Not many left now!
For France, Illy Baze sonically shows us what Serhat thought he was trying to do. The visuals are interesting too: contrasting moody bisexual lighting on a deserted dancefloor with the quotidian details of the blessed Thérése herself. His album is pretty special too – cosmic themes and ASMR noises turn up on Extrateresse and Oumamama, named after the unknown space object moving through our solar system.
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.
A quick one for Norway vs Belgium!
Norway: IRL by Hanna Hukkelberg
A lovely bit of relaxed, off-centre ambient pop with all sorts of fabulous percussive noises.
Belgium: I Know by Low Land Home
Expansive and gravelly-voiced 80s sounding indie pop (in a good way)
The marvellous people of Wales are doing us proud in the football and also in the musical world. Did you expect to be listening to some hot New Orleans-style Welsh language brass band hip hop tonight? Neither did I, but do enjoy Band Pres Llaregub.
For Belgium we have something slightly more conventional, in the shape of Liege band Hollywood Porn Stars who are back from a long break with some new wavey indie rock.
Nythod Cacwn – Band Pres Llareggub [Funky Welsh language hip hop via New Orleans]
Be Scared – Hollywood Porn Stars [Angular, paranoid new wave indie rock]
We’ve not had a lot of rockabilly around. Maybe I’ll have to have a special rockabilly week later on in the year? Until then, enjoy Hungary’s The Silver Shine and Belgium’s Adios Pantalones. Adios Pantalones? Yes, Adios Pantalones.
Anyhow – The Silver Shine [Female fronted rockabilly with nice, g]
Rockabilly Riot – Adios Pantalones [A bit of the old psychobilly for you. You should know what to expect]
And the final match of the group stages is between Sweden, a country where I’d already got a totally acknowledged love of their pop scene and Belgium, a country whose pop scene is new to me and with which I’m totally enraptured.
For Sweden we have the wonderful, celebratory sound of Ida Redig’s Du är bäst which is like a sort of energetic piano cover of a mid-nineties inspirational house song, with all the heart-swelling emotion and danceability that implies.
For Belgium we have the smokey and slick modern pop of Alice On The Roof, which meanders beautifully and insistently into your brain.
Du är bäst – Ida Redig [Uplifting hands-in-the-air stuff with a big heart]
Lucky You – Alice On The Roof [Adorably polished modern pop music]
It’s Belgium vs Ireland and I’m going to introduce you to the biggest star you’ve not yet heard of.
Stromae is MASSIVE in Benelux and France. Seriously, look how many views Tous les mêmes has and boggle at how this is the first you’re hearing of him. Anyway, he can sing, he can dance, he looks good in and out of drag, what more is there for a pop star to achieve?
From Ireland we’ve got a really good band who play big band Jamaican ska, Interskalactic. They have such a lovely retro sound and they just seem happy.
Tous les mêmes- Stromae [Extraordinarily accomplished gender pop with amazing physicality]
Simmer Down – Interskalactic [The sunny sound of ska, authentically and enthusiastically interpreted]
We’re back in modern electropop land once more for Belgium vs Italy. Belgium have a song called Hurts, by SX, which I am taking as prima facie evidence that FKA Twigs sold at least one album in the Benelux region, and Italy have a song called Maniaca by Romina Falconi, who sounds like an interesting broad.
Hurts – SX [Impressively restrained hypermodern electropop]
Maniaca – Romina Falconi [Vivacious, theatrical electropop]