Unlucky for all you triskaidekaphobics out there but this is the thirteenth Mayhem Virgins entry. This time it is the turn of Velvet Insane who have taken Glam Rock, dusted it off, wrung its neck and made it ready for the 21st Century. These Glam Glitterati are from Sweden and take the best of the Sweet, Bowie, Mott The Hoople and others and make a sound that, while still glam based, is uniquely their own. Their social media presence and bio on Spotify describe them as “a 3-piece gang of rockers that reinvented glam rock by mixing the pop harmonies of the 70’s with the heavy sound of today” They add that they “have been moving forwards since their debut album and now they’re ready to deliver a swaggering statement” and “In fact Velvet Insane’s star is shining so bright they might be the next thing to explode!” Having listened to their debut album, ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Glitter Suit’ a few times those statements are hard to disagree with. I think this bunch would be a brilliant support act on the next Darkness tour, so Justin and the boys, if you’re reading this please give them a shot!
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Ladies and gentlemen and those that aren’t quite sure it is now December 14th and that means that my Christmas advent blog posts for 2014 have reached Day 14 which in turn means that we are at the letter ‘N’. With that in mind I have decided to pick a band from Scotland for todays ABC of British bands entry. Please allow me to welcome the mighty Nazareth to this post.
The band formed in 1968 and the original members were Manny Charlton (guitar), Pete Agnew (bass), Darrell Sweet (drums) and Dan McCafferty (tonsil-shredding vocals). The band still tours although Pete Agnew is the only one of the original members still with the band. There are no middle east or biblical overtones to the band’s name. They are named after a town that is mentioned in the classic song “The Weight” from the Band. That town is Nazareth, Pennsylvania. The line is “I pulled in to Nazareth, I was feeling about half past dead”
The band was probably at its commercial peak in the early 70s when they had three UK top 20 albums from 1973 to 1974. I used to own two of those on vinyl; ‘Razamanaz’ and ‘Loud ‘N’ Proud‘. They also reached the top 20 of the album charts in Norway six times between 1980 and 1989. Their latest album ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Telephone’ has charted in four countries this year; Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and Austria. This is probably the last Nazareth album to feature McCafferty’s vocals as he retired due to ill-health last year.
Their biggest success in the UK singles chart was with “Broken Down Angel” which peaked at number 9 in 1973. Their cover of Joni Mitchell‘s “This Flight Tonight” made it to number one in Germany that same year. In 1975 they released a cover version of the classic ballad “Love Hurts” it made it to the top of the charts in Canada and South Africa. Dan McCafferty has released a few solo recordings over the years and his cover of the Rolling Stones “Out Of Time” almost made the UK top 40 in 1975, stalling at number 41, I used to have a vinyl copy of that too. In 1994 Guns ‘N’ Roses covered Nazareth’s “Hair Of The Dog” on their covers album ‘The Spaghetti Incident’. Supposedly Nazareth had previously turned down an invite to play at Axl Rose‘s wedding. They might not have entertained guests at Mr Rose’s wedding, but you can enjoy Nazareth now.
Usually the most entertaining part of the Eurovision Song Contest is the voting and checking how many countries hate us Brits and show it by giving us nul points. But this year I really feel that we are in with a shout. Molly’s “Children Of The Universe” strikes me as classic Eurovision. I wonder how the votes will be split between Russia and the Ukraine? Anyway I should warn you that I am typing this post as I watch the show. So let’s get on with the 59th Eurovision Song Contest shall we?
Ukraine are up first with a typical Euro song title; “Tick Tock”. Why is there a bloke in a hamster wheel on stage? Singer Mariya Yaremchuk looks good and the song, in spite of its title is not too shabby. Belarus are up next represented by Teo with “Cheesecake”. He has a monster quiff does that Teo. It’s an ok kind of song with some good synchronised dancing in the performance, but no hamster wheel.
Azerbaijan are next and they are trying to “Start A Fire” as sung by Dilara Kazimova. While there is no hamster wheel there is a trapeze. What is that all about? Anyway in my opinion this is a bit of a dirgeful ballad with a singer who seems a little too earnest for me. In Dilara’s favour Catwoman likes her dress. Pollaponk are representing Iceland and one of their backing vocalists is an Icelandic MP. Their suits are all primary colours but as the song says let’s show them “No Prejudice”. The song is a little pop punk with more emphasis on the pop. I’ll probably be wrong as usual, but I think this could win.
