Saturday, 28 February 2015

Slovenia 2015 - Maraaya - Here For You

OK, so it may have been my second favourite in the Slovenian process, but it was the only other song in the whole show that was even worth a listen, so it comes as no surprise that the pair of them duked it out in the superfinal. And do you know what? I really don't begrudge the girl her place in Vienna.

The song's got a cool beat girl feel to it, and she's one for the dads to enjoy too. The chorus is a cracker, and we suspect it might finally drag the Slovenes out of their semi-final doldrums.

We've found the best way to watch it though is via this lyric video, which was clearly put together by someone with English as a fifth language, bless.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Ireland 2015 - Molly Sterling - Playing With Numbers

After a long, and at times knuckle-grawingly cringeworthy Eurosong final, the Irish have done something almost unspeakable and picked a pretty decent song.

I must confess I wasn't much taken with this when I heard the clips and saw the video, but Molly's performance tonight in the studio was subtle and nuanced, unlike many of her over sung and poorly performed competitors.

And most important of all, it felt current - something an Irish song hasn't really felt since at least the 70s. And while I'm not sure this has got the legs to finish too highly on the saturday night, I've got a sneaking feeling that it will at least make it to the big show. How the heck did that long old clump of a show pull something this sweet out of the bag at the last minute?

Sweden 2015 - Hasse 'Kvinnaböske' Andersson - Guld Och Gröna Skogar

Practically every song in this year's Melodifestivalen seems to sound the same. No matter what the cursory genre appears to be - be it blues, rock, ambient, indie, R'n'B or oompah pop - the underlying chord progressions all sound pretty similar to each other, and you can almost sing along to them upon the first listen. Heck, it's almost as if the same three songwriters are responsible for writing the whole darned lot of 'em…

So it's lovely to see an senior stager getting up there and chucking out a good old fashioned country folk stomper, with honest eyes and a simple smile on his lips. I can't remember a Melfest that promised so much but offered so little, so it would be a lovely kick in the nether bits of the song choosing committee if this lovely single piece got through at the expense of one of the supposed golden few!

Come on Kvinnaböske, do us proud tomorrow night!

Moldova 2015 - Vitalie Todiraşcu - Tu Singura

While we were so busy gently ribbing poor old Kitty Brucknell for only managing to harvest a slightly embarrassing 88 votes in the first Moldovan semi-final, we completely forgot to notice this beleagured chap.

While he may have roped in a slightly-more-respectable 189 votes in the first round, his combined total of jury and punter votes left him as the only contestant with no points on the board going into the final public vote off for the final finalist. And that's where things began to get really sad.

Because poor poor Vitalie here only managed to reap in a further ten votes in the second stage of voting. Yes ten. One more than nine. I've been to a Moldovan semi-final, and the contestants were rapidly voting for themselves in the green room, so you'd have thought the fella himself would have been able to fire off at least a couple of dozen in that time. But ten? Had his friends and family deserted him by that point? Did no one at work fancy seeing him in the next round? Surely someone in some village in the back of beyond must have enjoyed his sombre ramblings?

But no. Ten votes. Mind you, it is a bit of a dirge. And to think, they could have had Wounded Swan instead of this!

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Moldova 2015 - Sunstroke Project & DJ Michael Ra - Day After Day

Forget all those names and words in the title above - the only thing you need to know here is that Epic Sax Guy is back.

The song's not a patch on any of SSP's previous attempts, but they're playing heavily on their accidental USP - and boy does ESG ham it up!

He obviously knows that he's only known for his, ahem, saxy moves, so the chubby little lad is gyrating like his life depends on it - which I guess in many ways it does. Just watch this with the sound down and imagine how cool the song he's miming along to might be if he's giving it that much represent on the stage.

Greece 2015 - Thomai Apergi & Legend – Jazz & Syrtaki

Forget all the clever pop, holiday disco and damp-eyed ballads - THIS is exactly the kind of song that Greece should be sending to Eurovision!

Yep, Mad TV have let the five prospective entrants escape onto the web, in a bunch of videos apparently filmed in an underground parking garage. Are things really that tight in Greece now that they've run out of studio space, or is it some manner of clever art design?

Who knows - but what I do know is that this lumpily-monikered act and doing title deliver fun in full capitals - even if it does start to drag a little by the third act. The lass singing it looks like she'd be a bit of a handful too!

Oh, and is it just me, or is she singing about a bobsleigh?

