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… 


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!


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..."