Monday, 22 January 2018

Lithuania 2018 - Twosome - Hello

You know how every now and again a song comes along that makes you wonder if it's just you that doesn't see it - or maybe it's everybody that has lost their minds. This is my personal Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers moment of the year so far.

For years we've been ready to mock those who hamfistedly attempt to curry favour with the regions by trying to crowbar as many references to the nations of Europe as they can cram onto the back of a fag packet - usually managing to slip in a couple of grumpy countries who don't play this game any more while they're about it. But immediately after this lumpy little ditty got tired of itself and ground to a halt on Saturday night, some kind of collective brain fever began to spread across the continent.

As first it was the crowd, who gave it way more of an ovation that it merited. Then came the judges, who were somehow hypnotised into giving it an unfeasibly high set of votes, before this uncanny kind of social disease started spreading across wider fandom, and people who really ought to know better began to tip it for greater things.

Hang about, am I missing something here? Are we talking about the same song? To my dusty old eyes and ears all I could see was some kind of rag week lark, with a bunch of student pals seeing how far they could take this wheeze before they got found out. Not event the unexpected incursion at 1:30 could muster more than a seen-all-these-things-before sigh from my one good lung. Seriously people? Have we all forgotten Somewhere In Europe? Let's not forget history, people. You know how that can end up!

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Ukraine 2018 - Dilemma - Na Party

A Twitter account purporting to be something to do with something in Ukraine has just claimed that this song is going to take up a berth in their national selection process. And we couldn't be happier here at Apocalypse. You may have spotted our general liking for a good spot of Slavic language hip pop with a bit of a swing in it, and this one certainly fits our bill to a tee.

OK, so there's just a smudge of objectification in the video, but that's sadly par for the course in such things these days. But at the same time, it doesn't seem to take itself too seriously, and gives frequent knowing winks to its own ludicrousness throughout. Oh, and we were rather taken by the plushy puppy bossing the boys about too.

It's also another mob who like to send a gentle nod to those Zef warriors Die Antwoord, and that's never a terribly bad thing in our book. So settle in and get your nod on for three minute party on your sofa. What do you mean you don't like rap? Keep up pops! You wait 'til the first attempts at grime start filtering through!

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Armenia 2018 - Gata Band - Shogha

In theory, Armenia's slow release tactic for the gradual unveiling of the Depi Evratesil songs could have been a classy move. The day-by-day declarations could, in the right hands, have added quite some tension and excitement to proceedings - had the songs actually been any good. But each new day engendered further disappointment, as act after act offered up some reasonably underwhelming offerings.

Hot favourite Asmik started brightly, but swiftly turned the clock back to TOTP 1994 for a good old Alex party, Arman smouldered, but failed to take the Coldplay stickers off his slowed down chorus, and even the generally reliable Kamil reduced the promise of some astounding tomfoolery to get another post-Despacito reggaeton plodthrough - albeit with more hooty shouting that usual. So thank heavens for the fabulous Gata Band, who are mashing up the styles like some shipwrecked castaway who can only play the records that get washed up on the beach after a plane crash.

Kicking off with some pleasingly earthy folk vocals, when the music finally drops it brings in a quite unexpected low slung West Coast hop hop electronic bassline to the rustics, and just as you're about to get bored of the spectacle kicks, the tooty horn punctuates its farmyard groove, before goes all proggy and starts messing with the beat signatures. This isn't a song, it's a shopping list for a blasting night out in old Vagharshapat. This clearly won't pick up too much love among the rank and file of Eurovision fandom, but it's going to be stuck on our internal jukebox for the rest of the month at least. If I don't keep tripping over the beats, that is.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Moldova 2018 - Denny Feyton - Maybe It's Love

The full list of Moldovans is finally out, and there's a lot of familiar faces on view. Mr Bognibov, of course, is his usual magnificent self, and Tudor Bumbac still feels like he's wondered away from his grandaughter's wedding and ended up in an unfamiliar laundrette. Doinita sounds less Doinita-ish with each passing year, sadly, and dear Felicia is having one more go at coming four. Even dear old Che-MD have reattended with their folklore hardcore diminishing returns. But this year's folk hero is an entirely new face.

