A Very Listen Outside Eurovision

There’s so much more to say after two amazing weeks of music and friendship in Kyiv, but one of the things that struck me was how ‘listen outsidey’ the show was this year. All our non-English language songs qualifying for the Grand Final, our amazing winners Salvador Sobral and Luisa Sobral (we should start giving more credit to the songwriters!) and the edgy and uniquely Ukrainian interval acts from Ruslana, Jamala and Onuka. I’ll be going into the different aspects of the contest that gave it such a cool new flavour over the coming weeks, which I hope will help us all stave off PED together.

Back to Onuka: the version of VIDLIK performed with the NAONI orchestra prompted a rave in the Press Room on Grand Final night, and it’s been running around in my head ever since.

It’s going to be a great summer of music. Keep Listening Outside.



Art – Pur:pur

So! The decision has been made and the Eurovision people will be heading to Kyiv next May. To celebrate we’ll have the brand new single and slightly disquieting new video from pur:pur (who came 4th in the Ukrainian national selection in 2016 and can probably be counted on to have another go) .

Previously from Ukraine we’ve shared epic pop divas, riffy stoner rock, delightful art rock pop, and a breezy jazz ballad that wonders ‘How can you not love Kyiv?’. There was a meme going around shortly after Jamala’s triumph in Stockholm contrasting saying “get you a country that can do both” with contrasting pictures of Jamala and Verka Seduchka. It’s not even a matter of a country that can do both – they can probably do it all.

pur:pur are on soundcloud

pur:pur have a website



Killer Road – Soundwalk Collective with Jesse Paris Smith & Patti Smith

I am… not entirely sure what this is, even on the fifth listen.

Let’s start with the facts. This is a piece called Killer Road by an international group called Soundwalk Collective, previously known for creating psychogeographical poetry tours of major cities amongst other pieces of hauntological sound art.

The vocals on the track are spoken by Patti Smith (yes, that Patti Smith) and there is music by Patti’s daughter Jesse Paris Smith. The words themselves are either about or by Nico (yes, that Nico) and concern her death in Ibiza. The live setup looks like an secret ritual taking place in the Radiophonic Workshop and then there’s this video which is, I think, part of the live art piece that this track is part of.

So here we have it. At the intersection of hauntology, psychogeography and weird ASMR music we find Killer Road.



Game on: Ukraine vs Poland

Four posts in a day! It’s getting serious now. For Ukraine vs Poland we’ve got two songs that are lovely in and of themselves, but which are also supported by visually stunning videoclips.

For Ukraine, we have Таша Круз’s ode to her city Kyiv, which lopes along tree-lined boulevards and smiles subtly in parks and generally makes the place look dead nice.

For Poland we’ve got Natalia Nykiel’s edgier, more disconcerting effort which sounds and looks like a story about the conveniences of modern life leading to isolation and The End. I will talk to you about this on twitter.

Who had the better song? Ukraine or Poland?

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How Can You Not Love (My Kyiv)? – Таша Круз [Delightful jazz ballad with disconcerting video]

Badz Duzy – Natalia Nykiel [Gentle but wonky ballad with a superbly arty video]



Game on: Ukraine vs Northern Ireland

Good afternoon! It’s Ukraine vs Northern Ireland and we’re going to get two different flavours of heavy.

The Hardkiss of Ukraine make an extraordinary variety of music and team each song with equally extraordinary visuals. It’s often dark and not always an easy listen but it’s great stuff. (I am pretty sure they’ll pop up on Listen Outside again next year for the 2017 Ukrainian Eurovision National Selection)

Slomatics of Northern Ireland are a different proposition. This is VERY HEAVY. Small objects will vibrate. Your windows may shatter. It stuns gerbils at 20 paces. It might not be to your taste, but approach it as the dark flipside of ambient music, and you might get somewhere.

Who has the better song? Ukraine or Northern Ireland?

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Make-up – The Hardkiss [Dramatic, industrial heavy pop music with incredible style]

Electric Breath – Slomatics [Hypnotically heavy drone metal. Trust me, it kicks in at about 1 minute. Stay for the bit with the oscillating entrails.]


Game on: Germany vs Ukraine

Well, well, well, it’s the country that just won Eurovision vs the country that came last in the final. In football I hear that it might be a bit tighter than that though.

Germany are represented by rock diva Jennifer Rostock and her song Kaleidoscop, and Ukraine are represented by Stoned Jesus, a band that rock in a similar way to Red Fang, and their song Here Come The Robots.

Which did you like better, Germany or Ukraine?

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Kaleidoscop – Jennifer Rostock [Impressive, energetic rock with Jennifer’s fabulous vocals and bonus mirrorball leotard]

Here Come The Robots – Stoned Jesus [Riffy, hooky intense rock with a nice stoner rock breakdown]

The Kukushka – Zlata Ognevich


Would you like an earworm? Would you like some light hearted pop music cranked up to almost terrifying intensity, cut through by a lovely/infuriating birdsong riff? Well. Have I got a song for you.

Zlata took this song, with its groovy Hammond organ stabs and massive chorus, through Ukraine’s Eurovision selection process in 2011. I wasn’t watching National Finals back in 2011, but this one sounds like a doozy, with drama, disqualifications, the threat of the return of Verka Seduchka, and a sufficient level of uncertainty about the integrity of the result that they had to re-run the Grand Final, from which Zlata and future Ukrainian heroine Jamala asked for their songs to be withdrawn. Such drama! But even without the backstory, The Kukushka stands up as an inspired bit of pop music.

Zlata did eventually get to go to Eurovision, of course, with the equally high-intensity Gravity (which manages that musical trick of seeming to be entirely composed of ever-rising key-changes) but I think The Kukushka is the more interesting and inexplicable song.

Zlata is on UK Spotify

Zlata is occasionally on Twitter