Thursday, 16 November 2017

San Marino 2018 - Gianluigi Colucci & Aurora Lecis


So while we've been having folks entering the Sanmarinese process from corners of the globe so far flung that even the people who make the maps have to go back and check where they are, the people from their local telly have been bemoaning the fact that there have been precious few home-based entries, claiming indeed that nobody had actually entered at one point. Well that isn't strictly true - there have been two.

The first sees the unconventionally handsome Gianluigi Colucci getting all moody under his floppy, curly fringe in a pretty serviceable mid tempo offering. It's even got an actual video and everything. (Although it looked like his niece doing a media studies course in whatever the local equivalent of sixth form is, but we shouldn't quibble, as it still puts it in the top three per cent of entries as far as presentation goes.) Indeed, this wouldn't look out of place something like a Swiss or Slovenian televised qualifier (even if it would reap the usual results), so surely this has to be considered for the latter stages at least.


The second and final local entry comes from a lass called Aurora Lecis. She might be offering the now over familiar self-recorded somewhere around the house style of video presentation, but she's got a smashing voice, and certainly knows how to deliver a song. Quite how this would translate when given a microphone on a big stage in front of a load of people we can't yet tell, but surely she should be given a pop at the golden ticket as well, just to be sure.

In a country with just about enough singers to fill a decent sized phonebox, surely they should give pretty much any home runners who can hold a tune a chance to represent them on the big Lisbon stage. It's great offering all these people from Haiti and the Philippines and Cameroon the opportunity - especially as they've been delivering the better tasting performances up to now – but surely San Marino should foremost be nurturing the local talent if they want to have a long and fruitful future in this contest. Because to be fair, we're not sure that Valentina has got too many left in her.

***STOP PRESS***
Turns out that someone may be telling porkies, as rumour has it that one of this pair is actually from Italy proper, and sings in a showband. How could they?!

Monday, 13 November 2017

United Kingdom 2018 - UKR - You Know You Want It



I do enjoy a serial offender, and they don’t come much more offensive than our pals from the United Kingdom Of Rock. You might remember their stab at UK Eurovision glory from a few years back when they contacted every local newspaper in the land (well, Leatherhead at least) and told everyone that it was they, and they only who could bring back the glory for this fair land. Sadly the nice folks at Auntie Beeb and we were stuck with Electro Velvet instead. Boo.

That’s not to say that they were actually any good, but they truly worshiped at the altar of rock and believed every last morsel of what they were doing, which is a lovely refreshing change in this game. They’ve had another go inbetween, but now they’re back for one last job with this right rollicking romp through the eighties pub metal firmament.

Probably their best effort to date, this Carry On Up The Metal Charts stompathon invokes compulsory headbanging and involuntary air guitar, and if you can look past the slightly ribald lyrical content (you schlaaaag!) and turn your brain off for three minutes you can have a whale of an old time, erm, time. It’s terrible, of course, but most of the best fun things in life are. Come on BBC, give us a little bit of bad metal for Christmas!

Sunday, 12 November 2017

San Marino 2018 - Holly Rutherford - Make You Feel My Love


While it's becoming evidently clear that the Sanmarinese online song hunt has reached points almost beyond parody now, it still chucks up the occasional fascinating little piece. Yes, in among the sea of bedroom grunters, well made but lifeless videos by artists who have no idea that they've been entered,  familiar faces from Eurovision fandom just larking about, and a now seemingly endless parade of Maltese people walking around on beaches, every now and again you'll get a touching little look into the lives of real people.

Be it Elvira Michieva belting out the karaoke in a German dance bar after downing a hefty slab of Dutch courage, American lass Veronica Hattier giving it all her lungs will allow while apparently sitting on the lavvy, or the sweet-faced Brazilian lad Victor Montiero putting all his heart into L'oiseau Et L'enfant on his living room sofa (how does he even know about that?!!), there's a sweet innocent charm about viewing the hopes, dreams and aspirations of these young people from around the planet, dreaming of being spotted - or at the very least being ignored by a panel of TV execs working to a prearranged script.

But the one that moved us the most was this all-too-brief snippet that frankly asked way more questions than it answered. Our Holly here displays a pretty decent voice as she oozes out a bit of Adele. But what chain of events led to her taking to the stage at a Southend seafront diner? The array of mics behind her suggest that they do this kind of thing all the time, but it still feels a little, well, odd. And you'l be totally on her side as she walks through the scoffing crowd, high-fiving children and making mums smile sweetly inside when they remember the time they danced to this with their Terry at her sister's wedding. You know, the night she conceived their eldest.

This clip also makes you wonder who filmed it, how it got to be put up on a website representing an obscure Southern European principality, and how much her hand stung after the brutal treatment from that four-year-old at the end. Sadly the clip ended there. Hopefully because the small boy was evacuated from the building for his bad behaviour and they didn't want to embarrass his family on YouTube.

Holly, we salute you. We may not be seeing you on TV any time soon, but you keep on singing your sweet songs. And thanks for letting us have a glimpse into your world.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Estonia 2018 - Frankie Animal - (Can't Keep Calling) Misty


Ooh lovely Estonia. I always enjoy those first couple of post-Laul reveal days when you pick through the titles trying to track down the first early glimpses of the songs. I was tipped off to the joys of Frankie Animal only a week ago, but I fell in love with their cool, understated, edgy sounds straight off the bat. So it was not only a joy to discover that the rumours of their participation were true, but that they'll tabled an absolute corker of a song.

Well, when I say song, it's more of a cool, breathy groove that builds to a barrage of filthy, yet still controlled noise, before crumbling to dust. Yep, exactly the kind of song that we'd listen to at home of an evening for the long, warn off season nights.

We have to stress though that this is in no way a contender. Unless they deliver a showstopper staging a slot in the final is about the best this tune can hope for. But that's not the point with this competition, as this is just pure, unabashed Eesti Laul goodness, and part of the reason that we slightly left-handed ESC fans flock to Tallinn like the schlagerists flock direkt til Stockholm. The fine people at ETV put these songs in just for the very joy of them, like they want to share them with the world and show off their goods, irrespective of whether they'd get into a final or not.

We bloody loves Estonia, we do!

Friday, 10 November 2017

Latvia 2018 - Katrina Gupalo - Intoxicating Caramel

(Click here for some wonky alt beauty…)

So when the Latvian songs were revealed to us in that secret back of house vote up the other week, this is the one that stuck in my head the longest. But I'm not sure if it was entirely for the right reasons. But boy there's a whole lot going on.

If you've got the tools to imagine this, imagine a car boot Kate Bush singing cruise liner showtunes, in the fifties, in flouro techno garb, and with Oxford prog psych loons The Cardiacs occasionally popping by to say hello. Kind of. Only it's stranger than that.

One hope this gets to a televised portion of the process, because one can only wonder at how they're ever going to flipping stage this little beauty. Our first properly unhinged entry of the year - even if we still don't know who it actually is yet!

