In the weeks leading up to the Eurovision Song Contest 2014, I’ll be reviewing each of the 37 entries competing this year. Today I’m looking at Belgium, who are performing tenth in the first semi final. They will be represented by Axel Hirsoux with ‘Mother’. 

Belgium Flag

Belgium: Axel Hirsoux – Mother

Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of comedy entries at the Eurovision Song Contest. There are the entries that are actively aiming for novelty votes – your Pirates of the Sea, your Dustin the Turkeys, your Scooches. These entries actively court the casual viewer in the hopes that a derisive ‘LOL’ will translate into mass votes. Sometimes it works, usually it’s just really boring.

The other, far funnier kind of comedy entry is the song that genuinely aspires to greater things. The distinction isn’t always obvious – did Cezar the Romanian castrato from last year realise how ludicrous his performance was? Probably, but at least it was knowingly ludicrous in a more inventive way than just putting on a pirate outfit or peppering your song with obvious references to blow jobs. Axel Hirsoux is this year’s Cezar, except I’m much more certain that the poor chap has absolutely no idea how hysterical his performance comes across.

Now, I have to clarify here. Poor old Axel has come in for a lot of cheap shots regarding his size and apparent resemblance to Britain’s Got Talent winner Paul Potts. Personally, I don’t go in for body facism; there’s room for all shapes and sizes at Eurovision. Literally everything else about ‘Mother’ is fair game though, and the performance would be just as hilarious if he happened to look like Channing Tatum.

Songs about dear old mum are always at risk of coming across as tooth-rottingly sentimental at the best of times, but ‘Mother’ doesn’t just lay it on thick, it steamrollers the very notions of subtlety and restraint on a full-speed drive for grandiosity that pushes the whole thing into the realms of complete insanity. You end up wondering if this is a sort of musical interpretation of the inner life of Psycho’s Norman Bates.

Axel Hirsoux Belgium

Not everybody is as cynical as me of course, and ironically the very things that make ‘Mother’ so very, very wrong are likely to be the things that make it one of Belgium’s more successful entries of recent years. I think it’s bound to qualify and could well be a contender for the top ten. Witness guest-judge Ruslana tearfully waving her iPhone in the air at 2.14 in the video below. There’s a kind of deranged intelligence at work here. In a faintly bland Eurovision year, Belgium have provided the obligatory crazy and I don’t mind at all if they’re rewarded for it. Contrary to popular opinion, there’s a lot more to Eurovision than chuckling at the eccentricities of our neighbours, but even so, no contest could possibly be complete without magnificent drivel like this in the mix.

Prediction: Qualifier