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Slovenia 2015 - Rudi Bučar - Šaltinka

Perilously short snippets of the Slovenian songs have been released, and while for the most part even the small clips are more than you really want to hear, two songs stand out. Maraaya's decent bluesy swoon Here For You sounds like a song you wouldn't mind hearing in real life, while Rudi Bučar gives us the one thing we've been crying out for for years - a decent Ex-Yugo wedding band stomper.

The songs selected for the big show so far this year have been very staid and serious. So what we need is a proper good old fashioned party tune - and we reckon the boy Rudi is just the lad to give it to us!


This came second in possibly the strongest superfinal in years. I rather like the song that beat it, it must be said but I would have preferred this.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Latvia 2015 - Riga Beaver - Freestyle

So that tiny lass with the sparse and drifty song may have won in Latvia last night, but the true star of Supernova was just a little bit furrier. The Riga Beaver has been wowing we semi-final regulars with the sound turned down for a number of weeks now, but finally they turned up his mic to the streaming world of Europe and he instantly became the biggest cult star of Eurovision 2015.

He may have been just the warm up man (erm, beast), but he kept us amused in the long gaps in between all the songs and chat, and treated us to this spectacular session of random freestyling in the raw.

I was lucky enough to be in the Supernova crowd last night, and can report that he's every bit as much fun in real life as he is on a distant camera from the back of the hall. Riga Beaver, we salute you. Please come back next year!

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Austria 2015 - Mizgebonez - Medley Murmeltier/Fitnesstraining

What's going on here then? It's been a long time since we've had a pure frikki in the contest, but this slice of the strange might well have qualified for that description has it made it through to the later stages.

Quite often a Eurovision wannabe sounds like a couple of songs glued together - well this one actually is. They've admitted it. It's a medley. It starts off with. Bit of office based high jinks, before they all rip their kit off and break into a fitness video. It's utterly bewildering.

One can only assume that this stage of the Austrian process they're selection the artist rather than the song - well, someone did a horrific attempt at Pharrell's Happy in the same show, after all - but it would still have been a welcome, if not unlikely, addition to the Viennese stage. Although one thing I forgot to say - it's utter, utter cobblers. 

Friday, 20 February 2015

Austria 2015 - Johann Sebastian Bass - Heart of Stone

The home nation offered up the first view of their list of potential acts tonight, and they've clearly been thinking about this. All manner of oddballs and attention seekers line up alongside the usual home qualifier fodder, and none are trying any harder than this funny little mob.

Actually, perhaps they're trying a bit TOO hard. I can see what they're trying to do - updating one of their nation's most famous musicians while referencing both his look and his style. But somehow, despite having all the ingredients of a decent entry, they over cook it with the funky shit, and convert a promising verse into a pretty hackneyed chorus.

Still, I wouldn't begrudge seeing this as the home entry. You want a song that everyone remembers but that doesn't stand a hope in hell of winning, after all, and this would certainly tick off both of those boxes...

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Germany 2015 - Ason - Hey You

Been selected for a national televised competition but your bass player is, at 12 years of age, too young to be let into the club to actually play the thing?

"We have a solution!" said telly folk ARD. "We'll bung her up on a big screen to play alongside her sisters on the big Hamburg club stage! We are very pleased with this solution!"

Yeah, that didn't look at all awkward, did it. But despite having all the elements of an Operation Yewtree show trial set to music it still managed to come a close second tonight - which kind of shows you what a poor do the German Klubkoncert was again this year!

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Norway 2015 - Tor & Bettan - All Over The World

Take one of Norway's most successful Eurovision performers of all time, team her up with one of their least successful, feed them a saccharine-sweet song that even a charity would turn down for dewy-eyed optimism and fast forward it twenty years to the present day and voila - MGP gold!

Elizabeth Andreassen's perky charm may still shine through the years, but poor old Tor Endrasen has never lived down his failed attempt, but together... together the effect is a tooth-rotting confection with more pain inducing rhyming couplets than a Moldovan non-qualifier. But still, somehow, the effect is utterly charming.

There will be few more popular acts in the hall come MGP finals night, but will goodwill and nostalgia pull these two old-stagers through? Or are they just up for a mid-table pat on the head just for being there - and still being - decade more co temporary than Contrazt? Who can say? But I do k ow that I'll especially looking forward to seeing this one on the big night - if for no other reason than to see that ever-so-slightly awkward senior flirting!

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Norway 2015 - Contrazt - Heaven

Oh my giddy aunt - it's coming to something when Tor and Bettan aren't the funniest old people in a national final. Yes, take a trip back to mid-eighties Scandi Eurovision, the days of Främling and Dansa I Neon, for a slice of gloriously straight up nostalgia.