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

United Kingdom 2018 – Giro & Gala – Hanging In The Garden


One of the rare joys of this tireless vocation of ours is that we get to see and hear all kinds of songs that get passed about in the hope that perhaps they might make it to some national final someplace somewhen. And so it was that a good friend of the site was sent this especial little gem, sprayed to the winds in the hope of representing our fair isles in Lisbon next Spring. And oh my giddy aunt where do we start.

You kind of know they're German even with the sound down, as I've never seen a citizen of this earth wearing one of those shirts with quite such meaning and seriousness. But it's surprising to discover that they hail from St Pauli in Hamburg - quite possibly one of the most punk rock neighbourhoods on the planet. Why they haven't attempted to be overlooked in their own nation is unclear, but do you think this stands any better chance over here? Can you imagine Mr BBC sitting in his gold office on the top of London going: "This is it! This is the one to bring back the glory!" Why, that kind of crazy talk hasn't happened since, well, 2015.

And as charming and outsider as it all is, one can't help feeling that the lyric is just that little bit insensitive. What if your Auntie Maud has just been found swinging from a tree around the back of the begonias, worried to her very marrow that a full, hard Brexit was never going to happen. How much would you enjoy hearing the phrase "Hanging in the garden" repeated over and over again? You didn't think about that did you, Giro and Gala. These are the kinds of things that you have to consider if you want to go all cross cultural after all…

Friday, 3 November 2017

San Marino 2018 – Andi Taranik – Space



The Sanmarinese 1-in-360 process really isn’t going as well as hoped. While there were suggestions that the entrance fee would put off most of the usual tricksters, trolls and mentalists, what it actually appears to have done is hone the aspirants down into only the most desperate, insistant or utterly unknowing inviduals on this planet. And I know, because I went through all 200-or-so plucky triers who have so far submitted their wares to the website. And boy it was a long and painful process.

At least two thirds of this year’s hopefuls are self-filmed, usually in their bedroom or bathroom, with their phone set to portrait and singing quietly enough so that they don’t disturb their mum from watching TV in the next room. They’re also usually singing a song of some Eurovision heritage. There are countless Phoenix’s struggling to rise from the flames, a large number of space rockets failing to get out of orbit, and enough 1944’s to crack every window in a shopping mall.

Most of the rest are filmed from the back of a room while they were taking part in some kind of karaoke, talent contest, or shopping centre event. On top of that there are a few clips taken from televised singing shows that, for the most part, I would be surprised if the artist featured had actually submitted themselves.

And of course there are the pranksters – folks who’ve invested a small sum of their own hard-earned cash to send in clips of internet sensations of the past (including the peerless Maxine Swaby), or real actual Eurovision songs. SM’s very own Valentina has already made more than one appearance on the list, only to be swiftly removed.

Indeed, so deep is the barrel that had been scraped that when an actual reasonably well-produced video crops up it feels so startling and disarming that it doesn’t feel like you’re looking at something from the same competition. Although having said that, they’re generally either still terrible, Spanish, or so unhinged that they’re never going to get more than a fistful of votes.

And so it is that I bring you to young Andi here. I’m not showing you his effort out of any kind of mockery, but as an example of a typical entry to this deeply flawed competition so far. I’m quite sure that he’s incredibly earnest about his efforts, and clearly deeply loves the song that he’s singing. It’s just that he doesn’t really have the required skills just yet to carry it off in a public place – let alone his own bedroom studio. But despite all that this video has been one of the most viewed of them all so far. Which I suspect may indicate the seriousness with which people at large are taking this whole process so far.

But I wish him well – just as I wish well all of the poor young interns at SM telly who’ll have to sift through all these videos in order to hone it down into any kind of shortlist. Our thoughts are with you.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

San Marino 2018 – Ignatius Farray – Estoy Haciendo Caca En Tu Mente


Glory be to the most serene republic of San Marino! There were those doubters who suggested that when this splendid nation opened up their national selection process to all comers (if they coughed up four Euro ninety-nine) that they'd be awash with the kind of hapless frikizoid and bedroom tryhard that frequently litters the choosing portions of Switzerland and the UK OGAE rigmarole. But nothing could be further from the truth, as is evidenced by this beauteous little Spanish gem here.

Marvel as two hairy bears of men strip to their trouserline and hammer out a gruff folker about defecating in somebody else's mind. No, really. Splendour at just how many words one human being can fit into a two minute tune, then get involuntarily aroused when it goes a bit homoerotic at the end.

If this is the kind of jewel that we can look forward to from out favourite mountainous nation state, then I think we're in good hands…


Friday, 20 October 2017

Ukraine 2018 – Alex Angel – Slave Of Rock 'n' Roll


Remember the diminutive and somewhat flesh-crawling Alex Angel from last year? You know, the creepy one who kept tongue snogging a procession of scantily-clad young women with "Save me!" screaming out of their eyes who tries to enter from just about every country with an open application process last year. Well he's back, and he hasn't got any less troubling.

He's got a couple of entries in the process this year, but this one's probably the most sleazy. But not in that knockabout LA hair metal kind of way. Here five young girls in high heels and shiny pants writhe about on a sofa and take it in turns to be grabbed round the back of the head and skewered with his probing talk muscle while some procedural 80s pub metal drones on in the background. Minn Hinsti Dans it most definitely is not. They all seem to be having a good time, I think, but it does raise so many questions.

Who is bankrolling this nonsense? Why does these girls put themselves through these indignities? Is he just a clever parody character and I've missed the joke? I've wondered about the latter, but if it's true he's in pretty deep cover. After last year's contest he sent me an angry Facebook message telling me that Naviband had nicked his act after their touching snatched kiss at the end of their performance. This fella's either a seriously well-observed comedy commando, or he needs to be on some kind of watch list for touchers. I know which side of the argument I'm erring on at the moment…

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

UK 2018 – Subject: 2 – Another You


It's a little later than usual, but the Eurovision hopefuls are just beginning to drool in. Most of them so far have just been solitary types in their bedrooms that are neither good enough to qualify for anything anywhere, nor bad enough to be of any kind of outsider merit. But good friend of the site Anthony Ko tipped us off to this little beast, and we have to say that we're probably enjoying it more than we should.

So yes, it's terribly old fashioned - sounding like some kind of goth-tinged Erasure, and exactly the kind of thing that your Nan still thinks is just like a Eurovision song - but at the same time it gets under your skin and has you singing along against your will, curse it. Subject: 2 describe their sound as Electro Country Pop, and while there's little evidence of any country twinges besides the hat the singer is wearing in the video, fair play to them for at least trying to do something a little different.

Of course, as much as it has made us smile in Apocalypse Mansions this morning, it ain't going nowhere - and especially not through the punishing, and ultimately fruitless UK OGAE system. So may we suggest them investing €4.99 in the somewhat confusing Sanmarinese process. At least it'll be out in the public sphere and get a bit of a viewing that way.