Denny Feyton sounds like one of those names call centre workers from some far flung shore make up to try to convince you they're not foreign, and if anything the song sounds like he hastily made it at work between exploratory chats to potential new double glazing customers. In the disabled toilet.

But what it lacks in cohesion and quality it more than makes up for in spirit, and he meanders his way through an approximate tune with much aplomb. And a year of only minimal entries (because everyone knows that DoReDos have probably bought this anyway), maybe we could be seeing at least a couple of our regular faves in the final this time. Well, we assume they're not going to have a set of semis. Although imagine how much fun that might be!

Monday, 15 January 2018

Norway 2018 - Stella & Alexandra - You Got Me

Talk about a game of two halves. Rarely before has there been a song in the old MGP that raised you to such hopes in the verse and build, only to whip the rug out from beneath you with such a vanilla pop chorus. Stella you'll remember in her Mwangi form and that disappointment in DΓΌsseldorf. Alexandra you may just remember from her showing in Junior a year earlier. And together they make a curious blend.

Stella kicks things off with a rollicking steamboat of a two beat stomp, bringing in soft notes of Swingfly and Pump Up The Jam, and spitting out the lines with glorious attitude. It builds to what should be the chorus of your life, but instead, sadly, tips over the edge into a saccharine-sweet and whiter-than-white confection, kind of like that marshmallow fluff you can buy in jars in American-themed sweet stores.

It's almost as if they're recalibrating the Northern European sensibility briefly after all that exotic promise at the start, not quite wanting to risk going the whole hog after what they've come to call, in hushed tones and smokey rooms, "the last time". Perhaps I'm being just a slight to cynical, but unless they've got a smashing little mismatched-kids-having-a-lark schtick planned for the live show, I really kind of wish they'd let our Stella have the whole song to herself - and that's no disrespect to dear Alexandra here, as she does a sterling job with shat she's been given. It just doesn't have the pure dang along ling long as the good bits.

Yep, a pure curate's egg of a tune.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Romania 2018 - Gabriela Garlonta – Dor De Lisabona

There's been some rare treats coming out of Romania already, and I think we've got ourselves a new hero. If you're looking for emotive, minimal and utterly, sweetly terrifying, meet Gabriela here. But don't do what I did and watch it for the first time just before going to bed.

For what seems like a sparse arrangement on initial viewing, is actually and earworm made of steel that burrows its way into your brain and refuses to leave. And for a performance that is more delightful monologue that actual true song, that's really quite surprising.

It turns out that in among all that acting and la-la-la business, there's a really touching story hiding in the creases, about her lifelong infatuation with a lad she met in Portugal, and how she longs for Lisbon. It really is quite a watch, so thanks to our good friends at ESCGo for tipping us the nod!

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Romania 2018 - Dorel Giurgiu - Seek The Peace

He's back! And this time it's musical. Yep, last year's synth pop superhero has chanced his arm in Romania again, and this time there was even less than before. Yes, this time Dorel has eschewed the wordy approach and kept the words down to an absolute minimum, and has only treated us to mere wisps of his traditional dancing magic. But it's still a rare treat to behold.

Last year we weren't sure if he was straight up or a really bizarre comedy act. But a little research has told us that he is indeed a deeply spiritual man who truly believes in the message that he is bringing to the masses. He may be a little greyer of beard than last time round, but his rabbit-in-the-headlights delivery is still bang on point, and the touchingly warm reception that he received from the audience in the hall shows you what a generally nice bunch the Romanians are.

One suspects that he won't make it through, but we're so glad that he takes the time and effort to entertain us every year.

Belarus 2018 - Shuma - Chmarki

Of course, Belarus wasn't entirely about the friki stuff, and there were some proper gems hiding in among the wonky thirty second kids. And this one even managed to come right out of left field and battle their way to the final eleven. And as ridiculously pleased as we are we're still pretty surprised, as it could be seen as a smudge difficult to the more regular ear.

A sparse, educated spot of deep electronica, it floats about edgily, before kicking into one heck of a groove, and some glorious laid back warbling. It's the kind of thing that you'd expect to come from the Baltics or maybe even Belgium at a push, so it's extra refreshing to see this style permeating into the lesser expected nations.