Seriously, this could have come from any year between '83 and '93, and would have done pretty well too. These days though it's a bit of an anachromism, the kind of song that everyone would do a silly, stampy dance to at Euroclub for a bit of ironic fun. Quite what it's doing here is anybody's guess. But do you know what? I'm kinda glad it is.

OK, so it may sound like the theme tune to a daytime TVtalk show, or a heartwarming series about a dogs home, but it's got a sweet charm and innocence about it that makes the thing far more likeable than most of the other far-too-serious songs in this year's MGP. It would be so funny if this snuck through the middle and nipped the win. I'm pretty certain it won't, but I'd love it if it did!

Monday, 16 February 2015

Norway 2015 - Staysman & Lazz - En Godt Stekt Pizza

The Norwegian songs have crept out into the public sphere via the somewhat unlikely source of VK - the Russian equivilent of Facebook. And they're a fairly formula bunch.

You've got the hi nrg girl stuff, the floaty girl stuff, the handsome chap doing a schalger belter and someold folks warbling. But nothing to get really too excited about, rather unusually.

At least we've got a no hoper in the middle to cheer us up. These two sturdy lads have dedicated this oompah stomper to a well cooked pizza. We're not sure if it's a localised euphomism or if they just love the lard, but either way it'll be a lively, fanboy annoying little interlude among the disappointingly staid contenders. Can't wait to see what they do with it live!

Latvia 2015 - Aminata – Love Injected

The final four for next Saturday night's Supernova in Latvia are looking pretty strong. We've already seen featured two of them on these pages, but by far and away the favourite among both bookies and fans is this spacious little groove.

Aminata may look no taller than a beetle, but her tiny frame hides an earthy, dreamy voice, and her song is a complex yet current blend of contemporary dance styles. Despite its sparse production it's still nowhere near as ethereal as Mntha's tune in the same final, but is considerably more accessible to the man and lady on the street.

It's impossible to predict how well it would do if it made it to the big show in Austria, but we fear it may struggle to fight its way out of a semi - but that doesn't mean we wouldn't be glad to see it there... even if we do like two of the other songs slightly better.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Serbia 2015 - Bojana Stamenov - Ceo Svet Je Moj

The Serbian final was a sparse affair, whereby three specially selected acts warbled out some songs all apparently written by the same chap, to varying states of interest. One chap staggered about in front of some slightly more dynamic backing lads while he gargled a mid tempo tune. Then a young girl sung a fragile but unmemorable ballad, before a fullsome lass belted out a whole-hearted Euroclub fave.

Thankfully, the last of the three bagged the seat on the plane to Vienna with full marks after some extraordinarily unexciting voting. We're pleased about that here, as it was the only one of the three with a bit of go in it.

A number of messageboard nitwits have already likened Bojana to Chiara - which of course is both nonsense and insulting nonsense. This girl's got a spark of soul in her boots, and if they ditch the silly seen-it-twice-before projecto-dress we'd hope to see her in the final come 23 May. No winner by any means, but we're pretty pleased she's there.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Latvia 2015 - Riga Metro - High Heels

Here's a smashing little curio from the Latvian selection. Three male figures in red, plus a girl in white stand to the right, mirrored by an equivilent number of naked showroom dummies to the left - each of them perched in from of the same instruments and the people made of meat.

The sounds are the kind of sparse, head-bobbing dance music we used to call intelligent drum'n'bass back in the late nineties, and it floats along rather ambiently until around the three-quarter mark, when, after threatening a hefty dubstep drop it kicks into a tasty skip beat - all while a rather intense looking guitarist strangled licks out of his axe with a hefty rank of pedals.

It was gently ace, but sadly proved a little too niche for the good people of Latvia, and it missed out on a slot in the Supernova final. Dang shame.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Latvia 2015 - The Stones - Free Your Mind

If you're going to call your band The Stones you've either got to be extraordinarily good, or have not a single idea about the history of rock'n'roll. We suspect the latter.

When we first heard this tune we were envisioning the lads wearing either rustic folk garb, or full on hippy wig out duds - each and every one of them with raggety unkempt hair. What we weren't expecting was a bunch of squeaky clean young men in shirts so unpleasant that even a premiership footballer would baulk at wearing them.

But whatever you think of their look and apparel, you won't get this insistant madrigal out of your brain for the rest of the night. Curse it.

Italy 2015 - Biggio e Mandelli - Vita di Inferno

More Sanremo lunacy - and this time it genuinely is a little bonkers! There's usually something a little unhinged in the competition, but it doesn't usually have a stab at making it anywhere near Eurovision. But it's an open contest this year, and winner takes all - and what with Sanremo voters being almost entirely unpredictable - and often contrary to the max - there's a very real danger that this could be going to Vienna.