Oh, and it's worth watching the video through, as the best bit is the end. We don't mean this as a judgement on the quality of the song, however. No, it just gets pleasingly cute once the song has finished.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

San Marino 2018 - 1 In 360 - Casting Call


For the last 24-and-a-bit hours we've been awaiting the news of quite what San Marino's groundbreaking new Eurovision-flavoured news was going to be. A press release yesterday told us to expect something quite revolutionary and new, that had never previously been done in the contest before. Ever never. So today, with scarcely a chance to ponder, pontificate and make rumours up they revealed their grand new plan. And what was it?

Kind of what they've been doing all along, only this time in public and without the fee of half a million Euro (we think).

Yep, they're holding a never-before-seen open competition to choose their next entry in some kind of world wide internet competition. Strewth, however did they come up with that one?! And to help sell it to us they got some posh boy lunk from marketing (or the station owner's nephew - delete where applicable) to explain what they were looking for in one of the most knuckle-gnawingly cheesy YouTube clips I've seen in quite a long time.

Do they know the full force of musical terror that they've unleashed? Did no one think to ring Switzerland for advice? Will those poor interns who get roped into watching the thousands and thousands of bedroom troubadour videos be eligible for counselling?

We'll be keeping a close eye on this one, as we feel that it's likely to be our biggest source of wonderment this season. I genuinely can't stop cackling to myself. I think it's the fear...

Monday, 18 September 2017

Montenegro 2018 - Vasilije - Just Wanted To Be Free

(Click here for the wails…)


Another regular early adopter is young Vasilije here. It's frequently suggested around this time of year that he might be the automatic selection for his home nation of Montenegro - although those suggestions do actually come mainly from him, it must be said.

And while our pals in Podgorica are prone to making many of the more delightfully left field attempts at our fair contest over the last few year, we suspect that they're unlikely to be going to whole hog and anointing this laddy any time soon.

Why can we be so certain of that? Just have a listen for yourself and you'll see why. If this was three years ago it would have been the first on the Swiss list of application hopefuls.


Friday, 15 September 2017

Moldova 2018 - Sasha Bognibov - Love



It's been a slow old September in Eurovisionia this year. What with the Swiss keeping their songs secret for now, and hardly a sniff of news doing the rounds, we've all been chomping at the bit for some sounds.

Until now.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I officially open the 2018 Eurovision Apocalypse season with my good friend and musical hero, Sasha Bognibov!

We had the teaser clip, and now we've got the full malarky. And boy what treats does it deliver. The haunted, willowy vocals are the same, but they're layered on a fractious wall of sound that canters along unsettlingly like a distracted horse, before clattering to an intense and unexpected halt.

Yes, of course we like it – it's Sasha after all - but the everlasting boy is beginning to show some sings of musical maturity that bode incredibly well for the future. We've been doing this for long enough now to know that this year almost certainly won't be his year. But that day is surely coming ever closer!


Thursday, 23 March 2017

Italy 2017 - Francesco Gabbani - The Occidentali's Karma Dance


This is excellent. You may have been looking at the complex series of dance steps that the boy Gabbani is enacting throughout his hit tune and wondered to yourself: "How can I pull off those moves without looking like a lead-footed idiot?" I know we were! So why not get the lad himself, along with his more talented monkey mate, to show you how!

It's all here in video form as our teachers lead us through the wavy-wavy-leg-uppy dance in a simple step-by-step guide. You'll be dancing like the pros in minutes, and can show off your skills to your friends and family on the big night. You'll be the prince or princess of the party!

All larking aside, this good-humoured skit is just another reason why we reckon the Italian delegation is going to be terrific value in Kiev. Francesco's easy charm just oozes through the screen, and I was hanging on his every word - even though I speak next to no Italian at all. Win or lose on the big night, I think we've got ourselves a Eurovision star - and dance - who's going to live on in the memory for a very long time!

Monday, 20 March 2017

Germany 2017 - Helene Nissen - Folsom Prison Blues


We've been thinking long and hard about what the strangest and most unsettling of all the thousands songs that we've made ourselves listen to this season, and there were so many valid contenders. It could easily have been Romania's Dorel Giurgiu and his curious Christian techno shuffle, or perhaps Tosca Beat from Slovenia with their terrifying martial dystopia. Of course our old Moldovan pal Sasha Bognibov is always in with a shout, although the inappropriate sexual pawing from Ukraine's Alex Angel gave him a good run for his money. But no, the thing that troubled us most from one of the strangest national final seasons we've ever seen was this dark little oddity.

Now on the face of it this was nothing more than a familiar happy-go-lucky singalong shuffle that fitted perfectly on an early evening light entertainment show. But look deeper into the lyric. This is a song about an unrepentant cold blooded murderer spending the rest of his days rotting in one of America's most notoriously dangerous men's prison. So to hear a perky little teenage girl in big old glasses and a bouncy ponytail happily squeak out the song's signature line: "Well I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die" just didn't quite sit right.

So what's she going to cover next? NWA's Fuck Da Police? Nagasaki Nightmare by Crass? The entire GG Allin back catalogue? It might seem like a delightful little piece of innocent fluff to you, but it creeps us right out every time we hear it. It's just not right, I tell you!

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Armenia 2017 - Artsvik - Fly With Me


So we're all in safely, as Armenia has finally revealed. But after keeping us waitng for so long, was it really worth the wait? Well kinda. For this a curious confection to be sure. The twenty-odd second teaser that they gave us last week hinted that it would pick up massively once we'd taken a trip through the lady's hair pipe - but no!

Instead it goes the other was and chills incredibly, all the while punding out an insistant Eastern beat, enmbroidered throughout with a lilting suggestion of a melody. And it's great. It's moody, smart, and just a little bit lustful, and I can imagine this as the beautful light relief in the middle of an album full of techno bangers. But is it really Eurovision?

Hmm, we're not too sure. Because for all it's art and allure, is anybody going to get it on showbizzy Spring Saturday night? Are even the juries going to become infected by its charms when it's surrounded by apes and yodelling and topless men? We're really not sure at all, and fear that it's one of those classy songs that just passes people by. What whatever anybody thinks of it. That's one of the most beautifully shot videos we've ever seen at this contest. Not that this will get you very far on the big night, of course.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Bulgaria 2017 - Kristian Kostov - Beautiful Mess


So the rumours were true. After weeks of really hoping that it was going to be Gery-Nikol, the initial rumours that Bulgaria had picked the first Eurovision performer to be born in the 2000s panned out, and here we are. Ireland really thought they'd have the tiny lad vote sewn up, but compared to Kristian here Brendan Murray looks positively middle aged!

And the song is pretty much what we were suspecting, in that it's another slice of the pleasing Eastern Beiber plod pop that he's been having such success with back home. But is it a winner?

