Things get interesting here. Can both my home nations qualify out of this group? Time can only tell.
Argentina: Telescopios – Hypers Haters
Nouveau yacht-rock about sworn enemies becoming friends from the very chill Argentine trio Telescopios. They’re playing at Lollapalooza Argentina this summer – I didn’t even know it was an international francise now.
England: Madonnatron – Goodnight Little Empire
Normally I try to get to UK bands *before* they’ve had airplay on 6Music, but Lauren Laverne played this song on the radio in the time between me selecting it and me writing this post. They’re committed to the glam, esoteric weirdness and that is something I will always recommend.
Japan: Billie Idle – 僕らまだちっぽけな頃の話 (BokePoke)
First off, the band name made me absolutely howl. Then I saw that they had a Youtube channel where they were apparently satirising the backstage videos that idol bands make. Then I found out that some of the gals in the band are actually former idol band members and that Billie Idle has definitely idol band like characteristics. Now I’m not so sure where the idol/idle line is drawn, but I’m having tremendous fun with it all.
Scotland: Slime City – Dial Up Internet Is The Purest Internet
It’s 6pm! It’s only a penny a minute to get online now. Prepare the ritual, let the modem scream and remember to log off and back on every 30 minutes. We used to absolutely put ourselves through it to get onto the internet back in the day, and Slime City are shoutily nostalgic about those golden days of ICQ and messageboards and the first life of the animated gif. As a beautiful bonus, the video and general aesthetic of the single recalls the halcyon days of Personal Computing. Get me back to that putty-coloured wonderland.
The competition is going at a faster rate than I am! Let’s get into Group C before they complete all their 2nd matches.
Australia: imbi the girl – I Used To
For Australia, please meet imbi the girl – she’s from Sydney and do poetic hip-hop with real charm and honesty. She talks about her non-binary femme identity, and how this informs her creativity and drive, in this really interesting interview with Gay Times.
Brazil: The Wax – Awaken In Drear
It’s probably quite obvious, when you look at how disempowering our current times are, that a resurgence in witchcraft was on the cards. The Wax are from São Paulo and describe the experimental synth music they play as witchdub. It’s as occult and atmospheric as you like. Awaken In Drear is their latest single, and you can check out their spooky performance videos on YouTube.
Italy: Romina Falconi – Magari Muori
A single featuring a funeral services company from the woman who brought us “Who’s Afraid of Gender?” . No, I have no idea what is happening here either. Well, I had a quick look at the lyrics and it’s exactly what you’d hope for from Romina: a huge middle finger of the darkest black humour possible over the lightest chartpop imaginable. Never change, delicious weirdo. Also, come back to Sanremo.
Jamaica: Diana King ft Princess Erika – L’Amour Illimité
When she spoke her truth on her FB page in 2013, Diana King became Jamaica’s only out musician. The legacy of British colonialism in the Caribbean meant that Jamaica had been left with restrictive laws and prejudice towards their LGBT citizens. In this lovely music video, Diana King and guest vocalist Princess Erika celebrate unlimited love in all its forms, out in public in Kingston. Diana’s career is going super well, and she’s also been posting on her Facebook page about the World Cup. Up the Reggae Girls!
We had such a good time with Group A that we’re back for more! Group B is sure to give us some thrills, so here’s various sorts of experimental music to give you accompanying chills.
China: Sabiwa – Xin de Shijian
It was all going so well with this one – but it turns out that Sabiwa is from Taiwan rather than PRC and…. it’s complicated. She’s signed to a label called ‘Chinabot’ and comes up tagged ‘china’ on Bandcamp and Spotify. I’m aware of the issue, but I think it’s worth posting the recommendation.
Starting off with a very nicely recorded set of unidentifiable wet sounds, Xin de Shijian develops into intense rattling bass and esoteric synthy noises. Sabiwa is an experimental audio-visual musician who is currently working in Berlin and at the time of writing was enjoying a lovely trip to Iceland, allowing me to dream of a worldwide hipster musician exchange program.
Germany: Panik Pop ft Nusja – Still
If you ever wondered what was exactly halfway between euphoric house and an ASMR guided meditation, then here we go. I don’t think you need to know very much about him, except that he started creating 140 bpm techno on a computer when he was 16. If you want to see him play the whole album on his keyboard, you can do that here.
