Bear in mind that these are all reviewed on first listen (apart from Iceland, which I had already heard a couple of times)
Malta: "MY DREAM" - THEA GARRETT: Old-fashioned ballad which is not too far away from an Idol-winner’s song. I know that Malta has a big ESC-fan-contingent, however it is not the most memorable Maltese entry I’ve ever heard and although it’s not the worst, it has the feel of a toilet break about it :(
Albania: "IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU" - JULIANA PASHA: The backing track has a touch of the "Womanizer"/"For Your Entertainment" about it, which can only be a good thing :) however the end result is a little bit of a let-down on first listen. It could be a grower though and might just qualify...
Greece: "OPA" - GIORGOS ALKAIOS & FRIENDS: They look like a boyband who’ve seen better days and all they’ve got to look forward to is the cabaret circuit. It’s all very formulaic and Greece-by-numbers, but it’s a potential crowd pleaser. And they are Greece, so they are absolute qualifiers - they only have to turn up! They need to shout the "Opa" but louder though, as it lacks a real hook.
Portugal: "HA DIAS ASSIM" - FILIPA AZEVEDO: She warbles this power ballad like a Portuguese version of Leona Lewis, however there’s not much of a song in here and it will struggle to qualify. It certainly has none of the pretty charm of last year’s Portuguese entry.
Macedonia: "JAS JA IMAM SILATA" - GJOKO TANESKI, BILLY ZVER & PEJCIN: More Balkan rock, however I didn’t like this as much as the Bosnian song and again I think this could struggle despite the good old ‘Balkan bloc vote’. The rap section in the middle was ok though, but rap is notoriously looked upon unfavourably at ESC :(
Belarus: "BUTTERFLIES" - 3+2: Now this puzzles me. They are obviously going for the well-dressed Il Divo vote, only without the opera. I think this is aiming fair and square for the jury vote this year and may do well for that reason, although it’s pretty boring and old-fashioned and light years away from "Work Your Magic" - one of the best songs never to have won ESC!!
Iceland: "JE NE SAIS QUOI" - HERA BJORK: one of the more traditionally appealing ESC songs this year. She’s a good singer and the song has a good dance beat - and that all-important key change!! I’d like to see it doing well (as I keep my fingers crossed for Iceland every year), but the whole volcano-situation may have a negative effect on the voting???