Well his youthful gap toothed charm will doubtless corner the nans and grandaughters corner, and ther may indeed be some specialist grown up markets who are faithful to his look. But we're not sure that it'll reach much further than top ten unless he offers up a quite devastating live show. So whoever that was who lumped a massive wad on him to win on one of the betting exchanges about an hour ago might be in for a disppointing May. Still, it's futher good progress for an ever improving Bulgaria.

It's decent, but like so many others this year, no world beater. So does anyone want to win this bleeding thing?

Norway 2017 - Amina Sewali - Mesterverk


Now here was an unexpected little gem. On audio alone this song passed us by. Well, it was a bit rambling, and never really picked up into any kind of recognisable chorus. A good chance for a toilet break on a long and complicated night of national finals, I figured. And I wasn't even particularly sold at the start of the performance, but then somehow it crept under my skin and I just couldn't take my eyes off it.

So, picture this scene. A beautiful girl child is messing about on a desk with a paintbrush, while her older self in the same frock sings in the background as if it was some kind of memory from her youth. Then the mini-me leaps into the singer's world, and the two dance and laugh and interact, before the lit'lun gets the paints out and starts to make a terrible mess on the floor.

Now this might all sound a bit playschool toytown, but as the performance went on it became sweeter and more utterly charming. The chemistry between the old and younger selves was clearly apparent, and at times they seem to both forget they were on telly and in a hall full of thousands of observers and just started having a laugh together, and I think that's what got to me the most.

If they could charm my cynical old seen-it-all bones in such a delightful way at the end of a long and punishing national finals season, well, they must have done something right!

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Russia 2017 - Julia Samoylova - Flame Is Burning


Russia, you beauties - you played an absolute blinder there! You kept the continent waiting and hanging on your every move. And then, right at the death, you played the finest card of your Eurovision career. With punters and locals already cueing up their booing manouvres, you plucked practically the most unbooable singer on the planet to be your Eurovision entry. Man alive, nobody saw a move that slick coming.

Of course, the song isn't even intended to win. That's not what this move is for. It's the kind of saccharine sweet, whiskers on kittens confection that would make even Disney gag a bit. But to send such a beautiful woman in a wheelchair who'll smile at every single on of us down the telly pipe and make our cold hard hearts melt just a little is surely job done. This is cynical politics done to the very finest level. And do you know what, I'll bet Julia is an absolute delight in Kyiv too!

Of course there's a counter rumour that this song is just a place holder for when they decide to pull out a little nearer the time, so they didn't have to worry about the quality of it. If this is true it'll please Mrs Apocalypse no end, because she put decent money at good odds of Russia winning this year, and she'll get her stake back if they do. But seriously, Russia have won this game already, whether they get the most points or not, or even turn up at all. Because this will go down as one of the great moments in Eurovision game playing of all time.

And it makes you wonder what they've got planned for next year...

San Marino 2017 - Valentina Monetta and Jimmie Wilson - Spirit Of The Night


Just for one moment imagine what it's like to be Valentina Monetta. A few short years ago you were a local jazz singer in a tiny country happy to spend your weekends performing the music you loved to people who really appreciated it. Then by a strange quirk of fate, it turns out that you're the only amenable singer in your entire nation state to taking a chance on Eurovision, and then your life spirals out of control.

There were signs of trouble in paradise last year, when she finally got the hump with everyone talking to her about the contest and kicked us all off her social networks - ironically. But someone must have seriously twisted her arm, because she's back for a fourth go, only this time she's assisted by the journeyman soul singer Jimmie Wilson. And together they're stamping out a rather old fashioned slab of cheesy-assed cruise ship disco for our delight. 

But I'm more concerned about the state of her artistic soul. She's an absolutely lovely woman, and regales us every year at the parties with some great interpretations of the jazz standards. So shouldn't someone, one year, let her sing the music that she really loves on this accursed show, rather than cajoling her into belting out whatever this year's flag-of-convenience song writer points at her?

I genuinely feel for the poor lass. Because who wants to become a pub quiz question in their own lifetime?

United Kingdom 2017 - Lucie Jones - Never Give Up On You


So we were all quite pleased when the winner of the UK show turned out to be actually quite decent, and sung by a capable pair of lungs. But then word of a remodelling started floating about in the air and we all got a little anxious again. Well we've seen in the past songs that we've previously loved being 'improved' to within and inch of their lives. But we should have worried, because last night's Super Saturday reveal delivered us a thing of some sparse beauty.

I'd always been rather fond of the song, ever since I first heard it in demo form back in November. It was sparse and understated, and gave the lyric room to breathe. It was as if it was crafted from fine woods rather than the plastic, tin and neon of many of the other songs. The national final version had stepped up again, replacing EDF's breathy vocal with the more assured larynx of Lucie Jones. But now we've gone up another notch.

Word had got around that this was something of a Massive Attack style makeover, but this is pure London Grammar. Glacial spaces distil into sharp points of cool light, and the heart really pours out of it. At one moment I feared that it was going to step up into a dance tune, but instead it geared down and soothed our fears. But how should it look?

This song just screams for close intimate cameras, simple lighting - just darkness and white, and absolutely no single other soul in camera shot. We need to see Lucie's pain and hope close up, feel her every thought, and live the song with her. This is still probably not a winner of the whole caboodle, as there's some strong stuff on the tariff overall, but if they keep it uncomplicated and sparse this could do very well indeed, and give us a result to be proud of.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Montenegro 2017 - Slavko Kalezić - Space


There's a horrible concept in music called guilty pleasures, where snooty people get themselves off the hook for liking something of a low perceived cultural value, thereby saving themselves from being looked down upon by their even snootier mates. It's an idea that's always heavily troubled me.

However…

This one is nudging pretty near the top of my list of songs that I shouldn't really like, but just can't help myself from loving. And if that makes it a guilty pleasure, then so be it!

It's not as if it hasn't got all the ingredients of being an absolute shocker. Its promising trancy intro swiftly shifts back a gear into some kind of mongrel futuro disco, while its lyric makes absolutely no sense at all, littered as it is with screamingly pointless non sequiturs. And then there's the lad himself, all preening and pompous and overtly sexual.

And yet, it's terrific fun, and possibly the most honest and natural sounding of all the up tempo dance tunes of the year. And you just know that he's going to be one heck of a handful in Kiev. I'm sure I'll soon get tired of it, but for now it's exactly the kind of injection of pure fun and nonsense that this contest needed, whatever the critics may think of it.

Ireland 2017 - Brendan Murray - Dying To Try


So Ireland finally got the big reveal on the Nicky Byrne radio show, and I have to say that it's not quite the disaster that it could have been. It starts with some pretty cool atmospherics, before starting to build with some nice clangy guitars, before... well, that's about it really.

