today is really for is the annual day in the sun for traditional season openers Männerchor Steili Kressä, and they haven't let us down.

As ever, they've provided a ditty about next year's host nation, and of course what could be more Swedish than meatballs. Delight as our favourite drinking men's choir present their tasty savoury delight to a succession of well known Swedish pop acts, then marvel as the meatball itself gets a starring role. It's complete and utter glorious cobblers, of course, but we wouldn't want it any other way.


Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Moldova 2016 - Sasha Bognibov - Alone




Ladies and gentlemen, after a long, arid summer – musically speaking, of course – it's my pleasure to announce the official opening of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest On Season. And what better way to kick off proceedings than with Moldova's perennial prince of darkness, the great Sasha Bognibov.

Many regular commentators of the early stages of Eurovisionism feared that he may never have been able to top last year's masterpiece, Wounded Swan. And indeed, while Alone doesn't rise to quite that level of gloomy majesty, it feels like he's attempting to move things off down a slightly different track this time around.

Beginning with a slightly chilling children's xylophone, Sasha's familiar haunted vocals soon poke through the dark atmosphere, as he wonders, in song, whether he'll ever find his true soul mate. And then, quite suddenly, the tempo pumps up to true Europop levels, and we're led in to classic ESC territory.

It's no world beater, this must be said, but his songwriting is maturing year-on-year, and one of these days he's going to find himself on stage in that tiny Chisinau studio, competing for the crown that he do dearly craves. Could this, finally, be his year?

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

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Sweden 2015 - Magnus Carlsson - Möt Mig I Gamla Stan (Signed Version)


I feel a cult coming on. The much beloved Magnus Carlsson may have tootled along to moderate success during this weekend's Melodifestivalen final, but his performance will forever be remembered for one thing that was entirely beyond his control - the pure star quality of the bloke doing the sign language interpretation.

Sit back and enjoy the pure joy on the face of this chap as he gets deeper and deeper into character, and his breathless panting as he gets more and more out of breath towards the end. One suspects that this isn't the last time we'll be seeing this particular gentlemen this year - and perhaps for many years to come.

It's things like this that Eurovision is for!


Norway 2015 - Mørland and Debrah Scarlett - A Monster Like Me


Right, so I've finally gotten around to enjoying this gloomy Norwegian gem. Yes, there were songs, many songs, that I would have preferred winning last night. And yes, it's another bloody slow one. And indeed, I reckon it's going to nick just enough points of my only very vaguely similar competition favourite Estonia to cost it the win.

But now that it's here, I'm certainly not going to knock it.

Dark, mysteriously intriguing subject matter, layered on with enough Scandi noir atmosphere to both give you the creeps and make you fall in love with it, this song is perhaps too darned spooky to be troubling the top left quarter of the scoreboard too much, but it'll still pick up some significant voter love along the journey.

But who are the juries going to side with now there's so much jury bait on the table? This could get interesting...

Saturday, 14 March 2015

MelFest 2015 - Christer Björkman - Rise Like A Phoenix


Things you'll never unsee - Christer Björkman taking off Conchita Wurst at last night's MelFest dress rehearsal. I feel somehow grubby.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Israel 2015 - Nadav Guedj - Golden Boy


An uptempo song? A real uptempo song? Alone in the fog of balladeering? Well kinda. While it's not exactly the most BPM-heavy song we've ever experienced, by this year's standards it's practically speedpunk!

It's also gloriously likeable and dumb - in a good way. The lyric might make even a Moldovan songwriter cringe, but it's still lots of fun - indeed, he tells us that he's the King of Fun on more than one occasion. And this year especially I think he kind of is!

OK, so it's clumsy and sounds like three different songs roughly stapled together, but it's exactly the kind of song this contest has needed to wrench it from the gloom and slowness. One suspects we'll be hearing this a few times a night at Euroclub, mind...

Armenia 2015 - Genealogy - Don't Deny


So, after the long slow reveal of artists from around the globe, and the not-so subtle hints that their songs was going to be a commemoration of centenary of the locally contentious Armenian genocide, we finally have the song. But what's it like, I hear you wonder?

Well… despite sounding a bit like a charity record with a whole load of minor chord business in the long build up to the chorus, when it kicks into the refrain it swiftly diverts from the big spectacular whopper you were expecting, and goes a bit, well, jazzy. Then next time around, a bit plod metally.

And bot is there a lot of singing on show. By the time opera lady gets to her bit it sounds more like we're in the middle of a since off on The Voice than a cohesive song. Then it just ends, with very little flourish, like they just got bored of it.

