I'd hoped to finish this off this weekend but as usual the best laid plans....
Tonight I'm having a first-listen to the first 10 songs in Semi-Final 2. Which in my opinion is a much stronger semi-final and it will be more difficult to qualify from this one, I think...
Lithuania: "EASTERN EUROPEAN FUNK" - INCULTO: so Lithuania have astutely realised that they probably won’t have any chance of winning ESC anytime soon, so they’re just going to have some fun. And why not? This has novelty value and puts a much-needed smile on the face of this year’s contest. It’s not quite up there with my all-time favourite Lithuanian entry ("U Got Style", 2001 if you’re interested) but it’s good fun.
Armenia: "APRICOT STONE" - EVA RIVAS: The lyrics can only be described as pretty bonkers, but it ticks all the ethnic-boxes seemingly required of a Eurovision entry of recent years....it’s got a little of the Shakira vibe about it and of course Armenia is one of those countries which will always be an automatic final qualifier. This might do well.
Israel: "MILIM" - HAREL SKAAT: This might give Israel its best result in many years, as it’s quite an old-fashioned jury-pleasing big orchestral ballad...he is a very good singer and capable of greatness (and he’s also very easy on the eye) but I feel this song could have benefitted from a more definite hook and memorable chorus.
Denmark: "IN A MOMENT LIKE THIS" - CHANEE & N’EVERGREEN: For me, this is one of the biggest songs in this year’s contest and I can see the Danes getting their best result in years. Written by that well-known native of Copenhagen, Thomas G:son :))) They may be a bizarrely-named duo, but this song is very instant and memorable, which is after all what the Eurovision Song Contest is about. A back to the 80s blend of "Simply The Best" and "Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now", and one of the few songs I remembered after just one hearing.
Switzerland: "IL PLEUT DE L’OR" - MICHAEL VON DER HEIDE: Something seriously wrong here - I like a Swiss entry two years in a row! They couldn’t be more different either. Last year some indie-rock, this year a good old Europop stomper. This was one of my early favourites, of the few songs that I had actually heard. Don’t be put off by the big ears, just enjoy the music.
Sweden: "THIS IS MY LIFE" - ANNA BERGENDAHL: In this year’s Swedish final, there was an uplifting song with an incredibly memorable chorus, performed with bucketloads of charm and charisma by a hugely talented singer/songwriter. Which could have gone a long long way at Eurovision if its success with the international juries at Melodifestivalen was anything to go by.
That song was not "This Is My Life" by Anna Bergendahl. The only positive thing I can say about this song is that it’s a good cure for insomnia. Sweden may have wanted its own version of Yohanna’s "Is It True" which did so well last year - but this falls way short and I am still of the view that this will disappear in Oslo and may struggle to even make it out of the semi-final.
Azerbaijan: "DRIP DROP" - SAFURA: if all the rumours are to be believed, this is the chosen one this year - and in recent years the chosen ones have gone on to win, so... Unfortunately I was comatose by the end of it. Sooo boring! She sings "I wanna run away from myself"...I know how she felt. By the end I wanted to run away too. Is this the one that was co-written by that well-known native of Baku, Anders Bagge? Not one of his better moments.
Ukraine: "SWEET PEOPLE" - ALYOSHA: Oh Ukraine, what have you done? This is so boring that I was even longing for the return of the "Anti-Crisis Girl"!! Another one which belongs in the Eurovision Non-Song Contest. Come back Verka, or Ani Lorak....we miss you!
Netherlands: "IK BEN VERLIEFD (SHA-LA-LIE)" - SIENEKE: Or as it is known at EuropeCrazy HQ, "let’s do the time warp again". There is nothing remotely 2010 about this - from its writer Pierre "Father Abraham" Kartner to its cheesy singer. It will either surprise or bomb, and I couldn’t possibly predict which one.
Romania: "PLAYING WITH FIRE" - PAULA SELING & OVI: ignore this at your peril. It’s a thumping anthemic pop song which stuck in my brain from first hearing - and I can see it doing very, very well at this year’s contest, I’ve just got this strange, spooky feeling that Romania is looking at a top 5 place!
More to follow!