Yep, for while it may get a bit noisier, by the time it gets to the chorus it falls back on an old familiar formula where you can guess the next chord two beats before it happens. Which is a shame, because much to my own surprise it held a bit of early promise. It could do alright on the big show though, although I have two grave concerns.

The first is that voice. He's going to have to be bang on in the big hall with a chattering crowd otherwise that could become a horror show of epic proportions. And on top of that, I'm not sure that I really want to hear that squeakiness repeated time after time in a rehearsal situation. And the second? When I initially saw the song's title written down I was sure that it said Trying To Die, and now I can't shift that image out of my head. let's hope it's not an omen, eh!

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Israel 2017 - Imri Ziv - I Feel Alive



So if you were a Eurovision artist and your song had to leak the day before your big reveal, which way would you rather it happened? Someone at the label with an itchy trigger finger submitting it to Spotify just a bit too early? The video company forgetting to set the video to Private when they submitted it to YouTube?

Or how about someone filming you recording the video across a car park on a cheap phone while they're chatting all the way through?

As inglorious releases go, this is perhaps the most unsatisfactory of the lot. There you were, going to all the trouble of building up to a big explosion and fun and delight when you finally put it all out to the world in its intended form, when someone gazumps you because the TV company were too tight to hire in some decent security and did the shoot in an incredibly public place. Shorter clips had snuck out over the last few days, but this is the first one that offers us nearly all of the song.

Oh dear. Oh very dear.

But what of the song? It kind of chugs along nicely in an unexciting Club Med kinda fashion, but it's not exactly going to be setting any sort of scoreboard alight in Kiev. Although those extras seem to be having a whale of a time…

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Belgium 2017 - Blanche - City Lights



Belgium, oh Belgium, you've done it again haven't you. You've not had such a rich vein of goodness since the dawn of the eighties, and now you've gone and quite unexpectedly delivered us with another bona fide gem of a song that just cheered up a long walk home in the rain by quite some measure.

This doesn't sound like a song written for Eurovision. This sounds like the song that Mercury nominated band that you haven't got around to hearing yet plays on the awards show. This is the song that appears third on Jools Holland, the song you'd Shazam if you heard it in a bar. It's familiar, yet quite fresh and understated, and sticks in the memory for some time upon a single hearing.

But having said all that, these things don't necessarily count for much in this funny old song contest. It could very easily be jury bait, but it'll all be down to the staging. Keep it too subtle and it could get smothered by the pack when it comes to televoting time. But give it too many on stage MacGuffins and you could kill it stone dead. Vast swathes of people just aren't going to get it, but for me it's one of the coolest and classiest songs we've seen in a long old while.

But I seriously can't call how it's going to do. This is going to be the interesting one to watch.

Romania 2017 - Instinct - Petale


In all the excitement over Yodel It!'s victory and Mihai's smug bubble getting burst all over again, one could very easily have overlooked the song that came in third. But if you've not been lucky enough yet I reckon it's worthy of a few minutes of your attention. But not necessarily for the actual music you'll be hearing.

Yep, it's a concept performance. We know how much you love those. This moody duet began in swathes of mist, with two shadowy figures appearing to wind up the two lead singer. And we don't mean by prodding them with sticks and telling them that their mum hangs round with sailors. No, actually winding them up like a clock. It can't be though, right?

Oh heck, it could be. Look, they're all painted up with random cogs and walking around robotically! (Although to be fair, he's living the role a little more than she is). This could have been brilliant, so what a shame it is that the song was a dry, mechanical plod perhaps a little too apt to the performance. But at least they gave it a try, and it was nice to see at least the merest fumes of a steampunk performance. I think we'll see these kids again.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Serbia 2017 - Tijana Bogićević - In Too Deep (Excerpt)


It seems quite the done thing release a little teasy instrumental half-minute this season, to give us a glimpse of the potential drama they're about to unfold on us. The the former Yugos must be clubbing together to go heavy on the larks, to such an extent that even though we've heard the sounds, we have no idea what may actually be about to be revealed.

Croatian Jacques teased us with a near-classy sounding chunk of frantic strings, but we could never have imagined what fevered Disney nonsense was about to unfold. So what of this latest little segment? Well in light of what's been happening these last weeks it's difficult to tell.

But here's what we do no. This dramatic piece of business soars and sweeps, offering much promise. But at the same time it sounds every bit like that music they use on a dodgy Qatari satellite sports channel when they're setting up the week's fixtures. I'm half expecting the words to entirely consist of  Tijana there shouting out "Chooventooze vuzzuz Barky Lunar. Arse Neale vuzzuz Eentire Meelarno. Dees Chewstay." Well as this year is rapidly proving, anything could happen.

Australia 2017 - Isaiah Firebrace - It's Gotta Be You/Don't Come Easy


Our pals Down under finally let us know who they're going to send to the contest this week, and yesterday a massive rumour got going that it was going this young fella. But what are the clues? And why is everybody so sure that it's going to be him? Well the evidence is compelling.

First up, he's on the Sony Music Australia label, and although it's never been explicitly mentioned, it's clear that they have been bankrolling the Aussie Eurovision project so far, as both their acts to date, plus that big old Jessica Mauboy softener the year before have been on their roster, and they seem keen to try to break their top pop acts across Europe.

Next, he's a recent X factor alumnus. In fact he's the current and final champion, so he's riding a head of steam back home, and is more than comfortable in the competition format, despite his tender teenaged years. And to that, as an Indigenous Australian he's well in keeping with his nation's run of non-European, look-we're-not-racist-really contestants, although it would be perhaps a little cynical even for us to suggest that this is the only reason he's in consideration for the slot, as the boy has one heck of a voice in that willowy frame, and the kind of dreamy-eyed floppiness that a lot of viewers would go weak at the knees over.

And then there's the song. There are some folks that are suggesting that it's going to be this bright little plodder - the lead single off his still fresh album, and the song they are most likely to pick to try and launch him overseas. If it is this one, while it's nice enough, I can't see it pulling the momentum to finish much higher than halfway unless he absolutely bosses it on the night. So I guess we've got to hope there's something bit more apt on the album.

Although, hang on… aren't The Veronicas also on Sony…?

****STOP PRESS****

Turns out that we were half right, and so would have got one of those little white pegs in the board game Mastermind. It's the same singer, with almost the same song, only it's a little better produced and has an infinitely more corruptible title. Here it is…





Sunday, 5 March 2017

Iceland 2017 - Daði Freyr – Hvað Með það?


The jury's out in Apocalypse Towers for this one. While this gently throbbing electronic number would have been more at some at Latvia's Supernova, it definitely had its charms. But there was just something about the kids' deadpan, "We're mad, us. Look at us be mad!" stage schtick that stuck in our collective craw a little.

Bit then this morning I looked at it again and kinda got it. In a deathly dull Icelandic qualifier series this stood out like a beacon of hope. Despite harbouring the flimsiest of songs, the multiple keytars, matching unfashionable garments, and simple dance arrangements at least looked like they'd put some thought into it.

