“We are representing metal music in the Eurovision Song Contest! Please vote for us because we came from the same place and with the same attitude – hell-raise metal! Wuuooargghhh!”
Thus began Hungarian metal band AWS’ bid for European domination in a pre-Eurovision Song Contest clip, broadcast before they brought their brand of screeching, macho metal to the typically camp competition. There were some concessions to showbiz frippery – flamethrowers! A long podium! Erm! That’s about it. Otherwise, through, this was a spit-and-sawdust performance from a post hardcore group who really meant it, man. Frontman Örs Siklósi chased around the podium, bunched his fist up really tight and squeezed his eyes passionately closed as he squawked like the chicken that eventual winner Netta imitated in her dance moves.
This rendition of the perfunctory track ‘Viszlát Nyár’ was, perversely, perhaps the weirdest performance of the evening. Eurovision is loved – if not universally – for its silliness and campness, exuding what you call a cheerily gauche air of Poundland luxury. Here, though, there was none of that self-awareness or sense of fun, even though the metalheads were wedged between an Israeli woman clucking like a chicken and a Czech rapper whose look is best described as “Milky Bar Kid listens to Kanye once”. Look, I’m just gonna say it: Eurovision has no place for the likes of AWS.
Yes, the band, whose moniker stands for Alternative Wine Selection and who eventually came in at number 21 (0f 26), were the first metal entrant since Finnish shock-rockers Lordi won with the barnstormin’ ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’ back in 2006. But look me straight in the face and tell me that Lordi weren’t taking the piss. Their frontman is called Mr. Lordi. His look is best described as “Rob Zombie forgot to keep up on his skincare regime of bathing in the blood of virgins”. As a whole, Lordi are more Jim Henson than Slipknot (like, how do you play guitar in rubber monster gloves?). One lyric welcomes “the arockalypse”; the guitarist looked like a swollen testicle.
Lordi did not mean it, man. They were as camp as Graham Norton on holiday in the Peak District, as tongue-in-cheek as Piers Morgan giving Donald Trump’s bottom a smooch. This was Eurovision.
AWS: sorry, thanks for your time, but you are not Eurovision. True, the song contest has come to take itself more seriously in recent years, but we must not encourage this trend towards earnestness and sincere artistic vision. We want Daz Sampson, a middle-aged man rapping really creepily about his teenage life (unbelievably, he represented Britain in 2006). We want Poland’s cringe-worthy milk maids from 2015 and the dude who got his awful arse out during Australia’s performance last year (but not the bellend that launched the stage invasion that British entrant SuRie coped admirably with this weekend).
There was, admittedly, something enjoyable about a full-blown screamo band sneaking into the world’s silliest talent show, but Hungary: we want you at your campest and naffest in 2019.