A quick flick through their YouTube videos suggests that they could offer up quite the show, too. So although those in the know reckon it's Alexseev's to win, this understated little marvel should lively up the Belarussian final just lovely. And we just can't wait to see it.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Belarus 2018 - Various Artists - Premature Evacuations

Anyone following the live auditions in Minsk yesterday will have witnessed a fabulous display of grumpy jury behaviour. While the first few performances where getting a full listen, the more, how shall we say, esoteric performances were soon getting down to a single verse/chorus rotation. But as the afternoon went on they were getting more and tetchy, with some poor performers (in both senses of the word) barely getting a full thirty seconds before earning the dreaded terse "Spasiba!".

So today we celebrate the less fortunate performers from Belarus. The ones who weren't as popular, didn't have a relative on the Politburo, or were just plain shocking.

People like the beardsome Barber, up at the top of the page there. He managed to drag his performance out to a full minute, but possibly because the jurors weren't entirely sure what they were seeing, and, well, what a dancer!

Sometimes you can see the exact point that the jury lose their patience. Witness poor Tamara Savenka here. Her over-annunciated delivery and curious diction and did still hold the attention for a while. But the second she started on the whoa whoa's she was gone.

Repeat offender Ludmila Rozyam tried a new tactic of singing in German, and wasn't deterred when they turned the music off. The game old girl just kept singing. And then they shut her mic off. Bless.

We reckon group AirBY here only got as long as they did because the judges wanted to see if the one in the middle actually did anything. Best song title of the day, too!

Poor Vadim Simonov didn't get long. But he did appear to be just reading his shopping list, or commentating on a greyhound race.

To be fair, we reckon that little Uletai here was doomed before he began.

Likewise Andrei Beikov here. At least he got to play a bit of nice jangly guitar. But only allowing him two lines of vocal was brutal!

You can tell the judges have had enough by this point. This was unfortunate for Andrei Eronin, who despite looking the part, hit one bad note early on and was out of there. Bad luck mate.

Sometimes though you're actually on the jury's side. In fact, we think they were being rather kind giving Maria Tserepobits as much as 30 seconds. We wonder is she's still as happy as her song title suggests?

 But our absolute hero of the whole event has to be Anna Mitina. After betting the big boot after a meagre 25 second, she met the Spasiba man with a steely "Niet!", before having a proper little row with the faceless jury people - words that we suspect were to the effect of "But you haven't heard the good bit yet!" Good on you girl!

To all of the above mentioned, plus the many, many more who fell by the wayside, we salute you. You are the true heroes of Eurovision, and we cherish every one of you!

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Belarus 2018 - Janet & Yuri Davidyuk - Rhapsody Of Eurovision

It's been an alarmingly quiet year for pure Apocalypse gold this year. So let's thank Janet & Yuri here for this utterly batshit audition.

I won't say much about it, I'll just let the pictures do the talking. But man alive this is splendid!

Belarus 2018 – Egor Luts – Somewhere

The Belarussian open auditions are taking place as we speak, and it's the usual joyous parade of the hopeful and the hopeless, shuffling onto the stage like nervous puppies and doing their thing. But boy the judges are brutal this year.

In the past they've let the singers get well into their songs before the metaphorical shepherd's crook comes onto the stage to drag them off. But this year the dreaded disembodied "Spasiba" can come at any time - and quite often the best you'll get is a verse, a chorus and a hasty retreat.

Witness poor Mr Luts here. He was a rabbit in the headlights before he got going. But his flimsy voice and terrified disposition didn't enamour him to the judges, and he took the quickest exit so far. And he won't be the most hapless of the performers today, believe you me. We shall keep you posted.

Monday, 8 January 2018

Lithuania 2018 – Godo – Fire Fountain

The Baltics have really got a handle on this minimal electronica business. Estonia have been quietly going about it for years now, but it's been Aminata-era Latvia who've really taken it up a step and turned it almost into a genre of its own. So it's nice to see that their slightly less successful neighbours downstairs have finally decided to give it a go with some understated sounds of their own.

But never ones to knowingly undersell a song, young Godo here twitches and gyrates her way through this sparse song like she was at a rave where the records keep jumping. Festooned in binbag-alike garb, plus those gloves that vets use to check the inside of bovine livestock, she captivates from the word go right until the slightly unsettling unexpected ending.

