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!