Moving south to Latvia, we’re keeping the sun-drenched, stretched-out vibe going with Like You – a collaboration between retrowave synth revivalists Kasetes and beautifully be-mulletted experimental art/music/concepts icon MNTHA.
I’ve been meaning to show you Nova Twins for ages! Amy and Georgia are from London and play very gnarly hip hop punk with hard hitting basslines and a pleasingly gobby attitude. You will want to be in their gang, be like them when you grow up and want to go out and scare loads of square boys with them. Hit Girl is a single from 2018, but you might also enjoy Bassline Bitch or Mood Swings.
I’m always going to be a bit week for a bit of Nordic pop, especially if it’s got the propulsive Cloudbusting stabs in the chorus and an overall air of chilly lunar beauty. So please enjoy Sweden’s STORME and wrap up warm while you stargaze. The last fingers of winter are still gripping the night.
I’m instantly drawn to Serwah Amoakohene’s 90s-ish Hypnotize which is in with a chance of representing Ghana, but if you want something a bit more serious there’s Water Time Bomb which is also quite a tune.
There’s a tentative link-up between this contest and the European version – the winner of the Afrimusic 2018 contest, Symphony, performed in the Eurovillage during the Lisbon contest.
Let’s get back into the music recommendations with a love story between two upsettingly beautiful people. Let’s start with Emma Smetana. She was born in Prague, spent her childhood in Paris, studied European Affairs at the Sciences Po in Paris and International Relations in the Free University of Berlin. She returned to the Czech Republic where she worked as a journalist and TV news anchor. She’s also a stage and film actress and since 2012 she’s expanded her remit to include producing sultry pop music. Truly, she’s an impressive woman.
Her other half, Jordan Haj, is an Israeli/Palestinian/Czech actor and musician. He’s got his own band – Peter Pan Complex – but I think that you’re going to find the duets with Emma more compelling.
Lost and Found is the kind of chemistry-first duet I love. They’re sharing a mic! Their bands are duelling! They’re smouldering at each other! Jordan’s wounded roar contrasts amazingly with Emma’s smooth purr, as they wonder what putting so much of their lives on display costs them. The haunting 1960’s vibe
Trixie Whitley is a Belgian American pop artist from Ghent whose new single Heartbeat goes on a voyage through multi-layered trip hoppy cascading melodies. The accompanying album will be her 4th – I can’t believe I’d never been introduced to her music before because it is exactly my sort of thing.
For what is surely going to be one of my favourite matches of the tournament (thrilling Brazil finally getting going vs Belgium who could etch a new name on the trophy!) let’s have some of my favourite genres and two incredibly stylish black and white videos.
For Brazil, I present B-movie surf-rock from the Hitchcocks. Their video for It’s Alive looks super cool on a super low budget, and they rock all the way to the outer limits.
For Belgium, I have found some female-fronted heavy vaguely occult rock, which is basically my favourite thing in the whole world. Light some incense, inscribe a pentagram (if you’ve had the correct training) and enjoy Black Mirrors tear it up on their song Günther Kimmich.
Phoneme-wise, it’s been a wee while since we’ve had a double ‘sw’ match in the knockout stages of the World Cup. In fact, since Swaziland have renamed themselves to eSwatini, this is now your only option.
For Sweden, home of sophisticated space age synth pop, we have some incredible throwback Italo disco from Carino Cat.
For Switzerland, home of the world’s largest particle accelerator, we have some ambient electro with absolutely fantastic sci-fi artwork.