But I think it was their green room larks that won me over to them. Who would you rather have to muck about with in Kyiv - some dreary stuffed shirts who'll save their precious voices and be tucked up in bed by ten, or some knockabout party kids who look like they'd be up for a hoot. It may not be able to drag its bones out of any semi-final, but it'll be fun to have them there at least.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Iceland 2017 - Ágústa Eva Erlendsdóttir And Gunnar Hilmarsson - Save All Your Kisses For Me



In what's turning into a disappointingly dull and usual Icelandic selection process, there was one little glimmer of sunshine among the gloom. And if you'd have told me at the start of tonight that the best thing I'd see would be Silvia Night doing a delicate cover of an old UK winner, sat in front of a hillbilly (kinda) string quartet, I'd have laughed in your face - before wondering what that would actually look like.

But in her normal day-by-day guise of the actress Ágústa Eva Erlendsdóttir she whispered out a performance that could have been cloyingly twee, but somehow managed to sit just the right side of touching, and dare I say it, nice.

After a disappointing night for our faves in the other shows (we lost 0-4 in Sweden and came a heartbreaking second at the Laul), we needed cheering up, but never, ever imagined that would have come from these quarters. It was just a shame about the songs in the actual competition...


Thursday, 2 March 2017

Croatia 2017 - Jacques Houdek - My Friend


Oh. My. Days.

We knew this was going to be entertaining, but never imagined that it was going to be quite THIS silly! The simple, classical instrumentation suggested we were in for a bit of a treat, one way or the other. But Wowsers, we've been spoilt!

If you heard the instrumental version that was kicking around a couple of days ago, the light and dark shades hinted that it was more akin to a duet than a single voiced event - and it is… with himself! Seriously! One second he's sugaring it out in a saccharine pop voice, the next belting it out in near operatic tenor. This kind of schtick is easy enough to pull off in the studio. But live? This could be one of the most fun packed car crash events in years. Or he might just pull it off and knock all our socks off. Somehow.

Oh yes, I forgot the spoken intro. A SPOKEN INTRO, I TELL YOU! These things are hard enough to make sound sincere when you're doing them as a one off - so how tired it's going to sound after dozens and dozens of repetitive rehearsals who can say.

Ooh, ooh, and then there's the Frozen bit. Yep, there's a couple of musical phrases within the chorus that sound, show shall we say this delicately, EXACTLY like the main hook to Let It Go. And if not exactly, then there's a run of notes so similar that they've been precision tooled to sound very much like it without being exactly like the song of which it sounds a bit like. Which is some kind of evil genius. If the people among the crowd who aren't fond to his somewhat old fashioned views of sexual preferences want to make a protest, they shouldn't boo - they should all start singing Let It Go en masse when it gets to that bit. It would make the poor lad's head explode.

But really, what were they thinking? With all of it! I still can't work out whether this is dog dirt off a tramp's shoe or one of the most incredible things ever. I think it's a bit of both. I'M BROKEN!


Greece 2017 - Demy - This Is Love



Oh by heck if one of Demy's songs in Greece hasn't leaked and all hell has broken loose. Very late last night a WeTransfer file started being swapped around the darker recesses of the ESC web, before somebody planted it rather unsubtly front of house, and now there's people in a proper tizzy about it.

"It must be banned!" some bleat. "Utter Greek chaos!" other enthuse. "Top three guaranteed!" yet more over excite. But what's it actually like? Well surprisingly, pretty decent. Starting off all ballady and meaningful, it swiftly switches up into a very serviceable Mediterraneo dance pop number, before hitting the strings in a considerably more subtle manner than the Houdek lad. But it's the end that gets you.

Chugging along nicely, you can just sense that the songwriters are looking at their watches. In the real world this would repeat to fade, but we're on a deadline here. So they just bung the most cheesy Eurovision-flavoured end-piece on, and it just stops. The random, cloying we-are-one-world faces that were scattered thoughtlessly throughout the clip would be staring out of the screen in confusion had they been allowed to live that long. But instead we get a longshot of our Demy looking all meaningful sat outside a Ukrainian theatre. You see what they did there! This is Frances Ruffelle in a Union Jack jumper obvious!

If this song is already causing a subtle hoo haa, there's no way that the Greeks are going to bin it off. After all, there are no rules - what is this... a sport?

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Ukraine 2017 - Salto Nazad - O, Mamo!


Before we get going, we have to establish that this is an absolute toilet of a song. There is little that's more utterly cringeworthy than a white bloke trying to affect a Caribbean accent, and this lad comes over like a chubby Sting tribute act. (I'll bet he'd call it Stung, or Call The Police if he actually had one. And of course it didn't help that the video opened with him appearing to be a bit of a sex pest, and that despite that he's singing a song about his mum, but all that's by the by.

But just when you'd just about had enough and started to reach for the kettle, something unexpectedly charming happened. The camera caught sight of an old gal in the crowd having a whale of a time, and the lad began to rather sweetly interact with her. And then… Oh my, even a cynical old hack like me never saw that coming!

I won't spoil the fun for you, but suffice to say that the last minute or so distracted you from the godawful music, and just goes to show that with a bit of thought you can turn even the biggest shitehawk of a song into something utterly sweet and enjoyable.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Portugal 2017 - Jorge Benvinda - Gente Bestial


You could hear the groans of bafflement and distain across the continent when the Portuguese people gave this their second highest mark at the second Festival da Canção qualifier last night. I could almost translate their rage. "What is this shit joke song by ugly middle-aged men in silly suits doing in my beautiful contest, and having the cheek to beat a nice lady in a big frock?!" Well hold onto that thought, because the lad Benvinda could still cause another upset.

Hugely popular from his days in the duo Virgem Suta, this South Portuguese troubadour is noted for his satirical takes on the mores of local life, and his plinky plonky pop song, written by his old band mate from the Suta and loosely translated as Bestial People, appeared to hit a chord with his nation's people last night - and also pretty strongly with a jury made up of seniors and songwriters, who surely appreciated the songwriter's craft more than the casual outsider ever would.

Were this song nestled away in the creases of Sanremo and sung by a handsome lad we'd all be going bonkers over it. But somehow we never seem to feel the same sentiment when it's coming from our cousins in the South West. And while I'd really prefer little Salvador to win next Sunday (if he's still alive), there's a part of me that thinks it would be hilarious if this distinctly local little ditty made it to a big international singing show.

Probably just me and the Portuguese then…

****STOP PRESS****

Good friends of Apocalypse, Pedro Sa and Sandra Nóbrega, have been so kind as to put me right on my slightly wonky assertations - the title standing not for Bestial People, but Amazing People for one - and translated the whole darned song for us. And that was no mean feat, according to those fine folks, as many of its finer points can only every really be understood by people who've lived in Portugal all their lives. A bit like me trying to explain Sleaford Mods to Americans. But if you want the best stab at understanding the lyric as best we can, take a look below. Cheers Pedro and Sandra! We really appreciate your efforts!