South Africa: Toya Delazy – gQoma
She says that ‘gQoma’ means ‘it bangs’. Yes, this song bangs. We’ve heard from Toya before – her song Nu High represented South Africa back in 2016 – but here she is with something a bit more uncompromising and afropunk. I like Toya. YEAH.
Spain: Cora Novoa – State of Mind
Let’s all enjoy some pounding Galician techno from Cora Novoa. There’s some form of necromancy going on in the award-winning video and I think I like it. If you’re intrigued by Cora’s work, you might also enjoy this Chicks On Speed remix she did, oh and there’s this mind-bending odyssey on bandcamp too. DANCE.
What could be better than a themed post? What could be better than the return of GAME ON! It’s the Women’s World Cup. Let’s look at the countries in Group A. Also, probably because of the mood I’m in, I’ve ended up selecting four dreamily blissed out songs from female artists. Don’t worry. We’ll rock out soon.
France: Laetitia B – REGARDE
The hosts got off to a swashbuckling start against South Korea in the opening fixture, but maybe we should slow it down a little from that feverish tempo. There’s not much on the web about Laetitia B but the sweetly melodic REGARDE stopped me in my tracks, and I thought you ought to hear it.
Norway: Ulrikke – Cry
Football-wise, Norway are a formidable prospect even without the best footballer in the world, Ada Hedeberg. Ulrikke has had one go at MGP in 2017 with Places and she did Stjernekamp in 2018, so I am not crazy to think she might be back at some point. Anyway, here’s her most recent single Cry. If you like a bit of talk-singing and also a selection of the coldest burns (“I’ll be making money off this song about you and me”) then this is the bad gal for you.
Nigeria: Lady Donli – Cash
The Super Falcons came into the tournament joyful and looking sharp, and even though the first game didn’t go their way, I hope they can turn it round so I can share some Lagos sounds. Lady Donli is from Abuja and her developed from delicate early poetry experiments to blissful party soul with a sharp satirical undercurrent.
South Korea: Universe Mongae – loveistheonlyanswer
I bet you thought you’d be getting a blast of K-Pop. Not a chance. You’re getting a blast of slightly weird off-kilter indie K-electropop. (If you want some K-Pop I would say that the extraordinary BlackPink are my absolute faves). Universe Mongae makes dreamy pop music in her bedroom studio – in fact the whole thing is quite bedroom-oriented. Her EPs are Room: Day and Room: Night. The whole thing is lovely, particularly This Night. I look forward to hearing more.
Last year, Eurovision was full of memes. We had yeah yeah fire, Moldovan bedroom farce, Eugent clapping, and the whole thing was won by a heady memetic froth of maneki neko and chicken noises.
This year, who will generate the most meme power?
Top Ten Songs with Meme Potential
Hatrið mun sigra – Hatari (Iceland): They’ve been memeing their way around since as long as they’ve been a band, and their Eurovision campaign has been dense with giffable moments and carefully constructed reaction pic moments. Look at them go. Woah.
Spirit In The Sky – Keiino (Norway): Tom. Hugo’s. Wig. We can only pray sincerely that they bring the wigs to the big stage because that would set the whole confection of ridiculousness. And that Fred gets some antlers too.
Say Na Na Na – Serhat (San Marino): Is Serhat himself 100% meme at this point?
Friend of a Friend – Lake Malawi (Czech Republic): From ‘she was my neeeeeybaaah’ to ‘only a friend’ to the infinite cascade of ‘friend of a friend of a friend of a friend’ to the instagram themed official vid, they know their meme.
Telemoveis – Conan Osiris (Portugal): You glue the spoons to your face.
Bigger than Us – Michael Rice (UK): Not only is wee Ricey participating in his own rice-based memefication, but the call and response of bigger (BIGGER) is quite memey. I also have to report having seen the ‘It’s Coming Home’ meme being used.
Zero Gravity – Kate Miller-Heidke (Australia): ok so she might be ditching the spikey high frock and the dementor, but I am sure they’ll produce something eye-popping and mind-bending.
Never let it be said that I don’t have feelings. In fact, I like feelings and have on occasion experienced some of the most popular ones. Here are my Top Ten ESC 2019 songs that engage the valves of my emotion organ. <3
Top Ten Songs for Feelings
Telemoveis – Conan Osiris (Portugal): Now if you want a 3 minute abstract musical about the alienation and loneliness of modern app-mediated life then here you go.
Soldi – Mahmood (Italy): Because families are complicated and so are Mahmood’s feelings.