Having said all that though, I can't wait to see what they do with it live! It could be knuckle-gnawingly immense!

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Russia 2015 - Polina Gagarina - A Million Voices


Here's a first sneaky peek at the Russian song from a local news report. It's all about love and peace and the children. Apparently love is the only meaning in life.

That's just how the world see Russia at the moment, I'm sure. Great work!

More news when we have it!

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Belgium 2015 - Loïc Nottet - Rhythm Inside


An all-too-brief thirty second snippet of the Belgian song snuck out on local radio this morning, and the rest of the day has given us a slow bleed of bits and bobs until we finally got to hear the whole thing at about half six tonight. But was it worth the release in instalments?

Well we have to say that we rather like it. It's dark, brooding... another slow song it's true - but this ain't no ballad. Instead, boy-faced Loïc here offers us a dirty, sleazy grind that goes no place much, but still offers up an interesting journey along the way.

Of course, it's almost impossible to guess how well this will do on the big night. Will it get lost among the fog of slowness, or will its genuine bluesy bluster burst through, delighting both jury and home voter alike? Who can say. But we do know that we'll especially look forward to seeing what they do with this one in the live forum..

Monday, 9 March 2015

Romania 2015 - Rodica Aculova - My Light


Aside from the winners and that glorious frocky horror from Romania last night, there's one other song that's caught the public's attention from last evening's Romanian, and it's quite probably for entirely the wrong reasons. Yes, here is a song more than worthy of a place in the top ranks of our good friends at SCARYvision.

Poor Rodicia started off OK, but the sound in the massive Craiova hall was approximate at best, and once she lost her pitch she was desperately battling to get it back, and only very occasionally meeting with success. It didn't help that it was a complicated song, with highs and lows all over the shop, so the best she could do would have been to have played the percentages and averaged all the big notes out. Fair play to her though, she soldiered on as rehearsed, but boy did it make uncomfortable listening at times.

It didn't help that the big pay off at the end hinged on the lighting MacGuffin attached to her hand. We suspect that it was supposed to be a secret, but her expressive hand movements kept giving the game away throughout. Then when it came to the money shot at the end, it briefly sputtered into life before giving up the ghost - only to startle and partially blind her during her exit interview.

This was one of those occasions where you really feel for a performer - but still can't help having a crafty giggle at her expense too. Poor lass.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Romania 2015 - Cristina Vasiu - Nowhere



So an earnest bunch of dad rockers beat off all-comers in the Romanian final tonight. But for thise watching on the jaggedy YouTube stream tonight there was only one true winner - Cristina Vasiu's outfit.

For a start, it was pretty gravity defying. At any point you felt that bits of her frock could have peeled off, leaving her exposing parts that even her mother hasn't seen in years. But much like a car accident or a bad wig, you just couldn't take your eyes off it.

And just when you thought it couldn't get any more unhinged, well, I'll leave you to see what happened. But you will genuinely fear for her safety, and that of the front three rows in the audience. This is what Eurovision's for!

Sweden 2015 - Måns Zelmerlöw - Heroes


Now that we know what all the songs in next Saturday's Melodifestivalen are going to be, this one is starting to creep ahead in the betting odds. Indeed, it's also the pretty hot favourite among MelFest fandom, so it's clearly got to be a contender. But what's so bally good about it?

Well for a start, Måns has form. He's trod the MF stage before, and is beloved by both fans and housewives across the land. Then there's the song. It may start off with a curiously swampy deep south twang, but it soon stomps off into that mind of uplifting manpop that appears to be the thing around that way at the moment. For me the chorus hits formula a bit too quickly, but that just means that the faithful can sing along to it all the more easily.

And then there's the staging. Sweet, ingenious and using the shape of the TV perfectly despite being on a gurt big stage. It's got all the ingredients of an MF top three contender - but can it really go all the way, or are the Sami ghosts going to nip it from him? Or something else that we'd never imagined? One suspects that it's going to be a cracking show!

Saturday, 7 March 2015

UK 2015 - Electro Velvet - Still In Love With You


Oh heck, this is the UK Eurovision entry. Watered down electro swing? Eeek! We're not going to do very well, are we?

I've had ten minutes to digest what's just happened. To represent our great musical nation at the world's most excitng song contest, we've hired the singer of the Rolling Clones - a moderately successful pub trib act - plus some lass who didn't turn a chair on The Voice last season. Then we've given them a song that purports to be of the currently incrediby club hip electro swing genre, but sounds like it was written by a bald man in a shed around the back of a car boot fair desperately trying to tap in to the current zeitgeist.