This is perfect, we are proper people
We have guts and we have done that much throughout the world
Namely and consequently
We have given many people, many things and such
We are little tufts, finally we did it
And besides what we wear everything about us draws attention
I lift the weather, the wine, Braga and the talent
To transform saudade in an export postcard

We are good people, genuine and different, swinging between being brave and a crying less bad
But mostly excluding some hair-triggers we are barely serious but we have a big heart
And coming from it we are amazing people

Since many years ago we are in the front row
We even facebook, giving our opinions is usual
I am aware that the genes of these people will survive and live beyond the Final Judgment
So I say not fearing any punishment
If not caring we are danger, in the rest there’s no exception
We are enormous, sometimes by the book
Other times in shapeless ways but with a mood

We are good people, genuine and different, swinging between being brave and a crying less bad
But mostly excluding some hair-triggers we are barely serious but we have a big heart
And coming from it we are amazing people

We are good people, genuine and different, swinging between being brave and a crying less bad
But mostly excluding some hair-triggers we are such a lucky people, we are amazing people
We are good people, genuine and different, swinging between being brave and a crying less bad
But mostly excluding some hair-triggers we are such a lucky people, we have real big lupin beans, it’s a shame that catches everything, Carnival replacing Shrovetide, barely serious and coming from it we are amazing people.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Romania 2017 - Eduard Santha – Wild Child


Romania offered us many delights tonight - including the most drop-outy stream known to man. But nothing was quite so knuckle-gnawingly entertaining as this. And oh boy did we gnaw!

You see, young Eduard here is a confident lad. So much so that you can see that he thought he only had to turn up to win it. But he made the common mistake of thinking that turning everything up to eleven was the only answer. From his chummy over-ennunciation of very last syllable, to the hardcore whistle interludes and that bloke banging a big of wood with some sticks, every last second was strained out like an especially difficult toilet visit.

But at the same time, we just couldn't keep our eyes off it. Every gurn, air grab and strangled lyric line drew us nearer to the screen (when it wasn't buffering), and as terrible as it was, it was still more entertaining than everything other than the yodellers - and still less embarrassing than Mihai.


Sweden 2017 - Loreen - Statements


So finally we get to see and hear the whole thing. A whole nation sat in thrall at the incredible stage show, but then voted for something else because they couldn't remember the tune. And hereby stand the problem.

In the real world this would have been a surefire success. You can picture this nestled in to a big stadium show, three quarters of the way through and just before the last run of big hits. The punters would have walked away and said "Euphoria was amazing, of course, but did you see that one with the flags and the handbag and the old lady? It really moved me that!" And that would have been its perfect placement.

But on a pop competition where your full three minutes count and you have to have visuals and song together in a perfect union of memorability? Not so much. And that's a sad thing, because this was a really bold and brave move. As a pure three-minute spectacle this is unlikely to be bettered for some time. But as an entry for Melfest - let alone the big show - it was perhaps a bit too intense and lacking in a memorable melodic hook.

Don't get me wrong, because I thought it was utterly splendid, and gazed with open mouth throughout. But I can quite see why it only scraped into the second chance round, now faced with the indignity of a piece of interesting art having to sing for its supper against a slew of other nearly wases. The juries will love it, of course. But will it even get that far?

Friday, 24 February 2017

Croatia 2017 - Jacques Houdek - My Friend (teaser excerpt)


These snippets keep sneaking out, and I'm surprised to say that I actually rather like this one. As a 20 second cut it offers drama, promise and some bonkers strings, a bit like if someone had dropped some dexys into ELO's tea. And it builds perfectly to a dead halt, where you just know a cheesy assed voice is about to come in and slow things down and damage all the magic.

So Croatia, this is my plea to you. Save yourself the trouble of some difficult press conferences and unwelcome Euroclub confrontations and just loop this bit nine times and send it to Kyiv. It'll be strangely mesmeric and hypnotise the masses (if they've got tickets) into some kind of dervish frenzy. It'll be fab!

Awkwardly it makes me wonder if this could actually be something of a half-decent song. But hopefully all this bluster is just the run up to a teaser video, where it builds and them he turns to the camera, his saccharine smile glinting in the spotlights before the actual dreary song begins. I hope so, because this has been one of our favourite 20 seconds of the season so far, and you wouldn't want him being actually good or anything…

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Sweden 2017 - Loreen - Statements (teaser)



Well if this isn't the teasiest of all known teasers. With practically all of the other Melfest song snippets this year you've got a pretty clear idea of how it's all going to turn out within a small handful seconds. Swedish songs are like that. Once you've picked up the groove you can take a fair guessat where it's going to end up.

Not this one though. Starting at what sounds like the actual beginning, it comes in all atmospheric, with Ms Talhaoui giving it her best meaningful vocal swirling, before it all gets a bit jagged and FKA Twigs for a second or two, then builds to a crescendo that tells you something interesting's about to happen...

And then, like the best peep shows it cuts off dead. Only this time there's no opportunity to stick another coin in the slot to raise the shutter.

So what's it going to be? The few people I've read that have heard it right through don't seem to have the musical language to describe it. One plucky trier called it punk, which makes me suspect that they've never heard punk and are only guessing. Another likened it to Nirvana. Again, I'm suspecting that they're a little far off the mark there. My suspicion in trying to translate what they think they mean is that it might have a guitar in it somewhere and get a big chuggy, but in a slightly disappointing mid tempo kind of way, judging by the build.

But please do surprise us pleasantly Lady Loreen, because I'd love the wayward guestimates to be right, just this once!

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Lithuania 2017 - Edgaras Lubys - Could It Be?


With the vast, brain-rotting complexity of the Lithuanian selection marathon, where they seem to be gradually weeding out all of the interesting ones so that Aiste can finally win the right not to qualify from her semi, it's easy to let the odd song slip unnoticed down the back of the sofa. But we're not entirely sure how this little gem passed us by.

The song itself is a standard mid tempo pop plodder of the sort that only ever seems to turn up in the early stages of this contest. But you won't notice that - not even the clearly-run-out-of-ideas lalala of the chorus. No, you'll be distracted from that by perhaps the silliest bout of dance moves of the entire season.

Well, when we say 'dance' we actually mean 'stiffly pratting about and mugging to the camera', but what an utterly delightful job he makes of it. When not literally translating some of the lyric into gestures, he stamps about like a broken meat android with a stiff neck, looking like he means every last gesture, although it's never quite apparent to the viewer what he actually did mean.

That this performance got to the seventh show of the process tells you everything about what a fantastic country Lithuania must be.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

UK 2017 - Twangdillo - Lay, Lay, Lay


A few more rejected public submission entries from the UK process are beginning to creep onto the darker recesses of YouTube, and this one caught the eye in may ways. Now this would be a lovely little jangly interlude if it was wafting out from the corner of a folk club in the woods, or used as incidental music at a Suffolk crystal convention. And you can't really fault either the nuanced playing of the ukuleles or the delicate vocal harmonies, delivered to perfect effect by three clearly talented people. But still, what were they thinking?