Sebi – Zala & Gasper (Slovenia): Love is a feeling, right?
Ktheju Tokes – Jonida Maliqi (Albania): This is HUGE and because it got selected so incredibly long ago I feel like everyone is overlooking it. Why wouldn’t beautifully sung portentous trip hop make you feel something?
Zero Gravity – Kate Miller-Heidke (Australia): Because depression is a bastard, and this song sounds like when you realise you might be feeling better and you can do things again.
Kruna – Nevena Bozovic (Serbia): I really respected the costume choices at Beovizija and I can get behind a classy ballad.
Bigger Than Us – Michael Rice (UK): I really feel for poor doomed Mikey Rice. Protect him.
Limits – Paenda (Austria): This is barely there as a record, all it is is emotion and a garnish of synths)
Hatrið Mun Sigra – Hatari (Iceland): If love is a feeling, then hate is a feeling too. Although tbh this song makes me feel a lot more of the former than the latter.
Arcade – Duncan Laurence (The Netherlands): The finest of this year’s emoting boys
(bubbling under: Joci Papai, John Ludvik, On a Sunday, Roi)
It’s the weekend and my thoughts turn to love. Which of this year’s Eurovision contenders do I think set the most romantic mood?
Top Ten Songs for Romance
Sebi – Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl (Slovenia): This is just a beautiful heartfelt moment for lovers everywhere. I am so glad we get to have it at Eurovision. It’s a mood, it’s an astral projection into a moment where it’s just the two of you.
Hatrid mun sigra – Hatari (Iceland): Pants off, harnesses on, and away you go. Just make sure you’re not first cousins, please.
Telemoveis – Conan Osiris (Portugal): Ok, so the song is actually quite sad, it’s about the essential loneliness of modern life as even our most intimate relationships become mediated by mobile phones. Put down your phone and look deep into your lover’s eyes. Feel the mutant fado move through your bodies.
Replay – Tamta (Cyprus): My heart actually does beat like an 808 – it originated in the 1980s, it is still in use to this day and hopefully has a few more decades in it yet. But yes, this is quite sexy. Also the video contains FLAGRANT breaches of workshop and welding health and safety. Unacceptable.
Better Love – Katerine Duska (Greece): Everyone deserves better love. Give it to each other.
Friend of a Friend – Lake Malawi (Czech Republic): Ok, now this is going to get meta. You could be making looooove, with Lake Malawi asking you if you can hear the people next door at it too. Maybe you are the people next door? Maybe you’re only a friend. Can you make this song make any sense?
That Night – Carousel (Latvia): This one has crept up on me. I never actually start my Eurovision playlist with it, but I am appreciating the tender coffee-shop country vibe. It’s lovely and sad.
Limits – Paenda (Austria): It’s not quite the full Sebi, but it’s still got a nice romantic chill out vibe.
Bigger Than Us/Too Late For Love – Mikey Rice/John Ludvik (UK/Sweden): Every young love affair needs a big rousing boy band ballad to be Your Song. This is a bit of a choose your own adventure. Will you take the one with the key change or the electric interchange with the backing singers? Will you take the slick popstar or the lad from down the market? It’s up to you.
Heaven – D mol (Montenegro): Sometimes love is cheesy. It just is.
I’m still none the wiser about who is going to win the big show in May, but I do like to dance. In today’s alternative Eurovision reviews, we are taking to the dancefloor and getting ready to shake it.
Top Ten Songs To Dance To
Telemoveis – Conan Osiris (Portugal): Whether you dance like a sinuous djinn or like a crash test dummy falling down some stairs, this song wants you to move like you have never moved before. Be careful not to dislocate a hip, and don’t attempt the death drop without a warm up. I find the groove irresistable.
Chameleon – Michaela Pace (Malta): I am always going to give it a go to the old pineapple-infused post-dancehall beat. Of this year’s Fuegalike contenders, this has the cheekiest drop. I like that drop a lot: it’s a bit like a very low swanny whistle and also has a cheek pop, just to assist with the bottom moving. The build to the final “Give me [noun], I’m a [noun]er” bridge is also smashing. Put it on Spotify though, babes?
She Got Me – Luca Hänni (Switzerland): 2nd in our line-up of Fuegalikes. Suspect B has less of a post-dancehall theme in the verses, it doesn’t really kick off and make you wind your body until the pre-chorus. All our Fuegalikes have drops instead of choruses of course, but I think the ‘dirty dancing’ chant is probably the most chorus-like of our drops. If you get me.
