Eurovision (not what you think) – Discuss

I was out of the country for The Eurovision Song contest.  This annual musical fiesta used to be a staple of my childhood, but it’s been years since I watched it all the way through.  I don’t have the attention span or patience for a programme of that length often offering mostly dodgy tunes.  When I did used to watch it regulalry, I was fascinated by the difference in musical styles and fashions; what I thought was dreadful would be amazing to a Belgian.  I also used to love cackling along as Terry Wogan giggled his way through the presentation.   It’s not been the same for me since he stopped doing it.  Baa humbug – what a miserablist I can be!

While Eurovision was going on, I was in Mallorca.  The bars played a mixture of music I recognised from my daughter’s chart playlist and Europop my ears had never heard before and wasn’t at all offensive.  On the plane home I flicked through SleazyJet’s in-flight magazine and came across an article titled “How To Be Bigger Than Björk” I wasn’t about to let that one pass without reading it.  The article is an interview with Icelandic musician, Ásgeir and describes his sound as a mix between Ben Howard and James Blake – so far so good.  I had a listen once I was home and over my cycling fatigue.  It’s really quite lovely; the journalist’s description is pretty accurate, I would also add a hint of Mumford and Sons too.  I can’t say he’ll be a permanent feature of my playlists yet it was an interesting discovery.

It made me realise there must be hundreds of artists doing well in their own nations and territories of Europe that are relatively unknown to listeners outside their homeland.  Don’t get me wrong, I know and love plenty of European bands and musicians – because they are played on UK radio.  I tend not to seek out musical gems unless it’s made known to me first or recommended by a friend.  Call it ignorance or laziness – I also don’t have the time.  That’s where you come in!  I want you to tell me about European gems you’ve come across that deserve a wider audience outside their homeland.

Yet again ‘Spillers I come to you to fill in the gaps in my musical knowledge. What can you tell me about all this and who else should I be tracking down?

13 thoughts on “Eurovision (not what you think) – Discuss

  1. If any of you are vaguely interested in how relieved and pleased I was to get to the top of the biggest mountain I climbed in Mallorca, this picture tells it all.

  2. Most of the bands or artists I know of have at least played in the UK. Are you familiar with the Icelandic combo Samaris? Not utterly obscure or anything and I have sent one of their songs in to Earworms. They used to use Icelandic poetry for their lyrics but have recently written in English. The singer has sometimes been compared to Bjork.

    Samaris – Tibrá

    • as the Icelandic entry went out in a semi-final on a Champions League-night I haven’t seen it (but will surely check it), was listening to Belgian night radio a couple of weeks ago as this song came up https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbomdE81_, found out much later that this was the Belgian Eurovision entry this year, I quite like it (and it did quite well I heard later on…)

  3. Some time ago a group of musicians from here in India announced they were going to apply for participation in Eurovision. They then shot their chances stone cold dead by adding they were claiming “historical ties India had with many European countries via colonisation.”

  4. I’m not a fan of Eurovision, never have been. When it comes to the music of different countries, I suppose I am quite lazy. If I hear something interesting on the radio, I’ll follow it up and see what else is available, but I don’t tend to actively search things out.

    Most of the European music that I do like is probably stuff that you’ll already know; Can, Tangerine Dream, Neu!, Kraftwerk, Amon Duul II etc from Germany, Air, Daft Punk, M83, Les Negresses Vertes from France, Sigur Ros, Björk and The Sugarcubes from Iceland and similar bands and performers who are international names.

    One band you might not know is Änglagård, who are a Swedish prog band, who produce music that is influenced by Genesis and KIng Crimson.There were active in the 90s but seemed to split up until a few years ago.

  5. Also, Sarah, have you listened to Iamthemorning who are Russian? They are often called “Chamber Prog” but in many ways they are really very hard to classify at all. They are well worth a listen.

  6. A couple of German groups whom I’ve gone on about here in the past: Bohren und der Club of Gore, who play slow, doom-laden instrumental music (they have played gigs in the UK, but to small audiences and they’re certainly not going to get on the radio any time soon), and Brockdorff Klang Labor who play 80s style electropop with highly literate and political lyrics (in a mixture of German and English) and are therefore more or less my dream pop group – sadly no new records for some years as lead singer has been having a baby, but not defunct and I keep hoping…

    • Ooh thanks for the suggestions. I first came across Brockdorff through here or RR. Think it was Shane who first introduced then to me. Really like their stuff. Will check out the doom-laden instrumentalists a bit later. Thanks!

  7. For jazz and related styles the ECM or ACT catalogues always worth keeping an eye on.
    In German popular music I’d value the Hamburg indie bands most. Die Sterne, Tocotronic, and Blumfeld, though their best work is a while back now. Otherwise there’s plenty of electronic/nu jazz to choose from. Christian Prommer’s Drum Lesson Vol. 1 with acoustic reworkings of house and techno hits is a standout. Jazzanova’s Sonar Kollektiv and Michael Reinboth’s Compost Records consistently excellent.
    Otherwise the world music scene further east- Roma bands Fanfare Ciocarlia ( Romania) and Kocani Orkestar (Macedonia) are wonderful, as is Poland’s Warsaw Village Band.

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