It's going to be a long spring, isn't it.

More news. Turns out I got sent a demo for this way back in November. I must have instantly erased it from my memory. I seem to remember Ashley Slater from Freakpower had something to do with it. I've had it in my hands all this time - gah!

There's more. Songwriter David Mindel is the man behind such classic old time TV theme tunes as District Nurse, Challenge Anneka, The Hot Shoe Show and Jim'll Fix It. Gulp. Can you tell I'm struggling to come to terms with this?

Portugal 2015 - Simone de Oliveira – À Espera Das Canções


So it's the Portuguese final tonight, and octogenarian sixties Eurovision legend Ms de Oliveira has announced that rather than doing a what will from this day on always be referred to as a  Kümmert on the night, she'll decline the ticket to Vienna if she win. What a darned shame, as this understanded little beauty was one of only two interesting songs in it! I guess we're Yola all the way now.

So enjoy this while you can - a veteran performer portraying more humanity in a single expression than many of this year's hopefuls will ever manage in a lifetime.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Austria 2015 - Johann Sebastian Bass – Absolutio

(Click here for a Restoration funk up...)

Tonight's third Austrian show was a thoroughly complicated affair. The crux of the show saw them take the six acts to a castle and team them up with some high profile songwriters who'd never heard ot the acts before and got them to write a pair of songs together. Then said acts performed both songs, and the judges picked out their favourite on of each pair at the end.

Simple enough, you might think. But then again, when you have an act like JSB here who were almost certainly selected for their half-decent back catalogue, why would you muddy the mix by bringing in some random who knew nothing of the band and their ethos - now matter how long their impressive list of songwriting awards may be? It all seems terribly strange and unwieldy.

In the end it didn't turn out too bad for them though, and the slightly better song of the two was selected. But there was still something that didn't quite gel for me. It's all a bit too 'look at me, I'm whacky" rather than being genuinely unhinged, and it all felt a bit forced. Even a rare appearance for a Peter Frampton-style Talk Box (that air-blown pipey thing he was chewing on), didn't entirely rescue it - but having sad all that, I'm still kinda glad it's there, as it would make a welcome addition to all the slow-to-mid tempo stuff selected already. 

Azerbaijan 2015 - Emin - Woman


It's unsubstantiated rumour morning, but news just reaches me about a bit of a buzz forming about the Azeri song. While everyone has pretty much decided that Elnur is giving it another stab, another story is drifting through the ether...

For some reason, son-in-law of the glorious leader, Emin, is courting the Eurovision press, and his video has suddenly hit heavy rotation mode. Now that may just be wild extrapolation - as indeed most of these rumours are. But when your bird's old man runs the country, there's a pretty good chance you'll be asked to represent it one day.

And if he brings old Charly Williams (not the old Northern club comic, sadly) here with him to sing along on this uplifting jangler, he'll doubtless pick up some of the down under points too. It would be a very interesting move if it is true.

Elnur then…

UK 2015 - Wonder Villains - Golden Five


Just over a day until the UK announcement and we've had a sudden flurry of speculation. First unwashed X Factorist Luke Friend was chucked into the fray, merely by having a couple of hearts in his video. Then ace beatboxer Grace Savage caused a 24 hour stir by cryptically Tweeting about Eurovision, before the traditional Alexandra Burke and Rebecca Fergusson got snuck into the mix by Ken Bruce and Radio Times respectively. We hear Geri Halliwell has been waiting patiently by her phone ready to make a denial...

But this morning's rumour is a whole different kettle of fish. The source that first broke Molly's involvement last year suddenly tweeted that we'd be sending the Wonder Villains to Vienna. And while this is initially unlikely, it does kind of fit in with what the man from the Beeb said about it being a starkly different choice from last year.

We have to stress that this has in no way been confirmed yet, and it might be just another brief moment of fanciful speculation. But I for one would welcome a little bit of 90s twee pop in the competition. For a start it would be the most up-to-date thing we've sent in years, and for another it might mean that Tallulah Gosh might reform and all us indie anoraks can go into fits of happy joy.

Fingers crossed!

***STOP PRESS***

Sadly, as we now know, it was not to be. Bah! But I've just been having a little FB chat with the band and it appears that, much like Laura Kidd, they have no idea where these rumours may have come from! How the heck did that start then?!!