Carl Espen is trying to whip up a “Silent Storm” for Norway. He is not an established singer and keeping it in the family the song was written by his cousin. Not my kind of song. It strikes me as a bit forgettable. Paula Seling and Ovi are hoping for a “Miracle” as they sing for Romania. This song can’t make up its mind as to whether it’s a power ballad or just another piece of Euro Disco. It does feature a round piano though.
Armenia are putting up a comedian called Aram MP3 with “Not Alone” which didn’t sound particularly funny to me. Have I missed the punchline. I also felt his voice was a bit flat and out of tune at times. It definitely sees itself as an 80s power ballad though. Montenegro are the first country tonight that are singing in their native tongue. The singer is Sergej Cetkovic with “Moj Svijet”. It sounds like classic mid table Eurovision fodder to me, which given my track record probably means it’ll win. It is backed up with a roller skating dancer, why? Don’t ask me.
We are Slavic washerwomen
“We Are Slavic” is the Polish entry and is sung in English and Polish by Donatan and Cleo. Is it really a feminist anthem? Why are they all dressed as milkmaids? Greece are about to “Rise Up” performed by Freaky Fortune featuring RiskyKidd. The Kidd is actually a rapper from London. It strikes me as the first song of the night to really get the place rocking. Not a hamster wheel in sight, just a bloody huge trampoline.
Now it’s Austria with a bearded drag artist, Conchita Wurst singing “Rise Like A Pheonix”. He/ She looks a little scary to me. It’s a good song but the whole appearance puts me right off. Germany ask “Is It Right” with a female trio called Elaiza. It features an accordion and has a bit of an oompah feel about it. I really don’t like this song!
Can Sanna Nielsen“Undo” the competition for Sweden 40 years after Abba won the contest? Possibly as it is this years favourite. Actually it’s a bloody good sung and Sanna has a great voice. If a ballad wins this year it might be “Undo”. TWIN TWIN perform the French entry “Moustache”; a song about a man who can’t grow a moustache. The singer can certainly grow a cartoon comedy haircut though. I can only assume that France don’t want to win. This song is shit!
TWIN TWIN – you cocks!
The Tolmachevy Sisters have interlocking hair and they are singing “Shine”. Their hair has come undone, well at least that will make going to the toilet easier. But wait now they’re on a see saw; why? It was ok but they’re hardly Pussy Riot. Emma sings in Italian for Italy with a rocking little ditty called “La Mia Citta” a.k.a “My City”. The costumes are a bit Roman Empire. Not a bad song though.
Tinkara Kovac is singing “Round And Round” for Slovenia. Sung in Slovene and English in a rather shouty way with added flute. We’re hoping for “Something Better” from Finland from Softengine. They sound a bit like a discofied Aha.
Ruth Lorenzo once came 5th in the X Factor and she is singing her own composition for Spain. It’s called “Dancing In The Rain”. Knowing my luck a former X Factor contestant will win it. It hurts terribly to admit it but the song is alright, not great just alright. The shouty bit at the end kills it a bit though. Those perennial neutrals Switzerland have a song called “Hunter Of Stars” by Sebalter. It has far too much whistling for my liking with a backing track that sounds like a speeded up “Duelling Banjos“.
Andras Kallay-Saunders is “Running” for Hungary. He runs around the stage a bit too. A good pop song methinks. Malta are “Coming Home” with Firelight. Two siblings in the band have a mother from Yorkshire. But the song is so Mumford it hurts. Is that style popular across Europe? I don’t know and frankly I hope not! But just to provide a balanced view, Catwoman likes this song apart from the female vocals.
Next up is “Cliche Love Song” by Basim singing for hosts Denmark. Blimey is he miming to Bruno Mars? This is possibly one of the best entries of the night. The Danish TV executives must be shitting themselves. It costs a packet to put this show on. After Denmark the Netherlands provide the “Calm After The Storm” as song by the Common Linnets. Who knew that the Dutch do Country and Western? They can though and it’s quite a good song.
San Marino are the penultimate country with “Maybe” sung by Valentina Monetta. It sounds like the theme song to a late 60s James Bond spoof. Was that meant to be a giant sea shell behind her? Finally it’s time for the UK entry which is “Children Of The Universe” from Molly. I really do think she’s in with a chance. Not sure about her boots but for me Molly nailed it!