How bloody brilliant would that be!

It's utter oopmpah madness from start to finish, but by the time the conductor got his screaming trumpet out I was dancing on the sofa with delight!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Italy 2015 - Il Volo - Grande Amore

More from Sanremo. Apparently this is the hot favourite to claim the badge for Vienna, and we must confess it has its charms. Three slightly sinister looking young leatherists with big voices and massive quiffs. It's kind of how you'd write an Italian entry if you were doing a novel about Eurovision.

But despite its ESC potentiality, this kind of larky isn't a typical Sanremo winner, and we're just as likely to get an 80-year-old man singing his shopping list on the top of the podium. And let us not forget the shocking record of anything evern remotely opera flavoured in the big show.

But whatever comes of it in the end, they make one heck of a racket here, and for that they must be applauded!

Italy 2015 - Marco Masini - Che Giorno è

The annual marathon Sanremo festival is under way, and there's more at stake this year as the winner is guaranteed to be the Italian Eurovision entry. We've not heard them all yet, but as you'd hope, there's plenty of talky ploddy ballads that sound like they're full of regret - the kind of songs that only sound any good in Italian.

Up to now we're rather taken with this little growler. Mr Masini may look more like the duty manager of an out-of-town rock club than any kind of balladeer, but his delivery and charisma win you over by about the halfway mark.

It's not the kind of thing that ever does terribly well in Eurovision proper, but in the context of this contest it's a welcome treat.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Finland 2015 - Norlan El Misionairo - No Voy A Llorar Por Ti

Now what immediately springs to kind when you think of Finland? Cold, frosty lakes, vast pine forests, and incredibly tall blonde people who drink a lot, usually. But possibly not Cubano Reggaeton.

Yep, I got a bit overwhelmed in the excitement of PKN qualifying, and completely missed the face that this unlikely little tune also glid into the next round of the Finnish process. And I must say, I wasn't exactly expecting a portly Caribbean chap barking out the Reggaeton rhymes to a slightly watered down skip beat - in Spanish!

It's a flipping revelation, and what with my punk boys and those pop waistrels Satin Circus getting through to the next stages, UMK already has a more exciting final line up thanjust about anywhere else - and they've hardly got going yet! Woo hoo!

Monday, 9 February 2015

Ireland 2015 - Alex Saint and the MJs - She's So Fine

So then, after last year's poor showing, RTÈ promised us all manner of changes and developments for choosing their song this year. We heard stories that they were going to have more songs in more styles, have a real distinct final, and definitely not crowbar it into the middle of The Late Late Show again. No siree Bob - never again.

So here's part of one of the five songs that will be battling it out on The Late Late Show in a few weeks, yelling for attention between Hollywood interviews and the raffle... (Sigh).

Actually, Alex Saint here is probably the most promising of the bunch, seeing as he's at least tried to do something a little different. Imagine Dizzee Rascal with all the edges polished off, with a slab of autotuned crooning interspersed inbetween. And if you don't think he looks terrible Irish, well that's because he's not. He was born in Zambia and moved to London in his teens. But at least he lives in Ireland these days - unlike at least one of his rivals in the contest.

Seriously, this is the best song in it, which possibly gives you an idea of the calibre of the other four...

Sweden 2015 - Daniel Gildenlöw - Pappa

Now here's the correct treatment for a delicate song. Minimal lighting, fragile voice and a predominantly static camera that uses just three shots over the whole three minutes.

In the middle of all the glorious crash bang of the MelFest this was an absolute breath of fresh air.

You may remember Daniel from his jaw-dropping appearance at MF with his band Pain of Salvation around five years ago, and while that didn't have the pure messianic power of his previous attempt, this still stopped me in my tracks and demanded that I pay full attention to the tellybox for three minute. Such a shame it didn't make it through.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Finland 2015 – Angelo De Nile – All For Victory

How did I let this little beauty slip me by? I suppose I've had my attention drawn in other directions in the Finnish selection, but heavens to Betsy if this isn't bona fide Apocalypse gold!

Picture if you will the lost Lloyd Webber heavy metal musical. Now envisage the scene where the evil menace gets his lyrical soliloquy, where he tells us his hopes and dreams, and we kind of start feeling a little sympathetic to him - until it starts getting a little unsettling at the end and we all feel a bit dirty for falling for his charms. Well that's just a little bit what this is like.

Keep an eye out for the pictures on the wall - you won't be sure whether to laugh or run and hide. Can't wait to see what he's going to do with this one live!