In fact, I'd love to know what they were thinking. Was it: "Hey, have you seen that they're asking for songs for the Eurovision? We've done so badly the last few years with all that pop nonsense, so what the nation needs to save us is three lovely people of a certain age to lilt out a smashing little homemade folksy melody at them. We're bound to win!"?

We might mock in our sophisticated knowingness, but imagine if someone at the BBC had taken a punt on them. Imagine if some that Saturday night in May, this New Forest threesome shuffled out onto that big glistening stage in Ukraine and warbled this out. Heck, I'm actually talking myself into this!

I mean, good heavens, that girl knows how to showbiz a tambourine, for starters!

But all of this makes you wonder just what kind of stuff the poor burghers of OGAE had to listen to in the quest to find a song that got rejected from the final shortlist. If, as I suspect, this little jangler represented a high water mark, you'll be able to guess who the lucky jurors were in Kiev with their thousand yard stares and slightly distracted expressions.

Still, at least they're not Swiss…


Sunday, 19 February 2017

Portugal 2017 - Salvador Sobral - Amar Pelos Dois


It's a rare event, and only happens maybe once or twice a year, maximum. But once in a blue moon a song will pop up on a national final that leaves both me an Mrs Apocalypse open-jawed and silent on the sofa. And it's never, ever happened via Portugal. Until tonight.

But in the first semi of the FDC, a young lad who appeared to have crawled out of a skip crept onto the stage unassumingly and captivated the pair of us with his angelic voice and idiosyncratic delivery. Every other act on the bill tonight was a singer reciting some words. Young Salvador here was an artist interpreting a vision, and what a beautiful job he did of it, too.

If they don't pick this lad to go to Kiev they want shooting. And if he doesn't even make it to the semi, I'm coming round to take all their first born after the next available flight. Seriously Portugal, this is your one golden hope from the last 20 years of trying. Do the sensible thing.

Ukraine 2017 - O.Torvald - Time


I missed the start of last night's Ukrainian qualifier, as I was out at a football match. But upon my return I had a list of messages telling me that I just had to see this song, without telling me quite why. This is often a good sign.

Slightly annoyingly I couldn't find a clip until just now, and oh boy am I glad I tracked it down. Because during this song something quite unique and powerful happens. And I'm not going to tell you what it is. But you'll thank me.

Else otherwise, this is a pretty serviceable indie rock song, with a very agreeable wigout bit in the middle that proves that they're not just pretty boys going through the poses. But it's the incident that elevates this above the masses. If this band are as big as their pre-vid suggests, their name could be written on their hometown trophy. Decent but diferent act who's going to make everyone sit up and take notice, but who are in no danger of winning? Surely that's the perfect host entry.

But in a nation where merely saying hello to your next door neighbour is a highly politicised act, are they really going to risk choosing this? I certainly hope so!

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Slovenia 2017 - United Pandaz and Arsello feat. Alex Volasko - Heart To Heart


****STOP PRESS****

United Pandaz seem to have removed all evidence of this event from the internets, the grumpy ursines. We'll let you know if it pops up again, meanwhile, try the link above now and again, just in case!


When we saw the act were going to be called United Pandaz, we never begun to imagine that there would be actual pandas on view. Well, they weren't ACTUAL pandas, but they were pretty decent representations, stood there all cool in their pop star military garb, waving tiny flags and having it large behind the decks.

And it was a bit of luck there was something to distract us from the tune, because it was even more similar to Swedish House Mafia's Don't You Worry Child than that Cascada somg from a couple of years back. But luckily for their lawyers they just about ducked out of every seventh note, therefore causing themselves any further worry.

Well, that and the fact that so few people liked it that it couldn't drag its bones to its own national final. I think it's probably for the best...

Friday, 17 February 2017

Slovenia 2017 - Tosca Beat - Free World


Well, I don't think anyone was expecting this. When Tosca Beat were announced as taking part in the Slovenian semis, we all assumed that it was going to be another slice of ill-advised popera that was doomed to early failure.

What we didn't reckon on was them suddenly becoming a post-industrial Laibach tribute act!

Surely this can't be an accident? Militaristic outfits, megaphones, situationist statements, stompy marching music and a deeper-than-mines voice croaking out between the high pitched choruses. It's Slovenia's biggest ever international musical export, toned down and made (slightly more) palatable for the Friday evening TV crowd. It was really quite the thing.

It wasn't actually all that good, lacking a bit in power and menace, but we still rather hope it does OK. And if Laibach don't mean anything to you, get yourself to YouTube immediately.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Sweden 2017 - Owe Thörnqvist – Boogieman Blues


This is what you want from Sweden. Less of your ever-dimishing Schlagerpop and sweary imps, give us more 87-year-old men mumbling out and old time pre-Elvis era rock and roll tune!

Just when you think Christer's going to let you down, he provides you with the goods. Can't wait to see this one live - if Owe makes it that far!

Poland 2017 - Rafał Brzozowski - Sky Over Europe


Now here's a proper oddity. I always love it when you, dear reader passes us on a tip, and good friend of the site Robyn G has uncovered a right doosy here. It starts off like a regulation man ballad, all pianos, plods and earnest angst, as you'd expect. But when it gets to about the minute mark you suddenly realise that this isn't another of those dozens of regulation love songs that try to crowbar references to Europe in as a way of luring the votes.

Oh no, because it all takes a considerably darker turn when you realise that it's quite possibly being sung in the voice of a refugee about to hop on a midnight boat to an uncertain, and quite possibly  short, future.

But even here it's not like the usual Save The World fodder, as it offers no hope or suggests no schmaltzy outcome. Instead it just leaves you hanging in the gloom, throughly depressed and hopeless, feeling like you've had a tiny part of torn out of you.

Gosh, we weren't expecting THAT at the start!

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Norway 2017 – In Fusion – Nothing Ever Knocked Us Over


Every years there's a couple of those songs that you really shouldn't find yourself enjoying, but you somehow just can't help yourself. And this is one of them. Admittedly I've always had a bit of a soft spot for 90s Europop singalongs, so I was always likely to be sucker punched by this one. But despite it having all the ingredients for a total disaster of a song, it somehow kinda works, despite itself.

I'm not sure if it's the Christmas chord changes, then Nordic nautical shanty-fuelled chorus, or the fact that I wouldn't fancy taking the band on in a fight, but it's crept under my skin and I just can't get it out. Anybody got any ointment?

One suspects that it'll be just that tad to cheesy for those serious Norwegians, but I wouldn't begrudge it a berth at the big show if it did somehow win. And those gals look like they are aware of what it is to party, too.