Before the scoring starts my tips are Sweden, Denmark and the UK and I reckon France ought to finish last. Now for the scoring which as you might have guessed featured all the usual political voting. Molly came 17th out of 26th so not as bad as many UK entries. The runaway winner was Conchita Wurst from Austria a.k.a the bearded lady with “Rise Like A Phoenix”. I really don’t get it, although to be fair on second hearing the song isn’t too bad! As for my tips; Sweden were third and I was right about France who finished last!
You may have noticed that a secret selection recently took place to pick a very important figure. A person that we truly hope will be more successful than the previous occupant of the role, who frankly was a little too old for the task. I bet you think I’m talking about the selection of the new Pope don’t you? Well I’m not, I’m talking about the secretive BBC cabal that selects the artist that will represent the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest.
the recent puff of smoke emanating from Broadcasting House signalled the appointment of Welsh songstress Bonnie Tyler as this years representative. A successor to Englebert Humperdinck from last year. Apparently Bonnie is still ‘very big in Europe’. I’m not sure that is an advantage for the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest. Bonnie’s song is called “Believe In Me” and for me it is an inoffensive ditty that will probably remain towards the bottom of the pile when the votes are cast. If the Beeb were ‘Holding Out For A Eurovision Hero’ I think they will need to hold out a lot longer.
The song was written by an Anglo US team consisting of Desmond Child (US), Lauren Christy (UK) and Christopher Braide (UK). the contest takes place on 18th May in Malmö in Sweden. Which means at least there will be no newspaper headline puns utilising Bonnie’s first hit “Lost In France“. It may also be the first Eurovision that I fail to blog about on the night. For two reasons; first last years contest was really dull and secondly I will be on holiday 🙂
What do you think of “Believe In Me” and how do you think it compares with earlier UK entries? In more Eurovision news the composer of the Armenian entry “Lonely Planet” is none other than the great Tony Iommi off of Black Sabbath. He is expecting it to be slagged off, but what the hell, he’s in Sabbath right?
So here we are again the cultural peak that is the Eurovision Song Contest. This is the 57th contest and it is being held in Baku, Azerbaijan. There are 26 entries in tonight show, with Sweden favourites and the UK fifth with the bookies. I will be writing this blog as it happens and I won’t be going back to edit it, especially my predictions! So you will be getting my first thoughts on each and every song in this years contest. At this stage I’m sticking my neck out and going for Engelbert to make the top three along with the singing grannies from Russia
First up it’s the traditional dancing and singing, that happens in every show doesn’t it? Guess who’s up first? It’s only the Hump himself a.k.a Engelbert Humperdinck with “Love Will Set You Free”. A truly consummate performer but he looks a bit plastic doesn’t he? But he is 76 now, which for me makes it quite amusing that the song has plummeted down the UK charts, apparently because those ‘silver surfers’ of the Hump’s generation don’t seem able to download it! Actually it’s not a bad song for Eurovision either and I reckon plenty more CD versions will be produced for next week if it does well.
Compact Disco performed the Hungarian entry. Not very compact or very disco really. Very 80s and very power ballad is “The Sound Of Our Hearts”. Are leather coats back in vogue? Rona Nishliu sang next for Albania, she is an experimental jazz vocalist, do I need to say more? Other than perhaps was that a real beehive on her head and a snake on her neck? Don’t give up the day job love!
Donny Montell sang “Love Is Blind” for Lithuania, with an oh so contrived blindfold which appeared to have been made from one of Michael Jackson’s old gloves. He whipped it off with a Bucks Fizz skirt type flourish. Bosnia and Herzegovina had a unmemorable ballad, I can’t recall the artist either!
They’re here, it’s those awesome Russian Grannies with “Party For Everybody”. Stop the contest now and hail them the winners. Absolutely spot on Eurovision entry. Twenty million YouTube hits can’t be wrong can they? They’re also raising money to rebuild a church that Stalin destroyed 70 years ago.
Iceland’s entry was a quite interesting song, but not winning material methinks. the song was “Never Forget” by Greta Salóme & Jónsi. A return to very traditional Eurovision Eurodisco values came next from Ivi Adamou for Cyprus. It was called “La La Love”, see what I mean by traditional contest values? She also danced on a table constructed from books, what was that all about?
It’s France with Anggun singing “Echo (You And I)” surrounded by topless male gymnasts. I wonder if it put her off at all? It was hard to tell for me, largely because the song was pretty crap. But there were some English lyrics in it, quite a departure for France. Italy, with their second performance after 14 years away gave us a fabulous Amy Winehouse pastiche from Nina Zilli. I quite like this, probably now my dark horse for winner. The English version is called “Out Of Love”. Great song, great look, great style and no gimmicks!