Denmark 2015 - Tina and René - Mi Amore

With the Danish final coming over the horizon we thought it might be nice to have a little skip through the songs to see if there was anything worth following. It was depressing to discover that there wasn't a single one that encouraged me to listen too far past the formula intros. But one song did perk the attention just a tad - and it probably wasn't for the right reasons.

So Mr G:son, you just sanded the edges off your, erm, 'much-loved' entry from 2010 and hoped that nobody would notice the difference, did you? Or have you finally run out of ideas? I really can't work out if this is cynical, tragic or bloody hilarious.

See how many points of difference you can spot...

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Sweden 2015 - Dolly Style - Hello Hi

Heck, my Facebook timeline is suddenly awash with familiar schlager chord progressions and candy floss colour schemes - it must be Melodifestivalen time again!

The first semi-final beamed down to us from Planet Gothenburg last evening, and the one that most appeals to these shires is by a bouncy threesome called Dolly Style.

One suspects that their management have recently swallowed a Japanese colouring book...

(PS Be warned that the usual Swedish habit of suddenly making a link disappear will very likely apply again here. We'll keep you updated if they do!)

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Germany 2015 - Faun - Hörst Du Die Trommeln

The German wildcard round once again failed to live up to its promise as a bearer of great goods, instead preferring to choose a small gaggle of easily malleable teen girls and shiny-faced boys to fill up the quota. Boo to them! Why even bother having all those categories if you don't ever other picking anyone from them. I mean, Dancing Shoulders - hello!!!

Ahem… So we're left to the chosen seven to provide an scraps of interestingness once more. But my, they are again a pretty staid lot. The only act offering any possible flavours of strangeness are a gaggle of German medievalists called Faun. Playing only instruments that you can neither spell or find in your high street music shop (that's a hurdy gurdy on the left, in case you wondered), they creak out a pleasant enough heritage sound - but manage to look exceptionally creepy as they go about it.

This is rumoured to be one of their two songs for the final. Part of me would love to see it get through, just for the unlikely cultural juxtaposition of it all, while the other part is absolutely terrified of them. Well, have you seen The Wicker Man?

Monday, 2 February 2015

Latvia 2015 - ElektroFolk - Dieva Dēli

So we appear to have a new genre now. Not so much electro folk as turbo prog! Good heavens this stood out like a sore thumb in last night's first Latvian Supernova show. In among all the chat, some more chat and a whole load of songs written with a Eurovisiony ear, only a couple of songs really stood out Mhnta for it's goodness, Catfish for its ludicrousness, and this odd little belter.

The intro didn't bode well, mind. A muso session bassist shows off with a bit of noodling twang before it picked up then went all electro Steeleye Span on us. Then after the neo-medieval chorus flew by it hit a seriously proggy breakdown before somehow getting even weirder on the final run in.

And do you know what? The crowd absolutely loved it. Biggest ovation of the night. And the folks at home agreed too, as it appeared to reap in more tele votes than the rest of the next five combined. Fear this. Fear it like disease. For it may conquer. At least it will confuse the heck out of the fanboys who are already struggling to pick a genre to hang on it. Although to be fair, that's not an easy task...

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Cyprus 2015 - John Karayiannis - One Thing I Should Have Done

Finally we've got a song going to Vienna that I wouldn't mind hearing again. The bespectacled lad here has turned his nation's bombastic holiday pop tradition on its head and given us a delicate, intimate guitar ballad.

An unassuming looking chap just the right side of hipsterism, at times his voice halts to a breathy whisper, and you really start to live his tale of gentle regret. It's written by one Mike Connaris, who's got form at this gig, and can mentor his charge rather nicely in what it takes to represent this song on stage. So if he can avoid the temptation to sing this up in the big hall, that moment when it breaks down to just his voice alone has the potential of being one of the best spinetingling moments of the whole contest.

I fancy this could harvest the sunshine isle their best result in many a year, especially considering some of the mid tempo sludge that's declared so far. One to watch for a surprise top five finish? I wouldn't be shocked if it did.

Iceland 2015 - Björn Og Félagar – Piltur Og Stúlka

This qualifier from last evening's Icelandic semi-final is troubling me. The general witterings on the fan forums are stating what a cliched and by-the-numbers effort this song is. But watch again. Look at their faces just a little closer.

That intense sincerity. Those perfectly in unison air grabs. The sickly sweet smiles - unless I've got something terribly wrong and they're actually evangelical christians, this is some manner of comedy skit laden heavily with knowing irony, isn't it?

But then that presents its own problems. Does that then make it a clever and welcome bit of parody of an hoary old genre, or just another half-baked attempt by some clever-clevers to subvert the contest that no one has really understood?

Can of bloody worms.