In 2014, Vladimir Putin called the Eurovision Song Contest a "hotbed of sodomy" – a ringing endorsement of the greatest singing contest on Earth. Unfortunately, that contest has been cancelled this year – but don't worry: we've spent the last few weeks excavating both the internet and the depths of Romanian TikTok to bring you our very own song-based competition.
The objective is to find the best song in Europe right now, voted for by you, our dear audience. So open a beer or whatever, put some headphones on and clear some space so you can move around – it's about to get weird. We have 12 entries from countries across Europe listed below. Have a listen and cast your vote for your favourite at the bottom of the article. Remember, you can't vote for your own country’s entry.
We'll be announcing the winner on a Facebook live broadcast at 7PM GMT on Thursday, the 11th of June. Tune in at facebook.com/vice.
MYSS KETA is Italian pop's shining star. She’s a bit like a one-woman Slipknot, in that she wears a mask. But also she’s absolutely nothing like Slipknot, in that instead of making music that involves a clown repeatedly smacking a barrel with a mallet, she does breathy spoken word vocals over electronica-tinged tunes.
She’s responsible for countless unforgettable bangers, but for us one stands out above the rest: "Pazzeska", an erotic stomp with Middle Eastern influences, rap-oriented beats and a music video devoted to mortadella, the king of Italian luncheon meat.
Going to go out on a limb here and say Joost is maybe the best 22-year-old YouTuber-turned-musician Leeuwarden has to offer. The walking stage destroyer was planning a tour of festivals across the Netherlands and Belgium this summer, but the pandemic selfishly blocked his final step towards becoming one of the country’s most respected performers.
Pre-coronavirus, Joost released an anthem for what would have been his biggest summer yet, in his song "Summervibes 2019". Luckily, we can now all listen to that and curse what could have been.
Representing the UK is the world's oldest grime duo, Pete & Bas. These two south London OAPs look like they might have spent much of their youth smashing bricks through people’s teeth, so it makes sense that they’re responsible for some of the hardest raps YouTube has seen in recent years.
In this particular song, we hear about how the pair used to drive a Peugeot with dents in it, but now – because of the untold amount of money they’ve earned – they drive Range Rovers.
There's been a ton of press about the fact that Virgen María always performs completely naked. And yes, granted, that piece of information makes a good headline – but there’s much more to the avant-garde artist than that. In her live shows she morphs from an apparently petrified character to a bold and uncompromising performer, pulling complicated yoga poses and pole-dancing while DJing her own unique blend of electronic music: a love-in of reggaeton and hardcore, which sounds like it wouldn’t make any sense, but completely does.
The song we've chosen, "Lit", is guaranteed to make you want to take all your clothes off on public transport.
Charlotte Adigéry’s "Paténipat" is a future dance floor classic. The Creole mnemonic the song is based on translates to "the gecko didn’t have any legs", and much like that legless gecko, the Belgian club scene was swept off its feet when the tune came out on Soulwax’s label back in 2018.
It's got everything you need from a dance tune: a solid beat, hypnotic repetition and lyrics for everyone (who speaks Haitian Creole) to sing along to.
Sometimes political battle cries, sometimes love songs from a queer, post-migrant perspective, Ebow gives marginalised people a voice and produces perfect tracks for warm summer evenings, boozy nights in hip-hop clubs and anti-racist demos. Quite simply, everything you could want from a rapper in this, the year of our lord, 2020.
Arguably her most important track, “K4L”, is about the anger locked up inside her, her grandma, her mum and her aunts. She’s currently working on a new EP, and if it’s anywhere near as good as her last one, your summer soundtrack is guaranteed.
I had to google Alli Neumann to write this blurb, because I’m a loser and had never heard her music before. But the 22-year-old, from Flensburg in northern Germany, now takes up at least three full thumb-scrolls of my Spotify saved songs list, which should tell you everything you need to know.
BRUJA has a reputation on the Romanian trap scene for being no-nonsense, and "IA LOC" is one of the many reasons why. It’s a song about blocking out the haters and fighting for what you want to get out of life, whether that’s following your artistic aspirations or beating up some guys for messing with your boyfriend.
You've probably never heard of the French genre "pool rap", but that doesn’t matter, because Lala &ce has reworked it anyway. Her first official mixtape, 2019’s Le Son d’après, is full of relaxing tracks for unsettling times by a girl who only sings about girls in her own unique sensual language, full of interstellar lean and booties from outer space.
Swedish Åsa Söderqvist, AKA Shitkid, is Sweden’s anti-pop star du jour. With the stone faced expression of a teenage terminator, she holds her guitar like a machine gun and her machine gun like a guitar. "What have we done with the romance?" she sings in a deadpan voice over a Dandy Warhols-esque garage riff, and you’d better hope that’s a rhetorical question.
By the time Smaragda Alexandri (AKA Sma Rag Da) hit puberty she’d already mastered several instruments, including drums and piano, and been educated in European and Byzantine music. As a result, Smaragda tends to forgo genre and do whatever she wants. "Tsopanakos Imouna" sees her filter a traditional Greek song through her own modern influences; its music video will make you want to break lockdown and travel to the mountains of Epirus in northwestern Greece – but please don’t do that, the healthcare system there is in an even worse shape than the NHS.
This collaboration between young Russian rappers CMH and Instasamka has racked up over 2 million views since it was released in February, and it’s not hard to see why. A banging rap / pop hybrid with a bite, “AУЕ” sees CMH and Instasamka on peak form, bouncing around a cell and singing about how gangster they are, being in prison due to how gangster they are, and their plans to continue being gangster after they’ve been released. Think: Die Antwoord with a soviet twist.
Vote for your favourite below. Voting will close at midnight on Sunday the 31st of May. If you've already voted, the poll will disappear (to make sure there's no cheating).
This article originally appeared on VICE UK.