“Kuula” from Ott Lepland did the business for Estonia. An ok kind of song, reminiscent of many 70s ballads. The voice was very good, but those eyebrows had a life of their own. I’m sure they’ll be preparing to become moths or butterflies very soon. Tooji represented Norway with “Stay”. Apparently he was born in Iran. He also had a hoodie look going on, no chance of him getting into our corner shop then. He’d probably end up with an ASBO or a CRIMBO as they’re now known. The song was identikit and formulaic 80s disco.
Here come the locals! It’s Sabina Babayeva with the rather unfortunately titled “When The Music Dies” Of course the cost means they might not want to win two in a row. The song was pretty lightweight, so unlikely to win. Apparently she is a big fan of the Hump. Sabina is a very nice looking woman, but what was going on with the dress? Did she get dressed during a hurricane in a pillow factory? Mandinga were the Romanian entry and the group is made up of Romanians and Cubans. the song was an everything but the kitchen sink Eurodisco oompah sound production called “Zaleilah”. Was that really bagpipes? Surely not.
Denmark was represented by Soluna Samay with “Should’ve Known Better”, for some reason she was wearing a sailor’s hat, with some manky feathers in it. But the song was good, her voice is strong too. Shades of KT Tunstall. Soluna was supposedly once a busker. This is one of my favourites so far, but as Catwoman pointed out to me; Soluna is probably better than the song. Now is the time for Greece, surely they can’t afford to win can they? Will the IMF bail out the Eurovision Song Contest next year. Somehow with this song I don’t believe the Greek Government or the IMF need to worry. Incidentally the song was “Aphrodisiac” by Eleftheria Eleftheriou.
It’s time for the favourite, here come the Swedes led by Loreen with “Euphoria” which has already been a smash in many European countries. Her performance was clearly influenced by Florence off of Florence and the Machine and perhaps some Kate Bush mime dance moves. But I think I agree with the bookies, this has winner written all over it. But me saying that is probably the kiss of death for the song. But it really is a classy dance track. Can Bonomo sang next for Turkey with “Love Me Back”. I can only assume he is a big fan of English band sailor from the 70s. Well apart from the fact that his song was odd, bewildering and frankly shit! But yes clearly long leather coats are back!
Pastora Soler is a seasoned performer with quite a few albums under her belt, probably not as many as the Hump though. She sang “Quédate Conmigo” for Spain. She does have a superb voice, but this is not really my kind of song. Roman Lob (what a great name that is) stepped up to the plate for Germany with a pretty good song, “Standing Still” which was co written by Jamie Cullum along with Wayne Hector and Steve Robson.
Malta’s representative was Kurt Calleja, does that make him a Malteser? A reasonably competent dance track is what “This Is The Night” is for me. Kurt had a pretty trendy and funky suit and shirt combo, but why was he wearing a driving glove? And was that the ghost of Rick Astley on guitar? The Macedonians pushed forward Kaliopi to sing “Crno I Belo” That title looks like a Welsh road sign to me. The song struggled to make it’s mind up about what it was; ballad, pop song, rock song, dance track? Who the hell knows, but more importantly who cares?
Bloody hell it’s Jedward, their career can’t have much more life left in it surely. But “Waterline” is a pretty good song, so why did the writers waste it on these two talentless dorks? Jedward winning this contest would be on a par with a dog winning Britain’s Got Talent wouldn’t it? “Nije Ljubav Stvar” was the Serbian song from Željko Joksimović. Do you suffer from insomnia? This song might help you to sleep. Were those wellies or cowboy boots he was wearing?
Gaitana was next with a song she had cowritten, that song was “Be My Guest” and was the Ukrainian entry. Not a bad song and a damned good voice. But the dancers were camper than a row of pink tents. The brass intro and sometime refrain in the song did sound a bit like an elephants call though. Moldova had Pasha Parfeny singing “Lăutar” which was no more than just alright for me. As for his supporting dancers, a chimp with wooden legs could have done better.
So that’s it folks, now it’s results time. I won’t bore you with any commentary about the results though. But I will tell you about them in the next few lines. But right now I think the top two might be Sweden and Russia. Well I was right with that last line although some of my earlier predictions were way out! Sweden won the contest with 372 points followed by Russia with 259 and Serbia with 214. The UK finished second from last with just 12 points. Norway were bottom with only 7 points. Luckily Sweden are one of the few countries that can comfortably afford to put the show on in the current economic climate. So next year it will be from Sweden.