And wrapped around her laid back binkbonk of a backing track, her slightly folksy vocal melody may be slightly reminiscent of the Carter-Cash family's Ring Of Fire in places, but that scarcely matters as she turns all the ingredients into something entirely her own, and fully deserved what became the biggest vote rush of the night. We're not sure that this song has got the legs to go too much further in the contest, but we wouldn't begrudge seeing her sing it a few more times along the way.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Lithuania 2018 – Justin 3 – Born To Be Wild One

The interminable and convoluted Lithuania process began last night, and as usual we're not entirely sure what's going on. Thirteen songs of variable may have been whittled down to five or six last night. But we're sure that some of them will be back, and that a song that we never remember having heard throughout the entire three month process will win the final by a mile. But it's these early stages that we enjoy the most, as among all the balladeeering and wobbly pop singing, we're always guaranteed a bit of the strange. And indeed we got that from the very first song.

This little lot seemed like an unlikely opener at first. A sweet-faced boy with a willowy voice battling a mid-tempo pop rock plodder with a couple of mates and a girl who could actually sing. And that's not to mention the curious grammar throughout. But wait, what's that drummer doing in the background? He's rather overplaying his mime a little. Hang about, where's his kit? Oh that's it, over there... behind him?

So what happened here then? Was it merely a bit of ill-advised stage tomfoolery, designed to catch the attention of over attentive freaks like us? Or did his over enthusiastic drumming action cause too much clicking on his unplugged electronic kit, which you could hear over the singing lad's mic? We suspect the second, as he gave one of his big plasticky cymbals a big, grudgeful whack at the end, and I swear I could actually hear it in real life, not just down my dodgy internet feed.

Whichever it was, it was a fitting start to a competition that I suspect hasn't given us our last spot of the sillies.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Norway 2018 - Ida Maria - Scandilove

Rumour time! We can't vouch for the voracity of this spot of news, but we have heard it coming from a couple of different directions, so we seriously hope it's true. And if you've ever come across our Ida before, you'll be in the same gang as us.

She first leapt to international attention about ten years back with her fabulously bouncy indie pop singalong I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked, and her cracked, earthy vocal, doubled with her chirpy, cheeky, knockabout songs have been wowing the more alt tinged pop spotters on-and-off ever since.

Up to now she's always been an unlikely wishlister for us, but if this all-too-short sample of gloriously ramshackle bit of New York loft party funky pop is a real life MGP contender, then we really can't wait to hear the whole thing. 2018 just got very interesting.


The full song has dropped and it's an absolute beauty. Take everything I said in the above micro review, and add some cracked humour, a tongue rammed firmly in cheek, and the best rolled rrrrrrs outside of Die Antwoord. At to that a dirty turn of phrase and a genius talky bit in the middle eight and you have Apocalypse perfection. Sadly I can't see it winning, but at least we can keep it to ourselves like a glorious mucky secret. It's going to take a lot to knock this out of my top five this year. Heck, I swoon!

Friday, 29 December 2017

Romania 2018 - Lion's Roar - Rekindle The Flame

To be fair I'm surprised we've gone this far into the process before our first spot of symphonic metal, but boy is this one a doosie! It's got all the ingredients - chugging, middle-of-the-road guitars, staccato keyboards pretending to be strings, and a post-trauma libretto about getting everything back on track again and coming back stronger than ever. Yep, every genre trope is suitably ticked off the list in double quick time. But then there's the singer.

We can't quite work out if he's a rock singer with operatic pretensions, or a tenor who never quite made the grade, but he's not so much fallen between two stools as slipped down the back of the radiator just a little bit too far to hook out with your nan's longest knitting needle. To be fair to the lad though, I think it's the song that's giving him issues.

For a start, there's far too many syllables for a song of this tempo, which leaves him all a bit one-notey and breathless, trying to catch up with himself. For another, it scans like it was meant for reading more than singing, which again can give a boy heckish delivery difficulties. But we shouldn't mock. The thumbnail of the band on the TVR website makes them look earnest and intense, so we're bound to be in for an Apocalypse-worthy performance one way or another. We just hope there's candles. And flames. Lots of flames. Mind your hair though, fellas. There's a reason that Rammstein have all got shorn locks.