Replay – Tamta (Cyprus): Only just behind the other two Fuegalikes, and probably just because it’s less novel to me. I am ready to gie it laldy to this on any dancefloor you care to put me on.
Spirit In The Sky – Keiino (Norway): Schlagerjoik was made for the dancefloor.
Hatrid mun sigra – Hatari (Iceland): When you and the rest of the Hatari cult are performing your 110bpm quasi-sexual gyrations, be very careful not to get tangled up in each other’s gear.
La Venda – Miki (Spain): It’s not so much of a dance as a joyous pogo, but I’m there.
Ktheju tokës – Jonida Maliqi (Albania): Dancing isn’t all slut drops and bum wiggles – sometimes you need a good old gothy waft. Jonida has that for you. Although I would imagine that the nightcore version would work even better. (I was right)
Say Na Na Na – Serhat (San Marino): Sail away in the disco loving arms of our favourite Turkish light entertainer and Billboard Dance Chart superstar.
Friend of a Friend – Lake Malawi (Czech Republic): If you’re dancing hard enough, you can hear neither the lyrics nor the accent.
I’m having a bit of a problem with Eurovision this year. Well, I’m having a few problems with Eurovision this year but let us, for the moment, stick to the songs. My problem is this: at some point during national final season, I stopped caring. A bunch of internal selections were coming out all at once and I just ran out of damns to give.
My Eurovision season has probably already peaked. It peaked in a handball arena in Reykjavik where I and several thousand pre-teen Icelanders cheered Hatari to victory in Songvakeppnin. I have never before been somewhere that it felt like children might riot. It was really intense. I don’t think even the actual contest in May is going to be that good.
So, in an attempt to shake things up for myself I am changing my review criteria for this year and giving you ten Top 10 lists from the ESC 2019 songs. First up…
Top 10 ESC 2019 songs that sound good in the car:
Hatrið mun Sigra – Hatari (Iceland): When I am driving and the first crunchy bits of intro synth start, I am immediately excited. Huh! It makes me feel like a really cool demon, even though I’m going home via Lidl and I’m wearing a corporate polo shirt. I feel like I’m wearing shades underneath my skin. I feel empowered and a bit naughty. I feel like my Honda Jazz might suddenly sprout spikes and prongs and I might be able to go all Mad Max as I cruise majestically across the Erskine Bridge.
La Venda – Miki (Spain): Here mainly because yelling ‘LO QUE ERE-ERE-EH feels very, very good indeed. And also it’s helping me with my Spanish pronunciation.
Soldi – Mahmood (Italy): This is such a cool, cool song. For some reason the bass on the version on Spotify has immense, immense presence. It’s not the best Eurovision related song for bass; that would have to be Vidlik by Onuka – the ravey 2017 interval act – which makes all the plastic trim on the dashboard rattle and the windows vibrate. Soldi is not quite that, but it’s close.
Zero Gravity – Kate Miller-Heidke (Australia): In the car, no-one can hear you doing the opera bits. Right? Plus, as I fail to avoid the potholes on the dissolving road surface of Byres Road, I get the e-e-e-e- bits just right.
Ktheju Tokes – Jonida Maliki (Albania): I love a bit of portentous wailing and huge bass, so this is a surefire, mystical hit.
Spirit In The Sky – Keiino (Norway): You had better believe that I joik along with gusto and chant He lå he loi la with reckless abandon.
Better Love – Katrina Duska (Greece): It’s expansive, positive, and contains some excellent hooting vocals, which are well suited for the car.
Replay – Tamta (Cyprus): That fuego beat is great for chair dancing, and I love the great, great line ‘Heart beats like an 808’. As you drive along, ponder what happened to the rule about not mentioning specific commercial products. Then forget it. Jon Ola did, so you can too.
Say Na Na Na – Serhat (San Marino): This blast of positivity from Serhat will help you on your way wherever you are going.
Sebi – Zala & Gasper (Slovenia): Not all driving needs to be the sharp-elbowed horror of commuting down a motorway. This is a late night drive with your sweetie, and you’re almost home.
Bonus songs conspicuously absent from the Top 10:
Michaela Pace’s Chameleon, which they have managed to not put on Spotify yet and no-one commutes with YouTube on, Malta.